Saturday, July 30, 2005

Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters: To go along with my earlier posts about the online game, here are some secrets and tips for a high score on the Disneyland ride.

First off, the obvious targets have different point values depending on their shape.

Circle: 100 points
Square: 1000 points
Diamond: 5000 points
Triangle: 10,000 points or more

The triangle targets are often hard to hit, and sometimes require hitting another target to create some kind of motion to "expose" them. For instance, one room has a Jack-in-the-box near the front of the room where you have to hit the square target on the outside of the box to get it to open, then hit the diamond target inside the box lid to get the triangle target-clad figure inside to pop out.

There are also other targets that are not marked with a "Z" symbol at all. A few of these have been made known on the internet, including this little hidden Mickey block. It's in the first room, on the left of the track. There's some debate about whether these are actually a target or not, but there's not much debate over this one:

The real target on Zurg isn't the "Z" target, but a space between his chest plates. In this picture, taken from this tread at, the green dot shows the spot. This actually applies to both Zurgs, although the first one is apparently easier to hit, despite the way it wiggles around animatronically.

There's other little things on the ride--for instance, if you fire six times, even if you miss you automatically get 100 points, allowing even the littlest of riders gets some kind of score.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fonts for Fiction: Does anybody else find that the font and layout of a book affects their feelings about it?

As in, when a book is written in big letters in a big hardcover book with lots of empty space on the page, it feels different in tone than a little paperback book where the words are packed in close, and there's not so much blank space?

I think for me, the denser the words on the page are, the "denser" the book feels. The wider spaced the words are, the "looser" the feeling I get from the book. I've had different impressions of the same book based simply on whether I read it in paperback or hardcover.

I know it's not just my imagination--obviously, the word "SUNSHINE!" would have a dramatically different feel if it were written in two-feet tall letters of dripping blood across a brick wall--but I wonder if it has the same effect on other people it has on me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Critic's Job: So this guy wrote a review that panned the new Harry Potter book, and a bunch of people wrote in to tell him that he didn't know what he was talking about.

So he wrote a reply saying they didn't know what they were talking about.

Now he didn't say they didn't like the book. What he said was, basically, they didn't know what a critic was supposed to do.

Actually, Mr. Kipen (May I call you Kip?), I don't think you know what a critic is supposed to do.

I hope you don't feel too bad about this! This ignorance is contagious, and just about every critic in America seems to have caught it. It's a common misconception, but allow me to set the record straight:

Myth No. 1: Critics decide if a book or movie is good or bad.

Sorry, Kip, but you don't.

Critics see themselves as the gods of Mount Olympus, sitting above the fray of books and films, ready cast judgment upon them with the stroke of the pen (or thumb) and forever relegate them into categories of "good" and "bad." They think studios usher them in regally, like the deities they are, for special screenings of their films, and said filmmakers then sit biting their fingernails waiting for the critic to decide if the years of effort were worthy.

I don't know how to break this to you, but if books and movies were giant, sea-going creatures, critics would be the little organisms that attached themselves to their nether regions. They are not ushering you into screenings like royalty, but they're herding you like a cow, shoving you in with the rest of the cattle, shoving shiny press-packets in your face hoping the shiny objects will keep your attention.

The book or movie would go on without you just fine.

You don't get to decide if the movie is good or bad. In some cases, that debate may rage on for years. In fact, when the work becomes a classic, you may have to find yourself quietly rewriting the review you initially wrote, when you thought you were above it all.

You don't serve the movie one way or the other. Your real responsibility is to the readers of your reviews. They're the ones who go to your review looking for a service. And the service is this:

They want to know if this is the kind of work they would like.

That's it! They hardly care whether you like it or not. They probably don't even know your name, let alone whether or not you're the same guy who wrote the review of the "brainy" indie film you wax poetic about two pages later.

In the case of Half-Blood Prince, a blind, dying monkey who only speaks sign language could have told you, after reading it, that it would be devoured just as voraciously as the previous books were, by people who enjoyed that series.

If it had been some kind of radical departure from the prior books--if Rowling had suddenly attempted to say, write in a way that emulated James Joyce, or if it had become a Naked Gun-style comedy--this would have been a useful thing to point out to the readers, so fans of Joyce who hadn't previously tried the books could give it a whirl, or people who hated the Naked Gun movies could skip this book.

But she didn't. Rowling wrote another book with the same sense of mystery, magic, light humor, and suspense as her previous books.

I won't accuse you of not reading the book, Kip, but I will accuse you of not knowing your job.


