Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Okay, so...Xbox One.

So I woke up to the internet today to discover that Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One - the new revolutionary console that is supposed to rival the upcoming PS4. Am i the only one who's not really all that impressed with what I've read so far? I mean...yes, I will give it a fair shot (in the store). I was a die-hard Xbox fan for a very very long time. But the fact remains that it just hasn't shown me anything yet that I actually find *useful* as a gamer - and nothing new that I can't already do in some way. There are some features - like the multiplayer matchmaking system based on reputation and ability that sound really cool but I'm extremely skeptical about. There are a ton of other features (like increased graphic rendering power etc) that I'm not even going to address - but these are the ones that everyone's been screaming about that I'm just all...meh...

"But you can get on Skype with it!" i don't need my gaming console to Skype. I can Skype on my phone, laptop, and iPad. I don't even need to be near wifi to Skype on my phone. And when I do Skype, I don't need it to be on my TV and with full everyone-can-hear-my-entire-conversation sound. I can see how it might be useful if you do a lot of conference calling or if you want to Skype with your family and have your whole family talking to whomever's on the other side - but it seems like much more of a novelty than practical application.

"Motion control!! Every single Xbox One will come with a Kinect!" Okay, here's the thing about motion control. It sounds awesome. But in practice, it sort of sucks. You end up flailing around with exaggerated movements trying to get the sensor to recognize you and track you properly, and they rarely function the way they're supposed to. I hear the new Kinect has really fine-tuned its tracking though - supposedly it can track facial expressions and fingers now - but it would have had to improve a thousandfold for me to even consider it as a viable game-play option.  

"Voice control! I can walk in the room and say 'Xbox On' and it'll turn on my Xbox AND my TV!" Cool. Seriously, that is kind of cool. But there are two possibilities for this: the first is that it means that your buddy can run in the room, scream "XBOX OFF!" or some other voice-command-of-dickery and fuck your shit up. the second is that it will be tailored specifically to your voice, which means that voice-recognition software MUST have come lightyears from where it was, because let's be honest, voice-recognition software sucks. How many times have you ended up screaming "CUSTOMER SERVICE" or "ONE. ONE, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!" into your phone while trying to talk your way through a voice-automated system. Now imagine all that frustration while you're just trying to play your damn video games. Not to mention...how good is that on-board mic? Will you have to use a headset or an external microphone? Just curious.

"You can DVR your gameplay, edit the clips, and share them directly from your Xbox." Okay, think about this. Yes, I'm sure that YOU are really proud of the 50-headshots-in-a-row you just achieved with your pistol, but really think about it. Do we really think that everyone will care? Are you really going care about everyone else's video clips? I mean, to the point where you'll WANT to sift through thousands of video clips of noobs celebrating that they attacked with a real melee weapon instead of a spoon, people thinking they did awesome things when really, um, everyone can do that, and sex scenes in which the player teabagged the stripper after killing her to get their money back? I guarantee you for every awesome clip in which some guy pulled some insane killing spree or sneak attack or move, there will be a thousand crappy clips that no one wants to see. 

"It's being hailed as the 'most exciting social entertaining network in the world'!" ...Yeah, that's what we need. Another social network. 

"You can multitask using side-by-side apps - I can Skype while playing or watching TV!"Okay. That's kind of cool, yes. But I already get that exact same effect using Skype on my laptop while watching something. And I don't have to pay $400 - $500 more to buy a device to do to that. Not to mention, if you're really that much of a casual gamer that you want to multitask and do other things while playing - why would you buy an Xbox One to begin with?

"The AI can learn how you play - your friends could play with a shadow of you." That is really cool. And if it works as it says it works, with an intelligent AI that learns your gaming style and adapts in real-time to your actions on the level of detail they're claiming, then it really is a breakthrough in technology. The processing speed and AI algorithms would basically have to be God-level in order to accomplish this the way they're saying, so...yeah. This is why I want to test it out for a while first. 

