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Saturday, 5 November 2005
They Might Be Giants ... And what're we gonna do unless they are?
Mood:  party time!
Topic: Live on Stage
Make a hole with a gun perpendicular
To the name of this town in a desk-top globe
Exit wound in a foreign nation
Showing the home of the one this was written for
"They Might Be Giants" are four words that, when recited in that order, usually results in blank stares. I understand if most people don't get the particular reference I'm making, but you'd think occasionally someone would make the connection to the 1971 feature film of that same name.

Okay, so probably most of you reading this are equally in the dark. Do you know the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)? Okay, how about the theme song from the TV series "Malcolm in the Middle"? Well, "They Might Be Giants" (TMBG from here out) is the band that did those songs (amongst a zillion others), and last night I finally saw them live and in person.

Click here for the TMBG website

I can't recall how I first got turned on to the band. I recall hearing "Istanbul" and seeing the animated video done to it back around 89-90, but how I got from this to the album "Flood" eludes my memory. Anyway, I got a few of their albums in the mid 90s, and was smitten by their clever lyrics and songs that visit all numerous points on the msucial map.
There’s a picture opposite me
Of my primitive ancestry
Which stood on rocky shores
And kept the beaches shipwreck free
Though I respect that a lot
I’d be fired if that were my job
After killing Jason off
And countless screaming argonauts

...for instance, from "Birdhouse in Your Soul", which is nominally about a blue bird nightlight.

I turned my friend Sherri onto the band back when I first discovered them, and she and I played a few of their albums so many times the music is likely tattooed onto my cerebral cortex. When I found out the band would be playing some west coast gigs, and that one was in San Francisco, I immediately bought four tickets and then called Sherri and asked her if she wanted to go. She was excited (natch), but concerned that she couldn't take the time necessary to drive down from Carson City, what with work, house stuff going on, and her baby, Sam. I then suggested a plane ticket so she could fly out, have dinner, see the show, sleep, and leave again at the crack of dawn. Done deal!
Baby check this out
I've got someting to say
Man, it's so loud in here
When they stop the drum machine
And I can think again
I'll remember what it was

The above is from "Man It's So Loud in Here", a brilliant swipe at dance club music that uses its own overproduced excesses to bludgeon itself. Fortunately, the volume level at the club wasn't excessive, so my ears weren't ringing when it was over. A concert rarity!

Sherri's husband Art couldn't come on the trip, so that left two unclaimed tickets. I called a number of my friends, most of whom were busy the night in question. Finally, John Sugden's "Oh my God!" at the offer of free Giantism sealed the deal, and he planned to join us with his fiancee, Laura Lee. Well, she couldn't make it at the last minute, so I had four tickets to pick up at Will Call. What to do?

I grabbed Sherri at the aiport at 4:30. After a brief stop home, we headed across the Bay Bridge to get dinner with mutual friend Becky. We decided to eat on Columbus Street, since our destination was there, and Becky works near the other end of that street. I found parking two blocks from the concert venue, we met Becky, got dinner at a cute Italian place (the food was ok, but nothing too special). Dinner over, and after much silliness, said goodbye to Becky and moved on.

On Columbus St. just before the show!

There was still the matter of the one extra ticket (I know you're biting your nails in anticipation). As Sherri went to look for seats, I went along the Will Call and Ticket line and asked if anyone was looking to buy a ticket. 30 seconds later, I had my $25 back, which promptly and mysteriously vanished at the bar.

The show opened with an act that we didn't pay much mind to...being busy chatting and ordering drinks. Then TMBG took to the stage. They announced that they're writing a song about each and every venue they play this tour, and did a short set of these for ua. I can't wait to hear the song they come up with for the venue where we saw them, named BIMBOS!

A short break was taken before the main set, which was a great show with a lot of fun material, some of it already tattooed into my brain, others now vying to do so, such as "XTC vs. Adam Ant". One thing that's really fun about the band is that in addition to doing their usual unusual songs, they also do records for children ("Bed, Bed, Bed" for instance), and included a few of these cute gems in the set, including "Pictures of Pandas Painting", "E Eats Everything" and "Alphabet of Nations." They also do a rockin' cover of an old 1960s educational song "Why Does the Sun Shine" (which begins "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas")!

