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cosplay post of the day (cecilia at ikasucon)
halloween 2003 roundup (coming soon)
halloween 2002 roundup
the future of online gaming
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reviews: hentai games sux0rz
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20 favorite movies since 1980
second japanese culture link of the day (11/20/2003)

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L33t/l33+: elite
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  xFriday, April 16, 2004

new at dam

My review of the first volume of the giant mecha manga RahXephon is now posted over at Destroy All Monsters.


five six questions

Jaquandor recently passed along a five-question meme that's been circulating through the blogosphere. I've taken a while to get to it, but here are his five questions -- and a bonus -- and my answers.

  1. One the first Tuesday of November this year, you get rip-roaring drunk before voting. (No, I don't know why!) In fact, you get so drunk that while you know you voted, you can't remember who you voted for...and you have the sneaking suspicion you voted for Bush. What do you do to atone for this horrible act?
    Does this answer your question?

  2. Name the three things in your wife's wardrobe you like the best. (Not dirty stuff! Regular clothes!)
    A couple of years ago I bought her a floppy black velvet hat with a wide paisley band at the St. James Art Fair in Louisville. It frames her pretty face just perfectly.

    She has a nice black velvet dress, with short sleeves and a low, square-cut neckline.

    Crystal enjoys making clothes for herself and The Girls, so it isnt surprising that her creations are among some of my favorite garments of hers. Last but not least, she just made herself a lovely green sheath dress with a Chinese-style collar.

    Crystal does most all of the laundry in our household, so her clothes are rarely dirty.

  3. Name three things you think every woman's wardrobe should include. (Same disclaimer!)
    Thigh-high stockings

    Comfortable dress shoes

    A Little Black Dress

    Put em all together, and hubba hubba!

    (As a fourth, Id say a big fluffy terrycloth robe.)

  4. You've mentioned that you do a lot of the cooking in your household. Name your signature dish, and if it's not ridiculously complicated, give the recipe.
    Since Im partially of Sicilian heritage, I enjoy cooking pasta (one of my early influences is the scene in The Godfather where Clemenza teaches Michael to make spaghetti sauce. One of my favorite dishes is a pasta casserole. I still make it fairly often, but its seen the opposite of mission creep the need to feed The Girls in a timely manner has forced me to take a few shortcuts. Heres how I make it now (it takes about a half an hour):

    1 pound of pasta (penne, rotini, or shells I try for variety of shapes)

    1 can prepared spaghetti sauce

    1 large can tomato sauce

    1 pound Italian sausage (alternately, use a pound of medium spicy sausage, adding fennel and sage)

    Wine, oregano, basil, sage, sugar, salt, olive oil and garlic to taste

    Put the pasta on to boil. When done, stir olive oil and set aside.

    Fry the sausage in a large skillet, adding sage to taste. Drain when well browned. Combine the two cans of sauce. Add garlic (I use pre-chopped marinated garlic that comes in a large jar; its a great time saver, but I prefer fresh if possible). Stir in about a quarter cup of wine. Add oregano, basil, sugar and salt. When the sauce has simmered, pour over the pasta and stir. (Cecilia prefers angel hair pasta, so I usually make some on the side and set aside enough sauce to cover.) Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

    Back when I wasnt as pressed for time, Id just use canned tomato sauce and season it a little more heavily with the other ingredients. As seasons and time permit, I also use fresh basil, oregano and sage from our garden.

  5. You are given the power to re-make one film, any film, with your pick of any screenwriter in history, any director, any cast, et cetera. What film do you remake, and why?
    Im influenced right now by an email conversation Im having on the relative merits of George Romeros Dead trilogy, so Id let Romero remake Day of the Dead, with the budget to implement the vision he showed in his original screenplay.

    My reasoning is that his original script contained a more balanced presentation of the scientists-versus-military conflict than the eventual film. The film also left out what was probably the most intriguing aspect of the screenplay someone dying and not coming back as a zombie. While I find Day an acceptable zombie movie, its by far the weakest of the trilogy. Id have loved to see what Romero could have done with a decent budget.

