Archive for December 2008

 
 

Tomorrow is the big day

Yeah, it’s the first day of a brand new year.

It’s also the first day of my brand new blog.

Look for the official announcement here tomorrow. . .

(Yeah, I have no actual content today.  Sorry about that. Er, but Happy New Year!)

Two days and counting . . .

I have an announcement for January 1st.

Yeah, I know.  It’s a holiday and nobody will be reading. Don’t worry — everyone will catch up. But the announcement needs to come on Thursday.  You’ll see why. This has been a teaser.

New DVD Releases for 30 December 2008

Join us one last time as we attempt to squeeze out one last 2008 release week long after anyone gave up caring:

  • Eagle Eye

Most notable for being the movie that sponsored the free wi-fi at the San Diego Comic-Con this last summer, as well as starring that “Transformers”/”Indiana Jones”/Please-Dear-God-No-Not-”Y The Last Man” kid, Shia.

  • Resident Evil: Degeneration

Now do you see how desperate I am to fill up space for this week’s installment of new DVD releases?!?

  • Beethoven’s Big Break

OK, no, NOW I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel. Yes, it’s a sequel to that dog movie.

  • Secret Life of the American Teenager, The

It would seem their secret lives involve nakedness and canoodling and impregnation.

Early “Guitar Hero: World Tour” Thoughts

Early thoughts on “Guitar Hero: World Tour:”

  • I started on Medium mode this time around.  GH3 gave me enough experience that I thought starting on Beginner or Easy mode would be too mind-numbing.  I was right.  Medium is relatively simple, but has its challenges: keeping your concentration through 400+ notes is one of the biggest.  The occasional interspersed fourth fret throws you off when you’re not used to using it.  And yet it’s “easy” enough to really get into the rhythm of the music and find your GH groove.  There are some tricky combo moves, though, that keep me on my toes.
  • So, you have to play sets of songs (2 to 4) to advance on this system, and not just a song at a time? Weird.  Well, I mean, you can not do the career mode and just practice a song.  So it’s still available to you.  But it is different. Likewise, I haven’t played as a bass yet, but I can’t wait.
  • So far, the hardest thing to do has been to come up with a band name.
  • The new guitar is a little longer than the previous model. That took some adjusting.  The star power button is a nice addition, but I haven’t wrapped my brain around it yet.  I’ll work it in eventually.  For now, I just do the traditional Raising of the Guitar Neck to invoke it.
  • The slide portion on the neck, likewise, is something that excites me but I haven’t worked into my gameplay yet.  I fear taking my right hand off the strumming part, even for a second. I know there’s a tutorial for it in there, so I’ll have to play with it later.
  • I’m not a Nirvana fan, yet it was a Nirvana song that landed me my first 100% score of the game.
  • GH is fascinating to me, from a music perspective: When you think of a song, you hum the melody.  But the lead guitar line is often NOT the melody.  When you’re playing a GH song, it takes a while to stop pressing the frets to the melody, and start playing to the guitar line.  I find that fascinating.  And the songs that go further off that line are often the most challenging and rewarding.  (I think I mentioned this with the previous iteration of the game, too.  Pardon my repetition.)
  • Solid Gold HitsIt’s obvious that some songs were chosen for their drum or vocal parts, and not their guitar licks.  Some songs are almost painfully boring to play on the guitar, with long silent portions.  That Beastie Boys song is only there for the person singing.  Perhaps it’s good for the drums, too, I don’t know.  But it’s not a guitar song.  Does this weaken the brand?  Or is it what the video game populace demands, and so Activision must provide?
  • Intellivision Running ManThere’s still a certain level of cognitive dissonance in watching the CGI band perform a song by a band you know, particularly when using the original master tracks that sound like they come from the 1970s or 1980s.  You KNOW Rick Springfield doesn’t look like that guy, and hearing those old recordings being performed by a character animated with a few thousand polygons seems — off. I’d expect the Intellivision Running Man to be singing the song, instead, you know?

Some end of week links

Grrr, I had to go to work today.  So I’m just throwing some quick links at you.  Hope your holidays were fun, though.

