They might have
won...but damn! The Seahawks need to stop looking like they
are always one step from teetering off the great cliff of defeat.
It's one thing if you lose to or barely defeat a strong team.
It's another thing when perennial losers (like the Cards, the Bucs,
and the Bengals) are making a supposed powerhouse team work for each
Despite feeling like crap, still, I had a concert to go to on
Saturday. Namely, Endfest, which promised some good entertainment.
So, putting up with feeling like crap, Velveta and I made our trek
to the show and were ready for a slow start (as the local stage and
the up and coming band stage had the first crack at the audience).
The first few hours were pretty dull and slow as most of the bands
on the non-main stages were just imitations of either The Killers
(not a band band, per say, but not my thing) or bands that have
decided to fight convention by not having their own real sound. This
gave some time to gauge the crowd and see what type of people we'd
be dealing with when the real event started later in the evening.
Sadly, the crowd was filled with a lot of who I take to be the
current young concert group...the most conforming of uninspired
people that have ever graced a generation. It seems that today
offers younger people the chance to be complete
non-conformists...which, like for the goths on the You Got Served
episode of South Park, meant that every conformed by being the same
type of non-conformists. This doesn't matter much, on the surface,
but it meant some bad things were secretly in store for us once we
got into the crowds.
First, however, I need to talk about the music we heard and the
different shows put on by some of the old timers.
Satellite Party, Perry Ferrell's current band (formerly of Jane's
Addiction), was really cool to see. I'm not much of a fan of his
music, but Satellite Party did cover some of the best Jane's
Addiction songs. More than that, Ferrell is insanely awesome when
putting on a live show. He is flat out, out of his f#@$ing skull
insane. His behavior is the type of stuff you cannot see anywhere
else, and it was just awesome to see a front man take the time,
during a small and limited set, to really get the audience involved.
There's no real description for what all he did, but it was just
freakin' sweet! High energy and high insanity...what more do you
need in a live show?
As for Social Distortion...words still escape me 36 hours later.
Mike Ness knows how to talk to and perform for his fans. He told the
same sort of awesome stories as you'd hear on the Live at the Roxy
Social D album. He played an awesome set of songs, and he kept the
energy beyond high. In a typical festival style concert, it's hard
for any band that is not the ultimate headliner to make a very big
impression, but Social D was easily the best of the night one of the
the concerts I've ever seen...just on their performance Endfest was
worth the insanely high price of admission (not too expensive until
Ticket Master had their say in the ticket prices). If all I saw and
paid for was Social D, I would have still walked away a very happy
As for the real headliner (Smashing Pumpkins)...I don't know what to
say. Maybe it was partly because of the sound crew (who could not
level a board to save their lives...or hopefully it cannot save
their wasted careers) who made me realize how much skill I have with
a sound board (I did occasionally work one for three years, off and
on, in college). Maybe the Pumpkins have not healed their old
emotional baggage yet. Maybe their were jet lagged (or tired from
their show the night before). Maybe...well, it would be nice to try
to put some sort of "maybe it's because of..." on their performance,
but that's not right.
You go to a show expecting the band to rock. A band needs to be
ready to rock, no matter the problems. I've seen the Foo Fighters
when their bassist had the flu (and they still rocked by bringing
out various bassists from other bands playing the same show, as well
as a certain epic leveled bassist from one Nirvana). I've seen
non-headliner bands being treated like shit by their audiences. I've
seen a lot of unfavorable conditions for bands, yet they would
always put on an awesome show.
Smashing Pumpkins...well, they put on the best attempt at lip
service I've ever seen in a headliner. That is to say, they were
about as half assed as possible. No communicating with the crowd, no
emotion in their music, no energy in their playing...no anything.
Velveta was the one who really wanted to see the reunited group play
live, and she was also the one who whispered to me, half way through
their set, "if the next song sounds like 'this', we're
leaving"...then she was the one who made the gesture to leave when
the next song sounded like all of the previous five or six songs.
That is to say, when the next song sounded like complete shit.
