Friday, March 29, 2013

Hometown Love and Other Happenings

Working on a few more things for the site.

I've reached out to my hometown of New Buffalo, Michigan for a project meant to help preserve the several decades of the town's history. Specifically historical buildings, memorable businesses both gone and still going strong and the people in the community.

New Buffalo has never shown that it has a sense of history, and very little pride in what they do have. It seems that all that people in charge are concerned with is the next big development to bring in more boaters. That's fine, but the town has sacrificed what has made it special and doesn't appear to be doing much to make downtown more inviting and memorable.

I'm really hoping that this works out. I have nothing but fond memories of New Buffalo in the 70's and '80's and I want to see photos and hear stories of New Buffalo in the 60's, 50's 40's and so on down the line as far as I can go. However, even though it has only been three days since I put out the call, I fear the number of people that care or remember about such things has dwindled greatly.

Yesterday I was loaned a macro lens camera to play around with for a few weeks. A macro lens is used for taking photos of smaller scale items like insects, flowers and taking photos up close where other lenses would not be able to focus on the object or texture. I'll post up some of the photos, especially some of the miniatures I've painted.

Finally, I'm looking at video capturing software so that I can include in-game video for Tales of a Warcraft Medic.

That's about it, carry on with your interwebz activities.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vinyl Love: Sound City - Real to Reel

Sound City - Real to Real March 2013
Sound City - Real to Reel coincides with the Dave Grohl documentary surrounding the Sound City recording studio, the Neve 8028 soundboard used there and the albums that were recorded there.

Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and many others have either mixed or recorded their albums at Sound City. This album is a collaboration with some of those artists using the Neve 8028 analog soundboard.

The vinyl version of the album is a double LP with only two to three songs on each side. The sound is good, the songs vary in style and depending on your personal musical tastes any given song may be a hit or miss. For some people , this album is a testament to how music should be made and sound; and some of these songs sound great on vinyl.  

Side 1
1. Heaven And All - Robert Levon Been (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana) and Peter Hayes (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club)
2. Time Slowing Down - Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), Tim Commerfield (Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave), Dave Grohl, Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave)
3. You Can't Fix This - Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers)

Side 2
4. The Man That Never Was - Rick Springfield, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel (Foo Fighters), Pat Smear (The Germs)
5. Your Wife is Calling - Lee Ving (Fear), Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Alain Johannes (Eleven/Queens of the Stone Age/The Crooked Vultures), Pat Smear
6. From Can to Can't - Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour), Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Scott Reeder (Kyus)

Side 3
7. Centipede - Josh Homme (Kyus/Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl, Chris Goss, Alain Johannes
8. A Trick With No Sleeve - Alain Johannes, Dave Grohl, Josh Homme
9. Cut Me Some Slack - Paul McCartney (Beatles/Wings), Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic (Nirvana)

Side 4
10. If I Were Me - Dave Grohl, Jessy Greene (Jayhawks/Geraldine Fibbers), Rami Jaffee, Jim Keltner (just one of the best drummers on the planet)
11. Mantra - Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Josh Homme, Dave Grohl

Real to Reel is a very good album, I'm not ready to say that it's great. It really is worth your time though. If you haven't seen the movie, you should give it a watch. The recording sessions for the album, especially the one with Paul McCartney are really fun to watch.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gaiman Returning to Marvel

The comic community is slightly abuzz with news that Neil Gaiman will be returning to Marvel and will be bringing one of his toys with him, Angela, first seen in the pages of Todd McFarlane's Spawn.

You can look at the stories on this posted up at Bleeding Cool, Comics Alliance and CBR.

What we are being told for now is that Angela will appear in Age of Ultron #10 and then in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy starting with issue #5 which will be co-written by Bendis and Gaiman.

I like the character, it was Gaiman and Angela that got me into reading Spawn, so I'm pretty excited. Marvel's supernatural/mystic side of things need a boost and Angela could serve as good tool on both the cosmic and supernatural side of things. We've seen a lot on Marvel's take on Hell, but I haven't seen much on Heaven. What remains to be seen is how involved the character becomes with the rest of the Marvel Universe and if the rest of the angelic host will be making appearances as well.

Tales of Warcraft Medic - Days 2, 3 & 4

I got in eight matches in Warsong Gulch and came out with five wins and jumped from level 11 to 14. I'm also curious how WoW's stat tracker works. It says I've done fifteen matches in Warsong Gulch, I've only done eleven,  I'm just wondering how that works.

