Thursday, April 27, 2006

Paulius - The Podcast

Hey everyone,

I'm pleased to announce the first (and only) 'Life, What The Hell is Going On?' Podcast is finally here.

Let me apologise for the quality of this, both in content and technical quality. In an effort to keep the download as small as possible, I got a little over-zealous when I compressed it, so you've got 15 minutes of audio, at less than 5meg.

I also tried to normalise the audio, and add a little bass boost.

It sounds like I'm talking through a sewer pipe.

Anyway, this was way to much work to even do on a weekly basis. Depending on the reaction, and if I can actually be bothered, I may do another one.

So, without further ado, here is the first Life, What the Hell is Going On? Podcast

(Quick hint, this is streaming audio. If you're on dial-up, it might be an idea to right click and 'save target as' to download the whole file (Or 'save link as', if you're on Firefox)).

Hope you enjoy!

Visiontek Xstacy Ati Radeon X1300 512mb Review

Most of my regular readers can (and will) skip this one.

Basically, I scoured the net for reviews for my new video card before I bought it. I couldn’t actually find a ‘professional’ review, and was stuck with those terrible, terrible ‘user’ reviews you find on the Circuit City, Best Buy or CompUSA.

Those reviews are always written by one of two types of people. The people who’ve never owned a PC before, and think that everything their decidedly mediocre card can do is absolutely amazing…and the people who’ve had a bad experience with the company, or didn’t read the minimum system requirements thoroughly, and are calling a great piece of equipment crap, because it won’t work on their system.

So, considering I got hundreds of hits from people searching for reviews on the Graphics Pad I bought, I’ll try and write a decent review here.

Ok, Here’s a review of the Visiontek Xstacy (See? Put an X at the start, the kids’ll love it) Ati Radeon X1300 512mb PCI Express Graphics Card.

The first thing to mention about this card is the price. We appear to have three choices right now, buy a $50 card that won’t run anything, a middle-road card like the X1300 for around $100 - $200, or go to the other end of the spectrum and buy a $600 graphics card.

As a little hint, CompUSA has the 256meg version of this card for $150, but you can get the 512meg version from Circuit City for $200, but with a $50 mail in rebate. If you can spare the extra $50 for a few weeks, go for the 512 meg version. Double the memory, for (eventually) the same price.

Let’s start with the installation. I’ve had problems with Graphics cards before, so I always expect the worst when I install one. Luckily, the X1300 is an absolute breeze to install, especially if you’re replacing an ATI card, as they use the same drivers.

Installation went like this for me:

Turn off the computer.
Pull the side off the case.
Remove the back plate for the PCIe slot.
Snap the card into place.
Close the case.

Then I started the computer, Windows XP detected the new cart, told me to restart, which I did…and I was up and running.

Of course, if you aren’t replacing an Ati card, you simply put the card in, and when Windows detects it, put in the supplied driver CD.

(A hint for new users – If your current card is an onboard card, (that is a ‘card’ that is integrated into the motherboard), you need to disable it before you install the new card. Turn on your computer, press F2 to get into the BIOS, go to ‘integrated peripherals’, and set the ‘Graphics Init First’ to ‘PCIe slot’. Basically, this tells your computer to check the PCIe slot for a graphics card before it starts up the onboard card. Simple.)

Now we move onto performance.

Now, this is a budget card, so don’t expect absolutely blistering performance. On the other hand, for a budget card, you get a lot for your money.

Now, I’m running this card inside an AMD Athlon 64 2.3ghz, with 512meg of memory. Not exactly a hardcore gaming machine, but this card would run Doom 3 at 1024 x 768, with all graphics options as high as they would go, at a very smooth 40fps. It also ran Call of Duty 2, at the same resolution, again with all the screen effects and graphics options as high as they would go, at about 50 fps.

The only slight problem I encountered was that Doom 3 would occasionally freeze for a second every 10 minutes or so. However, a little experimenting showed that this was happening when the computer was accessing the swap file. (The swap file is an area on your hard disc that your computer uses as memory when your system memory runs out). In other words, my low half-gig system memory was acting as a bottleneck, it had nothing to do with the card itself.

The one game that amazed me was The Elder Scrolls 4 : Oblivion. With all the graphical options as high as they go, I got a playable frame rate (around 20 fps), when running at 800 x 600. Bear in mind that the 20fps is the minimum frame rate it would drop to, and that was when you’re out in the wilderness, with the graphics card having to render a few hundred thousand trees. If you’re in a dungeon, or in a town, the frame rate jumps up considerably.

Now, I know 20fps is not exactly blistering, but it’s definitely a playable frame rate. But bear in mind that people have reported stutters and occasional low frame rates on much more powerful cards. For example, Tim Buckley of ‘Ctrl-alt-del’ reported stutters, and he was running the game on not one, but two Nvidia Geforce 7800GTX cards, and he had 4 gigabytes of XMS RAM (For comparison, he has four gigabytes of memory, I have half a gigabyte of memory).

In other words, Oblivion is one of the most graphics-intensive games on the PC right now. The fact that a budget card can run it at all is amazing. My old card, the onboard Radeon Xpress 200, managed to run the game at about a frame every 6 seconds, with all the graphics options as low as they would go, at 640 x 480.

Basically, if you want a nice high frame rate all the time on this game with an X1300, just turn the screen effects off. The Bloom lighting and HDR effects look nice, but the game still looks great without them! However, you don’t actually need to, as the game is always at a playable frame rate.

Basically, this card will run any game you throw at it. You might not be able to have everything as high as it will go, but if you’re on a budget, like myself, you’re probably used to this by now.

Now onto the extra whistles and bells.

The number one great thing is that this card is crossfire enabled. In other words, if you have two PCIe slots, you can throw another X1300 in there, and run them both at the same time, meaning you’re doubling your graphics memory and processing power at a stroke. In short, if you run two of them, you’re getting the power of a $600 card, for $300 (if you go the circuit city route, and actually remember to send off for your rebate).

Now, I know I’ll probably be corrected by someone, as I haven’t experimented with two cards at once since the very first 3DFX cards, but if you’re running a game at 40fps, with everything as high as it will go, two of these will give you 80fps, or still give you 40fps at a much higher resolution.

Other than that, this card also comes with video out, and comes with the cables supplied for RCA and s-video…and very impressively, it can also send out a HD signal. So if you’re one of those rich people with the 70 inch HD TV, you’ll need to buy an adapter, but you can hook it right up to your TV. (Of course, if you can afford a 70 inch plasma, you can probably also afford an $800 X1900 card and won’t be reading this).

I only have two very minor bad things to say about this card, and they really are minor niggles.

The first is that this card (like all powerful GPU’s) puts off quite a lot of heat. I noticed my cooling fans where coming on a lot more often and working a lot harder than usual. However, I’ve never come close to over-heating. As long as your case has an intake and exhaust fan (one to suck cold air in, and another to pump the hot air out…standard on most cases now), you’ll be absolutely fine.

The one other thing that might be a problem (but this is more a case of me having a crappy motherboard), is that the heat sink and cooling fan on the card protrude quite a bit. On my motherboard, the fan hangs over the neighboring PCI slot, meaning that I can’t use it. In my case, there was nothing in there anyway, but some people could have problems.

Also, and this isn’t a bad point, but just something watch out for, is that this card requires a 300 watt (or greater) power supply. My power supply unit is exactly 300 watts, and the card ran without a hitch. I only mention this because this is the one thing many new users don’t think about. So before you buy, open your case and check how much power your PSU can put out. (Your PSU is the big thing with the fan that the power leads go into).

I only mention this because I read one of those awful “This card is crap, it doesn’t work, don’t buy it” user reviews, and that was the problem. He was trying to run this card on a rather wimpy 200 watt PSU. At that level it’s like trying to start a car with a double A battery.

In closing, I did a lot of research as well as testing it out personally, and this is quite simply the best video card you can buy for the money. If you go $50 cheaper, you’re going to get a card that’s not even half as good, and considering the next price point upwards is the $400-$600…you’re getting a deal.

(Now, for the none n00bs, here’s the technical specs):

450Mhz VPU
512MB of GDDR-2 Memory at 533MHz
Full DX9 compatibility
Shader Model 3.0
VGA, DV-I, TV-Out and HDTV
Max Resolution of 2560 x 1600 at 60hz, 1.07 Billion colors.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Normal Service Will Resume Presently

Hello everyone.

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days. Regular readers will know that my Parents have come to visit, all the way from ole Blighty (That’s England, for those who don’t know)…so I’ve been sidetracked a lot by that.

Normal service will resume over the next few days.

In other news, I got my new graphics card. 512meg video ram, PCIe x16 interface, dual 520mhz GPU’s etc.

We’re taking Doom 3 at 65fps…suffice to say, it rocks.

(By the way, what does everyone think of the new look? It’s not much, but with my crappy html knowledge, it took me 30 minutes to get my title picture centered. You’re looking at a few hours work.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Welcome to America!

One thing I completely forgot to mention over the past few blog posts is my parents’ visit.

They arrived last night.

Of course, nothing ever goes completely smoothly, and I was already on pins all day waiting for them to arrive. This was especially nerve wracking for Sunny as this is the first time she’s met her new parents-in-law in person.

So we set off to pick them up from the airport. We headed to the airport, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive in plenty of time to meet them at the gate.

We’ve had three days of very clear, sunny weather.

What’s the weather like 5 minutes after we leave?

Severe Thunderstorm.

So we’re driving along, and I’m already worried about my parents being up in a plane in this kind of weather. I turn to Sunny.

“All we need now is a Tornado Warning.” I say, with a smirk on my face.

No less than three seconds later the radio chirps:

“There is currently a tornado warning out for Anderson County until 8:15. If you’re in Anderson County, you should seek shelter immediately.”


We arrive at the airport at exactly 8:30. The time the plane was due to land.

Now anyone who’s ever been expecting someone who’s flying in, it’s not the most pleasant experience. There’s lots to worry about. Like, what if the plane arrives and they’re not on it? If they’ve missed their connection, how are we going to arrange when we need to pick them up?

