Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why is "no" not an acceptable answer to the question, "are you okay?"

You asked.

The same thing goes for the answer "Oh, I'm all right," when someone asks "how are you doing?"

Why would you ask me a question like that for which you are expecting a specific answer and then be surprised when I didn't go along with your plan?

It's nonsensical.

Next time just say, "Hey. Tell me that you're fine so that I can stop worrying about it."

It's all right. I understand.

TTFN.
I just got back from seeing Sherlock Holmes with my family. I don't know what all the fuss is about, because I thought that it was absolutely smashing. I loved it, and I can not wait for the sequel.

So what if Holmes' character is a little more reckless? He's young. Of course he's careless, right? Young people are careless...right?

Anyway, I thought it was refreshing.

TTFN.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Apparently I have forgotten how to shave since two days ago.

I just hacked the shit out of my face.
What is love?

It's complete and utter bullshit because all that I do is fall into it and sputter and struggle and sink.

Maybe one day I will be able to make somebody happy.

Maybe one day I will stop hurting people.

But I'm not holding out hope.

Alternate Ending:

What is love?

Baby don't hurt me.

Don't hurt me.

No more.

WHOAH-OH-OH-OH-WHUH-WHOH-OH-WOAH-WHOAH.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I suppose it's been a while since my last post. Sorry, I guess.

Christmas was good this year. I had lots of good family time. One of my little cousins (he's five) got some Transformers for Christmas, and I was assigned (in other words, I jumped at the opportunity) to teach him how they work and show him how to transform them. I had a lot of fun. I grew up playing with Transformers and it was quite a nostalgic feeling to, for lack of a better term, play with them again. It was also a really cool bonding experience with my cousin.

In other Christmas news, my grandparents gave me a gorgeous new watch. I had picked it out, but it is still an absolutely beautiful piece of machinery. I have this deep obsession with timepieces, especially since they're really the only kind of acceptable fashion accessory for men in this day and age. Aside from...scarves, maybe? I dunno. I'm not super familiar with that scene. Not to say that I don't want to be...I'm just not.

But it's going to be weird getting used to my new watch. After wearing the same one every day for almost eight years, it's a weird adjustment. Every time I see my old watch sitting on my shelf, I instinctively reach out to put it on and have to stop and remind myself that I'm already wearing one.

And I got a few games. No More Heroes for the Wii, New Super Mario Brothers Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and Mirror's Edge for the PS3.

I've actually already beaten Mirror's Edge twice on a rental, but I loved that game so much that every time I walk into a store and see it, I consider purchasing it. I don't know how much I'll play it, but I figured it would relieve some torment if I just went ahead and got it out of the way. I'm playing through No More Heroes right now, and I absolutely love it. I've actually rented this one, too, but made the mistake of buying GTA IV on the same day, so I didn't get very far in No More Heroes. Killer 7 was one of my favorite games of all time, and Suda 51 is an incredibly interesting game designer. No More Heroes has been great so far. I haven't really played much of Mario yet, but I've played it at other people's houses before, and it's pretty much an outstanding Mario game. Zelda is also wonderful. I mean...it's Zelda.

I also got this weird Irish Spring body wash in my stocking (yeah, we still do stockings) that has a "cooling sensation." The only place that I feel this "cooling sensation," however, is on my groin, and it really just feels like a chemical burn. Not to say that it's not...enjoyable, but they should be more honest on the bottle.

"Irish Spring with mildly corrosive acids."

TTFN.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

0 comments.

0 comments.

0 comments.

0 comments.

Empty e-mail inbox.

No new text messages.

My phone just sits there, silent.

Why do I even bother?

What is the God damned point?
What?

What is happening?

What is that sound?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I played the demo of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker last night. It was very good. I am really looking forward to that game now. The controls have been vastly improved over MGS: Portable Ops, and it looks like a good, linear MGS game, which is more what I'm looking for than what Portable Ops was. Portable Ops was good, I just don't have the time necessary to invest into it.

One thing that really excites me is that they brought Ashley Wood on board again to do the art for the cutscenes. I absolutely love Ashley Wood's art, and that was a wonderful surprise during the demo.

I will be purchasing Peace Walker when it is released in 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I just found this picture on my hard disk. I took it this past summer, and don't think I've used it here before.

This is an office supply store here in Greenwood.



Mmm...

TTFN.

[Picture taken in Greenwood, SC during Summer of 2009]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar

James Cameron's Avatar was absolutely breathtaking. When I first heard about this movie, I really didn't give two shits and decided not to look into it at all. I just assumed that it was just another attempt to cash in on the video game craze that is mysteriously sweeping the nation. However, about a month ago, I saw a trailer for the film that made me commit a full 900 degree turn. I went from thinking that what I knew about the movie sounded stupid to not being able to wait to go see it.