Reisisting audience cries for faves like "Istanbul" and "Particle Man", the two encores featured less obvious choices, but all good ones.

Then it was over. We waited at our table for the crowd to thin before heading out, then Sherri noticed that one of the "two Johns" who make up TMBG (the rest of the band changes all the time) was sitting on the edge of the stage talking. We strolled over and she got her newly purchased TMBG CD "Here Come the ABCs" autographed. I complimented him on their choice for the closing number ("Fingertips", which is actually 21 single verse songs (averaging about 20 seconds long) in almost every style imagineable played back to back to back.

John departed, and Sherri and I hit the club Martunis for a final drink in the piano bar. That was probably a mistake, as Sherri felt woozy afterwards, but we made it home safe and sound sometime after 1:30 a.m.

6:30 came realllllllly early, and I zipped her to the airport.

Hit and run concert going, indeed!

Posted by molyneaux at 11:08 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:21 PM PDT
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Monday, 26 September 2005
This Party's Over
Topic: Vacation
Well, I awoke this morning and, despite my best efforts, my feet are blister free. No purple heart for my soles!

I strolled into the hotel restaurant to join the Farewell Brunch and found Christoper and Lee sipping coffee at the far end. I walked up to say hello, and Christopher said, "Hello Maurice. All the ladies over sixty are in love with you."

Dear God, what have I done...

That's it, no more

Many farewells. Lee and Christopher are off for Paris, and I'm off to "Bawstun" for the flight home. I stop off in Braintree to see Marc, and Alyssa pops in for lunch, so I get a final vsit. I return the CDs I borrowed to Marc, deliver the box of assorted booze from Chez Menkov and head for the airport.

Naturally, this trip wouldn't be complete if I didn't get turned around and half lost in Boston. I did. I'm outta here!

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
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Sunday, 25 September 2005
Their Chuppa Runneth Over
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Vacation

Maurice, King of the Dance Floor

No, I did not make up this appellation. Read on to learn how I was thus coronated!

Well, today's the big day! Christopher Gray's getting hitched (I almost typed "kitched", which in a whole 'nother matter).

The usual wakeup, feeding and grooming attended to, I decided I wanted to get a card to go with the wedding present. Fortunately, a big mall is mere blocks away from the hotel, so I strolled off in search of it. Between my bed and mass consumerism stands the State Capital building of Rhode Island. How instrusive!

After checking a few stores, I bought a calligraphy pen and a box of lime green stationary paper, and a line green ribbon...lime to symbolize the limes of the delicious margarita recipe I wrote with it (see entry for Monday the 19th). Oh, I also bought a piece of paper with an old map of Paris on it, as that's where Chris & Lee's honeymoon is to take place. Yes, you would not normally associate Paris with Margaritas, but this ain't your traditional couple nor your traditional wedding.

After a brief stop at the hotel to change, it was off to the Manning Chapel at "RizDEE". I won't get into excessive detail about the wedding, but in short it was a modified Jewish ceremony, with a chuppa, the Metropolitan Klezmer band, and the traditional wine-glass stomping to bring it to a close. Lee survived a near down-the-aisle makeup distaster from an overeager aunt wearing a Tammy Faye of lipstick, and the guests laughed as Chris Corrigan's yarmulke refused to stay on his head as he did a reading. Christopher looked dashing in his vintage suit and orange shirt, and Lee was quite the blushing bride. I was all smiles. I've never see Christopher so happy, and it was so sweet watching him dab at his eyes throughout the proceedings. When he got the ring on, he held his hand up to the audience and pointed at it and silently went "YEAH!" much to everyone's delight.

I didn't realize how many guests there were until we all lined up for a group shot.

As the photographer shot the family and wedding party photos I got the car and headed for the reception. As has been the case this entire trip I had a really hard time finding the place, and went round and round until I finally spotted it. I like New England, but oy! will I be glad to get back to driving in California!

