Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quiet, you.

Just because I can't spell, punctuate, or conjugate a sentence doesn't mean I can't write.


That came out wrong.

Friday, November 14, 2008

We've got to save this thing before it's too late!

Hopefully, there's still time...

After I go through and fix Chris' typos and grammatical errors, I plan to do just as much complaining/rambling/praising as he has, with about the same unpredicatable frequency. Except that in my posts, you won't have to wait for someone else to come along and correct the mistakes.

Well, probably not as often at least.


We'll see.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sportscasters: Prone to Hyperbole! Also, Earth: Round

Having not personally been witness to every catch of every football ever thrown in the history of mankind, I don't feel qualified to call this the greatest catch ever, or even rank it among the best ever as this random local sportscaster seems willing to do. But I will say this: Division II-A Morgan State receiver Edwin Baptiste is my hero.

Like football? You should watch this video. Don't like football? You should also watch this video. I don't know if the receiver mis-ran his route. I don't know if the quarterback overthrew him by a lot or was maybe intending to throw it to another guy farther downfield. All I know is that Edwin Baptiste jumped about 82 feet in the air while falling backward, snagged that bullet with one hand and landed on his frigging head without losing control of the ball. If I was a woman, I would bear his children.

See? That's a nice catch, right there.

Now, if I were a sportcaster, and I had no qualms about declaring things "the best [insert entirely subjective thing here] ever," and I were to pick the best football catch wouldn't be that one. It would be the physically impossible grab made by Alabama's Tyrone Prothro in 2006. You'll find the video evidence of this catch below, set to the sultry strains of "Right Now" by Van Halen. The video's a bit fuzzy, so you might not be able to figure out exactly what happened at normal speed. Wait for the replay. Watch that replay. Then pick your jaw up off the floor and try to move on with your life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This is awesome:

I can't embed it here, for reasons that should become obvious as you watch, so click the link and watch the short video preview of Warioland: Shake It for the Wii. Just trust me.

Also awesome: this.

Obscure Song of the Day #2

Leonard Cohen - Waiting for the Miracle

I first came across this wonderful song when listening to the soundtrack to Natural Born Killers. I went through a period in college when I was infatuated with every soundtrack to any movie Quentin Tarantino had anything to do with, and I fell in love with this song almost immediately. It has this haunting, ethereal quality to it that I really like. I dig everything about it, but most of all Leonard Cohen's voice. That's what a man should sound like, folks. He sounds like he smokes like 75 packs of cigarettes a day, and then gargles napalm. He's like the forgotten love-child of Isaac Hayes and Darth vader.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Apparently Yahoo users are morons

Ok, this may be the single worst thing I've seen in the last ten minutes or so. It's just a travesty. It purports to be a list of Samuel L. Jackson's 15 greatest movies, as voted on by Yahoo users. Yahoo users, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Today you have done your country a disservice. Seriously, XXX made the list? Coach Carter is #1? Coach frigging Carter? Somewhere, God is crying, and you have made it happen, Yahoo users.

Some of the things on the list are understandable. Jackie Brown should be where it is, and things like the Star wars movies were at least memorable, even if they weren't the greatest movies ever. I can get behind things like The Incredibles, A Time to Kill, 1408, and maybe Die Hard With a Vengeance, just because I liked the chemistry between Sam and Bruce Willis in that one. They really played off each other when they were figuring out the best way to put the right amount of water in those jugs to keep Jeremy Irons from setting off a fake bomb in a park or whatever.

But for the love of all that is good and pure in this world: no Unbreakable? And where's The Negotiator? Deep Blue Sea? Does the fact that he got eaten by a shark during one of his best "Yes, they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in Hell" speeches mean nothing to you people? That shark snuck up on Samuel L, timed his jump perfectly, and ate the crap out of John Shaft himself, and it doesn't even make the list?

Holy crap, he was even in Goodfellas, for crying out loud. Look it up! It's true!

I hate you, Yahoo users. You have broken my heart. You have broken Samuel L. Jackson's heart. And most of all, you have broken your own hearts. I know that makes no sense, but just go with it.

