Zack Sleeping (11/26/06)

November 26, 2006

Zack Sleeping (11/26/06), originally uploaded by rjschwabe.

There’s a lot of stories to come, but, I just want to post a picture right now.

Cheers, Rob

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Total disgust

November 16, 2006

The proper thing to do is to ignore the news about the upcoming OJ Simpson special. Because tons of sports columnists and other types are going to spout off on how much of a scumbad OJ Simpson is.

I will simply say that OJ Simpson is gloating at this point in time, which is really disgusting. As I heard on Jim Rome‘s show yesterday, “Pete Rose just called and said that OJ Simpson is out of line.”

However, let me say this. Anyone who watches that special, just to see, “What OJ is going to say.” is just as responsible as FOX for putting this shit on the air. Anyone who watches it for “car wreck value” is feeding the beast. As much as you are disgusted by his actions, and think he’s scum for doing it, but you watch it anyway, you can point that finger right back at yourself.

You are the demographic that FOX is counting on to make this show a success. Unless you condone murder or love OJ Simpson, you should boycott the show at all costs. You shouldn’t TIVO it, you shouldn’t record it on a video tape. In fact, you shouldn’t even watch the shows that are calling this disgusting.

And yes, even my writing this, is in some small way feeding the beast. And for that I apologize.

The show will do huge ratings, I know it will.

“The complete fucking apathy with which the vast majority of the world swallows the river of shit which is used to hide the story? That’s why I hate it here.”


Buying a Car 2006

November 15, 2006

(Oh boy, this is a long post folks, but it may actually be fairly funny rather than my silly Video Game posts)

As an intro to this blog entry. Two weeks ago, I was involved in a car accident. Was my fault: I was driving on Route 1, and I looked over to see about traffic on the right, and suddenly the cars in front of me were in a dead stop. I slammed on my brakes, but it was too late. I rear-ended the Nissan Pathfinder in front of me. My car went under the rear of the Pathfinder, totally crunching the front part of my car. I was not hurt. The person who I hit was taken away in an ambulance, due to pain. The cop said that they were probably just shaken up, as I only was going maybe 15-20 MPH when I hit the car, as my air bag didn’t deploy.

Now, my car was not ‘destroyed’ (in fact I even started the engine after the accident), but it was totalled by my insurance company, which is what I wanted. The car was useful to me, but I had no affection for it, and as my wife and I were planning on buying a car in 2007, I’d rather take the cash and buy early than have them repair the car and get less value for a 13 year old, body repaired car.

Now, onto the point of this blog entry.

My wife and I went car shopping this weekend. We had decided before that since we have an offspring on order (wait 8-9 months for delivery, some shipping and handling charges do apply, not valid in Las Vegas, New Orleans or the Island of Samoa), that a ‘family vehicle’ is in order. By a family vehicle, we really mean a car that can handle (potentially) 2 car seats, and other stuff.

Now like most god-fearing, anti-communist, love the environment but don’t tell me what to do, middle-class American familiies, we hate minivans. But, I’m not so sure this means that I want to be a contributor to the purchase of a pseudo-offroading vehicle (my wife already owns a Chevy Blazer but that was purchased prior to our merger and acquisition).

So, we had a bunch of cars that we wanted to see in person to determine if they had the size we were looking for. Now, we are kindof between the real price groups for cars. We want more than the entry level, but not quite all the way to the higher-priced luxury vehicles.

So, we go to a fairly well-known car dealer in lower Bucks County. One of those that has like 10 different car brands at one MEGA LOCATION (but next thing you know, on Action News, there’s the reporter, “Blogs like “The Blog from Room Five” have been slandering local businesses, and finally one car dealership decided to take action with a law suit). There happen to be several brands we are looking for there, so we begin our journey there.

The salesgirl who greets us is about 22 years old, piercings all over both ears, and isn’t really a master of communication. A lot of “Ya know”, and “Like”, and “And stuff” in her conversations with us. We ask her about this one car, and she has no clue other than, “Ya know, I’ve been thinking about getting one of these, cause I’m having another baby in a few months. I just found out that I was pregnant five months after the birth of my first son. When are you guys due?”

THUNK

(no not really, she was married and a perfectly productive member of society, but still FIVE MONTHS AFTER?)

THUNK

(look at all my little miracles)

So, first off, she’s supposed to take us to the Service Deparment for our vehicle. Aparently Uber-Autoworld has dictated that everyone who comes in gets a visit to the Service Department. And she doesn’t know how to get to the Service Department.

She works there, and doesn’t know how to get to the service department.

