03 October 2012

All Good Things...

One final piece of TMRB trivia for you. Did you know that Of Carbon and Silicon has been around for six years? This is obviously referring to the Tripod version. But the very first entry to Of Carbon and Silicon was made in May of 2006. I had just discovered the relaxing properties of The Sims 2 and wrote as my first entry about how you could use the game as your own relaxation tool.
Wowsers... a lot's happened in that amount of time! Like, so much, it's not even funny! For example:

  • Homestar Runner stopped being updated after seeing a record number of Halloween toons in 2009.
  • I totally lost touch with everyone I went to high school with.
  • I started writing music.
  • The Sims 2 got replaced by a pile of corporate stupidity.
  • I finally got a Fantom X6.
  • I left Tripod.

So, loads of stuff. Loads more than I listed, actually... but most are secret.
Anyway, I am now officially locked out of my webmaster tools at Tripod and I'd be surprised if the old website is still there (I haven't bothered to check for ages). I have absolutely nowhere I can re-launch Spiny McSpleen's Nifty Website and all the HTML I learnt in 2004 is now totally worthless. On top of that, I haven't written in this blog for so long, I had to wipe an inch of dust away from the "New Post" button and evict a family of dormice from the Vince & Larry entry.
I guess all of this points to one very obvious fact. Some things never change, but other things can't last forever. Unfortunately, Of Carbon and Silicon, Spiny McSpleen's Nifty Website, and the whole Spiny McSpleen persona in general are amongst the things that don't last forever. As of this moment: Wednesday, 3 October 2012, 0128 hours CST, Of Carbon and Silicon is put on indefinite hiatus. I already have two other blogs going at the moment that I write in significantly more than this one.
If the website and Of Carbon and Silicon v.1.0 are still around, I'll be keeping them that way. In other words, I shan't just take them down. They'll remain there for as long as Lycos decides they should be there. Until such a time as I find it necessary to write in here again, I offer these other places as alternatives.

Recombo DNA

Good night, good fortune, stay nifty.

Jeffrey Allan Sebastian Perry (a.k.a. Spiny McSpleen)

23 May 2012

13371P3D14 anyone?

Has anyone considered the obvious advantages of a 13375]*34]{ Wikipedia language setting? No? Well, it's there! Loads of them! Yes! Exclamation points, too! Loads of them! I mean, can't you just see it?
|/|/1]{1]*3[)14 >< 7#3 ]=]233 3|\|('/]_03[)14
70[)4'/5 ]=347(_|]23[) 4]271(]_3:
[)3|/()<><> ]=()(_|]\[[)3[) 1|\| *1972* 8'/ 63]24]_[) |/ (454]_3 ><
/|/|4]2]{ /|/|()7#3]2584(_|6# >< & 808 ]_3|/|/15 >< [)3|/() 15 4
]*()57]*(_||\|]{ 3}{]*3]21|\|\3|\|74]_ ]2()(]{ 84|\|[)<>
]234[) |\|\()]23<><><>

See? It could work. It's a lot of typing, but hey, what's life without a challenge, right?
Why did I write this? Once I can answer myself on that one, I'll post the answer. Might take some time, that.

03 April 2012

And, down we go.

Wowser! Rather a lot's been happening in the X0 months since I've posted anything! Of course, one thing hasn't changed! I'm still using way too many exclamation points!!!
Okay, where were we? Ah, yes... different stuff. Well, let's see.
I said once that I would post a new entry everyday. This is my first entry in almost five months.
I swore that I would only listen to classical music and soundtracks because "radio music" was a commoner's pastime. Now I listen to Devo, Green Day, and Jimi Hendrix, among others (I think we can blame that one on college, yeah?).
I declared my support for Internet Explorer when I started my website. I'm using Google Chrome to make this entry.
I shunned people who used chat abbreviations and emoticons as being lazy and grammatically-challenged. OMG! i use em now :P nm but i do lmao! ^_^ (we can blame that one on college, too... plus the fact I got to text finally! Welcome to the 21st century, Spiny!)
Er... what else...? Oh, yes. There existed a time in the not too distant past when I preferred the employment of unnecessarily verbose phrasings and grotesquely sesquipedalian selections of words. Yeah. I used to like long sentences and big words.
And finally, I used to keep up with The Sims series. Either my computer is too old or EA is a corporate sellout, but The Sims 3 royally sucks. If you read my previous blog on Tripod, you'll already know my thoughts about that.

