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Updates [Jun. 29th, 2005|09:05 am]
[music |The Engine Driver]

Two Bit has finally updated again. Check it out. Be amazed.

Apparently, I am crazy in my sleep while on Ambien. There are reports of thrashing around and growling. I'm not sure what's up with that.
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Grizzled Visage [Jun. 28th, 2005|02:18 pm]
[status |Cheerful, like Buddha]
[music |The Decemberists]

Score, my arm is just tennis elbow. I was able to sneak in an examination of my shoulder as well. Sure, they try to sell their "one thing at a time" as something that makes sure whatever ails you receives the attention it deserves, but it seems pretty clear to me that multiple visits equal cash money for the doctor.

So, the doctor showed me some stretching exercises and recommended an over the counter anti-inflammatory. He suggested the same treatment for my shoulder.

I forget that I'm actually pretty damn active now. I still have this mindset that all I do is sit on my ass playing games, reading, watching movies, or screwing around on the computer. But that hasn't been the case for several years. I swim a ton. I play softball (badly). Whenever I get a chance, I frolic and chase after frisbees.

All of this active stuff takes a toll on my body. My right shoulder makes pretty cool (yet painful)popping news when I move it. My right ankle and foot were scrapped long ago playing basketball in college. If I run or jump around without warming up, my gimpy ankle will hurt for several days afterwards. My right hand and arm are a bit touchy after years of game playing. Most controllers are fine, but some cause significant pain. Like that motherfucking gamecube controller, especially during Metroid Prime.

I almost forgot why I had named this post "Grizzled Visage." I got a haircut and my beard trimmed, so that I no longer look like my mom screwed around on my dad with a grizzly. I am looking snazzy yet again. I've gotten a bit prissier, trying to look better for Beth. Like I'm now using a couple of different facewashes to reduce oiliness and acne. The Loreal one smells pretty macho though...seriously.

I think I'm going to take Friday. A 4 day weekend seems like an awesome proposition. Take that, being at work!

Also, I've started playing Starcraft again. I've managed to lure several people into games, they have fared universally poorly. I expected to lose a few, it had been over 5 years since I played last. Somehow I still stomped them. My theory is that it's because they're Canadian. If anyone wants to tussle, let me know.
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Exciting Vacation Photos [Jun. 23rd, 2005|09:16 am]
[music |Ugly Cassanova]

Kerrville II: The KerrvilleningCollapse )
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Attack of the Reviews [Jun. 2nd, 2005|12:29 pm]
Here are a bunch of reviews. They'll show up on Two Bit eventually.

Episode III

George Lucas is a giant fat head. He’s got the Death Star of skulls. The only thing larger than his bulbous head is his ego. The man is hubris incarnate. Hell, I bet Zeus would masturbate frenetically at the thought of Lucas’s eventual comeuppance. All of that aside, Mr. Fathead has finally made another Star Wars movie that is worth watching. Some people might even call it excellent. Shocking, I know.

As Episode III opens, we see the Republic locked into a bitter struggle with the Separatists. General Grievous, an asthmatic and possibly Russian super cyborg has kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker charge off to save the day, as Jedi often do. Anakin’s rescue and interaction with Palpatine then sets off a series of unfortunate events, culminating in his transformation into the clad in black badass we all know and love. Oh, and Padmé is preggers.

The action, space and landbased, was much more enthralling than what we were exposed to in the other prequels. Lucas finally gives us a great starship battle and he puts it right at the beginning of the movie. Thanks, Fathead! Even better, it’s not ruined by an irritating little shit precociously saving the day. Fuck, I hate little kids in movies. I do like watching capital ships blast each other with abandon as their crews are sucked out into the void. The vacuum of space is a harsh mistress and we’d all be wise to learn this lesson. There are Wookies and they do kick some ass, but don’t worry, Lucas practiced some restraint and you won’t have to endure an hour long furry fanservice festival.

The light saber brawls were impressive, most impressive. Obi-Wan is quick to chop a limb off. I would have enjoyed seeing a few more examples of offensive use of the Force, but that’s a little nitpicky. One thing I’ve wondered about is why don’t the Jedi turn off the other guy’s light saber during a duel? Do they have anti-Force locks on the suckers? I think it’d be a great move. “Nice block…if I hadn’t switched off your saber, chump!” It is kind of silly watching the Emperor fool around with a light saber. He looks more like a greeter at Wal-Mart than a fearsome fighter. Maybe if he used a light walker to fend off his opponents. Yeah, I’d buy that.

