New York State of…Mind Bullets!

I am not a fan of traveling, but I’ve been on the road a lot lately. Three trips to Boston in the last year, one for each of the major games that are being developed there (BioShock, Rock Band, and Fallout 3). I was in Vegas for CES, in Seattle for Left 4 Dead, Atlanta and Raleigh for cosplay shenanigans, and in NYC today for another assignment.

I’m kind of flight fatigued, but for the chance to go back to New York…you won’t hear me complain. New York is special.

When I landed it was cold, with snow on the ground from a few days prior. I couldn’t wait to touch it. I checked into the hotel early, crashed for a few hours from the red eye, then walked from East 31st to Bleeker. It was heaven. I just miss walking through the city, and I realize it’s something most people who visit don’t do. They take cabs. I was going to take the subway, but I realized, dammit, I miss this place. I want to look around.

Guitar World’s old offices were at 23rd and 5th, right in front of the Flatiron, and I’d walked from there to Penn Station and back every day for six months before I moved to Brooklyn. I’d also walked down to Union Square for lunch and action figure runs plenty of times. Walking 30 or so blocks was…thrilling. Hell, I stopped for a slice of yes-America-this-is-what-it’s-supposed-to-look-and-taste-like pizza and still got there 10 minutes ahead of my appointment time.

I managed to sneak in a visit with my parents at Penn Station after I was done with business. They hopped on a commuter train from New Jersey and we had dinner at Houlihan’s, right there under the Garden. I never know how it’s going to go but this went great. It was the first time I’d seen them face to face in five years…and that was a weird sneak-it-in-on-another-trip too, when our travel schedules overlapped uncomfortably in San Diego. This time it was a lot better. No dicey topics, no fights, no problem.

I overslept by more than an hour this morning, which caused me no small panic as I fled to the airport (I still got there an hour early, just unshowered and unshaven – thank you, deoderant), but I’m taking the lack of desire to leave as a sign by my subconscious. Also, an advisory not to buy the hotel’s alarm clock for my own home. And a reminder not to play Professor Layton so long into the night next trip.

New York is awesome, but it’s also fickle. I searched the local souvenir shops for some evidence of the Knicks, who are currently in the middle of their season, languishing at the bottom of the standings. Couldn’t find so much as a logo. (Even the Super Bowl champion “New York” Giants are already over; apparently; the town’s sports souvenirs start and end the almighty fucking Yankees.) I did, however, find a Ghostbusters t-shirt, which hasn’t been in theaters since 1988.

Maybe the Knicks should fire Isiah and hire Egon.

How to fail at drums

Wow, I’d forgotten about this. At CES, this was my favorite product — but I didn’t remember I’d been (willingly) caught on video.

Not to spoil the ending, but yeah, I hang in for a while and then fail. I mean, um, it’s a prototype kit and all.

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February 14

Memo to world: Celebrate today or don’t. Both are perfectly fine. You don’t need to convince other people that your take on Valentine’s Day is right.

That’s all.

Control-Shift

By the time you read this, I will have said goodbye to a dear friend.

This monstrosity has been my keyboard for something in the neighborhood of eight years.

Considering how much writing I do, there’s no piece of equipment more important than the Natural Pro. And it’s been great — makes my carpal tunnel go away, gives me good tactile feedback, and perhaps crucially, keeps other people from wanting to use my computer. It certainly served that purpose when it was in my office; it single-handedly (well, dual-handedly) discouraged a lot of people from fucking with my stuff.

But the downsides have finally won out. Forget the facts that it’s ugly and dirty. It’s really that it’s loud, or I’m loud on it. As those who have worked in the same ZIP code with me know, I type like I fuck: fast and loud. Especially when I’m mad at the interwebs. This used to just keep Kat awake, but now it can rouse her from actual sleep. I wake her up when I work into the wee hours of the morning.

Purely out of sensitivity to her plight — and not because I was dissatisfied in any way with the performance of Keyboardasaurus — I had been shopping around for a keyboard for a while, and I hadn’t found anything that gave me what I was looking for. Truth is, I like the clicky keyboards. I like the tactile feedback. I strongly prefer the ergo split. And I kinda liked the fact that the thing had a two-port USB hub built into it. I knew I wasn’t going to get it all in a new board.