Videogaming is what I've finally come back here to talk about. More and more games are being optimised for control by motion. That is, the Wii Remote, Kinect, and... er... that PlayStation one whose name I don't recall at the moment. Anyway, it's turning the gamepad into a fossil! That plastic rectangle that came with the Famikon is turning into an interesting archaic museum-piece, but not being used so much for actual gaming anymore. I'll admit, there was a certain amount of novelty involved in pantomiming drawing your sword to actually have Link draw his sword in Twilight Princess, but after a while, I think most of the old-school gamers (the Fifth Generation, as I call us) would agree that the novelty has worn off. There is nothing Nintendo can possibly do to improve motion-activated control. Crikey, Microsoft's completely done away  with the gamepad. All you have to do with Kinect is point to stuff and things happen. Wii MotionPlus lets the Wii console know what the player is doing in three dimensions! What do you need gamepads for anymore? Apart from operating your legacy equipment, nothing! (Oh, btw -- gamepad = controller)
I was thinking about this earlier and I decided that the last Zelda game I had any real interest in was Wind Waker. I was kind of interested in Twilight Princess, but my interest wore off quicker that it did with any other game. I also decided that the last Mario game I really enjoyed was Super Mario Sunshine. Mario Galaxy was okay, but it didn't really have anything to keep my interest, either. What do Mario Galaxy and Zelda: Twilight Princess have in common? You play both of them with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. What do Mario Sunshine and Zelda: The Wind Waker have in common? You play both of them with gamepads. Now, I'm sorry, but the Seventh Generation has taken a major hit with the elderly, in that that traditional gamepad controllers are now obsolete. I like to sit down and hold a controller in the prone position for six or seven hours. That is gaming. Getting up and essentially playing "Twister" in front of a motion-activated control sensor -- that is not gaming. That is ridiculous. If you gave a Seventh Generation gamer a Super NES controller, he wouldn't know what the crap to do with it.
"Dude, like, how am I supposed to, like, hit the control pad? And, like, this cord is totally messin' me up. How am I supposed to, like, take a swing at that baseball if I keep gettin' tied up in the cords, dude?"
Four words. Epic, um, like, fail. Call it historical relativism if you want, but no game console can surpass the awesomeness of the Nintendo 64. Motion-activated control is part of the reason why. Sure, there was the GameCube in between the N64 and Wii, but they changed the controller around. Have you ever just looked at an N64 controller? Like, really looked at it in detail? Here's what I mean: the N64 controller is three generations of gamepads all rolled into one! Ignore the control stick and the C buttons. You have an NES controller. Ignore the control stick and the A and B buttons. You have a Super NES controller. Essentially, it's a fusion of Nintendo's past controllers with a stick and a trigger. FTW! Now, all you do is stand up and point at stuff. FML!
Why am I writing this, then? I don't know. I just wanted to waste my time, I suppose.
Sorry kids, but grandpa's staying with his GameCube and his N64. None of this "get up and play" crap. Sit down and play! That's how you play videogames!

11 November 2011


Today is Friday, November the 11th, 2011. More specifically, today is the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the 21st century. Now, don't panic, but this is the second to last triple number day in this century! The last one won't be for one year, 11 months, and 11 days (odd how that works out, innit?), on December 12, 2012. The next triple number after that won't be until January 1st, 2101.

I don't think I migrated any of the entries made on triple- or sequentially-numbered days from Carbon and Silicon v.1, so let me regale you with minutiae like I have every year since, what? '07?

Right. The first triple number in this century was, of course, 1-1-01 (January 1st, 2001).
A few of us in school called June 6th, 2006, the Devil's Day (not that we were actually in school anymore at that point, but quite well into summer holiday). Why? 6-6-06 of course! 666 said to be the "mark of the beast" (meaning Satan), it was only logical to call it that. Right. Never mind. Onwards!

