Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting caught up... (long post.. get a snack)

Lots of things have happened since I was away from the internet... Xbox Live got grown up, babies were born, quasits were encountered, games were played, holidays went by, and holidays approach... lets get caught up!

Basically things haven't really changed all that much.  Still living in one half of a partially remodelled house.  It took forever to get an internet connection, I was on the phone with ComCast many times.. but eventually just gave up.   So no cable TV, but I got a DSL line from the phone company, and so far its a pretty fast connection (I have only ever used cable modems before and wasn't sure if this was equal to it or not, seems to be though).  It was also really easy to setup.  I think I can even get an upgrade to the speed as well...

Was finally able to upgrade my Xbox to the New Xbox Experience (NXE) and I have to say I am impressed.  They really cleaned up the interface.  The avatars are kinda silly, but cool.  I was actually able to get mine to look like me, as did some of my friends... though Chaosturtle looks like a Mexican...   Some other features I really like are the "Install to Hard Drive" feature which lets you load a game onto the HD of the 360 instead of running it from the disc.  I speeds up load times, and keeps the 360 from making so much noise when it spins the disc.  A really nice feature.  And one of the best features is Netflix.  Being able to watch TV and movies from the Netflix library, streamed instantly to the 360 is awesome.  between the 360/Netflix and iTunes/ on my computer.. I really have no need to cable TV.  Instead of paying money for a crapton of channels that I never watch, I can pay (or stream for free at times) only the shows I want to watch.   I have been playing a couple new XBLA games as well, mainly Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (long title) and its pretty awesome.. but I have to say.. Akuma is a fraking bitch.  I cannot fraking beat him... I spent (literally) an hour trying to defeat him today (mainly to get the achievement) and could not do it.. and this is on the EASY difficulty people.   I salute those of you who may be able to do it.  I also went online to play a few ranked matches... it plays soo much nicer online that the other Street Fighter did over Xbox Live... this one played buttery smooth.  Though I did not exactly play quite as smoothly... I went 4-4 for the day.. and I think I am ranked somewhere in the 28,000s... but there were some great matches.  I had an awesome match with Chun-li vs. Ken (in which I came back from a two round disadvantage, the ranked matches are all best of five rounds), and a real tough fight against M. Bison using E. Honda... good fun.  This should tide me over until Street Fighter 4 comes out.  Speaking of which... the special collector's edition of the game was announced...  I gave up buying these limited editions of games because after a while I realized that most of the stuff in the box/tin I never use.  That being said... Street Fighter 4 is all together different... and I already pre-ordered the Collector's edition. :)  (it comes with anime and action figures!)
I also bought Castle Crashers... which is a ton of fun.  Basically a re-done gauntlet.. hack-n-slasher... its very funny and has some awesome music.  Can't wait to try it co-op sometime...  I am still playing Fable 2 , which is simply fantastic.  I beat the game with my good aligned character, and have started again as an evil character.. though after you beat the game it doesn't stop, it just keeps going, there are still loads of things to do in the world... so I am playing both my characters at the moment... and I also bought one of the most original games I have played in a long time.. a game called Mirror's Edge.  Its hard to describe... its like an FPS, but without the guns.  And it is awesome.

Beyond getting caught up on my gaming.. I have been watching the Clone Wars episodes I was behind on... and man, there were some awesome episodes in there... one in particular called Cloak of Darkness, was just awesome.  It featured one of my favorite characters, Assaj Ventress, as well as, Luminara Unduli, a pretty cool jedi who had been featured (albeit very briefly) in Episode 2 (and in the original Clone Wars cartoon).  This exploration of only glimpsed at charcters (maoinly jedi) was one of the things I was most looking forward to.. hopefully more jedi are on the horizon.  I am still hoping Shaak Ti will make an appearance sometime in the series.  She was in the original Clone Wars cartoon, and is one of my favorite jedi.  I have always liked the design of her character.  

She was killed in one of the deleted scenes from Episode 3, but since it was a deleted scene it is not considered canon.  And then she turns up in The Force Unleashed videogame (which is canon) and she dies in there too... you actually kill her when you play, she is one of the bosses...  but these all happen after the Clone Wars.. so she can still show up in the cartoon... I hope. :)  (in an interesting aside.. Shaak Ti's name comes from the Hindu word shakti which means "sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that move through the entire universe. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as The Great Divine Mother" --  from wikipedia).  Back on topic, the Clone Wars cartoon is good, very enjoyable, especially if you are an un-jaded Star Wars fan.  

The other show I have been downloading and watching is Legend of the Seeker.  Which really surprised me... because it is really good.  Very rarely do these fantasy 1-hour dramas ever turn out good on TV... but this one, so far, is excellent.  They, of course, mess with the plot from the book quite a bit... but once you get over that fact, you realize that the characters are very true to the way they were in the books.  I was very pleased with the actress playing Kahlan.. besides being gorgeous, she fits the role very well.  I was; however, not pleased with the gar.  Gars are one of the signature creatures of the Sword of Truth series... but man, it looked crappy in the show...  There are of course some staple issues that turn up in all these fanatsy shows that you just have to get used to... there always seems to be a snarky/goofy character that shows up in a bit part every once in a while, and there are alot of flat character actors filling in the villains... oh, and all the women in this world have perfect breasts (and all of their dresses are cut low in the front) unless they are playing an old woman.

