Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Because I Haven't Posted Enough Today

Just a quick reminder that tonight's Skillz Game is Stud Hi. Sweet crap on a stick that will be fugly. Naturally, I'll be there to donk it up like it's LHE.

CEM also brings up a point - Summer Gathering. Is that happening? Or will it be another "people kinda show up one of two weekends" like last year? After all, June is only about 2 months away.

For the Curious

CNN has a chart up showing how the over $10 TRILLION currently allocated to financial bailouts is distributed. Yah, gotta get all over the $142 million in AIG bonuses and the billions spent on the auto industry so far.

$10,200,000,000,000 = Money allocated
$142,000,000 = What required a senate hearing and days of media "outrage".

Why The Hard Line on Cars?

If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars.
- J. Paul Getty

The question that's being asked, that I'm sure the administration wish wasn't is, "Why is Wagoner out but Pandit still in?" Or why is Washington taking a hard line with the auto companies but still letting the banks run free?

Easy - they understand the car companies. They don't have fucking clue about the financial ones.

The problems with GM, Chrysler and Ford (funny how nobody talks about them now) are easy to see for an outsider, and relatively simple in comparison to the clusterfuck that is the US banking industry.

Too many dealers, too many brands, too much union power, too many shitty cars, horrible business plans that involve leverage and lending more than quality products. Also, if GM or Chrysler files for bankruptcy protection, the fallout is much smaller than if the banks do.

What DC wants to see is a plan where dealership are cut SIGNIFICANTLY, entire brands are shut down, union issues are resolved, and quality is improved.

I mean, they called out Chrysler on how uninspired and crappy their products are. I'll be driving a Dodge Avenger this weekend, and I'm laughing at how terrible it reviews as a car.

Also, the money invested in the car companies is barely an interest payment on what they've invested in the financial sector. So they can tell them to fuck off now and eat the costs if it comes to that.

But, like most of the actions that get the press these days - it's a distraction. It's Bart jumping up and down yelling "look at me! look at me!" while Lisa hides the diorama in the floorboards. There's trillions being sunk into an industry nobody understands and which holds a much bigger risk than the auto companies ever could, but those details are complicated, muddied, and possibly not entirely legal or ethical. The government makes these other big moves and broad strokes to keep people from looking at the real issues and assigning any real blame.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and this is actually a tester. Obama gets tough with autos first, and if it works, he turns his heat vision to the banks and tells them to get their shit together and asks their corrupt and clueless CEOS to kindly fuck off.

Probably not though... at least not until he shitcans Geithner.

Heroes - Into Asylum

An episode that took us nowhere, but perhaps set up for bigger things. Oh, spoiler alert, blahblahblah.

I need to point out two Sylar powers that are being conveniently ignored.

1.- He has the ability to CHANGE THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY. Remember that fat chick from the first season? The one who saved him and brought him to the jungle? She could make people see her however she chose, could make their surroundings appear however she wanted, and generally confuse the fuck out of you. Why the hell would Sylar need to be a shapeshifter? Especially when it's obviously not a pleasant experience.

2.- He has the ability to tell people what to do and they'll do it. Not Parkman's mind trick, but that other girl's one from season 1 that hung around with HRG. He took her power of compulsion. So someone sticking a gun in his face is absolutely pointless, without even mentioning the telekenisis. The whole scene in the apartment was idiotic until the gun went down.

Okay, glad that's off my chest.

This was a setup episode. I can usually forgive setup episodes in series with large arcs... except it feels like most of the episodes in this chapter have been setup episodes. For what it was, it was decent.

Claire and Nathan are in Mexico, hiding out. Claire hawks her necklace and Nathan plans to drink it into more money. Nathan is not in the Navy any more (or Marines, or whatever the hell he was in) and gets schooled by a frat boy. Good thing Claire steps up with her magical can't-get-drunk-cuz-of-the-healing powers. Something about the liver regenerating. I'm pretty sure inebriation isn't caused by liver damage... but it is in fact, the other way around.

It appears the whole point of the trip to Mexico was for daughter and dad to bond... again. Also, it was to drive home that Nathan doesn't have any friends in Washington any more. Speaking of that... why the fuck do we only get 3 minutes of President Worf this whole season? Why bring in Michael Dorn and not have him involved in any way?

Okay, so Claire and Biodad are all coolio now that Nathan got drunk and apologized and bought Claire her necklace back by hawking his very nice watch that Claire didn't lose in a drinking game. Speaking of which, is it cool that NBC shows an 17 or 18 year-old girl going head-to-head with a frat boy in a tequila drinking contest. I don't have a problem with it, but think of the childrens.

Meanwhile the other two surviving Petrelli's are chillaxing in a big church. Were they in DC or NY? I thought it was that big church in DC at first, which had that awesome scene in The West Wing where President Martin Sheen went mano-a-deo with God... LOVE that monologue. Sadly, no Sheen here, and Peter's bitching at Jesus didn't quite work as well. Maybe it needed more Latin. The whole point of this portion? To let us know Matrelli has acute insomnia and hasn't "earned" sleep yet. Also, that HRG is going to get his ass handed to him down the road for letting them go, even if nobody supposedly knows. Oh yah, and also so Peter and mom can rebond as well and she can reveal that she was a terrible mother and has lots of secrets and manipulates people. Mom sleeps, has a vision we don't get to see, and they're off to gather up the rest of the Petrelli clan and then see her sister, who, thanks to the preview for next week, we know is long dead.

Which brings us to the main plot and the only really interesting thing in this episode - Sylar's partnership with crazy-eyes-in-charge-of-the-project guy. I'll say it here - if not for Zachary Quinto's Sylar, Heroes doesn't make it past season 2. Anyhoo, Sylar decides to use his mega-badassery to help the nutjob running the round-em-up project. Good move by Sylar, as it protect him, and will leave him all alone in the superpower club if he catches them all. My major problems with this plotline in this episode are above. The twist of the shapeshifter taking on Sylar's form actually surprised me, so good for them on that one - it's rare I don't guess these things. The fact the shapeshift seems permanent (unless actively changed back) could make things interesting down the line, but I'll guess is actually an out for the show shold Quinto decide to pursue movies (ie.- the next 12 Star Trek films). Have him shift to someone else, and get stuck, or not be able to switch back to himself... new actor, no problem, still Sylar. Does anybody really think HRG buys that Sylar is dead? In fact, I'd guess that seeing the body he figured out that Sylar is alive and working with whatshisname now. Fun times.

Okay, so next week the Petrellis should get together, exhume a body, rewrite the origin story a 3rd or 4th time, and Sylar should be badass and maybe not trustworthy while he corrupts this already corrupt department as HRG struggles to manipulate and plot its demise. Also, Hiro and Ando and baby Matt Parkman will likely meet up with Big Matt Parkman (see, no Daphe, but now he has a baby in his life), and Mohinder (btw - where's Molly again?) while Micah keeps rebelling it up.

In other words... standard.

Searching for Identity

I'm on a mission, and this may actually be one I see through. In fact, I fear discussing it in much depth in a public forum, as right now, despite my history of laziness, procrastination, and total lack of ambition, I can't help but think I may try and see where this goes in the long run. Oh, it's food related.

I want to celebrate my city and bring something to it that it is still severely lacking (although in an arena that is slowly expanding and improving). The fact it's missing from this humble town of 3 million people is shocking, since so many of its residents are devotees already.

My first attempt was last night, and I think it went rather well.

It's a shame Eh-Vegas already happened, otherwise I'd use it as a source of guinea pigs. Maybe there needs to be Eh-Vegas '09 Part II in the summer...

I Wonder How I'd Do With 100%

Monday night PPI/Riverchasers BBT4 game. I don't think that sentence makes any sense in the real world. Then again, it lacks any sort of verb, so it's not even a sentence. This sentence no verb too.

Anyway, action words aside, I finished 5th in the game, for my first cash in this series, and my 3rd points hit. I got slapped in the face with the deck early, with KK twice, AA, and a flush, a straight, and AK at least once before the first break.

It died down a bit after that, but I still saw QQ a couple times, and folded JJ preflop after I pot-raised a raiser and two callers before me, only to see nzgreen come over the top all-in with significantly more chips than I had left. Then I was accused of making a move, like I ever bluff.

In the end, my QTh went down to and 89o that flopped the damned straight, and of course, for the first time in the history of poker, the flopped straight won.

During the 3+ hours of play, I made a pie crust, did two loads of laundry, washed dishes, watched The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and generally gave about 40% of my attention to things other than the game. I wonder if 100% would have helped or hindered me.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The recipe will have to wait a day it seems, as yesterday ended up going far later than originally thought, so I couldn't get phase 1 done. That's the plan for tonight, phase 1. Then tomorrow should be completion, which is good because I'm leaving on Thursday for Whistler.

Hey Vancouverites - meet up Friday night?

Friday Revisited

It took about an hour and a half longer than I expected, but I made it this guy's place on Friday just in time to miss the first 6 minutes of the Leafs-Sabres game. No big deal, as Buffalo had only scored one goal by this point... a second a couple minutes after we sat down, and two more before the first period was over. 9 shots, 4 goals. Cujo was pulled with great alacrity and replaced by Pogge.

Pogge had a much better game, and a solid 3rd period saw the good guys pull within one goal before a not-so-pretty goal by Buffalo sealed the deal.

It was a good crowd, a full house, and had Leafs "home game" moments due to the large contingent of Blue and White jerseys in the crowd. The bitching and moaning from the Sabres fan behind me was amusing. The second goal on Joseph hit the crossbar and bounced off Joseph's back into the net. The crowd went wild of course.