(I just now looked at the clock on my computer. It read 11:11 AM, 11/11/2011. Nifty!)

Now, in terms of sequential numbers, the first such date in this century was 3 February 2001 (3-2-01) in the proper worldwide date system, 2 March 2001 in the Yankee system. A reversal of this occurred on 1 February 2003 or 2 January 2003 (1-2-03).
The nearest sequential number to our time at present, however (and the last one for most of the world for a century), will be on 11-12-2013 (11 December or 12 November 2013). Now, the Yankees get an extra sequential day on 12-13-14, because in their strange, mixed-up way of putting dates on things, they put the month first. So, the last sequential day in the US will be on 13 December 2014.

I think that's all...

23 October 2011

I trust the Smithsonian has sturdy walls...

Posted Friday, 16 July 2010

The Smithsonian Institution. Long regarded as the most educated place in America. When one hears of something being inducted into the Smithsonian, one can assume that it is M4D L337 important to American history. Buzz Aldrin's spacesuit, Mickey Mouse concept sketches, the Wright Brothers' aeroplane, the filming model of the original USS Enterprise, things of that nature. Yesterday, something arrived in the Smithsonian Institution, putting it on the Map of Niftiness.

Vince and Larry, the slapstick crash dummy advocates for safety belts, were inducted into the Smithsonian. Vince and Larry, themselves, were present to accept the honour.
Why would a pair of crash test dummies be accepted into this elite society?
Picture this... the 1980s. Automobile collisions are one of the greatest killers in the United States simply because drivers would ignore their safety belts. After years of giving Americans grave warnings about the dangers of such behaviour, someone at the Ad Council finally got a new idea. Don't make it a grave affair ("You're going to die if you don't don't buckle up!") -- suggest to the television viewer that it would be in his best interest by presenting a 30-second educational show with two crash dummies (Vince and Larry), demonstrating how safety-belts can save one's life in a collision ("Don't be a dummy! Buckle your safety belt!")
Somehow, they managed to win over the American public with their slapstick antics and catchy raps and suddenly, as though by magic, auto-crash fatalities started becoming less frequent. People started using their safety belts -- in some cases, for the first time since the car was purchased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration directly credits Vince and Larry with this new trend in American road safety.
So popular were these two crash dummies that they became as recognisable as sports-team mascots. People started asking for manufacturing rights to the characters, making lunchboxes, t-shirts, buttons, paper goods, and all sorts of things.
However, the thing for which I, personally, remember Vince and Larry is in the toy section. In 1991, Tyco Toys produced a line of action figures called the Crash Dummies, inspired by the Vince and Larry PSAs, with the aforementioned dummies as a part of the line. Eventually, Vince was replaced by Slick and Larry by Spin, and the line became known as The Incredible Crash Dummies.

Oddly, the NBC News article didn't mention that. In any case, various props and costumes from the PSAs were placed into the collection for all to see.

If only this had occurred a few years ago -- Night at the Museum 2 could have benefited from Vince and Larry's presence. Taking the Model T out for a spin.

The Fantastic, Plastic, Ecstatic, Chromatic '90s

Posted Thursday, 17 June 2010

I was in Shopko the other day, where I beheld three Batman action figures on the clearance rack. Somewhere in the back of my mind, an observant sector sensitive to pleasing colour-schemes activated as I looked at these figures. I don't even like Batman, yet I was captivated by these toys.
The area of my brain that was the most active was one which I hadn't had need for since the late '90s. It was the same perception centre which controlled my interest in the Incredible Crash Dummies. I would use it in the Toys section of whatever store I happened to be in.
The novelty? Colour.
Each Batman had a different thing it could do, thus meriting the need for a diverse colour scheme.

