Halo 2 Update

I got a chance to play a bit with the new autoupdate on Halo 2 last night. As expected, the stronger, shorter fuse grenades are way more popular now. The update is obviously frustrating some people though, either because they can’t cheat anymore or because they aren’t prepared for the enhanced weapons (the pistol is now even weaker than before!). Whatever the case, i was mopping the floor in a manner greater than I’m used to, and other players were dropping out like crazy. This made stats on all the ranked games I played on monday unavailable, which is a shame.

Next week we get the the first 4 of 9 new maps, all of which are shown HERE. Official Xbox Magazine went to press before the 2 freebies were finalized so they’ve got shots of one of the maps the website doesn’t advertise, “Elongation” which looks really cool. its 2 long parallel hallways with conveyer belts. Running the flag or bomb should be frantic.

Defending Feral cats



I can scarcely beleive this is an actual case.

I can understand that the cats are feral and killing native wildlife, but it just seems like it will create more problems. trapping, fixing, and releasing or even trapping and euthenising seem like better ideas. Hunter just want to kill whatever they can.

I understand hunting as a legitimate tradition, skill, and even as a sport. But why kill a wild house cat? you going to stuff it? eat it? I can’t think of a sane person who would do either.

2 Dolla Bill y’all

from the Baltimore Sun:

A tale of customer service, justice and currency as funny as a $2 bill

Michael Olesker
PUT YOURSELF in Mike Bolesta’s place. On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher’s car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta’s idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too.

For this, Bolesta, Baltimore County resident, innocent citizen, owner of Capital City Student Tours, finds himself under arrest.

Finds himself, in front of a store full of customers at the Best Buy on York Road in Lutherville, locked into handcuffs and leg irons.

Finds himself transported to the Baltimore County lockup in Cockeysville, where he’s handcuffed to a pole for three hours while the U.S. Secret Service is called into the case.

Have a nice day, Mike.

“Humiliating,” the 57-year old Bolesta was saying now. “I am 6 feet 5 inches tall, and I felt like 8 inches high. To be handcuffed, to have all those people looking on, to be cuffed to a pole — and to know you haven’t done anything wrong. And me, with a brother, Joe, who spent 33 years on the city police force. It was humiliating.”

What we have here, besides humiliation, is a sense of caution resulting in screw-ups all around.

“When I bought the stereo player,” Bolesta explains, “the technician said it’d fit perfectly into my son’s dashboard. But it didn’t. So they called back and said they had another model that would fit perfectly, and it was cheaper. We got a $67 refund, which was fine. As long as it fit, that’s all.

“So we go back and pay for it, and they tell us to go around front with our receipt and pick up the difference in the cost. I ask about installation charges. They said, ‘No installation charge, because of the mix-up. Our mistake, no charge.’ Swell.

“But then, the next day, I get a call at home. They’re telling me, ‘If you don’t come in and pay the installation fee, we’re calling the police.’ Jeez, where did we go from them admitting a mistake to suddenly calling the police? So I say, ‘Fine, I’ll be in tomorrow.’ But, overnight, I’m starting to steam a little. It’s not the money — it’s the threat. So I thought, I’ll count out a few $2 bills.”

He has lots and lots of them.

With his Capital City Student Tours, he arranges class trips for school kids around the country traveling to large East Coast cities, including Baltimore. He’s been doing this for the last 18 years. He makes all the arrangements: hotels, meals, entertainment. And it’s part of his schtick that, when Bolesta hands out meal money to students, he does it in $2 bills, which he picks up from his regular bank, Sun Trust.

“The kids don’t see that many $2 bills, so they think this is the greatest thing in the world,” Bolesta says. “They don’t want to spend ’em. They want to save ’em. I’ve been doing this since I started the company. So I’m thinking, ‘I’ll stage my little comic protest. I’ll pay the $114 with $2 bills.'”

At Best Buy, they may have perceived the protest — but did not sense the comic aspect of 57 $2 bills.

