Wednesday, July 30, 2008

36 Hours At The Shore With My Parents

I stayed with my parents on Saturday night in Ocean City; the final days of their trip to the Eastern Shore. They had spent a week visiting quaint towns like St. Michael's, Chestertown, and Smith Island.

Welcome to the not-so-renovated hotel.

The parents reserved a suite at the supposedly renovated Princess Royale hotel. Ten years ago my family visited Ocean City and stayed at the same hotel. It was an important trip for the family because halfway through our week there, we drove all of my crap for college over to College Park. This was also our last summer family trip together. Anyway, ten years ago the hotel was quite luxurious with great rooms and easy access to the beach from its indoor pool.

I have fond memories of the arcade room where I beat the Simpsons game on one credit. Some kid ran out of quarters with one hit to go on the final boss. I had no shame entering my initials.

In the ten years since our visit, the hotel didn’t change and was showing its age. Despite promises of a renovated hotel, I saw none. The only changes I saw were the countertops in the suite, a new mattresses for the main bedroom, and the arcade games were moved to the indoor pool area. So much for a modern update. I even noticed old signs directing you to things that weren’t around anymore. Plus, the elevators had outdated inspection cards.

We tried spending time in the indoor pool, but it looked like it had not been cleaned in the same ten years. After watching one father flip his kids in the water that was all of 3 feet deep and another boy airball one too many basketballs into people’s heads, we went to the beach for a walk. In my father’s famous manner, I’d ask how much farther and he’d say, “just to that brown hotel up there.” Upon reaching that hotel another distance goal would be set.

The ocean was cold, but refreshing.

We ate lunch at a typical Ocean City restaurant, replete with the required slow/lazy summer teenage wait staff, but we survived. Saturday night we had a tremendous crab meal, splitting 18 jumbo crabs that had tons of meat. Dare I say, but I think I got full from a crab meal. After stuffing ourselves, we walked the boardwalk.

After I slept on a Seinfeld parents pullout mattress special, we went for breakfast at the House of Pancakes. We enjoyed awful and rude service that, combined with Saturday’s lunch, and the trashiness of the boardwalk last night, made us realize we were better off in Rehoboth for the day. We cruised up the Coastal Highway and reminisced about places we had stayed and visits with my mom’s parents.

According to the Princess Royale hotel, sleeping on what amounts to a blanket on springs constitutes a renovation.

Of course we walked the boardwalk and drenched a bucket of Thrasher’s fries with salt and vinegar. It was a good time. I controlled myself from playing Guitar Hero 3 in the arcade. 13 years ago I would have been all over that. Not only do I own the game, but also some kid had just played Through the Fire and the Flames on Expert. Showoff.

Your required boardwalk sustenance. Don't forget the salt and vinegar.

By 4:30 we returned to the hotel, packed up our things, and headed to Sonic. My parents left on Wednesday, most assuredly spending the remainder of their time in Rehoboth and Dewey Beach. It's a nicer scene there. I had a great time just being with them, proving it’s not where you stay or what you do, but who you’re with.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rumored Guitar Hero: World Tour Setlist, Songlist, Playlist, Whateverlist

UPDATE 4: The latest confirmed songs from the game's publisher, politely YouTube linked for your enjoyment.

UPDATE 2: Here is the latest list of confirmed songs.

UPDATE 1: Some of the real Wii blogs I check spoke with reps from Activision who said the majority of songs are not included.

Checkout this rumored list of songs in GH:WT. Having already bought GH3, this is the natural next game to purchase in October. When these lists come out, they're more fact than rumor if the last few "rumored" lists for other guitar games are any indication. Eagle Rock High School Tour:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does Anyone Contract Out Thank You Notes?

This weekend I busted out  thank you notes, but my handwriting is illegible. I changed from small caps to all caps as my fellow left-handed father did to stem the tide of poor penmanship, but to no avail. I swear I wrote nice things and tried to personalize them when I had the energy to muster. It's just that as a lefty I have no choice, but to have poor, 1st-grade level penmanship and you may not understand what I wrote.

The hardest test I ever took.

I was THAT kid in 3rd grade whose recess was cut short as the last one out the door because I couldn't write neat script, no matter how large the line spacing. As a lefty I've never enjoyed comfortable scissors, completed a blue book without smudged ink along my left pinky, nor borrowed a fountain pen without destroying the tip. I learned the hard way that erasable ink pens aren't made for my people.

I play some sports right-handed, but the almighty pen rests in my left.