Why is this remarkable, anyway? 'Cos, nowadays, it's all about continuity in the toy-making industry. Taking for example Buzz Lightyear. You have a range of Buzz action figures, each with a separate ability -- say, a space-wings Buzz, a talking Buzz, a laser Buzz, a karate-chopping Buzz. But, even with all of these fantastic features in the range of stock, you only ever see Buzz in the same colour scheme. A white base, green pads, and purple trim.
I referenced the '90s in the title because action figures released during the first half of that decade would have a different colour scheme depending on the function each iteration would perform. Take for example, my old standby, Inspector Gadget. You would have a range of Inspector Gadgets, each capable of a different thing. Gadget Hat, Gadget Legs, Gadget Arms, Gadget Neck, Gadget Copter, Gadget Watergun, and Fumble Gadget (akin to the Crash Dummies: press a button on his back and he falls apart). Now, each of these Gadgets merited a different colour scheme. Only Gadget Hat was the same blue and grey colour as the cartoon character. Gadget Legs wore two tones of blue, Gadget Arms wore lavender and green, Neck wore violet and green (I think), Watergun wore a dull green and blue, and Fumble Gadget wore yellow and blue. See? Each function had a different colour scheme to distinguish between the others in the line.
The Crash Dummies, too, were made in similar fashion. Granted, there was a great deal of functional overlap between the figures in the line (in 1991 alone, there were seven dummies who would fall apart on demand), but each dummy was given a different name. Each name, in turn, got a different colour. Spin was my personal favourite. He wore a purplish-blue colour. Of course, colours all across the spectrum were given to the dummies. White, grey, blue, red, yellow, green, purple, red and blue, red and grey. Only Daryl and Spare Tyre performed different functions and had different shapes, but the line still managed to be one of the more colourful in toymaking history. I'm convinced their colours and novel functions for the time were what made them the most-remembered 1990s toy line.
The point? It's good to see that at least one toy company has seen the value in the need for colour variation. Children are attracted to colour. Hence the appeal of a candy shop. If all of the sweets in a particular line are blue, regardless of flavour, some kids will like it, but most will not. The candy-makers know this. To that end, confectioners have created a sort of synesthesia, inasmuch as they colour their creations based on its flavour.
"Synesthesia?" you ask, puzzled. Yes. The general definition is, a fusion of two or more senses. In this case, taste or smell and sight. A child who likes bananas will probably like the colour yellow. However, if that child had an jalapeno-flavoured Jelly Belly bean, he will probably be wary of dark green.
Particularly as a child, one's favourite colour will govern what they want to have purchased for them. Me, I was totally into artificial grape flavour in 1991, so it's no wonder I was attracted to the similarly-coloured Crash Dummy, Spin.

Variety is the spice of life, after all. Toymakers ought not to forget that.

The Sims 3: Spiny McSpleen's Official Review Post

Posted Saturday, 20 June 2009

I'll say right now -- I haven't been looking forward to making this review, but as I haven't made an entry in the better part of a month, I thought I'd get it out of the way.
First, my own experience with the game.
I got it on the release date and installed it almost immediately. It was here I discovered the game to crash after a very short time (the longest time between startup and crash was 35 seconds). I defragmented, I updated my video driver, and (at a great personal loss) I uninstalled The Sims 2 -- not without backing up everything, of course.
Though defragmenting and uninstalling The Sims 2 was probably beneficial for my computer as a whole, I think that it was the driver update that stopped the crashing. In fact, I suspect that all of my problems with The Sims 2 crashing could probably be attributed to out-of-date video software, also. So, two birds with one stone (I intend to re-install The Sims 2). However, regardless of my efforts, I still have an unsupported video chipset, the performance of which is even more mediocre than I had anticipated. A view of texture resolution and Sim detail coming from my computer borders on the laughable.
Before we delve into the innermost workings of the game, let me address a few of the pre-release concerns that people may still have.

Above all else: SecuROM. Fortunately, thanks to the person who started the class-action lawsuit against EA for their inclusion of SecuROM in the game, Spore, SecuROM has been conveniently left out of The Sims 3, as EA opted to use a disc-based rights-management programme instead.
Next, in-game advertisements. I don't know if that was some sort of distasteful April Fool's Day joke, but that rumour spread like wildfire and has been proven to be completely untrue. Whether the adverts were never there in the first place or if EA decided to drop the idea for whatever reason, there simply are no real-world advertisers setting up shop in The Sims 3.