Bottom line - yes, the Xbox One has some really cool proposed features. If they all work the way they say it works, it'll be a miracle and also pretty kickass. But the thing is - I don't care if it's a "hub" through which i can do EVERYTHING. I don't care. Because I still have to have my cable box there, I still have to have my laptop here, I still need all those other things - this just gives me a sort of receiver to mush them all together and add gaming on top of it. People who wanted this multimedia approach are already using PS3s or PCs. Sure, they added Blu-Ray, but Playstation already got the head start on that. I'm excited for the release because I want to see what it can do. But I'm not holding my breath, thinking it'll be the crowning glory of all the gaming industry. 

Think I'm biased, stupid or deluded? Discuss.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I feel the need to tell you guys that this happened.

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.


I've been laying in bed like this for the better part of an hour, with my laptop so far up my chest it's touching my nose. It's really hard to type. I don't know why I'm doing this.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just give me a reason / just a little one's enough / that you shouldn't be embarrassed by this sooooong...

Let me preface this post by saying that I am generally not that snobby about music. Yes, I am a professional musician and music teacher, but I love crappy pop too, and I have more than my fair share of guilty pleasure music on my iphone. 

That said. On the way home from Boyfriend's house tonight I had 94.9 on the radio, and I heard (for what was probably the third or fourth time today) that new song by P!nk (whom I generally like) and Nate Ruess (aka the guy from fun., whom I generally enjoy). The other times I heard it I just clicked the station over because it sounded like a shitty song, but this time I listened, because the radio dude announced that it was a "new song by P!nk and Nate Ruess of fun.!" I was totally stoked, for like two seconds. I wasn't a big fan of fun. at the beginning, because, well, all I'd heard was the overplayed stuff on the radio, but then a friend of mine sent me Aim and Ignite, and I loved it. Seriously, if you hate fun., do yourself a favor and listen to Aim and Ignite, and then you can just go on to hate how much they've changed. And P!nk...she grew on me. As a person, as a performer, as a musician, she grew on me. I hate to say it but I made her work for my respect, for some reason I really didn't want to like her, but in the end, I totally do.

So anyway.

I was stoked. For like two seconds, but then the music started. I was sitting at the traffic light at S. Lynnhaven and Silina, and I was horrified to immediately recognize the awful song I'd heard on the radio earlier. I just didn't realize it was P!nk and Nate Ruess. I mean, I recognized their voices this time around, but I think my brain just refused to believe two artists I like would produce such crap.

Both of these artists are genuinely talented musicians. Feel free to politely disagree with me, but I recognize the heart, soul, hard work, and real talent that goes into their music. Yeah, neither of them is like...top of the world amazing. But they both have a good handle on what they're good at, and they do it. Both of them write, arrange, and perform their own music, and both of them have created music that have moved me in some way.


Um...FYI, don't ever google image search the phrase "Suck Ass".
"Just Give Me a Reason" (it doesn't even have a creative *title*) has awful canned percussion, a boring melody line, an unimaginative chord progression and a static beat and rhythm...and it hardly shows off what these two artists can do. The entire last bit of the song is sung in unison. You get two artists together whose vocal ranges and abilities mean they can do some pretty fun and cool stuff together, and you make them sing unison? For the entire last half of the song? Why?! It feels like the song was building up to a climax that somehow got interrupted, and then they tried to casually saunter away like nothing happened. Like they got caught masturbating and tried to play it off like they were just scratching their leg, but then the person who walked in wouldn't leave so they had to awkwardly commit to the scratching-the-leg bit for longer than they wanted to. (I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But that's the only comparison I could really draw at the moment.)

