The Animal Farm

February 25th, 2005

Skittles

Does it surprise anyone that Skittles currently has the best text-to-voice software out on the market - better than Microsoft’s? Because it certainly surprises me.

Also, if you ever wanted to know how to destroy the Earth, here is how.

“Destroying the Earth is not for dilettantes.”
–Miracle of Science

February 21st, 2005

Blame Xenosaga 2

Yes, I know I’ve been gone for over a week. Do I care? No. Let me tell you why. Xenosaga 2.

Anyone who has heard of me knows I’ve been waiting for Xenosaga 2. I imagine when people talk about me, they go, “My friend Brian - the one who’s become obsessed with Xenosaga 2 - yadda yadda yadda.” I’ve probably made over seven references to it on the site. That’s how much I was waiting for it to be released.

Well, it came out. And it did not disappoint in the slightest. There were changes, of course. The battle system was overhauled quite a bit, and I think it benefits. Character designs were refined and improved thoroughly. A lot of my questions were answered, and I think only a few are unanswered at this point. Plot twists and turns are exciting and often creative. Really, the game is everything I expected it to be, and I love it. The only qualm was that they altered the leveling system to something less robust/interesting, but I’m fine with the new one. I haven’t gotten around to finishing the game, and I probably won’t be able to this week, but by next week I’m going to knock it out. I’m excited to see how this ends.

What else has been going on? Well, I got a T-Ball set. You won’t hear me stutter when I say that I’m going to make T-Ball happen, because I’m thoroughly dedicated to the idea. I’d like to do it in about two weeks, and hopefully the weather will warm up a bit by then.

Other than that, there’s really not much to report on. I’ve become terribly, terribly busy - I have 4 tests and 2 projects to worry about this week. Work has been rapidly sucking away at my life force, and I’m trying very hard not to become overwhelmed. I’m not sure how well I’m doing.

Mmmmmm, shiny.

February 16th, 2005

Watashi wa baka amerika-jin desu.

I am a retarded American.

Last night I went to an Intensive English Program( IEP ). This meeting was set up so the volunteer “native language speakers” could meet and become aquainted with there Japanese “buddies.” Basically it was about 20 or so Americans hanging out with about 18 or so Japanese people. Once a semester for a month a school in Nagoya sends over some Japanese students to learn English the best way, that is to get stuffed into a plane and taken here. I met my group last night and we talked for a bit. It was a really awesome experience. These girls( and one guy ) could barely speak my language and I could barely speak theirs. It was amazing. They actually understood my Japanese!! Noo-sensei is actually teaching us the real thing, not the fake I had once assumed she was. It was really fun, I actually have to email my Nihon-go crew about meeting up again. They seemed pretty eager to hang out and do stuff. Unfortunately, none of them are 21, so I can’t take them drinking. But yeah, I am really excited about this experience. They will only be here until March 10th, so I gotta make the most of it.

I think I had something else to post about here, but I have forgotten.

~Zach

“I don’t get used to be here. We’d like to eat and play with you.”

February 13th, 2005

Games & Videos Galore

Despite having an unimaginably large amount of work I was supposed to do this weekend, I decided to shirk my responsibilities and play video games/watch movies. I have a lot of stuff to talk about and a short time to say it, so let’s get started.

I can say without reservation that Amelie is the best French movie I’ve ever seen. I can say this largely because it’s the only French movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s bloody awesome. I can’t remember if Brotherhood of the Wolf was French, but Amelie is far far superior. The movie focuses on a rather abnormal girl and her unique way of thought. Really, it’s quite inventive and humorous.

I’m going to digress for a moment. I just heard people in the computer lab complimenting What Dreams May Come, and it threw me off kilter. First, these aren’t the types of people I’d expect to like a movie like that. Second, the movie was an assault on my senses that left me blind in one eye for two weeks - that is not a lie.

Back on topic. I also watced Voices of a Distant Star, which is by far the saddest Japanese film I’ve ever seen (and the shortest). It was, however, another work of art. I’m not going to dive into it because I’m afraid that if I told you anything, I’d ruin something, so just trust me when I say you should see it. If you don’t like it, you only lost about half an hour of your time.

Reno 911 is one of Comedy Central’s more noteworthy shows. Basically, it’s a comedic version of Cops. When I first heard of the show, I expected it to be something I could ignore without feeling any sense of loss. However, after watching a few episodes, I realized that there simply couldn’t be a funnier cop show. I rented the first season, and I happily watched a few episodes today. I’m going to be pushing through the rest soon.

