Monday, January 31, 2011

Season 2 ' The Fix' Part 3

by Nathan Stout (of

Part 1
Part 2

Welcome to the third part of the According To Whim Season 2 'Fix'. I spent more time reviewing some tapes and attempting to rebuild Episodes 3, 4, 5, and 6 of our public access television show: According To Whim (Season 2). Season 3 Episode 1 was also lost so I have included it as well. You can read the first part (and the full story) by clicking here.

Today I will cover only 5 tapes because my camera crapped out on me. The Firewire port has gotten increasingly flaky from so much use that it stopped working completely. I checked with Canon but apparently the XL2 Owners club (that would have gotten me a discount on service) no longer exists. I went ahead and decided to send it in for repair and a professional cleaning (since it never had one). I disassembled the camera and sent in only the body. A few days later I got the estimate and the cost was $351.00 to fix the Firewire port and clean it. If you remember I paid somewhere around $2,500 for the camera and so it seems worth. Since all this happened I haven't been able to review any further tapes so I began to edit what I do have of Season 2. The next post will be about the editing changes I have been working on. For now, here are the next 5 tapes I reviewed.

Tape #14
On this tape I found only a few scenes but they took up a lot of footage. They were mostly from Episode 3 and then one for Episode 2. I did have scene 6 of Episode 3 so I didn't need to recover that.

Tape #2
Our random sketch 'To catch a pervert' (which you can see here) was on this tape as was some of the interviews from the TRTC video contest I entered. If you haven't read all about the fun and underhanded way I won 2nd place (and $500.00) read this blog here. You will also see links to the actual videos too. The Final bit of footage on this tape was the audio work for the WRHS foundation video I did. I made the video free of charge for the foundation (the fund-raising arm of the hospital where I work). I was planning to make the video and claim it as a deduction. I had also shot video for a county wide disaster drill that the hospital was involved in (not edited). I had the bright idea to just do this sort of thing alot and basically get back everything Uncle Sam took during the year. Uh, no, not gonna happen. I talked to the accounting guy and he told me 'time' (what my contribution is considered) is not deductible as charitable gift. Arg.

Tape #5
This tape had 11 different scenes and all seemed to be good except for a thirty second video I shot testing some green screen material I bought. It recorded over the add-on 'The Ring' sketch we shot to fill in some space on Episode 4 or 5 (I can't remember which). I don't think the lost footage was going to kill the scene so all is good with this tape. Also on this tape was the short bit of footage where Chris and I filmed ourselves at a local abandoned gas station only to be kicked off the property shortly after starting by some hick with a Napoleon complex.

Tape #3
This tape had little on it. Some Episode 3 scenes that I already had and two scenes from Episode 5 that I recovered.

Tape #1
This final tape before the camera crapped out had some Episode 3 footage on it. I will have to check it later after I get the camera back.

In the next edition of the Season 2 'Fix' I will be going over some edits I made and list some missing and lost files as well.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Halftime Show – Super Ten-Weeks

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Today is Sunday January 30, 2011, and we are halfway through the first “ten-weeks” of the year. My biggest regret is that we didn’t have a super bowling trip to the bowling alley to bowl. How super would that have been?

So I guess the question is how are we doing so far? I think all told we are doing well, if I’m being realistic. The truth is that I’m very behind on my personal goals, and am intent to get on course now. I know that my goals are simultaneously realistic and not very realistic, and that I need to make that decision that I spoke about in a previous post to shift my thinking and prioritize my project work over everything else. Remember Chris, I said to myself, if you were working a job, you would be at that job when you were scheduled. Schedule yourself before wreck yourself.

The primary goal is the writing, and that is probably the best one to examine here. My goal was to write six pages a day. I should have written 210 pages by now, but I am showing poorly at 90. Not good. I’m measuring the goal another way too, which is number of words. I’m trying to write 3,500 words a day, which comes out to about six pages in Word. This makes it easier to gauge as I’m writing each day. I should have written 122,500 words by now, but am sitting at around 54,000. No matter how you look at it, I’ve only done about half of my writing work so far. This need to change.

Beyond that my goals include: listening to music from my collection, as well as music from online sites such as You Tube,, and Pandora; checking in with the newsgroup four times a week; maintaining the blog, by helping to schedule and edit; posting my columns to the website; organizing my computer backups so that I have redundant backups of everything, but not overly redundant backups of everything, and that are easier to find things in; music writing and recording; video encoding of any footage I have of local bands; promotion of the website; organization of my physical clutter (trying to get rid of half of what I own); archiving of various thing; and editing of my writing that needs to be edited.

These things are very hit and miss. The problem is that I am supposed to set aside thirty minutes a day to work in categories that include each of these things, but I tend to work them more on a need to do basis. This leads to things not getting done that should be done for goal purposes, but just don’t seem to need to be done. Again Chris, I said to myself, shift your thinking.

And now some music from The Black Eyed Peas to motivate us, and then I’ll deal with Nathan’s goals.

Nathan has done pretty well. He has set himself some pretty lofty goals, and has shirked very little. He had to send his camera off to be fixed so he could finish encoding all the tapes of Season Two and Three. He did some video editing while he was waiting. He has also started to attack the debt pay down goal. He has also done well with his eBay stuff… which reminds me… but we’re not talking about me now.

If there are areas that Nathan is perhaps slipping in, it is checking in with the newsgroup (but I’m lacking too) and we’re about a week behind on “Flash Ahhhh!” right now, since we’re trying to stay three weeks ahead. He’s also not doing his learning goals, like Japanese, keyboard, and Japanese keyboard.

On the other hand, he has done a better job of scheduling blog posts in advance, and getting his reserve to four than I have. He has also maintained contact with Hangman’s.

Our various group goals are all lacking, except the goal to play all of Nathan’s games, but things like the vlogs (which were slowed by the camera being worked on) and work on the Net Runner Virtual Expansion are not coming along so well. In our defense, many of the group goals are year long goals that are waiting on Nathan’s ten-weeks goals this time.

So we will keep the momentum up where we have momentum, and pick up the slack where we’re slacking. This hasn’t been a bad showing to start with. And it will only get better. We said that 2011 would be a super year, and we do aim to bowl you over with amazement at how well we do.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Four - Class Dismissed

by the According To Whim .com crew

(This Episode by Nathan Stout)


The trio walks down the hall and into the lecture theater, which is halfway filled with gangly, nerdy looking rejects.

MIGUEL: Now this is great.

CHRIS: This is just you living out your fantasy of “Freaks and Geeks.” I was more of a “Degrassi Junior High” sort of kid.

NATHAN: I was a “You Can't Do That on Television” kind of kid. I knew Alanis before the meltdown.

CHRIS: Name dropper.

(A nerdy young kid who looks like Beans Baxter walks up to the group.)

NERD: Are you here for the Super Power class?

(All three guys answer, “Yes,” in a “Three Stooges”-like manner; with one person saying, “Yes,” in a higher tone than the last.)

NERD: Are you registered for class?

(Chris turns slightly, and then, in a flash, turns back.)

CHRIS: Nathan, what’s your social security number?


MIGUEL: What's that?

NATHAN: It's a vanity Social Security Number.

(Chris turns slightly, and then, in a flash, turns back.)

CHRIS: Sorry, my application took a little longer since I had more paper work to fill out. Miguel's info transferred from UNT, and apparently, Nathan is a Gold Member here so his stuff was mostly pre-filled. By the way...

(Chris hands Nathan a business card-sized ticket with several holes punched in it.)

CHRIS: Two more semesters and you get automatically elected to the board of regents.

(He turns to the Nerd.)

CHRIS: All registered.

NERD: Then come in.


(They each take a chair about mid-way up the rows of seats. A professor walks up to the podium looking every bit the intellectual.)

PROFESSOR: Now class, welcome to “The Super Hero 101.” Before we begin I am going to turn on a dampening field. It helps by taking the distractions out of the lessons.

(The professor flips a switch on the wall. The puddle of water on the far right front desk turns back into a pimply youth, and an overweight woman falls from her perch on the coat rack where she had been a bright red cardinal. Once order is restored the professor begins).

PROFESSOR: Welcome class. Today, I am going to give you the basics of your responsibility to society. I will also teach you how to use your powers to get ahead in life.

CHRIS: This is what I'm talking about.

PROFESSOR: You have been given a great gift. You will be able to use it to better yourself and everyone around you.

MIGUEL: Pshaw.

PROFESSOR: I will teach you how to profit immensely from your gifts in a way that is legal and ethical.

MIGUEL: Well... maybe.

NATHAN: Hells yeah.

PROFESSOR: At the end of the class you will each come up here and register with the government agency that tracks super powers as well.

NATHAN: At the end of class? This is only one class long?

(The professor looks a little annoyed at the outburst, but answers the question.)


MIGUEL: Sweet.

PROFESSOR: All the benefits I have stated can be yours, and you will prosper with your powers. Today, I am going to give you the outline for a service we offer with our ten week private course entitled, “The Powerful and the Profitable.”

(Chris raises his hand. The professor nods.)

CHRIS: You said earlier that you were going to tell us how to get ahead in life with our powers today.

PROFESSOR: I didn't say today. I just said I was going to tell you how to do it... if you sign up for our course.

CHIRS: How much is it?

PROFESSOR: Forty-nine ninety-nine.

(Chris looks acansed as a collective exhale reverbs throughout the room.)

