Monday, October 29, 2007

Jimmy Eat World


Friday night Rock Buddy Chip and I went to the Jimmy Eat World show in beautiful Atlanta and bore witness to a rock and roll revelation. The Great Spear of Rock, held aloft by James Adkins and co. was thrust deep into my heart, healing me with it's cleansing fire. Chip had a good time as well.

The set list consisted of material from their newest album all the way back to "Static Prevails" and "Clarity". They even threw in "Stay on My Side Tonight" from the EP of the same name, which delighted me to no end as it's one of my favorites. I have to say, that of all the shows I've seen, or at least seen recently, the set list management, for lack of a better term, at this show was by far the best. They moved from song to song, jumping back and forth across the albums without skipping a beat, with each song blending in to the next one perfectly. The crowd was digging it and the band seemed like they were having a good time, so everyone came home a winner. I just hope they return soon as I'd love to see them again.

Vida Voce opened for them and along with putting down some absolutely sick power-duo rock, the guitarist, and one half of the band, a one Anita Robinson, captured my heart with her combination of rocktastic guitar playing, leggy good looks and high heeled suede boots. She is, as they say, the complete package. Given that we're both married, and she's married to her bandmate, it was decided that our love can never see the light of day, and thus we must exist in quiet anguish, never to feel the other's touch. This is the decision I came to anyways. Given that she has no idea who I am, and has never laid eyes upon me, it's possible she didn't come to the same decision, nor did she have to. I'd rather not speak for her if it's all the same to you.

The only downside to the show is that I have yet to get a good night's sleep since, so I'm fairly tired. Having family visit is an exhausting endeavor, but now that they have vacated the premises, I look forward to living the stress free life. I also get my chair back, which is even more important.

Saturday Bones is taking the trip up from Teh Valley so that he can watch my get mutilated at the hands of a professional tattoo artist. Studios have been chosen and inquiries are being made. It's an exciting time. Hopefully the contagion that my daughter has been coughing into my face for the past 3 days will hold off their respiratory assault long enough for me to be branded with the mark of Captain America. I am unfamiliar with how well tattoos heal when your body is repelling viral invaders and I would prefer to not use this experience as a case study lest the answer turn out to be "not well at all". Now all I need is the proper graphic of the shield in question. I have found in my searches that the ratio of star size to ring size changes dramatically from picture to picture so I have to make sure I get the right one. Oh, the decisions that weight on a man's soul.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Know This Now

Recently my company was acquired by another company and due to the acquisition, all of us here are treated as new employees. As a result, we have to take all of the mandatory new employee training, even if it covers ground we've been trained on as little as 6 months ago. After a day of going through such training, it is safe to say that if I sexually harass someone at work, it won't be because I wasn't trained on it. This course did have the benefit of hilarious photos in it, made even more hilarious by my repeated viewings of them due to various bouts of IE crashing. At one point, a poor woman appeared to be harassed by rejects from The Village People. One man's chest hair was so thick and lustrous that you could wear it in winter to shield your tender skin from Winter's icy blasts. That statement right there may constitute harassment. Honestly, I'm not sure. Perhaps I should retake the training. I would be interested to know if any of this material comes to a surprise to people. What with kids being expelled from middle school for smacking the asses of others, the zero acceptance policy of sexual harassment is being coded in our DNA as we speak. Is there a person working today who does not know that it's inappropriate to tell someone that their boobs look great in that shirt? The mind reels.

By the way, your boobs look great in that shirt.

It would appear that my Mr. Binky column is amassing a following, and even if that following consists solely of the 3 or 4 people who come here searching for humor rather than solutions for squeaky pipes or spider bitten toddlers, I am glad to be entertaining others. For 35 years now, I have entertained only myself. It's about time that someone other than myself got a kick out of, well, myself.

I have played the GH3 demo, back in the wild wooly days of burning iso's to sparkling plastic discs. You may know this time as last Thursday. My enthusiasm for the game has not changed one bit after playing the demo, which is to say that I am just as unenthusiastic about it now as I was before. In an effort to make the game more realistic, they have taken away the crazy guitar spinning antics that used to go down once you activated Star Power. Now, symbols of your guitarist's persona come pouring out of their guitar, held aloft on gossamer wings. Judy Nails, for example, lets loose with a barrage of hearts. Yes, that's correct hearts. I have stood idly by while Neversoft has taken my beloved Ms. Nails and done all sorts of horrible things, including, but not limited to, making her resemble a monkey. This sir, is the last straw. She's not Hannah Fucking Montana.

