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24Jun2009 1900: Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring

This will mean more to my sister than anybody else, I think: this weekend my phone died. My dear, sweet, probably-six-year-old Nokia 3589i shuffled off this mortal signal on Saturday night, was resurrected on the second day, and then spent most of Tuesday spinning in and out of service.

Its timing was impeccable, actually. I had just given up hope after a Sunday of No Service, and was in the Verizon store checking out the relatively new models. All of their models are relatively new. I had picked an enV 2...I didn't want a camera and didn't see myself using the QWERTY all that much, but eh, 50 bucks. Coming from an age where all phones still looked like bricks (and previous to that, walkie-talkies), I didn't need all those fancy keyboard whatsits. Text input on a voice communicator still rankles. The Verizon rep had just walked into the back room to fetch the enV2, when my Nokia had something to say. "Beep", it said. And then again, "beep." I was overjoyed and told the Verizon lady to keep her enV 2.

Sadly, the phone's remission was short-lived, and by Tuesday night it had again begun dropping service. So I made another voyage to the Verizon store and lo! an even more basic phone! $30 and nothing but phone, sign me up! Even the CNet review is kinda like, "meh". According to the official LG page, it's also about 4200 VXes behind. Like I told Twitter, now that all the fanciest phones have sliding and touchscreen parts, I'm able to justify getting one that flips open.

The first picture I took with the camera was my old phone. My next phone will take a picture of that being displayed as the desktop, and so on. Phones all the way down. And why did a camera become the technology of choice with a mobile phone, anyway? Why did everybody rush to include one? I'd get a lot more use out of a bottle opener.

I think the iTunes Store trouble last week was related to the release of iPhone 3.0. Networks just aren't built for that kind of peak usage. I hope last week's songs weren't very good, because this week is off to a bad start with [Mayer Hawthorne - Just Ain't Gonna Work Out]. It's some doo-wop funky break-up song, like the Jackson 5 had to dump their Significant Other Band after high school because they were going to different colleges.

[Love and Theft - Don't Wake Me] is listed as Country for some reason; the only thing that would put this on a country station over a generic rock station is the sparing use of fiddles. Otherwise you've got your basic radio filler, basically unchanged since the days of The Verve and Goo Goo Dolls.

[Bomba Estereo - Fuego] (from their album Blow Up) is probably a bad item to try and get through airport security. When Homeland Security takes it away and hustle you into a small concrete office for your cavity search, you'll heave a sigh of relief that this utterly uninspired reggae-rap is now somebody else's problem.

[Wisin & Yandel - Mujeres in the Club] takes over a minute to get going, and in the end it's an autotuned cliche rap about getting sex and money and stuff. Or at least the part I understood was; Fifty Cent guest-stars and lays down the usual "I'm getting laid" shit. Maybe the Spanish-speakers are actually talking about Darfur and the economic crisis. Maybe they think it's funny that Fiddy can't understand them. I wish. The song is backed up with a post-apocalyptic video that is somehow also outdated. In The Future, apparently our nightclubs will just be some dude's apartment and we will have to outsmart SWAT teams to get there.

17Jun2009 1800: Massacres and Assassinations

Gore week! First on the docket: I want to do violence to the iTunes store. It keeps telling me that my network connection prevented me from buying the free singles, and yet here I am! Typing on a remote terminal on a server who-knows-where!

Secondly, Prototype is the shit. Whoa man. It is a complete fucking blast to just motor around the city, ignoring all the tasty tasty violence you can inflict along the way. Want to Hulk out? Put on your hammerfists and punch some tanks. Want to play Spider-Man? Run up a building and use your whipfist to smack guys from half a block away. Want to play Mercenaries 2? Steal a helicopter and destroy your foes from 300 feet in the air. Numerically there may not be a lot of unique things to do in this game, but every bit of it feels wonderful.

And I guess there's something going on in Iran right now, too? I don't expect too much to come of it, considering how their last populist revolution turned out. We'll see what it's like over there when the winning dictator re-opens the media.

My Netflix is still in the middle of its own Japanese Period. Yojimbo, Rashomon, and Female Demon Ohyaku down, Shogun Assassin sitting in front of me, and the next two are Gojira and Casshern. Then I think I'll have to throw a new batch of movies in to keep the queue a usable size. But first Shogun Assassin!

...iTunes store is still down. Damn.

10Jun2009 1830: Prototype

Let's make this quick; Prototype just came out and as soon as it's done installing to the Xbox I'm going to disappear. It holds the same appeal as the Wolverine game did. You are a super-powered badass that kills like a million dudes without even caring about it. This one does it in a free-roaming NYC, opposed to Wolverine's narrow corridors, and at some point you get to piledrive a dude off the Empire State Building. If I time it right, I may even piledrive them into a tank. Imagine if John Carpenter's The Thing had made it to a population center and was all "F this S". That's what I'll be doing in another 34%.