Another thing - this song has lyrics that sound like they came out of a 13-year-old's angsty poetry notebook (complete with "DO NOT READ - YES I MEAN YOU!!!" scrawled across the front in angry bold ballpoint pen). To prove this point, I dug into my (GOD AWFUL) old journals from when I was in Junior High and found a song I wrote that I feel is comparable. First are the lyrics from "Just Give Me A Reason" and below it are lyrics from the bridge of a song I found in my notebook from when I was 13 years old, writing about how heartbroken I was that my crush had no idea how much I liked him, and how I was never going to love another boy ever again (unless he gave me a chance):

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second we're not broken we're bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars on our hearts
That we're not broken we're bent
And we can learn to love again
("Just Give Me A Reason" Moore/Ruess, 2013)

Tell me what I'm doing wrong
I'm not that special but I can still love you
We were meant to love
I may be broken
But I have a heart that can hold the stars
Give love the chance to be ouuuuuuurs [i wish i could say i didn't actually write it that way in my notebook but i did]
We should have this, you and I
Or I may never love at all
("Tell Me" Loyola, 1997)

I'm going to take a pause here and facepalm rather hard over the fact that I just allowed those song lyrics to go public. *deep breath*

It literally sounds like Ms. Moore (you did know her name is Alecia Beth Moore?) and Mr. Ruess wanted to collaborate on something and they were all excited and then some record exec cut in and goes, "well hang on there, guys, we own your asses, and therefore I am going to make you record this song that my daughter wrote last night because I forgot to buy her a birthday present this year and she'll totally love this. You're the guy from that band, right? Okay. Do it."

You can practically hear the disappointment in their voices throughout the song. They know it sucks. They're almost apologetic. The vocals sound half-assed and unenthusiastic. I got no emotional response from hearing any of it. It's almost like they were like, "Goddamnit...let's just get this shit over with."

"Goddamnit, I'm missing Game of Thrones for this shit."

...It sounds like it was written specifically so it could be covered on Glee.

On the one hand, it's awful. Just awful. On the other...well, it prompted a rant, didn't it? So it's getting attention? Maybe they're just trolling us. I have no idea. All I know is that this song fucking sucks.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

i really do have the weirdest dreams...

just woke up from the all round weirdest dream i've ever had, and that's saying something. i was in a high school, the zombie apocalypse hit, and everyone was panicking. there was the "hold out as long as you can" phase where people were holing up in classrooms and trying to act normal and just talk. i met a young couple (high school age) where the girl had intense anxiety problems and her boyfriend had to coax her just to speak. she asked me to answer questions for her. then the panic phase hit. authority figures like police and doctors were giving up and eating poisonous plants, and there was a group of people who were intentionally infecting as many people as they could by tagging them with infected skin. my only thought was to find my mother and get her out. so i ran to the parking lot and found a PT cruiser with the spare key in it, got it started, circled round, grabbed my mom and tried to head out. didn't last long though; the car was positively crawling (even though we had gas) so we stopped and mom told me to get a VW bug (i don't know why) but the only one we could find was some sort of VW bug scooter [i have no idea, don't ask me] that had a dead body on it. i yanked the body off (it was a pregnant woman) but she was a zombie and she tried to bite us. several onlookers used small guns (tiny concealed guns and stuff - and i mean tiny. like the Noisy Cricket from men in black) to fight her off, i yanked open the glove box and grabbed a spare key, and we were off. we sped to the airport, where we found all of the TSA workers and security guards dead in a control room, and my dad waiting patiently by my backpack (apparently i was originally at the airport, and i left to find mom) and he started bragging to everyone about how i left to find my mother and i found her and brought her back. a little girl asked me and mom "did you look for plants?" we, unaware of the implications, answered "sure did!" and her dad angrily flipped out - i guess eating poisonous plants was the way everyone was killing themselves, but we didn't know. everyone was huddled in the airport in silence - occasionally we'd hear a wrapper crinkle or something - then we heard screaming a terminal or two over. then i woke up.

i really ought to write my dreams out like screenplays. i'd have quite the entertaining collection of film shorts by now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Always move forward - but never forget where you came from.

Do not be deceived by my open, care-free appearance. Inside me roars a tempest, which once was filled with fear, darkness, anger, hopelessness and agony. It threatened to envelop me, to destroy me, and it nearly did - but one day I stood firm. I had allowed it to take everything else from me, but that day I swore it would not have me. This resolve grew, little by little, allowing in a ray of light here and there, until it burst with forces of love, hope, faith, and forgiveness. The darkness never fully goes away; it has become a part of my past which cannot be changed. But it keeps me strong. It keeps me focused. It drives me to do good, to live a better life, and to help others calm their storms. A year and a half ago I was given a new lease on life. God held me and said, "Not today, little one. You still have work to do." And I intend to do it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't be so quick to judge.

