Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Non sequitur

So – I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about this week. There is absolutely NOTHING that ties them together – so I won’t try. Welcome to my non sequitur.

First – I live in a Pontiac town. I don’t know what that means, exactly. I mean – I know what it means. A lot of the cars that I see daily are Pontiacs. What I don’t know is what that means. I don’t really have a problem with Pontiacs. I think the front ends are pretty creepy…and I tend to free associate “Pontiac” with “child molester” in my mind. There’s no reasoning for that – just how it happens. Anyway – loads of Pontiacs around me.

Next – when did my yard turn into the frakking animal kingdom? I love animals – I really do. I love all the birds that have made nests around my house – they are loverly to wake up to each and every morning. I love the rabbits and squirrels that I see around my yard daily. What I don’t love – or don’t understand is the rabbit that is digging up my front yard to make a little burrow for her babies. Did she learn nothing from the duck and eggs that were eaten? My front yard is NOT safe! It’s a rabbit – big ears – surely it has heard me MOWING! I think the animals get a false sense of security from my dog. He barks to keep things away…but he cannot attack because he is behind a window? Or maybe they keep making these nests outside his window so that they can tease him. Regardless – bunnies – leave now. It’s not safe. I can avoid mowing for a few weeks while you grow – but I cannot protect you 24 hours a day, nor can my dog. ps – I hate you for digging up my yard…3 times.

Finally – so I’ve been working on my design for the Scottish play at IRT for next season. I am in the stage of super excited. This afternoon we had a fruitful design meeting. I’m working on the model and really eager to see it start heading to the stage. There is always a little bit of magic when I see it go from very little to full size.

One more thing – Indianapolis has been granted the Super Bowl for the year 2012. I had an interesting conversation with some co-workers about this phenomenon this morning. I feel like the NFL is really doing a great thing by allowing different cities to bid for the Super Bowl. Sure, ultimately there is a LOT of money made both by the NFL and players – but it actually does great things for the community. It brings all kinds of revenue to local businesses, it makes the city get its act together since it will be on display – and in the case of Indy it is bringing some great new sports/practice facilities to some local schools that are in desperate need. According to the local news it is this “Legacy Project” that sealed the bid for the NFL owners. So, I think it is a good thing. Sure 2012 is years away – but it is something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another year over…a new one just begun – but let’s just discuss last week-ish.

So last was a big week in these here parts. On Tuesday we had the opportunity to vote in the democratic primary. The race has been extremely tight this year between Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois and Sen. Hillary Clinton from New York. I do always take advantage of my right/duty to vote on these types of things. I try to do my own research so as not to get swayed be the barrage of commercials that flood in the days before the polls open. Yay for voting! So, for the first time in my lifetime, Indiana had a primary that counted. Unfortunately I fear that when it comes to the actual presidential election my vote will not count/matter. Thank you outdated Electoral College. Thank you “red” state.

In other news – for those of you that didn’t already know – I am designing at IRT in the fall. Janet Allen has given me the opportunity to design the Scottish Play, which she will be directing. I cannot even being to tell you how excited I am by this opportunity. Monday was scheduled to be the first design meeting, and rest assured I gathered all kinds of research and ideas. Unfortunately I also gathered some type of stomach virus and spent all of Sunday night and most of Monday morning prying myself away from (what felt like) certain death. Janet and the rest of the design team were gracious enough to let me attend the meeting by phone. It was certainly not ideal, but given the circumstances…

Anyway, I am feeling better now. I am still excited about the show (cursed as it is), and I will hopefully get the ball rolling in the rest of the meetings soon.

This week also marks the end of my second year teaching at Franklin College…and they’ve even invited me back for a third year. I don’t know how many people do this – but I frequently look back at “life plans and goals” that I’ve set for myself and see what I’ve actually accomplished. One thing that was not on my list – being a college professor. One thing that was on the list – design for IRT (working on that). Another one that was not on the list – getting married and then maintaining said marriage for nearly 8 years. That’s right – this June will be 8 years!!! It is almost unfathomable – in a good way.

I am continuing to work with iFanboy. I am shooting the promos (advertisements) as part of the weekly video podcast. I am also writing a weekly column for them. It comes out every Friday around 12:00 am EST. Fear not – you can read it in the morning when you wake up.

