Thursday, February 26, 2009


Well, what do you know, Fiddy came early. Here's my take on the game that I can't stop playing, complete with new, official photo. This picture was taken on Tuesday, which was only a day after the Great Digestive Revolt of '09, which explains why I'm covering half of my face. See, the casual observer thinks that I'm just trying to be cool and show some DS love at the same time, however in reality I'm trying to hide the fact that I looked like shit on toast.

Ah photography, is there nothing you can't do?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Galactrix Day!

Oh happy day! Puzzle Quest: Galactrix has been unleashed on an unsuspecting universe and our free time will never be the same again!

I would have posted earlier to wish everyone a happy Galactrix Day but first I had to go to two stores to get the game, and then I was playing it.

It's awesome.

It has some problems, namely a herky-jerky animation style when gems are moving off of the board and I see the "Accessing Data" screen a whole hell of a lot more than I would like to, but hot damn if this game doesn't have it's hooks in me but good. I only hope I can reign in the rampant fanboyism before I have to write the official review. One has to be objective, you know.

In other news, I'm enjoying the hell out of the 50 Cent game. What the fuck is this world coming to? My official review will be up Friday, but I'll give you a hint: the grade lies between A and C. You're a smart bunch. I think you can figure it out.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Nothing like starting your week off by having your entire digestive system revolt against everything you've put in it over the past 24 hours.

Mondays suck.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Woo-hoo! A new review! For you!

Ok, enough rhyming. Check it as I make with the bug motions in Deadly Creatures.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Apple of My Ire

We have hit a snag in the CD making process, I'm sad to report. Over the weekend I compiled a list of candidate songs. Given that there were quite a few, including several Pearl Jam songs, all of which have live versions that must be considered, my plan was to make a playlist out of all of the songs and then listen to the playlist while at work. This would allow me to narrow down the list as well as see how the songs all worked off of one another. This was a good idea, key word being "idea", however in practice, things have failed miserably all thanks to my iPod.

I have had a love/hate relationship with my iPod ever since I got it. Linda gave it to me as a Christmas gift, which I love, and it was a 10GB upgrade over the capacity of my Creative player which I also loved. What I hated was the fact that at the time I got it, way back in 2003, connecting an iPod to your computer via USB was a nightmare. If it worked, it barely worked, necessitating an upgrade to Ye Olde Home PC in the form of a Firewire card. Back in 2003, Macs all had Firewire while PC's all had USB. Nowadays, fucking everything has Firewire, but we'll get to that in a minute. So I wasn't too keen on having to buy a new card for the PC, but I did it. I also wasn't keen on using iTunes but I did that too but only for managing my music. For transferring music to my iPod, I use Red Chair Software's excellent Anapod Explorer. For one it integrates into Windows Explorer so that I can drag and drop and second, it allows me to transfer music from any PC I want. Fuck you Apple. It's my iPod and I'll hook it up wherever I damn well please you pretentious, turtleneck wearing fucktards. Oh, and while we're on the subject, two mouse buttons? Not that fucking hard?

Any way. After some time using the iPod, my two biggest grips surfaced. One was that there's no ability to manage your music on the fly. My Creative player allowed you to construct entire playlists on the player as well as, more importantly, delete songs on the fly. Given that I listen to a lot of rap music, and the albums often have stupid skits, being able to delete songs as you come across them is very helpful. The iPods don't let you do this, still to this day. Well, fine. I got over it. The second issue was much larger and not as easy to get over. Basically, the battery in my current iPod is pretty much useless. If I use the player, the battery runs down quickly. If I don't use the player, it runs down quickly. And when I say "runs down", I mean to the point where I can't even get the damn thing to turn on. When it gets like this, it has so little juice that it needs to charge some before it will stay on long enough to realize that it's being charged via the USB connection. What this means is that if I want to load some new songs onto it, but I haven't used it in a while, I have to charge it up some before I can even turn it on to load the damn thing up. As a result, I end up just toting around CD's in my work bag so that I have something to listen to at work.