Okay, this is a huuuuge place. Like 20 acres big, maybe more. There are at least three service departments depending on the vehicle type. So, it’s not like it was in back of the building and she couldn’t find it. But still…. This is her job…

Now, we finally get to driving the car around the ‘test track’. (Don’t get excited, it was not a car with a great engine, and better ‘test tracks’ around a mall at night). And she telling us the exciting features of the car, by READING THE SALES STICKER ON THE CAR.

So to recap, she’s unprofessional in her dress and language, she has no idea where buildings are located, and she doesn’t know anything about the car she is selling, AND isn’t good enough of a liar to bullshit her way through without both Suzanne and I picking up on it.

And the icing on the cake, which wasn’t her fault, is her insistance on trying to give us finance information, because “How can you really judge this against other cars unless you know what your payments are going to be?” Ummmmm, how about from the sticker price of the car and a calculator. Now this is straight out of the Selling Car handbook by this dealership. They said to their trainees, “Don’t let them leave without working out their monthly payments”. But still we had to get out of there.

Place #2 was much better. A Toyota dealership nearby, that I went to once before. The salesman was professional and knew his stuff perfectly. However, as we drove up, we saw 4-5 salesmen (not a woman in sight) standing out front. Every single one of them wore a white shirt, neck tie, and black slacks.

Now after complaining about the dress of the salesgirl, it may seem hypocritical to complain about the uniformity of the salesmen at this place. But, there is something to individuality. I mean they looked professional, but so do the waitstaff at Olive Garden. Without the flair that is.

(Oh, and remember, next Saturday is Casual Saturday. So you know, if you want to you can go ahead and just wear a white shirt and black slacks, without a jacket.)

Finally, on Monday night we go to place #3. It is a miserable day/night. Pouring rain outside. We decide to go to a dealership in New Jersey. Now, we arrive at 7:30 PM, and they close at 9:00 PM. However, they were still open, and supposedly still there to sell cars.

We go in the dealership to look at the car that is in the showroom. The guy who approaches us says, “So, why are you folks here tonight?”

I should have told him that we were here to do our laundry, and wondered what the cars were doing here in the middle of the floor.

(Here’s your sign.)

We then go over to the car we are somewhat interested in, and he proceeds to tell us….

nothing

Total silence from this winner. He had the personality of a wet sponge. He told us nothing about the engine. Nothing about the car. And didn’t even offer to take us out for a test drive, work out pricing, or anything. We asked for a brochure and we left without him trying to sell us the car, take one for a drive, or getting our information.

Now, maybe he was a manager who doesn’t sell cars, and is merely there to be a jerk to the employees.

(PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN. Coffee is for closers.)

I mean, I don’t want to go back to the era of slick-backed, old-boy, car dealers, who you feel you have to shower in pure alcohol to remove the stench off of them. The type who would say, “Do you need to check with your husband before you make a decision like this?”

But is total incompetence the reverse. Our waitress the other night at the Michael Tavern, who told us all about how good the Country Ribs special was that night, was a better at selling than two of the idiots we dealt with. And she didn’t even need to sell us on the food, as you don’t enter a restaurant just to browse and walk out.

I’ll let you know when it gets worse.


Cheers,

Rob


My Top 10 Video Games Part 3

November 14, 2006

Okay, let’s wrap this puppy up:

6.  WWF WrestleFest – Arcade Game:  Okay, I flat out owned this game in college.  To the point where my friends stood around with awe.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  The game had two modes, a tag team mode where you selected two WWF Wrestlers to go for the tag titles, eventually facing the Legion of Doom, and the second which was a battle royal (or Royal Rumble for those in the know) where you were an individual wrestler.  Now all of these modes you could play against the computer or against human opponents.  The Royal Rumble game, I was okay with, but the tag team mode I rocked the house!  Basically, the wrestlers looked from left to right, and really couldn’t handle changing directions (i.e., up and down).  So basically I learned that if you punch once, and move your wrestler up the video screen, the opposing wrestler couldn’t handle it.  Then, you could use any wrestler who had the ‘running clothesline’ in his arsenal of moves (i.e., the Ultimate Warrior, and The Million Dollar Man), to nail them.  One quarter = Rob winning the tag team titles from the Legion of Doom.