Basically, if my parents missed their connection, I’d just have to go home and hope that they remembered to write down my phone number. Otherwise, they’d arrive in Greenville with no idea how to get to my house.

It’s also not a pleasant experience when you’re stressed as hell, and the help desk guy is comedian:

“Excuse me, can you tell me where the passengers of US Airlines Flight 1234 leave the plane, please?”
“Usually through the door! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

“No. Really. Where do they come out at.”

“Down the ramp! Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Sunny speaks:

“Seriously, I’m meeting my inlaws for the first time. Where do we need to go?”

“Oh, you’re meeting your new in-laws? Well, in that case, you need to go out through these doors, head to the parking garage, get in your car…”

I speak again:

“Look. We’re late. Can you actually, you know, give us some information?”

“What flight was it again.”

I growl, slowly…then tell him.

“Oh, it’ll be a while, they’re still over Virginia. That flight was delayed.”

It seems you have two choices in air travel. You can either land in a massive city-sized airport, like Atlanta, where everyone is so rushed and busy, you never get a clear answer…or you can land in a little puddle-jumper airport like Greenville-Spartanburg, where everyone is so laid back and relaxed, they think you want a 15 minute comedy routine, when all you really want is to know is the answer to your question.

Eventually we met them at the gate, came home, grabbed something to eat…and then didn’t get any sleep all night, due to probably the longest and loudest thunderstorm I’ve experienced since I’ve been here.

On the upside, my work permit arrived today…and I can finally get a job!

Work Card, Bitches!

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's Amazing What Boredom Will Do

Ok, here's the deal.

I got very, very, very bored the other night, and I found some of the video editing software I used at college when I was doing media studies, so I started playing with it.

I thought it would be fun to get my light saber, throw in a few effects to make it look real...then for the sheer hell of it, I added blaster bolts for me to 'deflect'.

Yes, I was bored, and yes, I'm a geek.

Well, here's the result. (Sorry for the quality of this video, I know a lot of my readers are on dialup so I compressed the file size from 27 meg, to just under one meg. There's also a lot of 'banding' around the saber that wasn't there before I shrank and hosted it. In other words, this is not great, but it gives you the idea).

I also made this, just for the hell of it. I call it "Disco Saber"

(And Yes, I'm really that ugly.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Theoden Had The Right Idea

You may remember a while ago I wrote a post on how in all Fantasy based media, the hero is always an unprepared, untrained farmboy, who is sent to kill the evil sorcerer, despite the fact that the King has legions of highly trained troops.

(You can read Thou Art Barry, The Chosen One here)

Well, last night, when I was playing Zelda again, something else struck me.

Think of the usual Fantasy set up. You have:

The Hero

The Sidekick

The Villain

The Wise and Noble King

The Legions of Terror

The Legions of Justice

The Wise Advisor

The People.

Now, here’s the stupid bit I don’t get.

All of these stories are based around saving ‘The People’ from the Villain’s evil.


I mean…they’re crap! They don’t do anything! Their job in any work of Fantasy Based fiction is to complain every step of the way about ‘nothing being done’…and then run away screaming while the Orcs burn their homes and carve them up.

They’re the fantasy equivalent of soaking your house in gasoline, putting a match to it to ‘see what happens’, then blaming the fire department for the destruction of your home because they didn’t arrive quickly enough.

Take, for example, the opening blurb to “The Legend of Zelda : The Windwaker.”

…Then, a shadow began to spread across the land. The people waited for ‘The Hero of Time’, believing he would come back to save them.

The Hero never appeared

The People could do nothing but pray.

Pray? Bloody Pray?!? Here’s an idea! Go grab yourself a sword! You’re the people for Christ’s sake! There’s bloody thousands of you!

I mean, if a foul shadow was falling across the lands I lived in, I’d have two choices:

1) Get together with a few buddies and say “Errrm, see this foul shadow thingie, that’s like, falling across our lands? D’you think we should do something about it?”

2) Say: “Remember that ancient legend about that hero bloke? Let’s not worry, I’m sure he’ll magically appear and save us all. I’m not bloody going out. It’s raining! Are you mad?”

As far as I can see it, here’s the deal. You can either fight, maybe win, but probably get killed…or you can sit on your ass, wait for the Orc housewarming party to turn up (and by house warming, I mean a flaming arrow delivered to the thatch on the top of your house)… do nothing, and probably get killed.

Either way you’ve got a good chance of being disemboweled by a passing Orc, but at least one way you’ll be doing something to stop them…even if your only contribution is tiring one of them out slightly, by making them expend the energy it takes to cleave your head off.

The other thing is that the Legions of Justice ride out into battle to protect the people. If they fail, the people get slaughtered.

Why not bring ‘The People’ along for the battle, tripling the size of your army in a single stroke, giving you a much better chance of winning…and if you lose the battle, ‘The People’ would have been slaughtered anyway!

It just makes sense.

…and, in short, ‘The People’ are crap.

Use ‘em as cannon fodder, or give them a useful job, like human shields for the real soldiers to hide behind. That’ll teach the whiny bastards.

It’s at times like this, you’ve really go to hand it to Tolkien. At the Battle of Helms Deep, when King Theoden of Rohan was facing the destruction of his entire people, what did he say?

“Round up every able bodied man and strong lad, and lead them to the wall.”

Now that’s effective leadership.

Of course, he made one crucial mistake, and left the women behind the hide in the caves.

Women can fight dammit! Have none of these men ever had a Mother-in-Law?

Imagine that, 50,000 Mothers-in-Law, all standing in a line, giving the entire opposing army that look.

They’d win without ever having to draw a sword!

That’s how any battle can be won. Put all the women in the front, ride up and down your lines on horseback, and during your motivational speech, the one designed to make people forget they’re likely to soon be on the pointy end of a few thousand swords, say:

“Look upon the faces of your enemy! These evil Orcs have burned our homes, salted our farmlands, and murdered our kin. Even worse, they said that your chainmail does make your butts look fat! And that Color livery is really unflattering! And that those boots definitely don’t go with those swords, and that have you never learned to accessorize?


Monday, April 17, 2006


Has everybody heard of this whole Carolina Investors Inc. Thing?

In short, Carolina Investors grossly mismanaged thousands of people’s money, flat out lied to them, and then went into bankruptcy, meaning that all these people lost their life savings.

Things like this always highlight the major double standard when it comes to finances.

For example, the President of Carolina Investors, for his part in all this, ended up getting 8 years (but will probably be paroled the year after next) in a minimum security prison…and when I say minimum security, I mean minimum security. Dorm rooms instead of cells, volleyball courts, no actual fences and very few guards.

How is this justice?

The other big thing that really pissed me off, is that when the auditors where called in, people who had managed to remove their money from Carolina Investors before they crashed, where ordered to pay back the money they drew out.

I’m sorry, but if that happened to me, I’d tell them to go screw themselves. I got my money out before the crash, it’s my money, so you have no right to it.

This is a major double standard in numerous ways.

For example, in my entire life, I have been overdrawn with my bank account once. Despite the fact I was getting calls from my bank every other day offering me credit cards, low interest overdraft facilities etc. I always turned them down. At the time, I had no major bills and had absolutely no reason to spend money I don’t have.

However, once, due to a mistake, I accidentally went 7 pence overdrawn. That’s roughly 12 cents.

What happened? I got phone calls, threatening letters and was told I know owed them a 20 pound (Approx 37 dollars) ‘unauthorised overdraft fee’.

So here’s the deal. If I make a mistake, or encounter an unforeseeable problem, and end up owing the bank money, they can threaten me, send me letters, and then send a collection agency to my house to take my possessions to pay for the debt.

However, when a bank goes out of business, or an investment they make goes belly up, and they lose all my money…it’s tough shit:

“We lost your money, this isn’t our fault because it was a business deal that went south, so tough shit, you’ve lost your money.”

When the same thing happens to us? Who cares? You owe the bank money, they’re going to collect, one way or the other…if you can’t pay, you go to jail.

Why can’t we demand that the owners of the Bank, and all their partners be forced to sell all of their stuff to pay us back?

The other main double standard is the punishment for doing this.

Look at it this way:

If someone like you or me went to a gas station and grabbed a handful of cash from the register and legged it out the door…we’d go to jail…and I mean Federal ‘Pound you in the ass’ prison.

However, if you steal millions of dollars, but instead of using a gun, you use paperwork, ‘creative’ book-keeping, lies and doublespeak…you don’t go to prison, you spend at most a year or two in a minimum security resort.

Basically, the less money you have, and the less money you steal…the longer you spend in prison.

That’s what it all comes down to, money. If you have it, you have almost nothing to fear from the legal system.

Your chance of being found guilty, and the severity of your sentence doesn’t seem to depend on your innocence or the severity of the crime…it’s how many high-powered lawyers you can afford.

Devious and Evil Women

There are times in a man’s life when, although this is rare, whatever just happened is not his fault.

Take last night, for example.

About two or three days ago, Buddy the Puppy had escaped from his Laundry Room Night-Time Prison, and had made it to the front door. Because this was early morning, and we had gone to bed early, his ‘bathroom cycle’ was off…and he pooped directly in front of the door.

Sunny came home from work, and I think the expression is she “Just stood up all in it.”

So, it being early in the morning, after a long night’s work, she simply removes her shoes, puts them outside, comes in, cleans up what’s left of the doo-doo, and goes to bed.

She forgets about the poopy work shoes that night, and wears sneakers to work.

This means her work boots have been outside, in the 90 degree heat for two days.

Which brings us to last night.

Sunny takes her before-work nap, and I wake her up at the time she asked me to. Five minutes later she says:

“Dammit!” She’s getting dressed at this point. “Paulius, can you go outside and see if you can knock any of that dog crap off my work boots?”

Of course I can. I’m a good husband!

So I go outside, I get the shoes. I whack them together, on a wall, on the floor, try to scrape them on the floor. Unfortunately, the doo-doo has obtained the consistency of concrete.

So I come back inside. “Sorry sweetie.” I said. “The only way those are going to get clean is if you blast them with a hose pipe or something.”

The answer was one I wasn’t expecting.

“Grrrr. Can you at least TRY?!?”

