Friday, November 30, 2007

THE_BOLSHEVIK is Framed for a Crime He *Didn't Commit*

THE_BOLSHEVIK is working on some unknown project. Kris casually walks up to him.
Kris: "Hey, THE_BOLSHEVIK, can I see your hand for a second?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "What? Sure. It's a nice hand, isn't it?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK extends his hand. Kris grabs it and rubs THE_BOLSHEVIK's fingertips on the handle of a large knife with small amounts of blood on it.
Kris: "Thank you."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Waitwaitwait. What was that? Why did you just put my fingerprints on a bloody knife?"
Kris: "I do lots of things, THE_BOLSHEVIK. You can't expect me to remember one small aspect of my day."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Where did that knife come from?"
Kris: "You know, it's just a normal, commonplace butcher's knife."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "With blood on it."
Kris: "Normal, commonplace blood."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...Kris, are you framing me?"
Kris: "Framing is such a harsh word, THE_BOLSHEVIK. Let's just say I'm...reallocating responsibility."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Responsibility of what?"
Kris: "Don't you worry your pretty little head about that. Now then..."
Kris delicately places the knife into a shipping envelope.
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Hey, hold on there! Who are you sending that to?"
Kris: "Nobody important. Just the proper authorities."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Proper authorities?! No! Kris, I can't allow you to do this."
Kris: "Hm?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Give...give me that!"
THE_BOLSHEVIK tries to grab the envelope.
Kris: "Hey!! What do you think you're doing?!"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I'm protecting my own hide!"
Kris: "THE_BOLSHEVIK, do you know what the penalty for tampering with evidence is?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Well, to be honest, it's very subjective, dependent on three factors; the severity of the crime in which the evidence is involved, the nature of the evidence in relation to the crime, and the degree to which the evidence was tampered with."
Kris: "Yeah, well, I can tell you, that the punishment for tampering this is me. Killing you. With this knife....which belongs to you."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "But it doesn't belong to me!"
Kris: "These fingerprints seem to say it does."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "But they're not naturally put on. They' know what? Do what you want. Send it in. I believe in the justice system. No judge in America is going to believe that I'm a killer."
Kris: "Oh, I think they will, especially after your taped confession."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "What taped confession? I never..."
Kris pulls a recorder from his jacket. He rewinds slightly and presses the PLAY button.
Recorder: (Playing what THE_BOLSHEVIK had said moments prior) "I'm a killer."
Kris: (Smiles smugly.)
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...Now, that means nothing. A simple phrase like 'I'm a killer' can mean...can mean anything depending on the context. It's not like I was saying something specific like 'I murdered people with that knife.'"
Kris rewinds the recorder and presses PLAY.
Recorder: "I murdered people with that knife."
THE_BOLSHEVIK's usually wide eyes narrow. Kris places the recorder into the envelope.
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Kris, can we come to some sort of agreement?"
Kris: "Fifty thousand."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "No, I meant an agreement where I don't have to pay you."
Kris: "That's not how the game works, THE_BOLSHEVIK."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I don't like this game. This game has my life on the line."
Kris: "That's why it's called 'The Most Dangerous Game.'"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Wasn't 'The Most Dangerous Game' about hunting humans for sport?"
Kris: "Eh, semantics." (Takes out a clean knife.) "Now, do you want this done slowly or painfully?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Um, I suppose....hey, is that Morgan Freeman?"
Kris: (Turning around, excited) "Where?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK suddenly clamps a rag onto Kris' mouth. Kris struggles, but soon falls unconscious.
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Wow, I guess it's a good thing I didn't wash that chloroform-soaked rag after all."
THE_BOLSHEVIK drags Kris's body out of the room. Cut to scene of THE_BOLSHEVIK, visibly winded, dragging Kris' body to an office. A police officer steps out.
Police Officer: "Eh? What's this."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Oh, thank God you're here, officer. My best friend here, he's evil. He tried to kill me."
Police Officer: "Oh? He looks as though he's sleeping like an angel."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Don't let his beauty fool you, I think he's done someone in before! Here, I brought this proof!"
THE_BOLSHEVIK hands the police officer the mailing envelope.
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "That holds the bloody knife from one of his previous crimes."
Police Officer: "Okay, so if were to scan this knife, we'd find his fingerprints on it?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Well, I...actually, um, it, mine."
Police Officer: (Taking out the recorder) "And what's this?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Oh, don't listen to that!"
The police officer skips to random parts in the recording.
Recorder: "...Kris, I can't allow you to do this...I'm protecting my own hide...I'm a killer...I murdered people with that knife..."
Police Officer: "..."
Police Officer: "..."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: (Smiling pathetically) "Hehehe. You know, we sound quite similar. I'm...I, uh, oh! Look at the time! I'm late for my volunteer job at the hospital for...sick, um, orphans. I'll...I'll just be going."
As THE_BOLSHEVIK begins to walk away, the police officer cuffs him.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Inside Look...

As a special little bonus to you today, I'd like to show a little example of what RA staff meetings are typically like.

Resident Director: "Mundane topic of discussion."
RA 1: "Point."
RA 2: "Unnecessarily contrary point."
RAs 1, 2, 3, 4.....17, 18: "Bickerbickerbickerbickerbicker."
RA 21 (Me): *Takes "notes".*

And, for your enjoyment, here are my "notes" from last night's meeting.

I love Farnaldagon!

Who Are We Gonna Call Now?

So apparently my house is haunted.

