Posts categorized “Featured Posts”

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Julia Massey Songs

Photo by Gary Lappier

Photo by Gary Lappier

As a mental exercise recently I decided to see if I could figure out what are my favorite songs from my favorite musician. It took a while. Some of my choices might surprise you! But here is what I have:

10: Motorcycle Bong
An instrumental (a rarity for JM), this song is all funk and swagger and some great bombast. It’s like the Best 1970s Cop Action TV Theme Song Ever.

9: Here Is a Stone Wall
This is just lovely and heartfelt, with only Julia’s voice and a single guitar. The lyrics are meditative and celebratory, about small moments and well-lived lives. Just reading through the lyrics gets me all teary-eyed.

8: Aghadoe
Ugh, so catchy. A very distinctive synth hook anchors this song and the added choir effect during the chorus really elevates it into something special. The lyrics are about passing time and death and the impermanence of all things, but are also super-uplifting (so, pretty much the usual Julia Massey lyrics :P). But even if I’m just some ash that kicks up in the wind, I know I’ll find my way to fields of wheat in Ireland.

7: Spaceships
This song is just pure pop goodness. It’s peppy, it’s upbeat, there’s some really cool bass stuff going on from Geoff. Sometimes I picture Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount going on a late-night talk show to perform (usually Conan), and this is the song that they always play in my head. Also: you should listen to the previous song on the album (“#712” – an adaptation of poem 712 by Emily Dickinson) before listening to this one, because they blend seamlessly into each other and it makes “Spaceships” even better.

6: Skatepark
This one is just a masterpiece. It’s epic, it’s loud, it’s got awesome drums and bass and it just kicks ass. The intro and outro instrumental segments are some of the finest instrumental segments that JM+FFD have ever put out. And the lyrics are sweet and funny. It’s also more than five-and-a-half minutes long, but it’s so interesting a song that the time just flies by.

5: There Is a Song
This is an anthem. This is the most exquisitely-sung song on any of JM+FFD’s albums. Julia’s voice is full of power; she belts this song, and it is glorious. The swing tempo is delightful, and the sleigh-bell outro give it a magnificently gentle ending. The lyrics are very empowering; it’s like Julia is standing behind you and shouting, “You can do it!” while you’re trying to do something difficult. JM+FFD would often end their live sets with this song, and it is so complete and final a song that it’s sometimes hard to imagine anything else coming after it.

4: Montana Capri
This song is not high on this list just because it was written about my daughter. That’s right: we didn’t want to announce the baby’s name until she was born, so “Montana Capri” was the fake codename we used for the baby while my wife was still preggers with her. It’s not just because of that; It’s also just a great song. The first part of this song has such a strong, focused drive to it. It’s like a train speeding through a tunnel, chugging forward relentlessly. And then in the second part it completely opens up and becomes epic and spacey. It’s like the train comes out of the tunnel and bursts into a beautiful moonlight vista, all mountains and stars and valleys. It’s awesome.

3: Jenny Towner
A beautiful and funny portrait about a real-life person whom I’ve never met. My favorite lyrics are the adorable (and slightly creepy) “Got the goddamn cutest face / It’s already in my suitcase / She’s coming with me everywhere I go.” One time JM+FFD did a full-band, rockin’ version of this song for me on my birthday. “Jenny Towner” hasn’t ever been released on an album. There used to be a link to download it on Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. Alls I can find is this YouTube video of a live version from a long time ago.

2: Don’t Worry ‘Bout Us
A loud, almost-bluesy, piano-banging romp with a fascinating time signature. It is nothing but unadulterated happiness for six full minutes. Gobs of solos show off each of the instruments, and the music is just so voluminous it’s hard to imagine that it was all made by just three people. This song is just joy, joy, joy.

1: Catacombs
This was no contest. Not even close. And it’s completely bizarre: I usually do not like repetitive songs at all, and “Catacombs” is basically just the same set of lyrics sung three times in a row. But this song pushes all of my musical buttons. From the opening drums to the opening piano riff, to the vocals coming in, then the strings and bass and backing vocals. It all just such a lovely build to the first time Julia belts out the chorus. I’m a sucker for songs that build like this. And the lyrics about “I know somehow you’re more than memory / ‘Cause I feel you in my bones, weaving caves in my marrow / Where I feel the echo of your memory / Where I feel the echo of your Earthly dream.” When Julia finally does belt out the chorus, “I’m not hollow” sounds almost like a statement of defiance. The world may take from us, but it cannot take our memories of each other. You fill me up. I’m not hollow. I would love this song to be played as a sing-along my funeral—I’m completely serious!—with everyone there belting out “I’m not hollow!” all together. Beautiful.

