Today’s evidence against celebrities

We’ll always have Paris (I’m afraid, anyway), so take a break and read this LA Times article. It notes that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak did not call in any favors; he’s standing in line to buy an iPhone like the rest of the world. But a little later down…

But Cher, another celebrity client of Rosenberg, “is longing to buy one.”

“I haven’t been successful in getting one for her,” the publicist said, adding that she might have to stand in line for Cher or find a fan to do so. “Doesn’t winning Oscars, Grammys and Emmys entitle her to move to the front of the line?”

No. That puts her at the front of the line of people to come up to the stage when they call her name on an awards show, you arrogant cunt.

Lammy gets an upgrade

Yay, a game! Time to play Spot the Difference:

If you said “Hey, that second photo has totally bitchin’ new DiMarzio blue speed knobs,” you’re right. (And if you noticed that the words “Seymour Duncan” no longer appear on the middle pickup, the selector switch is in a different position, the background towel is now a blanket, and the strings are now coated blue instead of plain silver, you’re also right on all counts, and possibly a little too detail-oriented, but your name is almost certainly Andy Eddy.)

I love custom knobs and have swapped many out. I used to have custom knobs on the Strat and took them off, but all the ESP Semi-Acoustics got knob upgrades right away and it was for the better. With Lammy, they needed to stay blue to match the game, but I was never thrilled with the Strat-style knobs that came with it (especially since the middle control, which said “Tone,” became a volume knob in my custom wiring configuration). The only replacement knobs I’d ever seen looked worse. So when I spotted these knobs in a catalog, I had to get them, and they look bigger and even more cartoony than the stock ones. Plus, there’s an added bonus upon close inspection:

“One louder. You’re all the way up on your guitar, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up…where can you go? Nowhere. What we do, when we need that extra…push, over the cliff? Eleven. Exactly.

Buy my old laptop

Seriously, it’s nice. I’m super happy — kind of overjoyed, actually — with the new D630, and I was thinking of holding onto this one as a machine around the house…but c’mon. I have enough stuff, and I certainly have enough computer stuff. Someone can use this and I could use the money to pay off the new machine.

If a friend buys it I’ll throw in something extra special.

Is this editorial about ethics…ethical?

You want honesty in your media outlets, yes? Naturally. The only real problem with editorials like this one — or the one that was similarly phrased by Shoe a few years back — is that it implies wrongdoing everywhere else. “This is why I trust EGM,” say many of the comments, as if nobody else can be trusted. “The one thing we need in this industry: HONESTY.”

So…I guess that makes me dishonest by association? Once again, Shoe’s editorials suggest that he’s the last bastion of decency in a world gone mad with corruption. I like Shoe and I always have; he’s a very upstanding guy as well as an writer and editor who knows his stuff. And granted, this is an opinion; it’s an editorial piece discussed on a personal blog, just like this one. But I feel loaded phrases like “you’d be surprised” and casting mysterious aspersions at every publication that isn’t a Ziff one hurts a lot of innocent people rather than bringing the unethical folks he’s thinking about to justice. Way to spread that fear, uncertainty, and doubt — if not outright bias.

This wasn’t always the case everywhere I worked (I’ve unlearned some bad habits over the years), but everything Shoe describes as Ziff’s strict ethical policies are commonplace at my office, so much so that they don’t even get discussed. I went on a trip last week to see a lot of games. My hotel, airfare, and food were on company credit cards or my personal ones, due to be reimbursed. A few weeks back, we got a Halo 3 Zune too; it was immediately given away on our podcast. We didn’t say “We got something we can’t keep due to our strict moral code.” We said “Microsoft was nice enough to send us a Zune, and it could be yours.” A few months back I was offered a really nice DirectX 10 video card by Microsoft for coming to a press event, and I had to say “I can’t accept that.” They were stunned (and disappointed — the PR team was really happy to have put together the little thank-you bag), but they understood that I was following the rules. I thanked them for their generosity all the same.

Basically, everything I see in the article makes me say “me, too.” Hell, my name’s even Dan; did I write it and not remember? Probably not; I think I was writing about games or something instead.

Future has the same exact policies about this stuff as Ziff. We’re just not tooting our own horn about it. That doesn’t mean we’re guilty simply because we’re not the first to say “I’m innocent.” But that’s the implication, and that’s quite definitely the message that was taken to heart by the readers who left comments.

We were talking about ethics and responsibility among game journalists, right?

Soft drinks

I drink hard liquor now and again but I still like funky soft drinks more. A Beverages & More (aka BevMo) opened up in my neighborhood this week and I was thrilled to find on a local shelf some of the stuff I’ve only been able to find through tiny internet soft drink shops. I’m still chasing a draft cola, but Jack Black’s Blood Red Cola is the closest I’ve found…and now it’s down the street, along with Crush, Moxie, Sioux City, Boylan’s, Faygo, and all those other old-timey, what-the-hell beverages.

Also, they sell Cabo Wabo. Cabo Wabo Blanco es muy whatever the word for “good” is.

