Chris' Journal of Bullshit

Augh so long
So Blind Guardian has a thirty-second sample of their latest single on their home page, and damn. It sounds like all kinds of Blind Guardian eras mixing together and yet evolving into something new. In just thirty seconds of sound!

Dammit I want this new album so bad, yet this single isn't even released until the end of June.

The new album is entitled The End of Time, and the tracks are:

1 - Sacred Worlds (a modification of the track Sacred composed for the game Sacred 2) (9:17)
2 - Tanelorn (5:58)
3 - Road of No Release (6:30)
4 - Ride Into Obsession (4:46)
5 - Curse My Name (5:52)
6 - Valkyries (6:38)
7 - Control of the Divine (5:26)
8 - War of the Thrones (Piano) (4:55)
9 - A Voice in the Dark (5:41)
10 - Wheel of Time (8:55)

As usual, I wish they included some notes as to what everything is based on. I believe Tanelorn is based on a Michael Moorcock book, and Wheel of Time is self-explanatory. Night at the Opera was primarily religion and philosophy based in its material, and A Twist in the Myth sounded to be a mixture of inspirations from books as well as religion and such (The Edge has something to do with the Church of the past).

Either way, I'm super excited. The single, which has A Voice in the Dark and War of the Thrones on it (without the Piano note, so some difference there) as well as a song cover called You're the Voice is on there (guessing this).

Damn, I'm so psyched.

Too bad the single isn't until end of June (in Europe), and the album isn't until the end of July (in Europe).

So I gotz a jorb
The place I interviewed at last Friday told me to expect a call back end of this week or early the following. Tuesday as I upload what I have of my Dad's site so I can actually have a portfolio piece to point to and start updating my resume and uploading it places, I get a call from them. They wanted me on board.

That was awfully quick.

So Monday I'm going to be working in Philadelphia. It's only a 6-month paid internship with almost no chance of becoming full-time, but it's something. And it comes just in the nick of time, too. If I had been unemployed for an entire year I would have gone nuts. It should definitely be within my capabilities considering stuff I've done on my own, though at the same time I haven't had to go in and fix other people's code that often as I'll have to be doing here in some cases. That's part of the necessary experience I guess.

What I'm really psyched about, oddly enough, is being able to pay my own bills. I'll have my own health insurance through the employment agency which will only cost between $34-$43 a week for medical, dental and vision. I'll be able to start paying loans off, which I think will be around $300-$350 a month. It's a hefty dent, but hey. The only real concern is I need to get a car, and then I need to not only pay it off but pay for insurance. My Dad expects that we'll do a joint-ownership like he and my sister did, that way I can just pay him for the insurance instead of having to deal with my own expensive over-priced rate. Still, cars are such a ridiculous money-sink.

But either way, I'm employed. I can purchase my own ticket for Iron Man 2. I can buy my own food if I want. I'll be able to afford Metroid: Other M when it comes out. Even with all the bills and expenses, I'll be able to afford these things and STILL save money.

Unfortunately, I'm going to be a bit expensive on my parents for the first two weeks. I get paid weekly, but I'll need money to commute the first couple of weeks first. And once I'm paid on the 30th I'm seeing if my friend Dave and I can drive up to RIT for a quick weekend visit (this was already in the works before I got a job...though I should probably tell my parents).

OH! I need to pay for a plane to Illinois for my friend Eric's wedding in July! Definitely gotta take care of that.

Man, money is so good.

As for what this will do with my free time, I've pretty much decided that most projects will be given up. I should be able to keep writing still no problem, I just may not do multiple drafts like I currently am (except for columns on GameKrib). The weekends I'll try and spend time learning Flash. I've already played around with it again and it's interesting how many concepts I recall easily. I just need a good source to start learning ActionScript 3 from. But generally I see my weekday nights being spent coming home with Dad, eating dinner, on Monday nights watching Chuck, Tue-Thur playing games until bed-time, and then on Friday maybe hanging in the city with Jeff or something depending on how things go. Weekends I'll want to dedicate at least an hour to messing around with Flash, write up an article or two, and general social-ness with Luke or something. Once I get a car probably more time spent in the city, actually.

So I'll definitely take a hit in terms of free time, but I think I can manage it.

No More Heroes 2 = disappointing. Darksiders = vastly under-rated. Dark Void = arriving today from GameFly.

So my brother and his friend Bruno have been passing this little gem around, and it's been having me thinking.

Sometimes I like this blog as a place to let go. It also helps me keep in contact with some friends that don't often use something like Facebook, or don't participate in my forums, or I just can't get hold of any other way.

