Wednesday, August 16, 2017

wring out my brain

wring out my brain's tampon and you'll get a heavy flow of fetid ideas and dirty words

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New advances in video game stupidity

I noticed a familiar name in the video game news. I clicked the link like I usually do, to see what’s new, to educate myself, to get a sense of where the future is headed. I just almost fell off my chair when I saw the new Spyro title. I can hardly believe this isn’t some kind of glitch in the matrix. I can hardly believe there are investors stupid enough to throw away their money on inane crap like this.

I really enjoyed the first three games in the Playstation-1 series of Spyro The Dragon. The series transitioned to the next series of consoles in a confusing fashion. Mere years after being one of two big Mario-style flagship titles for the PS1, both Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon were being treated like faceless commodities sold to the highest bidder. There was one that came out for the Xbox and Gamecube and the PS2, and one that just came out for the PS2 and the Gamecube, no Xbox at all and no explanation. Just random bad luck.

As if this weren’t bad enough there was an attempt at a “revival” of Spyro as a fighting game with scattered little bits of platforming elements left laying around between the violence as if to remind the character he was once relevant. “The Legend of Spyro” titles had excellent voice acting and decent effects, but the controls were asinine for the first two volumes and by then nobody was left who gave a damn. They hustled the third volume out after grandiose hints that a “movie” might be possible when pimping the first two titles - the movie a long since dead end same as the revival.

Drift out another two years and it’s decided that the game, the franchise, the character Spyro himself can’t sustain another title without some serious hedged bets and useless boondoggles. I mean, it might make some kind of sense if the actionless figures serving as anti-piracy dongle here was just a USB stick you had to plug into a port, served as an auxiliary memory card to store your avatar’s progress.

But no. You are required to attach the platform and put an assortment of action figures on the platform. Not just one, but many. The gist of the new Skylanders Spyro Adventure or whatever they call it, is that you need to buy another insanely overpriced $70 title that comes with a proprietary USB device that serves as a platform for your Avatar.

The Avatar is a plastic figurine and you only get ONE get three with the starter kit. An action figure. Or rather IN-action figure, since it just sits there like an anti-piracy dongle while you, you know, actually PLAY this farce. Oh, and that thing plugged into your USB port? It STILL wants AA batteries, despite sucking power already. Does this sound like the future to you?!?!

Wanna feel even more marketed-down-at? There are 30 of these $8 monsters, many retailer-exclusive figures. So there's one you can ONLY get at Target, another one elsewhere, etc. Ready for the collect-them-all zombie-like epidemia of the 1980s? No, neither is anybody else!

If your kid somehow goes nuts for this garbage you can shave off a few measly bucks and buy a 3-pack for $20. Let’s see, 30 x 8 = 240 + 70 = $310 total cost of ownership for the entire package. At list price. Which, mercifully, you won’t see for long.

This is the kind of horrific overmarketing and underplanning that populates bargain bins and thrift store shelves almost as soon as it’s released. After watching all the other kinds of stupid ideas flash in the pan and go bust all these years since Pong and Pac•Man I am literally stupified that this could have gotten past the planning stages. Yet another game that is totally useless without some equally useless attachment? Haven’t we seen how titles with exclusive peripherals fare in this world of everything-else-isn’t-like-this?

With the exception of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero phase of American gamer culture, nobody can remember the last game that had a peripheral which wasn’t a colossal flop unless perhaps we’re talking about the Donkey Kong bongos for the Gamecube. Even then they got ridiculed in stories and reviews for being a kitschy idea bound to fail. So where was that common wisdom when Skylanders came up with this D.O.A. scheme to drive another nail in Spyro’s coffin?

One last note: normally when some toy maker tries to shovel out some piece of cross-marketing like this it at least has a cartoon show or horrifically bad live action thing like the Morphin Power Rangers to hang itself on. Thusfar there is NO teevee cartoon or any other show to hang this bad idea up on. It’s just a really bad idea for three different consoles. Don’t worry if it does happen to interest you, it’s sure to be in bargain bins and clearance racks soon enough just like those DJ Hero turntables are right now...