On top of those two shows.. the only other things I watch with any regularit/importance are Mythbusters and BSG.  Holy frak BSG!!!  The final episodes of the show start next month... there are webisodes playing now at SciFi's website, prepping for the final epiodes... man I can't wait... easily the best show I have ever seen, I just love it.  The sci fi show to end them all.  (if the upcoming Star Wars live action show is even half as good as this... I will be happy)  SciFi Channel also just announced that they finally gave the green light to the BSG prequel series, called Caprica, which woll be cool.  I am not expecting it to be as good, but interesting none the less.  Who is the final cylon???  Starbuck? Roslin? Seelix? Gaeta? Who knows... I gave up trying to figure it out....

And if things go well.. the future holds some amazing TV... HBO has bought the rights and is making a pilot episode of A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.  One of the best series of books I have ever read, one of my top favorites.. and a perfect show to be on HBO.. its gritty, dark, sexy, and at times quite brutal.  You couldn't do it on any other network...  seen Rome? seen Band of Brothers?  HBO makes damn good TV.  This is good news indeed.

Lets see... what else is going on...  played another game of DnD a few weeks ago.  We ended up stopping in the middle of a big fight (we were losing too), folks needed to go home, and we were already running late.  So our next session will pick up in the middle of that battle... we were fighting a particularly nasty quasit...   I am starting to get the hang of this cleric thing... kind of...  Coming up early next month my core gaming group will finally be able to get together to continue our Iron Kingdoms 4e campaign.. its been a while since we played it.. but I am looking forward to continuing the story.. of course that means I need to finish writing the adventure...  Did a bit of miniature gaming as well...  played some more Infinity and Warmachine (had a great first battle with my pirate army!).  And Infinity, I am finding, is awesome... a really intricate and stylized game... and amazing models (I can't wait to start painting mine, if only my painting list wasn't so gosh darn long!)...  couple of the guys in our group are building a space ship board for us to play on... it will be sweet.  And check out the Akira inspired bikes! (and they belong to my army!  yay!)

I will be going home for christmas , but only for a few days.  I went home for a almost a week over Thanksgiving, and it was simply too long.  I love my family dearly...  but I can only take them in short would be nice if I could see them more often, but with a 6 hour drive home.. its just not possible.  I am glad I have close friends who live near by...  gives me someone to hang out with every once in a while...  (though when all my friends have families and I don't, it can , at times be difficult)  instead of just hiding away in my room...  it seems so much of the contact I have with other people is digital... don't get me wrong.. I am grateful for it.. communication has never been easier than it is in our age...  but I miss having lots of friend and interesting people around (college), and I miss regular gaming with friends (Columbus), and having family nearby (when I lived with my sis)... this is certainly the most stable my life has been since I left college... but its also the most solitary.  What does that say about me?

Lets see... musically I haven't done much.  I just bought the new album from I Am Robot and Proud.  An amazing peice of work... beuatiful music.  That guy does awesome stuff... one of my new favorites...  and I am in no way a "fan" of techno... I am a fan however, of good music.  If you heed anyones musical advice this year or next year.. HEED MINE.  Go and listen to I Am Robot and Proud!   Beyond that... I haven't gotten much music... Amanda Palmer's new album was great.  And I'd like to hear the new Ben Folds album, but haven't gotten it yet...

Chrsitmas also means my Chrsitmas bonus at work!  :)  I already have plans for it... lets just say I am tired of playing games in standard definiton... and 32 inches of HD gaming are on the horizon...  my pal Mike is searching the interwebs for me to find the best deals (he's the audio/video guru of our group)...

whew... I think that gets me caught up for now.... I can now return to regular sporadic posts, and short posts with trailers or YouTube videos in them...  :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Juice is Flowing!

So after several months with unreliable and slow internet, and a month or so of NO internet... I finally have a dedicated line to this archaic house and the cave of darkness I was dwelling in can be blasted away by the power of the interwebs...  I got a lot of stuff to get caught up on, and many blog posts should happen this weekend... I have lots of things on my computer to watch and listen to now at least, 4-5 episodes of Clone Wars, 6 episodes of Legend of the Seeker, and no less than 29 podcasts (anything from G4 videos, to radio shows -Car Talk and Wait Wait, The D6 Generation and D&D podcast, and my favorite podcasts) and 4 credits to spend at on some audiobooks... computer will be downloading for days!  :)

Lots of posts (or maybe just one big one) to come shortly... but for now I leave you with these... after all, thats what the internet is for.. sharing weird and funny videos!