“I’m just here to pay the bill,” Bolesta says he told a cashier. “She looked at the $2 bills and told me, ‘I don’t have to take these if I don’t want to.’ I said, ‘If you don’t, I’m leaving. I’ve tried to pay my bill twice. You don’t want these bills, you can sue me.’ So she took the money. Like she’s doing me a favor.”

He remembers the cashier marking each bill with a pen. Then other store personnel began to gather, a few of them asking, “Are these real?”

“Of course they are,” Bolesta said. “They’re legal tender.”

A Best Buy manager refused comment last week. But, according to a Baltimore County police arrest report, suspicions were roused when an employee noticed some smearing of ink. So the cops were called in. One officer noticed the bills ran in sequential order.

“I told them, ‘I’m a tour operator. I’ve got thousands of these bills. I get them from my bank. You got a problem, call the bank,'” Bolesta says. “I’m sitting there in a chair. The store’s full of people watching this. All of a sudden, he’s standing me up and handcuffing me behind my back, telling me, ‘We have to do this until we get it straightened out.’

“Meanwhile, everybody’s looking at me. I’ve lived here 18 years. I’m hoping my kids don’t walk in and see this. And I’m saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this. I’m paying with legal American money.'”

Bolesta was then taken to the county police lockup in Cockeysville, where he sat handcuffed to a pole and in leg irons while the Secret Service was called in.

“At this point,” he says, “I’m a mass murderer.”

Finally, Secret Service agent Leigh Turner arrived, examined the bills and said they were legitimate, adding, according to the police report, “Sometimes ink on money can smear.”

This will be important news to all concerned.

For Baltimore County police, said spokesman Bill Toohey, “It’s a sign that we’re all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world.”

The other day, one of Bolesta’s sons needed a few bucks. Bolesta pulled out his wallet and “whipped out a couple of $2 bills. But my son turned away. He said he doesn’t want ’em any more.”

He’s seen where such money can lead.

as ridiculous as the combination of Best Buy’s actions and the police’s reactions, nothing is as bizarre as claiming this had anything to do with 9/11.

funny post script: in December of 2001, which really was just after 9/11, I was at this very Best Buy on york rd, brought 2 cds and a copy of Megaman x6 on playstation to the counter. clerk rang up the cds, didn’t charge me for the game.

therefor I reason: paying for things at the best buy gets your arrested.

New Times

Theres a computer animation school that just completed a short film for its final project called “BATMAN: NEW TIMES

As you can probably guess, its about Batman, but the catch is that its animated using Batman legos as its inspiration. Even more impressive is Adam West starring as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker!

Future Perfect

Halo 2 has been out for nearly 5 months. Inspite of the announcement of the expansion pack and the continued online obsession, I thought it was time to try another shooter. Being a fan of Timesplitters 2, featuring a good deal of the old N64 GoldenEye team, I figured the third installment of the series Timesplitters: Future Perfect was the obvious choice.

Halo’s hero is Master Chief

He’s an unstoppable war machine.

Timesplitters has Cortez

He’s a fucking idiot even when there are two of them.

The story is contrived and ridiculous in purpose. Cortez is part of a future military force and is sent back in time to nab some time travelers and stop an alien menace. Along the way, he’ll meet an array of oddball characters he’ll have to assist and be assisted by in order to get the job done. Cortez will also frequently run into himself via some wormholes so you enjoy all his one-liners twice! Its goofy fun, and aside from being an excellent shooter on its own, TS:FP also functions as a satire game, taking shots at Indiana Jones, Resident Evil, Jurassic Park, etc…

Timesplitters doesn’t offer the graphical brilliance of many other xbox games. In fact, I doubt it looks much different from the Playstation 2 edition. But, its got fantastic character designs and magnificent animation.

Multiplayer is available as well with mountains of options, gametypes, weapons, maps and probably variables I never thought of. The kitchen sink approach might actually be a negative here because it creates so many options that it makes it nearly impossible to play a pickup game. On the other hand, having some friends together online or off and a couple hours to kill and you’ll be able to explore and chip away at the options at your ease. If you’ve got the time and patience, you could pretty much play any kind of FPS variant there is, with more odd weapons than just Halo’s Brute Shot and Sentinel Beam.

Bring Your Own Bombs?

