I was absolutely addicted to The Diablo Series until probably 2005 or so. This may not have been the first fantasy video game, nor was it the first multiplayer game, but it was certainly the first game to successfully combine very dark subject matter with a very urgent plot and what I believe to this day was probably some of the best mood-setting music ever put to use in a video game. The randomization of the maps, combined with a max character level of 99, a bunch of different classes, and infinite item stats made the game playable for well .. I got about 7 good years out of the series.

It wasn’t even a lack of replayability that killed Diablo II either, what it came down to was screen resolution. The first game had a max resolution of 640×480, the second one -only several years after release and the release of the expansion- finally maxed out at 800×600. That was pretty good for the year 2000, but by 2005 very few monitors were running resolution that small, and certainly no gamers were using them. That, at least in my mind, is what killed the game. It pushed me off to try Guild Wars at any rate, and it seems the majority of the Diablo II community also sought different games to fill the void.

Then, as all Diablo II players know, while we were eagerly awaiting the release of Diablo III, there was a highly publicized resignation party at Blizzard North that basically amounted to everyone who had ever worked on the Diablo franchise was gone. Some of them went on to form Flagship Studios, which I was counting on to carry the torch of the Diablo franchise, but the group fucked up in a big way in my opinion. How did they fuck up? Hellgate:London.

I want to be clear that I don’t think the game Hellgate:London was a fuckup, instead I think everything surrounding the games publicity and release absolutely doomed it to fail. I had been following the group at Flagship since they left Blizzard and I was eager to see what new titles they were going to put out. They were talented without a doubt, and I am sure that the entire Diablo community would have been eager to see what they released. The problem with Hellgate was that no one, not even the fansite community, was quite sure what to make of it. It looked like a futuristic, sci-fi, first person shooter, but was trying to incorporate the fantasy elements from a dungeons and dragons type world. Rather than bringing together fans of the FPS and fantasy it seemed to alienate them both. That is how I perceive it at any rate. But that wasn’t even the real problem. The real problem was that they rushed the game to release by Halloween 2007 despite the fact that the interface was clunky as hell and there were tons of bugs. And with, as near as I can tell, zero advertising. Why they rushed it to release at that point probably comes down to money; not having a product for a few years can scare off your investors, but unfortunately pushing out a shoddy product will scare off your clients.

Flagship had also been working on a game called Mythos at the time which never made it to release before the company folded. This is why I think Hellgate:London was such a bad idea. These guys were legends for the characters, bestiary and lore of the Diablo series, but rather than embrace that and play into it by trying to release a game that was similar to it, they tried to play away from it. Perhaps they just wanted to show that they weren’t a one-trick pony, but, as I’m sure they discovered, fantasy nerds are fiercely loyal to the genre.

I continued to check back on the Mythos website over the next couple of years as I toiled away playing World of Warcraft, always hoping to see it nearing release. Instead the site just started throwing a not found error a couple years back and I more or less gave up on it. Gave up until yesterday when I happened to type Mythos in my address bar and was taken to a site where a Mythos game is going to be release by Red Bana -a name I remember for infecting some of my old pc’s with malware. This, I was sure, wasn’t the work of the Flagship crew, so I started looking around to see what became of them. I finally found them at Runic Games, having just released a game called Torchlight, which I immediately downloaded.

This is the game they should have released in 2007. The game is much like the first Diablo, being set in a single town with a dungeon beneath that you must quest and fight to the bottom of. The gameplay is quite similar to Diablo, and the skill and attribute point system is also quite similar. There are three playable classes to the game currently, which as I’m sure you could guess are a strong man archetype, a nimble, ranged attack archetype, and a pure casting archetype. There are four different difficulty levels -though only three are really playable since the easiest could probably be completed by a developmentally challenged two year old. There is even a Hardcore setting (death is forever) although since the game is strictly played offline it hardly matters since you could just restore a saved game from before he died and he would live on. At any rate, this game has kept my attention for the past couple of days, and with a sticker price of only $19.95 and a download size of only 411mb (10 minutes on high speed) I suggest that you Go buy it if you haven’t done so already. There is also a two hour free trial if you aren’t sold by the following screenshots (click through to see them in much higher resolution):


I was surfing the internet one night several months back and I happened to see a picture of Kate Moss on one of the news sites. I didn’t think to grab the picture at the time, and there is no way I would be able to remember specifically which photo it was that got me to thinking about it, but the one at the right will do for my purposes. My question is: Who the hell finds this sexy? The little thumbnail there doesn’t do much justice to the picture though; I encourage you to click to look at it full size. That skinny, gnarly body with the sunken face and empty eyes looks like it would be more at home in one of those Save the Children commercials. I’m just not sure at what point someone decided that the emaciated look was sexy. In fact I have yet to meet a single person that actually thinks it is, so why the hell is this what they are putting on magazine covers nowadays?

