Our Dear Leader–Apple

I pre-ordered my iPhone 5 (16GB/BODACIOUS BLACK) last night. I was in and out of the Verizon website in exactly 3 minutes. Yeah, seriously. But of course, I typed in the wrong social number and birth-date; apparently you become dyslexic when you’re nervous as hell. Fortunately, everything was sorted out and the phone is expected to arrive on-time! So did all of this warrant for an upgrade? I think so–at least that’s what I keep telling myself. I’ve had my 4S for 9 months now on a pre-paid carrier, so thankfully I’m not bound to a contract. If you’re looking for a legitimate pre-paid carrier, Red Pocket is the way to go. But anyway, the iPhone 5, although not as big of a jump as the 3GS was to the 4, is still a huge deal. The phone doesn’t really introduce anything groundbreaking but if one thing’s for sure, Apple will help transcend the features. I’m honestly not too excited about the hardware as I am about the switch to Verizon. I’ve heard nothing but praise and glory for how reliable and durable the Verizon infrastructure is. This might sound silly but I’m looking forward to being able to use my phone in congested areas–show floors of conventions especially. You can’t do that with AT&T! But don’t get me wrong, the taller and glass aesthetics of the iPhone 5 is appealing and I’m sure I’ll have that baby saran wrapped temporarily until I find a decent case–I’m not kidding.

I’m hoping that we see a better jump for the “iPhone 6”. Apple is playing it too safe right now, both in hardware and software. Although what they announced is acceptable and appealing, Tim Cook and co. need to re-shift the landscape of tech culture as they did with the first iPhone.

But for now, I’m afraid what will happen next year when the inevitable 5S is announced. Will I upgrade? I keep telling myself I won’t but Apple always finds a way to convince the world. Like I told a friend last night, the only thing that will convince me to upgrade next year is a hologram 5S with a self-sufficient A.I–which at that point it will be the iPhone 6. Get on it, Apple.

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I Hear You Man

Dammit, Bears! In bit of a crotchety mood after that loss, but hey, let’s talk DotA 2. Better time than any, right?

And before we go any further, join me as I raise a glass to Basshunter and this momentous song.

I often get into this groove of rarely acting on things I’m interested in; take DotA 2 for instance. I’ve been watching streams, reading guides, and visiting threads, but I’ve yet to put an iota of time in the game. I guess you could say all of this is required, considering the complexity of the game; but I just think my time could be better spent–like playing the damn game. But to be fair–for the game’s sake–DotA is a newbies worst nightmare. There’s a plethora of information and strategies a player must consume before even running the game’s executable. I’m still in the middle of reading one of the guides–”DotA 2 for Dummies”, if you will. I’ve gotten a decent grasp of the game, which is saying nothing because like I said before, 0 playtime hours. It’s like someone proclaiming that s/he’s knowledgeable about the rules of basketball and now he’s ready to destroy all existing competition. If there’s one person who’s accomplished this feat, it’s this man, and this man only.

Hopefully I’ll finish the guide in the next day or two and finally have my shot at the game…against the bots. Ostensibly, the core players don’t want beginners like me on their team; I know, right? Absolute hokum!

In all seriousness, after witnessing the religiously dedicated community at The International, I’ve promised myself to at least understand the game–which at this point it’s become easier to dissect the meaning of life. I would like to also point out that the crowd was rowdier than Safeco Field–home of the–never mind, ugh…

Your future DotA pro/coach/waterboy/mascot,

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Prints > Posters

Let’s talk prints, again. But before we do that, let’s get one thing straight: I consider prints and posters to be two different terms. Posters are what you see in malls and movie theaters. Prints are what you see in galleries and in my room. So if I come off as a self-pretentious douche-bag (if I don’t appear so already) for saying one over the other, I have my reasons. With that out of the way, let’s talk about my recent print acquisitions.

After much deliberation, I finally pulled the trigger on Ken Taylor’s piece on Breaking Bad. And believe it or not, I lost some sleep over it–$220 is too much to shell for any unemployed college student. And no, I didn’t go running to “bank” mom. I ended up selling a few of my things, such as an N64 that was confined in the attic…and a copy of Pokemon Snap and Mario Kart that I’ll never get to play again–practically sold my childhood to some dude in Rhode Island. But let’s not forget what I bought in return:

It’s a beaut, ain’t it? I’ve been eyeing this print for awhile now, and considering that I missed both drops of the print a few weeks ago, I certainly wasn’t going to pass on it. This will be the final print of my Breaking Bad series, as I think 6 is enough–for now. And what a perfect print to end the collection with. Taylor did an absolute masterful job portraying the somber and serious tone of the show; with the ominous green colors and the decrepit faces of the cast of characters, this is Breaking Bad.

In spite of spending more than I ever imagined on a print, it’ll be a great investment in the long-run when we look back at how television was never the same after Breaking Bad.

Shortly after buying the Taylor print, I became a little trigger-happy and bought Mark Englert’s You Are My Lucky Star. Dammit, Max!

I’ll be honest, I bought this on a total whim after reading the hype for it on the ExpressoBeans forums. However, the print itself looks beautiful. The combination of the black border and night sky is majestic, yet simple. And yes, that’s Ridley Scott’s Alien. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the print yet but I’m sure it deserves a spot on my wall.

Well that does it for my print acquisitions and for the sake of my wallet, I hope it’s the last one for awhile. The last time I was this invested in collecting was during my adolescent Yu-Gi-Oh days.

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Compliance With The Dragon Tattoo

 

I dare you to watch Compliance–a movie that made me so uncomfortable that it forced me to take ephemeral breaks. Directed by Craig Zobel, Compliance is about a young female employee (Becky) falling victim to the strip search prank call scam. The prank caller, referring to himself as officer Daniels, accuses Becky of theft and what follows next is the most agonizing and frustrating 90 minutes of your life.