To be perfectly honest, I had always thought so. However, my evidence regarding the fact was...well, it was nonexistent. My only encounters with the supernatural would occur when I would take showers late at night (like, 1am or so), when everyone else was asleep. While in the shower, I would hear the distinct sound of footsteps in our hallway, when I knew for a fact that nobody was around! Also, I would sometimes see moving images in the glass pane of our entertainment system which made it seem like someone was walking in our hallway when, again, nobody was around!

However, as you may be able to tell, it's difficult to prove that these things actually happened, as I said, because nobody was around.

However, over the break, something different happened. Something that was more than just sights or sounds; something that completely defied logic.

We lost a key.

Wait, come back! Here me out! This was no ordinary key! You see, in my house, there is a deadbolt on the front door. But unlike modern deadbolts, which you just flip in and out, this one is from days long past. So, it has a keyhole on both sides. And the key on the inside essentially acts as that little lever on the modern ones. To the best of our knowledge, almost nobody in my family takes the key out, ever.

So imagine our surprise this past Saturday when we come back from our third Thanksgiving dinner and discover that the key...was gone. The first instinct was to ask my dad if he'd seen it, as he was the one there all day (he was too exhausted to go to the party).

My Dad: "No, Andy has it."
Me: "What?"
My Sister: "Andy, you're such a liar."
Me: "No! I don't have it!"

After I had sufficiently proven the fact that I didn't have the key (mainly through frantic pleading), my dad explained that he thought I had taken the key with me when I walked over to my grandmother's house (and nobody else was home). I hadn't. I...oh Lord, I thought, what hath I wrought?

You see, I was worried (and rightfully so, I believe) that as I was gone, I had forgotten to lock the front door, and some sneaky bastard had come in and quickly swiped the key from its socket before the neighbors or the family dog had a chance to see. They would then try to use the key later, at a more sinister time, to rob us of our valuables.

There were basically three schools of thought in my house that night. First, some people were searching the house for the key, saying that one of us must have mistakingly taken the key out and absent-mindedly placed it somewhere. But honestly, I couldn't believe it. After all, we were all thinking really, really hard about this key. Surely someone's mind would have been jogged.

Second, my sister was searching the house, but she claimed that a mischievous ghost was responsible. I honestly thought she was being facetious.

The third school of thought was mine, which I found most logical. A key that is almost never removed was gone, and nobody had any recollection of taking it. Hence, a no-goodnik had taken it, and was planning on using it against us. Instead of looking for the key, then, I was busy pulling out a Louisville Slugger bat and my dad's WWII KA-BAR. I was willing to spend all night by the front door, guarding the house, my family, and our goods.

Other precautions were taken, as well. The door was locked (obviously), and a chair (and sofa) placed in front. If anyone was getting in, they'd definitely have a struggle. And then I'd hit them over the head with the bat.

Eventually (that is, at 2:30), my mom forced me to go to bed. I did so reluctantly, but not before hiding all of my portable valuables first.

The next day, my dad called several locksmiths to get a quote on replacing the deadbolt. After hearing them all out, he called back the cheapest one and told him to come on over that day.

He then hung up...

...And immediately found the key on top of his dresser.

Now, my dad had looked at the top of this dresser at least five times prior to this, and with something weighing as heavily on your mind as this mystery was, you just know he would have seen it. However, even if it had been there that whole time, who put it there. To this day, nobody remembers even coming in contact with that key at all.

Think about it.

That does not make sense!

There is literally no logical explanation for this, people. None! I've pulled this through my mind like a towel through a proverbial wringer, and I can't put the pieces together. Key that nobody touches disappears, and doesn't reappear until the moment - literally, the moment - that my dad is finished calling a locksmith.

“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains--however improbable--must be the truth.”
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Right now, I have to say that I find it nearly impossible that anyone in the house took the key and placed it on my dad's dresser, only to have him find it much later. I find it even more impossible that the task was done by some sort of burglar. Which leads me to the improbable but only fact-satisfying answer: my sister was right. It was a ghost. And he's not just making noises late at night now. He's serious.

...Hold me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bear-ly Making it Past the Bad Pun Brigade (...I'm Sorry)

Sometimes, it's just difficult to believe that things are real, when they most disturbingly are. I didn't believe Spanish for Everyone was real when I first saw it, but you can buy it at any online retailer. And I sure as Hell didn't believe this next clip was real. Seriously, I was expecting a SNL-style laugh track to come it at any time. But call the number, and sure enough, you can purchase it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the "Tiddy Bear."

I particularly like the little wave at the 0:30-left mark.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

About the V8 Incident

I've had a lot of talks with a lot of people about a certain incident involving a certain bottle of V8. One of the main things I've heard is that I need to spread the word, to make sure people are aware. After all, informed consumers are productive consumers. I could do that via a local news organization, but I figured that a better method would be some online method (such as Digg [and yes, that is permission to Digg this article]). However, my previous post on the subject was a bit too...tongue in cheek, I suppose, and many people didn't even realize that it was real. So, I figured I should post a more serious explanation and follow-up, because yes, it was very real.

About a month ago (on Saturday, October 27th, to be exact), I had purchased a bottle of V8 vegetable juice from a local store. The bottle was perfectly normal, and had a long way to go before it was expired. That night, I was eating dinner in my room when I decided to have a high-sodium vegetable supplement to go with my meal. So, I opened up a bottle of V8 and took a sip.

