Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Next: Dance - Dance - Dancing your way to Particle Physics!

When I first read the story a week ago about a West Virginia program where public schools use the game Dance Dance Revolution to fight child obesity, I was very tickled. The concept of adults using a video game for very positive and practical results in children was an idea that made me giddy. Uplifting stories are always better when they have a geeky element to them.

Now, it seems, that the concept is catching on in different directions (via Boing Boing):

At the scripps aquarium near San Diego, they devote half the space to teaching kids about science. In a wing devoted to explaining gene expression they had some stuff about DNA and the coolest thing was this video game that taught you about building blocks of life, then proceeded to a real DDR game where you have to step to the DNA parts being shown on screen.

The best part was when one of the 20 amino acids were built, it would say the name. So you'd see A T T G C and so on... and then it would shout "Cysteine!"
I'm thinking that GATTACA would produce some kind 70's funk/disco step.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The other Gore worth listening to

Mr. Vidal is still one of the great ones. Here's the first paragraph of one of his latest essays:
While contemplating the ill-starred presidency of G.W. Bush, I looked about for some sort of divine analogy. As usual, when in need of enlightenment, I fell upon the Holy Bible, authorized King James version of 1611; turning by chance to the Book of Jonah, I read that Jonah, who, like Bush, chats with God, had suffered a falling out with the Almighty and thus became a jinx dogged by luck so bad that a cruise liner, thanks to his presence aboard, was about to sink in a storm at sea. Once the crew had determined that Jonah, a passenger, was the jinx, they threw him overboard and--Lo!--the storm abated. The three days and nights he subsequently spent in the belly of a nauseous whale must have seemed like a serious jinx to the digestion-challenged whale who extruded him much as the decent opinion of mankind has done to Bush.

I think I'll re-read some of United States this weekend.

Pork and Beans ... OF EVIL!

How was this picture ever considered, even during the fifties, a good way to sell food?

More retro goodness can be found at Demonic Tots.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Spy vs. Spy" in Java!

Video game nostalgia seems to be the order of the day, lately. C64s brings back some Commodore 64 goodness in the form of Java games.

Oh man, my spare time just went out the window.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Borrow 'em or buy 'em, take your pick!

A Jacksonville institution, and one of my favorite places to visit, is branching out into a second location that is LESS THAN A BLOCK FROM WHERE I WORK!

From Financial News and Daily Record:
It may seem kind of odd to open a book store within a long paragraph or two from a brand new library, but that is exactly what Ron Chamblin, owner of Chamblin Bookmine on Roosevelt Boulevard, has in mind.

Last week, Chamblin purchased a two-story building on Laura Street near the Main Library and has started the process of renovating the structure which was built in 1904. When the addition to the Westside store is complete and the downtown Bookmine opens for business, Chamblin said he'll have 32,000 square feet of inventory on the shelves at the two locations. The store is well-known among Jacksonville bibliophiles for its "used, rare and non-existent" books.

"I've got five storage buildings full of books that I don't have room to stock right now," said Chamblin. "I've been looking for a downtown location for about a year now and being a half a block from the library is a great place to be."

Suddenly my lunch hours don't seem nearly as boring anymore.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Your moment of "Jaw Dropping LEGO" Zen

I'd like to think that given the resources and the time, I'd have the talent to make something like this behemoth:

Lest I win the lottery and retire at 35, I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In the days of Cartridges and Commodores

A pair of nostalgia links. First up is 1UP and their focus group where they sat down some modern kids to play old school games and gauge their reactions. Remember: The Duck is Evil. Part One and Part Two.

And second, for those who got depressed reading those last links, a complete gem from Defective Yeti as he gives the Bush administration the Zork treatment. Ah, if only he could be eaten by a Grue.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A reflection after cheap toy shopping

It is the Summer of 2003. Universal Pictures plans on releasing "The Hulk", a film based on the Marvel comic book that they hope will be a big money maker and develop into a franchise. Accompanying this release, there is a huge blitz of toy marketing, including big green foam fists for kids to wear and sock eachother with. The movie tanks, the possible franchise dies, and all the merchandise ends up in the discount bin.

