Sunday, November 4, 2012

Korean Drama: Love Rain

Should perhaps also be known by its driving plot synopsis: "Shit All Over Yoona Over and Over and Over (and Over)".

First, a little background.


I've been consumed by a small slice of k-pop for a year and a half now. I say small slice, because while there is a veritable cornucopia of k-pop out there for consumption, there are only five groups that I really listen to. In fact, they're basically all I've listened to since I posted about it back in June or July of 2011. Girls' Generation (aka "So Nyuh Shi Dae" as it's pronounced in Korean, often abbreviated as just SNSD) easily holds the crown, with T-ara, BoA, Wonder Girls, and f(x) all generally tied for second. There is no third place. There are also no Korean boy bands in the mix. I can say without hesitation that when it comes time to listen to something, I prefer hearing girls making beautiful sounds over boys.

Men making music have a place in my Google Music repository, but it's mostly hip hop. Hip hop has become harder and harder to listen to, though, as I'm just... worn out. When I get in a mood, and need to roll my windows all the way down and crank up something loud during a commute, almost any track from Red and Meth's Blackout album used to do the job, but now I'm finding SNSD's Paparazzi, Taeyeon/Tiffany/Seohyun doing Twinkle, or Taeyeon soloing Hush Hush (zomg...brb in 3.5 min) fits the bill even better. As a bonus, I'm usually in a better mood at the end of the Korean track than if I heard a bunch of Angry Black Man vs America.

There's something huge to be said for not speaking Korean, too. I just ... love hearing the noises they're making with their god damned mouths. I don't know how else to say it. I spent a little while where I looked up the lyrics, but find I actually enjoy not knowing (caring?) what they're saying, and just remaining unaware of the play by play / verse by verse.

There are exceptions, like Taeyeon being put on the spot to randomly perform something, and her just ... KILLING IT... with subtitles. The song actually starts around 3:00, but it's worth watching the buildup to just see that this guy is like "go. sing. do it." and she finally does.




This song is easily my favorite song on the planet right now, and it's a shitty YouTube. I've ripped an mp3 of the YouTube, and have it in my car / on my phone / on demand anywhere. I'm not sure if it's the fact that she just threw down and pulled it out of her ass on the spot, or if it's just because she's Taeyeon, and Oh My Muh Fuggin Gee She's Just Muh Fuggin Kim Taeyeon (!), but I would basically kill to have been in the studio when that was recorded. Hell, I'd likely kill for just a high quality version of it, minus the guy that puts her on the spot.

Here's me, in the black shirt and glasses, and here's you, offering me a Studio Quality Cut of I Have a Lover, As Sung By Kim Taeyeon During That Chin Chin Radio Session:




zzz


ANYWAY. This isn't a post about k-pop (fooled you, right?!). It's a post about Korean Television Dramas. If k-pop is the gateway drug, then apparently dramas are that blue shit they make on Breaking Bad. I began watching one a few days back, have been cracked out and staying up till 3am nights plowing through it after the kids have gone to sleep, and can say without hesitation:

Every wonderful thing I've said about k-pop in this post does not apply to the dramas. Love Rain, which stars Yoona from SNSD, is terrible. Yoona is a beautiful shining star of innocent awesomeness, but she gets so completely shit on over and over every episode to the point that the suspension of disbelief required to immerse yourself in fiction simply does not exist. In a blockbuster motion picture about space aliens, you go into the theater knowing that it isn't an actual documentary. You're presented with fantasy, and as long as the effects are believable (as believable as space aliens shooting lasers can be), you're able to enjoy the show. The fourth wall shatters when the effects are bad; you can tell it's just a guy in a rubber suit, or the green-screening was done poorly.

Love Rain features no aliens. We're meant to believe that Yoona is a woman on our present day planet Earth who would put up with being shit on by a douchebag repeatedly while remaining true to him. He doesn't beat her, it's nothing so overt... he just prances around in perfectly coiffed hair tooting his own horn and talking about how every woman loves him (his nickname is "3 seconds" because he can make any woman fall for him in 3 sec) while rubbing her face in it for liking him in the first place, which also comes to begin in such a ridiculous turn of events that -- again -- you can't believe that it would ever happen in the first place.

The impetus is obvious. We're supposed to feel sorry for Yoona, and cheer from the sidelines for her happiness, but I'm torn between wanting to slap the douchebag for being a douchebag, and slap Yoona for putting up with it. I guess this is me, being a man, not understanding why women want to be shit on by the "bad boy". In typical love story fashion, you need a spreadsheet to keep track of the love dodecahedrons, where guy A and B both like girl X, while girl Y secretly likes boy C, but is stuck dating boy D, who longs for girl Z.

All of that said, I'm not the type to read half of a book and just stop reading it. I've watched 14 of the 20 episodes so far, and will see it through to the end. Maybe my next post will be how it was all worthwhile, but I doubt it. I know for a fact the reason I continue to even put up with it at all is because Yoona is so amazing that every second she's on screen everything else becomes secondary annoyances, buzzing about in the periphery.

Prior to starting this series, Taeyeon was my clear and away favorite member of SNSD. She's the strongest singer, easily, and ... well... is Taeyeon. Yoona is closing the gap, though.

I'll let you know if the ending works out any better, but unless the last scene is homeboy getting shanked in the gut and bleeding out in the gutter... Korea weeping at her loss, me cheering on the couch that he's finally dead... then I think we can chalk this one up as a loss.

Maybe seeing it without subtitles would have helped, that same way I enjoy their music... having no idea what's actually going on.

;)

[continue...]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ugh


Christ, I don't even want to deal with it.



