Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So I volunteered to help out with the Haunted House that my co-workers have put on for the past few years. and by "Volunteer" I mean had the bad luck to be in the same room as said co-workers while it was being discussed, and they politely informed me that I had been kind enough to volunteer.

I'm sure there will be more details as we get closer to Halloween. (all proceeds go to the Linda K. Woody foundation, which is looking to found a 24-hour Child Care facility in the Bridger Valley.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Games I Play

Back in April, I finally bought one of them new-fangled next-gen video game consoles that are all the rage among the kids these days, specifically, a PlayStation 3. After I found out that the cheaper 40GB $400 version of the PS3, which replaced the $600, 60GB version, had the backwards compatibility feature removed, I also purchased a PS2. I guess they were bitter that people weren't buying enough of their overpriced hardware, so they decided to make the newer cheaper one suck a little more, just as a giant "screw you!" to their market.

Anyway, the games I've played so far:

Assassin's Creed: If you buy a PS3, know that it has the most advanced visual capabilities than any other of it's cousins. Therefore, you'll need one Eye Candy game to showcase that feature. This is that game.

Large cities with hundreds of little virtual people walking about, some rabble rousing, some beg for coins intrusively, some are mentally ill and belligerent, some pimping their wares at storefronts, and others are soldiers that will attack you if you engage in activities that are anti-social. Like killing people. They frown on that.

The buildings are large and beautifully rendered, and serve as monkey bars for you to climb on. The attention to detail in how your character climbs seamlessly up cathedrals and castles is incredible, especially when you finish off a climb with the incredible Leap of Faith. Watching Altair jump off a building from hundreds of feet into a hay filled cart just doesn't get old, at least not for a while.

The visuals are important because you'll need something pretty to look at in order to distract you from how shallow the actual game play is. Ben "Yahtzee" Crosshaw summed the whole thing nicely in one of the few reviews of his that I wholeheartedly agree with (warning: Yahtzee works Blue!), but in summation, game play is repetitive, the fighting is oversimplified, in the first half of the game, and for a game that has "Assassin" in the title, there's woefully few actual Assassinations. It's worth playing through once, but it has zero replay value.

The Orange Box: Let me tells you, I love me some Half-Life. I think it's because the Protagonist, Gordon Freeman, is what all nerds secretly want to be. He's an Uber-Nerd with a PhD in Hypothetical Physics, who accidentally opened a portal to another dimension through which hostile alien life forms immediately poured through, at which point he begins hacking and shooting through all of them, as well as the military task force sent to destroy the aliens and silence all of Gordon's colleagues.

What part of that description does not sound awesome?

Also in the Orange Box is Team Fortress 2, which, until it's release, was the only game in production that could compare with the Vaporware status of Duke Nukem Forever (Still waiting for that one!) It's typical capture the flag gameplay with nine unique feeling, and yet balanced classes. As for the tone of the game, just watch the "Meet the _____" movies here. Amusing.

And last but not least, Portal. There's nothing I can do to praise this game more than the rest of the Internet has, so for those few who still haven't heard of this game (probably limited to my parents) here's the trailer that dropped my jaw the first time I saw it.

Devil May Cry 4: This series is notorious for being incredibly difficult, but I think they got the difficulty curve adjusted just right this time. Combat is entertaining, especially when you see how many times you can slash/stab/shoot/slam an enemy in the air before you touch the ground. The story is... well, who cares. Swordplay, Magic Demon Arm of Justice, and general badassery abound. It just feels satisfying.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma: What is the most deadly enemy an Ninja can face? Dragons? Samurai? Pirates? No, the most deadly enemy a Ninja can battle, at least in this game, is Bad Camera Angles. Nothing is more fatal to the protagonist than a viewpoint that simply refuses to show the person that is jamming a katana up your behind. Devil May Cry's Camera issues were sightly annoying, at worst, and they ironed most of them out after the first game. This game just refuses to cooperate at all. I stopped playing it at the end of the second level. It's just not worth my time.

That's all for now. next time, PS2 games!

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Movies

Crank: Jason Stantham is a pleasure to watch, as always. He's a hitman trying to get out of the bloodmoney business when he wakes up poisoned with a plot device- er, I mean chemical that can be inhibited by keeping your adrenaline levels up. What are the best ways to do this when you have no time to arrange a bungee jump or skydive? Well, if you are like our protagonist, you could start a fight with a bunch of rough looking black men, have sex with your girlfriend at the side of a busy city street, or break into a hospital and demand epinephrine syringes. The options are varied, and hilarious!

Talladega Nights: Will Farell as a Redneck stock car Racer and Sacha Baron Cohen as a Gay Frenchman. As funny as it sounds.

The Transporter 2: More Stantham! Hooray! Quick! How do you dislocate a bomb attached to the under carriage of your car, with seconds left before it detonates? By gunning it up an uneven ramp, causing your car to spiral like a well thrown football, and at the precise moment your car has torqued 180 degrees, the crane, which is conveniently hanging from juuuuust the right spot, dislodges it. I know it's a popcorn action film, but this was still a violation of the Tier of Suspension of Disbelief that I had previously mentioned in my Stardust blurb. Then again, it was friggin' awesome, so I'll let that slide, I suppose.