They've also given the other band members a spruce up as well, and in some cases, like the female vocalists, the changes work. In the case of the male vocalist, on the other hand, it's a very large, chasm like step backwards. In his present form, the male vocalist looks like a massive chin/jaw combo topped with long hair. His teeth unnerve me. I defy you to start up the demo, select "Even Flow" and not feel as you were staring into a gaping maw of madness every time he opened his considerable mouth. Back when the Guitar Hero songs were mostly covers, I was ok with having the fake band singing these songs, as it's a fake song, in a way. However now that my beloved Edward Vedder is being represented by Teeth Incorporated, I must protest. At least with Rock Band, I have control, albeit limited, over my band's appearance, and I can assure you that my lead singer won't look like he can fit Omaha in his mouth.

The game play was exactly the same with the exception that Star Power is much easier to activate. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, given that nothing else seemed different, the game didn't have the same level of excitement that jump from 1 to 2 brought. Maybe it's just me. I can see why they decided to go the boss battle and power-up route as it provides something different to the experience. I'm sure the game will be great and people will love it, however for me, I'm waiting for Rock Band. It certainly doesn't help that the final song is a version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with a horrible vocalist and a switching out of the fiddle for a guitar. It is exactly as bad as it sounds. Knowing that I would have to spend a considerable amount of time attempting a song I can't stand doesn't fill me with glee. It certainly didn't in GH2.

Speaking of Rock Band, the release date has been moved from Black Friday to the more sedate, and infinitely more accessible November 20th. A wise move, this is, however I'm still holding out for some Black Friday sales for the bundle. I'll need something to do on that day as we'll be up in the tragic, frozen north, and dragging my children from store to store in an attempt to save 10 dollars on fake instruments seems as good a way as any to spend the day. I would hazard to guess that you'll find almost a 100% attach rate between Mass Effect and Rock Band on November 20th, so strange and far reaching is this hobby that it appeals to both wannabe space warriors and wannabe drummers alike.

Like pretty much everyone else who has played it, I Heart Portal and want to have like a million of its babies. It's rare when such an enjoyable and complete gameplay experience comes about, but man, when it does, it's like lightning. There are so many moments in the game, and I won't bore you with all of them, however I will bore you with one in particular. But first, some backstory. When I was a child, like many kids in the early 80's, I had a Rubik's Cube. I was quite adept at taking the thing apart and putting it back together "solved" but I was never able to get more than two sides complete through legitimate means. One day as I sat in the chair in the family room, watching some monster movie before dinner I idly turned the cube's many rows and columns, not really paying attention to what I was doing. When I looked down, the cube was in the familar checkerboard pattern. I was astounded. Several turns later and I had a genuinely solved cube in my hands. I showed it to my sister who promptly messed it all up not five minutes later. Curse her.

While playing Portal, I had a similar situation. I was in a room that not only required the use of portals to redirect an energy charge to a receptor, but I also needed to use the same portal to get out of the room as it was an advanced map and the platforms present in the normal map were no longer there. I managed to get myself out of the room but could never do what I needed to do to get the charge out of there. After ten minutes of randomly placing portals about, I exited the room in question, turned around in frustration and found myself staring through a portal right at the emitter. How I managed to do this, I have no idea, but I realized, thankfully in time to move out of the way of the insta-death energy charge, that if I were staring at the emitter through an orange portal, then all I needed to do is place an orange portal above the receptor and the map would be complete. I did so and glory of glories, I was out of there. I haven't had a feeling of raw elation as a result of pure experimentation and general fucking around like that in a very long time. It was refreshingly beautiful and I wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone with a pulse. Oh hell, the undead will probably enjoy it as well.

Team Fortress 2 is also a blast to play and the visual style makes me quite happy. So often, when playing Halo, I don't feel like I can contribute anything to my team other than a place for the enemies to put their bullets instead of in my teammates. In TF2, with it's incredibly well balanced class system, I feel like I can have a role suited best to my talents and do well with it. Right now I enjoy the pyro as he can set people on fire and then run away while his fire still chips away at people's health. The combination of flames and sheer, unabashed cowardice speaks to my soul and I welcome it gladly. The achievements are all easily boostable too, which makes it even more alluring.

