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Not a front for a secret organization.
Written by Rob Schultz (human).


So that new ipod? The one that was left in my car? (I've since spotted hobos sleeping in our garage, I guess they could be the culprit) I find the dial to be imprecise. Often I might touch the center button and find that I've also managed to just nudge the selection up or down one in the same motion, and I've selected the thing I don't want. Also, unlike the dial on the model I bought, I find this can be activated by coins and other pocket-dwelling objects, causing the volume to change of its own accord in my pocket. On the topic of must-be-stolen goods, some of pals have been singing the praises of GTA IV. Now, according to tradition, if the new console iteration is out, it's time for me to start playing the last version on PC. I loaded up San Andreas, and I probably didn't give it a fair shake, maybe not even totally out of the tutorialesque missions, but I wasn't hooked at all. Bored, perhaps, but not hooked. And I can't play this wonderous new thing, since I have neither PS3 nor 360. I just started a new gig though, which means income....but I still don't really want to shell out all the cash necessary: console, games, possibly accessories...I haven't an HD TV either. But...maybe a browse through craigslist.

I find a too-good-to-be-real deal. Console with HDD, three controllers, two headsets, guitar hero guitar, and over a dozen games, including the out-for-about-a-week GTA IV. For the price of the console alone in stores. I write in, since it's only been posted about 15 minutes, and I'm assured it's available. Bit of a drive, but worth it for the bargain. Will I be ripped off? Held up? Sold into white slavery?

It turns out, the answer's no. I say that I want to meet somewhere where I can see that the machine works - 360s are notorious for breaking down and I want to make sure this one isn't DOA. The seller ignores me and we agree to meet in a high school parking lot. I figure if the machine's dead, the price is good just for the extras. Scrawny kid shows up in a big pickup truck, with his scrawny buddy. Takes out the box of stuff. Of course, he's taped the box shut. I reach for my pocketknife, but it turns out he's taped the box shut so that he can pull out this comically large switchblade. 'Cause, y'know, he's tough. But he forgot the guitar, so he goes home to retrieve it. I do poke at him a bit about wasting his money on GTA if he was just going to sell the machine now, but all along I've been careful not to express too much interest in why he's cheating himself to such a degree. Don't want to scare him off, after all. Goods and cash change hands. We both scurry home, undoubtedly both sure we've won this encounter.

I power it up at home lights! I'm neither surprised nor disappointed - I figure he didn't show me the working machine for a reason - it doesn't work. I even start planning to e-mail him and tell him it works great, to make him doubt himself for deciding to sell a broken piece of hardware, but then...the clouds part, and so do the red lights, giving way to green. Turns out, red lights are standard when no AV cables are detected. The system works great. GTA is okay, and I'm having fun with guitar hero (2 more than 3). I've yet to crack open the half dozen tom clancy licensed games or the other various titles - I plan to sell off most of it, maybe pay for the system. And there are still around 7 games out there that I might like to pick up some day, which for me is really all a console needs to be somewhat successful. Less than a dozen games, all especially strong, have been enough to put the gamecube and wii in the winner's column for me.

And so the door opens to yet more unconsumed recreation, floating about...