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Archive for May, 2007

Good Point: 31 May 2007

May 31, 2007 1 comment

I was going to start this out with some blather about the Wikipedia article on Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, and how it links to a Usenet post and stuff, but my father beat me to the punch by two months. Dang.  Well, whatever.

Hmm… what else… Oh, yeah, in case you didn’t notice the link in the sidebar, Rachel Lucas has come back to blogging, to little fanfare and minor note.  Reading her posts, I realized that she contains a bit of the irreverence that I’ve attempted to encapsulate in my bloggery. Unsuprising, given that I essentially grew up on her blog, Kim du Toit’s, and Steven den Beste’s.

This just in from the magical land of Japan: a guitar simulator for your (or, more accurately, my) Nintendo DS. This is no mere game, a la Guitar Hero. This is a simulator. All that Amazon has on it is a name and release date, but it’s already on the top of my wish list. In the words of the SRHS class of double-oh-seven motto, “ballin!”

Tuesday was my last physical day in school, graduation is Friday. Time to get a serious job at SAS, or fall back on somewhere else if they don’t seem interested. Maybe I’ll work with my good friend over at Target. She keeps telling me it’s nice. Always seems a pleasant enough shop, although the time I spend there per month is roughly equatable to, let’s say, the time I spend listening chainsaw rock.

23 and 24 July are Orientation. Classes start 22 August. It’s coming.

Oh yeah, and Fred Thompson is running. Oooh-rah.

Categories: Good Point

Pop Culture Roundup

May 30, 2007 3 comments

Okay, here’s the docket for today: Item 1, Pirates of the Carribean: We Made Another One. It was confusing, mostly because they really made it feel like you were dealing with pirates, who were constantly backstabbing everyone. It was tricky to keep up with who was working for whom when. Plus, the just-in-time nature of their plot-device introduction grew a little thin. On the other hand, I went to go see it with my good friends, and we made constant jokes, which made the whole experience approximately a jillion times better. I wasn’t sad I spent my money, although I should have known better than to follow the crowd out at the end, because once again, there’s a little surprise at the end of the credits, or so I’ve read. Also, it seems the franchise has economical merit that it’s almost guaranteed to continue into a few more sequel; they even threw in a plot hook at the end for more. It was a night well spent.

Item 2: Vin Diesel. I just saw Chronicles of Riddick Monday and, hot damn. I’ve not seen anything like it: a solid sci-fi kick-ass action movie with just enough over-the-top that you know everyone working on it cracked a smile at least once. I mean, seriously. Riddick, a stone cold killer, wading through a crowd of Space Romans with his “Space Kukris” flashing, and not having any of them touch him because, well, he’s Vin Diesel. I’m not sure what any negative critics were thinking in voting this one down, and I hope they make a sequel to this before Pirates because Pirates clearly takes itself far too seriously. Plus Riddick could cut Jack Sparrow into thirteen pieces before Sparrow could espouse a witty one-liner. And, of course, Riddick would use a one-liner of his own over Sparrow’s body in the vein of, “Plot device this.”

Item 3: Pan’s Labyrinth. I also saw that Monday, and I’m conflicted on this one. In a shallow sense, it’s an excellent movie. Very good production values, excellent acting, all of it. But on the other hand, it felt like it needed more a longer director’s cut to really flesh out some of the plot. It wanted to be both a story of a magical kingdom and princesses while also being about Spanish commie rebels fighting against Franco’s fascists. It really told the latter story and made that one really pull at you, but the fairies and princesses stuff seemed kinda second-tier. I feel like there’s something there that the director really wanted to show us, but couldn’t find the time.

Item 4: Anime. I spent this past weekend at our local Anime con, Animazement, and there were some interesting surprises. For example, every year, there’s one anime that’s really heavily represented by cosplayers, usually it’s one that’s gained recent popularity in the states; it’s never been Mario or Dragonball Z because those have both been around for ages. In the past, it’s been Trigun and Naruto, but this year, it was pirates. Uncapitalized, unitalicized, pirates. There were probably half a dozen Jack Sparrows and others just dressed as generic pirates. I can safely say I didn’t see that one coming.

Other interesting costumes included Jewish Wolfwood. He’s a character from Trigun who walks around with a giant metal cross as tall as he is that serves as a weapons rack for practically unlimited firearms; he usually keeps it covered with cloth to hide its purpose. He’s a common cosplay subject because all you need is a suit and a cross-shaped something, a bedsheet, and some belts. But this fellow actually was walking around with a Star of David covered in the cloth and belts, which was immediately amusing to anyone familiar with the anime. Also of note was the girl walking around in the torn and bloodied Union Wells High School Cheerleading uniform. Oh yeah, and some idiot who looked like Sylar had taken a crack at him.