Animal Crossing's 6th aniversary

Today marks the 6th anniversary of the American release of one of my family's all-time favorite games: Animal Crossing, for the Gamecube. You remember Animal, Crossing, right? You moved your little human character into a forest town filled with animals. A talking racoon met you at the train station, gave you a house to live in, and then indentured you into slavery to pay off the cost of the house. You worked for the racoon for awhile, met your new neighbors, maybe delivered a gameboy or two from one to the other, dug up some fossils, caught some bugs, pulled some weeds, and did a whole lot of fishing. At some point, you stopped playing.

The disturbing thing?

Your town is still there.

Your animal friends are still living in it.

And they wonder what happened to their only human friend.

Yep, if you were to fire up Animal Crossing again right now, you'd find your town is still intact on your memory card, your house vacant and untouched, infested with cockroaches. Though some of them may have moved away in your absence, some of your animal friends are still there, living in that ghost town, surrounded by a choking overgrowth of weeds that you weren't there to pull, possibly wearing clothing in a style that you popularized before you abandoned your town and everybody in it. They may still cling to long-ago letters you sent to them, show them to each other, and wonder where you've been.

In the town museum, the curator, a lonely owl named Blathers, sleeps eternally, with no-one to visit him and wake him up. Your mailbox is likely stuffed with letters, many from the mysterious Happy Room Academy, who have continued to clandestinely enter your home and award it points based on style and layout while you've been away. Some are from former animal friends, who have moved away to places where weeds actually get weeded, and humans actually visit them and perform menial tasks for them. But saddest of all, many of those unopened letters are from your mother, who has undoubtedly continued to send you exotic fruit and updates on your father's well-being, and will do so forever, with no response from you. She'll do it because your mother loves you, whether you care or not.

That's the problem with persistent game-worlds, people. Even when you stop loving them, they never stop loving you. Creepy, isn't it? To know that on your dusty little Gamecube memory card a whole town exists, one that you created, and it will never completely die, but persist in a kind of macabre unlife without you, waiting forever for your return?

Unless you delete it, of course, murdering the innocent animals still living within, who want only to continue living in the town you made and then forsook, to see their human friend again, and possibly to have that friend deliver a comic book to another animal for them. But you wouldn't do that.

Would you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Obscure song of the day #1

The question is, what day? This time, it's Monday. I certainly won't be able to come up with one of these every day. I'm simply not that industrious. These will be coming whenever they come. Hopefully once a week at least, but no promises. Without any further ado:

The Smashing Pumpkins - Set the Ray to Jerry

Since this is the inaugural edition of OSOTD, I'll throw out one of my all-time favorites from the band that got me through high-school, The Smashing Pumpkins. This was the last of the B-sides on the single album for 1979, another of my all-time favorite songs ever. It was only available, as far as I am aware, by purchasing the The Aeroplane Flies High boxed set for like a million dollars. That boxed set included the five singles off of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness on separate discs, and featured B-sides that weren't on the normal retail single albums you could buy separately. It was kind of a gyp for the price, which I remember being something like fifty bucks. Most of the songs were niche, fan-only kinds of things--like a weird, depressingly somber James Iha-sung cover of "A Night Like This" by the Cure--but a few were real gems. Set the Ray to Jerry was one of these.

The Pantheon: Herzog Zwei

Chances are you've never heard of this game. The first reason you haven't is that Sega only made like 50 copies of the thing and didn't promote it at all, they just released it into the wild and said "Live, damn you, live!" This, of course, is something the Geneva convention should classify as a crime against humanity.

The second reason is that this game wasn't just revolutionary, it was so far ahead of its time that nobody knew what to make of it, and so most ended up largely ignoring it. Arguably the first true real-time-strategy game ever released (it predated Dune II by a full three years), it was the progenitor of a genre that wouldn't really become marketable until 1994, with the releases of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Command & Conquer. Problem was, it wasn't 1994 yet. It was 1989. Also, those games became popular on PCs, using mouse and keyboard interfaces. Herzog Zwei sprang to life on a console: the Sega Genesis, home of Blast Processing and an erstwhile blue-furred hedgehog named Sonic.