The 2nd (or 3rd?) goal by the Leafs was similar, where it bounced of Miller's back into the mesh. The other half of the crowd went wild. The guy behind me wailed about what a cheap goal that was. Maybe my memory's going in my old age, but I don't remember him whining about the Sabres goal that was almost exactly the same...

Anyway, post-game we grabbed some quick BBQ in town and a beer before heading to Seneca Niagara for some cards. The girl behind the desk had a hard time finding our names on the board (they were at eye-level in the column for the game we said we were signed up for... obviously very hard to locate), but finally figured it out. We sat at the 9 and 2 spots and started donating.

It was a juicy table, and we both knew it, but the deck decided that we should just be teased instead. VinNay lost his first buy-in with a failed flush draw I believe to a total LAG who could have had any two cards. I flopped a boat from the limped BB and won a whopping $10 when nobody caught a damned thing on a face-heavy board. Then I saw my cowboys go down in flames to a flopped set of 3s that were held by a guy who was still learning NL after years of limit. I had put him on a smaller overpair.

My second buy-in went down slowly over a few hours and Vin got my last $26 of that when my AQ didn't crush his KK.

Before my 3rd buy-in, those were literally the only hands of interest for the 4 hours the chips lasted. Card death seemed to the story of the game for seasts 1, 2, 9 and 10. It was a limp-heavy table, but there was always at least one LAG who would call a heavy raise. I'd get in cheap with connectors (I eventually stopped caring if they were suited or not), A-face, suited Aces, and the very rare low pocket pair (shocked when ducks didn't get there), and hit nothing. It was one of those games where you didn't regret a single hand you folded because they never would have hit anyway, or if they did, you would have been crushed.

Third time's a charm though. Running off Redbull at 4am, I tossed a couple more bills on the table and finally started to feel the rust shake off. It was around this time that I realized the last time I played anything that could qualify as a "real" cash game was last summer at the Vegas Mulligan weekend. Vegas in December was all tournaments, and any home games in the interim tended to involved limits like drunken 0.05/0.10, which doesn't lend itself well to real play. I quickly looked back at the last 4 hours and realized that despite the shitty cards, my game had sucked HARD. Zero aggression, no image creation, and a general appearance of weakness.

So I stepped it up a bit. The table had seen some turnover, and it was a pretty good group filling the seats. I started picking up blinds, small-to-medium pots on the flop or turn, and generally took advantage of situations as they arose. The increased aggression paid off on a few hands.

First was ATh. It limped to me in LP and I raised. A re-raise from my left got called by one other player and I came along. Flop came two hearts, all low cards, and I bet out. The reraiser reraised me and the caller folded. I called, knowing he flopped a set. Jh on the turn sealed it, and I checked with a mote of disgust. He bet big and I went Hollywood for a bit on the decision. I called. River was a blank and I bet out around 1/3 - 1/2 the pot, and he folded his set of fours face up. I mucked and pulled the chips my way.

A point of annoyance here. Across from me was a decent player who was talking up the table. Seemed like the usual fun-loving easy-going regular you'll often find. As I "debated" the 3rd heart and the bet, he called me on it. "Oh, that's all Hollywood there." It took no small amount of control not shoot daggers at his head. Now, *I* knew I was faking, and I'm sure others at the table didn't buy my BAFTA-calibre acting job either, but I think the guy I was against wasn't sure yet. This call by someone NOT in the hand obviously flipped that switch in my opponent's brain and let him get away on the bricked river. It cost me money, and in fact, cost me a profit on the night in the long run.

On the other hand, the next hand I was able to take down the pot on the turn with two overcards, and the guy who called me out for my acting changed his mind. He figured I was now, in fact, frustrated, and was bluffing the flush draw previously, and now just taking pots when I could. Funny how he could only be right in the present, but past and future seemed clouded to his abilities.

Second was T7c in the BB with a limped pot. Crubs always get there, right? Yah, that axiom even works in the northern parts of the States, as I turned my flush and took a decent, if not spectacular pot with it. The only reason I stayed in that hand was CK's voice in my head. So I guess I owe her a drink or firebet or something next time I'm in Vegas.

The next big hand was ol' reliable - AA. Only my second pocket pair over 66 in 5 hours, and a fresh new LAG at the table. I raised from MP and got about 5 callers. I was shocked. I hadn't played nearly enough hands to be tagged as loose, and 6x BB raises PF generally thinned the field. Not this time though.

Flop comes KQ8, and I bet out again. This gets some folds, except the LAG, who calls me. I figured the best he had was KQ. Turn is an 8, and my read means I'm ahead with a counterfeited 2 pair. I check, he bets, I call. River might have filled out a flush from the turn, and I check. He bets the pot, or possibly more, and I do a review. I can't put him on the 8, and I can't put him on a draw getting there. I call, a bit confused... and he flips over AKo for TPTK. I show my Aces and take a pot that brings me to $15 from being even.

VinNay got up at this point and I had my BB out. So I played one more orbit, donked off a stack of reds, mostly against the LAG I beat with my Aces with draws that never made it. All in all, I was down less than a buy-in, which wasn't bad considering I was in for 3 of them.

I met up with VinNay in the casino as he was shooting for quads at video poker. I dumped some cash to the Blazing 7's (stupid Buffalo), and then made some back with video quads of my own before redonating that to the 7's again. It was around 6:30am at this point and there was no way I was making it the 2 hours to Toronto without a fiery crash along the QEW and the headline "Asleep At The Wheel" being on the front of the Sun the next day. I took my host up on his offer to crash at his place, as long as it didn't involved the air matress of DOOM.

4 hours of sleep and some breakfast later, I was on the road home. Both the hockey and the poker games were good, and while the results of neither were my ideal, I can't possibly complain about combining two of my favourite pastimes.

Good trip, and thanks to VinNay for his gracious hosting. Nothing even burned down while I was there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Of All the Bad Ideas

Staying up until 3am for the second work night in a row ranks about... well... pretty damned low on the scale of bad ideas I suppose. It's not like I decided to look under my eyelid with a rusty steak knife or something.

It gets a touch exacerbated (still nowhere near sledgehammer to the balls bad though) when you factor in that I'm heading to the B-lo to meet this guy tonight for some hockey action (GO LEAFS GO!) followed, likely, by poker (quel surprise!). So I must somehow muster the energy to drive 2 hours to the border, get crazygonuts for hockey, then sit in a dark poker room and fleece locals before driving back again at what will surely be an ungodly hour.

Oh taurine and caffeine, my good, good friends. Maybe a little James Brown will help too.

Although to be fair, if I was staying home tonight, I'd probably be up until at least 3 anyway. Funny how that works.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Patience Riggs

Well, Riggs has requested I get a recipe up. Preferably in pie form. Have you seen Riggs? The guy's huge, so I'll completely do as requested. Also, he used flattery, and ego controls all my decisions.

Just not this weekend. Busy tonight, tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday. I might be able to get the first part done on Sunday.

I had a comment about this, then deleted it and turned it into this post.

Yah, something planned now. The purists will cry fowl (hah!), but so few of them read here that I'm not worried.

Bonus! It will be a recipe of firsts for me. Things I've never made! Things in my kitchen I've never used! Ingredients that I don't yet own!

Here's hoping it works.

Go Read This

Of all places, Rolling Stone has one of the best articles on the causes of the current economic situation, right here.

It's AIG-heavy, but that's because AIG works as a microcosm of the bigger mess. It clearly explains how AIG got into this mess, gives a decent high-level view of CDOs and CDS's, and even delves into the government's role (from 1999-present) in this whole clusterfuck.

I find it a bit light in the government section (because there's plenty of blame to be laid at the feet of Dodd and Frank and others, and one could even go back decades to find the roots), but the article is largely about how Wall Street has managed to gain control of the government... but not quite as consipiracy-nuttish as that sounds.

I do think it comes within inches of making a claim that should be cried aloud - nobody knows what the fuck is going on. All these bailouts (and they're bigger than the press lets you know), all these distractions ($700 billion TARP and AIG bonuses are nothing more than window-dressing), they're all attempts to obfuscate the fact that the US is broke and crossing its fingers that this all works out somehow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Plan Nearly Worked

Finished 9th in the Skillz Game last night. That would be the money bubble... damn. I played like a donk, as planned. I laid some pretty bad beats on some decent players (and some shitty ones). I warned ahead of time that QT was the nuts as far as I was concerned.

The scary thing is, that the RNG DID pay out to my donkish play a lot more than I thought it would. Granted, LHE makes this much easier to do, but I was still amazed by what I ended up with. In the end, I was crushed by 3 hands where my TP was killed by big overpairs. Lesson was: FT favours the donkey, but loves the overpair more.

Something like 4 or 5 boats, ridiculous flushes, flopped straights... and of course the one time I got aces, they didn't get much.

Might employ a similar system at The Mookie tonight. Let's go with "get-in-cheap with middling hands and catch big". Although I doubt I'll see as many rivers in NLHE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This morning as I brushed my teeth, I decided that I would play at least one BBT4 game in the most donkish way I could imagine. This was followed by the thought that if tonight was Limit Hold 'Em in the Skills game, then it would provide the perfect opportunity for such an effort.

From my mouth to CEM's ears it would seem! LHE - the marathon of options. Not quite as donkish as LO8 would be, but plenty good.

So after getting a few things done around the homestead, I plan to hunker down and pay a modicum of attention to playing hands like QTo like the nuts, and calling 3-bets on the flop with QJo and 33 unimproved. I expect I'll win the whole damned thing.