Honorable Mentions:

These are the songs that were all fighting to get the coveted #10 spot.

Turn It Into Everything
This song is a clever little pop ditty metaphor about games turning into something more. It’s just so catchy I can’t resist it.

Always Been There Anyway
An early song that was never put on any albums. Like “Jenny Towner” you used to be able to download it from Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. It has a very different feel from any of her other songs due to a fascinatingly different choice of instruments like a sitar-sounding thing and some bongos. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Come Here, You
This one I can’t post any links to audio because it hasn’t been recorded yet! And I couldn’t find a video of it uploaded to the internets anywhere. But this song has a great part towards the end where the audience starts clapping along to the song, and then the song ends. And every time I’ve seen this song performed, the audience just keeps on a-clappin’ even after it ends! It’s very charming. If you go to a show nowadays it’s very likely that you’ll hear it!


And there you have it. What do you think? What songs would you add and/or remove from my list in order to make your own?

I’m very looking forward to Julia’s next album; there are some really good new songs happening in her live sets these days. If you’d like to experience more Julia Massey, you should come to her next show! It’s this Friday, November 20th at Columbia City Theater in Seattle!

JM+FFD are the 2nd band!

JM+FFD are the 2nd band!

Details:
MoZo (CD Release) // Julia Massey // Richie Aldente (Facebook Event)
Friday, November 20th 9:00 PM
@ Columbia City Theater
4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 (map)
$8 adv / $10 door

We shalle seee yeeee theeeeere!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Featured Posts, Music.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Quick Halloween Ghostly Embroidered Plush

Hey guess what! My work let me come up with a sewing project of my own and then post it on their blog! SO I DID! Here’s a link to that blog: http://www.qualitysewing.com/blog/?p=3112
And here, I’ve copied it to my own blorg so you can read it here:


Hello! This is Chris with Quality Sewing, and I’d like to show you how I made these adorable little plush ghosts with the Brother Dream Machine:

I confess I’m actually not much of a sewist; I work behind the scenes of Quality Sewing in advertising. But the Dream Machine is so unbelievably easy to use that even I could do this–so it should be no problem for you!

First off, draw a ghost. Just a simple face and a ghostly outline. Here, look how cute he is!

You can make it pretty much any shape and size that you want as long as it’ll fit on your fabric in a hoop. I used those sheets of felt that you can buy at a craft store for like 35 to 40 cents each. Those are about 8” x 10”, and I used the 5” x 7” hoop to hold them. So I drew a ghost that was about 4” x 6.” We’re going to turn the ghost inside out and stuff it, so try to leave a gap of about 1” to 2” in the outline.

Put your drawing on the Dream Machine’s scanning attachment and press “My Design Center” then “Illustration” then “Scan.” The machine will take just a minute to scan in your drawing.

Then it’ll appear on the screen. We’re going to embroidery just the face first, so use the stylus to select just the face portion.

Hoop up your fabric with some stabilizer (I used Floriani tearaway medium stabilizer behind my felt) and put it in the machine. Make sure your Dream Machine is loaded up with the color of thread you want (black in this case), and embroider that cute li’l face.

Once that’s done, take off the top frame of your hoop, lay another piece of fabric on top of the ghost’s face, and re-hoop it all together. Try to get it to be as close to where it originally was hooped as possible.

Put your ghost drawing through the scanner again, but this time select “Line” instead of “Illustration” before you scan it. The scanner will convert everything to outlines.

We don’t want to embroider the face this time, so what I did was choose the eraser tool and just rub out those face lines.

One of the reason I like using felt for these is because it’s ever-so-slightly translucent, and you can put that to good use. When you get to the embroidery phase, click this button to have the Dream Machine really quickly scan the hooped material, and voila! You can faintly see where your ghost’s face was embroidered. Drag the outline so that it is positioned around the face where you want it.

Then just stitch it out! You’d probably want to switch to white thread for the outline, but I used black so it would actually show up in the photos.

Now take everything out of the hoop, tear off the stabilizer, and carefully cut all the way around your ghost. I tried to keep it about 1/8 away from the seam.

Now turn him inside out and look at just how cute he is!

Now you just have to stuff him and stitch the opening closed and there you go! You have a cute little ghost plush.