I'm not the biggest Pumpkins fan, but I do enjoy their music enough
to have looked forward to hearing them live, and back together. It
probably didn't help, however, that the band who was up before them
(Social f#@$ing D) kicked every ass in the place. In the end, no
excuse can really make up for the way the Pumpkins sounded. It was
the most painful to watch or listen to experience in my long life of
attending some of the best and worst of concerts. The price of
admission would have been better spent (if they were the only band
to have played) on buying some of their CDs and enjoying them at
As for what I said above about the crowds and the bad things in
store for us...
A large amount of the crowd was not old enough to have been born
when Perry Ferrell, Social D, or even the Pumpkins released their
first CDs. They were, as Velveta once dubbed the crowd she got stuck
in at one Warp Tour, mainly a bunch of "thirteen year old girls". I
have no problem with younger crowds, if they are ready to rock
because of the music. I don't mean the people who want to be at the
concert as some sort of bragging rights (like a young kid who's
wearing a Pink Floyd hoodie, despite not knowing any of the music of
Pink Floyd...in other words, "posers").
If the general crowd is posers, it's one thing, but when you get in
a mosh pit, it better be the fans in there. The pit is not something
that's forgiving enough for the poser crowd. Sadly, the poser crowd
likes to hit the pits, just like they will hit a show for a band
they've never heard or enjoyed, just for some weird idea of bragging
rights. This will only lead to the pit's natural cycle of mutual
camaraderie and loathing. A place where pain is no problem, but you
will stop to help a fallen ally in your mutual desire to work out
some energy and aggression.
Instead of this normal cycle that's both beautiful and ugly in the
same moment, you have people who don't belong. It's not the like pit
is a special exclusive club, but you don't need people who are too
afraid of being hurt finding their way in. You can tell these pain
fearing posers by many of their actions. They start off grabbing
clothes to stabilize themselves. You can push and you can make
plenty of contact, but there's only one time to grab in the pit;
when a person goes down and a hand is offered to get them back on
their feet. Grabbing clothes of another person, especially one you
don't know, is about the lamest example of needing to get the f#@$
out of the pit that exists. It's like hair pulling in a fight;
inexcusable and immature.
On that note, I hope the neck to my Aquabats shirt gets back to it's
normal shape after I run it through the wash.
Then, after some time has passed and these posers realize they are
trapped and not where they should be, one of two things happens.
Either the smarter ones (which are few and far between since they
don't want to lose some lame idea of bragging rights) get the f#@$
out of there, or the shittier ones will start to become ultra
aggressive. This makes another stupid situation.
These agro loving posers are easy to spot. They will hide behind a
very tall person (the shield), who probably doesn't know the
aggressive person but is tall and stable in the storm that is the
pit, and then start to shove and throw punches at arms
length...where they can have no fear of retribution. If you want to
shove me in a pit, that's fine. It's what we're all there doing.
However, like when getting insulted or attacked in any other way, I
want it to my f#@$ing face. Don't hide if you can't take the idea of
retribution coming your way.
It's too band so many shows I've gone to recently are festivals and
the like. I say this since it's nearly impossible to find such a
show with the 21 and over restriction...which doesn't guarantee a
better show, but will at least promise none of the out of place
little kid crowd.
OMG! Teh Haloz b
Blah. Like I've
said before, I really can't get extra excited about the game. Number
2 was a killer app for me. I don't me it was a be all end all game,
but rather that it killed my excitement for Halo. Since I'm not a
online deathmatch type of fan, I like to stick with the single
player and (most importantly) co-op experience on my FPS selections.
Halo 2 had the annoying feature of death on co-op leading to needing
a new check point to respawn. This was just not a helpful addition
or change from the first Halo when you take into account how your
NPC friends are all out to grab a Warthog and run your bitch ass
down in the name of helping you to stop the Covenant.