And here's me, not even bothering to write about it. Good night. Sleep well, young prince. This is all very ridiculous.

gzzgagsHasgaHHHgnn~~~ I'm sure this can be viewed one way or another, but --honestly-- I think I'm basically over it. As a whole. I'm more interested in configuring our college's eval PA-500 than playing "Dante air-juggles Thrall in Amalur". Perhaps I'm bitter? Everyone from Penny-Arcade to the bagger at Lucky's is wetting their collective pants over Reckoning, but I may just be over the entire enchilada. Like, as a whole. Maybe I just need sleep. Who knows slash cares... zzzzz... maybe I'll take another stab after the sun comes up.

I apologize for the rambling. This has been a tremendous last few months. I may be Director of I.T. coming up here very shortly.... or I may not be. It's all very ridiculous. LE SIGH. I load up my blog in Chrome, and push "new post", then close the window and turn away because I'm not sure what to write anymore. I don't play WoW anymore, and that was the BBQ sauce that drove my McNuggets towards the PUBLISH POST button. I could switch it up on everyone, and begin to write Stupid Powershell Tricks on my blog, but at that point I reckon it's time to retire Ixobelle.com and fire up Rericksen.com or something equally boring no one will care about. Know that if you're reading these words that I love you, and I know you've been with me through the thick and thin, but I just don't want to crap out ... crap... like I'm crapping out right now, and call it a post. That's why 4 months off the charts.

There are games that inspire (Hero Academy for iOS, Limbo for Windows) so I guess I need to just focus on that, and get back down to brass tacks, as they say... Things have been spiraling out and about, and feel like wheels are turnign that are beyond my influence to control.... did I mention the Director of I.T for a Digital Arts College thing..? Jeez Louise... talk about double edged sword of opportunity/responsibility crashing down like an Unstoppable Force of doom on my face. At least I still got the alias to vent on.

I need to remember that. This is catharsis. This is why I type into the white text field.

I'll be back with more, and I promise it won't be so heavy.

LESSTHANTHREE.

[continue...]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Warrior Stances, and... basically every other class


Why do warriors get fury, defensive and battle regardless of "spec"?

Fury is basically Berserker, Arms is Battle, Prot is defensive... why break it the warrior into 9 "classes"? How come the druid can go bear form as a moonkin?


I propose 3 "stances" per class, changeable at will. Why should I sit around as a Mutilate Rogue and force the group to sit around for this next pull because I want to go "Combat"... why not just make it a stance and be done with it? Why not give rogues AoE, Single Target, and Stealth "stances" that don't require being out of combat to activate?

Mages can have Frost, Fire and, Arcance stances, and can popped in and out of at will?

Priests can focus heal, group heal, and go deeps as the need arises... why limit yourslef PER PULL? WoW seems so full of ideas that are half assed.

Why STOP. WAIT. DRINK. in order to swap roles? C'mon Blizz... You've made it *ALMOST* so easy to swap roles... why not go all the way?




Pushing out the rough draft of this post in order to gauge feedback (and also because I can't be fucked to proof it all right now... if you can't see what I'm driving at by now, more words won't crystalize it all...)

Look:
Druids = ANIMAL. Moonkin. Tree.
Shamans = Melee, Ranged, Heals)
Hunters = Uhhh... Dog, Cat, and Pig? No, seriously... AoE, Single, and Pet? I honestly haven't spent any time in the Hunter Trees, but I reckon a theme can be drawn from each...
DK = Tank, Deeps, Debuff-o-riffic?
Locks = Pet, Curse, Nuke


...you see where I'm goign with this?

Why force a respec at all?




Why not drop it like it's hot?



P.S. SNSD = Taeyeon and 8 other random scrubs, AMIRITE?
P.P.S. The new album got pushed back SLASH CRY


[continue...]

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm the Gayest Straight Guy I Know


I'm not really the kind of guy that needs to have music on 24 hours a day. In fact, having earbuds in at all tends to make me feel claustrophobic, like the music is *too close*, and it's shutting out the rest of what's going on around me. I listen to NPR during my commute, but finally knuckled down and burned 6 cds full of MP3s, since my car stereo can do that, and I actually got the 'decent stereo' option when I bought my car, with a sub in the back yadda yadda. So (here comes the gay) I have about 7 jpop albums all packed onto one CD, and have been happily belting out Utada Hikaru or Bonnie Pink with the windows rolled down while I get to and from work, rather than listening to Michelle Norris and Robert Seagul drone on about how depressing the economy is, etc etc.

Growing up, I listened to rap. I listened to rap before rap even had a tape section in the music stores. Yes, there was some variation in there. It wasn't completely N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton 24 hours a day, but they did have like 4 albums, and when Ice Cube broke off to go solo, he had about 5 or 6 of his own to add to the rotation. Ice-T, EPMD (and subsequently Redman when they got him on), and all sorts of Bay Area groups, too... Paris, East Palo Alto's Totally Insane to Vallejo's whole E-40, B-Legit and the Click, to S.F.'s Dre Dog (Andre Nikatina) and Young Cellski. Master P and the whole No Limit label... there was plenty of rap to go around.

Not all of it was angry black men hating upper middle class white people (i.e. me), there was the whole Tribe Called Quest "Buddy Buddy" thing going on with De La Soul on the sidelines, too, and Ice Cube's cousin Del (the Funkee Homosapien) used to work on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley at Leopold's. His earliest album was just stuff about missing the bus on the way to work, or having a deadbeat friend that used to sleep on his couch and eat all the cereal. Then he had a whole spinoff with Heiroglyphics and Souls of Mischief, and his stuff got a little darker, but for the most part I never really did the AC/DC or Metallica thing. I listened to rap.

And it wears you out a bit. I imagine Metal to have the same effect eventually. You can only be so old and have your music be someone screaming at you. Whether it's screaming about Niggas Fucking Bitches, or The Devil Raping Your Soul For Eternity, it just gets tiresome.

