Christmas, the fifth time?

Nicole decided to let me have my Christmas presents last night: Super Mario Galaxy and Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition were my reward.

Mario Galaxy is seriously the most amazing platformer I think I have ever played. To be able to jump off a tower, get caught in orbit of a small planetoid, and then land on the other side of the world is something that constantly astonishes me. I started playing it this morning, got a half hour in, and seriously considered calling in sick.

RE4 is more of the same amazing game that I’ve already beaten twice on the GameCube, though now, with the Wii controls, it’s faster, more accurate, and yet more challenging. I can’t wait to take on the Ganados again.

Something tells me Nicole thinks I’m pretty special…

The Batman is The Suck.

Batman: The Animated Series was amazing. It was as visually impressive as it was deep and rich in plot. I don’t think I knew how good we had it. Until now.

You see, a couple nights ago I managed to stumble across an episode of The Batman. It’s the new anime-inspired cartoon that seems to take a lot of it’s cues from the Adam West live-action Batman series, particularly in it’s puns.

And these are serious turbo puns. For example, Mr. Freeze is walking down the street after he’s just robbed a bank. It’s the hottest night of the year in Gotham City, but he’s making it snow. He stops and says, to no one in particular mind you, “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Batman ends up catching pneumonia after getting frozen solid by Mr. Freeze. Once Alfred suits him up in a “weather-proof” Batsuit, Batsy decides it’s time to let the poetry flow. What does he say? “Let it snow.”

The worst part about it is how they neutered Mr. Freeze’s character. He’s no longer a scientist who is fighting to keep his wife alive in a cryogenic chamber. No, he’s just a bank robber. A bank robber who blames Batman for making him fall into a cryogenic tank and get electrocuted at the same time. This turns his blood into, *cough cough*, electric ice particles. I don’t think I’m creative enough to come up with stuff like that.

And one last scene; Mr. Freeze ends up robbing a cruise ship in Gotham Harbor, where all the debutantes are holding some kind of ball. He says to a couple of hapless victims, “Just hand me the ice.” When they give him a puzzled look, he says, “Think about it.” And then he snaps off their giant silver necklaces. Jumping off the side of the ship, he tells the captain, “Have an ice evening.”

And so, dear reader, I weep, for the end is most certainly nigh.

Synergy

One of my favorite programs ever is called Synergy2. Essentially, it runs on Mac, PC and Linux and allows you to share the same keyboard and mouse across multiple computers, regardless of the operating system. So, today, I am copying text on my Mac, pasting it on my PC, and essentially being more awesome than my license for awesomeness allows for.

Unfortunately, the GUI I’d been using on my Mac for Synergy, QuickSynergy, doesn’t work on Leopard. It’s all good, though, because a quick Googling helped me find SynergyKM, a far better GUI that I probably should have been using from the beginning.

Yay for Leopard breaking my life less than I thought it did.

(Actually, it’s really freaking cool. Thanks Red, for your part in it. I’m sure all the awesome parts were the ones you put in it.)

Apollo, there there.

Nicole’s favorite story of the week to tell about me happened the night of Apollo’s bronchitis attacks. You see, I had a bit of trouble getting to sleep when I went to bed, and then there was the 2 hours staying by his side comforting him. When I finally got back to bed, I crashed. But Nicole was supposedly wide awake.

Well, as she tells it, I’d snore, wake up the puppy, who’d give half a cough, and then I’d respond with an unconscious “There, there Apollo. There, there.” And then immediately start snoring again, which would begin the cycle all over again.

Apollo is doing much better. As responsible pet owners, we’re not walking him for fear of other dogs he may greet and gift with bronchitis. He’s been enjoying getting his cough suppressant in finger-sized chunks of guacamole. Oh, and he still has cute puppy paws.

We’ll fight for your music halls and dying cities.