PROFESSOR: Fifty dollars is nothing compared to the life long lessons you will learn.

MIGUEL: Excuse me. Can we just fill out the government paperwork and go?

PROFESSOR: Sorry, you have to stay for the whole class.

CHRIS: How long is this class?

PROFESSOR: Six hours.

(Nathan raises his hand.)


NATHAN: Is this a credit course that will go on our transcripts?


(Nathan smiles. Chris and Miguel bury their heads in their hands.)



(Several hours have passed. Miguel and Chris have both laid their heads on their respective desks. Miguel is in an ever increasing pool of slobber and Chris is carving the names of the members of Duran Duran into the desktop. Nathan is paying rapt attention to the professor.)

PROFESSOR: And that raps it up. If you will please, form a line at my desk, and I will get you all to fill out the registration paperwork.

(The professor flips the dampening filed off, and Chris is instantly standing in front of the professor.)

PROFESSOR: Super speed, eh? That's rather a rare power.

CHRIS: Really?

(Nathan nudges Miguel awake. They join Chris at the professor’s desk, and all three sign the government super power registration paperwork.)


(Miguel stretches as Chris opens the door to his Daytona and Nathan squeezes into the back, growling all the while.)

NATHAN: If you could only hear what I'm thinking.

CHRIS: No thanks. There are a few places in this world I wouldn't care to delve into, and one of them is your mind.

MIGUEL: What a fucking waste of a day! Take me home.

CHRIS: Not so fast.

CHRIS: Yes so fast.

CHRIS: Not so fast.

CHRIS: Yes so fast.

CHRIS: Do you mind?

MIGUEL: Well...

CHRIS: I'm hungry.

(There is a dead silence with the exception of the traffic buzzing back and forth on I-20.)

MIGUEL: Did he just say what I thought he said?

NATHAN: Hang on.

(Nathan pauses while he uses his power to wander past things too twisted to mention here in print in Miguel's mind.)

NATHAN: Well you thought he said he was hungry.

(Nathan turns to Chris and wanders through the catalog of Duran Duran songs playing simultaneously in Chris's mind.)

NATHAN: Yes that's what he said. Or at least he thought it. I didn't quite hear him.

MIGUEL: You haven't eaten since high school. You live off of Dr. Pepper.

NATHAN: Yeah, and if you eat regular food you might slow that metabolism down.

CHRIS: Nah. I'm gonna run across the freeway to that Taco Hell and grab something for us. Be back in a blink.

(Chris dashes off, but he only gets about 200 feet when he goes flying across the parking lot as if he was thrown out of a moving vehicle. He rolls to the ground.)

NATHAN: Ouchie!

(Miguel and Nathan take off towards him when a black van skids nearby, the rear doors opening. Two men in black jump out. They pick up the unconscious Chris and haul him into the van. A third man, sitting on the roof of the van with something that looks similar to a megaphone, jumps into the van too.)

MIGUEL: What the hell?!

NATHAN: It's a rape van!

MIGUEL: That guy on top had one of those super power dampening things. They used it on Chris.


(Nathan concentrates on the van as is tears rubber out of the lot.)

MIGUEL: Could you read their thoughts?

NATHAN: Yes. A little bit at least.

MIGUEL: A little bit?

NATHAN: Well, enough to make this story slightly interesting.

MIGUEL: Let's go get him back!

(End Episode Four)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: Iron Man 2

by Nathan Stout (of

Iron Man is cool. He is really cool. At least, that's what I'm supposed to believe per the marketing people, right?

I FINALLY got around to watching "Iron Man 2" and I have a couple of pearls of wisdom to say about it.

I have this problem (no, not with bladder control as you may have heard) but with animated sequences. There is this point when my brain knows that what it is watching isn't real. It's very close to looking real, but something just isn't right, so my brain starts getting all muddled. I'm sure you have experienced this sensation too. Have you ever been looking at something (usually on TV or the movies) and the camera angle is all funky, so your brain momentarily gets disoriented... it's like that. Have you ever walked through one of those spinning tunnels in a haunted house? You KNOW you are walking perfectly upright on a flat surface, but your eyes are sending confusing images, and your body makes you 'think' the room is turning... it's like that.

Well, when I watch movies where there is a lot of CGI going on, sometimes my mind gets that strange feeling. My first experience with this was while I was watching "Star Wars: Episode 1," during the Gungan battle scene. The scene in "Iron Man 2," where Rhodes and Stark are kicking each other's butt, did this to me as well.

"Iron Man 2" picks up where "Iron Man" left off (basically). Tony Stark is very self centered (maybe a little over the top) and setting himself up for the emotional fall and rise (it's a very obvious setup). Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) stars as the inept weapons contractor who helps the 'bad guy' Ivan Vanko (a very scary looking Mickey Rourke) take down Stark. Tony falls from grace, finds new hope, and wins in the end. Big Surprise. One more word on the cast. Garry Shandling plays the mean Senator Stern, and it looks like he just walked out of his plastic surgeon's office... yikes! Oh yeah, and of course Stan Lee makes an appearance as 'Larry King'.

A lot of this movie is contrived, and there are a lot of WTF moments, but without those moments the movie would be over in five minutes. Want me to list some more of the obvious ones???

1.) Vanko is rammed against a concrete wall by a car SEVERAL times... no one survives that.. not even once.
2.) Rhodes' 'War Machine' suit is taken over by Vanko. Shield Agent Natalie Rushman gets into Vanko's lair, and reboots the War Machine suit... why didn't she just disable all the drones attacking Stark and terrorizing the citizens while she was there? HELLOOOO?????
3.) Rhodes and Stark shoot their hand laser beams at each other to create an explosion to kill Vanko, but Vanko wasn't wearing face protection... why didn't either one of them just shoot their beam into Vanko's face and be done with it?

Anyway, this movie is what it is... a big budget explosion-o-rama with cool robot suits. It's fun to watch and Tony's crazy talk entertains the masses. If you saw the first and liked it, you will like this one.

One really neat aspect of this movie is the tying in of the whole "Avengers" plot line. If you remember, the first movie had Samuel Jackson (as Nick Fury) show up at the end to ask Stark to join the group. You might also remember that at the end of the Hulk reboot, Tony Stark shows up to talk to Bruce Banner about joining. The Avengers are featured more prominently in "Iron Man 2," and if we wait until after the credits, we get another "Avengers" sneak peek when they reveal they have 'found him'. The camera zooms out and we see Thor's hammer. "Thor" will be released sometime this year. Of course, when you have such a big setup, and Hollywood being what it is, I am sure it will all fall apart and there won't be an "Avengers" movie.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Trainwreck Idol: Auditions from New Jersey, from New Orleans, and with New Judges

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’m running a little behind on my American Idol watching. Last night they showed the third episode, and I’m just now posting my review of auditions from the first two episodes. What can you do?

The odd thing about the first week of audition shows is how bad the New Jersey show was and how good the New Orleans show was. The New Jersey show was two hours and didn’t have as many good auditions as the one hour long New Orleans show. It made it painful for me to watch. I think somewhere along the way the novelty of “look how bad that person is” has lost its appeal, if it ever really appealed to me to begin with. To make matters worse, they were letting some of the bad auditions through.

I tried to be as thorough as I could be without watching the show over and over. I watched the first show, took notes, and then did a quick review fast forwarding through the show in about ten minutes. I watched the second show almost a week later. I was made so gun shy by that first episode that I was afraid to put on the second. I was told that the second was actually pretty good though, and saw a You Tube video of one particularly good audition, so I finally got to it. Then I showed my roommate the best parts of the first episode, and had another chance to review them.

They made a big deal about Jennifer Lopez being uncomfortable with telling people no, but the truth is that all three judges were having the same issue. There was a girl named Rachel who auditioned for Season Six, made it to Hollywood, and then got sent home. Lopez remembered her, and said that this audition wasn’t as good as the one before. Soooo…o… if she’s not as good as last time and didn’t make it last time?

Next was this guy named Caleb. I didn’t like him as much as the judges did. And, um, well that’s all I really got on that one. This is why I wasn’t huge about writing about the auditions. Sometimes there just isn’t much to say.

As is the case with Kenzie, another ok audition. The judges were split about her, but they let her through. I thought she sounded a bit like Alanis Morrissette with a country star twang. My rule with country singing is: the less twang the better. She didn’t have all that much.

Then there was this woman who was apparently a huge fan of Lopez, and she said she saw Selena when she was seven and immediately started singing. She was 21, which puts it at 1997 when she was seven, so I’m guessing she meant the movie. I think Selena died in 1995 or 1996. I only say all of this because I was trying to work out in my head if she meant seeing the singer live, or seeing the movie. I’ve never seen the movie and had never heard of Selena prior to the shooting. Anyway, so this girl popped open her shirt to reveal silver stars pinned to her top, over her breasts, and didn’t sing all that great, so the judges told her no. Well, if the judges from the previous years had been there they would have. These judges sent her to Hollywood. Who knows?

By now we were well into the first hour, and I was wondering why the new generation of kids is so untalented, when this guy named Robbie sang “Yesterday” by The Beatles. He wasn’t great, but he was the first one who I thought might last longer than the first Hollywood week, maybe the second. I guess we’ll see. Part of the fun of writing something like this is to see if I have any sort of intuition about this. The answer is that I don’t, but we’ll pretend that we don’t know that.