The first match of day two I was stuck with a group that had zero interest in going after the Horde flag to win. This group wanted a big fight in the middle to farm HK's and nothing else. It was a stupid loss and I hate getting put in groups with that mindset.

In the second match we had a druid on the team that kept the flag for almost ten minutes, he could have capped it at anytime, the Horde was never able to get far with our flag. While this joker had our flag, we began camping the Horde graveyard. Camping the graveyard is a fine strategic tactic, but there is no sportsmanship in it. However, this is war, the Horde have been encroaching further into Ashenvale and devastating swaths of land, I will no longer tolerate their incursions. Back to the druid, as soon he scored the Wrecking Ball achievement he dropped from the battleground. It didn't hurt us any, we were never in a position to lose as we won 3-0, but it was still a jerk move.

The third match was nearly perfect, winning 3-0 in under seven minutes. I didn't have to do much, we had two druids that were on top of ganking the Horde flag and getting them capped and we had healers to spare.

The first match of day three was a slow and steady win, capping 2-0 when time expired. It was nice to be grouped with other players that worked well together, called out what needed to be, kept our flag carriers protected, giving nods when somebody did a good job, no bitching or trolling,  just a great display of teamwork and how a battleground should be done.

The second match was already in progress and the Horde had already capped once. This was the exact opposite of the previous match. The Horde us held up in the middle and it was total chaos. Guess the highlight of the match was how at least half of the Horde started concentrating all of their firepower on me, allowing at least some of the Alliance players to get by and make runs on the Horde flag but time was already against us in the loss.

The third match was very much like the first, decent teamwork leading to slow and steady 3-1 win. We were overloaded with healers and for all the damage the Horde was causing, it wasn't bringing any of us down.

Day four, I'm getting used to being the center of attention. First match was a bad, bad loss, I had a lot of  squishy teammates. We couldn't get anywhere, people were dropping faster than I could heal them. The Horde side had four rouges, four shaman, a paladin and a monk, all sporting heirlooms of some kind. The majority of my team was in nothing but white and green gear. This match couldn't get over fast enough. I was constantly getting ganged up on by four or more Horde players and they hit a lot harder than I've seen over the last few days. maybe just better coordinated and had better knowledge of their characters.

Match two was a good win, solid teamwork, we were able to maintain a perimeter across the middle preventing the Horde from getting past us. I had a pretty sturdy team, was throwing out heals that was never in great need and ended up throwing out some dps and got some killing hits in.
I'm not far from dinging level 15, once there I'll be turning off the experience gains and start farming some gear then get back into it. Not looking forward to adding Arathi Basin into my battleground activities, the map stinks and in the past I have not seen much teamwork going on.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vinyl Love: Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run

Band on the Run December 1973
In the very late 70's and early 80's when we only had one cable television network, I remember watching a Wings concert movie, I think it was footage from the 1979 UK tour, I remember the lighting and stage setup and I know that it was not Rockshow, I watched the replay at least three more times when it aired. It burned a spot into my memory. Songs like Live and Let Die and Band on the Run reached a whole new level of cool for me as I watched them be performed. Paul McCartney and his ensemble became something that I would never forget.

Side 1
1. Band on the Run
2. Jet
3. Bluebird
4. Mrs. Vandebilt
5. Let Me Roll It

Side 2
6. Mamunia
7. No Words
8. Helen Wheels
9. Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)
10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

The making of Band on the Run was plagued with trouble that seemed to start with the McCartney's deciding to record the album in Lagos, Nigeria. The studio was was under equipped with a faulty sound board and a single 8-track tape machine. This was just the beginning. 

During one session of recording Paul began gasping and choking for air. Thinking it was something inside the studio causing it, he was taken outside where his condition worsened. Paul eventually passed out from the lack of oxygen and was diagnosed with a bronchial spasm. The band was protested and publicly accused of coming to Nigeria to steal and exploit the music and sounds of Africa by political activists and local musicians. After one night of recording Paul and Linda were mugged, notebooks containing lyrics, demo tapes and personal valuables were taken. Lagos was not the exotic paradise locale that McCartney was hoping for.