I don’t mean to pick out Kate Moss specifically here, as this seems to be the way the entire industry has shifted. Although when I use the word “industry”, I’m not sure what exactly that is referring to. The magazine editors could choose to hire models that didn’t look like they were about two days postmortem if they chose to, and I don’t see that any make-up manufacturers are going to get better results from using painted corpses to showcase their products than using attractive women. So what gives? Who is paying to put these malnourished women on billboards and magazine covers, thus shifting our perception of beauty to include women that appear so unhealthy .. Indeed, to even exclude women who do seem healthy. Does our perception of beauty, as a people, now exclude anyone with even the hint of a figure?

Just for fun I dug around and found a picture of Bettie Page for comparison. I warn you that if you click to see this one at full size it is certainly not safe for work. Bettie Page was popular at the same time as Marilyn Monroe, however she was more of an every woman than Marilyn. Bettie was in many of the beach movies throughout the 60s, and lent her image to countless posters that were surely on young mens’ bedroom walls throughout the 60s and 70s. Bettie was a much thicker girl than the women who would play her role in the movies nowadays. While the picture I have chosen does make her look like she certainly has her share of ribcage, I chose this one specifically because of the other thing it shows off that no model would dare to let anyone see nowadays: Hips. This girl has a genuine hourglass form, in fact if her arms were down in this photo I think she would have nailed the shape exactly. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I am probably not the only person on the planet that thinks that the second picture here is far sexier than the first. Doesn’t sexy imply beautiful? In my mind it is possible to be beautiful without being sexy, but it is not possible to be sexy without being beautiful.

And now just to prove that I am being objective about the subject (so much as I can be), and not letting the fact that I can see Bettie Page’s NO-NO’s sway my judgment. I offer up these two photos of Jenna Fischer from The Office. I should note that, for reasons unknown, I think Jenna Fischer is without a doubt the most beautiful woman on television. I wanted to point out, however, that I think that she looks far more beautiful in the picture on the left than she does in the one on the right. Why? I gots no idea. Is it the curly hair? The wedding ring? The fact that she looks so intelligent and matronly in the photo on the left? There certainly isn’t anything wrong with the picture on the right, mind you, I just think that the one on the left is far more beautiful.. Despite the additional layers of clothing. Damn Jenna Fischer is hot!

I have included this picture of Kate Moss just to be fair to the girl. She really is quite pretty in her own right, and she really takes a lot of heat for the entire emaciated supermodel community. She looks pretty good in this picture, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that she is hiding the worst of her bony frame. I still don’t see what could be so appealing about a woman with no shape whatsoever though. When I look at this picture for anything more than a quick glance, her lack of anything resembling a feminine shape is a bit disturbing. Without hips and a waist she kind of just looks like a long-haired little boy. Come to think of it, she kind of looks like one of the chick’s from that band Hanson. Oh damn, those were little boys weren’t they?

Whoa. I just figured this out. Now that the priests are getting in trouble for molesting altar boys they are turning to women, but the women must look as much like little boys as possible. That must be it, because as Sherlock Holmes said, “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth…”

This conspiracy runs deep…


I’m pretty sure that if you look back at history Man’s ability to make excuses probably predates language itself. There is probably a pictograph on a cave wall somewhere that shows a hunter’s kill getting away because it jumped a span wide enough that it could not be chased. Bam!, an excuse” “I would have killed the deer if he just hadn’t jumped the Grand Canyon.” (here I am assuming that this was far enough back in pre-history that the Grand Canyon was precisely 15.62 feet across; an easy jump for a deer, but man would be a bit scared to try it.) Obviously it wasn’t ancient man’s fault that he didn’t make the kill before the deer got away, or that he didn’t find game more suitable to his inability to jump large spans, it was someone (thing) else’s fault. And so it started and has continued throughout history. I myself have gotten pretty good at making excuses over the years.