Next was Ashley, the Britney Spears fan. I hate to sound rude, but the moment she said she wanted to be just like Brittney Spears, I knew she wasn’t good enough to make it through to Hollywood. Remember what I said about my intuition? She made a sympathy play and got through, even though she sounded… well. Do you know who Ethyl Merman was? Except that Ethyl Merman could sing.

Victoria Huggins was next. I made a note of her last name because she was making a video diary of the experience going to audition. I wondered if maybe she was a You Tube personality, and meant to look her up. When she spoke she sounded like someone from a TV show. Like she could be Kenneth’s sister from “30 Rock.” But it was something else, and I really wish I could remember who I was thinking of. Some 80s sitcom I think. Anyway, I’m not making fun of her for that, just stating my thoughts. She was actually pretty good. [Note: I was thinking of Yeardly Smith when she was in “The Legend of Billie Jean”. I’ll root for her as long as she does this song.
Melinda was ok. Um, all I got on that one too.

The singing waitress, Devyn, I actually liked her though she needs to work on her voice. Well into the second hour and this was only the second person who I saw as potential Top 12.

Then there was Brielle who was also pretty damn good, so perhaps three.

Finally, this kid named Travis was pretty good, so perhaps four. Steven Tyler asked to hear another song, and I think that was a good choice on his part. Travis started with “Eleanor Rigby,” and I wasn’t immediately impressed, but when he did the Jason Mraz song, “I’m Yours,” I could actually see where his talent was.

So the tally was two hours, 51 tickets to Hollywood given out, and only four auditions that I thought were really all that good. No wonder it took me awhile to watch the second episode. But the tally for the second episode was one hour, 37 tickets to Hollywood, and quite a few good auditions.

The first was this guy, Jordan. He sang “Over the Rainbow.” He was a bit shrill at start, but improved quickly. His family was waiting outside, and I think it was his mom, said to Ryan Seacrest, “You look tall on TV.” It was just funny to me.

Perhaps one of the funnier things about Steven Tyler is that he seems to like women with big lips, maybe because he himself has big lips that maybe he even stole from a woman. By that I mean got from his mom’s side. Get your mind out of the “Silence of the Lambs” gutter. Anyway, this girl, Sarah had big lips and a big voice (and surely a big heart… awwww.) She was very good.

Jovany was the next one sent through. I wasn’t as big on him as the judges were, but I appreciate that he auditioned with a Spanish tune. I’m not a fan of most Tejano or Ranchero music, but rock with a Latin flavor is often very good, so I would be interested to see if he does anything of that nature.

Jacqueline was good. What struck me about her voice is that she could easily do both R&B and country. If I was looking for a potential star in the current market, I would probably go with someone like her. But even though I just said that, she wasn’t my favourite… oops, American Idol… favorite.

Brett was this kid who looks like the lead singer of Simply Red. He had a good voice.

This guy named Gabriel did Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” I thought he was doing well, but he overreached and blew it. They didn’t send him through. I’ve been mostly talking about people who made it. The reason I brought him up is that unless I just am not good at measuring tone, I thought he was better than many of the people they sent through in New Jersey, but the judges seemed like they thought he was awful from the start.

Jacee was the kid I saw online He’s amazing. He’s 15, but he looks much younger like maybe 12. Wait. How could that be that he’s 15, but looks 12? He must be a vampire. Only explanation. Anyway, he sang “Dock of the Bay” and really nailed it. I actually hope he at least makes it to the main competition.

Paris was quite good. That’s my whole thought there. And that seems like a good stopping point, because not only am I out of contestants that I took notes about, but I’m out of things to say.

But wait, I remembered something. Her daughter is hydrocephalic (I so totally spelled that right without spell check, go me!). I didn’t note that by her name, and so I forgot to write about it until I was editing to post. She brought Jennifer Lopez to tears. Which now seems like a good stopping point.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Game review: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects

by Nathan Stout (of

Cleopatra and the Society of Architects is by the company Days of Wonder. It's a 3-5 player game where players attempt to become the greatest of Cleopatra's architects but constructing palace parts, gaining 'talent', but avoiding corruption at the same time.

I bought this game about nine months ago during the purchase of Key Harvest (check out the joint review) and The Bridges of Shangri-la (not played yet). Chris came over last night and Loren came with him so we had to have a game night. One of my improvised 2011 yearly goals was to play each of my 80+ games at least once so we needed to knock this out.

Cleopatra (which I shall call it from now on) looks very complex. Check out this picture of all the pieces. Once you read through the somewhat light instruction book it becomes apparent that the game isn't all that complex, it just has a lot of parts.

The game uses the bottom of the box placed upside down to serve as part of the palace the players are building for ol' Cleo. The boards are laid out (one ontop of the upside down box too) and players take turns collecting cards (resources) or using those cards to build pieces of the palace (and thus gaining 'talents'). You can think of talent like money basically. [Like in the Bible, and The Parable of the Talents, where the property was worth 8 talents. The Babylonians, Sumerians, Hebrews, and Greeks used talent as a measurement for various things including weight and mass of precious metals.] At the end of the game whoever has the most wins. When a part of the palace is built, the player takes the plastic piece and places it in its spot on the boards.

A neat element which can bite you in the butt (literally) is the inclusion of 'corruption' tokens. Basically the more shortcuts and underhandedness you use to build and gain talents, the more corrupt you become. At the end of the game the player with the most corruption tokens automatically looses (no matter how many talents they had). You have to really balance your play so you don't become too corrupt. You will find that you must collect corruption, there isn't much room to win without using shortcuts to get ahead of your opponents. The person who loses by having too much corruption is fed to Cleopatra's pet crocodile.

As an added twist after every part of the palace is built, the builder must roll the priest's dice. Every time the Ankh shows up on the dice that die is set aside and once all dice have been rolled and show that symbol it's time to make an offering to the gods. All players bid using their talents and whoever offers more get to rid themselves of some of their corruption tokens, the losers have to take corruption and all talents that were bid is lost, all dice are then 'reset' and the rolling starts again with the next bit of construction.

One of the parts of the palace you can build is something called the mosaics of the gods. They go on the board that is on top of the upside down box. They are simply cardboard in various shapes (called Penta puzzles) which look somewhat like shapes from Tetris. You place them strategically to gain extra talents and create spaces where no other pieces can be placed (which allow you to ditch some of your corruption tokens at the end of the game).

The resources to build all these palace parts come from the market which are three stacks of cards which players can take during their turn (instead of building something that turn). The cards are various resources like Wood, Stone, and even the Artisans who do the building. For instance a Spinx costs 1 Artisan, 1 Stone, and 1 Marble to build. There are also 'Worshipers of the gods' cards

Here is an excellent FAQ/Errata document from Board Game

Here is a bit about the number of players that Chris pointed out to me... The reason the game requires more than two players is because of the player who is fed to the crocodiles (for having too much corruption). With two players the player with the least corruption would be the automatic winner, except that they have an official 2-player Variant on the Days of Wonder website that just circumvents the crocodile bit, and taxes the player with the higher corruption.

During our 2 games Chris was fed to the crocodile both times (having accumulated too much corruption) and Lore won once and I won the second time. In the end we determined that in both games just one move (i.e. buying something, or failing to build something, etc) made the difference between the winner and looser. It worked out nicely each time.

Cleopatra turned out to be a rather fun game. It's a shame I didn't play it for so long. It has a lot of strategy and a fun 3D game board. Surprisingly it is very inexpensive as well. So get some friends together and give it a try.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Need for Sleep

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’m in a little bit of a predicament as blog writing goes. I seem to be at a loss for what to write at the moment. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have plenty of ideas. It’s that I worked a lot last week, and didn’t really sleep a lot. I’ve found my brain not functioning too well when I sit down to write the last few days. I know I have the ideas, but I can’t think of what they are, and when I do think what they are, I can’t remember where I was trying to go with the thoughts.

As I often do when I need to write, but have nothing, I’m just starting to type. You’ve been warned.

I have slept, but it hasn’t been enough and consistently. I just find it interesting that one largely overlooked aspect of time management is the simple act of getting enough sleep. When I’m well rested it seems easier for me to get on, and stay on, task.

My solution is to simply not try to write out a full thought, since it feels impossible right now. Instead, I’m going to start a number of different thoughts, take them as far as I can, and then come back to it later. So this will be an article about sleep, I’m pretty sure, by the time I’m done.

1-17-11, 12:16 am: I’ve been in a little bit of a clean up my mess mood lately. I’m not sure if this will be posted anytime too soon. I’m questionable about the overall quality this post will have. I need another reserve though, so it’s all good.

I’m not even too sure if I want to make this about sleep. I was suffering at the time that I wrote this from just not getting enough sleep before work, and sitting at my post miserable and not creative. I think I’ve fixed much of that issue, by sleeping. I’ve read that they believe that we don’t need sleep, but I’m not so sure about that. And I would love to get into it, but I really want to write it as a short story.

What I will say is that they believe that if they could simulate the release of the rest chemicals while we’re awake that we wouldn’t need the sleep. Then there is also a belief that you always have to make up for lost sleep, and that one I believe. I’ve had it happen to me where I’ve had to sleep longer than I reasonably should just feel rested again after not sleeping. But whatever. Go read about sleep if it interests you that much. Like I said. I doubt whether this will ever be posted, so I can just rattle on about whatever I want to rattle on about. Rattle. Rattle.

