Friday, October 31, 2003

I Wish Someone Had Warned Me I'm Becoming an Otaku Before I Had Already Typed Most of This Post

I figured some more info about the Bohbobo game.

Instead of a role-play game, it's a "word-play game" (groan). And I'd just like to clarify that I took that pun from this press release - they actually use the English term (or Engrish as the case may be). As any one who has watched shounen anime with lots of fighting, like the inexplicably popular Dragon Ball Z, or even seen Street Fighter or similar video games, you have to announce your moves when you do them. The bigger and more powerful the move, the more impressive your announcing has to be. So for the Bohbobo game, what you have to do is string the phrases for announcing your move together. It's got this system that looks like the wheel on Price is Right. You try to pick the words or phrases you want as the wheel goes 'round, and if you string them together just right you can announce a super move, and then do it. I saw some screenshots, and the only words I could pick out were "my" (私の) and "mayonnaise" (マヨネーズ). I'm not sure how you'd use mayonnaise to beat someone up, but I'm guess if you're writing for a game with "Nose Hairs" in the title, you're expected to get pretty creative.

I'd post the screen shots, but I'm using the "my network connection was interrupted twice today and it must have been solar flares" excuse to avoid going through my browser history to find where it was that I found them.

And about slighting Dragon Ball Z: I watched quite a bit of the show on Cartoon Network. I don't know why. I don't remember it being that good, but I still sat there and watched. Or probably for most of the episodes I listened to it and half-watched while typing away at the computer. It's easy to watch; watching DBZ demands very little of you. Unlike, say, the much superior FLCL.

I feel a little better about my anime interest knowing that's what got this guy down his linguistic path. So long as I can rationalize it, I'm happy.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

She's a Man, Baby?

They say you can programmatically tell if someone is male or female by analyzing the way they type. I remember reading the original article in the New York Times - I think that was the last time I actual bought the Times, barring maybe one Sunday in September.

So I turned to a professional writer I know and some of her coworkers and submitted a few articles. They all came up male, even for articles written by people I have met and know to be female. One or two of the articles written by women were close, but most had the same approximate 1:2 ratio in favor of masculine that their male colleagues and I exhibit.

I posit that any above-average writer striving for a certain tone will, even without intention do so, fool the algorithm every time.

Tales from the Hermetic Theater

BTW, about that John Zorn CD, I did think it had some interesting bits. Most of the tracks are unlistenable, and this from a guy who willingly picks out minimalism's greatest hits to listen to from time to time, but the longest track was pretty good and made up for it. It was almost like a game of guess-the-object: "What household item is he using to make an awful din with now?" It might strike others as awful dull, but I look at it as changing perspectives on what qualifies as interesting sound. And it's not like that track didn't have nice violins bits, too.

Aside: I find it interesting that on the AMG page linked above, the mention Joseph Beuys as an influence. I've been reading Cat and Girl, who reference Beuys. I want the shirt that says "Don't look at me. I voted for Zombie Joseph Beuys."

And speaking about having CD's in my hot little hands, I saw a recording of the Hot Hot Heat playing their hit, Bandages, on TV. They were very energetic and getting into the song, which is good. But it wasn't as tight as what's on the album, not by a long shot. They were missing the sense of balance that good bands have. All the energy in the world doesn't do you a bit of good if it isn't focused and doesn't come out in your playing and you drown out the drummer. The album is really well produced, though.

In Case You Were Wondering:

Is it me, or do I resemble this picture of Anil Dash Anil Dash? Except I'm much more ruggedly handsome and I have a chin.
(thanks to Mr. Ito).

posted at 01:39 | add a note

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I'm Not Bigoted, But,

Those damn Low-Carb diet people. They control all the banks, you know.

From the Brilliant Mind Behind...

...Monkey versus robot: American Elf. It's good. I was reading it before I even knew they were the same guy. I found out the connection thanks to the nifty people at this store. (You can also buy Monkey vs. Robot from Amazon if you want to, but these guys are much more ...interesting.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Musically Gifted

I was listening to the David Bowie album I got for my birthday.

