Archive for May, 2008

Metallica, behind the times, and late to the party… big surprise.

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Metallica, late to the party as usual…

I got into Metallica with the “Black” album, and then migrated backwards to the beginning as I could afford to buy more music.  Honestly, Napster didn’t mean much to me – when it got shut down, I didn’t lose sleep.  Lar’s stance on it?  Hypocritical considering their history – but I digress.

I don’t listen to Metallica anymore unless it is pre St.Anger.  I can handle the evolution of an act, including the arrogant poncey pandering of their dickless drummer and subsequent live therapy sessions.  St.Anger sucked.  The only time I found any enjoyment from a track on that album was during an episode of Smallville where Clark Kent robbed a bank.

But that was Smallville.  Metal heads generally don’t watch WB shows.  It didn’t fit.  St.Anger didn’t fit in the catalog or the progression of Metallica over the years.  It sucked.  I listened to the disc maybe 4 times trying to find some redeeming value to it, but it’s true – play every album Metallica has ever recorded from the last to the first, and you will find yourself increasingly amazed at how far they’ve fallen.

I’m glad they’ve finally woken up to the possibilities that online distribution has offered them – but they’re still a gaggle of hypocrites whose last record was an unequivocal stinker.  Michael Stipe from REM could have written, produced, and performed a better metal record than Metallica did with St.Anger.

So that said, Lars, you poncey little prick – lose the kettle drum, get everyone drunk, and give me a real metal record worthy of the Metallica moniker – and I’ll buy it.  Others will too, as the music is still louder than you are.

If we get another St.Anger, do us all a favor and retire.  No amount of lawsuits will ever get your coffers as full as they were before you forgot how to be Metallica.

Which is the bigger danger?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Drinking and driving, smoking, or crystal meth?

I find it completely ABSURD that it is easier to buy alcohol and cigarettes than it is for me to buy Sudafed.

If I buy too much alcohol, I’m an alcoholic or a drunk – both are legal.

If I buy too many cigarettes, I’m an idiot – which as proven by every presidential election since the 1700’s – is also legal.

If I buy too much Sudafed, I’ve committed a misdemeanor!

What’s the excuse? “Kids use it to make crystal meth.” Sure. Kids go to CVS, buy tons of pseudoephedrine, and make crystal meth. “For the kids.” That’s the end of America right there. Then again, they’ve used that excuse for years in everything from the FCC to the FDA to the friggin Patriot Act. Every time the Government finds a new way to screw us, it’s “for the kids.” The “law” states that an individual cannot purchase more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine in a 30 day limit. That’s 9,000 milligrams. Who the fuck needs 9,000 milligrams of Sudafed? I’ve got Sudafed 24 hour here, it has 240mg (per pill) and lasts 10 days.  I sure hope the standard dose keeps my sinuses in check!

In order to buy Sudafed yesterday, I had to have my driver’s license scanned by barcode reader, and I had to sign the credit card reader at CVS in Goshen. Now what, where did my information go? What is it being used for? If I go to the Warwick CVS now and buy more so I have a supply at home – will I get a call from Homeland Security? There isn’t a single facet of our society that the Federal government hasn’t touched and subsequently fucked up.

Police State, Nanny State, you name it, I’d really fracking love it if the people who only seem to pay attention to civil liberty violations did so when ANYONE was in office, not just a Republican named BUSH or REAGAN. This shit was passed in ’05 to a round of applause – where’s the outcry? Probably passed by Democrats.

Sure, Crystal Meth is a problem, one that can easily be solved by finding the labs and instead of busting them – tossing a lit road flare through the window. Just blow ’em up! The law in this country is so fracking backwards – and all we have to say about it is “Obama! Hillary!” Get a fracking clue you mindless SHEEP.

You know what really grinds my gears?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

When I’m out in public, at a movie, or in a store, and someone is loudly criticizing something – just for the sake of doing so.  IMHO, a person doesn’t come off as witty or intelligent by proving just how well they can pick something apart – it simply points out how much of a lifeless git they are.

Doesn’t impress me in the least.

GTA4… Poop.

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Took a break from the Wii for a bit to fire up the 360 and see if there was any replay value to GTA:IV so far… Found another thing that annoys me… where’s the tank? Where’s the military vehicle selection?

Also, whose idea was the pigeon thing? Like I want to go around trying to track down little glowing red pigeons, not to mention – there used to be a benefit to grabbing X number of items instead of some stupid achievement point. I don’t want achievement points. I want armor and weapons at my hideout!

Someone at Rockstar seriously needs to sow the nuts back on to this PG-13 version of GTA before the sandbox title is permanently and irrevocably handed off to the next big thing (hope springs eternal that Saints Row 2 does to the sandbox genre what its predecessor did for it – turn it on its ass).

