IT'S ABOUT LUNCH

One of the highlights of my work day is what I’m going to have for lunch. Some people think it’s so important that they blog about it. Unfortunately, I’ve had two substandard lunches in a row.

On Monday, we went to the Varsity Grill on 4th. I ordered the three kinds of seafood with rice. One of my co-workers ordered it last time and it looked good. The dish had vegetables, fish, scallops, squid, and prawns. So, I decided to order it. When it came, it certainly wasn’t three kinds of seafood. It was all prawns! That’s one kind of seafood. I wanted to complain but our waitress seemed spaced out.

Then today, we went to Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe for lunch. Sophie’s is usually awesome both in food quality and atmosphere. I had the club sandwich with salad. Ordering that was a mistake. The chicken was real turkey breast but it was really dry and tasteless. It was like chewing on cardboard. None of us got a choice for our dressing for our salads. We all got ranch even though afterwards, she said there was a vinaigrette available. Why didn’t you tell us that before? To top it off, the salad was warm and limp, like it had been out in the sun for a while. I was not impressed. The only saving grace was one of my co-workers let me have a spoonful of his five dollar shake. It was tasty and I felt like I was in a movie.

I wonder if my lunch will suck tomorrow.

I'M LINKING TO FOX NEWS

Fox News recently ran this story about people wanting to remove their tattoos of Chinese characters. In some instances, the characters were not even close to the word(s) people thought they were getting.

For many years, I’ve thought it was pretty dumb of people to get Chinese characters tattooed on their asses or wherever. Think of it this way… imagine some Chinese national in Beijing goes to a tattoo parlour and asks for the letters, W-A-T-E-R or P-E-A-C-E to be tattooed on his arm. When it’s done, his friends all gather round and say, “The English alphabet looks so cool! Wang, tell us, what does it mean?”

“It means water in English.”

“Coooooool!”

People… please.

PRESIDENT AL GORE

Former US Vice President Al Gore did the opening for Saturday Night Live last evening. In the bit, he spoke to a TV audience from the Oval Office as if he had been the US President since 2000. He was very funny and relaxed during his performance. Why couldn’t he have been like this six years ago?

While the piece was certainly entertaining, it was also bittersweet, as it gave us a brief glimpse of how things might have been if he had led the US. While it’s just hearsay, some are wondering if Gore is thinking about running for re-election in 2008.

In any case, enjoy the video and if youtube removes the file, you can find alternate links here.

DEAR ABBY

Most of you are probably aware of the Dear Abby help column, where “Abby” dispenses advice to millions of readers. Though, I’m more of a Dan Savage reader, I found one of Abby’s more recent letters to be quite interesting. Let me violate several copyright laws and reprint the letter here:

DEAR ABBY: I have been in a serious relationship for 13 months. The woman I am with has a daughter who is 15 months old. I am the only father figure that has ever been in her life. Her biological father, “Ethan,” saw her only twice. I have been supporting my lady and her child for a while.

Last January, Ethan died, and my lady took it hard. Last Saturday, she got his name tattooed on her back without consulting me. She didn’t tell me until after it was done, and it upset me. We are supposed to be married soon.

Every time we make love, that tattoo reminds me of Ethan. I feel she should have asked me what I thought about the idea first. She expects me to consult her about things that I do before I do them. Am I wrong for expecting the same respect from her as I give her? Should I tell her how I feel, or should I avoid having a confrontation with her and try to forget about it? — ANGRY AND CONFUSED IN PHOENIX

DEAR ANGRY: Your feelings are valid. You were not consulted because your lady friend already knew what your feelings would be. Avoiding a discussion (notice I did not say “confrontation”) with her about this is not the way to go. This matter needs to be talked about to your satisfaction, and if the tattoo dampens your ardor, it should be removed before the wedding.

As you can see, this is a sensitive issue dealing with a deceased person and intense feelings. Clearly, Abby is a better advice-giver than I. Personally, I would have just told the guy just to eliminate one… wait two, now that I think of it, sexual positions from their bag of tricks. No, hold on… I think we have a third position they’d have to stop doing too. See, this is why I don’t have an advice column.

E3 2006

If you’re a hardcore video game fan or a person working in the industry, it’s likely the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has some significance to you. It’s the largest video game convention/conference of the year. It’s an all-out assault on the senses and every company tries to outdo the other in terms of the “wow” factor.