Okay, reading this over, I think it comes across a bit harsh. But it's silly to say the books aren't getting "fresher." The series is exploring new areas nicely.

So let me explain the way it's worked to Kip, since I'm sure he's read the whole series (Naturally, mild Harry Potter spoilers follow).

In book 1, we got our intro. Meet the characters. See the school. Learn the games.

In book 2, the characters solidly in place, we got to have a fun adventure in this world.

In book 3, we start getting into the backstory and the mystery. Where did all these people come from? This gives us clues as to where we're going.

In book 4, we get a wider, broader view of the world, by seeing kids from other wizarding schools, but more importantly, the end of this book is where the walls get blasted off the whole thing. It stops being about a little boy at school, and we realize, as we must eventually realize in all epics, that the fate of the world is at stake.

In book 5, we get the start of the heroes reacting to this new threat. Since book 4 changed the nature of things so much, this book has to show us how everyone reacts to that change. It's no accident it's the longest book so far--it had to be, to show the series' new direction.

So now, book 6, the penultimate book, is the Empire Strikes Back of the Harry Potter series. If you related as much to the characters as the regular readers do, some of the things in this book would be agonizing.

Of course, book 7 will be the vindication. The forces of good, from all over Rowling's world, will be in conflict with all the forces of evil her series has given rise to. The ultimate confrontations will, I am sure, have the full force of all six prior volumes behind them, as the climaxes of each of the prior books have been a bit stronger for having been tied to what had gone before.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Some Notes: Just a reminder that has gone away for a bit, but will be back. For this reason, those of you who have my email address probably don't want to try it for a while.

Ditto the other email address I was giving friends. Since I'm not using my dial-up connection any more, that one is also going the way of the dinosaur.

So which email to use? The one under "Contact The Doc" up on the left. That one will work fine, and is probably going to become my primary email. Gmail does a decent job of filtering out the junk, and they have lots of good ways to organize.

My hotmail account is used mainly for websites I fear will sell my address. So don't even worry about it.

Also, thanks to Lynn for the link and comments. Ever an interesting source of fun stuff, she points to this entry in the "I gotta get me one of these!" category.

And former Freespace blogger Timothy Sandefur has quietly snuck back onto the internet as part of the group blog Positive Liberty.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Speaking Of Tripods: I was really surprised to find that there is a lot of anti-Tripod Trilogy sentiment out there. Apparently, Mr. Christopher's books are sexist. Or are, at best, guilty of "outdated attitudes towards women."


As Orson Scott Card once said (and I'm paraphrasing), "No man can stand up to feminist criticism. If they write strong, tough female characters, they get accused of making their women into men. If they write feminine characters, they get accused of feeding into stereotypes."

There are absolutely legitimate concerns raised by feminist criticism. For example, I do not want my kids to watch The Little Mermaid. It's the story of a girl who defies her father, makes a deal with the devil, and in the end is saved by her boyfriend and father. She does nothing but stupid, selfish things and eventually the men in her life make everything all right.

I agree completely with this interpretation of The Little Mermaid.

Cinderella? No better. Mice save her.

Snow White? Dwarves and a Prince do all the work.

Sleeping Beauty? Same thing, without the dwarves.

But see, these characters are supposed to be the heroes of these stories. It deeply undercuts these stories that the heavy lifting is all done by the men. Any editor would reject these tales in a heartbeat today. "Your protagonist should play a greater role in the denouement," would be scrawled across the form rejection.

But the Tripod trilogy is about three boys. It's told from the point of view of boys. We see the boys' side of the story, not the girls'.

Honestly, it's been too long since I've read the books for me to do a thoughtful refutation of this. But sorry, folks. I ain't buyin' this one.

Obscure Movie Review of the Day: War Of The Worlds

This was a little foreign film I saw the other day--Russian, judging by the opening titles--that starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning and was directed by Steven Spielberg. I expect it will be getting wider distribution soon.

There are three reviews you could write of this movie, really. The science fiction review, the political review, and the straight-up review.

The science fiction review: I have to laugh at this entry from the IMDB goofs page for this movie:

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: It's a special Hollywood EMP that disables only the electronic equipment that the filmmakers want it to.

That's good stuff.

You know--I'm a huge fan of the genre of book and film where a vastly more powerful group of creatures conquer another race, and the weak, inferior creatures have to defeat them.

