Monday, December 31, 2007

Gurren Lagann

Anime Network Online has the first two episodes of Gainax's new show Gurren Lagann. Gainax has best been known for works that sort of rethink or revise old anime tropes. Neon Genesis Evangaleon re-imagined the traditional giant robot mileu with religious underpinnings and contemporary teen angst (way better than it sounds). Their feature, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is a low-key drama about a fledgling space program -- a sci-fi flavored The Right Stuff. I'm a big fan of their FLCL -- perhaps their most navel-gazing and all around bizarre series.

Gurren Lagaan feels like straight up fantasy, with zany battles and a little bit of pre-pubescent fan service thrown in for good measure. And robots. Lots of giant, fighting robots.

The pilot, "Pierce the Heavens With Your Drill!" can be found under the "Giant Robots" heading at the Anime Network Online site.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cloverfield Monster Revealed

The only way to kill it is to hit it on the head three times.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote

Ohh Ohh me want! ME WANT!

so, if any of you see a fat man wearing red in your house tonight, no that is not santa coming a day late, taht is me stealing your wii and strapping it to my head.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Riverbottom Nightmare Band

I've always said that this song from Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas would make a great cover. I dig how the snake makes "deedle-deedle-dee" sounds when he plays the guitar solos.

via Idolator

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"It Has Swords"

TV's Steve Brule on his favorite video game.*

*Legendary Difficulty

The Amen Break

Last night I had a dream about turntablists. I must be, subconsciously, preparing for the upcoming DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist tour. On that note, here's an old, but fascinating documentary about the "Amen" break -- the six most ubiquitous seconds of drums in pop culture.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monster Mash

The best flash dungeoncrawler you'll play today has to be Monsters' Den. Sure, the title's a little pat but you won't find more hack and slash per minute this side of Progress Quest.

If that isn't your style, you may enjoy this CCG-style game I keep going back to. Wolf will love it if he can get past playing with a random deck each time. (*correction: The game does allow you to build a custom deck. Sorry for the mistake*)

Of course, the best ASCII dungeoncrawler you'll play today is still nethack.

Something For the Ladies: 25 Songs With Female Vocals That Should Be in Rock Band

1. Blondie: "One Way or Another"
2. Bow Wow Wow: "I Want Candy"
3. L7: "Pretend We're Dead"
4. Feist: "One, Two, Three, Four"
5. Kate Bush: "Running Up That Hill"
6. Ladytron: "Destroy Everything You Touch"
7. Nancy Sinatra: "These Boots Are Made For Walking"
8. Portishead: "Sour Times"
9: Rainer Maria: "Ears Ring"
10: Bratmobile: "Panik"
11: Concrete Blonde: "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
12: Kim Wilde: "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
13: The Breeders: "Cannonball"
14: Heart: "Magic Man"
15: The Go Gos: "We Got the Beat"
16: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: "I Love Rock and Roll"
17: Pat Benetar: "Heartbreaker"
18: Nico & The Velvet Underground: "All Tomorrow's Parties"
19. Kim Carnes: "Bette Davis Eyes"
20. Mickey: "Toni Basil"
21. Cyndi Lauper: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
22. Eurythmics: "Here Comes the Rain Again"
23: Bikini Kill: "Rebel Girl"
24: Elastica: "Stutter"
25: Cansei Di Ser Sexy: "Fuck Off Is Not The Only Thing You Have To Show"

Go here to hear all the songs in full.

Samples below:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Guys from Walk Hard playing Rock Band

Also included: sketch comedy, viral marketing, race humor.

Monday, December 17, 2007

BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo

I stumbled upon Toonami Jetstream the other day. It's Cartoon Network's web video service. The cool thing about this (compared to, say, major network feeds) is that it features shows not quite ready for prime time. Take BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo, an anime about an afro-clad hero who fights using his nose hairs to protect the populace from gangsters who want to force everyone to go bald. The show is seriously surreal and quite funny.

Also notable are Eyeshield 21 (a football drama) and Hikaru no Go (a show that gives Go lessons as it tells the story of a young player).

To me Toonami Jetstream is a clear sign that networks are loosening up to the idea of presenting foreign-made content with minimal (if any) localization. The Hikaru no Go lesson clips are subtitled for Pete's sake!

Anyway, the only downside to this service is that the episodes are only available for a limited time. That means the first episode of BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo and a good part of the Hikaru no Go episodes are no longer available. Lame.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Wicked Bad Itch

This video gave me one. Oh, the long hours I spent.

5 Minutes of Cloverfield

The Kinks "Destroyer"

The song is from 1981, but I see what you were getting at, Tim.

Check out The Troggs in 1968 pushing up against punk ever so delicately.

By 1970 Iggy's got it all figured out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Akira Kurosawa

When Mike was in town he mentioned that he'd finally seen The Seven Samurai. I promised that I'd turn him on to some other awesome samurai flicks. Thematically The Hidden Fortress might be the closest, but I'd probably rent Yojimbo and Sanjuro first. These are the flicks that inspired Sergio Leone's three Man With No Name movies, particularly A Fist Full of Dollars, which is a straight-up remake of Yojimbo. I also mentioned Throne of Blood, which is a samurai retelling of MacBeth -- total Shakespeare emo, but very awesome.

In our conversation I also mentioned that four of Kurosawa's early films had fallen into the public domain. Rashomon, Stray Dog, Sugata Sanshiro and Ikuru can all be streamed from the site. I recommend nabbing the higher quality divx files and streaming them to your Xbox 360 from your PC.

G Love & Special Sauce

G Love will be in town 1-16-2008 at First Ave. Karri and I just ordered our tickets. Will we see any of you there?

His new stuff is more smooth than funkified.

