tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
I'm finally getting some traction on the holiday season, and that includes putting up a holiday gift list for friends and family.

Things I would like for the holidays (and then also my birthday).

Art. The walls are pretty bare right now, so I'm looking for things to hang to replace some of the things that are gone. I know it's a tricky thing, because I also want it to reflect my own tastes, which is hard to do since I don't know what to put up on the walls in the first place, but that's something I'm looking for.

Massage. Some talented amateurs have let me know that I really need to work on the tension in my everywhere. So gift certificates, recommendations, and even personal volunteering to give me a massage would be wonderful.

Graphic Novels/Comic-Book Trade Paperbacks. The price of these and the speed at which I read them often make me feel guilty buying them, or severely restrict the rate at which I do. But since I reread them often, it usually works out. I think I'll do a separate post of what I have and things I look for when I go shopping. The last thing that really made me drool was Astro City: The Dark Age 1 & 2.

Pants. (This is mostly for my mom's reference.) This year was really hard on my work khakis, with a number of pairs becoming unusable for various reasons. I'm currently 38 waist, 34 inseam.

Tie clips. Every so often, I put on a tie and wish I had a tie clip for it. I don't know why. It's good men's jewelry. I used to have them as a kid, before all my ties had their own holders in the back, but I don't have any anymore.

Music. I just don't usually buy stuff on my own, so gifts of music are definitely appreciated.

Classy Booze. I've been having fun exposing myself to new types of alcohol. A friend pointed out these gift baskets, which made me drool, but anything new to try would be fine. The only thing that I don't particularly care for is vodka. The thing I've started trying most recently is scotch.

Last year, my uncle picked something off my wish list, and I realized it was terribly out of date. I spent some time today clearing out a bunch of stuff and adding a few other things that I actually do want now. Some of the graphic novels are on there, some music is still there from before, a few DVDs, etc. Also on there is the re-release of Betrayal at House on the Hill, which I was drooling over in the store the other day.

Things to avoid:

Videogames. I have a bunch of them right now, and I need to get through some of them. Unless you are absolutely sure that it's something I want and will love, you probably shouldn't get one for me. Consider just lending it to me instead.

Books. Same deal here. I've got lots of to-read items that another book may just make me sad. (Exception is the graphic novels I talked about above, because I go through them much quicker.)

Some DVDs. I now have Netflix instant (but not a regular disc-shipping account), which is a much more convenient way for me to watch most of the things that would be given on DVD. Most things, but not all. There are still TV shows that aren't available, so those would be things to get me, though I'd probably prefer to borrow them as well.

However, I do some fandom iconning, and one of my projects for the coming year is to try vidding, so shows and movies I like enough to watch for those purposes are safe bets.

And with those last three in particular, I always prefer to receive pre-owned items if possible.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
[personal profile] elusis just filled out the Christmas Wits and Wagers game from January, which reminded me that I never posted results. So here goes. The answers are under a cut, so that you can go back and retest yourself if you want.


And the grand totals:
[personal profile] lorelei: 24
[personal profile] cnoocy: 20
[personal profile] elusis: 20
[personal profile] cofax7: 18
[ profile] rikchik: 17
[personal profile] ertchin: 15
[personal profile] brigid: 6
[personal profile] iseryn: 0

Congratulations to [personal profile] lorelei, who won the game on the journal, though nobody beat my family's score of 28 points.
tablesaw: Supervillain Frita Kahlo says, 'Dolor!' (Que Dolor!)
It's been a pretty strange few weeks, and I have not posted anything.

  • Planet of the Apes looks amazingly beautiful on the big screen.
  • Escape from the Planet of the Apes looks . . . pretty much the same on the big screen.
  • The Back to the Future trilogy . . . also looks pretty much the same on the big screen, but it certainly benefits from a marthon viewing.
  • The Hill Valley 2015 cosplayers looked fantastic.
  • Risk 2210 AD is definitely an improvement over original Risk.
  • Smallville the RPG is apparently out of playtesting, which means that now our group is just playing it because it's awesome.
  • Nightmare on Elm was more horrible than even the horribleness expected. I expected the horribleness of bad and pointless storytelling and filmmaking, but the movie really did decide to take extra effort to be offensive.
  • And I still miss Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • Hey, people, why isn't anyone talking about Mercy? I think it's the best show on TV right now. And there's Bechdel-test passage up the yin-yin.
  • Kaiser Permanente seems like it's a really difficult HMO to work around, but if you have a Thursday off and are willing to wake up early to make a phone call, it turns out you can get almost any appointment you want.
  • Why would I need to get an appointment? GI: it's not just for Joe and Bill anymore.
  • Dear Octavio Paz: stop being wrong about everything. I am trying to finish reading your book.
  • Dreamwidth is a year old. Many people are celebrating by making DW-exclusive posts.
  • I'm going to a Mother's Day BBQ now.
Hopefully more soon.
tablesaw: A trial sign ("This trail is OPEN") against a blue sky in Los Angeles's Griffith Park. (Hiking (Open Trails))
The past two days I've woken up late, so I've gotten to enjoy concerts put on by Capitol Records. The concerts are, I presume, for their employees, though it's pretty much audible for a few blocks around. Yesterday was Saving Abel, which wasn't that great, but today it was V.V. Brown, which was a lot of fun. I'd like to hear more of her.