Basically, Mom asked me what I wanted and then got it for me. I feel a bit cheap or greedy doing it that way, but it is better, I guess, than the time she got me a John Zorn CD, but not the one I wanted. I do like that Mom's sending me a book that I mentioned offhand and she recommended since this way it's partly her idea. But her sending me Deltron 3030 feels impersonal. I don't want to sound ungrateful -- I am really happy to have the music and even happier to have a Mom that cares enough to want to send things I like -- but when she told me a few days ago that the CD hadn't come in but was on its way, she wanted to make sure she was getting the right thing because it was rap. See?

I'm at the other end of the spectrum, which some people may think is just as bad. I don't want to give a gift at all unless some thought went into it.

So back to the Bowie album:

I would have never wanted the CD if I hadn't heard some of it online. I also heard a bits on Studio 360 or somesuch, where they mentioned that some songs were in part a reaction to Sept 11, 2001. With that context in mind, I can look back at some of the lyrics and reinterpret - Uncle Floyd is floating off over Coney Island, "Everything has changed./Nothing has changed" (from track #1), and the words to someone who has passed on, "Don't stay in the bad place/where they don't know who you are," from the track Everyone Says Hi. The two songs I like the most off the CD are Everyone Says Hi and Cactus. It wasn't until I had the CD in my hot little hands that I saw that Cactus wasn't written by Bowie. And when I looked up the name, I found it was a Pixies song.

I always liked having a music snob friend or two, but I've noticed these days that I'm my friends' music snob friend. Now, I should clarify that by saying over half my friends would effortlessly outscore me on any 80's pop music trivia quiz, and in that genre I hold no hope of ever beating this man. What I'm thinking of is some sort of sliding scale, where Matt Pinfield is 100 and HJ is 5 (if they don't play it on the oldies station, he doesn't know it) and I'm 30 or so, and desired snob friend would only have to be 45 or better. That way, I have someone whom I can say to, "I really like that Cactus song off of Bowie's release before his latest," cause we'd be talking about music regularly anyway, and music friend would say "Cactus? Like the Pixies song?" And then, after realizing it's the same song and lamenting my sad lack of knowledge and alt-rock cred, direct me towards buying the Pixies album in the first place and saving me from the runaround that led now, wanting to buy it anyway. Though with Pixies in hand, I still would have wanted the Bowie CD, too.

I thought Cactus was Bowie's. I could kinda imagine his wife Iman going into some African desert as a good-will ambassador to the country she was born in, and Bowie just getting lonely something awful for some memento of her. In retrospect, the song is quite obsessive and I do have a hard time imagining a mellower, older Bowie being that obsessive over a brief separation from his lover, but if it's one thing I've learned, you never know. Anyway, I can identify with wanting a personal memento of someone you love to assure you if they can't be there with you, and I like the way the feeling's released in the song. It's about a desire for something personal, something inimitable and real. So what if it's a bit....peculiar creepy:

and a letter in your writing doesn't mean you're not dead
run outside in the desert heat
make your dress all wet and send it to me

In summation: giving good gift is easier said than done and music snob friend equals same net result with faster turnaround time. And my sincerest apologies to any of my friends if they knew of the Pixies song and I was just too dumb not to think to bring it up in conversation with them.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Post Wherein I Steal a Phrase from the Book "Infinite Jest"

I was thinking along these lines before I read Frank's reply to my "vanity" post, but this is, in part, a response to that comment.

I have been trying to stay motivated about exercise and other good habits. Z has, quite a few times, suggested list-making, small goals, breaking tasks down into smaller tasks, etc. But then, Ms. N says, "You need to run. Go running tomorrow." "Go three days a week," she says. And I did.

Ms. N is more endocrinologically compelling than Dr. Z.

How I Get Distracted Easily:

Before I start, if anyone who actually cares finds that the foreign language stuff is garble, please post a comment letting me know. Also, the next paragraph is cool because it makes it look like, to someone who doesn't know much either, that I actually know what I'm talking about.

