Monday, April 30, 2012

Advice to High School Grad

My niece is graduating high school soon.  My sister wants the family to put tidbits of advice into a "tip jar" for my niece's edification.

This is the one that I like the most so far: "Trust no one until you are 25.  Then trust everyone without reservation.  That's a joke.  Continue to trust absolutely no one.  Not even yourself."

Any suggestions?

Online Poker in America?

I've heard rumors that PokerStars might be buying Full Tilt Poker.  This sounds unlikely.

Even more unlikely, I've heard rumors that PokerStars might be returning to the U.S. market with the approval of the Department of Justice.

I can't imagine how this would be so.  The government has acted according to its interpretation of federal law.  To reverse that decision seems awfully odd.  And now with twoplustwo getting hacked and being unavailable on the innertubes, my information funnel has been stoppered.

As I recall, online poker in the U.S. got shitcanned by the DOJ last year in April.  Since then, poker players across the States have been mastering the closest poker substitute: Plants vs. Zombies.  The problem with that game, however, is the thousands of dollars that you win can only be spent on plants and on seed for your Wisdom Tree.  And all the Wisdom Tree gives you is dipshit advice in the most enthusiastic tones.

"Don't walk over manhole covers!"

"Don't mix your alcohol!"

"Don't 24-table in the tub!"

"Stop facepunching yourself!"

"Wear pants!"

My own personal Wisdom Tree tells me that both of the above rumors are longshots at best.  But because I'll be back in the States for July and August, with absolutely no work to preoccupy me--the biggest benefit of university teaching--I'd love it if I turn out to be wrong.

The Deuce--one-cent/two-cent unlimited hold them, a game at which I can trashtalk the world's penny players in 16 languages and also maintain a bragworthy winrate of $3/hour--is awaiting.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Conquer the World's Greatest Challenges on My MotorSofa (TM)

It is time to be fit.  Clear mind, clear thoughts, firm thighs.  Waistline shrinks, biceps grow.  A simple transfer of mass.  Health!  To that end, I plan to conquer several of the world's marathons around the world--in record time.  I will do so in my MotorSofa (TM), undesigned, unbuilt, and utterly perfect.

Consider the picture above to be a motorized sofa engineer's failed attempt to construct my MotorSofa, in every way its superior.  His two-seater with table and bowl of fruit lacks numerous accoutrements that I consider essential to a proper MotorSofa: flat screen TV, mini-fridge, portable toilet  (a hole in the cushion so that the driver has merely to squeeze one's package onto the road (to be collected by a road cleaner, whose salary we pay (without such behavior by yours truly, he might be unnecessary and therefore out of work (and yes, I am suggesting that you too should shit in the street to decrease the unemployment rate)))).

In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest marathon ever.  He did so at the Boston Marathon, with a  time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 2 seconds.

Geoffrey, consider the fruit of your life's work to be sledgehammered.  My MotorSofa, as yet unbanned in the Boston Marathon, will obliterate your record by a minimum of 45 minutes, before I can finish 6 taco supremes and finish my 56th viewing of Barfly, a movie that I will be reviewing for this blog as I zip past you.  And when I hand you a bag as I zip past, do not mistake it for water.  Do society a favor and drop those taco wrappers in the nearest trash.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What It Looks Like Right Before You Die

Five giant fuckers, with sidekicks, doing a tardmarch for my brain.

Stomping Zombies in Vasebreaker Endless

Lots of games are fun but have limited strategy.  Most of Plants vs. Zombies is one of these games.  The good thing about the game though is that there are so many mini-games to choose from.  And one of those mini-games turns out to have a decent amount of strategy.  Anyhoo, here's how to stomp zombies at Vasebreaker Endless.

You start here.  Your house, unseen is to the left of the screen.  If the zombies get there, you eat shit.

The brown vases are filled with either (1) zombies or (2) shit to help you kill zombies.

So how to begin?  One strategy that I started with was to open one vase at a time.  This strategy turns out to suck.  It sucks because you need to know where to make your optimal placement of plants.  You only know that if you open a bunch of vases to start with in order to see which rows will pose the biggest challenge.

So open the first two rows on the right.

What you see are zombies and shit to kill zombies.  When you open a zombie vase, that fucker just starts walking toward your house.  They are all generally pretty slow, however.