Part of getting older is realizing that a large portion of what you used to do with your friends was pretty ridiculous. I began growing up, and fell into a huge Bjork phase (the name Isobelle, which evetually changed to Ixobelle, is a reference to a Bjork song). At this point in my life, I used to listen to it "on the side". If I put on some icelandic woman oooh-ooh-ing in the car while we went to the liquor store to get 40s, my friends would have thrown the tape out the window and told me what a fag I was.

I didn't really have a good group of friends growing up. Happily, I can say now that I don't hang out with any of those people anymore.

What was liberating, though, was the ability to find something beautiful, and just enjoy it for its beauty. Bjork has an... extensive collection. Currently, on my mp3 drive, i have 318 songs in 17 folders, and this was just what I bothered to re-get after my previous drive took a crap on me. I remember at one point printing out a collection of the remixes of songs from her album Debut, and it was 9 pages long. I discovered her right as Napster was in full swing, and the internet was my oyster.

One crucial album of hers was her Gling Glo album, where she sings in icelandic while her late father accompanies her in a jazz trio. It's this... amazing... CD that she will never perform again because after her father died, she didn't want to dilute the recording of that session. And it's all in Icelandic, except for I think one song at the end (Ruby Ruby). I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, I just liked the sounds her mouth was making... it was the human voice as an instrument. I know the whole album inside out and can basically sing it all, purely phonetically.

From there I began to poke around with Japanese tracks. Around that time I had picked up some random job at an Anime shop, and we had all sorts of music on the shelves along with the videos. It was a similar experience to Gling Glo, where I had no idea what anyone was saying, but the sound of Japanese voices was so... compelling. I really don't know how to describe it. Utada Hikaru's album First Love became one of me new favorites, and the deal was sealed.

From a musical standpoint, I'm sure a lot of people will still turn up their noses. A lot of it is 'throw away' pop tracks with beep-boop beats in the background, and I'm sure if I was 100% fluent I'd be rolling my eyes at the cheesy lyrics, but I've stopped caring. I'm not trying to impress a bunch of douchebag "friends" anymore with how rad I am. When I put it on, it makes me happy. I also eat those little powdered donuts from the vending machine at work from time to time, because they FUCKING TASTE GOOD. I'm not going to deprive myself of something delicious because I'm worried what someone will think if they see me eating them.

I dunno. Where I grew up (Orinda, CA), it was all extremely... "like that". I'm happy to be free of that.

ANYWAY.


Yesterday, I went digging around on YouTube trying to find one track that was playing all over the radio while I lived in Japan. I couldn't remember the name of the song... I thought it was "Lucky" or something. I had a very rough semblance of the rythm in my head, but nothing else to go on, so I poked around until I found some site that listed Japan's top 20 singles per week, and began rummaging around until I found it... Smily by Otsuka Ai, number 5 on the charts for May 2005:



(1:32 only, if you want the full version, view it here)

If you were at a stop light, and saw a grown ass man bumping this shit with the volume turned to 11 and la la la laa-ing what are you going to think? Zomg, totally gay, right? I know! I think that's why I love it so much! ;)

Anyway, last night I began digging into korean youtubes as someone in trade made an offhand comment, and I figured what the hell, right? Korean guy bands are still a bit much for me. Hell, Asian guy bands in general. There's a magazine in Japan called "Men's Egg" that I always used to see in the convenience store that invariably had some guy on the cover with way too much mousse in his hair. I have a hard time taking them seriously.

I found a group called Girl's Generation, though, that uhhh....

Ahem.

Yowza.

It's uhh... Nine Korean girls... all of them impossibly hot, and uhh....



Yeah.

That was the first one I found. Then I wound up on "Gee"... which they apparently do in Korean:



AND in Japanese:



I can't decide which version I like better... probably the Japanese because I can understand most of it now, but the Korean is back to that "just the sound of their voices over the music" which was initially one of the big draws.

Catchy as all hell.



Totally gay.



I love it.



[continue...]

Friday, May 20, 2011

GRfagfmmalslmmbl


I just woke up. It's 5:45pm. Yesterday I went to sleep around 6pm. Pretty soon my sleep schedule will sort itself out, I'm hoping. I'm not sure what time it is in Japan, but I'm not the kind of guy that keeps referring to two clocks during times of jetlag. I don't care what time it's *SUPPOSED* to be. I look at the clock on the wall in California, and know only what time it *IS*.



I'm alone at home with my cat, Macho. He disappeared at some point early on during my ten day absence, much to the dismay of the 12 year old down the street who was tasked with keeping him fed for six dollars a day. He came back last night around midnight, though, and I let him in and went back to sleep.


Japan was a good time, ruined completely by the presence of my mother.

My father in law has stomach cancer, and underwent an operation to have his entire stomach removed. This was a while ago, not during our visit or anything. He now has part of his upper intestine playing the role of stomach, which means he can't eat a whole lot. He's lot a lot of weight. I *think* he's done with radiation therapy, but it's not really a casual dinner conversation thing, and is buried among the layers of Japanese etiquette on top of all that. I'm not sure my wife even knows the exact standing, and I'm pretty sure even *his* wife is being kept out in the dark. He doesn't want everyone doom and glooming, and would rather just put on a happy face when we visit.

We respect that.

The Japanese have a word for enduring something in silence: Gaman. If you're feeling rundown, or tasked with something you feel is impossible, you just put your head down and do your best. In English we think of this as 'having a stiff upper lip', or just sucking it up and doing what we can. For Masaru (my father in law), this means swallowing the fact that he may very well be dying of stomach cancer, and trying to show my parents a good time. We all understand this, in silence, and appreciate all the... perseverance... going on behind the curtain.

All of these concepts are completely foreign to my mother, who complained endlessly about the trip there, and all of the activities undertaken while there. She, to me, sums up everything that foreigners probably expect Americans to behave like in any given situation. I remember chatting on Skype with a friend of my wife's who is Canadian, and at some point during the conversation she told me she was surprised how nice I was; when Satomi told her she was dating an American, she thought I would turn out to be an asshole. Thanks!