Heroes Was Pretty

So I "watched" Heroes last night. I was paying more attention to the PPI/Riverchasers game on my laptop, which is problematic when Hiro and Ando are on screen. The writing is still sloppy and lazy, but at least they're going places again.


Hiro's got his expected neutered powers back. With the other occurences in the episode, it looks like flying is the only way to get anywhere quickly now. This is a good thing - Hiro controlling time = good. Hiro travelling through time = bad.

The method of achieving this restoration of power? Somewhat lame. But it does tie into season 1 again, as does the the completely expected revelation of Rebel. A shame that Micah had such a rude awakening to the truth about politics.

Anyway, some cool moments did exist, but the real strength was the visuals (with the exception of Matt & Daphne's scene, that was sub-basement level budget green screen there). The cold snap looked really cool, as did the shattering afterwards. The wink was fucking retarded.

So yah... umm... the DP can keep his job I guess.


I fired up the Riverchasers game last night for some BBT4 action. Last week's Mookie was the first time I'd made the points in this thing, and I recall being mildly disappointed that I went out when I did.

Last night's adventure left something to be desired. To say my table was luckbox central would be an understatement. Yah, I know, the only thing worse than a blogger game is when the bloggers and riverchasers combine forces. Don, and to a lesser extent Chad, was berating the table for a good chunk of the night, but only one person took the bait and fought back.

I got my share of luck thrown my way, like turning quad 4's (84o in the SB) on the first hand and getting Waffles to pay me for it, or flopping trip queens, watching LuckTruck turn the flush against me and then me rivering the boat. But losing every other big hand I got in ahead with stung. I didn't play a particularly creative game, but I wasn't disappointed in my play or my decisions, which tempers the disappointment a bit.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BSG - Damn

BSG's finale was Friday.

As expected, it dealt heavily in spirituality, cycles of life, and individual relationships. It also involved a good deal of introspection and recollection. Oh, and giant space battles.

I've seen a bunch of critiques along the line of "loved the first half, hated the second." To them I say - it's a shame your brain doesn't work.

Okay, spoilers from here on out. You've been warned.

The first half was the climax. The second half was the denouement that any work requires to be complete. We've spent 4 seasons with these characters, and I think giving them 40 minutes or so to reflect on their lives and plan their futures is well-deserved and brings an excellent sense of closure to the series.

The first half doesn't actually warrant too much discussion. It was an episode. A very good one, but nothing much beyond the usual quality of the series. An obviously bigger budget, and a few retrospective moments that filled in holes. That's not to say it didn't have some memorable parts.

Athena talking to Boomer in the Baseship, and Starbuck's "can we please not tell her the plan?" line was great. I love these little twists of the convention where characters actually realize how idiotic a particular action would be.

Boomer's rationale for returning Hera was also interesting to me. While it might seem trite that she "owed one" to the Old Man, it speaks to Boomer's storyline more deeply than that. You have to go back to the first season and her anguish over realizing what she was, and how devastated she was to have nearly killed Adama, who she very much considered a father figure. The brief flashback filled in the final piece, and made the choice of where her loyalities were clear.

Baltar choosing to stay with the fleet as his one selfless act was also cheered. My friend instantly dubbed Lee Adama the most powerful man in the universe for being able to convince Gaius to do that. Lee simply tossing Baltar the gun was a nice touch too. No thank you, no good job, just acceptance without question.

I also like that they cleared up my question of "what happens if they don't return?" Admiral Hoshi is a bit silly, but President Lampkin was inspired.

The false peace and promise of resurrection worked well enough as a MacGuffin to Tyrol discovering what Tory's role in Callie's death. The chief strangling his once-lover to death and nobody stepping in to stop him was well-done. Cavil's suicide was somehow fitting and humourous. He'd realized his last hand had played out and that he'd lost. His was a final act of his free will, and a middle finger to the face of his creators.

I do wonder though - why did Galactica jumping while embedded in the colony not cause more damage to the Cylons? Boomer jumping in a raptor NEAR Galactica caused a huge amount of damage... a Battlestar doing the same should be severe.

I love how they managed to keep things mildly ambiguous at the end. Was Kara an angel as well? Were Six's Baltar and Baltar's Six angels? Or were they something more? While it seemed obvious on Earth when everyone was splitting up, it was drawn back into question in the epilogue. I didn't catch it until the second viewing, but the discussion between Six and Baltar hinted that maybe they were more than simply messengers.

The discussion of the random events of complex systems over time being part of "God's plan" suggested a few things. It very much had the feeling of the stories of wagers between God and the Devil. Put Six in a red dress, and Baltar in a crisp suit and perhaps the roles become clear. Look back at the series and see how Six seemed to influence Baltar towards his own selfish motivations and how her influence often caused Baltar to endanger all of humanity, and it would appear she was trying to influence her side of the bet this last time around. Baltar's appearances to Six were seldom seen, but when they were, he was comforting and her actions often led towards reconciliation with humanity and the "right" thing. Once the end game had been reached for this round, they backed off. Baltar's speech about God being a force of nature that didn't pick sides, and that good and evil were created by man, not divine beings, mucks of the water a bit more. The final line of "You know he doesn't like that name. Silly me. Silly, silly me." shows a playfulness between them. Especially since Six was glancing below the beltline when she said "God's plan". The more I think of it, the more I think Baltar and Six were more than "angels."

In an odd way, it reminds me of Robert Hewitt Wolfe's original plan for Andromeda, where Trance was a light-bringer, or "Lucifer", but was not the devil. There was no inherent evil, merely an interpretation by humanity. I wonder if this discussion happened a few times between Moore and Wolfe while working on DS9.

So where does that put Kara? There are those who call her an angel as well. There are those who suggest that mantle was only taken when she returned. An absent father, a spiritual mother, a life of confusion, service, sin, and redemption. Saviour and destroyer both, she was literally resurrected. She had a destiny from birth, and the most spiritual of the Cylons saw her for what she was. Hell, her father appeared to her and offered comfort and direction when she was most lost. To say Kara Thrace was the Christ-figure in this allegory wouldn't be far off. In many ways, she was the most human of the cast, and constantly struggled to find herself. She was capable of incredible love and fiery anger, of reckless abandon and steel-eyed resolve. She was flawed, she was human, and in the end, she led humanity to the death of its old ways and hope for the future.

One of my favourite scenes in Dogma is when Rufus gets in Bethany's face during her crisis of faith. He asks how she'd feel if she was a 12-year old boy who just discovered he's the son of God... how long would she think it would take to get over that? How about 18 years? Pointing out the gap in Jesus' life in the Bible. It took Kara 4 seasons to come to grips with her role and find peace, even she wasn't consciously aware of that role until the very end. I think of her much like first season Boomer - a sleeper agent, unaware of her purpose, but with one programmed nonetheless.

This spirituality didn't bother me in the least. Sure, it had strong Christian themes, but I think much of it was broad enough that it spanned the concept of spirituality more than religion specifically.

There were moments of the sublime throughout the ending. Lee and Bill saying goodbye, then Kara saying goodbye to Lee, followed immediately with Roslin dying right next to Bill. The Adamas were completely alone, having lost those who they loved most, and being at peace with that. For in reality, they'd been alone the entire time, only finding those whose company they truly desired near the end of the road.

Anders' farewell to Kara was well done as well, and developed a deeper meaning once Kara disappeared. Seeing Helo alive was a relief as well.

But the most touching moment of the last act had to be Baltar saying, "I know about farming you know..." and breaking down. One line, wonderfully delivered brought his character full-circle, and even further down the road of redemption.

The final homage to the original series was touching as well with the fleet heading into the sun. It's much better than everyone arriving at Earth in 1980, that's for sure.

I also liked most of the ending. One of the complaints I'd seen out there in the past was the fact these humans from another galaxy shared many idioms and cliches with us. Cigars called stogies, curses that were the same, slang that was no different. The ultimate example was of course All Along the Watchtower. I suppose, being the descendants of Cylons (and who's to say that the Sixes, Eights, and Twos didn't procreate? Or maybe Galen got busy with the natives), there could be a form of genetic memory that passed along the concepts that led to this. As was pointed out at the end, we're now close to the same tipping point as Kobol, Caprica, and the original Earth, so the circumstances may be right for these aspects to come to the fore again.

Besides, Hendrix did his cover of Watchtower months after Dylan released it. If only they knew they were covering a song that was over 150,000 years old.

Speaking of Galen - a cold, lonely, hilly island in the highlands up north? So Galen the engineer is the ancestor of all that is Gaelic? Cute.

The epilogue was surprising. Almost as if the powers that be figured it wasn't obvious enough that they were on our Earth and wanted to leave no doubt. A lot was spelled out in those two minutes, which seemed to go against the grain. The Ron Moore cameo was nice though. Ending with Hendrix's Watchtower was a nice touch, but I think the dancing robots went on too long.

All-in-all, I loved it. I thought it was a great send-off to a great series.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This is Responsible Government?

The House passed one of their most asinine bills to date yesterday.

90% tax on bonuses paid by companies who have received over $5 billion in bailout money to employees with a household income greater than $250,000.

Think about that for a second. The US government just used tax law to punish capitalists. And they did just about everything wrong in it.

This affects around 12 companies, not just AIG. These are companies that aren't owned by the government, and that in some cases were forced to take the bailout money by Paulson and Bernanke months ago, under some retarded line about the money being to make sure "strong banks stay strong."