In addition to the zombies, you see five cards with pictures of plants on them.  Now it is your turn to grab those cards and place them wherever you want.  The three green plants in this picture are all "repeaters"--they shoot two pellets at a time, and they shoot toward the left of the screen.  The two blue ones are pretty awesome.  They are ice plants, and they shoot toward the right of the screen.  Anything an ice plant shoots instantly slows way the fuck down.  Very nice weapon to use against the gargantuan zombie, which we haven't uncovered yet.

This is part of a standard setup of mine, with ice plants on top and bottom.  (You only get two.)

The regular-looking zombies in the bottom row die after 10 hits.  The bucketheads in the three middle rows, however, need 65 hits to die.  One repeater will not kill these guys.

Well, things have changed.  We now have a zombie nearly exiting to the left.  However, you'll notice that he's lost a forearm.  That means he's 5 hits or less away from death.  The real worry are the two bucketheads in the upper row.  I've placed a rock in front of them.  (You get one rock per level.)  In this spot, you need either to place a squash (like the one in the top row, next to the ice plant) or else you can plant a mine underneath their feet (see the card in the middle row).  Both the squash and the mine kill most zombies instantly.

I placed the mine underneath their feet, hoping to blow their punk asses to Cincinnati.  The mine takes several seconds to activate, however.  In this case, the zombies ate through the rock and continued their journey before the mine could activate itself.  Oops.  It's okay.  Level one is easy.  You can fuck up in all sorts of ways and still kill them all.

So I used a squash on the bucketheads.  To find a squash, I had to open several vases.  Inside one I found Gargantuan Zombie (top row).  He's the one with the midget strapped to his back.  Key with that big fucker: don't hurt him too badly until he gets past the halfway point on your screen.  Not to worry, an ice plant, a squash, and a repeater soon to be behind that zombie will do the job.

As you can see, I'm fucking him up pretty bad.  Also, from the above picture, you may deduce one of the strategies I use: clearing rows.  After the top row is cleared, I'll only have the bottom row left.  And the bottom row is already well covered--not only by the ice plant but also by two triple-shooters, plants that shoot three pellets at once, one down its own row and one down each adjacent row.

Dead gargantuan zombie.  Eat shit, fucker.  You may notice that I harbor an irrational amount of hostility toward these zombies.  I have no idea why this might be the case.

Moving right along . . . 

The goal, aside from killing everything you see, is to try to end up with one row of vases, and then to pile all of your remaining ammo on that one row, so that any zombie that pops out of a vase won't stand a chance.

The best way to start is with the vase farthest to the right.  This time around, we open a vase that reveals our most valuable weapon.  The lamp.  Once you have placed it, the lamp reveals the contents of all adjacent unopened vases.  Fucking awesome.

When we place the lamp in the row next to our vases, we see that nothing but good shit is inside.  A repeater, another plant, and finally sunlight.  Sunlight gives us energy, which we store in the upper left part of the screen.  Once we collect enough sunlight, we can use it like cash to buy cherry bombs (pictured below, upper left).

So that's it.  We killed everybody.  You just keep doing that until the program adds an extra gargantuan zombie every ten levels.  One gargantuan zombie is easy to kill, two is nothing to worry about.  But once you get to three, four, five, and six, then the shit gets hairy.

And because there is no finish line, losing is inevitable.

In any case, it's heaps more entertaining than solitaire.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Mudwig has done me the courtesy/favor/compliment of mentioning my blog in his own, one of the three that I currently read.  The other two can be found in my blogroll on the right.

Which got me to thinking.  Why only three?

Living in the United Arab Emirates, a place where a Westerner like myself would only live for one reason, I bump into a censorship banner pretty much about once a day.  It looks like this:

That's the screen that pops up whenever I try to go to  Or any number of sites that offend the Muslim belief system.  Which is most of the shit that Westerners do, write, or think about.

Makes me want to bash my face onto another another face.

Oddly enough, the UAE allows twoplustwo poker.  For a year or so, 2p2 was banned.  Now it is open.  Apparently there's a sheik somewhere that likes poker.  Ipso facto, I get it too.  Lucky me.

(By the way, if the UAE ever opened itself up to online poker, the rest of the world would instantly see its profit rate spike like beer sales during the World Cup.  These people combine the best possible traits that we need in a first-rate loser: arrogance, stupidity, delusion, and insane wealth.

(As another aside, I am currently teaching game theory to an Emirati who wants to play poker against me.  This is a guy who bragged about spending $250 on a pizza in Beirut and not liking it.  I just can't find it in myself to take advantage of this student . . . at least not while the semester is in full swing.  Maybe I'll see what I can get from him in the fall . . . And how much is he willing to lose?  He could be a boon to my worldview.))

