June 14th, 2007

Six Million Dollar Man

Digital Nostalgia, and Chess With Nekomimikun

I dreamt last night that I was playing a game of chess with nekomimikun. Unfortunately, while we had a board, we were missing several pieces and had to substitute D&D minis instead, which lead to a lot of confusion as we tried to remember "Is that silver dragon the bishop or the rook?" etc. Neko was playing a very traditional "master's" style chess game, planning out several moves ahead and trying to maneuver me into not having any options, while I was playing a much more aggressive, instinctive game in which I put all of my resources towards taking out his queen first, then his knights, then his bishops, etc. -- which vexed him terribly because I kept ignoring all of his gambits and making him defend things he didn't want to defend. It eventually ended in a stalemate, as he and I both only had our kings left.

This is actually a distorted memory of a game of chess I really did play with hantamouse centuries ago (at the Carolyn Avenue house), which went much the same way except that IIRC I beat him handily. (The way I remember it was that he was used to playing against praeriedog, who had a much more conservative, defensive play style.) Subsequent games against hantamouse were more evenly-matched as he learned to exploit the big defensive holes I left open in my zeal to decimate his pieces rather than lock up his king. Neither of us could ever convincingly dominate the other for long, so we got tired of it and haven't played for years.

Thinking on those days this morning has left me feeling strangely wistful for, of all things, "the old days" of personal computers, when games came on ten 5.25" disks, and every mall had a "Babbage's" and a "Software, Etc." PC games in particular have not really fared well in the time since then -- they've gotten very pretty with 3D rendering and high-res textures etc., but actual gameplay isn't actually any more fun and often is considerably less. When everything was new, people were more willing to try new and oddball ideas, like "Marble Madness," "Lemmings," or "Tetris" instead of the same ol' same ol' shooters, strategies, and sports sims we've got now. "DDR" was probably the last really innovative thing I can remember, and that has a minimal presence on the PC at best. I must admit that "Elite Beat Agents" looks like a lot of fun -- but it's not a PC game either.

But I don't want to digress about games; really that's just a tangent. What I miss is the "exciting new world" feeling of the time, when suddenly it was cool to be a nerd and there was always something new and nifty popping up out of nowhere. Composing in a word processor so you don't have to type, edit, re-type, re-edit, and re-type again? What bliss! An interactive murder-mystery game on your computer? What an awesome idea! Printed material right from your own desk? Amazing! That's the problem with living through a revolution, I suppose -- times that aren't revolutionary seem rather dull by comparison.

Probably the recent death of The Paper has something to do with it.

-The Gneech
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Party Guy

Happy Birthday, blackfeather!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

A company of men of arms under one standard [or flag].
--Thomas Blount's Glossographia, 1656

Adaptation of Latin vexillatio; form of vexillum, standard.
--Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1928

Flag Day
On this date in 1923, a national conference convened in Washington, DC, to update the rules of etiquette by which the American flag should be treated. Among the rules adopted were some that are routinely disregarded today: "Do not use the flag as a portion of a costume or of an athletic uniform. Do not print it on paper napkins or boxes." Above all, "Do not use the flag in any form of advertising." When Old Glory passed by, as in a parade, "Women should salute by placing the right hand over the heart." Beyond these regulations, a curious arm gesture was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. "At the words 'to the flag,' the right hand is extended palm upward toward the flag, and this position is held until the end, when the hand, after the words 'justice for all,' drops to the side."

No doubt too many elementary school kids were getting carpal tunnel/RSI from holding their arms out like that every morning.

-The Gneech
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Mad Red


"So, can I get anything else for you guys?" asked the waitress.

"I'm fine," said Brigid.

"Er, actually," said Greg, lifting his glass slightly and somewhat apologetically, "this seems to be fruit punch. I asked for iced tea."

"That is iced tea," said the waitress.

"Er, no," said Greg. "It's quite definitely fruit punch."

"It has to be iced tea," said the waitress. "It's brown. Besides, we don't carry fruit punch."

"It sure tastes like fruit punch," said Greg.

"Oh!" said the waitress, pointing a finger in the air. "That's because it's 'Raspberry Splash' iced tea."

The corner of Greg's mouth twitched a little and his brow furrowed. "So it's fruit punch with a little tea in it, you mean. Could I just get some plain iced tea, please?"

"You don't like the Raspberry Splash?"


"Okay, I'll get you the other tea we have."


The waitress took the glass and wandered off. A few minutes later, she came back with another glass that looked identical. "Here you go," she said.

Greg took a sip, and instantly his face contorted into a spasm of shock and revulsion. "Good God!" he said. "What is that? I asked for iced tea!"

"That is iced tea!" said the waitress. "You didn't like the Raspberry Splash, so I brought you the 'Mango Passion Splash' iced tea instead!"

Greg, opening and closing his mouth rapidly and sticking his tongue into the air, pleaded, "Can't you just bring me some 'Iced Tea Splash' iced tea?"

The waitress laughed. "You're funny!" she said, and headed for another table.

-The Gneech

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A Question for My Crisp and Lovely U.K. Pals...

...or anyone around here who may have watched a lot of Public Television in the '70s:

Have you ever see Rumpole of the Bailey or read any of the books it was drawn from? Are they any good? Please discuss!

Thank you!

-The Gneech

EDIT: Apparently the books were drawn from the show, not the other way around. Also, it sounds quite a bit like "Witness For the Prosecution: The Series" -- I'll definitely check it out!
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    curious curious