I was immediately repulsed. It was one of the nastiest things I had ever tasted. I had to drink quite a bit of water to wash it down. However, I didn't know what the problem was. After all, it could have just been a bad combination of flavors of the V8 and my food (you know, like how orange juice tastes weird after you brush your teeth). Eventually, though, I came to my senses (and my stomach was feeling a little sick), and so I poured the bottle of juice into my bathroom sink. As I was pouring, I heard a small "thud!" come from the bottle. I had no idea what it could have been, so I looked at the bottle, and this is what I saw:

(WARNING: All pictures shown are not for the squeamish.)
In the Bottle 1
In the Bottle 2

Needless to say, I was horrified. Not only was I finding something solid in my juice, but it was so large that it couldn't even come out of the bottle without some effort. Eventually, I did get it out, and scrutinized it further. Honestly, the first image that popped into my head was "alien egg sac" or something. It was that disgusting. Here are some close-ups for the adventurous.

Close-Up 1
Close-Up 2

Close-Up 3
Close-Up 4

The very fact that this thing was even remotely close to my lips disgusted me. At this point, my stomach feeling a little sick turned into full-on nausea. Needless to say, I haven't had a V8 since.

I had kept both the bottle and the blob-thing in my freezer in order to keep them safe and preserved. Then, a couple days later, I contacted both Campbell's and the FDA to let them know about the situation. What I found pretty interesting about the FDA's response is that my letter was forwarded to the product complaint department, and the FDA liaison's little forward note was, "The pictures are a bit disgusting." That tells you something: when the FDA thinks your pictures are gross, that's a bad sign.

Campbell's response was very much by-the-books. "Mr. Schnorr, we're sorry for this situation, can we get more information, etc." They then sent me a little package which came with $8 worth of replacement coupons. Seriously? Replacement coupons? Do they think I want to buy more V8? Hopefully I can use on some other, non-tomato juice products.

They also sent me a little bag and envelope to ship the little blob into them, to do "tests". However, I have yet to do that yet, partially because I'm cautious about sending the whole thing to them. Who knows, I could call in a month, asking about it, and they could easily say, "Wha? I don't know what you're talking about. But now you've got no evidence, sucka!" I think I need to consult with the FDA before sending anything over.

I've gotten a wide range of ideas from people as to what the offending object could be, from some sort of animal brain (which I sincerely doubt) to a very large fungus that could have seriously poisoned me (that's the most agreed-upon theory).

In the end, I'm just happy that my experience wasn't any worse than it was. And on the bright side, almost nothing related to mold phases me anymore. But we'll see how this plays out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Stunning Likeness

This is one of the things I like about having little cousins:

Believe it or not, this is not the first portrait of me done by a pre-five-year-old (though it is the first one where I'm wearing some kind of...pocket protector?) If I can dig out the other, I'll post it.

Mobile Thoughts on the Holiday

Interesting note: I'm writing this while working out on an elliptical trainer.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving went well. Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year. Here's a few reasons why:

1. It's probably one of the least commercialized holidays. Now, let me make clear that I am not a very stringent opponent of commercialization. I, for one, enjoy hearing classical guitar covers of traditional Christmas songs playing in the mall. (I'm actually listening to Burl Ive's Holly Jolly Christmas right now.) But there's just something nice about a holiday that, really, it's difficult to buy things for. Yes, you could make arguments about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, or the football, but it still seems to be pretty much about the original idea.

2. Family. I always hear stories about families that hate getting together, and do nothing but fight. I am lucky enough to be in a family that I love to death. It has to be one of the most fun families ever. We have 40+ people gathering together in one house, and there's essentially no conflict. Everyone gets along, everyone jokes with (and about) each other, and times are good.

3. Thanksgiving times three! Thanksgiving is the only time of year my enitre extended family gets together, so we make it worthwhile. To do that, we have three days, three difference houses, three dinners. So tonight is Thanksgiving the Second.

4. Giving thanks. Yes, this sounds cheesy, but really, it's good to think about what you're grateful for. I'll admit, I take things for granted most of the time, so let me list a few of the things I'm thankful for.
-I am alive.
-I am part of a very, very small percentage of the world population who can live comfortably and in relative safety, with a roof over my head, clean food and water, and in no immediate danger of death or decay.
-I am in a financial position that I can afford many things that provide material comfort and entertainment.
-I am part of a loving, supportive family who has always been good to me, even though I am a fairly distant son, not particularly good about communication.
-I have blessing of a strong mind, and have the ability to go to one of the best schools in the world, when one in four U.S. students drop out of high school.
-I have been accepted at one of the most exclusive business schools in the world, and I am doing fairly good in it. (I just found out I was currently ranked 10th in my marketing class of nearly 200.)
-I have friends who are truly good people, and who I can talk with easily and be at peace with myself when I'm around.
-As a caveat of that, there are social networking sites (maligned though they are) that have allowed me to keep in touch with friends that I would have no ways of communicating with otherwise.
-There are people who laugh at my jokes. This is actually a big one. I am at my happiest when people respond positively to what I say. This is why Carlos was one of my best friends in college; he always laughed at my jokes. So, I'm very thankful for people like that.
-Being able to connect with the world through the Internet, allowing me a form of entertainment, as well as a way of reaching out (i.e. through The Lobotomist's Dream) to others.
-While I am not the most fit, healthy person in the world, I am conscious enough not to be in a horrible predicament.
-I have become more lax about my worries. Whereas before I would become freaked out about not getting the top score on a test, now I just see it as part of the natural cycle of things. As one of my coworkers puts it: "Nothing ever phases you." While that may not be entirely true, I have been able to laugh about things more.
-I have music, which just makes me so very happy.
-I've just run 6.5 miles on this elliptical.