The acting and the dialog are not the best that you will ever catch on the big screen; however, McGregor has improved upon his performance as Obi-Wan and you can really see what a wily bastard he is. I love how although he’s not the strongest or the best fighter out there, he makes up for it in trickiness. Hayden Christensen is still pouty as Anakin, but he’s no longer courting Padmé so there’s little talk of sand and how it is unlike human skin. I think Portman may have been pumped full of Valium during shooting. Her acting in the prequels has been a remarkably spot on impersonation of a two-by-four. I really have to wonder what Lucas does to his actors before he begins shooting. CG Yoda was actually a cool character this time around. Sure, he once again busts out with Super Force Kung Fu, but it wasn’t nearly as laughable as the stuff in Episode II. Perhaps the technology has improved or maybe it was the choreography. Difficult to say, it is.

I thought the nods to the vehicles of the original trilogy were great and added a lot for fans of the original trilogy. Space fighters bear a distinct resemblance to X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Troop transports are clearly evolving towards AT-AT impressiveness/foolishness. It was a fairly subtle homage, especially when for Lucas. The opening battle provides a great showcase for the ancestral designs. I hope they make a space fighter simulator from this movie. I loved the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter games.

It’s refreshing to not cringe for two and a half hours as I watch a new Star Wars movie. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not flawless, but there are far fewer “What the fuck were you thinking, Lucas?” moments. See this in theaters you must.

City of God

There are times when I’m really glad I was born middle class and white in a developed country. I’d like to think I could handle overwhelming odds and discrimination and still do well, but I’d much rather not put that theory to the test. Also, I’ve got a thing for the finer things in life such as electricity and indoor plumbing. City of God is the kind of film that makes you realize how much you have compared to so many others. It’s also a great fucking movie.

City of God is the story of two boys, Rocket and Lil’ Dice. They start from the same place, but their paths quickly diverge. Rocket uses his brains and camera to lift himself up while Lil’ Dice is more partial to swift and blinding violence as a means to an end. I suppose both methods have their (dis)advantages. Photography is fun, but it would be cool to have your own fiefdom fueled by drugs and blood. Oh well, I guess I’ll stick with playing Grand Theft Auto.

For some reason I expected this movie to be somber and dramatic. I knew the basic outline of the plot so I figured that would be the most sensible approach. The film makers disagreed, and man were they right. City of God is beautiful, vibrant, and visceral like a punch to the gut from a…uh…ballerina? I think that analogy works. I guess I shouldn’t write the vocabulary section to the SATs. The actors were damn good although they’re all unknown to me. Maybe they’re up and comers in the Brazilian movie scene. I didn’t even know there was a Brazilian movie scene until I watched this film.

I’ve got a high tolerance to violence in entertainment, but City of God pushes even my limits from time to time. It’s not that it’s particularly gory, it’s just that the perpetrators are so fucking depraved and evil. They run the gamut from cops casually gunning down the wrong man to cuckolded husbands beating their wives to death with shovels. It’s clear that City of God is a shit vacation spot and has no place on postcards.

City of God is never saccharine or boring, in spite of the basic triumph of humanity storyline. That’s a major achievement. An American studio would have been tempted to play up the melodrama and cue the orchestral music to jerk some tears. City of God dismisses those cheap kind of bullshit tactics and cheerfully goes about its way, hopping from foot to to foot as it grooves to salsa music.

This movie definitely belongs in the canon of great Latin movies, along with Amores Perros and Motorcycle Diaries (which I haven’t seen…but I hear it’s great…). Watch this flick, even if you have to gun down a priest and pry it from his still warm grasp…or go to Blockbuster.

Sky Blue

I knew very little about this movie going into it other than that it was Korean, animated, and set in a dystopian future.

Sky Blue is set about a 100 years in the future after some sort of massive environmental catastrophe destroys much of civilization. All that remains is Ecoban, a living city engineered by the ancestors to survive an environmental collapse. But like all living things, Ecoban must eat, and it’s fed by the blood and sweat of an underclass known as the diggers. The diggers resent the harsh treatment from the hands of their Ecoban masters. Pollution from Ecoban maims their children and poisons their land. So, uh, they organize and protest the unfair conditions and shit.

Sky Blue is a mix of computer animation and more traditional cell animation. The computer rendered scenes look great and the vehicle design is noteworthy. Rain splatters off of windshields and pavement as sleek motorcycles prowl the roadways. The cell animation doesn’t fare so well. The character design is dated and much of it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie. Such as the main kid and this guy named Zed, his hair is right out of Speedracer. The characters also don’t move fluidly and they look completely separate from their surroundings. It’s no Ghost in the Shell, despite the amount of time and money the Koreans threw into this.

