Tibs Manor

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Amazing Race - Family Edition

Beware of definite spoilers regarding The Amazing Race 8.

I finished watching the two hour season premiere of AR and I really liked what I saw. A lot of fun teams to watch, a few that get on my nerves but for the most part I really liked the cast. I know I am a moron but it really made me laugh to hear the constant references to the Black family. I liked this team but they were a little too positive, I would have loved them in real life but on television I was bored with them by the end of episode 1, so I wasn't sorry to see them go. I was slightly disappointed to not see a team made up of two gay dads, their adopted young republican son, and the family's gay butler. Lauren pointed out that a gay butler isn't exactly family, but I still like the idea.

My favorite part of the episode was when the Gaghan family overtook the Aiellos in the Amish buggy haul. Watching the frustration on their faces, watching them throw their hands up in disgust, as this nice family goes past them with the adorable little kids singing a horribly mangled version of "She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain" - well I just had to rewind and watch the whole segment again. I love both teams. I liked the idea of a dad and his sons-in-law, and when they were ultra-patriotic about the flag ceremony, they sealed the deal for me.

My second favorite part of the episode was seeing season 1 alumni Kevin & Drew at the hot dog stand. I think only one team recognized them, but I sure did, it was very cool to see two of my favorite racers in a cameo. I wonder if this is going to happen more this season? Will we be treated to a reappearance of Team Guido?

My third favorite part of the episode was watching Linda of the Weaver family get run over by a buggy. This team is insufferable. I feel bad for them having lost their father / husband, but I've already seen them pray TWICE for success in the race, and that is twice too many. I certainly hope the Almighty has better things to do than monitor this sort of thing.

I still have my beefs with the AR, as I think it basically comes down to luck. But I've come to accept that as part of the deal, and I really do enjoy the show. I like the idea of having such different teams this time, it was really cool how kids were a liability in the rowboat challenge, but an advantage in the buggy haul. Oftentimes the Detours on the show are obvious, but at least in episode 1 there was nearly an even split, and each side really did have advantages.

My favorite teams then are the Aiellos, the Gaghans, and the Paolos (although this could change, the "yell at mom" shtick was making me sad by the end), and to a lesser extent the Linzes (any team member that can fart and then blame it on his sister's breath rules in my book, but other than that I am not sure I like them) and Bransens. I also like the chauvinist dad from the Rogers clan but it's unclear if he will really exhibit sexist (yet so entertaining!) behavior, or if his intro interview was misleading. The only teams I dislike are the Weavers and the Godlewski sisters, they are too screechy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Essen '05

The Essen 2005 Game Fair is coming, October 13-16 in Essen, Germany. This is the biggest convention/tradeshow for Eurogames anywhere, many publishers release games to coincide with the fair. There's an excellent preview posted on GameFest, and tons of content on BoardGameGeek, including this exhaustive GeekList and this forum dedicated to the fair.

There are a number of games being released at the fair that I'm interested in. The two biggies for me are Caylus (William Attia) and Tempus (Martin Wallace). Caylus is an economic engine game set in the middle ages, and is drawing tons of buzz and favorable comparison to Puerto Rico. I read the rules for this one yesterday and it looks great. Tempus is a civilization game that supposedly plays in 90 minutes. This is sort of a holy grail for the game industry, it'll be interesting to see if it pans out. It probably won't, but it still looks like a really good game and is also generating tremendous positive buzz. I actually entered a contest to win a copy of this one (10 out of 10 for me).

To a lesser extent I'm checking out Gloria Mundi (James Ernest / Mike Selinker), Byzantium (Martin Wallace), and Mesopotamia (Klaus-Jürgen Wrede). I don't have much to say about any of these as all I know are vague descriptions, but based on what I do know of the game and the designer, these are ones I am keeping half an eye on.