Now... the positives about The Sims 3. Don't get me wrong -- there are several significant improvements in gameplay and customisation, relative to The Sims 2.
First and foremost, Create-a-Style Mode. By far, the best addition to the series. Create-a-Style Mode allows you to customise the appearance of 95% of the game's furnishing objects, building materials, and clothing designs. In the past, if one wished to decorate one's Sim's house with a single type of wood, one would probably need to download many different object editing tools and edit all of the objects' textures to become a single type of wood. With The Sims 3, it's just a matter of clicking on a few things. Certainly, it can get rather micromanaging at times, but Sims Division have included a number of preset object styles with every object and material, in case you don't feel like editing something. Also, you have the option of saving anything you do edit as a preset so you don't have to keep editing the same objects over and over again.
Unfortunately, there are a few things that cannot be re-textured or re-coloured, such as books on a bookshelf, leaves on a plant, and several decorative items.
Also notable is Create-a-Sim Mode. Sims' body-mass can be edited more freely with the usage of The Urbz-esque sliders. The more to the right the slider is, the fatter the Sim becomes. Sims' muscle-tone can also be edited in this way.
Several people noted that The Sims 3 did not have a pre-release Sim editor as with The Sims 2 and The Sims. This is mostly because Create-a-Sim Mode, used in tandem with Create-a-Style Mode does everything that Body Shop and SimShow could do, but within the game itself. All of the Create-a-Style textures and colours afforded to furnishings and building materials are also available to Sims' clothing and accessories.
I do rather fancy the contiguous neighbourhood -- being able to click on things away from my Sim's house, then having him go to that location and do things there. I like being able to have my Sim collect things that he finds in the neighbourhood. There are gemstones and rocks for the science-types, rare seeds for the gardeners, bugs for the bug-collectors, and fish for the avid fishermen. Fish, of course, can only be found by fishing in bodies of water, but everything else is scattered throughout the neighbourhood.

Now that we've discussed the positives, we shall proceed to the negatives. And there are a fair few.
First, the most glaringly obvious of the whole lot -- community lots. Remember being able to zone a community lot in The Sims 2 and then being able to go there and set items for sale? Y'know, like groceries, clothing, and videogames?
Not possible anymore. The Sims 3 makes use of buildings known among the community as "rabbit-holes" to let Sims purchase things. The player is not allowed to see inside the building, much less build one. There are no possibilities for building custom retail establishments on community lots. Certainly, you can build walls, floors, and a roof on a community lot, but the custom building can only be furnished with objects that are available to residences. No more freezer, produce display, magazine rack, or clothes rail... no more cash registers. If you played The Sims 2 for the building of community lots, The Sims 3 will prove very disappointing.
Despite the grand level of clothing customisation in Create-a-Sim Mode, the actual Sim face editor in The Sims 3 is very much more limited than that of its predecessor. You can't make the same major changes to a Sims 3 face than you could in The Sims 2. Personally, I liked being able to shift all of a Sim's facial features up with the "Face Height" slider in The Sims 2 -- however, the same option in The Sims 3 will shift each feature up at a different rate -- eyes go up faster than the mouth, for example.
Also in Create-a-Sim Mode, there are far too few hairstyles available. In this game, there are only nine or so styles to choose from, where its predecessor began its life in 2004 with fifteen.
Another great disappointment was the lack of a piano. The pianoforte has been a staple of The Sims series -- along with the diving board, armoire, and miniature train set. None of those objects made the final cut in The Sims 3, either. But, what especially stung me, as an admirer of classical music is that, not only is the piano absent from the game, but that is seems to have been, for all intents and purposes, replaced by an acoustic guitar. The guitar is a commoner's instrument, made cliché by years of misuse by pop singers. I know that a guitar is more portable than a pianoforte, and The Sims 3 being about portability of objects, given that the entire neighbourhood has now been opened to street musicians and painters, but why could the piano not have been an instrument for the home whilst the guitar was the instrument for the road? It's illogical. Unless they think they're trying to market to a demographic somewhere in the lower-middle.
Another annoying thing is how Sims enter cars. They make no endeavours at all to open the car door and get in. They just disappear from the sidewalk and re-appear in the car.
Also in the realms of annoyance, if one pays close attention to Sims' computer screens, one can see that the activities being carried out are not synched to the animations of the Sim using it. Windows will open and close on their own, typing text will animate onscreen when a Sim doesn't even have their hands on the keyboard.
Someone from Sims Division said in an interview months before the game was set to release that "you can play Sims 3 on your grandma's computer". The implication was that this meant they were striving to make the game compatible with as many operating systems as possible. Now that the game has been released and I, with my, admittedly, pathetic laptop, have played it, I can safely say that, so long as your grandma has a thousand-quid, top-of-the-line desktop computer, yes -- you can play it on your grandma's computer. The Sims 3 is more computationally-demanding than The Sims 2 was -- obviously, no attempt was made to find ways to make it compatible with any systems other than those with Windows XP or Vista. Mac owners have reported so many bugs that the game becomes unplayable. And me? It seems that I fall under the 77.4% of the gaming community who need to replace my video card if I ever hope to play the game up to a fraction of how it was intended. Oh, wait... I can't do that because my computer is a laptop! My video chipset is hardwired into the motherboard -- I can't replace my video card without replacing my entire computer!
So, here's the overall point. I have a great deal of difficulty in believing that Sims Division worked for five years and needed to have the release date pushed back four months in order to finish this game. So many things have been either overlooked or omitted that it's almost obscene to think that this is the successor to The Sims 2.