The part where I had ideas, but couldn’t think of any of them, I’ve kind of taken care of by listing. I know. It seems such a simple idea that would have left me in a better position when I was tired and couldn’t think. I was tired though, so I can’t take responsibility.

Ok, fine let’s talk about sleep. I like sleeping. I like dreams when I can remember them. One regret I have in life is that I didn’t keep better dream journals. But they would be just like everything that I have stored somewhere, neglected, unorganized, and waiting for me to get to it damn it.

I dreamed last night that I was in high school and they wanted to give me detention because I took video of me driving a rental car at over 100 mph in downtown Fort Worth. The problem is of course that that is all circumstantial, though my dream self didn’t think of it like that. What happened though was that I saw a part where the car ended up buried in the ground on the video. I said, “I don’t remember that ever happening,” and that made the school staff nervous, like it was added when they were building their case. I said, you have no way of knowing how fast I was going even if I claimed I was going over 100 mph, and they dropped the matter suddenly.
And that is how I’m going to end this post. With that pointless telling of my dream.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: Robotech The Movie

(by Nathan Stout of

Robotech is awesome. Even at it's worst, it's great. Robotech the Movie however... sheesh... is still great. It's not excellent but I still think it's interesting and it very much the child of the strange merging of Japanese animation and American story telling that Robotech the series is.

Let me give you the Robotech story rundown in just a few sentences. In 1999 an alien spaceship crashes on Earth and ten years later aliens come to reclaim it (after the humans rebuilt it). The technology that was aboard the ship allowed the humans to make planes that could transform into giant robots (the size of the aliens). The ship was pursued across the galaxy and eventually the humans won (only at a great cost). Years later the alien's overseers show up and try to get what's left of the ship and fail. Years after that another race of aliens take over Earth. Eventually the humans prevail. Wow. That's really simplifying the VERY complex story but it gets the job done.

Robotech was hailed as one of the first U.S. 'serious' cartoons that did stuff (like kill off characters) that was very un-cartoon like. This sort of serious story line was apparently very common in Japan but new to audiences in the United States.

Now what makes it even more interesting is that Robotech is actually made of three different cartoons (from Japan). All three were purchased by Harmony Gold and Carl Macek wove a story to connect all three. A new soundtrack and new audio turned what was already cool into something much greater.

Robotech the Movie (1986) was built in much the same way. It was made with unrelated footage from a movie called Megazone 23 and various footage from the series. The footage was mixed up and a new storyline and new audio was added.

Now I wouldn't complain too much about it since the series did the exact same thing. The problem I do have with movie was the fact that Carl Macek seemed to be riding the Robotech success train and needed to come up something new and quick. This sort of rushed project usually sucks and Robotech the Movie paid the price. I can't totally blame Carl Macek though, apparently he had a cut of the film that didn't have any Masters footage in it. It was mostly Megazone 23, but execs at Cannon Films told him there wasn't enough action so they made him go back and redo the film. Once again movie execs ruin what could have been a great addition to the saga.

The story is actually not too bad. It takes place between the first and second Robotech 'wars' or series. Some basic story plots have been added to the Robotech canon about exactly what the aliens actually want. The series rotates around the fact that the aliens want the ship and what secrets it holds. The movie makes the secret a computer 'terminal' that in the ship. For the movie the terminal was put into a transforming motorcycle that some punk gets ahold of. He is constantly on the run from the government (and alien moles within the government). Our hero Mark also discovers that the super popular star Eve is actually an computer program (which was created from some of that alien technology) and turns out to be what the aliens want. Eve works with Mark to stop the aliens/government in their evil plot to kill off the human race.

When we get to the actually plot point where EVE talks to Mark the movie isn't so bad (at about 30 minutes into the movie). But up until then its a jump back and forth with footage from the 2nd part of Robotech (the Masters Saga) and footage from the movie Meagzone 23. The Robotech Master's footage trying to tell the first part of the story seems somewhat non-sensical and really hurts the overall project. When I look back at it I see that you need to show that footage but somehow it just doesn't fit well.

The Megazone 23 animation is great and blends fairly well with the Masters footage. Overall though, I don't get the Robotech vibe from the Megazone 23 footage. I felt it should have been a bit more tech-oriented. There are some cool robots and such in some scenes but the technology that is integrated into every day life is missing in that footage so it seems a bit out of place. As it turns out Megazone 23 was shot on 35mm and the Masters parts were shot on 16mm (which explains some of the uneasiness I was feeling when watching the two spliced together).

Robotech has gotten an A+ book series that explains all the little details and glosses over all the flubs and there was a book in that series that took the movie and integrated it very well into the Robotech canon. I suggest watching the movie and reading the book as one exercise.

I can only suggest Robotech the Movie if you are fan of Robotech. If you aren't you won't get a lot of whats going on and you won't be able to get past the choppy storytelling.

On one final note. Robotech the Movie did miserably in the theaters. However, the DFW are was one of the few places where the movie was released (as a test). I got to see it when it came out and I must say I didn't give a crap about it (at the time).

Here is the trailer for the movie.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Trouble with Day Shifts

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Is that they take place during the day. Allow me to not pull any punches. I’m not a day person. I’ve worked two twelve hour day shifts this weekend, and not coincidentally, my brain has been shut down the whole time. Couple that with some workers at my post all day Saturday, and I have nothing really to show for my time at work the last couple of days.

I used my phone to do a lot of pointless web surfing. It really felt like I had a TV and a remote and 500 channels and the attention span of something with a short attention span.

I watched some DVDs. I did write a little. I walked around a bit too. But for 24 hours this weekend I was at work, and I have very little to show for it. Stupid jobs.

I have nothing interesting to report out of it either. That’s the other lame bit. If I had surfed the web and come away with a lot of cool information that might be alright. If my thoughts had produced anything worth reporting that might be alright. Well, I did solve all the world’s problems except for one important one. I still don’t know how to get people to listen to me when I have solutions for problems.

And really to make matters worse, I was too tired when I got home to watch the other American Idol that played this week, so I don’t have an American Idol post today. And I’m really too tired now to watch it and then write it. So this is what you get. A lot of nothing to end your week, and about eleven hours late, since we’ve been setting these to post at 8:00 am. I would have posted then, but I was at work feeling miserable.

I think that even though this is a throwaway post, there is probably no better representation of how I feel at the moment than this tired, pointless mess of nothing. Yep, that pretty much describes me this weekend. Here’s too a good week to make up for the least couple of days.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Three – Registration and Obfusc… Obfusc… Miguel Gets a Power

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Chris McGinty)


(Chris and Nathan find themselves downtown looking for the building in question.)

NATHAN: I really have no idea where this place is. And I’m a real man, so I can’t ask for directions.

CHRIS: You don’t have to ask directions. Just read people’s minds. Someone is sure to know.

NATHAN: I’ll try that.

(They walk on. Nathan ends up walking away while Chris walks on. Chris hears Nathan from a slight distance.)

NATHAN: You should leave him. He’s still sleeping with that ex-girlfriend you don’t want him hanging out with. Oh wait, nevermind. She slept with her boss for a promotion. You’re made for each other. Carry on.

CHRIS: Nathan! Leave the nice people alone.

(Chris and Nathan walk on. They look ahead and see Miguel.)

CHRIS: What are you doing downtown?

MIGUEL: I was probably just running camera.

CHRIS: Is he lying?

NATHAN: You know I’m unclear this time.

MIGUEL (his mouth not moving in time with his speech): No, that’s just it. My immunity developed into a power just after you guys left.

NATHAN: What the hell is going on with your voice? You’re talking, but it looks like you’ve been overdubbed. And poorly at that.

MIGUEL: Isn’t it neat? Not only can I overdub any voice over my actual speech, but people can’t read my mind or even tell if I’m lying because I can obfusc- obfus I can make my actual intentions unknown.

CHRIS: Oh, you have obfusc- obfusc- That power you just mentioned.

NATHAN: Do you two not speak English. He has obfusc- obfusc- You know, what Miguel said.

CHRIS: I got an idea. Miguel, overdub an announcers voice.

(The screen switches to a definition. An announcer reads the following: “obfuscation: n. the ability to obscure or confuse in such a way that the truth is unclear.”)

MIGUEL: Yeah, that’s the one. I told my wife I was called into work. She believed me, so finally after all these years I can hang out with until my heart’s content.

NATHAN : What if she calls your work and you’re not there?

MIGUEL: Quiet you.

NATHAN: Chris, dear god! She’s too young!

CHRIS: She’s at least 18.

(Nathan concentrates.)

NATHAN: Yes, she’s 19, but she also like them a little bit bigger than what you have buddy.

(Nathan indicates Chris’s crotchal area.)

CHRIS: Shut the fuck up.

NATHAN: We need to get to the registration office, anyway, before it closes.

MIGUEL: Then that is what we shall do.

CHRIS: Let’s go!

NATHAN: I hate the both of you sometimes.

(At the Super Powers Registration office, the three friends walk in to see a huge line.)

CHRIS: We’ll be here all day.

NATHAN: What else do you think you have to do?

MIGUEL: I was going to go into Tosche station to pickup some power converters

NATHAN: Shut up. I remember now why we don’t hang out with you.

CHRIS: Let’s get out of here. When Miguel gets caught we’ll never get to hang out again. I don’t want to waste our boy’s day out here.

NATHAN: What is it that you think… wait a minute. I can’t read your thoughts anymore. My power is gone.