The treadmill has been a source of a lot of my excuses over the last couple of months. I have found so many reasons not to use it that even I can hardly believe them anymore. I have finally gotten myself into something of a routine on it though; I have been using it every day for the last couple of weeks. I do a combination of running and walking with my top speed being 6mph and my bottom speed being 3.3mph. I like to do a minimum of 20 minutes, which generally falls between 1.25 and 1.75 miles depending on how sturdy my legs are that day. The problem is that I seem to be stopping just when I am really starting to sweat and my legs have gone through the sharp pains that they generally feel for the first few minutes I am on the thing. I attribute this to boredom. The other day I happened to be watching Dreamcatcher while I was just laying in my bedroom and it occurred to me that if I were to just watch it on the treadmill it would keep the mind occupied so that I might be able to get a few extra minutes in. And it worked perfectly; I was on the treadmill for 40 minutes while watching the end of that movie. And that is when the idea hit me.

Here you see what the treadmill looks like after having installed an 18.5″ color TV on it. This was necessary (or so I tell myself) so that I would be able to plug headphones into the TV so that it wouldn’t have to be so unbearably loud to hear over the noise of the cheap treadmill. This way I can walk on it when I get home from work at 2am without bothering the wife -and since installing it, I have done that each night-. The TV is actually bigger than what I wanted; ideally it would have been a 13″ TV, but I couldn’t find a 13″ TV for the same price as this because all the ones in that size either have a built in DVD player or they are AC/DC operation -for use in cars- which drives the price right the heck up. I actually ended up only paying $148 for this Sanyo after having an argument with a CSR at Wal-Mart (the short version is that they had it mistagged at $148, it should have been $178. I was planning to pay $178, but wanted to let them know that they had them mislabeled. When I told the woman, “The sign on these actually says $148. .” the CSR turned to the cashier and said, “Don’t give him that price. We don’t know who marked them.” And that, folks, really, really pissed me off. She was implying that I had labeled the thing myself. At that point I was going to make that bitch give me the advertised price if I had to call the fucking department of weights and measures out there. But after 20 minutes of staring at the big sign they had on the shelf that said “$148″ -and trust me, I have been in retail for nearly 20 years, I verified the UPC on this before I even considered bringing to their attention- she gave it to me for that price.).

Of course to my knowledge no one makes a mount specifically for mounting a television to a treadmill, so I had to fabricate something. I used a couple pieces of 1″ wide 1/16” thick steel. I drilled holes in it that would line up with the wall mount bracket holes on the back of the TV and then drilled holes top of the treadmill to attach the tips of the steel to. The idea is that the television isn’t actually touching the treadmill; instead the steel is holding it an inch or so above the control board you see there, with the steel providing a little bit of flex so that the TV isn’t being mercilessly knocked around every time your foot lands on the tread; picture one of those playground toys where you sit on an animal and rock back and forth on a spring, that’s pretty much the same thing, only the steel is a bit more rigid than the spring so it doesn’t just go flopping all over the place. It is working great so far, but I’ll have to monitor it for a while to make sure that nothing falls out or breaks over time (early fear is that the plastic that it is mounted to near the top of the treadmill will weaken and break from the repeated stress of the TV moving back and forth. Time will tell.)

As much a fan as I am of tooting my own horn, I didn’t write this just to bloviate over my own keen, MacGyver-esque ingenuity. I wrote this because what you see on the right made me chuckle a bit once I had it all set up. I just split the signal coming from the coaxial cable right before it gets to the 42″ TV you see there, that way if I use the VCR, DVD player, or Satellite it will display on both TV’s. It makes sense to me, seeing as the whole reason I did this was to be able to wear headphones while I was exercising, thus making it less obtrusive to the wife and pets, but when viewed in this photo it looks like something straight from the department of redundancy department. And while it doesn’t look like it, that is exactly the same thing on both televisions. The one on the treadmill is tilted slightly back, which reduces the brightness just a bit, but I also have the brightness and contrast turned way down on it because I am always watching it in the dark and I find that it hurts my eyes if I don’t. Which really eliminates the last of the excuses I had regarding this thing, so now I am using it at least once a day, and have been doing two 20-30 minute shots per day when I am off at work. With luck my waistline will start to show it … eventually…

It’s Bubba Ho-Tep!

