Friday, January 05, 2007

A Shot of Christmas Cheer Chased by a Shot of Liquid Cheer

Generic well-wishing to all! The holidays have come and gone, and now it's back to the daily grind. And what better way to mark that return to work than by putting off said work to write a blog post? My vacation was rather packed full of activity, and although this left me with very little time to game (aside from playing the Christmas-day Wii Virtual Console release of Super Castlevania IV from start to finish), it has provided me with plenty of material for a post, from how I spent my first Christmas with Veronica to how I drunkenly rang in the new year. Before I get to that, though, allow me to tell you about my shiny new four-thousand dollar toy.

Christmas came early for me this year, as I bought myself a long-overdue new television. My behemoth of an existing big-screen was great in its day, but after almost a decade of regular use, it was beginning to show its age, and I'd been given to understand that it was almost criminal to have my XBox 360 hooked up to a standard-definition television. So, I went online and began researching television technologies in earnest. After several hours of reading over the course of a week, I decided on an LCoS display, and then began shopping around for a TV that fit my long and specific requirements list. I needed the dimensions to fit the cavity left by my previous television, and I needed a large and specific assortment of A/V ports for my various consoles and other electronics. I was beginning to despair that the television I wanted simply didn't exist, and then I found it. It was love at first sight. The 50" Sony SXRD (a Sony-specific implementation of LCoS) was the right size, it was the right technology, it had an 8000 hour lamp life, and it had almost all of the ports I wanted (I'd have preferred a second S-video port), spread over eight different input channels.

A few days later, it was sitting in my rec room. And although I was initially floored by how good it looked, I must admit that there were some issues, mostly as a result of my own ignorance. You see, despite all of my research, there was one important detail that I hadn't been aware of until I ran into the problem myself-- video game systems with low-resolution output look like ass when scaled up to fifty inches in a 1080p native resolution. I haven't had the courage (or the time) to try my PS2 yet, but I of course tried my Wii right away, and was incredibly disappointed when it actually looked worse on my new TV than it had on my old one. Where before there had been smooth edges, now everything was depressingly jagged and ugly, and no amount of setting tweaking on the television or the console was able to make it any better. My only hope was that a set of component cables and an accompanying switch from 480i to 480p would make things better, but after ordering them I found out that it would simply make the jagged edges ever crisper, and having now made the switch I can confidently state that I have noticed no change whatsoever, for better or for worse.

Mere months ago, when it was announced that the Wii would only output at a maximum resolution of 480p, I distinctly recall not caring in the slightest-- now it suddenly seemed a very consequential and maddening decision. Similarly, all of those people whom I had heard bitch about how awful the Wii looks suddenly seemed less like raving internet trolls. I was even considering taking the television back, when Nathan came over and talked me back from the cliff edge without even intending to. You see, he didn't think that the Wii looked any worse than it had on my old television, and instead thought that it simply looked different. I lamented that everything look jagged and ugly now, to which he simply replied "yes, and before everything looked blurry."

And just like, I suddenly felt much better. I admit that I still have trouble seeing it as anything but worse, but I am getting used to it. If I spend any time in careful examination of the graphics I get depressed again, but I quickly forget all about it once I start actually playing any games, and I can foresee a point in time where I cease to notice it altogether. I suspect I wouldn't even have a problem with it if I hadn't already become accustomed to how it looked on my old TV. I'm still worried about my PS2, though-- I'm much more used to how it looks on a SD CRT.

It's not all bad news, though. Other than the Wii's (and presumably, the PS2's) "jaggies", the new TV looks awesome, and I have only nice things to say about it otherwise. The picture looks amazing, the viewing angle is great, it has tons of convenient settings and options, and, most importantly, I have everything hooked up to it at once without anymore annoying manual cable switching or the need to buy a switch. Each device has its own labeled input channel now, too-- I can just navigate to the "XBox 360" channel instead of having to remember that it's on Video 2.