Since Halo 3 is
supposed to go back to the Halo method (respawn if there are no
enemies near by), I am slightly interested. Not enough to drop $60
on Halo 3, but enough to ask one of my good friends who works at
Microsoft to pick up the game for me using the employee discount
program. It's also not enough for me to NEED the game right at
launch, but rather to wait until my friend can secure a copy on the
Besides, I've got
enough games going on in my life as it is. I picked up Rune Factory:
A Fantasy Harvest Moon late last week. I know, I still have to get
back to Metroid Prime 3, but Rune Factory sounded like a good
lighthearted game that I could just take my time with. Which is just
the type of game I need.
Rune Factory makes
up for what I've seen as a declining level of quality in the Harvest
Moon series. The SNES game is still my favorite, but RF does add
some nice things to make the game interesting. You once again have a
lot more choice in who you may chose to marry. You have about 10
choices. You also have some other nice new twists in how the game
has a leveling system and the bulk of the game revolves around
balancing making money via farming and going in to dungeons to slay
monsters and progressing a plot.
The combat is
pretty fun since it uses the same old Harvest Moon style engine, but
with a little more fluidity to make it play more like a Zelda game.
Also, the dungeon times are balanced between slaying monsters and
also thinking of the farm waiting for you in the outside world. You
can try to just slay enemies and progress the game (which ends, this
time around, when you kill the final boss). However, you can also
use caves to fish for rare fishes, to mine for minerals that will
allow you to more an easy profit and to upgrade your tools, and you
can even use the static environment of the caves to farm different
seasonal plants all year (like the first cave has a spring
environment and lets you farm things like strawberries all year
Just like with
past HM games, this is still, at it's core, a farming RPG. Which can
sound really weird to those unfamiliar with HM. However, it does
offer enough new changes to really bring in a bigger crowd of
through the first and onto the second cave and about half way
through the first 30 day season. So far, I'm enjoying each minute of
While I'm not
looking to get very hyped about Halo 3, there is one interesting
thing being brought up by this game. I'm not talking about it being
the "killer app" for the 360, or how it will be the big "system
seller", or anything of the like. In fact, it's something that goes
far beyond Halo 3, but is only getting important attention due to
I'm talking about
how games are packaged. The average game is one disc and is sold
in a normal looking DVD case (well, normal but with a different
color scheme) or CD case...or maybe some hybrid depending on the
console the game is designed for. No matter the exact shape of the
case or it's color, they all use the same standard technology of
locking the disk in with a simple flexible piece of round-ish
tend to fall apart when another disc is added to the picture. In
Halo 3 Limited Edition you have a fancy metal case with a plastic
nub that cannot keep a firm grasp of the game disc. For Blue Dragon,
you have an extra long spindle on the plastic nub so that it can
hold three discs. On some games you'll get some half assed sleeve
instead of a actual secure disk holding nub. No matter what they end
up coming in, they are usually not in the "correct" type of package.
Is it really so
hard for game makers to ship their games in a multiple disk holding
case that works? It should not be the case. I have enough cases for
CDs and DVD movies that have taken the time to add another little
disc holding "shelf" within the case (one that flips out of the way
like a page in a book). However, most game makers just can't seem to
grasp the best way to keep a game safe. When you add in the fact
that a majority of games will sell, even with multiple disks, for
more money than DVDs, even multiple disc sets, it seems like someone
is forgetting that you should get at least some of what you pay for.
On that same
thought line, I have another issue with modern game cases. Most
games require a simple and small instruction manual to play the
game. However, some games, like Oblivion on the 360, require more
documentation, some extra maps and other pull out items, and there
may be the obligatory ads that are stuffed into most games on
separate leaflets. My problem is that the standard DVD case cannot
handle so much crap being crammed into it.
The best example I
can think of in the modern generation is the 360 version of
Oblivion. My case does not close, and it never really did. When I
first took the plastic wrapping off of the game, along with the
little plastic sticker that CD cases and some DVD cases use to keep
them extra sealed, the case opened on it's own. It has never closed
since then. Why? The case was just bent out of shape by the larger
than average manual, the poster sized map, and whatever other crap
was in there.
