I adore Half Price Books. I just discovered this store for the first time, and it's freaking awesome. I walked into the store, specifically looking for an item of nerdery (in other words, an item so powerful that it makes the bearer an instant nerd.) I perused the shelves of paperbacks, and there it was: The second book of the avatar series. Yep. A D&D genre novel.

I'm going on vacation later, and I've learned in the past that taking giant bomber 1000 page epic books isn't the best idea. Gripping, yes, but when I'm on vacation, soaking up the rays of Grand Cayman, I actually want to read something that's completely mindless. Therefore, I'm getting some cheezy 300 page paperbacks, and it's going to be freaking awesome.

I just started the third book of the Emberverse series (also known as the Dies the Fire series) by S. M. Stirling. These books are so freaking full of win. I know that the idea of all modern technology suddenly stopping and everyone having to revert to medieval processes is a little far fetched, but you have to admit that it's a belief at the very core of every D&D player. Admit it: You'd like to see what would happen if suddenly everyone had to use bows and swords and horses and the like. This book series properly displays the absolute chaos that would occur. I recommend it highly, and will lend the novels on a first-come, first serve basis.

I'm playing some D&D on Friday night. WOOHOO Here comes super-nerd, flying into the sunset! Hooray! I can't wait.

Last but not least, after successfully beating both Mega Man and Castlevania 2 last week, I downloaded Castlevania 3 (a game that I remember from my youth but have never completed). It's not nearly as good as Castlevania 2, because it reverts back to the style of Castlevania 1 (level, boss, level, boss, etc. instead of the free form of CV2.) I'm a sucker for things Castlevania, though, and I'm enjoying it. It's also the debut of Alucard in a video game, and he goes on to pwn in Symphony of the Night, another fantastic installment of the series.

Rant time!

This weekend was a bit of a blur. I took half of the day off on Friday, and my girls and I headed out to Alexandria, MN. We stayed overnight there, because we had a discount at the AmericInn, and it was nicely close to our Saturday destination of Fergus Falls. (more on that in a second). Our stay was very nice, because our room was a Jacuzzi suite and Gwen slept very well. Kerry and I watched a couple of episodes of Miami Ink and hung out, and enjoyed too much wine. It was awesome.

The next day we went to Fergus for Kerry’s extended family belated Christmas. Gwen was the absolute star of the show, and everybody was just completely enamored with her. She’s such a cutie when she wants to be. Other times she’s not so cute.

Kerry and I have been watching True Blood, and I’m less than impressed. I have a bunch of mental hang-ups with the show, which stem from having read a couple of the books. This could get long.

My first problem is that people are so quick to trash Twilight and praise True Blood (or the Sookie Stackhouse books, take your pick). Here’s the thing, though: The movie version of Twilight was very faithful to the book, and it’s a good story. The film version of the Stackhouse novels is not nearly as true to the books, which you’d think would be fine since the books are just gorified (vampire version of glorified, © 2009 b33n3rcorp) trashy romance novels. The books are good reads, but nowhere near as engaging as Twilight. The problem with True Blood is that the changes that they make leave gaping holes and inconsistencies larger than the huge gap between Anna Paquin’s hideous teeth.

(spoilers follow)
First off, there’s the whole “V-Juice” crap. Yes, in the books vampires are drained and their blood is sold as a drug. But it’s not this huge Lucy in the Sky trip-out fest that’s going on in the series between Jason Stackhouse and the crazy girl from Weeds (a character who, in the books, is only mentioned over the course of like a paragraph because she’s found dead...whoops that might be a spoiler). Even in the series, Sookie has had vampire blood straight from a vampire two times thus far. It’s shown evidence of how it’s affecting her (when she sniffs out that half cracker under the couch way back in episode 2) but she’s never had the crazy hallucination thing happen. Why? Because it doesn’t. In the books Jason doesn’t even do any vampire blood.

Second, there’s the addition of Main Characters that aren’t even a part of the story. This isn’t nearly as big a deal, because these characters and their weird tangents actually add to what is otherwise a fairly dull series made interesting with occasional vampire sex. Tara, for example. She doesn’t enter the books until the last couple of chapters of book 2, and she’s a very minor character. None of that with the voodoo lady in the forest. Crazy girl from weeds, as mentioned before. Lafayette’s part is considerably bigger in the series as well. There’s no such thing as the character played by Milton from Office Space, either.