The album turned out to be worth all of the trouble. Here in America the album reached number one on albums sales charts three diffrerent times and would sell over three million copies. Band on the Run peaked on thirteen international album sales charts, reaching number one on seven of them.

The album is loaded with some great songwriting and musical composition. The title track is a masterpiece all on its own, and I could go on and on about that song alone. I can listen to that song over and over with the tiny crackles and occasional pop when putting needle to vinyl. I love that song. Both sides are solidified with the likes of Jet, Mrs. Vandebilt,  Helen Wheels and Picasso's Last Words.

On a sidenote, as I slowly add to my vinyl collection and work through playing the albums, it is incredibly rewarding to see my kids get into the music, especially when they haven't realized that they're doing it and it's fun when they try to deny it. I'm going to have to get sneak some video of that to post.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tales of a Warcraft Medic - Day 1

I have a love/hate relationship with PvP in the World of Warcraft. I enjoy it, so long as the win/loss ratio stays at least somewhat close to 50/50, which does not happen often.
I don't mind losing if it was good match. I hate that after eight years, PvP is still unbalanced and even if you're a skilled player, you still have somewhat of a forced dependency on gear. Oh yeah, and the trolls, not the race, the one's that don't have anything better to do except telling everybody else on team that they suck. I learned a long time ago that you have to just let that stuff go.
My latest foray into battlegrounds of Azeroth is in the form of a restoration Draenai shaman. Yes, I chose a healer even though healers have a big bright X over their heads thanks to an addon that shall not be named. I don't care for it, even when on the other side, it feels like cheating in a way and I'm not real big on using addons except in PvE and that is usually the quality of life stuff like GoGo Mount.

For gear I started with a full complement of heirlooms,  the pvp shoulders, mace and trinket followed up with the helm, cloak, chestpiece, legs, haste trinket and dread pirate ring. Everything else is still white gear from leveling. I'm not into crunching the numbers to max out my toon for peak performance; I'm in it just for the fun of it.

Upon reaching tenth level I headed to Warsong Gulch for my first day of duty as a battleground medic. It was getting late so I only put in three matches, all turned out as losses but such is the way in Warcraft PvP.

I was ganged up on a lot with that big red X hanging over my head, but still managed to fend off the assaults from my enemies, a little bit of resilience and quick heals can prove to be a good distraction, because as six to eight players were focused on killing just me, my teammates ganked the enemy flag and scored. Ganging up on and killing the healer is all fun and games until you realize that you just wasted time on a distraction.
I scored the An Honorable Kill, Know Thy Enemy and The Grim Reaper achievements. Pretty easy to get but fun nonetheless when the screen gets lit up when an achievement is earned.

The plan is to level this toon only through battlegrounds, something that I've never done, but may still need to farm dungeons to keep gear maxed out when running low on honor but in need of an upgrade. Working on adding the second PvP heirloom trinket and upgrading what I have. It's going to take some time and we'll see how it goes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

ZubScribed: 2 Copper Pieces

Used out of love for fantasy based goodness.

2 Copper Pieces is the short comic story that started Skullkickers, co-created by Jim Zub on writing and Chris Stevens on art that first appeared in the Popgun anthology series by Image. You couldn't ask for finer set up to what the series would become.

What is really fun for me when reading Skullkickers is thinking back on my days of playing Dungeons & Dragons and thinking what my friends and I would have done in these situations, the stories in Skullkickers brings back a lot of good memories. This isn't a full on review or a page by page recap, just short issue by issue blurbs and such.

The premise of this first story has the unnamed adventurers hired to track down and kill a beasty that's been eating up villagers. A dependable start to any good fantasy story. Where the job leads is full of swampy, leech filled fun, especially the big one which leads into an epic battle of epic epicness.

The timing and placement of the zombies is genius, I never would have thought of that back in my D & D days and it's just his type of idea of evil good funny DM would have inflicted upon us. The ending is exactly what we would have done or tried to do in that situation also. Charging a fee for corpse recovery...that falls under chaotic good, right?

What are you waiting for? Click the link above and check it out.

It's a pure fun filled fantasy adventure and hits a spot that other fantasy comics weren't reaching. As much as I love reading books like Warlord, Conan and Sonja; Skullkickers is everything that I've wanted in a fantasy comic since I started playing rpg's with my friends. Thank you Chris and Jim.