It is the Summer of 2005. 20th Century Fox plans on releasing "The Fantastic Four", a film based on the Marvel comic book that they hope will be a big money maker and develop into a franchise. Accompanying this release, there is a huge blitz of toy marketing, including big orange foam fists for kids to wear and sock eachother with. The movie tanks, the possible franchise dies, and all the merchandise ends up in the discount bin.

A word of warning: Studios should now be wary of any Marvel property which could lead to marketing big foam fists. It's apparently the Kiss of Death.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Chicken Caesar Review: T.G.I. Friday's

And once more we find ourselves at another whimsical Bar & Grill joint. It remains to be seen whether T.G.I. Friday's has anything over places like Applebee's and Bennigan's. Their Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, which is priced at $8.99, contains crisp romaine lettuce tossed with their Caesar dressing and topped with slices of chargrilled chicken, Parmesan cheese and croutons.

The chicken dominates here, with a strong smoky flavor that reminded me of backyard grilling when I was a kid. Alas, though there were some cuts made into the whole breast, they did not go clean through. So we don't even have strips to deal with and much cutting must ensue in order to eat the darn thing. As for the rest, the lettuce is chopped nicely and properly tossed with a dressing that could stand to be just a wee bit stronger. The croutons and cheese were pretty much just there and are on the whole unremarkable.

In the final result, this salad rates higher than Bennigan's but lower than Applebee's. I'll give them points for nostalgia on such a flavorful chicken breast, but the least they can do is learn how to cut it thoroughly.

Monday, January 09, 2006

And it wasn't even his birthday

A story out of New York City (Via Boing Boing):
A mother in New York is suing an Applebee's restaurant after her 5-year-old son was allegedly served a Long Island Iced Tea instead of apple juice.

Cynthia Pereles said she took her son Seth to dinner at the franchised restaurant in Battery Park City and ordered him an apple juice.

Pereles said she did not realize her son was drinking a concoction of white rum, gin, vodka, triple sec, Coke and sweet-and-sour mix until it was too late. The boy's eyes became glazed and he began to laugh uncontrollably, according to a report.

Pereles said the restaurant admitted the mistake but she is still suing for $75,000. "When you're looking at your 5-year-old and you're asking him, quiet down Seth, sit still and you see that mentally and physically he cannot comply with what you're asking him to do because he is under the influence," Pereles said.
Or because he is five years old.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Maybe he'd be better at the electric slide

In addition to the big magazine subscriptions my library receives, we have a handful of obscure titles that are donated to us. One of these is News of Norway, a quarterly publication whose Summer issue's cover has been staring at me and begging for a punchline for months now. Well, I'm finally giving in:

"No, Mr. President, that's not quite how 'The Robot' is done."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

No towels for you!

An update on the New York trip we're planning: The previous hotel we were considering, the Pickwick Arms, has been disqualified due to raised prices. The next one we've stumbled upon is the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Tribeca.

The biggest pluses are the reasonable rates, the subway stop right outside the door and the penchant for utter cleanliness (according to the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Tripadvisor). The minuses are the cramped quarters (which I'm beginning to learn through my research is the norm in New York City), the noise level and the rather curt, sometimes rude staff.

Looking at these qualities, especially the one about the staff, it occurs to me that we may have stumbled upon the lodging equivalent of the Soup Nazi. Which, when you think about it, is a perfectly New York way to stay in the Big Apple.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Forest Whitaker Quote of the Month: January 2006

With the new year comes a new actor for my Quote of the Month series.

Forest Whitaker is similar to Yaphet Kotto and Keith David in that he's a black actor. He is dissimilar in that he doesn't possess the uniquely deep voice or the huge presence of the previous two subjects. But whereas these attributes pegged Kotto and David into the role of heavies most of the time, Whitaker has quite the varied resume playing all sorts of roles, which makes him all that more interesting to watch.

The first time I noticed him was in Good Morning, Vietnam, where he played Adrian Cronauer's (Robin Williams) pudgy, slightly geeky sidekick Edward Garlick. One of the best non-Williams lines in the film is during a scene where hate mail is read concerning the horrible radio performance of Lt. Steven Hauk (Bruno Kirby), who is subbing for Cronauer:

Edward Garlick - "From a Marine in Da Nang: 'Captain Hauk sucks the sweat off of a dead man's balls.' I have no idea what that means, sir, but it seems very negative to me."