As for the Wii, I’ve got a pretty decent stack of games at this point, so I think I’ll probably be gnawing through them for a while. My current project – Red Steel – puts you in the role of an average guy engaged to the daughter of a Yakuza leader. The weapons control is unique as only the Wii can provide, and honestly I’d put this game up as a proper successor (in feel) to the N64’s Perfect Dark and Goldeneye. It’s just plain murderous fun.

Gave Transformers an attempt… As much fun as it is to drive around as Bumblebee and obliterate anything in my path – there’s a little something called a POINT which the game-play should have. I really don’t get why movie games suck so bad, and how a movie which is such a blockbuster and drop such a stinker when it comes time to get interactive.

Anyhow… it’s a 3 day weekend and I shouldn’t be typing.

A sad day for radio…

Monday, May 19th, 2008

With the Sirius XM merger on the horizon…somewhere, I almost forgot about the old Howard Stern / O&A rivalry.  Today though, listening to O&A’s show – I heard something and it annoyed me enough to change the dial from that castrated excuse for a morning show that is continuously trounced by the Z100 Morning Zoo.

George Takei.

No, not the actual Takei, a fairly accurate impersonation of his voice by one of the hosts, saying things that you wouldn’t exactly expect Takei to say if well… he hadn’t been a recurring guest on Stern’s satellite show for as long as I can remember.

I’ve been an O&A fan longer than I’ve been a Stern fan.  I was there, writing letters and shaking my fist when they got taken off the air by people who condone child molestation in churches but decry adult fornication in the same places.

I was cheering when they came back on XM Satellite Radio, and I heard the magic was back.

In all honesty though, coming back to terrestrial was a mistake.  The FCC has too much power, the stations are too scared, and the show is castrated.  Well placed BEEP’s and implied vulgarity are no replacement for the cutting edge Dr.Smith stalking young Will Robinson radio of days gone by.  Now it looks like they’re actively stealing bits from Stern, instead of just improving on the shock-jock genre?

What the fuck happened to O&A?

No, *I* am a poet.

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Nothing can perish until it survives
Once friends into lovers, then torn into lies.
A flame without passion is simply hot air,
What more can I say? You just were not there.

I’ll give you 4 stanzas, in this my last verse
Escaped from your prison, a journey through words
You said that you loved me in dollars and cents
But when the time came, I’m still paying rent.

Give me three spikes, and a pair of long boards
While I’m twisting thy words, allow a few more
I’ve abandoned your drama, it wore me quite thin
Left needing to lose, to learn how to win.

I’m doing quite well now, Thanks for the leave
Much time has been wasted, and the ‘truth’ does deceive
The sides of this story, are now two and flat
Our book has been closed, let us leave it at that.

–SJ 2008

GTAIV – Lieberman would be proud.

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Just finished the storyline based portion of GTA IV, and to that end – I am not disappointed. The plot in this game was much deeper than any of the previous titles, and I definitely enjoyed the ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect of the game, albeit some didn’t quite pay off as I would have preferred (should have just shot a couple instead of letting them go).

The graphics, I eventually got used to them. I realize that a game with such grand scope, and such detail, must make compromises when it is rendered on the fly – as was the case with GTA IV. I’d happily call it as close to photo-realistic as I have seen yet in a sandbox title.

The controls, again I either got used to them or stopped trying.

Now for the complaints:
1. No fixed winged aircraft? So what if I want to take a virtual 747 and crash it, it wasn’t a problem with any previous title, and it should not have been with this one. Yes, I realize the land area is MUCH smaller than offered in San Andreas, and NYC has a valid issue with low flying aircraft – but this is a game. If I can take my helicopter through a crowd and hurl people through the air in bloody pieces with my rotor blades – a Cessna or a Piper Cub isn’t too much to ask for.
2. Not enough internals. Yes, you took away the fixed winged aircraft, but every other title had an airport with all kinds of flying machines, now we’ve got a big pixel brick with pixel brick aircraft. What if I want to use that spiffy helicopter with the machine guns, hm?
3. No rampages. Was their a problem with setting a goal of killing X number of NPC’s with a flamethrower in X seconds? Was it too cartoony? Too game like? It’s a game, and the rampage was a staple of the series. I’m hoping a future episode on the 360 reactivates this.
4. Flamethrower? Hello? The flame effects in this game are OUTSTANDING. I should be able to use them on a crowded street corner too.
5. No craters. Personally, I think a firefight at ground zero would have been pretty damned cool. If you’re going to render the city properly, either put in some towers, or give us the fine craters that have graced the cityscape for nearly 7 years now while the dickhead politicians and developers work on other projects.

Anyhow, it wasn’t perfect – in fact besides the plot I’m willing to call GTAIV woefully generic. Compromises were necessary, and some just should not have been made. They did a great job of rendering NYC/Liberty City in all its virtual glory – but IMHO if making the game more realistic takes away from the cartoon violence, then stick to the virtual scapes. The bar has been raised in some sense, such as vehicle and weapon control for an open sandbox title, but it has also been dropped by removing some of the features that made the past titles so damned addicting.