Finally I have to mention the almost-obscene Settlers of Catan 10th Anniversary 3-D Special Edition Chest Set (Klaus Teuber). This is a lavishly overproduced edition of the all time German classic, with a pricetag to match (I think it's somewhere around $400!). I clearly have no desire to own this thing but it is fun to look at the pictures.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday Recap

We went to the LA County Fair. I guess I'd say I was disappointed. It was basically the same as last year (pig races, funnel cake, pool and barbecue displays), only way brighter and hotter (we went in the evening last time), more crowded (we went on a weekday last time), and more expensive (we had a great set of coupons last time). It didn't help that I had a headache for much of the day. It was still fun but I bet I don't go next year. A few notables:

  • I did finally try the smoked turkey leg you always see at fairs and amusement parks and stuff. It is cool to feel like you are Henry VIII or Hagar the Horrible or something but it wasn't all that tasty.
  • Check out Coppertone Sport Continuous Spray. Man this sunscreen rules. It applied in about 10 seconds, it was so easy. It dried really fast, so you didn't feel super oily all day. You do feel a little bit sticky but to me it was worth it, I would definitely use this again.
  • We missed the Bean Spittin' Contest but caught The Stars of the Peking Acrobats. This was well worth the wait - really an amazing show. Even Lauren nearly passing out at the end (it really was hot out!) couldn't take away from the spectacle. The photo is from a medical tradeshow - this sort of display makes me want to buy my own scanning table or whatever the hell that thing is.
Part of me wants to balloon to 500 pounds because it appears that all those people have to do is go to amusement parks and county fairs and get in my way. Seriously it seems like every 5th person is riding a Rascal.

I've also started playing X-Men Legends for the GameCube. I picked this up on Saturday for $20. It's fun so far, it's an action RPG in the vein of Diablo or the console iterations of Baldur's Gate. Seems pretty easy so far but I'm having fun with it. 

The weekend ended on a bit of a down note with the Giants losing to the Chargers. Hell of a day for Eli and Shockey, too bad the defense forgot to show up.

I started watching E-Ring and need to see the premiere for Curb Your Enthusiasm, so no spoilers please.


Saturday night saw Lauren and I playing two games by Richard Borg. First up was Memoir 44. In battle 14 of the campaign, my Germans defeated Lauren's allies 6-0. This was the first shutout of our campaign and saw some really great card draws early on for me that let me roll over the right flank of the map. This picture isn't by me, but it actually does show scenario 14 (although here the Allies beat the Germans 6-5). Two more battles to go and the campaign will be over.

Next up was Wyatt Earp, which is basically a twist on rummy. I really like this game and apparently it is best with 3 players, which I have never even tried, so it could rise even higher. It took us three rounds to finish and the lead went back and forth after each, but I managed to win by a few points.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Lauren's friend Kate gave us a copy of Twister for our wedding. Friday night after finally consolidating some boxes for our upcoming move, we had room to break it out. Lauren fancies herself as some kind of legend at the game but after three resounding wins in as many attempts I feel I've made a pretty strong case for myself as Twister Tsar of our house. I play Twister as a bit of a jerk apparently, I cut off the board and generally make a nuisance of myself. It's not clear if that's against the spirit of the rules or not, so next time we play we'll try with me not making myself into an obstacle quite as much.

Beer Bash

We had a "Beer Bash" at work yesterday in the afternoon. Free beer (Sierra Nevada or Newcastle), sodas, and snacks, to celebrate the end of summer and build morale or something. In addition there was a 10 hole miniature golf course, maybe 60 or 70 people played. My foursome kicked some serious ass - Bijan scored an 18, Alan and I tied with 20, and John notched a 21. Alan and I were locked in a 5 way tie for 3rd place until someone in the very last foursome of the day scored a 19 to kick us out of a potential playoff hole (I'm not kidding, there were actually trophies!). Bijan and some other dude tied for 1st place but the other dude had already left so Bijan got 1st place and the other dude forfeited his right to a playoff and took home the 2nd place trophy. Very fun day, and where can we go from here? Bowling last week, miniature golf this week, next week maybe we'll all get hammered and drive some go-karts.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


At around 1:25pm today (according to my IM log) I felt a tiny bit of an earthquake. I think it is this one near Mettler, about 100 miles from North Hollywood where I work. This brings my earthquake experience up to 3, not including all the great memories of watching John Tenta. Tenta is listed as residing in Houston, TX, which is currently at risk of being hit by Hurricane Rita. Another name for a hurricane is the name used by Tenta's former tag-team partner, Typhoon. Weird.

GameNight - Louis XIV

Made it back to the CalTech game group for a meeting last night, I think it's been about a month since my last visit. Hopefully with the wedding planning done I will be able to make it more regularly, although honestly the real difficulty is in getting there after a normal day of work!

