Dec 09

Emptyeye.com- Week 8

AAA #8- Don’t Stop!

This past week saw…well, not a whole lot happen with the site, really. I did make one update regarding a comic collection I bought, which I enjoyed and recommend. Golden Age Batman is kind of a jerk.

In dance gaming news, I managed to play more home DDR and get another AAA, which you can see by clicking on the picture thumbnail at the top of this post. That song is way too easy to be a 7-footer, but whatever. Tomorrow I may or may not head to the mall to play more arcade DDR Extreme get some Christmas shopping done. I still need to buy stuff for my dad, as well as Jess’s grandmother.

On a non-dance-gaming note, I’m counting down the days until Jess and I go to MAGFest! MAGFest is a video game and music convention that I’ve gone to for the last two years; it’ll be Jess’s first time. This year, one of the groups there is doing something really cool in the form of NES Challenges where you can win some cool gear and even money by completing enough challenges (I actually wrote about this last week, apparently, but not in much detail). I’m definitely going for as many as possible, and I know fellow Shizzie and speedrunner Daniel “Kareshi” Brown–not to be confused with Dan “The Da Vinci Code” Brown; indeed, both are only two of the over 9000 Daniel Browns in the U.S. according to HowManyofMe …compare this to the…zero…Marc Dziezynskis that the site finds in the U.S. (Yes, really. I guess I’m an imaginary entity or something)–plus who knows how many people I don’t know are hard at work at trying their hand at some of these challenges. Although Kareshi and I are both amused at two of the choices on the list, Battletoads and Ghosts N’ Goblins. These are regarded as two of the hardest games on the NES…except that each of us has played one of them so many times we could probably beat them blindfolded (I went over my Battletoads prowess last week; Kareshi has the SDA run for G’N’G. In other words, I think the two games come out to a wash for us, with possibly a slight advantage going to him (I regard G’N’G as the harder game–something he disagrees with–and Battletoads has a not-all-that-difficult-in-my-eyes Hard challenge vs. no Hard challenge at all for G’N’G).

Finally, have a booby prize for reading this far–I threw together a brief, badly played cover of the first Dr. Wily stage from the original Mega Man. I titled it “For Everlasting Peace”, and gave it the album title of “Into the Aether” because, as far as I’m concerned, it’s irreverent enough to basically exist outside my normal catalog (Think of it as the music analog of those “Imaginary Stories” you’d sometimes see in comics in the 1960s); indeed, I don’t think I’m even going to bother putting it up on the music sidebar. You can download it here.

Until next time..
-EE

Dec 08

Comic “Trade” Review- The Batman Chronicles Volume 3

Before I begin, I should point out that I’m not really a big comic book reader. I don’t say this to try and convince you that I’m not some sort of geek in a “I would never read those things!” fashion–really, my main method of exercise is a game where I thi arrows with my feet; I think I left on the geek train a long awhile ago–but rather so you know that, honestly, I’m probably not the most qualified to judge this collection from a knowledge point of view.

Here’s what I do know: The Batman Chronicles is a reprinting of the very earliest Batman stories in chronological order. I was first made aware of their existence through a post on Superdickery’s message boards. The post showed some panels from Volume 1 that would seem completely counter to modern day readers’ perceptions of Batman, especially the whole “code against killing” thing (My personal favorite example from said volume has Batman hanging a villain by the Batplane while remarking “Oh well, it’s probably better for him anyway”.). Right away, I knew I had to have this collection despite my generally not being big into comic books.

Anyway, I missed Volume 2, but picked up Volume 3. How, I’m not quite sure (Well, yes I am–I waited too long and the comic shop I drop by occasionally had Volume 3 but not Volume 2), but the point is that I probably missed out on some evolution of the Batman character (Still called “The Batman” in any expository panels here, by the way). Volume 3 covers the period from December 1940 to approximately May of 1941 or so (The last several stories are listed as coming simply from “Spring 1941”–apparently DC had several quarterly titles back in the day, Batman among them). Right away, there are several quirks of the time that will pop out to modern-day comics fans. First off, there are a lot of stories packed into those four months. Part of it was Batman’s popularity, appearing in Detective Comics, plus his own title, and here making an appearance in something called “World’s Best Comics #1”, but part of it is the story-telling format of the time too–rather than a one-story-per-issue format, the comics of the time tended to give you two or three smaller stories per issue.