The reception was held at a club called the Hi Hat. The food was amazing, the bar was open (and I got the biggest Godfather I've ever seen), and the crowd was a delight. The Metropolitan Klezmer played for the first part of the reception, and Christopher's mom even took the part of accordionist during bride and groom's first dance. Naturally, what with the Jewish aspect, there was a lot of traditional dancing in big chains running around the room. Whew!

I know you're all dying to know about the caption on the photo topping this entry. Patience! Once the dinner and cake was done (there was no smashing cake in each other's faces...this crowd's not that low class), the klesmer band left the stage and the other music started. On the RSVP cards they had asked the guests what's their favorite song to dance to. They them loaded these all onto a iPod and hooked that into the sound system. That's a lot of guests and a lot of songs. Hours and hours of it. And, fool that I am, I was out there dancing and dancing and dancing with anyoen end everyone. The funnist thing was, most of the time when I'd end up dancing with Lee's mother, the song that came on was suggestive. First off, she's wearing a deep red dress and on comes "Brick House", and I totally play it up gesturing at her and doing hourglass shaped with my hands at "The lady's stacked and that's a fact, ain't holding nothing back"! Another time it was "Baby Got Back", then "Super Freak" ("She's a very kinky girl..."). And she loved it...albeit I don't think she always knew the songs or quite caught the subject matter!

Between dances I'd drag myself to the men's room and douse my head with cold water to cool off (the advantage to balding and buzzing the rest off). By the end of it, my feet -- in my stylin' burgundy leather shoes -- were killing me. Undaunted and fearless of blisters, I shucked the footgear and finished the night dancing in my stocking feet with probably every lady on the floor and momentarily with a few of the guys. Oh, and the bride, natch!

And that, dear readers, is how I was crowned King of the Dance Floor.

The reception, which started probably about 4:30, finally wrapped up at 11:30, mostly because the staff of the club practically booted us out. It was the longest, best and most fun wedding reception it's ever been my pleasure to attend.

But will I have blisters in the morning?

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:22 PM PDT
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Saturday, 17 September 2005
Vacation's all I ever wanted
Mood:  happy
Topic: Vacation
The last time I went on an actual real bone fide certified vacation was three years ago when I spent three glorious weeks in New Zealand. Well, today's the start of an actual real bone fide certified vacation wherein I'll spend 10 glorious days in New England.

I went to Massachusetts and Connecticut quite a few times between 1987 and 1993, but it's been over 12 years since my last visit!

The main reason for this vacation to this location in the nation is the impending wedding of my friend Christopher Gray to his fabulous fiancee Lee Jacobson.

I took a Jet Blue redeye out of Oakland last night after work and arrived in Boston Saturday at 7:05 a.m. (zoiks!). It's a good thing I can sleep on planes or I'd have been one sleepy puppy.

I first headed south to Braintree to see friends/former co-workers Marc and Alyysa, who just moved there from Cambridge. Today's visit with them is short because I have to head south, but I'll see them again tomorrow.

But first I had to backtrack to Logan aiport because one of my bags go swapped with an absolutely identical bag of another man, whose name even stared with the same letters, so a quick glance at the luggage tags made the mistake easy.

Luggage swapped, I headed south to Providence, RI, to see Christopher and Lee. Christopher suggested I visit at the top of my trip so that we could hang, knowing once the families start showing up for the wedding, they'll have too many people to spend time with. I bonded with their dog, Jasper, we went for a walk in the woods, and then I helped Chris run some wedding related errands (getting poles cut for a chupah) and ended the evening getting to watch him perform in two back to back improv shows. Ahhh, but he's a funny man!

The theme of the day seemed to be the seeming impossibility to get anywhere easily. The road signage around Boston and the Big Dig subterranean freeways is sorely lacking and if you miss an exit it's very difficult to recover. Of the cities I've driven in, Boston's the worst for recovering from a mistake. Anyway, I had a few issues finding other places on the day, and to cap it, the directions Christopher got to the location of one of the improv shows was so wrong that we ended up doing circles on foot around the Trinity campus before finally having to get back in the car and drive to an entirely different school...and even then we got lost! Oy!