Earlier tonight, someone blasted me because last year I was considering applying for food stamps, since I didn’t have enough money to support myself. She so kindly said the following:
Its people like u that are destroying the moral fabric of this country with ur lazyness and ur entittlement. u wanna get food stamps? u have an iphone, an ipad, and a mac laptop. u wear nice clothes and always have a new dress. i seen u wear gold, diemonds, and pearls all the time. ur nails are done, ur hair is cut all cute by someone at gary alan, n u want to buy a car!! how long u gonna make payments on that car? how many times u gonna be late on it and the taxpayers will have to bail u out? ur always talkin about gaming, that shits expensive too. u live with ur parents! u dont even have ur own place. how the hell u gonna pay ur bills? you need to get ur unemployed ass to school, and get a job. i work hard for the things i have, i dont want my taxpayers dollars going to someone like u who doesn’t work and expects me to pay for their food.
Let’s back up here. First of all, I feel the need to explain something. Yes, I was considering applying for food stamps last year. This was because I was unable to work due to a medical issue and I had no money saved up to live on. If you want to judge me for that, take a look at your bank account and tell me how long you can live off of what you have in savings. If it’s a year or more, while paying all your bills and putting food on the table, then kudos to you, you’re an example to us all.

Okay, let’s take this a line at a time.