This seriously only takes a few minutes to make. They’d be so cute to give away at a Halloween party (or even to Trick-or-Treaters).

If ghosts aren’t your thing, you can easily use the same technique to make Jack-o-lanterns! Here’s one I made, the only difference is that I used orange felt and I sandwiched a loop of green felt between the two layers of orange fabric before I stitched the outline.

If you don’t think your drawing skills are the greatest and you’re worried about how your plushes will look, below are some image .JPG files that you can download and put on a memory stick. That would make the creation of these plushes even faster because you wouldn’t have to physically scan the drawing each time; just put the memory stick in the Dream Machine and pull the design up instantly!

Just click on these images to download them to your computer (if that doesn’t work try right-clicking on them and selecting “Save As”).

I hope these li’l guys make your Halloween happier.
Cheers!
-Chris

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Featured Posts, Holiday, Work.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Tiffany Terror of Vault 82: A Fallout Shelter Tale

Screenshot_2015-08-18-10-16-39

Caretaker’s Log: Day 1

The day I have been preparing for has arrived, and though it is sad (billions dead, blah-blah-blah, etc.), it is unsurprising, and I have gone to great lengths to ensure the survival of some of the human race. The Vaul-tec vault that we’ve built is plenty for me and my 42 subordinates to withstand the coming dark times. Now to find other survivors and fortify this sanctuary.

Caretaker’s Log: Day 7

Excursions into the wasteland have managed to find an additional 17 survivors from the wasteland. Coincidentally, a high percentage of them are women named “Tiffany” who were discovered in the wasteland wearing only lingerie. Our expeditions to the wasteland have also proven fruitful in caches of equipment and weapons.

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Caretaker’s Log: Day 8

Many of the Tiffanys have banded together and formed a great friendship over the coincidence of their shared first name. A group of them have managed to cobble together a radio broadcasting center and I have given them permission to send our message into the wasteland in the hopes of finding more survivors.

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Caretaker’s Log: Day 10

The Tiffanys have proven most helpful. They’ve developed a method of organizing our vault dwellers by appending their floor and job to the front of their name.

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It seems to have done an amazing job of increasing the happiness of our dwellers by connecting them with vocations that most satisfy them.

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Caretaker’s Log: Day 14

Have succeeded in bringing in 7 more survivors. Strangely, they too are all women named Tiffany. Each Tiffany seems more technically and sociologically savvy than the last. Their suggestions for improvement of vault life are all unerringly insightful and valuable.

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Groups of Tiffanys now not only man the radio, but also have built a hospital and a school. It is a relief to have so many competent people in such valued positions of authority.

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However: I’ve discovered that some of the Tiffanys have been making unauthorized forays into the wasteland. But they have always returned with bountiful weapons…

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Soon after a Tiffany has returned from the wasteland it seems as though another woman named Tiffany has appeared at our door. Well, it is worrisome, but we are always glad to welcome more survivors.

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Caretaker’s Log: Day 21

Under the guidance of some Tiffanys, we have increased our efficiency exponentially. Most clunky power plants have been replaced by high-powered nuclear plants. Restaurants have been replaced with high-yield greenhouses.

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Many of our vault dwellers are so grateful for the presence and leadership of the Tiffanys that they have begun renaming themselves to Tiffany in their honor.

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The only people we are rescuing from the wasteland are women named Tiffany. A part of me wants to wonder about the statistical probability of only finding Tiffanys within a radius of our vault… but I find it difficult to focus when I think about it…

Oh, and the Tiffanys have introduced a new water purification system. This water tastes… good… real good.

Caretaker’s Log: Day 28

The Tiffanys have shown us the marvelous benefits of Nuka Cola… come along… you belong… feel the fizz of Nuka Cola…

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It tastes… good… real good.

The Tiffanys are good… real good…

More dwellers, even some of the men, have renamed themselves “Tiffany” in their wondrous honor. I think perhaps I shall as well, though I would never presume to be worthy of the glory and exaltation of such a revered name…

Tiffany’s Log: Day 300

WE ARE TIFFANY

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TIFFANY WILL SPREAD

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TIFFANY WILL BECOME

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TIFFANY WILL BE ALL

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TIFFANY IS ALL

TIFFANY

Categories: Featured Posts, Video Games.

Monday, 13 July 2015

My Favorite Comic-Con Moments 2015

So San Diego Comic-Con is over, and there were lots of big announcements and blah-blah-blah Star Wars blah-blah-blah Batman v. Superman blah-blah X-Men Apocalypse blah-blah. You already know all about all of those, so I ain’t gunna get into ’em.