But I'm not too certain I should keep it since there's a lot of dumb and regretful stuff on here. Plus, while I'd be afraid of losing contact with people, I'd like to encourage them to participate in my website and forum instead of my live journal. If I need to let some steam loose, just send an e-mail or something. I feel I have the need for an audience, and that certainly shows when you Google my name (actually what shows is if you make an account on The Escapist, it follows pretty much every single Themis Media website out there...also, somewhere out there is another Chris Cesarano...and sadly, GamerTagged is on page two of Google :( ).

There's nothing too incriminating and this blog doesn't show up on Google, but that doesn't mean I'm safe. In fact, I don't think there's anything incriminating, but who knows. I googled my full name, my last name, and my typical user name. The worst thing to come up is the fact that I'm a member of (which, if you really want to know, I joined because I was thinking of doing a Podcast at the time and if I ever wanted to tackle the topic of girls and video games I wanted to have females on board. The community isn't too bad). I'd say the best thing is the discover of this picture, which I'm actually partial to.

Nonetheless, I'm wondering if I shall at the very least delete this blog and start a new one that has less of an immature history.

My brother wasn't too happy about the article, though. To him, it's an invasion of privacy. There's a separation between one's personal life and their social life. In some ways he's right, especially since he and I have been raised to make sure we are formal, respectful and work hard in a professional setting.

Most people aren't, however. Especially in Western culture in terms of my generation (and I really do mean my generation). Kids are a lot more laid back and relaxed with less of a sense of holding back during formal settings. Everything must be fun and entertaining.

I don't think that it's right to the extent that it's done, but at the same time I can see the necessity. I mean, we're living in an era where teenagers are regularly taking photos of themselves shirtless or spilling cleavage and planting them on MySpace for all to see. Actually, did I say teenagers? Because there are people my age, mid-twenties, still doing that.

When I was a teenager I spilled out thoughts here that were pretty incriminating and very private. Sometimes I still do, though I may not realize it since I'm a very open person. However, if someone has graduated College and is still putting that sort of material out there for people to see, what does it say of themselves? Their self-respect? Their attitude? Oddly enough, it says a lot of things other than "I think I'm a sexy person".

Additionally, we've had a lot of issues with people breaking Non-Disclosure Agreements in this country. People blog about work, projects they work on, or complain about their employer. In fact, the following image pretty much speaks volumes of the average American graduate:

If we were like Japan and could separate our professional lives from our social ones, then yes, maybe companies would be over-stepping their bounds by Googling potential employees. I feel as if I could be judged by my thoughts on video games or a joke I made in my comic when I'm applying for a web development job that has nothing to do with either. At the same time, when people come home from work they complain about it or discuss what they love and are working on. Sometimes this is a bad thing, depending on the person. This is where it becomes important to see what sort of presence they have online.

Which makes me wonder if mine is positive or negative. I'm a member of a lot of game related sites. Does that say anything bad? What about my websites?

Speaking of which, in addition to catching up on Flash CS3 and learning ActionScript 3, I need to start working on redesigning my website. It's a jumbled mess of code, doesn't validate and is just disorganized. Plus, I've realized that, since no one is joining the forum, I may as well add front page comments...unfortunately I didn't build the site with that in mind.

So I figure make it wider, go with a more standard width of 960 pixels and have more organized, documented and planned code so if I ever want to make changes it's more like sliding something into a filing cabinet rather than gluing it on with Elmer's.

Hurray for so many things I want to do.

Quick update
So this week I've been working on picking myself up and being more productive in real ways. It's been tough, but yesterday I managed to make a simple change to my GameLandEtc. updating code that I've been meaning to do for a while now (and by simple I mean it took me an hour). Of course, when I'll next be using it, who knows. Eventually I'm going to go through and modify all the commentary, and with this new modification in place that will actually be easier.

Tonight I added comments to the GamerTagged articles. Now, unfortunately there is no protection against bots at the moment. I will probably try and add that soon. There is also a lot of other small stuff that doesn't seem to be working, so I removed all the fluff and kept what is working. I want to try and modify the CSS code, however, so the comments are outside of the wrapper-box of the article itself. I didn't feel like that tonight, but with some elbow grease it shouldn't be too troublesome to get working. I should also be able to use some simply JavaScript to hide the Add a Comment thing and also include a "Show Comments" button. Whether I'll include a "Hide Comments" after that, who knows.

