Sunday, April 30, 2006

Control Those Rugrats

I dimed on two kids today. A part of me felt bad, for about a second; then I got over it real quick.

Here in Inwood there's a strong Native American community, I assume/guess because it's one of the (if not the only) last remaining natural areas in Manhattan. Story has it that the area of Inwood Hill Park is where Manhattan was sold to the Dutch, and the hilly area still holds caves once used by the Lenape tribe, among others.

Anyway. Today was a festival of sorts call Drums Along the Hudson, a celebration of Native American heritage as well as a tribute to all native/indigenous peoples. The weather was absolutely fantastic, and it was a great day to be out in the park reconnecting with Mother Earth.

So here I am, sitting by the riverside with a friend when along comes Hansel and Gretel. Hansel whips out a slingshot and exlaims, happily, "Look I'll get another one!" - and proceeds to shoot a pebble at the ducks in the water while his sister giggles with malicious glee.

Of course I called them on it. "Hey, quit shooting at the ducks!" Little bastards totally ignored me, and of course there's no parent in sight. But...there is a park ranger, walking by totally oblivious to Damien and his sister Lilith.

I call out to her, and tell her these kids are shooting at the ducks. She gives me this condescending look - the kids are blond, fair skinned...and here I am looking like Anton LeVey's protege in goth/tribal denim. "I haven't seen them do anything..." she begins.

Then freezes mid-sentence as the Demon Princess pulls back on the slingshot for a power shot. "Hey you kids!" she shouts, rushing over to scold them on the wrongness of their actions. I even heard the little monster tell her "Well some other kids were shooting at the birds in the sky", like that excused him for shooting at the ducks in the water.

She did give them a decent lecture, which I was glad to see. She also made a point of avoiding my eye as she walked off, realizing how close she came to sounding like a judgemental moron by blowing me off.

But parents. What do you really think your kids are going to do with a slingshot when you buy it for them, hmmm? Line up coke bottles on the picket fence in their backyard? Use some common sense, people; sheesh.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ninten-No Clue

I am such a video console snob.

I stopped buying Nintendo years ago because in my now-adult brain, Nintendo = kiddie games. They've never shaken that image, and with the advent of the DS games like NintenDogs, I don't expect to change my mind anytime soon.

That said, I'm curious to see what they come up with in their latest console system design which they've named: "Wii".

Yep. Wii. Which is pronounced, "We". As if, I suppose, to make you go "Wheee", but I keep finding myself mispronouncing it "Why", as in "why are you even bothering to ask me for money?"

I thought the Game Cube, back when it was just a rumor, had the potential to bring me back to Nintendo. Then I heard the development name: the Dolphin.

Somehow, the name "Dolphin" does not bring up cyber-cool imagery. No self-respecting gamer would stand on line for hours overnight, waiting to be the first one to pick up a game console called a "Dolphin".

And yet, the name "Game Cube" wasn't that much more of an improvement. At the worst it invoked apathy; "oooo, a Cube. Wow." At best? "oooo, a Cube. Wow."

So when I heard that the development name for their latest foray was the Nintendo Revolution, I had hope. The Revolution. Viva la Revolution! I mean, that name had potential! Fight the power, man! Power to the people! I can SEE the campaign, and it gives me goosebumps how incredibly effective it could be.

Instead, we get the Nintendo Wii. "Wii are the world". Michelle Wii. Wii the People. Wiibles Wobble but they Don't Fall Down.

Sorry Nintendo. Looks like Sony's got a lock on my cash once again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Okay, so I'm flying a little higher than I was when I wrote my last post. I've tried like mad to find copies of those issues of Rainbow Magazine back in the mid 80s; I really just want to find the issues where my programs were published, so I can copy the pages, seal them up and hang them on my wall. Good memories.

I'd found a website that did little more than whet my appetite: . Of course none of the "add to cart" options worked; it was a dead site, not much more than a tease. Still; just knowing that there were other Rainbow/CoCo owners still out there, still reflecting on their cult-like love of this machine...

You have to understand; Tandy had no clue what they had. They marketed it horribly, despite it being a fantastic 8-bit low end machine. It was, in my opinion, vastly superior to its competition at the time - the Commordore Vic-20, the Commodore 64, and the Atari 400/800 home computers.

Anyway, I'm going off subject. The point is I've looked for copies of these mags for some time now, with no success.

Until now!

Freaking eBay, I fucking love you! Holy crap, someone is actually selling off their collection from 1984-1986 - exactly the years I started reading Rainbow!! I wish they had 1983 in their collection (my true start time), but hey - i'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

I WILL win this dammned auction; no way in hell am I going to let this chance pass me by. If by some freak chance I don't, I'm emailing the winner and begging them to look through and scan me copies. Fuck, I'll gladly pay for it - I'm not letting this chance pass me by.