Monday, December 10, 2007

No No No

Why Why Why? Wachowski brothers doing Speed Racer.

Hot Damn

Portishead played All Tomorrow's Parties yesterday, revealing a much harsher sound. The change is welcome considering how fouled the trip hop waters have gotten. Deaf Indie Elephants has ripped mp3s of the band's three new songs. Their new LP is due in '08. Joy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

FCU: Fact Checkers Unit

An offical Sundance selection this year.

Songs That Need to Be In Rock Band: Part 1 - The '00s

I've used this space to bag on the lame, new songs that made the cut in Rock Band. So now I'm putting my money where my mouth is. Here's a list of awesome songs, recorded in the last decade, that would make ideal downloadable tracks. Sure, most people haven't heard of half of these bands. But, you know what? It's about time they did.

Call the Lawyers:

1. Art Brut - "Formed a Band" - Duh, right?
2. Spoon - "I Turn My Camera On" - I wish so many of their songs weren't all sparse and piano-y
3. The Black Lips - "Veni Vidi Vici" - I find this song imminently singable
4. LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends" - There's a single edit that's a little shorter. It was a toss up between this and "New York I Love You"
5. Liars - "Mr. Your On Fire Mr." - Easily their catchiest song. They've been running from it for the past five years
6. Death From Above 1979 - "Blood on Our Hands" - I know, these guys are a trio. Sue me
7. TV on the Radio - "Young Liars" - Rock Band could use some nice, down-tempo tracks
8. My Morning Jacket - "Off the Record" - I always think Joe Jackson when I hear this
9. Wolf Parade - "I'll Believe in Anything"- I like the idea of everybody pitching in to sing this one
10. The Decemberists - "Sons & Daughters" - Jeez. I'm thinking that song about Los Angeles would be pretty hot too.
11. Raconteurs - "Steady as She Goes" - If they wanted they could get those versions of the White Stripes songs with bass parts added in by the guy from Redd Kross
12. Entrance - "Grim Reaper Blues" - Rock Band needs more psyche
13. The Sword - "Winter's Wolves" - I always hoped that Guitar Hero II would help blow this band up
14. Tool - "Schism" - For the prog metal geeks
15. The Mars Volta - "The Widow"- To make the Pitchfork guys scream. I really, dig this as a single
16. The Thermals - "Here's Your Future" - For guys who like Fugazi, Bad Religion, etc.
17. The Hold Steady - "Chips Ahoy"- I was tempted to pick something from the older record
18. Arcade Fire - "Wake Up" - What a racket you could make with this one
19. The Rapture - "House of Jealous Lovers" - Dance punk is perfect for Rock Band
20. Wilderness - "End of Freedom" - A little moodier than your typical track
21. The Ponys - "Exile on My Street" - A straight rocker. The vocals reminds me of Faith No More's first singer
22. Klaxons - "Magick" - I could do with their whole album as a download
23. Early Man - "Death is the Answer" - For the guys who can channel Ozzy
24. !!! - "Heart of Hearts" - Another dance punk jam
25. McLusky - "To Hell With Good Intentions" - Only a sample on imeem, but damn does this song rock. Albini.

Here's an imeem playlist with all of the songs:
EDIT: Launch the playlist as standalone to hear the full tracks.

Next time: Songs That Need to Be In Rock Band: Part II - Something For The Ladies

One Regret

I try not to let opportunities slip past me. It's not like I run around screaming, "carpe diem" or anything, but I am a bit of hedonism bot when it comes to granting myself things and experiences. Listening to Alive, the new Daft Punk concert record, makes me want to kick myself squarely in the ass for not finding some way, any way to see these guys in person. Serves me right for looking down my hipster nose at Lollapalooza.

Seriously. Cop this record. It's the closest thing you can get to cramming transcendence directly in your ear holes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Deal

You can hear the latest single from The Breeders on their MySpace page. It's a languid, down-tempo track with a tantalizing but brief interlude of rockage . Oh, how I've missed Kim's sweet, sweet voice.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kanye's Good Morning Video

The video is directed by superflat innovator Takashi Murakami. Watch it while it's hot, the take down notices are flying. Apparently the video is stolen from the retrospective at MOCA where, I should add, the gift shop employees are douche bags.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Signs That Wall*E is Going to Be Awesome

1. It has robots
2. It's by Pixar
3. The trailer uses music from Brazil
4. This website

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Sell Out

Tay Zonday's second act is a supremely wierd commercial for Dr. Pepper. You did good, kid.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It Ain't Berkley Physics

This Youtube video for "Smell Yo Dick" by Riskay (embedding disabled) won't make you smarter in a textbook sense. But there are lessons to be learned. The lyrics aren't exactly profane, but they're pretty suggestive so keep this one away from the kids.

Riskay's MySpace

What I'm watching

Cal Berkeley has hundreds of hours of good quality video of excellent course lectures. This is the biggest potential leap in education reform since 1954. I'm brushing up on the Physics course I slept through as a freshman.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wolves in the Throne Room

Slate has an interesting write up of Wolves in the Throne Room, an American black metal band who bury a radical ecological message under atmospheric metal gloom. If I had to describe the band, I'd say they've got one foot in God Speed You Black Emperor territory, the other foot is squarely set in Norway. They're on the Southern Lord record label -- home to Boris, one of my recent faves.

And yeah, a small part of the band's appeal for me, is that their name sounds like an event card from the A Game of Thrones CCG -- maybe a Stark-only kill-a-king card?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving Prayer

William S. Burroughs' message from the grave -- share it with your family!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dublab Live

Dublab, the web radio station my friends started after finishing college are in the middle of a fund raising drive, in honor of the occasion they're broadcasting live today. Tune in to hear their 24 hour sleepless marathon.