The mind reels, but I’ve said my piece, and the bargain bin won’t be enough to get me to try this steaming heap of capitalistic flotsam. I'll just go replay the few good Spyro titles they made. You remember? 10-12 years ago!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

dodging excuses with reason

So for the most of the last month and a half I've been pivoting between several projects and noticably not updating this here blog or my other places for slapping words online.

I've been keeping myself current with what's going on. The Occupy Wall Street and Occupy everywhere-else movements have brought an almost breath-held bearing-of-witness in my own self.

And that's not from the clips of infuriating, absolutely unwarranted and pathetic behavior of police in dozens of youtube videos and other viral clips. I felt my own incomparable sensations before seeing those.

I've been aware since I first got the ever-less subtle nudge out of the nest when I was still a teenager attempting to finish the previously-enduring rigged-game I was forced to participate in ("if you think you're so smart, kiddo, why dontcha getta jobb? hmmm?") ...that the larger world outside the school system was an even more depressing fixed-carnival of misery and rejection.

I graddyated high skool and vaulted toward college, didn't have enough sense to duck down and take the stupid things about the process in stride for even a little while.

Having not gone-along-to-get-along, I failed out my freshman year and had to return home, tail between my legs, and work for another 2-3 years to get back to where I left off when some asshole stopped the music I'd been learning to.

I partook of some of the clinton-era relative prosperity, worked 2-3 jobs and attended community college and had little to no social life, possessions, status, and pissed away most of my money on cars, repairs, food, rent, and fuel. All with the sense that it was just wasted time till I got back where I belonged, doing what I'd meant to before.

Forward another couple of years and the same education I'd started paying for had exploded in cost, with nobody but a scattered few college graduates in my friend circle to testify that there were few, little, and NONE jobs to be had for most of them.

And I lapped it up, leapt before I looked at least financially speaking. With no elder relatives to advise me, I tackled loans that were home-ownership in proportion to what my parents had paid for their in-state college educations.

The truth is beginning to be common knowledge that I, like millions of my fellow Americans, seriously paid double what my parents paid in their college tuition and have consistently gotten less than half the expected career-effectiveness as a result. It doesn't work like it used to, college degrees are the toilet-paper high school degrees and GEDs used to be.

And I pay off that useless baggage to this day, since the in-state school kicked me out without cause. It's not even worth bringing up anymore except to make the point that no matter how much you intend to succeed, without knowing who and where you need to suck up to most, you're never gonna get anywhere.

The experience of college informed me and made me an autodidact, introduced me to many wonderful people. Absolutely nothing else I got there helped me get anything job-related beyond a callback or an interview - beyond getting a toe in the door college was worth nothing.

Flash to circa: now and in 2011 suddenly the news shows, the talking heads, the fearmongers and the hate speakers are even talking about the things that I've always seen as wrong, since my first paychecks and my first disillusionments...

...forgive me for being stunned speechless and left wide-eyed in what may be a never-ending sense of awe, mixed with sadness, mixed with sickness, mixed with relief and a good heap of what-took-you-fuckers-so-long?!?!?!

Friday, September 16, 2011

a staggeringly dumb series of stupid events

Returning to my blog, right where I left it.

I have an old n busted Xbox360 that I bought used because somebody's kid got it banned from XBLA. Big whup, since I couldn't care less about the online aspect. I wanted a device to let me play a few older titles I'd decided I liked. First time a recent game came out that I cared about was Portal 2.

I hate how much new games cost, how stupid the difference between two titles at the ludicrous $59.99 price point can be, in that some will have replay value that lasts years, others are rental-oriented titles that may take 4 hours max.

How could it be that these things are priced the same? When the teenagers, young and ignorant adults with more disposable income than brains are the market. There is no other reason than greed on one side and stupid on the other.

So when it comes to my pocket, my money, I back up every game I buy. I then modify whatever hardware I purchased and own to play the backups, and leave the original in the case so it doesn't get messed up. At $60 for a piece of mass-produced plastic with dyes and binding agents that could be the cheapest possible source material? Not bloody likely I'm gonna pay for it again.