These are the things that happened at Comic-Con that I really enjoyed:

Junior Braves of the Apocalypse

A friend of mine had a comic book signing at Comic-Con. I still can’t get over that!

A FOOL DOES SOMETHING AWESOME: Congratulations to Michael Tanner, AKA the retired GREEN FOOL (on the right with the…

Posted by Fools Play Improv on Thursday, July 9, 2015

I mean, comicbookresources.com even did previews of this book. Hooray Michael Tanner! I <3 my famous friends.

Conan Goes to Comic-Con

The opening segment of Conan O’Brien’s week of shows filmed at Comic-Con was undoubtably the best part:

Joss Whedon’s Twist

Now that Joss Whedon is no longer the shepherd of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he has time to do projects for himself for a change! First up: an original comic book about an original character:

Joss Whedon's Twist

Joss Whedon’s Twist

Joss Whedon had (unsurprisingly) my favorite single quote of the whole weekend when he described the book:

Basically deals with the most important moral question facing us, which is, why isn’t there a Victorian Female Batman? [1]

Steven Universe Extended Theme Song

There was a Steven Universe panel. And this happened:

I made the mistake of watching that during my lunch break at work last week. Fortunately no one else was around, so I didn’t have to explain that I was crying about a cartoon.

Marceline Sings!

There was an Adventure Time panel, which also contained Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe. See, she worked on Adventure Time before starting Steven Universe, and she wrote a bunch of the most memorable songs for them. And she’s written a new song for Marceline. Whose voice actress, Olivia Olson, also just happened to be on the panel. So, y’know, she helped out:

Ash vs Evil Dead

I do believe this speaks for itself. Let me know if you’re confused about anything:

Wrongplayed

And, of course, one of my favorite Instagram accounts: Wrongplayed, that purposefully (and hilariously) misidentifies the various cosplay of the con:

So that’s what I enjoyed and/or am looking forward to. How about you?

[1] http://io9.com/joss-whedon-just-explained-the-meaning-of-life-to-us-1717277218

Categories: Cartoons, Celebrities, Comics, Featured Posts, Music, My Famous Friends, News, Round-up, TV, Videos.

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: Featured Posts.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

New Article: Mario Kart 8 DLC Numbah Wahn!

Link on a Bike!

That’s not a horse…

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!

So the first DLC set came out a while back (I wanted to write about it then, but there were… problems), and I thought I’d write 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!

Tanooki Mario

marios-headIt’s Mario! In his Tanooki Suit from Super Mario Bros 3! That’s right, this is NOT Racoon Mario. This is Tanooki Mario. Tanooki does not equal Racoon. They’re different animals. A very aesthetically pleasing design, but doesn’t seem to play any differently than regular Mario. Or maybe he does? Sometimes the differences between drivers are incredibly subtle.

Cat Peach

peachs-headPeach dressed up in the Cat outfit that everyone got in one of the more recent Mario Games. Honestly, I haven’t tried this driver much because it uncomfortably blurs the line between being an outfit and being a wank destination for furries. *Shudder*

Link

links-headMario Kart’s first foray outside of the Mario franchise! Nintendo has decided to open up Mario Kart to the wider Nintendo world, much like Super Smash Bros. Their first choice is a grown-up link, similar to the classic Link from Ocarina of Time. It’s pretty interesting to see him bumping karts with Donkey Kong and Toad and the like.

There are 8 new tracks in the DLC, divided into 2 new Cups (Egg and Triforce). For the Egg Cup, I chose Link and his motorcycle. For the Triforce Cup, I chose Tanooki Mario and the badass Blue Falcon—Captain Falcon’s hovercar from F-Zero! Wait, why would I do that when the Legend of Zelda track is in the Triforce Cup? You’ll see…

Egg Cup

Yoshi Circuit (Gamecube)

This is one of the tracks from Double Dash, which is still my all-time favorite Mario Kart. Though I have to say, I barely remember it. This is a straight-ahead ground race. There are no hills, no anti-gravity segments, no nothing except turns and turns. In fact, the map of this course is an outline of Yoshi’s silhouette. Hence the name of the track, I suppose. An interesting inclusion, I suppose to contrast the very up-and-down nature of the rest of Mario Kart 8.

