Wednesday, July 31, 2002

about damn time, too

the annotations from all those quizzes I made up are finally online. I had to finally bear down and write the questions for this weekend's quizbowl extravaganza.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

and here's one dealing with my more recent life. I'll stop now, I swear.
Appy Polly Loggies

To people taking the test linked to below who didn't meet me until college or after. I suppose like most people, the stages of my life are pretty well compartmentalized, and the two tests I did (here's the other, now fixed) definitely skew toward my youth. Blame my sister for that -- she started this whole exercise yesterday, and I think I was writing things I thought she'd have a chance on. She's since created three quizzes -- slow couple of days, Katie? Of course, I've created three now, but I'm not presently working.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

take my test

Test about random Greg trivia. I like the first one I did better, but it's broken and I can't fix it. Perhaps I'll reconstruct it soon.

explanations of the answers will follow next week.
you know you've been quiet lately when...

...your name/ID cookie expires.

I just bought Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, the latest CD by the Flaming Lips. Go buy it. It's not as dense as their previous, The Soft Bulletin, but it's still quirky, and pretty, mostly indescribable on one listen.

The guy at Dr. Wax said they were selling twice as many of this CD as the new Dave Matthews, which gives me hope for all that's good in the world.

My Geeky Day

So last Thursday was a veritable geekfest. Pretty much everything I did reeked of geek. To wit:

Get up early to go downtown to audition for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I got in line at about 7:45 for the 9:00 session, holding ticket 101. The test is 30 multiple-choice questions, probably easier than the Jeopardy test. I was one of about 30 to pass this session (out of, say, 250). Then off to the interview, during which I was not as tongue-tied as I was for Jeopardy. In-joke for my reader(s) with QB ties: one of the questions was, essentially, "Who Wrote Paradise Lost?"

go to Virgin Megastore Buy nothing.

go to the arcade at ESPNZone S@TM recommended both this place and the semi-truck driving game. I concur with both, provided one is okay with a sports/driving-only arcade (i.e., no shoot/hack/fight games). I have to add the motion-detect boxing game as a current fave.

go to CompUSA, specifically to look at the new iMac. S'niiiice. Buy nothing.

go to Bargain Books. Buy nothing.

head for home, grab lunch at Lucky Platter Not inherently geeky, I suppose, but I ordered a tuna melt, of all things, and read throughout the meal. The collection of horrid art now contains one noteworthy piece: a Lynda Barry work that I recognized from The Good Times Are Killing Me.

go to Stars Our Destination a local SF bookstore, and buy two games, this one and this one.

Hey, at least I didn't buy any collectible card games. That I did Monday, but they weren't for me, so shush, you.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

where was this guy when Betamax went under?

Craig linked to this entirely wrongheaded screed against DVDs.

Matt Labash hands over on a platter the reason why his whole argument is bunk:

High-brow cineastes, of course, have always regarded Blockbuster as a McVideo store, a place where you can find 75 copies of "Men in Black" and nothing more obscure than "The Buena Vista Social Club."

Damn straight. Blockbuster is worthless. So, for that matter, is Hollywood Video. Particularly when it comes to DVD. It may be the only brick-and-mortar game in a lot of towns, but there are ways to get around that.

But what really makes Blockbuster a malevolent corporate entity--one that's more insidious than Arthur Andersen, Enron, and WorldCom combined--can be boiled down to three letters: D-V-D.

What a load of crap this is. Blockbuster was malevolent long before DVD. They're largely responsible for the public resistance to letterboxing. They force studios to bowdlerize video releases, continuing to ensure that there isn't a viable adult movie rating in this country. They were instrumental in preserving the "rental" and "sell-thru" VHS price structure, whereby a newly-minted VHS release would cost upwards of $80 for an arbitrary length of time, until Blockbuster can make some money from rentals, and then it becomes "priced-to-sell" (at $15 or so, with Blockbuster's many used copies going for $9 or so). DVD never had this price structure, although Blockbuster tried to get the studios to implement it.