Unfortunately, nearly all of them end with a Deus Ex Machina. It's like once Wells did it, everybody else felt like they had "permission." I'd like to see more sci-fi books and movies do an alien invasion with vastly superior aliens that actually were defeated. I'd hoped Silverberg would have done it in The Alien Years, but no, those aliens just packed up and moved out. Independence Day doesn't count either, although they get a sticker for the effort since at least some human involvement was required, even if the tools were ludicrous.

I think the old Tripods trilogy (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire) did a good job of it, and I think it shows how it has to be done. At some point you have to get the big scary aliens out of the tripods and start seeing how their society works and then exploit some weakness in it. More the stuff of a trilogy than a single film, though, so we may not see the movies do it for a while.

The Political Review: Somebody said this was supposed to be an allegory for the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq. Sounds silly, right?

Well, that somebody was actually one of the screenwriters. Talking to a Canadian horror magazine, he said the film showed how the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq are doomed to failure.

And guess what? It still sounds silly.

I don't know if he was just trying to kiss up to a foreign press, but there are clearly more ties to 9/11 in this film than there are to the Bush administration's Iraq campaign.

The ships sitting in wait, among us, without anyone knowing--that's what the terrorists did. Bush attacked from without.

The way the aliens indiscriminately destroyed anyone who got in their way--that's the terrorist's track. Bush was so confident of our troops' ability to do the job humanely and discriminatingly that he allowed scores of embedded reporters to travel with the troops, and there have been remarkably few instances that were even questionable, let alone flat-out abusive towards civilians.

There are the obvious 9/11 images as well--the posted pictures of the missing, the white ash covering Cruise after the initial appearance.

And if they truly wanted to show how difficult military occupations are, they aliens needed to try to get the humans to do something. This film showed the easiest occupation in the history of the universe--if you don't care where people run, as long as you're able to kill off a few of them and trap a few others, how can your occupation not succeed?

In other words, even if these guys intended to make any sort of message out of this movie, they muddled it up so bad that it's not there any more.

So don't worry about politics while you watch it. If they did mean anything by it, it's not really there. Just relax and have fun.

The straight-up review: Keeping all that in mind, you will have fun. It's a fun movie.

I think I understand Spielberg movies better now that I have kids myself. You don't know how scary it is to have strangers attacking a van your daughter is trapped inside until you have a daughter. A lot of the scenes that would have hit me on one level as a teenager strike a whole new chord now that I have a little bit more of a clue what that guy is feeling.

But this movie is a grown-up movie. Yeah, you do have to shut your brain off for parts of it, but the conflicts are grown-up conflicts. The main character is, ultimately, having to make the transition from adolescent to grown-up over the course of the film, and Cruise handles it well.

But I will warn you that if, like my wife, you're so sick of Tom Cruise right now that you can't stand the sight of him, his performance is not actually good enough to change your mind. So you may want to check out your own internal Cruise Tolerance Meter before you fork over the money.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Putting the Oh! In Oklahoma: With all this talk of Daylight Savings Time going on, my father shared a story he'd heard when he was living in Oklahoma.

Apparantly someone had complained to the state government about their Daylight Savings policies. The extra hour of sunlight, you see, was burning up his lawn.

Image and Images: I did something I never, ever do yesterday. I called a radio talk show.

I don't call radio talk shows for the same reason I will never go on a game show or a reality show. Why should I put myself up for public ridicule so that somebody else can make a buck? I'll put myself up for ridicule for free, like I do in this blog, or so I can make a buck, like I do with other writing. But I will never feed into the entertainment frenzy for a dangled carrot or because some radio guy manipulated my emotions.

But yesterday John & Ken, the talentless KFI drive-time hacks managed to find their way into a Muslim mosque, with an audience that was a fair balance between Muslims and non-Muslims.

It was part of the Islamic PR campaign that follows every single terrorist attack. Muslim spokesmen come out and express their frustration at the public association between terrorism and Islam. The public is wrong, they say, to associate Islam with terror.

And the spokesmen are absolutely right. It is not fair to characterize all Muslims in this way. I completely understand their frustration.

I would like, therefore, to give them some advice. Here are my suggestions to the Muslim community for how to change the way the public perceives them:

Stop accusing non-Muslims of ignorance. Stop saying the problem is that people don't know enough about your religion. You are so adamant in your disapproval of people's ignorance that at times it comes across as if your disapproval of thier ignorance is more powerful than your disapproval of the terrorists.

Remember--what happened on 9/11 was an action. The images of those towers falling down are powerful, powerful images. Actions and images will always be more powerful than simple words. You cannot merely tell people you are good and noble. You must show them.