I've got a job interview on Monday. It's a temporary contract, and I'm thinking if I manage to get it I'll see when it ends. If it ends towards the summer I might try and do iD Tech Camps again. However, there's actually quite a bit of stuff that has me interested. A high school friend of mine is going to be starting up some film production in the summer (independent stuff), and he said if I want a job on the set he'd be willing to give me one. A roommate from RIT that's living in Boston might be able to get me a simple data-entry job with his company. A friend of my Dad's that works at a Christian radio station has asked me if I could program a simple Flash game for him, though I have no clue where that can go in terms of a job.

However, it started to inspire a lot of thought. I am still working on thoughts for my RPG and taking notes, but I wound up coming up with three ideas for Christian Flash games. The third being more teen oriented and honestly not very...traditional in terms of Christian media. I'm pretty psyched about all these ideas, and my friend Dave pointed me to Flixel, an ActionScript 3 framework intended to make game development easier for Flash. So I feel like I've got a direction in terms of game development, finally, plus it gives me the opportunity to learn AS3 like I've been wanting to do.

Plan F, as I have labeled it, is my friend Dave gets me a job at Radioshack where he lives and I move into his place on the other side of Philly, working there with him until something better comes along. And, of course, my mom wants me to work at Kohl's because "it's convenient".

Either way, I've got a lot of possibilities, and I'm not worried about choosing between them. I'm open to all of them, but I want to make sure I try and work on web development and game development. Even if I get a retail or data entry job it's the web design that will get me a real job one day, and the longer I sit on my ass the more I'll just end up becoming stale. Once I've made modifications to commenting on my site I plan on moving onto a fake survey site that asks inane questions via JavaScript and XML. In my other time I'll learn ActionScript and Flixel, though I need to get back to some documentation.

And, of course, games writing on my free time. Which reminds me, DarkSiders came in the mail today, so I'm going to play that.

Tomorrow night Luke and I meet up with my friend Dave and see Sonata Arctica live, playing with metal game cover band Powerglove, a random band without even a demo CD named Glass Midnight that's decently generic, and then some fourth band with shitty growling and screaming. Hopefully concert ticket stubs can be used like movie theater stubs and you can walk in and out as long as you have the stub.

I'm feeling good right now.

So I recently heard of a science fiction film made last year entitled Moon. There was a trailer of it before District 9, I believe, and then it was mentioned by MovieBob. So I put it on my Netflix queue and when it arrived yesterday watched it with my old man.

It's a good film and Sam Rockwell does an excellent job in it. In some ways it feels derivative, but in others it feels like good old fashioned Sci-Fi. Not the Star Wars stuff, but the Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov stuff. Chances are anyone reading this will be able to predict a lot of the situation before it is revealed, but that doesn't really ruin the experience.

As I've said before, you can take a trite story and make it something interesting. Halo is a collection of generic sci-fi ideas, but it has the potential to execute them in an interesting fashion. Halo 2 gave it a sort of Macross twist by putting you in the shoes of the Covenant and also bringing a civil war about. Unfortunately, Halo 3 showed how a generic idea can be, well, generic, by making it straight forward and ending without any new revelations or even answers (why for fuck's sake did the Covenant attack humans in the first place aaarrgghh!!!).

Moon is taking generic ideas and executing them in its own fashion. Most importantly, you care about the main character. Also, I can say that Gerty, the A.I. (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is NOT another HAL 9000.

There isn't really much I can say without giving the film away. Generally the premise is the main character, Sam, has a three year contract working on the moon alone with the A.I. Gerty. He has two weeks left when he suddenly begins seeing things. An accident suddenly leads him to discover that there's more than meets the eye going on (the Moon is Unicron!).

That's really about as much as I can tell without giving away too much.

Suffice it to say, knowing the people that read this (Dave, Zeifang (who has probably already seen it), Jason, Bruno and Jaymark), you'll all enjoy it. It was a really enjoyable film and I think I might be inclined to buy it at some point.

Oddly enough, I think 2009 was an excellent year for film. There was a lot of new and creative stuff that emerged out of all the "based on..." and sequels. I'm hoping this year is a mixture of both (seriously, Tron Legacy may be a sequel, but it looks to be really bad ass).

Geek metal

Blind Guardian has a Gollum in their music studio.

Well, it sounds good, but I still have some issues. I miss the unique sound of Night at the Opera. Twist in the Myth was good and all, but the song selections from this album sound pretty similar. The great thing about their albums from 1992 until now is they all have a distinct sound. That song sounds very similar to a bunch of stuff from Twist in the Myth.

There's also the fact that part of the guitar riff of the speedier song they play is almost exactly the same as a riff out of This Will Never End, the first track on TITM.