Now on to games, of which I experienced two this weekend. The first game I cracked open was Front Mission 4. This game is a strategy game where you customize giant mechs (called ‘wanzers’) and take them into battle against other giant mechs. I really haven’t played enough to give a qualitative assessment, but so far the game seems decent - it’s not fantasically amazing, but it’s definitely fun. I have it for a week, so I’ll be giving it more time.

The second game I saw was Phantom Brave. I wasn’t the one playing - Doss was - but after about an hour I was pretty certain I should own this game. This is another strategy game created by Nippon Ichi, the people who brought Disgaea into my life. Again, they shine.

That’s really all I did this weekend. Now I’m going to give you a warning about next weekend - don’t look for me. Don’t IM me. Don’t call me. Don’t visit me. Pretend I don’t exist, because for all intensive purposes I won’t exist. Not to you, at least. Xenosaga 2 is finally being released Tuesday, and Zach and I are holing ourselves up and playing all the way through. It will be glorious.

I don’t care if your house burns down, your mother is kidnapped, a meteor lands on your toe, and your cat contracts AIDS. I don’t want to hear from you next weekend.

February 13th, 2005

Comics to Cure Your Boredom

Between this post and my last post, approximately 2 hours have elapsed. See, the thing is that I’m at work and I’m really bored. As such, it’s only fair that I post something that bores you for just as long. Prepare to read for the next two hours.

I thought I’d take this time to mention the web comics that make me smile because they’re funny. I’ve mentioned a few of them in passing, but they deserve more than that.

I’ll start with Penny Arcade, which is the gaming comic. Gabe and Tycho update with some kind of crazy goodness which is typically related to video games. There is no running storyline - indeed, they oppose the whole notion of “continuity.” This is good, because I find that when they delve into continuity the results are not particularly brilliant. However, when they stick to what they do best - mocking/making fun out of games/current events - they perform wonderfully. What’s more, the news posts that accompany every comic are genius - sometimes better than the comic itself. I probably look forward to this comic’s updates more than any.

Something Positive is another good comic. Unlike Penny Arcade, Something Positive dabbles solely in continuity. It follows the stories of a few vulgar, cynical, and brilliant characters as they live their semi-standard lives. I’m actually pretty engrossed in the characters, and Davin (who I consider the ‘main character’) is the type of person I’d like to befriend. I also very much look forward to these.

MegaTokyo is a pretty popular comic, having three books in book-stores. This comic follows Piro and Largo who have found themselves trapped in Japan and embroiled in all sorts of drama. Largo is by far one of the coolest characters in comics today. The story is interesting, although it moves painfully slow and that speed is only decreased by the number of times the artist is sick/tired/absent. If you don’t mind waiting around for developments, this comic is for you.

Sluggy Freelance is a one of the comics I’ve been reading on-and-off for a few years now, although admittedly I’m more “off” it than previously. Sluggy follows the lives of Torg, Riff, Zoe, Bun-Bun, and other distinct characters as they get themselves caught up in everything ranging from demonic invasions to computer possessions to alien excursions. Sluggy is the very thing MegaTokyo is not - the story moves fast and the artist updates daily (although sometimes he does take time off). Read it, because Bun-Bun will cut you in two if you don’t.

8-Bit Theater is a comic that fans of the original Final Fantasy would love. The comic features the characters from Final Fantasy as they travel the world performing quests. The characters are all given unique personalities, so there’s someone there for everyone. The author also has a new book out which I hear is quite funny.

Those are the comics that I read regularly. Penny Arcade updates every MWF, Something Positive every day, MegaTokyo every MWF, Sluggy every day, and 8-Bit Theater every TR and sometimes Saturday. Between all that, I’m typically kept pretty happy with my comics. That’s convenient, since the comics in the DA suck and I haven’t read Dilbert in quite some time.

Start reading.

February 12th, 2005

Ever Wonder Why I Despise Humans?

This morning at approximately 2 AM, I was woken up by the melodic sound of the fire alarm. Having lived in the dorms for the entirety of my college experience, I was not particularly surprised. Without hesitation, I put on a coat and went outside in the freezing cold while I waited for the alarm to subside. Despite having been abruptly woken and tossed outside in blistering weather, I managed to keep a cheery attitude.

Time passed without incident, and eventually we were permitted to reenter the building. I went upstairs and crawled into bed, despite being wide awake at this point. I don’t know how long I was laying down before the next fire alarm went off, but I remember clearly muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Again, I put my coat on and exited the building. Zach and I made casual banter and scoped out various cuties, and my mood never became foul. When someone informed us that we would have to go to the lounge to be lectured by the Fire Marshal, I became mildly annoyed, but I went all-the-same. I went to the lounge and scoped out a couch to sit on, and when someone told me we couldn’t sit there (for reasons unexplained and no doubt non-existant), I said, “Fair enough,” and I sat on the floor.