Beyond that things are mostly status quo here in sleepy town. We are continually hoping and waiting for more 30 somethings to move to Franklin. Clarity – 30 somethings that we want to hang out with. We’ve only lived here for 2 years, but there is the seeming start of a shift to a younger community here. Maybe by the time it is in full swing we’ll be old and people will hope that we shuffle to Florida or wherever old people go.

Cayuga is doing well. He turns five this month. Contrary to popular belief that does NOT equal 35 in dog years. The smaller the dog, the more “regular” the aging, unless you venture into the teacup variety. Thank you vet for filling me in. Anyway, that means that Cayuga is five and acting like he is five. He is still a ball of energy that loves to play and be rambunctious. We love him and spoil him…and certainly don’t help the situation. I guess that is our prerogative as his “parents.”

And finally – our house. Amy is eager to work on the bathrooms and the yards this summer. I am less eager, but I see her point. So hopefully I’ll knock down a wall and get the remodeling juices going again.

And there you have it – a self-indulgent update on my life. And – guess what? I can be self-indulgent because this is my blog. I’ll keep you posted if there’s more. Suckers.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mario Kart Wii - FINALLY!

After reading all sorts of previews, reviews and other general hype about this game I could not wait to get it in my hands. Not only was I looking forward to playing the game - but I was also GREATLY looking forward to silencing all the other opinions. I wanted to debunk all the crap. But before I get there, let me tell you my history with the game and why I was so excited to get it.

As many people know the game has a long history. It began in the early 90's with Super Mario Kart on the SNES. This game was fine, and certainly holds plenty of merit, but my true love affair with the series came with Mario Kart 64 for the N64. My roommate, Ron and I would play this (and GoldenEye) nonstop in our college dorm room. We even learned that if you pick a "heavy" player and crank the subwoofer way up, on certain jumps you can really shake the room. As soon as this was discovered it became, for us, the games only purpose. Late one weekday night our downstairs neighbors came upstairs and starting banging on our door…angrily. Apparently Bowser’s landings were not only making our room sake, but actually knocking things off the walls in their room. Oops.

We did become more careful with our hour to volume level ratio – but the game was a staple. We played it ALL. THE. TIME. Sadly, we have both grown up and moved apart. My wife sold my N64 along with the game, so I have been Kart-less for nearly 8 years. Kart-less, until now.

When it came to buying a new video game system, the prospects of this game pushed me to my final decision of a Wii. A decision which I do not regret at all. This game only solidifies my hopes.

I purchased the game and an extra wheel, so that anybody playing it at my house can use the wheel. Actually, I will make the rule that you have to use the wheel. And that brings me to my first point about the game. Much of the hype and many of the reviews talk about the different control options. One can use the wheel (comes with the game), the Wii-mote alone, Wii-mote and nunchuck, or either of the traditional controller options. I’ve read that if you want precision and tight races, use the controller options.

Precision? Tight races? WTF?!?! This is Mario Kart. You’re telling me that I can play with a steering wheel? A wheel that makes it even harder to control – thereby making it more fun? For goodness sake – I didn’t think that this game could get any better.

The wheel is AWESOME. It is absolutely the best thing that could have happened to this game. Now instead of having people mash buttons in an attempt to drive a “kart” around a track, you can look like a complete idiot while steering you “kart” off a cliff. And that is why the wheel is a mandatory rule in my house.

Now – what about the other improvements to the game? Well, to be honest I’ve only been able to play a little bit, so I know I still have plenty of work to do to really figure everything out. But, I can tell you about the second best thing to happen to this game – motorcycles. Sure, they tried this years ago with Diddy Kong Racing – there were no motorcycles, rather it was planes, karts and hovercrafts – but the idea of alternate vehicles were there. The problem was that Diddy Kong Racing sucked. The motorcycles (dirt bikes, scooters and racing bikes) are fantastic – and they are even HARDER to control with the wheel.

The other thing that I think can be potentially great with this game is the ability to race my old roomie Ron, and other friends that have the game. I know that people whine and moan about the “online” play that Nintendo offers – but I have no problem with it. It’s free and fairly easy to do. I have the option to play people I don’t know (bah) or play people I do know (yay). That’s all I really need.

I know that I still have plenty of exploring to do with this game, and I fully intend on doing that. However, I can say that if you have a Wii – and you want something fun – this is a good place to turn. Just remember – it’s fun. Don’t get to heady about it. Precision. Feh. It’s Mario Kart.