“Uh, I did.”

“Well, I need them for work, you know!”

Ok, ok. In Sunny’s defense, she had been up and about all day, got very little sleep and had just woke up. I, myself, am crabby as hell first thing in the morning, but…

Here’s the deal, ladies. You can all learn from this.

  1. Sunny steps in dog poo.

  2. Sunny does not clean dog poo right away.

  3. Sunny completely forgets about dog poo, until 15 minutes until she leaves for work.

  4. Sunny asks me to clean dog poo.

  5. Dog poo cleaning : Impossible.

  6. This is somehow all my fault.

I’ve finally worked it out. Women’s minds work like that of the sly executive. Namely, you screw something up to where it’s beyond saving, then, at the 11th hour, make it someone else’s responsibility…and can blame them for the project’s failure.

That way, the fact that I had nothing to do with Sunny soiling her shoes, the fact that I didn’t make her wait until the last minute to do something about it…it’s still my fault because I couldn’t clean them in the 5 minutes before she left for work.

There’s other stuff that supports my Sly Executive Theory. She’s amazingly good at spinning things, making things sound a lot easier and more fun than they are and giving you the illusion of choice, where really none exists.

Take this example, also from yesterday.

It’s an hour or so before Sunny goes to lie down before work. Out of the blue, she looks around the room and says:

“Ok, there’s only three more things we need to do before your parents get here.”

“Oh, dear lord.” I mumble.

“We need to get the place vacuumed really well, the inside of the front door needs painting, and all the laundry needs folding.”

“Ok, I’ll paint the front door.” I said.

“No, you don’t understand.” She says. “This is all stuff for you to do.”

(Point one, from ‘we’ to ‘you’ in five seconds flat.)

Then, she writes a list. It has five things on it.

(Point two, the workload doubles in five seconds flat.)

Then she says:

“It’s not hard, just pick one to do each night when I leave for work.”

Then, right before she leaves, she says:

“Do you want me to take this curtain down?”


“So you can paint the door.”

(Point three. She’s already decided what I’m going to be doing that night. The choice doesn’t exist.)

Let me just state for the record that I don’t actually mind doing any of this, I just like how, without any input from me, she shifted gears smoothly from “We need to do these three things in no particular order.” To “YOU need to do these FIVE things, in the order I choose.”

Women, can’t live with ‘em…and if you kill one they call it murder.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Ever seen the movie “Coyote Ugly”?

In case you haven’t, this was one of the few chick-flicks that guys didn’t actually mind going to see. For the ladies, there was the whole ‘small town wannabe song writer girl, who beats adversity, finds her self-confidence and succeeds despite the fact few people believed in her’.

For the guys? A large selection of hotties dancing and bouncing around on a bar, wearing leather pants and not much else.

(Filmmakers take note : Chick flicks with dancing hotties, your box office takings will double).

Anyway, the film isn’t what I want to talk about today, what I want to talk about is the Coyote Ugly…Reality Show! (Shudder).

Believe it or not, there have actually been two Coyote Ugly reality shows since the film came out. The current one is a competition to find the ‘Ultimate Coyote’, the winner of which gets a job and $25,000.

The other coyote ugly reality show, and the one I want to talk about today…the winner simply got a job.

Now, for those that still aren’t familiar with the concept, let me explain what a ‘coyote’ actually does.

Coyote Ugly is a rock/country bar, the gimmick being that the bartenders (the coyotes) are all hot girls, who at random times during the night, get up and dance on the bar, or sing, or play an instrument.

Now, you can talk about female empowerment and all of that all you want. Coyote Ugly, at least to me, is basically a strip bar you can go to and not get in trouble with your girlfriend. The women don’t actually get naked, and your wives and girlfriends all loved the movies, so instead of seeing the coyotes as glorified strippers, see them as shining examples of neo-feminism.

Whatever way you want to look at it, you go into a bar, and pay to get drunk and watch hot girls stomp on top of the bar.

Mmmmm. Jiggly.

Anyway, back to the reality show.

The one thing about reality shows I don’t understand, is why all the contestants cry. The cry when they win, they cry when they lose. They cry because someone said whatever it is they do wasn’t perfect.

I mean, when your boss asks you to work on Sunday, do you burst into tears?

No. And if you do, get a grip.

The thing is, on a lot of reality shows, I can actually understand the odd tear. For example, take American Idol. The prize for winning that show is something to actually get worked up about. You get a record contract, and an almost guaranteed number one single.

On the one hand, you can be like Carrie Underwood, who won a Country Music Award, and actually became (at least in the south) a ‘star’. On the other, even if you release one single and completely drop off the radar, you’ve probably made a good few grand off it.

So, when you get down to the final four or five, and the record deal is so close you can taste it, and you get booted off, I can imagine it would be a little upsetting. If you win, I can imagine being a little overwhelmed.


Can someone please explain to me why they cry when they get kicked off the Coyote Ugly show?

I mean, the Coyote Ugly reality show is basically a televised audition for a job at a bar.

Every single time I’ve seen it, ‘Lil’, the bar owner will turn to a girl and say:

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think you have what we’re looking for, so I’m going to have to let you go.”

Cue a five minute segment of the girl in question, standing outside the bar, bawling her eyes out and saying how this was her dream, and her life is ruined.

I feel like screaming:


I mean, seriously. Cry me a river, build me a bridge, then get the fuck over it.

The correct response is:

“Sigh, I didn’t get it.”


“Oh my God! (Sob) My life is over! (Sob) I can’t believe I’m not going to get the chance to serve drinks to drooling men while wearing overly-tight leather pants! (Sob) I wanna shake my money maker! WAAAAAAaaaaaa!”

Let me end this post by giving these girls a hint:

Your average Hooters girl, or ‘exotic dancer’ at the local strip joint has just as big a celebrity as a Coyote Ugly girl.

Consider that career choice.

(By the way, I’m still interested to know how many of you would be interested in listening to a one off podcast to mark the 1 year anniversary of ‘Life, What the Hell is Going On?’. Read the post below for details, and leave me a comment.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Post Where I Use The Words "Unbelievable Spunkerchief"

There has been a convergence of coincidences.

(That sounds ominous, doesn’t it?)

Here’s the deal. The 28th of this month marks the one year anniversary of this blog.

Can you believe that? I’ve been spouting complete and utter crap for nearly a year, I’ve written (at this point) well over 300 posts, which is equal to about four hundred and fifty thousand words…and no one has told me to go away yet.

So, considering I’ll have been blogging for a year come the 28th, I was trying to think of something a little special to do to commemorate it.

This is where the coincidences come in.

The first fortuitous happenstance came when I was looking through some of the CD ROMs I brought with me from England. In there, I found a simple, but powerful, audio recording/editing program that I had completely forgotten I owned, that I bought back when I played guitar.

The next was a miracle in itself. I received a bit of spam email that actually wasn’t complete and total crap! It was an advertisement for a web-hosting site that hosts any type of file up to 100mb for free. (Of course, if you want them to host something over 100mb, that’s when you buy a membership.)

My brain slowly ticked over. I had everything I needed to create a Podcast. Of course, the hosting site had a bandwidth limit, but that wouldn’t be a problem, because…well, I only have about 30 regular readers.

Now, I have to admit that I have absolutely no interest in creating a regular podcast. My microphone is completely crappy, the time and effort it takes to record, edit, clean up and convert an audio file is just too much trouble.

The other reason I’m not really interested in making a regular podcast is that in order to make a podcast worth the download, it has to be at least 10-15 minutes long. 15 minutes of talking, and talking by myself is an awful lot of time to fill. Not to mention the RSS headaches.

I gave up completely on the idea until I listened to the Penny Arcade Podcast, which is simply the writer and the artist trying to come up with a comic idea, with a microphone switched on. It was simple, no sound effects or music, and was interesting enough to listen to. This gave me the slight push I needed.

So, a couple nights ago, when Sunny left for work, and I had the house all to myself, I sat down at the computer and spent a couple of hours ‘at the mic’. Like I said, I have no interest in doing this on a regular basis, but as a one off to celebrate my one year mark? It was worth the effort. I thought I’d at least try it out and see if it was worth posting.

Here’s the bad part, after spending about an hour recording 10 minutes of only slightly terrible material, followed by about 2 hours cleaning up the audio to get rid of the annoying hiss my mic generates, normalizing everything, adding a slight bass boost for that cheesy DJ feel… and generally getting the audio as clean as possible, I started to convert it to an MP3 file.

At this point, my virus checker decided to do an automatic virus check. My computer froze and I lost everything I’d just done.

I cursed. I cursed long and hard. (Now, I wish the mic had been running then. 10 minutes of me screaming at my computer, waxing creative, and calling it an unbelievable spunkerchief, among other things, was actually worth recording.)

Which leads me to this post.

Before I go to the time and trouble of re-doing this, is anyone there actually interested in wasting 10 minutes of their life listening to me blabber on? While I’m willing to do this all again, I don’t see the point if no-one’s going to listen to it! The download would be linked to here, and would be about 10-15mb.

Let me know if you’re interested.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

They Took Our Jerbs!

Today was a good day.

At 7am this morning, Sunny and I went on a trip to the Department of Homeland Security Application Support Center in North Carolina.

Before I get to that, there’s something I just have to mention. If you ever just happen to find yourself heading north on I-85, keep your eyes peeled when you pass Gaffney on the South Carolina – North Carolina border.

You see, Gaffney is famous for one thing, and one thing only…peaches, peaches and more peaches. Because of this, someone thought it would be a really great idea to make an absolutely giant peach statue, and put it by the side of the Interstate, right next to the Gaffney exit.

This might not seem all that interesting, until you actually see the thing. Essentially, what you see is a giant sunburned ass-on-a-stick.

That’s right, when you head to Gaffney, the first thing you see is an 80 foot, big red ass.

I dare you to look at it and not snigger.

I wish I’d taken my camera.

Anyway, back to my main story.

The reason I was visiting my good friends at the Department of Homeland Security was to have my Biometrics taken. This is a roundabout way of saying I was going there to answer the questions you answer for an ID card (Race, Hair Color, Weight, etc.), and to be fingerprinted.