MIGUEL: Don’t panic, Nathan. This whole building is fitted with disruptors that keep folks like you from using your powers. Government offices are very secretive.

NATHAN: So I can’t use my power at all?

CHRIS: Let’s hang out here… all day… every day…

(Just then a man at the front of the line can be heard.)

MAN: My power works like this.

(He raises his arms, his body suddenly covers with feathers, and he flies around the room. The hundreds of people in the office cheer.)

NATHAN: Chris! Are you nuts?

CHRIS: What are you talking about?

NATHAN: We can’t do something that grandiose. You just wrote a throw away scene that will cost thousands of dollars.

CHRIS: You have credit cards.

NATHAN: No, you’ll have to cut that scene out. We can’t afford all those extras.

CHRIS: This is what you get for not writing your part of the story for well over a year. I had to step in and I wanted a scene with a feather dude and hundreds of spectators.

NATHAN: Let’s just get out of here before I hurt someone.

(The three amigos walk back onto the street.)

CHRIS: Miguel and Kim could always get a loan.

MIGUEL: I have to know. Is he serious about that?

NATHAN: More serious than he is about most things.

MIGUEL: That actually frightens me.

CHRIS: So we’re presumably super heroes…

MIGUEL: Or super villains.

CHRIS: … or super villains. So what do we do now?

NATHAN: Let’s go to TCC.

CHRIS: To Collect Costumes.

NATHAN: Don’t start. No one got that sketch the first time we did it. No, I was just thinking that it’s a community college. They have government forms available to students. Maybe we can find someone nice who will give us the forms to register our powers.


(The three would be heroes walk the halls looking for an information desk. Chris points at various college girls.)

CHRIS: Does she think I’m cute?


CHRIS: Does she think I’m cute?


CHRIS: Does she think I’m cute?


CHRIS: You’re lying. At least one of the last twenty girls I asked you about thought I was cute.

NATHAN: I’m not using my powers like that.

CHRIS: Why not? It’s self serving. I just remembered it was on my list, and that list was like gospel to us.

NATHAN: It wasn’t on your list, and might I add that was the dumbest list I ever read.

CHRIS: Was not.

NATHAN: Spray painting the whole of downtown Dallas in a day?

CHRIS: It’s a challenge. See if I was fast enough.



MIGUEL: Just thought I’d get a line in here somewhere.

NATHAN: Maybe if you were writing part of this, you would get more lines. Now quiet down. There’s the information desk.

(Chris looks and sees a very attractive girl at the resource desk.)

CHRIS: Does she…


(Nathan approaches the resource desk.)

NATHAN: Excuse me miss, but… (Nathan’s lips go out of sync) I want to have mad passionate sex with your anus.

GIRL: What did you say to me?

NATHAN: I didn’t say anything… (Nathan’s lips go out of sync) that should surprise you with an anus like that.

GIRL: Oh my god! I have never been so insulted! And why is your mouth not moving with the words you’re saying?

NATHAN: Miguel!

MIGUEL: What? You’re right. You should have all the lines.

(Nathan runs after Miguel, who takes off down the hall to avoid retribution.)

CHRIS: I could catch him easier. If I wanted to.

(Chris approaches the resource desk.)

CHRIS: What my clearly creepy and insensitive friend was trying to say…

Girl: You give me the creeps too.

CHRIS: Ok, so he wasn’t lying. My point is that we are trying to get super power registration forms.

GIRL: Are you students?


GIRL: You’re lying. I can read minds.

CHRIS: Why am I the only one without the power to read minds?

GIRL: What power do you have?

CHRIS: I go real fast.

GIRL: I bet you do.

CHRIS: I… hey that was funny.

GIRL: Knew you’d like it. Anyway, I’m afraid I can’t give you the forms unless you’re students, but you can wipe that disappointed thought out of your mind. You can register for our many Super Power courses, and the registration forms are given out automatically to students who aren’t registered. And no, I’m not Basil’s daughter.

CHRIS: Alright, well I’ll go find my friends, maybe save Miguel’s life while I’m at it. Oh by the way…

GIRL: No, she doesn’t think you’re cute, and neither do I.

(Part Two by Miguel Cruz)

(Just then a ten year old boy bursts into the room. Nathan and Chris pick up their crossbows. They each fire an arrow. Nathan's runs clean through to the boys lung. The boy begins to collapse. As he does so, Chris’ arrow hits it’s target, the boy’s heart. The boy is dead before he hits the floor.)

NATHAN: That was impressive.

CHRIS: Yes, but not as impressive as the first week's sales of Tones on Tales second album in the native Birmingham.

NATHAN: I thought they were British.

CHRIS: No, that's Information Society. Tones on Tale is also from Britain.

NATHAN: But you just said they're from Birmingham, Alabama.

CHRIS: Oh no silly boy, Birmingham is also a city in England.

NATHAN: Hmmm. Let's just go to sleep. We’ll get rid of the body in the morning.

CHRIS: Agreed.


(Part Three by Chris McGinty)

NATHAN: You have the most fucked up dreams.

(Chris startles awake.)

CHRIS: You were able to watch that?

NATHAN: Yeah, it’s part of reading minds.

CHRIS: Hmm. Miguel is an idiot by the way. It’s Tones on Tail. You know, I always thought that if there was a way to record my dreams to a video media, Hollywood would be in danger of going bankrupt. Where’s Miguel?

NATHAN: He’s hiding. I’m sure he’ll come back out when he thinks I’ve forgotten.

CHRIS: I went looking for the two of you, but eventually gave up and dozed…

(Just then a ten year old boy bursts into the room. Chris reaches for his crossbow.)

NATHAN: You don’t have a crossbow, Chris. And for that matter he’s not a threat. He’s the smartest student here, and often jokes that when he becomes a Super Hero he will be called Osmosis Man because he learns by some unexplained form of osmosis and never forgets a fact no matter how pointless.

CHRIS: Is his name Reece?


CHRIS: You would get that if you had read it.

NATHAN: His name is Larry, and I suggest we befriend him, because he may be very valuable whenever we figure out what we’re doing.

CHRIS: Ok, let me do the talking. Hello there Reece. My name is Chris. My cohorts and I are joining the Super Power course structure at this fine establishment.

LARRY: My name is Larry.

CHRIS: Whatever Reece. Anyway, we will be best friends, for I have decreed it.

LARRY: My name is Larry.

CHRIS: It’s Reece.

LARRY: It’s Larry.

CHRIS: It is, in fact, Reece
LARRY: I think I would know my own name.

CHRIS: I don’t think you even realize that the man who has raised you isn’t even your biological father.

LARRY: My step dad? Well no, he wouldn’t be would he? My biological father, the man who will always be Mein Pa to me, was killed serving the government when I was two. I could pull out huge favors in an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation, and save my friends from certain demise. It’s too bad you’re not my friend, friend.

CHRIS: Actually Reece, I am your friend, and you’ll just have to get over your denial.

(Larry grabs the forms he came to get, and walks off. He seems incredibly pissed off.)

NATHAN: What I find fascinating about all that is that you actually think you know what you’re doing.

C: What I find fascinating is that you don’t think I do. Let’s get registered.
(End Episode Three)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Kung Pow - Enter The Fist

by Nathan Stout (of

This is an older movie but I was given the idea to review it in a dream I had a few nights back. I'd like to tell you how I came up with the idea thanks to the dream. The day before the dream I had been working on ideas for the upcoming 2011 Hangman's House of Horrors season. The planning/creative meetings are coming at the end of this month and I had been jotting down ideas for themes and gags to use. That night I had a dream about being there at the haunted house. For some reason or another Steve Oedekerk (not to be confused with Bob Odenkirk) was running the house. As we were running to and for getting it ready to open I asked him: 'so when is Kung Pow 2 coming out?' I don't remember exactly what he said but he shook his head and said they couldn't make it because the first one didn't do well.

Kung Pow - Enter the Fist is a very strange movie indeed. If you are a pop culture kind of person you might get it. If you are anyone else, forget it. Even if you are a pop culture kind of person you might get it, but you probably won't really like it. If you do like it then congratulations, you are a VERY narrow slice of the demographic that this movie was made specially for.

Kung Pow is about a character named The Chosen One (or Chosen One, or sometimes: Chosen). The Chosen One was a child that escaped the killing of his family by the evil Master Pain. The Chosen One grows up to avenge his family but there is more to Master Pain than meets the eye. In the end The Chosen One defeats Master Pain (called Master Betty by this point) and avenges his family.

That sounds somewhat straight forward, right? Hardly. Let give you the whole 'gimmick' of the movie. Steve Oedekerk found an old Kung-Fu movie from the 70's and had it restored from a print. He then re-edited it and re-dubbed the audio to form a totally new movie. He finally took himself and green-screened himself into the movie (over actor's bodies, etc) and also made some identical sets and shot some new scenes (with himself in them). He took the 'new stuff' he shot and made it look old and when the casual moviegoer see watches it, they don't really notice the mixture of old and new... much.

If you were to walk up to me and read me the above paragraph and ask me if I would want to go see this movie I would say... HELL YES.

Have you guessed that I am in that narrow demographic?