Overall, I give the game 3/10. The creativity is there, but the means of carrying it out is sketchy at best.

Interesting how that happens, isn't it?

Posted Sunday, 21 December 2008

I got roped into watching an odd film called Sahara today. Not really caring for the storyline or the dialogue, I did what I always do when I'm bored of a film or television show: I focus on the music. This Sahara, the music was vaguely reminiscent of John Barry (composer for all of the James Bond films up to The Living Daylights). I missed the credits, so I went straight away to the Internet Movie Database, where I found the composer to be named Clint Mansell.

I don't know exactly what made me think of Harry Gregson-Williams just then, but I decided to do a search for him, as well. It turns out that Gregson-Williams composed some additional music for Muppet Treasure Island -- the lead composer for that film was Hans Zimmer. The latter happened to also be the lead composer for Nine Months... I wouldn't have known about that film had Charles Martinet not been on the cast. Of course, if you've been on my website at all, you'll know that Charles Martinet is the niftiest person in the world.
That's called "six degrees of separation" -- the theory that everyone in the world knows everyone else in the world, though indirectly. Here's how I see the six degrees in the given example...
Harry-Gregson Williams knows Hans Zimmer.
Hans Zimmer knows Chris Columbus, the director of Nine Months.
Chris Columbus knows Janet Hirshenson, the casting director of Nine Months.
Janet Hirshenson knows Charles Martinet, who played "Arnie" in Nine Months.
Charles Martinet knows me, Spiny McSpleen, through e-mail.
So, the theory is that I, by knowing Charles Martinet, indirectly know Harry Gregson-Williams.
Weird, eh what? Let's put a few more links in the chain, shall we? Oh, by the way, this might make for an unusually long posting today.
Harry Gregson-Williams knows Hans Zimmer, but...
He also knows David Bowers, the director of Flushed Away. Bowers knows Nick Park, the creator/lead animator/director of Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Park knows Ralph Fiennes, the voice of "Victor Quartermaine" in Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Fiennes knows Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays "Harry Potter" in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Radcliffe knows Chris Columbus, the director of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Columbus knows Alan Silvestri, composer for Night at the Museum. Silvestri knows Robert Zemeckis, director of The Polar Express. Zemeckis knows Tom Hanks, the voice of many characters in The Polar Express. Hanks knows Wallace Shawn, the voice of "Rex" in Toy Story. Shawn knows Matthew Jon Beck, casting director for The Incredibles. Beck knows Samuel L. Jackson, the voice of "Lucius Best" (a.k.a. "Frozone") in The Incredibles. Jackson knows James Woods, the voice of "Mike Toreno" in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Woods knows Ruth Lambert, the casting director for Disney's Hercules. Lambert knows Paul Shaffer, the voice of "Hermes" in Disney's Hercules. Shaffer knows David Letterman, a late-night talk show host. Letterman knows, basically, everyone, which includes Johnny Depp, who played "Captain Jack Sparrow" in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Depp knows Denise Charmian, the casting director for Dead Man's Chest. Charmian knows Gore Verbinski, the director of Dead Man's Chest. Verbinski knows, guess who...
...Hans Zimmer. He knows Chris Columbus, but I've already linked him between Zimmer and Gregson-Williams. Zimmer also knows Ridley Scott, director of The Weatherman. Scott knows Bill Nye, who played "Bill Waldie" on NUMB3RS. Nye knows Robin Williams, who played "Professor Philip Brainard" in Flubber. Williams knows Wil Wheaton, who played Bennet Hoenicker in Flubber. Wheaton knows Keith Arem, director of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2. Arem knows Dave Boat, a voice actor for Advanced Warfighter 2. Boat knows Stephen Kearin, the male voice in The Sims. Kearin knows Will Wright, creator and director of The Sims. Wright is good friends with Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto knows Charles Martinet, the voice of the Mario Brothers. Martinet, through e-mail, knows me, Spiny McSpleen.
See how that works out? According to the theory of the Six Degrees of Separation, I know a lot more people than I would have thought. In fact, so do you! So, the next time you're down in the mouth because you don't have any friends, remember the Six Degrees of Separation.
It won't make you feel any more wanted, but it'll give you something to think about to take your mind off the fact that you have no friends.