Oh well. I’m still entertained. I just wanted to rant a bit. And darnit, I’m not afraid to admit that I really enjoyed Twilight.

New stuff!

Woohoo! New president! Win!

In other news, I downloaded Mega Man 1 and Simon's Quest (Castlevania 2) for the Wii, and have been playing them with much glee. As mentioned before, I love old video games. They make me feel...eleven. Also, they're just plain fun. This subject has been detailed before, but it's worth mention.

This semester is a definite problem for my motivation. (How's that for a subject change with no warning?) Last semester was also a severe problem for my motivation. However, somehow (according to my grades, anyway) I still managed to do well. I think that the professors of high-level classses generally don't like to fail students, but dang, I really thought that I would have done worse on my Creditor/Debtor class. Pleasant surprises are good.

Kerry and I have decided that we need new tattoos. We've discovered (after much recommendation) a place called Electric Dragonland. Kerry's going there today to check some stuff out and schedule either consultations or appointments. The place is by appointment only, no walk-ins, because they're insanely busy and have to operate by a schedule. I know what I'm gettin', but I'm not tellin'.

As a segue from that thought, we started watching the first season of Miami Ink last night, and it's freaking awesome. Tattoo parlors are interesting places. I don't usually get into reality TV shows, but this one is fun. Buncha punks.

Too Much Information

So yesterday I was at work, taking a little break. I was taking said break in the can, as I am wont to do. Yep. I'd just settled down, when I heard the door open and in walked a mystery someone who sidled up to the urinal next to the stall.

The stall doors were some sort of weird measurement when they were in stalled in my office bathroom, and the result is that there's a 1/2 inch gap in the door through which one can see the sinks whilst sitting on the toilet. Through this window to the world, I saw my company's CEO as he strode from the urinal to the sink.

He then proceeded to grab one of the cans of spray air freshener from the counter top, after which he unleashed a huge stream of the aerosol into the air, over the stall wall, which in turn rained down upon me like a cold, fresh-scent-of-vanilla rain.

At that point he realized that there was someone in the stall, and that he had just doused that person (me) with air freshener. He got completely flustered, and said, "OH! OH NO!" Then he actually peeked in through the crack and saw that it was me in there. He realized right after that that it was the wrong thing to do, which increased his fluster by about a thousandfold.

"OH! Ben! OH! I'm so sorry!" he cried, his voice echoing through the men's' room. "I'm so embarrassed! Oh no! I didn't know anyone was in there!"

This continued, as I saw the CEO in the hallway about a half hour later. He continued to profess his embarrassment. The retelling of this story to my wife caused a near-tears experience, so I figured I'd go ahead and share it with the world. Dearest CEO, you have no need to be embarrassed. I'm pooping on your dime.

Wii, Weather, Wife, Weecordings.

Wii fit is fun. I've gone from having a "wii fit age" of 32 to 34 to 28. Hurrah! I'm younger now! Woot! Of course, I've now started school again, so I don't have all the time in the world to worry about fitness, when I have a ton of other crap to worry about. Such is life, of course.

Class started last night, and I had perhaps the worst two drives of my law school careers. The drive there wasn't all that bad except for driving 5 mph the entire way to St. Paul. Miraculously, I was actually on time to class. Wonder of wonders.

The drive home was full of suck, though. I actually watched an idiot in a volvo come screaming down an entrance ramp onto 94, lose control, spin and fishtail for a while, then plow into the snow bank on the side of the road. Other cars stopped for him, and I could see that he was ok (if shaken) before I drove away. Perhaps he'll think twice about driving like a dillhole from now on.

The accidents and spinouts continued all morning, and roads were sucky. They're better now, though, so that's good. We won't be getting more snow crap! Tonight!

So my wife called me at work today, and left a message on my voice mail. It said, "Call me right away. It's an emergency." Of course, I panicked. Then I called her and listened to her sad tale. She had gone out to my car to start it and make sure it was ok for my drive tonight. Then she somehow locked her keys inside it, while it was running.