Goddamn, I'm excited! Stay tuned.

Back(space) to the Future

Anyone remember this?

10 INPUT "What is your name: "; U$
20 PRINT "Hello "; U$
30 REM
40 INPUT "How many stars do you want: "; N
50 S$ = ""
60 FOR I = 1 TO N
70 S$ = S$ + "*"
100 REM
110 INPUT "Do you want more stars? "; A$
120 IF LEN(A$) = 0 THEN GOTO 110
130 A$ = LEFT$(A$, 1)
140 IF (A$ = "Y") OR (A$ = "y") THEN GOTO 40
150 PRINT "Goodbye ";
160 FOR I = 1 TO 200
170 PRINT U$; " ";
180 NEXT I

If you were a tech-head back in the 70s or 80s, then you'll instantly recognize this as the old BASIC programming language.

I got into a conversation with a co-worker today where I found myself espousing on the history of programming languages and the advent of the home PC. I remember my excitement when, having outgrown my Tandy MC-10 computer's 4K of ram (!), I saved up enough money to buy myself the 16K expansion module to increase my internal memory to a then-massive 20K! Wow!

This was purely a hobbyist or beginner's machine - but hey, I was 15 and this was my first computer! I taught myself how to program using this thing, and I still have fond memories of it even with stats like this:
- 32x16 text screen;
- low-res of 64x32, with 8 colors;
- high-res of 256x192, with 2 colors;
- I/O ports: serial interface, cassette interface

That's it, folks. I plugged this puppy into my television using a signal splitter and BAM! I was a hacker, baby!

I can look back and remember with so much fondness, all the "advances" I made back then. Upgrading to the 128K ram Color Computer 3 (it cost me $199 from Radio Shack, half of which I had to save up for and the other half my mom put up as a christmas gift); getting my very first 5-1/4" floppy disk drive (a later gift from my dad). Learning to program joystick commands for game input. Getting published in Rainbow Magazine, a publication for Tandy users that printed programming code (I'd KILL to be able to order copies of these mags!)

I look at computers today - and the people using them - and realize how far we've come. Using a computer in this age is a given; the idea of a home without one is unthinkable. The computer is to my generation what the telephone must have been to my grandparents'; we take it for granted that everyone has one, everyone knows how to use one. If we find someone who hasn't we look at them like circus freaks, odd beings from another planet. Primatives, who need to be taught.

I'm rambling. This trip down memory lane is bringing on the good vibrations, so I'm just going to enjoy the ride.

Of course, the coconut rum I just had is probably adding to the eurphoria. But why dwell on it? :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Just Do It

True story, this.

I got on the subway tonight, somewhat tired - had a volleyball game, like usual. I had the headphones on, and I've got a Sony model with the silcon earbuds that block out most exterior noise. It's like putting your head underwater and listening to the world around you.

Anyway, so I'm on the train, listening to music, when I notice the people sitting down in front of me are talking about someone else in the car. They're pointedly gesturing towards the seats behind me, so I glance back. There's someone on one of the corner seats, sitting alone, slumped over and out cold. Not unusual, had this been a Friday or Saturday night - but for a Monday, it's a little odd.

I pop an earphone so I can listen to the chatter, and of course they're speaking Spanglish so I haven't a clue - but I'm good at reading conversations, and it's pretty obvious that all these people in this half of the car are worried as to whether or not this person is just unconscious....or worse.


I'm looking around, and apparently the whole half of the car is in on this. They're all looking, shrugging, gesturing, obviously concerned - but doing so from the safety of their seats.

I'm...annoyed now. Disgusted. I look at them like "just HOW long have you been sitting there talking about it?", shake my head and just say "Oh fuck this". I mean really people, this is stupid. And I walk over to the passed out person, and tap their shoulder.


I tap again. Nothing.

This time I give a shake. Nothing. Now I'm thinking, "oh shit", and lean down for a better look. I reach my hand over to the neck, cuz now I'm thinking I should look for a pulse. The person is a little androngynous, but I can see now it's a girl so I give her one last hard shake on the shoulder.

She pops her head up, eyes sleepy, looking around like "whaaaa...?"

Behind me, I hear a collective sigh and nervous laughter. A whole goddamned car of people were watching me, nervous like the chickenshit fucks they are.

I shouldn't be mad, but I am. This is why shit happens in this city, because good people do nothing when their moment comes. What if that person really had passed out, needed help? What if the EMTs came, and said if only someone had stopped the train a few minutes earlier, contacted them sooner - maybe they could have helped her, saved her life.

People don't want to get involved; they care, but they don't want to be the one to discover the body. These are the people who can smell the strange odor coming out of the old woman's apartment, but who are too afraid of what they might find to go and knock on the door. These are the people who see the man stumble and fall in a drunken swoon, but don't stop to make sure that he's conscious and okay.