Now yes, I could just keep reminding myself to charge the thing up, but shoudn't it just work if I haven't been using it? The same thing happens with my PSP and it drives me crazy. If I don't use it, the battery runs out completely. If I don't use my DS, it sits there charged and at the ready until I pick it back up. The end result of all of this is that I never use my iPod because in order to use it, I have to charge it, and I never think to charge it when I'm not using it.

Which brings us to where we are now. Knowing that I was going to use it for my CD test playlist, I charged it up, ripped some new CD's and made my playlist. This was all on a Sunday night. Monday I get to work, turn the iPod up, start the playlist and watch as the iPod skips past every song in the playlist until it gets to the end of the list at which point it kicked me back to the menu. After some messing around with the buttons, I found that if I was really fast in hitting the play/pause button, I could get the song to play, but once the song was over and the iPod moved to the next song in the list, we were back to Skipsville. This happened with the new playlist as well as with an old playlist and today I tried it out with an album and, gee, what do ya know, it happens there too.

So, basically, I can't listen to music on my iPod. Great.

Even though I recently had gotten away from listening to music at work, due to all of the battery issues, I still really enjoy listening to music at work, so I want something to replace the player with, and despite my problems with this player, it looks like Apple has it's hooks into me deep enough to where I'll be buying a 120GB Classic iPod. You still can't delete items on the fly, but the battery, oh the battery, now has a life of over 30 hours. That would be a huge improvement over what I've got now. The ability to watch tv shows and play games is nice too, but honestly, I don't see myself doing that. If I wanted to watch TV shows on a portable device, I have a PSP for that, and I never do it due to the time needed to convert videos. I'm not about to buy TV shows from iTunes when I have a backlog of stuff on DVD I've never watched.

Yes, there are other players I could choose, but the 120GB of storage is real attractive. Yeah, the Zune has a 120GB model, but I really don't want to be tied to Microsoft's software and as Linda mentioned last night, the iPods are going to be around for a while. If I stick with an iPod, I'm covered with my current software setup.

Where I'm not covered is with the fucking accessories, and this is where I get really pissed off. As I mentioned before, back when I got my iPod, it was Firewire or nothing. Yeah, well, guess what? None of the current Classic iPod's work with any of the Firewire accessories because they all do everything over USB now. So that means my dock won't work and my AC adapter won't work. Why in the hell would Apple stop supporting Firewire accessories for the iPod when those very same accessories were the only way to get music on the fucking things when they first came out? I mean, come on. I guess I can take small comfort in the fact that so many PC owners bought the damn things that Apple figured it was easier to just have USB the way to go, but that's probably not the case and it still doesn't change the fact that I may have to replace the accessories. I say "may" as I'm still going to test the new iPod with the old stuff, but I don't have high hopes.

Luckily, the iPod comes with a USB cable, and I can charge it and move music to it with just that cable, which means that I won't have to buy the accessories right away, but it's the principle that bugs me. Plus, as you can tell, Apple just annoys me in general and I hate to think that I'm giving them more money on account of being so unsatisfied with their original product. Oh well. At least I can get the player for 30 bucks less by buying it through Amazon. Gotta take comfort somewhere.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mixed CD

A couple of weeks ago I told my son that I'd make him a mixed CD and I have been paralyzed with fear ever since.

This is a crucial juncture in his upbringing, when his soft and malleable musical mind can be put on the right course towards blistering, life affirming rock, but what music best charts that righteous course? The mind reels.

Right now he has a radio in his room, which he listens to, but it's tuned into the local Top 40 station. Technically it would be the Top 5 station as they don't play more than a handful of songs. He also has the soundtrack to High School Musical 3, a cd I find painful on a number of levels. He has never shown a real interest in music before, so I've approached his musical development lightly, but now that he's becoming more interested, my hand must be firm, my direction pointed. I can not falter, for his very musical soul depends on it.