  6. (Bonus question) Name your favorite second-tier Looney Tunes character. (i.e, no Bugs, Daffy, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, or Elmer Fudd). Give your favorite moment of that character in action.
    Sure, hed need to enroll in sexual harassment awareness training to get a job today, but I pick Pepe le Pew. As a devotee of swank old movies, Im astonished that Charles Boyer didnt sue over this dead-on parody. His unabashed if self-absorbed romanticism, perseverance unfailing optimism and proclivity for interspecies romance makes him a favorite. One of my favorite cartoons is the one I believe it was set in New Orleans In which he finally realizes that he smells, and gets himself fumigated. Meanwhile, the cat has decided she wants to be with him, and covers herself in limburger cheese. As a result, the now-dainty Pepe flees in horror while the cat chases him.

Jaquandor's own five questions are here. If any of my loyal readers would like five questions of your own, shout at me.

  xWednesday, April 14, 2004

new at dam

My review of the second DVD of the anime series Black Jack, directed by Osamu Dezaki
(Golgo 13) from a manga by the great Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), is up over at Destroy All Monsters. And in a rare but pleasing occurrence, we were able to post a tandem review, with Jaquandor tackling the first DVD in the series.


quick press conference post comment

Okay, a couple of quick press conference links. First, here's a transcript.

In a comment thread over at The Washington Monthly (CalPundit's new digs), a poster identified as Sam made the following brilliant observation:
I was amazed by his reference to the Revolutionary War. As described by AP: "On the protracted struggle against insurgents trying to drive the Americans out, Bush said liberty doesn't come easily, and invoked the American Revolution: 'I mean, we had a little trouble in our own country achieving freedom.'"

Well sure, I guess. But I think I'd be a little hesitant to bring up the Revolutionary War as an example of why the strongest military power on earth is obviously going to prevail against a ragtag band of local resistance fighters (or terrorists, or whatever).

Spot-on, and alas par for the course when Bush's bellicose rhetoric is compared to reality.

If you didn't get a chance to catch the show -- or you couldn't stand Bush's smirk for an hour -- Criticalviewer has a pretty good summary. (I listened, but didn't watch, but reports are he looked more scared than smirking. He certainly didn't sound very confident.)

William Saletan has a pretty good take over at Slate.

And perhaps predictably, the New York Times is less than impressed.

So-Called "Liberal Media" alert: This CNN summary bears a photo caption that reads "President Bush answers reporters' questions Tuesday night." No, he didn't; he seemed to make a concious effort to avoid answering the reporters' questions, instead repeating pre-chewed talking points.


please stand by

test pattern

There's much to talk about, especially with Bush's subpar performance at his press conference last night. But I have much to do, so it'll have to wait My apologies, and thanks for your patience.

  xTuesday, April 13, 2004

funky bollywood mp3 post of the day

BoingBoing ber-bloger Xeni Jardin reports on a swell Bollywood-flavored version of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough:"

This track is phat. This track is funky. This track makes me want to do a little dance in my ergonomic chair. A little google-digging reveals the song is by a group called the Bollywood Freaks, and came out on a limited edition red vinyl 7" in the UK.

..and she's exactly right. Grab it while you can.

(via BoingBoing; cross-posted at Destroy All Monsters.)


deepest sympathy

Planet Swank sends its sincerest condolences to musician "Wierd Al" Yankovic, whose parents died over the weekend due to a tragic accident.

"Wierd Al" has a statement in response to the tragedy on his Web site.


22 questions

Jaquandor and P.Z. Meyers have each discovered a list of questions posted on various blogs, and I figured I'd jump in.

  1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says.

    OK or DoneAccepts and puts into effect the selections youve made in the dialog box, and then closes the dialog box. (Sams Teach Yourself Lotus Notes R5 in 10 Minutes, Sams, 1999)

  2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?

    A binder of documentation standards.