I'm not a saint, far from it. If and when there's a rapture, I'll be here waiting for the apocalypse with all the other hellions. When we're down in the abyss, I'm expecting to get VIP seating at the front of the queue.

But I do care about people, maybe more than I should. And if I'm ever the one you see passed out on the me a favor. Poke me.

I'd rather be disturbed from a sleep than left to die.

What About Brian?

I really hate this show.

Look don't get me wrong, it's nothing personal against ABC or the actors. But I supposed to sympathize with Couple #1, who are about to get married only because the guy, planning to break up with his girlfriend, instead freaks out and proposes? And is now having second doubts? I supposed to feel for Couple #1, the married couple in the friendship with 3 kids, who don't get to have sex and whose wife is now going through her own midlife crisis, regretting everything she didn't get to do - so now wants an open marriage, and has just cheated on her husband?

Maybe I should feel more for Couple #3. The woman is older than the others, married a much younger guy, and has put off the whole family thing for years - and now wants to have kids, but is finding out she's in that miniscule 5% chance of success bracket.

Yeah, I'm not feeling shit for these folks. Maybe that makes me cruel, but hell - all I want to do is tell these people to get over themselves, welcome to the real world.

I do, however, feel a little something for the title character. Brian.

Not because I think he's a sympathetic figure, no; he's the only single one in this friendship of 7, the one they all try to hook up, the one all the guys are living vicariously through.

He's also the one who's madly in love with the girl in Couple #1, the finance of his best friend.

Yeah. Thats gotta suck.

But I feel for him, because I can understand the feeling. A whole lot more than I care to admit.

I watch the show, and I ask myself...why? It isn't really that interesting, the acting is bland, the stories aren't all that gripping, and there's a severe lack of deep insight into these peoples minds. So why am I watching it?

I think because I'm rooting for Brian. I want him to get the girl of his dreams, I want to see his feelings come out on top. I want vindication for him, because...well, I don't think I'll ever get the satisfaction that I'm hoping to see him get.

Ironically, like his friends, I'm living vicariously through Brian - because I've been there. Hell, I *am* there, and I don't want to be there. I understand how this person might feel, I understand all the reasons why he might have kept quiet all these years.

You wish the feelings were gone, that you could just blink and they'd disappear so you can move on with your life. You ignore them, and you DO move on with your life. You love, you live, you don't think about what could have been.

But then some little thing happens, something small and random - and you think about that person, and you smile even while you feel as if everything inside of you is about to explode. It's frightening, that feeling; often I find myself looking for someone or something to mask that emotion, because I can't do it myself.

So yeah. You go get yours, Brian. Because maybe then there's hope for the rest of us.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Asking For An NYPD Beatdown

As kick-ass cool as this camera mount looks, let's be real folks. In this age of post-9/11 paranoia, who would be DUMB enough to use this?

Seriously, I can see the situation now. I bring my camera out to Central Park and think how fantastic it would be to get a long-range shot of those kids playing on the swings. I pull out my brand-spanking new, Russian-made Zenit-brand camera mount and line up a shot.

I hear a woman start screaming, but hey - it ain't my business, I'm just taking pictures. Right?

I figure I'll feel the impact of the bullets just a second or two before I hear the gunfire. This is New York, the words "Police, freeze, put the gun down" generally come AFTER the shots have been fired. When the cameras come, they'll be all "Well I saw he was lined up for his shot, I really didn't have time to think about asking him to surrender his weapon."

As I lay there in my hospital bed, tubes sticking out of every new orifice NYPD just gave me, I'll be thinking:

"I hope those pictures came out great!"

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Celebrity Lookalikes

Everyone wants to be somebody, don't they? Well, there's a website where apparently you can do just that. advertises itself as a genealogy website where you can track your family history, but realistically the only reason I can see to go there is to use the "face recognition demo" they have to see what celebrity you look like.

You'll need a hi-res photo of yourself, preferably a close-up facial shot. I uploaded a 180x180, 70k jpeg headshot of myself to test this, and waited for the results to pop up.

And waited.

And waited.

I got hungry, made a sandwich, watched some television. Still comparing.

Played a few games, shaved. Wrote a biography. Visited some friends on the west coast. Came back...still comparing.

As near as I can figure they have an incredibly slow server; of course, I got a "time out error". Joy. So I start it up again, and wait some more.

It does this little countdown thing, where it shows you that it's filtering your image through its celebrity database of, I believe, starting around 1200 images.

I get down to around 150 before it timed me out. Again.

I'm persistant. Or stubborn, take you pick. But I'm determined to try again, with a different photo. I pick one with an even higher resolution, 437x431. Results? Much faster; the key is high res, folks, so stay away from those cameraphone pix!

The verdict is in. My lookalike?

Rock on, Sam.