The voicework is also lacking. I’m kind of surprised that it was dubbed, I was fully expecting subtitles considering the venue. Unfortunately whoever localized didn’t look too hard for talent and it shows. The music is great, though a little understated at times.

I think this was supposed to be the Korean studios’ shot across Japan’s bow. I’m not sure how much money they spent, but I read that it was in production for over 4 years. That’s a lot of time to spend on a canned scifi story with socialist sentiments. Although I don’t feel gypped (I did get to use my old college ID yet again) I think I’d rather have watched Cowboy Bebop or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for the hundredth time.

Katamari Damacy

The Japanese have a well deserved reputation for being batshit insane. Any culture that appears so respectable on the surface, and yet is flooded with rape manga and tentacle creature dating sims has some deep seated issues. That being said, Katamari Damacy is one fucked up game, even by Nipponese standards.

You are a wee little Prince, son to the King of the Cosmos (who isn’t the true King of all Creation, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ). Anyway, your dad is a bit of a dick. One night out and about on the universe he knocked all the stars out of the sky. Man, what a fucker. Anyway, the only way to fix this little interstellar faux pas is to roll up things on Earth until they are large enough to be placed in the heavens as stars. Let there be light! The game is as fun as the story is insanely surreal.

Your sticky ball (Katamari) starts out really damn small. Like you better watch out for rats kicking your ass. By the end of the game, you can find yourself rolling skyscrapers, whales, and even entire weather systems. It’s awesome. If you try to pick up objects that are overly large, or you run into a wall, you’ll damage the Katamari and knock off bits and pieces. Don’t do this.

The best part is catching people. They flail around in your Katamari and often make a cool exclamation as you set them down the path of eventual incineration. It’s also great when you get revenge upon some fucking thing that was a pain in the ass, like say a car or an angry buffalo. Stupid buffalo.

The controls are really simple. You pretty much just need the joysticks. The top shoulder buttons can do stuff as well, but they aren’t terribly useful.

This game has a shitload of personality. There are a ton of objects to grab. The dialog has some funny bits, mostly due to the flaky dad. It looks good too, especially for a Playstation 2 game. The real standout feature is the soundtrack. It’s incredibly brilliant. Maybe too brilliant. I don’t want to croon “I want to roll you up into my life” during business hours. I’m guessing that could be considered suspect behavior…as could breathing and/or sitting in my case.

Decent multiplayer features were the only thing lacking from this game. Multiplayer is not the PS2’s strongpoint, but it would have been nice to have a level selection feature and a few more options. Hopefully they’ll shore that up in the coming sequel.

The game does have one other drawback. I can only think of one other game that has so damaged my perceptions of my surroundings, and that would be Grand Theft Auto. After a few hours with Grand Theft Auto I found myself appraising the roadways for likely victims and wondering how many cops I could destroy before I succumbed to a hail of bullets. With Katamari Damacy, I find myself looking at stuff with an eye towards its rollability. Or uh, that I might accrete entire foreign lands as I toss and turn in bed.

If I haven’t gushed enough, let me be clear, this game is a must own. I am hesitant to say it is as good as Tetris but it is really good. Think about how much fun you can have trying to explain the concept to your friends and family. I suggest a visual demonstration using ants and wads of chewed up gum. Oh yeah, and it’s easily obtainable at a bargain price of 20 bucks.
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Hella Awesome [May. 22nd, 2005|05:51 pm]
[status |Awwww Yeah]
[music |soon to be Deltron]

Today was cool. Beth and I were going to get to an early showing of Episode III...but it was sold out for the first 3 showings, which does suck. I mean, this means people have forsaken Jesus Christ for light sabers. What about their eternal souls?! INTERROBANG

So, instead of waiting around for an opening, we ran off to Splashtown. Beth reluctantly came up with the idea. She was hesitant to mention it, because she knew I would jump on it like George Lucas with a bearclaw. To sweeten the deal I offered Icees and said I would wear a horrid stick on tattoo on the small of my back. She demanded pictures of said tattoo...I agreed to this and off we went to Splashtown. Stay tuned to her journal for pictures too hot for TV.

My eyes are pretty blurry from the chlorine, but it was worth it. Beth is now off to some sort of Girls' Night Out DDR and Jell-O shot extravaganza. I think Gus and I are going to have a Half Life 2 and Jell-O shot fiesta. I'm probably going to get him some exercise as soon as the fiercely blazing ball of fire in the sky settles down a bit.
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Curiouser and Curiouser [May. 14th, 2005|09:44 am]
Strange, my brother's birthday dinner/family extravaganza went rather well. We ate at Kubo's in the Village, an upscale sushi place. The food was good, but the wait was excruciating. I was fucking starving by the time I got my meal and then I gorged on sushi rolls. Good times.