We had ten days in Japan, and my mother made it clear before even boarding the plane that she would need "at least two days to recover from jetlag, maybe three" and to not plan anything for those days. I won't get into the day by day breakdown of everything, but suffice to say there were two day long excursions, one to an owl park, and one to miyajima's famous tori, all of which required of my mother that she "sit in the car while I drive, and then get out and enjoy yourself".

My mother is not an evil person. I know evil people, and she isn't one of them. She doesn't *try* to be an asshole, it just usually turns out that way. She has this tendency to latch onto people that she's never met and immediately pounce upon them, hammering them from all sides with a barrage of conversation options they're completely uninterested in having. She usually begins with a throwaway compliment on some itme they're wearing, then she asks them their name. This is not because she wants to know it; within seconds it will be forgotten, this is so she can tell them *her* name "I'm DIANNE, hun", which is the beginning of the avalanche. God forbid you are asian, as you will soon learn my own entire life story, and that of my wife, and the names and ages of our two children, and oh my god when will it stop i'm walking away now, good luck with that.

Nothing can deter her. Nothing will make her pause or hesitate. From "I'm DIANNE, hun", the only thing you can do is walk away and hope you aren't called into the conversation, or kill yourself on the spot.

Anyway.

She's over excitable. She overreaches regularly. She pounces (I believe I've used that word already). If you're in front of her in line, you will need to be prepared to explain every purchase in your cart to her in detail, but not because she's interested in what YOU'RE buying, but so that she can eventually turn the conversation back towards her cart, and from there it goes on to how she has a Japanese stepdaughter named Satomi, and two grandkids blah blah blah blah blah.

This trip has filled her ammunition supply, and she will soon be spraying every intimate detail to complete strangers just as soon as humanly possible.

The one glaring detail she will gloss over, though, is how she completely blew it, and is now and forever cut from my team.


Let's go back a step and cover her hobbies. There's sleeping, knitting, and taking naps. Did you see how two of the three involve sleep? My own wife cooks and cleans and does all the housework. I lend a hand when needed, but she's pretty adamant that I have my role (go to work and earn money) and she has her own. My mother sleeps, knits, and in between those she takes naps. Oh! And she complains about my father working all the time. Earning money.

blah blah blah, all is going swimmingly in Japan. She's harrasing women in the yarn store there, over-exuberantly bowing to EVERYONE on the street, and trying to carry on the conversations she's used to having with every hourly employee she crosses paths with (nevermind the fact they don't speak English, and she knows three japanese words). On top of the fact she's pointing directly at every little girl or boy she sees in a school uniform and OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH SOOOOOO BEAUTIFULLLLLLLLL!!!!-ing at the top of her lungs. She's also trying to hug and kiss every relative, and Japanese don't even really hug or kiss their own kids.

yadda yadda yadda, after every event, when it's 'just us Americans' again, she literally collapses in the car, and demands a nap. This is all too much for her! She's so exhausted!

The entire trip has primarily been 'a celebration of Dianne', but in her own tiny little mind, it's just been too much. Every event has been aimed at her. From the owl park and miyajima (two places she specifically requested to visit), to dinners at each of the relatives own houses, because she wanted to meet them all. My wife's older sister is up on the schedule today, but mom is tired from shopping at the yarn store (again) today. She's literally groaning in the car, and saying she doesn't think she can do it. I tell her (somewhat sternly) that she needs to get her shit together and suck it up. Haruka will be expecting her to do beading, because every single time we bring up the word "Haruka" mom explodes into some big thing on how she wants to bead with her.

Mom decides she would rather take a nap. Satomi and I exchange glances, drop mom off at the hotel, and all hell breaks loose. We come to find that Haruka had left school early that day, which required special permission from the principal. Yukie and Keiichi (the mother and father) also came home early to prepare. Working overtime every day in Japan is generally the norm, and for them to home home at a normal hour is unheard of. They do all of this in silence, as they want to put on a happy face to entertain my mother. Then she phones in a nap, and just cancels outright.


Dear Mom,

I hope that nap was worth it, because you're cut from the team.

Regards,

Your son


They all keep their happy faces on, but you can tell they really don't get the excuses we're giving for my mother. Excuses have to be made of course, because just saying she's a selfish slob that would rather sleep than do some beading with your daughter would put them on the spot of having to react to that news. Where's the Gaman? Where's the part where you suck it up for others? So what if you're tired, Masaru has stomach cancer, you don't see him phoning in bullshit because he's sleepy from being driven around all day. Kids are cancelling all kinds of club activities and telling their friends they have family business to attend to, but you don't see them phoning in any bullshit.

Next day she expects to go see the other sister's family like nothing happened. We told her that you don't really get to pick and choose. If she were to go see Tomoe's family after ditching Yukie's, that wouldn't really fly. I don't think she even really understood that. Family aside, we had some other visit lined up with friend's of my wife that we can't flake on. I don't know if she wanted to cancel that or not, but before she had a chance we told her that she was going like it or not.

That went well, and I think my mom made the mistake of thinking my wife didn't want to stab her at that point. At no point during the day did my mom apologize for Yukie's. At no point was there any sense of "I fucked up".


I'm beat, and I'm not sure if I'm getting the full gist of the emotion out there in this little text box. There's a whole sense of sacrifice that the Japanese will endure on so many levels to put on a happy face when the time calls for it that I've grasped well enough in my time there to know when it's happening, and to try my best to pull off as well when it's expected of me.

I don't expect people to grasp it on the Japanese level, but I expect adults to behave as adults when it's expected of them, and my mother excels at being a petulant child instead. She steamrolls over people in conversations, and generally doesn't give a shit about anyone but herself. One example that keeps coming to mind was an exchange we had after eating chinese one night. She kept bowing to the waitress and saying ARIGATOU!! ARIGATOU!!

