Archive for June, 2012

Iron Maiden Review & Set List

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags , on June 28, 2012 by slateman

I have never gone so long without seeing a show. The last concert I saw was almost 5 years ago. Looking forward to this Iron Maiden show for the past few months was a source of happiness and excitement in a generally concert-less life.

Mark came by and picked me up at 8am and we headed out. The venue is 400 miles from my house making this the farthest I’ve traveled to see a non-Phish show. We arrived at the hotel, got a bite to eat, relaxed a bit and zipped on over to the Comcast Center. I miss shows a great deal, but I yearn for the entire atmosphere of the concert-going experience more. Seeing all those black shirts pass by, hearing the comments about the shirt I’m wearing (I got three about my Amon Amarth shirt!), listening to the metal dialogue (clearly this album is superior to that album), the sights, sounds, smells, I miss it all. Before a note was even heard, I felt at home.

Mark & Trev @ Maiden!

Somehow, 30 seconds after arriving, we ran into Crew…an impossibility at a place that maxed out at 14,000 that Tuesday night. He was his usual busy self, so Mark and I just relaxed, had a few beverages and later went on in. I grabbed a Trooper flag, that’ll look great in the classroom, and we got to watch Alice Cooper’s set. It was actually pretty good, better than I’d expected. He opened with a song I’d never heard but thought was not so bad! The next song was so-so, and then I’m 18 and No More Mr. Nice Guy followed. I like the former (due to the Anthrax cover) and hate the latter (due to the Megadeth cover). Cooper is a pretty awesome performer and as he went through some familiar and not-so-familiar songs, culminating in School’s Out w/ a Pink Floyd mid-section, I was thoroughly impressed. His full set:

  1. The Black Widow
  2. Brutal Planet
  3. I’m Eighteen
  4. No More Mr. Nice Guy
  5. Hey Stoopid
  6. Billion Dollar Babies
  7. Feed My Frankenstein
  8. Poison
  9. Wicked Young Man
  10. I Love the Dead
  11. School’s Out (w/ Another Brick In The Wall)

I’m glad to have seen him, but clearly the only reason I came was Maiden. After a 40-minute wait, Doctor Doctor came over the speakers. Mark already knew the setlist but I purposely avoided it wanting to be surprised at what I heard. Would they play what I wanted? Would they open with it? Seven deadly sins…seven ways to win!!! They did! Moonchild! Oh Yeah!!! I always wanted to see it and while it was to be expected (Maiden England tour and all) it was such a thrill. The band went through a lot of fan favorites in the first half of the show, a bit of a surprise, but they also got Can I Play With Madness, Two Minutes To Midnight, The Number Of The Beast and Run To The Hills out of the way early. I’m not too fond of those. On the other hand, The Prisoner? Afraid To Shoot Strangers? Phantom Of The Opera!??! ATSS isn’t a favorite but the harmony part was just brilliant with three guitars as was Phantom. OMG it sounded so good. I was in full-fledged metal headbanging mode even though it was my first show without long hair. :( Just utterly amazing. The mix of expected classics and surprised was brilliant and exhilarating. The crowd was rocking and Bruce had us in the palm of his hands. Then, the best stage set came up. The Eddie writing with candles to his side. I had this poster on my wall in 1989 or so. What’s the chance that 23 years later I’ll get to see the title track of (maybe) my favorite IM album would be played? Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. OMG.

(from IronMaiden.com)

The song begins and Bruce’s voice is still amazing. He bellows the “ooooh”s with ease and the song progresses to the dramatic middle section. Smoke billows out from the side of the stage and I’m euphoric. It progresses to the outro, one of the most epic solo/harmony/outros ever. This song does not elicit powerful fan response, but it has to be appreciated. This is the greatest IM setlist in ages. How can anyone not be enthralled by this show? The Clairvoyant follows and then we get two familiar classics.

Set break and I see the backdrop change to one of my favorite Eddie drawings. Churchill’s speech booms and after the taped intro (why?) Aces High sounded spectacular. I love this song. Another 7th Son song and an extended Running Free gave this show a mix of everything I like. Fan classics, total surprises and an amazing sound. Steve’s bass was finally turned down a few songs in but he sounded like DD Verni for the first portion of the show; his bass clanged and boomed and was unlike anything I’d ever heard from him. Nicko’s drums sounded awesome, a smile perpetually on his face. Janick was Janick but Dave shredded. I’ve seen the band a lot, and while it’s been a few years, I’ve never seen him on fire like this. Every solo sounded great, of course, but it was just total shred. Adrian seemed distant, less interested in playing alongside his peers but his trademark sound was there. Attitude and headband, gritty solos and amazing backing vocals. All that is left is Bruce and I am still shocked at how good he sounds. His voice started to falter in the early ’90s but through his solo career and the past 13 years in Maiden, he continues to remain at the top of his game. Powerful and delicate, he is the consummate leader.

