Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Reality: My kid is cooler than yours!

Heh, I can only imagine some of my fellow-parents reading that header and thinking "Pft...the hell he says!"  But it truly is more than just a stance of close proximity, it's de facto reality.

I'm not quite sure where & when this "cool" surfaced, but suffice to say Jayton wakes up this morning and tells me...

"I had a good dream today Daddy!"

Naturally I inquire into the nature of said dream and he politely obliges my request by telling me a wonderful story...

"Uhhhm...there was a zombie, but he was good, then uh, there was another zombie who was bonking on the door at Nonnie's.  We took pictures of zombies, but then they disappeared...and I didn't take a picture of a zombie.  Hmmm...and I don't remember what else, and that's it!"

So as a parent, you can imagine my delight to hear that my son, at the age of 4, is so actively involved in zombie preparedness through deep cerebral simulation.  That or I should be worried he'll be a liability with the rest of the peace loving Scientist hippies who believe the "plague" has a cure.  Nice zombies?  Pft, what an imagination.  As if nice zombies exist!

Furthermore, before the old lady steps out for her last day at work, preceding a most anticipated 2-days a row (we miss Mommy), he asks her to put in a CD he can listen to.  The CD?!?

See, he's not afraid of social convention.  I'm sure his age has plenty to do with it, but the kid has some mean taste in music.  Adding NKotB to his library of Metallica, Brandon Flowers, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, and Daft Punk (amongst others), well, that's an evolved pallet of music to be sure.

Couple the with the fact that he's a far better brother to his little sister, Pepper, than I could have ever hoped for.  Suddenly I wonder what the hell I was so worried about.  He has two wonderful & nurturing parents (if I may toot my own horn for just a moment), that keep him well grounded but offer him the attention that every kid needs & deserves.  If I can give all prospective parents one bit of advice going into this life-changing decision it's the following:


Too often I hear about these ridiculous stories of parental neglect.  It could be attached to a number of vices used as an excuse, Video Games, drugs or alcohol, but the bottom line is mental stability and sacrifice.  Your child doesn't ask for much, and even 5-15minutes from the moment you walk in the door after a long and grueling day means the world to them.  Those first 7 years may seem like a lifetime, but you'll be shattered when you realize how quickly it goes by.  Blink once and you miss it!  A wise man once said the following:

If You Cant Feed Your Baby
Then Don't Have A Baby
And Don't Think Maybe
If You Can't Feed Your Baby
You'll Be Always Tryin'
To Stop That Child From Cryin'
Hustlin', Stealin', Lyin'
Now Baby's Slowly Dyin'

Not everyone is meant to have a child.  Not everyone SHOULD have a child.  Those that are blessed with such a gift, well, make the time to grow up with them.  You'll find a new lease on life while your child becomes everything (and more) that you hope for them.  I'm always surprised by the actions of my son (even at age 4), and I can't wait to see my daughter grow up.  I'm certain his qualities manifested as a direct result of involving him in nearly everything we do each and every day.  Moderation of content, of course, but they don't care what they're doing as long as they get to do it with Mom & Dad!  Does it come with challenges?'s a challenge each and every day, but it's also the one thing I know I'm doing right with my life and in this world, my greatest rewards.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

MoTown...shit is real!

Sitting in my car in Modesto outside the house of one of the old lady's Aunts...thrilled that I'm about to be overwhelmed by a sea of Chinese & Hispanic delights.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Minecraft!

Holy shit-nuts!  I've been avoiding this beast for all the right reasons.  Today, however, on this the birth of Jesus Christ...I am given a reason to dive head first into the world of Minecraft!

Painstakingly recreated for our pleasure, Double0Bond creates the Light World from the SNES outting of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:

This is a full recreation of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past using Minecraft. This replication is to scale and is an accurate portrayal of the original SNES game. The map is 512 x 512 x 104. This project took over 100 hours to complete. As Minecraft releases more blocks and various features, the map will be adjusted to better represent the game.

Further development is planned to support the Dark World as well as each & every dungeon in the game.  Let's all hope he wraps it up before Nintendo steps in with a C&D Order from their lawyers.

Unfortunately that's the only gifts we're given as there is no download available, yet.  I'm guessing Double0 wants to keep this pretty close to home considering it is a near-perfect recreation of Hyrule.  I know I'll be waiting to click that download button the minute its available.

Is anyone else playing Minecraft?  I can't help but love the community inspiration here but I just don't feel I have the time to make it shine.  What are everyone's thoughts on the game, the editor tools, etc?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Of Tron: Evolution, Betrayal, Legacy, the Soundtrack and my son!

You know, maybe as children we're simply easy to please.  As we age our cynicism grows and the suspension of disbelief becomes something of an aggressive disposition we simply can't seem to grasp, well, most of us anyhow.