Read up on their Proton Drive page to see what kind of cool stuff you'll score for donating.

You can also stream Dublab from iTunes: Radio > Electronic > dublab

Mr T and Kirk, hard at WOW

I wish I could post them here direct, but oh well, I am just too overworked to worry about how to do that for anything other than youtube

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Rock Band Thoughts

As we speak eager rockers are shivering in the cold, waiting for their copy of Rock Band. Meanwhile, I'm safe and warm continuing to digest the game. Some additional thoughts:

Singing is intensely personal. I think this is why I hate the song selection in so many karaoke games, but tend to like the Guitar Hero and Rock Band track lists. Because merely hopping in as session guitarist or drummer is so much more detached than actually having to speak, nay, croon song lyrics. Maybe it's just me, but being forced to sing crappy songs by The Ok Go, The Killers and Coheed and Cambria puts me in a foul mood. Failing said songs straight up pissed me off. I never felt such emotional responses to songs in the Guitar Hero games. I just bit the bullet and powered through the crap as fast as I could.

On a similar note, both Rock Band and Guitar Hero slot their crap songs around the 3/4 point of the playlist. They frontload the game with really kick-ass songs, saving some of the real rockers for the final push. But there's a spot, right where the turning point would be in a movie, where they slam you with a whole tier of stinkers. In Guitar Hero games these are usually the all-metal tiers (which I like but most people abhor). Sure, this observation is totally based on opinion, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that this is the game designer's strategy.

I'm a little worried how smoothly our characters are going to travel. Will I be able to bring my decked out drummer to a friend's house to rock? Will my wife be able to earn achievements on her profile while we work together on a band tour? I'll be investigating these soon.

And if you're scoring: I finished the vocal tour on medium, drums on easy and am working my way through guitar on hard -- The New Pornographers track is kinda tough.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rock Band: Day 1 Impressions

Just finished my first night of Rock Band play. I'm finding myself immediately enamored with the game. Where Guitar Hero III delivered most of what I suspected (turned up to 11, natch) Rock Band constantly surprises. For example, the cities and venues that you play depend on what you select as your character's home town. As a goof I created a French guitarist named Patrice -- a bare-chested dude with Ziggy's mullet in black and day-glow pink stretch pants with yellow skeleton legs on the fronts. All my other characters had been from Los Angeles and played up and down the coast for the first several levels. Patrice kicked off in the Paris sewers, complete with skulls embedded in the walls, then struck out to Amsterdam and parts European for his first tour.

There are little touches everywhere. One of the venues in California is a skating rink. Your band plays in front of the classic arcade games. I fairly swooned. At the end of "Paranoid" the game goes all psychedelic, with mirrored split-screen effects and crazy colors, just like an old Sabbath video. Singers get some percussion to keep them busy during guitar solos and extended musical bridges -- you tap the microphone like a tambourine, or in the case of "Don't Fear the Reaper," a cowbell. I wish I could have a dime for every time that SNL sketch is going to be referenced in reviews in the weeks to come.

There's something about the game that's very appealing to my wife. It could just be the inclusion of singing -- she's already making noised about joining me one of these days. I had to beg her to play bass when I was reviewing Guitar Hero II and she's volunteering, bemoaning in fact that I'll be playing this with my guy friends and that she'll miss out on the fun. So Alexis made a character -- a gal with blue and white dreads. We learned that her name "Skank" was considered inappropriate for online play. I guess the ska-favored dance move gets thrown out with the bathwater in this case.

I suspect the main reason that she's into Rock Band is that it has a more co-operative feel that Guitar Hero ever did. The game was about grandstanding and Rock Band feels like a party game. Also, the game's styling feels more inclusive. The character customization is going to win over lots of girls -- especially after Guitar Hero whored up Judy Nails and kicked Pandora to the curb.

For the kids scoring at home:
  • I played the drum career on easy. It's already tough, but I'm excited about learning this because I genuinely feel like I'm learning to play drums. Because, honestly, this is me.
  • I stopped playing drums around 8PM for fear of annoying my downstairs neighbor.
  • I played the vocal career on medium. I can see singing equaling drumming in difficulty. Hitting those notes gets hard, especially on later songs where you come in on a really high note or hit a high note between a series of low ones.
  • It's cool that some songs, such as "Sabotage," don't judge you on nailing the notes. You can just friggin scream if you feel like it.
  • Like everybody says, guitar feels a little easier. I think, though, that this is a product of song selection as much as difficulty in the note charts. The earlier tunes just aren't as wanky or thrashy as the songs in Guitar Hero.
  • Harmonix's taste in music from the '00s is merely okay. I'm not really digging OK Go and the newer stuff from Nine Inch Nails, The Strokes, etc. I'll make a post soon with my suggestions for awesome, rocking, hipster-friendly new tunes

Four Days Early, One Day Late

UPS showed up bright and early this morning with two huge boxes. One had an individual guitar. The other, the Rock Band special edition. One day earlier and we could have spent our usual Thursday rocking out. Though last night turned out to be a good night at the source. I won another round of A Game of Thrones against Luke (doesn't he realize I'm trying to get new cards?) and we tried out a new game whose name eludes me.

I'll be reviewing Rock Band for Paste, which won't see print for a while, so I'll be sure to post impressions here frequently.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ravenholme in South Minneapolis

From Craigslist, a guy who is a bigger Half-Life 2 dork than all the Source Dorks put together:

For Halloween this year I hosted a "Ravenholm" themed party for which I built several props. Perhaps someone else wants these props that I don't? They're all made from painted OSB.

The eight saw blades are 3' in diameter (and look good in the dark - I was asked, more than once, if they were real).
The nine supply crates have no ammunition or health packs in them but were designed to be easily busted open.
The headcrab missle originally included a propane flame effect (not included!) but is otherwise empty (the original headcrabs have been debeaked).