Also bear in mind that the bonuses in question (AIG) make up less than 1% of the bailout money promised to the company. This is very much the case for all the other companies affected by this tax. Yah, $146 million is a lot of money, but it shouldn't be the focus of all this rage. But it's easy to get the people riled up about, since all they hear is "bonus" and "fat cats" and "$146 million." The politicians go along because it blinds the people to the real issue - that the AIG is essentially laundering government bailout money to bail out other firms under the table. Yes, most of AIG's bailout cash is in fact filtering to Goldman Sachs and other banks who hold positions with AIG.

Besides, the same people passing this bill now were the ones who ALLOWED the bonuses in the first place.

And they were right to allow them.

These aren't performance bonuses, they're retention bonuses. What's the difference? AIG is shutting down all the arms that they should never have had in the first place. Investment in highly leveraged instruments, shell games, and the like. The problem is, these are complex businesses that only a small fraction of people actually understand. This isn't just "sell one million shares of IBM" here. These groups have managers, directors, and employees that understand how their accounts are set up, who their counterparties are, and what the hell they've been buying and selling. Not to mention how the systems used to do these transactions are used. Not everyone has the same trading program on their desk.

So, if they just send them out the door, then nobody knows how to shut down the business properly. Things will be missed, and it could end up costing hundreds of millions MORE in the long run. Instead, these employees were told they're going to be liquidated once their division is shut down, but that until then, they're needed. If you just got told you're getting shown the door in 6 months, and you have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the bank, are you going to stick around one more day? No, you're not. So the company offers them some extra cash to stick around and wind down their own business.

Are some of these people the same fuckups that got them into this mess? Absolutely. That doesn't change the fact that they have practical knowledge that nobody else does. They may be greedy. They may be clueless traders. But in the end, they know which buttons need to be pressed on their keyboard and the names and phone numbers of the people who will trade with them.

The fact that the tax is using household income as a base is a major issue. Some of these retained employees are NOT the millionaires. No doubt hundreds of secretaries, earning $30-50k/year are part of the deal. Anybody who works in a large office knows the secretaries have the real power and knowledge. So they get offered $10k extra to stick around for 3 months, which they think is a pretty good deal. Except their husband makes $250k a year as a doctor, completely unconnected from this financial mess. They just lost 90% of their bonus because their husband is a decent cardiologist. Is that fair? It suddenly seems a bit harder to damn the rich when the numbers change, doesn't it?

It also only affects bonuses. So the CEO who drove his company to bankruptcy is fine to make $1 mil in salary, but $1 mil in bonuses is taxed? Guess how the contracts get renegotiated.

And what about the employees at other companies that deserve the money? What about the ones at JP Morgan, which has done relatively well in this crisis, but has over that magical $5 bil mark in government money? Don't their employees, who dodged this bullet and made the company stronger than ever (relatively speaking) deserve something? At the very least, why should they be lumped in the same group as the AIG clowns?

No wonder so many of the recipients want to give the money back now. Some never wanted it in the first place.

This is a retroactive tax too. Some of these people have already left, having shut down their groups. They've spent some of the money, and now may be told they have to pay 90% of it to the government. Way to stimulate the economy.

And over all of this is the cloud of bad, BAD government. Out of fear of being called hypocrites, out of fear of their role in this being harped on, out of fear of the angry mob being fed by haphazard media reporting, and out of a need to deflect attention and look like they're doing SOMETHING tangible, the government (democrats and half the republicans) has decided to tax the hell out of a very narrow portion of the citizenry. Does this sound like a capitalist, democratic government?

What if they don't like how your pay is structured? What if they decide that small business owners paying themselves dividends instead of salaries is wrong? Or they decide that professional poker players are tax dodgers? What's stopping them from creating another heavy tax to discourage this? Hello precedent.

This is, once again, knee-jerk reactionism at its worst. AIG should have been allowed to declare Chapter 11 months ago, instead of being bought by the government. Then this situation would never have arisen. Instead, the government meddled, and has created such a mess that they keep getting more stuck in the tar pit they stepped into.

But hey, those in the financial industry are easy targets, despite the fact it comes dangerously close to abuse of powers, has constitutional concerns (depending on interpretation), and could be a precedent for a whole bunch of ugly. Maybe the Senate will have enough sense to rejig the bill into something that makes sense... or kill it entirely. Of course, that's not politically wise, and everyone knows that getting elected next cycle is more important than actually being useful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Just in case it flew under the radar, here's a quick recap of a minor diplomatic story:

Gordon Brown, PM of Great Britian, came to Washington a few weeks back to visit with the dude in the Oval Office. Brown brought a gift - a pen holder made from the timbers of the HMS Gannet. The Gannet was an anti-slavery ship, and the sister ship of the Resolute, which is where the wood for Obama's presidential desk came from. A simple pen holder was incredibly thought out, as it embodied the idea of racial progress, co-operation between nations, and tied directly to arguably the most important piece of furniture in the world.

There was also a first edition 7-volume set of Winston Churchill's biography, commission for the Resolute, and gifts for Michelle and the kids, including British children's books that have yet to be published in the US.

Obama's gift to Brown? A DVD box set of 25 classic American movies. Oh, and a couple model Marine 1 helicopters for the Brown kids.

Now, the set was specially commissioned and put together by the American Film Institute, so at least SOME thought was put into it. Except Brown isn't a movie guy. The list hasn't been revealed to my knowledge, but it apparently contains the Star Wars films, Godfather films, and Citizen Kane among others.

This is all old news.

What more recently was revealed... is that when Brown sat down to watch some of his DVDs, he discovered... wait for it... that they were Region 1 encoded! That's right, he got 25 DVDs that he CAN'T WATCH IN THE UK! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! How fantastic is that? Not only do you give the guy a shitty, virtually thoughtless gift, but it DOESN'T EVEN FUCKING WORK. I bet not a single person involved thought for a second about the fact that DVDs in North America don't work in other countries thanks to the brilliant copyright laws that have been allowed to pass for corporate benefit.

Of course, Brown can just hunt down any teenager nearby to break the encryption, but there are so many layers of idiocy in the whole story that it tickles a few funnybones in me.


Funny how Twitter exploded in recent weeks. Obviously the increased media coverage and popularity is because I finally joined. Of course, I only joined because Bell and the Twitter folks finally hammered out some sort of exclusive backroom deal to let Bell customers SMS their tweets again.

Which is a good thing for Bell - gets the twitter-obssessed on their network. Especially if they get the Pre or some other serious iPhone competitor on the network (or a CDMA iPhone if that ever happens). Gets them more unlimited text pacakages sold too.

So Twitter helps Bell's bottom line. Who paid who here? Since all the Canadian companies shut down SMS to twitter on their end, I'm guessing that Twitter paid Bell. Even better for them. Of course, it's possible Bell paid Twitter and Twitter now blocks Rogers and Telus customers, but that seems remote.

Who else benefits monetarily from Twitter? Individual brands. Writers, musicians, artists, actors, directors, comedians, and anyone else who is technically savvy and has something to sell. There's something very cool about following someone famous. Be it Rob Cordry's often hilarious snippets, Wil Wheaton essentially microblogging, Neil Gaiman mentioning his appearance on Colbert, Stephen Fry updating his trips around the world, Charlie Villanueva talking about how he's got to pick up his game in the second half, Levar Burton inviting any followers in Toronto to meet him for a drink in 40 minutes at Hemingway's (and meeting a couple dozen fans when he showed up), or any number of teenage celebrities typing how much "they luv u so much 4 the suport". Fans by the thousands follow them, and it gives a direct, safe line to sell their stuff.

Gaiman reminds everyone Coraline is back in 3D, Fry's updates are essentially ads for his shows, Burton will get a better turnout for his play, more people will see a movie if they feel the director has "personally" asked them through Twitter. This wouldn't be achieved if a book publisher was posting "Neil Gaiman's new book is out tomorrow, go buy it!" But when Gaiman says "I want my new book to stay #1 this week", it WILL drive people to go pick up that copy they've been putting off. And it's another avenue for Wil to sell his next book, or get people to watch his episode of Numb3rs or what have you.

I'm not saying this is WHY they use Twitter, or that they don't actually enjoy interacting with their fans, but it IS a benefit of the service.

So, at least one corporation is profiting from Twitter, and countless semi-famous people can take advantage of "1000 true fans" or long tail economics, or any other buzz-wordy thing that Twitter gives access too. Does Brad Pitt benefit financially from Twitter? Probably not. But Brad Dourif would.

This means that agents, publishing houses, TV stations, production companies, etc., are also profiting from these individual's profits.

Then there are the corporate tweets that DO seem to work. Dell fires out one of its Deals of the Day to Twitter before it goes online. Experiments to sell T-shirts have had decent success on Twitter. A smaller company like Threadless or the like woudl probably succeed in this avenue as well. Coupons are sent out to followers of other sites.

People and companies ARE profiting from Twitter. But Twitter isn't.

Twitter is free. It has no advertising, and, in fact, no business plan of any kind. Right now they're just building a brand and getting as many users as they can. They'll figure out how to monetize it later.

The thing is, I don't see how they will. I'd guess the majority of users don't actually go to the Twitter website all that often. There are dozens of methods of reading and posting without ever typing in the URL. Hell, the SMS feature is a driving cause of the popularity. They can't put in-line ads in, because that would exceed the 140 character limit. The only "traditional" method that comes to mind is the service randomly sending out advertising tweets to ALL users. These would be unblockable. They might finesse them much like Google does by storing and scanning a users tweet history and who they follow, so that ads could be customized. I think this would be annoying, but not SO annoying that it would cause people to leave. Especially if you made sure it was only, say, 1 ad tweet in every 10 or 20. Those who follow a ton of people could effectively ignore the ads in the morass of updates, and those who don't wouldn't find themselves inundated in advertising.