But I was trying to figure out why I check out these three blogs in particular.  The big answer for me is that (1) I like their topics (usually humorous or poker-related) and (2) they update regularly.  I like the idea that I can check their website very few days and find something fresh.  Okay, that isn't entirely true, but I can rely on seeing something new within a week.  If they didn't update often, I probably wouldn't bother to check them out.

Humor is a key.  Here is a prime example.

But in my dreamworld, my favorite blogs would update daily.

I had two blogs prior to this one.  Deleted them both.  Still don't know why.  But one thing I didn't do with those two was to update as regularly as I'd like.  I want to be the blogger that I'd want to check in on.  So that means I have to write something every . . . single . . . day.  Working out so far.  

I wonder when I'll fail myself.  Next Wednesday?

Molten Gold

You're hiking in a foreign land, walking in a narrow gap between two imposing rock formations, turn a corner and see molten gold flowing down toward you.

The sun plays a trick with white rock to create this amazing site.  My wife took this photo while on vacation in the Middle East.

Any guess where it was taken?

Golden lava.  For me, it triggers fear and greed simultaneously.

If you're curious, the location of the photo will be the first comment.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Plants Versus Zombies--Vasebreaker Endless

Ever play this game?  It's part of Plants vs. Zombies, a game that I started playing to satisfy my gaming urge once Pokerstars got cut out of the U.S. market.  Pretty fun.

The game is full of dozens of mini-games, most of which are too easy.  This one, however, gets progressively harder, such that you cannot win.  The real goal, then, is to find out the highest level you can achieve before the zombies break into your house and eat your brain.

In a nutshell: your house is on the left of the screen.  These vases are full of either zombies or else plants and other things you can use to kill zombies.  You open the vases open at a time and see what's inside.

If they are zombies, they will immediately start marching toward the left--toward your house.  If they get to your house before you kill them, you lose.

If you open all of the vases and kill all of the zombies, you move on to the next level.

This game is insanely addictive.  I'll talk about it more in a future post.  Have you played it?

The cool part is that over time, the game throws tougher and tougher zombies at you.  There is one in particular, a giant zombie, who has a midget strapped to his back.  He takes forever to kill.  Another problem: If you hurt him too much too early in his march toward your house, he'll throw his midget across the screen.  It lands right next to your house and makes the game far more difficult.

When the game starts, the vases contain one giant zombie--as well as a number of other zombies that are much easier to kill.  Once you reach level 10, however, the vases contain two giant zombies.  At level 20, three giant zombies.  And so on and so forth, with an additional giant zombie every ten levels.

It gets pretty wild.  But I've gotten pretty good at it.  That's what happens when all of my poker-playing time is spent killing zombies.

Here is a video of a dude who goes through a few levels around 50:

My personal best is Level 57.  Yes, I truly have no life.


In This Post, I Talk Far Too Much About Penises

Speed round.  What do you think when you see a guy driving one of these?

Or looking like this?

Small penis, right?

So if that's true, what do you think when you see a guy smoking these?

Davidoff slim cigarettes.  Aren't they marketed for women?

Does the weightlifting, sports-car-driving small-penis theory have a slim-cigarette big-penis counter-theory?

And what happens to these theories if we catch the guy pictured above driving that car but smoking these cigarettes?

Better not to think about it, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nicolas Jaar, Space Is Only Noise

The above video is from Nicolas Jaar's 2011 album Space Is Only Noise.  The track is titled "Too Many Kids Finding Rain in the Dust."

Out of the jumble of albums I've been downloading recently, this is one of the standouts.  Dude put out this album while studying comparative literate at Brown.

One reviewer claims that Jaar is creating "future-jazz," but I don't pretend to know what that means.  Other terms used to describe his music are "experimental techno" and "Left-Field House."  He's got a voice like Nick Cave.

I guess experimental techno hits closest to the mark, but where do reviewers get these terms?

Anyhoo, it's a fun, mellow album.  Definitely worth checking out.  I've only listened to it two or three times now, so these are just first, second, and third impressions.  No idea if it'll have any staying power.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Abandoned Ferrari in Dubai--You Want It?

According to the Yahoo article, a British dude outspent himself in the UAE, where it is fairly normal for folks to spend time in prison for outstanding debts.  I have met one such person myself--before prison.  I wonder if he's still in there?