First up was Louis XIV, Rüdiger Dorn's entry into Alea's new medium-box line. I've tried to play this the last few times I made it to game night, but it just hasn't worked out until this week. Seems fitting that this it the week it worked out, since the game just won the Deutscher Spiele Preis for 2005. The DSP tends to give it's award to the more "gamer's game" type entries, as opposed to the more family-oriented Spiel des Jahres. Anyway I played against Ted and Peter and despite a horrendous first round I managed to finish a close third, 42-39-37 were the final scores. I liked the game better than many other influence/area-control games, and I'd gladly play it again, but there was nothing in there that really grabbed me. Everything felt kind of arbitrary and generic if that makes sense, the theme and the mechanics were a total disconnect for me, and that is usually not my kind of game.

After that I played games of Fist of Dragonstones and Dragon's Gold with Ted, Dan, and a friend of Dan's whose name escapes me. I won Dragonstones, I overbid a lot but it's better than underbidding in that game. I came in third in Dragon's Gold. Dragon's Gold is the only negotiation game I really enjoy with the game night crowd, the timer ensures that it will move along quickly. Although I realized I think I have just as much fun watching this game as I do playing it, and that's not a good sign. My main enjoyment comes from egging others on!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My Name Is Earl

Lauren wanted to check out My Name Is Earl, Jason Lee's new sitcom on NBC that premiered last night. It wasn't amazing, but in a season of bigtime letdowns, it was surprisingly good! It took a flashback crotchkick to get me giggling but from there on there were a lot of laughs. It definitely earned a second watching from me. Two interesting commercial sightings in this episode..."Darnell / Crab Man" is the Rubberband Man from those OfficeMax commercials...and I recognized the "Kenny James" character (uncredited on imdb) as the spokesman for disgusting mexican fastfood chain Del Taco. Stick to Rubio's or Baja Fresh or Chipotle or even Taco Bell before you go to Del Taco. It's cheap but it's not worth it.

Monday, September 19, 2005


This was dreadfully bad. I don't even care if you haven't seen it because I can't spoil something that is rancid to begin with! The cast should be good but ends up disappointing...I normally like Brent Spiner but he's no better than decent here, Charles Dutton usually does good work but really phones in his performance...that dwarf Peter Dinklage is probably the best part of the show (well, the second best - Carla Gugino is awfully easy on the eyes). That's all that's good though, and that's not even enough to carry the pilot. Lame technobabble courses throughout the show, and the whole "triple helix" DNA nonsense reminded me of nothing so much as the "double guitars" joke from the Simpsons. Every conversation and moment felt like you'd seen it in some better show or movie a dozen times already. And what is Threshold, is it the name of the protocol, or the name of the building? The saddest part is that Friday nights are so barren that I will probably keep recording it anyway!

New Apartment

The last news of the weekend is that Lauren and I found a new apartment. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a much nicer kitchen. We'll still have gated parking, and the natural light and views are much better than our current place. We won't have a pool or workout room like we do where we are now, and we have to buy our own fridge (which isn't so bad, we have to do it sooner or later), but in exchange for that we'll be paying $125 LESS than we do now which isn't too shabby! It's located maybe 5 blocks from our current place, instead of being about 2 blocks west of CalTech, now we'll be about 2 blocks north, so we can continue to get by with just the one car for now. We actually have to double up on rent for a month, but this place is enough of a steal that it's worth it. And that means we can have a nice casual move, just bring over stuff a bit at a time, we can schedule movers for the heavy stuff for midmonth which is cheaper, we won't have to race for a cable hookup, etc. We are both very excited about this new place.

The Brothers Grimm

Saturday night Lauren and I went to see The Brothers Grimm. Lauren fell asleep for much of it but I stayed awake easily and enjoyed it. It had the definite look of a Terry Gilliam film, which I generally enjoy. Definitely weird in parts, and I'm not sure the plot made complete sense all along, but it was nonetheless a treat to watch. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger did well, I am not normally a Ledger fan but I enjoyed his performance quite a bit.

The other perk was that we saw it at a very small theater near our apartment, which only charges $6 a ticket - that takes much of the sting out of falling asleep! They frequently show foreign or indie films there, but there are plenty of mainstream movies as well (in addition to Grimm, they are currently showing movies like War of the Worlds and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in addition to fare like Howl's Moving Castle.