(from IronMaiden.com)

What more is there to say? The setlist rocked. The band was strong and the stage was impressive. The colonial Eddie, the two 7th Son Eddies, individual backdrops for each song, an enormous stage and those pyros!!! I can only gush like a fanboy. Most certainly part of this is the fact that I haven’t seen a show in forever. On the other hand, I cannot envision anyone disagreeing with my enthusiasm. This show fucking rocked, there is no disputing that fact. The setlist follows:

  1. Moonchild
  2. Can I Play With Madness
  3. The Prisoner
  4. 2 Minutes to Midnight
  5. Afraid to Shoot Strangers
  6. The Trooper
  7. The Number of the Beast
  8. Phantom of the Opera
  9. Run to the Hills
  10. Wasted Years
  11. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
  12. The Clairvoyant
  13. Fear of the Dark
  14. Iron Maiden
  15. E: Churchill’s Speech
  16. E: Aces High
  17. E: The Evil That Men Do
  18. E: Running Free

(Posted to slateman.net)

Iron Maiden In Boston…

Posted in Blog, Music with tags on June 28, 2012 by slateman

I’m going to post a review about this but tonight I’m exhausted. For now, I wanted to post a pic from an earlier show. However, it looks just like my show. This was from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son…one of those “OMG are they really playing this?” songs. More tomorrow!!!

(from IronMaiden.com)

Fisher Cube Parity

Posted in Blog, Cubing with tags , on June 24, 2012 by slateman

Fisher Parity

The first time I tried solving the Fisher Cube, I encountered an interesting problem on the last layer. This was something I never came across on the Windmill Cube and in retrospect, I have no clue how I fixed it. I think I messed up the whole lot and didn’t have it the second time through. In searching online for parity fixes, most people find themselves in a very different position. This suggests their solution is very different from mine. The good news is that I don’t get the other parity error using my method. This should be the only parity alg I need to worry about. I’ve tossed it here as I’m going to forget this. Anyways, here it is…I found it on a German YouTube video.

(R U’2 R’ U)*2 (z) L’ U’ L

Games To Come: Aug / Sept / Oct

Posted in Blog, Borderlands, Games, Resident Evil with tags , on June 24, 2012 by slateman

July will be the last quiet month as after this we are looking at some big games coming out. I’m pretty psyched actually. All are sequels and all are promising. Let’s take a look!

14 August, 2012 – Darksiders II

I’m a big fan of Joe Madureira and so the first Darksiders was right up my alley. God Of War meets Zelda with the best art style in the world! Now, I rented the game and it took me a good while to get through it. I’ll admit some parts dragged a bit. It was good enough to warrant a sequel (albeit, not quite what I was hoping (4-player coop???!!)) and so that sequel will be played in less than two months! I love me some action-rpg games and with the cool setting, art style and GOW-inspired gameplay, sign me up! This should be a pretty cool game. I’ll likely GameFly this one unlike the next two, I know, I should be supporting the developers more. However, with Borderlands 2 and Resident Evil 6, sequels to two of my favorite games of this generation on the horizon, I cannot afford to purchase all three this autumn!

18th September, 2012 – Borderlands 2

All Borderlands 2 has to do is be as good as the first. That’s it. If they can manage to do that, I’m going to love this game to deth. (get the reference?) Honestly, after losing my level-40 save game, I went back, started anew, beat the game again, started a second quest, completed two DLCs and got through half of Claptrap to platinum the game. I LOVED Borderlands. It was so different, so fresh, so brutal, so fun. I already mentioned its trailer is the best trailer ever. To get ahead of myself, a BL3 will have a lot to do to trump these two games, but for now, just match the first and I’ll buy the disc and all the DLC without any question at all. That’s saying something.