Reservoir Dogs: A Tarentino Classic that I haven't gotten around to seeing until now. Pretty much what you'd expect from him: It opens with people talking about nothing in a Seinfeld kind of way, then quickly transitions to violence.

The Brother's Grimm: The Brother's investigate the disappearance of little girls from a village in France-occupied Germany. A bit creepy during a few of the abduction scenes, but other than that, a bit too disjointed to be really entertaining. Bonus: It will make you hate the French even more. Seriously.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: I like Guy Richie films. It's something about watching inner city Brits plotting how to pull off some simple criminal activity hoping for a big payout, only to have it foiled by their own incompetence, the unexpected rash of logical thinking by their inept prey, and the miscalculated retribution from the party that's bankrolling either side. All of which is broken up by a few anecdotes and a plethora of F-Bombs now and then. Oh, did I mention Jason Stantham?

Super Troopers: An amusing flick, damaged only by the needless addition of a plot. Listen guys, this is not a movie where you need rich storytelling. We need more Highway Patrol antics, like screwing with the heads of a car full of stoners, or saying "meow" as many times as you can during a traffic stop while speaking in a Mississippi accent. That's crack-up material right there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grubbin' With Fuzzy - Alfredo Sauce

Before my culinary adventures began, I thought that alfredo sauce was the stuff found in the boat after Michael had his brother killed.

Just a reminder on statute of limitations on movie spoilers: Godfather Part II move came out in the late 70's, so If you haven't seen it by now, you don't deserve a surprise ending.

Anyway, the ingredients for alfredo sauce are even fewer than regular cheese sauce: butter, cream, one smashed clove of garlic, and Parmesan Cheese.

I figured the cheese sauce I used for macaroni and cheese was just flour, butter, milk, and cheese so I could just replace the cheddar with Parmesan, and it would be fine. We'll it doesn't quite work that way.

The taste was fine, but the texture was a little grainy due to the flour. Today I finally broke down and bought some actual cream for that authentic heart-attack-on-a-plate taste, as the CSPI weenies like to call it. Also, a word about grating Parmesan cheese. I grated Parmesan with a box grater once before I put one of these little crank grinders on my shopping list. Parmesan is some HARD stuff to grind by hand. I don't recommend it.

So the second time around, it turned out better, and it was added to some penne pasta, broccoli, and chicken breast.

(Fuzzy gains 250XP for the successful execution of alfredo!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Word of the Day

Frizbeterian: [friz-beh-TEER'-ee-an] noun

Definition: A member of a body of believers whose doctrine states that when you die, your soul is raised up, left on the roof, and forgotten about for all of eternity.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ready to Rumble

Portland Studios, a company where one of my old High School Buddies works at, has finally developed presidential contest that I can get behind.

Presidential Prize Fight, in game play, is similar to most of the other Flash boxing games on third rate websites, programmed by some 20 year old who watches too much MSNBC or Fox News. These guys, having some artistic integrity, made it a little more complicated.

Although the fighting itself is simple, you first need to pick the state to hold the match in. Each win in that state gets you one more "vote", and if your candidate leads that State by more than 5% it's yours, provided the other candidate doesn't take it back.

Also, in states that have traditionally voted for one party, the opposing candidate will have a more difficult fight, because the "local hero" will have fight harder on his turf.

Mix in some political factoids for each state, and you have a few minutes of entertainment for this evening. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ron Does Voose?

Mountain Women

Sorry for the recent quit period, but I was busy over the Labor Day Weekend. As I mentioned before, I had volunteered for the Scone/Fry Bread Sale that our Church runs each year at the Annual Rendezvous.

Rendezvous is basically a Renaissance Faire with the Medieval Themes replaced with Nineteenth Century ones, including dress, activities, and vendors. There are folks who camp out in Fort Bridger all weekend, and they are only allowed to do so if their entire camp, including their own head-to-toe garb, is authentic. One Igloo Cooler, one T-Shirt, or one scrap of Nylon on their tents gets them the boot.

A few more pictures here.

Anyway, the Scone Sale. there was about 4 or 5 of us that got up each morning of the Labor Day Weekend at 7am, loaded truck with bread dough (in varying degrees of thaw and rise), ice, and beverages and drove down to Fort Bridger to set up. We had various folks drop by during the day to help pull the scones (basically like stretching a pizza crust) but only a few of us were there the whole time. Because our participation dwindles down each year, the few people that put in the full time during the whole weekend talk more and more of just quitting the sale altogether. One can only give up his or her entire Labor Day weekend every friggin' year before apathy sets in (a few have been doing this for the full 28 years!).

I can empathize with them because every morning I demanded an explaination from myself as to why I was getting up that early in morning on a Holiday Weekend. And this was my first scone sale. But one of the perks was trading with other vendors for their food items. Like cool frothy liquid bread. Yum.