Archive for the Personal Category

Diamond Skewb Tutorial + Jaws DEATH

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Guides, Personal, Video on July 8, 2016 by slateman

A pair of recently-uploaded YouTube videos follow. The first is the long-gestating tutorial for the Diamond Skewb. I tried to make this video twice and both times the puzzle exploded on me. That just let pieces everywhere and no inspiration to fix/record a movie. So, I finally got around to it. This is an update to my Skewb & Skewb Diamond Algorithms post from last year.

The second video is just stupidity. This is from when I went to Universal Studios Hollywood in 2003. Mat and I were on the Jaws exhibit and as he rose from the depths, I got my camera right on in there and then…DEATH. Absurd. Don’t watch this, it’s a waste of your life.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Personal with tags on May 4, 2013 by slateman

The Big 4 - Metallica. Slayer. Megadeth. Anthrax.They come and they go. People we don’t know, never met or spoke to, but who inspired or impressed us. Jeff Hanneman, the iconic lead guitarist of Slayer, the best live band I’ve ever seen (9x to be precise), is dead. Why should I care? He hasn’t played in Slayer full-time in two years. I’m not altogether in love with any new album in the past two decades. So…what’s the deal?

I’m bummed. There’s something about this that transcends Peter Steele, Layne Staley, Clive Burr or even Dimebag Darrel (though his was different because of circumstance.) This is because Jeff Hanneman was me. He was all of us. A normal guy, a scrappy metalhead who transcended fandom to become a legend. Is that glorifying a musician in a band whose songs include lyrics about Nazis, Satan and a whole lotta death? Hell yeah, and that is because the music was just that good. Today’s iPod rotation was a healthy dose of SLAYER! And while I don’t listen to the last few records, none are bad. They don’t have any miserable Countdown To Extinction, Black Album, I Hear Black, or Sound Of White Noise in their catalog. This band epitomized just about everything I love about music, about metal. And…to reiterate, they were the best band I’ve ever seen.

And maybe Jeff would’ve never rejoined the band, but it was always there in my mind that it could happen. Now it can’t. I think Gary Holt is one of the best guitarists out there. But he’s no Jeff Hanneman. I’m friggin’ bummed. I don’t know why it’s so bad. I can’t say it’s because he was SLAYER, can I? Would you understand?

Have you ever heard that one person at any show yelling it? 25 minutes before the band starts, during setbreak, during the tailgate. If you’ve heard it, you know…and if that is no more (the source, not the yelling), then it is a sad day indeed. Goddamnit…this sucks.

Guacamelee! Platinum!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Borderlands, Games, High Scores / Accomplishments, Personal, Uncharted with tags on April 17, 2013 by slateman

guacamelee!
I grabbed Guacamelee! last week and thoroughly enjoyed playing through it on both my PS3 and PSVita. The game is classic in so many senses. The tight controls, fun combat and spectacular visuals all made this a joy to work through. The fact that it was a Metroidvania game only helped.

Being on vacation, I was able to grab the game and play whenever I had a free moment and the Vita’s suspend option made it perfect. After beating it and 100%ing it, I went on to hard mode. Some of the arenas and bosses were tough (and cheap) but it all felt like small victories. It reminded me of getting my first platinum on Uncharted. While some areas were really tough, all you had to do was beat that one section. Games save after everything nowadays. Though I don’t want to remember that blue water room in UC. Nightmare.

guacamelee-platinum

Anyways, Guacamelee! was a game I had on the horizon for a bit, and after getting another $10 free from PSN (that’s the third time they’ve given me free cash!!!) and a $3 PS+ discount (the best deal in gaming evah!) it was a no-brainer. Cross play only helped. I was uploading my save, playing on the PS3, uploading then playing back on the Vita. Brilliant. Well worth the cash and my seventh platinum!!!!

Speaking of: My other platinums: Uncharted 1-3, Borderlands, The Walking Dead and Resident Evil 5. All were worthy of my time.

