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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen

Do I Give a Damn?

I found this on craigslist:

An Email Exchange

So a friend of mine emails me this:

Official Statement on Participation

# Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
# Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
# Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
# Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

DO NOT use headphones! The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the National Day of Slayer. National holidays in America aren't just about celebrating; they're about forcing it upon non-participants.

to which I reply
You know that's my birthday, right? I think everyone should blast Slayer all day and sing it at the top of their lungs, substituting my name where appropriate -- e.g., whenever they say "Devil", say "Red Bull". I'm going to blog that. Read my fucking blog, dammit.
So listen to Slayer on my birthday and read my fucking blog, dammit. Tell your friends about this neat little page where I ramble self-importantly. I can be even be amusing and informative at times. So tell your mom to read my blog. Tell your co-workers to read my blog, or at least the ones into programming, technology, etymology, gaming, design, love, politics, religion, skepticism, horror, art, symbology, epistemology, hermeneutics, and other nonsense. Tell your trained monkeys, your handicapped cousins, and random strangers who wear shirts that read "". Read my blog. Okay? And I promise to post more. April has been a long month.

Draft Value

The NFL draft is this weekend, and yes, while it's a lot of hype over something that often amounts to a crap shoot. And no, this is not a football post, I'm keeping the old Red Bull straight-up geeky. So here's something that may be of interest to people who like this kind of over-analytical stuff: the NFL draft value chart. It's a chart that the NFL teams use to determine the approximate value of a draft slot, and according to the chart, the number one overall is almost as much as all five picks at the end of the first round. Considering Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick, you need a crystal ball to determine actual value of any of these picks, so what does this chart measure? Risk? Potential? Makes no sense to me.

Anyway, I may go to the draft just to get drunk with other Jets fans. It's either D'Brickashaw Ferguson or "Super" Mario Williams. We can't lose. Either way, we get a starter with an amusing name. What more can you want from a draft pick?

I guess it was a football post. Oh well.


I keep a small stack of CDs on my desk at work so that I can listen to music. No, I don't have an iPod, and no, I don't normally listen to web radio. But my sister's husband mentioned Pandora to me and I decided to check it out. And boy, am I glad I did.

Pandora is a web-radio site based on data from the Music Genome Project, touted as "the most sophisticated taxonomy of musical information ever collected". The idea is simple, but I can only imagine that the execution is exhausting. Rather than falling back on such meaningless labels as "rock" and "pop", the Music Genome Project uses trained analysts to categorize songs based on over 400 different categories based on musical theory. These categories include musical influences, tonality, vocal styles, and melodic progressions, and the result is a truly unique and exhaustive look at what distinguishes one style from another.

Pandora takes this data and leverages it to discover other music you may like. Go to the site and enter the name of a band that you really like. It will start off by playing something from that band. It will then try to select other music that is similar to it. As you go along, you can tell it which songs you like and which ones you don't in order to help it figure out what your taste is all about.


There's a movie coming out this year called Gamers, a lighthearted mockumentary about my favorite hobby from writer/director Christopher Folino.

Filmed through the lens of an ever-present camera crew, Gamers shares the story of a group of high school friends on the eve of breaking the longest streak of D&D competition. (That’s Demons, Nymphs, and Dragons.) 23 years and some ridiculous 70,000+ hours after school, weekends and into their adult lives has the gang played and they are now one session away from snatching the record held by some Iowa corn farmers.
Eric Childress,
You have to check out some of the clips and quotes from the movie. Hilarious stuff. Could it be there's finally a movie that does the hobby justice, even if it's poking fun?

According to at least one review, it's well-produced despite a limited budget, attracting cameo appearances from well-known actors such as Beverly D'Angelo and Kelly Le Brock, who the filmmakers would never have been able to afford. They appear in the film because they like the material.

If this film lacks anything it's the chance for exposure to be given an opportunity to find an audience. Apparently it has been passed over by a number of the major film festivals in the USA. Gamers has a redeeming atmosphere and reminds me of what might have happen if the creators of Napoleon Dynamite meet up with the team behind the National Lampoon films.