I agree with the criticism of Blockbuster's practice of purging slow-renting VHS titles to make room for DVDs. A more pleasing solution to movie lovers would be to phase out VHS titles already out on DVD. Then again, Blockbuster isn't for real movie lovers. Never was.

Labash laments the lack of good DVD titles at Blockbuster and the shrinking outlets for finding VHS movies. Here are some URLs to get around both of these problems.

DVDFile ( - excellent souce for DVD news.

DVD Price Search ( Want to buy a DVD? Start here for price breakdowns from several online stores.

Netflix ( - Giving Blockbuster a run for its money; rent DVDs by mail. Faster now that there are fulfillment centers across the country.

Facets Multimedia ( -- rents VHS and DVD titles by mail, across the country. If it was ever released, chances are they have it.

Monday, July 8, 2002

We had a swell time with the nephew this weekend. He was very good and a lot of fun, but again this is with four adults to keep an eye on him.

7/4 - Gathering at Adam and Michelle's during the day. He was the only kid, but acquitted himself well. Dee brought the Bride Game, this horrible 1971 "Make-Believe Game For Girls" in which one collects various bridal gear and then races (yes, RACES, because it's all about gettin' hitched first). Aside from the horrible art and objectionable politics, it plays much like Cootie. Dean was amused, and grooved on the silliness of ot all. We went to the Evanston fireworks that evening, which I'd never been to in the 7 years of living here (we're almost always out of town on the 4th) -- they were quite good; certainly better than the lame ones we saw in Minneapolis in 2001. It cooled off considerably in the evening. It was refreshing to be chilly for a change.

7/5- Spent most of the day at the beach. The water was nice, but choppy. Dean loved getting knocked over by wave after giant wave. There was a missing-child alert leading to a shallow-water search, which Kirsti and I helpedwith (They found the kid safe on another beach, at which point I'm sure he got hugs and an old-fashioned whuppin'). We went to Michelle and Chris's that night for some grillin' action, and Dean got to play with Huckleberry the boxer and Nellie the pug. He particularly liked getting knocked down and having Huckleberry lick his face.

7/6- I thought about taking Dean to the Wizard World comic book convention to meet Michael Rosenbaum,who plays Lex Luthor on his favorite TV show. I was hoping to get out there and back in the morning and still have the day free, but Rosenbaum wasn't appearing until noon, and neither of us would enjoy going all the way out there and telling Dean "No" at all the unaffordable stuff he'd want. So I bagged that idea without telling him it was under consideration. Instead he, Kirsti, and I went to the Powerpuff Girls movie while Mom and Donna saw About A Boy. PPG was cute. If you like the show, you'll like the movie. If you don't like the show, you're a pinhead. Some good puns and Planet of the Apes riffs, based on Mojo Jojo's plot to take over the world. I hadn't noticed the Bullwinklish aspects of the PPG formula before -- low-tech (or at least the appearance of same) art coupled with multi-level wordplay. We went out for pizza and came back to play a few games. That night he noticed I had the first season of Buffy on DVD, so I popped in the first two episodes, He jumped a few times. Ah, the time-honored Sorenson tradition of age-inappropriate viewing.

7/7- Breakfast, a couple more Buffy episodes, and off they go. Kirsti and I needed a nap.

One thing I really liked about having a 7-year-old around is his enjoyment of and willingness to learn boardgames of nearly every stripe. The aforementioned Bride Game, The Tick: Hip Deep In Evil!, a The Great Brain Robbery, the Harry Potter trading card game (age 9 and up), and he even managed to tackle the 12-and-up Buffy the Vampire Slayer boardgame; no small feat as in the two-player rules each player controls five characters. He's quick with rules and mechanics; strategy will follow.