[Pilar Diaz - Tu y Yo] wouldn't download from the iTunes store. That automatically gives it the lowest marks possible, "country boy band".

[The Sippy Cups - Seven Is the New 14] goes hogwild with the counting. Is this a Nickelodeon band or something? It took me a verse to be sure, but this is definitely kids' music. And then a german accent takes over and does some more counting and addition. Ugh.

[The Ruse - Beautiful Is Gone] inhabits that wonderful space where indie rock goes to get on the radio. After The Killers and The Hives and The Strokes and The Vines and The Shins you know what to expect from The Ruse.


[Rise Against - Hero of War] is the video, all about some kid going off to one of the police actions America's been starting in the last couple of decades. I seem to remember Rise Against is in Rock Band somewhere, but this song is a totally acoustic ballad following a predictable path built from the media reports: jingoism, torture, civilians. It's just really boring; this isn't going to rally anybody.

5Jun2009 1640: God vs Kraken

This is a Scribblenauts video and it is significant. That is all.

3Jun2009 1500: Seven and Five by Five

My new computer is all put together and running the overwrought Windows 7. I'm not that guy that turns off all the translucent window borders and gripes about the Dock-y taskbar...but I am that guy who turns off all the extra icons in FireFox. I guess that -- again like the Dock -- it facilitates having more things open at once, a situation that caused the old Taskbar to pile up all over itself. The FireFox icons just take up valuable space and go through new revisions more often than the word "home" does.

Windows 7 doesn't seem to want to hibernate on my computer. Every time I try it immediately wakes back up, but I'm guessing it's one of the many settings I mucked with in Control Panel. It's time to switch to a new OS anyway; I've managed to stumble across some terrible bug in Vista that is impacting my game time.

My USB headset, a rock-solid peripheral on 98 and XP, somehow manages to completely bluescreen my Vista laptop. And not quite consistently, either. I get thirty to fifty minutes of use, during which there is weird intermittent static and popping (no), and then I notice that my friends are being very quiet even though there are goddamn zombies eating me, and then the laptop falls down go boom. Vista was smart enough (after restarting) to look at the crash dump and tell me it's a problem with the USB drivers. Really? USB is giving you trouble? That's unpossible! Vista also helpfully performed a search and said there were no newer drivers, so...yeah. Time for Windows 7.

Another thing about my pimp new rig: I went from a 1.8GHz Duron with 768MB of RAM and a GeForce 6200 to a 2.66GHz quad-core with 3GB of RAM and a GeForce 260. The game group is currently in love with Killing Floor. Old computer, I had to turn off every single graphical enhancement -- including shadows -- just to play the game, because I need something more than a series of still pictures (ice burn!). New computer, I flicked every single one of those settings ON and the computer ate it up. I'm (almost) not bragging about the box's raw prowess; there are already far better components in every category. I'm just impressed in the way a Victorian schoolmarm would gush and coo about heated leather seats in an Escalade. "This is so much nicer than a coach", etc.

One piece that I don't think I could top is this Antec 900 case. I only got it because it was bundled with the power supply I wanted on NewEgg, and if I had looked closer I might have been turned off by its "extreeeem gaming" ad copy and "Big Boy" fan. But damn, this case is nice. Another area where technological advancements left me behind in the five years since my last computer build: thumbscrews! Imagine not needing a screwdriver to open the case! There's no way I'm talented enough to secure all the cabling away from the side window, but it still looks pretty bitching. And in spite of "Big Boy", the loudest piece of the rig is the CPU fan. Definitely recommended to any ATX builders out there.

And oh man did you see that awkward Sony motion control presentation? Microsoft didn't have much more to show, but at least they spent money on an actual PR video. Sony's Rick and Anton should never have been on stage and I eagerly await the terrible memes that the Internet will create with their demo.

Maybe I just have Beatles Rock Band on the brain, but [Polbo - Te Quiero Mucho] sound like they want to hold your haaaand. They want to hold your mano. There's basic rhythm guitar, slow and steady lyics, and I assume a totally pop-rock romantic sensibility. Then later Sgt. Pepper's horn section shows up.

[Matias Aguayo - Bo Jack Pop Radio Edit] is [Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy] in some crazy moon-speak with a cheap synth beat. Okay, I see on the label it's Brazilian, so probably Portugese. I will take this opportunity to re-link a much worthier song...but I'm starting to think there's something in the water down there.

[David Nail - Red Light] is not about hookers dammit. It is country, and will not shock you with any sort of innovation to the formula.

[Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears - Sugarfoot] brings the funk HELL YES. This won't be remembered as a breakthrough classic but it is going to live in my playlist forever. The keyboardist has epic facial hair, there's a horn section, there's a call and response between Black Joe Lewis and his hits all the high notes we want from a funk tune.