I'm sure that the rest of the Orange Box offerings are of equally high quality however I'm having so much fun with the undirected dicking around of Portal and TF2 that it may take some time before I start up Half-Life 2: Episode 1. Plus, soon Crash of the Titans will arrive and I'll need to review it lest GameShark's content editor, a one William Abner, beats me with one of the, no doubt, many OSU tankards adorning his den. The man's love of the Buckeyes is rivaled only by his desire to shame his writers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mr. Binky lives on

New Mr. Binky column for those of you that give a damn. Hooray for you!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Zelda Review Up

My review for The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is up. I absolutely loved the game, as the review shows. One thing I didn't mention in the review due to space limitations is that, unlike in Wind Waker, there's no way to sail the ocean after beating the final boss, so if you're playing the game, make sure you do all of your exploring before taking on Bellum.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dragon Blade Review

Revel in my review for Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire. Go ahead, revel. You know you want to. There you go. Now don't you feel better?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Drawn to Life Review

My Drawn to Life review is up, Pulp Fiction reference and all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not My Intention

I had no intention of completely abandoning this place last week. It was an odd week with sick children and a day working at home and it kind of got away from me. It didn't help that I had like a bajillion games to review. Ok, not a bajillion, three actually, but still. All the reviews are done, and while they're not posted yet, I can assure you that when they do they'll crack Teh IntarWebs in half. In half! Now I get a week off until Phoenix Wright drops and then it's back into the reviewing fray. It's not a total vacation as I have to write a Mr. Binky column but those don't involve any actual effort and I can usually pound them out in my head to minimize the writing time. At some point, very soon I'm thinking, they'll realize that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing and pull the plug on the column entirely. Does two installments count as a run? Well, it was a good whatever it was.

We've had our first TV casualties in the Team Hyphen household. "Back to You" started working the daughter into the show, as I feared they would, and as such, my interest plummeted. That's not the shows only problems though. Patricia Heaton is basically the same character she was on "Raymond", a shtick that got tiring about 5 years ago. Fred Willard is amusing, but I have "Best in Show" for my Willardian amusement. The other show to go was "Dirty, Sexy Money". Peter Krause was great, but everyone else was just a caricature of people who, in the real world, I can't stand. Not exactly a good way to spend an hour. Besides, Blair Underwood kind of bugs me and he was about to join the show. I'm thinking that Bionic Woman won't end up making the cut either as they haven't done much with her Bionics. Maybe I'm just asking too much, but I want her to like kick a dude in half. Right now she can fight and scan people's faces, but that's it. Ooooh, exciting. Not sure what else I want her to do, but if I want to see someone feverishly scanning the faces for an enemy and then running off, I'll watch The Unit. I also find Katee Sackhoff's character supremely annoying.

I bought the new Jimmy Eat World cd, as was expected and so far I'm diggin' it. It's not as rocktastic as "Futures" however it flows a lot better. I always thought that "Futures" had two somewhat jarring stopping points and they always bugged me. This album doesn't have any of that. I haven't spent too much time listening to the lyrics, so I don't know how they can compare to some of the gems on "Futures" but I'm sure they won't disappoint. I was surprised to see the band got a nice spread in Entertainment Weekly along with an A- grade for the review. Go Jimmy, it truly is your birthday. I'll be seeing the band a week from Friday and I am very excited. My elbows will be sore from knocking people out of the way so that I can get to the front row and rock the fuck out. Sorry elbows!

Finally, to continue on the semi-regular feature detailing my family's trips through the culinary expanse that is our dinner time, I present to you volume two of "What's For Dinner".

Prosciutto and Mozzarella Paninis
A year or so ago my mom got me a Rocco DiSpirito cookbook, autographed no less. It's got some good recipes in it, however most of them can't be made in the short amount of time I have from when I get home until when the children arrive, desperate to be given food they have no intention of consuming. I did, however, find this recipe for a very tasty sandwich in the back of the book and it debuted to rave reviews from 3/4 of Team Hyphen last night. 75% is a damn good number for our family, so I'm considering it a success.

4 ciabatta rolls - I bought a loaf of ciabatta bread and cut it up, however I'm thinking rolls would be better. The end pieces of the loaf worked fine, but the middle pieces didn't hold up as well to my fervent pressing.
8 oz prosciutto - you're looking for about 8 slices here, with each slice about an ounce. Don't just ask for 8 slices of prosciutto as it's usually cut tissue paper thin and 8 slices won't be enough. If you want to get crazy with your salted pork self, through some pancetta on there too.
8 oz mozzarella - again, eight slices about an ounce each
8 slices tomato - make 'em as think or as thick as you want
8 fresh basil leaves - do not use dried basil here. Spend the 2 bucks and get the fresh stuff. It makes a world of difference
Olive oil

Slice the ciabatta rolls. On each sandwich put two slices of prosciutto and two slices of mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper. Add two slices of tomato and two basil leaves. Brush the outside of the rolls with olive oil and using either a sandwich press or a two skillet combo (one to cook the sandwiches in, and one for pressing on the sandwiches) grill the sandwiches until they're golden brown on each side. I used a grill pan for cooking and a big skillet for pressing so that I could get those cool grill marks. My pictures of the sandwich post cooking didn't come out all that well, but here's a picture prior to cooking.