From a content standpoint, perhaps partially due to the format mentioned above, you’ll also notice that Batman’s famed “rogue gallery” is largely absent. There’s a story featuring The Joker, and another with a villain named Clayface (Different from today’s Clayface, just to confuse you some more), but other than that, Batman and Robin’s foes here are decidedly more pedestrian in nature–mainly mobsters, with a corrupt publisher dressed as a witch or some acrobats dressed as devils thrown in for good measure now and again.

You’ll probably also note that Vintage Batman is…well, as sane as a guy who dressed up as a bat to fight crime gets, I suppose. There’s no mention whatsoever in this collection of just why Batman wants to go out and catch criminals (Though this was briefly covered in Volume 1–he watched his parents get murdered in cold blood), no probing his psychology, none of any of that. Generally, it’s just Batman beating up crooks. Here in this collection, we note that “Batman never carries or kills with a gun”–I can only presume that other means of killing are perfectly acceptable, such as tossing people overboard from a cruise ship.

My favorite story of the collection is probably also the strangest, which features Batman and Robin going inside several fairy-tales courtesy of a machine by a not-mad-really-but-authorities-would-think-so-if-they-knew-of-this-device scientist. It’s the sort of thing that might have been more suited to the goofy 60s version of the character, as opposed to when he was still in his relative infancy.

In short, I very much enjoyed this collection, and recommend it especially if you’re curious about how “The Batman” was developed during his earliest years.
-EE

Dec 02

Emptyeye.com- Week 7

This past week saw the end of November, which gave me an opportunity to compare how my stats looked for October vs. November. There seems to be some growth in terms of downloads, but November vs. December will be a more apt comparison–remember that I didn’t get the site up and running until mid-October. It also occurs to me that to continue the growth, I’m going to have to do at least one of two things:

  1. Provide new material. Not just new blog postings, but new songs, as well as other things of more substance that I haven’t decided on yet.
  2. Get the site out to a wider audience. This might actually be the easier of the two things in a superficial sense–I can put the site in my signature on various message board, mention it in places I comment on, etc. etc. etc.
  3. Either way, though, I want as big an audience as possible as April draws nearer.

    Speaking, indirectly, of music, it’s roughly five months until I’ll have to hunker down and re-record stuff for The Six Day Exile, and suffice to say I’m a bit behind schedule. The Tool-esque song is on hold because of a unique problem–namely, lack of plugs for everything I need. So instead I started working on an acoustic song which I apparently wrote back in 2004, probably soon after I got my acoustic guitar and was in that new-toy phase. Looking it over again, I like it enough that it should all work out.

    What else…I picked up my new glasses this week, and tried out the DDR machine at the Brass Mill Center while I was there. I’ve been sick the past week, so I didn’t get to play as much as I would’ve liked, but my limited playtime was enough to earn the machine the Emptyeye Seal of Approval–everything is in fine shape, especially for a five-year-old game whose gameplay involves effectively stomping on the controller with your feet. Plus, all the songs are unlocked–this should be a foregone conclusion at this point, but the state of DDR in Connecticut is such that yes, this is actually a pleasant surprise. I’m wondering if this was the “good” machine that used to be at Smiles that mysteriously disappeared. Either way, though, I like it.

    Finally, we’re a month away from MAGFest, along with which will come my first true vacation since…I don’t even know. I want to say September, though in reality it may have been as far back as April. I’ve taken individual days and half days off since then, to be sure, but this was usually due to doctor’s appointments and the like. It’s kind of amusing, in that I’ll be carrying over eight or so paid days off from this year–and use them up basically immediately in 2008. This year, they have a challenges thing going on with a bunch of old NES games. I’ve started going down the list and seeing what looks doable to me–I spend a lot of my MAGFest time playing games anyway; may as well try to make some money on it–and am highly amused at the inclusion of Battletoads on the list. I personally would’ve gone for Level 9 or 11 as an Expert challenge, but what do I know about the game…

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my girlfriend will be coming with me to this MAGFest. It’ll be our first sort of vacation “alone together”, if that makes any sense. That should be fun too.