All are next to my garage, behind my house at 3945 Pleasant Ave. I'll remove/edit this posting as things disappear.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Drama! Outbursts! Homeless!

Here's Part 9 of Dan Clowes' ongoing comic strip, Mr. Wonderful. All the older comics can be found here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dockcon: The Photos

Here's my Flickr set from Dockcon 2007 -- the four-day board game fest I'm still recovering from. Games played between Thursday and Sunday:
Thanks again to Mike and his wife for giving us a place to play. Hopefully the smell will dissipate before winter really sets in.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Furries Are Taking Over

Apparently this video is part of a French ad campaign for unfortunately named drink.


Does the Constitution get in the way of your fear mongering aims?
Does it provide pesky things like rights on people?
Does it stop you from spying on whomever you want whenever you want?

Well then, you don't need to change it or get rid of it. Just get people to change the definition of the very words it's written with...

Hey, it's kinda working for "terrorist" and "torture" after all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fair Weather Friends

Here's the video for "Fair Weather Friends" from Daedelus' new EP. He'll be in town in a couple weeks (Triple Rock 11/17) with Busdriver.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Four Days In the Center of the Board Game Universe

Gamasutra's Ward Batty reports from Internationale Spieltage, the big gaming convention held in Essen, Germany, and makes the case for why the video game industry should care about board games.

Full story.

Feels Like 1988 Again

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Robbins-Con Final Grade B-

Internet connection at the Embassy was impeded by the tin-foil hat so I'm just getting to this now.

Overall, it wasn't as bad as I feared.

Good - Tony is the best presenter I have ever seen. Impossible not to pick up some things there. He also forces you to take time to think about what is important in your life and to focus on that vs the daily distractions. Finally, tools to manage your and affect others' emotional states are very useful.

Bad - Some of his stuff (Neuro-Lingusitc Programming, WheatGrass, etc) has some science behind it. But selling it as The Model for success, health, etc is crap. He's also spreading himself thinner by playing videos of him speaking at times, and bringing in a buddy-speaker. Walking over hot coals was a big letdown.

Ugly - Sunday night after 14 straight hours leading to a staged water fight leading to a sales pitch to spend $10K for more of his stuff. Saying he's too old to go 4 straight days speaking only to find out he's ditched to make $ at a pitch in Chicago. 2500 people crying hysterically during a visualization exercise.

Summary: Definitely interesting, probably useful, but not worth 4 days or the corporate money invested.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Who would you pick?

So I've been having a little fun playing with the candidate match sites listed on this Salon article:

And have to admit I'm pretty surprised at how my results landed. On pretty much every one I got matched up with the angry old Alaskan.

"Why hast thou forsaken me?"

Slate has just published a nifty think piece on Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, which is now available for download on the Wii's Virtual Console. This game was supposed to be the sequel to the NES classic, but it never got a US release because it was considered "too hard" and possibly "too Japanese." Rumors are that Shigeru Miyamoto was depressed when he made the game, which would account for the game's frequently cruel left turns.

Read the story here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Roadkill Bob

I am not sure how many of you still subscribe to the automated source email alerts.

In case you don't, I am using the old cut and paste to let you know some news

Roadkill Bob, the long haired, bridge-of-nose pierced, beard colored, boot wearing biker looking dude who frequently was playing that extinct cardgame one table over, and who banks at Tim's bank is dying of brain cancer. They are passing around the hat because he wants to take his wife to disney world, where they had their honeymoon. 200% of donations will go to Roadkill, that is because the source is matching donations dollar-for-dollar.

Hello Everyone,

Quite possibly this is the most difficult e-mail we've ever had to send out. It's about
very bad news, it's about courage and ultimately hope.

Our very dear friend Robert Scott Aiken AKA "Roadkill the Troll" a fixture and blessing in our
personal and professional lives over the years has been diagnosed with an extremely deadly
form of brain cancer. We can't begin express to all of you in our community how this makes
us feel and how it will ultimately affect us. We love this man like a brother.

In typical Roadkill fashion he has expressed pity " on the poor disease that comes after me".
His courage and noble heart are quite simply the stuff from which legends are born and life
lessons are learned. It is our profound hope that as he fights the battle for his life that he truly
understands that he does not now or will he ever stand alone.

While fighting the good fight, Roadkill has expressed a wish that he, and his wife Susan, return
to the spot where they had their original honeymoon, Disney World (of course!) and that is why
we are writing to you, our community of family and friends, today. We come to you, hat in hand,
to make a couple of humble requests.

First, if you are of a faith whatever prayers or acknowledgements you could offer in support Roadkill
and Susan would be profoundly appreciated.

Second, as of this moment, the Source has initiated operation "Traveling Trolls". We are inviting
all of you to help us assemble the financial resources they need to make their dark days ahead a
little brighter and the opportunity to step up and stand with one of our very own.

We'll be collecting money at the store for the next couple of weeks to give to Roadkill and Susan.
100% of all proceeds will go directly to them. In addition to making our own donation, we at
the Source will also be matching any monies you folks are kind enough to offer. Donations
of cash,check, credit cards and Troll food will be accepted. You can send it, call it in or get it to us
anyway you can. Time is of the essence!

Finally, for those of you who may not know Roadkill and Susan personally, at the bottom of this
e-mail (see below), I've enclosed a note from a good friend of his that pretty much sums up how
we feel.

Thank you for your time, thoughtful considerations for allowing us to share this with you.

Your friends,

Jerry, Bob, Nick, Hans, Chad, Burl, John N., John K., Dan, Greg, Pat, Tim, Greg, Shawn
SOURCE COMICS & GAMES1601 West Larpenteur AveFalcon Heights, MN. 55113651.645.0386

Hi all,

Forgive me if this runs a little long-winded, but I need to get this out of me and committed to the written word.