The problem with this scenario is that she had dropped me off this morning. Therefore, I didn't have a car at work with which to bring her a key. I actually borrowed my boss' car and drove home to play the role of the knight in shining armor. Or, at least, the knight in shining Civic. Either way, the crisis was averted. Sorry I laughed so hard at you, honey.

We had a Kobolds practice on Sunday night. (OK, the actual band name is "A Flock Of Kobolds", but that's a lot to type. Perhaps we should have a discussion on that tip, gentlemen? ;D) It was super cool. I must admit, we sound hella awesome together. We've got this Irish thing down. The Irish thing and some other strangeness. We've even worked one original tune, and I've written some more so there is more coolness on the horizon. I'm already chomping at the bit for more, and my fingers haven't stopped hurting from Sunday.


So I've been told time and again that in order to decrease stress, I need to exercise. The problem that I have with that is that I really don't like to exercise. It's generally not fun. Well, to combat that attitude, my wifey and I picked up Wii Fit yesterday.

Actually, we had been talking over lunch about exercising and whatnot, and I brought up the subject of Wii Fit. Then I said, "It doesn't much matter anyway, because no one has it." Well, Kerry proved me wrong by going to Target and finding that they had three copies in stock. So, woot.

I then proceeded to make a profile for myself and...played Magic and drank beer with Ryan. Baby steps here, people. In my defense, they were really big mugs of beer, and could have constituted exercise because of all of the heavy lifting. Right?

My road to weight loss is also unfortunately paved with cheeseburgers. Yesterday I found out that Wendy's had something called "The Baconator", and its 830-calorie siren song was irresistable. Again, baby steps.

One really funny thing about Wii Fit was that it initially told me that I was perfectly normal. I checked my weight and it told me I weighed something ridiculous like 137. I then realized that the thick shag rug upon which I had placed the balance board was lightening the load by about 30 pounds. So yeah, after some recalculation (read: putting the thing on the wood floor) I went from being normal zipping on up to the line right beneath overweight.

Tonight, I plan to...I dunno, actually play the thing or something. Baby steps, people.

The dreaded three point five

Last night, I was scheduled to play some D&D 3.5 with a different group of friends. It almost feels like cheating on a significant other, in that I'm totally devoted to 2nd edition AD&D, and I'm currently in the midst of an adventure with my group. (The adventure is a 1 fight over the course of 3 hours, 8-player affair, though, and we honestly don't do a lot of playing in the semi-annual playing sessions). I wanted to try out the new(er) system, and I wanted to do something that I haven't done in a role playing game in far, far too long: I wanted to be a player.

I rolled up a character and everything. It's neat. I'm a rogue with aspirations of being an assassin, and I should be pretty cool.

Then Gwenner got some sort of a stomach bug. She puked a few times yesterday. Not cool. I opted to stay home with her. Because of this, the DM canceled the D&D session. Yep, that's right. Because of me, and my character's absence.

OK wow. So, let's see here...this is a very very type-A personality group that I'm getting into. They know that I'm in law school. The DM's wife is a lawyer, so they know how this is. I think that they're expecting a commitment that I am in no way ready to dive into. Therefore, perhaps it's in my best interests to just stick with my own group. We'll see. Maybe in an opening sequence of derring-do, I'll leap to my (character's) death or something. That would be interesting. Or maybe someone should get some 4th ed. books and I can play as a player with a different DM. If you're reading this, you should think about being that guy or girl. :D

Gwen is feeling much much better today. It wasn't the flu after all, just some sort of upset tummy bug. It breaks my heart whenever she's sick, though. Puking is so difficult for a lil' punkin to understand. She was a trooper, though, and today she makes little silly puking noises and talks about not feeling good. It's super cute. She woke up singing this morning, which is also adorable and has honestly brought tears to my eyes on a couple of occasions. I don't want to be an overbearing dad that forces her to go one direction or another with her life, but she's seriously very very musical for her age, and that makes me beam with pride and puff up like a peacock. She doesn't just toddler-sing, she actually carrys a tune. That's impressive to me. I know I'm biased as all get out.

SHE'S A GENIUS! AN ABSOLUTE GENIUS! I HAVE A WUNDERKIND! OK maybe I'm jumping to conclusions there, but I love her tons and I'm very proud of her. :)

Gorilla thunder!