Categories: Real Life

In for the long haul

May 25, 2007 2 comments

The other day, Bob wrote about his overnight camp out at the dorm housing office of his college, which oddly remind me of a similar incident. I actually undertook a similar endeavor this past winter, although for somewhat different reasons.

On the evening of 18 November 2007, I gathered together with a few of my friends for our regularly-scheduled D&D game, although with a few supplies for the evening stashed in my car. We’d planned to break up around midnight, as per usual, but ended up growing impatient and stopping our game at about 8pm. We adjourned to Waverly Shopping center for some pizza, and then set up our chairs in front of the near by Wal-Mart and settled in to wait. In only 10 hours, the store would open and the Nintendo Wii would go on sale.

I wasn’t actually planning on getting one myself, but the two friends that I accompanied were each interested in one for themselves. Luckily for us, we were the first ones there. I can sympathize with the doubt and questioning that Bob went through at being the first and only: we went through the same thing. Three of us, camped out with lawn chairs in a designated zone along the front of the store for queuing up, watching perfectly normal people file in and out to buy real things. However, after about an hour or two, another pair of guys showed up, and we felt relieved: we had chosen correctly. (If we’d waited until midnight as planned, we would have been rather far back in the line.)

Similar to Bob, we had come prepared, with chairs, snacks, Nintendo DSes (trend, anyone?), drinks, books, and music. The one thing that we really had to prepare for, that Bob didn’t have to contend with, was the cold. This was a North Carolina November, so it got below freezing that night, and we were cold. Clad in heavy jacket and a sweatshirt, I was warm from the waist up, but below that, it got a little chilly. One rather ingenious fellow bought a space heater from the Wal-Mart we were sitting in front of and hooked it up for his friend and himself to enjoy. The rest of the line was envious of him.

The system we used to track who was first in line was much more primitive, being solely based on first come, first serve. There was a modicum of honor at the front of the line where we were, especially when the line was shorter. One quick-witted and rather unscrupulous fellow, about 8th in line, actually set up shop with a For Sale sign, offering his spot in line for a measly $80. (The console itself only cost $200 retail.) He spent most of the night there and only sold his spot minutes before the doors were opened.

The person who purchased the spot was rather far back in the line, which, by the time that the doors were opened, was quite long. A number of censuses were taken of the population of the line, figuring out who was what number in line, based on an estimate by an employee of 30 consoles in stock. I think I was the only person in line not buying, and there were likely at least 40 people in line by the time it was all done.

One thing that was unexpected was the idiotic behavior encountered against us. For example, an employee at the Wal-Mart itself came out and cajoled us with talk of there only being 3 consoles, not 30, and other such idiocy. It was quite clearly very amusing to her, but was just annoying to the rest of us.

In the early Sunday hours, there were actually some guys that showed up to literally do some drive-by harassment, such as throwing fast food drink cups at the line or mooning us. After a little while of this, one of the liners made an official petition to have his spot saved, and went out to his car, where he sat idling and waiting for the idiots to make another pass. When they did, he threw on his high beams and tore after them. After a brief chase around the parking lot, they left with great haste.

Aside from that, it was a relatively uneventful night. My friends and I played Elite Beat Agents and Advanced Wars: Dual Strike. We also intermittently napped and I read from a copy of World War Z I’d brought along. I wasn’t sad to see dawn coming in the east, but neither was I sad that I’d come along. And since I wasn’t buying, during the final stages, where everyone was packing up and preparing to move inside, I left the line and started putting all of our stuff in the cars we had come in.

Thus, as soon as my two friends got the first two available units, we got in our cars and drove home, where they passed out and I played Zelda: Twilight Princess on a Wii. It was pretty fun, but I got stuck on the stupid fishing part, and gave up, passing out myself.

Categories: Gaming, Real Life

Good Point: 24 May 2007

May 24, 2007 2 comments

Bill Whittle’s at it again. I wasn’t going to mention this in particular, because if you’re interested in his writings, you’ve probably read it by now. But in a fit of final-days boredom and the “I can make a difference” feeling left over after that essay, I ended up realizing a blog concept I’d been tossing around for a while. Here’s a rough version of the header, and the title would be changed to match (“Sitting on the Hill”).

I actually went so far as to implement the changes, when I realized that this blog isn’t nearly that serious. I’ve made a couple of political posts, but by and large, they don’t make for interesting writing. At least not from my pen. I might use the idea again some time, but for now I actually think that the original title that I came up with at 3am for this blog, But Seriously…, encapsulates the tone rather well.

It is in that frame of mind that I echo the rest of the internet and Penny Arcade by asking, “How did Blizzard keep Starcraft 2 under wraps for so long?”