This pattern with previous consoles has led me to a kind of "sample it first" mentality when there are abundant sources for what many will call "pee-rated" games. If I like what I sample, same as music and movies, teevee and books, I'm gonna BUY the official version eventually, even if I find it in a bargain bin, a thrift store, or a pawn shop.

The big difference between me and the early-adopter, mad-spending lunatic: I'm not in any hurry. I'm not 16 anymore. Bulletstorm and Dead Island will still be as l33t, c00l and interesting six months from now as they are today, for me!

I grabbed a relatively new release from the usual sources, loaded the backup dvd+r-DL. The backup tried to run an update and I let it run like a total chump.

It's just that, being a backup, once the update had turncoated and reflashed my dvdrom drive with its asinine Official Firmware, it couldn't read the copy to finish the update, and went into what can only be called "Flake Mode."

Reading around Ye Olde Internette I found a metric ton of other people having similar issues with the most recent games - a sword I barely ducked back several months with the most recent game I'd cared to bother with, something the kiddies call Bulletstorm.

A common theme on forums, torrent sites, elsewhere: "my little brother/ignorant friend put the backup into an older flashed console, it ran the update and now it's just a white screen with an error code on it. My xbox is fux0red, aside from beating my brother/friend senseless, wat do I do?"

I just kept sponging up whatever I could read about the latest issues with m$ "anti-piracy" efforts. I just can't help but laugh deep inside. M$ can't employ the entire internet. They have finite limits to their resources in the "keep ahead of the hax0rz" game. There are simply more of Us than there are of them. And we'll always be one step ahead. They have to keep selling the idea that they're not a slowly sinking ship, leaking blood into the water, but we know what's true.

Capitalism's days are numbered. It doesn't take much imagination to see it. The internet leveled the playing field, and I'll miss all the mom & pop, independent stores that sold groceries, books, records and tapes and music. But I won't miss the relentless pursuit of profit above all else.

The simple truth? After the download temporarily b0rked my xbox, I read about it. I found a solution to return my b0rked box to retail functionality for a hair over $2.

Since I'd already sent for the sata bracket that lets me reflash the drive, making something I already own have more functionality for me, and not less, all that remains to solve this brief interruption in my equilibrium is to take apart my xbox one last time, fashion some external connectivity for the sata port, ensuring that I won't have to disassemble the box the next time it needs a reflash.

Simple truth? I'd rather do it my way, one step ahead of the spider, cheap and cautious, than the gross amounts of ridiculously overpriced spending most people consider worth paying for these experiences. I prefer to pay for my recreation not in gold or dollars, but in effort and knowledge and skills.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

untweetable just now

if the TeaPotty ruins America, drives us over default brink, they better learn to sleep with one eye open. They painted this target on THEMSELVES!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

talking back to everything

Eddie Murphy was blowing up, going from another SNL guy to big-ticket movie star, in the early 1980s. I went from having no idea who he was, to having seen him without knowing who he was, and then to having friends on the school bus suggest “Raw” to me.

I remember catching a few minutes of SNL between other things got me a rebuke from my mother. That stuff was dirty, she said, and shouldn’t be allowed on television. That’s why they kept it late at night, and it wasn’t something I should watch, wasn’t for children.

Eventually I saw Raw, but before that I believe he had an album called Eddie Murphy: Comedian. Either that or I’m misremembering it and I’m too lazy to go hustle up a specific answer from wikipedia. But there was a bit called “Black Movie Theaters” about how he, and any other person of similar skin pigmentation, talked back to the movie screen at the theater. And how white people didn’t do that.

I learned very young then, before fifth grade, that not only were the differences between “white” and “black” funny, but that I was either neither or both, and never only one or the other. I couldn’t dance for a damn, but I knew funk when I heard it, and felt music sometimes just listening and sometimes when I helped perform it - ripple through me and make me cry tears of pure unadulterated joy...

The slow lazy drift I’m getting at is that I talk back to The Rachel Maddow Show, I talked back to Politically Incorrect before there was a Real Time with Bill Maher, and I talked back to teevee and movies since I was a kid - when I wasn’t speaking the lines along with my favorite characters like a proto-geek oughtta should’ve.

