Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Kingdom of Loathing - Review

I've been playing an online role-playing game the last couple of weeks. It's called The Kingdom of Loathing. It's free. And it's really weird. But also super funny. The graphics are in a hand drawn stick figure style. This game helps prove something that I believe in... Games can be fun without super fancy graphics.

Accordion Thief? Seal Clubber?

Basically you create a character by picking your character's class and then you get right to the playing. The classes include Accordion Thief, Disco Bandit, Seal Clubber and three others. My character "weasel" is a Pastamancer. Yes. Yes. That's right. He is wily in the ways of pasta sorcery. You can see him here wielding a deadly pasta fork.

Once you have your character you click on icons to adventure in various places (Mountains, Plains, Town). There's a tutorial to teach you the basics when you first start playing. You never know what you'll find in a new place. But there are puzzles to be solved and lots of adventures to be had.

But is it fun?

It's goofy and weird and it's a lot of fun.

  • The artwork is funny
  • The user interface is easy
  • After two weeks I'm still turning up new things each time I play
  • The battles make me laugh
  • It's free
There's always that fun of discovery. And the things that come up in the game are so crazy and goofy that the discovery is that much more fun.

Orcs and Dragons are Boring

In other games you might run into a Orc or Dragon. Y'know, things you've heard of before. "Ooh, I'm fighting an orc now. Weren't those the ugly guys in that Lord of the Rings movie?" Big deal. They have 'em in every movie these days, don't they? Now in Kingdom of Loathing all bets are off. You never know what you're going to fight. Maybe a WereTaco, maybe a scary clown. You never know. Here's an example:

You're fighting a Knob Goblin Chef This is one of the chefs of Cobb's Knob. He may look harmless, but he wields a mean ladle. He spatulas you in the throat. Oof! Ugh!


The currency in Loathing is not gold as in many role-playing games. Nope. In Loathing it's meat. So you use your hard-earned meat to buy things. There's also a whole world of meat-smithing that I've only just discovered. With a little know-how and some meat you can create all kinds of things. Like meat armor and weapons! YES!

Kingdom of Loathing is fun. And it's free. So check it out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Devil Gate!?

We live near a school that has a kind of crazy/cool looking piece of artwork in the front. I always jokingly refer to it as the "Devil Gate." (See picture on right)

I always wondered if the neighbors got riled up when it was first built and then accused the artists of being demon worshippers or something. As it turns out it's called "Spirit Gate" and the artists worked closely with students, neighborhood groups etc when designing it. So as far as I know no one got mad about it. That's pretty cool. Although the idea that everyone would get worked up over this piece of artwork does make me laugh.

I still think it looks like what you'd get if you hired someone to make you a "Devil Gate" but it's pretty neat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Blurry but cute

Jonah and I went to the mall to buy him some shoes. Apparently when your 15-month old walks around a lot you're supposed to put shoes on 'em. So they don't walk on glass or get cold or somethin'. We've done great at buying used clothes and getting hand-me-downs from friends. But we've been weak in terms of securing shoes for him. If you're looking to make any donations he wears a size 6. :-) Although you may want to bump that to 6 1/2 since he's growing like a weed.

We bought 2 pairs of shoes at Nordstrom's for $53 (yikes). I saw some cool lookin' Converse shoes and asked if they had 'em in his size. "Yes, but we've only got them in white." Beautifully I was about to ask her if they had any shoes that they recommended that weren't white (They had a LOT of white shoes). All-white shoes just don't seem so cool to me. They look huge and dorky. The Converse required tying anyway so we ended up with a slip on pair of slippers and a cool red/black pair of "Etnies" with velcro (picture on left). I'm not familiar with "Etnies." They look like they're a super cool brand with a fancy box, free sticker etc. I'll put an url here and we can all find out... Like it won't just be a porn site.

Anyway, the ladies there were really nice and they gave Jonah a balloon. (See picture above taken with my cell phone camera... Low quality, but convenient!)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

New "Switch" campaign... for John Kerry

Wow, some of these are really good. They're similar to the Apple "Switch" ad campaign. All the people in the clips voted republican in 2000 and say they won't be voting for Bush in 2004. Click the picture to go to the page.

Friday, October 22, 2004

I had lunch

I have a headache. But I had a gyro and an orange freeze (tastes just like a creamsicle) at Falafel's Drive In for lunch. They make really good banana milkshakes too. Like as good as when I was little and we made milkshakes at home with vanilla ice cream, milk, and banana. And we used a milkshake machine that my Uncle Bob gave us. With the big metal cups and everything.

If you're near San Jose then check it out. It's at 2301 Stevens Creek Blvd near Bascom.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dentist appointment today

Who needs dental insurance anyway?

