June 2007 Archives

Princess Leia Organics

Last week the gf embarked on a new dietary regime designed to detox the body by eliminating potentially allergenic foods. Dairy? Gone. Wheat? Axed. Shellfish and beef? Off the table. Citrus, tomatoes, potatoes and corn are also taboo. What's left? Chicken, fish, rice, lentils, and veggies. And since detoxing is a goal, eliminating chemicals and processed foods is also beneficial. Wanting to be supportive, I seized on this as an opportunity to try out a service I've long been curious about-- organic produce delivery.

The service, from Pioneer Organics (wouldn't the title of this entry be a better name, battalions of Lucasfilm lawyers not withstanding?), delivers a box of seasonal produce to your door every one or two weeks. The contents of the box changes each week depending on what's fresh, but you can ban things you don't like (we'll pass on the eggplants and lima beans, thanks) and you can vet the packing list beforehand every time and add or remove whatever you want. This goes with my belief that life should be delivered. I've never much cared if my produce was organic or not, so I'm very interested to see if I notice any difference in taste or quality.

We opted to start with the small box, delivered every other week. Better to use everything up early and switch to a more frequent interval if need be than to drown under a sea of produce. Our deliveries are on Thursdays, and the first box came today. If I'd been more on the ball I'd have taken a picture of the contents, but you'll have to make do with a list:

1 Galia melon, 1 lb mixed baby new potatoes, 2 ears of white corn, 1 bunch broccoli, 1 bulb purple garlic, 1 mango, 1 Valencia orange, 2/3 lb Bing cherries, 2 lbs bananas, 1/4 lb salad mix, 1 bunch kale, 3/4 lb green grapes, 1 head Romaine lettuce.

The potatoes, corn, and orange are earmarked for me since they're off-limits for the gf. I intend to eat the corn ASAP (likely Saturday) since its sugar quickly turns to starch causing the corn to lose flavor. We dipped into the cherries tonight and they're deliciously sweet. The Romaine is easily the fullest head of Romaine I've ever seen. It's screaming "Caesar salad" to me, but... egg. Parmesan. Not gf-friendly. Perhaps a different salad, or a Thai lettuce wrap recipe the gf dug up. I've never seen a Galia melon before-- it's about the size of a grapefruit, and I'm not sure if it's ripe yet. Since it has no odor, I'm inclined to wait a bit. I've never used kale in my life, so that's going to be a fun little adventure. In fact, having unfamiliar produce thrust upon us and being forced to figure out how to use it was part of the motivation for signing up with the service.

So... the experiment is too early to call. I'm hoping that having the produce in the house will spur me to cook with it, and if that happens it's all to the good. And every other Thursday is going to feel a little bit like Christmas. With a granola-crunching, overall-clad Santa.

Comments (4) | last by louboutin pas cher, Apr 1, 9:37 PM

Titles

A pair of YouTube videos (part 1, part 2) offers up a montage of the creator's picks for the top 25 title sequences of all time. I think he really missed the boat-- many of them don't rate at all for me. He did get 2 of the 3 I thought of off the top of my head before watching-- Superman and Catch Me If You Can, but he missed Spider-Man 2 whose comic book recap of the first movie was brilliant. I agree with Panic Room, but also have the sense (though I can't remember it at all, so perhaps I'm wrong) that Fight Club, also by Fincher, merits inclusion.

What other cool titles am I forgetting?

Comments (6) | last by Eric Berlin, Jul 25, 12:53 PM

As uneven as Stargate: SG-1 has been in the latter half of its run, I'm sorry to see it go. It took a more lighthearted approach than Stargate: Atlantis, and that willingness to laugh at itself made up for a lot of the show's shortcomings.

The series finale was, I thought, beautifully done. The tone of cabin fever, determination to preserve the Asgard's legacy, paying off the obvious chemistry between Vala and Daniel, and the simplicity of the direction all worked perfectly. If there was one note they missed, it was Richard Dean Anderson's absence in a story involving the final fate of the Asgard. Given the history between them, Thor's farewell scene should have been with O'Neill instead of Carter. Given the nature of the mission O'Neill would certainly have gone, so perhaps they couldn't get Anderson for the episode.

