This is Chris dot com
Music, Movies, & General Geekery: Life.
by Christopher Grant Harris

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

New Article: Mario Kart 8 DLC Numero Dos!

This fast-paced village life...

This fast-paced village life…

Nintendo is doing something super-smart with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. They’re releasing DLC (DownLoadable Content) for it. They’ve never really done this before for their Mario Karts, and it is a simple and genius idea. Instead of coming out with a new Mario Kart every few years, just come out with some new tracks and new drivers periodically! KEEP THINGS FRESH!

The first DLC came out last Fall, and I wrote about that here. The second DLC recently came out, and here are some thoughts about the new tracks and drivers. And then you can watch a 1-minute recap video of each of the new tracks! NEAT!

First off, the new drivers!

Animal Crossing Villagers!

VillagarszYES!!1!! The second character (after link) who doesn’t come directly from a Mario game, the Villagers from the Animal Crossing series of games are now here to race around! You can choose either a boy or a girl. They’re kinda medium-weight characters, but they come with the absolutely awesome beetle-themed kart called the “Streetle.” Just look!

So cute! I lorve it!

So cute! I lorve it!

Isabelle

IsABeauIsabelle was a character introduced in the 3DS Animal Crossing: New Leaf. She’s the Mayor’s assistant, unfailingly polite and encouraging. She’s a bit lighter than the Villagers.

Dry Bowser

demDryBownsDry Bowser is a skeletonized version of Bowser, duh. He… I gotta be honest: I haven’t played as Dry Bowser yet. But why would I when I can play as frikkin’ ANIMAL CROSSING CHARACTERS!?

Crossing Cup

Baby Park (Gamecube)

This was my all-time favorite Double-Dash track! Why? It seems so simple (and short), I know. But that’s precisely why. In Baby Park the racers are always so bunched up that it’s impossible to break away from them; as soon as you get ahead you start lapping those left behind. And it’s an oddity in that there are 7 laps instead of the standard 3. On the Gamecube it frequently got crazy as the high-powered items would be used by the slowest drivers, who could be anywhere on the loop. Mario Kart 8 doesn’t have quite the diversity of items as Double-Dash did, so I don’t know if it will get as crazy (I haven’t played it on 150 or 200 yet).

Cheese Land (GBA)

I must admit I have absolutely no recollection of this track. But I never played much of the GBA Mario Kart. But cheese is my favorite food. And this is a pretty neat track, with three different shortcuts built in (helps if you have mushrooms, of course).

Wild Woods

This is the prettiest of the Village Cup tracks. It seems like there are some great background details always going on around the edges of the screen, especially when you pass through a village of Shyguys. There is some good use of anti-gravity in this track, too, some nice curves and jumps, and a flowing water section. It’s a solidly-put-together track.

Animal Crossing

Take a leisurely drive through an idyllic town. This is a very simple course that takes you through typical Animal Crossing locales: some trees, some beach, some town square, past a museum, etc. Apparently there are four different versions of this course, one for each season, each with their own obstacles and slight differences (though not in course shape—that stays the same). So far the game has only presented me with the “summer” version, though. I guess I’ll just have to keep playing it. OH NO. I do think there were some missed opportunities here, though. How fun would it have been to race through the museum, what with all the dinosaur skeletons and bugs and artwork? That’s could have been an amazing stretch of racetrack.

Bell Cup

Neo Bowser City (3DS)

This was a good track on the 3DS. This version has an absolutely gorgeous rain effect added for extra moodiness. Look at how it creates drops and streaks on the camera! Lots of long, spiraling drifts in this one.

Ribbon Road (GBA)

Again, a track I don’t remember very well. But this one is pretty durned stunning, visually. I could scour the backgrounds all day for all of the Mario characters turned into toys, and all of the fun references and Easter-eggy stuff. The track is divided into parts (each with its own color of ribbon roadway). There are some neat shortcuts you don’t need a mushroom to catch, and the undulating road is fun.

Super Bell Subway

The “traffic” course of the group, this one has you navigating around and against a couple of subway trains. But in a neat twist, there is actually a part where if everything times out just right you can drop down on top of a subway train and drive along its roof! This track also has copious excellent background details, especially in the graffiti that litters the underground tunnels.

Big Blue

The second F-Zero course to make its way into Mario Kart, this one is not divided into laps, but rather is one long, undulating course of anti-gravity goodtimes. I tend to like these long, lap-less courses because of the sheer amount of variety you’ll find. Take a wook:


And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 48 total.

Nintendo also did something very interesting: they added a 200cc speed class, making the carts even faster than in the previously-fastest 150cc. It’s pretty nutz (with a Z). It’s impossible without braking to take many of the turns that used be simple! It’s a smart addition to the ouvre, and gives each of the 48 tracks some new life!

Categories: Articles.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Billy Love Nibbles. So Can You!

B+N 4EVA!

B+N 4EVA!

My pal Travis is a comic book creator. He is probably best known as the writer/artist of “Jeff,” a comedy/fantasy mini-series that came out a couple years ago. Well, he has now completed a new project and has created an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the funds to get it printed.