Which always leads me to wonder--how do you pay off your debts while in prison?  Apparently, Ferrari dude took the wise route and fled the country.


Recently Downloaded Music

These are the contents of my Recently Added folded on itunes.  bold = great.  italics = bad.  Some real big mistakes on this list.  Don't be too hard on me.

Al Green--Greatest Hits
Amon Tobin--Bricolage
Amon Tobin--Foley Room
Atlas Sound--Parallax
Barry White--All Time Greatest Hits
Bat for Lashes--Two Suns
Bear in Heaven--I Love You, It's Cool
The Books--The Way Out
Caribou--The Milk of Human Kindness
Cloud Nothings--Attack on Memory
Doves--The Places Between: Best of Doves
Fleet Foxes--Helplessness Blues
Four Tet--Everything Ecstatic
Frankie Rose--Interstellar
James Blake--James Blake
Janelle Monae--The Archandroid
Jimmy Smith--Best of Jimmy Smith
17 John Coltrane albums
Lali Puna--I Thought I Was Over That
Lali Puna--Our Inventions
Lotus Plaza--Spooky Action at a Distance
Lykke Li--Wounded Rhymes
Manitoba--Start Breaking My Heart
Manitoba--Up in Flames
Nicolas Jaar--Space Is Only Noise
Oneohtrix Point Never--Replica
Perfume Genius--Put Your Back N 2 It
Radiohead--King of Limbs
Robyn--Body Talk
Sepalcure (four different EPs)
The Shins--Port of Morrow
Simply Red--Greatest Hits
Spiritualized--Sweet Heart Sweet Light
St. Vincent--Strange Mercy
Sunset Rubdown--Dragonslayer
Superchunk--Majesty Shredding
Tune-Yards--WHOKILL (see last post)
TV on the Radio--Nine Types of Light
The United States of America--The United States of America
Youth Lagoon--The Year of Hibernation

Too much to download over the last two weeks or so?  Too little?


Monday, April 23, 2012


I would've sworn hearing this song that this chick was, uh, not from Connecticut.  But she IS from Connecticut.  Hear for yourself.  Does she sound like she's from Connecticut?

The album is WHOKILL by tUnE-yArDs.  Yes, the spelling of the band is shit.  The music itself is great!

(This ain't exactly a video.  Just a picture of the lead singer.  The song is the same as on the album.)

Anyhoo, I've been in music-download mode this last month and a half, and of the 150 or so albums I've been stockpiling onto my external hard drive, this one is the best.

Listen to this song and ask yourself, Connecticut?

Links to reviews:



The Death of Omar

Kindly permit me to begin my blog by reviewing shit.

In Season 5 of The Wire, probably the best show ever to appear on TV, Omar Little (pictured above), likely the best character to appear on TV, gets blasted by Kenard, a preteen too retarded to fear him. If this is news to you, welcome to 2008.

Viewers were disappointed.  How could he die like this?  Over The Wire's five seasons, Omar had developed a mythical stature as a robber of drug dealers so respected and feared that knuckleheads dropped their drugs out of stash house windows at his feet, even though Omar often had no intention of robbing them in the first place.

For Jimmy McNulty the plot was a police procedural, but for Omar the Wire was always a western--and he played one of the craftiest gunslingers in fiction.  Because of his prowess and stature, viewers felt that a shootout at high noon was necessary--followed by Omar, the last man standing, riding off into the sunset with a trunk full of drug loot.

Instead he got blindsided in a neighborhood shop by a future midget--okay, a kid--someone not even he would suspect.  Blasted while trying to buy a pack of Newports.

For those who wanted it to end more dramatically, riddle me this: how?  Who in the show would square off against him?  Throughout the show's five seasons, the pissed-off drug lords whom Omar repeatedly robbed had only one strategy for killing him--trying to trick him.  Laying traps.  Trying to make him believe he was safe, in a state of truce.  Omar's response?  To read them like a winning poker player and always to make the right play.  Or to wait for them in the streets in vain, his enemies too confused and fearful to confront him.

If you want a shootout between the hero and the bad guy in the last scene, there are any number of John Wayne movies to suit you.  I guess, I don't watch many John Wayne movies.  This show is about a crime-ridden, corrupt place, where mythical heroes can't last long.  In a place like this, Omar had to go, and it couldn't be a dramatic, satisfying end.  It had to be a bullet in the back of the head.  Welcome to Bodymore.