So I went and saw it today. In 3-D. I was a little skeptical at first, because every 3-D movie that I've ever seen has been disorienting and fuzzy and dizzying. Avatar was pretty impressive, though. The 3-D was pretty smooth, and after about twenty minutes or so, your eyes adjust to the concept and it actually becomes pretty cool. I'm still not sold on the concept, though. I don't know why 3-D has become such a huge craze over the last year or so. It was cool in avatar, but I don't feel like the movie was any better for it. It's just a cool added bonus. I just prefer watching movies in normal 2-D. I feel like I can absorb the story and the meaning of the film better when I'm not distracted by things exploding out of the screen towards me and when I'm not trying to cross my eyes just enough to counteract the terrible, generic 3-D glasses that never work quite perfectly on any given face. As I said, Avatar's 3-D was pretty solid and didn't suffer from the typical problems that other 3-D movies do, but I feel like it would have been just as good in 2-D. I also respect the film for not pulling any of the cliche "guys-are-sword-fighting-and-someone's-sword-gets-swung-out-into-the-audience" bullshit in this film. Nothing rockets out of the screen toward you and there's not a chainsaw/flaming torch/motor boat rotor being jammed into your face every ten minutes. The 3-D is just for overall effect.

With that out of the way, onto the actual movie content. As far as the story goes, it's pretty traditional. It's the typical epic story archetype. These elements usually consist of huge battles, gigantic sets, scenes shot to have very large scale, and a hero who starts strong, falls to a low point, and makes a comeback, usually returning stronger than he was when he originally set out (the rise-fall-rise hero structure). I know that this is going to be the main complaint with this movie, but the thing about filming an epic is that your story structure is already laid out for you. Epics are not about the story; they're about how you tell it and how you differentiate your epic from other epics.

That being said, I still don't like to talk about the story in movie reviews because that's the primary reason that you're going to see the film. The story in this one is pretty straightforward, and can be cheesy and predictable at times, but it is still charming and will get your adrenaline going a good bit. The movie strikes a good balance between action and plot development, and moves at a really strong and consistent pace.

The special effects are also incredible. The CGI is very convincing (characters moved naturally, objects behaved properly according to physical properties, etc.) and melds well with the live action portions of the film, and there is also a lot of very clever prop usage. It was nice to see a modern movie use props for things like close ups on a spaceship or futuristic helicopter instead of just using CGI to fill in the gaps. I always feel more satisfied by a good prop or model or animatronic puppet than by some obviously animated thing just floating around on the screen. Now, I do understand that more than half of this movie was almost entirely CGI, but it was of such high quality that it was almost hard to tell. The movie was so engrossing that any noticeable thing that may have normally pulled you out of the experience was easily overlooked.

Overall, it was just a great experience. The movie was just huge, and was a highly satisfying experience in pretty much every respect. I highly recommend this film.
I just got back from viewing Avatar upon my local three-dimensional cinema screen.

You all need to get the fuck outch yo' house and go see this movie. It was pretty incredible. I'll post a more in-depth review later tonight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Games You May Have Missed - Hotel Dusk: Room 215



(Read my previous post for a run-down of my reviewing policy.)

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (Published by Nintendo, developed by CING) for the DS is a great title. It's from the same team that brought us Trace Memory (also for the DS), which I also loved. If you've played Trace Memory, this game is much in the same vein, just more complex. Hotel Dusk is a mystery point-and-click adventure game with a deeply involving story and a lot of intriguing character interactions.

It's hard to talk about the story without giving things away, but the basic premise is that you play Kyle Hyde, an ex-detective who has recently taken up "door-to-door salesmanship," although there is more to his occupation than meets the eye. Kyle stops at Hotel Dusk to try and figure out what happened after the mysterious disappearance of his partner, but of course gets himself into a much deeper, twisted web of secrets than he originally intended. At first, the story seems pretty unoriginal, but as the game progresses, it starts to twist and turn in lots of unexpected ways, and the game always leaves you guessing as to what's going to happen in the end. The story wraps up nicely in the last few segments of the game, and brings all of the game's many characters together in a lot of creative ways. The writing in the game is pretty cheesy and dramatic at times, but the game has a strong noir feel to it and is interesting enough to overlook the cliches. The art style in the game is also interesting, and all of the illustrations are detailed and expressive.

The gameplay mechanics of Hotel Dusk are very simple. You hold the DS sideways and drag your stylus around on the touch screen to move and tap to interact with things, while the other screen displays a real-time 3D rendering of what your character is facing. A lot of the game is spent talking to/questioning the many characters that you run across throughout the story, and the rest is spent exploring the hotel for clues and items to help yourself along the way. In a lot of ways, the gameplay feels very similar to an old-school text adventure in the fact that the game is merciless about your failings. There are many situations where simple mistakes such as a single wrong answer, asking questions in the wrong order, or leaving items in the wrong place can cause an immediate game over.