Now, despite that this all gets me one step closer to my Green Card, I wasn’t exactly happy about it. This is for two reasons. One, every time I get contacted by the DHS, nothing good ever happens (I’ve started to call the briefcase I keep all my paperwork in ‘Pandora’s Box’), and Two, I seriously mistrust fingerprints, and anyone who has them on file.

Here’s my reasoning. They say that every set of fingerprints is unique. My question is, how in the blue hell do they know that? It’s like the old chestnut that no two snowflakes are identical.

Bollocks. Where’s the proof?

What if my fingerprints match a known and heavily wanted terrorist? Even if they aren’t exactly the same, what if the bottom half of the guy’s index finger matches mine, and they just happen to find that partial print on the end cap of a pipe-bomb? It could happen!

The other thing is that I have terribly bad luck. Now that I officially have an FBI File, and that my fingerprint is now in the AFIS database that they check on CSI every time they find a crime scene…I can say that I’m honestly concerned. I’m also completely paranoid.

For example, what if I finish a can of Pepsi and throw the can in a trash can in Greenville City center. Then, they come to pick up the trash, and on the way to the land-fill, my Pepsi can falls out of the truck, gets caught by the wind…and lands smack dab on the head of a female murder/rape victim.

I choose a trash can, and unwittingly become the Pepsi-Cola Killer.

It could happen!

Anyway, we arrived at the DHS office…two hours early. We weren’t taking any chances. You see, in bold writing across the front of my summons letter, it says: “If you do not appear at this date and at this time, your application will be considered abandoned.”

In other words, if you’re late, you’ve fucked up, and you get to start your whole status change application again.

This is also true, one guy walked in twenty minutes late for his appointment. I felt sorry for him, they just said, in essence: “We’re really, really sorry, but you’re late. Go away.”

Of course, an 11am appointment just means you have to be there at 11. It doesn’t mean you get seen at 11. You walk through the door, show your appointment letter and ID, they tell you to fill out a form (surprise, surprise), then wait in a line.

Then when you get to the head of the line, they check your form and hand you a number.

You sit down until your number appears on one of those TV screen thingies (Oh, and the sound for a new number coming up was exactly the same sound as the door made when it opened…which just added to the fun.)

When your number appears, you go to a desk, hand the form over, then go sit down until your number is called.

In other words, not exactly pleasant.

Then, after all that, you get fingerprinted.

Now, this isn’t your regular ink on the fingers and a piece of card type dealies. Basically, they scan your fingers into a computer.

Let’s just say that these people must take about 500 sets of prints every single day. Quickness, not comfort is their top priority. I was being fingerprinted by a 4 foot tall, very strange looking Asian woman, who had the very disconcerting habit of pushing the back of my hand against her boobies while she held your hand on the scanner.

Eeew. (Shudder).

Anyway, after the fingerprinting, the supervisor came over to check the fingerprinter’s work. I started making a bit of small talk.

“One more step towards my green-card.”
“Yup, you already have your work permit, don’t you.”
“Nope, I’m still waiting on it.”

She looked at me like I’d grown an extra head, and asked if I had the rest of my paperwork with me.

Here’s the deal, when I got the receipt letter for the money to pay for my biometrics, I also got a receipt letter for my work permit. This same letter I showed to a DHS Officer at a local office in SC, and I’d asked her what to do with it. She said: “Oh, that’s nothing. That’s just a receipt notice of the cash you sent. Just put it away and wait for them to contact you.”

No, bitch. No.

The deal was that when I went to get my biometrics, I also showed them that letter, and they take it, and send me my work permit 30 days later.

If I hadn’t made small talk, and if the DHS officer at the Biometrics office wasn’t exceptionally good at her job, and really switched on, I would have returned home, and waited for a work permit that would never arrive.

Here’s the real kicker though.

Work permits are only valid for one year before you have to renew them. They start this year, not from when you receive the card, but from when you first apply. They also cost $175.

I had a 6 month delay, because they screwed up my paperwork. I applied, and they asked for all sorts of information I’d already sent. I asked the same lunatic at the local office in SC about it, and why they needed this information twice. She said: “Oh, that’s just the way it’s done, just send them whatever they ask for.”

Remember my post where they asked me to take a $600 medical again? I wrote directly to the main office in Missouri, explained that I came over on a Fiancé Visa, and had already had a medical, and sent them the paperwork.

They never admitted to anything, but it’s clear they where processing me as if I’d just arrived in the country, got married, then applied for residency.

This means that my $175 dollar work permit, that’s valid for one year, that I should receive this time next month…will actually expire in October.

Did I mention you have to renew these every year, 90 days before they’re due to expire?

That’s right, I get a whole two months to work before I have to file for a replacement.

On the other hand, after exactly two years of sitting on my ass…WORK PERMIT, BITCHES!

That’s right! I can get a job, a bank account and actually earn some money!

That’s right. I’m a foreigner, and now I’m officially an immigrant, because I can “Take you jerbs!”

I honestly didn’t know how I’d feel when I got my work permit, or at least a definite day when it was going to arrive. On the one hand, sheer unadulterated joy at feeling like an actual person again, and not an overgrown leech, on the other, I’ve been out of work for a long time, and I didn’t know how I’d feel trying to adjust back to the ‘working man’s’ lifestyle.

How do I actually feel?

Pure Relief.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cheddar Cheese Cause Murder! Honest!

I hate junk science.

Junk science is the act of using so-called ‘science’, where you deliberately conduct an unfair experiment, ignore vital variables, or all out ‘mis-interpret’ the data in order to get the result you want.

Here’s the latest thing.

A ‘scientist’ has conducted a study, where he took two groups of young people. One group he allowed to play a single level of “The Simpson’s Hit and Run” video game, and another group, he had play a single level of “Grand Theft Auto III”. Both video games, in this case considered similar, because they both involve driving.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Long story short, GTA = Bad. Simpsons = Also bad, but not as bad as GTA.

Here’s the part that cracked me up though. After playing GTA, more of the study group considered the use of marijuana to be ‘ok’, compared to those that played the Simpsons game.

All this, despite the fact that the mission played on GTA 3 did not mention drugs, drug use or have anything at all to do with drugs.

Now this result, in any real scientific experiment would be called an anomaly, and a rational explanation would be looked for.

In this experiment, the answer was simple: Playing GTA will make your kids want to do drugs, or at the very least, think that drug use is ok.

I have another explanation. Maybe the GTA playing group had a more relaxed attitude to smoking weed anyway.

I like that the question specifically mentioned weed, though, considering it’s pretty much the softest drug you can imagine, and has the most divided opinions on its use. If they’d picked a much harder drug, like heroin or crack, chances are that most of the test subjects wouldn’t have had such a relaxed attitude.

For example, I don’t smoke weed, but I have in the past known a few people that do.

On the one hand you have people who point out that marijuana is only as harmful and addictive as regular cigarettes, while on the other hand you have the people who believe that weed is a ‘gateway drug’ that leads onto harder, more harmful drugs.

To be completely honest, I only don’t smoke weed for two simple reasons. One, it’s illegal. Two, I have a very addictive personality, so if I started, it would be all I’d ever want to do.

In short, even if weed was 100% legal, and you could go into any gas station and buy a pack of Marlboro Marijuana Specials, I still wouldn’t smoke it. This isn’t from any moral stand point…it’s simply because if I did, I’d like it, and I’d want to smoke it a lot.

This is just my opinion of weed, and I guarantee if you ask a group of 100 people, you’ll find the entire spectrum, from the people who love and smoke it, to the people who think it’s the most terrible thing ever discovered.

Bascally, if I got two groups of people, and told one group to crochet hats, told another to knit scarves…then asked both groups what they thought of marijuana, chances are one group would be more tolerant than the other.

Is that proof that knitting gives you a relaxed attitude to drugs? Or that crocheting gives you a higher resistance to peer pressure?

Nope. It just proves that in any given group, some people will be more tolerant of things, whereas others will be less tolerant.

Now, if you ask a group of people what they think of shooting heroin, most people will be dead set against it.

Hmm, I wonder why they chose weed specifically for this study?

I’ll tell you, it gave them the best possible chance of getting the answer they wanted.

They also proved that playing video games “Raises your blood pressure and makes you more aggressive.”

Of course it f**king does! You’re playing an exciting game, which gets you excited and more ‘animated’. Reading this stupid ‘scientific report’ got my blood pressure up, for Christ’s sake!

So, considering I’m agreeing with this part of the report, does that mean playing videogames is bad?

Yes, but only if watching movies or sporting events is bad as well. I’ve watched horror movies that have raised my blood pressure so much, and got so much adrenaline pumping, I’ve jumped out of my seat. Go to any sports bar when a football game is on. You’ll see crowds of people with extremely high blood pressure, with all their aggressive and competitive instincts on overdrive.

If we really want to get into it, playing a sport is much, much worse than any video game.

Let’s look at Football (The American variety).

This is a game about beating another group of people, taking territory by force and definitely raises your blood pressure and aggression level…and worst of all playing football has the very real possibility of you getting injured, or you injuring someone else.

It makes me laugh that the same people who think that playing a video game is a very bad for their kids, and won’t allow a game console in the house…also, at the same time, positively encourage their kids to put on a helmet, grab a ball, and run into people as fast as they can in the hope of knocking them down.

I have two points here:

The first is that, while I’ll freely admit that video games can and will affect the people who play them, they will only have the same effect as playing a competitive sport.

Let’s take boxing, for instance. In this sport, you train to be able to hit people as hard as possible, while being as hard as possible to hit yourself. You’re training to actually fight somebody.

Why isn’t boxing the center of the latest moral panic?

Now, if I wanted to really come down on boxing, there’s plenty of ‘evidence’ I could use. Look at Mike Tyson. He raped a woman, and bit an opponent’s ear off in the ring. If I was to take the same stance as the anti-video game people, I would focus on this, call it ‘scientific evidence’, and demand the sport be banned.

Of course, to do this, I’d have to avoid the vast majority of boxers, like Mohammed Ali, George Foreman etc...not to mention that I’d have to avoid the hundreds of actual facts that contradict me.