"I've played RTS games on consoles," you may be saying, "and they are all steaming piles of poo." Fair enough. RTS games on consoles are, as a rule, terrible. But Herzog did things differently, in a way that worked for the platform, and in a way that inexplicably has never been tried since. In many ways--though it was the progenitor of an entire genre--Herzog Zwei stands alone as a unique and now-extinct creature. Nothing before or since has replicated what it offered.

Herzog Zwei put you in control of a robotech-like robot that could transform from a cannon-toting humanoid mech into a very cool-looking jet. This robot was the game's answer to the disembodied mouse pointer that controlled everything in just about every RTS that came after, and it was awesome. What kid in the 80s didn't harbor secret dreams of piloting Starscream? Don't say "I didn't." We all know you're a dirty liar.

Your giant jet/robot could pick up and deploy friendly units, fly them to a nearby base to repair and refuel them, and even attack and destroy the other player's robot or enemy units. Upon death, this avatar would respawn a second or two later at the player's home base.

This home base was the place from which each player could order their combat units. There was a pretty robust selection of these: everything from standard tanks to anti-aircraft guns, to extremely powerful but stationary cannons, to speedy and fragile motorcycles. Each unit could be programmed to perform certain tasks--such as patrol an area and attack any enemies in range, or travel to and attack the enemy home base, ignoring everything else along the way--and these simple programs could be changed on the fly. The AI was pretty atrocious in hindsight, but it was impressive enough for the era.

Each player was provided with several mini-bases in from which they could deploy units, and there were neutral bases scattered across the map with varying degrees of strategic value that could be taken over. Only the weakest deployable units, the infantry, could take a base, and four of these foot-soldiers would have to reach a base safely to commandeer it.

The overall object, of course, was to destroy the other player's home base, at which point the game would end. Your robot avatar could not damage a base with his weaponry; only your programmable units could. These units were purchased with money that accrued over time and the more bases you held, the more money came in.

The truly incredible thing about the game, though, was the presentation. Herzog's single player experience was a fairly by-the-numbers RTS game against a computer AI that was incredibly stupid, and made up for that by simply having more units than you. Where the game really shone was in its two-player mode. Split-screen games were rare at the time, and virtually unheard of on a home console. And yet Herzog implemented a split-screen almost perfectly. Each player could work independently of each other, free to move wherever they wanted, and the action was presented beautifully on both sides of the screen. Sure, there was some pretty god-awful slowdown and flicker at times, but only when massive amounts of sprites were on screen at once. This also led to a lot of cheating. Frankly, if you weren't watching what the other guy was doing out of the corner of your eye, you just weren't trying hard enough.

The graphics in the game were bright and colorful, and very nice for the era. The part of the presentation that stuck with me, though, was the music. It was very synthesized, very 80s, and very fitting for the game. Catchy doesn't even begin to describe it. And in a game where matches could take upwards of an hour to play out, you knew the music had to be good if your weren't sick of it halfway through a battle. Here's a nice video I found on Youtube showcasing the music and showing a lot of the gameplay. You owe it to yourself to hear some if this, if you have any appreciation for video game music whatsoever.

It took a certain amount of patience to play the game. It was absolutely unlike the arcade-style action games that were prevalent at the time, and the learning curve was steep. I can understand why the world at large passed over this game. That doesn't make it right, but I can understand. Herzog ended up being what I consider to be one of the greatest undiscovered gems of video game history. If you missed this one, have any fondness for the trappings of RTS games, and have a willing friend to play against, scour Ebay for this, dust off your Genesis, and enjoy. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dipsy-Doo Dunkaroo #1

Hope you don't hate basketball, because this is something I'll be doing from time to time. If I happen to come across a well-captured dunk in my journeys across this planet of ours, I will try to deliver it to you in due course. I will deliver it with thunderous force and possibly grab my crotch while hanging from the rim in the aftermath.

This is pretty sweet, though, no? My problem is this: is Amare Stoudemire dunking this...or is he blocking Hilton Armstrong's dunk attempt? I'm leaning toward a block, based on Armstrong's positioning, but I've been wrong before. Whatever, it just looks cool.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm even more lazy than I thought

Yep, I guess I wasn't ready to start this thing when I started it. All that crap about finishing what I started was pretty spot-on. I'm a lazy, freeloading procrastinator with questionable hygiene. At least I recognize my own my faults, right?. Right?