The Fire Marshal did not share my casual disposition, and understandably so. He informed us that whoever let off the fire extinguisher that sparked the alarm had just interrupted him from tending to a beaten, near-death boy. He went on to give a lecture about how such chicanery was unacceptable. I completely agreed. There were some people there, however, that were insistent on being complete asses and making fools of themselves by interjecting with smart-ass phrases. By this point, I had become thoroughly annoyed.

The Marshal let us leave, and we proceeded to the elevators. While I was there, some man was babbling on about how the Marshal’s story must have been bogus. Because, you know, he had a good reason to lie and all. The man persisted expressing his indignation - and more importantly, irritating me - until finally, someone told him to simply, “Let it go.” My hope was that a dead silence would fill the area, but no such luck - the first man now had to debate and argue until finally the elevator came to take him away. The elevator must have been that man’s guardian angel, because if it had come a moment later I would’ve killed him with my bare hands.

I was able to get on the next elevator, and I went back to bed. I was again wide awake, and I layed in bed for a solid hour before sleep overcame me.

I hate college students.

Can anyone suggest a place where the inhabitants aren’t all worthless?

February 11th, 2005

T-Ball

I have come up with possibly the greatest idea conceivable within the confines of the human mind: we should all play T-Ball. I’m sure you remember T-Ball, so I won’t describe the game. Instead, I will describe the plan as it stands now.

This Wednesday while I’m at the mall purchasing Xenosaga 2, I’m going to buy a T-Ball set. On some weekend in the near future - preferably after it warms up a bit - we’re all going to go find some cozy spot and play. It’s not a very complicated plan.

You’re all invited, of course. We don’t have a date set, but I’m thoroughly dedicated to making this happen. I think it will be fun.

One, two, three strikes you’re out.

February 8th, 2005

It Lives!

I have been informed that Spot is still alive. Hallelujah.

Praise be with ye.

February 7th, 2005

I Still Don’t Drink

I have been advised that I should update before the site becomes a running documentary of Zach’s newly adopted alcoholism. I still don’t have much to say, but I’ll figure something out.

Last night I was at Pizza Hut for some three hours talking to Jen (my ex-girlfriend, for those unfamiliar). It was good - it was the first time we’ve really sat down and just talked as friends for a long time, and I really enjoyed the conversation. Not to mention she gave me a nice discount, so I’m considering doing this every Sunday she works.

The day before that, I watched Trigun. Doss showed up to watch part of the first half with me. Travis and Phil showed up to watch the entire second half. Fun was had all-around. The night was interjected by a viewing of Team America, which I was thoroughly disappointed with. The movie just wasn’t all that funny. It seemed to rely too heavily on the fact that they were using marionettes, and once you got used to that, the jokes themselves seemed rather dull. Anyhow, after Trigun was over, we went to Up-All-Night for a little bit while Travis and Phil ate free food (I wasn’t hungry). After they left, I ran into Evan, and I proceeded to go with him while he ate free food.

The day before that - what was that, Friday? - there wasn’t really much that happened. My team’s Operating Systems module was due, and the TA did manage to find one glitch. It wasn’t even a glitch, really. We just neglected to handle the error condition where a user tries to enter a date that doesn’t exist (ie: Februrary 30). I tried to explain to the TA that our operating system will still work properly even if the sun changes positions and our entire calendar changes, but I don’t think he was smart enough to understand. Next time I’ll say it slower.

Other than those things, it’s been a pretty quiet weekend. But alas, now I have to go to class until 9 PM (it’s 7:30 AM now). Wish me luck.

What glitters on this ship belongs to me.

February 7th, 2005

Her Tongue Explodes

Jen has been saying I should tell this story on the site for some time now. I oblige:

Since I’ve known her, Jen has had a little purple spot on her tongue. I never told her this, but I was fond of the spot. I named it Spot, and Spot and I had many interesting times during my four year courtship with Jen. In fact, it wouldn’t be completely inaccurate to say that much of the reason Jen and I worked so well was because Spot was always there for me.

Well, Spot’s dead. He exploded. I wasn’t there to see it, but from what I hear he spent his last moments in Eat ‘N Park happily tasting food. Now all that remains is a scar on Jen’s tongue. I’ll miss you, Spot.

So, yea, Jen’s tongue is in a bit of a pain. She’s not supposed to eat most solid foods, and apparently jello/pudding/soup isn’t particularly filling. Wish her the best of luck. And pay your respects to Spot.

If it isn’t flashy and in high style, what’s the point?