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:22 PM PDT
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Wednesday, 24 August 2005
The Classics!
Topic: Nostalgia
I love old video games. Yeah, many of them sucked, but the great ones were classics, and, heck, I admit it, I loved seeing what engineers could do with hardware so severely limited (by modern standards).

This weekend the annual Classic Game Expo is being held in the area, and, for once, this time I made it to it! Ah, a museum full of 8-bit and 32K RAM antiques and abandoned "next big things". A hall full of vendors selling yesterday's glories and duds and...lo and behold, rows of arcade machines where no quarters are required! Tempest, Black Widow, Warlords...we hardly knew ye!

In addition to the games, I picked up some PAC-MAN merchandise for Kenji's PAC-MAN museum at work, and got a Sean Kelly multicart for my Vectrex (with all the games for that system on it), but couldn't find Sean Kelly, who I was told was at the show. Too bad. I used to chat with him online years ago. I did get to see some familiar faces from the Old BAVE (Bay Area Videogame Enthusiasts) group, including some of the guys who wrote games my brother and I used to play on his Atari VCS.

One thing I wanted to buy, but was denied, was a five foot tall recreation of a PAC-MAN screen made entirely of Lego!


Posted by molyneaux at 11:14 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:23 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 28 June 2005
One Orbit around the job
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Work Stuff
Well, today is my one year anniversary at Namco.

Enviable things about my job:
  • Getting paid to play and analyze games like PAC-MAN, Pole Position II, Galaga...amongst others
  • Getting to track down and meet people whose games I played back in the day. The creator of PAC-MAN and the creator of Miner 2049er, for instance.
  • Having a half dozen arcade machines right there
  • An office with a door I can slam
  • Working with super-cool people like Amy Steele ("Ya-hoo!")
  • Getting to travel to places like Comic-Con, E3, and the Tokyo Game Show
  • Did I mention getting paid to play games?
  • A boss who appreciates tequila
  • The money!

Posted by molyneaux at 10:04 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:24 PM PDT
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Friday, 17 June 2005
Bats and the Cabaret, old Chum
Topic: Cinema
This is the second week I've joined an outing (so to speak) of the East Bay Movie Bears group. This week it was at that jewel of the Lake Merritt area, the Grand Lake Theater, the fabulous 1920s theater which not only sports a top line Dolby Digital sound system in the main auditorium, but which precedes weekend evening perfomances with live organ music instead of commericals or inane slideshows. It's organ music, trailers, and then on with the show! The only downside is the seats, which my behind swears on a stack of bibles are the original 1920's vintage. Oy, my tuckus!

I'd guess 20-25 guys showed up. Some really nice ones. Looking forward to making friends with a few.

The evenement de cinema du jour was the new film Batman Begins.

$poiler$ ahead...don't read if you want to be surprised. As superhero movies go, it was -- pardon the pun -- superior. Realistic isn't a word that accomodates a story wherein a man dresses like a bat to fight crime, but unlike the stylized and/or cartoonish interpretations of previous films, this one treated the subject matter with just the right level of seriousness and resisted the temptation to teeter into nudge nudge wink winking at the audience.

Numerous small flaws, but not nits worth picking. Only big thumbs downs for me were the choppy fight scenes (too many fast cuts) and the over-the top car chase that had the ugly new BatmoHumvee driving on and leaping across rooftops. Hello, anyone think a tenement roof could support the weight of a tank?! Papa Wayne spank!

Afterwards the group wandered a half block up Grand Avenue to a The Alley Club, a neighborhood piano bar who decor is titular. The booths are separated by what appear to be wooden fences, and the bar is under its own shingled roof. It's littered and peppered with busines cards stapled to every conceivable and inconceivable surface. Look close...some of those cards are from at least the 60s if not earlier. Goofy!

We arrive too late for dinner, but that doesn't deter many. The majority stay, have a few drinks, and quite a few sing along badly with the songs played by Ron Dibble at the piano...your's truly included. Most songs are half remembered and many of those there can only remember the choruses. Oddly, a high percentage know all the words to "Cabaret". How stereotypical of us, and me!