I told her the waitress was not Japanese. In fact, the Japanese and Chinese generally hate one another. She looked at me as said "oh I don't care". I told her that wasn't the point. The point was that the waitress probably cared, to which she told me "I don't care if she cares".

That pretty much sums it up right there.


My job back in the states is to find a house to purchase before my wife comes back home with the kids (and her mom, and possibly one of our nephews) in tow. My mother probably thinks everyone is over it, or that it wasn't a big deal in the first place. I mean, it wasn't a big deal to her, so how could it be to anyone else?

There are times in families where cuts are made, but it's usually in-laws that get the axe. I suppose in this case it's the same. My wife has cut off my mother, and I generally see myself as standing on the same side of the line as Satomi. This last incident certainly isn't the only one, but it illustrates all the various ones before it pretty well. When she asks why we don't visit, or won't let her visit us, I'll tell her I don't care. When she tells me she cares, I'll simply tell her that I don't care she cares.


Good luck with that. I hope that nap was awesome.


Zzz.

[continue...]

Monday, February 7, 2011

(Xoom Xoom?)


To make up for a lack of... well... pretty much *anything* for 2+ months, I was going to do a super mega-post, but then I decided there's pretty much two topics on my plate at the moment. My WoW account expired, so nothing on that front, lol. There's basically the Motorola Xoom, and *everything else*, so I'll cut this down to the middle to allow for consolidated "on topic" commenting, with the promise that there will be a followup sooner than later on a more personal front.

The Motorola Xoom. Hoo boy, where to start...?


Let's start with "I want one" and go from there, I suppose.

The Xoom is a tablet, but it's not an iPad. For a while I actually considered getting me an iPad, until the Mac admin at work told me to not bother. I had recently purchased this ridiculous Acer laptop as a gift for my father, when he realized that his G5 Macbook Pro was officially stuck behind a hump in the road, and couldn't run the Adobe CS5 suite. He's an illustrator by trade, and having a long-in-the-tooth G5 was becoming more of a hassle than it was worth. I decided to surprise him with a retardedly overpowered PC laptop that cost a fraction of the price of a brand new Macbook Pro, but he simply couldn't wrap his noggin around Windows 7. He was dragged kicking and screaming from illustration board, paint brushes, and honest to god PAINT to delivering PSDs to his clients, and he'd be damned if everything he learned was going to have to be learned again. The fact that he *still* can't use the OS (Mac OS or otherwise) was lost on him. "Photoshop is Photoshop", I said, but he ran out and bought a MBP regardless.

So then I had some crazy Acer beast of a laptop I didn't need/want. I sold it for a grand, and told myself I'd buy a tablet with the money.

This is when Matt, our main Mac guy, said to not bother with an iPad. His wife had one, and it was pretty much a neat little toy. I had hopes of actually putting it to work, and it didn't really fit that bill.

Let's get this one thing out of the way, so it doesn't cast a dark cloud over the rest of the post: I don't hate Macs. Under my desk at work, I have a Mac Mini, and love it for everything it does. Under my desk I also have two dual quad core Xeon boxes, though, one running Win7 Enterprise, and the other running Server 2008R2, and hosting my own little farm of Hyper-V 'boxes'. I'm primarily a Windows admin, and I do things like manage Windows Deployment Services and keep our AD Domain humming along. But my Mini is awesome, and I drool over the prospect of having something like Apple Remote Desktop available for managing all the classroom PCs. I'm actually working on a Python script that can dsquery Active Directory OUs and push a file out to a specific path on each machine found within, because that's one of the more useful features I find myself doing with ARD all the time on the Mac side.

THAT SAID, the biggest gripe I have with Mac users in general is not that they choose to run a different flavor of OS or hardware, it's the uppity attitude that comes along with it. Whenever staff ask for a new machine, they always beg for a Mac, because they have this idea that "it's just better". They come into my office and start conversations with "Jesus, I hate computers; they're so dumb. Maybe you can help me". Although they roll their eyes at BSODs, a spinning beach ball that does nothing for 20 minutes at a time, or a grey screen of death telling them to shut their Mac down in japanese is somehow a step up from that.


I'm not racist, I hate everybody. Similarly, I don't give a shit what OS / hardware you run, they all crash and burn eventually.


SO ANYWAY. The Motorola Xoom, right?

I wanted a tablet, instead of a 20 lb beast of a gaming laptop, so I sold it (the laptop). Our main inhouse advocate of all things Mac, said not to bother with an iPad, so I took his word for it. The Xoom had just been announced a while back, and it then proceeded to backhand pimp-slap everyone at CES this year. The excitement was building, until about yesterday, when Engadget released a one two punch of how the Xoom was to be priced at $799, and if you wanted to use Wifi only, you still needed to sign up for one month of service for 3G, and then cancel said service.

Engadget exploded, and at last check, the "one month of 3G" article had 1200 or so comments, 98.9% of which were OMGAPPLERULEZorz vs ANDROIDFOLIFEMANGz. Jesus christ, talk about rabid dogs. It hasn't been this warm on the internet since the Xbox 360 vs PS3 debate first heated up.

There were two main themes to the 'discussion':

1) a comparable iPad sells for way less

2) demanding users to pay one month of 3G service was the last straw.

to which I'll say:

1) there's no such thing as a comparable iPad (yet). They were taking the ONBOARD MEMORY (only!), and using that as the compar---ator. Comparisonozor. THAT BY WHICH THEY COMPARED THEM. The Xoom has 32gb of (storage) memory onboard, and the 32gb model of the iPad goes for WAY LESS THAN $799.


Hm.

Nevermind that the Xoom has 1gb of RAM, a dual core processor, an expansion slot for MicroSD cards, HDMI out, or cameras.