  3. What is the last thing you watched on DVD? On actual TV?

    On DVD, The Matrix Revolutions, last night. Actual TV, whoaI saw some of the end of Big Comfy Couch on PBS as I was settling The Girls before I left for work. I havent sat down to watch an actual TV program in recent memory.

  4. WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what time it is.

    1:15 p.m.

  5. Now look at the clock; what is the actual time?

    1:23 p.m. Not bad! The Vulcan time sense seems to be working.

  6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

    Im wearing headphones, and right now its Bauhaus Bela Lugosis Dead

  7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?

    This morning at about 7:15, as I was leaving for work. I wont go outside again until I go home, but if the weathers decent, I might take a walk with The Girls.

  8. Before you came to this website, what did you look at?

    The Washington Monthly (CalPundit)

  9. What are you wearing?

    Charcoal grey button-down shirt, black Dockers trousers, black sox, belt and loafers, a blue fleece vest (its sorta cool in the office) and headphones.

  10. Did you dream last night?

    I rarely remember dreaming, but I think I dreamed last night that I bought a Swiss Army knife.

  11. When did you last laugh?

    I dont remember specifically, but yesterday my mother and brother visited for Easter, and we laughed and had a good time.

  12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?

    Does cubicle count? A finger painting by my oldest daughter and a Japanese Mazinga phone card.

  13. Seen anything weird lately?

    I havent seen anything that Id consider weird lately, no, but I have a fairly high tolerance for weirdness. I am looking forward to watching my new DVD of the Hong Kong erotic thriller Naked Killer; some would probably consider that weird.

  14. What do you think of this quiz?

    It has interesting questions, and Im enjoying it.

  15. What is the last film you saw?

    Other than the DVD last night/in the theater? Prior to Matrix Revolutions, I saw A Simple Plan on DVD. I took The Girls to a preview of Home on the Range in the theater several weeks ago.

  16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?

    Id pay off the house. Then Id set up a trust fund so I would be able to write (and blog) full-time. Oh, and Id probably buy an airplane say, a Cessna 172.

  17. Tell me something about you that I don't know.

    My first real job was as the box office assistant at The Louisville Orchestra, which I worked the summer between my junior and senior years in college (1988).

  18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?

    Id make the press more responsible, financially independent, and, indeed, competent.

  19. Do you like to dance?

    I love to, but with two daughters I rarely get the chance. In fact, I met my lovely wife while out dancing.

  20. George Bush: is he a power-crazy nutcase or someone who is finally doing something that has needed to be done for years?

    A corrupt, incompetent power-crazy nutcase heading an administration of corrupt, incompetent power-crazy nutcases.

  21. Imagine your first child is a girl; what do you call her?

    She was a girl, and we named her Cecilia.

    Imagine your first child is a boy; what do you call him?

    We didnt know what we were having for our first child, so wed picked out Anthony Edward if a boy.

  22. Would you ever consider living abroad?

    Id love to live in Japan, but I think that ship has sailed.

Speaking of questions, Jaquandor has also sent me a list of six questions, passing along yet another meme. I'll have the responses to those within the week.

Update: Musashi joins the fun!

  xMonday, April 12, 2004

'nigerian' spam of the day

Speaking of spam, I've been meaning to note an interesting variation of the "Nigerian spam" message that slipped past the filter the other day. I'm actually glad it did, because it's just barely interesting.
I am El Mugato Justice, a formal top government officer in ministry of Agriculture. I am 55 years of age, married with one wife and two children. I have served my beloved country Algeria for more than thirteen good years now.

Sir, your cooperation and advise is of great importance to me and I will like to invest my money in any lucrative or money yielding
venture in your country of which you will be part of this investment proposal as an active partner following your professional advise
toward the pursuit of this investment. I would personally like you to look into, real estate and property.

Please sir, I need to be educated professionally due to my low knowledge for any investment out side my country Algeria. I will like this proposal to be treated with absolute trust and honesty.