Video made by Long Vo.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vinyl Love: Elton John - Caribou

Elton John - Caribou June 1974
 Side 1
1. The Bitch is Back
2. Pinky
3. Grimsby
4. Dixie Lily
5. Solar Prestige a Gammon
6. You're So Static

Side 2
7. I've Seen the Saucers
8. Stinker
9. Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
10. Ticking

B - Sides
Sick City
Cold Highway

When it comes to Elton John, I'm a fan of his early work, when we had an Elton John that stood a little more on the rock side and little less on the pop side. Either way the man is an incredible composer, lyricist, performer and one hell of a dresser.

This is another album that I couldn't find much info on. Pieces of the album were recorded or mixed at multiple studios in about nine days or so. The album scored high on album sales charts in twelve countries. Caribou reached gold status in America  on July 5th, not even two weeks after its release, it would later reach gold in the UK and go multi platinum here in the states.

Outside of the two major singles, The Bitch is Back and Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, the entire album is pretty good. Many of the other songs would become well known through John's live performances. Since picking it up about three or four weeks ago, I've listened to it four or five times, never felt like any song needed to skipped over, just great songwriting and musicianship.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This Week's Reads

This is being postponed for the week, due to circumstances out of my control, mostly being a giant kaiju snow monster, I won't be able to make it into my LCS until next week.

I would be picking up Earth 2 #10, Worlds' Finest #10, More Than Meets The Eye #14 and Avengers #7. I was really looking forward to the Transformers book which is full of Overlord driven goodness.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vinyl Love: The Cars

The Cars June 1978

Side 1
1. Good times Roll
2. My Best Friend's Girl
3. Just What I Needed
4. I'm In Touch With Your World
5. Don't Cha Stop

Side 2
6. You're All That I've Got Tonight
7. Bye Bye Love
8. Moving In Stereo
9. All Mixed Up

Before writing on albums, I like to do as much research as I can and learn what went into the song writing, what happened during the recording of an album and so on. With The Cars self titled debut album, there wasn't a whole lot to find.

The demo of Just What I Needed got heavy air play in the Boston area resulting in the band signing with Elektra Records in 1977. In June of 1978 The Cars was released. The album peaked to #18 on Billboard's Top 200 and stayed in the ranks for 139 weeks and went platinum in four countries. The album is loaded with songs that continue to get heavy air play and although only three of the songs were released as singles, three others became notable radio hits.

This album always seemed to be ahead of its time to me. Not just because it was a part of the emerging synth/new wave movement, but the songs just sounded years ahead of what the music scene was like in 1978 and they hold up incredibly strong today. Anybody who didn't know better would could easily think that these songs came out of the mid to late early 80's rather than the late '70's. I feel the same way about The Cars follow up album Candy-O. I associate these songs with the 80's more than I do with 1978 and '79. This album and these songs make it into the discussion when talking about timeless classic rock.

One thing you will get from me a lot is how a band or specific album has a way of getting me back into a centered mood, getting me out of pissy and bummed out attitudes. This band, this album does that for me. Bye Bye Love is my favorite song, it's what I wake up to every morning when I have to get up for work. It is that one song that I can count on over any other to break me out of a bad funk. I can easily listen to this album from start to finish half a dozen times in a row without skipping over songs or getting tired of hearing it. This could very well be my favorite album of all time.

This Week's Reads

Comics released Wednesday, February 27th

Hawkeye #8
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: David Aja and Annie Wu
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth

Penny convinces Hawkguy Hawkeye to help her in stealing a safe from the Tracksuit Mafia. Nothing but trouble ensues and I'm betting hall hath no fury like a Spider-Woman scorned. The vintage style comic covers throughout the book by Annie Wu are more than welcome to happen again and again in future issues.

Robots In Disguise #14
Writer: John Barber
Art: Andrew Griffith
Inks: Brian Shearer
Colors: Josh Perez
Cover: Casey Coller

I'm not entirely happy with this issue. The pay off thus far for this title is looking mighty weak. I'm fine with the death, but the the last thirteen issues seem just a little pointless to me now. Maybe I just had my expectations too high.

Joe Kubert Presents #5
Writers: Paul Levitz, Sam Glanzman, Brian Buniak, Joe Kubert
Artists: Joe Kubert, Sam Glanzman, Brian Buniak

Thank you, Joe.