Saturday, September 27, 2008

Probably the Only Blogger to Eulogize Paul Newman Today

When I was in college, our student newspaper was playing one of those games beloved of 20-year-olds looking to avoid work, discussing who would play each of us in a movie. I chose a young Paul Newman. Never mind that the only resemblance I bore to Paul Newman of any age was that we were both white guys, never mind that Paul Newman probably wouldn't be caught dead in a Youth of Today t-shirt and cut-off Dockers. He had an ageless cool that I wanted to emulate even then.

There was something eternal and reassuring about him -- he looked roughly the same in "The Sting" as he did in "Nobody's Fool" -- maybe older, but just as composed and calm.

There aren't many humans I'd call timeless, but he was. If Paul Newman can die, we're all screwed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Peter Pepper's Traveling All-Stars

So hey, haven't been around here much lately. Sorry! Busy busy. Work, non-work, and then BurgerTime.

When I was a kid, I loved video game arcades, even though I sucked horribly at pretty much every game -- forget getting to the second level of Donkey Kong, I just wanted to get past three barrels without dying. But I found them pretty magical, and if you had told age-10 me that age-35 me would be friends with someone who had several coin-op video games in his house, I would have figured that I'd be hanging out with the Prince of Monaco or something at age 35.

I don't think ICJ is the Prince of Monaco (speak up if you are, though!), but every time I visit him back in Colorado, I get a bit of that amazement back. And the suckiness, too, because I'm still awful at Tempest.

So ICJ was the logical person to go to when I felt the need, the craving, for an authentic BurgerTime (or Burger Time, or Burgertime) experience this past week. If you never played it, in BT, you're Peter Pepper, who has to run on top of hamburgers to make them fall down into a little box. The whole time you're being chased by angry pickles, hot dogs, and eggs. It's just like life.

I had found this Flash version, which is pretty faithful, but I needed the full-fledged version -- music, feet on the hot dogs, eyes on the pickles. I needed it to be as real as possible.

ICJ did some research and confirmed that there is no Xbox version of the game, and no PC version, so ... I was doomed. And then he said, uncertainly (well, I am projecting here - we were instant messaging) -- "have you thought about MAME?"

Ah, MAME. I tried it once, years ago, and couldn't get it to work on my computer, so I forgot about it. But with ICJ talking me through it, I got it to work (it's not really that hard), and now... it's Burger Time all the time here. It was one of the only games I was good at as a kid, and I'm sad to see I'm pretty rusty, but at the rate I'm going I'll be playing it about 10 hours a day within the week.

Apropos of that, two old arcade stories that this brought to mind:

When I was a kid, hanging out at Chuck E. Cheese's, I was initially unaware of the common move of putting a quarter on the marquee to signify that you had next game. So when I was playing, I dunno, Zaxxon one day and some other kid put his quarter up, I figured he was helping me out with my Zaxxon awesomeness, and in the sort of smooth asshole move that I could never have pulled off had I known better, I reached up, took his quarter, and popped it into the machine for a new game. He didn't say a word (which was good, because I was enough of a wimp that I would have spent a week in traction if he'd so much as pushed me) and walked away. Some weeks or months later, I realized what I'd done, and I still feel pretty ashamed. I hope he didn't grow up to be a serial killer or something.

Then, in an attempt to get decent at Donkey Kong, I bought a paperback book that professed to show you how to get good at video games. I didn't think that maybe it had hints and tips that I should consider and work into my mind before playing -- no, I decided to READ THE BOOK AS I WAS PLAYING THE GAME. Here's a tip for playing Donkey Kong: don't try to read a paperback book with one hand as you're playing. Imagine a bespectacled, skinny kid working the joystick with one hand, holding the book open with the other, then realizing, oh shit, you need a free hand to hit the "jump" button. All things considered, it's good my parents didn't take me to arcades too much.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Out of Order

Home internet service is really really sick, so I'm lucky if I can log on for five minutes. So neat stuff further delayed.

Briefly, though --

#39 -- "Reappraisals" by Tony Judt

I foolishly put off reading this, because the Economist kinda slammed it and I feared it would tarnish the memory of "Postwar." I needn't have worried -- it's fucking fantastic (feel free to use that on the cover of the paperback edition, guys). This is a collection of Judt's essays from the past, oh, 15 years or so, and there's nary a misstep throughout. In a few cases, I don't know enough about the Marxist scholars or whoever he's discussing to be able to respond critically, but it's often enough to spur me to check out the stuff he's writing about. And when he's discussing current/recent/historical events, he's at the top of his game. The opening essay, "The World We Have Lost," is so spot-on that I want to photocopy it, send it to everyone I know, and say "This. This is where all discussion should pretty much start." I recommend this and I re-recommend "Postwar." I want more Judt. The guy needs a blog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nashville, Briefly

An unexpectedly busy week so I still really haven't had a chance to look through the pictures. Hopefully this weekend.

Nashville was a fun town (we stayed in the heavy tourist part of the city, and it was a blast -- Atlanta has nothing comparable), and it's a bit of a shame that it's taken me this long to visit -- it's only four hours away. I've been really remiss in seeing things outside of Atlanta, outside of the occasional photo-seeking half-day trip. I haven't been to Savannah in five or six years, haven't been to Charleston since I moved here, and so on.

It was also hot as hell, and more humid than Atlanta. That's not such a great thing. I had figured "Nashville is farther north = Nashville has more bearable temperatures," but WRONG.

