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January 31, 2006

Hat Trick

This evening The Queen and I watched the State of the Union address, the Democratic response, and then an episode of The Sopranos. It was kind of like a trilogy.

American Priorities

Funny Joke: what's the difference between breast milk and steamed milk?

A: You can sell steamed milk for 10¢ an ounce!

The full text of the billboard -- which can only be read by standing directly below it -- is "Babies are made to be breastfed." The URL below the slogan -- really, the entire point of the PSA -- is completely blocked by the building.

And lest you think that the sign is only obscured at this angle, here is the view from the street.

The Do-It-Yourself Oscar Pool Page ...

... will be up by Friday.

[ link | Movies]

January 30, 2006

defective yeti: The Lost Weeks

Hi there! My name is Matthew Baldwin, though longtime readers may remember me as The Guy Who Used To Update This Website Semi-Reliably.

How was I able to blog five days a week, what with all my other pressing obligations such as taking vitamins and wishing I was an fireman? Well, see, I once used the hours between The Squirrelly's bedtime and my own to update the yeti, do a little freelance writing, maybe chip away at a book or two. It was a pretty good system, and one that served me well ... until the Lost: Season One DVDs started arriving from NetFlix about two weeks ago. Goodbye, free time!

We are between discs at the moment. Hence the post. "Hence," I say!

Let's see, what else is going on? Oh yeah, guess what I got? It's a sixth generation iPod Video, featuring two side-by-side screens that simultaneously display the same images but with key elements slightly offset, so when the viewer slightly crosses his eyes and focuses on an imaginary point 30 inches behind the screen, the two feeds merge into one, glorious, 3-D video!

No, I'm just kidding. What I actually have is a ganglion cyst. AWESOME!

(They are often just referred to as "ganglions," but I thought long and hard about what which word would be the most unpleasant to suddenly encounter while reading an otherwise inoffensive blog entry, and as "cyst" was at the top of the list I made an extra effort to include it.)

Fortunately, ganglions are not one of those bad cysts, the kind that are harbingers of Something Really Bad or that indicate that a critter that is Not You has taken up residence in something that Is You. Instead it's just a slightly tender lump on the back of my left hand where some joint lubrication fluids have accumulated. (Fun fact: This is my -- and possibly the -- first blog post ever including the phrase "joint lubrication fluids."). I'm going to see my doctor about it later this week, but all the literature on ganglions basically say "oh quit crying you big baby -- it's pretty much harmless and will probably go away on its own."

And if it doesn't go away, I can always exorcise it using The Word of God. I don't mean faith healing or anything -- I mean that, in Ye Olde Olden Dayes of Yore, the typical cure for a ganglion was to hit it with a Bible. America's healthcare costs would be a lot lower if more ailments could be cured in this manner:

Husband: Damnit, this runny nose just won't stop.

Wife: I'll get the Gideon

I don't know if we've got a bible around the Baldwin household, but if this thing gets any bigger I may just have to get all Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix on its ass.

The worst thing about this ganglion is that it's so small and innocuous that I'm having trouble getting people to sympathize. When I mentioned it to Torrez, for instance, his first reaction was to sing:

Because your cyst, your cyst, is on my wrist
Because your cyst, your cyst, I can't resist ...
Here some more things that have been occupying my otherwise-woulda-be-blogging moments:

  • You know what's a great blog? Poster Wire, a site completely dedicated to the deconstruction of movie posters. I love it because its focus seems like a topic that no one could expound upon for more than three minutes without becoming a crashing bore, and yet every post is fascinating. Likewise: Gluten-Free Girl.
  • I've never played the Magic: The Gathering card game, but I recently downloaded Duels Of The Planeswalkers from The Underdogs and, despite the title having a few too many plurals, the game has pretty effectively hoovered up any crumbs of free time that Lost left behind.
  • The Queen and I watched The Aristocrats, a documentary about the world's dirtiest joke. The movie, like the titular joke, goes on and on and on, but it's amazing that Penn Jillette was able to craft a 90 minute film about a single joke that mostly manages to keep the viewer laughing and interested. If you don't know the Aristocrats joke -- well, my first suggestion would be to rent this film. But if you've just got to know, you can hear one of the many tellings here. Warning: Only work safe if your office door is closed, the volume is turned all the way down, and no one in your place of business speaks English.

  • Links! Yes, exactly. I haven't even seen the movie and thought this was hilarious. Mesmerizing.

January 24, 2006

I Heart The Seahawks!!!!

I went out for a jog around my neighborhood yesterday afternoon around 4:00. About halfway through I started to get that eerie "it's quiet ... a little too quiet ..." feeling. There were no pedestrians on the sidewalks, no cars on the street. It wasn't until I realized that the windows of every house on the block were flashing in blue-white synchronization that I started to remember. A big TV event? Something about a sport, or something?