So my brother has been at me over the new SOAD for a few days, and I was ready to redeem one of the dozens of free iTunes credits to get it when he offered up this download which I now share with you.

the pepsi/itunes contest is totally sweet this time around because you can get mt dew and other pepsi stuff with winning caps. i bought a case of 12 winners last week.

U-Haul, U-nbelievable!

I move on saturday. I should’ve secured a moving vehicle before now, but I finally tried to do it today. I found the U-Haul location nearest me and called them up. the phone rang for 2 minutes solid before I hung up and checked the number. When I called a second time, a gentleman answered. I asked to reserve a truck on saturday.

“Did you call before?”

“Yes, I called just a moment ago. The phone rang for 2 minutes without answer”

“So you didn’t call before”

“This is me calling now, can I get a truck on saturday?”

He seemed to think I should’ve called to reserve a truck before I called the reserve a truck. He told me didn’t know and he’d have to ask his manager who was not at the location at the time. What else could someone possibly do working there except take calls from people like me with similar requests? I was beginning to understand why he didn’t answer the phone the first time I called.

He took my number and promised to return my call. 30 seconds later, I he informs me that a 14 foot truck would not be available, but they had 2 10s and a 20. I opted for a single 10. He then put me on hold, or at least held the phone away from his mouth as he spoke to someone else in the room. When he returned, he told me the computer was down and I could call back tomorrow morning. I explained that I work during the day and would not be able to get them until after 4 PM. Apparently this isn’t a problem and he assured me that if I wanted to I could come at 8 AM on saturday and just rent the truck without a reservation.

I thought about reserving one on the company website, but my confidence in this company is questionable, and I’ve had rotten luck brick and mortar businesses fulfilling web demands. OK, so it was expedia losing a hotel reservation 4 years ago, but I still feel nervous.

the school kids call it “The Daily”

I had expanded cable without paying for it thanks to a mistake from the cable company for the past 6 months. They fixed the glitch last week.



The only thing I miss is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but thanks to the love of btefnet and bittorrent I download it the next day, without commercials!

televised piracy is way better than music piracy. plus unlike music downloading, I actually do delete the files within 24 hours most of the time so I can rest easy in that “testing” grey area. No idea if thats really legal, but the TV industry is way behind the movie industry which is in turn still behind the struggling music industry so it might be a while before they take the DVRs away.

Take a damn good look.


Because thats the cleanest this sink will ever be.

I cleaned it because I am moving. I’m also packing things. Very, very slowly. I shoudl be doing that right now. Instead I’ve wasted the whole day catching up with Red VS Blue and eating burritos.

Actually, I cleaned a lot, but this place is such a fucking disaster that you’d never know.

Once I start moving things will be a lot better because it’ll be more like “this goes in the truck, this doesn’t” and I’ll just be putting stuff to the curb all over the place. This will include my futon, which has been my precious bedding for the past 18 months, but broke today when I sat down to put on my pants. How timely.

Get Fuzzy



Get Fuzzy caught me by surprise when I started reading the paper every day at work last fall. it had been years since I regularly checked the comic section and in the post Watterson/Larson world, I didn’t miss it.

But I’ve enjoyed Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch’s endless torment of their owner Rob so much over the last few months, I went ahead and grabbed Groovitude last night and virtally devoured it today. It hits that same level of pet owner humor that many other strips have successfully done in the past, but without the calm and occaisionally sappy moments. “Fuzzy” is anything but. Its brutal and hurtful as often as possible, and scratches on some of that weird kind of Adult Swim kinda humor here and there, which is pretty damn edgy for anything in the newspaper comics pages.

Darby Conley’s writing may have me in stitches, but his art is what caught my eye. He lives in his details and shading, with depth and dynamic imagery thats far too uncommon in the comics section. He’s writing and drawing and monthly comic book 3 panels at a time it seems! The rest of the comics page seems to be made up of people who have little to no art skills at all, getting by on their jokes. I guess the only thing that bothers me is that joke writers can just write their joke, and if they can’t do better than they’re doing (and I won’t name names) they need to partner with an better artist.