On Friday, I drove up to the Twin Cities. The autumn colors of the trees grew closer to it's peak the further north I drove. An odd counterpoint, that as my surroundings grew more beautiful and serene the further I went, the more the feeling of dread and unease grew inside of me.

For I was going to see My Friend. And My Friend is dying.

The executioner is a brain tumor. The technical name is glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM. It's a tumor that started on one side of his brain and traveled rather quickly to the other. Surgery was performed about a week and a half ago, but they could only remove part of the tumor. The doctors are using a therapy known as wafer chemotherapy, where a small plastic disk imbedded with chemicals is placed directly on the tumor, which will dissolve over the next two to three weeks. At best, this will only slow the growth temporarily. Because the tumor is very aggressive.

Eventually, the tumor will spread to the parts of his brain that controls his heart and lungs. When this happens, his lungs and heart will stop, and he will die.

My Friend is Robert Scott Aiken. He is also known as Roadkill the Troll, and he is perhaps one of the most interesting, one of the most creative and whimsical, and one of the most unique people who has ever graced my life. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, He Stomped The Terra.

I went to see him, and his wife Susan. Almost twenty years ago, I dragged Susan, who was a co-worker a the time and a science fiction fan, up to her first convention, a Minicon. There, she met a rather brash fellow with hair of many lengths and colors. "It looks like you put roadkill on your head", she told him, and thus a legend was born. She was not exactly enamored by him at first, but as time rode by, she melted the heart of the Beast, and the Beauty took him to be hers. At long last, after many trials and tribulations, they were wed (I was one of the Bridesmen).

And I went to be with them this weekend, and many tears were shed.

And yet, through the tears, I rejoice that Roadkill the Troll will fight this on his own terms. He chooses not to be ventilated or kept alive in the Eternal Twilight of the Machine. He chooses to die but one death. And it appears that he will not be doing any radiation or chemo-therapy. The doctors say that the odds are that it would not prolong his life by much, and would make him weak and unable to do very much.

And Trolls are not weak.

He is doing daily therapy. Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapy, so that he can re-learn how to do so many things. When I talked to him, he was there, but very tired (lots of therapy does that to you.) His words were measured, as if trying to find where that word or phrase is hiding. But he can still give the thumbs up, and sometimes he has to use hand signals, so he's still there, and working his way back.

For he has a plan.

"Hey, Roadkill... you've been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor! What are you going to do now?"

"I'm going to Disney World..."

Yes... Roadkill and his wife are planning to go back to Disney World. They went there for their honeymoon, and he plans to go there before the final scene of his life plays out. He wants to ride the rides, see the shows, dine at the restaurants... and hug Tigger.

For that is who Roadkill truly was... Tigger made real. He bounced from project to project, rarely keeping still, with the fire of one in whom the creative genius glows. Making costumes from everything from foam to shaped PVC... building the Guardian of Forever as a prop for a convention... making 3-D representations of magic items from 'Magic: The Gathering' cards... remodeling his house, including building a bathroom literally from scratch... making a smoking lounge, complete with TV and ventilation, in his basement so he could smoke stogies with his friends after smoking was banned in bars in the twin cities... and shopping at Goldmann's for Zoot Suits, and making them look Damn Stylish, especially with a pair of self-made, dental-quality 3-inch long troll tusks. He had the energy of ten, and attacked projects with an almost child-like exuberance.

And he has left his mark. Go rent a copy of Trekkers 2, and catch the part that was filmed in Minnesota. He's only on screen for about 5 seconds, but you can also see the Guardian of Forever. Go to, a site for a show that Roadkill helped to build props and sets for.

He wanted to get some cards made. I decided to do it for him, and send them up there. The cards, in a shiny blue finish, will say:
Piss Off!
I Have An Excuse...
It's Called a Brain Tumor

And now, the flame grows dim... but does not go out. For this is Roadkill, who will find a way to make it work. Who will stare into the Abyss and yell, "Bring It, Bitch!!!". Who will travel to see Mount Rushmore, and see the leaves turn one last time, and who will go to Disney World, and hug Tigger.

And he is not alone.

For his friends are Legion. His friends are coming to help out, to offer aid and comfort, to make his dreams real. A local game store is holding a silent auction. The people he works with are holding a fund raiser at a local bar. MISFITS, one of the local fannish organizations, chooses a family each year to help during the holidays. This year, they have chose Roadkill and Susan. And many friends are sending checks, large and small, to help them to achieve his last wish: to make every moment count.

And when the light finally flickers out, and the curtain is drawn down on the last act of this wondrous fellows life, even then he will laugh in the face of death. He plans to be cremated, and then have a New Orleans-style Jazz Funeral, umbrellas and all. For his will not have been a life of sorrow and pain, but a life of energy and whimsy and celebration of life itself. So, when the time comes, I will go and sing and dance and drink and smoke stogies in celebration of a wondrous life...

But today I weep...

When I went to see him, I brought a kringle from Racine. I brought a turtle kringle, because Trolls love chocolate. When I presented it to him, he grinned slightly, and said softly, "I would have preferred blueberry..." (of course, that didn't stop him from eating about 1/4 of it...)

So, I will go up to see him again around Christmas. And I will bring him a blueberry kringle. And we will talk, and laugh, and when he's not looking, tears will fall from my eyes.

For he is Robert Scott Aiken.

He is Roadkill the Troll.

He is My Friend.

And I shall miss him when he's gone.