Recently I changed how my music was arranged, separating my cd's into music that Linda and the kids would like, and everything else, so that Linda can just grab a disc at random and be safe in the knowledge that she's not about to drop The Marshall Mathers LP on an unsuspecting household. This has allowed for some musical variety to be brought into the household, but even with this, Matchbox 20 still gets plenty of playtime. For the record, I quite enjoy Matchbox 20, however they're not a band you want to build a musical foundation upon.

So where do I start? I don't want to overload the kid with multiple CD's. Better to start off slow and build an interest than bury him in an avalanche of music he can never dig out of. Do I stick to certain bands or stick to kinds of music? Marvelous 3 hasn't been around for over a decade but "Freak of the Week" is a masterful pop-rock song, and leads us to Butch Walker, who, along with making some of the best music out there today, is an absolute blast to see live, especially when he comes to Atlanta.

Surely Pearl Jam needs to be there, but which song? "Worldwide Suicide" encapsulates all of the band's raw power perfectly, but it's not exactly right, content wise, for a six year old. "Wish List" is a beautiful song, but it's not exactly typical for the band. I'm leaning towards, "Corduroy" as it is one of my favorite songs by them, and has one of my favorite lines: "everything has changed, absolutely nothing's changed". Then again, I like the line because it outlines a rather stark viewpoint of one's existence. Should I be saddling him with such negativity? One a PJ song is chosen, do we go with the studio version or a live version? If a live version, which one? Is it better to provide the studio version so that he can appreciate the song, and then hit him with live versions so that he can see how songs continue to grow once released, or give him both barrels of rock right up front?

Jimmy Eat World also needs to be there, but from where in the band's storied history? If you do earlier tracks, will he not appreciate the new stuff? If he hears new material, will he be turned off by the leaner, more raw earlier work?

And what of bands that have yet to prove their long term ability to produce, but still are putting out great music? "The '59 Sound" by Gaslight Anthem is an excellent song off of one of the best albums I've heard in some time, but will the band be there in the months ahead? In this case, is it better to highlight songs that are indicative of the types of music I like, even if the band may not stand the test of time?

You can see why I'm having difficulties here. Now I know that neither he nor I are going anywhere, but I can't help but feel that if I screw up this CD, he'll dismiss my tastes out of hand, and will be lost to me. With so much great music out there, it's important that I get this right. Music has been a part of my life for so long, that I want to make sure I make it a part of his life too. Besides, soon I'll need to start dragging him to concerts so that I'm not the creepy old dude rocking out all by his lonesome and I'd prefer to bring him to a show he'll actually enjoy.

Whatever I end up with, I'll post the final track list here so that you can see the full depths of my musical depravity. Until then, the catalog looms. Time to start climbing.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Yeah, so when I said that there was only one more toy to be on the lookout for, I totally forgot about Ratchet and Hot Shot. Ratchet is a repaint of Ironhide, which was a bit of a letdown, and Hot Shot is one extremely, um, colorful toy, so I'm not entirely sold on each of them. Who am I kidding? I'll probably end up getting both of them, but I feel that I should put up at least a token bit of resistance.

There's more GameShark goodness to tell you about. First up is my super awesome Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage walkthrough. This one was pretty easy to write based on how linear the missions were so I'll gladly take all of that hot guide money and sock it away for a rainy day. The next DLC releases for Fallout 3 don't look to be as linear, so they'll take more time, provided I have an opportunity to write guides for them.

Which brings me to my next piece, the very last Mr. Binky you'll probably ever read. Unfortunately, this recession is hitting everywhere, including and there just isn't the money in the budget for columns. All of the columns save for one very popular boardgaming column were cancelled and while it sucks to not have a column any more, I'm not all that upset. The column didn't always run when it was scheduled to, and the site's crappy design makes it all but impossible to find past columns which all combined to make it pretty hard to build an audience. These things happen. When there are so many people out there losing their jobs and homes, it's silly to lament the loss of 50 bucks a month and an opportunity to make fun of games. My editor tells me that I shouldn't feel bad because even the great Tom Chick had his column canceled, which makes that the only time Tom Chick and I will ever share characteristics other than both of us being oxygen breathing, carbon based life forms.