Speaking of the 360, it easily looks ten times better than it used to, which makes me wish that I owned more than one game for the damn thing (I'll be finished Oblivion any day now, I swear), and just makes me more depressed that the Wii, which I own six games for, looks like crap (not to mention the dozens of PS2 and Gamecube games that I have yet to play through). The 360's not the only thing that looks good, though, as I've also noticed a significant improvement in how my PC looks on the new television. I used to pipe my PC's display over to my old big-screen on my video card's S-video out when I was watching shows that I'd downloaded, and I had no idea that an S-video connection could look this good. The TV also has a VGA in, so if I feel particularly enterprising some day in the near future then I may drag my PC across the room and see how well the SXRD works as a monitor.

Which reminds me that I haven't really mentioned how well it works as a television. For the standard definition stations that we all know and love, it's set to preserve the aspect ratio, and although I therefore lost a bit of size in the switch to a widescreen set, they're still plenty large. Otherwise, they look fine, although perhaps a bit grainier thanks to the crisper picture exposing the flaws. Theoretically, I wouldn't have much more to say about this, since we don't have digital cable, but, well, it seems that noone told Rogers that. You see, the moment I connected the new set, it began searching for digital channels, and it found a couple hundred that aren't supposed to be there. We don't have a digital box, so accessing them is a bit obnoxious (some channels are described by as many as four digits after the decimal place), but they're there in all of their HD glory, and they look amazing. The TV was supposed to come with a free year of digital cable, but we hadn't contacted Rogers to get it hooked up yet, and we weren't even sure if we were going to, for fear about what impact in might have on our, umm... *cough* current cable setup. So now I don't know if I should contact them and get a box, or if I should sit quietly and enjoy my free cable as it is. Oh well-- deciding how best to handle your free cable's not a bad problem to have. ;-)

My new TV took up much of my free time over the holiday break, but that's not really saying a whole lot, since I didn't have all that much free time to speak of in the first place. Many of my friends were home (that is to say, in Fredericton) for Christmas, and between gatherings with them and spending time with Veronica, my social calendar was booked pretty solid. It was nice to see everyone again, and it all went by so fast. My annual all-night holiday gathering in particular was a lot of fun, and, even at nineteen hours (a few hours shorter than usual), didn't seem nearly long enough. We didn't even get around to playing eight-player system-linked Mario Kart on two big screens (my old one and my new one) as I had originally planned!

Believe it or not, I actually did manage to find time amidst all of this socializing to celebrate Christmas itself. In a fairly last-minute decision, Vern and I decided that we would spend Christmas Eve with her family, and Christmas with mine. This worked out fairly well, as Christmas Eve is the day that her family traditionally puts more emphasis on. However, I am a creature of habit, so any break from tradition is a at least a little painful for me (I gather that I was missed at the first of my two usual Christmas Eve stops), and the prospect of a fancy four-course vegetarian meal didn't exactly sweeten the deal. For anyone who's not aware, my palette is not exactly what you would call "refined" (although Veronica is working on it-- I had Indian food for the first time last month!), nor are my table manners, and I was terrified that I'd embarrass myself, or, even worse, insult Vern's mother by looking visibly disgusted with the dinner she'd worked so hard on.

My worries were largely unfounded, though, as the evening actually went rather well. I managed to cobble together some fairly nice formal wear, I was able to eat all of the food, and, even though I still think one fork per meal is enough for anyone, I was also able to get through the meal with only a couple of faux pas (even with Vern watching me eagle-eyed and announcing any mistakes to the table... *grumble*). None of the food was anything that I would likely have chosen to eat on my own, but the second course, Borscht, wasn't half bad, and the dumplings in it were quite tasty-- if the beet/dill broth had been a little less strong-tasting then I think I may have liked it quite a bit. After dinner, everyone opened their presents (those crazy Europeans :-P), and then I headed out to meet my parents while Veronica and her family prepared for evening mass.