I'd like to believe that I'm still a child at heart and I have my kids to thank for continuing this trend.  At the very least I have them to thank for making it "OK" for a grown man to act like a kid and not be looked at as a socially inept member of this society.

That said, my son Jayton has been eyeballing the new Tron: Legacy movie each and every time the trailer hits.  I only felt it appropriate that he see the original before jumping into the sequel, and so we did just that one Saturday afternoon.

What transpired was a painful reminder that our youth doesn't age so well.  The things we found fascinating, well, they don't always stand the test of time.  I remember marveling at this in my youth and thinking it was the greatest thing since Wheat Bread (yeah, not a Wonder kid), but suddenly it was an empty experience...for a moment anyhow.

How critical I had become about a movie that, by all rights, was a pioneer of technology at the time.  Sure, Star Wars was great, but Tron's implementation of animation and live action was something...magical.  The story however, the stuff of nerd dreams.  Guy gets his game stolen and hatches a scheme to get the proof he needs to take it back, gets beamed into the digital world of The Grid...magic happens, happy ending!  It was nothing overly complex, certainly no deep lessons to be learned other than CYA and lock in those copyrights early if you want to protect your goods.  But it was magical...and it was for my son, and suddenly it was once again for me.

This inspired me to motivate myself for the new movie through the comics (Tron: Betrayal) and the video game (Tron: Evolution), both of which served to fill in many of the gaps between the original film, and those in Tron: Legacy.  Well, Jayton was in love with this game.  He loved watching me play and upon completion, wanted me to continue doing so.  I saw, within him, a fire burning for a new love of his.  Isn't it remarkable how kids gravitate towards our interests and really pave their own destinies, but at the same anything and everything we do (with proper parenting of course).

The console release of Evolution details the events of "The Purge" briefly hit on in the film (Legacy) following Quorra and the main protagonist, Anon, a new Tron-like protocol that monitors the system.  The PSP game follows another similar program named BETA, but the story in that game, so far, doesn't really serve to motivate a reason as well as Anon's role in Evolution.  At any rate, the game did its job getting Jayton prepared and equally excited for Tron: Legacy.  You know what?  Just take a look at the timeline HERE.

I then acquired the soundtrack.  First and foremost I have been a Daft Punk for as long as I can remember knowing them.  I always found their music to be uplifting and incredibly versatile (I can seriously listen to it all day).  At any moment the duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Baglater, can send me into a veritable frenzy of electronic delights, and dip me into soothing ballads that seem familiar and alien at the same time.

Taking that talent and putting it into film form, a soundtrack, was something I wasn't entirely prepared for.  Certainly tracks like "End of Line" & "Derezzed" have that Daft Punk signature sound, but the rest of the collection's 2-discs are a treat that I bathed myself in.  Certainly beautiful composition but I wasn't prepared for how much of a character the music becomes in the truly stands out as instrumental to the continuity and delivery of the film and its setting.

Holy shit!  I wasn't prepared for this.  I've seen enough of the trailer to realize I'd have fun with it, but ultimately I felt it would fall to the same hollow foundation of the original and boy was I wrong.  First of all, they've taken the entire lore behind the original and really created an evolution that is not only believable, but engaging.  I don't really want to get into the story as I think it's something that everyone should experience for themselves, but it was engaging and had far more poignant lessons to be learned.  Haste resulting in mistakes, the bond of Father & Son and an ever present lesson on race discrimination on multiple levels are all present and can serve to foster some rather enlightening conversations with my son.

Couple this with the fact that the film never rests on the cast that made the original something of a cult phenomenon and suddenly, it's a rather cohesive film that delivers everything I could ever want.  Relative newcomer Garrett Hedlund (Sam Flynn) delivers a believable performance, never over-acted even in the presence of Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn).

Olivia Wilde is absolutely lovely, playfully naive, and certainly a wonderful contrast the rather serious and sterile environment of the Grid, and for good reason.

All in all, I am completely floored with how well Disney has handled this.  They've taken a rather aged product and absolutely injected it with enough lore and style to last a lifetime of sequels, offshoots & spinoffs, merchandise and the like.  I just hope we don't have to wait another year 28 years for the next in the line.  Similarly I can't wait to see what the team is doing with the Black Hole remake.  This is a good time to be a fan of relatively under-appreciated Disney films of days gone.

I'd also like to say that leaving the theater, my son holding my hand, he looks up at me and says the following:

"We're on the same team right Daddy?"

To which I replied...

"We're always on the same team!"

Nerd-tears were shed this day!

DC Universe...why can't I hate you?

Sony Online Entertainment...DC Universe...a most unlikely pairing many would admit.  I went into this with reservations, to say the least, and somehow I come out of it all intrigued.

Then the BETA hits!

So I've logged in some hours, few to some, considerable to me.  I've created 3 characters, two of which are villains, and created a league <YnL> (that's Yam 'n Leggs folks).  My first character is this monkey (not literally) who would be our leader, Sarshel Yam.  He possess Super Speed ability, mentored by Lex Luthor, and loves Gadgetry.