Today's random rambling (2)

Posted Thursday, 31 July 2008

It's interesting. What's interesting? Well, stop asking silly questions and I'll tell you (what? Who said that?).
Back in secondary school, I was really into the occult... maybe you remember that numerology post I did a while back -- that knowledge comes from my days in secondary. Study Hall was actually Advanced Divination class -- to me, at least. I had this great, thick book about divination and soothsaying. Actually, I still have it -- I'll refer to it occasionally for palmistry or tasseography.
Anyway, to make complete the Spiny McSpleen Shroud of Mystery, I also liked to do magic. Not "magick", but sleight-of-hand. I knew all kinds of stuff -- I could link paperclips with a dollar-bill, I could make rubber bands jump about between my fingers, I could break pencils with bits of paper, stuff like that. I was the David Copperfield of Hastings High School (someone called me "Houdini" once, though in error -- Houdini was not so much an illusionist as an escape artist).
Well, in my geometry class one day (I had been doing magic all over the school by then), I entered the room and sat down. Almost immediately thereafter, I was swarmed by people (if three people is considered a "swarm") and was requested to do a magic trick. The interesting thing was, all three of the people looked like the archetypal hispanic gangbangers whom one is likely to see on a street corner in a densely-populated area -- white t-shirts with designs airbrushed on, baggy trousers, and gold necklaces with the haloed cross on.
Anyway, I performed all of the tricks for which I was equipped at the moment (the jumping rubber bands, the linking paperclips, and the disappearing coin). I was quite surprised to see the reactions from my audience after every trick -- they were wholly enraptured in my performance!
After that, I gained quite a new perspective on magic. Whether they admit to it or not, everyone likes magic. Regardless of age, ethnicity, or warring street faction, people just like to have everything they've ever known about physics turned completely upside-down by a well-executed illusion.
The only people who don't like magic are other magicians. They already know how the trick is done, so there is no mystique in it.
I've since let my sleights sort of fall by the wayside, in favour of my other creative endeavours.
I might start the magic stuff back up again, though. I've learnt that people like to have actual paranormal stuff intermixed with the illusion. As I know numerology like the back of my hand, I'll do a numerological reading of an audience member in between tricks.
Now, if only I could memorise everything and work the numbers out in my head, I could appear to be psychic...