Thursday, August 23, 2007


The wife and I are less than a day from the start of PAX, I'm looking at a schedule designed to keep 30,000 nerds at bay for three days (it should do just fine), and I can't help but begin to anticipate what we'll see there.

And for the sake of brevity and convenience I will be lumping together the whole range of people attending PAX into the word "nerds" and our activities into the word "nerdity".

Without further ado and in no particular order, here is a list of the things I predict we'll encounter a lot of this coming weekend.

1) Claustrophobia.
I've never seen the convention hall designed to handle that many people. Come to think of it, I've never seen the shopping mall designed to handle that many people. Here's an overhead crowd shot from last year.

It's going to be like this, but with much more pushing and shoving.

2) Energy.
That many nerds all doing what they do, en masse, for a solid weekend can only result in a very high-energy event. I expect to see nerds very excited that they got to meet Gabe and Tycho, that they got to meet Wil Wheaton, that they managed to drink half a bottle of alcohol the night before, haven't slept and are still on their game when it comes to Guitar Hero, I expect a lot of hyper nerds for a lot of very nerdy reasons.

3) Swag.
Our first stop is likely going to be the exhibition hall, where we can wander about and get swag from companies that are happy to cater to and get feedback from this large a sample of nerdity.

4) Pictures.
I am going to get as many pictures as I can of the whole range from Cool to "uncool even among nerds." Natalie will be of great assistance in getting the attention of people that would otherwise not notice me and my camera in the sea of nerdery. In fact, I think this can be considered a separate point.

5) Boobs as currency.
If you didn't click on the photo above yet, do it now. If you have, go back to it and count how many women are in that crowd of over 150 people. I saw three people I was sure were women and a couple of maybes. This means that, like so many times before, women are rare among throngs of nerds, and will be treated accordingly. The wife understands this and also understands how to use this to her advantage. Simply by virtue of attending with a person with one small chromosomal difference I fully expect to get a lot of choice swag, meet many many more people than I would have otherwise, get into far better parties and all manner of other advantages. I'll be sure to report back on this.

6) B.O.
Every FAQ and "recommended" list I've ever seen for conventions and gatherings explicitly emphasizes deodorant. Every single one. That they go that far out of their way to do so is not to be taken lightly. Check out the following video at the 2:32 mark.

I'd like to apologize to my wife and her acute sense of smell in advance, because there is a chance that she will be suicidal/homicidal by the end of this expo for this reason alone. Also for one of the first times I'm glad that my own nose is nearly exclusively decorative. I hope to report back on this and say this is a myth. I really really really hope this.

7) Exhaustion
Natalie and I are bringing tea mugs and will scope out a convenient place for hot water early on, because caffeine will be our poor-sleeping lifeblood at this thing. Especially since day 1 begins at 6:30 or so. However, I don't expect it to be an issue until day 3, perhaps even when we're on the return flight home and there's nothing left to see or take pictures of or watch or play.

More points may come as I think of them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rant #2

The NFL preseason has started. For all the vein-tapping football addicts like myself, it's a very exciting time. We can finally stop using Arena Football and Canadian Football as surrogate NFL fixes. Don't get me wrong, I happen to enjoy the AFL and the CFL, but they're poor substitutes for the League.

There's no end of publicity for every team right now, and because they're all in training camp, where everybody's wearing shorts and not afraid of a hit from the safety/middle linebacker, everybody's a star. It's pure hype, the fans all know it's pure hype, but that hype sells a lot of tickets. Even the games themselves are just designed to get the good players back into "game shape", get them used to the contact and to help regain the reaction time needed on the field during the regular season. In light of that, the starters usually don't play for the entire first quarter. In the first game, they generally don't see more than 6-8 plays. No sense risking injury this early. We know this, and it's still exciting because it's finally back after 7 months off, because I'll take 6-8 plays over the nothing during the previous 7 months.

Anyway, my rant.

My team's preseason opening game was the first ESPN Monday Night Football broadcast for the 2007 season. I was happy for this because it meant that it'd probably be broadcast in Canada. This is good because preseason games aren't broadcast as part of NFL Sunday Ticket (which, as an aside, was half the reason we purchased a dish, the other half being The Food Network for the better half.)

I found the channel (TSN carrying the ESPN feed, naturally), set a timer to switch the channel at 6PM MST, and generally got ready to enjoy my team in action. When the coverage switched, however, they were in the middle of a broadcast of the 2007 Rogers Cup, which, for those interested, is a womens tennis event held in Canada. I figured no problem, they'll probably cut out in time for kickoff.

I proceeded to go from confused to incredulous to very unimpressed as a bad tennis match suddenly seemed to slow down time itself. The three-set tennis match turned into a two and a half hour display of some of the most lifeless play I've ever seen on a professional court.

All the while I couldn't believe that they weren't switching coverage. There's no way that TSN execs could think that the spike in viewership that came from people tuning in to see the ESPN broadcast were actually fans that suddenly saw the light and became interested in a Canadian womens tennis tournament. They decided not to bother switching to the second most popular televised sport in the world because Camille Pin of France might make a comeback against her bitter arch-rival Dinara Safina! I know, I hadn't heard of either of them either!

The match finally relented a little before 7:30 MST, and they switched coverage to the Denver -San Francisco game. There were less than two minutes remaining in the first half, and all of the players that are going to make both rosters were all done playing for the night. All of the players I'm considering for my fantasy league? They're all easy to spot, because they're all on the sidelines wearing ballcaps. Cutler? Gore? Walker? Champ? They all finished playing right around the same time that my eyes were glazing over during set 2 of trying to feign interest in Rogers Cup tennis.