    Until next time…

    -EE

Dec 01

Dear Mrs. NotYourOriginalLastName

This was something that I got to wondering about going over my MySpace page and looking over my friends list. I’ve talked elsewhere about the fact that it seems like everyone I knew in high school in college is moving out/getting married/etc. and I’m…well, not, at the moment. That’s fine, as I honestly think the path I picked for myself, while making me a “loser” in American society in the short term, will work out far better for me in the long term, and those close to me seem to agree. That’s not really my point. My point is that, as mentioned, a lot of my friends are getting married. And as a result of this, a lot of my female friends have changed their last name to that of their husband’s. Okay. But from looking at their display names, it seems many of them are downright enthusiastic about this specific aspect of marriage.

Huh?

Now, maybe it’s because I was born with, and last I knew, still had *Checks…yep, still do*, the male genitalia and the balance of hormones that come with it, and so I can never know why this is. I do understand that there is this pressure on females in general to run off as it were and get married–my girlfriend once told me that this desire was drilled into her from the age of approximately 4–perhaps deriving from a history where traditionally, the only way for a female to be able to survive once she became an adult was essentially to get married and have her husband care for her, so to speak. And indeed, from a functional perspective I understand to a degree why someone’s last name has to go upon marriage–otherwise, your child’s full name will be something like “Firstname DadLastName-MomLastName”, their child’s name would be “FirstName LastNameOne-LastNameTwo-LastNameThree-LastNameFour”, and after that…well, it’s a huge mess.

But to me–and again, my views on this may be influenced by the fact that I’m male and so don’t really have to deal with losing my last name upon marriage–your name is really a part of your identity. Is part of the legacy of the pressure to marry a pressure to give up part of your identity…and worse, to present this as though it’s a good thing?

Any female readers (Or male, for that matter) out there, please comment on this, as I’m clearly missing something.

-EE

Nov 27

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

Yeah.

  • It’s amusing how real life can sometimes serve as an inspiration for creative endeavors. Long story short, a case of mistaken identity on MySpace (Hi Meg, if you’re reading this!) caused me to think about the alternative–what if I had actually found the person I thought I was looking for? Basically, it would have meant that I’ve been mis-remembering pretty much my entire high school career. If I didn’t already have music stuff going on, I’d try and turn this into a story of some kind. Yeah, the whole “You’re not who you thought you were” plot has probably been done to death by now, but there’s a reason for that, I think.
  • I still have to get in touch with the SDA administration regarding my Astyanax run. Indeed, at some point I might add a “speedruns” section to the sidebar here and go into a bit more detail about certain details behind why I picked the games I did, as opposed to just play-by-play.
  • Speaking of the sidebar, further testing revealed that my sidebar problem seems to be confined to IE6 (Thanks to my cousin for figuring that out). This has me convinced that IE is the problem, not the code. Those of you that still insist on using IE will thus want to upgrade to IE7. Of course, I recommend dropping IE altogether and switching to Firefox
  • Check out the band that a couple of my friends from college are in, Running with Karma. If you have a minute, make sure to create an account at BoDog Battle and vote for them to make it on to the next round. The winner gets a million dollar recording contract, which is obviously a pretty big deal. You can vote once every 24 hours, so if you have a minute each day, keep voting for them and hopefully they can make it one step closer to the big money.
  • I finished laying down a basic drum track for another song. Without giving away too much, suffice to say that, despite my cousin’s assertions to the contrary, it’ll prove that I actually quite enjoy the band Tool (The average Tool fan that I’ve come across on the Internet is another story…

Nov 25

Emptyeye.com- Week 6

This week at emptyeye.com, I actually wrote something that wasn’t about music or a weekly update. Incredible, no? Other than that, not a whole lot happened site-wise. I do eventually want to make the site more well-known, but not until I somehow fix the issue I have with IE (Long story short: The sidebar displays weird ONLY in the homepage). If any of you website gurus out there can help me short of telling me to get a new theme, it’d be greatly appreciated. Check out the link there and let me know if you can help.

