Thursday, December 29, 2005


Yep, new avatar picture. That's me. It's highly stylized (oh how I love thee, Photoshop), but I think it looks badass. Very Marv-ish.

That's all for today, just the pic. For New Year's Eve I'm heading down to the Bob Hope Theatre (formerly the Fox) with Justin to rock out with some Van Halen and AC/DC cover bands. Should be awesome. Have a safe one, folks, see you in 2006.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This is your life

Ran across a link to a "Life Rating" quiz today, right here. Of course, I had to take it.

My results look like this.
This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

First off, don't cry for my love life. Sure, a .8 looks bad, but that's because the questions were loaded. Yes, I'm single and don't have prospects on the horizon, but that doesn't mean I'm unhappy with my situation. Far from it, actually.

I also have to take issue with the Friends and Family score. I love my immediate family, don't need my extended family (bunch of redneck, racist, bible-thumping assholes anyway), and I have a great core group of friends.

Now that I look at it, most of these scores are a bit off. The Body score could actually be a bit lower. I suffer from FBS (fat bastard syndrome), although I don't necessarily care who knows it, and it doesn't have an effect on my self esteem. And the Finance score shouldn't be that high. I have a steady, decent paying job, but I'm working on a mountain of college debt (not as big a mountain as some people have, granted, but it's a mountain to me).

So my life, rated, isn't very accurate. But it was a fun time waster.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Guitar players: Heroes of our modern age

I have a newfound respect for guitar players. I always knew, on some level, that the skill necessary to play a guitar was one worthy of reverence. That became more evident when I got my first "real" guitar and began the long journey of learning to play (one which I have stalled on, but that's another tale). But today, I look upon guitarists with sheer awe.

For I have attempted to play "Bark at the Moon" on Medium difficulty in Guitar Hero. I know what you're thinking. Medium? You're a chump who doesn't deserve to call himself a gamer. But I ask you to pause in your verbal bashing of my gaming skills. Bark at the Moon on Medium is incredibly hard, almost impossible. The speed and precision required to even get halfway through the song is incredible. And this is with a guitar shaped controller with 5 fret buttons (of which only 4 are used on the song) and a strum bar that replaces the 6 strings commonly found on a guitar.

Zakk Wylde, the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne on Bark at the Moon, is a god among men. If you've heard the song before, you have an idea of the flurry of notes he plays, particulary in the solo. For a better idea of what playing the song is actually like, check out this tablature. A quick primer on guitar tabs: The table is laid out where each row represents one of the 6 strings, and each column is a note or chord that's played. The numbers represent the fret the guitarist places his finger on the string in order to produce that note or chord. A 0 is an open string. The lower the number, the lower the note (higher on the fret board), and frets are numbered from 1 to 20-something.

The tab doesn't give you any idea of the tempo, but it's fast. Just looking at that tab gives me the shivers. It's a bit hard to visualize if you've never practiced fingering on the fretboard of a guitar, but take it from me: Bark at the Moon is a finger-melter as much as it is a face-melter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

There's no place I can be, since I found Serenity

For any of you who have been living under a damn rock, Serenity hit the streets today (actually yesterday according to the post time, but WTF) on DVD. I haven't gotten my copy yet, as I heard tell it's something of a Christmas present, but I did purchase 3 copies to give others as gifts. So what are you waiting for? Go forth, and buy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Just one of them days...

I promise I'm not going to whine and bitch about work like I used to on this blog, and most people do every day on their blogs, but allow me this one tiny complaint. Is it too much to ask that we be nice to each other? I'm not requesting we blow smoke up each others asses, but at least be civil, and polite.

After all, it's the holiday season. If we can't be nice to each other now, when can we? There's no need to yell, or be rude. For the record, I have no problem with cursing (is that obvious? Fuckin A it is). But if you're going to get all worked up over something, why not tell someone who can actually do something about it? I just work here, buddy. You got problems with the man? So do I. Take it up with him, but don't get all pissy with me about it, and threaten to sue, or cancel your membership, or hang up on me because you don't like the truth. Fuck you.

Now I know why postal workers are notorious for going crazy and shooting a bunch of people. Dealing with the dregs of society day after day can really get on your fucking nerves.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Miscellaneous Stuff

Here's a couple of things that have been on my mind this weekend, that are important enough to write about, but not important enough to merit their own post.