To all of the people who did go to the site and read my column, thank you from the bottom of my black, withered heart. I appreciate the page hits, the support, and all of the letters to my editor. Mitch, that last one's for you.

Maybe I'll move the column over to Lungfishopolis, maybe for now I'll just take a break from teh funny. We'll see. I think that a small break might be good for me so that I can recharge my batteries. Being a hack is hard work.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

And Then There Was One

Today I found Wreck-Gar and Atomic Lugnut, much to my intense excitement. Given that both the Universe line and the Animated line are coming to an end (hopefully for just the time being), to give stores time to clear shelf space for the movie toys in May, I am almost at an end to my toy hunting for a few months.

I say almost, for a number of reasons. For one, Toy Fair is right around the corner so who knows what kinds of announcements it will bring to fill the void between now and May. Second, the new wave of Marvel Crossover toys are out there somewhere and while I won't devote special trips just for finding them, I will take strolls through the toy aisle when I find myself in a Walmart. Finally, the Target exclusive Shockwave repaint has yet to be released and I must have that toy so that I can have both a G1 reminiscent purple Shockwave transformed in robot mode and the original Shockwave toy transformed into the Longarm robot mode. I'll pretend that instead of Longarm being Shockwave's treacherous spy mode, instead he was somehow separated from Shockwave and now is a loyal Autobot. I can't abide no spies in my house.

Now, that's not to say that I have all of the toys in hand needed to be considered complete, but they are either in hand, or on order. Leo Prime and Overload should ship any day now and Samurai Prowl and Waspinator will ship at the beginning of March. Then I'll be complete. Well, maybe.

Honestly, the holiday toy hunt was such a pain in the ass, I'm glad to have a bit of a break, as are my friends and family, no doubt. Both Linda and Hodge were enlisted to purchase toys for me and they performed admirably with Linda even using a supplied coupon. How awesome is she? I took care of all of the others, either through online ordering, or by driving up and down GA 400, visiting Targets, Walmarts and Toys 'R Us's until I was seeing retail outlets in my sleep.

Space has also become a consideration as I have run out of room in my office, necessitating a move to a larger space in the basement. Unfortunately a pool table currently occupies the new space, so I'll have to take it down, store it, move all of the furniture from the office into that room and then put up copious amounts of shelving. Mind you, this is all after we finish the garden are, put stones down under the deck, finish removing the demolished wall in the basement bathroom and repair the ginormous holes in the bathroom left over from the removal of the aforementioned wall. As you can see, moving toys is not real high on the to-do list, so having three months before lots of new toys come in will do wonders. Not to mention that the fucking things are now even more expensive than before. Stupid economy.

Yes, for now, I'm happy to take a break from hunting. Now I just need something to do at lunch time. What's that you say? Puzzle Quest: Galactrix comes out at the end of this month? Why yes. I think that will do. That will do quite nicely.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Bacon Explosion

So I'm working at home last week and my co-worker David sends me an email with a link to a story at the NY Times, and the line "How about you make one of these the next time you smoke up some meat loaf" or something to that effect. Everyone in development knows that I love to rock the smoked meat loaf, and many of them have benefited directly from that love as I always bring in some tasty slices for my coworkers.

The story that David sent me about a glorious dish called The Bacon Explosion. Basically two guys at came up with the dish and then set about spreading the joy of their discovery all throughout the internet. Here's the NY Times story if you're interested and here's the original recipe.

Not being one to shy away from an explosion of pork products, I set about to make one of my very own, choosing to do so on Super Bowl Sunday, the unofficial Day of Gluttony in this fine country. I followed the BBQAddicts recipe, not the amended one on the NY Times, and here, for all to see, is the result of my endeavors.

