Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kissed by the Sin

These guys really have about the worst possible logo:

I know several someones somewhere think it's cool looking to have the "u" and the "n" blend together, but they're all wrong. Because this can says "Sinkist." Period.

Monday, July 30, 2007


In my recent Comic Con wrap-up, I neglected to mention something that Jason brought up in his comments. Really, it's worthy of its own post.

Trophy's bar/restaurant in downtown San Diego has an interesting entry on its menu. Check out the fifth item:

Those of you who have been searching bar after bar, dreaming all your life of being involved in a "Protein Three Way" -- you've just been looking in the wrong bar.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Back from Comic Con

If you're bummed that you missed Comic Con when you wanted to go, I'm not so sure you should be down. I was there, and I found out more about what was going on at the show on the internet than I actually saw in person.

I did see what I'm told was a record 150,000 people swarming the show floor. It certainly was overwhelming -- the sort of experience that makes you want to go live in solitude in a cave for a while.

Though I suppose if I hadn't gone, I would have missed the booth model who actually had only one leg with a prop machine gun attached:

And Carmen MiVader:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scheduled Outage

Well, it's summer convention season. Which this year has meant that my job has got me heading out into the field as often as the uncoordinated kid on a children's Tee-ball team. Yes, folks, Heimlich Maneuvers is again taking a break for a few days.

Aw, now don't make that face. I'll be back Sunday night, probably armed with fresh new tales of the double dose of weird-on-weird that is fan geeks and Southern California.

Until then, have fun!

Please... Deep Breaths, Everyone

How long is long enough to "get perspective?"

Shocho recently made a post I wholeheartedly agree with, talking about the arbitrarily fickle and annoying nature of airline security. (In fact, I've made similar complaints on more than one occasion.) Clearly, we all don't have that much perspective on this whole air terrorism thing.

But I would suggest we have at least some. As evidence, I offer this Starbucks ad from early 2002:

This is a real ad, undoctored in Photoshop. If you haven't seen it before, let me ask you: do you see anything offensive about it?

Well when it ran, there was an absolute frakking hissy fit about it. It seems many people complained that this was digustingly reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks. They apparently saw these two frosty beverages as the Twin Towers, and the nearby bug as an airplane about to crash into them. And the word "collapse" was obviously meant to cement that subconscious mental image.

"WTF" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Would anyone look at this ad today, for the first time, and think World Trade Center? I don't think so. (Man, I hope not.) Roughly six years, we have at least that much perspective on things.

So, how much longer before we have enough perspective to realize that the drinks in this picture are actually no threat to have on board the airplanes they supposedly evoke memories of?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Too Am Done

So, this afternoon, I too joined certain other people in the ranks of the "you can't spoil it for me now, cause I finished it!" club.

I quite enjoyed the book. I found the conclusion a satisfying one, and well worthy of the journey. I've got a few more very general comments to make that don't reveal any details of the plot, but if you haven't finished yourself, and you want to be absolutely, completely unspoiled, you might as well turn back now.

I'd of course expected a darker tone in this book than in previous volumes. Just how dark, though, was still maybe a little surprising. It really was almost humorless, in comparison to the earlier books. And you could tell what you were in for right from the beginning. This was the first time J.K. Rowling ever put excerpts from other books at the beginning of one of her own, and they were very striking choices. Still, it was all really right for it to be this way at the conclusion of the story.

And for what it's worth, I thought the "act three exposition syndrome" I'd mentioned noticing in previous books wasn't so big an issue here. Sure, she had a lot of ground to cover in "explaining how things had really gone down." More in this volume than in any other, really. But I thought it was paced much better, spread out in more places rather than piled up in a single place, like the graveyard scene at the end of Goblet of Fire, for example. Again, this made me feel the conclusion was really satisfying, because I got all the answers I wanted, but in perhaps a better way than I'd been expecting.

Now, if only George R.R. Martin would get crankin' on the rest of those Song of Ice and Fire books!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I'm busy reading today. Not so busy as to be done already like some people, but busy enough that I'm not making time for a long post today. So instead, today you get a puking stegosaurus topiary:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Things Are Getting Harry

Speaking on behalf of my friend (not that she asked me to) who works at a book store that's going to be open past midnight tonight selling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, if you're planning to go fight the crowds tonight...

Be nice.

It's not their fault if there's a line out to Privet Drive. An event like this comes along once in a basically never. (I'm betting this'll put the frenzied midnight sales of the previous book to shame.)