Ah yes. That. How could I have forgotten.

Actually, forgetting hadn't been difficult at all, as I have never cared about football. Honestly, I don't care about any sports, but at least I have friends who are fans of the Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Sonics, and keep me somewhat abreast of the baseball and basketball season. But as I only have one person in my circle of acquaintances that is enthusiastic about football -- and the only team she follows is the Green Bay Packers -- it's perhaps unsurprising that I was out trotting around, blissfully ignorant about The Biggest Football Game In Seattle History.

When I got back home I turned on the TV to see the status of the game. I still didn't care, but it was like checking the weather. I wanted to see if the 14-day forecast for Seattle showed dark clouds of Football Fandom amassing on Seattle's horizon, or whether we would dodge that particular storm.

Incredibly, the former appeared to be the case. The Seattle Seahawks were leading the Mumble* Panthers 27-7 in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship. (* I'm embarrassed to admit I don't even know where the Panthers hail from.) ( I'm not actually embarassed.)

Without turning off the TV I left the room for a few minutes. When I returned, The Queen was stationed in front of the television, gawping in amazement. "The Seahawks are going to the Superbowl!" she shouted with what sounded suspiciously like real enthusiasm. My god, I though, they've already got my wife!

Anyhow, it appears that Seattle has abruptly become A Town That Gives A Rats Ass About Football, and everyone is now scrambling to prove that they were fans waaaaay before last weekend. Fortunately, I was able to unearth this photo, demonstrating that, at at least on point in my life, (I / my father) cared enough about the team to (wear a piece of Seahawks-related apparel / dress me in a piece of Seahawks-related apparel for picture day). PUT THAT IN YOUR ENDZONE AND, um, TACKLE IT, YOU BANDWAGON HOPPING JOHNNY-COME-LATELYS!

Of course, now I am on the horns of a real dilemma. Because even as a kid, I didn't really care about football, except insofar as it was expected of me. So while I publicly pledged allegiance to the Seahawks, I secretly rooted for another team, from another state entirely. Why were they my favorites and not the Seahawks? Simple: they had the coolest looking helmets in the league.

That team was the Stealers -- and that's who the Seahawks will face on February 5, 2006, in the Superbowl. What's a fair-weather fan to do?

Update: I have been informed that the actual name of our rival is "the Steelers." Wha-?! The other reason I liked them as a kid was because they had a cool, rougey name, like the Raiders and the Pirates. Now I learn that they are named after a metal alloy? GO SEAHAWKS!!

January 23, 2006


I was downloading the pictures from my digital camera this morning, and laughed out loud when I saw how emo The Squirrelly looked in this photo.

Update: See Kevin's remix here.

January 18, 2006

Catch 3.14

I notice that that Guinness Book of World Records has an entry entitled Most accurate value of pi:

As continuation of a long-running project, Yasumasa Kanada of the University of Tokyo has calculated the number pi to 1,241,100,000,000 decimal places.
Observation: You can't call it "accurate" unless you verify the number by independently calculating pi out to the same decimal place; if you independently calculate pi out to the same decimal place then Kanada calculation is no longer a world record.

Also: Most Popular DJ-Simulation Video Game? Most Latex Feet Made For a Movie? Farthest Spaghetti Nasal Ejection?! Come on. By that standard I probably set the record for "Most Ounces Of Poached Egg And Corn Beef Hash Enjoyed By a Matthew Scott Baldwin On January 18, 2006" just this morning.

January 17, 2006


Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure
Revision 88 / Serial number 54892

Oval Office
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.

There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.

What do you want to do now?

You are not able to do that, yet.

Self-reflection is not your strong suit.

It's not that kind of seal.

They are several chairs arranged around the center of the room, along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton's shoes.

You are unable to fill Clinton's shoes.

It is a large, oak desk, with several drawers.

In one drawer you find a bag of pretzels.

I don't think the pretzel would agree with you.

You are not able to do that, yet.

You are not able to do that, yet.

You are on the far right of the political spectrum.
Jesse Helms is here.
John Ashcroft is here.

Radical Right
You are on the extreme right of the political spectrum.
Dick Cheney is here.
Pat Robertson is here.

You are not able to do that, yet.


You are not able to do that, yet.

Your favorablity rating is 58% out of a possible 100%.

Photo Op
You are at a the Emma T. Booker Elementary School, along with a gaggle of obsequious members of the mainstream media.
There is a book here.
There are some children here.

You read "My Pet Goat."

In the distance, terrorists attack the United States.

You continue to read "My Pet Goat."

You continue to read "My Pet Goat."

You continue to read "My Pet Goat."

You fly around aimlessly for a while, then return to the White House.

Oval Office

Who do you want to give the speech to?

You give the speech to the American people.

Your favorablity rating is 84% out of a possible 100%.

You are not able to do that, yet.