Looking through my comment filter, I note that there seem to be blogs/directories/whatever that seem to exist only to collect excerpts from other, seemingly totally random blogs. Bizarre. Oh well. Anyone know anything about these?

In more personal news, I got another AAA in my home DDR exploits earlier in the week. That makes 7 on Heavy/Expert/whatever else that difficulty has been called through the years. That’s pretty cool. I never did end up writing that post about marriage like I had wanted to..maybe next week.

Until then…

-EE

Nov 20

Book Review: The Secret

(NOTE: I provide the Amazon links in this post so you have a starting point to learn more about the linked books, not because I necessarily recommend that you read them. Indeed, I highly recommend staying far, far away from The Magic of Dialogue.)

Those of you who know me will no doubt wonder why I decided to read Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. It really comes down to “know your enemy”–I had heard about the supposed thesis of the book–essentially, taking the convention of “Positive thinking is a powerful tool in your arsenal” (Which isn’t that heretical an idea in and of itself–professional athletes, among others, have stated the benefits of visualizing themselves making the big, game-winning shot/pass/kick.etc) and distorting it into “Positive thinking is the ONLY tool you’ll ever need”–and bought it, having to see this for myself and intending to write a sarcastic, Bad Religion-style song about it.

Then I actually read it.

The short version of my verdict: There is something to be said for changing the way you think about life. Changing the way you think to specifically match what Byrne describes in the book will only lead to misery and nothing getting done.

Essentially, the book ranges from thought-provoking (So long as you think about the change-your-perception concept in a general sense, and don’t try to apply the exact method of “Sit back, relax, and let the good times flow in”) to downright offensive (Hitting this point when it says that the reason people are fat is that they “think ‘fat’ thoughts”. Yes, really.), to at times sounding like the scam some decry it as (At one point, the book claims “[…]it has been scientifically proven that an affirmative thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought[…]” and expects you to just believe it, without actually providing the scientific proof, or even a reference to any sort of study about said proof, in question).

Really, the book, to me, represents an excellent example of The Placebo Effect. Its thesis is really something along the lines of, as I said, “sit back, think positive thoughts, and let the good flow into your life”. But there’s really more to it than that, that isn’t stated, and which I think it dangerous to omit. No, I don’t have a problem with changing one’s perception of life, setting goals, etc. But that’s only one step–you still have to actually do the work associated with achieving whatever new goal it is that you set for yourself in order to make it happen. The book doesn’t mention this at all–indeed, one could argue that the book goes out of its way not to say this, saying effectively “Just do it. Don’t worry about how you’re going to do it, just trust that it will all work out for you in the end.” This line of thought is really very similar to the concept of faith in religion, which I don’t place a lot of, well, faith in. But back to The Placebo Effect–I can see the concept of changing your perception also changing your outlook life, not because anything has actually happened, but merely because you think it has, because you’ve changed your outlook on life. This is a positive thing, I suppose, but it’s not something you can learn only by reading this book.

My personal thoughts on the philosophy of the book aside, from a writing perspective, it suffers the same problem of a book I once had to read for college called The Magic of Dialogue. That is, there is about 20 pages of material, certainly written well enough, but rephrased in slightly different ways using slightly different examples to create a 200-or-so page book. I hated the technique in The Magic of Dialogue; I don’t hate it quite so much here, perhaps because the material itself is slightly stronger (And I’m not reading it under duress).

All in all, the book wasn’t entirely a waste of my reading time, but it did, I think, provide me enough material for that song I mentioned earlier. Given that, I can’t recommend the book as the life-changing tome of wisdom it claims to be–indeed, following it to the letter would, I think, be counter-productive.

-EE

Nov 18

Emptyeye.com- Week 5

This week saw the release of another new song, “On a Cloudy Monday“. It also saw the site go down for a day thanks to some Lunarpages nonsense with the server the site is located on. So that was…interesting, to say the least. I haven’t really gotten much feedback on the song (Remember, leave comments or e-mail me!), but what is there seemed to be positive, so that’s definitely good. I’ve also started the drums for another track that promises to be longer and more technical than anything presently available on the site. Stay tuned for that.

In general site news, I’ve already used more bandwidth this month than I did for all of October, if my stats are any indication. This is definitely a good thing, as I have more than enough to go around (As I stated last time). Make sure to tell all your friends about the music and occasional book reviews here!