Since signing up for Netflix I have been watching a lot more movies than ever before in my life. I probably watch 10 movies a week now, where previously I would watch maybe 2-3 a month. As a result of this, and also having the ability to stream the movies instantly as opposed to having to wait for the mail to both deliver and return them, I have been watching pretty much anything with a flashy cover or catchy title; Mom always told me to always judge movies by the cover…

I have watched some pretty bad movies lately as a direct result.

To be fair I have also found a couple that were pretty good. Interstate 60 for instance was a great movie that I had never heard of and would never have seen were it not for the fact that Netflix recommended it to me. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon was another title that they recommended that I thought was excellent. Occasionally they are bound to hit a bit wide of the mark. Such was the case with Bubba Ho-Tep.

Bubba Ho-Tep was another of the Netflix recommendations. As is generally the case with the recommendations, I don’t like to read anything about the movies they recommend before I watch them. Being totally unaware of where the plot is going keeps me from trying to guess the ending (which I’m sure my wife will tell you is an annoyance that I have trouble shaking). So I went into this movie knowing nothing except what you see in the picture to the right there: It somehow involved Elvis.

I know from spending hours watching the history channel that “Ho-Tep” came at the end of the names of some of the Egyptian Pharaohs. While I wasn’t entirely sure whether that was a name or a title (still don’t know really) I was relatively sure that it was being used in the latter context in the film. When the movie opened up on what appeared to be Elvis in his 60’s in a retirement home, I was a little thrown. I had been expecting this to be some sort of a bio-pic about the life of Elvis or something. Boy was I ever wrong. The reality was far worse.

I’m going to spoil the plot now.

Evidently, according to the film, the real Elvis had traded places with an Elvis impersonator sometime prior to the famous death of the king in 1977. The real Elvis was still living as an Elvis impersonator, but had accidentally burnt up the only proof he had of that on a barbeque grill at his trailer park (seriously). So the real Elvis was now wasting away in a backwater retirement home. Everything in the movie was very anachronistic though, this was supposedly at least a couple decades after Elvis’ death -clearly set in the 1980s or more current- but the lights, beds, radiators, doorknobs, bedpans, and, well just about everything electrical inside the retirement home looked more like what you would expect to see in the 1940s than the 1980s. That’s really beside the point though.

While he is in the retirement home, Elvis happens to meet John F. Kennedy. Kennedy is now a black man. Evidently after the shots rang out from the school book depository that day in Dallas, Kennedy’s brain managed to survive the ordeal (although anyone who has ever seen the Zapruder film could clearly see that a great deal of his brain matter got splattered all over the back of the convertible. In fact Jackie O was said to be trying to scrape it up off of the trunk in the later frames) but for security reasons the secret service had put his brain into a black man… ‘Cause no one would think to look there. No shit, This is really in the movie.

Now that we have both Elvis and JFK on the lam in a retirement home somewhere in Jerkwater, what do they do with the film? Do they tell the stories that led up to them eventually being put into the home? Do they try to quell rumors about the alleged conspiracies that surround both of their untimely deaths? Nope. They fight a Mummy.

Yes, that’s right. A mummy. An Egyptian mummy that at one point actually uses a toilet inside the retirement home and scratches graffiti -in hieroglyph of course- on the walls. The mummy was evidently being transported by bus between a couple of towns when it somehow got lost (in a bus accident I think it was). But for some reason that they never even bothered to try to explain, this mummy was not wrapped up in the typical strips of cloth you have come to expect from mummies, he was dressed up as a cowboy! Because when I think Egyptian mummy, I immediately think of ceremonial silver and gold belt buckles that say “Bubba”, don’t you? As I say, they didn’t even try to explain this part. But they do say that he eats people’s souls…

What becomes of these legendary figures in American history as they battle it out with the boot-scootin’ bad-ass from Beni Suef? Well you’ll just have to watch the movie to find that out, won’t you…

But the odds of you actually watching it are bad enough that I should just go ahead and tell you that JFK dies in the fight, but Elvis manages to kill defeat the mummy. And I just saved you the 90 minutes of your life that you would have wanted back if you had watched it. You’re welcome.