The next day, everyone at my house got up at roughly nine o'clock, at which point we had some breakfast, then went upstairs to open our presents. I received a media remote and a wireless adapter for my 360, both of which I wanted, and neither of which I was willing to buy myself, since they're both unreasonably priced (the adapter costs $130 fucking dollars for functionality that's available out of the box with the Wii-- that's highway robbery). I spent the rest of the morning checking out the Wii's Christmas-day offerings, most of which I bought (ToeJam & Earl, Super Castlevania IV, Street Fighter II, and Super Mario Bros.), which officially put me over the $50 mark in Virtual Console purchases to date. Then, in the afternoon, I headed to town to pick up Vern, and the two of us ate a pleasant and rather uneventful Christmas dinner with my dad's side of the family at my grandfather's house (now also my aunt and uncle's house). After that, we went back to my place and finished watching the first season of Arrested Development on DVD (my second time through, but Veronica's first).

The week after Christmas was just as crowded as the week before Christmas, and before I knew it, it was time to ring in the new year. In years past, my friends and I usually attended my friend Ricmond's New Year's party, but he lives in Vancouver now, so Veronica threw a party in his stead. She really pulled out all of the stops, with lots of decorations, lots of alcohol, and enough food to feed an army. I gather that she spent most of that day (and the previous day?) cooking, so there was lots to choose from. I'd be hard-pressed to provide a complete list, but the selection included cheese and chocolate fondues; warm and cold shrimp; three kinds of chips; bread cubes; five kinds of crackers and two kinds of cheese; a fruit and vegetable plate (strawberries and cherry tomatoes FTW!); some kind of mushroom/beef (I think) mini-quiches; and, my favorite item, delicious mini-kabobs consisting of bacon, chicken, and pineapple, with home-made sweet and sour sauce for dipping (someone please tell her that normal people don't make their own dipping sauces).

I had brought several party games at Vern's request, but they weren't needed, and everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time socializing without them. Also, they had me for entertainment. You see, Vern has stated for some time her intent to get me drunk at some point, and New Year's Eve provided the perfect opportunity. For anyone who might be unaware, this is notable, because I, in general, do not drink. I had certainly never been drunk before, and Veronica wanted me to know what it was like. So, I pretty much just drank whatever she handed to me, and it seemed to amuse Travis to no end that whenever he asked me what I was drinking, I told him that I had no idea and pointed him in Vern's direction.

Since then, though, I've gone to the trouble of finding out exactly what I had, so, for what's its worth, here's an itemized list of what I drank that evening, roughly in order:
-2 Strawberry Daquiris
-1 White Russian
-1 Pina Colada
-1 Screwdriver
-1 glass of Ice Wine
-1 shot of Triple Sec
-3 shots of Whiskey
-1 shot of Rum
-1 shot of Ouzo, chased by a second shot of Rum

I really don't have much of a frame of reference, but that seems an impressive enough list that I can at least state with some confidence that I'm not a cheap drunk. I've always suspected that I would be able to hold my liquor quite well, although the abundance of food probably helped in that regard. And even with all of the above, I'm not sure that I got all that drunk-- it was well into the evening before Veronica could get me to admit that I was anything more than a little tipsy. I certainly didn't experience any of the negative consequences that are generally associated with becoming completely shit-faced, as I didn't feel ill or throw up, I had no hangover, and I remember the entire evening (and the following morning) perfectly well.

As for my behaviour, I didn't feel all that out of control, which had always been one of my chief concerns about inebriation, and the biggest reason that I had never partaken of the devil's brew in the past (besides simply not seeing the point). I was simply a bit louder, a bit more sociable, a bit less tactful, and a lot less shy. For instance, shortly before midnight, I started playing Karaoke Revolution all by myself, and sang particularly poorly (not to mention loudly). Also, everything seemed about ten times as funny as usual, and at one point I broke out in uncontrollable laughter for almost a full minute for absolutely no reason, which actually felt really, really good-- I'm not sure that I've ever laughed in quite so boisterous a fashion before. I found this particularly odd, since I had always thought that I would be a weepy drunk. Perhaps I would be normally, but I'm just in a good mood these days. In any case, nothing catastrophic happened, and it was a vaguely enjoyable and relaxing experience, so, although I don't intend to make a habit of it, I could see myself getting drunk again in the future on, say, an annual basis.