So yummy!

These sandwiches would work well as appetizers too. Instead of using rolls, find some good rustic bread of a smaller diameter, like for bruschetta. Season the bread and brush with olive oil. Bake 'em on a cookie sheet until the bread is crisp. Place a small amount of prosciutto and a small amount of mozzarella on each piece, and pop 'em back in the oven until the cheese melts. Top with a slice of plum tomato, also of the small diameter, and a small basil leaf. Looks good, tastes better.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Two GameShark pieces today kiddies. First is my review of Brunswick Pro Bowling for the Wii. Second is the second installment in Mr. Binky's Random Stuff. Forgive the Halo centric coverage, I'm sure it'll die down at some point.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Also Also Wik Premiere Madness

We watched Pushing Daisies last night and so far it's tied with Reaper for the best new show. Both of these seemed to be hitting all cylinders right out of the gate with none of the tenuous "we don't know what the hell we're doing" first steps to common in new series. All of the characters are great, and Ned and Chuck are so damned cute as a couple that it's hard not to like them. For some reason, the show is vewy, vewy, quiet, so when the commercials come on, it's like they're advertising Ford trucks with a jet engine, but other than that, I think it's a great show. It will be interesting to see how it progresses as time goes on. We gave Bionic Woman another shot as well and right now I'm not confident that we'll stick around for an entire season. Ditto for Chuck, however I've read that Chuck really picks up with this next episode.

Supernatural is primed and ready and Friday Night Lights starts tonight so all will be in place until next year's return of both Lost and Battlestar Galactica.

I've been playing The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass like a madman of late and I am enjoying it, however not as much as I think I would be were I not reviewing it. A big part of Zelda is taking the time to figure out all the various temples, time I don't feel like I have if I'm going to finish the review in time for my 10/18 deadline. It's still a great game, and anyone with a DS should own it, but I think I'd enjoy it more if I could take it my own pace. I usually try and avoid reviewing games I have an interest in, for just this reason, however it's hard to turn down 50 bucks for a game I was going to get anyway, and most likely finish in a two week time period. I'm going to try and save a lot of the ocean exploring and side quests for when I have the time to just relax with it. Maybe I'm just not in the mood for another crazy exploration game what with all of the Metroiding I've been doing lately. I don't know.

I did manage to play a few multiplayer rounds of Halo 3 and nothing seems terribly different. If you have any skill at playing Halo I'm sure there's loads to be excited about, however I don't, so it's just me getting killed in shinier, more brightly lit environments. Some of the new weapons are cool, however I always get killed once I pick them up, and the equipment seems like it'd be useful. I have a bad habit of deploying said equipment on hills where the device in question proceeds to roll away from me and then turn on while I stand there and get shot in the larynx for the 19th time. We had the misfortune of playing some truly boring game types on Friday night, so I'm hoping tonight will prove to be more interesting. Eventually I'll get my co-op on get to the story so that I can be equally unimpressed with the single player portion. Can't wait.

In soccer news, we actually scored a goal, several actually, in our past game, so the scoring drought is officially over. I'd like to see us continue to score, however now that the pressure is off, I honestly don't care. I don't think I'll be coaching again any time soon as it's just too much of a hassle for both Linda and I. Once Abby can play, I'll gladly coach her team as Ben won't have any problems understanding that he can't just run out into the field mid-game, bearing the gift of Cheezits. As it stands now, Linda has to watch the games from afar to keep Abby entertained and not screaming. That's not exactly a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, so I'll have to put away my Coach Taylor hat until she's old enough to not be such a pain in the ass. I still reserve the right to call Linda "Mrs. Taylor" though, and none of you can stop me. None of you!

Dieting sucks, in case you didn't know it. I'm hoping that at some point it will become easier, or I just learn to be OK with the extra weight I've put on and stop all this nonsense. If I were a betting man, I'd say put your money on that last one.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Brain Age 2 review up

As the title would suggest, my Brain Age 2 review is up.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


My 7 Wonders review made it up today as well. Enjoy!