Spontaneous Bowling

I used to always keep my bowling ball and shoes in the trunk of my car, "just in case" the opportunity to bowl came up. After awhile I stopped because honestly, what are the chances of that happening? Well I lived to regret that decision because it happened, on Friday we were supposed to have a department-wide meeting for *5* hours in preparation for a visit from the president of Disney Online this week. After we got to the meeting it was revealed by the head of our department that it was all a ruse and that we were heading to Jillian's at Universal City Walk for free food, drinks, and bowling for a few hours. That is a seriously great way to end the week. I bowled a 157 in game 1, and had a 119 and a spare through 8 frames in game 2 when we had to call it quits, pretty solid performance I think.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Long Wait Is Over

Yesterday in my mail backlog was a notice from Charter about some new cable package. I usually ignore this stuff, I spend too much on cable already after all. But for some reason I opened it and boy am I glad I did. FINALLY, Charter in Pasadena will be offering CBS in high definition. They are also adding some new PBS item (I believe PBS was already offered, not sure what this new one is), and TNT. Both are nice, but CBS is the real winner. Football and college basketball, including March Madness, in glorious HD? Sign me up. Actually you don't even have to sign me up, there's no extra charge if you're already using the HD box. After we move to a new place I may try out the cable company's HD PVR. I love the TiVo interface and extra features, but lately they have basically abandoned their Mac audience, and there's something to be said for a cheaper, dual-tuner option, even at the cost of a worse interface.

County Fair

The Los Angeles County Fair is going on right now. Last year we got stuck on a roller coaster. Yes that's Lauren and I in that picture, although you can only just barely see my head and shoulders. The attendant had to push us over the first crest. We also watched pig races and won a pound of free bacon (not sure if we ever redeemed that coupon). I am trying to get together a trip for this weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My Wedding


I think I can say without a doubt in my mind that it was the best day of my life. Everything was so much fun, even the moments that I thought would be nervewracking ended up being relaxed and enjoyable, it was wonderful having so many great friends and family members there to share it with, and Lauren was even more beautiful than I thought she'd be (and I had some seriously high expectations!). There were a few hiccups leading up to the big day...a bit of a last second mixup on rehearsal time, some stress planning the Sunday brunch, and my tux didn't arrive until about 2 hours before I had to get dressed. But it all came together and everything worked out just fine.

The rehearsal on Friday night went well. I screwed up and said "yes" instead of "I do", and when the minister prompted me for the right answer, I came up with "yes sir" instead. I wasn't nervous at all until the rehearsal, but standing up there it started to hit me. Dinner was at Acquaviva Delle Fonti in Westfield, NJ. Great food, starting with an avalanche of antipasto. Clams, crabcakes, roasted peppers, cheeses, calamari, shrimp, mushrooms, salamis...I was stuffed by the time we even hit the actual meal! First course was Caesar salad or lobster bisque (I had the bisque), and then a choice of several entrees. I had a breaded veal cutlet over a tomato and red onion salad which was excellent. Lauren had pork tenderloin with a pancetta hash, hers was also really good and more distinctive than mine, I kind of wish I'd gotten that! There were also a salmon and a pasta option that I did not try. We gave her parents a thank-you gift for the wedding (we'd given my parents a little something the night before), gave out our attendant gifts (necklaces & earrings for the girls, pocketwatches for the boys), and made a little speech thanking everyone. Well, to be more accurate, Lauren gave a little speech and I cracked one tiny joke at the end.

After the dinner ended I drove Lauren and myself to the hotel where we'd blocked rooms for our guests, and we hung out for about an hour with our friends at the bar. We figured we wouldn't be able to fall asleep right away regardless, so might as well go out and have some fun. It was a good move, I think it relaxed us both and we had a great time. I drove her back to her parents' house and then drove myself home.

A lot of people say their wedding day was a blur but I really remember it all. I won't give a blow-by-blow account here, but a few moments stand out:

  • the first sight of Lauren coming up the aisle.
  • while singing the hymn, I was holding the program for us both to read with my right hand. I switched it to my left and my hand started shaking like I had Parkinson's. After about 5 seconds I switched back to my steady ol' Right, but we both started to laugh. Not sure if anyone noticed that.
  • not being the least bit self-conscious during our first dance.
That was the big surprise for me, you very quickly forget about everyone around you and just enjoy yourself. I wasn't embarrased at all to dance in front of everyone, or say my vows, or kiss her. Honestly, the most nervous that I got was during the rehearsal!