One solution to
this is, like I said above, cases for games need to be designed with
less of a one size fits all ideal and more with room for special
circumstances and exceptions to the rule for games that don't fit
the norm. The other solution is, sadly, already evident...
been trimming down instruction manuals and added packed in materials
for years. It becomes more and more obvious with each generation.
For example, the instructions to Rune Factory (DS) mention pages
that are higher in number than the manual actually goes up to. Part
of this can be typos, but another part was probably how the manual
was obviously trimmed down (obvious because a lot of content is not
covered in the booklet)...probably to fit the case.
It should not be
the case, but I'd rather have my old SNES and NES era boxes than a
simple to use and convenient DVD/CD case. True, the modern cases are
more uniform and look nicer on a shelf (not to mention how they fit
better on a shelf)...but I want the full pack in of materials. No
game in the modern age could rival how much info was even packed
into a simple and ancient RPG like FF1. That game had two full sized
posters (with dungeon maps, equipment lists, world map, and an extra
bit of artwork), a manual that was nearly one hundred pages long
(and had a quite large surface area per page), and the game
itself...not too mention an ad for Nintendo Power and whatever other
crap was enclosed (I don't know if the Nintendo epilepsy warning was
included yet in games).
We're getting to a
point that almost requires people who buy more complex of games
(like Rune Factory) to either hope that the game first came out in
another region so they can check out slightly mistranslated (to
their region) FAQs and walkthroughs, or you have to buy the latest
half assed guide that launched, hopefully, with the game...just to
know how to properly play the game.
This has been a
major annoyance for me for quite some time, but thankfully Halo 3
came along. Not because I'm excited for the game (although getting
it about 66% off is damned nice), but rather how it's bringing
simple problems to the attention of larger crowds.
If I pay $30-$60
for a game, or more, I want to at least get the same level of
quality in the package that I expect from a two CD music set that
can cost me less than $20. It's not asking for too much...is it?
My $25 Halo 3 is
now ready for me (thanks to El Monk). Unfortunately, I'm so caught
up in Rune Factory that I will probably not even notice Halo 3 (at
least until I notice Velveta looking bored and annoyed with me not
playing something with her...then co-op Halo 3 will enter the
picture)...plus, I don't feel like running 20 miles down the road to
pick it up when I'll be hanging with El Monk on Sunday for football
So far, I have to
say that Rune Factory really makes up for all of the past mistakes
of the recent Harvest Moon games. For one, you now have a choice of
~10 prospective brides. While it sounds silly, half the fun of the
HM games have been trying to balance earning money, maintaining your
farm, and handling other chores while trying to improve relations
with the people in the nearby town. In fact, on top of the ~10
prospective brides, the game also includes a large number of
additional people in the town which play important enough of roles
in your daily errands.
The other thing
that is really making the game fun is that you need to put some
additional planning in to your activities. For example, you can
focus on crops (which were the prime focus of the original HM) as
your way to make money. However, this involves the challenge of; do
you focus on the crops alone (which can deplete your stamina or Rune
Points) or do you focus on gathering wood so you can build huts? The
huts will allow you to recruit monsters, who can then be assigned to
water crops and to harvest any developed produce. You also can think
about if crops really matter all that much, since fishing and mining
can also be important in your money making operation.
The only real
constant, if you want to focus on the non-combat side of RF, is that
you need lumber. Lumbering is a tiring chore, which limits your
abilities for the day (if you run out of RP, then you lose HP with
each action...run out of HP and you will either die or be sent to
the doctor)...but is needed to build monster huts and to improve
your house. If you neglect this chore, then you can never buy the
best kitchen gadgets, forge your own weapons and tools, or think
about the purpose of wooing any potential brides, since your house
will forever be a tiny useless shack.