BTW - Typing "tweet" so much is really getting annoying.

I wonder though, if running Twitter as a non-profit would be a better idea. What if the various recording companies, publishers, movie studios, or even individual entrepreneurs contributed financially? They all benefit from Twitter, so it would be more of an advertising cost than an investment with direct returns. They'd all effectively become shareholders or venture capitalists. In other words, Twitter might never turn a profit itself, but the revenue generated from fans of the individuals on Twitter for the companies that have contracts with these individuals would be the draw. Random House could tell all its authors to open a Twitter account and update from time to time. Sony music would do the same with its artists (actually, Sony would open its own version of Twitter which would only work with Vaios, and nobody would ever use it). Twitter groups could be set up, so that everyone under a corporate brand would be part of that group. If you like Gaiman, maybe you like someone else his publisher has under their umbrella. Twitter tags, twitter recommendations, and other well-trod ideas could be implemented and fan-controlled.

This would keep Twitter free for us regular folks, and could avoid direct advertising. Again, people don't think of John Hodgman talking about a book signing as advertising, even though it results in them going to that book store and buying his book for him to sign.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wonderful Things

Some days, Boing Boing makes my day.

Some teenagers in spain launched a big helium baloon with a digital camera attached for a science class... here are the pictures

Did you know Detroit's in a bit of trouble real estate-wise? Artists are moving in. $100 homes, $500 homes... stripped bare, and being bought by optimists with a vision. This is the sort of true grassroots sort of thing that can change a city. Seems more magnanimous than my plan to start the Ontario Co-operation Project (or OCP for short) where I buy up all of Detroit and create a cyborg police force...

Then there's the clips of Bill O'Reilly reading from his bad porn novel. How this blowhard, or good ol' Rush can be taken seriously by anyone is beyond me.

Of course, there needs to be some slack-jawed disbelief.

Live in Colorado? You can't collect rainwater from your own property. Someone else owns it. Gotta love moronic laws. The reasoning? By holding that water, you're keeping it from reaching the waterways. Nevermind that most rainwater doesn't reach them anyway (absorbed by plants or soil, or evaporated), or that the reason people store grey water is to WATER things, which would have the same effect of it raining.

And then there's the mother who dared to let her 10-year old son walk 1/3 of a mile to soccer through their neighbourhood... alone! Police came, picked up the boy, and chastised the mother for endangering him. "Hundreds" of people called 911 apparently. That is one densely-packed neighbourhood. Ten... that would be grade 5 or 6? I'd been walking to and from school by myself for at least 3 years by that point, and that was a solid 1/2 mile! This careless, unloving "mother" even gave her son her cell phone so he could call if needed, was going to be 15 minutes behind him, and had walked and driven the route a bunch of times with him beforehand... and let him do this in BROAD DAYLIGHT! IN A SAFE NEIGHBOURHOOD! The nerve! At least the police chief apologized for his idiotic officer.

Maybe next time I should start with the aggravating items...

Longest Four Seasons Ever

Battlestar Galactica comes to an end on Friday. I think all four seasons took something like 6 years to play out if you include the mini-series. Year long breaks in the middle of seasons are an exercise in patience.

Warning: If you're behind on the series, beyond here be spoilers, and I'm not changing the text colour.

But now they have two hours to explain and resolve a load of stuff. Who is Starbuck? What will become of Anders? Does anybody live? Why is Hera so important? Will there be piece? Will it turn out Cavil is a hologram from the future who's really helping his friend Sam figure out what to do so that his next leap may be the leap home? Why was Ellen so pissed that Tigh slept with a six? She was frakking Cavil on New Caprica.

Anyway, there's loads of speculation out there I'm sure. I haven't really read much. In any other series, one might expect everyone just barely survives and soldiers on, but with BSG, the possibility of 90% of everyone important dying is very likely. There are so few television tragedies these days, that it might be welcome.

I have little original to add to the discussion, but something struck me while I was sitting on the thinking chair. I'll assume the final episode starts with a quick brush off of the fleet, with the quorum in charge and maybe the Basestar as the only means of defence (unless it goes with Galactica. I'm assuming the old girl's going into one last battle). Then comes some strategizing, reminiscing, moral questioning, self-doubt, redemption, and some ass-kicking space battles.

The real question is - who lives and who dies? On a macro scale, do the Cylons die? Do the humans? If the Cylons die, do all of them go? Or just the Cavil-lead ones? Do the original 5 sacrifice themselves?

I only see one reason for staging the final episode on the edge of a black hole's event horizon -- someone's going in. I imagine that somehow, Galactica & crew will get the Cylon fleet over the edge, but may have to sacrifice themselves to do it. Final scene? The Cylons and Galactica getting pulled towards the oblivion. Of course, with Galactica barely holding together as it is, I imagine it may get torn apart.

Another thought - Cylon goop in the bones of the ship... does this mean they maybe don't get recognized by the sensors right away? Or confuse the centurions?

Or maybe it all ends with everyone getting along an discovering that love and faith are truly the answers that will bring peace and prosperity to both races. After all, those have been the primary themes throughout the series... oh, and family.


xkcd undoubtedly has a probe attached directly to some part of my brain and uses the feed to come up with comics.

I have this EXACT dream (or the one where it's a final exam instead of a project) at least twice a year... and I graduated nearly 9 years ago. They're also inevitably just before I would be going back to school... if I was still there.

Yes, that is my recurring nightmare.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two Things

First, there's a small community bank, East Bridgewater Savings, that has pretty much completely avoided this credit crisis. How? They didn't lend to people who would never realistically be able to pay them back. They did their due diligence, and have had no foreclosures or delinquencies. The even made a small profit. And the FDIC lowered their rating and warned them to lend more.

Once again showing how completely and totally fucked up the economic situation is. A responsible financial institution that did WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO, and avoided this mess, gets bitched at by the government organization who's job it is to make sure banks are solvent, because it's being TOO responsible.

ANYBODY who thinks the economy is going to right itself because of what with the clowns in charge making these decisions are doing is delusional.

Second - Credit card defaults are up again. No surprise there. What kills me though, is the small business owners who are shutting down because their card company is raising its rates.

Rule #1 for any responsible financial planning? DON'T FUND SHIT WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD! There are very few lines of credit that have worse rates than these pieces of plastic. In fact, I can only think of two - loan sharks, and payday loan shops... which are essentially the same thing. For fuck's sake people, if you're running a business (hell, if you're just buying things), GET A LOAN to cover expenses in lean times. Paying 19-29% interest on your card to buy stock for your store is about the dumbest expense I can imagine a business incurring. If you are actually running a profitable, well-managed, successful business, and have a solid plan in place, then banks WILL lend to you. They aren't lending to giant credit risks, but if your business is really a business and not a hobby you sink your life savings into, or some sort of credit scheme disguised as a viable enterprise, then you can borrow for far, FAR less than what MasterCard is charging you.

How am I supposed to feel sorry for the world when it keeps punching itself in the face?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Feelin' Foodie

About halfway through my day today, I got that ol' familiar feeling... I was feeling foodie for the first time in weeks.

As I walked home, I decided the centrepiece must be the Muscovy duck breast I'd had in my freezer for months. But how? And what should go with it?

Needed a vegetable. I had broccoli, that would do.

Needed starch... sweet potato? Maybe. Potato? maybe. Ooo.. rice. NO! Risotto!

Problem - I've never made risotto. Also, I only had the most boring of rices... long-grain white.

To the Internet!

Also, to the organic grocery store around the corner for some real rice. Arborio will do nicely.

Here's the result of it all:

The duck:

Need: 1 Muscovy duck breast (peking duck breast will work, but is fattier), salt, pepper, vegetable oil.

Preheat oven to 400F

Similar to a chicken breast in prep for pan-roasting. I brought it to room temp, and lightly salted and peppered both sides. Some vegetable oil in a cast iron pan was heated to nice and hot before the breast was placed skin-side down. About 8 minutes later, I drained the fat, flipped the breast and put the pan in the middle rack of the oven. There it roasted for 12 minutes. Out it came, got lightly covered in foil, and rested for 5-10 minutes. The goal is medium-rare to medium. Duck is dense, and eats more like steak than chicken.


The sauce was a mix of Grand Marnier, orange juice (just a bit), ground dried orange peel, ground coriander seed, saffron, habanero powder, ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, minced candied ginger, white wine vinegar, a little bit of ketchup (tempted to use tomato paste, but too lazy), garlic powder, salt, pepper, and horseradish. I then put this in a small pan over medium heat until it reduced to around half and was syrupy. I then put it aside to be added to the duck at the end.


Need: Arborio rice, olive oil, cold butter, chicken stock, white wine, salt, pepper, parmesan reggiano, onion

The risotto... having never made it before, I looked up the basic recipe for it. It's not hard as long as you pay attention to it the whole time.

I chopped up half a white onion and tossed it a pot of hot butter and olive oil. Once the onion was golden, I added the raw arborio rice, and stirred it up to coat it with oil. Continue to toast the rice for a couple minutes. Turn to medium-high. Add enough HOT chicken stock to not quite cover the rice. Stir VERY regularly with a wooden spoon to keep from sticking. The rice will absorb the stock. Once it's absorbed a bunch of it, add white wine to once again not quite cover the rice (I used a 2006 Deinhard Riesling I had around). Once that's almost absorbed, do the stock again. I ended up using about 1.5 cups of stock for around 2 servings of risotto. I also finished with another splash of wine. The wine-stock ratio is really a matter of personal preference. KEEP stirring, almost constantly.