Any writing tablet that forces me to rest my hand on a spiral binding, page crease, or other discriminatory layout will guarantee the hieroglyphics I try to pass off as English. Experts say lefties push as we write instead of pulling. I just think I should move to Israel where lefties are the kings of right-to-left writing. Pathetically, my right-handed writing isn't much worse than my left.

What good would Thomas Jefferson's polygraph be if the handwriting is awful to start?

What's sad is that our thank you notes have no left-handed barriers for me to use as an excuse. My handwriting is craptacular without assistance. If etiquette hadn't said otherwise, the 40% of thank you notes that I had would have been typed. I think we'd all win. I save myself from hand cramps and ink poisoning absorption, while the recipient is able to read what I meant to convey...and isn't that the most important thing? It's either that or contract out a calligraphist.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm Homesick For Manicured Fairways

A few weeks ago I made the argument that there's no reason to watch the PGA Tour the rest of the year because Tiger's out of the mix and the game lacks any character(s), with its weekly rotating leaderboard of parity. Ever the stubborn golf fan, I tried giving this year's British Open a chance. I tried hard to talk myself into watching whether 53-year-old Greg Norman would hold off the defending champion.

I'm sure Padraig Harrington played well, I just didn't care to watch.

I turned away from the event for the excitementless field and because I've never enjoyed watching the British Open's greenary. I realize British Open golf courses are as old as the game itself, but it's just not that pretty to watch. Chalk it up to American overindulgence or just better weather, but I like manicured fairways, pine trees, and distinguishable course layouts. I know the British Open let's us watch pros make their way around a Links-style course, hitting low shots to handle the 30 MPH wind and tremendous up-and-downs out of 8-foot tall pot bunkers, but I'll take arching shots along Bermuda grass anyday.

For the record, the American media folks, I'm looking at you Mike Tirico, need to stop kissing the backside of the Brits by calling the British Open, "The Open Championship" or "The Open" just because that's what they call it over there. We have our own "Open" known as the US(!) Open so remember where your employer is located, though admittedly there's no audience here either. I bet he acknowledges knighthood in the States too. It's not prohibited in the Constitution (Article 9, Section 1, paragraph 8), but it's an unwritten rule from back when, you know, we broke away from England.

We shall settle this rules infraction with a duel!

To the satellite feed engineers from ABC...why has the transmission quality been so poor for as long as I remember? I realize the signal is being bounced over the Atlantic, but in today's age of television improvements, the picture quality has always looked one step above cable access. Swings are just a little out of focus and it's hard to find the ball before it hits the ground. There's a reason why NBC and CBS don't show the British Open and stay with stateside events. Of course the year the Ryder cup is played in Kentucky there's no Tiger.

The British Open is the forgotten major. The course looks different, the television picture isn't as clear, and too many courses could be confused with an overplayed municipal course.

Oh yeah, Tiger's not playing this year so it really doesn't count anyway. At least I get to wax lovingly about Tiger's 2009 Wii videogame soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Food Shortage In Howard County

We are facing an epidemic of pandemic proportions. For the last few months, supermarkets have not supplied Howard County citizens with the foods they need to survive. It is unreasonable, unfair, and unethical for those in power to supply good eats, to withhold product lines they deem unworthy of shelf space. It's difficult and almost impossible to live day-to-day without the foundation foods that our diets are built around. This must come to an end before we fire up the torches and sharpen our pitch forks.

Let's get those withholding SFGs!

Every Saturday morning,  I visit the Target/Safeway shopping center to purchase 95% of the same items for the week's eating, but for the last few months, I have been unable to locate any Sour Fruit Gushers (SFGs). I have looked at a few Giants and other Safeways without any luck.

What has happened to our beloved source of 13 grams of sugar per pouch? My only choices are to purchase the regular Fruit Gushers or the Safeway brand of sour fruit snacks. No thanks. Why buy the store brand “Cola” when the best choice by a mile is Coca-Cola? It’s SFGs or nothing.

The holy grail.

I haven’t found SFGs in the Safeway near my office, but I don't want to discount all of Montgomery County just yet. If such well to-do counties like MoCo and HoCo lack SFGs, then it could easily be a problem across the state.

I'm just a little outside of its demographics.

I've located SFGs in Virginia Safeways and make it a point to stock up. Two weeks ago, I was in Vienna and wiped out the store’s supply of Triple Berry Shock SFGs. The cashier may have thought I was crazy to purchase all six boxes, but I needed my fix.