To make a Bacon Explosion of your own you'll need the following:

2lb thick cut bacon
2lb pork sausage, casings removed
BBQ rub of your choosing
BBQ sauce of your choosing

For the bacon, buy whatever brand you want, but make sure that you get ten slices per one pound package. You'll see why in just a bit. You want an equal amount of bacon outside and inside the explosion and if you have more than 10 slices per pound, you'll have more inside than outside. For the sausage, you can use whatever you want, but I used Jimmy Dean plain sausage. I'm intrigued as how Italian sausage would work with the explosion, but that will have to wait for another time.

On to the cooking!

Step 1
Place five bacon slices side by side, parallel to each other. Then, take five more bacon slices side by side and perpendicular to the original five, weaving them in and out so that you have a bacon pot holder. Make sure that all of the bacon slices are tightly packed against each other. When done, it should look like this:

You'll notice that my weave had some thickness problems. That's because in one of my packages, two of the slices were way too thin to be used. No problem, as I had another whole package to use. Well, I didn't check that package closely enough and all of the slices in that packages had a uniform width for about 3/4 the length of the slice, tapering off into a pig tail of sorts. The tail was way too narrow to use, so I took it off and just used shorted slices.

Step 2
Once you have your weave, sprinkle it with whatever BBQ rub you want. I used Steven Raichlen's Java BBQ rub. Given how much I love coffee, and that this rub has coffee in it, I thought it was appropriate. Plus, it was lying around.

Step 3
Spread the sausage over the weave so that the sausage doesn't go quite to the edge of the weave. Try and make the sausage patty as uniformly thick as possible. Here's how mine looked:

Step 4
Cook up the remaining bacon however you like it, crisp, soggy, burnt, whatever. Once the bacon is done, crumble it on up and sprinkle it on the sausage patty.

Step 5
Drizzle your BBQ sauce of choice over the crumbled bacon and sausage patty. I used a combination of Famous Dave's Devil Spit and some Pecan BBQ sauce we picked up in Texas. Here's how it all looked:

Step 6
Very carefully, roll the sausage up away from you, being sure to pull it away from the weave as you go. Once the sausage is all rolled up, pinch the ends together. It should look like this:

Step 7
Now roll the sausage towards you, this time pressing the weave into the roll. Be sure to keep the bacon slices up against each other. It seems difficult, but it's really quite simple. Once rolled, sprinkle some more rub on the pork log. Here's the finished, rolled product:

Step 8
Cook the damn thing. The recipe calls for cooking the explosion in a 225 degree oven, or a smoker at the same temperature. I used my smoker, with hickory chunks, but as I stopped worrying about temperatures a long time ago when smoking, my smoker started somewhere in the 360 range and eventually got down to about 250. Given that my smoker wasn't at the prescribed temperature, I can't tell you how long it will take to cook, but mine took about an hour and a half. Cook the log until the internal temperature reaches 165. I went to 170 as sometimes ground meat can be dodgy with bacteria and with all of that fat in there, chances are it wouldn't dry out. Here it is cooked:

At this point, you could sauce it some more if you wanted, but of late, I've been digging the taste of just the meat and the smoke, so I chose not to sauce it. I was rewarded for my restraint. The end piece was gloriously juicy with fantastic mix of sweet bacon and flavorful sausage, all wrapped up in a smokey kiss. Here's a shot of the inside, when sliced. Dig that crazy smoke ring.

I had the end piece you see on the right immediately after slicing it, and then another slice later on as a sandwich with a little BBQ sauce. Fantastic! I gave a slice to my son and he wolfed it down like he hadn't eaten all day. That's my boy. Given the artery clogging nature of the Bacon Explosion, I don't see it as something I make frequently, but I certainly will make it again. Hot damn is it good. To thank David for turning me on to the Bacon Explosion, I gave him half of what was left after Ben and I ate a couple of slices. Nothing says thanks like a pound of smoked pork products.