My only regret, if you can call it that, was just how fast it all went by. I would have loved another hour or two to talk to try a few more of the cocktail hour appetizers, to talk to a few more people for just a bit longer, or to dance for a few more songs. But I bet I'd feel that way no matter how long it lasted, and I know we really made the most out of the time. Suffice it to say that I had the time of my life. I'll update the webpage with some pictures as they arrive, and if you have any digital pics, send them along!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Yanks Lose

The Yank offense was nonexistent through 6 innings and the pitching was spotty. They exploded for 4 runs and a homer in the 7th but never got closer than that. My nephew took it pretty well, and we all had a great time. It was a very cool night. I went through Monument Park for the first time ever. Hard to believe that with all the times I've been to Yankee Stadium, I've never once made it down there. A word of advice: do not get a cheeseburger at Yankee Stadium. The cheese isn't a slice, it's ladled on nacho-style.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Humble Apology

Sorry, constant reader, that updates have been sparse since I came home. The week before a wedding is a frantic time indeed. We've finished up pretty much everything at this point, after a late night run to Kinko's to finish up the programs. But there are just lots of little phone calls and e-mails and errands and such...we picked up the marriage license, met with the church organist, booked a car for the priest, shopped for attendant gifts, dropped off favors at the reception, etc. It will all be worth it, it should be a really great party, and I am genuinely excited to be getting married. I regret that it will probably be so hectic that I don't get to see much of anyone in particular, but I get the sense that that is a common wedding experience. If you are interested in your table assignment or in hearing some food options let me know, I can give you a sneak preview.

My older brother arrives this afternoon and we are off to the Bronx tonight with my parents, Sven and his girlfriend Bridget, and Michael's son Ben, for Ben's first ever live Yankee game. I haven't been to a Yankee game myself in about 3 years so I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Two More Movies - One Creepy, One Great

Watched two more movies with Gian to celebrate Labor Day, after a barbecue at his house. First up was White Chicks. I remember discussing this movie with him when it first came out. We both thought it was undeniably creepy. For some reason he later bought it, sight unseen! It was funnier than I expected, very dumb (and yes, very creepy), but not as bad as I'd feared.

Later that night we went out to see The 40 Year Old Virgin. This was excellent. I think Steve Carrell is pretty funny but I am not a huge fan, but I am a big Judd Apatow fan. I'm glad I didn't go see this with my parents (which nearly happened - I have terribly judgement!) but it was a great movie, very very funny. Paul Rudd needs a lead role I think - I always see him in supporting roles like in this, Anchorman, Wet Hot American Summer...and he always makes me laugh my ass off. Give him a shot I say, he can carry a movie on his own.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Two Red Eyes

Friday night I flew out to NJ on the redeye. Not a bad flight, I gave up a window seat for a middle row exit seat behind the bulkhead. A good move, I had about 8 feet of leg room. I would hate to sit next to me on a flight, I am pretty fidgety. The reason for the trip home is, of course, my wedding on September 10th.

Anyway after passing out at about 9pm on Saturday night, I went to see Red Eye with Sven and my parents. It was good, short and sweet. Not too formulaic, but nothing really earthshattering either.

Later that night Sven and I walked downtown to get some ice cream and ran into our brother in law Gianfranco who was dropping some friends off at the bus stop. We went back to his house (he bought a house about 5 doors down from my parents) and watched Sahara. I've only read one Clive Cussler book and this didn't necessarily feel like a direct adaptation of the characters, but it was an enjoyable movie. I've heard Cussler hates it though so I don't think this is the start of a franchise.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Pikmin Win

I managed to finish off Pikmin last night, taking four parts in two days and then taking two more days with the final boss. I believe I finished the game in 24 days, so 6 days ahead of schedule (the goal of the game is to collect 30 parts over 30 "days" which each last 15 minutes). Awesome little game, I am very glad I picked it up.

I was able to hold onto second-to-last place in my game of Wallenstein. In the end I think just under 50% of all attacks had been directed at me. I'm pleased I was able to stay competitive and I guess the lesson is to spend year 1 concentrating more on building strength than on buildings.