It’s called “Billy Love Nibbles.” Here’s the (slightly edited-down) pitch:

It’s a graphic novel about a simple-minded young man (Billy) who lives in a dilapidated part of the city with his Momma. He is imbued with the ideas of treating all things smaller than himself with gentleness and compassion and , most importantly, if you make a mistake you should apologize and make it right.

Fate drops in and delivers a cold and hungry pug puppy into their lives. Nibbles changes everything, and now Billy doesn’t feel so alone and the world around them isn’t so bleak.

But things can change fast in the city… one day a local drug dealer, while running from a rival gang, accidentally hits Nibbles with his car. Billy was always taught to make things right if you make a mistake, so he decides to ask the dealer (Bump) to do the same. But when he confronts Bump, it begins a chain reaction of violent encounters that could threaten not only Billy’s life, but the lives of those around him.

But Billy knows no fear and he is unrelenting in his quest to bring his little friend back home to him. He only knows “Billy Love Nibbles” and will stop at nothing to make things right.

If you’re on the fence about it, this might push you over: a percentage of every book sold will be donated to the ASPCA and the Humane Society.

So if you wanna read a tale of a simple man’s love for a dog (and also some rather gory violence), then you should support this project!

Categories: Comics, Kickstarter.

Friday, 1 May 2015

“Of the Month” May 2015

TV Show of the Month:
daredevil
Daredevil

Hot-damn, this is how you do Daredevil. This show is dark. Dark. Horrible things happen to good people. Routinely. The heroes are mostly powerless, and lose more than they win (for the most part). The villain is a complex, developed character. Lies, betrayals, good ol’ Catholic guilt, and bloody, bloody beatings. All the performances are just spot-on, especially Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. He’s like a gigantic tea kettle that is constantly in danger of boiling over, but at the same time is genuinely shy and uncomfortable around other people, and especially in public. Even though at times it is a grueling experience, it is an amazing show.

Album of the Month:

They Might Be Giants: Glean

They Might Be Giants have a new non-children’s album! And it’s very strong. The worst songs on this album drop only to the level of “average TMBG songs,” which still put them light-years ahead of most any other songs in existence. And the best songs are absolutely stellar. My favorite is “End of the Rope,” which has a very cool, almost-spy vibe to it and a wonderful lyric cadence. Also fantastic are “Madam, I Challenge You to A Duel” and “Hate the Villanelle” (which is actually a 100% correct villanelle, a very strict poetic form). But really all 15 songs are good stuff.

Documentary of the Month:
atarigameoverxbox
Atari: Game Over

A fascinating urban legend among nerdy circles is the tragic tale of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game for the Atari 2600. A huge bomb, it was critically and commercially panned, and Atari was stuck with warehouses full of unsold cartridges. Legend says they were unceremoniously buried in a landfill in New Mexico. The whole tale is symbolic of the home video game crash of the early 1980s, which wouldn’t be rescued until the NES hit the scene. This documentary is part historical—tracing the rise-and-fall of Atari and the 2600’s place in nerd history, as well as the personal history of the programmer who actually created the E.T. video game—and part mystery. Did this landfill event actually happen? Can it be found? There is a surprising amount of build-up and suspense!

Categories: Of the Month.

Friday, 10 April 2015

(Animated) Band in Seattle: JM+FFD

This band really IS in Seattle!

This band really IS in Seattle!

Wednesday evening I went to the television taping of an episode of “Band in Seattle” because I knew some of the people in the bands! Specifically Julia Massey & the Five Finger Discount.

Also that episode were Smokey Brights, who were very good! I don’t think I’d seen them before, but they seemed familiar. I think that’s because most of the band members were also in other bands, and I’d seen some o’ those. An unusually cool thing about Smokey Brights is that it is a five-person band (which is unusual in itself these days), and four out of the five sing. There were many songs that featured full four-part harmonies!

I did not manage to take good enough photos to make an animated .GIF out of them. I did, however, make this cool little collage:

A collage both smokey and bright!

A collage both smokey and bright!

So here is probably the most-epic animated .GIF I’ve made yet. It’s of JM+FFD. It’s over 5 MB. And it features subtle camera movements and everything!

The Epicness of Animation!

The Epicness of Animation!

There you have it. I’ll let you know when this episode of “Band in Seattle” airs.

Whelp, we’re off to Portland for the weekend. We’re gonna go to OMSI and the Oregon Zoo! I’ll try to take mucho de photos and tell y’all ALL about it, ‘kay? ‘Kay!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Pictures.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Wanna Come See Julia Massey be on TV Tonight?

JM+FFD live televesion taping for "Band in Seattle!"

JM+FFD live televesion taping for “Band in Seattle!”

TONIGHT!? YES! TONIGHT! Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount will be taping their own episode of local indie music TV show “Band in Seattle” this very evening (Wednesday, April 8th) at 6:00 PM up at Victory Studios in Seattle.