Jesus, I'm not even trying to say the Xoom is better, here. I'm only saying how ridiculous it is that these are even being compared at all. When the iPad 2 is finally revealed, we can begin to make honest comparisons. Ranting and raving about it now is just... silly.

2) adding 20 bucks (1 month of 3G) on top of an 800 dollar purchase, and then throwing your arms up and getting all pissy about it is just dumb. Why not complain about sales tax instead? If you don't want to use the 3G service, then don't. At least you can shut it off after you leave the store with your tablet; you aren't tied to a two year contract of it. This is the exact same pricing scheme Verizon did with the Galaxy Tab, and the exact same thing Verizon does to iPad purchasers with their Mifi thing. Yes, you can buy a Wifi only version of the iPad, and the Xoom will probably follow suit eventually.

I haven't mentioned the OSes these run, because it's pretty much irrelevant. The main thing I'll want to do with these at work is take over servers or query AD, and both of them have remote desktop apps that can dial into a Windows machine, so there you go.

The tipping point for me will probably be once I get to a point where I want to begin writing apps for them. I have the Android SDK already installed on my PCs at home and work, and have made the basic Hello World stuff just to get my feet wet. iPad development requires you have a fresh Snow Leopard mac on standby to develop on. This is a problem for me, as I don't have a Mac at home. I even considered my father's old G5 that he outgrew, but the highest that will go is 10.5.8. Yes, I could code at work, but it's a bit presumptuous to assume I would just stay at work, when I have two young ones and a wife at home. I'm typing this post at 10:15 pm with the kids happily asleep in the other room, so there's that.


Ugh... what's the point of this post? Flame wars are silly? Tablets are tablets, and regardless of where they come from, I better get ready to be disappointed? It's late and I feel like tanking, but my account ran dry after never having made it to 85. Warrior at 84 (christ I couldn't even quest, queues were instantly instant for prot), priest and lock at 83, rogue sitting pretty at 80 with a mailbox full of new greens.

I need a new distraction. Bring on teh xoomz.

[continue...]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh Hai


I hate writing (and reading) posts about why there are no posts, so this won't be one of those. I also don't like going to WoW blogs for some escapism, and winding up reading posts about children and the wonders of raising them, so this won't be one of those either. Suffice to say that I don't have a lot of free time. I write about what I'm doing in my life, and I don't feel like redesigning the entire site layout to transform it into a "wonders of scripting in Python and managing print quotas on a wide scale with third party tracking software".

There are three things I gotta get off my chest real quick, though, and 66.6% of that is WoW related, so here goes:



1) Volatile Air. Really? If you don't know, Volatiles are the new "motes" or "Eternals" of whatever element. Volatile Life can be gained in abundance by herbing. Earth and water, while not as common as Life, can be got by mining. All can be farmed from non elite mobs (outside of instances) with an average droprate of 15% for Earth and Fire, 14% for Air, and a 19% droprate for Life (life is intended to be the most abundant, more on that in a sec).

Pretty standard, right? Except that no direct gathering skill that can obtain Air. Oh, but wait, there is. Engineers used to be able to roam around the maps and suck motes of air out of gas clouds since BC. The Zap-Throttle mote extractor no longer works, but there's a replacement that kicks in while an engineer is herbing, skinning, or mining. You have a chance to extract bonus Volatile Air during that process, assuming you have one of three possible tradeskill combinations.

Engineers who took Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Inscription, Enchanting, Leatherworking or Tailoring are out of luck.

This is the first time a trade skill perk has required a second tradeskill be present to function at all.

Yes, there are tradeskills that play off of each other (Mining and Blacksmithing), or even some that require another alt or guildie to help you out (Enchanters needing rods, Leatherworkers needing Enchanted Leather), and there are some professions that are naturally suited to play off each other (Jewelcrafting's super gems going in a bonus socket provided by Blacksmithing), but never has there been a "if you're a tailor, you can sew these patterns in your cloak, but only if you're also a scribe".

There's an Alchemy transmute on a 24 hour cooldown that will transform 15 Volatile Life into 14-16 other Volatiles, but you can't predict what they'll be until you do it (which is tied to the same cooldown as the much more lucrative Truegold xmute, which incidentally requires 10x Volatile Air).

So this is basically me bitching that I can't use my engineer to feed Airs to my two xmuters, like I can use my Warlock who's "farming specced" (mining / herbing) to feed them Life, Fire, Earth, and prospectable ore and Pyrite bars.

I don't really see this changing, as they'd need to implement gas clouds, and they basically just got lazy and were like "fuck clouds, just give the herbs and mining modes a chance to proc Air motes, zzz". My Engineer isn't mining or herbing, so... gg.

2) Honeycrisp Apples. This is the 33.3% of the post that isn't about WoW, but OMFG run out and eat one of these if you haven't. They're hands down the best fucking apples on the planet, and I'm a man who loves me some apples. I had a friend who lamented to me one day that orange juice would never be the same anymore after she drank a glass on Ecstasy. That orange juice was the most amazing glass of orange juice she ever had, and whenever she drank orange juice now it paled in comparison.

Honeycrisp apples are like that. Granny Smith? Fuji? LOL AS IF. Get me some Honeycrisps or GTFO. They've actually been genetically engineered or something to be as delicious as possible, which might freak some people out, but screw that. I'm a big fan of technology, and if we can make super apples that stay crispy and taste like the flesh of God, then hell yes. Sign me up.

3) I miss my guilds. All of them. I'm in some crap guild now called "Chillin Villians", which in and of itself is embarassing. I have to stand around Orgimmar with that under my name. I joined it because it was going to be doing rated BGs, which sound interesting, and I knew I wanted to be in SOME guild for the perks like mount speed and bonus XP / gold while leveling. I haven't interacted with any of these putzes in my time in the guild, and actually find myself digging through my friends list and finding old arena-mates to prospect my ore or whatever.