The puzzles in Hotel Dusk stem primarily from finding the right items/being in the right place/interrogating people and uncovering the proper information. There's nothing too brain-busting about it, but there are some very tense sections and a few places where you will probably get stuck for a little while. As a mildly related side note, I highly recommend using the notebook in the game to write down what you are supposed to be doing when you turn the game off, because even coming back to the game after a few days can leave you totally lost about what to do if you forget, as the game doesn't give you any reminders. There are a few occasions in the game where you are not really given clear directions about what to do next, which isn't always a bad thing, but sometimes it leaves you wandering around the hotel for long periods of time, only to accidentally complete a task and then feel stupid because the solution was so obvious. There are a few slow periods in the story, and sometimes the objectives seem to take a little bit longer than they should (as you often have to talk to a series of people and do a chain of very specific things to make the solution even available), but the rest of the story makes up for it.

Overall, Hotel Dusk is a great game for fans of the genre. As a genre, it is very, very slow-paced when compared to other games, and these sorts of games require a good bit of memorization, trial and error, and patience. If you are not looking for these things in your gaming experience, then you should probably steer clear of this one. If you like these sorts of games, however, then Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a solid example of the genre.

Verdict: Buy.

Game reviews

I am going to write my first quick video game review shortly. Before I get started, however, I think that it is important that I first explain my reviewing principles.

I hate game reviews. That is to say: I hate reviews on sites like Gamespot and IGN and such. First of all, they are too long and in-depth. I think that many people will agree with me when I say this: I don't care exactly which textures are blurry when the camera is too close. I don't want to hear about every bug or glitch encountered by the reviewers (unless it's game-breaking), and I don't give a crippity crap about comparison shots, among other things.

But the main thing that I don't understand about game reviews is the numerical grading system. A video game is an experience. People experience things differently. There are some games that are just legitimately bad, but people tend to like different things, and the idea of grading games based on qualities deemed important by the reviewer that other people may or may not care about is odd to me. This becomes even more of an issue when you introduce multiple reviewers and therefore inconsistency into a review system. There are definitely mechanical qualities about games that can be universally criticized, but on the whole, games are subjective. There have been plenty of games that have gotten terrible or mediocre reviews that are some of my favorite games of all time.

Game reviews should be simple. They should be short and to the point, while still covering the important topics. The verdict of the review should be a relatively simple "buy or don't buy" system (such as Ars Technica's reviews), and the tone of the review itself should speak for the level of recommendation.

As described by Penny Arcade, when you ask a friend of yours what they thought of a game, they don't say, "It was good...uh...eight. I give it an eight." They simply say, "Man, that was really good. You should totally check it out," and then they typically proceed to explain why you should totally check it out. Assigning numbers to an experience based on an arbitrary reviewer's interpretations of said experience just seems silly to me. Unfortunately, the industry is more caught up in these numbers right now than ever before.

All that being said, I don't think that I am in a better position than professional reviewers to say what is good and what isn't. As I am currently a mechanical engineering student with no income, I lack the funds and time necessary to develop the perspective of reviewers who play a lot of games as they are released. My opinions should still be taken with a grain of salt, as I tend to have highly specific and obscure tastes and avoid many of the things on the mainstream, but I feel that there are a lot of games that don't get proper credit or coverage due to "more important titles" or political deals within the industry.

Tah tah until the next post which should be very soon so make sure that you come back and read it if you are interested in point and click adventure mystery games.
I drank nothing but water all day yesterday.

...what a sad thing.

TTFN.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ugh...I am so sick. Right now, I just have the symptoms of probably the worst head cold that anybody has ever had in the history of mankind. Hopefully, things will stay that way and not develop into the flu. I really don't want the flu right now.

My head hurts so bad that even trying to concentrate on getting head shots in MGO was excruciating.

I think that the worst part of having a cold like this is that no matter how many times you brush your teeth, it still feels like you haven't for three days.

Now...time for me to go try not to throw up.

TTFN.
I went to a live showing of a Rifftrax Christmas special last night in Greenville with my dad and sister. It was really cool. They filmed it live in front of an audience in Texas (or at least that's what we were able to figure), and broadcast the feed to theaters all over the country. It was really funny, and it was really cool knowing that the guys were doing the jokes live. MST3K has been a big part of my life, and Rifftrax is equally great.

On the way out of Greenville, we saw a contender for the worst church sign of all time.



"Be a 'tranformer.'" Well, that's not that bad, right? That kind of thing could happen to anyone. Easy mistake, right?

Wrong. Here's the other side of the sign.




Yep.

TTFN.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Well I'm all finished with finals, I'm back home, my game cabinet is all set up, and my bass is set up in the corner.

I guess now the only thing left to do is find a tall building off of which to hurl this cold, empty husk.