  • If you, like me, were gifted with Boom Blox for the Wii this Christmas season, here are the cheat codes you might like to use.
  • Best and Worst New Logos of 2008.  I like the Pepsi typography.  Not sure the image works. Most of the rest of not all that shocking.  Interesting to compare and contrast, though.

Merry Christmas

Christmas present from my daughter

And, yes, that copyright watermark is a big fat hint towards my new Special Project for 2009. . .  Details to follow on January 1. Merry Christmas!

What did you learn this Christmas?

I learned that traveling to two different family Christmas celebrations isn’t difficult. Traveling to two different family Christmas celebrations with an 11 week old baby is exponentially trickier.

I learned that Christmas Eve Eve is the night men invade Macy’s to get a last minute Christmas present without tipping their wife off that they waited until the last minute.

I learned that you shouldn’t do last minute Christmas shopping on-line at a web site you haven’t bought anything off of since you moved. What have you learned this year?

Last Minute Tweet Compilation

Things are going to be slow here this week for the holidays, so have some recent Tweets to keep you reading:

  • Baby is crying. I suppose I should get off Twitter and pick her up, eh? I’m a good Daddy.
  • My wife didn’t find my Tweet about the baby crying to be funny. Hunh. Go figure.
  • Finished wrapping wife’s Christmas presents. Doesn’t look so impressive all of a sudden. ::sigh::
  • You know the phrase, “up your nose with a rubber hose?” The doctor did that to me today. Damned odd feeling. Sneezed an hour later.
  • @gordontheintern – Wait till you have a kid. There is NO MORE sleeping in. EVER. I think I’m tired and cranky on that point.
  • You’d think starting a new blog would be easy. NO. There’s too many templates to adjust. (Details to come in the next week or two, folks.  Promise.)
  • I’m not a Lensbaby fan. Not that anyone asked. I’m just sick of hearing about them. Their marketing dept is doing great work, I guess.
  • The neighborhood kids are walking laps with their snowboards, about to realize we’re on flat land here. Then they’ll turn on their own.
  • Dear neighbors: Sure, park your car in the street, just not in front of my driveway so that the plow never clears out in front of me.
  • Dear neighbors: Yes, use your snow blower. But don’t throw it all out onto the street, you inconsiderate cretin.
  • Just waiting for the baby to wake up now. Any minute now. . . Parenting is the ultimate waiting game in some ways.
  • Just realized I own 11 domain names. One I’m letting expire in March as I never used it. I let one (the 12th) expire last September.

New DVD Releases for 23 Dec 2008

One last chance for your Christmas shopping.  Looks like this week’s official release date was actually yesterday, though.  Looks like the DVD world thought ahead for the holidays.  Smart move.

  • Traitor

Don Cheadle stars as — someone with a big head on the cover art for the box.  I’m so far out of it that I don’t recognize this movie at all. Guy Pearce (of “Memento” fame) co-stars.

  • Death Race

Remaking classic Corman schlock for modern sensibilities.  In other words, cast  Jason Statham to give it some attitude, sit back, and hope it works.

And that’s about it.

So, what DVDs are on your Christmas list this year?

Week Before Christmas Tweet Compilation

Follow me on Twitter.  If not, read some of my recent Twitter musings now:

  • I know I shouldn’t encourage this type of behavior, but it made me laugh: @VicMackeyOnICE
  • More scanning for future columns. Some fun early 90s stuff here. Ah, memories. . .
  • Cleaned up and organized some comics. I feel a great weight beginning to lift off my shoulders. Love it.
  • Walked out of Target behind a guy with TWO “Guitar Hero” boxes in his cart. No, I didn’t take him out at the knees and steal the boxes.
  • It’s always fun flipping through a comic from 15 years ago and seeing one of my letters in print that I forgot about.
  • Took baby to mall. She liked Santa. Picture came out great. That’s the last time that’ll happen, I’m sure.
  • The only people relieved by Apple’s withdrawal from MacWorld? CES organizers. And the media who don’t worry about covering both.
  • Poor Mac Break Weekly. They record Tuesday afternoon. Then the Apple world blows up mere hours AFTER. Yesterday’s podcast is already dated
  • &^$&%, Apple. I told you my new address before I finished that order! Why did you ship it to the old one? ARGH! (No doubt FedEx will drop it off outside the front door of the place I no longer live in the snow storm today, with my luck.)
  • If your e-mail begins “This is not spam,” then it probably is.