Later on, I walked down to the Egyptian to buy tickets to a double-feature of The Planet of the Apes and Escape from the Planet of the Apes, and a triple-feature of all three Back to the Future movies. I may corral some other folks to come with, but I wanted to guarantee seats for myself, at least.

This is Hollywood, people.


Apr. 12th, 2010 11:41 pm
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
Apparently, I can't watch the new fancy 3-D movies.

Also apparently, this saved me from actually having to watch Clash of the Titans.

But I still have a headache.

DVD Proof

Mar. 30th, 2010 12:54 am
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
I put some finishing touches on the DVDs in the bookcase that I mentioned the other day. I'm concerned that I have no room for more DVDs, even though I know there's a few knocking around somewhere. I wonder if I'll just sell a few if I need space. Some of them were intended as gifts that never got given (duplicates, some unopened), so I may make an effort to give some stuff away, too.

tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
Woo. It's been a busy few days, and it still is. Shopping and parties and work work work—I won't really get a chance to relax until Tuesday, when my New Year's break starts (five-day weekend!).

The executive summary of gifts received is: lots of nice clothes, two fantastick backpacks, and an Xbox 360 for [personal profile] ojouchan and I from my nuclear family.

As I mentioned earlier, I ran a trivia game based on Wits and Wagers. If you've never played it, I describe it as a combination of Balderdash, The Price Is Right, and Vegas betting. Everyone gets asked a trivia question with a number for an answer. Your goal is to be the closest without going over. Everybody turns in their answers, and they're lined up in order on the betting board. Odds are assigned according to the order of guesses, and you get to bet on which one was the closest without going over.

So, in the poll below, I've reproduced the questions, my family's guesses, and the odds that were assigned to them. Your job is to see if you can be better bettors than they were.

For each question you can pick either one or two guesses. If you check two boxes, you'll split your bet, placing one "chip" on each, and receiving the basic return if that bet is right (if the odds say 3:1, you'll get 3 points). If you check only one box, you double your bet on one option, and the rewards are doubled as well if you're right (if the odds say 3:1, you'll get 6 points).

Poll #1987 Christmas Wits and Wagers
This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 8

In the song "Feliz Navidad," how many times does Jose Feliciano say "Feliz Navidad"?

View Answers

30 times [4:1]
2 (28.6%)

28 times [3:1]
1 (14.3%)

24 times [2:1]
0 (0.0%)

15 times [3:1]
2 (28.6%)

12 times [4:1]
1 (14.3%)

All Too High [5:1]
1 (14.3%)

According to the free edition available online from Project Gutenberg, how many words are in the main text of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, from "Marley was dead: to begin with" to "God bless us, every one"?

View Answers

250,000 words [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

100,000 words [3:1]
2 (25.0%)

10,015 words [3:1]
6 (75.0%)

10,000 words [4:1]
2 (25.0%)

All Too High [5:1]
0 (0.0%)

Across both their entire twelve-game seasons, how many points did the USC and UCLA football teams score combined?

View Answers

1344 points [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

675 points [3:1]
1 (12.5%)

540 points [2:1]
1 (12.5%)

456 points [3:1]
4 (50.0%)

360 points [4:1]
3 (37.5%)

All Too High [5:1]
0 (0.0%)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, in what year was the first Nativity creche made?

View Answers

1500 A.D. [4:1]
2 (25.0%)

1300 A.D. [3:1]
4 (50.0%)

1256 A.D. [3:1]
0 (0.0%)

1060 A.D. [4:1]
1 (12.5%)

All Too High [5:1]
2 (25.0%)

According to the Shulchan Aruch, a codification of Jewish law, what is the maximum height for the lights of a menorah, in cubits?

View Answers

8 cubits [4:1]
1 (12.5%)

pi cubits [3:1]
1 (12.5%)

3 cubits [2:1]
3 (37.5%)

2 cubits [3:1]
4 (50.0%)

1 cubit [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

All Too High [5:1]
0 (0.0%)

In a Gallup poll conducted between December 11 and 13, what was the average amount that American adults predicted they would spend on Christmas gifts in 2009?

View Answers

$1,500 [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

$1,000 [3:1]
4 (50.0%)

$800 [2:1]
3 (37.5%)

$250 [3:1]
1 (12.5%)

$200 [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

All Too High [5:1]
0 (0.0%)

What was the total precipitation in downtown Los Angeles, from January 1 through December 25 2009, measured in inches?

View Answers

10 inches [4:1]
2 (25.0%)

7 inches [3:1]
2 (25.0%)

6 inches [3:1]
3 (37.5%)

4 inches [4:1]
2 (25.0%)

All Too High [5:1]
0 (0.0%)

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, how did daytime last in Anchorage, Alaska on December 21, from sunrise to sunset?