Saturday, July 6, 2002

History Lesson

Brian Hight wonders:

There's a line at the beginning of one of Eminem's latest songs that refers to where "Two trailer park girls ..".this has become a discussion point in our office, as we're not exactly sure what the last part of the phrase it just a literal phrasing, something you could use your imagination to dechiper, or something more licentious?

For those who have not heard Eminem's current single, "Without Me," the lyric in question is:

"Two trailer park girls go 'round the outside/

'Round the outside/

'Round the outside"

This is a riff on a lyric from a song called "Buffalo Gals," originally released in 1981 by Malcolm McLaren, the manager/Svengali behind the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. "Buffalo Gals" is an odd mix of square dancing and breakdancing. The line is "Two buffalo gals go 'round the outside/'Round the outside/'Round the outside" and eventually one is encouraged to "do-si-do your partner."

McLaren's website bills Buffalo Gals as the "first commercial rap/scratch hip-hop single." This assertion may be

McLaren's trademark hucksterish hyperbole, but the song probably is the first instance of a white musician co-opting hip-hop music and selling it back to black folks, or as Eminem himself says on "Without Me:" "To use black music so selfishly/and use it to make myself wealthy."

If I wrote a trivia question about this sort of thing, people would grouse that my questions were "too hard."

Brian wouldn't; I've never known him to complain about question difficulty. This doesn't mean I'm terribly smart, just that I'm really really old.

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Mom & Donna are coming down to visit this weekend, and bringing Dean. I'm still not sure what we're going to do, especially for the Fourth. I know were we're not going. Taste of Chicago is vastly overrated -- too hot, and too crowded. Grant Park can't adequately contain the sprawl that Taste has become.

Most of my Fourth of July memories as a kid are a mishmash of going to a park (or better yet, a drive-in) to watch fireworks, and running around trying to find out who's selling firecrackers and bottle rockets. My most memorable Fourth was in 1990, when I spent a summer driving an ice-cream truck. My usual route was the northern half of Plymouth, MN, but on the Fourth everyone got an event to cover. I got a beach in Excelsior, maybe 20 miles west of the Twin Cities on Lake Minnetonka. So everyone got an extra temporary freezer in their trucks, filled with dry ice and extra goodies. I shlepped out to the park at maybe 11 a.m., and sat. And sat. And sat some more. Listened to some musical acts playing at the nearby bandshell, did some reading. But starting at about 8 p.m., still light out, people began to come to my truck, and continued until I had a huge mob waiting for Dove Bars just after the fireworks. I had maybe made $10 in the past nine hours, and suddenly I was making at least a week's income in three hours. I began to run out of change, and had to start rounding prices. It was crazy. Then I got lost on the way home, trying to navigate the windy roads out there in the sticls.

But the most memorable part of this capitalist orgy? One of the bandshell acts was a polka band, which was okay, nothing special, until their last song: Purple Rain! Yes, polka-ized Prince.
The best parts of MEN IN BLACK II are in the periphery. Patrick Warburton gets laughs as the latest of Agent J's not-up-to-snuff partners (he's doing

the same Puddy/Tick shtick you've already seen, but he does it so...damn...well). "Mr. Show's" David Cross is excellent as a whacked-out video-store owner. A public locker holds nifty surprises, and we learn what's so special about the U.S. Postal Service. And some more stuff. I'm sure the pug in the trailer would be less funny if we didn't have pug-owning close friends, but it worked for us.

As J (Will Smith) explains, neuralization wipes the MIB from one's memory. And Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, when in the suits (TLJ at the Post

Office is the exception), are mostly unmemorable. Not that I didn't enjoy myself thoroughly, but aside from what's in the trailer, I have little

recollection of *them* onscreen. This is not their fault -- If they were bad together, that would have stuck with me. It's just that the Cocky Newjack/Crusty Veteran buddy formula is so shopworn, they can't fully overcome it, even with the twist of Smith having to bring K (Jones) back into service. Not much in the center here, but still a tasty donut.