Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Might Start Using My Wii Again

I'm not a hardcore gamer by any means. There was a stint beginning about two years where I spent every free moment of my time playing World of Warcraft, but, aside from that, the gaming culture never held much appeal to me. Still, having a console in the house has been a tradition in my family ever since my father bought us a Pong console. So, when my daughter began to show an interest in playing games, I went with the Wii. I knew going in that the graphics are sub par compared to other consoles. What I was interested in was playability and a decent library of titles, which was something I knew I could depend of from Nintendo ever since I bought my first NES console.

I like being able to play the old NES and SNES titles on the Wii via Virtual Console and I'm even happier that there are a number of Wii games that both my daughter and I can play together. One of our favorite things to do is to play Rampage: Total Destruction. The old standby, however, has always been Mario Party 8.

The Wii has been sitting unused for about 6 months now. Summer came and we just got tired of it. I guess we got caught up with that MMORPG known as reality.

Recently, the blue bar of the old Wii shined to life like an idle Cylon rebooting itself. I knew what this meant. Someone sent some mail to my console. Perhaps an old gaming friend had written an angry missive about me not being available to play Mario Kart. No. It was a letter from the good folks at Nintendo telling me that the Internet Channel was now free for the Wii. Previously, you had to spend $5 to install it.

This is something that should have been included for free from the get go. Now, with the Wii, I can watch TV shows from Hulu and Youtube (sure the quality isn't great). Discovering this, I looked over at my daughter and invited her to play a few rounds of Mario Party.

Oh, and Super Mario Brother Wii comes out November 15.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Go Fly A Kite!

When we were kids, JohnnyMac and I used to love to fly kites. We'd pool our money and search under the couch cushions for change in order to buy one. I don't remember much about those days, except that launching was tedious and often required multiple attempts. Once we got the damn thing in the air, though, it was an awesome experience. We felt like Mission Control guiding Apollo 11 to the Moon. Unfortunately, even the most seemingly harmless crash would crack the balsa wood skeleton of the kite, thus rendering it useless and making us feel like we were Mission Control for Apollo 1.

I recall that, on at least one occasion, we tried to fashion a crude kite out of Popsicle sticks and a garbage bag. I'm pretty sure that contraption didn't get too far off of the ground.

Three months ago, I found myself in some miscellaneous seasonal section of the store. My daughter inquired about the brightly colored kites and wondered what they were for. I told her about kite flying and, out of nostalgia more than any expectation that we'd actually use it, I bought one. It was shaped like a lady bug. I would have preferred the Spider-Man kite, but this was my daughter's choice and she wanted the lady bug, damn it. The kite sat on the shelf for nearly three months. Until yesterday.

Early in the morning, the winds were gusting. As I took her to school, my daughter remarked "This would be a good day to fly a kite". She was right. After school, we set out to the nearest open field. Kite technology had certainly changed over the years. Instead of a balsa wood skeleton, this kite employed flexible plastic. I'm sure the skin of the kite was something more advanced from what I had been used to as well. Whatever had been changed had certainly been changed for the better. The kite launched within seconds. No longer would I have to run with it until the wind caught it. The slightest gust of wind took the kite from my hands and pushed it into the sky. It was so easy to launch that my daughter got the hang of it within minutes.

After getting the kite up a respectable distance into the air, I proudly handed the controls over to my daughter. She did well, learning how to get the kite to do some basic tricks. Remarkably, when the kite crashed, it didn't break apart. She just picked it up and launched it again. Gotta love modern technology.

Eventually, she felt it was time to go home. "One minute", I said. "I need to have a turn too".