I got this movie from the place I worked at back in 2002 (a business who owned several BlockBusters and always got screener copies of movies). I watched this movie twice in one day and then again the next day. I was laughing my ass off at this movie. It was that good to me. It's like someone got into my head and discovered what kind of movie I would love to watch and made it! The acting is cheesy, the effects are cheesy. It's partly a 70's Kung-Fu movie that's cheesy. It's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, when you bring all the tastes together it is even better! I do have one irritation about the movie... I enjoy the old movie footage 60% more than the newer-shot stuff. The fight scene with the cow was a great bit to have in the trailer (because it got lots of people in the door) but I didn't care too much for it.

Have you ever seen MXC on Spike TV? It's a Japanese game show where they re-dubbed what they were saying with crazy stuff. I love this too. It is the main reason I love Kung Pow so much. I like Oedekerk's sense of humor too. You may remember he co-wrote the Ace Ventura movies as well as Bruce and Evan Allmighty.

This movie works on so many levels for me. I also really enjoyed the DVD commentary as well. It has some great insight into how they obtained the original Kung-Fu movie and it's littered with jokes as well.

So, to sum up, if you like Kung-Fu movies, cheesy movies, crazy comedies all mixed into one then by all means watch this movie. If you don't like some part of what I just described, then don't, you won't like it.

You may remeber that Steve Oedekerk also did the Tumb Movies and I did a review of them here on the blog. Here is that blog for your benefit. Also, here is my webpage with an article about Kung-Pow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trainwreck Idol – Judging the Judges

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Last year, I missed an untapped vein of content for the daily blog by watching American Idol, but not commenting on it. The nice thing about the show is that you can pretend that it’s football, and overanalyze it to a dead horse. That’s blog post material to me.

I’m not even sure that I would normally even want to start this early. There isn’t a whole lot to analyze during auditions, or even during Hollywood weeks, because you see a lot of people, and don’t know who is important. At their first stop in New Jersey they gave out 51 gold tickets… sigh… we need Simon. And of those 51 they only showed maybe four people that I thought were any good, so I can’t even begin to really analyze. Except that there is something to talk about already. America got to judge the judges.

The opening segment was as exciting as a movie trailer where at the end you think you may just want to see that movie, but there is something that tells you that maybe it’s going to suck. The segment screamed of, “We’re coming into our tenth year, everybody has bailed from the show, and our ratings are slipping a little even though we’re still number one, so pleeeeease watch us!” But that might have just been my impression.

I feel like I need to review what has been going on, but I’m already seeing this being a much longer post than I want it to be. Ah, what the hell? As it is, I’m not sure I have all my facts straight, so why would I deny myself the chance to look like a moron? Isn’t that what American Idol is all about? Oh really? Finding a new pop star? Hmm. Not that interesting of a show after all is it?

Here is what I think I’m sure of. Nigel Lythgoe dropped out of the producer spot to focus on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Somewhere around that time there were rumours that Paula Abdul was not staying with the show, which Fox Television denied. Then they brought on a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, who was not meant to replace Paula. There were rumours that Simon would leave the show when his contract was up, which he only half assed denied, while not really denying it.

But Kara didn’t replace Paula, so maybe we had Fox Television all wrong. They simply thought it was a good idea to bore us to death with four people saying how great a mediocre singer was, rather just three people. Fine. Except that Paula left the next year, and Ellen DeGeneres replaced her instead, because they still wanted to bore us with four people. See, the rumours weren’t true as long as you take them mostly at face value. Then Simon announced it was his last year. Shocking. Then rumours abounded that they would find someone good to replace him… we’ll get to that in a minute.

Somewhere near the end of the season, Nigel came back, and reportedly said that they should just get rid of everybody and start fresh. Then the rumours that Kara and Ellen were out started, and Fox… well, Fox denied these rumours. Except that very soon after, both Ellen and Kara decided that they didn’t want to be on the show anymore. You know, by their own choices. Kara went back to songwriting. Paula went on to her new show, “So You Think You Can Paula.” Ellen went back to her talk show, and how well is that working out for her? Oh, really. Actually pretty good. Well, then I’m happy for her.

There were no rumours concerning Randy Jackson or Ryan Seacrest leaving, which is odd because after the bloodbath, they’re still on the show.

So what do I think of the judges this year? Let’s start with the only returning judge.

Randy Jackson – Randy has always been odd. Some weeks he loves everything, and some weeks he doesn’t love anything. I’ve always enjoyed him though, and I’m glad he stuck around. The thing is that 51 tickets? I swear that those numbers were much lower before. And I’ll deal with some of the people who got through, but they used to be pretty good about not letting people through if they didn’t exhibit at least a hint of being able to win. This year they seemed to be letting people through with a hint of talent.

Jennifer Lopez – You know, I think she maybe gets a little bit of condescending press at times: mixed movie reviews, mixed album reviews, and mixed reviews of her romantic involvement. She does get positive press on many of her entrepreneurial ventures though. Thing is that she’s really cute (though I don’t think anyone was ever doubting that) and I think that she was a competent judge, albeit too nice like Paula was sometimes. And hold that thought about Ms. Lopez as a “replacement for Paula” for a moment as I move on to…

Steven Tyler – I don’t know how it is that this guy is not that cute, but is still so cute. No matter how much he ages, there is this hint of this guy who is good looking, even if I can’t pinpoint why. Keith Richards is probably pretty envious. He met all predictions, at least the one I made and the one my roommate, Jess, made. Her prediction was that he would have trouble containing his voice, and would pull some signature Aerosmith vocal riffs while trying to speak. He did. I predicted that he would judge the talent using Aerosmith lyrics. I was partially right. One of the first people who walked in, Mr. Tyler said, “You know why we’re all here? Because we’re not all there.” And this is why I’m calling it Trainwreck Idol. I know I should look away, but… “I don’t want to miss a thing.” And for the record, I bet that has been used over and over and over by people since they announced he would be a judge, but you know what? I don’t care. If I could take over his body for one show, I would memorize every lyric in the Aerosmith library, and I would fit it all in somehow, even if it had to be done with mirrors, because I just would. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just how I am. I’m not sure Mr. Tyler did a bad job judging, but since Ms. Lopez’s spot has been on the auction block for a few seasons now, it felt ok that she was sitting there. But I kept expecting that at any moment Ryan’s voice would chime in and say, “Simon was running late that day because of pressing matters at his record label,” and Simon would walk in, and Mr. Tyler would say, “It was awesome being a guest judge.” And it never happened.

There is a band known as Chicago. I once believed that Chicago could go on forever as a band, because for years there were people leaving, coming in, leaving, and it was ok. Then there was a band known as Nirvana that changed the pop radio landscape for awhile, and even if people eventually accepted that guy they got in place of Peter Cetera to sing for Chicago, it wouldn’t matter, because their music was never to be the modern pop style again, unless they took Santana’s lead and had a guest list longer than Lindsay Lohan’s arrest record. She’s been arrested a lot, right? I’m not out of touch that bad, am I? I see American Idol as Chicago for the time being. Peter Cetera is out, though hopefully Simon has better success, and for the time being American Idol still fits the pop culture. They could phase judges in and out for years as long as something doesn’t change the TV landscape too much. I guess we’ll see.

I hope I don’t come off like I’m not still a fan of the show, because I was trying to be funny. I think there have been some mistakes in production the last couple of years, but I was still looking forward to this year, and still am. I’ll write another part about the contestants later, even if there isn’t much to say.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Understanding your 'Happy Moments'

by Nathan Stout (of

OK, I am not a licensed therapist so this may all be bullocks. Today I am going to talk about people's memories (specifically mine). I guess what I am trying to figure out is why we hold onto specific memories.

In my life there are these moments I experienced that have stuck with me. When you watch movies and TV we are told that either very happy moments or very unhappy moments are the ones that stick with us but I have issue with this. The moments I have stuck in my mind are neither. It seems that those moments are moment I have been at a point of great satisfaction. Let me clear this more by saying that it is not moments like: finally completing a really tough level on some game or eating some great meal when I am really hungry. Let me throw a couple at you and you can decide.

One moment that just sticks in my mind as a great memory is me sitting in my Ford Escort in 2001 in the cold, infront of my apartment warming up the car while listening to Simple Minds' Greatest Hits. I mean... really??? When people talk about great memories they will recite their wedding day or the day they won the lottery or got a great job. For me they are really strange moments. This moment might be there becasue of several small factors that just added together.
  1. I really liked my Ford Escort. At this point I had a new truck but I still drove the Escort often.
  2. The Escort had a tape player. I have always been nostalgic for the tape/tape player.
  3. I was living 'my dream' by living in West Fort Worth in this garage apartment.
  4. I had recently gotten this 'Greatest Hits' album from Chris and I was really digging it.

Perhaps these circumstances led this to be a 'fond' memory.

Here are a few more moment that I have in my memory that seem to stand out as 'fond' memories or 'happy' moments.

  • Playing Hero Quest with my friend Barrett while listening to the Army of Darkness Soundtrack, eating little debbie snaks and drinking Dr. Pepper.
  • Sitting on my front porch (in Joshua) smoking (a pipe) and reading a book.
  • Walking with Chris a block to the IGA during an ice storm while I was living that garage apartment.
  • Sorting Magic the Gathering cards (which I generally hated to do) at my comic shop while listening to Chris' Charlatans UK's Between the 10th and 11th.
  • Listening to Information Society's Don't Be Afraid with the door open (at my FW garage apartment) while it was raininig.
  • Sitting in the small laundromat off 7th St. reading The Pyrates and waiting for my laundry to finish.