I was last up there to watch The Hoot Hoots and The Jesus Rehab get taped for their episode! Their episode still hasn’t aired or been made available on the YouTubes. I’ll be sure to let you know when it is!

Two Great Bands that Band Great Together

THH & TJR: Coming soon to a TV near you…

But tonight it is JM+FFD’s turn, along with Seattle stalwart band Smokey Brights. Wait a minute, you say. You just typed “Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount.” Don’t you mean just Julia Massey and Dom on drums? NOT SO, my little friend. For you see, although bassist Geoff B. Gibbs has moved to the far beyond of Canada (and is currently on a whirlwind tour of the European Continent of Europe), it seems that he is not the only bassist in all the land. *GASP* I know! ‘Tis true! Julia and Dom have procured the services of another bassist, known only as the mysterious “Matt Deason.”

Who is this mysterious stranger?

Who is this mysterious stranger?

This will be the first performance of a fully-fledged Five Finger Discount since November of last year, so that’s gotta be pretty exciting! I AM EXCITE! They promise to play “one of our throwbacks, a handful of our current favorites, and, as always, a new song or two”[1]

Details:
Band in Seattle presents Julia Massey and Smokey Brights (Facebook Event)
Wednesday, April 8th 6:00 PM
@ Victory Studios:
2247 15th Ave West, Seattle, Washington 98119 (map)
All-Ages (I’m pretty sure)
$5 Studend, $10 Regular (tickets)

I will be there. I plan on leaving straight from work to get there on time. SO CAN YOU!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Videos.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Fools Play’s 22nd Anniversary: Some Surprising Influences

Foolishly influential ads...

Foolishly influential ads…

Last Saturday (April 4th) Fools Play Improv was part of the 2nd Annual South Sound Improv Festival. It was a lots of funs! It also just happened to mark our 22nd Anniversary! Yes, I’ve been doing live, improvised comedy for well over half my life and people are still paying moneys to see it happen.

To celebrate this 22nd Anniversary milestone, Mike the Blue Fool put together a video that highlights some of our influences from the early 1990s, when Fools Play formed. In this case here are the Top 5 Kids Ads that Most Influenced Fools Play:

It starts with the sticks…
Like so!
Making a bet…
Where the marbles go!

HAPPIE ANNIVERSERARY FOOLS PLAY IMPROV!

Categories: Fools Play, Videos.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Photos from Grit City Grindhouse of Kye Alfred Hillig & Julia Massey

Did you miss last night's music show in Tacoma? FOR SHAME!

Did you miss last night’s music show in Tacoma? FOR SHAME!

‘Twas a great music show last night in Tacoma at Grit City Grindhouse! I’d never been there before, and it turns out to be a very cool venue. It’s kind of a warehouse space behind a skate shop. There’s a li’l skate pipe/ramp off to one side in there (a quarter-pipe maybe?) and everything! It was an all-ages show and kids under 10 got in free, so it turned out there were about half-a-dozen kids running around and going crazy in front of the stage for much of the show. It was like a mosh pit for kids. A moppet mosh pit?

There were three music acts. The first one was Pete Jordan and two other members of Cloud Person. The be-bearded Mr. Jordan sounded a bit like a cross between Mike Doughty and folky sea shanties. Sorry I didn’t snap any photos of them, but it was mostly because I was enjoying the music and also because I was distracted by the junior mosh pit in front of me.

Next was Kye Alfred Hillig, who mostly did depressingly-lyric’d, folky, guy-with-acoustic-guitar stuff. But his lyrics were intelligent and very clever and sometimes rather funny. One of my favorite lines was, “My young love was as blind as Ray Charles.” Mr. Hillig also had absolutely excellent between-song banter going on, where he would make an assertive declaration and then immediately say that it was a complete lie. He also made some jokes about how his songs weren’t really kid-friendly. Very funny, and a nice contrast to the mostly-depressing content of the songs.

Wait... you mean that song wasn't about Clifford the Big Red Dog!?

Wait… you mean that song wasn’t about Clifford the Big Red Dog!?

Third was Julia Massey & half of the Five Finger Discount (only Dom on drums). The FFD is in-between bass players right now. Geoff left toward the beginning of 2015 and they have a new one, but they haven’t played live with him yet. He wasn’t there because he was on a cruise or something lame like that. Pfffft, excuses. Anyway, Julia + Dom is still a great show, and they played TWO songs Carrie & I had never heard before, both of which were excellent.

And, as is my nature, I made an animated .GIF of them for us all to enjoy:

And check out that great lighting!

This is one of the better animated .GIFs I’ve made. And check out that great lighting!

So in conclusion: Good show. And it started at 7:00 so it was pretty much wrapping up by 9:00, which was great for a couple of old people who have a baby and need to get up the next day to go to work.

Another conclusion: Good venue. It’s nice to know there is another place in Tacoma where good musics can happen now. Although I’m not entirely sure why there is a painting of Marvel Comics interdimensional supervillain Shuma-Gorath on one of the walls…

Samesies?

Samesies?

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Pictures, Tacoma.