Now two weeks removed from the SFG binge and all of the SFGs are gone (they're Kosher!) and I need help. I need help because I'm in my late 20s and still enjoy this adolescent sugary snack, and I need help because the nearest vendor is an hour away. So please, food suppliers of Maryland, bring back SFGs before things turn violent.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Need A Hair Tie? Look On The Sidewalk

I don't understand how any woman keeps her hair tied back when everywhere I look I see hair ties on the sidewalk, in the street, and on all public causeways, especially in front of Metro escalators. Are women leaving their hair ties to record their route in case they get lost like Hansel and Gretel? Maybe it's how you mark your turf in the suburbs? I suppose it's less expensive than graffiti.

In the first draft of the Brothers Grimm's tale, after Hansel ate all of the bread crumbs, Gretel found her way with hair ties.

I'm certainly no expert, but does the hair tie color imply something about the woman who left it behind? Your basic black hair tie implies a simple and practical woman who found her hair tie to be past its usefulness, though she surely has a pack of 50 to choose from at home. Just as every woman has a little black dress, every woman has many black hair ties (again, I have nothing to backup this claim).

Finding a stylized hair tie on the ground is like finding a Mickey Mantle rookie card laying next to it.

Hair ties with color and patterns are harder to find on the ground because these are more valuable and unique. Their wearers wear them after careful thought as I assume the specialized hair tie must match the outfit. Black hair ties go with anything, a red and yellow ribbed hair tie only goes with, well, I don't know, but certainly not everything. When a colorful hair tie reaches the ground, it must be broken or simply out of style for no woman would lose such an accessory by accident.

They might be glorified rubber bands, but hair ties are better than scrunchies. Nobody wants their face associated with them anymore.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

MS Office - The Fight Club Arena

If you've ever used a computer, then you'll appreciate these two flash videos, Animator vs. Animation I and II. Regular random thoughts are in the blogging queue. Fear not.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

For One Hour, I Was A Tennis Fan

Flipping through the channels, after a long weekend of driving through half of Maryland's counties and NoVa, I stumbled upon the fifth set of the Men's final set at about great timing! The world's top two players, Rafael Nadal and the (already) legendary Roger Federer, were battling it out after going 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, and 7-6. The fifth set, won 9-7 by Nadal, ebbed and flowed, then ebbed some more and I was riveted. If you can't appreciate today's match, you're not a sports fan.

I had no interest in the winner, but I was nervous with each break point.

I have never called myself a tennis fan. I've always found that Men's matches lasted too long with their best out of five format; few volleys played out more than serve, weak return, cross-court winner; and everyone serves over 120 MPH. I appreciate the difficulty of high-level tennis, as I was "that" kid who always hit the ball over the tennis court's fencing, but I don't find myself mesmerized enough catch a random match. Yet, none of this mattered in today's match. Great athletes performing at their highest levels is always entertaining television.

Bring on the pundits who'll say this saved tennis; they're wrong. It's forever on life support.

Nadal and Federer traded entertaining and lengthy rallies, fought off multiple break and championship points, and gave us two clutch performances that transcended all sports. The best part for me was that I didn't prefer one player over the other; I could just enjoy the competition. Outside of watching your favorite player or team win, the best experience for a sports fan is watching a great competition without preference for the winner.

I only caught this match because I happened to press "channel down" on the remote. Some fan I am.

If this is as great as tennis gets, then sign me up as a frequent viewer, but therein lies the problem. Now a dying sport, tennis' best players in one of its greatest matches for a major championship barely registered on the general sports fan's radar. It's all or nothing for the sport, and 99% of the time it's nothing. That 1% is spectacular, but too many variables must match, too many stars must align, and it has to be raining outside for casual fans to make it appointment viewing.

A Federer-Nadal rivalry is great, but mass (American) men's tennis appeal comes from colorful characters (e.g., Connors, Agassi, and McEnroe) or domestic dynasties (e.g., Sampras).

For now, let's appreciate Federer's run of five consecutive Wimbledon titles from 2003-7 and enjoy this match's greatness. Who knows, it may not be until America's 250th birthday (that's 2026) before I watch tennis like this again...provided I'm just flipping through the channels.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Very Moving DC Site...The Blackman Mobile!

The other day I took the Metro to the Maine Avenue Fish Market, just a few steps from L'Enfant Plaza and saw this fine automobile:

That's right, it's DC's own Batmobile...or is it?

Well, sort of. It's driven by Deron Cloud who calls himself: Blackman.

If you're stuck in DC traffic, you might as well do it in style.

Imagine ripping these parts at a chop shop.

Has anyone else seen this thing rolling around the District?