The risotto is done cooking when the consistency of the rice is where you like it. Mine was unbelievably creamy. So I naturally added small cubes of cold butter and grated Parmesan Reggiano over it, and stirred that in.

It was some of the best risottos I've ever had... not that I've had much, but I LOVED it. And, it was really easy as long as you didn't ignore it.

Broccoli was easy - garlic, broccoli, green onion, wok, oil, butter, salt, pepper, stir fry.

The real trick in all this was timing. The duck takes around 30-35 minutes including resting. The risotto takes around 40. The broccoli is a 5 minute deal.

I made the sauce first. Then started the onions for the risotto, as they were were browning, I got the duck on the pan. As it worked out, the onions were ready just about when the duck was ready for the oven. I tossed in the rice, transferred the duck, and then focused on the risotto. After 12 minutes, the duck came out to rest. Once the risotto was absorbing the last of the stock, I tossed the broccoli in the wok and split my time between the wok and risotto. It all finished around the same time, I reheated the sauce, and put it on the duck once everything was plated.

In the end, it was really simple, took about an hour from start to finish, and was fucking fantastic.

1000 & Eh

This is my 1000th published post here. 1000 posts in under 3 years? Not a bad posting rate. Shame about the quality though.

I guess I'm doing SOMETHING right after multiple pagerank discussions over the weekend and looking at the stats. You seem to either come here once, or hundreds of times. So to the hundreds of unique vistors (or the dozens daily)... thanks.

I COULD look back over the last 999 posts, but why bother? They're all here for perusal.

So enough celebration of arbitrary numbers. Maybe I'll do a big 1327th post retrospective in 8 months.

Eh-Vegas is over! The streets of Toronto are flooded with the tears of both those who had to leave and those who will miss those who left. That's a lot of thoses' tears. Was it like last year's? Nope. Nor was it like the year before that. Such is the Vegas of Eh, always changing, always new.

It seems there was rue that I did not cook for this year's group. My apologies. I opted to sun myself in Florida for a week instead of walking 2km in the icy cold to buy frozen meat. I shall rectify that next year. How about a labour day Eh-Vegas next year? Just a suggestion, because then there could be BBQ, and the elk (or bison, or boar, or beef, or whatever) would maybe be fresh instead of frozen.

Regardless, I'm sitting here exhausted and wondering how a weekend that seemed so long now seems so short. Drinks and dinner, 0.05/0.10 that wasn't, 90 minutes HU battle with NutzCarson in the Eh-Vegas tourney that ended with me worn down and in second, and Carson licking beaver (a beaver that I wanted sooooo bad!), hanging out, wandering the Falls without rolling a single dice or flinging a single chip (did you know there are waterfalls in Niagara? Quel surprise!), and discussing the quality of strip clubs between Toronto and Niagara with a guy who lives in a cornfield or something.

Now if only the bleeding would stop.

To Dawn Summers, Bacini Mary, OhCaptain, and VinNay - Thanks for coming up to the great white north. It was great to see you all. To the TuckFards (NutzCarson, DonK, QueenK, SuzyQ, NutzFirth, Matt, Leslie, etc?), Bankwell, Pokertart, Guin (happy birthday! Have fun in Vegas with the daughter), and the rest of the "locals" (Tawny, Taylor, Moose, other people who's names I never got) who made it out (I think I covered everyone...), it's a shame events need to be organized for everyone to get together, as it's always a good time.

And to Kat, thanks again for organizing a great time, even if you think you didn't do that much. I mean, I did even less!

So... what's next?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Buy American Green?

Just a thought I had.

Obama at one point was going to put the "buy American" rider in the budget, which is a moronic idea. Protectionist measures are bad for an economy. They provide a façade of job security, but cause stagnation in growth and similar sanctions to be put in place by former trading partners. This causes a rise in prices, a decrease in consumption, and furthers economic problems. On top of that, with the globalized manufacturing industry, chances are pretty good that even something "made in the USA" has parts that were made elsewhere.

But what if that policy was altered? What if instead of a company simply being American as the criteria, a company had to be green?

No border concerns on the policy, just environmental ones. The government sets some sort of pollution/carbon footprint/whatever limit on companies that can enjoy doing business with the massive US consumer market. At the same time, they offer subsidies and incentives to American factories, companies, etc., to go green. More than cap and trade policies, but actual redevelopment of manufacturing processes to be more environmentally friendly. They've spend over a trillion on banks, why not on an area that actually makes a real product and provides real money instead of paper wealth?

This would have a few benefits. It keeps with Obama's "green jobs" platform by employing thousands of people in rebuilding, redeveloping, and rebranding of existing companies to a green policy. It creates permanent positions of serious environment control and services. It reduces waste, improves the local ecology, and generally makes people feel better. It creates training opportunities and opens the door for secondary green industries. ie.- If a company transports largely by truck or diesel train, then there's an incentive for the government to build more direct high speed electric lines, which creates more jobs. It pushes green cars, green housing, local factories (better ecologogically to have people live close than far), telecommuting (which leads to technology infrastructure development), and other concepts that have yet to reach their full potential.

Other developed nations would be pressured to implement similar methods, which shouldn't be that hard. In fact, the US could just enforce its current EPA standards as a starting point, which most developed countries already fall in line with. The less-developed, manufacturing-heavy countries that rely on the US for business would be forced to finally update their policies and technology to be cleaner. China's factory towns are some of the most polluted places on Earth right now; a policy like this could force them to clean up to keep the business.

The incentive? The first ones to get there reap the most rewards, because they'll have the head start on rebuilding economic ties with the US market. The fallout in these countries would be similar.

In the end, it results in a better quality of life for everyone, reinvigorated local manufacturing, job creation, and it would be politically untouchable from a foreign standpoint (who would cry out, "Your policy of making this a better place to live is protectionist! We'll implement our OWN environmental policies to keep YOU out!").

Just a thought.

Friday Flotsam

Nobody told ME Julius Goat was going to be on BDR on Wednesday. I would have listened! Umm.. I mean, while I obviously WAS listening, I wouldn't have turned down the volume during that segment when I smelled something funny.... yah, that's it.

Eh-Vegas is.... TODAY! Let's say the official kickoff is in... like... I dunno... 8 or 9 hours? Sure, why not. No idea what the plans are other than at some point tomorrow we'll be at Kat's playing poker and drinking and snacking and laughing and totally not calling up every stripper in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) to come party with us. I imagine there will be food and drink tonight... I'm hoping it's downtown so I can stumble home from wherever it is. Niagara on Sunday? Huh? Huh? I gots me a jones for casino action.

Fuck! I just realized I'll be in Whistler during Goat's BBmT! Well, I'll be done with the slopes by the time it kicks off, and I'll have my laptop... network access is another question. No, I can't commit. Even though that would be the ultimate in bad management. I mean, I'm visiting my brother, and that's the last night I'm there. Stupid Gregorian Monks and their calendars.

Sometimes (okay, most of the time), XKCD nails it. I wonder if it works with the Candyman too...

Speaking of funny - Dimetri Martin? Hilariously low-key. This kid could be something. If nothing else, he gave the world the proper answer to the question "Are you ticklish?"

Great Daily Show last night - entire show dedicated to Jim Cramer... Stewart did his usual slow build to destroying someone. People go on this show figuring he's the funny guy, but he's possibly the most dangerous interviewer on TV when he wants to be.

Powered speakers at my desk? Oh, that's dangerous for a professional environment.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

To The West-Coasters

April 2nd - 6th, I'll be in Whistler.

I doubt I'll have much time in Vancouver, but there's a couple windows - dinner on the 2nd, or I could maybe head on down one evening (hills close at 4). Or come on up and join me on the 3cm of snow at the top of the mountain.

We'll figure something out I'm sure.

Can I Call It?

98 Runners. I went out 48th. Smack dab in the middle as predicted.

For no good reason.

Scotty puts forth a standard raise UTG. Breeze pushes. I have QQ and come over the top all-in to squeeze out Scotty.

Scott calls with AA. Breeze has AQ. I have them both covered, but Scott only by 145 chips.

I don't improve.

Thing is, when Scott raised, I thought "Hmm... how do I play this? I think he's strong, but is it Aces strong?" I debated just calling Scott and pressing on the flop. I thought about re-raising to see how strong he was. I wasn't sure how I wanted to play it.

Then Breeze pushed, I figured him on a strong Ace, and I completely discounted Scott's holdings and focused on Breeze. I pushed to isolate, and it obviously backfired. Lost focus.

For what it's worth, I would have lost to Breeze anyway (turned A... because there's 12 of them in the deck), but this is the first ousting from a BBT4 event where I regret the hand that killed me.

Luckily, there are no more events until Sunday, and I won't be playing until Monday. Unless Eh-Vegas fizzles out by 4pm on Sunday... not gonna happen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not That *I* Need To Remind You

Today is MOOKDAY!

BBT Stalwart, and the only connection other than The Big Game to previous BBTs, The Mookie is tonight!

It is Wednesday, right? I have no idea any more.

Sign up, play, disconnect at inconvenient times! If you aren't there, you ain't anywhere daddy-o!

Watch as I luckbox my way to the middle of the pack! If there's 104 people, I'll be out 52nd! (If the hero kills 100 demons, I'd be the forgettable number... 39 [wow, 2 Evil Dead: The Musical songs in one day. Search the Internet for the 1st] )

You may pay for the whole seat... BUT YOU'LL ONLY NEED... well, it's actually not a "seat" per se, as it's an online game, so wherever you're sitting, you've probably already long ago paid for it and gotten a fair bit of use. You'll pay your total buy-in, and you'll actually need all if it to play, so maybe this isn't quite like a monster truck show.