The only way to completely disavow yourselves of the events of 9/11 is to provide positive actions and images that are so strong, so noble, so good, that it counteracts the imprint made by those monsters who want to co-opt your religion in the name of their cause. Surely, if a dozen so-called Islmaic Fundamentalists can do the damage they did in a single day, imagine the positive impact the 7 million Muslims living in the US could make, if they made a concerted, direct effort for even longer.

Imagine the awesome power of even a quarter of those--a million and a half people--all brought together as one unit to display solidarity with the United States, with their Jewish, Christian, and atheist brothers and sisters, and against the terrorists.

I have simple ideas, although I am sure better ones will be clearer to you than they are to me. Public vigils for the victims of terrorism, where the monsters are decried and the idea of brotherhood is embraced. Money always speaks loudly--a donation of $10 by every Muslim in the US would provide over $100,000 to the families of each victim, all done in the name of Islam. Not as atonement or apology, for you have done nothing wrong.

But these evil men are stealing your religion from you. They are desperate. They will resort to terrible means to convey their message. If you wish to win back your religion, win back the name and the image that you know Muhammad intended, then you must begin, not merely to tell the American people you are something else, but to show them. You must be just as desperate in your attempts to provide good and positive images and actions frequently and often, as those beasts are in providing their damaging, hateful ones.

And to the non-Muslims who are reading this, perhaps feeling the superiority that comes from viewing a situation as an outsider, I must say we are guilty of this ourselves.

We want the world to know that America is a loving, caring nation. That our actions in the world are noble and good.

We lament that other nations hate us, and we either say we deserve it, or we dismiss their feelings as unimportant. In fact, we politicize all our international action. When the man in office is on "our side," we embrace his wars, and call then humanitarian and good. When he is on "their side," we decry it as power grabs.

What we do not do is, as a people, unite together in agreement that whatever our governments are doing, whatever their governments are doing, we love the people of these nations, and want them to have happiness. What we do not do is look to insure that the interests of good are, in fact, being served, but merely grant morality to the actions of our leaders based on whether they were standing under the right banner when they said, "Vote For Me."

You and I should be reaching out to the people of the world, not just willing to send our sons die for them, but willing to live for them ourselves. The people of Iraq, the people of Afghanistan, the people of the world should find themselves showered with food and clothing and fuel. And it should be clear--this is a gift from the American people. People who saw you suffering and in need, and who knew they had the means with which to give.

And then, on their heels, come the teachers. Those knowledgeable in farming and engineering, education and medicine, not to do, but to teach. To impart replenishing, renewing horns of plenty that will continue to provide for these people for generations.

And when they say, your government is so generous, to send you here, the teachers can say, no, brother. I have sent myself here. My government gives me the freedom to act as I will, and I choose to use that freedom to serve you.

Then the people of the world will truly understand what freedom is. Then the people of the world will understand who we are--not because we told them what to believe, but because we shared so much of our hearts with them that they knew us for who we truly were.

Chris Angel: Magic is my favorite hobby that I never get to practice, and consequently I have far too few magic posts here.

But what's sad is, in my absence, I've got a bunch of hits from people looking for stuff on magician Chris Angel, and I have no idea what he did lately that got everyboy looking for him.

I feel so out of the loop.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Coming Up: PBS is doing a documentary version of the excellent book Guns, Germs, and Steel. (Saw it at Incoming Signals.)

Obscure Movie Review of the Day: Durango Kids

I can forgive a lot in kids movies.

I don't like to. I honestly feel that kids care more about the internal consistency of movies than adults do. It's kids, not adults, who want to live in the worlds they watch on TV, and get obsessive about which heros were born where and which weapons do what. For kids, movies are like religions, and each is a fully immersive experience. It's adults who sit back and say, "Oh, it's just a movie."

But I still do. The fact that the movies are being made for little people who don't always need to understand how the grown-up world works means we can make allowances for gaps in logic here and there.

But there was a scene in this movie that was so unbelievably ridiculous I couldn't stop laughing. My wife had to tell me to calm down after a while. It was just such a howler . . .

See, the movie is about a bunch of kids who are led back in time by the ghost of a guard who was killed in an old frontier town robbery. Their goal is to save his life and stop the late night robbery.

I'm sure it's no surprise that they manage to do this. In fact, they do it using dynamite, a walkie-talkie, and a baseball. However, the twist is that they then get accused of planning the robbery, and they're all thrown in jail.

Okay, all of that's fine.

