Can’t Take A Hint Dept.

I bought Guitar Hero III over the weekend. I am disappointed that you can’t do career co-op over Live. So Paul and I got together at my house to crash through it, as Paul is a big Bloc Party fan and really wanted to unlock “Helicopter,” which you can only find in the co-op career. So he brought his hard drive over, so his save file would properly have the unlocks. I figure I’ll play through co-op with Kat, so that’s no problem.

First, my Xbox froze. The older one. Maybe the DVD drive is going. So we rebooted.

Then, as we got ready to start the first song, an earthquake hit. We assumed Hell was frightened of our rock awesomeness.

Then the Xbox froze again. And that, we took as a sign. Maybe we shouldn’t do this tonight. But we swapped consoles and went ahead anyway.

After a few songs we realized Paul was the only one getting Achievements, even though my profile was logged in as player two. Well, that sucks. Co-op Achievements are apparently glitched, say the interwebs. But we soldiered on.

Then, right after “Welcome to the Jungle,” there was a knock on the door. “Do you have someone staying with you from out of town with two children? There’s a car in the parking lot next door with child seats in it that the police are going to tow.” Seems the earthquake shook Paul’s parked car out of gear and it rolled back in the lot, blocking the way. When he got there, the police were about to smash his side window. Friendly neighbor, we thank you.

I think I need to go to bed before Martians attack.

POD X3 Live

My fanboyism for Line 6 gear is well established. But holy shit. Way more options than I’d ever use or probably be able to figure out, but I gotta love it on a technical level. I could use the XLR outs on stage (no direct box, yay), the bass settings are a nice luxury for studio stuff, and some of the new amp models piqued my interest (“5160” — hell yes). And two signal chains at once…hot damn! I just didn’t expect it.

I won’t buy it. I won’t buy it. I won’t buy it. I don’t need it. I won’t buy it.

Maybe I can get an endorsement.

Disney gets dark

I love going to Disney parks. I also love hearing what it’s like to work at Disney parks, the sordid tales from within the iron-fisted corporate empire of happiness.

A visitor spammed sent me this link to a blog in response to some of my earlier Disney posts. It’s a well-written tale of life as a photographer peon within the Magic Kingdom, and all the changes that come from moving from the scar-filled world of action-sports to the scrubbed and sparkly Disney Experience, chronicling the drug use and homosexuality that he found along the way.

Is it all true? Probably, yeah. And if it isn’t, hey, the melodrama is genuine — you’ll enjoy rolling your eyes at the thoughts of an adorably anti-establishment guy who once had “fuck you” shaved into his beard but was too naive/dumb to consider that Disney was, you know, strict about things like employee appearances. Even I could tell you that, and I’m just a visitor. That’s basic pattern recognition — just look around the park’s Cast Members and play Spot the Individual. You’ll lose every time.

If you like your Disney with a little dirt (and some NSFW images), click here.

Xbox 360 wireless

I am a wired kinda guy. I prefer physical Ethernet cables. But I do have a wireless network in my house and I use it; it makes things easier when I’m working on a laptop on the couch, or want to patch my MAME machine with XP updates or whatever. But now that the white Xbox 360 is down in the living room, far far away from my router, I decided to cave and get the $100 wireless doohickey.

I wasn’t expecting a fight, but still…when something’s really easy, I appreciate it. The thing searched for my networks, showed me the options, let me tap in my password, and that was it. I did it in expectation of Rock Band in a few weeks, figuring we might want to play downstairs and/or Kat and do her own career on whatever instruments she wants on her own Xbox.

So…yeah, expensive as 802.11g dongles go. But at least it works flawlessly.

Still looking for costumes

I’ll take suggestions. I have a long and proud history of going too far but I’ve been too busy to plan something major this year. Last year I repurposed the 1997 outfit. I was thinking of repurposing 1999 this year because I love it so, but I think it’s always better to do something original if you can.

So, wanna do the thinking for me?

The PT flame situation

So we ordered vinyl flames for the PT. We got “Ghost Flames” in gray, understanding that they were “transparent” and had a gradient fade effect to gray. I mean, that’s certainly what it appeared to be from the website. Nope: In reality, the decals had no fade effect, and although light does pass through, if it’s got about 60% color pigment to it, I wouldn’t call that transparent; I would call it non-opaque — or better still, tinted. But we decided we’d try it anyway. We figured it would still look cool and subtle.

We went with fender flames, so as not to put something on the whole car right away. They were a little more affordable (but still pretty pricey for what we were doing) but, alas, nearly impossible for us newbies to put on correctly. After testing with a very small decal that was included for free, we did one of the big fender flames and it turned out like this:

…which actually looks pretty good if you’re looking at it from a safe distance, like over the internet. But in reality it was a bubbly, stretchy, poorly-affixed mess, coated in soap and bits of backing paper — everything that looks like an imperfection in that photo actually is. We even scratched the car cutting the decals while they were in place. Verdict: These would look great if you knew what you were doing, but we suck. After realizing that the worst vinyls you can put on your car are ones that look like shit, we ultimately removed the flames altogether, after which both decal and applicator looked sad:

The folks we bought the flames from were nice enough to send some extra smaller decals for free/for fun/to ensure repeat business, and Kat admitted that the flames I bought were larger than she expected anyway, so we decided, since we’d learned the hard way with the bigger decals, why not just use the little ones in their place, which would be easier to apply and even more subtle?

Ah, that’s more like it.

And you can see that there’s still imperfections and nicks and bubbles and stuff, but I think we got it as good as were are going to be able to get it. Seems like applying vinyls comes with practice, and at these prices (the flames, with shipping, were about $100), um, I don’t intend to practice a lot. We will live with them a little bit and see if we like it. She’s an art director and I’m just picky, so neither will blame the other if we suddenly take soap and water to the thing and remove it (they do come off perfectly clean). We like them; we just wish we were better at putting them on.

We are still entertaining the idea of having the whole car painted. Whether that would include flames, I don’t know.

Every Extend Extra Extreme

I didn’t really understand this game when it was explained to me. But I played it once and got it instantly. Now I’m fairly hooked — just detonate an explosion and let its ripples trigger other explosions. Now do it in time with a beat for a bonus multiplier. Then speed up the beat and add more enemies. Throw in your own music, let the game analyze it, and play to that. Oh, and try to get your score in the trillions. I never played the PSP version, so trying the 360 edition was a totally fresh experience.

I also like the minimalist-yet-bonkers visual approach. I happen to like abstract games quite a bit. I think that when you strip out the traditional visual elements that a gamer expects, you’re left with something pure and primal. It’s why I like Tempest and Geometry Wars — they both tell their own abstract tales, and they speak very clearly and directly, with no extraneous information. Yet they still give you something to interpret and decipher on your own. E4 gives me the same vibe.