You have invaded the nation of Afghanistan, bombing the Taliban nearly out of existence.

Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is here.

(Leaving Afghanistan first.)
You are not able to do that, yet.

You are not able to do that, yet.

Such language in a high-class establishment like this!

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud ..."

"We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America ..."

"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction ... "

You schedule a vote on the Iraq invasion for just before the 2002 midterm elections. As usual, spineless democrats roll over like an SUV taking a sharp corner.

Your plan to invade Iraq now has the backing of the American people and Congress.

You enter the Iraqi capital of Bagdad, having toppled the government and captured the nation's key cities in only 21 days. You can't seem to find the promised throngs of citizens greeting you as liberators, but the footage of the Saddam statue being pulled down looks great on Fox!

Who do you want to give the contracts to?

What kind of contracts do you wish to give to Halliburton?

You give the no-bid contracts to Halliburton.

The situation in Iraq remains unchanged.

The situation in Iraq remains unchanged.

You put on the flightsuit.

"Mission accomplished."

The mission is not accomplished.

The situation in Iraq remains unchanged.

Some insurgents arrive.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a small number of insurgents here.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a moderate number of insurgents here.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

An election year arrives.

Pat Buchanan is here.
Sean Hannity is here.

Compassionate Conservativism
You are right-of-center on the political spectrum.
John McCain is here.
Joseph Leiberman is here.

You get reelected.

Tom DeLay is here.
Michelle Malkin is here.

Radical Right
Rick Santorum is here.
Ann Coulter is here.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a large number of insurgents here.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a huge number of insurgents here.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is an overwhelming number of insurgents here.

Your favorablity rating is 47% out of a possible 100%.

You are unable to admit mistakes.

You are unable to accept responsibility.

I do not know what you mean by "victory."

Oh, how we wish you would.

January 10, 2006


As incredible as it may sound, I have been writing defective yeti for five years now. Five years of conversations and great ideas. Five years of stories and tomfoolery. Five years of tales about The Queen and The Squirrelly. Five years of book, film, and game reviews. Five years of humorous observations about yogurt.

I've learned a lot in that time -- about blogging, about the Internet, and even a little about myself. And what better time than the fifth anniversary of this site to impart my hard-earned knowledge to you, the loyal defective yeti readership?

It all began on a cold, crisp winter afternoon, January 10, 2002. Blogging was still a nascent technology at the time, something most people had never even heard of, but I've always been something of a trailblazer. I vividly recall the moment when I conceived of the content for my first post. I had just finished a novel by Proust and was sitting in my den sipping shiraz, when the most extraordinary --

Wait, hang on. 2002 to 2003, that's one. 2003 to 2004 is two. 2004 to 2005, 2005 to 2006 ... uh ...

Okay, I guess it's only been four years. Jesus, for real? It feels like for-freakin'-ever. 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 -- shit, yeah: four years. Ah man, that totally sucks.

I had this whole "commemorative fifth year anniversary post" planned out in my head and everything. Now I'll only get to use it if I blog for a whole 'nother year. GodDAMNIT!

January 09, 2006

And Therein Lies The Problem

I start most mornings by jotting a quick Todo List on a piece of paper. The other day, while shuffling papers around on my desk, I found a hidden cache of older lists. Reviewing them, I realized that a typical list consists of about ten items that involve starting projects and about three items that involve completing projects begun on a prior date.

yeti Sightings

I am omnipresent:

  • The third installment of the New Fathers Roundtable appears today in The Morning News. I have participated in all. If you want to read them in order, you can start with Fathers Roundtable I and Fathers Roundtable II.
  • I will be on KUOW's The Works Tuesday evening at 8:00, talking about ways to make money by blogging. I am obviously the ideal person to discuss this issue, as I have yet to figure out how to earn so much as a Zagnut bar off my efforts.
  • Tomorrow also brings another edition of Ariel Stalling's Salon of Shame at the Rendezvous. The last one was a hoot, and this one promises to be every bit as good. I may-or-may-not be performing, depending on whether I can dig up something embarrassing enough to read.
  • Last Saturday I was featured on a Canadian program called Definitely Not The Opera as "the curator of all board game knowledge." It doesn't look like there's any way to hear the program online, but I'm looking for one (since I haven't even heard the show myself, yet).
  • defective yeti was named Seattle Magazine's "Blog Of The Month." I wouldn't have even known if Beth hadn't alerted me to the fact. A few years ago Seattle Weekly named dy Best Local Blog and, here again, I only found out because a reader saw it and dropped me a line. So if you see dy mentioned anywhere, feel free to let me know -- odds are it will be news to me.
  • The above item, illustrated: My mother wrote to tell me that defective yeti is cited as the source of a Scott McCellan photo appearing in a Russian newspaper.
  • I've begun freelancing for Knucklebones Magazine, a periodical devoted to games and puzzles. My first article will appear in the May issue.
  • Wednesday and Friday afternoons I stand on the corner of Pike and 5th, shake a stick at passing cars, and shout "Devil! Devil! Devil!" Watch for me.