The production values and quality of this film far exceed its budget and the team behind Gamers should be proud of their film. Gamers is an original and funny independent film, something many Hollywood comedies today don't delivery even with their A list cast and huge budgets.

Indie Film Nation
And some quotes to give you an idea of what the movie is all about...

PAUL: Okay. You know what? I was gonna wait until everybody else got here, but... There's your present, Reese. It's a comforter. It's got the names of every character that has died on Reese's watch listed out on it. It's a California King size. It's full on both sides. Here, help me hold it up for the camera. Show 'em.

REESE: He's joking. You're joking, aren't you?

PAUL: Well, actually, I am. It's only on one side, my mom kinda ran outta time, but there are more names on this than on the AIDS quilt. I checked it out, Reese.


KEVIN: You're introduced to Baytor, the bard, who for five gold pieces will sing you a song about the legend of Theddian Selimar. Kevin gets his guitar ready.

REESE: Five gold pieces? Damn, does a wand of blow jobs come with the song?

I can't seem to find a release date, though. I've gotta get a copy of this movie.

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Stilts, Indeed

Okay, so I'm only mildly ashamed to admit that I have a thing for women in high heels. You know, those strappy, open-toed, stiletto-type things that make her butt stick out? You know, that symbol of modern femininity that says, "look how damn sexy I am"?

Well, the Times ran an article today entitled Stilt Walking Into Spring, featuring some of the most outrageous-looking shoes I've ever seen. And I looked at them, thinking, "What woman would wear these? They're just plain ugly."

So I read the article, wanting to see it from the woman's perspective. And I was a little surprised to learn that the focus seemed to be on sheer height. "The desire to be taller, amazonian, seems to fit with a society that likes things pumped up — lips and S.U.V.'s, for example — but that is only a conjecture," explains the columnist, Cathy Horyn. She gives the examples of Ms. Chetrit, who was willing to pay $795 on a pair of shoes to be taller than her kids and Ms. Reisman, who donned 5-inch Dolce & Gabbana platforms so she could say, "Now I'm tall."

Speaking as a man who doesn't think tall is necessarily sexy, I think they're missing the point. Because peppered throughout the piece is a hint of the real reason behind it all:

In other circumstances, like walking on the wall-to-wall at the office or at a party where I mostly stood, the Lanvins were actually comfortable, and I enjoyed my new height and the giddy looks of fright on the men in the office.

In reality you don't wear a pair of shoes like that if you carry a book bag and share trains with commuters. You invite looks of pity. Shoes like that serve a different purpose: seduction, fun, making men bark.

It's not about being tall, ladies. It's a marker, it's a sign, like plumage on a bird in mating season. A woman who wears particular clothes is signaling to potential mates: "I am a woman who wants to look good," or "I am able to conform to these social expectations and thus make a suitable partner." What other possible explanation could there be to strap yourself into a pair of ugly stilts in the name of being beautiful?

The Lapsed Game Developer

This article, for me, was a very interesting read. It's about how many game developers I've been an amateur game designer pretty much my whole life, but got swept up in the dot-com explosion, and somehow ended up programming software for Wall Street lawyers rather than writing games. I can't really complain, since the job is challenging, the hours are semi-flexible and the money is good. I guess it's easier to make money working for the man than it is doing what you love, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive options, do they?


Shakespeare's Authorship

I stumbled upon a page concerning the controversy surrounding the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. I'm no expert in the matter, but I found myself drawn into the discussion. In a nutshell, many believe that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, an actor in London's premier theater company, was not the man who wrote the plays signed "William Shakespeare". The most likely candidate is Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Those who take this view are called "Oxfordians," while the people who maintain the more traditional position are called "Stratfordians".