7.   MYST – Macintosh:  A very low key game.  Basically the first in the series of ‘hypercard’ games (old Apple Mac term).  Where you basically move to a frame, and then certain aspects of the picture are clickable, and certain ones are not.  So, you open doors with different selections, and you move different pieces of the puzzle.  It is very simple, but also it is very maddening, as you cannot tell which pieces of the puzzle are actual pieces.  But at the time, MYST was one of the most beautiful games ever.  Able to use photo quality graphics, as there was little animation.  I started to play Riven, the sequel to MYST, but it came on 5 cds, and every time you wanted to move from one island to another, you had to change cds.  This got annoying really quickly, and I lost interest in the frachise.  But at the time MYST was very entertaining.

8.  Metal Gear Solid – Playstation:  Maybe my favorite game of all time.  When I bought my Playstation in 1998, I bought three games in the first month: WWF Raw, Riven, and NFL GameDay (1996 I think).   After that I went looking for reviews as to what games were good.  The game that got a 9.8 rating from IGN, was this game called Metal Gear Solid.  I read the reviews, and said, “Hmmmm, that sounds good.”  I rented it later that week from Blockbuster.   I never put the damn game down after that.  It came out as a Playstation Greatest Hit like 2 months after I rented it.  The depth of story and intricacies gameplay of that game, which came out in 1998 is still not the standard of gaming in 2006.  The aspect of changing your environment, stealth over attack, a game that values tactics over joystick tricks, it is difficult to find a game today that matches it.  Graphics and AI have improved, but this is still a very playable game. Hideo Kojima is a sick bastard, but in my opinion, maybe the best game designer on the planet today.  He views game design completely differently.  If you have a PC, PS2 or (*gasp*) PS3, and you have never played this, dig five bucks out of your piggy bank, and go find a used copy at GameStop.  If you have a GameCube, then go pick up Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, which is a reworking of the original Metal Gear Solid game with the Metal Gear Solid 2 engine.  Nearly made me buy a GameCube.

9.  Driver – Playstation:  How do you evaluate fun.  It’s really almost impossible to do.   A lot of people look at Driver, and they say, it’s Grand Theft Auto, but you stay in your car all the time.  Well, maybe that’s true.  And I’m not saying that any of the GTA series, aren’t fun.  Their graphics are better, the soundtrack is AWESOME beyond belief, and the whole world that you can play with is bigger, more interactive, and more fun.   But back in 1999, Driver had it all.   Basically if you ever watched Bullit, Starsky and Hutch, The French Connection or The Streets of San Francisco, this game was for you.  Cheezy 70’s faux soundtrack, musclecars that crashed like a tank when you went over a hill, and insane cop cars that reminded you of crashed you used to have with matchbox cars (or maybe that was just me).  And I’ll just say this, until GTA puts in a misison where you’re carrying a crate of explosives in the back of your pickup truck, that you didn’t have a chance to perfectly tie down before the cops showed up, Driver still rules!  (But don’t pick up any of the sequels, they somehow lose their fun)

10.   Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – Playstation 2:  Okay, we had the greatness of MGS, stated above, then Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, to mixed reviews.  In my opinion, the basic game was great, avoiding the regular soliders on the boat and then at the Big Shell.  But the story was much weaker, the bosses were not nearly as interesting, and you had to play as Raiden who was infinitely less cool than Solid Snake.  So, what happens in the third in the series?  You play “Naked Snake” who is in actuality, Big Boss, the man who trained Solid Snake and who used his own genetic material to create Solid and Liquid Snake.  You put it back in the 1960’s cold war era, make it low-tech, better bosses, more intelligent guards, add camoflage to the mix.  And to top it all off, you get to consume live/raw flora and fauna throughout the game.  Yes, you get to eat wild mushrooms, honey from beehives, exotic fruit, rats, fish, alligators, frogs, crabs, and of course a varitey of snakes!  The story is great, the battles are wonderful, and the graphics blow MGS2, which was pretty great to begin with, off the charts.  Restored everyone’s faith in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, to the point that I am salivating over the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, despite the fact that I don’t know when I will EVER be able to afford a PS3.  It is now available for cheap, or pick up the Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance.

Well, that’s my list, folks.  And I’m outta here.


My Top 10 Video Games Part 2

November 9, 2006

Okay, the true list of my favorite video games. Please keep in mind that this is just a favorites list, that I am not a video game expert or even afficianado. And also keep in mind that senility may be robbing me of about 10 games that I liked better than the ones listed.

Without further ado, the firt five of my top 10 in order of oldest to newest:

1. Centipede – ArcadeGame: You know these younguns today think that today is the Golden Age of video games with real-time action, video-motion capture, and multiple platforms and operating systems which you can choose. But they don’t realize how prevalent video games were in the late 70s and early 80s. Almost every restaurant/bar had at least one game over in the corner. This is where my Centipede addiction began. My aunt worked at a restaurant that had a Centipede game in the basement next to the Banquet Hall bar. And I’d hit my parents and my aunt for at least $2.00 worth of quarters. I practically owned the machine by the time I was done. First game I was EVER good at.

