Posts tagged ‘michael’

Ah, crappy video games!

I had dinner with Michael and Robert yesterday, and somehow Michael mentioned in the conversation that E.T. was made into a video game for the Atari 2600, and is widely considered the worst-selling video game of all time (they apparently buried tens of thousands of cartridges in a landfill because it was the most profitable way of getting rid of them). Well, we actually managed to find a copy of this game and play it, and there’s a reason why it didn’t sell well. Here is a synopsis of the game, as best we could piece together by reading the manual and playing it:

  • You control ET. The object of the game is to get ET to collect 3 pieces of telephone and phone home. Telephone pieces are hidden at the bottom of large pits that you can fall in.
  • The location of the pits appears to be uncorrelated with anything else on the screen: you can fall into a pit without seeing anything unusual on the screen, and you can step into the differently colored parts and only sometimes fall into a pit.
  • You can extend your neck to levitate out of and over the pits. Also, sometimes you can extend your neck to change zones. We’re not sure what a zone is (we think it’s like a mode), but we often cycled through the “eat candy zone” and the “call Elliot zone.” One zone changes the terrain around you, which is confusing as hell. Sometimes you can also change zones by moving in a different direction. We have no clue about this.
  • Moving around costs energy, and the amount of energy you have left is displayed at the bottom of the screen. When you run out of energy, Elliot comes by and gives you 1500 more units. This means that the game ends either when you win or when you get bored and stop playing. To the best of our knowledge, you can never lose.
  • If the FBI man catches you, he takes you to the Parthenon and steals all your candy.
  • If you manage to call Elliot while in “call Elliot zone,” he will come and take your candy. He will then pretend to run off and find a piece of telephone for us. We don’t know why he does this, however, because he never actually returns with one.

After a great afternoon/evening with Mike, Michael, Kenny, and John (during which we had sushi, went minigolfing, and watched a really fucked up movie), I have spent the past 2.5 hours trying to help my erstwhile frosh, Steven, install Gaim-LaTeX on his new Ubuntu system. The worst part? It still doesn’t work after all this effort. We have been hacking the files together, which involved manually copying files into /usr/include and /usr/lib/pkgconfig, as well as editing config.h, just to get the damn thing to compile. Now, it’s compiled and gaim recognizes it as a valid plugin, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. How frustrating! Unfortunately, apt-get doesn’t seem to have a package for Gaim-LaTeX, which is why we’re trying to do this by hand. Any idea what might be wrong? Does anyone know how to get Gaim to print out debugging information about this sort of thing?

Hitchhiker’s and LaTeX – the perfect combination

Some of you know how two weeks ago, I was all \ford{What I need is a strong drink and a peer group.} Well, that’s exactly what I got last night! Jeffrey, Emily, Amanda, Lauren, Diana and I went over to Lily’s pad to have a “we’re all 21″/”end of the summer” party. We started off the night with Smirnoffs, and watched some Monty Python, including several sketches with some biting social commentary, which was pretty great. After mixing a few things involving Kahlua, Bailey’s, banana schnapps, and some other stuff, Amanda and I beat Lily and Jeffrey in a game of team chess, which was kinda weird. I had no idea that Amanda was such a good chess player. It’s kind of sad thinking this is the end of the summer – Jeffrey left for Iowa State today,Emily went back to Madison (though she will supposedly return for the State Fair and RenFest), Diana leaves next week… and I’ll be back in Claremont in a week and a half. After a really shitty start (thanks again to everyone who wrote and cheered me up), the summer has turned out OK. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to get back to Mudd and see everyone!

Oh. Also, Jeffrey and I went to St. Olaf on Tuesday to see Michael. We went to an Indian restaurant for dinner and then saw The Wedding Crashers, which was pretty good. Michael seems to be doing well, though he hates his job.

My first 0.49 of a Master Point! Whee!

Well, I recently discovered that there is a bridge club near my home, so on Monday I decided to stop in and play a bit. I was paired up with a guy named Jim. Though we had fewer than 5 minutes to get our conventions straight, we seemed to pretty much understand each other’s bidding and playing styles. After a very rocky start (on one contract, I went down 4… doubled… vulnerable. -1100 points – ouch!), we played really well, and finished off the evening in 2nd place out of 7 partnerships. Pretty good for C stratification, eh? For those who don’t know, the A stratification is for good players, B is for OK players, and C is for bad/new/unregistered players like me and Jim. And we finished 2nd overall, not just in our stratification. The only pair to beat us were two guys named John and Cecil, who are absolutely amazing players. For those of you who have been to Bridge Etc. in Pomona, they are like Vick and Hans, but without the sour attitudes. Because we did so well, we were each awarded 0.49 of a Black Master Point! The different colors denote where you got the point – black is for club play, while gold is for regional and national tournaments, etc. Technically I didn’t get any points because I am not a registered member of the American Contract Bridge League, but I’m going to count it as my first Master Point nonetheless. Jim and I had such a great time that we agreed to meet again the next night to play in the North American Open Pairs qualifying event (same place, but it’s a dollar more, there are more people, and you can get Red Master Points).