Michael and I seemed to get along fine. Coincidentally enough, he happens to be done with finals and has two weeks off for school...I wonder if there is a correlation...

Weather doesn't look too bad outside. I'm gonna try to find a more reliable source for a forecast before I decide whether or not to trek out to Splashtown, but I think we've got a pretty damn good shot of making it out there today, provided I can stir Beth from her coma.
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Residual Fear [May. 13th, 2005|08:16 am]
So, my 10th year high school anniversary is in October. I found my school's website the other day and they had an alumni directory as well as a rudimentary bulletin board system set up. I sent off an e-mail asking for more info and I found out they had just been talking about me! And that I simply must be there!

My high school experiences are a huge part of the person I am today. This is not all good. When I was younger I used to be excessively shy, this combined with doing great in school as well as a not so subtle arrogance led to much hazing. I used to think that kids were just bastards, but to be fair I must have brought much of the trouble upon myself.

I also used to have a crippling fear of authority. If I was caught doing something I would nearly be in tears. Very embarrassing.

High school beat all of this out of me. I never had a problem standing up for myself, but with high school I saw that it was silly to bottle things up until they reached critical mass. Now I strike back quickly, with either a quick sarcastic remark or not so subtle physical posturing. It works surprisingly well. I guess growing a foot too didn't hurt in discouraging bullies.

With regards to authority figures, high school taught me that they have their own agendas. This agenda is not necessarily the betterment of their students. There were a couple of teachers that did their damndest to crush my academic record. I was suddenly incapable of performing calculus (yet I dip the best on the AP test and I made easy As in calculus at Rice) or the Anatomy and Physiology class underwent odd curves compared to the other class. Fun stuff. I'm not sure what I did to piss these guys off. The A&P teacher was a bible thumping hypocritical cocksucker. I hope he gets caught fucking an AIDS infested student. The calculus teacher was an asshole lecherous Vietnam vet. I hope he has a flashback while taking a shower that leads to a soapy defenestration.

So, it's clear I'm not so good at forgiving and forgetting. I hope that no one at the reunion decides to relive the high school years and do a little bit of freeform hazing. I think it would lead to a quick escalation and possibly a good will headbutt. Although I wouldn't mind getting in a fight, it might not be such a smart move in this litigious day and age. Oh yeah, my cunt of a high school nemesis is now a lawyer. Granted, I would never fight her anyway, because she was a girl, but fuck she was evil.

I think I'm going to stop typing now before I start frothing at the mouth.
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Sportsnight [May. 12th, 2005|09:33 am]
[music |about to be metric]

Softball was much fun. I possibly played too hard and didn't stretch enough, but we did win 1 out of 2 games. Go team. The first game we held our own...except for the one inning where nearly every guy on my time committed a major error. I did my part in that.

Second game went much better for us. Although my right quad was killing me I was still able to get on first with shitty grounders to the infield. The other team was really bad. The first baseman made little effort to adjust to throws and they frequently bounced off his glove to the dirt. 3rd and short had no range or reach. It was easy to sneak things past them. Basically the other team was old and out of shape. We totally kicked their ass!

I'll make sure to stretch more next week. I don't like running around on 1 leg. It's rather painful and could easily lead to some other injury.

Beth got out there for part of the second game. It's nice to sort of have someone cheering me on. Sort of. "Come on, Gimpy!"

I think we're going to make another run for Splashtown this weekend. Man, I hope so. We won't be so stupid as to drink hard liquor the night before. Ooh, and maybe tonight we can watch the classic Running Man 2 disc special edition with Arnuhld.
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Athletic Juggernaut [May. 11th, 2005|02:27 pm]
[music |Pedro the Lion...I think]

I'm playing softball tonight. I haven't played in quite a long time. Less than a year though, but it's probably been more than 5 months. I took a little bit of batting practice but the stupid pitching machine was set way low, for like 4th grade girls. I didn't want to get in the habit of chasing shit or hurt my hands, so I called it quits in short order.

I hope that there's a chance to get some decent practice in before the games start. I could use a few more cracks at batting and I really need some fielding practice. Tossing the ball around is only good for warming up really.

The key to slow pitch softball, especially when many of the participants are drinking beer, is too hustle. This frequently rattles the infield, forcing errors and leading to baserunners. Also, it doesn't hurt to stare intently right at the fielder you're running towards as if you have every intention of trampling him into the dirt. They tend to move out of the way instead of testing your resolve.
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Poe Lease [May. 9th, 2005|04:31 pm]
I hella called the cops as soon as I got home. I hope they manage to work out what happened. I am having to fight the urge to do some Hardy Boys detective work of my own.
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