Its people like u that are destroying the moral fabric of this country with ur lazyness and ur entittlement.
“Lazyness”? Man…if only I’d been able to spend the past year being lazy. Anyone who knows me well knows the medical, psychological, and emotional hell I’ve been through the past couple of years, and I’m about 90% sure none of them would describe me as “lazy”. Also…Entittlement? You mean, like a boob job? Are my boobs destroying the moral fabric of this country? If so, fantastic. I didn’t get a boob job, though, but I’m flattered you think I did. :)
u have an iphone, an ipad, and a mac laptop. u wear nice clothes and always have a new dress. i seen u wear gold, diamonds, and pearls all the time. ur nails are done, ur hair is cut all cute by someone at gary alan, n u want to buy a car!!
Yes, I will admit openly, people judge me when I say that I consider myself “broke” because all of these things are, in fact, true. I do have an iPhone, an iPad, and a Macbook Pro. I do wear nice-ish clothes and I tend to have new clothing. Yes, I wear jewelry, and my hair and nails are generally taken care of. Yes, the only stylist with which I trust my hair works at Gary Allen, a notoriously expensive salon. Yes, I want to buy a car. But why does any of this mean that I’m wasting money and expecting taxpayers across America to pay for me? I traded the iPhone I bought years ago (that I had stopped using so I could use a cheaper phone) for a new iPhone that works on my network. I bought my iPad on Craigslist for crazy cheap. (I justify the purchase since I use it to teach - every single day. Tax deduction, woo!) My Macbook Pro was a birthday present last year. My nice-ish clothes were all either gifted to me by friends or family, bought at goodwill, or methodically saved up for. My mother, who is kind and generous, buys me new clothes when my old ones start to look ratty. (And I pay it forward by donating.) My jewelry? Most of it is jewelry I’ve had for a very very long time, some were gifts, some are borrowed, and some - like the gold and pearls - are fake. (Who cares if they are? They fooled you, right?) I do my own nails. Yes, I splurge on my hair, so sue me. But I also have an arrangement with my hairdresser, where she gives me discounts in exchange for piano lessons for her daughter. And yes, I want to buy a car. And I’m going to, in the very near future.
how long u gonna make payments on that car? how many times u gonna be late on it and the taxpayers will have to bail u out?
Actually, I’m not going to make payments on that car at all. Because when I buy that car, I can pay for it outright, with cash. Let that take a moment to sink in. I’m buying a good, reliable, relatively new car with CASH. As in, I could conceivably walk into a dealership tomorrow with a briefcase handcuffed to my wrist full of hard-earned dollar bills. Can you say that you can do that? also, wut?
ur always talkin about gaming, that shits expensive too. 
Video gaming is expensive, I suppose. I don’t know, I don’t own an console. The video games I play were either gifted to me through Steam, or games I previously owned. I will admit that I play WoW, which comes with a monthly subscription fee, but seeing as it costs less than going out to eat once a month, I think i can let that slide. Also - usually when I’m talking about “gaming”, i’m talking about tabletop RPGs. Like Dungeons and Dragons. In which case, it’s a bunch of nerds sitting around a table TALKING for hours. To put it into a dialect you might understand, “That don’t cost SHIT.”
u live with ur parents! u dont even have ur own place. how the hell u gonna pay ur bills? you need to get ur unemployed ass to school, and get a job.
Yep. I sure do live with my parents. But guess what. Because I chose to live with my parents instead of try to build a life of my own that I couldn’t afford, I have NO debt (other than student loans), I’ve been able to save up for that car, and I don’t have a credit card bill to pay. Why do you assume I’m an unemployed freeloader just because I had to consider applying for food stamps? When you’re physically unable to work, the bills keep coming regardless of whether you’re sick or not. You still need to eat. Yes, perhaps I was unemployed last year, but I’m employed now. That’s why I said I was considering it *Last Year*. Even now, my grandmother lives with us, and I’m sure the extra food money would *really* come in handy. Unlike you, who I know for a fact quit community college after a year, I went to college for six years. I have decades of job experience, training, and talent in the field in which I work, and because of that, I work two jobs where I generally get paid on average about $40/hour. Full time pay for part time work. I’ve EARNED that. No one handed it to me. I spent decades honing my craft, learning new skills, and gaining experience teaching.
i work hard for the things i have, i dont want my taxpayers dollars going to someone like u who doesn’t work and expects me to pay for their food.
I don’t expect anyone to pay for my food. I am grateful that my parents give me food when I’m hungry. I work very hard for my money as well, and I understand completely the feeling that you don’t want to pay for people on welfare who abuse the system. I get that. Personally, I feel like since I need to pass a drug test to earn the money for them, they should have to pass one to reap the benefits - among other beliefs and stances. However - for every person who is abusing that system, I guarantee you there are at least 3-5 who are there because they desperately need it. Not because they’re stupid, or lazy, or have a sense of “entittlement”. (I’m sorry, it’s just so funny I have to keep saying it.) But because Life happens. And we can’t predict it, nor necessarily adequately prepare for it. I’ve given hot food to homeless people who lost their jobs, homes, and families due to unforeseen and unpreventable circumstances, like illness or a company closing down. Once, I met an ex-surgeon who developed unexplained tremors that destroyed his medical career, and after a while he couldn’t afford the medical bills anymore. He lives under a bridge in DC now.

Don’t be so quick to judge people. I’m doing my best not to judge you by your grammar and spelling, but I guarantee you about 90% of the people who read this will not be so kind. Next time you see someone like me in the grocery store pull out an EBT card to pay for her groceries, perhaps your thought process ought to be more along the lines of “Wow, she must be really thrifty to be able to put herself together like that on such a low budget.” Or if you’re not feeling that generous, limit yourself to simply admiring her bag or shoes, and maybe asking her where she got them. I’ll proudly tell people that the Louis Vuitton purse I (occasionally) carry is a knockoff my aunt bought me for a Christmas present, or that my shoes are from Payless (BOGO!!), or that I found that really cute lace cocktail dress at Goodwill.

I’m not saying there aren’t people out there who abuse the system. I’ve seen single moms who spend their child support money on Coach bags and Jimmy Choos. (No joke. I have.) I’ve seen people on welfare purposely have more kids so they can get money. But my point is - those are exceptional cases. They’re not the norm. And everyone else I’ve seen getting welfare checks, unemployment checks, or using WIC or EBT really needs the help. So don’t lump all of us in with a few bad eggs - you wouldn’t want anyone doing that to you.