Kevin Smith, another content producer who gets talked back, laughed with, and invited into my home everyday - recently mentioned the 1990s film Pump Up The Volume. This was probably my first big ugly gratuitous geekout. That movie inspired me in many ways - from memorizing it and repeating it like many friends did The Princess Bride, to recording myself a cassette with the soundtrack of the spoken word segments and the songs missing from the “official” soundtrack the senior project I wrote for an English Teacher where I paraphrased, stole, remixed, sampled, and expanded upon the premise of that film - essentially creating my first work of fan-fiction years before I knew it existed.

I compose these words of remembrance, recollection, reflection and humor as I listen to The Rachel Maddow Show. When that’s over I’ll switch to any of the other parallel tracks that I pay any of my precious attention to. I learned from my mom and her mother that parallel processing is not an abstract but a constant and we do it everyday right here and right now with our own two hands and brainlobes.

(Maddow mentions something about Mitch McConnell speaking into a microphone and I volley my banter back at her: “Are we sure he knew it was a microphone, he’s older than everybody but Harry Reid and John McCain?!?”

And WTF is with nation-building in Afghanistan? You have some swampland, maybe a bridge or a used Edsel to sell me, too? Anybody old enough to remember the last Presidents who tried to sell that lie should be jeering as loudly as possible!

Nobody else has ever succeeded building a nation in Afghanistan, if the people there could’ve built a nation, there would’ve been one when we got there. They call it the Graveyard of Empires for a reason, dammit.

How about building up the infrastructure at HOME for a change? Otherwise the troops will come home to a pock-marked landscape, barren of life, with crumbled fallen bridges and roads so bad you’re better off on the dirt. Let’s see a President acknowledge that reality here on the ground at home right now!)

I’m sure somebody could devise a method by which we could test my retention from what I’m ostensibly “viewing” as I co-process or multi-task but I’m confident of the process and can pause, pivot, and flow around what I’m doing with variable attention to the tasks and inputs currently being accessed, processed, created or otherwise manipulated.

The way most people absorb their media, whatever they choose, may be changing. I don’t know if I’ve been ahead of the curve or behind it, and I’m sure it’s a little of both, but I can’t imagine shoveling more shit into my head. The world tries hard enough to fill it with shit. But Jackass, American Idull, So You Think You Can Shit Your Pants?, who in fuck has time for this braindead bullshit and how in fuck did it ever get popular enough to have more than one fucking episode?

Whenever my time is come, my ticket is punched, and the ending looms nigh, I’d hope that you all can put me on ice and wake me back up when my fellow Americans, humans, earthlings, whatever - they’ve all stopped embarassing themselves so frequently with devotion and attention to things which actively make people stupider.

Until then I’ll still be sitting right here, laughing with Futurama, talking back to Maddow and Colbert, writing stuff I’d be too fanboyishly ashamed to even GIVE to Doug Stanhope, or doing my own strange wobble between dialogue like Kevin Smith, prose like Garrison Keillor, hoping for the style of Piers Anthony, and generally being a premature curmudgeon concocting open-source thought-grenades from mere words and intentions.

Boo! My forked tongue and I are up here, floating about four feet off the ground in a lotus position, a megaphone in one hand, a middle finger in one hand, a sword in one hand, a fat black marker in one hand, sputtering out scrunchy sarcasm, muttering out morose memes, tweeting twisted tracts, fanning out our peacock feathers of anarchy and dissent behind us, casting a shadow over the soapbox on the sidewalk below. And we cast off billions of glowing opinionated filaments tangling in your aura, toying with your misconceptions, seducing your straight-laced-ness, and undoing the mundane wherever they come into contact with it.

I’ll write you a shelf of books, produce and design them myself, leverage a history of interesting stories, promise an almost endless procession of deep and profound conversations, and then I’ll go pick up a guitar and a keyboard (and a head full of samples) and start making half-assed music like I always imagined that someday I would. What you got? Where you at? What you doin? Hit me up...let’s take this sleepy world and spin it like a top!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

button action

I remember back when Kevin and Ralph had just started Hollywood Babble-On. Last year. Kevin said something about needing something to close on, close with, a closing slogan, gag, tag line. Some button action was needed, he said.

