30Apr2008 1805: Current World Status: Not Ended
So are you all playing The World Ends With You? Hahahaha of course not. But I was! And I liked it! Penny Arcade linked a gameplay video by the corporate tools over at IGN, and I wouldn't recommend it except that it's the steadiest action footage I've seen yet. It's hard to capture gameplay off the DS. Anyway, mute the video and put on your favorite Japanese hip-hop and watch the absolutely absurd battle footage.
Done watching? Yeah, this game can be pretty obtuse. One can expect no less from a role-playing game where the battles are based on rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. Yes. The bottom screen controls Neku with your stylus, scratching and slashing and tapping and dragging and drawing circles around the enemies. The top screen is Neku's buddy, controlled by pressing the d-pad (or face buttons for the sinister among us) in a certain sequence. Layered on top of this, even on top of the 300 different attacks that Neku can wield through the stylus, you get bonuses for guiding your d-pad combo to one of the three symbols at the end. If you can match those symbols to the symbols at the top of the top screen -- symbols which are sometimes hidden from view -- you power up a double-team super attack, activated by tapping yet another widget. So it's like rubbing your belly and patting your head and beeping your own nose while playing poker.
[Alex Cuba - Agua del Pozo] is Spanish. I mean, duh. But that's the only thing I can say about this song without learning an entirely new language. It's...salsa? I think this is salsa.
If the album cover is to be believed, [Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible - Akai 47] is an pop-techno song sampled from sounds made while driving an El Camino into a lake. While your passenger is playing the accordian. Which frankly is a pretty good reason to put your car into a lake.
[Santogold - L.E.S Artistes] is just a little vocal processing away from full-out 80s magic here. I'm getting a definite Police vibe from it, probably from down in the bass guitar. That should tell you all you need to know about downloading this one.
[The Ting Tings - Great DJ] is indie rock wooooo! The rhythm and lyrics remind me quite a bit of Tilly and the Wall. Bumping this up to four stars.
Rare indeed these days that I hold on to two of the songs.
23Apr2008 1800: Gone A-Courting
Gunnerkrigg Court is a fantastic webcomic, and its first hard-copy collection releases this Friday! You can preorder it now! I have it on good authority that if you preorder it right now with the first volume of Buffy Season 8 the total will be around $30, high enough to qualify for free shipping.
It's a good week for media all around, with Gunnerkrigg and Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The World Ends With You and oh yeah this monster all hitting at the same time. And then next week there's a little something called Grand Theft Auto IV perhaps you've heard of it? And friggin' Iron Man (no IMDB I do not mean The Man in the Iron Mask).
It's a good time to be a consumer whore, is what I'm saying.
EDIT: I was so excited about everything else I forgot about the free media available to me. Turns out that maybe I should have just stayed forgetful. This week is full of unwelcome archetypes. [Melody Gargot - Worrisome Heart] is a slow jazz tune that I guess I'll keep around, but there's nothing to make me desire it more than any other slow jazz. Unlike, say, the weight of nostalgia actually upheld by the passage of time.
[Jil Aigrot - Mon vieux Lucien] sounds like every song you've ever seen introducing Paris in any movie or television show that was not set in the middle of World War II. It doesn't matter if we're watching a biopic of the reign of Louis XIV or a documentary on the modern scourge of the Twingo, this (type of) song plays while images of nightclubs and wine and crowded streets flash past. Goddammit, Hollywood, what have you done to me?
[NG² - Ella Menea] sounds like every song you've ever seen introducing Miami/Havana in any movie or television show ever. A montage of beaches and white flat-roofed housing is currently spinning through my mind.
21Apr2008 1734: It's Here
18Apr2008 1417: Window
So last night I was sitting on my couch playing a little Guild Wars, and things were great. I had grilled up some brats around 7, I had a beer in front of me, Guild Wars was going smoothly...and at 9 PM my world shattered. Well, no, not my world. What happened was there was a loud THUD, a whisper of crackling noises, and I turned around to see this:
So really just my patio window shattered. That is not frosted glass. I started taping across it for some makeshift stability, until I realized that a) the window was somehow still up and maybe I shouldn't mess with it, and b) these huge Xs weren't going to help with the tiny tiny pieces of glass that were bound by wishes and dreams. Guy at work said it's probably like auto safety glass, with the pane backed by a membrane that doesn't spontaneously shatter. I hope that's good enough to hold it for the weekend.
My first thought was that extreme temperatures had cracked it. It was the only door I had shut at the moment, so my warm inside was meeting the colder outside...except it was still 51 degrees at that point AND this is a double-paned door, and only the outer pane shattered. Second thought was a bird, but there's no obvious point of impact from which all the cracks radiate AND there was no bird flopping around on my deck AND it would probably take an owl at full speed to do something like this to safety glass. Definitely not the small wintering birds that are hanging out around here.
So what I have is one pane of a patio door that suddenly decided it no longer wished to be a window. I don't know if it's original to the building, but if so it's survived 40 years of Fargo winters and cold only to give out now. And after 40 years the only label I can find is faded and worn and only gets me to a union.