Happy reading, everyone.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nothing But the Tooth

So first, let me compress a long and boring story to its essential details so that I can get to my point more quickly. I hadn't been to a dentist in a shamefully long time. I still have my wisdom teeth as a result.

Well, a few weeks back I reached the point where I could procrastinate/ignore/overlook/whatever the dentist situation, because one of those wisdom teeth actually fractured. I now have about half a tooth back there. No pain, fortunately. But I have absolutely NO recollection of this actually happening. I only noticed it when I used my tongue to poke at some stuck food, and found what felt like a gaping hole back there. So yesterday, after (mumbles incoherently) years, I finally went to a dentist. Duh, they're going to take my wisdom teeth out, date yet to be scheduled.

Now we come to my point. In the meantime, I've basically been chewing all my food on the right side of my mouth. Which, I must say, has felt extraordinarily awkward. Only now that I'm trying to make do have I realized that I always begin chewing a fresh bite of food on the left side of my mouth. Well, we'll call it left-center.

So, this got me wondering. Do most people favor one side of their mouth over the other when chewing? Something tells me "probably so." But clearly this is an unconscious decision. So what informs it?

Informal poll, then. (And I expect you'll actually have to try to pay attention the next time you eat to come up with the answer.) On what side of your mouth do you start chewing your food? And do you have any theories as to why this might be?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Tough Pillow to Swallow

The pillows used in hotel room beds are an absolute masterpiece of diabolically evil engineering. It doesn't matter how nice the hotel is, or how comfortable the bed itself might be -- the pillows are always infuriatingly useless.

They look all fluffy and plump sitting there under the cover, but the moment one comes into contact with a human head, all the feathers in them seem to retract to half their size like George Costanza coming out of a pool in the Hamptons. You can try all you want to squeeze and crush the thing at both ends, but the minute you move your hands... in you sink.

Then the real engineering kicks in. Try to fold the thing over in half and lay your head on top of that, and those same feathers that moments ago displayed no resiliency suddenly toughen up. The pillow starts pushing back against your face, forcing you off, striving to return to its normal, useless shape.

But last is the true evil. Try to stack two hotel pillows on top of one another and what do you get? The sensation that your head has been wrenched about three feet up from the rest of your body. Yes, hotel pillows seem to have found a perfect "unsweet spot" at about 2/3rds the thickness of a reasonable pillow. One is useless, but two is worth one-and-a-third normal pillows, and that's no good either.

No matter what "solution" you try, you wake up the next morning with a stiff neck and feel generally out of sorts in a way that's never fully set right again until you're back home in your own bed.

I don't think a worse pillow could be created if someone tried.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Order Up

I've now seen the latest Harry Potter film, The Order of the Phoenix, twice. It's not necessarily that I thought it a movie I had to rush out and see a second time (though I did quite like it), but rather that I had the opportunity to see it in two distinctly different venues.

Tonight, I went to a Denver theater that was showing the IMAX version of the movie, where the climax is in 3D. (Basically, everything set within the Ministry of Magic, plus the flight there on the thestrals.) If you have the opportunity to see the movie for the first time in this sort of format, I do recommend it. The big magical showdowns at the end of the film are especially impressive in the 3D format, and the Hall of Prophecy (and its destruction) eye-popping.

But the real thrill was the first time I saw the movie, at Grauman's Chinese Theater in West Hollywood. Taking advantage of being in LA for E3, I managed to get tickets on the first night, and it was an incredible experience. I've mentioned a few times before about going to see a "flashback movie" at a local Denver theater, and how the crowd is always riled up for love of the movie. Well, whether it was from the foreknowledge of having read the original book, or just opening night enthusiasm, this crowd was every bit as excited, and then some.

The audience burst into applause 20 times or more. They applauded the title appearing on screen. They applauded the Weasley Twins' fireworks display. They applauded Umbridge being dragged away by the centaurs (and Harry's clever retort to her that I wish J.K. Rowling had thought to put in the book originally). They applauded Ginny's Reducto Spell. They went absolutely batshit insane at Dumbledore's exit from Hogwarts, and subsequent reappearance at the Ministry. Even smaller moments you might not expect brought cheers from the crowd: McGonagall's confrontation on the steps with Umbridge, Neville's first successful Disarming Spell -- it's hard to remember them all.

And why not? It was a good movie. A pretty admirable job was done in condensing the longest of the books into the shortest of the movies. Unless you're a big fan of Ron's character, there really wasn't much lost of great importance. The central themes remained intact, and brilliantly portrayed by an outstanding cast. Though it's a shame that some roles like Lupin, Trelawney, and McGonagall were little more than glorified cameos, their moments were enjoyable. Gary Oldman as Sirius and Alan Rickman as Snape were in top form -- not just as good as in the earlier films, but even better.