That's it for now. Oh, there's much more than that, but sometimes you just can't think of things until they make themselves really clear to you.

So, again, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Be sure to sound off in the comments about some of the things you're thankful for. It's a really good way to reflect on yourself. As for me, I'm looking forward to Round 2 tonight! ^_^

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grace of God Addendum

You remember that Microeconomics test that I had a good feeling about when I most assuredly shouldn't have? The one where I felt there had to be some divine intervention?

Apparently, God doesn't work in mysterious ways. Rather, they're quite simple, but effective!

It's Never Too Early to Teach Stereotypes!

Education is a good thing. Anyone will agree to that, except for maybe Lyndon LaRouche and his cult. But how do you get kids - and the reluctant adult - to learn. The answer, quite simply, is edutainment, the combination of education with entertaining elements. This has been done, and still is, in television. However, a new vehicle for edutainment nowadays is the video game. And this is a good thing. After all, kids like games, and they are certainly more interactive than television.

Now, you can use edutainment to teach all sorts of things, from basic math to quantum physics. There's almost no subject that can't be made into a game.

That thought is, apparently, what had gone through the head of a genius or two at Activision game studios when they decided to make this:

Ah, yes, Spanish for Everyone. What a noble goal. And it seems pretty practical, too. If you're planning on learning Spanish, it's probably a good supplement. Why then, is this blog-worthy?

Well, whoever actually made the game was either drunk, had some sort of agenda, or simply knew this game would not be popular, and so made it as outlandish as possible, whilst still maintaining an E rating.

Let's take a look at some clips, and remember, no matter how much you want to cry "Fake!", these are, I'm sorry to say, totally legit. (Oh, and I'd recommend turning down your speakers. The music in the game could turn the pope pagan.)

.............So, let's try to recap this. Shawn's obiously Chicano friend plays with his Nintendo DS before his obviously evil father picks him up kidnaps him. And even though there are police cars chasing after his friend's father, the only thing he can think about is his DS (the materialistic bastard that he is). So, then "Aunt" Gina Vasquez (they don't call her that for nothing!) offers to give him a ride, despite the fact that A) Her driver's seat is on the wrong side, B) she barely seems to know the kid, and C) she seems quite shady. Still, she can teach "many things." I would say that this is the end of Shawn's innocence, but the kid seems to be a troublemaker to begin with. Hell, he didn't even tell his parents that he was going to freakin' Mexico!

...Oh, and apparently cars fly in this world (as evidence by the fact that they continue to move straight when the road clearly curves down).

"A new adventure begins in the back of this truck." Good. Lord. Let's not even begin to discuss the implications of "Aunty" Gina dropping the kid off in TJ of all places and telling him that he'll be "teaching" her someday. Oh, and looky here, this just happens to be your grandfather's truck! What a coincidence! Oh, and the truck comes with a bull that not only talks, but speaks of Shawn fulfilling some sort of prophecy by coming, and using Spanish to "thwart evil."

You know, after seeing the first two, I thought that it may have just been a simple oversight by the creators, writers, developers...basically, everyone at Activision. However, there is no way in Hell that they couldn't know the implications of this one! No way! Aside from the cheesy dialogue, ("Men would never understand that bulls can talk." You have the following items:
-The kid was apparently dropped off in this seedy town by his grandfather. Thanks a lot, Gramps!
-The town's name is "La Zorra," which I've been told is Spanish slang for "Bitch."
-Shawn's "uncle" just happens to be in this town when he arrives.
-Tio Juan is an exporter to the United States. An exporter! There's no way that was an oversight. He even needs to discuss "financial arrangements."
-Tio Juan promises safety if Shawn gets in the jeep and they ride together. He promises...
-Jeeps are cool!

And so, the journey concludes. Apparently, Shawn's DS means that much to him, despite the fact that you could a new one off eBay for easily less than $100. And...what the hell is happening at the 45-seconds-left mark?! Is that like a raid or something? Well, it looks like Miguel's evil father's evil "exporting" empire is getting its evil comeuppance.

But is it really over? As you can see, Shawn was given a case of "puffy dolls" (seriously? Seriously?!) to deliver for good ol' Uncle Shady Juan. I'm sure in the next game, French for Everyone, we'll see Shawn continue his newfound life of crime, all while meeting more ambiguous relatives. Ah, good times......wait, wasn't he supposed to "thwart evil" with Spanish. I saw no evil-thwarting there. In fact, Shawn went over to the dark side!
Bull: "You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the drug lords, not join them! You were to bring balance to Mexico, not leave it in darkness!"
Shawn: "I hate you!"
Bull: "You were my brother, Shawn. I loved you."

OK, so apparently, the people at Activision ain't great about keeping blatant stereotypes from their game. But what about another company, say...Ubisoft? As it turns out, Ubisoft (who we've seen in action before) is making their own Spanish-teaching game, entitled My Spanish Teacher. It has to be better, and not nearly as prejudiced, right?



Monday, November 19, 2007

By the Way, Is She Supposed to Be Naked?