It really didn't take them that long, busting through as a chart-topping podcast from the very beginning, to come up with several regular segments, a rough shape of each episode, and some tasty, tasty memetic obscenity I need not repeat here.

Similar to my HB-O obsession, I've been an almost regular viewer of the Rachel Maddow show. I remember her on Air America with Lizz and Chuck guiding us through some rough waters. Keith Olbermann is a stand-up guy with a fresh worldview I wish could be a regular on Real Time with Bill Maher.

I know there's "a story" behind a recent notable change in the ending segment of her show. I just don't care, that's not what interests me about it. Rachel has started closing the show with "the best thing in the world today" as an unmistakeable counterpoint to her former mentor's Worst Persons in the World segments.

Only because the stale, uninspired soundbitten tape-loop of GOP State Television over there at Fox Noize finally made enough pitiful whimpering about Keith's segment, weeks after his MSNBC show had ENDED...only then did any response become as little as an afterthought.

Socially divisive politics, fearmongering and religious blinders aside; anybody who stands up straight in the face of adversity and speaks truth to power without just worrying about their own ass...them's the ones you know you wanna watch. They're the ones acting like you wanna wish you could, given the chance. Canaries in the mines.

Shine truth like a light, get sunshine into all the darkest places. Kill the nastiness beneath all lies underwrit and subsidized by offering-plate monies.

For a Republican Party so utterly terrified of Sharia Law, it sure is redundant, repugnant that they pursue relentlessly a Christian Puritan version of Sharia Law for America. With their every waking moment right here and now in 2011. Just watch them...

Eek! We really digressed and drifted there. I didn't mean to whip out the soapbox and megaphone quite so fast.

Came in here to say/mention/notice that Rachel found her button moment, her button action as Kevin might say.

Of brief note today is that I think I've buttoned up a few large tasks, plates I'd had spinning for 3-4 months at a minimum and for some, closer to 2 years. I'm hoping this turns out to be The Summer Of Names Taken from whut All That Ass We Kicked.

Even just on a personal level, that would be just fine by me. I have two hands, I have new tools, I have a fresh perspective. I'm all about making It Happen. Won't you come along???

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

American Cellphones Suck, Give Me Something Cheaper, Better, NOW!

Herein Mr. Rantypants goes bazerk! Consider this your only warning.


The cellphone market is still absolutely worthless, useless, and every one of you suckers paying for your damn phone over again every month are convincing me the pod people have gotten everybody but me and a few other sturdy souls.

I must admit I’d like an android phone. Now that the apple sheep have worn the very idea of the cellphone into something resembling truly useful and not just a vain and overpriced, underpowered paperweight.

The concept of being able to view maps, inquire about points of interest or necessity while on the move, on the fly, in the car, or walking around a city, this appeals to me very much.

Paying a premium price for the chance to use it everyday when I might actually use it twice a week or less, strikes me as something so stupid I can't even compare those who do it to sheep. Because sheep can be cute.

Not zombies either, because zombies can kick ass. The kind of person who'd pay for the chance to do something he knows he won't is the logistic equivalent of a bucket of boiled assholes.

Tweeting, facebooking, goddamn Nascar and couchpotatovision on my phone? Tigger, please! Shoveling more mass-produced milquetoast muck into your trough for the sheep interests me NONE. Those are doors I’d choose to open very carefully at a distant future date on your device if I choose to make it mine. Pay extra? Nev-ar!

I will not pay more for any feature for one single day before I choose to be ready. Get over yourselves, it’s NEVER been worth $89.99-$149.99 every month for a godphone that won’t work everywhere because America’s cellular (if not our internet) infrastructure is an International Joke.

Someday all these zombie-sheep will wake up and cast your dimwitted capitalistic hubris into the lake, tied to a large stone! And I will still be laughing.

The device should damn well be able to PLAY anything I choose to load or throw at it, nimble as VLC and ready to stop on a dime and let me scratch video back and forth if I choose to. This isn’t rocket surgery.