Laptop love

Cool, something else went right! After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I finally ordered a new laptop from Dell a few weeks ago; it was the brand-new D630 model and it looked like it was going to take a month. That would at least get it to me by E3…but not before the pre-E3 stuff that takes place this week. Well, imagine my thrill when Dell shipped my laptop a week ahead of schedule on Sunday night (?!) and it arrived on my desk today.

I’m very happy with the choice so far; it’s the first laptop I’ve ever bought new, so it’s cool to see things like “battery life: 8 hours” (and that’s with only one of the two batteries! Hello plane rides!). I’m also very happy that, by running a lean & mean existing laptop, I was able to strip all the relevant data, locate the core apps to install, and get it all running in a matter of hours. Turns out Kat was right about all that “organization” bullshit.

Time to sell the old notebook — works great, just too heavy. Today I lugged it for the last time, in a backpack…uphill…on crutches. Again, great desktop replacement for someone who doesn’t use laptops the way I need to use laptops. If anybody needs an Inspiron 5100, talk to me before I put it on eBay or Craigslist or something. It’s got a 2.4 GHz P4, my seal of approval…and a new 60GB hard drive instead of its stock 30GB.

Open question for YouTube contributors

I’ve seen a lot of videos of guitarists and bassists on YouTube, and I really only have one question: Why would you bother to dress up, videotape yourself, and upload it if you’re not interested in actually performing?

Compare that with this. At least he’s into playing the song; no costume, but definite energy and a love for what he’s doing, without being a cheesemaster. The other guy (and many like him) is suddenly ashamed to be on camera…after willingly putting himself in front of it.

How can you crave attention and try to avoid it at the same time? Better still…why?

Roll the (store) credits

Planet Puzzle League came out this week, and as a big fan of Tetris Attack, I was all too eager to pick up the update. I realized I had a few games and DVDs lying around that I should trade in, even for a little credit, just to reduce clutter around the house. Also I had these two really, really old EB Edge store-credit cards that I kept meaning to redeem. They had, between them, about $3, but you wouldn’t throw away $3 in spare change, would you? Me neither. So I gathered up some stuff I knew I was never going to play again — quite a lot of it, really, about 20 games from various platforms and even a gray DS which had since been supplanted with a DS Lite — and hobbled off to the store with Kat.

When I get to GameStop, there’s a sign in the window that said “Trade in 5 games and get 30% bonus credit.” I’m thinking, holy shit, we’re going to be able to get the game and maybe have a little left over. Jeffrey at the register cheerfully tallies everything up and says “If you sign up for Game Informer, you’ll get 40% instead of 30%. Literally, I’d be paying you in credit to take the subscription.” Now, GI is a direct competitor to OXM and the 800-lb gorilla of the game mag biz, for exactly this “tied to a discount card” reason. Since your “subscription” is really a $15 customer affinity program, they follow different circulation rules — but for some reason, they’re still allowed to play the same numbers game as traditional newsstand/subscriber publications and win. I feel more than a little awkward about supporting that tricksy methodology, but I don’t currently get GI and should, to be responsible, keep an eye on the competition on a regular basis anyway. If nothing else, I’ll bring it into work for reference for the staff. I say what any good American consumer would say: “I’ll do whatever gets me the most trade-in credit.” Gimme gimme gimme!

Jeffrey double-checks everything three times so he doesn’t rip me off. “You’re going to get a hell of a lot of credit for this,” he says. Guess that means the little DS game is covered. I look at Kat and ask if there’s anything else she wants — games, accessories, gifts for friends, whatever. When she says no, I figured, hell, if it’s a LOT of money, I’d love to get the HD DVD drive for my 360. They sent one to the magazine and I borrowed it but never really got to use it. The nerd in me wants it, and if it’s essentially free with trade-ins, why not?

When the tally comes through with the 40% boost, it’s close to $150 in credit. Holy cow. But with the $200 drive and the $35 DS game, plus tax, I wind up owing $100. Okay, fair enough; that’s still basically a free DS game and the HD drive for half-price. I’m grateful. “Oh yeah,” I remind him, “and I have, like, $3 on those two old cards; let’s at least zero that out so I don’t have to carry them around any more.”

“Man…these cards are old!” Jeffrey says. We look closely and find that one of them doesn’t even mention a URL. Jeffrey points to his young co-worker, saying, “When this card came out, this guy was in kindergarden!” I’m just hoping that they aren’t demagnetized; they have been kicking around a lot over the years. Maybe they’ll ring up zero; maybe they won’t ring up at all.

“Whoa,” says Jeffrey. “This one’s worth $62.” The only thing I could articulate was “…really?” “…And this one’s worth $40. Wow…you’re going to owe me, like, three bucks.” Sure enough, store credit and mystery cards combined left me with a final total of…$3.77. I paid in cash.

I have dim memories of a few times that I went into the EBX at Hillsdale Mall with trade-ins years ago, left with store credit because they didn’t have what I came in for, and forgot how valuable the cards were. I don’t think it was a computer error; I think it was merely a memory issue.

Today is a good day.