I mean come on, I quit my Warcraft account when I bought this, a week or two later – I’m looking to develop my Mario Kart Wii skills instead of setting a new rampage record. Rockstar – PLEASE – bring back the rampage, bring back the flames, and for God’s sake let me fly a plane over NYC. The 9/11 terrorists learned in crop dusters, not on a Playstation, so I highly doubt there is any reason for concern here.

Maybe in the next two years we’ll see a new episode in the GTA saga based on this engine – after which we’ve seen Saints Row 2 – and many other sandbox titles to come – Rockstar needs to start putting its middle finger in the air again, GTAIV was a peace sign, not a bird.

Wii – Like to Play

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

So after hearing about the thing from coworkers and friends since it came out, I finally decided to get my own. I saved a few bucks, and some patience, and picked up a used unit over at Gamestop in Middletown. The system, plus an extra controller, a copy of Mario Kart Wii, and the steering wheel peripheral, came to just under 4 bills.

I am pleasantly surprised by this game system – if there was any doubt, after a string of less than stellar consoles – Nintendo finally got it right again. For starters – the unit itself, no bigger than a small stack of DVD cases – was designed with convenience and usability in mind. Controllers are wireless, but if you’d liek to use your Gamecube controllers, an SD card, or any other type of supported peripheral – they’re hiding conveniently behind one of several easily accessible covers.

The controls are extremely intuitive. One thing I’ve absolutely HATED Nintendo for was the direction they have taken controllers since the SNES was replaced with the N64. It was like they didn’t want to do the Xbox/PS route, but they wanted their own design – which they already HAD – and thankfully with the Wii – have returned to.

A simple rectangle with a D-Pad and minimal buttons. A “nunchuck” can be added on for further functionality, and a few more buttons. The controls are simple, they make sense, they don’t look like the bastard child of MC Escher and a universal remote.

Not sure how they pull off the full motion controllers, I’ll wager a guess at precision accelerometers – but whatever they do – it works. The driving controls in Mario Kart rival that of any major mainstream racer on the market today. That it is aimed for kids and those of us who are kids at heart and fondly remember the past few Mario Kart titles – is a bonus.

Wii Sports actually had me break a sweat! Normally the only time I break a sweat while gaming is if the windows are closed. Between Bowling, Baseball, Golf, and Boxing – I felt like I was pulling off some serious cardio at the local gym. The simplicity of the sports games is what makes them so addictive. Back in the day of Atari and then the original NES – the graphics were horrid. The sound effects were horrid. The music was horrid. The gameplay SOLD THE GAMES!

The Wii has brought that simplicity back, with a port and polish for good measure. Swing, pitch, punch, dodge, etc… Simple, exciting, and INVOLVED. Within minutes of firing the system up I was an 8 year old in the basement wearing out my big brother’s Nintendo again – that’s how great this system is.

Not to mention – you can actually buy a pretty good number of those classics through the system itself. No need for wires either, it can work itself in to any wireless access point (although punching in a 60 character WAP key was a little strenuous) – I recommend you use encryption if you plan on buying anything over the wireless connection. Never know who is listening.

Back to Mario Kart – Cheers, Folks.

Koopa you little prick…

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

I haven’t said that in nearly 20 years.

Picked up a Wii, haven’t put down the wheel yet. I’ll put up a review later, I just need to go teach that lizard prick a lesson.

I think I’ll try Firestone…

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Caught someone going off about the Firestone corporation today, and asked what they were talking about.

Stop Firestone

So apparently Firestone gets all of the latex for its tires from Liberia.  They pay a pittance to lease the land, and compensate the workers – who toil for long hours under horrible conditions just so we greedy Americans can let the rubber meet the road.

I say – who cares?  Liberia is a 3rd world country, and the statistics that the site rattles off – like a life expectancy of 50 years for the workers – is probably true for those people whether or not they’re helping to procure the raw materials for tires that I generally never had any interest in.

Every time I see some new group come out attacking another American corporation for abusing some 3rd world nation – I see it as the height of American arrogance!  What is America now but a gaggle of laws and unions which operate in such a screwed up manner that these corporations can’t afford to work here in the first place.

In most cases, it’s reactionary istiots (“ist” + “idiots” for those of you in Warwick) who create the precise negative environments that they later decry!

Are the conditions in Liberia bad?  Sure.  Is it Firestone’s fault?  Doubtful.  Will conditions be improved by taking away jobs and money to satisfy some bleeding heart jackass in a climate controlled office, ranting against corporate policy from behind a computer screen?  Again, doubtful.

Maybe Firestone could pay more, maybe they could improve conditions, and maybe they just don’t care… but after all the negative press they received from the Ford Explorer/Exploding Tire debacle, I can’t blame them for wanting to save money at every turn.