There is so much stupidity in this movie. I mean, does it really take 5 grown-adults to realize that this is all a hoax? Granted, the dramatic irony in the film is in full-swing from the get-go but doesn’t it get to a point when the sadistic requests, well, become sadistic? Hell, a remote strip-search in and of itself is illegal. And this also questions how much authority law enforcement actually has. Considering that the prank was driven by the sole illusion of a supposed police officer, it made everything seem justifiable: “Inspect her butthole, you say? Aye aye, Cap’n!” But to be fair–really fair–men are pigs.

In all seriousness, though, this was an uncomfortable movie to watch. Not in a squinted-eyes-shaking-my-head kind of way but in a no-way-they-really-went-there kind of way. Just when you thought the film hit its moral boundaries, it decides to expand its territory 100 miles; and what results are scenes of sizzling french fries and fellatio–the classiest combination one could ask for.

Is Compliance as extreme as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I guess…but each had its own reasons for being so fucked up. Dragon Tattoo’s plot was more than just the rape and sexual abuse, it had its own core story. But with Compliance, the plot was driven by the strip search and immoralities–which I guess made it a much more painful movie-going experience.

*Side-note: Please tell me those “come” references in the movie weren’t intentional

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I Hate Super Hexagon..But I Love It So Much

Game Over. A phrase that we’ve come to dread and accept as an admission of failure. But hearing it repeatedly in Terry Cavanagh’s new iOS game Super Hexagon has never been more enticing and provoking to the player. In Super Hexagon your main objective is to navigate around a hexagonal shape while avoiding incoming lines. Sounds simple, right? Well I keep clouting myself with that idea, which is why no matter how many times I’ve mindlessly made the same mistake, the more I tell myself I can do better. Super Hexagon has a simple concept, but it’s not your ordinary iOS game in terms of difficulty. From the get-go, the game offers 3 set difficulties: hard, harder, hardest, and 3 others that are unlocked as you progress. Mind you, the game’s default difficulty is hard…there’s no easy, or normal difficulty–just hard. And you’re goddamn right (BREAKING BAD SPOILERS) it is.

I think I lasted about 2 seconds on my first attempt and gradually got better…in every 10 or 20 tries. But hey, my current high-score on hard is 73.51 seconds! Can’t say the same for those other difficulties, though. Those lines are just too brutal…and fast. I don’t even think my brain is capable of processing patterns that quick and far ahead. I’m not sure if that says more about me or the game.

Even with its steep difficulty, I surprisingly don’t hate Super Hexagon. The way that the game is designed, it’s not one that arouses a sense of frustration or anger. Sure you’ll fail…a lot. But because the game has an efficient “retry” system, the more you forget about your failures; you’re in and out super quickly. And let’s not forget about the robotic female voice–it’s as if she’s wants me to continue playing…which I do. It’s all I’ve been playing, really.

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Those Were The Days…

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There are only a few games that carry tremendous nostalgic value, regardless of how ancient the game has become. Recently I tried revisiting some of my past favorite games but my eyes couldn’t handle it. It would only take a few seconds before they would repudiate the pixelated polygons and lead me to never touching the game ever again. It’s hard to imagine how 10 year-old-me had the patience to adapt to the controls, gameaplay, and visuals. Granted, technology has evolved exponentially over the years but it’s mind boggling to see how reliant and dependent we’ve all become within video games.

A few weeks ago I attempted a play through of Final Fantasy 6–an epic I’ve yet to complete. With a game like this, I can get by the visuals as I think the 16-bit art style is still relevant today. But what I couldn’t get by was the discordantly slow-pacing text and plot. Understandably the series is usually a slow-burn but time is valuable and I don’t have the patience for a 5 hour exposition of textual dialogue. I’m sure it’s a worthwhile RPG but considering how conservative I’ve become with my time, I’ve got better things to do. And let me also come out and say I had the same exact experience with Xenogears.

However, there has always been one game I can go back to: Metal Gear Solid. It comes with great hubris when someone asks me what game I would wed if I had the chance (a bit exaggerated, sorry). Few games rarely capture story and character immersion hand-in-hand so well. With Kojima and Metal Gear Solid, it’s not just another stealth-espionage game for me, it’s my childhood. I’m somewhat relieved my parents were clueless about ESRB ratings because I would have not had the chance to play the game that helped mold my perspective on video games. For every “SNAAAAAAAAKE” and every codec alert, the more I wished all games were as accessible as Kojima’s masterpiece.

For me it’s very sentimental when it comes to personal games like MGS, and we all have games like that. Whether if it’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out or Borderlands, the efficacy that video games produce is an experience encompassed around nostalgia and memory; which is probably why I didn’t enjoy FF6 and Xenogears–nothing to drive that experience.

In other news, this blog has now become a one-stop acrimony for all crazed RPG fans.

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Prints Prints Prints

A few weeks ago I mentioned my new addiction hobby of investing in artist prints. The collection is still in full swing but during that time I only owned 3 prints. Now? 11. All of which are centered around The Dark Knight Rises and Breaking Bad. Initially they were meant to be mounted on the stark walls of my new condo but now that I’m no longer moving in, it’s created a bit of a dilemma. The walls of my room are already laden with framed posters, most of which are lithographs contained in the dreary confines of standard frames. I could always take them down but it would still leave a few prints unmounted–I’ll probably need a bigger room…or a new home if this “hobby” carries on.  So for now  they’ll idly rest against my walls. In the mean time, here are my prints in all their glory–at least the ones I have so far, waiting on 4 more.