Category: X Night Ballers

Will says the logo makes him think of pickle jelly. I suggested he think of jalapeño jelly instead

At Lisa’s persistent instigation, Will, Kyle and I drove up to Pittsburgh on Friday to jam on games for the One Laptop Per Child Project. We actually got to handle some of the XO prototypes, which are even smaller than I expected, but also pretty neat.

We didn’t win, but we did create a complete game, albeit one that only fully worked four hours after the judging round. We also had a lot of fun, and not a lot of sleep. Some of the other projects looked great, and the winner was really polished–I have no doubt it will end up as part of the standard XO package.

I feel bad about the way the game turned out, because all the delays and problems were due entirely to my inexperience in the required tools (Python and Pygame). On the other hand, I’ve been mumbling about needing to learn Python for four years now, and now I have! Mumbled. I mean, learned.

The game (“Caketown”) lacks a lot of things (an intro, an outro, more than two levels, etc) but I’m going to post it anyway so you can hear Kyle’s fantastic music and see Will’s amazing art. What you don’t get to see is Lisa’s work as project coordinator, colorist and, now, one of the few living experts on how to install software on the XO.

Here it is as a Windows executable, in zip or gzip form (I recommend unzipping to C:\Caketown\). If you’re not running Windows, you can have the gzipped source and data, but you’ll need Python and Pygame installed to use it. You could also wait a little while, as I really do want to put together a finished and more coherent version with code that will not, when read, summon Nyarlathotep (the Crawling Chaos).

Weird footnote: unexpectedly, I recognized and got to meet a couple of people I knew or knew of from Internet (Bryan Cash and Tom Murphy). And they were both kind of startled / scared! But somebody did that to me once so it’s only fair.

I use the word “spook” in this entry because I am currently obsessed with William Gibson’s Spook Country. I’ll write about that too, eventually.

The quarterly investing magazinelet I get from my IRA holder has, as its latest cover line, “The Best-Laid Plans.” Like Anse Bundren, I don’t think they know the rest.

Plans are worthless. I had half an evening free from work tonight and it confused me: I had kind of forgotten what else to do with myself. I haven’t billed a mere 40 hours since the (four-day) week in which I flew back from London; last week–of which I theoretically spent half vacationing–I billed 60. It’s all for the same hideous, endless project, the kind you hear spook stories about from people who have spent too long working with computers. It was supposed to finally launch tonight, and I–as the project lead–hit every target that was required by 6:00. At 6:02 the client decided that two more problems were worth delaying launch for. By 8:30 (with my Tuesday friends waiting in the living room) I’d fixed those too. Guess whether the launch happened!

I need a vacation; the last one I had was nice, but it amounted to what most people would call a “weekend.” I’m running bufferless in all my endeavors and I obviously haven’t had time to write anything here. I also haven’t had time to get a haircut, pick up my new glasses or practice for a fairly important test.

Boo hoo, I get paid well to work on my couch. Pretend there’s a good segue here about writing, buffers, responsibility and personal milestones.

I miss MC Masala and I’m sad to see its archives disappearing from the Inside Bay Area site. Obviously, Sumana’s still blogging, but her column was different: the early ones had a conspiratory enthusiasm, as if the author was sneaking you in to see how columns work and wasn’t supposed to be there herself; the later ones displayed an enjoyable assurance and a growing set of tools for telling stories.

I hope she posts her own digital archive soon. Or (he murmured hypocritically) perhaps a book-on-demand?

  1. Do you own enough shit?



  2. Of course you don’t. Get some more! This is easy, because of Capitalism.
  3. GOTO 1
  4. Uh oh, it’s time to move! You’d better pack all that up, drive it around, and carry it up stairs. But your fleshy man-body is weak! What will you do?
    • Hire professionals
    • Ask your friends for help, but pay them what you would pay professionals
    • Ask your friends for help, on Valentine’s Day, in eight-degree weather, and repay them with Mexican food that you didn’t even buy, your girlfriend did
  5. Wow, you’re kind of a bastard! But at least all your shit is moved now.
  6. Wait! You still have more shit to move! How did that happen? You’d better stay up until 3 am. You can move the rest tomorrow! I mean today!
  7. GOTO 4

Thanks to Maria’s parents Mike and Susie, Scott, DC and Beth. We owe you guys a hell of a lot more than those enchiladas.

I’m 25

I have a camera for a face.

I made brownie pie and we ate Spinelli’s. DC and Beth got me a book and a bunch of great Actors Theatre stuff, and Yale got me some stuff he found in his car, and he, Ken, Kyle, Scott, Lisa, Monica, Mom, Ian, Maria’s family and especially Maria got me a present I would never have let myself buy: a real camera.

Thanks, ballers.

I am a big fan of refurbished electronics and appliances, despite the fact that they are maybe the worst things to get refurbished (rapid depreciation, complicated things that if they broke once, etc). I also display a startling brand loyalty to KitchenAid. Thanks to Simply Recipes, I found a refurbished, fairly high-end KitchenAid blender on Amazon for less than half price, with free shipping. You can guess the result.

Tuesday everybody brought stuff to try in smoothies, and Wednesday Maria and I experimented with chocolate pseudomalts and strawberry-orange slushies. Last night I found it difficult to establish a decent texture for a real milkshake; Maria found recommendations online that say if you’re using skim milk (we do), stick it in the freezer for ten minutes first. I firmly intend to do so.

Basically, I’ve enabled myself to drink ice cream. If I were a betting man, and I were in a boxing match against getting fat? I would put my money on getting fat.

We came back with all our teeth!

Bee was incredibly gracious in putting us up (and putting up with us) all week, and we owe her a lot, but to repay it in rent she’d have to stay with us for four months. Not that Maria or I would mind, because Bee is awesome. I also finally got to see Graham perform live with the Bathtub Marys–I’d only seen seen him in rehearsal and heard him on mp3. We spent seven hours trying to absorb the Met (art, not opera) with Leonard, then had dinner and games and a subsequent Saturday Day Basketball with him and Sumana.

Louisville seems a lot shorter after nine days in Manhattan, but then it seems a lot sunnier too.

Twister is a felony

Brendan: So which is better–dragon princesses, or dinosaur princesses?

Maria: Oh, definitely dragon princesses.

Brendan: You think so? I don’t know…

Maria: Oh, come on. Dinosaurs only happened because the dragon bloodline got watered down.

Maria and I (and Michael and Danielle) are going to New York! On a trip! Ballers: You can come over on Tuesday, but we won’t be here, so you may have to play games in the hall. I am pretty sure that is illegal!