2nd October, 2012 – Resident Evil 6

Now, if Borderlands is all it can be, I should still be playing that mammoth when RE6 drops a mere two weeks later. That’s OK, b/c while I may love me some Borderlands, Resident Evil is the fucking shit as well. Having played the game and its variations since the series’ inception, I absolutely loved RE4 and RE5. How much? Oh, that’s simple. I beat RE4 on the GC twice, tinkered with the PS2 version, then beat it on the Wii and then bought the HD remake on the PS3. Yeah, that much. Oh, RE5? I 60-hour platinumed that mother on the PS3, then went back and beat it on the Xbox360. Then I lost my save data and went back to play through more on the PS3. It was that good IMO. So…to say RE6 has the most to live up to is an understatement. First and foremost I plan on playing the shit out of it coop, getting all the collectibles (in-game, not limited-edition jacket nonsense). Everything points to this being a great game…but we know how expectations can be crap sometimes. I’m hoping it’s the bomb and plan on buying this day 1. Please don’t let me down Capcom

Ziplining!!!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Personal, Video on June 23, 2012 by slateman

After the last day of school, we went up to Grand Falls in Canada with Erin’s cousin’s family and went ziplining! Although my foot was a disaster, not going was not an option. I convinced Erin to go and we have a video of each of us! Many thanks to everyone over at Zip Zag for making this an awesome experience! Videos below!

New Cubes Get! Super Floppy / Fisher / Windmill

Posted in Blog, Cubing with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by slateman

New Puzzles!

The wait is over! Well, mostly! Today my package arrived from China, missing my LanLan 2×2, but containing a new Super Floppy Cube (3x3x1), a black Fisher Cube and a replacement white Windmill Cube. One of my students was enamored with the Windmill Cube and asked for me to purchase her one. Of course, it took more than three weeks for these puzzles to arrive so I gave her my Windmill Cube. The new one’s green and white stickers are a bit different and I need to tension it a bit to make it flow better but otherwise it is identical to the one I purchased in March. It’s been a few weeks since I solved one and I forgot one algorithm. Tsk Tsk! I love this puzzle, it’s fun and looks crazy. Like the Megaminx, the puzzle looks more impressive than it is.

Next up is the Fisher Cube. I was always intrigued by the design but found it didn’t look nearly as cool as the Windmill Cube (WC). I sat down with this and mixed it up and it was one of the very few puzzles I could solve without any assistance at all. Of course, it functions very similarly to the WC, so a solve was not far away. I got hung up on a few sections, but all my algorithms work for each cube. Kinda nice. The cube itself is a bit sturdier than the Windmill, still much looser than a standard 3×3 or its derivatives, and its sticker quality also superior. It helps that I prefer black cubes over white, and the WC’s white stickers on white. Overall the cube is fun but virtually identical to the WC. They both make a cool addition to the ever-growing collection.

Finally, the Super Floppy Cube from QJ rounds out the new additions. Like the 3x3x2 before it, this is really just novelty. I’m so glad I waited for a Super Floppy as the shape-shifting is really the only cool draw. Had this functioned like a regular Floppy Cube, it would be pretty weak. However, making it change shapes is a pretty cool draw and quite enjoyable to tinker with. After I stopped messing around with my new puzzles, I went back later to the Super Floppy Cube and solving it was a breeze. So, the different nature of it is the coolest part and justifies my purchase. As I write this, my daughter is messing around with it, intrigued at its turning and getting a little stumped.

And that concludes my purchase. As someone stole my original LanLan 2×2, I had to get another to complete the collection. I opted to grab this in black, leaving only my Windmill Cube and my A1 3×3 in white. OK, time to update the To-Buy List!

Oh, I also posted my cube collection to the blog as well. Updated with my new purchases, of course!!!

Summer Vacation Updates: Gout! Games! Foliage Ocean!?

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Games, Personal, Reviews, Ys with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by slateman

Update #1: The Gout Sucks! I really needn’t say more.

UG&G

OK, I played Ultimate Ghosts & Goblins several years back when it first appeared on the PSP but this week’s $5 sale well…sold me. I’ll be heading out to camp next month and figured I’d stock up on some portable gaming. Of course, this is a poor decision because UG&G is one of the most brutal gaming experiences ever. I knew this having stopped playing all those years ago due to sheer frustration and outright disgust ad the developers. It’s cheap, difficult and evil. However, it’s also classic. It’s a good mix of old and new, but I think it needed to draw from some other sources as well. Its save system is archaic, and while this may appeal to the hardcore gamer, I am disappointed in the layout. Much like Maximo missed out on opportunities, this game could’ve benefited from some tweaks here and there.