Conley has got it as much as Aaron McGruder does, and that a high complement from me, since I continued to read Boondocks on the web for years after not reading it in print, and even now when the paper I read doesn’t print it. PvP creator Scott Kurtz may be gunning against Syndication, but Get Fuzzy makes me beleive its not broken yet.

X-Ecutioners: Revolutions

Wow, so this record came out last summer and I bought it and loaded it onto my computer but it wasn’t until tracks started popping up while shuffling on my iPod did I actually really listen to it. I took off the skits after listen to them each once, as I’m prone to do on rap records.

The bulk of the record is some pretty good beats that are NOT mucked up by guest rappers. Sure, we got some favorites like Cypress Hill, Ghostface, and Fat Joe, but the tone is VERY much the opposite of rap radio, so I’m all for it. The instrumentals make this record and I’m sure I’ll have to go back and get some of their older hits to complete the collection. I’m already thinking of using only X-Ecutioners for the no-brand movie I’ve got on the table for next month.

Constantine

I understand that this movie is based on a very successful comic called Hellblazer, but I’ve never read it and given that I haven’t been to a comic store in 2 months to buy books I want, I’m not likely to start. Apparently a lot of stuff changed.

I understand that this movie contains a fair amount of religious implications and references, but I’ve never gone to church and I’m not likely to start. Apparently a lot of stuff is wrong.

Those two qualifications out of the way, I enjoyed this movie. I’d highly reccomend it to anyone not reading comics or involved in the church. The guy who played the devil was funny and cool, and even Keanu had a little more personality than we’re used to.

I was about to insert a hilarious photo of Jon Lovitz portraying the devil from SNL, but google image search failed.

Batman Begins

Batman Begins is a movie I’m out of control excited to see. Hopefully this film will be as good a representation of Bats as the animated series. The cast and crew is solid, the trailers look good.

We’ve also got Star Wars and Hitchikers Guide this summer as well. Much better summer for movies than last year, which had Spider-Man 2 followed by a series of horrible movies like Van Helsing. The best summer movie (Sky Captain) didn’t even make it out in summer!

its never just Black & White.

Roy Orbison’s Black & White Night is the first full album I’ve ever purchased from iTunes. I was pretty pleased with the instant gratification combined with the cost effectiveness of downloading vs going to a store.

I know a lot of people crying now about music downloads vs purchasing cds in a store in a manner comparable to when LP collections in the 80s became obsolete. I don’t blame them, and I still think having a hard copy is worth having if its a favorite artist or if you don’t have a digital music player. But since I got the iPod, and even in the last few years, almost ALL my music has been on the computer. I load the cd into my hard drive, and then the cd goes onto a shelf or to my car CD player. of course, now the iPod goes everywhere, and the idea of buying a CD just to never play it more than once seems SILLY.

Albums usually go for only 9.99 even if that adds up to be much cheaper than the .99 per song cost of individual tracks. I don’t know any store in town that sells a CD for less, especially not with sales tax.

So I totally sympathize with the CD owners, because it might be the end of an era if enough people get broadband connections and digital music players (which is a LONG LONG way off) but I’m going to enjoy grabbing new music and trying out stuff on iTunes instead of buying CDs from now on.

This week…

Hide And Seek in theaters. eh. not scary, deniro and fanning are wasted, doesn’t finish fast enough.

Empire Strikes Backon dvd. actually haven’t watched Jedi yet. Empire is good.

The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap on GBA. Returns to form from classic zelda games with newer style. Doesn’t last long, but its fun start to finish.

Biker Build Off on Discovery Channel. How many fucking shows can this channel do where guys build or customize bikes or cars?

“Mexican Radio” by Wall Of Voodoo. found an old cd with this on it last week. hot damn, what a classic.

JLU in review

image courtesy http://www.batmanytb.com/

Last night Cartoon Network aired the season finale of Justice League Unlimited. Next season starts next week. Yes, thats sounds stupid as anything, but with the big gaps of new new episodes airing all over the place for Unlimited and the precursor Justice League series, I’m glad they’re at least not forcing us to wait even longer for the next season to start.