A late afternoon of fun for $2.00 and a little bit of effort. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lucid Thoughts From After Vegas

In the midst of getting myself back into the swing of things back at my real life, I wondered if perhaps I should have stayed in Vegas. And if I did stay in Vegas, what would I have done to make money? This video has the answer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Returning To The Grind

When I'm not galavanting around Las Vegas or making goofy videos or writing up my latest conspiracy theory, I'm just your average, work-a-day code monkey. Okay, maybe I'm not so average. Still, I have a day job. And today, after a week of vacation (involving only one minor work related interruption) I had to go back to that job. I didn't really mind. I hardly expect cake, balloons, flowers and streamers to celebrate my return. A simple "You were missed" from the boss was all I needed.

I'm still answering all my e-mail.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The War In Perspective

Vacation. It's a time for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. It's a time to not only get away from the rat race for a while, but also a time to reflect on what it is that keeps putting us through our paces in the first place. A very wise old man once said to me that, whenever he feels that the demands of the workplace begin to overwhelm him, he just takes his phone off the hook and relaxes with a cup of coffee. I have often tried to apply that line of thinking to my life in general. So, while we may have termed this little vacation, "The War On Sobriety", it might have been equally well termed as "TommyMac's Extended Coffee Break".

What was originally supposed to be a vacation involving all of the Mac siblings ended up involving only the youngest two. That may have been a good thing, because I got to know my younger brother all over again. Amidst all the partying and people watching and general mischief, I gained a very interesting perspective into CJ Mac. Seven years separate us. We have vastly different perspectives on our parents, differing childhood experiences, and different aspirations for our futures. For two guys with the same set of parents, there are some very stark contrasts between us. Yet, wherever we went, nearly everyone we met could tell that we were brothers. "It's in the eyes", I would often hear.

I would have to say that the best time I had was at Casa Fuente, smoking cigars and drinking mojitos with CJ Mac. We were having such a great time, that we decided to place a call to Johnny Mac. So, three of the Mac brothers, talking trash together, forgetting their cares for a while and letting it all go up in smoke. It doesn't get much better than that.

So, to CJ Mac, many thanks for accompanying me, being a good "soldier" and putting up with my overall bullshit. No matter what, you're always going to be my "kid" brother. And to the other Mac siblings, the three of you each owe me an "extended coffee break" of our own. 

TommyMac and CJ Mac smoking cigars at Casa Fuente

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pictures From The Front Lines

Here they are folks, pictures from the front lines of the War on Sobriety.

Sobriety won't be looking at the Mac brothers with that smug little grin anymore, thanks to a hard fought six day war that ChrisMac and TommyMac waged against it. The backdrop was Las Vegas, Nevada. Their headquarters was a suite in the Luxor hotel. They left no beer undrunk, no cigar unsmoked and made sure each party was partied heartily indeed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Last Battle....

We decided to check out Downtown Las Vegas last night. The booze was incredibly cheap and the people were very cool. I met a nice young lady who had the unenviable task of having to go bail her boyfriend out of jail. I told her to come and party with us instead. I think that, had she not been checking out the dealers who doubled as go-go dancers, she might have actually joined us.

I also tried, for the first time ever, a deep fried twinkie. And it is awesome! It's a heart attack wrapped in a coronary, but, still it is amazingly good.

In the end, we managed to yet again beat back the forces of sobriety into submission. I sense that its surrender is imminent. We're hoping former President Bill Clinton will negotiate the peace treaty.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So, Maybe We're Not Up For Clubbing

CJ Mac and I got dressed in our finest Vegas ware last night and hit one of the few clubs that is open on a Monday, which is Jet. The place seemed over-filled with douchebags for our taste, so we just hiked along the strip stopping in various casino bars.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sobriety Strikes Back

Mental Note: When having incredibly fair skin and deciding to take a swim in the hotel pool, make sure that the sunblock you are wearing does not wash off. Both CJ Mac and I were afflicted with terrible sunburn yesterday afternoon on our chest and legs. I look like a cheeto and I am thinking that I probably glow in the dark.

Also, from all the walking we have been doing, we have our share of blisters.