I was reading the comments on today's Megatokyo, and Dom mentions a bet where if he wins, he forces someone to watch Boboboobo Boobobo. Dom's spelling is a bit misleading, though. It's spelled ボーボボ, and I was thinking was thinking Boubobo would be closer to how it's actually pronounced. So I went searching for anything in English language stuff about the wackiness that is ボボボーボ * ボーボボ. I did find info on the GBA game, where fans are spelling it Bohbobo. And then I searched for the title "Bobobohbo Bohbobo Ougi 87.5 Bakuretsu Hanage Shinken" in Japanese, which I guessed would come out to おうぎ87.5  ばくれつ はなげ しんけん (I left out the 87.5 bit since I don't know how to say it ... hachiju shichi something?), and found a press release for the game here. Which is interesting, because they call the game 奥義87.5 爆烈鼻毛真拳, and say it's pronounced "Ougi Hanaguu Bakuretsu Hanage Shinken" (おうぎハナゲー ばくれつはなげしんけん). So I checked it against the Japanese dictionary software I like to use. I have no idea how they get "hanaguu" from 87.5. Ougi is "secrets, mysteries". The dictionary tripped on the kanji, but picked up on bakuretsu spelled phonetically as "explosion". Hanage is "nostril hairs". Shinken, based on the kanji they're using, means "true fist" (or "pure" or "just"), though it looks like an intentional reference to 神剣, "divine sword".

So, let's translate the title as "Bobobohbo Bohbobo [the protagonist's name]: Mysteries of the True Fist of the 87.5 Exploding Nostril Hairs". Well, Dom did say it was a punishment.

And in case you still care, a guy writes here in his blog:

The Impossibility of Reason is now Bohbobo-ified for your protection. Bobobohbo Bohbobo is a Weekly Jump manga series that parodies Fist of the North Star and other such martial arts manga.

Emphasis his. And no, he doesn't mean making fun of this Fist of the North Star, which was fairly horrible, but this one which, imho, was better but still not good.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Vanity and Introspection

Does my last post sound vain to you?

Does my being worried about my last post being vain sound vain to you? Well, this blog is a vanity site after all.

"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity,' thus saith Kohelet"

As an aside: Well, you learn something new each day: Ecclesiastes was an attempt to translate the name Kohelet into Latin. Though I've known for a few years now that Ecclesiastes and Kohelet are the same thing, for years I thought Ecclesiastes was some New Testament book. For those of you who's browsers didn't choke on my birthday message to my sister, Kohelet is קהלת. If displayed right, the character with the descending mark should be all the way on the right. If it's on the left, you browser doesn't automatically switch directions.

It's weird mixing English and Hebrew on this computer. The computer does the Right Thing, it's just hard to get used to. The arrow keys still move left and right, but because Hebrew is read right-to-left, the backspace and delete keys change directions. It's a little disorienting.

Well that was two asides. Now back to the post.

But I've been worried about my behavior. I've let a friendship fall by the wayside. HJ asked me to go to a party last December. There would be nice girls there, he said. I said yes. I then panicked the day of and didn't go. Why did I panic? Vanity. I was irrationally worried about how I'd look at the semi-formal party that it was supposed to be. Since then, I've sent a couple emails to HJ. He asked me why I didn't go in his last message. I've never responded. Even with other friends I'm late frequently, or flake out and not show, though that's rare. And to my credit, most of the times don't show aren't because I panic, but I screwed up and locked my self out or overslept or what have you. But whatever the cause, the result is the same, and I'm not happy with that.

A cousin of mine called yesterday to remind me I was to meet her and her nuclear family (husband, wife, and 2.45 kids if you count the dog has a half-child). "I don't want you to think I'm insinuating that you're absent-minded," she said (I may be inadvertently paraphrasing). "That's okay. I am absent-minded."

Z says I should try some new drug. I have mixed feelings about it, but am frankly ready to concede. I'm willing to try if it'll mean improvement, though I'm a bit disheartened at the prospect of being tied to some drug for the rest of my functional existence.

[ 1 comment ]

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Soon With Feed, Also I've Got Rhythm

Well, hopefully the feed from the nice folks over at BlogMatrix will be up and running soon. They said it may take 24-36 hrs. As I've said before, I sure wouldn't read this blog feedless if it wasn't mine. So as you know, I got the idea from seeing it on this blog.

Next, about the dream post. Since it came up in conversation with .P yesterday, he story about me at camp with the out of tune piano is true. It happened, and how I wrote it in the post is as accurately as I can remember it. People would remind me about it years after the fact, up to and including my last year at that camp, 7 years after the original incident. In the dream, I dreamt that I decided to include the story in my essay/test-thingy.