Kindly furnish and equip me with details about one. I am looking forward hearing from you with good news. Thanks for your anticipated
cooperation and you can contact me with the above email address or my alternative email address : [redacted]

This one is interesting because it doesn't promise a huge treasure trove of stashed funds and offer a fee for laundering it. It almost resembles a legitimate business proposal. Of course, it's totally bogus, but props to this one for a semi-original pitch.


an unhappy anniversary

ZDNet reminds us that April 12th is the 10th anniversary of the first spam message.
On April 12, 1994, a pair of attorneys in Arizona launched a homemade marketing software program that forever changed the Internet.
Hoping to drum up some business, Laurence Canter dashed off a Perl script that flooded online message boards with an advertisement pitching the legal services of Canter & Siegel, the law firm he ran with his then wife, Martha Siegel.

The response was immediate and harsh, offering one of the loudest signals up to that point that unchecked marketing would not be tolerated in the new medium. Thousands of recipients registered their displeasure, and a new label for the burgeoning business of unsolicited mass Internet advertising was coined.

"Send coconuts and cans of Spam to Cantor & Co.," one outraged Usenet reader wrote amid the uproar that followed the Canter & Siegel message. "(Be sure to drop the can of Spam on its seam first.)"

Ten years after Web surfers began using the spam label to describe intrusive online marketing, junk e-mail has ballooned into an epidemic of massive proportions. But righteous anger over the problem has increasingly been replaced by resignation. With no effective solution in sight, many people now ruefully wonder whether the "Internet era" might more accurately be dubbed the "age of spam."

Unfortunately, spam has indeed become tolerated, as Interent users have had little choice. I pay my ISP a dollar a month for a spam-blocking service that works reasonably well, but it doesn't catch everything. Still, it's nice to be able to delete hundreds of spam messages with a single click, as opposed to playing search-and-delete every time I get my email.


search and enjoy

NPR is running an interesting series of programs this week about Internet search engines and the competition to become the new Google.

  xSunday, April 11, 2004

happy easter

A very happy Easter to all. The holiday was incredibly pleasant. Yesterday my lovely wife and I took The Girls on two Easter egg hunts, and that evening they and I dyed eggs (a first-time event for our little family). This morning we had a little plastic egg hunt in our living room, and then I accompanied the family to church (a rare, although not unprecedented, event; I usually attent the Church of Godzilla Movie or worship at the Shrine of PlayStation on Sundays). The Girls were incredibly cute in their outfits. In the afternoon my mom and brother traveled up from Louisville for a visit. We had brunch of absolutely superb bagels, lox and pastrami from Shapiro's Deli, and mom brough up a baked ham. Since Lent is over, I also got to drink a Guinness for the first time in 40 days. (Mmm!) We had a pleasant visit. After putting The Girls to bed, my wife and I watched our new DVD of The Matrix Revolutions (pretty good, actually; it struck me that the second and third flicks are essentially one long movie, which explains the flaws in each). I expect ot have more to say about the flick later, but for now it's good night.


a turning point?

Yesterday the Bush Administration released the Aug. 6 president's daily brief (text; PDF file) confirming that Bush was warned about al Qaeda planning a hijacking.

This morning's edition of the local paper -- a fairly conservative journal -- picked up the New York Times story under the banner headline (in the print edition) Briefing cited hijacking threat.

As I've said, Bush's very specific denials -- that he was not, for instance, warned that terrorists would use aircraft as missiles -- are clearly designed to cover for the fact that he failed to take adequate action to prevent the hijcaking (and after all, no hijacking, no 9/11). Bush's excuse -- however true -- that the memo itself contained "no actionable intelligence" is pathetic indeed, and no excuse for taking no apparent action in response to the warning, but instead going on a month-long vacation.

While I admit a certain grim satisfaction in seeing my predictions validated yet again, I'm not pleased. It's one thing to draw an inference from the available information about the Bush Administration's incomepetence and mendacity. It's sobering and troubling indeed to be confronted with irrefutable evidence.

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