View Answers

6 hours [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

3 hours [3:1]
2 (25.0%)

2 hours, 45 minutes [3:1]
2 (25.0%)

2 hours [4:1]
4 (50.0%)

All Too High [5:1]
2 (25.0%)

According to a poll conducted in Canada, what was Santa Claus's approval rating in December 2008?

View Answers

75% [4:1]
4 (50.0%)

70% [3:1]
3 (37.5%)

60% [2:1]
2 (25.0%)

48% [3:1]
0 (0.0%)

36% [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

All Too High [5:1]
0 (0.0%)

According to Walt Disney Studios, how many "fully animated Disney features" have been made from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to The Princess and the Frog?

View Answers

175 fully animated Disney features [4:1]
0 (0.0%)

75 fully animated Disney features [3:1]
3 (37.5%)

40 fully animated Disney features [3:1]
3 (37.5%)

36 fully animated Disney features [4:1]
1 (12.5%)

All Too High [5:1]
1 (12.5%)

Obviously, no internet research is allowed. Also, the poll is set to display everyone's guesses once you've entered yours, but try not to let it effect your responses.

When my family played, the best team got 28 points from betting. Can you do better?
tablesaw: A sketch of me talking and smiling. (Personable)
Title Context

My firm has a thing. On Fridays, around closing time, they invite everyone up to the dining room and serve appetizers and drinks, including an open bar.

I've never really gone to one, because I've never been working at a time anywhere near Friday afternoons. While on the graveyard shift, it would have meant waking up god-awful early. And now, it means going in on my day off.

So, no office party.

Now, this used to be a weekly thing. But as the economy tanked, it shrank down to biweekly. It might even be every three or four weeks now. Like I said, I don't much pay attention because of the Friday thing.

But also along with the economy, the holiday party has shrunk. Two years ago, they hired Berlin to play at the House of Blues. Now, they've got new hires doing a skit before they fire up a karaoke machine in the dining room. Also, it's on a Wednesday.

Now, [personal profile] ojouchan and I were already planning to go out tonight (Princess and the Frog at the Arclight), and we weren't entirely inspired by the office party idea, so we were mostly going to skip it.

But today was a rough day. Really rough. I barely scraped out a lunch, and two horrible things happened during it that I then had to deal with.

My plan, then, was to make a quick stop into the party on my way out. I would say hi to the one person that I really like, then head home. And since I'm going home on the subway, I can get a drink too.

Dear reader, my overlords have many flaws, but they are generous with the booze.

I didn't do anything at the party except go to the bar (where my friend already was, which tells you something) and get a drink. I ordered a rum and coke and said something that I'd only ever heard said: "Make it a double."

This seemed appropriate. Normally, I prefer strong mixers, but I'd be leaving forthwith; no time for a second glass.

The bartender looked at the bottle of Bacardi and decided that the best thing to do was just dump everything into a plastic cup. The result was something of a triple and a half.

Hooray for not driving to work.

On the ride home, because I am a true geek, I took out a large easy crossword and recklessly speedsolved it.

But now I really see why the firm does it; why they probably wish they could still do it weekly. I had a really crappy day. Normally, I'd be home fuming. But instead, they paid for an artificial state of happiness. And lord help me, I am feeling really good about the place I work because of it. My instinct now is to think, "Well, it all balanced out."

It doesn't balance out. It was still a crappy day; I had to deal with impossible requests with impossible deadlines. The stress left me angry and unable to focus during my lunch break. And an employer shouldn't rely on mood-altering substances to make its employees feel better.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't goddamn work to some degree. I can imagine what it would be like if this happened after the end of every hard week of work. It'd probably work most of the time.

But now I'm off to eat Peruvian food and watch a movie with the woman that I love. A large glass of decent alcohol can do nothing but blanch at the thought of being compared to that.
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
Dollhouse: Blame it on FOX, blame it on Joss, but for whatever reason, this show has always been a season behind. Last night's episode brought the show to more or less where I thought it would need to be at the end of season 1.

White Collar: WHUT!? I mean . . . WHUT!?

House: The writing's been a bit uneven with Clean!House, but Laurie's acting hasn't been. It's always there and always enlightening. It's actually giving me insight into his performances in previous seasons by contrast. And with House letting go of his own egocentrism, there's finally a space for episodes like "Wilson."

Grey's Anatomy: I'm watching Grey's new shows and old shows, as ABC is rerunning first season episodes on Saturday nights. It's pretty interesting comparing the two. When the show started, it was mostly comedic. Now it's almost completely dramatic. (The soap-operacity in between is best left unremarked on.)

Mercy: I'm still really loving this show, which seems committed to remaining comedic, and is far funnier than Grey's ever was.

MST3K: ... is on Hulu. Joel episodes! I'm watching The Giant Gila Monster right now.

Tuner Classic Movies: Is now available on HD in LA, so I've been keeping an eye on movies. Yesterday, I watched D.O.A., which is a movie about how you will die if you leave the suburbs to go to a jive club in the city.