This was about the laziest weekend I could have imagined. First off, it didn't feel like it should have been a weekend at all. I had only worked Friday, after having been off on Wednesday and Thursday. A weekend wasn't really all that necessary after a one-day week. Still, it was welcome.

On Saturday, Kerry, Gwen and I spent the majority of the day wearing pajamas and doing a whole lot of nothing. It was fantastic. During Gwenner's afternoon nap I continued my quest through Super Mario 3, and I'm now at level 8. Almost done! Hee hee.

Yesterday, Kerry and I started getting a little stir crazy by the end of the day, so we packed up Nennerpants and headed to the Mall of America for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Um, yeah. That was interesting. Interesting if you like terrified toddlers.

You see, they put us in the gorilla room. This is a room surrounded by animatronic gorillas. Having never been to the RFC, I had no idea what to expect here. Our experience started off well, with Gwen very excited about fish and counting monkeys and things like that. Then, rather suddenly, there was a very loud thunderstorm in the middle of the room, and all of the gorillas came to life and started loudly proclaiming their gorilla-ness. It was cool, but from a two-year-old's perspective (based on her reaction) I have to assume that the result was sheer, abject terror.

After a couple more gorilla wake-ups, we decided that it would be best to just get our meals to-go. So we did. The whole way out, Gwen expected gorillas to jump out. She kept saying, "No more monkeys!" Poor girl. She got over it, though, and even asked to see the gorillas again later.

Mario Madness

I love video games. I just adore them. And in particular, I adore old video games. That's why I really love my wii.

You see, when I fire up an old NES or SNES game, I'm instantly transformed into me at age 11. OR 14. Or even 22, depending on the game. But seriously, the nostalgic effect of video games is wonderful to me. On a lot of levels, old console games are simply more fun than the new games that I play, console or computer. They just are. I can't explain it, but sometimes when you take away all of the gaudy flash and realism and you make the game a simple mechanic of move + jump + fire, the result is much more fun and relaxing.

Then again, it can be incredibly frustrating. I won't deny that I had my fair share of controller tosses and the like at ages 11 - 22. It happens.

I'll get back to that. I had a wonderful and fun, albeit low-key, NYE. Kerry and I did the hotel thing again this year, and it was a very good time. After my awful hangover from last Sunday, I decided to take it easy on NYE. And easy I took it. I drank more mountain dew than beer, and I was still able to go to sleep at 12:30. I woke up blissfully clear-headed.

Gwen had a huge nap yesterday afternoon, because she had been up late with my parents. Kerry decided to match Gwen nap-for-nap, which left me with a wonderful three hours of doing whatever the heck I wanted. This is where I get back to video games.

I looked through a couple of the old school gems on my Wii, and decided on a little Ninja Gaiden. I got bored with that rather quickly, and saw Super Mario Bros 3 staring at me...taunting me. I decided to make it my mission to go through the entire game. Every single level.

See, with other mario games like Super Mario World or Mario 64, going through every level ain't no big thing. You can save your game and go back to it at any time. Historically, with Mario 3 (and 2 and 1), completing every level was much more of an undertaking. Especially 3.

There's a reason that 3 is even harder to accomplish in this fashion than 2 or 1: 1 and 2 are very linear. If you don't warp, then you go through the game in essentially a straight line from point A to point B. Mario 3 introduced the overworld them, wherein you can go either this way or that way, and you often don't have to do every level in a world in order to get to the airship at the end. (Super Mario World continued the overworld theme, with even more levels, but see my previous comment on the ability to save).

Yeah, well things are different now. Now, when I turn my wii off and go back to the game, I'm in the same place that I was before. Mua ha ha.

So anyway, I've gone through worlds 1 through 5 thus far, and I've beaten every level available to me. It's been wonderful, and will be for the remaining three levels.

Also, that may seem like cheating, because I can now essentially save. To that, I must answer that once upon a time, Corey and I took it upon ourselves to go through every single level of Super Mario Brothers 1, 2, and 3 in one day. Pretty much one sitting. We did this on a 15-inch TV in my grandparents' bedroom. That was hardcore.