Anyway, more to come.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beaten by Bovary

Nashville pics probably coming tomorrow -- I'm a bit lazy plus returning to work today.

#38 -- "Something to Declare" by Julian Barnes

This probably suffers a bit because I wanted it to be something it isn't, and also because I don't share the author's interests. I'd expected it to be a France-oriented version of "Letters From London," and that's not the case -- it does start off with little essays on French culture, some of which are pretty fascinating (on the Tour de France, for instance), others not so much, but still well-written.

The second half-plus of the book is all about Flaubert and his circle, and again well-written, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it if you're really, really (as Barnes is) into Flaubert. I'm not. One essay would have been enough for me -- there's ten, though, and I found myself losing interest pretty fast.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Music City Miracle

So hey, I've been in Nashville for a few days, without any real internet access save the Holiday Inn lobby computer, which had Net Nanny installed so that I was prevented from accessing "adult content" sites like One Base On An Overthrow.

The photo above can be chalked up to one of two things: I was shocked because I'd just consumed several "Key Lime Martinis," and thus realized that I'm not actually a 35-year-old man but instead a 19-year-old sorority girl, or because it's the first time I've seen the word "Predators" in the past twelve months without someone concurrently shrieking at me about Jim Balsillie.

More pictures and HC Kometa Brno info available once I catch up. I'll end the suspense, though -- N-ville's a fun town!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fighting the Bryan Adams Joke Urge

#37 -- "Summer of '49" by David Halberstam

A few months back, I realized that I'd never ever read any of Halberstam's books, so I picked up a few. Naturally I read the baseball one before any of those dealing with serious subjects.

In my teenage years, I read just about every baseball book in the Boulder Public Library, except for this one and one or two of Roger Angell's books, which looked, I dunno, too serious for me.

Anyway, "Summer of '49" was a nice end-of-summer read, pretty quick and nicely paced. I burned myself out on baseball literature long ago, but this is probably a bit headier stuff -- Halberstam's a big fan, but he can't curb his intellectual instincts, which is a-ok with me. There's a good case to be made for the pennant race occurring at a crucial juncture in American history (granted, you could probably make that case for any race between, say, the 1940s and the 1970s), as radio had started giving way to TV, the color line was still newly broken, stars' feet of clay weren't visible, etc etc.

The race was probably pretty gripping, but there's not a lot of drama -- even if you don't know the end result, I think you can figure out who's gonna end up winning pretty quickly. Good pleasant read, in any case -- next I'll have to take up some of his political work.

* * *

Linkage: when I was a kid, Casa Bonita in Denver was one of the locations for kids' birthday parties -- I remember magicians, divers, mazes, mysteries, loads of stuff (and I'd bet some of the recollections are fanciful or mistaken). It's probably been nearly 25 years since I've been, so it was a trip when Noah passed this along -- an adult's trip back to Casa Bonita. It seems really dingy and depressing, which it may have been back then too (I thought Chuck E. Cheese had the world's best pizza back then, too, so it's not like I was some amazing ten-year-old arbiter of taste). It was quite a trip reading it, and I'm glad someone else did it rather than me.

Meanwhile, Double Cross has posted part of an interview with Gavin of No For An Answer (who just showed up in the comments at this blog, I think -- again, wheels within wheels!). NFAA remain one of my favorite bands from that era, and it was really a blast to read about their genesis. You can bet I'll be breaking out "You Laugh" in the coming days.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Two Things

a) well, that sucked.

b) no idea what happened to the banner -- I drunkenly changed it last night, decided much later that part of it was not in keeping with the high-class joint I run here, and apparently blew the whole thing up.

Opening Day!

There's something cheering about football starting up, even if it's still summertime temperatures outside -- it's another indication that the world will soon be a bit more bearable. And even if I don't expect much from either the Buccaneers or Broncos this year, it's still a pleasure to have it back.

Of course, I'll be watching most of it from work, but we all have our crosses to bear.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Girls Would Turn the Color of an Avocado

Irritating things: whenever I hear the name of former Brewer/Phillie Sixto Lezcano (not that often), my brain takes it and starts an ongoing loop of the Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso," substituting in "Sixto Lezcano." It does this with Cesar Cedeno, too, but it doesn't last as long.

I'm nearly on hour 24 of "Sixto Lezcano was never called an asshole." At least it's better than "Raising McCain."

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I recently came across an early-1970s hockey magazine from Czechoslovakia* -- which has a bunch of cool and interesting ads in it. Some remarkably similar to North American ads at the same, others very different. I'll be posting them here from time to time, until I run out or get bored.

The bit along the side says, roughly, "for modern men from the national company." I'm not sure which national company; hard to tell whether this is an advertisement for "Rex" or "Kras Brno." "Kras Brno" is listed as a garment producer that went out of business in the 1990s; there's a business called "Rex" at Podnásepní 1 in Brno, if you want to drop by.

It's kind of reassuring to know that even in the murkiest depths of the Cold War, both sides had goofy pants.

* - the magazine is devoted to the ZKL Brno hockey club -- ZKL has evolved over the decades into our new hockey heroes, HC Kometa Brno. They came through and won the Tipsport Cup on Tuesday, scoring three times in the final period to rally from a 4-2 deficit. Nice job, guys. They're also apparently facing a dispute with the city, or the people who run their arena, or both -- the details are too convoluted for my poor language skills or Google translation.

Also, I still haven't figured out a way to get my hands on a t-shirt, so if anyone's reading from out Brno way...