The series continues in two direct-to-video movies to be released next year. The first, The Ark of Truth, wraps up the Ori storyline, while the other is a self-contained time-travel story called Continuum in which Earth's Stargate program is erased from the timeline. I do loooooove me the time travel stories...

Comments (2) | last by David S, Jul 2, 7:49 AM

PiratesBATH

On June 9-10, the gf and I went to sunny CA for PiratesBATH. Although she'd played in past Puzzle Hunts, this was the gf's first Game. She didn't play with Briny Deep, however, but with The Bonny Wenches, a new team comprised of various lady friends of Briny Deep. I'll not comment on the Wenches' experience, since I wasn't in their van, except to say that at least two of them, including the gf, had enough fun that they're now talking about playing in the next Shinteki event in August.

This Game distinguished itself from others in three main ways. First, most of the main puzzles were contributed by the teams themselves, each of whom was invited to submit one for inclusion. The advantage for doing so, aside from having an opportunity to impress fellow teams, was that when you encountered your own puzzle you'd get to skip ahead to the next clue immediately. Second, clues were provided not via live phone support from GC or a PDA, but an ultra-low-tech scratch-off and envelope system wherein teams purchased pre-canned hints for points. Third, there was no overnight leg; instead, teams roughed it at a campground (we were told in advance to bring tents and sleeping bags).

Things have been so crazy busy since returning from the Game that it's taken me this long to find time to write about it. So please forgive me for resorting to bullet lists.

What I liked

  • The majority of clues were fun, well-constructed, and highly thematic. When each team only needs to create one puzzle, they're able to focus all of their piratey ideas into one concentrated burst of freebooting goodness. We had puzzles themed around messages in a bottle, walking the plank, skulls and daggers, lovelorn pirates, sea chanties, sea battles, pieces of eight, treasure maps, and more.
  • Many of the locations, especially the coastal spots on day two, were spectacular-- and quite appropriate for a pirate-themed event. The weather was perfect, allowing us to enjoy stunning clifftop vistas and gorgeous sandy coves. If you're going to have a Game where most locations are just clue drops, this is the way to do it.
  • Our site at the campground was just a few paces away from the edge of a cliff overlooking a beach, so the gf and I were able to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing to the shore-- one of my favorite things in the world.
  • The mini-puzzles. In addition to the main puzzles, we got a total of 36 mini-puzzles throughout the event. These minis were designed to be solved in the van between clue stops, in our tents at the campground, or whenever we wanted to work on them. Some of them were so trivial they almost solved themselves, others involved a little more thought. For our team they provided a welcome drive-time diversion, and I hope other Games pick up on this concept as a new area worth developing further.