And reflection time: We’re at the end of this cycle aren’t we? PS4/720 coming out in a few months. Looking back with a friend recently, this generation has had some *Great* games. I started writing an article on the best games of this generation. Never quite finished though. :)

2013-04-13-091650

2013-04-10-090456

2013-04-10-105032
2013-04-16-180119

2013-04-16-180218

What I’m Playing: February Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal on February 24, 2013 by slateman

gravityrush-katVacation week has been a bit insane here, really. In fact, they’ve been totally bat-shit crazy, but it’s OK; that’s life. In fact, I’ve had the chance to play some games this week. So, what’s what?

Gravity Rush
PS+ is the bomb, to reiterate the obvious. I grab everything that’s ‘free’ even if I don’t download it. Having beaten Uncharted: Golden Abyss and with zero interest in the arduous task of getting the platinum, I deleted that bad jackson and tossed on Wipeout. I’m not much of a racing fan though, so while it looked phenomenal, I deleted that too. Why not try Gravity Rush!? I’d tested out the demo and didn’t quite like it, really. However, it’s Free! The controls take some getting used to but it’s actually a pretty good game! And, in the process, I got a reminder about how much I love Japanese games. In the old days, I would pore through magazines, translate games and I loved it. The music, the quirky nature of Gravity Rush is wholly Japanese and I love it. Not sure if I’ll beat the game but it’s a fun romp while it’s lasting!

Aliens: Colonial Marines
I don’t need to say much more.

New Super Mario Bros. U
This game is traditional Mario fun. There is nothing like the feeling of running through the stage, full speed, bouncing off of enemies that were precisely placed for that purpose. There’s nothing better than looking at an area with a curious eye only to reveal a hidden coin in an invisible cave. The new Wii U controller is comfortable enough to play this familiar game. The HD visuals are nice, if not somewhat wasted. It’s Mario. It’s a mushroom. Sure, it’s nice to be in HD, but I’m waiting to see the Wii U play something gorgeous. Zelda is my first guess.

It’s the same game I’ve played before but it’s fun. I plan on getting every gold coin and unlocking whatever it is that unlocks. Sadly, after that, I’ll likely avoid the game for a while. As good as these games get, I rarely go back too much. Not like the classic, Super Mario Bros. 3 – probably my favorite game ever. *shrug*

New-Super-Mario-Bros-U

Stupid Updates A’coming…

Posted in Blog, Personal on February 22, 2013 by slateman

I haven’t updated in a few weeks and with reason. The first is that I’ve had so much cool stuff going on. The second is that I’ve had so much negative shit going on. I’m going to try to roll out some updates right now. Let’s see how this all goes…

New Cube Order Placed!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Personal on February 7, 2013 by slateman

mf8-gigaminxMy birthday approaches and somehow my 3x3x5 is missing. I have a feeling one of my students may have lifted the Cube4U 3x3x5. Whatever the case, I can’t find it and…oh right, my birthday is coming! My mother sent me a few bucks and she originally wanted to get me my new cube of choice for Christmas. Therefore, the cash is going to a new cube order – an expensive one at that! So, I am replacing my 3x3x5 with a 3x3x7! I’m looking forward to this and hope it’s as good as the 3x3x5. I found it to be a very fun cube; it’s not very challenging but enjoyable to solve.

However, that cube doesn’t cost very much and I did mention this was an expensive purchase. Well, after a long wait, I’ll be adding an MF8 Gigaminx to my collection! This is a 5×5 version of the
Megaminx I got last March. I’m pretty psyched to try such a behemoth of a cube…and of course, my eyes have already wandered to the 7 and 9 layer versions (Teraminx & Petaminx) however, while the former is somewhat manageable financially, the latter is an absurd $230 or so. I think my wife would have a hard time with that. Especially when the PS4 is likely to come out this year. I digress. I won’t get these cubes before my birthday (Sunday) but I can’t wait to test them out. Stickering the Gigaminx isn’t high on my excitement list…but it has to be done. Happy birthday to me!!!

THPSHD Revert Pack

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on January 19, 2013 by slateman

THPS-3-HD-Revert-Pack-DLC-logo

I’m a month and a half late to the game but I’m going to come right out and say it doesn’t matter.