Anyway, Mookie. 10pm EDT. Full Tilt Poker. Password: vegas1. Rock on!

Cynical Happiness

The NY Times has a piece up about the end of conspicuous consumption, or some crap like that.

I think the topic is fine, but the people in the article really grind my gears. I'll spare the quotes, but it's full of people who obviously think very highly of themselves because they asked their husbands not to buy the jewelery for Christmas last year, or are wearing the same dress twice, or don't rush out to every sale at Saks, or don't really want that new power tie. In other words, the people you want to punch in the face for how smug they're being about their new found "frugality".

Somewhere in there is the buried message that people are finding happiness in new things - like the love of their families, or relaxing, or just reading a good book on the patio. You know, shit that most people who can see past their nose and give two shits about anyone but themselves already enjoy.

So, being the cynic I am, I immediately thought - there's your next mini-boom. I expect once the economy has stabilized (it won't get back to its old heights), most of these douchebags will go back to their old lives. But in the meantime, they're going to need help finding true happiness. I expect a rise in spiritualism. Not necessarily religion (although there will be that), but meditation, incense, candles, and new-agey gurus preaching love of family and seeking the simple pleasures. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, except that I imagine the majority of those taking advantage of the situation will be carnival hucksters selling snake-oil as sandalwood. I also expect to see the big corporations discover this and push all kinds of feel-good products and ideas. Expect more commercials with soft voices and Yanniesque music in the background pushing an eco-friendly aromatherapy product that will stabilize your Qi and calm your chakras or something.

I also imagine "family coaches" will start appearing to help distant über-rich parents connect with their spoiled unruly children by suggesting things like family games night or going to the zoo, and of course, talking.

Where holes are seen, cons will fill them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Always Liked the Pun

See, Jon Osterman wanted to grow up to repair timepieces like his father... making him a watchman...

I guess nobody needed that explained to them. Or maybe you did.

Anyway, I saw Watchmen last week. Short review - if you liked the book, you'll like the movie.

If you haven't read the book, you might be a bit confused. At the very least, you'll wonder what all the hype was about.

If, however, you're fanatical about the book, you may bitch and complain about the minor changes and omissions and the alteration of the ending.

I, however, thought a giant squid was always kind of dumb. I like the idea BEHIND the giant squid, but the actual execution was goofy. The change in the movie makes more sense I think, although the build-up to it is poorly done.

The movie strips away anything that isn't of primary importance to the story. Even then, it comes in at 2 1/2 hours. What's sacrificed by this? Layers.

Snyder's vision gives the plot, and gives us the first layer beneath the surface. This causes an emotional detachment from the world. The movie focuses purely on the Watchmen themselves, not the people who they affect. So when bad things happen, we don't actually care that they're happening to people, because those people are little more than set dressing.

In the book, there are conversations occuring all around, panels dedicated to seemingly minor people. An entire storyline about Rorshach's psychiatrist going mad. These are missing on the screen, so our view of how fucked up the world really is gets changed. Our pathos for the innocent people disappears. This doesn't even touch on the absence of Under the Hood or Tales of the Black Freighter.

But apparently all these things will be on the DVD. Another hour of cut scenes exist to be reintegrated, and that secondary material is already produced. I imagine the DVD will be very different experience.

The acting is sufficient for the movie. Jackie Earle Haley is excellent as Rorshach. Billy Crudup is TOO detached as Doctor Manhattan (I think Crudup is talented enough that he could have added an iota of charisma to the blue guy, but that doesn't come through until the story demands it, which I think is too late), but I don't fault him for it. Malin Akerman is fine as Laurie - she's not good, but she's not so terrible as to be distracting like some critics claim. Matthew Goode as Ozymandias is far, FAR worse. And Patrick Wilson? He's a whiny Nite Owl, but mostly carries off Dan Dreiburg's awkwardness and lack of joy well. The supporting cast, what there is of it, are fine. I feel like Sally Jupiter was hurt by editing, and reserve judgement on Carla Gugino's portrayal of her until the DVD.

Seeing Matt Frewer as Moloch was cool, and Stephen McHattie as Hollis Mason was great. Then again, I'll pretty much watch anything with McHattie after Pontypool.

Oh, and let's get Laura Mennell in more 50's outfits... looked good on her as Janey Slater. Way better than 10 years ago when she was a medieval catholic girl in a Stargate SG-1 episode.

I digress.

The film looked great, and did an unbelieveable job of lifting the scenes from the page to the screen. The violence and sex were also no worse than the book. In fact, I think the sex was toned down. Complaints about Snyder's slo-mo are barely warranted as those moments create a sense of watching a graphic novel come to life before your eyes.

Speaking of that style - the opening credits alone are worth the price of admission. A gorgeous, silent recap of how we got to where we are, all to some classic Dylan.

Good soundtrack too, except I still think "Sounds of Silence" was an obvious choice that sticks out. It wasn't inappropriate, but a touch of originality in song choices there would have been appreciated. At least it wasn't Terry Jacks.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the movie. It won't be for everyone, but I think it will satisfy the fans, flame out at the box office, and then find classic status on home theatres everywhere. I seem to recall some talk about a Director's cut being released in the summer in theatres... I may pony up again to see that, but in the meantime, I have the book if I need to revisit the movie.

They Used to Edit

So, three guys, Steve, George, and Larry get together at one of their homes. Steve and George invited Larry to take a bunch of their ideas and combine them into a coherent form. They had a story in their heads about some guy from Indiana who taught archeology and robbed tombs.

125 pages of transcript are online between Spielberg, Lucas, and Kasdan discussing Raiders of the Lost Ark in its early stages. A pretty decent recap of the whole thing is here. Ideas from this meeting made it into all three of the original Indiana Jones movies (the less said of IV, the better). It's a pretty fascinating look at how these guys thought back then. It also underlines the importance of Lawrence Kasdan when it came to making Lucas's tripe into some the greatest films of my generation.

Blast Off!

I love this gallery (all 6 pages). Most especially the first two images.

From Boing Boing Gadgets.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Next Weekend

Wow, is Eh-Vegas almost here already? Crazy.

Yup, next weekend is booked. I've contributed far, FAR less to this year's effort than last year's, but am of course at Kat's disposal if there's anything she needs that I can provide.

The "details" are on her site, but here's a recap, just in case you're too lazy to click there and never updated your feeds when she moved to her own domain.

Friday - People get in, locals get off work, gathering, drinking, and the like occur. For what it's worth, I support any and all downtown activities, as it requires less effort on my part to get to them. If I have to drive places, I have to drink much less. In fact, if the numbers aren't too large, I'd even be willing to just break out the cards and chips at my place with some beverages and pizza if that works. Note - I only have poker seating for 8, but some more space for non-poker (big couch, couple chairs, etc..). Or we can hit a bar/pub/tavern/restaurant/lounge/whatever. If it's up in Kat-town, I'll be sure to find my way up there.

Saturday - Coffee at Kat's, which I imagine I'll miss. Brunch in the Katbourhood, which I will make every attempt (ie.- get my ass out of bed) to make. Then comes the pokering and merry-making. $50 + 1R + $20 add-on.

Sunday - Brunch in the Distillery District. Which would check off another of those "things I've never done in my own city for some stupid reason". Oh, I've been to the area, but never during the day. By this point, I imagine I'll be in it for the food more than the drink. Not sure what everyone else's plans are, but I'm more than happy to head Niagara-wards after brunch for some chip slinging, be it at the poker table or the $5 Sunday craps table.

I know OhCaptain and Kat were looking to do some photography (nudge nudge wink wink... oh, nevermind) during the weekend. Obviously the Distillery District offers some prime opportunities for this, as does the Falls. Wandering the streets of downtown Toronto at night provide a few shots as well. It's looking like a pretty sunny weekend at the moment, if a touch cool. We'll see if that holds as we get closer.

It's not too late to decide to come! Especially with the Canadian dollar trading at nearly a 30% premium these days. That's like 1/3 of your trip free if you're from the States! Think of it as buy 2 get the 3rd free. Or buy 1, get 1 60% off.

Come see a country who's economy isn't in the shitter yet! People with jobs! Streets paved with gold! Well, okay, not the streets, but the buildings! Oh alright, only one building made with gold. Seriously. It's pretty big though.

Just get up here. C'mon!


Did We Spring Forward A Day?

Gah! How'd it get to be Monday already?

The weekend went a touch differently than originally expected.

Original plan:

Dinner for friend's 30th on Friday, skip the clubbing, relatively early night home.
Head north and ski all day Saturday
Recover Sunday

Actual occurence:

Dinner for friend's 30th on Friday, skip the clubbing, go out and meet up with more friends for drinks. Miss the last train southbound by about 7 minutes (no biggie, it's only a 20 minute walk). Later meeting with friends was due to the fact two of them were getting hitched on Saturday and then moving to Australia (Melbourne, what's with that place?) on Sunday.

6 degrees and rain in ski country after days of the same do not make for good downhill conditions. I tried to make alternate plans for Saturday - first was poker @ Niagara - no go. Then craps @ Niagara - no go. I called up my best friend and asked if she wanted to finally go to the ROM before it fell down. She said sure and off we went. The "new" addition to the place is horrible from the outside. It looks like a big aluminum-siding iceberg smashed into the beautiful old stone and brick edifice that has long stood there. From the right angle, it looks like a giant Jawa transport (hence the lightsabre duels that occasionally take place in front of it). I had heard inside was no better... I was disappointed even then. Plain, boring, white, cheap, and getting dirty... the epitome of boring and overbudget. I imagine it will be torn down in a decade and maybe something that isn't an unoriginal piece of shit will be built in place of the "crystal".