    Things I Didn't Like

  • The hint system. In the past, the idea of purchasing hints has come up regarding the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt, and I've always been passionately against them. This event underscored why. With pre-canned hints of increasing cost for increasing information, it's really frustrating to purchase a hint that tells you something you already know. Often you'll get all the way through the puzzle and be stuck on the final step, but there's no way to get a hint for just that step-- you have to pay for everything leading up to it. Shinteki ameliorates that problem by letting you enter partial answers to demonstrate progress. A scratch-off system can't do that.
  • The skull economy. Teams were given a purse of skulls, each worth a point, and were free to barter them with other teams. Some teams scratched off hints and sold them for a profit. Some teams banded together when stuck and used skulls to spread the cost of hints evenly among them. The skull economy worked perfectly well, and gave teams license to collaborate when normally that kind of thing is (informally) frowned upon. But I found it to be a distraction, and that kind of negotiation wasn't why I was there. Rather ironic, really, since the trading game in Mooncursers added a similar element, but this is the first time I've played in a Game with such a system. As with so many things, it comes down to managing expectations properly. I think I'd have been fine with it if I'd known about it in advance. I'd have come to the Game with a different mindset and gotten myself psyched up to make a profit and embrace the economy (or, perhaps, to ignore it completely). There's a tendency to keep secret as many details about the event as possible until it begins. While that's certainly desirable for clues and locations, I'm not sure I agree when it comes to structural elements. Experimentation is good, but tell us in advance so we can be ready for it.
  • One broken clue and one horribly, disastrously located clue. The broken clue wasn't a big deal-- we were told before beginning that it had a problem, and so we were able to adjust accordingly. The other clue cost us about an hour and was completely avoidable (see below).
  • Timing. The Game got off to a late start and as a result teams arrived at the campground fairly late, leaving many with no time to both get dinner and participate in the activities GC had planned at the campground. Dinner wasn't as well-executed as it could have been. GC kindly provided food in the form of burgers, hot dogs, chips, and potato salad, but the burgers and dogs were uncooked and the grills were cool by the time people arrived-- so hungry players had to load 'em with charcoal and wait for the coals to heat. Cheers for providing dinner, jeers for not having it ready to go when players arrived.
  • Many of the sites on day one had also been used three weeks earlier in No More Secrets. This was a very unfortunate coincidence, completely out of GC's control. We've played in every Game for the past three years, and none had used those locations. Then, WHAM!-- back-to-back Games overlap. It was an odd sense of deja vu.
  • Starting day two with a completely pointless three-legged race on the beach. Note to future GCs (including the Shinteki folks): when you're about to start a long, steamy day of being in a cramped van with a bunch of other people, the last thing you want to do is get hot and sweaty right out of the gate. When that exertion is gratuitous, that's just adding insult to injury. I have nothing against three-legged-races per se, but activities need to fit the event and venue. Some kind of beachfront treasure-hunting activity would have been perfect. But a sack race? This was PiratesBATH, not a company picnic.

    The bumps, however, were minor and easily overshadowed by the positives. Great locations, many great clues, and terrific people all around. We had a fantastic time. Many thanks to Captain Bloodbath and crew for all their effort in staging the event!

    And now, the clue-by-clue rundown. Apologies in advance if I say horrible, mean things about your baby. Kudos to EVERY team who created a puzzle for this event, even the ones I hated. I appreciate the time, effort, and creativity that went into them. But I nevertheless offer my honest opinion, because I believe honest feedback is the only kind that's of any value. If my words are too blunt, I hope you'll forgive me.

  • Comments (7) | last by Derek, Jun 28, 10:03 PM

    Fishes Preview

    Boardgamenews.com has posted a preview of If Wishes Were Fishes, the next SarrettAdams game release due later this month. This is our first German-style family game (as opposed to children's game or party game). Read the preview, then buy the game. Then buy some more for friends...

    Comment (1) | last by Doug Orleans, Jun 12, 10:02 AM

    Exploding Tumors

    Spoilers for Stargate: Atlantis follow

    In a world of internet news and instant spoilers, it's rare for a major development in a television show to come as a complete surprise to me unless I've made a concerted effort, as I do with Lost or Heroes, to avoid seeing any spilled beans. So it's astonishing to me that Doctor Carson Beckett's death on Stargate: Atlantis came as a complete shock-- especially since the episode aired months ago in Canada and the UK. Shows how low the show is on the Hollywood food chain.

    I've searched the net in vain for information on what spurred this baffling decision. Actor Paul McGillion's portrayal of the Scottish doctor was one of the highlights of the show, as he exhibited remarkable chemistry with everyone in the cast. Consequently Beckett became more than just the moral center of the series-- in many ways, he became its soul. You just couldn't help but like the guy, and any scene with him in it was richer for it. That kind of impact is rare, and excising it from your ensemble seems beyond boneheaded. Did they learning nothing from the debacle of killing off Daniel Jackson on SG:1 (only to bring him back a season later)?

    Apparently not-- and history seems to be repeating itself. Fan reaction was swift and deeply felt, and producers have figured out a way to write the character back in for 2-3 episodes at the end of the next season with a possibility of a full-time return in season five. But that still doesn't explain why they killed him in the first place. It certainly wasn't because the story-- about exploding tumors, of all things-- demanded it.