The Glory Of Ys

Now, this is what I’ve been waiting for. Back when the Vita launched, we all sensed the drought of killer games. It happens after each hardware launch. However, as I went through the PSN store to see what they had, Ys Seven and Ys: Oath In Felghana were the only two there. No Chronicles??? Supposedly there was a problem and so this game just snuck in there recently. Oh, I’m psyched. Now, I admit that I liked playing the game on the NDS several years back but something happened to my cart, and I never finished it. I’ve run through Book I on the PSP as well IIRC, but something happened once I got to Book II. (Are you seeing a trend here?) This all means I’m friggin’ thrilled to finally get to this. This too will be summer gaming at camp. Headphones, those classic tunes, oh man, this is going to be sweet!

Rochard

I purchased this game several months ago and really never got a chance to dive into it. It seemed a cool concept but only recently have I dug it out to try it. It isn’t perfect and the story is entirely skippable. However, the gravity gun and control over gravity itself are both just awesome ideas. Now, the rest of the game is the generic Metroidvania that we all know and love. And even this generation, this game was done, and done better, with Shadow Complex. Now that game friggin’ rocked. However, while this is just a generally-good game, the inclusion of gravity control and the gun make it different enough to be enjoyed in its own right. I recommend this…I Like would be the review caption.

Celceta

Finally…Ys Celceta is now suffixed Foliage Ocean In Celceta. Of course, it’ll be renamed when localized. And it will be localized, likely by XSeed. I’m looking forward to it, the game drops in September, let’s hope for a translation in early/mid ’13? Now, I haven’t bought any of the PSP games retail (got Oath and Chronicles digitally) but I do hope for a nice packaging. I’d love to shell out some cash for something like that. Music CD, map, some nonsense that fools like me pick up. We’ll see. In any event, the screenshots show a nice world map in the upper-right-hand portion of the screen, a sleek HUD and I’m psyched.

OK, this was a long update but had a lot to cover. My cubes finally hit the U.S. so I hope to have them by the middle of next week. That’ll be cool as I gave my student my Windmill Cube. :) I’m curious how similar the Fisher Cube is to that one. Let’s get this gout totally cleared up (OMFG So Bad!) and life will be pretty good!

Metal Gear Solid: Just Because

Posted in Blog, Game Art, Games, Metal Gear Solid on June 23, 2012 by slateman

MGS: DGN

In tinkering with my old PSP save games (read more above) I came across a save game from the Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel. I never made it through the thing (didn’t pay for it, no big loss) but the save game snapshot was this one. This is classic Snake vs. Grey Fox and it’s sheer awesomeness. OK. Quick post. That’s all. I’m out.

Cubes Still In China….GRRR!

Posted in Blog, Cubing on June 17, 2012 by slateman

China!!!

I placed my order 2 1/2 weeks ago and yet my cubes remain in China. I think this is my second Lightake and the second time shipping was atrocious. Today’s tracking-number check revealed that my package arrived somewhere in China on the 9th. I’ve turned off my impatient mode as I think it would just get uglier and uglier. Instead, I’ll be patient and enjoy my re-stickered 5×5. I meant to make a post about that. Guess it didn’t happen. :)

Mini-Review: Module – Imagineering: I Like…

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews with tags , on June 17, 2012 by slateman

Module: Imagineering

I listened to the new offering from Module and had to have the record. Then I got it and didn’t like it. The next spin started out great, but got real boring for most of the middle tracks. The next session was wonderful and I loved it again.

This strange love/hate relationship with this record doesn’t make much sense to me. I can’t quite figure out what I think about it. The first few tracks are great. The last few as well. The middle is the selling point. As background listening, it’s wonderful. However, since I cannot possibly write this without referencing the Shatter soundtrack, I desired something more than background music. Got plenty of it already, thanks.

So, what’s wrong with this record, you might ask. Well, nothing. That’s why I’m so confused. On the one hand, it’s precisely what I want. Perhaps mood has something to do with it. The songs aren’t too long, usually have some catchy pull to them, and remind me of Module’s other releases. I think the flow of the songs isn’t quite so grand. Several could be skipped. Perhaps several should be skipped to craft a better-flowing LP. With some filler songs removed, the best of the best could shine. Ultimately, I like this album. Not all of it, sadly. Fortunately, the good is rather good and it might be something I go back to, culling my favorite tracks into a longer EP. Or, I’ll just say, “Fuck it,” and turn on Shatter. We’ll see how that battle turns out!