That's it? That's all you've got, sobriety? I'm disappointed. I would have thought we'd at least have cirrhosis by now. We are laughing at your pathetic efforts to defend yourself. All you've managed to do is slow us down. Last night, we re-stocked the fridge, watched the Bears lose to the Packers and drank quite a few beers. In a little pain, but still in great spirits.

Nice try, sobriety.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It Was A Cold Battle...

The Mac brothers kicked off another battle in the War On Sobriety by taking a leisurely walk along the strip, beers in hands. We stopped along nearly every little convenience store whenever our frosty beverages were depleted. Outside the Imperial Palace, a number of whistle blowing waitresses were offering 2 for 1 beer bottles, which we took them up on. We were then ushered into the club, where the price was inexplicably higher. Screw it. We finished our beer, went out the back, bought two more 2 for 1 beers and got back in.

We eventually made our way into the Imperial Palace casino itself which was not nearly as much of a crap hole as I had been told. In the middle of the casino area, they have a bunch of celebrity look-a-like dealers who take turns doing lip synch shows. Not bad.

CJ Mac and I eventually hiked back to the Luxor and headed into the Mandalay Bay area where we visited the Minus 5 ice bar. The ice bar is pretty cool. Wait. Strike that, it's FREAKING FREEZING. Who would pay $30 to drink two mixed drinks in a room that's minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't care that they give you a parka and gloves to wear while you're in there. No way. NO WAY. Wait....there are pretty girls dressed as bikini clad eskimo babes outside? Do you take debit?

We met a cool group of people in there and the drinks were so incredibly strong, that I somehow agreed to pay way too much for a picture of me and our new friends.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Recap Of Last Night

CJ Mac and I kicked the night off by hanging out at Casa Fuente. The poor waitress was so overworked that she must have mistaken us for another pair of handsome brothers, because she came by and brought us two beers without us having ordered them. No big deal, as we Mac brothers tend to believe that any beer is a good beer. We each bought a cigar and then had two of the best mojitos ever created. Casa Fuente is a fine place, and the staff was very friendly.

We popped around various casino bars and, en route to Carnival Court, I spied a Burger King. The sweet siren call of $1 double cheeseburgers was too much to ignore. I waited in line, giddy with anticipation. The woman next to me asked me why I was so happy and I explained the lack of Burger King back home. We made some small talk. She got her order and left. I watched her leave. She turned around, smiled and I waved goodbye. She walked back to me and asked "Are you here alone?". Damn. Another hooker. I thought I had been getting better at detecting them,

We ended up at Diablo's where, in attempting to order one of their $3 margaritas, I somehow got THREE $3 margaritas. And I drank each one. The problem with Diablo's is that you cannot leave the way you came in and it took us forever to find the damn exit. And not because of the margaritas. We ran into a group of other folks with the same problem. I feared that The cantina would become my tomb.

The war rages on and the Mac brothers are on the way out to stock up on provisions.

-- Post From My iPod Touch

Friday, September 11, 2009

The War Rages On...

I'm happy to report that the Mac brothers fought well last night in what is sure to be a long and perilous battle against sobriety. Here's are a few random observations I've made, plus a video of the aftermath of last night's battle.

  • There are a lot of French speakers in town today. I've had a number of conversations (en francais) with varying degrees of success. 
  • CJ Mac and I met a pair of ladies from Ireland last night. I'm pleased to hear that them say that, during stay in the U.S., people have been incredibly polite and nice to them. That makes me feel good about my fellow countrymen. Our new friends do report that they think the French are terribly rude and the English just plain suck.
  • I suspect that, after 3PM, the pool at the Luxor consists primarily of Bud Light and pee. 
  • I need to stop filming myself singing with street musicians. 
  • People watching is incredibly cool in Vegas. CJ Mac and I hung out and drank a few beers and chatted up random strangers. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Sing With Elvis

It wasn't long before I found an Elvis impersonator. I'm told that there are three Elvis impersonators for every hooker in Vegas

The Declaration Of War.

Here's a little video where I taunt sobriety.