I saw Syriana on Saturday. Good flick, closest compared with Traffic. I liked Traffic, but for some reason, found it harder to follow than Syriana, which many people have complained about. I didn't find Syriana hard to follow at all. The trick is paying attention. A lot of American theatre-goers like to shut their brains off when the lights go down, but Syriana's not that kind of movie, and it can't be faulted for that.

Even so, I can't complain too much about the American theatre-goers, as enough of them went to see Syriana in it's opening weekend that it opened at #2, up against the Christian behemoth that is Narnia. Good on you, folks, although you're still not off the hook for passing on Serenity (which is still the best movie of 2005, in my book).

I also got Guitar Hero delivered to my door on Saturday. If I didn't already own a PS2, I'd seriously consider buying one just for this game. It comes with a guitar, for chrissakes. Sure, it's a guitar controller, but damn if it isn't badass. And you get to rock the house with it. It's extremely satisfying to nail a complicated riff, then tilt the guitar vertically and melt the audience's faces with a solo. If only playing a real guitar was this easy to pick up and start rocking out with.

Finally, I recently discovered Farscape. Let me rephrase that. I actually watched the first few episodes of Farscape, as I'd never seen a single one before. I had heard about it, sure, and had even gone so far as to look up the boxed sets on Amazon. It was then that I took a step back, as the price was outrageous (something like 120 bucks a season). But I finally rented the first disc from Netflix, and it's pretty good. It hasn't blown me away, but it's certainly got my attention. Now the only problem is juggling all the TV shows I'm in the middle of watching on DVD and on broadcast TV.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Number 2 isn't as bad as you think

Rumors continue to swirl around Nintendo's next-gen console, code-named Revolution. We know what the controller and the unit itself will look like, but not much else. It might be twice as powerful as the Gamecube; it might use standard DVD5's and DVD9's as its medium; it might have free downloadable first party retro titles and pay-for-play third party retro titles; it might sell for $150 or less at launch; it might have free, wireless online play; it might have new games that sell for $50; it might come out in time for Christmas in 2006.

We just don't know for sure. Even if half those rumors are true, or have some bit of truth to them (especially the launch price), I think Nintendo stands a very good chance of coming in at a solid #2 in the console wars this time around. And #2 is not a bad place to be, especially for Nintendo right now.

I've said this before, but if Nintendo is in last place this time around, they're done as a hardware developer. It happened to Sega, and it'll happen to Nintendo. I really don't want to see that happen, since I think Nintendo has some truely interesting ideas, and I've been a fan or theirs since I was 5. But the console market only has room for two consoles, not 3.

I think Microsoft will come out on top, regardless of what I consider a very poor launch (though the general consensus seems to be "best launch ever"), for a number of reasons. They launched the 360 at least 6 months (probably closer to a year) before anyone else will launch their next-gen offerings, they've got (I believe) the most powerful console, they've got a solid list of upcoming titles, and they have a strong, consistent vision for the direction and purpose of their console. That last bit is something Sony is sorely lacking.

Which is why I think Sony is dead last. It takes balls to predict a turnaround from first to worst, but I got balls like you wouldn't believe. Sony would like us to think the PS3 will hit Spring 2006, but from what I've read, they're not even close to Spring 2006, and I would be surprised if they managed to launch next year at all. Scratch that, I think they'll bust their asses to launch at Christmas 2006, but it will be a huge mistake. There were manufacturing shortages of the 360, and it was actually ready to launch. If Sony tries to bring out the PS3 next winter, not only will there be shortages, the first generation of hardware will have serious issues (anyone remember the first generation of the PS1 having a heatsink that didn't work? I do). Not only that, but what compelling reasons are there to buy a PS3? Blu-ray? I can buy a standalone player if Blu-ray actually becomes the dominant format. Games? Sony has an exclusive with MGS4, but I stopped caring about the MGS games after the travesty that was MGS2. Sony also has Gran Turismo, which Forza Motorsport put to shame. And the Grand Theft Auto games eventually came to Xbox. Controller design? I don't need a fucking Batarang, thanks.