BTW: If anyone owns a Macintosh computer, you owe it to yourself to download/purchase Aperion from Ambrosia Software. Best Centipede port ever. Makes me wanna get a Mac.

2. Enchanter – for the Commodore 64: Many remember the text-adventure games of the 70’s/80’s. The most classic were the Zork games. After the success of Zork, the game designers created the Enchanter series, where this time the adventurer was a mage student rather than an adventurer. The game was much better, with much more interesting commands. Somehow this game worked for me, when others of the genre didn’t. Also, it’s sequel Spellbreaker was the first game I actually purchased (legally).

There isn’t a way to legally play Enchater without playing for it, which you still can do. However, for an example of the genre, you can checkout an online version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game. It’s perfectly legal. 🙂

3. Ultima IV – Commodore 64: One of the best games of all time, by almost anyone’s standards, especially considering the era. A classic D&D inspired video RPG, but your actions actually had an impact on whether you could defeat the game. You must lead a virtuous life, gaining in the 8 Virtues (Compassion, Honesty, Honor, Humility, Justice, Sacrifice, Spirituality, and Valor) to become closer to becoming an Avatar. You had wandering monsters that you could actually avoid. You had consequences for your actions, as you could no longer rob a town of all of the gold. Moongates to help you travel from place to place. Just great stuff.

You can actually download this game and graphical upgrades of the game for free. The most common location is here.

4. Road Blasters – Arcade Game: Oh we’ve all had that desire. Driving down the road, cars in the way, drivers acting like jerks, and you just want to destroy them. Now, modern games indeed allow you to take out your driving frustrations, but they’re too realistic. How about a racing game where you can shoot oncoming traffic with a laser cannon, and they just disappear from the road! Ahhh, the 80s. A definate driving quarter-grabber, but still a lot of fun.

5. Y’s Book 1 & 2 – TurboGraphix CD: A very good roleplaying game. Originally developed in Japan, it was ported to the TurboGraphix machine in 1990. (I was one of the few who had this machine. In the early 90s. Nintendo was Coke, Sega Genesis was Pepsi, and I was drinking RC Cola.) It was a very good game, with very good story, and decent voice actors. The gameplay was all live action, and not turn-based like many games of the day. There was one slight little issue with the gameplay. Um, you attacked monsters by running into them. Regardless of this flaw, the game was a lot of fun. Apparently, you can now even get it for your cell phone.

Final list to come….


My Top 10 Video Games (actually the honorable mentions first)

November 7, 2006

I do kindof feel a little… well not bad… but maybe trite and trivial, bringing up the current topic.  Especially today, when secularly, there’s the united states midterm elections today.  And when personally, there’s my car accident and my child’s impending birth to talk about.

But, hell with that.  The following is a list of the ten best video games that I ever played.  Now, I am not a serious gamer.  I have never owned multiple systems, unless you count a personal computer.

I would NEVER claim that these are the best video games of all time, just the best that came across my plate, that I enjoyed quite a bit, and I was able to play/solve/win them easily enough.  Personally, I really think Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is really good; however, as it eventually becomes apparent that I suck at the game, it loses some basic interest.

Honorable Mention:

Parsec  – for the TI-99/4A computer

Dungeon Explorer – for the TurboGraphix  (incidentally, soon available for the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console)

Archon – for the Commodore 64 (amazing game, started the idea for Battle Chess)

One on One: Dr. J vs Larry Bird – for the Commodore 64  (in the80s you didn’t live til you broke the backboard glass in that game)

Space Ace – Arcade Game (the second Don Bluth animated video game, after Dragon’s Lair. )
Dark Castle – for the Macintosh (everyone who owned a Mac in the 80s/90s played this game, cause there wasn’t anything else)

Total Carnage – Arcade Game (total quarter grabber, but I don’t care.  Fun way to relive frustrations)

You Don’t Know Jack – multiple platforms (the funniest trivia game EVER)

Barrack – For the Macintosh (Shareware from Ambrosia Software.  It’s like the classic game Qix on steroids.  VERY addictive.

Metal Gear Solid 2 –  For the PlayStation2 (First off, if MGS2 is on here, the other two are somewhere….  Great game, great gameplay, just the other two set the bar higher with story and length of game)

More to come….

Rob

P.S. Yes, Zonker… Burger Time is being left of the list for a reason.   Evil Pickle!!!!!!!