January 06, 2006

Another Awesome Seattle Weekend


You know how, in science-fiction movies, every world has a single, defining characteristic? It's always, like, The Desert Planet or The Ice Planet or The Swamp Planet or The Lava Planet?

I have apparently been marooned on The Planet Of Perpetually Shitty Weather, populated by a race of pale, damp creatures who subsist exclusively on coffee, and spend their days fretting about the standing water in their crawl spaces.

The Bad Review Revue

BloodRayne: "[Director Uwe] Boll is the best at what he does. And what he does is make truly terrible films." -- Elizabeth Weitzman, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Cheaper By The Dozen 2: "Noisy, silly, gratingly upbeat, and piously sentimental, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is what passes for wholesome family entertainment these days. It's the sort of movie to send small children and grandparents out of the theater hugging each other and strong men in search of bourbon." -- Ty Burr, BOSTON GLOBE

Rumor Has It: "I suppose Rumor Has It could be worse, though at the moment I'm at a loss to say just how." -- A. O. Scott, NEW YORK TIMES

Grandma's Boy: "Lacking so much as a shred of wit and crammed with more product placements than jokes, this unendurable stoner comedy clearly disproves the movie-formula wisdom that two guys, one Xbox and a 2-foot-long bong add up to something funny." -- Ken Fox, TV GUIDE

Aeon Flux: "If Aeon Flux is what Charlize Theron does to pay the bills while otherwise being engaged in Monster and North Country, it's probably a reasonable price to pay. For her, I mean. For us? No, no, no." -- John Anderson, Los Angeles Times

January 05, 2006

Best Of 2005

Favorite movie of 2005: I put off making this list for a week because Crash arrived from Netflix last Friday. Crash has appeared at the top of a number of "best of 2005" lists (including Roger Ebert's), so I figured I ought to see it before rendering my verdict. Well, I watched it last night, and my verdict is: whaa? Best film of 2005? I mean it was good 'n' all, but it depicts Los Angeles as being about the size of a basketball court and inhabited by a little over a dozen citizens, such that every event in the city will necessarily involve at least two of them. Plus, every moment where I thought "Wow, the writing in this film is excellent" was matched by at least one moment where a snippet of dialogue or "plot twist" brought me to the brink of eye-rolling. It might be the best 2005 film I saw all year (if only because I saw so few), but I enjoyed both Batman Begins and Grizzly Man more.

Favorite Older Film That I saw In 2005: Sideways, followed closely by Kung-Fu Hustle.

Biggest Cinematic Disappointment: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Great story, great director, great star, great child actor, great first 30 minutes ... then it all goes pear-shaped.

Favorite Fiction Books Read: Thanks to the Booklist 2005 Project, I read a lot of amazing stuff this year. Top five:

Favorite Non-fiction Books Read:
Book I Expected to Hate and Wound Up Liking Quite a Bit: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (will review soon).

Favorite Albums of 2005: Honestly, I'm just not passionate enough about music to have "favorites," but the three 2005 albums I listened to the most often this year were:

Favorite Boardgames of 2005:

Favorite Boardgames of 2005 Caveat: I still haven't played Caylus.

Favorite Flash Games of 2005:

Favorite Interactive Fiction Game Played in 2005: All Things Devours.

Only Interactive Fiction Game Played in 2005: Well, okay: All Things Devours ... but it was really good.

January 04, 2006

Mr. Manners

I had this epiphany the other day: the word "please" is just shorthand for "pleas." So instead of going through the bother of making actual pleas when you want something you just say "please" instead, and I guess that's supposed to be sufficient. It's like walking into a car dealership, saying "Toyota Corolla, negotiate," and expecting them to immediately knock $800 off the sticker price.

Well, screw that. The next time I'm in Arby's and the teen behind the counter say "can I take your order, please?" I'm going to be all, like, "Pffft -- you'll get my order when I hear some actual pleading, slacker."

January 03, 2006

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Yesterday morning The Queen and I were both in the bathroom. She was brushing her teeth at one sink; I was shaving at the other and considering my reflection in the mirror.

Me: Okay, I give up. I thought I'd let my hair grow out to a normal length to see if I could do anything with it, but it's impossible. I'm just going to shave it all off again.

Queen: Thank God.

M: Why, do you think it looks bad too?

Q: It looks terrible.

M: Well, c'mon -- it does't look that bad. But I have so many cowlicks that it's hard to --

Q: It looks ridiculous.

M: Hey, I'm saying it doesn't look good . That's my point. So I'm going to shave it -- there's no need for the pile-on. I was growing it out a little bit as an experiment, but --

Q: It's been an ordeal for the whole family.