The literature is deep and fascinating, and I spent hours poring through the material I found via The Shakespeare Authorship Page, a Stratfordian site, and comparing The Shakespeare Oxford Society's website. I don't know if I'm convinced one way or the other just yet, but there's a lively debate that's apparently been going on for some 200 years. I've found plenty of overview material and FAQs, such as this one from the Shakespeare Fellowship.

I guess what I find most interesting about the whole debate is just how passionate the participants are. Mark Alexander's essay, Why I Became an Oxfordian reads almost like a religious conversion experience. This Q&A is a great read, too, taking the opposite position.

I find it frustrating that we may never have an answer to the question of Shakespeare's authorship, but the literature is vast and makes for an interesting diversion if you're of a literary frame of mind. Personally, I find the Oxfordian argument compelling due to the way that it illuminates and deepens the works of Shakespeare in the light of a man whose social and political standing placed him at the center of late-Tudor court drama. I also find the Stratfordian argument compelling not only because it supports the idea that Shakespeare was a truly unique talent, but also because Occam's Razor compels me to think that plays signed "William Shakespeare" were probably written by him.

Operation: Mindcrime II

Some things were never meant to have a sequel. Like Highlander. Like The Matrix. Like The Blair Witch Project. Like Metallica's Unforgiven*. It cheapens the original when the artist tries to rehash an idea just to sell albums (or movie tickets or whatever).

And so I, like many others, was upset to hear that a sequel to the greatest 80's progressive metal album ever produced, Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime, had been released. In the words of Brian Matusz via Brad Wilson, would this be a return to excellence? or cashing in on a successful past?

Thankfully, according to one review, while it may fall short of recapturing the full force of the original, it's a mostly successful extension of the Nikki's tale of revolution, murder and madness. I will have to find out for myself, won't I?

* For a laugh, check out this "Encyclopedia Metallica" entry on how to guess a Metallica fan's age by asking him when the band began to suck.

One Moment In Time

A very special moment in time occured today, and I'm a little late in reporting on it, but, as my readers know, I'm often a little behind on these things.

Early this morning, it was 01:02:03 04/05/06, that is, 01:02:03 AM on April 5th, 2006. I want to thank Robert Scoble, Brad Abrams, Tim Heuer and others for making me aware that I had missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thanks. No, really. Thanks.

I'm Naked, Why Aren't You?

As you may have noticed, my blog's normally ultra-cool, red-on-black color theme has gone away in favor of a pretty boring looking white page with black text and old-school blue links. Why? Well, because I'm CSS-naked. Today, April 5th, is CSS Naked Day, an effort to promote web standards by asking sites to strip away the CSS that makes everything look cool. The idea is that if you're relying on CSS to make your site readable, then you're not following the standards that allows people with downlevel and alternative browsers to still access your content. Not that any content here at the Red Bull Diary is all that important for anyone to read, anyway, but I'm a web geek, and so I pride myself on following the standards. And lo and behold, the Diary is still functional.

So this naked thing isn't so bad. I may stay naked. I like being naked. Get naked with me.

What's a Game?

Ever have one of those same conversations again and again? I have. With co-workers, with friends. And like many of these conversation-goblins, they have a way of showing up again and again in new, interesting forms. The conversation I've had umpteen times is "what's a game?" in the guise of "why football is a sport and darts is not" and "how do you win D&D?"

And to help me along is a classic article entitled "I Have No Words and I Must Design" (catchy title, eh? sort of sums up my feelings on the topic.... except for the having no words part). The author's approach is to define a game by distinguishing it from what it is not. It's not a puzzle, not a toy, and not a story. To that list I would add that it's also not a sport (sports are physical), and it's not a race or contest (winning is often subjective or a simple measure of who is faster or stronger). A game is a competitive activity governed by rules in which your decisions affect the outcome.

This will become a longer, more interesting blog post at a later date when I'm not blurry-eyed from being at work for twelve hours. I hate release cycles.

Pandora: My Favorite New Songs
LibraryThing: What I'm Currently Reading
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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.