Friday, November 2, 2007


While Gus gets in to E3 for free, I'm in the middle of a free 3 1/2 days of listening to Tony Robbins in Atlanta. I was heavily "encouraged" by my boss, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. Going in, I expected a mix of help focusing on what's important, BS psychology, and kool-aid drinking zealots. So far:

What's important - group dancing, repeating mantras, and talking for 14 hours without a food or bathroom break.

BS psychology - whether you're in a peak state or not, leaving hot coals stuck to your feet after walking across them hurts like hell, ass hat.

BS psychology - At one point, he picks up a 140 lb dude easily. He then tells him to find his center and root to the ground. Then he can't pick the guy up, suspending the laws of psychics.

Kool-aid drinking zealots - Groupies pounced on me every time I pulled out my camera, because it "de-focuses" people.

Kool-aid drinking zealots - People actually believe that chanting while walking across the coals somehow protects the body.

Kool-aid drinking zealots - I made the mistake of admitting to one of the Grateful Dead like followers, gaining me personal attention the whole time. It's not enough for these people to think this guy is Jesus, they need to push me as well.

Front Mission DS: The Lesbian Edition

So here's what happened: I accidentally misread one of Square Enix's androgynous characters and inadvertently transformed Front Mission DS's story from trite to utterly fascinating.

Some back story. I have two handles I like to use in games. For male characters I use Flynn, after Jeff Bridges from Tron. For the ladies I use Tura, after the awesomely bad-ass actress from Russ Meyers' Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! So when Front Mission's story kicks in the only cues I've had re: the sexuality of the lead character, Royd (totally missed hint, right?), was the image you see above, which I read as a kinda butchy girl. So sue her, she likes her hair short. Tura it is. It soon realized I'd misread the character when I learned that he/she was engaged to another Wanzer pilot, Karen, who had gone missing after failed mission. Oops.

At this point there was nothing I could do. Tura would be Tura for the rest of the game. Then things started getting interesting. New female pilots joined my gang of mercenaries the Canyon Crows. And I was starting to detect a hint of jealousy, or unrequited love, for Tura as she led the rag-tag band on a hunt for Karen. The flaxen-haired Natalie seemed to fawn over Tura at every turn. The mysterious Meihua, with her ivory skin and China doll eyes, was obviously infatuated with her de facto leader.

And when a surly veteran in a dive bar called Tura "boy" the implication was crystal clear. The jerk was calling out Tura's sexuality. The dig bore a little extra sting. Tura's mission wasn't simply a quest to re-unite with her love. No, she was going to sing her sexuality to the whole of Huffman. And she'd ram her message home with a F-2 Tonfa is she had to. Dismantling these backwards yahoos one mech at a time suddenly became a lot more fun.

I've never really jived with Square Enix's storytelling style. Their whole world-is-gonna-end-because-of-some-crazy-fascist-Darth-Vader-guy-with-a-crystal motif leaves me a little cold. But I think my inadvertent sex change was exactly what this game needed. It could be that all Final Fantasy games would benefit from selective gender bending. Maybe I'm finally beginning to understand this whole yaoi thing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wired Rocks

Velvety voiced Chris Kohler from Wired got his retail copy of Rock Band already. Watch him sing and play lead guitar on Weezer's "Say it Ain't So." I'm so ready for this game I couldn't help but sing along to the video.

Kohler's making all kinds of Rock Band unboxing and assembly posts at Wired's Game Life blog.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Attention Dorks!

The new version of Dwarf Fortress is out. Will it be even more impossible to play? I trust Aaron will have reviews of the new z-coordinate insanity.

Tokyo Dance Trooper

I'm sorry. There's no way these guys were made from Jango Fett's DNA. The Fetts are lousy dancers.

via TV in Japan

More Mr. Wonderful

I've been remiss in posting links to the Dan Clowes' ongoing strip Mr. Wonderful. Here are the last four pages:
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Stuff happens. I swear!

The whole series can be found at the NY Times Funny Pages.

The Definitive Leopard Review

John Siracusa has posted his review of the newest OS from Apple.  His reviews of OS X are generally considered to be the final word on the product.  If you wish to become more familiar with life on the other side, there is a ton of insight here.  I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the best review of anything, ever.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mayfair Games Fixes Prices

Hot on the heels of the supreme court's legalization of price fixing Mayfair, the publisher of Settlers of Catan, has sent a memo to retailers capping discounts of their product at 20%.

Heated discussion @ Boardgamegeek.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

picture, thousand words, all that

How To Cheat at Chess

In this video Derren Brown plays chess against grandmasters and comes out on top. Then he shows you how he pulled it off. If you're not familiar with Brown, he's a UK illusionist of sorts who uses social hacks other theatrical tricks to pull off interesting feats. So he's kinda like Criss Angel, but not a retard. Actually he's more like the brilliant Ricky Jay, who uses masterful story telling as diversion.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Sea and Cake "Everybody"

This video for the song "Everybody" by The Sea and Cake is made entirely with animated .gifs. They've skipped .gifs that use copyrighted material, so the video has an interesting lo-fi Internet aesthetic.

Radiolab @ The Fitzgerald

The hosts and creators of the awesome radio show/podcast Radiolab will be at the Fitzgerald theater Saturday reconstructing Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds broadcast.

Event page

Price Fixing Legalized

Anyone see this Supreme Court decision a few months ago? NY Times story:

And the actual decision:
I always have an opinion on legislated economics, but I'd like to hear others...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Card Art

After over 200 combined turns on RedHotPawn and Yucata in three days I went back to looking at card art over at I love that place. Check out this guy's gallery. If only Christian would cough up the dough for consistantly good card art...

art by vegasmike

Qhorin's Pantheon of Boardgaming

Essen and Dock-con have caused me to reflect on my favorite games. Lists are also a great way of starting some debate. Linked is my list of top 29 games. Please forgive the writing-style, I'm decidedly left-brained.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Side Projects

Don't want to hurt any feelings here in Minnesota, but I've got a couple of side projects.