For the first time as a developer, a game I’ve worked on is being displayed on the exhibit floor. Shadow-Born is part of the Nokia N-Gage booth and this is its first showing to world in general. Today, when I saw the day one pictures from the Nokia web site, I have to admit it was pretty exciting. I could see random strangers playing a game I helped to code. I began to wonder if they were enjoying the experience.

Nokia also has a trailer on-line that shows their slate of new games. There’s gameplay footage of Shadow-Born in there, it’s about halfway through the trailer. It’s pretty cool that everyone can now take a look at all our hard work.

Last but not least, there are some screenshots from the game. I think Nokia did a pretty good job in getting our game out there in terms of media exposure.

So, I finally have some relevant connection to E3 beyond some sorta fanboy interest. Neat!

One final note, despite rumours of booth models being relegated to the history books, reports indicate they are at E3 in full force. To prove this point, several web sites have offered photographic proof such as here and here.

TUESDAY'S TALES

On the weekend, I had a lot of material in my head for posting. I thought I had enough ideas to last well into this week. Tonight, I find myself wondering what exactly those ideas were. I should write these things down when inspiration strikes me.

Today, I got moved into a new area of the office so that I could join my new team. I wasn’t too pleased about that. I had a sweet corner desk which was pretty much secluded. I also had a lot of desk space and shelves. I was by a window that faced an inner courtyard.

My new desk is tiny compared to my old one. There’s also a lot of foot traffic right by my desk. People can also see my monitor from half a dozen places. No, I don’t surf for porn at work nor do I slack off every five minutes to check my personal mail but no one likes the feeling that you can be constantly monitored. This will take some getting used to. As the schedule is now, I’ll be there for a little over a month.

As a final note, I’ve started the ordering process for the t-shirts. I’ve received everyone’s sizes and the order should be sent out sometime this week. If everything goes well, expect you shirt near the end of May.

BUSINESS CARDS

Only once has an employer had business cards made up for me. Mind you, I’ve only had three “real” jobs in my entire life. The first time was way back in 1999 when I was working for a horrible engineering firm. They gave me a box full of business cards. I quit the job a month later. I will say that I didn’t know for sure if I was going to quit when the cards were made up. Oh well.

Last week, my current company delivered business cards to all their employees. When I went to the open house last Thursday, I saw mine for first time. These cards kick ass. For one, they are made of thick card stock. A single card could probably stop a .22 calibre bullet thrown by a child at a distance of 10 feet. The front of the card has two shades of gun-metal gray. There’s a slight sheen to the front so that it catches the light a bit. The front has all the particular employee info on it, the back lists the company address and web site.

I suppose when you work for a video game company, your business cards have to be a bit on the flashy side. Well, I wonder if history will repeat itself. Will I somehow quit a month from now? Can fate be changed?

In completely other news, I’d like everyone to help out a fellow blogger. My friend Tyson is considering shaving his head. He wants you, yes you, to help him decide if he should proceed with this action. Please read his latest post and leave your comments.

WE HAVE A PIPER DOWN

On Friday, I decided to catch a matinee showing of Mission: Impossible 3 despite the misgivings from other bloggers. The venue was the Silvercity Theatres in Coquitlam, a twenty-screen complex close to where I live.

I bought a ticket for the 4:15pm show and said ticket indicated I’d be in auditorium 20, one of the largest in the place. Twenty minutes before showtime, I attempted to enter the auditorium to get a good seat. As the ticket taker ripped off a portion of my ticket, he instructed me to line up off to the side.

Line up? Even on opening day for an expected big movie like M:I 3, there usually aren’t line ups for a 4:15pm showing. The ticket taker directed me towards some velvet ropes where a young couple was already waiting. I was about to line up with two other people for an auditorium that probably could fit 200 people, 20 minutes before showtime. What the hell?

Anyways, puzzled as I was, I lined up behind the couple, feeling a bit silly. Another couple arrived and were also directed to line up. That caused more puzzled faces as the new couple stood behind me. Out of nowhere, a management type in a dress shirt walked over to talk to us.

“Excuse me, the reason you’re lining up is because we have an injured patron in the auditorium right now. She thinks she might have injured or even broken one of her ribs. We’re waiting for the paramedics to come and then we’ll get you into the theatre as soon as this is resolved.”

Some one then asked how she might have broken her rib.

“I am not sure at the moment what happened.”