Some Podcasting Thoughts

  • I’m glad we’ve come far enough along in the world of podcast production that I don’t hear anyone using music as a bed throughout the whole podcast anymore. It used to drive me nuts when a podcaster felt the need to have background music playing while they talked. Intro and outro music is fine. But continuous music is distracting, no matter how easy the ducking option in iTunes may happen to be.
  • I tell you what — I’ll just assume you’re going to put that URL into the shownotes. Stop telling me you’re doing that everytime you bring up a website. It’s a waste of time and you sound ridiculous.
  • It’s a podcast. Take as long as you need. It’s not like the next show on my iPod is going to start playing if you don’t wrap yours up in x number of minutes. Quit cutting off discussion for time’s sake. If the show runs too long, cut it up into two shows. But don’t drag it out just because there are no time limitations.
  • I don’t listen to a single podcast that’s as short as the one I produce. That leads me to believe there’s still a market in shorter podcasting material out there to compete with the big 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 80 minute podcasts.

The World Is Ending

Man, I left work at 5:00 and didn’t log into the internet again until 9:00. It seems that somewhere during those four hours, the world went straight to hell in a handbasket.

  • Apple announced Steve Jobs won’t be giving the keynote at Macworld this year.  Here come the torrents of “Is Steve Jobs Dying?” stories from stock analysts, driving the stock into the cellar.

  • Apple further announced that this is their last year at Macworld. In other words, the convention is dead.  They might push through at a smaller venue in 2010, but it’s toast without Apple.  But this shouldn’t affect the stock — this isn’t about Apple failing.  This is about trade shows being a gigantic waste of money.

  • The last Christmas present that I ordered for my wife shipped out today.  I was worried it would be too late, but it wasn’t.  Then I discovered that it shipped to my old address.  And it’s via FedEx, so I can’t stop it or reroute it like I might be able to with UPS.  And FedEx always wants a signature.  I’m screwed.  Looks like I’ll be stalking the old neighborhood after work for the next week, waiting for the package to arrive.

  • Bonus: I just checked my account info at the site — there’s no sign of my old address in there. What the heck?

  • Finally, the governor of the great state of New York has decided to tell his state what the proper ways to act are, via a new round of punitive taxes.  At first, I thought this would be a percent or two.  No, this includes a whopping 18% sales tax on non-diet sodas.  For the first time ever, being diabetic is a tax break!

I live in NJ, so it’s not too bad, but I’ll be staying away from the malls within a half hour drive of the state border.  I can see the NY license plates piling up at the Bergen Mall even more than usual.  And the Paramus Park Plaza. And probably Garden State Plaza.  It used to be a refuge for clothes purchases, but now it’ll be on lots of stuff.

There’s even an “iPod tax” on digital downloads.  (Zune purchases — as they are non-existent — weren’t considered in the mix. ;-)  Can’t wait to see how that gets enforced.

Oh, look, he’s even instituted the luxury tax on yacht sales, which worked so well in 1990 for President Bush that it cost all the yacht makers in the States their jobs, as the business went elsewhere and the rich still got their boats.

They just never learn, do they?

I think I’ll go poke my head in the ground and wait till Christmas to come back out again.

Update: Here are more concrete numbers for NY’s tax hike.  The digital downloads tax is 4%.  Movie and concert tickets also get taxed 4%.  All NY drivers need to buy new $25 license plates. Wowzers.  Maybe the governor was just ticked off over SNL’s parody of him?  I think they have enough material now for their next show. . .

New DVD Releases for 16 Dec 2008

Here we go again.  Only one more release week till Christmas!

  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 6

They actually sent me a copy of this set.  Don’t know why.  It’s not like this blog gets that many hits.  I have no interest in the show, but there you have it. It’s out this week.

  • Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season 2

I’ve always heard good things about this show. Would like to see it sometime.