Playing through the THPS3HD Revert Pack was bittersweet around every corner. Every element of my game time had that tinge of sad nostalgia. See, THPS3 came out in the autumn of 2001 and it remains my least favorite of the main Tony Hawk titles. That’s saying a lot, considering there were so many. Then add the fact that my beloved Hawk site Planet Tony Hawk is now dead. Finally, as I tried to get online and couldn’t find an available game, it all hit me hard. That ‘news’ that was evident to the world years ago…Hawk Games, gaming, my entire life – they’re not quite what they used to be.

Ah, there he goes being overly-dramatic again! No, screw that. THPS 3 is the worst Hawk title and I knew it, even back when I started making money off the whole deal. I had a good ride but something changed when Hawk 3 came and every one of us who played it back in ’99-’00 knew it. See, THPS 3 was when things really started getting rushed. In order to make the PS2’s launch, in order to have THPS 4 on shelves in the autumn of 2002, in order to keep the train moving. Let’s not forget the third game appeared on nine different platforms. They money train was going and nothing was going to stop it. Now, the masses ate this shit up which kept things going, which effectively diminished the quality. So…when I boot up a game and play the Airport as a level…it doesn’t bring happy nostalgia.

thpshd_hetfieldAnyways, what do we get with the revert pack? Reverts! L.A., Canada & the Airport! Two new pro skaters & two novelty skaters! Well, for $5, that’s actually pretty good – and contrary to early reports, you can use reverts in the original THPSHD levels. As for skaters, Steve Caballero & Geoff Rowley appear and both are welcome. Rowley was in the first five Hawk games and I loved having Cab in the game. As for the other two skaters? James Hetfield! It must be great skating as him! I mean, he was a skater during the mid-80s and he busted his arm twice while doing so. Robert Trujillo is less interesting, but hey, it’s Metallica. The problem is that I’ve already beaten career mode and have zero interest in doing it again.

As for the levels, I positively hate them. All three were revisited back in THUG2 and they’re no different here. I don’t know – I think they look terrible. OK, that’s strong, but with this HD facelift, I expected things to look…better!

Finally, the revert. It was the redefining element of THPS 3 and I think that’s where problems started. While THPS 4’s spine transfers were a smaller, yet more realistic upgrade, the revert was just madness. What started with ingenuity in THPS and THPS 2 now became utter absurdity. Combos went on forever and pre-planned lines effectively reduced my creativity to a button mash-fest with balance. As I skated through the airport today, it was the same. It was 2001 all over again and for me, it wasn’t a good thing.

As an overall package it feels like it lacks the shine we all grew accustomed to in those heyday years. I may groan over THPS 3 vs other titles but it was packed with hidden areas, cheats, skaters, etc. This DLC doesn’t have any new trophies/achievements and it does a poor job of telling you precisely what you’re getting.

But listen…the DLC costs $5 and while I don’t know stats, I’m sure it’s sold a decent amount. I can’t really complain about the DLC as much as the source content. What once was a huge part of my life is now relegated to disappointment. While I went back to THPSHD a fair number of times this summer, I don’t feel much of a beckon now. I think it’d be cool to see a THPS 4 DLC with spine transfers, Kona, London? Moscow? Hmm…maybe not. THPS 4 also came with vehicles, more skitching…Hmmm. I don’t know what I want – maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s time for me to retire from Hawk gaming for a little while. A long while, sad as that might be.

Still In Hospital: This Sucks

Posted in Blog, Personal on January 13, 2013 by slateman

h3Still in the hospital. Surgery last Monday, home Tuesday & Wednesday, back to hospital Thursday and here I sit, Sunday morning, with at least a day or two left. They’re taking care of me though; I’ll make a full recovery. All my articles will have to wait though. I wanted to finish my Best of 2012 one. I guess in the big picture, that’s not so very important, is it?

UPDATES…..