With that, he was off and began speaking into a walkie-talkie. Man, M:I 3 must be one hell of a movie! Cruise sure does deliver!

The minutes go by and people are herded behind me and everyone is surprised they have to line up. More management types flitter into and out of the auditorium. Finally, two paramedics arrive, escorted by an employee. They saunter in as if on a Sunday stroll. They don’t seem urgent nor is a stretcher visible. In they go into the auditorium.

Several more minutes go by. One of the paramedics emerges and he is followed by a theatre employee. More waiting. They come back but this time, they are wheeling in a stretcher with all their gear. We wait several minutes more, the movie should have started two minutes ago.

I can see partially into the auditorium and the stretcher is now being wheeled out. Once into the main hallway, I can see someone on the stretcher. She’s covered with a blanket and there’s a towel on her face. I can’t see anything. Following the stretcher are two people, a girl and a boy about fifteen or sixteen years old. They have extremely concerned looks on their faces. The girl repeatedly mouths the words, “Oh my God” over and over again as she walks away.

With that little bit of drama over, we directed to enter the auditorium at our leisure. I find a nice, comfy seat with a great sight line and I have the whole row to myself for the entire movie. Even after everyone is seated, there are great swaths of empty seats separating movie goers.

So, the question remains, how does one break a rib during or after a showing of Mission: Impossible 3? I have a theory and it might remain a theory unless I find some real report on the incident. Anyways, we are all aware of the antics that Tom Cruise has displayed in the last few months. The most visible of which was the infamous couch-jumping incident when he appeared on Oprah. My guess is that the girl attempted to recreate the moment by jumping on the movie theatre seats, slipped somehow, and then landed on her side on the arm rests.

This is pure conjecture of course but it’s fun to fill in the details. You know, if you can ignore all the Scientology and Katie Holmes stuff, the movie is actually pretty good. For your entertainment dollar, I don’t think there’s another actor who is as impressive as Tom Cruise when he’s running away or into danger. That one scene when he’s running away from the missile that’s about to strike the car behind him on the bridge? It’s pure, rib-breaking movie magic!

OPEN HOUSE

I’ve had the entire week off work but I returned to the office this evening for our company’s open house. We moved offices in late February so the bigwigs wanted to show off where we are and what we do. There was a smaller open house about a month ago for close friends and family but this one was open to industry friends, schools, and the media. I probably would have not attended tonight but I had invited my friend Garrett to come check out the place. I also have not seen Garrett in months so I looked forward to the evening.

GK and I go way back to my early days of testing at EA. We’ve since escaped those chains of labour and the experience has left an indelible bond. I got there a bit early and every other person was asking me, “What the hell are you doing here? Aren’t you on vacation?”

After Garrett arrived, I managed to lead him to a somewhat satisfactory spread of appetizer and finger foods. Just as we were about to leave the stiffling crush of people in the lobby we got caught by the start of the studio head’s presentation. After that was over, I led Garrett upstairs where I gave him a personal demo of Shadow-Born, the game I’ve been working on since last June. Garrett was brought up right so if he doesn’t have anything nice to say, he won’t say anything, which is why he sat pretty much silent as he played the game.

I also brought Garrett around to Taylor, a producer at my company. Those two had worked together before and greeted each other warmly. After the ass-slapping was done, I led Garrett around for a quick tour of the office. It was there, that I ran into Yuko Shinyashiki, whom I went to elementary school with. She was there representing The Art Institute of Vancouver. This was the second time I’ve run into Yuko in three weeks as she was at office for an earlier visit. I took her business card and returned my attention to GK.

The tour got quite boring for Garrett afterwards and I kinda felt bad about that. He did, however, point out that Maestro Fresh Wes was at the open house. It’s been years since I’ve seen the rapper in the media but Garrett, the young whippersnapper that he is, noticed him immediately. I am sure that “brush with greatness” was the highlight of the evening for the both of us. It is weird though that his most famous song was “Let Your Backbone Slide” and the company name is Backbone Entertainment.

Garrett and I then ate a significant amount of vegetables and dip while discussing plans to go hiking together in the near future. After a bit more chit-chat it was time to put an end to the fun-filled evening. I walked Garrett to the door so he could salvage the night.

If you want a slightly alternate take on the evening, feel free to read Garrett’s account at his blog. It’s like watching the Zapruder film taken from a different angle.