Well, I show up the next night ready to work out precisely which conventions we will be using. Much to my chagrin, I am told that Jim can’t make it. Instead, I was partnered up with a man whose name I will not mention, just in case anyone reading this chances to stop in at the Twin Cities Bridge Center. He was 70-ish, and just at that age where he thinks that anyone under 30 can’t possibly know beans about anything. We use all of his conventions, including some really weird, cumbersome things (for example, intermediate jump overcalls. Strong jump overcalls are intuitive, and weak ones are statistically better. Intermediate ones have all the drawbacks of both strong and weak, but with none of the advantages). As you might have guessed, our bidding was way off, and our communication during play was not much better. My partner made several huge mistakes, and even revoked (miscarded) a trump that cost us 2 tricks and gave us the lowest score on that board (he claimed it was my fault because I didn’t ask him if he really was void in trump when he played out of suit). However, every time I made a small mistake that he caught, he was certain to point it out, and explain why his way was better (even if his way wasn’t better and I had just been unlucky). To be fair, I had my share of mistakes, and gave us bottom on several boards, but my errors were nowhere near as serious as his. It should be no surprise, then, that we took last place. There were only 3 pairs with lower percentages in the entire tournament. Argh. I can’t wait to get back to Mudd where there are bridge players who use reasonable bidding conventions and familiar styles of play (if you do a takeout double, and I pass after an overcall, do not try another takeout double expecting a response from me!). Thanks for letting me vent.

Wow. School. The summer has just flown by, though much of that is probably because it was only a month long for me. I’d like to relax more, but at the same time, it’ll be nice to be back at school, out of my parents’ house, and seeing friends again. And I’m pretty excited about my schedule this coming semester.

On Sunday, I went down to St. Olaf to visit Michael, one of my two best friends. He’s doing pretty well, and it was good to see him. Seeing St. Olaf also helped me appreciate Mudd that much more (not that you can’t have a great time at Olaf; it’s just not for me, and Mudd is a near-perfect fit). The dorms fit more people into smaller rooms, have no lounges, no air conditioning, and are mostly separated by class (frosh/sophomore/etc, not lower/middle/etc). While this last point might seem a bit odd, I really appreciated getting wisdom/homework help from the upperclassmen as a frosh, and hope to pass this along to other classes. Michael is also a CS major, and says that his school focuses on the programming aspect of it. While this is more fun in my opinion, I appreciate Mudd’s focus on the theory behind CS because it lends itself to more problems and achieves deeper insights (not to mention better jobs, hopefully). Also, Michael has several courses in his schedule that he is taking simply to fulfill distributions, and has a couple that he is actually dreading. While I am not gung-ho about all of my classes, I am at least content to be in each of them. All in all, it was a good reminder that I am sooo happy to go to Mudd.

We also saw the Manchurian Candidate on Sunday. It was an OK movie – I’m not sure I’d call it good. The story wasn’t bad, the acting was great, and there were several points where I found myself holding my breath on the edge of my seat. However, the cinematography was different, in a pretty bad way. Many of the shots of conversations are from the point of view of one of the people in the conversation – just a close-up of the other guy talking. While this was unusual, it came off as rather… amateur. There were also scenes where the camera just kind of drifted around. One guy would have a lot of lines to say, and he’d start off on the left side of the screen. Then the camera would drift until he was at the right side of the screen, and then it drifted back so he was on the left. It was really weird. This is also the first professionally-made movie where I have noticed when two different takes of a scene were spliced together. But overall, there was still something that rubbed me the wrong way about the movie. Perhaps it was that the bad guys seemed so lifelike (I can argue pretty easily that the same thing is happening now, but to a much, much lesser extent). Perhaps it was that there wasn’t any closure with regards to the main character. Perhaps it was that the background of what happened to set all of this in motion was never really explained (like, what was up with that creepy woman with the tattoos on her face holding the brain in her hands?). I’d recommend seeing this eventually, but you might wait to rent it instead of seeing it in theaters. Now I’ll have to see the original Manchurian Candidate. I’ve heard it has little to do with this version, but is simply wonderful.

Lets see… before I go, I should mention something about the Olympics and something about politics. Trying to kill two birds with one stone, the International Olympic Committee has made rules that no one can have merchandise made by a sponsor’s competitor (I first found out about this from Slashdot). This means that if spectators are caught with a can of Pepsi, it will be confiscated. If you are caught wearing a Puma T-shirt, you will have to turn it inside-out, or you won’t be allowed to watch the games. This is a smart move for Coke, but I’m surprised that a non-profit group like the IOC agreed to this. It just goes to show how much of the world is run by huge, money-grubbing corporations. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the world, and I fear it is making me more jaded and cynical about things. Luckily I can soon go back into the bubble of happiness that is Mudd, and live in bliss for another few months.

Well, that’s about it for tonight. Thanks for reading, and sorry I can’t keep the length of these down.