SatNYTX: 15.
tablesaw: Manny Calavera, from Grim Fandango (Grim Fandango)
You know what's not a fun thing to do for Halloween? Go to a party that's not in Hollywood, then try to get back to your house that is in Hollywood.

On the other hand, AFI is holding its annual film festival, and this year, free tickets are being made available to the public. You can reserve them online pretty easily. As of posting, most screenings are open, except for the very high profile films like Precious and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Even for those you can try to rush films on the day of.

Last night, I saw a beautiful film called The Two Horses of Genghis Khan (trailer). Tomorrow and Monday, I'm seeing and No One Knows About Persian Cats.

Also, there's a marathon of the original V running tomorrow on the channel formerly known as SciFi.

Now, to set back the clocks and go to bed.
tablesaw: Paul, who is a ghost, declares this to be "Booooring!" (Booooring)
In the past week, I have lost three pairs of pants.

The first was a tear when I tried to squat down with my legs too far apart.

This morning I woke up to a crash sound and confusion. It turns out, [ profile] ojouchan had broken a light bulb as she was leaving for work. She tossed me some shoes and ran to catch the bus, leaving me to clean up the mess.

It turns out, it's not a good idea to try to clean up a mercury spill. I was barely able to move for fifteen minutes, the fifteen minutes I'm advised to have already left the room.

The breakage wasn't actually too bad, but it still took a long time to clean up. The broken bulb pieces mostly landed on the hard floor or a conveniently located plastic bag. On the other hand, it wasn't all roses; several pieces fell on a few pieces of clothing that were on the floor, including a pair of black jeans, and the pants that I'd intended to wear to work today.

I went to work late, with ninety minutes less sleep than I should've had. I was slow and distracted all day. When I got home I passed out with a headache. And when I woke up feeling a little better, Ojou started having intense cramps.

Now I'm going to get into bed and watch The Last Dragon and hope nothing else goes wrong.
tablesaw: Run Away (to the ocean, to the country, to the mountains . . .) (Runaway)
Top Five Linguistic Misconceptions (from [personal profile] yhlee)
  • The "passive voice" is evil. (This is particularly annoying among the lawyers who usually have extremely good reasons for using the passive voice.)
  • "They" can't be used as a singular pronoun.
  • It's possible to not have an accent.
  • Accents or dialects (like African American Vernacular American English) indicate laziness and low intelligence.
  • Languages other than English are a threat to the United States.
Top Five Quotes from John Hughes Movies (from [personal profile] lqc)
  • Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond.
  • Why are we wearing bras on our heads?
  • Keep the change ya filthy animal!
  • This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun.
  • I don't have to runaway and live in the street. I can runaway and I can go to the ocean, I can go to the country, I can go to the mountains. I could go to Israel, Africa, Afghanistan.
Top Five Delightful Anagrams (from [personal profile] chris)
  • 6 4
  • 5 5
  • 3-3 4
  • 3 4 3
  • 3 4 (3)
Top Five Things to Do on a Rainy Day (from [personal profile] dine)
  • Lie in bed, tight under covers, listening to the rain outside.
  • Start a jigsaw puzzle in the grey light from the windows, moving lamps to the table as the day passes.
  • Read a book you loved when you were a child.
  • Order in, and tip heavily.
  • Walk outside barefoot, soaking the hems of your jeans.
Top Five Culinary Spices (from [personal profile] elusis)
  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Goya Adobo con Pimienta
  • Chocolate Mint (peppermint cultivar)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sage picked wild in the Santa Monica Mountains

The poll is still open, and you should be able to fill it out using an Open ID (like your LiveJournal account).

Poll #964 Top Five! More Dead Than Alive!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 10

Suggest a Top Five list for Tablesaw:

tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
After some delay, I bought a one-year Dreamwidth account. I've lost track of what that gets me, other than more icons, so I guess I'd better go looking for more icons.

Adam Cadre has a very good analysis of Election:
But what's interesting is that Tracy spends the whole movie seething that she isn't appreciated by others for the hard work that she performs on her own behalf. And that, I think, is a pretty astute observation about American culture. People are very reluctant to let go of ideologies that make them feel good about themselves. Given the choice between psychic rewards and material rewards, they will choose the latter... and then whine because they want both.

Chimatli at the LA Eastside blog rebukes the New York Times for discovering "a new culture district in Los Angeles" in Highland Park.
Here’s the thing, no matter how much they may try to re-write our history and impose ideas of culture on us, Highland Park is not Silver Lake. It’s an old neighborhood of Chicanos, immigrants and working-class White folks that have some of the fiercest neighborhood pride in the Los Angeles area. This area is deep with tradition, culture and dynamic energy.
(Discoverability? Didn't I . . . I'd better pull those notes out before they rot.)

It was [ profile] ojouchan's birthday this weekend, so we did a bunch of things. We went to see Harry Potter, we went to see Tori Amos at the Greek Theatre, we ate at the pop-up restaurant Ludo Bites, and we sang along to an apparently rare public screening of "Once More, With Feeling." That was actually quite a lot of things done, and all of them excellent.