Of course, after Night at the Opera Guardian got a shit ton of backlash from fans because 1) there are "too many guitar parts" so it doesn't sound as good live, and 2) it's too different from their earlier stuff. So as a result the album after they tried to fall in between. It still sounded good, but at the same time it felt as if they were held back. The fact that this sounds so similar only tells me that they really are being held back.

Let's face it, there are some bands that are just meant for live performances. Iron Maiden is a perfect example of this. The guys are how old and they still have how much energy up on stage? Blind Guardian...not so much. Their music is at its best coming off the CD, mp3 or, quite possibly, vinyl. Live shows are nice for the energy and comraderie, but their sound shouldn't be forced to change just so it can sound better live.

My favorite works by Blind Guardian will always be their stuff from Nightfall onward, but the biggest reason Night at the Opera is their best album to date is the simple fact that it's them composing what they want without worrying about fan reaction so much. Now they need to worry about songs sounding good live or sounding like their older stuff, and as a result their creativity is stifled.

If anything pisses me off about the metal culture, it's that there is an adolescent obsession with "being metal" that only limits the musical genre. Imagine if people grew up and start listening to not only Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and all these power metal bands, but Yes, Styx, Kansas and Boston as well. It would be epic!

But people need to grow up first.

Anyway, that's my rant. Otherwise, as usual, super excited for this album as usual.

Talk talk talk
No matter how old I get Pokemon continues to be fun. SoulSilver was definitely a better investment than Diamond was. The only issue is my line-up only consists of five so far, and even those are pretty lame (for folks like jaymark108 the line up is Totodile (Croconaw now), HootHoot (Noctowl or whatever now), Geodude, Togepi (or whatever its evolution is named), and Bellsprout/Weepinbell). I can't figure out a sixth that would make the group well-rounded. In fact, it doesn't feel well rounded at all. The only ones I'm really happy with are Totodile, who currently has a Dark move, an Ice move, a Water move and Cut, and Geodude, who has a normal, rock, fight and ground attack.

I've already invested quite a bit in leveling the party, and it looks as if Noctowl and Togepi might pay off eventually, but I don't think they are both worth it. In fact, they are both Normal/Flying and have psychic abilities. I should just replace Noctowl, really. Weepinbell has limited use since it doesn't really have any decent non-grass attacks to use. However, it's grass type fills a valuable void.

Ack, I went way more in-depth than I had intended.

I've also been playing Halo: ODST quite a bit, which is WAY more fun than Halo 3. Partly because it's format is executed differently, providing the urban combat that was so desired from Halo 2 as well as a lot of other elements ruined in 3. Firefight is what I've been playing most, however, and any type of co-op survival mode is great in my opinion (except for Left 4 Dead which is designed for everyone to die within a few minutes). If Reach really does play more like Halo 1 and also contains a mode like Firefight it may easily become the best in the series.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is also a lot more fun than I anticipated. It seems the game is split into three sections. One has you on the couch of a shrink, answering questions and performing activities. They are evidently intended to change the game experience, though I'm not sure how yet. I'm going to start a second, though perhaps unfinished, playthrough to see if the game experience is modified. There's the sequences which have you wandering the town, which seem to be a lot more linear than when I was playing Silent Hill 2 but are greatly interesting. Then there's the nightmare world where you're basically running from evil shit. You have no weapons and can only shake foes off, knock things down behind u or use a flare to keep them away. It's pretty intense, actually, and I really like it.

As it is a remake of the first game you don't need previous knowledge of other Silent Hill games. I have no idea how it compares, but it's incredibly fun right now. More fun than my first foray into Silent Hill 2, at least (which I have yet to go back to since my first play session).

Lastly, I'm hoping this weekend or Monday I can get myself productive. I have a change I need to make to a backend part of the GameLandEtc. site, but can't get myself to work on it. After that I have a sort of JavaScript project I want to tackle just for the Hell of it. But it's a matter of just doing something. I hope I can figure out projects to do so once I get in the swing of programming, I can do it constantly.

The biggest problem is probably the fact that I view my room as a spot of luxury. Even when I was at College it was easier for me to do work if I was in the library or someplace that wasn't intended to live in. If I had a car I'd do like my brother and just head for the coffee shop or something, but as it is...

Anyway, that's the life update.

Some information
New column on GameKrib is up. I'll be updating once a week on Saturday. I'll probably be using my blog for nothing but game reviews now.

I've taken a bit of a break from the writing due to being depressed and feeling as if my goals in writing were pointless considering the industry and most of its consumers being of the tl;dr crowd, but am starting to get over it. Expect Muramasa this week.