But see, the next day, the other boy who came back in time with them, who had been more interested in hitting on the guard's daughter than foiling the robbery, is told what happened, and rushes over to the bank, where he finds, in the middle of the busiest street in town, with people bustling by all around, the get-away wagon, the baseball, and the walkie-talkie, all exactly where they were the night before.

Oh, man.

This film suffered from that much-misdiagnosed malady of having a script that needed "another pass." The dialogue is full of amateurish repetitiveness--Yes, we're talking about the gold again, but we're doing it in a new place now! That's what scenes are!--and there are glaring inconsistencies--Was it the tunnel that sent them back in time, or the ghost's fairy dust? If it was the dust, then how did the principal get back in time? If it was the tunnel, then what was up with the dust?

I'm glad I saw it. Some of the performers, particularly the fat kid, were fun to watch and obviously having a good time. And the scenery was lovely--did the budget for this come from the Colorado state tourism board?

But most of all, it gives me hope that just about any script has a shot at getting in front of the cameras, no matter how simple. And that gives me hope.

Well Done, Scotty: Like anybody who's had any interaction with him, I adored James Doohan. If you don't understand what the fuss over this guy was about, I recommend you go rent Trekkies and see a bit of him.

Amidst the hoopla and pomp of Trek actors like Shatner who can't quite decide whether to mock the fans or love them or just be embarrassed for them, Doohan is the one guy who always seemed humbled and awed by it. I think he sensed, more than any of the other cast members, both how insane it was that people loved the cast the way they did and the power that gave them to touch lives.

I'm reminded of a line from Evita, when Che's singing to Eva about fame. "You won't care if they love you," he sings. "It's been done before. You'll despair if they hate you. You'll be drained of all energy."

Far too often, that's the way with celebrity. You have to be cool, take it in stride that everybody's falling all over you. But the second they look away from you, boy, let's dive headfirst into the booze and the drugs and the blow-all-the-money.

Not Doohan. If anything, the doting, obsessive fans humbled this guy. Made him more down to earth. I genuinely liked him, and I regret never having had the chance to meet him.

Wil Wheaton was on NPR today confirming everything I've ever felt about Scotty. He hasn't posted a real eulogy on his blog yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing it when he does.

Here I Come Back From The Dead, Oh No!!!! . . . .: I always lose a ton of readers (in other words, like three of the five) whenever I go a while without posting. Apologies. Hopefully, it won't need to happen again, because I can now get on and off like that.

Um, I just snapped my fingers.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Chan: Buried in this article is the tidbit that Jackie Chan will be making a film with Hero and House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou.

Okay, I'm excited.

Stop The Aid!: Check out this interview with a Kenyan economist about why Live 8 and G8 are bad for Africa, and what should be done instead.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My Other Rant: Okay, you want hypocricy? How about this:

When we went into Iraq, the media tried to convince us it was stupidity on the President's part. Just a bone-headed decision.


Because there was no connection between 9/11 and Iraq. Al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein may as well have been Coke and Pepsi for all their connection in Middle Eastern culture. Going into Iraq was like invading the Boy Scouts of America because a gang of boys the same age had robbed a liquor store.

Only now, when Al-Qaida has blown up more people who were simply going about their business, we're supposed to believe it's because George Bush's invasion of Iraq is perceived as such a threat by Al-Qaida.

So which is it?

My Rant: I know I haven't been very political on this blog as of late, but this rant has been building in my head all week, steamrolling as events have steamrolled, so forgive me this indulgence.

It seemed the big news story of last weekend was Live 8, the big concert where a bunch of rock stars got together, talked about poverty, and raised a bunch of money to send to the african dictators who keep people impoverished. I'm sure they mean well.

In the meantime, Sean Hannity puts on his annual "Freedom Concert," which has raised 6 million for scholarships for the children of the soldiers who've died in Iraq, and nobody bats an eye.

Now I'm no fan of Hannity. His show is mostly just him gushing and drooling all over guests, but I do listen when it's a good guest.

But it truly does bug me that the media is so slow to recognize the charitable contributions of conservatives.

Even if you hate talk-show hosts, the fact is, they're celebrities. Hannity brings out rock-show sized crowds everywhere he goes. Limbaugh, heaven help him, is worshipped as a god.

So why no Entertainment Tonight at the Freedom Concert? Why no press coverage for Limbaugh's annual Lukemia/Lymphoma Society fundraisers?

Why does Bono get introduced as "Singer and Social Acitivist," and real social activists who are right wing get no such credit for their humanitarian efforts?

Guys who have way more listeners than Stern still get less press than stern, simply because of their politics.