Then there was Imelda Staunton as Umbridge. I am not kidding here -- I think her performance in this movie is worthy of an Oscar nomination. Everything about the character from the book that made her so sweet and loathsome was magnified to perfection in this film. She was like a chocolate-covered cobra. I can't remember the last time I've seen a villain on film or television that has been so much fun to hate. Even her musical theme, by composer Nicholas Hooper, is absolutely perfect and adds to the entire portrayal.

Ultimately, the one big flaw I saw in the film was the same problem I had with the book. And though it seems unlikely anybody should not know by now, I'll still throw out the obligatory


Given that Sirius really only shows up at the end of Azkaban, and is hardly present in Goblet of Fire (especially the film version), I simply don't feel attached to him enough to have a strong emotional reaction to his death at the end of this story. Gary Oldman's performance does a lot to try to push the emotion there, but the simple fact is, I don't find the loss that significant. Of course, it is to Harry, and so I see how it's powerful for the story. But all of that always struck me in a very intellectual way when I read (and recently re-read) the book, and it really wasn't any different to me when translated to film. I found other moments within the stories to be far more impactful in an emotional way.

Still, it was a fun film, and one of the most enjoyable theater-going experiences I've ever had. I give it an A-.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


So, I'm back from my trip, which as some of you know, was to the E3 convention. Which might seem cool on the surface, but you have to consider that this year was the first "scaled down" E3, a mere shadow of the lavish and over-the-top showiness it had become known for in recent years. The splashy presentations and the swarms of people were way, way down.

Now some of you might say, "but so what, it's still E3!"

But consider that this is the room in which I spent all but about one hour of the convention:

This small little 10 x 20 foot ballroom was where my company presented its latest and forthcoming projects to members of the press and other guests who scheduled appointments. And who found us down two flights of stairs in one of several different hotels being used for the events. Most of the time, we were a little busier than what this photo would indicate. But not by much.

The "hangar" area, which was closer to what some of you might expect of E3, was more open, but even more dead I'm told. I did get to quickly tool through it one day and play a few Guitar Hero III songs, try out the recently announced Wii Balance Board... and that's about it.

So I'm basically saying this: don't anyone be jealous about missing out on this year's E3. You didn't miss much.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We Interrupt This Program

Heimlich Maneuvers is going to be taking a few days off. Now, I know what you may be thinking:

But the interruption is unavoidable... I'm leaving on a work trip tomorrow, not to return until Friday night. So, entertain yourselves as best you can for the next few days, and I'll be back for the weekend.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Light on the Subject

As a game designer and enthusiast, I have often been involved in discussions about the difference between a "sport" and a "game." Usually, these conversations get started when the subject of televised poker comes up -- specifically the fact that the World Series of Poker is covered on ESPN.

I've never made the claim that just because ESPN covers it, it must be a "sport." Strangely, though, people have come after me on the attack about this before, as if I'm somehow validating it as a sport for watching it on that network. Like it matters to me who is carrying it; I've watched poker on the Travel Channel, NBC, the Game Show Network, ESPN... pretty much whoever has it. Anyway, point being: I do not think poker is a sport.

Though I'd never considered the sport/game question where Disc Golf is concerned, I saw something at the course tonight that made me develop a new litmus test for this issue. I've decided this:

It can't be a sport if you can smoke leisurely while playing it.

I saw two guys on one of the tee pads, each with a cigarette in hand. In turn, they oh-so-casually held the cigarette in their mouths as they whipped a sidearm drive off toward the basket, then flicked their ashes as they walked off slowly toward their discs. Nothing about the way they were playing made it look in any way like an "activity," and yet they weren't throwing that badly at all.

So, like I said, the thought came to me: "clearly, not a sport." (Well, the first thought was, "they'd better not throw their butts down on the ground when they finish," but... you know... after that...)

By the smoking test, bowling definitely fails. I'm pretty sure regular golf does too. (The fact that you probably couldn't find a club that would let you smoke while you were playing doesn't change the fact that you easily could.) Curling? Not a sport.

On the other hand, I've heard some people quip that horse racing is a sport only for the horse. But the smoking test says otherwise. I'd like to see a jockey enjoying a casual cigarette while participating in the Kentucky Derby. Not a chance. Ergo, sport.

Auto racing? Well, lots of people smoke while they drive, but I don't think you could so leisurely while driving one of those cars. Sport it is, then.