Phone as camera? Normally I could care less if it takes pictures or video, sure that’s nice and all but I will never pay extra for it.

If it’s there at all it had better be 3mp and capable of video no less than NTSC 640x480 29.97 fps or just don’t bother. Decent zoom is mandatory during video as well as stills, and not locked but zooms in/out DURING recording, and the jitter control better be above-average to amazing, or don’t even bother.

The display had best be large, if not the entire face of the device. No flip phones, no double-wide suppositories. Touchscreen or easy FULL size dialpad and full qwerty, with no slider or crackberry form factor, either. Thin and narrow enough to be pocket sized is absolute, anything bigger invites being smashed by a hammer.

Just like any monthly cost above $29.99 for full internet, unlimited text and free to your mate’s handset regardless of carrier - anyone denying you these basic necessities deserves being hit with a hammer, too!

So just in review, starting from a product called the Samsung Replenish and extrapolating the desired experience, let us state that the product may require a 2-year contract. This is a new concession I have made, it has been a long time coming, and it is marginally acceptable if the rest of my terms are met without complaint.

The monthly rate locked in for the life of the contract, with no overage fees EVER agreed to never ever ever, maxes out at $29.99 for a period of 24 months.

With this fee there is free long distance after 8pm;
unlimited internet use;
unlimited text messages;
optional add-on for video or image messaging
beginning at $2.99 per month for 250 messages;
GPS capabilities at extremely reasonable rates;
option to lock out Nascar and television completely
without express, specific consent;

and an optional $3.99 monthly equipment protection plan that replaces the phone via USPS with tracking/delivery confirmation for your replacement within 48 hours.

Let’s see it, America, right now. Give me what I want, baby! Meet my demands, show me you still know how to do anything better than everybody else does.

I’ll be right here, waiting...and not accepting any less than I know you can provide.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Resurrecting Advertising

I know, I know. Any of you actually reading this who've known me in meatspace will say "but don't you hate ads and turn them off any chance you get?"

I do. But bear me out.

I grew up hearing WCCO AM radio in the car because we waz poor white trash who couldn't afford an FM radio, let alone an 8-track deck in the dash, or Star-Trek-worthy unimaginable things like Powered Windows or Air Conditioning. Not for us, nope.

Anyway, WCCO did live spots. Ads read live on air from prepared copy, but often ad-libbed, peppered with topicality, and improved in the process.

Flash forward 2011 and I'm sitting hear listening to Kevin Smith and his lovely wife Jen Schwalbach doing their Plus One Per Diem daily radio show on the internet. (Or a podcast. I think you can get it any way but mainlining it, honestly. And somebody's sure to figure out a way to do that soon enough.)

I do not like ads. I hate it when youtube or hulu or whoever just zaps a totally random-length ad before a clip that may be SHORTER than the damned ad. Hello, stupid! Thy name is Advertising.

But then Kevin and Jen start doing live spots. And they remind me why I didn't mind Boone & Erickson or the Cannon Mess doing their stupid live spots, and I didn't tune them out or turn them off. This sh-t is funny!

Jennifer and Kevin can flub their lines, goof off, laugh, start over, berate each other, support each other. There's so many ways the understanding provided by a background in their Plus One weekly podcast will make these ads transcend their capitalist intent, it's just unreal.

So I say to Fox and whoever else still cares to shovel their advertising shite into prime time teevee: want viewers to stay for the ads? Get your stars to do a few live spots like Lucy and Ricky and Ed Sullivan had to do. Let them have leeway to screw it up or make it better, and people are gonna stay TUNED for that spot.

It's not like you haven't figured this out, youse Ad Media in general. There's great examples of breaking the paradigm more often lately than in previous decades, from this lapsed teevee viewer's perspective.

But I just noticed I don't listen to the streams of Kev/Jen on SIR, I listen to the podcasts. I press pause and step away for a minute, often. So I found myself just now pausing them in the midst of another live spot ad.

And I thought to myself: "Whatsamattayou?" for just a second before noticing that I actually WANT to hear this one.