I'm going to update this thing regularly from now on...I swear it. By regularly, I mean "slightly more often than every four months."

So here's the current plan: at least three posts a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And yes, I am fully aware that this is a Thursday. Screw you for bringing it up. Other than that, I'll throw crap up here whenever the hankering strikes me. Hopefully, the hankering will strike often.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now that I've set this thing up, what do I do with it?

I'm the Mage columnist over at WoWInsider, so I figure that most of anything I have to say about World of Warcraft belongs over there. I will be posting some WoW-related things here from time to time, though it'll be more personal, anecdotal stuff that I wouldn't post on WoW Insider. The primary reason I wanted to start a personal blog, though, was to have a place to write about all of the other junk I'm interested in. This site will house those thoughts, I suppose.

So when I really get going in earnest, what I hope you'll find is this: A regularly updated compendium of random, miscellaneous opinions and meandering, unfocused commentary on movies, TV shows, video games, music, sports, and whatever else it is that I feel compelled to vomit out into cyberspace.

I hope what I put down is entertaining. If not, this place will remain what it is now: a website nobody knows exists. If so, well, there's still a good chance it'll end up being the same thing. But, at the end of the day, I'd rather have entertaining anonymity than the boring kind.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Well, here goes nothing...

Let me preface this whole thing by saying I know absolutely nothing about anything even remotely related to creating a website. This is truly a test run, and we'll see how it goes. I'm not known for following through on things...I tend to buy a lot of games, open one up, play for about an hour, then never touch the thing again. I have a giant, ever-swelling pile of uncompleted games lying around my apartment, in various stages of neglect, and these are good games.

I remember being a kid, and getting a Nintendo for Christmas. This was the old NES, the one with two buttons on the controller. My folks had raided the bargain bin for games when they bought the thing, and they'd come up with some absolute train wrecks. One of them was called Destination Earthstar.

It was a travesty. Playing it was a purifying experience, like self-flagellation, or drinking acid. It made children cry, eyes bleed; dogs barked and bared their teeth when I turned the game on, as if it was the vessel for some evil, satanic poltergeist.

Who am I to say that it wasn't?

I bring up Destination Earthstar for a reason. You see, excruciating as it may have been, I played that game. I played it all the way from its terrible, terrible genesis until the names of its godless creators slithered their horrible way across my television screen following the pathetic insult that served it for an ending. Once I'd finished it, I returned to it, as an abused dog will return to his master for a fresh beating. I played it again. Why? I suppose it may have been a misguided attempt to squeeze some additional "challenge" from it. I didn't feel I had seen all of whatever that malformed, abhorrent afterbirth of a game may have had to offer, and I wanted to really beat it, to truly wring it until some enjoyment fell from its unholy bowels.

Perhaps my adolescent mind was, in its unsophisticated way, trying to punish the game for being so bad. Perhaps I was determined not only to beat the game, but also to defeat it in such a way that its evil might never taint the Nintendo of another child.


I will hold to that thought.

Earlier, I mentioned that I have a point. I said there was a reason for bringing up this awful game and then discussing it for far longer than it had any right to ever be discussed by anyone, even as the first post on a blog no-one knows exists and no-one has yet read, or may ever read. I didn't lie, though the point itself may not be worth the self-inflicted horrors of making of it.

Here it is:

Somewhere along the way, I stopped finishing things. I have approximately five perfectly glorious Zelda games sitting on a shelf in my room, unplayed. I have several games with the words "Final" and "Fantasy" somewhere in their title that share the same fate. I bought Persona 3 last year. I have started it four separate times. Though it is not found anywhere in any version of the Bible that I am aware of, that particular oversight is almost certainly a sin. I should sit with that game, devour it whole, then pick apart the resulting feces to see what I can learn from it.

But I don't.

So now comes this blog. Will it sit, shelved like Persona 3? Or will I somehow find a way to commit to it, to follow through, and maintain it beyond the initial creation?

I'd love to say...but I think I'm gonna go blow off my Destination Earthstar cartridge. Surely it isn't as bad as I remember...