Here's a picture that's been making its rounds on the Intertubes lately. The idea of it is to find out whether you are a left-brained or right-brained individual. Now, look at the dancer, and see if she is spinning clockwise or counterclockwise.Now, according to some guy, if you see the dancer spin clockwise, you are primarily a right-brained individual. Conversely, if you see it spin counter-clockwise, you are a left-brained individual. What these titles mean are as follows:

-Uses Logic
-Facts Rule
-Words and Language
-Present and Past
-Math and Science
-Can Comprehend
-Order/Pattern Perception
-Knows Object Name
-Reality Based
-Forms Strategies

-Uses Feeling
-"Big Picture"-Oriented
-Imagination Rules
-Symbols and Images
-Present and Future
-Philosophy & Religion
-Can "Get It" (i.e. Meaning)
-Spatial Perception
-Knows Object Function
-Fantasy Based
-Presents Possibilities

Now, here's some interesting things I've noticed when I did this little test. They say that if you focus hard enough, you can make it change directions. I, for one, found this near-impossible.


I noticed that I would look at the picture, with no other distractions, and there would be what seemed to be a quick skip in animation, and all of a sudden, it would be going the other direction. Then, after a while longer, there would be another quick jump, and it be going in the original direction again. Truth be told, I found it very suspicious, and so I actually downloaded the GIF to make sure it wasn't just some scan that would flip occasionally. However, it was legit. So, the issue was not in the image, but rather, in my mind. What seemed to be weird was the fact that no matter what happened, it would always flip every so often. So, I decided to do a little experiment and test how much time passed betwixt directional flips. Here are my results (and trust me, it was a long 10 minutes):

Clockwise: 14 seconds
Counter-Clockwise: 68 seconds
Clockwise: 69 seconds
Counter-Clockwise: 73 seconds
Clockwise: 70 seconds
Counter-Clockwise: 67 seconds
Clockwise: 71 seconds
Counter-Clockwise: 71 seconds
Clockwise: 70 seconds
Counter-Clockwise: 69 seconds


While I know that I have properties (sometimes strong properties) of both brain sides, I wasn't expecting something like this. Apparently, my brain switches sides about every 70 seconds. That means that at any point, I will be a right-brained, emotionally-driven, fantasy-based individual, and 70 seconds later, I will be a left-brained, logic-driven, reality-based one.

...Is that normal?

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Delicious Taste...

I think I may have official unofficial theme music for THE_BOLSHEVIK.

I was thinking about it, and I realized how important title music is in creating the mood of a show or series. So, I needed to make sure that the music for THE_BOLSHEVIK had to follow some rules:
1. It couldn't be too cool or "in." This is completely contrary to the character of THE_BOLSHEVIK, who, as I say, "is a man who has accepted his loser-ship." What this eliminates is most modern popular music, including rock and the like. Besides, a little obscurity never hurt anyone.
2. It can't be too epic. Despite sometimes being involved in extraordinary circumstances, THE_BOLSHEVIK is primarily a small-town guy. He's not slaying demons or anything. This eliminates a lot of my classical and soundtracks.
3. It needs to be upbeat. Despite his aforementioned loser-ship, THE_BOLSHEVIK is a fairly optimistic character. This is because the show is meant to make people smile. So! No downer music.
4. Finally, being a little silly can never hurt. After all, this is all supposed to be fairly absurd, so the music needs to match.

After searching through my collection of 6700 songs (and whittling them down pretty fast), I finally came across something that I thought worked. It's called Brazillian Flower by elderly Electropop musician Jean-Jacques Perrey.

After listening to it again, I realized it worked perfectly.

And now I'd like to show you. So here's a sample of what the title sequence for the THE_BOLSHEVIK show will look like (and Goddammit, it will happen!).

Fixing the sync for internet use was a pain, but it will hopefully work. If it doesn't, try using Firefox. Otherwise, suck it up, princess. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quick Administrative Note

Some people have told me that they sometimes have trouble commenting on the blog. I'll be perfectly honest; I have no idea why this is. I never change the comment settings betwixt posts, and whenever I've tested it, the system seems to work. I can only assume that it's some random glitch in the blogger system that goes well above my rudimentary knowledge of code.

However, if you experience a glitch like this, please send an email with your comment to
admin AT thelobotomistsdream DOT com
Well, except that you replace, you can figure it out.

Do this, and I will post your comment under the guise of you. Shh...I won't tell anyone if you don't.

The *Dusk* of a New Era?

Sometimes you become very enamored with a character of your own design. Just something about them just screams, "that's a good character!" Often, the characters that you end up enjoying most are those on the wrong side of morality. And yes, I know this is an old argument, ("villains are always cooler"), but the reason is not because we want to emulate them, but rather because a good villain is able to act in a way contrary to our expectations.

Needless to say, the character I have come to really enjoy is indeed a villain. What's really interesting is that, like a lot of my favorite characters and personae (from the Neo Deus to, yes, even THE_BOLSHEVIK), he is one who started as nothing more than a name that I thought of randomly and arbitrarily.

I'd like to introduce you to Solomon Dusk.

I'm sorry, let me give you a more up-close shot.

As you can tell, Solomon is not a happy dude. But what exactly is he, you're asking yourself. Well, let me give you a little background, both in terms of him in our world, and in his own.

So, there's a computer game called City of Villains. It's an extension of another game called, appropriately enough, City of Heroes. The two games are Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs, or MMORPGS, a genre which has been made infamous by titles such as World of Warcraft. However, this game has two things WoW does not:
1. A fresh and unique comic book style that takes place neither in the science-fictional future or the fantastical past.
2. By far, the single best character creation system I have ever seen in any game, ever. If you're a video gamer whose planning on working in the fashion industry, this is your game. (Errr...)