That said, I did like the Trypilian exhibit that's in town until the 22nd. The gems collection and Egyptian book of the dead were also cool. The diamonds exhibit was a waste of time unless you've never read a single thing about diamonds. Fairly rudimentary facts mixed in with boring geological information (which I knew from my years of dating a Mineral Engineering student). Some unexciting examples, and a few nice pieces. I'd have liked more on the newer man-made diamonds, which I think will eventually really shake up the market on stones, but this thing was sponsored by De Beers, so no chance of that.

The previous night, the bride-to-be insisted I come to their wedding on Saturday. See, I'd received an announcement, but there was no formal invitation. This was largely a ceremony to make life in Australia easier (they've been together over 6 years, so it was going to happen eventually anyway). The "real" reception would be when they returned in 2010. I've known the husband I've known for 17 years (although we only reconnected 3 1/2 years ago), so I said I'd make the gathering at his parent's place, but would likely miss the ceremony at city hall. The fact the other two people that were there who I've known for just as long, if not longer (one I met nearly 20 years ago), also insisted I come helped the cause.

So, after wrapping up at the museum and grabbing a quick burrito, I headed home to change into my fancy clothes. I walked in the door, said hi to the cats, and promptly fell asleep for a quick nap. An hour later I shot straight up, yelled "SHIT!" and forgot what I was late for. Two minutes later it came back to me, I swore again, and ran around. The gathering at the folks' place, in the west end, started in 30 minutes, and it was at least a 20 minute drive, and I hadn't even BEGUN to get ready. I rushed around and was out the door in 45 minutes. I wasn't sweating it too much, because it wasn't a formal dinner or anything, just some food, and friends, and family. Traffic sucked, the rain sucked, and I opted to take a route that probably added 15 minutes to my commute. I was displeased with myself, and walked in the front door a bit wet, and bit out of place (as the family didn't know who I was... 17 years and I never met his dad, go figure). It was all okay though, as a hug from the bride, handshake from the groom, and acknowledgement from the handful of people I did know put aside any thoughts that I was a party-crasher.

It was a good time, with people I rarely get to see, and a really fun and easy-going family. Also, one of those families that you know somehow got it right. The kids are all happy, the grandkids are well-behaved and the "perfect" kids (my friend's neice is 7 or 8 and gave me hope for future generations), and if there are family feuds, they were very well hidden. I said my goodbyes to the happy couple, and said I may actually take them up on their offer to visit. I hear there's a blogger or two down under, as well as a casino. Plus, I'm aiming to be in Israel in August, so I'll already have made half the journey...

Sunday held to plan, as I slept in until after 3, never got dressed, and spent the day on the couch with a laptop and remote for the TV. Strangely, I slept like shit last night having woken up late and done nothing all day.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Happy Birthday Toronto

Today my fair city turns 175 years old. I have vague memories of 150, and I imagine 200 will be a big deal.

I could write a bunch of reasons why I love it here, or why there is nowhere else I'd want to live. Instead, I'll just link.


and here.

The real beauty of those lists? I've discovered even MORE things I need to check out here.

But first I'll get some older ones out of the way. I think I'll go to the ROM this weekend. Maybe squeeze in the AGO too. Rumours abound about perhaps wandering around taking pictures during Eh-Vegas... but that may depend on how cold it gets. Just make sure I get my ass out the door more often come Spring and Summer and Fall, k?

Here's another link... Toronto in 1834. I recommend the zoomable coloured map, especially if you know the city.

I love my city.


From the Quote of the Day Google widget:

I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.
- E. V. Lucas

Part of being sane, is being a little bit crazy.
- Janet Long

I don't have a post to build around this, I just find they both apply to yours truly :).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Leafs Most Tempting Asset

I missed a trade yesterday for the Leafs...

From Tampa:

Olaf Kolzig
Jamie Heward
Andy Rogers
4th round pick this year

From Toronto:

Richard Petiot

So Toronto picked up a goalie who's out for the rest of the season, a 38 year-old has-been, a 23 year-old minor-leaguer, and a 4th round pick for a minor league defenceman.

Distilled down - 4th round pick for a minor leaguer.

Why? Cap space. Toronto's got tons of it with their young, relatively low-cost rebuilding team. Tampa has a few superstars they want to keep around. So the call goes, "Hey Brian, we need to get Olie off our books, and maybe Jamie too... what can you give us that makes this a trade, and what can we give you that you'd actually want?" "Here's a nobody, and we'll take a draft pick and another nobody." "Done."

The new NHL, where room under the cap can be a major tradeable asset. Expect a similar type of trade with the Raptors around the NBA deadline.


There's another charity poker game coming up in about a month. Same group that did that terribly-run one from a few Christmases back. Due to the rough economic times, they've lowered the buy-in - $100 rebuy.

They haven't decided if it'll be 1 or 2 rebuys, and there will be an add-on (likely a top-off). They expect a decent turnout (140 cap for players) as well, and the prize they're thinking of sounds decent. Plus, it's for charity.

But they're also likely using the same gang of dolts that ran that one in '07. The same group that decided to shorten levels and even drop some after the first break to make up time. The same group that had dealers who couldn't keep track of what level we were on. The same group that didn't know how their rebuys worked until I asked.

But it will likely also have the same players who got trashed and couldn't play worse if they tried. I figure this HAS to be +EV, even if the staff will be frustrating.

Also, the bar they're holding it as has very good... hiring practices.

Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

I guess I should sign up.


Note to self: If you have a premium hand against this guy, just fold.

QQ < TT donchyaknow?

3 games in, no points, 3 suckouts to end it for me. Sure, I've laid a bad beat or two myself to stay alive, but it still stings. My average middle-of-the-pack finishes just aren't going to cut it, but at least there's some solace in the fact that I have yet to regret how I played a final hand.

As for the other ones... I liked my play last night more than the previous games. I made some moves... some worked, some didn't, some required me getting lucky when they initially failed. In the end though, I felt I played better than in The Big Game and Riverchasers. Obviously, there's still room for improvement, but this is just the first leg in a very long trek.

Oh, and feeling better today... for now. Another decent night's sleep helps. Good thing too, since I'm meeting up with some friends tonight to wish them well the day before their marriage and a few days before they head off to Australia for a year. In the 3 1/2 years since we've reconnected (old high school friends), my friend and his fiancee have been all over the place. 3.5 years ago, he was in Montreal and she was in Toronto. Then he was in Toronto with her, then he moved to Newfoundland, where she eventually joined him before she moved back to Toronto to essentially go on strike at the University she enrolled in for grad school... and now they're off to Australia. I couldn't move around that much... Toronto is home. Always has been, always will be.

And I'm glad to hear there's some of you who are making the trip here next weekend for Eh-Vegas! I don't think I'm cooking this year (although I'll definitely help if needed), but I am at least consulting.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Antropov traded for 2 draft picks.
Moore traded for a draft pick.
Gerber picked up off waivers.
Reitz picked up off waivers.

Toskala out for the season for surgery.

Actually... not a bad day for The Leafs. Now let's see if all those 2nd-round picks can be turned into something worthwhile.

Going to miss Moore though.

Fight Little Antibodies! Fight!


That kind sums up how I'm feeling today. Actually, since about midway through yesterday. Not sure what the hell is going on, but I'm fighting something.

Which sucks, because I've got plans tonight I am NOT going to miss. Right after that though, I may curl up into a ball and rock myself to sleep. I'm going to go with a high probability that I won't be in The Mookie tonight. Don't let that stop YOU from playing though. I know that a Mookie without me is like a Christmas without Santa, but you should still try and get out for it. In fact, if you do see me there, it's probably because I signed up early... so there might be free chips in there for some lucky kids who stay up late.

Oh, and for your daily bit of economic news - the economy is saved! Markets are up! Everything's super!

I must be sick.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blockbuster Bankrupt?

Blockbuster video is looking into Bankruptcy protection.

The article cites NetFlix as the main reason, which makes me smile a bit. I don't actually like Blockbuster. Never really have. It's sanitary, overlarge, overadvertised, and just feels like the big company it is. Walk into an independent video store and you've probably got someone who has seen more movies you've never heard of than movies you've seen. They also tend to be a human "Amazon recommends" with just a couple questions about what you like. They have deals you won't find at BB - "rent any movie, get a documentary rental for free" just to push things THEY find interesting.

Sure, Blockbuster has decent sales on previewed movies, but even those have become paltry as they hold on to high prices for the "big" movies while dropping the dreck to the $6.99 shelf.

Plus, you have to get there. Walk, drive, whatever, it's still less convenient than movies showing up at your door.

Or better - right on your TV or computer or iPhone. Video on demand is probably a bigger killer of the brick and mortar rental business than NetFlix and its ilk. That's why they're pushing to have streaming media boxes and online viewing options. NetFlix might have a big warehouse or two, but they're still effectively a lean, fast-moving company that can change with their audience. Blockbuster is a slow-moving behemoth that has a bunch of people who don't "get it" at the top. Another dinosaur who will die because it didn't adapt fast enough or well enough.

Just look at their website, it's pathetic. There should be real-time tracking of availability at stores, online reservation capabilities, and other items that could draw people to their stores. Sure, they have a mail system, but the whole setup feels like a giant company just trying to catch up.

So, the big blue video store will likely restructure, come back swinging, and still get it wrong before succumbing and dying. To think, they almost bought Circuit City last May.

Could be interesting to see who goes first... Blockbuster, or Pier 1. Yah, they're in trouble too.