Open Beta.

May. 1st, 2009 11:30 am
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
It's Open Beta, and every full Dreamwidth account received a bunch of invite codes. I already sent mine out to the people who asked a few weeks ago, but if any of those bounce back or if we get a new batch, I'll set up a new list.
The plan was to offer invitations to everyone with e-mail–verified Open IDs, but I think that got screwed up due to massive scrambling to fix the Paypal stuff. (ETA2: [personal profile] piranha, has the details on Open ID invites.) In the meantime, I think [site community profile] dw_codesharing is going to get started soon.

The promotion hasn't kicked into the paycheck yet, so I haven't purchased a paid account just yet. I knew this was going to happen, so I gamed the inactive icons system a bit to get the ones I wanted. In the process, I reported some glitchy behavior and explained what I did. I realize this information would have been more helpful to most of you a few days ago, but that's the way it goes.

I am looking forward to buying a paid account later this month. Ever since [ profile] ktempest posted asking about comment avatars featuring characters of color from genre media, I've wanted an icon of Gaff. I can't decide whether it should say "Azonnal kövessen engem bitte" or "Then again, who does?" With 61 slots to fill, I guess I could do both.

And once again, my DW circle is in badly organized flux, so don't feel slighted or confused if I don't subscribe/grant access to your new account. There's no method to the madness. Yet.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I finally have regained my car, and it's running well. I had a scare last night when the gas station attached to the garage I use refused my check card. I had to get a last-minute bailout from my parents in exchange for a check. Luckily, it appears that it was just a random malfunction, since all the money remains in my account. So, Mom, since I know you're reading this, yes, you can cash the check, I'm not in any dire financial straits that I'm hiding from you.

Moving on.

It was a long day at work, getting to know some of the firm's underutilized software. We have lots of very powerful programs that are loaded onto our computers with no explanation, so nobody knows how or when to use it. And they tend to lie dormant until the right job comes in overnight, and I start using my 1337 help-file-reading skillz to figure out what can be done. And of course, it helps when I can blast Pink Martini while I work.

Furthermore, one of my coworkers is involved with organizing "Airplane! The Reading! The Return!," [link removed 8/13/11; originally ""] a staged reading of the script of Airplane, at TreePeople Park Friday and Saturday night. It certainly sounds like fun, and if any other Angelenos are interested, let me know.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
On Friday, after everyone returned from the special screening of Word Wars [link changed 8/13/11; originally ""], many of us assembled in the lobby of the hotel for a game of dubious existence, supposedly named Troggle. It turns out that Troggle didn't exist. Instead, we got Schroggle. We couldn't tell the difference.

A pretty good summary is presented by Nancy White, who happened to walk through the courtyard at the time. She has a much better camera than I do.

But before I knew that there'd be a travelblogger with a fantastic camera coincidentally recording all of this, I took some pictures of my own.

I was on Team 4, which was on the 14th floor. I took a photo of the team, but it didn't turn out too well. (I also forgot to rotate it, but I'll fix that when I get home.) After waiting for a while for everything to get set up, the people below arranged themselves into a 4x4 grid of letters. We looked down onto the grid from the window to see the grid of letters and tried to find the longest word. Somehow points were scored, though I don't know anyone who is entirely clear on how the scores worked. After each round, the players who had been in the longest word found were sent back to their teams, and new players were sent to the courtyard to be letters. So after a bit, I went down and found out how things worked from there.

People chose random pieces of posterboard from a pile and stand in a square of the 4x4 grid. On cue, they'd run frantically to some other square. Then, on a different cue, they'd spin around and display their letters to the sky. People had very different methods of doing this. Sidhe and Nori held their letters directly above. Ged and Hathor had a bit of an angle. Others, as recorded again by Ms. White, decided to lay back and enjoy it. I did this once, so that I could take a picture of what the whole thing must look like from the persepective of a letter.

The game was invented and run by a crew of four people. Murdoch was in charge of coordinating the grid. You can kind of see him standing to the far left under the tree, getting the last letter into position. Xemu was in charge of scoring, and he used a cell phone to get the compiled reports from the teams. (The person behind him is Dart, I believe.). Finally, Trazom and G Natural were in the Skybox. From the second floor of the hotel, they had a decent view of the grid. They used their cell phones to call the four teams elsewhere in the hotel and get the answers, then they called Xemu and informed him of the round's score. As you can kind of see from that picture, they had an energy and intensity that made it appear as though they were trading on the futures market.

When the game was over, the letters in the grid spelled out GOOD GAME CMON DOWN. And somebody won, I guess. I don't know who. I don't know that anyone does. But like any good game, it didn't and doesn't matter. Everyone was extremely happy to have been a part of it, just like the Convention in general.

TV Shows.