Lest We Forget That I Hate Flying

Enen in my Xanax induced calm, I still feel a bit uneasy about this flight. Maybe it's the fact that I am seated so far back. Maybe it's because the plane sound like a sputtering old Ford Pinto. Maybe it's because "The Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock is the in flight film and people actually seem happy about watching it.

Wish I had put "Iron Man" on my iPod.

-- Post From My iPod Touch

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waiting For CJ Mac

It would appear that CJ Mac forgot to leave the door unlocked as promised. I'm out in the parking lot waiting for his negligent ass to get home from work. Here are some things I am doing to keep me occupied:

  • Bothering JoJo on the phone
  • Watching South Park episodes on my iPod
  • Wondering if God has an exit strategy for the Universe.
  • Searching for open wireless connections
  • Watching out for drug dealers
  • Wondering how long it will take before one of the tenants suspects I'm casing the joint and calls the cops on me.
  • Thinking of creative cuss words to call my brother. Right now, "Buttlick Balls" appears to be the front runner.
  • Wishing I had a beer.

-- Post From My iPod Touch

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Packing It Up

I think I can safely say that I have everything I need all packed up for the trip. Aside from essentials such as adequate clothing (we're talking high 90s during the day and mid 70s at night), traveling cash and toiletries, I've also made sure to include the little things that will make this trip as successful as possible.

  • My iPod Touch loaded with tunes and some episodes of Star Trek and South Park. I also packed the charging cable.
  • My camera, including the charger, docking station and an extra memory card
  • A small set of business cards for promoting the website. Hopefully these will not find their way into the hands of TOO many hookers.
  • My cell phone charger
  • My laptop
  • A copy of I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter for when I am inclined to read on the plane
The first leg of the trip begins tomorrow as I travel upstate to meet up with my younger brother, CJ Mac. We're going to have a drink with an old friend or two tomorrow night before the flight.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Mac Brothers Declare War On Sobriety

My brother Chris and I are in dire need of a much deserved vacation. To wit, we are headed for Las Vegas for a week of uninhibited partying. It may sound cliche, but we have declared war on sobriety. I just hope our livers and kidneys and stomachs are up for the battle. Here's a little teaser video I made for the trip. Keep watching this site for updates on the trip.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Michael Jackson Is Dead Again (Sort Of)

This guy was never a smooth criminal, but, Michael Jackson is dead, nonetheless. No, the zombie popstar didn't push his way out of the morgue. This time, the Michael Jackson in question was a leading beer critic who helped start a renaissance of interest in beer and breweries worldwide in the 1970s. He was found dead yesterday of an apparent heart attack at his home in West London. He was 65.

And the kid is not his son.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How Hot Is Taco Bell's Volcano Taco?

After seeing so may commercials for Taco Bell's Volcano Taco, I was hoping that the fast food industry had finally produced something that approaches "Hot". Here are the results.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Illinois Hikes Tax On Booze

As of today, it's going to be more expensive to buy alcohol in my home state of Illinois. Facing a tremendous budget deficit and a lack of ability for Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois State Legislature to reach an agreement on anything but their own pay raises, state lawmakers enacted the tax to help keep state coffers filled during these tough economic times. Here's how the new tax increase breaks breaks down:

  • Beer/Cider (0.5% - 7% alcohol) - $0.231 per gallon - about 2.6 cents more per six pack.
  • Wine - $1.39 per gallon - about 13 cents mor per bottle
  • Hard Liquor (less than 20% alcohol) - $1.39 per gallon
  • Hard Liquor (20% alcohol or more) - $8.55 per gallon - about 81 cents per fifth
Doesn't seem like much when you get right down to it, does it? But, in an already depressed economy, every penny counts, and for afficianados and winos alike, this is going to add up over time. Myself, I'm out. I've resorted to resurrecting my Uncle Max's recipe for bathtub gin and kitchen brewed beer. The large liquor cloud hovering over my house will be particularly evident on stressful weekends.