So, I bought this game when it was on sale for a penny at my local Gamestop and played, creating my first character. Really, I had no idea what to do, and so my first villain was just an amalgamation of the costume pieces I liked best. Really tall, spikey hair; blast goggles (oh, I have much to say about goggles...for the moment, let's just say I have a different type of sunglasses now); a bare torso (a mainstay of all my created characters), and armored pants. Awesome.

Now, what do I call him?

And, literally, out of nowhere, I came up with "Solomon Dusk". And the rest, as they say, is history.

Speaking of history, let's talk about the character's history. The beauty of Solomon Dusk was not in his creation, but in what I eventually made him. Another cool thing about City of Heroes/Villains is that they allow you to create backstories for your characters. Here's a paraphrased version of Solomon's (and keep in mind, this takes place in a comic book world, so things don't have to be 100% realistic):
Solomon Dusk has never seen the sun. Nor does he want to. When he was but a toddler, he was put into the labyrinthine basement of the Dusk Family Manor by his sadistic family. He spent years scrounging in the darkness, searching for a meal, any meal, whether it be a piece of stale "pity bread" or a rat he was able to catch. The only interaction he had with the outside world took place via the speakers placed throughout the labyrinth, on which his family could taunt him. He grew strong, fast, and scrappy, but also incredibly bitter, hostile, and damaged. At age 17, he finally escaped. He brought a pair of blast goggles with him, to protect eyes which have never seen light. And now, innocent bystanders are afraid of the shadows, and what they hide...
And that's still pretty much how it goes.

However, in the last several days, I've gotten a flood of ideas from this character. Mainly, what his motives and perspectives are. It's easy to say, "Oh, he's mentally unstable, he needs no motives." But motives make everything more fun! So, I eventually transformed Dusk into an intelligent villain with a purpose. Basically, I say he spent the first 10 years of his freedom teaching himself how to read, and then reading a lot. So, there, that covers intelligence. What about purpose?

Well, think about it: if your family locked you away in what is essentially a dungeon to fend for yourself, just for the shear enjoyment of it, you'd be quite bitter, no? I'd dare say you'd have a "glass-half-empty" approach to life. And this is what Dusk is: the epitome of pessimism. He thinks the world is a horrible place. And his motive is to make everyone else realize how crappy everything is. And if people are being killed, others usually think, "Wow, the world kinda sucks." And Dusk also actively denies his own humanity. He desires to be thought of as a monster, because if people think of him as human, he worries that they might feel sorrow or compassion for him, which is contrary to his goals.

So, let's take a look at some quotes I've thought of. All italicized quotes are Dusk's (they're italicized because I imagine Dusk to speak in a very whispered tone, and I think italics capture that well). All bold quotes are from Detective Gonzales, Dusk's rival and nemesis (though, some could argue, the only person he considers friend, as they often have respectful conversations).

“Dusk, how many people have to die before you’re satisfied?”
“Death is not my means, not my end. Lucifer used to be the most beautiful of the angels, don’t you know.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“After his fall, he lost his beauty. He was a devil. And so the rest of his life has been focused on the decay of the world around him. To make it worse than him, so that he could once again be considered beautiful.”
“So you want to be told you’re beautiful.”
“I hold not such lofty ambitions. It is my intention to bring people to my line of sight, to make them suffer as I have, to see how ugly things really are when they look past the threshold. Lucifer has succeeded in making the world decay. I am simply here to expose that fact.”

“Tell me, have you ever read Frankenstein?”
“No, but I’ve seen the movies.”
“Bah. They are an embarrassment. Mary Shelley’s original creation was not a lumbering, idiotic brute. No, he had a mind as sharp as any man’s. He discussed Paradise Lost with his maker, and sought to make one like himself. And yet, like any fiend, he brutally murdered people.”
“What are you trying to get at?”
“I’m saying that intelligence and barbarism are not exclusive. Not every beast froths at the mouth.”
“…You’re not going to be satisfied until everyone is convinced you’re a monster, are you?”
“No. I won’t be satisfied until everyone is convinced that *they’re* the monsters.”

“What are you planning, Dusk?”
“You give me too much credit, detective. Tell me, does a beast wait in his cave, methodically planning his every move? Or does he simply follow his instinct and swipe at the hare when it hops by?”
“I, too, am a beast, a feral creature driven by nothing more than my instincts and impulses to whatever ends they may take me.”
“I find it hard to believe you nothing more than an animal, especially considering how well-spoken you are.”
“A parrot could recite the works of Shakespeare, detective. I’d hardly consider that laudable.”
“I’d hardly consider it insignificant, either. Besides, if I were to agree that you were acting on instinct, you’d try to use that excuse in court.”
“Yes. Court, where you’ll stand trial.”
“Detective, I am not one to suffer being a prisoner. I will either walk free for the rest of eternity or be killed by my would-be captors, but I will not be another man’s prize.”

“Tell me, are you a religious man, a spiritual man?”
“You have chosen the wrong time to exist, then. In these ages, the faith of the few is negated by the disbelief of the many. And not even the obvious disbelief, but rather the silent skepticism, the hypocrisy of zealots, the ignorance of the learned...we have long since forgotten the angels, and in return, the angels have forsaken us.”

“And you?”

“Oh, I do not claim to be an angel. I am but a demon in a sea of demons. A monster amongst monsters, worthy neither to judge nor be judged by my foul brethren. Not better, not worse; only a different caveat in the same sin.”

“You’re quite the poet, Mr. Dusk.”

“The poetry is already written in the folds of the world. I merely point it out.”

The next line is actually one that Dusk says to a Mafia enforcer dude who is tries to intimidate him (he says it while choking him [he doesn't like the underworld crime syndicates {or anyone, for that matter}]).