By following this line of reasoning, for my ‘scientific evidence’ to be true, I would also have to openly state that boxing also causes Parkinson’s Disease, and also causes you to start your own electric grill company.

My second point ties into this: You can (ab)use science to prove just about anything. You’ve got to ask yourself two questions. One is, what does this scientist hope to achieve with this experiment, and who is paying for the research?

The answer to the first is simple. The scientists are hoping to get paid and, most importantly of all, make a name for themselves. No scientist is going to make a big splash right now by stating “Video Games are completely safe and non-harmful”, because that doesn’t merit a news story. It’s also what most of the do-gooders out there don’t want to hear.

The second is also simple. Someone wants the public to believe a particular thing, so pays someone to prove it.

When it comes to ‘science’, it’s easy to prove just about anything. For example, did you know that 100% of the people who died of cancer, not just this year, but since the disease was discovered, drank large amounts of water and breathed nitrogen-rich air?

100%? That’s strong statistic, so I can state scientifically, that breathing and drinking water is a major component in causing cancer!

Most murderers walked for the majority of their lives…so people who walk are pre-disposed towards murder.

Of course, with a little common sense, we can see that 100% of the people who didn’t die of cancer or commit murder also drank water, breathed air and walked around.

The point is, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is a scientist in a white lab-coat, who has all kinds of letters after his name, writes a report which states there is a link between one thing and another. They publish it, the papers pick it up, and there’s ‘new evidence’ that the very thing that most people want to believe is completely true.

At the end of the day, look at it this way:

I’ve played video games since I was three years old.
I’ve played every single Grand Theft Auto game ever made.
I’ve played probably every major video game released over the past ten years.
I play video games for at least 2-3 hours every single day.
I enjoy playing ‘violent’ videogames, whether that involves shooting simulated people, attacking with simulated armies, shooting down simulated planes, or beating a simulated person to death with simulated fists.

Basically, I’m a hardcore gamer. It’s my number one hobby.

By rights, I should have dropped out of school, be working a crappy job, have no friends, or at the very least, weird ‘shoot up a schoolyard’ friends…and above all, be a dangerous, mal-adjusted individual. However, here’s another list, also true:

Qualifications-wise, I have 13 GCSE’s, 3 A-Levels, and a Bachelors Degree in English Language, Literature and Writing Studies.
I have a tested 140 IQ.
The last time I was in a fight, I was in Primary School.
I have never been in trouble with the law.
I got my first job when I was 14, and have never been out of work since I was 16 (Except for now, but that’s due to a work permit situation.)
The only drugs I use, or have ever used, are legal (Namely cigarettes and caffeine).
I’m happily married.

Anyone notice a slight deviation from the ‘scientific’ evidence there?

Also, considering more people now play video games than those that don’t…am I the anomaly, or the norm?

I’ll let you decide. You’re clever people.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Know Nothing About A Subject? Just Talk Louder!

So, I was in my local bookstore today, you know, just browsing when I discovered with an almost untamed glee that they had a modest selection of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

Let me take a time out to describe these books. They’re witty, intelligent and clever. Most of the time, they’re truly laugh out loud funny, and Terry Pratchett is such a gifted writer that you stop actually reading these books, and just find yourself watching the story.

He’s a genius, pure and simple.

It’s also a sad truth that I had nearly every Discworld book he had ever written, and had to leave them in England when I moved. I’m looking forward to re-establishing my collection. (That’s how good he is, not only have I read all of the Discworld series a few hundred times, I’m willing to pay for them twice.)

So I picked a book up off the shelf, and turned it over in my hands. That’s when I heard the voice next to me:

“Oh, I wouldn’t get that if I where you, he’s terrible!”

Survival Tip #1 : When approaching a Paulius in the wild, it is never a good idea to suddenly force an opinion on it as fact, especially delivered with authority, when you actually have no authority.. A wild Paulius does not suffer fools gladly, in fact, a wild Paulius does not suffer fools at all… and especially does not appreciate being dragged into a conversation without just cause.

“Hmmph.” I said, non-commitally, while still examining the book.

“Yeah, I read one of those a few months back, well…I didn’t finish it, it was terrible.

Survival Tip #2 : Although in this case, the non-commital ‘Hmmph’ actually meant: “Shut up, you complete and utter tool, I have absolutely no interest in anything you have to say, ever…so why don’t you just toddle off back to where ever it is you come from, and let me go about my day.” Most people, people that is, who aren’t as thick as submarine doors ,usually take the non-commital, dis-interested grunt as a statement of not wanting to continue the conversation.

I remained in silence, not making eye contact, using this as an experiment as to how much people will talk when you’re making it obvious you want them to go away.

“Yeah, it made no sense and…”

I tuned out.

Survival Tip #3 : It is not wise to approach a wild Paulius and open up a conversation by attacking something he absolutely adores. This is especially true when you pass judgment on a 30 book series, based on a single book you didn’t finish. For example, the wild Paulius, as a species, while being huge fans of the films, did not enjoy reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While the wild Paulius did not enjoy these books, they know that they’re both widely enjoyed and critically acclaimed. He therefore knows that the LoTR Trilogy is not crap…just not his cup of tea.

Meanwhile, the Lesser-but-not-lesser-spotted-enough Fuckwit continued blithering on:

“…all he does is rip-off J.K. Rowling!”

“WHAT!?!?” I exploded. I noticed for the first time that my new found literary critic was holding in her hands, a collection of Harlequin romance books. The ones that are about stable-boys with ‘steely’ eyes and heaving busoms. This is who I was taking literary advice from.

Survival Tip #4 : The wild Paulius, while being almost superhumanly tolerant of most idiots, as long as they provide some mild entertainment, has absolutely no tolerance for complete and total bullshit. It is not wise to, after already annoying a wild Paulius, to come out with a mouthful of pure truthless effluent. This is especially not wise in a book-store, the wild Paulius’ habitat of choice, as it contains many, many heavy hardback books, which he will use to bludgeon you to death.

“I said he rips of J.K. Rowling! That’s why I didn’t finish it.”

“How exactly does he rip her off?” I asked, letting my victim set herself up for my killing stroke. If we where in Analogy or Metaphor World, you would see me standing as the decoy, as my pack-mates Intelligence, Common Sense and Half-A-Fucking-Clue snuck stealthily around the book cases, crouched, claws drawn and ready to pounce.

Survival Tip #5 : When you unleash a ‘bombshell’ on a wild Paulius, and he looks at you like you’ve just grown an extra head, this is not because you have fazed him, or that he doesn’t understand your comment…it is because you are wrong and you are  sounding like a complete fuck-tard. It is best in situations like this to simply make your excuses and walk away.

The Fuckwit continued:

“He does it all the time!” She said, (how she knew this having only read part of a single book was beyond me). “He’s got a magical university, which is a rip-off of Hogwarts, he’s got wizards, ghosts, goblins…it’s all straight out of Harry Potter.”

Survival Tip #6: Implying that Joanne Rowling invented fantasy archetypes like wizards, witches and trolls is a sure fire way to set of a wild Paulius’ bullshit meter, and send him into an almost blind range.

I’d had enough. I looked at the encyclopedia on the shelf across the store. I had visions of walking over there, finding the biggest, heaviest volume, returning…and calmly knocking the dumb bitch out with it. Instead, I had a little fun.

“No, I don’t mean in what way did he rip her off…I mean, how do you think he managed it?” I asked.

“Huh?” She said. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, how do you think he actually did it? How did he manage to copy her work?”

“Well, Duh…” She began.

Survival Tip #7: When you a re a complete retard, do not say “Duh!” to a wild Paulius.

“…he read her books, took out the best bits and put it into his own story!”

“Well, I just find that amazing!” I said.

“Why is that amazing?” She said, with a tone and facial expression that is usually used on those occasions when the person you’re talking to, who up until that point appeared to be normal, suddenly starts doing the ‘chicken dance’ for absolutely no reason… while explaining to you that his large collection of toenail clippings tells him to burn things.

I opened the Discworld Book I was currently holding.

“Because, this Discworld book,” I said, “that features the magical university, wizards, witches and all that other good stuff, the good stuff that you accused him of ripping off, was actually written in 1986.”

I let that sink in for a moment.

“So, what you’re saying is that Terry Pratchett sat down at his writing desk, almost 20 years ago to the day, and completely a totally ripped off a story that wasn’t actually written for about another 15 years. Now that is one hell of a trick! Why didn’t I think of that? In fact, Stephen King is going to be releasing another book in a couple of years! I think when I get home, I’ll rip that off. I’ll be rich!”

Her demeanour changed from that of a person standing on rock, preaching to an adoring crowd, to that of a person standing on a piece of rapidly melting ice, over a piranha tank, while hungry polar bears stalk around the outside of the lake.

“Uhhh, ummm, ahhh…So you’re saying she ripped him off, are you?” She said, going on the defensive.

Now, what I wanted to say was:

“No, you complete and utter tool. No one ripped anyone off! I hate to tell you this, but ole J.K., while being a talented writer, did not actually invent the fantasy genre. Just because it was the first book of that type you read, doesn’t mean it was the first one ever written! We’re talking archetypes here, or if that word is too big for you, we’re talking fantasy wallpaper. Wizards nearly always wear pointy hats and carry a wand or a staff, there’s always an evil Orc, or a Goblin. There’s always a hero with a magic sword. What are you going to say next? That Shakespeare ripped off  the Wachowski Brothers, because Hamlet has a sword fight in it, and so does ‘The Matrix’? Why don’t you pull your foot out of your mouth, your head out your ass, and just fuck off and leave me alone, you complete and total retard!”

What I actually said was:

“Sigh, can you go away now please. I don’t want to waste any more time talking to you.”

In the end, I have to ask myself…am I wrong in beleiveing that people should have at least a passing acquaintance with the things they blather on about? Why do people assume that if they talk loudly and long enough, that’ll make up for complete and total ignorance of whatever it is they’re talking about?

Survival Tip #8 : If you don’t know what you’re talking about. Shut the fuck up. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'll Stick to Plagarism, Thanks.