BUT!

I dare not leave, until I have something else lined up because of said perks. Guild membership is something that directly relates to gameplay, which is what they intended. Good! But, for someone who's becoming super casual as a result of just having no time to play (farming specced warlock at 82, main priest at 81, no one else even logged in for choosing talent specs yet), I feel like if I'm NOT in a guild at all (even one that I don't interact with and chose a ridiculous name), I'm shooting myself in the foot.

Trade has become full of people advertising guilds that don't care who you are at all. We're becoming families of strangers, but we get welfare checks from the government of WoW for banding together and toughing it out, all while still totally alone.

:(

[continue...]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MMOs, Story, and... Penny-Arcade?


Story is the big deal these days. It's the fourth pillar that will hold up the Star Wars MMO and set it apart from WoW. It's what WoW lacks, with its static NPCs that ask you and the next person (and everyone after the two of you) where their wife is, somewhere out in the Barrens. It's this holy grail of MMO goodness.

It's this.... cake... that, once achieved, will thrust us as players out of the dark ages, into the holy light, and shower us in its magnificent glory.

I don't want to burst bubbles here, and I hate to use the cliche, but the cake is a lie. Story won't save the genre.

I'm not going to pretend the genre is on a downslope, but I will say that story is not what anyone wanting to dethrone WoW should be focusing on. You want WoW's subscriber base? Christ, half of them can't even spell. What are they going to do with reams of story? If you want them to sit through it, you'd better hide the "Next" button, or not even have one in the first place.

WoW has, over the last five years, been refined down to it's purest crack cocaine form. You don't sip lemonade on the veranda watching the sun dip slowly to the horizon with a nice book in your lap while smoking crack. You don't reminisce over fond memories of smoking crack last Tuesday while a cool breeze blew through your lover's hair. You run out, get some, and smoke it. Then you chase a laser or something. With QuestHelper, GearScore, and the random dungeon finder, I'd say the analogy is pretty clear. We aren't smelling the roses, we're snatching them up and putting them in the glass pipe to see if they'll get us high, too, because we've already smoked all the crack that our weekly RaidID limit will allow us.

To ask us to slow down and read some shit (or listen to some shit being read to us, even) is not where the genre is headed. The genre is headed towards SmashTV co-op with 25 players. To be brutally honest (with ourselves, and each other), that isn't a horrible thing. The genre may have been founded on the fantasies laid forth in books, but it's moved past that. I view WoW as a game above all else. It isn't a book, and it certainly isn't a lifestyle. People might get fussy when I poo-poo on their hobby, or they may point out that I write predominantly WoW posts on my predominantly WoW blog, but around the time my first account got banned, I stopped holding WoW to some ideal. When I play it, I play it to have some fun.

I don't want it to be a moving piece of fiction. I want to slay some internet dragons. I want to jump around on flying platforms shooting fire out of my hands, not be moved to tears at the holy union of Prince Dinglenoob and Princess Whateverlips. I don't give a shit why the dragon is in our kingdom, just get me my sword, dammit, and lets get to slaying it already. To be honest, I would get a lot more excited over seeing the team responsible for Mario Galaxy spearheading a new MMO than some stuffy bookworm that gets all huffy in forum flamewars over minor lore continuity errors.

At the same time, I've read a bunch of the WoW books, and know quite a bit about the general timeline. I know about the guardians of Tirisfal, and how Archimonde put Malorne down with a Camel Clutch that would make the Iron Sheik break out in a cold sweat. Okay, maybe it was closer to Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Dream, but still...

I read these books because WoW was an enjoyable experience in the first place. Clunky games that don't engage me in the first place don't allow me to reach the level where I want to find out more about the backstory. If the controls are bad, and combat is boring, then there goes 98% of the game out the window. Fuck the story, I just won't care enough about it because the game isn't FUN in the first place. Story can help make a game more fun, but it can't make a bad game good. Did I lose anyone there?


So.... why Penny-Arcade in the title?

Penny-Arcade, like WoW, is an avenue for entertainment. It's a comic strip. Like WoW, I used to read Penny-Arcade's quest text (aka Tycho's post), but now I tend to just jump in there and get the fun part done. I raid PA. If it's funny, I get some some lols (loots?), and if it's not, I just move on with my life. Penny-Arcade is in this weird position where they need to be these quasi role models all of a sudden because they have this huge following. So they do PAX and Child's Play and Ubisoft comic books, and a ton of other shit I really don't care about, Tycho's posts get longer and more convoluted, and every day he makes some "word joke" I don't get or care about. Rather than saying he went to the store, he embarks on a constitutional to the local purveyor of fine comestibles. You got a huge vocabulary, I get it. But every day I get closer to just making http://penny-arcade.com/comic my shortcut to teh funnies instead of just http://penny-arcade.com/

Am I a bitch? Sure. Whatever.

Should I buck up and begin to give a shit about their convention, or force myself to read Tycho's little section like I used to force myself to read Family Circus or Marmaduke because they were part of the comics page, and I should read the whole thing? I'm old enough, and comfortable enough with myself, to be honest and say I just don't give a shit and I just want to see teh funnies. I also usually just accept shared quests when they pop up on my screen, rather than poring over every written word. I want to play. My Kindle is by my bed when I feel like reading.

The worst part is when Gabe gets sucked into it, too, and they go off on a weeklong tangent about boyscouts with Shakespearean quatrains instead of words, and they ending throwing rocks at a chicken for the finale. Or they out-clever themselves with Cat and Twixby or whatever. Where's the dick and fart jokes? Where's the Penny-Arcade? They can't make jokes about Dickwolves anymore without concerned mothers writing them upset emails.

Let me wrap this little tirade up by saying I love Penny Arcade. They are one of four treasured internet web comics that I bother to read with any regularity. When they make me laugh they have done well, and I wish them luck in their towering Seattle mansions. I won't ever attend a charity dinner or buy a tee shirt from them, because I like them for what they are, not what they might as well do too since they have a horde of followers.