“You walk in the shadows, yet you carry a lantern to guide your way, oblivious to the fact that sooner or later, your oil will run out, leaving you alone and blind.”

Finally, this is a line that he actually says to a crime lord (also while choking him).

“A man who spends his entire life running can evade most things. But no matter how fast, no matter how far you run, you can never escape the dusk.”

I think that last line is particularly good. Now, I think, if I ever made this into a bona-fide story, it would work best as a movie or as a graphic novel. I'd lean toward the latter, considering the source (and who's to say it can't be one and then the other?).

To finish off, here are a few screenshots from the game.

Stop and take a look at this last one again. This, I think, is the perfect Solomon Dusk shot. Passive, brooding, but unspeakably malevolent and waiting to act. The eyes by themselves speak volumes. So, I decided to incorporate this into two different pieces (with some Photoshop edits, of course, for ambiance).

The first little creation I made was a mockup cover for my hypothetical graphic novel, entitled, simply, Dusk.

And the second is, well, it's a desktop wallpaper, mixing together my favorite quote and my favorite picture. And yes, it is my current wallpaper (and yes, I do realize that it is a frickin' scary face to have as your wallpaper, but I'm on a creative streak here).

Goodnight, everybody, and keep an eye out on the shadows!

Monday, November 12, 2007

There, But For the Grace of God...

Hello, hello!

Well, my Hell Week is officially over, and though I have a lot of reading to catch up on, and some assignments to do, my main pressures have been alleviated.

But let's take a look at what actually made me label this time period with such demonic flair.

Well, first, the last two weeks or so have all boiled down to Thursday. Thursday was the day in which I had to give a large and very important group presentation in my marketing class. This is a presentation that forced me and three others to meet a lot. And most of you already know my opinion on group projects (for those that don’t: I dislike them). So it was tough. And we made sure to be very thorough, even though I - the guy who always ends up being the de facto leader of every group I’m in - tried not to be in a leadership position for once.

So, keep in mind that I was either meeting up with people or actually working on this project during the course of these two weeks.

Now, last Saturday was the Amazing Bear Hunt. This was, without doubt, the largest and most intensive programs of the semester (and possibly of the year). We were meeting at least twice a week to prep for it, and working on it all other times. The program was essentially a huge photo scavenger hunt (much more intensive than the one I was involved with). It lasted 12 hours, from dawn to dusk, extended through San Francisco, and had over 300 clues for people in teams of 8-to-10 to find.

Because it was our first year ever doing this, we did everything from scratch. Websites, sponsorships, planning, clue-writing…everything. My main role was making the website (which is, as you may have been able to tell, necessarily similar in design to my old IDS 110 final project website), but I had plenty else to do as well. For example, I was one in charge of reading and responding to questions, concerns, complaints, etc. Not because I was necessarily ordained to do so; it was because nobody else ever checked the Gmail account. I also designed the logo (which I can’t show to you for reasons too long and uninteresting to go into, even for me) and the t-shirts.

Now, we’ve been planning this since August. But, as you may expect, we did extra work in the days leading up to Hunt. This meant packing and unpacking stuff, do this, doing that, etc. So, basically, my Friday was forfeit. But I still had to work on not only my project, but two midterms I had that week. So, I didn’t want to be wasting my time sitting around at some base camp in San Francisco. So, I told the team that I would have to stay in Berkeley.

In exchange for my absence, I promised to be the contact person, sending out text message notes and challenges to all the teams (all 25 of them). I also said that I would be that contact point for all the teams.

Wait, what?

Now, let me give you some background. I hate phones. I hate talking on phones. I prefer almost any form of communication (email, IM, face-to-face conversation) to phones. Don’t ask me why. There’s just something about having the obligation to pick up a machine after it produces this sound, only to speak with some disembodied voice. Now, if it’s someone I know and like, that’s fine. But when I have to talk to someone I don’t know, usually about a problem, I’m not so hot on that.

However, I figured that I wouldn’t have that many calls. People know what they’re doing, right?


I kept a little log of all the phone calls I got. And I averaged them for over the course of 10 hours (which is when I got the bulk of them). And I got, on average, a phone call every 5 or so. Over the course of 10 hours! Do you know how insane that is? It was like the third layer of Hell.

And it was a long day regardless. I woke up at 5am, and went to bed at 2am. And I was beat.

But it was over. At least, that part of everything was.

On Monday, I had an Accounting midterm. First, I have found out I really dislike Accounting (there goes my boyhood dreams of becoming a CPA), and two, I wasn’t prepared for the test. Regardless, my strategic studying paid of, and I only really lost points on multiple choice questions, resulting in a final score of 86 (which was not in any way bad).

The next three days were completely preoccupied with my group presentation. This was bad, because I also had a Microeconomics midterm on Thursday, immediately before the presentation. And Tuesday’s pretty much taken, what with my RA responsibilities and all.

Wednesday? Well, Wednesday pretty much just disappeared.

So I was stuck with Wednesday night to finalize and memorize my parts of the presentation, as well as study for the midterm. And, to put it simply, there was no sleep. Here, let me put a terrifying image in your mind. Imagine me (wearing my glasses to reduce strain on my eyes) taking a icy cold shower at 2:30am while downing a can of disgusting-tasting Full Throttle energy drink. (A quick aside about energy drinks: I think the reason they’re so disgusting is so people don’t get hooked on them.)