I think I’ve said before that I have almost no HTML knowledge whatsoever.

I know how to link, embed images etc, but that’s about the start and end of my HTML expertise.

My usual way of getting around this is by slightly altering HTML code that already exists. For example, you may notice that my posts are slightly wider than the blogger template, basically because I tend to write long posts, and don’t want you all to have to scroll half a mile down the screen.

To do that, I just found the bit of HTML on the template that defines the width, and put in a bigger number.

So, every time I want to do something I don’t know how to do, I find a blogger that has already done it, look at the source code of his page, and try and work out from that how it’s done.

For example, today I noticed on Kato’s blog (Link on the right…that’s the other thing, I’m incredibly lazy and will do everything and anything to avoid writing html), that he knows how to align images to the left and the right of the screen.

Usually, I just host the image on imageshack, and cut and paste the bit of HTML code that it gives you to do a direct link to the image. I have no idea how to align it.

So I made an absolutely huge mistake today.

I actually tried to look at the source code of Kato’s blog.

It was like looking directly at the mid-day sun…through a telescope.

It was like looking at the Matrix.

“My EYES! MY EYES! Arghhh! The Evil Kato Katonian strikes again!”

All I wanted to know was how he aligned his pics. Instead, I think he’s somehow coded the entire human genome and has hidden it in his page.

A while ago, he did a nice long post on how to set up all the whiz-bang things on his page, like the tags etc. I looked at that post. Marvelled at the genius, and how he basically made blogger do things it wasn’t actually intended to do (Think, turning a washing machine into a microwave.)

Anyway, I was proud of the few minor alterations I’d done to this blog. The Gif for the title instead of the boring old text header, adding in my humorous tagline (The one I was planning on changing every week, and have changed twice in the past year), and changing the dimensions of my post-text area.

Now I’ve seen Kato’s, despite the fact he’s even left in comments explaining what each part does…I think I need therapy.

I’ve got to go.

(PS. Maybe little pinch?)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Raped by a Network

Ok, I’ve been blogging one hell of a lot over the past few days…in fact, this is my third post today. There’s usually no point in blogging so much, because people tend not to read back over the last few posts…but there’s something I want to get of my chest.

G4 officially sucks.

Because this network wasn’t shown in England, I only caught the tail end of its previous incarnation, Tech-TV.

I flicked through the channels, landed on a show called “The Screen Savers”, and was hooked from then on.

G4 used to be Tech-TV, in name and in content. It was a network for smart people. They’d answer questions such as “How can I make my wireless network more secure?” and “I’m considering changing my drives to a SATA RAID configuration, but I’m having problems, any ideas?”

Now they answer questions like “I m r33ly 133t! Sarah lane is hot! Get her to show her boobs!”

Now I know that a TV network becomes successful by appealing to the largest number of people, but G4 has gone too far. They went from smart TV, to dumbed down TV, to downright insulting-your-intelligence TV…and right now it’s changed into some kind of weird Spike TV rip-off.

The whole point of G4 was that is was geek-oriented TV. It was a network for intelligent people interested in computers and technology. Now it’s not geek TV, it’s not even tech-based TV. It’s pure lowest common denominator TV.

It appears that Tech-TV was bought out by a group of people who had no clue what they just bought. I can imagine the meeting:

“Ok, this is a fairly good network, but do we really need all this technology stuff?”

“Uh, sir? This is Tech TV, it’s the whole point of the network!”

“Yeah, but it’s all so… high brow. People aren’t clever enough to enjoy this. What are the kids into these days?”

“But our demographic is intelligent people aged 20 – 40.”

“Yeah, but they don’t spend enough money! I know, let’s put on a show about street racing, featuring a black fellow who talks ‘street’, and we can show women ‘shakin’ their junk’!”

“Great idea! We can put on that street racing show, you know the one, the Fast and the Furious rip off that completely bombed on Fox!”

“But how is that Tech TV?”

“Who cares?”

“Yeah, and let’s put on ‘The Man Show’! Not being able to think is actually a requirement to watch that show…and it has big breasted women jumping on trampolines on every episode!”

“I quit.”

They no longer have shows about how to tweak your computer for better performance, and reports on the latest OS vulnerabilities and exploits. Their only nod they give to actual technology now is a call in show for people asking questions like: “How do I install Windows?” and “my friend has really fast internet, but mine is slow…what’s wrong with my computer.”

In short, it’s tech TV for people on AOL.

The best example of G4’s downfall is ‘ The Screen Savers’. It was a great show, but then they changed the format, re-named it “Attack of the Show.”…but at least it kept the same presenters, and almost the same content…at first.

Now, even that has changed to something I’m not quite sure how to describe. Computers and video games went out the window, and it because some sort of freaky entertainment show. From computers to bar-reviews and dumb ass skits. In an hour long show, at the most, 10 minutes is devoted to actual technology.

Then Kevin Rose left.

Look at it this way. Kevin Rose asked to be released from his contract, and left a TV job, and started an internet podcast. I admire him for this. It comes to something when someone is willing to make a major career step backwards, because they got so fed up with the network.

Think of it this way, if you worked as a TV presenter on a popular network, what would it take to make you quit that, and run a blog instead?

A lot.

Also, in the past day or so, the two remaining ‘original’ presenters, namely Sarah Lane and Bredon Moran, have also left.

Who did they choose for the new co-host? A woman by the name of Olivia Munn. A woman with apparently no tech background whatsoever.

So what makes her qualified for the job? She’s easy on the eyes, and has big boobs.

Now, I know that a lot of people won’t agree with me. I’m coming across as saying “What? Gorgeous women with gigantic boobies? Who wants to see that? I’d much rather see a report on the latest in motherboard technology than hotties cavorting on screen!”

I’m not saying that. My point is that if I want to watch an entertainment show, dumbed down television, or women bouncing on trampolines, I have over 100 other channels to watch it on.

This crap, quite simply doesn’t belong on a technology based network. Rather than buying G4 out, and turning it into Spike TV, why didn’t they just go ahead and buy out Spike TV, or start up a whole new network? Why go ahead and ruin a perfectly good network?

The truth is true tech-based TV will never be insanely popular. There’s a market for it, but this market will quite simply never be as big as the market for women in bikinis. Either run a tech network, or don’t. Don’t run a lowest common denominator network, pay lip service to technology, and call it technology TV.

Right now, the only show on that entire network worth watching is X-Play. Good game reviews, hosted by Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler. In fact, X-Play is the most popular show on that network, and guess what? It’s the only show on that network that is the same as it was before Tech TV became G4.

There might be a lesson to learn there, G4. The one thing you didn’t change is your most popular show.

Rebate? More like Re-bait.

A few days ago I posted about how I need a new video card, but don’t have the money to buy one.

Well, my darling wife told me today that she might be able to swing it for me over the next couple of months

(Sunny really is way to good to me. She’s the best wife ever, in the history of wives…and that’s official.)

So, anyway, I did a little more research this morning to see if I could find another decent card for a few dollars less. I discovered two things:

  1. The card I want is about 50 times better than everything else in the same price range.

  2. An unspeakable evil that must be stamped out and stopped at all costs.

I’m talking, of course, of Mail-in Rebates.

If you’re not familiar with this concept, let me fill you in.

You walk through a store, or browse through a website, and you see a nice shiny product with a perfect price-tag to fit your budget. You get excited, you add it to your cart, and you get to the checkout.

Then you find that your purchase is actually about $50 more than the advertised price.

You stagger in disbelief, get ready to call the manager, and enforce the “This is the advertised price, so you have to sell it to me for that price” law.

Then the store clerk smugly informs you that the price is the sale price, minus the mail-in rebate.

Basically, they tell you something is $150 dollars, charge you $200, and then you send your receipt, serial numbers, purchase order number, date of purchase and your first born son to the manufacturer, and then, in 6-8 weeks (after you’ve taken the Ring of Power to Mordor), they send you a check for $50.

I don’t understand this. Well, in fact, I absolutely understand it. I just have a hard time believing that people who want my business can be that evil.

You see, the first thing is, the post-rebate price gets your attention. If you’re an educated consumer, you’ve done some research, and you think you’re getting something for $50 less than everywhere else.

The second thing is, when you’re in the line at the register, you don’t want to look like the complete tool that didn’t read the fine print, and have to turn around and go put it back on the shelf.

The third thing is they do this in the hope that people won’t actually go to the trouble of claiming their rebate.

Now, if you’re well off enough to be able to spend four or five hundred dollars on a non-essential, you’re not going to be particularly bothered in getting your $50 back. The other thing is that they make the claim process so bloody complicated, and you have to send the few hundred bits of paper that you tend to lose within minutes of leaving the store.

This actually happened with the computer I’m writing this on now.  

No shit, I had to send:

My receipt.
My store rebate coupon, signed and dated.
The serial number sticker off the front of the box (That is nearly impossible to remove without ripping)
The model number sticker off the box
The back page of the manual, also signed and dated.
A second rebate coupon, printed from a website, that you have to complete a three page form to receive.

This has to be sent within 14 days of the purchase, and you have to wait up to 3 months to get the check.

Unfortunately for them, I wasn’t in the position to just throw $50 away, no matter how big of an annoyance it is to claim.

So here’s the position I’m in:

The card I want is an Ati Radeon X1300. It’s not the greatest card out there, but it’ll run games like Half-life 2 reasonably well, and make brand new games, such as Oblivion, at the very least, playable.

CompUSA has this card for $149.99


On the other hand, another store has the same card, but instead of only having 256meg of memory, it’s the 512 meg version.

This would be a huge deal for me, as my current graphics card uses system memory. It uses 128 megabytes of the 512 this computer has.

So, not only am I getting the graphics card, performace wise, I’m also getting 128 meg of system memory back. Basically, the 512meg version will give me 4 times the video memory, and 1/3rd extra system memory.

The other big thing is, while I don’t always buy the latest and greatest out there, I like to buy something that will mean I won’t have to upgrade for the longest time possible. Better the card, the longer I keep it. Simple.

What is the price on the 512 meg version? $149.99. Exactly the same price as the 256meg version.

What’s the problem?