I'm going to the dentist today. Now that Kelly and I are "old" they suggested that we may not want to pay for dental insurance any more because it's less likely we'll have many more cavities etc. Yeah, well, Kelly just had a $1000 crown done (it's not even gold!). So at least this year we've lost out on that plan. So maybe we should have gone for the insurance. But the dental insurance offered through Kelly's job is expensive and doesn't cover a lot. I've looked for dental insurance as an individual (because I'm self employed) but that always costs more than even a crummy dental plan at a company. (Same goes for medical insurance and vision).


I learned that it's possible to brush too hard when you brush your teeth. Who knew? I always thought the more vigorously you brushed the better. Heh, well, turns out you can wear away your gums.

It was a great moment when the dental hygienist showed me where my gums were worn away. I asked "How long until they heal and grow back?" Ha ha ha. Whew. Yeah, he said "Nah, they won't grow back. You just need to take care of what you have left. Try this electric toothbrush from now on."

So I switched to a Braun Oral-B Super-3D Stereo-vision Triple Rechargeable Double Advanced Excel electric toothbrush. I don't know what it's called. It works really well and my teeth and gums are happier. Even Kelly, who thought the electric toothbrush was a little too much at first, likes it now. And Jonah desperately wants to use it to brush his teeth or hair or something.

Cracked filling

One of my fillings is cracked. It's gonna be $200 to replace it with a new one made of "amalgam." When my dentist said the filling was cracked I asked for a gold tooth right away. She laughed and said she knew I'd say that. I guess I've told her how much I like my existing gold tooth a lot. It's shiny!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Eric's Favorite TV Shows

Here are the shows I like a lot and record on our TiVo, especially now that it's working again. If you want to skip the list you should just record "Arrested Development" and you'll be ok.

Family Guy - Great cartoon that I'm sorry I missed when it first aired. They're showing all the episodes ever made and I heard they're working on a Family Guy movie.

Aqua Teen Hungerforce - Crazy/weird 15 minute cartoon where, well, it's like the super disturbing lives of some cartoon characters for a fast food company after the ads using them didn't work out. It's funny and weird.

Arrested Development - Super funny and well-written sit-com with Jason Bateman

Chapelle's Show - This is the best sketch comedy show on television. I've watched the Rick James episodes a bunch of times and just thinking about 'em makes me laugh.

Reno 911! - Fake police "reality" show, like Cops. Makes me laugh out loud.

Coupling - British sitcom... sort of like Friends but weirder and racier

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart - Am I the only one that guesses what the real news is based on comedy news?

Nip/Tuck - It's like a soap opera centered around plastic surgeons. It's awesome although I'm wondering if at some point, like all soap operas, they will have a UFO and aliens on the show.

Six Feet Under (HBO) - About a super dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home. Tons of crazy stuff happens and it has sucked me in.

Carnivale (HBO) - About a traveling circus but there's a lot of creepy supernatural somethin' goin' on. Awesome!

Monk - Too predictable yet how can you not love a detective with OCD

Gilmore Girls - Lots of fast talkin' dialog and it's pretty funny

Climbing on the Roof

It hasn't rained for a while. And the baby is sleeping. Our satellite dish is not aimed correctly at the satellite any more. Against my better judgement I am going to climb on the roof, up to the peak by the chimney, and try to re-aim the dish. Unfortunately I can't remember if I need a screw driver or a wrench or what. Maybe I'll just load a bunch of tools in my pockets so I don't have to go up and down. The good news is that I have a pair of wireless headphones that I can use to listen to see if the dish is aimed better. Call me in a half hour on my cell phone if I don't post by then :-) If I don't answer then maybe you should call 911 'cause I've fallen off the roof or something.

9:55am I am alive

OK... rather than add a post after this one I'm continuing where I left off. I MADE IT! I am alive! The ladder was wet and I wiped it down. The roof was dry up by the chimney so, uh, that was safer. (Note to my parents: skip the next sentence. Hmmm. Maybe skip the whole paragraph.) The rest of the roof was pretty wet though. Once I got to the top I stood up on the peak and did my best to hold onto the chimney with one hand while I nudged the dish and loosened bolts. Fortunately there was a (now rusty) set of pliars on the chimney cover. Apparently left after the last 2nd story roof expedition. In summary, this new expedition was a total success. I could hear that I'd aimed the dish better than before (a higher pitch tone) but couldn't know for sure until I came inside and looked at the numbers on the tv settings screen. I just checked and on a scale of 0-100 I got it from 59-60 on most of the transponders to 95-100! Plus. The baby is sleeping. And I cleaned out one of the gutters (with my bare hands). Gross.