The only part of
this planning that I don't like is how the dungeons are set up. For
the most part, they are well thought out. For example, to enter the
first dungeon, you need a pass from the Mayor. He will not give out
a pass until you till at least 50 squares of land on your farm. Then
second dungeon is closed until you till 50 or so squares within the
first dungeon and then kill the boss of the first dungeon. With a
few exceptions, this is how you progress where you can explore and
fight...not too mention where you can fish (you can fish in
dungeons), mine (better and more expensive ores are found in new
dungeons), and recruit monsters (including ones that will produce
milk, eggs, and wool for you).
This works out
fine until the fifth dungeon. This one is only open during the
winter (it's on a lake that needs to freeze over for your to get to
the cave in the center of the water). This means that you have two
ways of playing. You can either rush through the first four dungeons
to ensure you're ready for the fifth one in the winter...or you can
play at a normal pace and maybe be stuck with nearly a year to kill
before you can progress the plot. I have heard, on message boards,
of too many people unlocking this dungeon near the end of
winter...once they are strong enough (with some grinding) to face
the boss, then it's spring again and 90 in-game days have to be
passed to get anywhere. When each day can take about 30 minutes (or
more if you have some inventory management to do), that is a long
time to kill.
Anyway, I have to
say that RF is probably the best DS game I've played since FF3 came
along. It's even better than Picross DS (which, for me, a Picross
addict, to say that, is saying something).
Halo 3 fever is a
really...well...stupid thing right now. On one hand, you do have a
game I have not played yet so I cannot go off of too much hype or my
initial gut reaction (to dislike the game because of Halo 2...which
only served to anger me for a $55 investment). However, even without
the playing and rights to properly judge the new game, I can see
when a phenomenon has gotten out of control.
For example, no
FPS, or any other game for that matter, should have any
tournaments until after the game has been out long enough to be
learned to a reasonable degree. For a tournament to go on for a
game, with the start of round one starting only less than a week
after the launch of the game, means that there will be too much
insanity of the newbs versus the people who called in sick to work
with the Halo Flu (if you catch my meaning). It's simply a
tournament that penalizes those who have had a real life to contend
with for the last week.
My suggestion? I
would personally say, just like how a game should not be reviewed
without time being devoted to it, a tournament for any game should
wait for at least a solid month following a game's launch. To do
otherwise would mean that the tournament is half assed and that the
players will not be able to, for the most part, put up a truly
Does it end with
premature tournaments? No. It keeps going. Beyond the insanity of
people camping out before midnight for special midnight launch
parties (which are, in my view, only cool if you are a person who
works an unusual shift and therefore midnight is your noon) there
lies so much more. This is a game that has gotten attention from
"news" outlets despite how it's not really worthy of front page
coverage in a time when torture is legal, mediocrity runs the
country, and we would rather drop a giant sum of money on a war that
is not serving a purpose instead of spending less money on ensuring
that all children of our supposedly advanced country have insurance
to keep these children as (to quote those happy peppy message we all
constantly hear) "our future".
Hell...an XB0x 360
signed by Bill Gates sold for
nearly $9,000 on eBay. Did I miss something, or is a person
unassociated with the game and in a less role at the company that
publishes it that damned important? Should I shit a brick every time
I hear Bill Gates is touring my work? Working in a non-profit
biotech that receives a lot of money from the
Gates Foundation, it does happen more often than one would
think. Should all Microsoft employees shit a brick each and every
day since it's almost assured that Gates has walked down many of the
halls and into many of the rooms that these people work in and
Blah. Maybe I'm
just in a grumpy mood or some shit. Actually, I probably am since I
am right now, as I type this, sitting in a lab that receives so much
money (usually via Gates) but cannot afford to make sure that half
of my equipment is not stolen each time the floors are cleaned
At least it's
Friday. This means three simple things for me. One, I get Halo 3 on
Sunday, on the cheap, so I can finally see if it's worthy of any of
this abundance of hype. Second, I get to also watch what I hope will
be a good turning point for the Seahawks as they take on their
number one rival for the NFC West title (and to see how poor of a
decision it was to trade Jackson, an awesome receiver, to our main
rival in the off season). Three, I got paid so I can afford to, if I
break free from Rune Factory, buy Zelda on the DS when it comes out
early next week.
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