16Apr2008 2138: Spring and Books
It is finally time for biking and grilling around here. Good thing, too, as there's only so much macaroni and cheese a man can eat (answer: an entire box). It's also warm enough that I can start taking Edmond out recreationally. Hopefully he'll find something he likes to scratch outdoors and spare my poor carpet.
I couldn't wait for the latest Harry Dresden book to come out in paperback; neither did I want to start buying hardcover as it would totally mess up the look of the bookshelf. I had to reach far into the recesses of my teenage memory to come up with a solution...the library! So two weeks ago I went on a library quest. The copy of Small Favor I wanted was at the Fargo Public Library, but I couldn't get a library card from them until I had one from the West Fargo Public Library, and to get one of those I needed to go grind some drops. It was about 10% library and 90% driving, right at the close of business on a Saturday, and why the hell do they care about a reciprocal card if they just hand them out for free anyway? By the time I got to the very opposite end of the Fargos and got the card I needed, the one copy that had been in just an hour before was checked out. And apparently the best way for the library to contact a person that the book they wanted has reappeared is to mail them a letter. In the mail. Long story short (too late), I just got my hands on the book today and that's why you won't see me for a while.
Library books only look free until you're paying for gas.
iTunes is being a turd about downloading these songs, and they don't even look that great. I predict disappointment. (Ten minutes and an iTunes force-quit later) Alright, let's tango.
[Tony Dize - Bien Sudao']. Oh Jesus it's a Spanish R Kelly. Delete it with fire!
[Tristan Prettyman - Madly] has a family that got totally hosed at Ellis Island a few generations back. This song contains most of my usual hooks but oddly doesn't make the cut. I can't tell you how this differs in any qualitative way from Lisa Loeb or Anna Nalick or Sophie B Hawkins, but I'm going to try and blame the chorus. Yes. The refrain bores me.
Ed. Ed, that's mine. Ed! Mine! ED! KNOCK IT OFF!!
09Apr2008 2045: Ruination
I was looking for a movie to watch on Friday; I had decided to get the hell out of my condo and I only had a vague idea of what was on the big screen in this pre-Iron Man doldrum. My cousin to the rescue! "Rumor has it The Ruins is good". And you know what? It really is, despite the critics' common hatred. You have to understand that this is coming from somebody who has watched SciFi Originals for years now. My standards for horror are pretty damn low. But The Ruins is definitely better than 39%. These actors pull through some material that would be terribly hokey on SciFi, and the movie only overstays its welcome by fifteen seconds. You have to get past the one boneheaded decision right at the beginning -- "Hey guys, let's go visit an ancient Mayan ruin that isn't even on the map without even calling our parents or anybody back home!" -- and then the movie just takes a flying leap into the action and doesn't let up until the aforementioned final fifteen seconds.
Immediately following The Ruins I finally got around to watching The Descent. The Ruins is definitely more of a 65%, but The Descent is probably placed right at 84%. It's a rocking good time in the cave, but it pulls the dream sequence scare a few too many times for my taste. That's one thing I didn't notice about The Ruins until I made the comparison; The Ruins is firmly grounded in the real world. There's no hallucinations, no dream scares, no false starts. The Descent has a great core tale and the non-real scenes are useful exactly twice, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth...a bad taste that lasted about ten times longer than the bad taste The Ruins ends with.
[Antonio Carmona - Vengo Venenoso] wants you to hear him immediately. There are no comforting opening chords to ease you into his bland Spanish pop song, with standard Spanish guitar and honest-to-god maracas. Picture if you will a caballero opening for Justin Timberlake.
[Emily Jane White - Time On Your Side]: thank you. Thank you for being lady folk. Thank you for being short, short like Vagtown 2000. Just thank you for being.
[Algebra Blessett - Run and Hide] is trying to trade on the good names of both Angela Bassett and maths, and I will have none of it!! If you are curious, this is R&B in a fashion that you might see opening a movie about four black women taking a road trip.
02Apr2008 : Internet Usability Day
Happy Internet Usability Day! Wherein we celebrate another year of passing through the Internet's unhealthy fascination with April Fools Day, and the return to our favorite sites' complete usability. Seriously, it gets a little worse every year. It's one thing for friends and family to coordinate a few pranks on you personally. It's quite another when the entire world turns its worst featureset and most egregious falsehoods on the anonymous public. Quail before my impotent rage!
Okay, I guess this was pretty cool. But still! It did not impact the game experience and was not a lie!
[Cut Copy - Lights & Music] is riding the New Wave, and there are worse things to be than some sort of time-traveling surfer musician. This band sat itself down and got real high and decided that the most incredible gift they could give to the world was A Flock of Seagulls. But see, we already have A Flock of Seagulls, and Cut Copy didn't give us a gift receipt, and now what the hell do we do with this song? I guess we gotta keep it. Here, let's put it on the three-star shelf behind the Spin Doctors and maybe they won't ask where it is when they visit.
[Senor Flavio - Malito] is some nice mellow ska in the vein of Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Well...maybe not the Bosstones, but the growly guy on the chorus reminds me of the Bosstones lead. I'm not sure why this is a single; this is the kind of downtempo mid-album filler that spaces out the singles.