The way I see it, there's no reason for Nintendo not to end up in second place.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Backwards compatibility, my ass

Backwards compatibility, for me anyway, has never been a strong selling point on a console. I don't get rid of my old systems, so if I ever felt the urge to boot up the original cartridge of TMNT: the Arcade game, I could; assuming I wanted to go to the trouble of hooking up my NES and cleaning both it and the game first. The point is, it's there, should I want to.

Like I said, I never really gave backwards compatibility a second thought until this weekend. Justin came over, and wanted to play some Bushido Blade 2 (which is, arguably, the best fighting game ever. I mean, ninjas and swords and one hit kills? Badass, man) for the PS1. Hey, whaddya know, my PS2 is backwards compatible, so I don't have to pull my PS1 out and hook it up.

So we were playing, trading off against the CPU, and unlocked some secret characters. At the end of the story mission, it asked if we wanted to save. Of course. The PS2 looked for the memory card, and then popped up with, "Memory card was removed." No, it wasn't. It had been there the whole time. I thought maybe it didn't like the PS2 memory card, so I dug out one of my old PS1 cards and tried again. "Memory card was removed." Bullshit, mother fucker. So I didn't save, and went to the memory card manager, thinking there might not be enough space on the card. Nope, that wasn't the problem, either.

So, even though Sony hyped the shit out of the PS2 being backwards compatible (the first console to do so, if I remember correctly, although I believe Nintendo might have beat them to the punch in the overall market with their handheld Game Boy something or other), it's really not. Why should I bother playing a PS1 game on my PS2 if I can't save my fucking progress?

Here's what really pisses me off, though: there are PS1 emulators for the PC that are capable of saving my progress just fine. Emulators, that, might I add, a group of folks coded in their spare time, for no money. Why did Sony bother paying their employees to emulate their PS1 poorly when they could have payed people that would have done the job right?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I love it, but TV sucks

It really does. For each one of the handful of shows that I watch on a regular basis, there's a vast wasteland of bullshit out there on the dial. For every Smallville, there's a 7th Heaven. For every Veronica Mars, there's an OC. For every Bones, there's a CSI: Hoboken. For every Lost, there's a Survivor 47: Guam. And for every one of the handful of shows that I enjoy that have played out their run in its entirety, there's a fuck-ton of great shows that have been mercilessly cut down in their prime.

I could run down the list of fantastic shows that Fox alone has cancelled, but we could be here a while. Instead, I'll talk a bit about two of Fox's newest shows that I really like, but probably aren't going to make it into their sophomore years.

1. Prison Break. Sure, the plot holes are big enough to drive a truck through, but who gives a shit? It's fucking entertaining, as long as you don't think about it logically. And it was doing real well for Fox on Monday nights. So what do they do? 13 episodes in, it's done until March. That's 4 months with no new episodes. 4 months? Americans would forget about their own kids if they didn't see them in 4 months, they're damn sure going to forget about a TV show. Why does Prison Break have to go on a 4 month long hiatus? So Fox can make room for "Ice Skating with the Stars."

2. Bones. Certainly the best crime drama I've seen, and that's not just because David Boreanaz is in it. Fox recognizes that they've got a hit with this show, but what are they doing? After a month long "winter hiatus" coming up at the end of this month, they're moving it from a prime spot Tuesdays at 8 to a murderous slot on Wednesdays at 9. Why is Wednesdays at 9 murderous? Because that's Lost's timeslot, not to mention Veronica Mars, who's no lightweight. And why, pray tell, would Fox do this? To make room for American Idol, that's why. American Idol has to take up two, count em, two prime slots: Tuesday and Wednesday at 8, one hour for performances, and one hour for results. I'll give you one guess why they're not putting the results show on Wednesday at 9, like they used to. That's right, so it doesn't go up against Lost. As if enough people didn't already get the results straight from the internet, they want to give everybody the opportunity to watch it on TV for a whole fucking hour, and let Bones deal with Lost.

Fan-fucking-tastic, Fox. Let me get this straight: you're intentionally killing (or at least, throwing to the dogs) two breakout hit shows so you can....put on more reality TV? People love the American Idol, they gotta have their Idol. But what the fuck is Ice Skating with the Stars? Who the hell watches this horseshit? I certainly don't. And why the hell is Survivor still on? I don't fucking care if it's not a Fox show. Did you know that piece of excrement is in its 11th season? It premiered in 2000, and has never not been on TV since for more than a 5 month stretch of time. That's enough proof for me that there is no god.