Jun. 20th, 2004 06:13 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I mentioned Fillmore! already. Here are some other notes on TV shows I'm watching:

The Jury—Very mediocre crime drama, but I find myself loath to miss a show. You see, Adam Busch (who played Warren on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays the court bailiff, one of the few recurring characters on the show. It's his job to bring the jury to the deliberation room, to the lunchroom, to the courtroom, or wherever. And he's hilarious, especially because these comic-relief scenes pair him up with the security guard, whose name I cannot find. While Busch is anxious and wired, the guard is slow and relaxed. It's like a beautiful little vaudeville routine that happens every show. So, really, all I'm hoping for is a spin-off.

For Love or Money—This season they tried to put together some twist about how the girls didn't know hoe much money they might be playing for. watched to see how they expected that to be interesting. Apparently, they couldn't figure out a way either. I guess it's still going on.

Megas XLR—I don't mean to bash on The Iron Giant, which was a great film, but if I got a giant robot, I'd hope it'd be more like Megas XLR. No paranoia or pathos, just smashy-smashy and looking cool. The animation nicely captures the era when Transformers were the king of the toys, and it's lots of fun to watch.

Big O—This show makes no sense. The main character is a negotiator (hostage negotiations, business negotiations, etc.), yet no matter what he's doing, by the end of the episode, he has to call forth his huge robot to fight some other huge robot thing. Every time! Oh, and also everyone has amnesia and he's living with an android and a butler with an eyepatch who repairs the robot even though he ahs amnesia of some sort. It's a beautiful train wreck of ideas.

Duelmasters—I only just caught an episode of this last week. It's the new cartoon affiliated with the latest kid's card-collecting game. The CCG is being published by Wizards of the Coast, and I believe one of my ACRONYM teammates is somebody important in the doing of that. I don't remember which position, and honestly, I'm not hip enough to know what the postition would mean anyway. But, the TV show. Yes, it's another Yu-Gi-Oh-ish show where the plot gets strung alongside characters playing the game. But I got the feeling that whoever wrote the English dub didn't really pay attention to the original Japanese. It has the feel of a bunch of guys improvising lip-sync to the screen. It was . . . weird.

Crime and Punishment—The Law and Order reality show. It can be hit or miss, and it often seems unfairly biased to me on the side of the prosecution. (Of course, that's part of it's point. On a related note, Roger Ebert's essay on bias and the nature of a documentary [link changed 8/7/11; originally ""] is a must-read.) But it has some wonderful moments. Last week's episode was the prosecution of two drag racers who, while racing on a public street, crashed into another car, killing two people and critically injuring a third. As time goes on, from the arraignment to the verdict, we get updates on that third person. First, he's been in a coma for a long time, and the mother is agonizing over pulling the plug. Later, we find that he's sustained brain damage and can't move or speak. By the end of the episode, he's able to speak and move a small amount. I doubt that any of the fictional L&O franchises could have handled it.
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Word Wars: The E-Card )

Word Wars (link changed 8/2/11; originally "") is a movie about the championship Scrabble circuit. It's been described by one of the directors as "Spellbound with drugs and hookers." Come on! How can you resist!?

Eric Chaikin, one of the directors, and a regular attendee at local NPL meetings, informs me that distributors for the rest of the country will be watching to see how well the film does in New York this weekend. So, New York bloggers, go see this movie. This weekend. Twice.

Here's some of the information from the recent e-mail announcement:

**Word Wars NYC Premiere**
The award-winning documentary "Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Circuit" will open at the Cinema Village in NYC Friday, June 11th. Directors Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo, and top players G.I. Joel Sherman and Marlon Hill, will do a Q&A after the 8:35 show. Author Stefan Fatsis will be signing copies of his best-seller "Word Freak".

After party will be held at "Central" 109 E.9th Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenue) starting at 10:30pm. Open Bar from 10:30-midnight w/ ticket stub.

Tickets available online at or

**NYC Play The Experts**
We will be holding a "Play the Experts" exhibition on Thursday, June 10th and Friday, June 11th in NYC Parks.
11am-1pm Bryant Park
2pm-4pm Tompkins Square Park
5pm-7pm Washington Square Park, NW corner
11am-3pm Washington Square Park, NW corner

The public is invited to try their luck against Marlon and Joel, who will play multiple games at once. Every hour, we will give away a pair of tickets to a lucky person who can Stump the Experts with an anagram. Stefan Fatsis will be in attendance Friday to sign copies of his book "Word Freak". Public is encouraged to bring Scrabble paraphernalia for Joel and Marlon to sign. Media is encouraged to attend (Friday preferred).

**Also This Weekend**
Boston: Opens Fri 6/11, Coolidge Corner Cinema, Brookline
Salt Lake: Opens Fri 6/11, Tower Theater
Atlanta: Plays Sat 6/12, Atlanta Film Festival
San Francisco: Now Playing, Roxie Cinema
Marin: Now Playing, Rafael Film Center

Help this film! Go see it this weekend!
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This has been a busy weekend. And I need to write about it quickly so that [ profile] ladytabitha doesn't drop me.