11:23am It's still not working

The TiVo says the signal is great but the video still stutters. The sound is ok. I'm irritated at because I just lost two giant paragraphs which I am now re-writing. I called DirecTV and my TiVo's current software is out of date. They also explained that the stuttering video is a known problem. If I connect it to the phone line (as it's supposed to be all the time) then it will download the software update and everything will be good. So it's downloading now. The support guy tried to sell me on a replacement TiVo for $49 even though this update should fix the problem. I asked if I could get an HDTV TiVo instead of the same model. He said they're ~$1000 and they don't sell them. It's ridiculous that they're so expensive considering you can only use it with DirecTV service. i.e. You can't switch to cable tv or another satellite service and use your $1000 box. It's only good with DirecTV. I still want one though. Mmmmm. HDTV. :-)

4:09pm It's fixed

Yup. It was the software. Now that it downloaded the update everything looks great.


I've been up since 5am. I've got horrible allergies right now. Runny nose and itchy eyes. Even the roof of my mouth is itchy. I've taken some generic Claritin every day for the last few days but it doesn't seem up to the job.

Why am I so allergic now? Maybe it's all the rain? Or our heat is on... is there some kind of creepy mold in the air filter? Should I have changed the filter already? Does anyone change those filters?

pancake bearSo I'm up "early." Back before Jonah was born this would have counted as the "middle of the night." Now it's just "I'm up 2 hours early." He wakes up at 7am every day. Like clockwork. OK, sometimes he sleeps really late and gets up at 7:30am. Kelly and I pretend that he is still sleeping and sometimes manage to stay in bed 'til 8am. Meanwhile Jonah is busy working on projects in his crib with "Cow" and "Pancake Bear." Probably teaching them the baby-sign for "Airplane" and "Light."

OK, the Chlor-Trimeton (more allergy medicine) I took earlier is starting to kick in.

I'd watch some recorded TV shows if only our TiVo was working... It's sort of working. Apparently my not-so-professional installation of the satellite dish is even less professional than I realized. The dish has shifted enough (from the rain - see above) that for some of the channels we just have audio and weird alien-looking snippets of video.

FYI - TiVo is like a digital VCR. Imagine your VCR had a TV Guide built into it and you could pick the shows you want. There are no tapes - everything is recorded to a hard drive inside the TiVo. TiVo is one of my favorite products of all time.

It just started pouring rain. Wow. After months and months of nearly identical sunny days it's cool and weird to hear the rain. It was grey yesterday and I liked it!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Oh yeah...

Now I'm not saying it didn't help that suddenly the Board Game Geek web site is down. But after my previous post I realized maybe I'd better mention that I love my wife Kelly, and my son Jonah. :-) Here's Jonah sitting on the beach in Hawaii when he was 8 months old. He's funny. He's 14 months old now and walks. A lot. And he knows some baby signs (similar to sign language). He knows the signs for fan, light, airplane (we live a mile from the airport), cat, and cheese. We're working on more, bath, and drink. Here's another of Kelly and Jonah in Hawaii. Note: I wasn't even there! Although Alison was and she helped Kelly with Jonah 'n' stuff. And kept her out of trouble. I managed to get a lot of work done while they were gone though. That's when I finished my company's second game for Palm OS devices - Eric Snider's Video Poker. Kelly is pretty and smart. And she'll sing ad-lib words to dorky (yet hilarious) songs that I begin. She's a really good singer. So it's super rewarding when I start a song about, say, changing the babies diaper and then she'll add to it and make it sound beautiful. And yet it's still about the baby's diaper. She is working full time doin' infill housing-related work but she's been able to work from home some which is awesome. We have a nanny helpin' a lot with Jonah so I can actually work and run my company. And so I can watch tv and play video games. Wait, was that out loud?

I love board games

Here's the thing. I love board games. Not your regular Monopoly/Sorry/Candy Land/Chutes & Ladders but games that hardly anyone has heard of, but are nonetheless really fun. And some of these games are easy to learn and normal people like them. Not just for board game geeks any more. What got me excited about board games recently was the discovery of This site is to board games as is to movies. It's amazing. Here are a couple of my favorite board games right now:

Ticket to Ride - a 2-5 player game where you connect train routes across the U.S. It takes 3 minutes to learn and is easy to play. There's plenty of room for strategy but enough luck that if you lose you can blame your bad "Ticket" cards. Heh. You can even play online at Days of Wonder

Lord of the Rings - This is a cooperative card/board game where you and your pals play the parts of Frodo, Sam et al and try to destroy the ring and whoop the pants off Sauron. It's cool because it's cooperative and it encourages working together and planning ahead. Of course when my buddy Drew and I played we had a horrifying run of bad luck and basically Sauron kicked our asses right away. It was as if during the opening credits of the movie you saw Sauron swallow up Frodo and Sam and then "The End". Still... I want to play again.

Testing... 1...2...3... Hello?

I have some web sites I've discovered and news to talk about. Maybe no one cares, but assuming someone does (maybe my Mom or Dad?) I'm starting this blog. :-) This is my first message and if it goes well then get ready to hold onto your pants 'cause I'm really gonna be showin' you how really somethin' super yeah whatever.