Band #1: The Belmont Dropouts

We played "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden because that was the only song on the playlist that our high-school aged band mates recognized.

Band #2: To Catch a Predator

Just because I'm playing bass on both of these tracks don't think I'm not a versatile musician. In a rehearsal I sang "Wave of Mutilation" by the Pixies and knocked the song out of the park. Check out our vocalist on this one, though. That's Ryan Smith from Popmatters handling the white boy rap stylings of "Epic" by Faith No More quite nicely.

Don't worry guys. These two projects were just one-offs. I'm dedicated to a long musical career here in Minneapolis. Especially considering the news that we won't be playing Rock Band's career mode online.

Film Noir Mondays

Take Up have started a film noir series at the newly renovated Parkway Theater. We already missed The Killing and Kiss Me Deadly. Next Monday is Gilda. Check out the full schedule here. I'm gonna catch a couple of these and buy some pop corn and soda. I feel compelled to support any local business person who believes in preserving old movie houses and presenting non-commercial cinema.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

This Is What You Wanted All Along

This video made me chuckle maniacally to myself. Primotech runs down how to do the mod. I'm sorry if you had any plans between now and Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Partying with the 'Dickster'

Pete Bagge rubs elbows with Dick Cheney in this comic. Since Bagge semi-retired his seminal comic book Hate he's been doing libertarian-flavored comics journalism for Reason.

The RZA Explains "My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Also: Last week the RZA won the first Hip Hop Chess Federation 1st Annual Chess Kings Invitational Champion Belt.

via Magpie.

Benefits and Birthdays

Friday night I went to The Echo in Echo Park for a benefit concert for friend Kime Buzzelli who just got out of the hospital. Lots of people turned out to support the artist/entrepreneur by watching great bands, dancing and drinking many many drinks (that's what I did at least). There was a raffle to win shirts printed with Kime's designs and for a donation Brandy Flower's Hit & Run crew would make them on the spot. I had one made for Alexis with a drawing of Kime's cat Georgie prominently featured. Musical highlights included The Long Lost, Entrance, Blank Blue and Lavender Diamond. Dublab DJs held it down out back and between sets.

Saturday, after a delicious lunch at Shabu Shabu house, I retuned to E for All for one last pass. I hooked up with my friend Mike there and headed East to San Bernadino for a birthday dinner at The Melting Pot with Jeremy and some friends. Melty.

Kime Buzzelli Benefit @ Flickr
Shabu and Fondue @ Flickr

Thursday, October 18, 2007

E For All

The first day of E for All was markedly different from E3s of old. I'm pretty sure I've seen more people in the LA Convention Center for Erotic LA. Still, there are lots of games to play; Smash Brothers, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mario Galaxy, Rock Band and Guitar Hero 3 to name just a few. There's also the MLG game competition filling the space that WSVG was supposed to take before their money people packed up their toys and went home. Two of the gamers I talked to traveled to Los Angeles from Kansas. They said they'd try out for the open gaming tournaments for shits and giggles.

The highlight of the show for me was playing Rock Band again. They've got a set-up on a flat bed, which I'm assuming is the same that'll be touring the country this fall. I'll be posting more soon.

Here's my Flickr set for the first day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The League of Extrordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier

Entertainment Weekly has a sneak preview of the new comic by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil. This one is skipping the monthly pamphlet format and going straight to hardcover.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lol Blade Runner

via Boing Boing
, a gallery of image macros inspired by Blade Runner. I think the new cut of the move may be the first BluRay disc I purchase. Back in the day my first laser disc was the $99 CAV Criterion collection of the movie, so it seems right that I drop the dough for this nutso box set.

I'm still not sure how I feel about them shooting new footage. Zora's snake dance was always better left to my imagination, I think.

Also, watch those lolRunner images -- there's a potential Battlestar Galactica spoiler in there.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Simon Pegg is Scotty!

Simon Pegg, the guy on the right, co-star of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz has just been cast as Scotty in J.J. Abram's Star Trek reboot. It's crazy how little things like this can make me so dang happy. I thank God my brain is wired the way it is.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Minor Internet Celebrity is Born

Watch the "Students React to Shooting" video at CNN. The second kid, a classmate of the 14-year-old shooter, responds to the interview with refreshing honesty, humor and personality. This kid will be massively Photoshopped and YTMNDed by the end of the day.

Leroy Jenkins Digested By Ad Agencies

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Internet People! - The Meth Minute 39

numa numa!

My Favorite Exploitation Flick

Russ Meyer
's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! may not be his tightest or most vibrant film, but damn if it doesn't smolder with all the things that make great trash. It's a violent, sexual and profane tale of three voracious female bullies. The tough, busty Tura Satana is the star here -- the protype all the tough gals in every Quentin Tarantino flick. Listen close for familar clips, everybody from Madlib to Rob Zombie has sampled from the movie. Heck, even cartoonist Dan Clowes used a bit of dialog to name his graphic novel.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"I'm here because I'm bored!"

One more gauntlet thrown down:
My best times on beginner and intermediate are 9 and 95 seconds, respectively.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Looks Like I Chose A Bad Time To Leave Town

It's a big music weekend in Minneapolis. Three awesome shows that I'll be missing.

Of Montreal plays First Ave. on Friday. It's an early show, starting at 6PM. Afterwards every college kid in town will be at the same venue to see Girl Talk, Dan Deacon and Tay Zonday.

The show I'll really be mourning is Boris, playing the Triple Rock on Sunday. I've already seen these cats twice -- once at The Walker and another time in San Francisco. I'm bummed because this time they're touring with Michio Kurihara, playing music from their collaboration Rainbow. Pitchfork has some pictures from the tour.