That's my new definition, until someone burns a hole in that theory, anyway.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Spelling Counts

I acknowledge that if you're engaging this woman's services, it's going to be real estate related and not spelling related:

Nevertheless, I still wouldn't be encouraged to know that she's "never to busy for referrals." In fact, I'm fairly sure that the closest interpretation of the actual spelling here would be that she never gets occupied by referrals. So I guess don't bother.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lucky Day

The web runneth over today with stories of couples who chose today, July 7th, as their day to get married. People seem to think it's lucky to get married on "7-7-7." (Never mind that pesky detail that it's actually 7-7-07.)

I even remember reading a couple years ago about people booking wedding venues for the day even though they had not yet actually secured a would-be spouse. You know, because there's a reason to get married -- "I don't know if I've really found the right person, but gosh, the day just seems so lucky!" Man, I hope so. Those people will probably need it!

In any case, Pope Gregory's missing 10 days are still having an effect after all this time.

The people who picked today as a wedding date just because it would be easy to remember? Now those people, I salute.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I Can't Understand a Dicky Coming Out Of Your North

For 101 ways (well... more) to completely obscure the meaning of something you're conversing about, I suggest "Cockney Rhyming Slang." Don't know what that is? Here's some enlightenment. When you're all set, here's a "dictionary."

As for why anyone would want to talk this way? Sorry, I haven't got a link for that.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Special Delivery

To me, this video is a textbook example of how something that might not otherwise be funny can be made downright hysterical because of the quality of the performance:

There's something about the crispness of this guy's movements that just makes this really funny to me. And it kicks it up to another level that Natalie Imbruglia got in on the joke.

(Thanks to Sangediver for the link.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Apparently, Wikipedia -- the online encyclopedia which is created by the collective editing of anybody and everybody -- has a liberal bias. Thus was born Conservapedia.

Usually, I don't like to post links without offering some modest commentary of my own on the subject, but I find I can't say it any better than Lewis Black did last week on The Daily Show:

Monday, July 02, 2007

Judge Mental

First, most of the really good TV shows worth watching were released in DVD box sets.

Then, some of the second tier material -- not as good, but appealing to certain, smaller audiences -- started making the rounds.

After that, studios really worked to clear up some of the issues with music clearances that had kept some of the most requested TV series off of DVD for years.

And now, there's nothing worthwhile left.

Which is why they're now releasing stuff like this on DVD.

Honestly, do you know anyone who would want to own this?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Compliments to the Chef

This evening, I went to see the latest offering from Pixar, Ratatouille. After the studio stumbled a bit with Cars, in my estimation, I tried to lower my expectations a bit with this movie. Then, after all the critical feedback started coming in so overwhelmingly positive, I tried to adjust my expectations downward again. Nothing could live up to that much hype, could it?

Well, Ratatouille is not a perfect film. It's a bit slow at some points in the middle. But aside from that, it's really quite excellent. Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles, is back in charge of this film, and comparing this to Cars is like night and day.

The plotting is much more clever. The final act in particular is really well done, presenting the ultimate message of the tale in a way that's not too heavy-handed, while simultaneously turning away from several chances to give a phony, sappy, "everyone comes to understand" conclusion you expect kids' movies to have.

The characters are much more relatable. This is a three-tiered triumph. In begins with the writing, which is sharp and clear.

It continues with the vocal performances, which are outstanding -- and full of unexpected, but brilliant, casting decisions. I wouldn't have recognized Janeane Garofalo if I hadn't seen her name in the credits. Patton Oswalt is a refreshingly "not so famous" (unless you watch lots of Comedy Central Friar's Club Roasts) choice for the lead role, that is traditionally filled by some big Hollywood name simply acting like him- or herself. Peter O'Toole practically steals the movie.

The third piece of the strong characterizations is the brilliant animation. This is Pixar's best yet in this area. By a mile. And considering what they've done before, that's saying a lot. Particularly impressive is that the rats only speak when the film takes on their perspective; they are silent when things are seen from the human point of view. This means that a large piece of the performance is total pantomime. Not since The Little Mermaid can I think of an American animated film in which a major character has had to convey so much without dialogue. But this film far surpasses the work there.

Other pieces of the puzzle are excellent as well. The music score from Michael Giacchino is one of his best. The jokes are truly funny. Even the short film that runs before Ratatouille is outstanding.

As I mentioned earlier, the only down side in my mind is that there are a few periods in the film where the momentum lags just a bit -- moments where I caught myself thinking, "well, maybe this isn't going to be as great as I've been thinking." But then, within a few minutes, the movie would pull right back out of the small slump with another great scene.

I give it an A-.