journal for 2002-09-02

monkeys in balls

I’m taking a break from Mario, which has stumped me for now, and I’m trying to unlock more games in Super Monkey Ball 2. I really can’t explain how annoyed I am that I need to unlock the SMB2 games. It’s not like I’m looking for secret levels or extra characters; the second six Party Games are a key piece of functionality for this game. Monkey Ball is a /party/ game, for play by groups of people drinking beer. I feel like I’ve bought a $50 piece of shareware that still won’t let me use all of its advanced functions until I’ve shown that I like its basic functions, too. Infuriating! Monkey Tennis seems so-so, but Monkey Shot is pretty fun. The other four games remain locked.


Yesterday, we rented Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Waking Life, My First Mister, and Scanners. Can you believe I’ve never seen Scanners? True.

J&SBSB was pretty good. It didn’t have the awful scatalogical humor that ruined Dogma for me, and a lot of it was actually pretty funny. I can’t say enough, though, that I do not enjoy Will Ferrell. He just does not amuse me, at all. Kevin Smith, on the other hand, strikes me as a pretty down-to-earth guy, and I like his movies and him. I’ll even go see Jersey Girl when it comes out, I think.

Today, we watched Waking Life. Actually, we watched about 2/3 of it, and scanned through the rest. Waking Life is now definitely on my Worst Movies Ever list. I just hated it. It made me angry. I tried to ignore it, but it just sat there on the screen, gabbing incessantly and making me want to punch the glass, or the filmmaker. I think the movie wanted to be some kind of amazing philosophical statement about our great freedoms and individuality, but it was just existentialist crap. It went on and on about the collective memory and personal freedom and self-actualization and I just wanted to puke. Bryan says he knows someone who “swears by” that movie; I’m really hoping he had misunderstood, and that the person meant, rather, that they “swear at” it.

After that tooth-pulling, I relaxed with a little Nintendo. We had sammiches, and then moved on to My First Mister, eager to get the taste of bile out of our mouthes. (Or at least out of mine. I don’t think Gloria was quite as personally offended by it, even though she didn’t like it, either.) My First Mister was alright, but it didn’t do much for me. I agree with Ebert; it should’ve stuck with the key issue: the relationship between J and R.

Once the big End of Second Act event occurred, the movie became scattered. I’ll stick with what I’ve been saying for a long time: Aristotle was right. A piece of art needs only what is essential. The addition of non-harmonic noise is just noise, and it’s distracting. What does R’s long-lost son have to do with anything important? Nothing! Still, I liked the movie, even if it wasn’t perfect.

We haven’t watched Scanners yet; three movies in 24 hours was Enough. I’m kind of eager to finally see it, as it seems to be a really popular (or, at least, often-watched) movie. It’s got four sequels, and now I see they’re remaking it. I’ve heard some good things about the writer and director, David Cronenberg, but my experiences haven’t been that great. He directed eXistenZ (awful!) and Crash (pointless!), but also The Fly (adequate) and the Dead Zone (president-shoottastic!). On a side note, IIRC, a character in Gibson’s Virtual Light came from a television-and-movie cult in which Cronenberg’s movies were taboo. I’m not sure why, but I assume it has something to do with Videodrome, which I never watched end-to-end.

family events

I forgot to mention, in my last entry, that Uncle Jim, Big Ta (i.e., Aunt Carmen), Heide, Kip, and Ta were all in town this last week. Gloria and I went over, Thursday, for a family dinner of paella and burned bread. It was pretty good, and we had a swell time. I babbled a lot about free software and other nonsense to Jim, and realized (again) that I always feel less eloquent when talking with him than with most other people. I also shared some of my Rare Breed with Jim and Kip, both of whom liked it but noted (correctly) that it’s way strong.

Kip and Ta were here to (among other things) continue work on my parents’ house. They did some painting in the dining room, and it looks really good. So much of the house has been off-white forever! It’s nice to see some good colors really making the place look friendly. My dad, who’s been pretty grumbly about most of the work they’re doing, even commented that he liked the dining room colors.

On Saturday, we were all at the Rippee. Ever once in a while (it used to be yearly, but this year’s was the first in, I think, 12 years), my dad’s frat brothers all throw a big party called a Rippee. Rippees are pretty cool. The guys, who graduated in the early sixties, get together and drink beer, tell stories, and eat weird food. I cannot imagine planning a reunion with many of my college friends, especially if it involved getting them to travel far. The guys, though, all seem to love seeing each other, and are genuinely interested in how things are going, which is nice.

This year’s food was “bird,” which is way tamer than things have been in the past—they’ve spit-roasted whole pigs and eaten awful tropical fruits. We had smoked pheasant, which tasted like ham; grilled ostrich, which tasted like steak; fried turkey, which tasted like really good turkey; fig-stuffed quail, which was quailly and so-so; and game hen, which was dry but good. There was polenta, too, which was tasty. I saw lots of people who told me that, “The last time I saw you, you were this big!” As long as the next one isn’t for a few years, I’m looking forward to it.

general malaise

I’m feeling semi-useless lately. I’m not reading enough. I’m working on Puttering About in a Small Land, which is good, but I should’ve torn through it by now. I’m watching too much TV. I’m not doing enough coding, and I’m not doing any biking worth mentioning. I need to get to work on a project, but I don’t know what. I wish my job wasn’t so crappy—I’m never going to become a worthwhile programmer if I’m stuck writing web apps and hacking at VB kludges.

When I was a kid, I got semi-proficient at C by hacking the WWIV BBS extensively. Now, there isn’t much in the way of a large C project that I want to hack. I need to find something simple enough that I can understand it, but complicated enough that I can grow into more complicated modifications. Maybe Gaim or XMMS? Meh.

Written on September 2, 2002