These memories are obvisouly all assoicated with my being happy but they don't stand out like getting married or graduating college. So what makes these moments stick and so vivid? I am not saying getting married isn't a happy memory, it is but there is a clarity and vivd feeling with these 'moments' I am talking about that are somehow different than normal happy memories.

I have not heard anyone else talk about these type of memories (or moments) elsewhere so I am not sure if this is just some sort of chemical imbalance with me or if this sub category of memory is out there and everyone has them but they just don't realize they are somehow different than other memories. Perhaps they aren't a 'different' type of memory but infact what I consider (subconciously) to be happy memories. If that is the case I am a VERY simple person.

In my life I strive for having more of these moments. I really do. When I do things in life I seem to always think 'is this the sort of situation that I will remember like those other memories I cherish?'.

See, I told you this might just be all bullocks but I felt I needed to get this out. I hope to have many more of those moments (which I don't feel like I have had any for quite some time) in my life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Idea Lists Revisted

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

In a blog post I wrote before, I discussed listing ten ideas to write about, and then picking the one that most interests you and writing it. Then you take the five others that most interest you, and put them on a new list. Then you come up with ten more ideas for the new list so that you have fifteen ideas. Then you pick the most interesting one, write it, and then pick the other five most interesting ones, and so on.

I need to start doing that – more for the purpose of writing the posts that interest me than for idea generation, though that’s part of it. I have ten ideas that I wrote as follow up ideas to that post, and I have ten ideas on the newsgroup (though some of these I’ve already written). The point is that I have my list well on its way, so why not keep at it?

1. How does this [the lists of ten and fifteen] apply to bigger projects like novels?
2. An examination of industries that use good sales to prop up bad sales and why sometimes that’s necessary.
3. Auto-tuning.
4. Online chat pros and cons.
5. How I wrote 365 poems in 2010 and what was good about the idea and what was bad. 6. How this method [the lists of ten and fifteen] is similar to prioritizing to do list activities.
7. What if you saved one dollar for every ten you made like you write out one idea for every ten you think of.
8. How this is similar to the three minutes of usable footage a day thought.
9. TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled and shows that should have.
10. The plan to have two weeks of posts ready for our vacation at the end of next year.

Looking at this now, I would choose the one that is most interesting to me. Number 10 is the one that catches my eye, because it is the most blog/ATW related, and where possible, I would like to prioritize things that are related to ATW projects. So let’s get to that now:

As you may know, Nathan and I created three reserve blog posts before the start of the year. The point was that three posts were to be considered zero posts. In order to post an article or schedule one to be posted, we had to write a fourth post. Further, if we wanted to post a reserve, we had to write a replacement for it. So far this year we’ve done well with this.

The act of having reserves and the act of listing of ten ideas and choosing the best have the same basic purpose. It’s an attempt to increase the quality of our blog posts. I have another thought about how to make the reserve part useful.

As you may know, we operate on five ten-weeks of goals each year, and we take two weeks off around Christmas. At least officially. We do take some of that time to get ready for the new year. My idea was to slowly build our reserve over the course of the year. By the end of January four posts will be the new zero posts. By the end of February, five posts will be the new zero posts. And so on, until the end of November when fourteen posts will be the new zero posts.

Before our vacation, we will each pick the six best from the reserves, which along with the two episodic posts on Saturdays, will make up our vacation time, and potentially give us a good start for 2012 since we’ll each have eight reserves, and only need three. It’s all about the long-term planning, yo.

The other thing I’d like to say about this is that it’s possible we might take another vacation at some point in the year. If we do, it’ll be when we have enough reserves to do it. The main reason I didn’t discuss this is because by my figuring, if we want to take another vacation, it really is as simple as having enough posts scheduled into the future that we don’t have to worry about writing new ones for a little bit. To maintain the end of year vacation though, I would still like to make four posts the new zero posts by the end of January, and so forth.

Ok, now that I’ve dealt with that, let me look at the other items on my list.

Numbers 1, 4, 6, 7, and 8 are possible ideas, but I need to figure out if they each work as a full thought, though 1, 6, 7, and 8 might combine well into one post. Numbers 2, 3, and 9 have enough possibility and I do like the ideas. I already wrote about number 5 when I discussed the problem with daily goals, and I just wrote Number 10 as part of this post.

So I would transfer the following five to my new list:

1. An examination of industries that use good sales to prop up bad sales and why sometimes that’s necessary.
2. Auto-tuning.
3. TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled and shows that should have.
4. How does this [the lists of ten and fifteen] apply to bigger projects like novels?
5. How this method [the lists of ten and fifteen] is similar to prioritizing to do list activities.

I can always combine those other ideas with the last two if I ever get to writing those. Now I will add the ten ideas I wrote in the newsgroup trying to get this method of brainstorming started with my cohorts, and this list of fifteen will be the new list to draw from.

6. Thoughts on Tron: Legacy.*
7. Thoughts on possible urban legend about Bono.
8. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2010.*
9. Jobs that increase hours at holidays.
10. Auto-tuning.
11. Thoughts about public access changes.*
12. I couldn’t see the moon for the eclipse… well, you know what I mean.
13. Ann Magnuson, Bongwater, and her starring roles in movies and TV.*
14. Trailers for new Transformers and Cars sequels.
15. Almost Famous – Is rock music really dead?*

Yes, auto-tuning is on there twice, and interestingly, one time I thought it was interesting enough to move forward, while the other time I didn’t. In this case, auto-tuning being on the list twice is because I made two separate lists without transferring the five more interesting remaining ideas. It’s possible though that you might drop an idea at some point, and you might end up listing it again. This could either be that the idea interests you more than you originally thought, or it could mean that your path of brainstorming crossed the other path. Decide objectively if it interests you enough to write it now.

As I stated in the previous post, when you get a top five where you’re genuinely interested in writing all the ideas, you should perhaps write them all and review items that were previously dropped, but that’s up to you. Sometimes a dropped idea was only dropped because it wasn’t as interesting as something else listed, and sometimes a dropped idea should really remain dropped. Perhaps you can review old lists and find only those that interest you. Perhaps on a day that you can’t find ten new ideas, you can look through the old lists and complete your ten ideas for that day. And like I said in the previous post, if someone is willingly sharing their ideas with you the way that we here at ATW sometimes do among ourselves, or even various websites that do writing prompts, then feel free to use those ideas. Heck, if any of the ideas I listed today prompts a thought for you, go with it.

The asterisks are because the day I posted those to the newsgroup, I had already written a post, so those were the five I was going to move to the next list. Just for the sake of what I’m doing here, I will now take the five that moved on from the first list and four that moved on from the second list and round out the list with six that I came up with tonight. Why four? We already did a “Tron: Legacy” review as a vlog. I actually was about to start it as a joint blog post on the newsgroup. I even wrote the intro, but I’ve decided that I’ll post that when we get the video posted. I also did do the Ann Magnuson idea when I reviewed “Panic Room,” but that’s one of those that can be done over and over if I continue to watch movies she’s in. So my list looks like this now:

1. An examination of industries that use good sales to prop up bad sales and why sometimes that’s necessary.
2. Auto-tuning.
3. TV shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled and shows that should have.
4. How does this [the lists of ten and fifteen] apply to bigger projects like novels?
5. How this method [the lists of ten and fifteen] is similar to prioritizing to do list activities.
6. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2010.
7. Thoughts about public access changes.
8. Ann Magnuson, Bongwater, and her starring roles in movies and TV.
9. Almost Famous – Is rock music really dead?
10. Sarah Palin and the gun sights on the map (maybe done on the newsgroup to be a joint blog).
11. The pros and cons of tribute bands (that one website with combined names and the Jack ads).
12. Another car chase while I’m on post.
13. Joint Blog: The first three Thursday meetings of the ten-weeks.
14. Post about sleep that I started a while back.
15. A post where I reconcile my previous lists and demonstrate the process while I’m at it.

So now out of all that I have to choose the one that interests me the most and write it. I think I’ll do number 15. Hmm. It seems to be done already. See how easy this process is?

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the Moment

by Nathan Stout (of

Hello readers. I am coming to you live (although it won't be live when you actually read this) from a hospital in far North Texas. I am in the 'command center' of a this hospital participating in a massive North Texas emergency drill. This drill is being run by the North Texas EOC (Emergency Operations Center) and is testing all the emergency services in North Texas.

This drill is being run to test the various systems in the event of an 'incident' happening at the upcoming Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

The drill plays out the scenario that 'something' has happened at the Superbowl such as a bomb which has collapsed a large part of the stadium. The different hospitals and emergency services respond by connecting via the Internet, radio, and phone and coordinating their actions. The flow of action goes like this:
  1. The emergency services respond to the disaster and load up patients in ambulances and helicopters.

  2. Those front line personnel tag each patient which goes into the computer system into a main database accessible by each of the hospitals.

  3. The patients are 'routed' to various hospitals for treatment.

  4. Their information (which was entered into the database) is known ahead of time by the receiving hospital.

This system was designed after Hurricane Katrina to ensure that the chaos and errors that occurred would be lessened if something similar happened again.

The command center that is activated during the drill (or during a real event) is basically a gathering of employees who are over most aspects of the hospital. From security to managing local media to medical supplies, the command center is the main location for information and communication from everything that would be happening locally to what's happening at the site of the event.

I am unclear as to the participation of every hospital in the area, but I am assuming that most are participating. The EOC's website lists about forty hospitals, and I am assuming that is the majority of them.