No psych for Gus this weekend. :(

Listen Up:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Just Watch

or here

Video embedded for your viewing pleasure. -g

On a Similar Note

Poster Eleven at the Nobodysmiling message boards cooked up a thorough list of "The 75 Greatest Hip Hop Tracks." Each selection is accompanied by a Zshare of the song (streamable with the Windows Media Player plug-in), lyrics and YouTubed videos.

The list is very New York centric, dwelling in a justified nostalgia for tracks from the '90s. Check out Nas' "The World is Yours," "C.R.E.A.M." by the Wu-Tang Clan and "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" by the Geto Boys for some list highlights you may not have heard before.

Wu Tang + The Beatles

There's been a bit of buzz about The Wu Tang Clan securing the first ever fully approved Beatles sample for their new album. Turns out that they're interpolating the song (basically covering the track with permission) rather than chopping the master recording. Still cool in my book. Hip hop blog Oh Word linked the new track, "The Heart Gently Weeps."

Tim, if you can make it past the language listen to the way Ghostface flows. He's a great story teller and epitomizes the heartfelt and urgent MCing style that typifies many of the Wu's rappers. Like the RZA it feels like the guy is about to crack when he rhymes. Very immediate. Anyway, enough bloggifying. Listen to the song.

Boing Boing TV

Boing Boing is easily my favorite, most read site on the web. It's a blog full of ephemera and the occasional bit of net-flavored news. Regular posters include Xeni Jardin, Mark Frauenfelder and Cory Doctorow. Here's their new show, it's pretty much a two-minute montage of random weirdness.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Kick, Punch It's All In The Mind

Chris Kohler from Wired's excellent game blog has a preview of Exclamation Warriors! a Club Nintendo exclusive that depends solely on voice commands. Japanese gamers get all the cool stuff. :(

Watch this awesome promotional video of the game in action. First person to make a joke about Japanese accents brings great dishonor to their family.

Mr. Wonderful Part Three

Here's the next chapter in Dan Clowes' serialized story "Mr. Wonderful." Find earlier chapters in the New York Times' Funny Pages.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

World of NFLcraft

VikingD: LFG offense needed any spec will do
Viking0: Hey, can someone in the guild tell me how to set up my macros again? I was over in Barren's chat.

Kanye on SNL

In keeping with Source Dork's goal to be your one-stop shop for all things Kanye West, here are clips of the man on Saturday Night Live. The first is a sketch poking fun of the rapper's award show meltdowns. God help me, I actually found a SNL bit funny. The next two are a medley of "Stronger" and "The Good Life."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Playing the Real Game

I've been trying to figure out which part of Halo 3 to review. The single-player story, which I blew through in a day, is the traditional answer. But I've never really been all that enamored with the campaigns. Never even finished the second one. But then NeoGAF user Crush posted the above picture in a screen shot thread. An elaboration of a virtual self portrait that I generated in the Halo 3 theater. You can see the original on my Bungie file share. My pose somehow reminded me of Hard Gay when he says, "foooooo!" Crush took the idea and ran. I'm thinking my review of Halo 3 is going to be about the real game -- the one that we can keep playing in endless online matches, face-to-face at Halo parties and now, apparently, even after the 360 has been powered down.

Oops, Wrong Picture

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I fear robots

that is all

Halo 3 = Woodstock

Carl Gunther, an ex-Marine and 15th in line, gets an arm massage before he gets his hands on the new game. Gunther said he's flying out of town Tuesday morning for work as a game tester, but is hoping to play Halo 3 on the televisions in the airport bar. "My father waited in line for Star Wars and Woodstock," Gunther said. "(Halo 3) is like our Woodstock."

Apart from the unwashed masses, I don't understand the comparison. Anyway, is it any good?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mr. Wonderful Part Two

Here's the second chapter of Dan Clowes' "Mr. Wonderful" story in the New York Times.

Link to the part two .pdf

In related news a teacher resigned from his job in Connecticut after the furor that erupted after he gave Eightball #22 to one of his students. Read more at The Comics Reporter.

Al for president

Greenspan that is.

When I skip church I head straight to Meet The Press. I love that show. The Man was on today. Capital T. Capital M.

First, he is a stud. That's his 'main squeeze'. (~you should see his alt~) He wooed her with an essay on Monopolies and a paper he wrote for Ayn Rand.

Second, he is my favorite kind of power player. Being a little more behind the scenes than the figureheads and electeds. More influence than straight power.

Third, the guy is brilliant.

Fourth, he is a straight talker. So refreshing in politics. The fun part of the interview was at the end with some one liners from Tim Russert. The transcript isn't up yet but will be here soon. Al said without hesitation that the president he got the most pressure from was W. Well duh but I am glad he said it. He said the most intellectual President he worked with was a toss up between Nixon and Clinton. Nixon being the most profane. Gerald Ford was the "most real" or something like that.

He has a new book out entitled, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. So far the selling quote goes something like this: Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we have had in a long time.

Eddie Izzard + Star Wars + Legos

Friday, September 21, 2007

Miyazaki on the Big Screen

On September 26th several Minneapolis theaters will be screening Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro -- a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. If this rolicking caper flick doesn't fit comfortably with the rest of the director's work that's because Lupin III belongs more to it's creator the manga-ka Monkey Punch. The long running series follows a crack jewel thief (Lupin III) and his sidekicks -- a samurai, a gangster and a hot chick. It's like James Bond, if the lead character was David Niven from the Pink Panther. So while it's no Spirited Away, it's great fun and a damn sight better than half this summer's flicks if you're looking for family-friendly entertainment.

I'm not sure how Fathom Events organizes these things, but don't be surprised if they project the movie digitally rather than using an honest-to-God print.

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