So, that was how my holiday vacation went. I hope that everyone had a merry Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Bah-humbug, and I hope that everyone had a happy and safe time celebrating an arbitrary division between one length of time and another similar length of time. I wish also like to take this opportunity to wish all of my friends good luck and safe travels as they return to their respective corners of the globe. Whether you're basking in the Vancouver sun, languishing in the German rain, or regretting that you opted out of your intermediate Japanese classes (*shakes jealous fist*), know that I'll still be here waiting for you when you all get tired of visiting this "rest of the world" that I've heard so much about. I'll keep a Wii-mote ready for you.


Anonymous Vern said...

"Also, everything seemed about ten times as funny as usual"
I didn't add marjuana to the cheese and crackers or the chicken/bacon/pineapple things, I swear. Or the dipping sauce. Or anything else, if anyone's concerned.
I also did not spend 'entire days' cooking anything. I made a cheesecake the night before, and spent a few hours the next afternoon. I'm also glad you thought there was an abundance of food, because after I sent out the email saying I had made too much, I felt that I hadn't when everyone was over, and realized that I should've replenished the chip bowls and probably added the extra strawberries. I also think that most people didn't like a lot of the food (I didn't think the chocolate fondu was going to be so dark, there was a cup of cream in that!), which is why there was stuff left over. :-p
There was no meat in the mushroom pastries, just mushrooms and onions. Mmm, onions.

I can't believe you looked up Borscht either, and, FYI, the broth is actually beef and beet broth, officially making the meal not vegetarian.

Friday, January 05, 2007 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said...

Oh yes, and the reason you didn't get the negative side effects of drinking is because my brother and I were apparently good judges of a limit of how much you should have.

Friday, January 05, 2007 11:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous (new & improved) said...


Monday, January 08, 2007 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous vern said...

Update your blog

Thursday, January 25, 2007 1:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous (Vintage) said...

Vern thinks you have something important to say and we're all waiting to hear it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 9:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Jordan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, February 01, 2007 8:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

To the above: Whoever you are, stop being a fucking jack-ass.

To everyone else: I didn't write that, because I'm not a god-damn idiot.

Friday, February 02, 2007 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Vern said...

Bah, you removed my whitty commentary designed to make funnies. You suck.

You're also regretting that you've insulted your girlfriend. I'm fiendishly delighted, heehee :-)

Friday, February 02, 2007 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous (Vintage) said...

Jordan, What's going on?

Has the world become a happier place since you have fallen in love?

Have the drivers in Freddy Beach become less annoying because your heart now skips a beat?

Do you not get pamphlets handed to you that cause your blood to simmer even a little bit or has love made you totally mellow?

Have all the words been written, or has love confused you so much that you can hardly compose a sentence?

I think your readership needs to perform an intervention. I already know how the conversation would start: "Jordan, we know you've found a new love, but seriously dude, put down the Wii Remote, it's time for a break,..."

Thursday, February 08, 2007 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said...

How the hell is it possible for your blog to have no new posts in over a month, yet people are still commenting. Your blog's way too popular.

Thursday, February 08, 2007 3:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous(new & improved) said...

J = no skin
V = no skin
J+V = JV
JVS = (+skin)
JVB = (-blog)

Therefore we conclude that more skin equals less bloggin

Friday, February 09, 2007 8:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous (Vintage) said...

Ok, Vern - tell us - what have you done with poor ole Jordan? The fellow hasn't posted a thing in over 2 weeks, and hasn't written anything new in over a month. Did you tell him you wanted the perfect Valentine's Day gift and he spends all his free time looking for it? Give the guy a hint - he's new to this stuff!

Have you guys merged your Blogs and didn't us? Or does he just post to yours now? What's your Blog's or the new Blog's address? Maybe we'll hang out there for a while until Jordan gets back with your gift.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

>he's new to this stuff!
You presume this why?

>What's your Blog's... address?
I've had a link to Vern's blog on my front page since the day I created this blog, along with links to all of my other friends' blogs.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Cavernio said...

My livejournal is also sadly in need of an update.

Monday, February 19, 2007 4:08:00 PM  

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