You guessed it. It’s only 149.99 after a mail in rebate.

So this has put me in an extremely vexing position. I could get the double memory card for the same price as the one I originally spotted.

The only problem is I might just be able to come up with $149.99. Can I come up with $200? Not a bloody chance.

I’m considering offering the following deal, just to see what they say:

“Ok, I’ll pay you the advertised price, you can take all the receipts, bills of sale and everything you need for the rebate before I go home. Then you send it all into ATI, and get your extra $50. I get the price advertised, you get the extra fifty, and ATI ends up $50 down. Everyone ends up with the same deal, only this way you actually get my business.

What do you reckon my chances of success are?

Think People

Ok, this is one of those times where I don’t know whether to laugh, or be very, very sad.

Here’s the basic story.

An avid player of World of Warcraft dies (in real life, not on the game).

So, his guild and the rest of his friends on World of Warcraft, decided it would be nice if they all got together, in game, and hold a memorial service for him. They put the word out in the game, letting everyone know the time of the ‘service’ and where it will be held.

So they logged into their friend’s account, took his character to a lake, and all his online friends turned up to pay their last respects.

Seems nice, huh? A little strange… but nice. It’s also true that if you explore enough in World of Warcraft, you’ll find a memorial set up on top of a hill that was put their by Blizzard (the game’s creators), for an artist who worked on the game, but died before its release.

Anyway, back to the ‘memorial service’.

So this group of friends that it in turns to ‘view’ their dead friend’s character, say a few words, and then line up in front of him…

At which point, a rival guild comes storming over the hill… and slaughter everyone who attended.

Now, on the one hand, this is morbidly funny. To many people, the idea of holding a funeral inside a role-playing game is ludicrous, and the accompanying ‘raid’, just makes the thing seem all the more absurd.

On the other hand, this is a horrible, horrible thing.

A group of friends decide to remember their friend in a game, a game that was something that they all shared. In many ways, this is no different than say, an avid fisherman dying, and his friends all deciding to get together, and go out on the lake fishing to remember him.

It’s remembering someone in the context of an activity he or she loved.

Plus, although I don’t know the circumstances here, but it’s not uncommon for members of a World of Warcraft ‘guild’ to come from all over the world.

Now, one thing I’ve heard over and over again is: “How can you become close friends with someone you’ve never met in real life?” Well, I met my wife over the internet, and when I visited the American Embassy to get my fiancé visa, two of the other 15 people who where also there to get fiancé visas had met their fiancés playing Everquest, an online role-playing game, very similar to World of Warcraft.

In short, it’s entirely possible to make close friends and real relationships online.

My point is that this might be the only way for this group of friends to ‘get together’ and remember their friend.

It’s the fact that this funeral service was held in a role playing game that makes it slightly funny. The idea of a bunch of game characters, wizards, dwarves and all meeting for a funeral service is patently absurd… But the truth is that the ‘raiding party’, are quite simply a group of callous, de-sensitized pricks.

If any of them had stopped to actually think for a moment, maybe one of them would have thought: “Ok, ok, this is a little silly, but someone actually died here, and these are all his grieving friends and relatives. This might not be the time or place for a practical joke.”

Now, this story is all over the internet, including a video of the actual raid, but this makes me wonder…

If you strip down World of Warcraft to its most basic level, it’s an online chat room with a game attatched. If you use skype or some other form of voice chat, it’s a telephone call.

My point is that what makes World of Warcraft so popular is the social aspect. It’s the opportunity to play with your friends, and make new friends, as you play that makes it enticing. You get to compete and co-operate with real people. The game is fun, but it’s the interaction with other people that puts it ‘over the top’.

In other words, what makes World of Warcraft so popular is people, not necessarily the game.

So let me ask you a question. Imagine a close friend dies, but you can’t get together with his family and the rest of his friends to pay your last respects, so you agree to ‘meet’ in an online chat room, or set up a conference call.

During this meeting, another group of people know what you’re doing, and think it’s funny to break into your call and distrupt things as much as possible.

What would you do?

At the very least, you’d be pissed as hell and hurt.

It’s the game that adds the layer of separation that makes it possible for these people to not realize what it is they’re actually doing…which is disrupting a memorial service. If this was real life, these people wouldn’t have done a damn thing. If they joined an online chat room, and found people talking about a recently departed friend, they’d probably express their condolences and leave.

However, the fact that this was an in-game environment, and that the attendees are game characters, these people forgot that behind these characters are real people who had recently suffered a tragic loss.

In my opinion, this ‘raid’ on the online, in-game memorial service is no different that lighting fireworks and heckling a ‘real’ memorial service.

All I’m going to say is that if this happened to me, and I knew where any of the ‘raiders’ lived…I’d be paying them a little visit.

…and I hope that the people who decided to disrupt this service eventually realize that with the emotion involved, they might as well have kicked the casket over at a funeral.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Horse Skins! Getcha Horse Skins

Ok, there have been rumblings on the internet, and it’s time for me to throw in my 2 cents.

Here’s the deal. Bethseda Softworks have released more in-game content for “The Elder Scrolls IV : Oblivion.”

Not such a big deal, right?

Well, no…but kinda.

This is not a new thing. It’s never been unusual to have an expansion pack released for a game. You buy the game for $40, and a few months later, you go buy the expansion that gives you extra levels, weapons, characters etc, for about $20.

Well, Bethseda are taking advantage of the instant download delivery system, and are selling extremely small pieces of extra content for a couple bucks a pop. The one I’ve heard most about is a new horse ‘skin’ for $2.50.

(For those that don’t know, a ‘skin’ is how an in game character is ‘painted’. You already have the horse in the game, and the new skin alters its look).

This has been met with controversy. People are objecting to being asked to pay for such a small add-on. Many are saying it’s pointless and are objecting because small mods like this, in many other games, are given away for free.

On the one hand, we have people like Tim Buckley, the writer and artist for the excellent online comic “Ctrl-alt-del”. His attitude to this is summed up as: ‘People are cheap and think they deserve free stuff…this is a business.’

This is half-way true. The business model has already been proven with people willing to spend a buck a pop on mobile phone ring tones and wallpapers After all, if you don’t want it, don’t buy it!.

On the other hand, free stuff like this is a great marketing tool. It keeps people coming back to the website for these updates and keeps eyes on advertisements, so why charge? There’s also the whole good will thing. Games are getting very expensive. If a company is willing to throw in a few freebies for owners of the game, it keeps you coming back. If I buy a game and the developers throw me a few freebies, I’m more likely to buy their next game.

Gabe, a character from the also excellent ‘Penny Arcade’ comic strip looked at the whole idea differently. Not just the price issue, but why you’d actually want the new horse skin in the first place:

“No one is ever going to see it, you can’t ride that shit through Ironforge.”

(IronForge is a location in the online multiplayer Role Playing Game ‘World of Warcraft’)

Which now leads me to my two cents.

I agree with Gabe, and think this kind of ‘extra content’ has been mired by the rise of massively multiplayer role playing games (Oblivion is single player only).

You see, people are willing to spend a small amount on a trivial or cosmetic upgrade, because it sets them apart from everybody else. You don’t spend a dollar on a new ring tone to listen to in the privacy of your own home. You buy it so that people will say: “Is that (insert song title here)? That’s great! Where did you get it?”

Today, no one really likes the plain vanilla version of anything. You want the bells and whistles that say “This is mine, it’s different that the regular version everybody’s got. Mine’s better.”

This is why people spend millions on press-on fascias, ringtones and wallpaper for their mobiles. It’s why they fit spoilers, ground-effects kits and neon lights to their cars.

The point is to be noticed.

So what is the point of buying a cosmetic upgrade only you are going to see?

The only time you could show it off is if you have a friend at your house, who also owns Oblivion, but hasn’t bought the new skin. If they don’t own the game, they’re going to assume that new horse was always in the game.

Also, just flat out buying something like this is contrary to the way role player’s think.

For example, take an MMO like World of Warcraft, a game you play with thousands of other players at the same time.

In this game, the better you do, the more quests you complete and how good your reputation is determines what sort of ‘ride’ you can get. Basically, the better you are at the game, the better your horse is.

So picture the scene. You’ve just started out playing World of Warcraft. You’ve got no money, a rusty sword you found on the ground, crappy armor that you also found on the ground and you’re walking through a town looking for a way to raise a little cash.

Suddenly, a player turns a corner in front of you. They’ve played the game for a good long time, completed lots of quests and have advanced really far. They’re wearing a full matching set of ultra-expensive armor, including some ‘exclusive’ pieces you can only get by beating the really advanced difficult quests, and they’re riding on the back of a noble steed.

It makes you pause. Their armor and horse are a status symbol. Everyone notices them.

That’s why players go out of their way to own ‘exclusive’ and rare items, so the other players notice them. It’s the equivalent of cruising down the street in a pimped-out Cadillac. Other players look at these people as something to aspire to in the game.

How this is different to how role-players think is that they actually worked to get all this stuff. They’re riding that horse and wearing that armor because they’re really good at the game. Their cool stuff is a representation of the amount of effort, skill and time they put in. They work for this stuff so people will look at them and say: “See that sword he’s carrying? You can only get that by defeating (X)! I tried that once and got creamed before I shot my first arrow! Wow!”

It’s the difference between the guy who bought a junker classic car and spent the better part of a decade restoring it back to mint condition… and the rich brat whose daddy opened his checkbook and just bought them the car.

So, the whole point of owning the bells and whistles is to show them off, and this is something you simply can’t do in a single player game, but not being able to show it off is only part of the story.

I haven’t played Oblivion, but I’ve played the previous Elder Scrolls game (Morrowind) extensively. (A lot of the following may not make sense if you’re not into gaming, but I need to explain this to make my point)

Now, in this game, my character owns one absolutely shit-hot magical battle axe.

I ‘bought’ the axe (with in-game money) absolutely dirt cheap. It was wrecked, and I only bought it to practice my armorer skills. It took a while, but I repaired it to 100%. At that point, I could have sold it for 10 times what I paid for it, but for some reason I hung onto it.

