2015

Facebook is the reason I haven’t been blogging much here. I think I should change that, because even though I look back at some of my angrier screeds and cringe, this is still the one and only space where I control everything. I don’t have to hope that my friends see it in their feed, you know? It’s here if you want it.

Anyway, 2015 is coming to a close and as always, I’m taking stock.

April was my one-year anniversary at Ubisoft, and it’s been an amazingly good fit. I still really like working there; I just need to do it a bit less, because as the year went on, I worked 10- and 11-hour days (not in a crunch time) with alarming frequency.

We finally got a house. Originally, Kat and I were hoping to go to Disney World for our 20th anniversary, but we thought more practically about that expenditure¬†and realized we should get serious about owning our own place at last. Staying in my own four walls has been the best vacation ever (and we’re still surrounded by Disney stuff). We apparently had a lot of good house karma built up, because we found a place relatively quickly, had our offer accepted quickly, and got some key renovations done quickly too. It’s always a hassle and there were a lot of steps, but I feel very grateful that it went as smoothly as it did.

I didn’t get the next Palette-Swap Ninja project out this year, which I had hoped to do. Still working on that. It’s hard.

Mostly I want to take naps over the holiday. Hope your naps are happy too, if you celebrate naps.

Palette-Swap success, internet style

Last Friday Palette-Swap Ninja released a new song, “Learn to Spell.” It’s a parody of All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell” and it’s about people who post on gaming forums with limited verbal capacities. I was really busy and forgot to plug it here.

A week went by and our swanky premium page at Entertonement launched, which also brought with it someone who posted that embedded-player version of the song on Digg.

Digg, for my friends who don’t follow the internets so much, is a site where anybody can recommend anything that they deem of interest on the internet to the rest of the internet, and the rest of the internet says “we agree” or “that sucked.” If you like it, you just click once to vote for it. Digg is a big deal for generating traffic to your site.

We got 1200 votes in about 21 hours. That’s a lot for Digg, enough to get us into the top stories of the day. That feels great.

Of course, you can’t write and record and release a song that makes fun of people who cannot write without being made fun of for your writing. Nitpicks included everything from incorrect verb tense in the song’s description on Entertonement to the improper use of “who/whom.” It’s a fair cop. And of course, it inevitably turned into a Digg argument about grammar Nazis and the evolution of language, which was planned on from the moment we wrote the song — it’s kindling for flame wars.

But mostly? It’s cool that 1200 people liked the song enough to vote it up. Not bad for something recorded by amateurs with GarageBand in two bedrooms on opposite sides of the country and given away for free.

You should buy a t-shirt to celebrate the moment.

Another new PSwap track

Where have I been? I usually blog on or near the weekends, but lately all my weekends have been spent doing musical stuff. I’m writing my own songs, I’m getting ready for a public performance next month (nothing major, but a good confidence builder for me in a fun venue that hosts a weekly variety show — think open mic night with structure), and most recently I’ve been working hard with Jude on a new Palette-Swap Ninja track that we made in conjunction with the 100th episode of the Maximum PC podcast. I’m really enjoying being musically active at home and not having to lug gear around, but I do find it hard to work on more than one musical project at a time. Since we had a deadline for “Vista Drivers” I made that priority and put my other stuff on hold, but I’m messing about with the other stuff more today.

Jude and I are now brainstorming on future parodies. The one about Halo was a surprise hit (on our scale anyway). I don’t really know how many downloads or plays there were, because we only tracked our site’s 10,000 downloads, then Bungie mirrored it for who-knows-how-many impressions, then the YouTube clip got 60,000 hits, and just on Entertonement.com alone it generated 160,000 plays in two weeks. So I guess we will see where it goes, but we have no real expectations (though I’d like to make some t-shirts just to have a souvenir of the whole project). We’re doing it because it’s fun, and it would be nice to have people recognize the name and go “oh yeah, they’re the funny gamer geek guys.” It’s also nice to be in charge of a creative project at the end of a long day at the office.