I got most:

The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is the clear Son of Beloved Ugly Keyboard, minus the USB ports but with a nicer wrist rest, a funky tilting angle thing, and a bunch of pretty silver buttons that are not part of QWERTY and will therefore be ignored in perpetuity.

It just so happens that Kat’s parents got me a gift certificate that covered the exact cost of this keyboard. Coincidence? Conspiracy.

PS – The old one’s in the closet. I’ve left instructions to be buried with it.

A prime number (and an MP3 of the Moment)

So yeah, I’m 37 now. Fuck. To quote my idol since boyhood, Tom Lehrer, “It’s a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.” I’m milking that one all year long. That and the Holy Grail sketch with Dennis. Though Andy Eddy, who recently turned 50, said he just leveled up to be a Lv 50 Nerd. I liked that. The first word I said when I woke up was “Ding!”

I go between being really excited and really shy on my birthday; usually, the even years are stoked and the odd years are quiet. This is an odd year, so it was low-key. I’m on crazy deadline so now’s not really the time to celebrate anyway. I wish I hadn’t gotten hit with insomnia last night, but other than that, no complaints.

The holiday came with some loot. My parents got me a good book, Kat got me some Portal swag and I’m using some gift certificate money to get a new keyboard. My beloved Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro is excessively loud when I type – like hail on a tin roof. (Those of you who have been near me when I type know the legends are true.) It’s actually been keeping Kat awake at night, so I’m going to try the Natural 4000 and hope that makes everybody happy.

Kat also made me a cake. It wasn’t a lie. It was a triumph, huge success, so delicious and moist, ad nauseam.

Meanwhile, Andy turned me onto this band Spookie Daly Pride a few years back and I feel compelled to share their Birthday Song on this Very Special Occasion. Enjoy as my bootleggy gift to you, and remember, if you dig it, buy it. The whole album’s awesome.

Apparently, Sony is awesome (updated)

I went on a podcast and tried to be open-minded about what Microsoft is doing right and wrong. Brett from GamesRadar was on too, and he did the same for Nintendo. The guy from the PS3 site? Totally different agenda. I didn’t know this until he told me on the show, but apparently Sony can do no wrong, and everything Microsoft is doing, Sony is also doing, but better. All we were missing was face paint and foam fingers.

The first few minutes are particularly interesting and testy, because it starts with some good ol’ fashioned “PS3 is great because 360 is not” rhetoric. And I trust him, because he spent a lot for his home theater setup.

Check it if you like.

EDIT TO ADD: I’ve listened to the show again, and maybe I’m being a too mean-spirited in this post. In all fairness, Glenn is just speaking his mind, and he feels passionately. That’s cool. I just don’t agree with some of his bigger points. I do think the pricing is still a hurdle for PS3; 360 has a lower entry price point, so while PS3 may be equal price/value when you add hard drives and stuff, the 360 looks like a better deal if you look quick. Consumers are price-motivated. If 360 looks cheaper than PS3, you can’t blame them for leaning toward saving money…even if it is in the short-term.

I also think that Blu-Ray is a rather strong lure for people as the high-def disc war shakes out. And I do want a PS3, but I want more than a handful of downloadable games to really get me stoked for it. I wouldn’t recommend anybody buy 360 just for XBLA, even though I like it a lot, you know? I really, really want Everyday Shooter. I would like to try Calling All Cars, as a longtime Jaffe fan (War of the Monsters — underrated!). But I feel strange buying a $400 console for $20 worth of software, plus a bunch of potential. I’m looking for more big hooks. They’re coming. When they do, I’ll buy in.

But even though I disagreed, I didn’t want to interrupt him during his explanations, so I just let the discussion flow naturally, like a polite guest.

The thing that stuck with me is that while I was saying “you’re right, that’s a weak point” for a lot of Microsoft stuff, and Brett was offering Nintendo flaws, I didn’t hear Glenn suggest anything that the PS3 had to work on. Listen for yourself — when does he suggest “you know, yeah, PS3 has some work to do here”? Pricing is not an issue. Blu-Ray isn’t really a factor. Media playback is a dream. Meanwhile, he offers that Live is “borked for a month,” 720p content on Marketplace isn’t good enough to be called HD, and he makes 360 networking sound like a Vista-fueled hassle.

I respect his differing opinions and he explained them eloquently. But I still don’t agree with them, and I don’t feel he discussed both good and bad points of his favorite platform on that show. I thought that was the spirit of the discussion, going into it. That’s all.