In personal news, I had an eye exam yesterday. I guess I have, not a loss of vision per se, but a loss of contrast due to the chemotherapy I underwent three years ago. Eye exams in general are difficult for me, as I have a mind that can instantly pick up and remember seemingly useless and random strings–like, say, rows of eye charts. In other words, if I have good vision in one eye, I could theoretically “cheat” at the exam and recite that row, or at least what I can see of the row–back when it comes time to test the other eye–not necessarily because I can actually see it; I’ve just remembered the sequence. This trait can be a plus, too: I have the ability to use random streams of letters and numbers for passwords without having to write them down anywhere (As a conversation I had with my cousin when I gave up my GameFAQs in frustration with the administration and where the site was headed illustrates:
Me: “Here’s the password: (password that was 12 characters, with letters of both cases, numbers, AND SYMBOLS)”
Him: “Oh, right, I’m totally gonna remember that.”
Me: “I did…”)

I also discovered that the Brass Mill Center has a Dance Dance Revolution machine! It’s an unlocked DDR Extreme that’s a dollar to play; unfortunately, my eye exam left me in no condition to actually play–dilated pupils tend to take away your close-up vision. Still, as that’s less than half the distance from my usual arrowsmashing arcade hang out, I’m going to eventually take advantage of it.

On the DDR home version front, I got another AAA, this one on DDR Extreme 2. You can click the thumbnail below to see the full-size picture. I also had one song that should have been a AAA, but the pad simply chose not to register a step, so I ended with 0 Greats and a Boo. Doh!

Saturday Night Love AAA

And that’s that. Over the next week, look for another book review, possibly some writing that’s indirectly about marriage, and whatever else I dream up in the meantime. Until then…

-EE

Nov 15

Well, THAT Was Interesting…

I attempted to upgrade WordPress, which you may know as “What emptyeye.com essentially runs on”, to the current-as-of-this-writing version, 2.3.1. What did I learn from this process?

  1. ALWAYS back up relevant files before attempting upgrades. Luckily, I did this a few days before the upgrade; otherwise, the results could have been even more catastrophic than they were (Which amounted to losing a few posts and their comments [Two of the posts are back, the “100000 miles get!” post wasn’t important enough to me, honestly, to go through the trouble. The comments are sadly gone.] and the “On a Cloudy Monday” page [Which I restored in a slightly different form].)
  2. For those of you that stumbled onto this entry with search terms like “WordPress 2.3.1 lost categories” or some such, here’s the important part: Make sure you turn off your plug-ins before you upgrade. This oversight was what led to a world of pain, including database errors and the loss of my categories (The “Posts by Type” section of the sidebar). I ended up having to restore a backup of the database (Which contains pretty much all the site content, hence why I lost some posts from the last few days), then turn off plugins, then finally upgrade. Things seem to be working now, except for a bizarre IE glitch which I’m going to try and fix. In the meantime, Get Firefox, which solves the problem without my having to actually succeed at fixing the broken code (Whether the fault is that of myself or Microsoft is a mystery that will probably never be solved).In addition to that, a couple days ago, Lunarpages had to make an emergency data move that involved the server the site was hosted on. This was their issue, not mine, but it resulted in a period where comments wouldn’t go through (And the site was down entirely for a span). This seems to be taken care of now.

Nov 15

New Song- “On A Cloudy Monday”

So I recorded another new song, as you can tell by the title of this post. The song is called “On a Cloudy Monday“, and it’s not exactly the happiest thing I ever wrote. Indeed, were I some hoity-toity critic type, I would say something like “In stark contrast to the silliness of my previous effort, ‘Arrowsmash’, ‘On a Cloudy Monday’ is an unrelentingly depressing trip into my thoughts on growing old and what happens as our bodies begin to break down from old age”. But as I’m not a hoity-toity critic type…oh, wait. Darn.

Anyway, you can read about the song here, where there’s also a link to download it. Feel free to leave comments/feedback/what direction you think I should head with the song–it’s not exactly in a final state yet–right here; “Leave Comments” links are at the bottom of each entry, by the way.