Got a new power adapter for my SNES, which had me all giddy to play FF3 again until I remembered I sold it to a friend loooong ago when I found out it was being ported to the PSX. Now that's what I like to call regret.

I have a job interview with Target on Tuesday. Doesn't mean I'm giving up on finding a real job, but it definitely means I'm giving up on Grad School for now since I don't want to be further in debt and take that sort of risk.

I've got a plan for my RPG idea. I'm going to record a ton of notes now, then I'm going to build a prototype in GameMaker or something to either use to pitch the idea to smaller publishers or draw interest in people to develop. We'll see what happens from there.

A discovery of frustrating proportions
I think I wrote in here that I actually do like romance films when done properly. However, I think I've made the discovery that I'm actually a sucker for them, and it frustrates me to no end because they tend to be extremely derivative and lame.

The first film in this vein I ever enjoyed was The Wedding Singer. I think it was the first Adam Sandler movie I ever truly thought was excellent while everyone else praised Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison as his best (I also enjoyed Big Daddy a whole lot, and Mr. Deeds was none too bad either (though I have something against Winonah Ryder for some reason, or at least her way of speaking which I've heard referred to as an "accent").

Second was in College when my friends Eric and Jeff, who are notorious for enjoying full-blown chick flicks, brought me along to see Hitch. I laughed with them and enjoyed it. In fact, I still enjoy it. I think it's a good movie, it's very funny, and unlike a chick flick it's the woman who makes the mistakes that lead to confusion down the line.

The third film was last year when Definitely, Maybe was on television. For some reason it intrigued me though I couldn't figure out why. In it's own right it is also derivative, but I actually liked how it handled. It felt like a sort of adult's romance instead of playing on the childish emotions of teenagers and College students (or single College graduates). Ryan Reynolds is a father who is preparing for a divorce and is packing up with his daughter so he can move to a new place (since he'll be living alone). The daughter basically wants to know how her parents got together and so he tells the story from the beginning. What you get is a number of relationships where he rushes to get married, keeps screwing things up with the one woman that truly loves him all while his daughter tries to figure out which character is her mother.

It was actually really good and surprised me in just how much I enjoyed it.

What was shameful was I discovered that same week that I enjoyed the film Loser with Jason Biggs I believe, which was basically a sort of College student fantasy.

Tonight I watched Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which is similar. The female lead is like a doppleganger of my friend Leanne from RIT, right down to the very gestures and way she speaks. It's frightening. Both of these films are more for teenagers, in particular the males that don't have the guts to go do and what every other guy does and the girl that wants that perfect dude to find them somehow. I guess. I dunno.

While those two films are the most derivative of all, I still enjoyed them.

Sad to say I'm also interested in seeing She's Out Of Your League. Somehow I became a sucker for romance movies. Maybe it's because I'm single, maybe it's because I've always been a bit of a romantic. Either way, it blows because I feel like less of a sophisticate now.

The push
I've recently felt as if I need to put RIT behind me, potentially even the people I knew there. Well, rather, today. It could also be that I was in a rotten mood this morning and was made even more angry by one of my friends there. I might go back and rewrite my argument response to Kotaku's little notice, but what's the point?

In fact, I might be in that stage of depression right now, which is not a good thing. I can hardly get the energy to write, don't even feel like gaming, don't have any website concepts to work on, nothing. Why try to argue how this notion that America is a bunch of assholes that have done nothing better than guns and A-bombs is bullshit? In fact, why even try to write about video games as if they are art when gamers themselves can't tell the difference between artful manipulation of emotion and "Okami's graphics sure are purdy"?

I'm going to try and get out to Philadelphia this weekend. A good trip is something I need, especially since I've been cooped up in this house so long. There's some stuff on where I could potentially meet new people. I'd love to head down to Newark, DE more often, but God knows getting my sister down there is like pulling teeth and my friend Luke, even when he did have a car, wasn't all too interested. Getting to chill in Philadelphia on a Saturday ought to be less trouble, though. If I can meet new people hopefully my mood will have improved and I'll be re-energized to try and be productive again.

As it is, I'm just sick of humanity as I see it through the Internet, though when I recall humanity as I interacted with it through friends at College it wasn't much better.

If God does have a plan it's a shitty one. Good thing I believe more in free will than predetermined bullshit. Of course, that doesn't make it all the easier to feel he is just sitting on the sideline letting time pass and me to grow all the more frustrated. So many jobs I was fine for that have passed me by. How much bullshit could have been avoided if I could have just gotten an entry-level white collar typing-easy-ass-HTML job?

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