Ninja activity

I have spent the majority of my time during this break working on two Palette-Swap Ninja songs. One will be released this week, and I’m laying down final vocals for it today. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought it would be so it has taken a lot more time — but I think it’s a good one. If you haven’t yet, you should pop over to http://paletteswapninja.com and hit the RSS feed. It will be released there.

The other probably next month — it’s part of something larger, or at least related to something larger, and as such the details are still being worked out. I can explain everything once its reason for existing has been released.

And when I get all that out of the way, I have a song or two to write.

“Wii Christmastime”

It’s the most shoptacular time of the year! And in honor of Black Friday, Jude and I have whipped up a holiday parody song about the lack of Nintendo consoles on store shelves. “Wii Christmastime” is now available over at paletteswapninja.com.

However, if you’d like something longer and more refreshingly vulgar to listen to, the song made its debut during Episode 29 of TalkRadar, which is now available via GamesRadar.com or on iTunes right now. At the 32 minute mark, they talk about the contest and debut the song. But you should listen to the whole show, as Rob Smith is a guest, discussing his new book about Lucasarts, Rogue Leaders. Oh, and if you’re never listened to TalkRadar before, here’s your explcit content warning. As podcasts go, it’s vulgar, drunken, and rambling. In other words, it’s funny and quite popular.

More importantly, there is the topic of phat lewt: TalkRadar is hosting a video contest, and the person who makes the best YouTube video for the new song gets a sweet Creative media player. Full details are over at the PSwap site.

Palette-Swap Ninja was one of the projects I wanted to focus on when leaving Fast Times so it feels good to turn something around so fast. If you like what you hear and want to follow along in the social networking space, I’d love some love at Facebook, MySpace, and/or Twitter.

Song ideas

I realized as soon as I left Fast Times that I was going to have to deliver. I left to focus on other musical projects that were being put aside while I worked on the cover band. Mostly it was a time sink and a mental block. But now that I’m away…it’s publish or perish. I gave up a good thing and while I am happy about my choice, I owe it to myself to actually write those songs and record that other material.

Next week I should have a new Palette-Swap Ninja song to announce. We’re trying to get it done this weekend so it will be in plenty of time for Thanksgiving. I have an arrangement with GamesRadar that they get to debut the song first, and there may be a contest involved. So hopefully that will happen.

For the original stuff, I’m finding I have to do some editing. I have kept a big purple folder full of song ideas for several years now. I went through and audited it a few weeks back. It was hilarious and embarassing and inspiring all at once. Some of the ideas still have merit. Some of them do not. Some of the stuff I’m keeping because it’s horrible, and I need to remind myself not to do that any more. I have about 10 to 15 feasible song concepts that I plan to mess around with. One or two are already written and just need to be recorded (or re-recorded) so they feel “done” to me. Anything I’m proud of I will share.

The other thing is I’m finding I am not up to speed on Pro Tools. I used to use Vegas on PC but in the last few months I’ve adopted Kat’s old MacBook Pro, gotten an mbox mini, and switched over to PT LE 7.3.1. How hard can it be? My audio degree is basically irrelevant in the digital age, but I used Vegas for two or three years, maybe more — same thing, right? No. There’s all kinds of functions and features and stuff that I’m either not using right or not using at all. I am seeking out some training videos to crash my course.

So, you won’t always see the progress. But progress is being made.

Jude stuff

Jude and I are getting back in the Palette-Swap Ninja groove. We had an idea last year that we couldn’t get done in time, and we’re putting it back on the front burner. We’ll have a finished song in a month or so, and we have three more ideas.

Also, he’s very quietly launched a small blog for his arcade restoration hobby. He just got a house and the house has a basement and the basement has coin-ops. He’s in the process or rebuilding an Atari Star Wars machine that some moron made into a MAME cabinet. See for yourself.