    On the bright side, next season Jewel Staite (Firefly's Kaylee) joins the cast. On the down side, Torri Higginson's Dr Weir gets downgraded to recurring character. And somewhere in between, Amanda Tapping's Samantha Carter also joins the cast. Tapping's Carter hits very few notes, so her voice brings little new to the table except for the inevitable conflict with McKay-- which will no doubt become tiresome quickly. It's a bit like Worf moving over to Deep Space Nine after TNG's conclusion-- not the character I'd prefer to see make the transition (either Vala or Daniel would be my choice), but I appreciate the continuity.

    Comment (1) | last by Bryan Jones, Jun 11, 6:57 PM

    Hell's Basket Cases

    "Casting? Hi, it's Kent over at Hell's Kitchen. We loved what you did for us last year-- where did you dug up that dopey low-rider Keith? This year we want to push the boundaries even further. No! Oh, God no-- stay the hell away from cooking schools or Michelin-rated restaurants. Don't get me wrong, the cast should all have some cooking experience-- we don't want anyone killing themselves, after all-- but nothing too advanced. If we actually got people who knew what they were doing, Gordon wouldn't be able to do his pissy yelling schtick. Give us two or three competent people so the finale has some tension, but otherwise go nuts. The more small-minded and petty they are, the better. And hey, I know you guys love a challenge, so there's an extra ten grand for you if you can dig up a cherubic minority pushing fifty who's sweet as can be but utterly incompetent and prone to bursts of uncontrollable weeping. Haha... yeah, okay-- make it 20 Gs-- but for that kind of money I expect some kind of freaky genetic anomaly thrown in as well. Oh-- and I can't stress this enough-- at least one of the women has to be smokin' hot. What? Sorry, no-- I know you didn't just fall off the truck. Okay, great. You're the best."

    Comment (1) | last by Anonymous, Jun 6, 10:52 AM

    It used to be that summer meant trips to the beach, tall glasses of lemonade, and long backups on 520 when the Mariners were in town. And perhaps it still means all of those things. But you really know that summer's arrived when all the reality competitions start reappearing on television. Not the best-of-breed Amazing Race or Survivor, mind you, but the one-offs and snark-fests. And I do believe I hear the catch phrases on the breeze.

    Critics have keelhauled Mark Burnett's latest, Pirate Master, and for good reason-- it has a kind of Merchant-Ivory periodness that is ill-suited to the genre. Touches that must have sounded great on paper-- "We'll dress up one player as 'captain' and two more as 'mates', then give them clunky dialog to read!"-- just look dopey when real people are involved. The casting office was obvious hunting for another Rupert when they found Jamie. And in episode one, at least, the treasure hunting was thematic but unexciting.

    But.

    C'mon, people-- pirates! Yarrrrr! What more could you want from a cheesy summer romp? The payout structure, where the captain gets half, the mates each a quarter, and the rest of the crew splits the remaining quarter, was created to practically guarantee a mutiny. The first doofus to grab the captain's hat has seemingly never watched any reality TV competition. The idea that he might not always be captain seems to never have occurred to him until the possibility of a mutiny was announced, and so he made no attempts to foster good will among the other players. So already we have someone whose comeuppance shall be celebrated (zounds!). And while geek/goth-boy's compass ploy was clever, his utter failure to predict its ice-cold reception only underscored his lack of social awareness.

    For you board gamers out there, this show is essentially a game of Junta for real money. As any good Presidente knows, the key to retaining power is keeping key players happy while lining your own pockets as surreptitiously as possible. It will be interesting to see if anyone on the show truly groks it before it's too late.

    Comment (1) | last by Larry Hosken, Jun 5, 4:46 PM

    P&A Magazine Issue 9

    Nobody seems to talk about P&A Magazine anywhere, so... consider this the official thread for issue #9, which was released last weekend. Please be sure to preface any spoilers with a warning.

    The gf and I are starting to work our way through it, and while we've solved puzzles 2-5, 7, and 8, we're currently stuck on 1 and 6. We've got the center hive filled in for #1, but haven't extracted anything from it. We have all the answers for #6 and have done the next obvious thing, but can't figure out where to go from there. We haven't yet started on the others.

    We've stared at our data for #6 for quite a while and have no inspiration-- anyone have a nudge to give?

    Comments (5) | last by Scott Weiss, Jun 5, 5:41 AM

    Monthly Archives