TTFN.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, I just got back from bombing my Differential Equations final. It's amazing how much you can forget about a subject when you develop a splitting headache thirty minutes into a three hour test.

Uh...

TTFN.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

R.I.P. Pandemic Studios. You will be greatly missed. I intend to play The Saboteur as soon as I am able.

And fuck you, EA. Fuck you in the eye. God damn you for screwing over yet another talented development studio in your unending, greedy quest for industry domination. I hope that the money you make off of their titles is worth it's weight in broken hearts.


1998-2009

Tah tah for now.
This is absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I just popped a bag of potato chips. I haven't done that since maybe fifth grade. It was...liberating, somehow.

And you've gotta love banquet dinners.


Yum, right?



Nope.

TTFN.
Well, I tried to make some meringues last night, but I messed them up. Go Figure.

I guess I can add mint chocolate meringues to the list of things that I can't get right.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's finally getting cold in Columbia. I've been able to wear my new coat out a bit.

It's winter, and I have nobody to share it with.

What do I have now?

What do I have?

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's done gone and been exam week all up in this week. Posts will be sparse/non-existent until late Friday night.

TTFN.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

WHOAH DOUBLE POST! Make sure to read the one below this.

For those of you who are not aware, my apartment is located right across an intersection from a very busy railway crossing. In Columbia, it is required by law that all trains blow their horn for ten entire days as they cross over a street. Sometimes, however, they simply park on the tracks, blocking traffic for the rest of time.

Today, however, a train was parked on the tracks from about 11:30 AM to about 1:30 AM. I don't know why it was there so long, but it was. Thank God it wasn't parked on the crossing, though. There would have been a civil uprising if that train had been in the middle of the street for two hours.

But, to the point. On the one of the cars visible from my window, there was some really interesting graffiti. It's just really crisp and clean and, well, art.



You'll probably want to click on it for the larger picture. Graffiti like this I tend not to mind. It's a nice change from the typical scrawled, messy, and dripping "tag" that you see on street signs and unkempt brick walls. This took effort.

TTFN.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Okay, I sat down to write about the Flecktones show, and decided that it's been so long since the show that I don't really want to sit here and type and type and type about it anymore. Here's the gist of it:

Victor Wooten was incredible as usual. 

I now understand why Bela Fleck is being called "the premier banjo player of the world." 

Phil Coffin is a sax master. 

Futureman played a half drum kit with one hand and his drumitar with the other. Standing up.

Standing up.

The Columbia Philharmonic Orchestra was also very good, and blended beautifully with the band.

I got a signed album after the show. That was a really cool experience. Especially meeting Victor Wooten. I have been watching videos of him in concert on youtube for the past couple of years, and he's probably the primary reason that I even still pick up my bass, so meeting him face-to-face after the show was really cool.

Anyway, they are all master musicians, and if you ever have the chance, you really need to go see them. It is imperative.

TTFN. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

There is nothing like sitting all alone in your room Friday night playing video games while you hear groups of people outside walking by and having a grand old time. At times it makes me feel self-sufficient and proud that I can entertain myself with my own hobbies. At other times, though, it makes me just want to go to bed and never wake up.

Anyway, today's been a long day. I spent the whole afternoon and evening doing a chemistry assignment, and I just want to play some Zelda tonight. I promise that I will write my thoughts of the Flecktones show tomorrow. It's just going to be a longer post that I don't really want to spend the rest of my conscious night compiling.

TTFN.
Is it odd that I fantasize about slamming my car into a stationary wall at speeds of at least over 100 mph?

Wrong, perhaps?

Is it stranger still that every time I run through such a fantasy in my head, I witness the carnage in a third-person, isometric view and in slow motion?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Well...I have a fever. And a Solids assignment to finish. So no Flecktones post tonight, either.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I saw Bela Fleck and the Flecktones last night. It was absolutely fantastic. However, I have copious amounts of math to do right now. I will write a more lengthy post about my thoughts on the show later tonight, so those of you who check this here varmint early may want to check back later this evening.

TTFN.

[EDIT]: Go figure. I'm not going to have time to write anything tonight. I still have a ton of stuff to finish. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fear Not, Weary Travelers

What the hell am I doing?

I'm brewing tea, and there's a half-empty can of Seven Up still sitting chilled on my desk.

I have resorted to beverage multi-tasking. Is this a new low, or a heightened state of awakening?

Here's a mildly relevant photograph:



TTFN.

[Photo taken at an unmemorable shopping mall in South Carolina]


I have been staring at my Diff Eq homework all night, and I've only finished three problems out of about forty.

I'm getting to that point where I just don't care anymore.

I am so burnt out with all this shit that has been going on lately that I just don't care. I just want this semester to be over so that I can go home for Christmas and wallow in loneliness and then come back here and do this all over again.

I'll get back to the funny pictures soon.

TTFN.