I have to hand it to my friend Dave McFadyen, he makes my musical taste feel so utterly pedestrian. In the last few months he has introduced me to three of my favorite albums ever. And it’s stuff that makes me feel so damn smart, like after listening to it I have a license to walk around being indier than thou. Let’s rattle off the list:

  1. The Long Winters – Putting the Days to Bed.  Best song off this album is “Teaspoon.” I really don’t know what it’s about, something to do with being in love with a woman who loves a pilot, and all you can do is turn to a life of robbing banks… it really doesn’t matter. Those horns buffet my soul.
  2. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha. One listen to “Plasticities” (which is where they title of this post comes from) makes me feel like falling in love in autumn. But really, it’s one stand out track in an album of stand out tracks. He used to be the violinist for the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and has released plenty of albums over the years as Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire, and most recently as just Andrew Bird. His “Bowl of Fire” discography is a lot like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, with him borrowing many of the conventions of early 20th century music. Check out this show on archive.org at Mad City in 1998 for a listen to his previous stylings. He’s pretty dang slick.
  3. Radiohead – In Rainbows. I have to admit, I just haven’t “got” the last several Radiohead albums, but this one is truly stellar. It’s easily the most accessible album they’ve released in a decade. “Reckoner” reminds me of my favorite songs off of Moby’s Play, but far more beautiful.

All of those links above you should be able to play the songs right off the page. Thank heavens for Hype Machine and the Live Music Archive at archive.org.

Your favorite Apollo, now with bronchitis!

Last night, Apollo the dog had a bad cough. It was the sort of thing that woke us up at 1:30 am and didn’t really stop until 3. It was really scary; he’d get caught up in it, and couldn’t stop until we rubbed him to try to calm him down.

I was especially scared when I did a search online at 2 for “dog coughing,” and found this article. Of particular note is the heartworms; they’re fatal and are spread by mosquito bites. I was swatting at a mosquito right before I went to bed, too.

Luckily, though, the diagnosis was simply bronchitis, and he’s doing much better today, especially with the chicken broth, lukewarm ice cream and guacamole we’ve been feeding him. Well, the guacamole is what we put his antibiotic pill in, but still. He’s gotta be digging this attention.

Kevin Toqe – Love Is

I can’t believe I haven’t yet written about this, but my good friend Kevin Toqe recorded a magnificent E.P. this summer, and it’s exciting to me for three reasons:

  1. It’s really quite good.
  2. He’s released it for free on his website.
  3. I designed the packaging and liner notes for it.

So, whatever you do, I highly recommend you at least stop by his site (KevinToqe.com) and give it a listen. There’s a media player at the top of every page that plays the songs in their entirety, or you can download the entire album, including a PDF of the liner notes.

It’s interesting to note, though, that neither the digital booklet nor the actual physical cd (when it’s produced) will have the complete packaging. The digital download has all the lyrics, while, in the interests of space, the physical cd has no lyrics, but does have the tray art, of which you’ll see the inside of the tray card above.

I highly recommend the song “Keep the Faith” which is track numero uno. It’s super catchy; I find myself singing it in the shower almost on a daily basis.

I love generative art.

In the last several months, I’ve been super interested in the field of generative art. Basically, it’s writing a program that will generate randomized (or not) pieces of art based on specific criteria. I’ve been following it without knowing it for a while now with the works of Joshua Davis (here’s his website, and here’s an article about him on Apple.com).

I’ve been looking at doing generative art on my own. Two programs I’ve found for it are NodeBox and Processing. NodeBox is definitely the easier (and kinda nicer looking) of the two, but it’s Mac-only and only deals with vectors (which you can do some cool stuff with. The image above, from build 40 of deliciousdesigner.com was made in NodeBox), while Processing is multi-platform, and deals with raster graphics entirely.

Today, I found a neat website where Chad Udell programmed a generative art piece using Actionscript 3 (Flash) and Adobe Kuler’s open API. You just type in a search term, and it searches Kuler for a color strip, and creates a random piece of art with it. You can play with it here, or see some of Mr. Udell’s generative art on his Flickr page.