Oops, I think I just outed myself again... but then, life is a Cararet, old chum. And I love a Cabaret!

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:25 PM PDT
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Thursday, 16 June 2005
The Press Release says it all
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Work Stuff
June 16, 2005 08:00 AM US Eastern Timezone

Mobile Division Recognized for Recent Growth and Success; Namco America Announces Promotion of Three Key Executives in Mobile Division

SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 16, 2005--Namco America Inc., a leading publisher of wireless games and content, today announced the advancement of three top-level executives in its wireless division. The promotions, which are effective immediately, will better position the mobile division to achieve its goals and reflect its recent success as a leader in the industry.

As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Scott Rubin is responsible for the overall business and marketing direction of the wireless division, as well as maintaining relationships with strategic partners, including wireless carriers. Maurice Molyneaux, Director of Product Development, will establish the strategic product roadmap and quality of new titles. Umesh Ghodke will develop strategic technology plans as well as websites, portals, and IT infrastructure as the Director of Information Technology.

"The mobile games industry is thriving, and our quality titles, strong partnerships and revenue growth reflect our dedication and excellence in this industry," said Kenji Hisatsune, Executive Vice President and COO of Namco America. "With Scott, Maurice and Umesh, we have the best leadership in place to continue increasing our market share."

Namco America's mobile division just released a new title, PAC-MANIA (a 3D twist on the classic arcade game PAC-MAN), with plans for additional titles and partnerships to be announced soon. Building on its strong standing in the industry, the mobile division currently offers its games through most carriers in North America. Additionally, Namco America is a leading provider of games for the Palm OS and Windows Mobile platforms worldwide.

About Namco America

Namco America Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of Namco Limited, a Tokyo-based world leader in the high-tech entertainment industry. Committed to providing the ultimate interactive entertainment experience, Namco uses cutting-edge technology and advanced electronics to take their wireless, coin-op, and home video games far beyond traditional entertainment. For more information about Namco mobile games, please visit:

PAC-MAN(R) (C)1980 2004 Namco Ltd., PAC-MANIA(TM) (C)1980, 1987, 2005 Namco Ltd., All Rights Reserved.

Posted by molyneaux at 11:14 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:25 PM PDT
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Wednesday, 18 May 2005
What we'll do for a sheckle
Topic: Work Stuff
What'll we do to sell PAC-MAN?

As the early 1920's baking soda ad goes (and, no, it's not an actual Chinese proverb) One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words:

Are we proud? Heck, no!

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:26 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 17 May 2005
Lord I was born a Trav'lin Man
Topic: Work Stuff
Today is the day I head for L.A. for the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. This is the big video game industry trade show where vritually everyone previews their new wares and tries to show that theirs is bigger than everyone else's.

The show actually start tomorrow (Wednesday), so today is just about getting to L.A. and getting ready. I met Scott Rubin at LAX and we caught a cab to our hotel: the Omni. All was fairly uneventful until after lunch, when we tried to get a cab to the Convention Center, but found ourselves in a real-life comedy routine with three cab driver, the first of whom would not take us because we were carrying fast food to our co-workers Amy and Katherine. So, we tried the second cab, and he said we had to take the first cab, but the first cab refused...anyway, after several back and forths the THIRD cab finally took us. Such a hassle for 12 blocks!

Today is setup day for the show, so it's like backstage before the curtain. Everything's half assembled and half whacked, but it's fun seeing what's coming. The Namco booth is big, but our mobile division is around the side, like an afterthought. But actually, this separation is good because it puts us right on a major aisle instead of lost in the clutter. Our area's a little shallower than I expect, but I'm confident it'll look good when it's "live" tomorrow.

Scott and I return to the hotel and join two of the guys from Namco's wireless group in Europe. This is my first opportunity to meet them. Nice guys. Amy and Katherine join us after they're done setting up the booth, and the group of us have a very nice dinner.

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:26 PM PDT
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