A Return to Rock

Music No Comments

So, against all odds, the late-great indi pop trio Superficial Hero seems to be making a minor comeback…. After a couple evenings of nostalgia in Seattle, Dylan and I decided that some of the songs we were working on before our breakup really need to be recorded for posterity’s sake.  This decision has since snowballed into a mini-comeback with the re-registering of superficialhero.com where you can download our original, circa 1999, Castaway EP.  The first batch of this EP sold out in like 15 minutes after or first performance at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, and now it is available FOR FREE!!!  

Oh, man, can’t wait to record some of our later stuff.

Thanks for the upload, Dill.  I’m gonna start working on remembering these bass lines, now.

This is how it all began…

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So, lately I’ve had an arguably unhealthy obsession with the number four New Zealand digi-folk-pop duo, Flight of the Conchords.  Regular readers will remember that I paid way too much to see them live in San Francisco about a month ago.  Honestly, I think these guys can do no wrong at the moment.  these sentements have led some close friends to question weather my feelings are entirely appropriate (why can’t a heterosexual guy think a heterosexual guy’s booty is fly) (that might sound bad to those of you unfamiliar with the Conchords, but I don’t care).  Anyhow, the point is, they admit to a gross miscalculation in terms of when they thought the robotic uprising would occur.  I am inclined to forgive them for this mistake simply because, unlike so many people in the world, they have there eyes OPEN and they know it’s COMING, even if they aren’t sure when…

Hang in there guys.  It’s coming real soon.

The Original RPG Like it’s Never Been Played Before

Polyhedrons 1 Comment

At last I had my first opportunity to experience the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the game that invented RPGs 35-some-odd years ago.  Even if you don’t like D&D or have never played it; maybe it’s too nerdy or culty for you but I’ll just put it this way: if you have ever played a game where you picked a race and a class, you owe that experience to D&D.

That said, D&D has certainly changed a lot over the years.  I started playing D&D in junior high school.  At that time, the current version was Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition.  The game was very organic, with lots of room for players and Dungeon Masters alike to diverge from the rules, or invent impromptu rulings for situations not covered in the Player’s Handbook or DMG (Ah, the days when you only needed three books to play…no wonder TSR went belly up).  The game was wonderful for the shear power of storytelling it vested in the group around the table.  The problem was the limited rules set and clunky combat mechanics (should we really need to do long division to calculate a hit?).  This was addressed in D&D 3e.  Wizards of the Coast purchased TSR and revamped the entire game, starting from the ground up, they added many options for character customization, including feats and skills that players actually use.  Most importantly, they created an intuitive core mechanic that involved rolling one die, adding modifiers, and comparing the result to a target number to determin success in the action, weather it is hitting the orc with your sword or jumping over the 20 foot chasm. 

This was all good, in my opinion, but then something happend.  They kept making rules.  There was a rule for almost any situation that a player could come up with.  Version 3.5 came out and it seemed to me, as a player, that the designers were no longer trying to make a fun game, but to create a game that could mathmatically simulate reality at the game table.  Games got cumbersome, and many a play session came to a screaching halt as everyone delved into book after $30 book to find the answer to a particular rules question.  A single encounter at high level could take upwards of 3 hours to finish.  Something had to be done.

4e addresses these issues and more.  With just one game under my belt as DM, I can already feel the effort the designers went to in streamlining the system.  Play zips around the table, not giving my players time to become bored as the wizard delved through his spell book or the DM pondered grapple rules.  The “roll a 20 sided die and see if you hit” mechanic is still central to game play, but the characters are given even more options for customization and playability.  At first level, the most remarkable differences were the fact that players and monsters had upwards of 30 hp, creating dynamic and interesting conflicts that didn’t last too long because each player’s turn took less time than in 3.5.  Also, each first level character had multiple cool things it could do in the combat.  The wizard wasn’t limited to a single casting of magic missile, and the fighter had way more options that just “I swing my sword at its head.”

I look forward to experiencing the game from the other side of the DM screen, but for now I am quite happy to be exploring this fun and well though out revision as the man in charge.  My only complaint would be the sometimes blatant borrowing from popular online role playing games.  Most notably in the Warlock character class.  I was disappointed to see the warlock ability to curse enemies and take pieces of their souls that they could then use to make themselves more powerful.  It doesn’t matter that it’s a spark, not a shard; a piece of soul is a piece of soul no matter how you toss the dice, and gamers are sure to see beyond the rouse.  These instances of unoriginality are infrequent at best and do little to mar my initial impression of the game.

Clinton steps down, offers warning

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After a long and sometimes bitter Democratic primary struggle, Senator Clinton conceded the race to her rival, frontrunner Barak Obama, Saturday morning.  Clinton cited the impending invasion of an army of monkey robots as her primary reason for stepping out of the race.  “The monkeys are coming, anyway.  I’ll leave that mess for Senator Obama,” she said during her concession speech.

During the forty-five minute speech, she endorsed Obama as the candidate most prepared to deal with the robo-simian threat.

Senator McCain, long rumored to be a monkey robot himself, denied the invasion.  “Even if this invasion were true, which it isn’t, I would be better than Obama at dealing with monkey robots for two reason. First, because I am very old and monkeys respect their elders.  And second, because I speak with the emotional zeal of a robot.”

Former president Bill Clinton said he has known about the invasion since the mid-90s, when he was briefed on the top secret information during an intelligence meeting.  Shortly after leaving office, he began construction of several secure fallout shelters where he and his family would be able to weather the attack.

Senator Clinton said she will be spending the next months and maybe years in the compound the Clintons refer to as NO.MUNC-E, or Northern Ohio Monkeyless UNderground Compound-E (compounds A thru D have already been overrun).

Bill Clinton described the compound as “exactly like the Bushes’ Crawford Ranch in Texas, only it’s under ground. And there aren’t any monkeys.”

Senator Clinton will retire to NO.MUNC-E where she intends to be President over a close circle of friends, advisors, and impassioned supporters.  She invited Obama to join her as her Vice President. 

C of Sound

In Pixels, Music 5 Comments

This is a quick sketch I did in a coffee shop of the character in a 3D short I am planing on making.  I’ve had lots of false starts on 3D projects and I am hoping that posting my progress on this site will help keep me motivated to continue.  

The story is called the C (like the C clef) of Sound.  The old man in the sketch is a fisherman on a ratty old rowboat.  He baits a hook and casts it into the water.  When it hits the surface, instead of making a splashing sound, it makes some sort of musical noise.  After a while, he starts getting bites, and each time the bobber dips under the surface, it makes an out of tune sound.  
When he sets the hook, things really start taking off.  The line is pulled this way and that with piano scales running up and down and the like. 

When he finally pulls his catch out of the water, it bursts fourth with a cacophonous eruption of sound, like an orchestra tuning and timpani pounding.  Attached to the end of his line is a musical note.  

The end.

What do you think?  I am open to suggestions.  In fact, it would be fun to make this a bit of a collaborative project.  I certainly could use the help on sound editing towards the end.

I know this is way out of my league in the way of 3D projects, but I don’t like doing things half assed and I really hope to learn a lot, even if the final project won’t exactly land me an internship at Pixar.

By the way, don’t get too excited about this one just yet.  I am still planning on finishing the Car Commercial video before I get going on this.

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