The government also gives grants for participating hospitals to purchase equipment such as PCs, radios, etc. This is how I obtained my ham radio license (it's KE5WWV by the way). The hospital met certain conditions and got money for ham radios. Once the hospital had the radios they took volunteers and I was one of them. I went to a several week class and took my certifications (I got 2 of the 3 by the way). Me and the other 2 radio operators would rotate in and out over shifts in the event of an actual activation of the system.

We have had 2 major drills like the one tonight and everyone seems to be getting the hang of the whole thing. Of course, we are all relaxed and everything and a real event would be hectic and stressful I'm sure.

One final note on the drill. Almost all of the participants are hospital directors, and only about four of the twenty people there were hourly employees, so that was the one time I was making money (overtime) and rubbing it in at every chance I got!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Shift in Your Thinking

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I think that I’m very much in the self-help mindset right now. I actually have some ideas that don’t fall into that category, but when I look at my list of topics, I find the self-helpy stuff is more appealing to write about. Today’s topic: How Nathan and I are screwing up.

It’s really not that bad. Actually, Nathan is doing considerably better than I am about keeping up with things. He certainly will have to watch for the discouragement voice that tends to start whispering to him at times, but so far as yet, he’s been pretty productive since the start if the year. If I have to be honest, I’ve not done too badly either. I tend to be very critical of myself when I have trouble achieving my unrealistic goals. Why? Well, it’s because I believe that they are realistic, but that I haven’t made a true shift in my thinking.

This is going to sound like I’m picking on Nathan. Or at the very least, it may sound like I’m worrying more about where Nathan is failing than where I am failing. I want to tell you right now that neither statement is the case. We sometimes can’t predict where our flashes of insight will come from, and in this case, it was reading an excuse Nathan posted to our newsgroup. I think I should also clarify that “insight” is a little heavy handed. I already knew the insightful bit. I was just conveniently forgetting it for a little bit.

Let’s step either further away from my train of thought before reeling it back in. I’ve read a lot about Stephen King. The man fascinates me to be truthful. One nice self-help nugget is to learn from, and try to emulate, those who have succeeded in endeavors you would like to succeed in. I’ve tried to learn much from Stephen King. The way that Stephen King prioritizes his day never lets him out of his writing obligation. It’s basically the first thing he does each day, and he doesn’t do anything else until he’s done. I’ve never mastered this approach to my life.

Nathan has a financial goal for the year, and I’ve been waiting for it to fail. It’s not because I don’t believe in Nathan. I actually have a lot of respect for him personally and creatively. I also envy his organizational skills a little bit. I still was waiting for this (Hmmm, “Baker Street” just came on the radio… funny) I still was waiting for this goal to fail. One reason is because Nathan is comfortable with his debt. Remember that I believe that sometimes we are comfortable with things that make us uncomfortable because it’s what we know. The other reason is because it wasn’t really Nathan’s goal. It was Nathan’s desire defined by my suggestion. That doesn’t make it my goal, but it also doesn’t make it Nathan’s goal.

The basic problem with accomplishment in life is that it often requires a decision to accomplish, no matter the cost. That’s a scary phrase for us mortals: No matter the cost. We want the new, but we don’t want to be done with the old. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way though. We don’t want to have to sacrifice, but by the very nature of time and resource, we are always sacrificing something.

What I told Nathan to do was to take each paycheck and pay his debt down by a certain amount before he did anything else. The reason I told him this is because he makes more money than his expenses. He won’t starve. He won’t get behind on his bills. What he will have to do is decide what luxuries aren’t necessary. I’ll make an example using random numbers that have nothing to do with Nathan’s situation aside from the income exceeding the outflow.

[I spoke with Nathan about this after I wrote it, and he didn’t realize that I said to pay his debt down first. He thought the goal was to do his best to pay the debt each check, which is what it was, but like I said, he didn’t realize he was to pay it first. Read the rest of this with that in mind please and thank you.]

Let say that I make $100 a month. I have $5,200 in debt. My bills and basic living expenses are $50 a month. $20 of that is going toward the minimums on my debt payments. Each month I start the month with $5,200 in debt and I end the month with $5,200 in debt. I realize that I would have better spending power if I had that $20 that is going to nothing but interest each month. My current standard of living is technically $30 to live on, $20 interest, and I have a $50 a month luxury habit. What if I were to triple the payment each month? I would pay off $480 over the course of the year and my debt total would be $4,720 and rather than paying $20 a month in I’m only paying $18.48. In our example where we can live on $30 a month, an extra buck-fifty would be a lot. In less than eleven years the debt would be gone, and the odd thing is that my luxury spending would slowly go back to $50 a month, and I could save $20 a month rather than paying it in interest. Heck, I could raise my luxury spending to $60 and save $10.

So what’s the problem? Well, in order to do that, I would have to cut my luxury spending back to $10 a month when I’m used to $50. And I can tell you what happens in this case. You start thinking about all those necessities that are technically luxuries, and wonder how you’ll live without them. So you keep sacrificing $20 of your hard earned money each month so you don’t have to sacrifice your current lifestyle. Like I said, you’re always sacrificing something. On paper, the answer is simple. In practice, it’s a bitch.

My solution is do your writing first thing, and don’t do anything else until your done, just like Stephen King. Think about how prolific of a writer the man is. His method works. His madness doesn’t do too badly either. And as an analogy, this means that the first thing you do when you get your paycheck is pay the $20 in interest and the extra $40 as well. This leaves you $40. $30 goes to living expenses and then you have to decide what one-fifth of your luxuries are the most important to you. It doesn’t work the other way. If you try to decide which luxuries you can do without while you still have the money for it, then you won’t cut back as much as you need to cut back, which means that you won’t pay down the debt as much as you need to either.

This is where the shift in thinking comes in. The reason I told Nathan to pay the debt first is because it acts as though he suddenly took a pay cut. And the reason why he is failing this goal is because he didn’t make the blind leap required to do this. I told him that if he was biting off too much, he did have credit cards to fall back on. He was at the retreat. They had him hooked to the support cables. He just didn’t let himself fall.

[As I said earlier, because he didn’t understand that he was supposed to fall. Carry on.]

Let’s go back to my example. I make $100 a month. What if I lost my job and was living on unemployment? What if the unemployment was only $60 a month and I couldn’t find another job? Would I still try to maintain $50 a month of luxury spending or would I eat? Would I try to only live on $20 of luxury spending or would I have electricity and hot water? If I was in my right mind I would pay the $30 of living expenses. Then I would pay the $20 in interest. Then I would have $10 for luxury, if I wasn’t too afraid to spend even that much. It’s interesting what we will do when our hand is forced, but won’t do when it’s not.

It took me roughly 10 seconds to realize this when Nathan wrote on the newsgroup that he didn’t have enough money to pursue the goal. He gave a couple of valid reasons. The problem is that unless we got the math drastically wrong, he should have had enough money.

Let’s say that in my example, I suddenly had $5 taken out of my check for health insurance, and found another expense that was $10 a month that couldn’t be sacrificed. Is it all a loss now? No, because I can do the following. $40 living expenses, $20 interest, $5 insurance, $10 luxury spending, $25 extra on the debt. But that $25 would still have to be paid first, or I’ll be tempted to use it for luxury spending. And this is all I’m saying.

I claimed that this all actually comes back to me, and that my intention was not to pick on Nathan. Again, it was the impetus for my thought.

My goal for the year is eight hours a day spent on project work. Why? I want to complete things this year, and eight hours a day will get me well on my way. I actually think that eight hours a day is too little, but like with my example above, I have time expenses that are not luxuries. I do have to drive to work and work. I do have to sleep. I do have to eat. I do have to maintain a reasonable level of personal hygiene. I do have to turn in my time sheet. I do have to cash my checks. I do have to pay my bills.

The upside is that I can squeeze out some of my work time to do project work. It helps me stay awake and alert, so it’s a win-win. You can see the issue though, can’t you? I’m used to 50% luxury time and now I want to cut back to 10% luxury time to get some project work completed. If I don’t sacrifice the less important uses of my time, then I will sacrifice the completion on my projects. There is always a sacrifice.

Each day I should do the eight hours of work before I do anything else that doesn’t fall under required. I used the example of a pay cut earlier. Well what if I suddenly had to work a second job that took up eight hours a day, in addition to everything else I had to do, including my current job. Right. I would not have had time to go out last Sunday for a birthday celebration. I might have even not got to go see my mom when she came down last Friday. I would probably only get to check in to Facebook once or twice a week.

The problem is that as Nathan didn’t simulate a pay cut to achieve his goal, I’m not simulating another job to achieve mine. And I have the advantage that I can pretend that my two jobs somehow overlap, since I can do some of the project work while I’m at work. So what is wrong with me?

The point I’m trying to make is that there are some goals that just require a little bit of adjustment, but there are goals that require an entire shift in your thinking. You have to imagine that you have taken a pay cut. You have to imagine that you have taken a 56 hour a week job. You may even have to imagine that you are trapped in a cage and your captors literally only let you eat so many calories a day. I’m not saying that all the scenarios will make any real sense, but if they shift your thinking to the good then maybe being teleported to the planet Tobaccoine, where many of the inhabitants look like they’re smoking cigarettes and many of the stores look like they sell cigarettes, but the truth is they don’t actually exist there. Maybe pretending that you’ve been teleported there isn’t such a crazy idea.