What actually I got to see was an hour and a half of the downside of preseason football. That is, guys no one has heard of that aren't going to make either roster playing sloppy penalty-filled football while the announcers rack their brains trying to think of clever euphemisms for football of such poor quality that you should be paid to watch as a fan.

Dear TSN:

I understand that TSN is the biggest player when it comes to Canadian broadcasts of NFL games. I am willing to live with the fact that the commercials are bad on TSN and a lot worse on Global, the number two player. I'm cool with an awful lot of things that suck when it comes to getting my NFL fix. For the love of all that's decent to watch on a sports network, please show some sense when it comes to choosing what you air. Especially when the options are as straightforward as NFL football vs. insomnia-breaking first round Rogers Cup "action".


Another fan who knows better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A True First-World Crisis

Update 13-Aug-07:

Dear readers;

My apologies for the early onset of Alzheimer's that caused me to write and forget to post this. In the week since I wrote it, I actually chose to start RE4, which I've since finished on normal difficulty, as well as bonus material Assignment Ada and Separate Ways. I can't say enough about how much fun this game is, and despite playing it through 3 or 4 full times now, I still can't play it at night alone without getting seriously uptight. I could say that I'm just a wimp or that the game is that good. For reasons both obvious and shallow I'm going with the game is that good.

Also, Lunar Knights finally arrived in the mail today, so as soon as I manage to get the Chicago Typewriter in RE4 (one of the greatest weapons evar, IMO) in my second run-through, I'm going to start Lunar Knights.

Ah, the joy of seamless gaming addiction.

Original post, 7-Aug-07:

With my wife on vacation in Ontario I've found myself availed of a great deal of free time lately, and so I decided to finally play through some of the video game backlog that I've been accumulating over the past year or so.

Thus begins my First-World Crisis. Which game to choose? Empires have no doubt been built and ruined by such decisions.

In no particular order:

Title: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition.
-The GC version was the best console game I'd ever played. Keep in mind that I've only been a console gamer for about 3-4 years now, so don't fill my comments with crap like "8-bit gaming should be worshiped and is better than anything these days and I need some prune juice and get off my lawn, you punks!".

I also love making comments berating my non-existent readership.

-I've actually only borrowed the game from a friend of mine, so politeness would dictate that I get around to playing it some time before the next console generation comes out.

Title: Wii Madden.
-I am a football addict. I watched the entire Hall of Fame Game this previous Sunday, and if you've ever seen one, you know how much of a vein-tapper you need to be to get past the first quarter of the broadcast. If you haven't seen one, let me describe the quality of play for you with a drinking game analogy. I invited a couple of people to play a Hall of Fame Game drinking game, where every time the announcers had to give some polite euphemism for how bad or disorganized a play was (without disparaging the sport, of course), you take a drink. They both declined and said that game would make them die of alcohol poisoning.
-I have no interest in playing sports games by myself, however, so I'm going to respectfully leave that one on the shelf until another gaming football fan comes along.

Title: Elebits (Wii)
-I have to confess, this game looked a lot cooler than it turned out to be, and I bought into the positive reviews that I read because I wanted it to be a really good new franchise. Unfortunately it's not.

In short, Elebits is the video game version of frantically looking for a your car keys when you're late for a job interview. Interesting idea, I think Nintendo was hoping it'd catch on in the same way that Katamari Damacy did for Sony.

Title: Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS)
-For some reason I have a hard time maintaining interest in this game for a sustained period. I think it's like the movie The Fugitive with Tommy Lee-Jones and Harrison Ford. It's a very good movie; if you start watching it you'll enjoy it, but nobody seems to want to watch it enough to plan to watch it ahead of time. I like MP:H, I think the interface is very well done for an FPS on the DS, but I never feel enthusiastic enough about it to make time to play it.

Title: Osu! Tatake! Ouendan! (DS)
-It's the game that Elite Beat Agents was based on, and EBA is the only DS game I've played start to finish more than once. I'm pretty sure I'd get into it, but I have circular burn marks in my touch screen from EBA, so I'm hesitant to start this one. The old-school police whistle that seems to be in every song is not something I am looking forward to, either. If I do give it a legit shot I'm likely get hooked and finish it (OCD is a terrible thing), but I wanna want to play a game.

Title: Clubhouse Games (DS)
-Every review I read said "I know that it's a bunch of simple games all shoehorned together, but it's still done really well on the DS!" They must have meant playing with friends, because playing the simple games I enjoyed as a kid loses its lustre quickly when it's just you and an occasionally benevolent AI. I think I'll leave it on the shelf until company is over.

Title: Lunar Knights (DS)
-It got very good ratings just about everywhere I looked, I'm a sucker for a halfway decent RPG, and I managed to get a copy for $24 US, shipped. I think this is the next DS obsession for me.

Title: Guitar Hero II (360)
-I don't own a 360, am not likely to get one any time soon, and yet if there was a game that would get me to buy one, this is it. Perhaps because it's the most like a Wii game with the non-standard controller and compelling gameplay without needing the very height of graphics. In order to spend my time playing this I'd need a key to the Blais residence. I'm not holding my breath for this to happen. Fun game, though, looking forward to GH3 when it comes out for the Wii.