Posted in Blog, Borderlands, Cubing, DoDon Pachi, Games, Godflesh, Personal, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, The Walking Dead, Yankees on November 2, 2012 by slateman

It’s been a long time and a lot has happened. I’ve had some ups and downs these past few weeks but the good has been rather good. Let’s see…

First off, I’ll be getting a new cube any day now and I’m pretty psyched. It’s a cool one, it’s the curvy copter, and it’s a jumbling puzzle. It should be spectacular.

My Godflesh site turned 17 years old a few weeks ago. That’s insanely old.

Resident Evil 6 and Borderlands 2 – Making progress. Taking forever. Well worth the cashola.

I also picked up Street Fighter X Tekken as well for cheap. I’d played it several months ago and look forward to having it in my library!

The Yankees – I couldn’t even write about this. I still can’t.

The Walking Dead – both the game (episode 4) and show (episode 3) were solid. The game may have been a filler/connector episode and the show an introducer, but both were strong and make me yearn for more. Sadly the game’s sequel must wait quite a while.

Hurricane Sandy – :( So much destruction. :( :(

EPISODE VII!?!?!? I’ll post some thoughts on this soon. It may actually have a chance of being good. Four words – Pirates Of The Caribbean.

DoDonPachi: Maximum came out on the iPad and was on sale so I snatched that up. It’s kinda fun. It’s cool seeing the returning characters/stages/music and it is a pretty good challenge on later levels. I may pick up ESP Galuda II as well.

Enough for now?

Planet Tony Hawk: Closed…Done…Forever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on September 13, 2012 by slateman

Back in 1999 I started what would become the largest Tony Hawk-related gaming site in the world. I would peak at over a million hits a week. I created no fewer than 400 pages of articles, previews, reviews, guides, tutorials, images, videos and editorials about Tony Hawk, his line of games, his skating, and everything in between. It was my baby (along with Crumbling Flesh). It opened doors for me to go to California several times a year, meet new friends, make connections, grow personally and professionally and to meet Hawk multiple times. I had a good run. I had a damn good run.

So, when Skate came out after seven years of annual Hawk games, something was ready to give. Another entry got some good scores but that was the beginning of the decline. We saw Activision scramble to make a pair of peripheral-required games, a motion game on the NDS, numerous mobile titles and a new download-only game. The heyday is over. It has been for a while, but today was my eye opener.

As I received Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a few weeks ago, I was psyched to get back to the site. I wrote a new FAQ, started making updates to my awesome Hawk History article and got ready to do some catch up. The problem was, I couldn’t log in. My email stopped working. No one would reply to my requests. I had that inspiration and it was burning bright. It felt like it did back in the old days. Gap lists for THPS. Stat icon locations in THPS3. My empassioned slagging of THAW. Even when it was bad, it was oh-so-good. I poured my heart into this site and I was tremendously excited to continue that devoted dedication.

Today I received an email saying that all Planet sites were archived and no updates would ever be made to them again. Wait…What? Yep. Archived. Closed. Done.

Wait…WHAT?!?! Apparently someone dropped the ball because I never got an email. Even in the midst of all the crap mail I get, I never came across a message saying, “Hey, your site, you know, the one you have worked on for 13 years of your life…yeah, that one. Well, it’s going to be closing.” I never got the opportunity to say, “Goodbye.” Just one day, it was inaccessible. Two weeks of emails and waiting yielded the news. “Gone. Closed. Forever.”

First of many meetings – NYC 2001

I interrupted the writing of this article to put my kids to bed. I held my son and rocked him to sleep, feeling his hands clench and relax on my shoulder as he dozed. Is this a big deal? Listen, my four kids have their health. I have a job. It is just a game and it really wasn’t my baby; my baby boy is my baby. This post is not to whine about how I’ve been wronged but rather to rue the loss of control over something special.

It is a premature and unexpected ending of a massive 13-year journey. It is painful to know I had no say in its fate. The money ran dry years ago but that excitement of updating something you’re so proud of remained…until I realized I could no longer share that passion.

Planet Tony Hawk was the source of great happiness and pride. It allowed me to do so much, see so many things and go so many places. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s been a great ride. For anyone who took part in that adventure, you know what I’m talking about. And today, I’m done with that journey forever.