So, as the hours and minutes melted away, I found myself with less and less time to study for my Microeconomics midterm. And by 6am, I knew I had run out of time, because I had to get dressed (in my new suit!), and be at Haas by 8am in order to rehearse with my group.

So, 8am comes, and I meet with my group. Lo and behold!, my group hadn’t memorized their parts yet, even though the presentation was in a scant 4 hours. We found an empty room with a projector, set up our computer, and went through.

Now, I wasn’t using notes in any of our run-throughs. I don’t use notes. I don’t even have them tucked away somewhere. In all my years of theatre work, I’ve never had to ask for a line, and I wasn’t going to start here. Notes are a crutch, and I’ll be damned if I ever use them.

However, as Lady Irony would have it, I completely blanked out on one of my self-cues near the beginning of my rehearsal. I knew I wouldn’t forget it again, but still, one of my teammates said, “Do you have a set of backup notes?”

“Yes,” I said, “They’re in my backpack.”

“Well, maybe you should have them by the computer. You know, in case you choke.”


I swear, based on her reaction in the next several seconds, I must have given her the most unsettling glare ever. However, she brought it upon herself by insinuating that Andrew Schnorr chokes. As I told her upfront:

“Andrew Schnorr does not choke.”

(Quick aside: This same team member had previously made a comment in our preparations that had gotten the better of me [though I didn’t let it show that time]. When we were in slight disagreement about how to make a certain advertisement, she said to me, “Well, I know something about advertising. I’m in a group called ImagiCal. You ever heard of it.” My response? “…In passing.”)

The rest of the rehearsal went flawlessly…for me, at least. Note, I’m not trying to brag. Anyone who has seen me on stage knows I put my heart and soul into making sure I am flawless in front of my audience. However, my teammates somewhat stumbled through their parts. I was worried, but some of my worries were alleviated after our second run-through.

Thing is, though, the by the time we were done going through twice, it was 10am. I had one hour to study for my Microeconomics test. Now, it wasn’t as gloom-and-doom as you may be thinking. First of all, I’m not a complete dunce in economics; after all, it was my original major. Second, the test was open-note, open book, though that good news is tempered by the fact that the professor gave us over 100 pages of confusing handouts.

The main problem with the midterm, I knew, was going to be the wording of the problem. Our professor was famous for being tricky on the tests. So, what do I study if I know it’s open-note? The old midterms, of course. I figure that they’re the most condensed, relevant materials I could look at. So, the majority of my studying was finding where different problems (with solutions) were on the old midterms, and hopefully get enough info on the way to not need notes at all. However, 10:50 came too soon. I still did not feel prepared (nor should I have).

Now, there’s a prayer I say before all my tests. It’s a prayer I’ve said since high school, and it goes as follows:
Let me write what must be written.
Let me withhold what must be withheld.
And let me perform on this test to the best of my ability.

After that, I’d add on some “filler prayer” to complete it, like “I know this, it shouldn’t be an issue.” Basically, a little affirmation betwixt God and I about how I’m feeling.

Well, my little end-cap to the prayer this time was simple and sweet: “Give a kid a break.”

And then I took the test. And this is what the title of this post is referring to. Because, literally, I must have had some divine intervention, as I felt it went great. I knew things, and the things I didn’t know, I found quickly, as if some invisible hand were guiding me to market equilibrium the answers in my notes. In the end, I feel like I got a solid A, if not a perfect score. You better believe I was looking toward the ceiling and winking a lot.

So I had that working for me going into the presentation. And I felt good. And let me tell you, I nailed my parts of the presentation. The rest of my team didn’t do too badly either. Our main problem, though, was that our conclusion was apparently (and unequivocally) wrong. Eh, no skin off my nose. It was a poorly written case to begin with, and there were other groups that have been more wrong. Still the professor dug into us after class for nearly 10 minutes about all the problems we had, before giving us a 95 (obviously one of the higher scores). Hell, if the grade works, I’m willing to take an hour of verbal abuse.

Almost as a way to celebrate a Hell Day well-finished, I participated in a market research experiment, where I did basically nothing but press one of two buttons seven times, and I made $16. Sweet! Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years; maybe being a guinea pig is the way to go!

Talk to you later!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Taking a Small Break

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I will be taking a short - possibly one week - sabbatical. I have lots to tell, but I am completely swamped right now with things from all sides, with two midterms and a group presentation coming up. So I think I need a little bit of time to, in a sense, realign myself with the rest of the world.

In the meantime, please checkout any of these sites for all your entertainment needs:
Dinosaur Comics - The pictures never change, but the dialogue covers everything from kissing to homographic homophonic autantonyms. One of the funniest out there.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (Full Archive) - A comic with my twisted sense of humor. The humor can be hit or miss, but when it hits, you will laugh for over a minute (I can tell you from experience).

Isotown - A very untraditional webcomic that you have to view from the beginning. Shows the creation of an isometric town created only with MS Paint. A lot of skill necessary.

Smash Bros. Dojo - According to Alexa Traffic Rankings, this is the highest-viewed website devoted to a specific video game. But it's going to be a crazy game. Updates on weekdays.

Superdickery - If you know or enjoy anything about comic books, you should look here to see how absolutely absurd and idiotic they used to (and still can) be. This is, pound for pound, one of the funniest time wasters out there (even if it hasn't been updated in ages).

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive - Okay, not the most entertaining, but if you love astronomy pictures as much as I do, you'll enjoy it.

DeviantART - If you want to find a lot of quality artwork (and some 10-year-old kid drawings), you'll find it here.

There, that should tide you over until my brain starts working again.