During the day, I vented my extreme disappointment and depression by doing something I've been pondering for months. I bought a Nintendo DS Lite ($129.99). And, by golly is it ever worth it. The hardware is solid, although I think I've been a little spoiled by my Wii. The Wii has functionality built into the system--the Mii channel, the Internet channel, an amazing pack-in game. The DS has none of that. You have to pay $30 for the system's Internet browser, and the only game I could have gotten packed-in was Yoshi's Island DS, which I didn't want and would have cost $25 extra.
However, obviously, the DS's functionality is a direct predecessor of the Wii. Nintendo had its eyes set on reinventing the wheel, and here is where they started. The main novelty of the thing is a touch-screen, manipulated by a pen-like stylus. Just like the Wii, my biggest fear of this system was that I'd find it awkward and leave it sitting in a corner, and I'm happy to say that isn't the case. While the stylus is a little small (larger versions sold seperately), it's intuitive and really just as simple as writing in a notepad. I won't spend too much time belaboring the hardware, as anybody who's read up on video games in the past two-and-a-half years knows about the DS.
Brain Age ($19.99) is a game that promises to "Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!" through arithmetic tests, word games, memory challenges, and more. Sounds like school, you're saying; but keep in mind, you're saying this to the guy who clips three crossword puzzles out of every daily newspaper to do in his leisure time. The games are fun, and they are played entirely with the stylus, which is nice. You can use the Wi-Fi connection in the system to play all of the games with your DS-wielding buddies if you have them, but only if they're within broadcast range of your system.
The real treat (and the reason I picked up this game) is the little tag on the front: "SUDOKU included!" Just like the rest of America, I'm suffering from a bout of Sudoku Fever (thankfully I had already gotten the Macarena Plague out of my system). This is a fun and fairly flawless game. You write the numbers and it recognizes them (unless you're like me, in which case you're too sloppy). I've spent hours with this, and I haven't exactly had all the free time in the world. If you're the puzzle type, I'd recommend picking up this game. I already feel like I got my $20 worth.
Meanwhile, Mario Kart DS ($34.99) is amazing. Amazing. Amazing. In addition to all of its new tracks (of which there are many), the game features a "best of" from all the previous Mario Kart games--Super Nintendo's Super Mario Kart, Nintendo 64's Mario Kart 64, Game Boy Advance's Mario Kart Super Circuit, and GameCube's Mario Kart Double Dash. Each one is flawlessly reinterpreted for the DS.
I was a little hesitant about the controls--I had never played the SNES and GBA versions, and had always used the analog control stick. However, the kart-racing genre seems not to be hurt by this. The power-slide (a simple and necessary move in earlier games) is made a bit harder, as drift comes into play. This is not a bad thing, and it takes a bit of skill in both gameplay and racer selection to master the technique.
The best part, though, is the online play. Assuming that you have a wireless Internet connection available (Nintendo offers a $30 adapter, but you're better off starting a network with a wireless router), you are able to play with anybody around the world. You can pick randomly-matched Regional and Worldwide races, and if you have a friend with a DS, you can use their friend code. It's a hell of a good time, and I'd recommend it.
Anyway, I bought and played that stuff when I would have been driving to Philadelphia. With my evening, I went to Gullifty's Underground in Camp Hill, PA for a concert. Typical bar fare--dark lighting, a general selection of alcohols (I don't drink), and greasy food.
The first band (and my reason for going) was The Gorgonites (official site). I've mentioned them here, here, here, here, here, here, and there, but I'll say it again--they're a great, fun local band. Their lyrics are awfully vulgar, but mixed with their melodies, their ridiculous stageshow, and the welcome addition of a drummer, you're in for a good time. If you aren't easily offended, I'd recommend checking them out.
Next up was The Pawnshop Roses (official site), who were--according to my friend Jess--"alt rock country blues." Two of my friends left during this set, but I didn't think the band was that bad. The musicianship was good enough. I only found two or three of their songs catchy enough to nod my head, and there was no real stage presence. Each song led directly to the next, and there was no banter or even a sign of personality among the men on stage. I wouldn't walk out on their set, but I wouldn't take strides to see them again.
Headlining was The Underwater (official site), who managed to draw in quite the crowd. I was impressed by the drummer, and severely impressed that the lead singer managed to squeeze himself into a pair of pants that tight. Musicianship was all there, and they had a hell of a stage presence, working the crowd that seemed to know all of the band's lyrics. It wasn't my type of stuff, but I could see somebody leaving there having found a new favorite band. Very professional, and possibly will go big some day.
Anyway, I made it home in time to catch the second half of QuizNation, which proves that I am a terrible human being. I hope Morrissey gets well soon, because I really could have used that concert.