Phew.


WoW.


WoW has a horde, too. I know, I play that side.

But WoW needs to stop pretending that phasing is the answer to the imaginary problems it faces. WoW needs to put on the apron, and focus on cooking more crack for me to smoke. These little pebbles they're shitting out down in Gnomeregan and the Echo Isles are lame. I want a big fucking hubba rock. I personally don't give a shit that Mankirk asks the guy right after me to find his wife. I want to be too busy jumping from out of underneath the claws of the five dragons I'm simultaneously tanking to even see that the next guy is getting the same quest. SHare the quest, who cares, I'll hit okay and we can get to the stabbing.



The Kindle is by my bed for when it's time to read, dammit!


zzz

[continue...]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beta Information Overload


Anyone else get the distinct impression that there's absolutely nothing happening in WoW these days? I mean 'real' WoW, not that unreleased expansion. I hardly play anymore, because there isn't much to do, and when I putz around online on mmo-champion it's just data mining galore on a version of WoW I (for the first time, I guess, sour grapes?) can't take part in. Ghostcrawler posts every day about stuff that doesn't affect paying customers, unless you consider that they need to have valid subscriptions to be invited to the beta at all.

It's not a question of "Why so much coverage?" on mmo-champion's part; it's obvious given a choice between covering the 800 blue posts yesterday on unreleased goods, or recapping trade channels in the 'live' game (LF9M VOA10... do people still even run VOA10?). The choice on their end is clear.... but aside from one or two little 'live events', the main game has gotten very little love from the actual devs.

It seems to me that they've all moved on from Live. Which brings me back to a point I made a while back, that Cata feels more like it should be (boxed and sold as) WoW 2.0, not Expansion 4. I know they're hard at work on the next big thing, and to release a new client at this point would only muddle SKUs, but come on... let vanilla DIE, already. Release the Windows ME (Vista?) version that will hold us over until the next full fledged system (2000? 7?) is ready for primetime. Stop putting service packs on the vanilla client.

And yes, I need to play more games and stop IT-ing from time to time. It's affecting my ability to even talk about WoW.

/sigh

Valid question, though: Would it besuch a horrible idea to release a single product (even so highly derivative of WoW 1.0), with NO EXPANSIONS, to last us out until Big MMO #2 is released from Blizz? Wipe the slate, let people get used to leveling again, play around with 31 point calculators, and then drop the bombshell? Since we're going to have to quit and start fresh eventually, why keep putting it off?

[continue...]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Enjoy Your Baby, NOW STOP MAKING BABIES


I've had my hands full recently. My wife has been horrendously pregnant, and Roy is freshly two years old as of yesterday. Konami was due on 9/13, but decided to make an early appearance. I don't do 'lemme tell ya all about my family' posts, because they're mostly boring, but this one has an interesting twist. It's also your big chance to get all the up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-starts out of your system. I know they're coming, get it over with. We chose the name because gaijin apparently can't pronounce Hibiki (?), and while we really liked Tsunami as an uncommonly cool runner-up name, we don't hate our children, and didn't want to make teasing them easy on the other kids. It'd be like naming your kid Tornado. A nice compromise was Konami (小波), Ko meaning 'little' and Nami meaning 'wave'. Bonus points for it being an actual name in Japanese.

Konami decided to pop out 3 weeks early, and we had decided early on to have cesarean, since that's how Roy was delivered after 62 hours of labor. She wasn't due until 9/13, but we were in the hospital at 1am on Monday the 23rd prepping for surgery.

Blah Blah Blah, this is where posts get boring, when people delve into all the stupid details that no one in the immediate family cares about.

The funny blogworthy part was when I went to CVS to pick up the prescriptions. I had thought my wife was getting some basic vitamins and painkillers and crap, but lo and behold when I pick up the order, there were seven items in total in my little bag.


The left side of that picture is what I expected, but then there were two boxes of condoms, and a fancy "Next Choice" box that apparently has a colon over the I in Choice.

Closer inspection revealed that this was a box of "morning after" pills that had the country in such an uproar over a few years back. I guess while I was in Japan they won, and are now doled out like candy with any prescription?


I won't beat around the bush here; I've always come pretty clean here on the blog, and I'll go on the record as being 100% pro choice. There's a time to have kids. After being raped, or getting pregnant while poking around at sixteen figuring out how genitalia works are not the times. I'm not going to go off on a whole tangent here either, except to say that I found it odd to have morning after pills included with the prescription bundle that came home with our newborn.

I'm not sure what they're trying to get across here... "stop making babies, dipshit?" Konami wasn't an accident. We wanted two kids, and now have a two year old boy and a newborn girl. My wife and I are both thirty-somethings, and aren't grunting around sweatily in the backseat of mom's sedan at the drive in. Speaking of grunting and sweating...


"Rugby" condoms? I'm not the most versed in rugby play in general, and I guess I'm pretty boring in the sack; but when I think of rugby, I think of lots of kicking and clawing, concussions, and copious bleeding. Not "let's make a baby" (err... Let's Not Make a Baby). A quick google image search for 'gentle+condom' revealed the warm and friendly


We were warned by every nurse we saw during our four day stay in the hospital (while they ignored my wife and looked directly at me) that there should be NO SEX FOR AT LEAST SIX WEEKS following the cesarean. Like I couldn't wait to get home and start tearing it up, so to speak? The only thing missing in my little care package would have been a pair of cleats for better traction in the sack. But it's all good! After I was done plowing into my recovering wife, with sex so amazing it blew out my Rugby League endorsed condoms, we still have our.... Get Out of Jail Free card?

Ctrl-Z / Undo?

Save point?

...


(-_-;)


Hooray, Konami. Welcome to the world.




<3

[continue...]