I did elaborate about the time signatures a bit, but they were in the dream because it was a music class exam after all, and dream-me felt I had to demonstrate some knowledge of music theory. But I was listening to "Unsquare Dance" for the first time (while not dreaming) a few weeks before, and was trying to count it and kept coming up with 3.5 over 4. Which made no sense to me until I realized that was the same as 7/8. 7/8 time seems sadly more mundane than three-and-a-half. I'm also less impressed in retrospect about a NYT article from about a year ago about a jazz pianist doing rhythmic left-hand stuff based on Indian rhagas or prayer chants or some such that are in four and a half. When you make that 9, it's much less impressive, but if I recall he was playing 4.5 in one hand and 6 in the other or some such, which is just mind numbing.

A test at home to illustrate the above: with one hand, start tapping in fours. Say "one, two, three, four" again and again as you tap, and the taps should be even - have the exact same interval between them. With the other hand, tap the same way but in threes. When that 'other' hand returns to one (on it's fourth tap), the first hand should be on it's one (fifth tap). They tape at different rates, and both go back to one at the same time. I can do 2 vs. 3 easily. I can pull off an imperfect but convincing 4 vs. 3. That's my limit.

Friday, October 10, 2003

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Ah, but what dreams may come.

I dreamt this morning that I was murdered, hit fatally to the back of the head with the broad side of a rifle butt. I didn't die. Or maybe I was 'undead'. The detective investigating the case roused me, and he had spoken with his cases' dead victims before. But unlike the others, I was hungry. I ate. Astonished at my abnormality, he had some friends make food for me. I never saw anyone, though, and he was always evasive to others as to what was really going on.

I was taking a music class at the time. In fact, I might have been driving back from the school in my father's car - a red convertible which he used to own and no longer has. The term was almost over, and after all that work, I didn't want to miss the final exam, even if I was a murder victim.

Everyone was already in place for the exam when I arrived. There was only the normal classroom space with the chairs and desks moved aside. The judges who were grading had their own seating at the side of the room in what looked like a jury box, though it was really chairs set up on a small set of bleachers on wheels that the choir sometimes used. The class smelled like I remember my hometown University's music labs did, a sort of sterile smell of synthetic particle board that everyone posted notes on, the staleness of hard floors that hundreds of students march over them since yesterdays daily mopping, and the plastic odor of the the walls, carpeted in some sound-absorbing fabric that had almost no pile to it. The students were all in place, most on a stage area with instruments in hand. I took a seat with those instrument-less, not far from the rooms baby grand piano. The students with instruments were actors from Saved by the Bell, and were assembled like a rock band. Screech and the others began to play.

They played some jazz standards. I think they couldn't have played like the rock band they looked like if their lives depended on it, but the jazz was decent. For the third song, I was to join them on the piano. I had no idea what I was doing. I lost track of the chord changes, moved unsurely, and muddled through. Which pretty much matches my real-life ability. I only know how to play what was written in front of me that I've practiced to death. I sat down as this other actress joined them, singing in some stereotypical blues torch singer woman's voice.

Then came the written portion of the exam. The teacher walked over to me. "Because of your recent accident," she said, "it's okay if you need to leave early. We'll keep a close watch on you, and once you've done enough to pass the exam, we'll let you know so you can leave."

I nodded, took a seat at a desk, started reading over the two writing assignments. I forget now what the second one was. The first was, "Write the final or next-to last chapter of your musical story. Model it after the example." The example was from a short story-length biography we had read in class. I worked hard, writing and revising. I had it pretty much planned out in my head by the time I was halfway done. My dream shifted so I was dreaming the story:

Chapter the Last

Alone in my parent's house, I walked back from the piano towards the room that had been by bedroom growing up, I saw Joan of Arc in the hallway. She wasn't completely solidified, but the music accompanying her was real. Church organ music, almost pre-baroque, with plenty of harmony in fifths and fourths and none in parallel motion. My father came home and tried to pull his green convertable into the garage. The music stopped. Dad stopped, blocked by my car in front of his usual spot.

Music stared up again from the outside. This time the music was more chromatic and shifted time signatures. I had trouble counting, first in 5/4 then changing to ... three and a half? No, in seven. And then there were many. I heard a gamelan of polyphony. I walked towards the old, broken stone fountain that hadn't worked since before my family moved in, and the music pulsed in and out with heartbeats and leaves rustling. It harmonized with a passing car as some divergent threads played with the sound of the insects hiding in the muddy ditch.