The finale is titled “The Once And Future Thing.” Batman the animated series began the DC universe animation as its now known, and its been over 12 years since it took critics and fans hopes and dreams and took them to new heights. As the years went on and Batman spawned spinoffs in Superman, new Batman adventures and even took a 50 year jump into the future with Batman Beyond, the villains and stories got bigger and bigger. The finale takes this to great legnths by putting Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern John Stewart into time traveling peril at the hands of Chronos (played here by Peter MacNichol of “Ally McBeal” and “Ghostbusters 2”).

Chronos is a petty thief who just wanted to collect historical trinkets for his own collection, but when he’s caught stealing one of Batman’s Utility belts, he takes the heros into the old west where they must team with a cavalcade of cowboys (including Jonah Hex, who starred in the original Batman episode “Showdown”). All hell breaks loose as an outlaw gets hold of Chronos time traveling powers and things are barely patched up at the end when Chronos tried to flee to the future on his own. The first part concludes in a cliffhanger as Batman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart end up 50 years in the future and are about to face off against the Jokerz gang when they are saved by Warhawk, Static Shock, and Batman of the future, Terry McGinnis.

The rest of the fight in the future is more satisfying to my taste. Getting the thug cast of the Batman Beyond movie “Return of the Joker” reunited was a welcome nod, as was the implication that John and Hawkgirl would patch things up as Warhawk is revealed to be their son. The elderly Bruce Wayne also gets to collaborate with Batman, and its revealed that the three future heroes are all thats left of the League after a cataclysmic event no doubt tied to Chronos disruption of time. By now Chronos has gone nuts and doesn’t bother thinking about the consequences of his actions, with massive historical landmarks littering the future Gotham landscape. This also plays havoc with our heroes as Wonder Woman disappears and John Stewart breifly becomes classic Latern Hal Jordan.

All ends well with a reference to the DC story Zero Hour; Batman and John return to the Watchtower where the episode began, where they are the only ones with any memory of what happened. Since the future was an improbable one, they take no stock in what they’ve seen, but John and Hawkgirl clearly still need to patch things up…

Overall, it was a classic adventure and with the series trying less and less to address the alteregos and more on developing them as heroic characters, this story does much to further that.

Batman The Animated Series and Superman The Animated Series are both being released on DVD in collected forms. I hope Warners gets around to collecting Justice League and Batman Beyond in the same fashion. Its a shame this show gets only one airing on Saturday nights and it makes an excellent companion to the classic series.

Room to live

Since my roommate vacated months ago, I’ve held domain over both bedrooms in my apartment. When his room was clean, I moved my bed in there and some clothes and made in my new room.

Now, I think I gotta get a new roommate, which means facing the fact that the other room has not been touched since September. Sooo much junk and stuff cluttered about, it might take several nights to make it livable.

Further, I still got to get rid of that positively AWFUL glass and metal table we had. i loved it for a time, but its really too big to even use and was a constant hazard.

I wanted to clean the room tonight, but of course, I got stuck in a Halo 2 game (see stats now added to the bottom of the page) and then called my dad and the night was more or less shot after that.

Move to Plan B

Last night while playing a rousing round of Team Slayer in Halo 2 on Xbox live, a friend of mine noted that out matched team mate was dropping the N word a little too freely and harping on our friends on the opposing team. That wouldn’t stand, so he initiated Plan B.

Plan B means killing the team mate until either he leave or he boots you out of the game. While not exactly good for your records, it is more fun that simply reporting them. And this week’s update on bungie.net clearly states the ban hammer is coming down on players who don’t play fair, and that includes cheaters and bad attitudes.

Its almost nice how facist and regulated Xbox Live is, when they try to keep everything clean unlike the real internet where you don’t say whatever you want so much as other people say whatever they want to you as long as it offends you.

Its been too long

its been over a year since I kept any kind of personal journal. I felt the time for that had passed anyway. And with my websites in a state of flux right now, its hard to say if they’ll be able to stay online in any of the capacity they were at one point.

So I’m going to try this as a creative outlet, or really just a place to write again. Will it work? who knows.

a website about Zac Shipley