Categories: Good Point, Metablog, Real Life

Heroes Season 1 is over

Don’t worry about spoilers on this one folks. No secrets here.

So the season finale to the best show on television aired this past Monday, and it was then that I realized that it was indeed the best. In my mind, it had been contested in this chiefly by Battlestar Galactica, although Jericho was a narrow second; this isn’t a problem since Jericho is regrettably now cancelled. And BSG has been knocked off the list for one reason, plain and simple: ten month hiatus. I’m not sure exactly why, but for some reason or another new episodes ended around the end of February 2007 with a message that BSG would return in 2008.

Sure, the show is really impressive, especially visually, but ten months? That’s just too much for me. Heroes, on the other hand, which just finished its first season, is planning to do 24 regular season episodes next season, and six “spinoff” episodes. Each of the spinoff episodes will feature a new hero, and the one voted highest will be brought in on the show itself. It’s going to be the same level of production, just a sort of second unit deal, because they don’t want to leave people hanging over the hiatus for too long.

The characters are just amazing as well. I’d kind of felt the last few episodes dragging down, with the original villain becoming your favorite good guy, and someone you thought was good really seeming very, very evil. But in the last two acts of the season finale, everything fell into place. It was amazing.

Probably one of the coolest moments is one in the final act, where there is text on screen saying that this is the end of Volume 1 (Season 1), and then immdiately cuts to Volume 2 and leaves the cliffhanger of the finale a few minutes in to there. They’re saying, “Yeah, we’re starting a different story. But it’s all the same. Stay tuned.”

I can safely say I will be.

Categories: Real Life

Words about words. Quaint, no?

May 21, 2007 2 comments

With school rapidly winding down (3 days of class including today, 4 days of exams, then Graduation), I find myself increasingly bored in class, with the constant preoccupation with my impending career as a world-famous guitarist. Well, okay, at least learning to play, and then becoming world famous. I actually ordered one of the starter kit things online, because it’s pretty much what I need: amp, strap, tuner, guitar, picks, etc. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have a shiny new Epiphone SG in my possession.

But anyways, being bored in class, I’ve taken something of a diversion from my usual random fiction writings to stay amused in class and turned towards the lyrical. The problem is that, instead of coming up with songs for the guitar, when I put pen to paper, I keep ending up with songs in my head that sound like hip-hop. Well, the verses at least. I think it may be because I’m trying to be overly verbose, so the words always sound like they’re coming out at the machine gun pace characteristic of hip-hop.

This isn’t entirely unexpected, since I recently have been listening to bits and pieces of Fort Minor’s work. It’s a side project of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, who characteristically offered rap-like vocals to LP’s songs, causing them to be placed in the nu metal genre. But Fort Minor’s stuff is much more hip-hop, although the thing that makes it palatable to me is the subtle differences from most hip-hop — the artist is a respectable person, the songs are interesting instead of rehashing the standbys about the police and women. It’s an interesting style for me, because I’ve never really exposed myself to it much.

This isn’t neccessarily bad, except that the tentative idea was that these were the kind of songs that I could be putting to music made my newly-created guitar skills. Fort Minor-esque music has little to no guitar in it, mostly just having the heavy beat of a drummer and some other hip-hop mix-ins. In my mind, I was shooting for something simple but fun and fast: essentially, power pop. Something in the vain of Code Monkey or MxPx’s Before Everything and After album.

Oh well, maybe I can turn these words around into something a little more palatable.

Categories: Guitar Hero?

Rage against something…

May 18, 2007 3 comments

So apparently Rage Against the Machine is getting back together. Initially, I was cheered by this, because I still listen to their old stuff since musically, it’s amazing. Tom Morello, the guitarist, is a genius. But then it started to dawn on me what this will really mean.

For those of you not familiar with the band, it’s a radically and militantly liberal and socialist outfit. They’re proud of their politics and many of their songs are chiefly about politics. They all have messages. But I’m not sure they’re really the message that’s all that good right now. For example, one of the issues they championed was “immigration reform”, in the form of amnesty for all illegals and completely open borders. Nail in the coffin: Michael Moore directed one of their music videos.

When Rage broke up, the musical elements (guitar, bass, drums) reformed into Audioslave with another vocalist and began making music under the new moniker. The name was different, the political message was gone, and with it, almost all of the Rage style, much to my dismay. So this reformation means maybe new, more Rage in the classic style; it does occur to me that maybe they’ll rethink their style and change it completely.

Just seems to me that there’s nothing quite as persuasive to the starry-eyed teenage as a strong political message presented by a rock band. I’d really hate for them to tip the scales in the ’08 election towards the Marxist end of the political spectrum.

I do have hope though, because I’m not sure even re-united Rage can stand up to the towering might of Fred Thompson.

Categories: Real Life