Then, after lots and lots of quests, (we’re talking about 50 combined hours of gameplay…spread over a couple months) when I had lots of money, I captured an uber-villain’s soul with an expensive magic scroll and an outrageously priced soul-stone.

The soul stone can be used to enchant objects, but my enchanting skills were crap, so I went to the head of the Mage’s Guild, and paid her an absolute bundle to enchant the axe for me.

Once enchanted, my axe, as well as the physical damage, drains an enemy’s strength as well as their health when I hit them with it. Basically, after I hit them once, they become weak as kittens and can’t do me much damage,

This is what I mean about how role-player’s think. I have that axe because I worked bloody hard at the game. Creating that axe took over 50 hours, a few chance encounters with various characters and a lot of hard slog. It’s something to be proud of.

Now, if I could have just gone online, and paid two and a half bucks for it, I don’t think I’d like it nearly as much. Also, if a friend comes over who also owns Morrowind, they’d ask about it and where I got it. Explaining your heroic in-game exploits is a lot more fun and satisfying than saying “It was two-fifty from Elder Scrolls dot com.”

The whole point of a role-playing game is that you suspend disbelief and actually play a role. It’s escapism at it’s finest. You’re given an absolutely massive play area, and you can do whatever you want, but you play by the rules.

I don’t mean your in-game persona can’t be a devious criminal. You can steal all you want, but you might get caught, and have to pay the consequences. Jail, fines etc.

By simply putting in a credit card number, and receiving and in-game object, it takes you out of the game. It’s like watching a movie, or reading a book…and when the hero is told that the evil sorcerer can only be killed with a particular magic sword, you read:

“The path before you is a dangerous one.” Said the Old Man. “ First ye must climb the mountain of fire, defeat the evil Dogbroth the Bearded and return with Dogbroth’s magical amulet. This amulet will open the dreaded Doors of Doom, where ye will face the Dragon King. Once the Dragon King is slain, you will take from him his Magical Sword of Demon’s Kiss, which is the only weapon that can cause hurt to the evil Bob the Sorceror”

Justice McHero thought hard upon the old man’s words. Before him was a path filled with peril and almost certain death. He meditated upon this problem, and after one week of meditative prayer, he decided it would be much easier and safer just to buy a Magical Sword of Demon’s Kiss from Ebay.

Dogbroth the Bearded was a little disappointed, he was looking forward to chopping McHero’s head off.

Bob the Sorceror thought the whole thing was cheating, and complained to the Evil Council…they told him to get some Sword of Demon’s Kiss repelling armor…also from Ebay.

Bethseda Softworks. If I can give you any advice, forget the horse skin. Instead, write a few new quests, sell them as an expansion pack for $10-$20, and put the new horse in there as a prize for beating the quests. That way, we don’t feel like we’re ‘cheating’ and get some actual value for our money.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cooking Shows Are Shit. Official!

Cooking Shows really are pointless.

Think about it, what do you do when you watch one?

You see a guy or gal spend an hour cooking up some delicious creation, and then they say:

“…and here it is, a delicious meal! You can’t have any. Goodbye!”

It’s all the build up, without the climax. Cooking shows are the equivalent of going on a date with a woman you really like, but without the pay-off. You see a movie, have a few drinks, then you go back to your place.

When you get there, she pushes you onto your bed, lights a bunch of candles and takes off her clothes. You knowledgably note that she’s wearing page 34 of the Summer 2005 Victoria’s Secret catalogue, which she also drops to the floor.

Then she crawls onto the bed, gets to within inches of you...

Then she puts all her clothes back on and buggers off home.

You’re like, ‘What the hell, man?’

All build up, no climax.

Why watch someone cook something if you don’t get to eat it at the end?

Think about this for a minute. When you come home, and someone is cooking something really good, what’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth?

“Mmmm, something smells good!”

Then you eat some, and say:

“This tastes fantastic!”

Smell and taste…the two defining factors of good food, neither of which are available on a television set.

Which leads to the question, how do we know that what they’re cooking is actually any good? They have the presentation down pat, but who can say with any authority that what they just cooked doesn’t taste like a jock strap that’s been sitting on a moldy sandwich in a locker all summer?

They make all the right noises and tell us how great it smells and tastes, but they’re paid to say that. They could be lying through their teeth. No cook is ever going to say that anything they cooked is anything less than ambrosia. They’d lose their job! Who wants to watch a cooking show where the cook tastes it and says: “Well, it’s alright I suppose. Not a patch on a Hardee’s Mushroom Swiss though.”?

…and think of this. You could get a really good chef to be on your show, and pay him lots…or you could hire some dude off the street, pay him $4 an hour, and just get him to follow the recipe. If it tastes like crap, who’s ever going to know?

Just once, I’d like to see some honesty.

Ok, you’re watching the Food Network:

Our cook drops her ingredients into one of those over-priced saucepans (The ones that, after the show, a half million amateur cooks will run out and buy, because they think it will magically make them better cooks…it won’t).

She adds her spices, drops in a few more ingredients, and a billowing cloud of steam rises up. The camera zooms into a close-up of her face.

She leans in, a look of absolute rapture on her face, and takes a deep sniff:

“Mmmm, now that just smells fantas-…Hurk!”

She coughs and tried to regain her compsure. We see her do her best to not recoil from the steam.

“This smells…hurk….this smells absolutely…hurk…This is…..HURK!!”

Her face disappears from view.

Hhhuurrrrrgghhlllllaaaaarrrrr!(splash) Huuuuuurgllllarrrr (splash)

Her head swings back into view. She’s got a sweat going on, her hair is plastered to her forehead, her eyes are all wide, bloodshot and stary. He mouth is locked on an open-mouthed frown. She’s breathing heavily.

“This smells like….hurk…it smells….Hurk.”

Her face disappears again as she bend over

Hhhuurrrrrgghhlllllaaaaarrrrr!(splash) Huuuuuurgllllarrrr (splash)

She swings back into camera. She’s started to cry. She breathes heavily, with a look of pain on her face.

“This smells….hurk….This sm….hurk.”

Hhhuurrrrrgghhlllllaaaaarrrrr!(splash) Huuuuuurgllllarrrr (splash)

She re-appears, she’s in full sob mode now, her shoulders are hitching, her eyes are red and there’s that one long unbreakable line of slobber down her chin.

“This smells…hurk…It sme….hurk….For the love of…hurk…for the…hurk. For the love of God!...hurk…it…hurk… It smells…hurk…like death!”

Hhhuurrrrrgghhlllllaaaaarrrrr!(splash) Huuuuuurgllllarrrr (splash)

I mean, how do we actually know? Cooking shows are like you going to work, and your Boss saying:

“Hey, have you done those TPS Reports?”

“Yup, sure have!”

“Can I see them?”

“Nope, just accept I’ve done them, and that I’ve done an excellent job…why do you need proof? Isn’t my word enough?”

Even if I can’t have a cook crying and throwing up on her own shoes on TV, I’d at least like to see a little honesty. You see, I pride myself on being a good cook, but I make mistakes, everyone does.

It’s always the same. Cook makes something. Cook tells us how good it smells, cook tells us how great it tastes. They never fuck it up.

How do we know? They could be tucking into freshly prepared jockstrap burgers for all we know.

Just once I’d like to see:

“…and here we are, a delicious meal.”

The camera gets a nice close-up. The cook leans forward and takes a deep sniff.

“It smells fantasti…no… wait.”

She takes another sniff.

“It smells like…hmm. It smells… It smells…It smells exactly like freshly burned ass hair.”

She picks up her fork and takes a reluctant bite. Her face turns to an instant grimace, and she spits it out onto the floor.

“And it tastes like testicle!

Now that’s something I’d actually watch.

Then you have your ‘celebrity’ chefs.

In my opinion a chef’s celebrity should never rise above “That guy who does that cooking show” status. They’re like hair dressers. They do a normal everyday job, but act like Prima Donnas, and think they’re Goddamn rock stars.

Hey, chef dude! Your job primarily consists of heating up bits of meat. You’re not a star!

Like that Emiril dude. Everyone goes on about how great he is. I mean, how do you know? Have you ever eaten his food? Even if his food is great, why does that make him a TV star? Have you ever been the Chili’s, ate an amazing chili cheesesteak sandwich and said:

“Wow, who was the chef? Can I have his autograph? That dude should be on TV!

Yeah, but Emiril is great! He says “Let’s kick it up a notch!” and shouts “Bam!” randomly!


I ‘kick it up a notch’ every time I take a dump. I can also show you a whole host of winos and hobos who shout lots of things randomly, many of them much more entertaining than ‘Bam!’…and none of them have a TV show!

I mean it comes to something when these people actually go on tour! That’s something I’ll never understand. How can a cook go on tour? Can you imagine it?

“Hello…(surreptitiously reads the place name off the back of his frying pan) South Carolina! Are you ready to cook?!? I can’t hear you! I said ARE YOU READY TO COOK!?!”

Then the crowd start chanting for their favorites, only instead of chanting “Freebird” or “Hotel California” they chant “Scrambled Eggs!” or “Rack of Lamb And Mint Sauce With Garlic Mashed Potatoes On The Side, With Perhaps A Small Portion Of Sautéed Mushrooms!”

I’ll admit, cooking is a skill and requires talent, but it’s not exactly a TV worthy talent. I mean, plenty of people enjoy reading this blog, but would you watch an hour long show called “Blogging with Paulius”?

‘Hell everyone, and welcome to Blogging with Paulius. Let’s start by making some coffee, then I like to light a cigarette! Now, come with me and I’ll sit at the computer. First we log into blogger, then I press these tiny little keys in the right order. What shall we blog about today?”

Cooking. I like to cook. I like to eat. What I don’t like to do is watch some up-himself chef spend an hour cooking something that I’m not going to get to eat, especially when there’s no proof what they just cooked is any good.

“Oh shit, Bill, we’re out of Oregano!”

“Ahh, just go chop up some crab grass…The suckers at home will never know.”

All cooking shows should be limited to 10 minutes. A guy tells you the ingredients, and what order to mix them, and how to cook it.

It should not be some tool called Emiril who shouts “Bam!” and thinks he’s an actual celebrity.