They Call Me Triple-B

My Tiger Woods PGA Tour '08 Wii review is up, complete with authorial nickname. Rejoice!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I bought the new Springsteen album today. It's pretty good. I wouldn't say it's their best work since "The River" as I happen to think that "Born in the USA" is a damn fine album, but it is more consistent than "The Rising". Too bad they're not touring near Atlanta any time soon, if at all. The closest they're coming is DC and there's just too much time and money involved in going to DC for one show. Not sure what Bruce and Pearl Jam have against Atlanta, but neither seem to come farther south than DC. Oh well. I guess that's what concert DVD's are for.

No new premiere news. Sunday night Linda and I watched X-Men: The Last Stand to clear up some DVR space. My Lord that was a crappy movie. We saw it in theaters but time and poor memories dulled what a bag of crap it was. I don't know how they'd make another one after it, and frankly, I hope they don't.

Zelda for the DS comes out today. Yay!

That is all.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Premiere Madness Continues

More tv watching, more premieres. How exciting for all of us!

Let's see if I can remember what we watched, so thrilling were they. Bear with me. I'm tired.

Friday night we watched "Big Bang Theory". I thought it was pretty damn funny. Linda liked it as well, but not as much as I did. She got a "gay" vibe off of the shorter guy (I think his name is Leonard) rather than a "nerd" vibe which may hinder his efforts to have a relationship with the woman, who's name I think is Penny. I swear, half the time I have no idea what show I'm watching. At any rate, I enjoyed it.

We also watched "Dirty, Sexy Money" which has Peter Krause playing quite possibly the least whiny character he's played in some time, except for that Sci-Fi miniseries about the magical hotel key. The show is good, and he's great in it, but the uber-rich family he's working for is nothing but a collection of caricatures of real uber-rich people, so the writers need to tighten that up a bit. The only member of that family that seems real is the dickhead reverend who won't own up to his illegitimate kid. I'm thinking that what made him so real is that I don't know of any real life uber-rich reverends who can't keep it in their pants. Your experiences may vary. My take on the show is that I'll keep watching it, but I don't know if it will hold my interest for the entire season.

Saturday night we watched "The Unit". As usual, it took only about 5 minutes into to the show for me to have absolutely no idea what the hell was going on. This isn't a show I can watch and do other things while watching, despite my insistence to the contrary. Oh well, sadly, I still enjoy it. What can I say? I'm a Scott Foley fan. Anyway, Dennis Haysbert shaved his head and apparently also hit the gym all summer as he spent most of the show with his shirt off. He also devised a lie detector test out of a bowl of rice, so take that MacGyver! Unfortunately they got rid of the show's title music, which was the only song, other than the one that opens Psych, that Linda and I don't fast forward through. Congratulations Psych, you now hold the crown! Download the song and revel in it's greatness!

Saturday night we also watched Moonlight, which was as horribly awful as I hoped it would be. When I first read about CBS doing a show about a vampire private eye that was supposed to be nothing like Angel, I was intrigued. Seriously though, how much can you do with the vampire private eye genre to make two separate shows that different from each other? Well, in Moonlight's case, you make it so that there are vampires living among normal people, you make it so that the protagonist has a horrible NYC accent and you make it terribly, terribly awful. Oh, you also give it a Celine Dion song in the promo at the show's end. At first I wasn't sure which demographic CBS was reaching for with this show. On the one hand, vampire private eyes rest firmly in young men territory, however with a 9 PM, Friday night time slot, most young men are either getting ready to go out, or are waiting for the next Halo 3 match to start up. As I watched the promo, though and they started to focus on the romance, I realized that they're targeting this show to romantic females, like they did Beauty and the Beast. The problem is that the vampire's romantic interest is a woman he rescued from the vampire who sired him. Not really a problem until you find out that the woman was like 10 when she was kidnapped, and he's been watching over her ever since, which makes it all very creepy. It does make the Celine Dion song make sense though as she married the man who managed her since she was like 12 and that's super fucking creepy. Oh, and Logan from Veronica Mars is on it, which should give you some idea of where he stood in reference to the other actors on that show. Kristen Bell gets Heroes and he gets Moonlight. Methinks he needs a new agent. At any rate, it's a horrible show, yet at the same time, I feel powerless to stop watching it. I'm sure Linda will intervene at some point and stop the madness, but in the meantime, I'm content watching a show that has the vampire morgue attendant casually sipping blood as he goes about his work in full view of anyone who might wander into the morgue. Way to keep that secret!

Supernatural starts this week as does Pushing Daisies and Friday Night Lights, so a week of quality TV awaits one and all. Too bad I'll have to ignore most of it as I start playing the new Zelda game for the DS. Reviews wait for no man!