Can we really argue there's no bias here?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Shakespeare Question: Okay, so I've been asking this question of a few different people, but I thought I'd ask it here, since I know a pretty intelligent bunch of people noses in here once in a while.

Reading some of the reviews for Orson Scott Card's new book Magic Street, it seemed a lot of it would be connected with Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Not being familiar with it, I rented the Michelle Pfieffer/Kevin Kline version.

I enjoyed it--particularly the last third. I'm a fan of Mr. Noodle and that guy from ALF, and thought they pulled off the bit parts great.

What I don't get, and the focus of my question, is what the last third of the movie/play had to do with the first two thirds. How does the final bit--a comi-tragic parody of Romeo and Juliet--have to do, thematically and story-wise, with the first two thirds?

Is it just meant to underscore that, even though everything turned out happy for our heroes, everything's really still up to the whims of fate, so they should enjoy it while they've got it, and count themselves blessed they ever had it?

Or is there something else?

Help is appreciated.

(Oh, and what does the picture have to do with this? Nothing. I was just seeing how the new Blogger image thing works.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Coming And Going: Just a heads up that might be taking a month off this summer. Don't worry about your future mild chuckles--the site will be coming back. It just wants to take one of those "alone" trips where it "finds itself." I just hope it doesn't start wanting to see other people.

I got another website for you to check out, though: The Frog Report.

Froggie's taking those late night infomercial guys head-on. All I can say is guys--the game just got a little more serious. And entertaining.

More On Buzz: Okay, I stayed up way too late last night playing AstroBlasters, but here's some more tidbits.

Look for things that increase in value as you do them.

For example, if you only collect one battery color, the point value of the battery will go up each time, getting larger and larger until each battery is worth thousands of points. However, if you grab any other color, the whole thing resets.

Also, watch for the Cyclopsbots. There are 11 in the game, and each time you hit one, the point value doubles. The first one is only worth 100, but then 200, and then 400, etc.

The first eight are all in the first scene. They're chasing little Buzz ships, and they're small and hard to catch, but the 8th one is worth over 12,000 points by itself if you get all 9.

The last three are in the asteroid scene. The first two are easy to see--they're the "Z" targets. The last one is hard even to see--it's hiding behind the asteroid with the Dogbot on top. Hit these last three, and they'll be worth 25,000, 50,000, and 100,000 points.

The little green men also increase in value as you catch them. The more you catch, the more they're worth.

It's the law of increasing returns, I guess. But it works in this game.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yeah, Yeah: Do I realize that by posting about a game, then disappearing for a while, and then posting about it again, it looks like I've been playing that game this whole time?


But I haven't, I swear. I can only play it when I'm online, and when I'm online, I usually blog. So I haven't been playing it, either. So there.

What have I been doing? Mostly being sick, but also fireworks and stuff. Happy Independence Day, one and all.

Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters Online: Because I spent some time searching for how the points system works on the online version of Astro Blasters and couldn't find it, here's what I know. Hopefully, this will help somebody else. Here's the hints and tips I've found.

When Buzz says aim for the Batterybots, he means it. If you play the training version, you can see the Batterybots are little guys with sacks full of batteries. Three batteries come out for each one you hit, tripling your potential for points or power-ups.

The Dogobots are easy to hit, and seem like good points, but they're red herrings. If there's something else on the screen, aim at it.

The Boxobots seem like a pain. They're hard to hit, and it might seem like they give relatively few points. Don't be fooled. Each one you hit gives you greater and greater points. I'm not good enough to know how high it goes, and I don't think I'll ever be able to hit that last one in the asteroids, but the point totals do get higher and higher with each one you hit.

Obviously, you want to get the little green guys. They're one of the highest scoring elements of the game, so try not to pass up a "Z" target, and pray there's somebody on the ride at the park who knows what they're doing. That part is a lot of luck, from what I can tell.

There are also points to be had in the asteroid belt. The smaller meteors give you points, and batteries, if you destroy them, and it clears the way and keeps you from having to try to dodge them.

You have to blow up three of the "legs" on the last ship before the target at Disneyland will light up. Your best bet is to grab any red battery you can find. Also, you will most likely not be able to capture Zurg at the end if you don't have a red battery at least part of the time you're shooting at the Helmet ship, so grab one or two if you see 'em (You most likely will. There are batteries over the place when the ship blows up).

If you have any other tips or hints or suggestions, post 'em here or email them to me. They don't seem to be anywhere else, so let's put 'em somewhere.