Sound interesting right?

Then I realized I'm sick of looking at digital man-butt, so I created a super sexy Hero-lass to which I can oggle.  Mmmmm sexy polygons!

Too slutty?  Okay, I'll play conservative...

So I'm trying to hate this game...I really, really am.  I'm not a fan of MMO's.  I used to be, so perhaps I'm predisposed to the sickness, but in my defense I have all of the WoW Collector's Editions sealed and sitting on the top of my Bookcase...just looking like these beautiful tomes of forever-sealed goodness.

Despite it all, I can't hate it.  I find myself having an unhealthy amount of fun.  I'm making time for my friends so we can play online, raid and just run around like a bunch of nerdy kids with a new toy.  I fly to the highest point of the world, then fly straight down because it makes me feel like a badass!

So now what?  Now I'm trying to justify the purchase.  I know I can budget the game (which comes with a free month), but with next months lineup do I really want to sacrifice a release to pay for a half year sub for one game?  I expected a sub, it would be silly not to, but damn if I'm having a difficult time solidifying this one into the budget.

Is anyone else having this problem?  Is anyone else even in the BETA playing right now?

Twisted's the Chutzpah of my passion! (A letter to David Jaffe)

Mr. Jaffe.  I think I called you this when I met you at E3 and you asked me politely to call you David, but I can't help it, I'm still a bit socially awkward when I'm around people that drive my passion.  Below you will find a rather wordy account of what Twisted Metal means to me.  I can't come up with any profound questions to ask as I picked your brain when I met you at the LA Convention Center.  Hopefully this serves, in the very least, to remind you and the team how important the series is to so many of us.

Twisted Metal resonates within me as one of the single most influential reasons I own and support the PlayStation platform to this day.  I, like many, were leery of Sony producing a platform that was disc-based and primarily 3D.  The tech, at the time, seemed so fresh and, perhaps, a bit rough around the edges.  Why wouldn't it?  It was so new and frankly a bit scary.

Titles like Battle Arena Toshinden really didn't do anything for me.  I understood the allure behind a 3D game, but I couldn't get past the "ugly" that seemed to bathe most titles of the generation.

If it wasn't a rough polygon, it was live action marring the experience.  The acting was never on par, nor did it seem to convey the same emotional ambiance as the game (save titles like Krazy Ivan which was fantastic in both respects, but that was probably because they ran with the campy nature of live-action cinematics).

Anyhow, moving to my passion...I came across an interesting title that hearkened back to my days of playing the Amiga back in '88 (I would have been 11 at the time), and a little gem that soaked up most of my time...AutoDuel, by Origin.  By today's standards it serves as nothing more than a relic of its time, but to me it certainly motivated my purchase of Twisted Metal.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this dated Amiga title would push me into a purchase of TM, there really is no's ugly and flat in design and depth, but honestly the core mechanic is there.  Vehicular Car Combat in a Post Apocalyptic setting.  I think that was a driving factor to my interest and the fact that I was completely enamored with movies like Mad Max and A Boy & His Dog before I ever really understood much of what the stories were trying to convey.

So I had a bit of nostalgia pushing my interest in Twisted Metal.  What happened afterwards would push an obsession that would last beyond my expectations and into weekly couch co-op tournaments with friends that would set the standard for "First to 50" sessions that would start in the early evening and push well into the wee hours of the morning.  Imagine, if you will, two (or more) equally skilled gamers paired in vehicular arena combat where we'd trade wins.  First to 50 wins became a staple of our household, an obsession really that would move onto even the more casual Vehicle Combat games, like Mario Kart's Battle Mode (we owe it all to Twisted Metal).

Twisted Metal not only became one of my personal favorite series, but always instrumental in unintentionally selling the hardware to friends who didn't own a PlayStation.  They'd come over, love the matches and want to practice up before the following week tourney.  I'm not sure if selling consoles was ever the intent behind Twisted Metal, but in my network of friends it certainly served that purpose.

What transpired beyond the original release would cascade into a purchase (and equal obsession) of every single iteration to follow and subsequent "tournaments" with friends.  Twisted Metal not only hooked itself into the nostalgia of my youth, but did so paving a new road and practice for how I would play games as I matured.  It just happened to do so by creating a compelling formula with equally compelling characters.  Never did the series feel like a chore, certainly challenging, but always rewarding and above all else...FUN!

So if you will, please excuse the wall of text above.  I did my best to keep it as short as humanly possible.  I could probably write a thesis on why a game about aggressively blowing up people in a battle for selfish gain did worlds of wonder for making me an upstanding man in society all while bridging social awkwardness at the same time, but I'll spare you...for now.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.  I'm digging up my PSone for a holiday tourney tomorrow!  Thanks for igniting the flame, David!