  • Mr. Bean: The Ultimate Collection

If you’ve never seen Rowan Atkinson at work as Mr. Bean, drop what you’re doing and go find a Mr. Bean DVD quick! This release gives you the entire TV series, both of the movies, and the animated series.  I have the first release of the original TV series as a boxed set, and that’s good enough for me.

  • Mamma Mia!

This is, I guess, the big release of the week.  Doesn’t do much for me. Since it’s the ultimate chick flick, I’m even showing the box art for the “full frame” edition.  It’s a travesty to mankind that such “full frame” releases are still made, but goodness knows there are people out there — like my wife — who can’t tell the difference.  Why fight it anymore?  Let them wallow in their dead eyes.

The Biggest New Release of the Week

Rock Band 2 for the Wii.

I’m still stubbornly sticking with the Guitar Hero franchise, but I thought a lot of you might like to know about this one. Back with DVDs a litle later.

Meta: Me. On the web.

One of the amazing things about having a child is how well it focuses you.  I have less time to “do stuff” now, yet I’m still getting a lot of stuff done. I chalk that up to using my time more wisely, goofing off less, and focusing on productivity.

That all said, here’s my rundown of web-based projects these days:

Various and Sundry: This blog carries on, five days a week.  Some weeks are writing bonanzas, others are a bit more sparse.  It varies from week to week, but that’s the nature of the beast.  I wish I could write an original 500 word essay on a daily basis, but I’m not sure I could, even if this was a full time job.

Pipeline at 600Pipeline Commentary and Review: Recently celebrated its 600th weekly column.  I got ahead on the column in preparation for the baby’s birth, and while I’ve pretty much caught up on that lead by now, there’s still a backlog of stuff I want to write about.  This week’s column is a 4000 word monster, as I type this, though I might have to hack and slash at it a bit.

Pipeline Podcast: Coming up on its fourth anniversary at the top of 2009.  Can you believe podcasting is that old now?  The schedule has suffered due to back-end technical issues I continue to fight with, and time constraints at home.  Sadly, the computer with the good mic set up is in a room that shares a wall with the baby’s room.  So while I only get to record the podcast after she goes to sleep, I can’t use that mic because my booming voice would wake her up through that thin wall.  I’m looking at buying a Snowball USB mic for the laptop to bring up production quality.  For now, I record with a blanket over my head and the laptop to cut down on the echoes.  Ah, the glories of podcasting. . .

CBR Reviews: This is the biggest time sink, but also one of the most productive.  I am the editor of the CBR Reviews team, six guys writing reviews daily of the week’s books.  We published 80 reviews in November, and are getting better about publishing them closer to publication dates, and even in advance.

Secret Project 1: I think this one is stalled out.  It’s something I started thinking about before the baby was born, but I’m not sure how do-able it really is, given time and scheduling restraints.  But I’m keeping it in my back pocket.  It’s comics-related and nobody else is doing anything like it right now.  I want to be the first, but c’est la vie.

Secret Project 2: Vaguely and tangentially related to SP1, but there’s real movement on it. It’s something that would only take a couple of hours a week of my time and could be very successful.  Look for it in the first quarter of 2009, if it does happen.

Twitter: It’s like having another email account. It’s the first thing I check at night, clicking on the “Responses” tab to see who’s talking to me and who I need to write back to.  Lots of interesting people, lots of continuously-updating content, and designed to eliminate spam on its own.

Flickr: One thing that the baby has changed completely is my photography.  I’m doing less nature photography and more people photography, mostly the baby.  I invested in some lighting equipment and am experimenting with that now. Am thinking of selling a lens to afford a different one that’s more amenable to my current shooting style. Need to update Flickr more often, though for baby privacy reasons, it’s not likely.

Google Reader: I do 90% of my web browsing through RSS feeds via Google Reader now and share out the best links and stories I find there. I’ve started sharing them with notes now, to add some additional information to the feed.  If you’re a Google Reader, I invite you to friend me or click on that link to subscribe to my feed.  It covers more of the kinds of things I’m interested in, above and beyond what you see on this blog.