* * * * * *

I remember being at camp when I was seven or eight years-old or so. It was an all-boys overnight camp. The counselors organized few cabins, about hundred guys or so, most of them a year or two older me, for a talent show. I signed up to play, too young to realize that even the best piece I knew, something of Old Bach's from Anna Magdelina's notebook, probably wouldn't mean much to my audience. I sat down at the piano, and after the first few notes I realized it probably hadn't been tuned in years. So I stopped playing and turned to the counselor managing the talent show.

"The piano's out of tune."

He was baffled. He didn't know what to do about it. Kids laughed. I wasn't about to play on a piano that out of tune, though. It would sound horrible. Maybe he didn't realize the import the first time around.

"The piano's out of tune."

Honestly, I forget how it ended. I guess I just gave up and sat back down with everyone else. And there are people in this world who remember me only because I was some kid who went up and did a very funny comedy bit complaining about the piano. I've never disabused anyone of that notion, and even in my last year going to that camp, seven years later, some older kid came up to me. "Hey. I remember you! You're that 'the piano's out of tune' guy," he said, and he imitated for his friend's benefit the seven-year-old me's whine once or twice, and then laughed. "That was funny."

* * * * * *

The music stopped. My car wasn't there, and Dad's car pulled into the garage.

In the dream, when I realized the story had to end with those last two pargraphs, I teared up. I knew as soon as I finished putting those words to paper, I'd finally die like I was supposed to have two days before. I felt comforted to know. I put my pen to paper.....

....and then I woke up.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Lets try that again.

Needs to be bigger.

!יום הולדת שמח

Much better.

In case you're wondering, it just means "happy birthday." And this page is Google's number one page for the phrase. It's just some clipart, but it strikes me as a very odd.

Needs to be bigger.

!יום הולדת שמח

Much better.

In case you're wondering, it just means "happy birthday." And this page is Google's number one page for the phrase. It's just some clipart, but it strikes me as a very odd.

For My Sister

!יום הולדת שמח

Friday, October 03, 2003

This Man...

...has clearly not thought things through [via Dave Barry's Blog].

Hillel said "more wives, more witchcraft."

If You Press F7 in Outlook

As a comment on the past post, I'm surprised that Blogger's spell-checker doesn't have the word "blog" in it. I know Microsoft added all the names for their products in their spell checkers.

Video Killed the Early-Bird's Start

I know a doctor, let's call him Z. Z has a practice with my father's roommate from college. Z works very close to where I am. Z is a shrink.

I was talking to Z a few months ago about my near-addictive response to certain types of video games. A few weeks ago, Z told me that he had talked to his patients about it -- done an informal survey. Apparently over-use of video games is quite widely reported by his patients suffering from depression. What surprised him the most was that men and women seemed equally as likely to feel they played video games too much (spent too much time, interfered with the rest of their lives), with the only gender difference being that women were more embarrassed.

I feel terribly guilty about what I do with gaming. There's nothing wrong about the way I sit down and play networked team games with friends, I don't think. My weakness has been the more solitary game playing, even to the point were I would sometimes prefer to sit staring at whatever game is currently pulling at me instead of playing games with friends. Though perhaps that's because my friends don't usually play my preferred type of game, the turn-based thinking-type games. (FWIW, I like Scrabble, though not Monopoly.) I have a friend who's had to deal with similar issues. I know he stayed up very late many nights playing The Sims making him late in the morning.

But the real reason I bring all this up is because I still want to talk about gaming in my blog. As much as I may play for escapist reasons, it's not like I just turn off my brain while I'm playing. There are ideas floating around in my head and the main reason for this blog is, after all, so I can get all these ideas I feel an urge to communicate out into the world -- cogitated over and expounded upon -- so that I exhaust the urge and don't bore my friends. But I'd still feel bad about spending all this time talking about game playing, about theory and praxis if you will, if I didn't write this entry. Now I can say, "Look, I feel really bad about this time I spent staring at pointless pixels. I could have been honing my skills or taking out the trash or even reading a book I just bought. But look, while I was doing it, I had this idea."

See, by admitting that the habit is dangerous, I feel freed to let the inspired thoughts be blameless.