Saturday was the puzzle party, and it was decidedly lackluster. I solemnly swear not to care about bringing things that are new and innovative. If necessary, I'll bring in something that's been done before and that takes me ten minutes to prepare. We could have used some of that.

One nice thing was that, since there were fewer puzzles, there seemed to be a bit more plain old socialization. Not everyone may have seen this as a plus, but I did. A lot of the discussion was with Eric Chaikin [link changed 6/22/11; original link to ""], an irregular puzzle party attendee, whose movie Word Wars [link changed 6/22/11; original link to ""] is hitting theaters now. It's a documentary following the lives of the nation's top tournament Scrabble players, and looks to be a combination of Crumb and Spellbound. Wrap your mind around that. It's playing in Silver Spring, MD, and it will be opening in New York shortly. Apparently, the success of the movie in New York on its opening weekend will dictate, how much it gets seen across the country, including in LA. And since I want to see it, I'm making you see it. Specifics on the NY opening when I get them.

But yesterday was much more eventful. Artistry and I planned to spend a day exploring a few local sites in preparation for the NPL Convention of 2005, which will be held right here in Los Angeles. Artistry has really wanted to do a big hunt on Hollywood Boulevard, and I was going to go along to listen to his ideas and offer new ones. [ profile] cramerica was also interested, so we thought we'd meet up with him at another site we'd heard about, The Museum of Jurassic Technology.

This is a place I will recommend to everyone reading this journal, certainly. If you're in LA now, you should visit. If you're not, you should make it a point to hit when you're in town. Inspired less by the Smithsonian and more by the museums of earlier centuries, such as P.T. Barnum's American Museum. Most of the exhibits are of dubious import, consequence, or existence, and it takes quite a while to get used to things.

The first gallery is a grab back of information, including detailed information on Noah's Ark [link removed 6/22/11; original link to ""] (which was, of course, "the most complete Museum of Natural History the world has ever seen"). One of the more famous items of the collection is the Human Horn, mounted on the wall.

Some collections are more straightforward, though still not precisely effable. "No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again" is a collection of unsolicited letters received by the Mt. Wilson Observatory in the period between the two world wars, explaining, in definitive terms, such mysterious as the composition of the moon, the location of God, and why that woman won't leave me alone. The Napoleon Library houses an collection of Napoleona so eccentric it might actually be Napoleona-ana. The art exhibits currently installed require the use of microscopes and magnifying glasses to make visible the works of art displayed on glass slides and within the eyes of needles. The back rooms of the museum are dedicated to an even more diverse subject matter. There are several celluloid dice from the collection of Ricky Jay, dioramas depicting antique stagecraft, and a gallery of three-dimensional X-ray images of flowers. The second floor features a Tea Room and a small theater showing short films.

And then there are several exhibits dedicated to curious persons or ideas, presented, in large part, without a clear concept of why these particular persons were chosen. The Delani and Sonnabend Halls are dedicated to the lives of Madelena Delani and Geoffrey Sonnabend, two very interesting individuals who have little in common except their proximity within the museum. The lights in the Delani room periodically darken, although none present could determine why. Another section is devoted to embodiments of the scholarly and theological writings of the 17th century Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. And one of the most stunning exhibits, "Tell the Bees: Belief, Knowledge and Hypersymbolic Cognition" provides examples and demonstrations of various vulgar medicines.

It was a fascinating place, and I do hope to prepare a puzzle handout to entice Krewe to visit it, although it will, undoubtedly, be much easier to solve than the museum itself.

[ profile] cramerica, feeling ill, decided to not to continue on with us to Hollywood. I can only hope that he made it home safely and got much rest because today is his birthday, according to LJ. Hooray for him! On our way back to Hollywood, Artistry convinced me to stop at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to visit an exhibit they're currently showing: "The Secret Life of Sets: Set Decorators at Work" [link removed 6/22/11; original link to ""]. The first floor features photographs of movie sets, sometimes accompanied by the decorators' notes, but the real show is on the fourth floor. Several, often major, pieces of actual set dressing, along with more detailed notse from the decorators, have been installed. It's a chance to get up close and personal with bits of the classrooms of Madame Trelawney and Remus Lupin, to see what Van Helsing's vision Dr. Victor Frankenstein's writing desk looked like, or lounge in the stylish apartments of Catcher Block and Barbara Novak from Down with Love. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, but do yourself a favor and skip the first floor.

Then, Rwth called and invited us to see Coffee and Cigarettes. We tried to visit Hollywood before the showtime, but problems finding parking caused us to head for the theater first and try to grab some dinner. We met up at the Gaucho Grill and had a whole lot of meat, which we split. Then we walked across the street to catch the film. It's a bit uneven, as would be expected from what is actually a series of several short films, but there are an inordinate number of brilliant moments, and it's definitely worth catching, especially if you're a fan of any of its actors.

And after that, finally, we made it to Hollywood. I'd already seen it, of course, but this time I was looking at it with puzzle-design eyes. I wan't say much about it here, but this trip may have made it possible to turn a few puzzles meant for a touristy morning into a full-fledged event with a wow finish.