Excitebike Arena

THIS is why I chose Link and a motorcycle for the Egg Cup! This is a very simple course with a very cool hook: it’s just a simple, two-turn oval (much like Double Dash’s Baby Park course), but it’s chock-full of ramps and jumps and mud straight from old-school, 8-bit Excitebike! And here’s the hook: every time you play the course, the positioning of the jumps and muds and whatnot is randomized, so it’s a (slightly) different course each time! Plus the music is a great remix of the original Excitebike theme song. This course is a lot of fun, but I wish it would have been 5 laps (like the original Baby Park, which is my all-time favorite course) instead of just three; it’s a bit too short as it is.

Dragon Driftway

A heavily Asian-themed course that is almost 100% anti-gravity. You wind yourself along the body of an enormous Asian dragon (NOT a European-style dragon) over a very old-timey-looking Asian village. The music is very… Asian. Y’know, if it weren’t for the fact that this game was designed by Japan, I would think this course bordered on uncomfortable stereotypes. But it is one of the prettiest courses out there.

Mute City

Incorporating a track from another racing game into Mario Kart? This is a great idea! When this DLC was originally announced they made a big deal about how Mute City was going to be a 100% anti-gravity course. But it comes immediately after Dragon Driftway, which is an almost-100% anti-gravity course, so it seems a little weird. There are some awesome touches in this course, like the way you collect coins by driving over the healing strips from F-Zero. There’s also a really cool shortcut you can take if you have a mushroom.

Triforce Cup

Wario’s Gold Mine (Wii)

For some reason Mario Kart 8 got rid of Mario Kart Wii’s “half-pipe” gameplay mechanic in favor of the anti-gravity mechanic. I’m not sure why they couldn’t do both? So this isn’t a 100%-faithful translation of the Wii’s Wario’s Gold Mine course. But they did bump-up the prettiness factor quite a bit.

Rainbow Road (SNES)

The final boss of the original Mario Kart! The original Rainbow Road was a deadly course with only 90-degree turns and a perilously narrow track. Unfortunately they dumbed it down quite a bit in this version by making the course WAY too wide. It’s actually kinda difficult to fall off, whereas in the original Mario Kart it was kinda difficult to NOT fall off. The Thwomps making the track ripple is an excellent touch, though (especially since you can stunt off of the ripple like they were jumps), and it sure is damnably pretty. It’s just way too easy.

Ice Ice Outpost

I think maybe this is supposed to be an Ice Clibmers themed course? I’m not sure. But the track is divided into two halves that twist and wind themselves around each other. There are a bunch of shortcuts and alternate routes you can take on this track, and one of them you don’t need a mushroom to use…you just have to be willing to drive off the edge of the track at the correct spot! The course has an interesting design, and there’s a bunch of interesting things going on in the background that I never get to look at because I’m too busy driving (is that a Yoshi helicopter flying around in the background?).

Hyrule Circuit

Y’know, maybe it would have made more sense to play as link in this Cup and use the Blue Falcon in the Egg Cup… but OH WELL! This is actually a pretty standard course, with some curves and jumps and such, but it has a couple of cool features. For one, instead of picking up coins you’re picking up Zelda-style Rupees, complete with Rupee-collecting sound effect (in fact, the whole course is filled with Zelda sound effects and music). Also, when you enter the castle there’s a neat little secret—if three crystal switches are activated in the hallway leading up to the Master Sword room, a secret ramp raises itself (complete with the classic Zelda “secret” sound effect) and you can actually jump up and touch the Master Sword! And since you’re in anti-gravity mode, touching something gives you a boost. So not only do you get to bypass an entire curve, but you get a boost out of it.


And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 40 total. That’s pretty badass! And there’s another DLC on the way this spring, that introduces an Animal Crossing Villager into the driver mix. Who is excite? I am excite! If they keep on extending the life of Mario Kart 8 like this, it could be well on its way to becoming my favorite of them all.

Categories: Featured Posts, Video Games.

Friday, 31 October 2014

New Article: Sew Ghostly with the Ocean Shores Pirate

Squishy scares!

Squishy scares!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I’m back today with another in my long series of Halloween crafts, and I’m joined by everyone’s favorite drawing of a pirate on a piece of plywood, the raging-drunk Ocean Shores Pirate!

Arr, thanks be to ye, mate, for havin’ me back in there here blog o’ yers.

No problem, OCP. Today we’re gonna be whipping up some ghosts.

Didn’ we do one o’ them ghostly crafts a few years back? Here, lemme dig through yer archives… yarr, there it be: Ghostly Crafts with the Ocean Shore Pirate! That were almost five year ago! Did ye think the booze saturatin’ my brain’d make me forget?

No, this is an entirely different craft project. I still hang up that paper ghost garland every year, though!

An’ every year I vomit into the most peculiar o’ places. Let’s be gettin’ on with it, eh?

This year I’m gonna show you how easy it is to make some adorable plush ghosts.

Can ye show ’em how to make a plush version of the ghost o’ me dignity? ‘Cause that be long gone.

Start with some soft white fabric. I have a bunch of white fleece lying around, so I’m going to use that. You could use felt if you want a less-stretchy version.

I… I can’t think o’ any puns that be about stretchiness an’ alcohol. Ye stumped me, ya bastard!

The first thing you should do is draw an outline of the ghost you want to make. Ghosts come in all shapes and sizes, from Pac-Man style scalloped-bottom ghosts to those with long, pointy, trails. They can have arms or not. You can make a bunch of these pretty quickly, so try a whole bunch of styles! Be sure to draw it about ¼″ to ½″ larger than you actually want (for seam allowances).

Draw a Gost!

Draw a Gost!

Arr… I got me a scalloped bottom from fallin’ off a pier into a bed o’ snappin’ scallops! The welts still ain’t gone!

Now make some sort of face for your ghost. You can cut out some eyes from a dark fabric and sew them on, you could use your sewing machine and some satin stitches to make a face out of thread, or you can even take a sharpie and draw on a face. Here I’ve cut two eyes out of some dark gray fleece and sewn them on with a straight stitch around the edges. Whatever you do, be sure to put the face on the opposite side of your drawn outline.

Spooky eyes.

Spooky eyes.

My face be drawn on me piece o’ plywood! Hey! Hey! Pay attention t’me!

Put your piece of fabric face-down on another piece of fabric so that the outline you drew is facing up. Then take it to your sewing machine (you can pin it or baste it if you want, but this isn’t an exact science, so if you don’t want to you don’t have to) and sew all the way around the perimiter, ¼″ to ½″ inside the outline. Leave about a 3″ gap somewhere so you can turn it rightside-out and stuff it.

Sew, sew, sew your ghost!

Sew, sew, sew your ghost!

I stuff me liver so full o’ booze that it be the size o’ the Wrigley Field in Chicago!

No it isn’t; I’d be able to see it coming out of your piece of plywood if that were the case.

I been meanin’ t’ask ye, matey: how can I be consumin’ so much hooch when I’m just a drawin’ on a piece o’ plywood anyway?

Magic.

That’s what I thought! Har-har!

Anyway, now cut out your ghost (through both layers of fabric) along the outline you drew.

This ghost is such a cut-up!

This ghost is such a cut-up!

Then turn it rightside-out.

This is why you need to mind the gap.

This is why you need to mind the gap.

There’s your face again!

It's mostly ghostly now!

It’s mostly ghostly now!

And here be my face!

Knock that off!

Ye can’t stop me! Here it be a dozen times!

Now stuff it with some stuffing! No need to overstuff it; it’s easier to finish it if it isn’t bulging with too much stuffing.

Stuff and nonsense!

This ghost is full of stuff and nonsense!

Now to seal up that opening. You can hand-stitch it closed if you want, or you can do what I’m doing here and tuck some of the fabric into the inside of the opening and top-stitch over it to seal it. Then just continue to top-stitch all the way around the ghost.

This top-stitching is the tops!

This top-stitching is the tops!

And while ye be at it, stitch up the hole in me side that got there ’cause I had to sell one o’ me internal organs in order to get more money to buy more hooch!

That’s it! You’re done!

Squishy scares!

Fantôme accompli!

Once you get the hang of this you can crank out bunch of ghosts in very little time. Give them away at your next Halloween party! They also make excellent cuddle buddies for wee ones:

Halloween Buddies!

Halloween Buddies!

Aye, or soak them in the finest rum and ring them out into the greedy, upturned mouths of yer party guests!

Or that. Well, thanks for another fun Halloween craft project, Ocean Shores Pirate.

And thank ye, Chris, fer pretendin’ not to notice that when I burp giant bubbles made o’ vomit & rum come out o’ me mouth and slowly float down to me crotch, where they burst with a fowl stench and a nethers-dampenin’ splash!

What do you think of this project, Ocean Shores Pirate?

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Featured Posts, Holiday.