And now, the real adventure begins. The adventure of sleep organization!
tablesaw: "The Accurate Tablesaw" (Accurate)
Step 2: Red CluesThe red eggs held clues reading assassinate, murder, physician, surgeon, sport on a plank, fortunate, beneficial, and inexpensive butt. Which suggested my copy of the game Kill Doctor Lucky [link changed 6/22/11; original link to ""]. Inside, instead of the low-overhead, high-concept game we've all come to know and love, there were several pieces of paper.

First, there was an alien communication regarding Step 2: Drawing Crop Circles. Corporal Flerg has returned his notes to Ensign Dronn, making special mention of the section of the design that crosses itself like an X and explaining the concept earth crops to the young ensign. It's clear to see why this was needed, because also included in the box was a diagram of the prospective site of the circle. Finally, there were twenty-five pieces. (The agents' tetragrams were already cut, but that's difficult to do over the Internet. If you'd like to solve on your own, you can download an image in which the pieces have been randomly arranged and rotated.)

After correctly reconstructing the original crop-circle design, the agents used the clues in the alien communication to dig in an area in my backyard that corresponded to the place on the diagram where the X ended up. After going down a short way, they found the next gold egg.

Background and Construction
This puzzle was changed in probably every possible way before it was finished. Originally, I wanted the location of the golden egg to be located around the church down the street from me. But as Easter grew closer, I became worried about two things. One: The church would attract a lot of families. A lot of families means a lot of nosy kids. A lot of nosy kids means a higher likelihood that the egg might be located and messed with before the agents reached it. Two: I wasn't sure what parts of the church and its grounds would be accessible at what times. The spot I wanted to use (adjacent to a rosary of stepping stones around a garden of roses dedicated to Mary) might or might not be locked by the time the party got started.

At about this time, I decided to try to use the movie Signs as an inspiration for the aliens. It didn't completely pan out, especially since I couldn't locate a Signs-inspired font for the messages, but it did leave me with the idea of a crop-circle puzzle. While eating dinner at the local Chinese restaurant, I mused about the piles of mostly loose dirt in my backyard not being conducive to crops. From there, I thought that the idea of digging up my yard might be pretty fun, or at least surprising.

More on Puzzle Design )

I drew a 10x10 grid on graph paper, selected a good area for a 2x2 square to hold an X, then divided the rest of the grid into non-square tetragrams. Then I drew a loop. Then I cut out the pieces. Then I tried to figure out how to give information to make the placement of the pieces easy.

The grid I'd drawn just didn't want to be easy. I tried so many things, but nothing gave enough information without providing a shortcut to placing the square piece. I also had trouble fighting against the urge to turn the loop into a logic puzzle. There are lots of pencil-and-paper logic puzzles based on figuring out how a loop fills out a grid. I had to keep reminding myself what it would look like. In my mind, I saw Bartok quickly filling it out while Mel and Maria looked dazes/bemused/bored. I quickly shook it off.

Finally, I accepted that the answer would be to give the outlines of all of the pieces. To do this, though, I had to scrap the hours I'd already put into the grid and draw a new one so that, instead of only one square piece, there would be several. Karmically, once I had recut the tetragrams and drawn a new loop, the puzzle was satisfyingly difficult. Clarifying which pieces were "end pieces" by adding the dark borders made it easy enough for me to consider it complete.

I went into my backyard and took pictures of four patches of dirt, after digging them up a little bit and smoothing them with a rake. Then, I arranged them into a square, and lined up my prospective burying spot with the area that would hold the X piece. I overlaid the outlines of the pieces, and the puzzle was finally complete.

Agents in Action
This was the last communication found by the agents. In retrospect, I wasn't incredibly happy with the cluing, but things worked out satisfactorily in the end. My biggest regret was that "sport on a plank" was way, way too ambiguous for "board game", especially since one of my cousins is on a diving team. Regardless, they figured out that "killing" and "doctors" were important, so when my mother stumbled upon the box of Kill Doctor Lucky (conveniently laid on the top of a stack of boardgames), she immediately knew it was right.

I left the house to help the agents working on Step 3, and soon, I saw some agents wandering around my backyard with the diagram. When I found out they hadn't solved the puzzle, but were hoping to shortcut by finding loose earth, I sent them back inside.

Later, I found them digging. In the wrong place. They had solved the puzzle, but couldn't locate it in my backyard. I realized I'd made a foolish mistake. Although the diagram I have online is nice and colorful, clearly showing four different locations, the printed version, in black and white, isn't so clear. In my enthusiasm, in printing, I didn't realize how hard it would be to distinguish the sections. So the agents were using the main resource they had (two flower pots in one shot) and using them to orient the X. I clarified their locations, and soon they were digging in the right place. I had to do the ultimate excavation, though, since they were still a bit hesitant about digging in my yard.

So, though it had troubles, I liked this puzzle a lot, probably because I went through so much grief putting it together. But all of the wrinkles ironed rather well, and the hunt went on.


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