New Cubes On The Way!

Posted in Blog, Cubing on June 16, 2013 by slateman

CaseCubeLast year, I replaced my Windmill Cube with a new one and that puzzle remains one of my favorites to solve. It’s a lot of fun and while it’s relatively easy, it looks impressive. Now, a year later, the same student who wanted my original puzzle (I ordered one and gave her mine) wanted another one. So, I’m finally getting a Windmill Cube in black and I opted to get a Case Cube as well. This appears to be an extended Windmill Cube, really, and I don’t expect much out of it. However, it only cost me a few bucks in the deal and it should be a cool addition to the ever-growing collection. I’ll post my thoughts when it arrives, likely in a few weeks.

Kalmah: Seventh Swamphony

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews with tags on June 16, 2013 by slateman

Seventh SwamphonyAfter hearing the title track in advance, I was, for some reason, underwhelmed. Could Kalmah really put out a less-than-spectacular album? I was prepared for disappointment. Then, I listened to it.

Holy fucking hell, this album is incredible. Production? Flawless. Riffage? Old-school and fucking heavy. Solos? Better than ever. Drumming? Spot-on, solid, fast! Songwriting? Barring Moonsorrow’s masterpiece, this may be the best metal album in years. From the under-appreciated title song to the catchiest-song-in-their-catalogue, Deadfall, this album starts off with everything. Blistering fast, melodic grooves, memorable and heavy as hell. Hollo would have to be my least favorite, a very different type of track – but it is not bad, just different. Then the second half is impeccable. Windlake Tale, Wolves On The Throne, awesome. Black Marten’s Trace, whatever that means, is so fast and so heavy. The Trapper has its catchy intro riff and an epic outro that leads me straight back into track 1. I love this album. It’s got everything I love about metal and it proves that Kalmah is the best band of this century. They’ve yet to put out a bad album, and even the lackluster For The Revolution is better than most band’s better efforts. Play it again. And Again……

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Poster

Posted in Blog, Books, Movies, Tolkien with tags , on June 16, 2013 by slateman

hobbit2-posterWhile The Lord Of The Rings was truly a cinematic event, I find The Hobbit films to be more of a fun jaunt. I’m psyched about the remaining two, but they certainly don’t have that epic grandeur that the LOTR films did. That’s OK, because the book was just a fun, lighthearted adventure. So, I’m quite looking forward to the film this December and here’s a poster for it. Sorry for no updates in a long time. Not like anyone is reading anyways!

Mini-Review: My Dying Bride – The Manuscript

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews on May 14, 2013 by slateman

The ManuscriptAnother EP from the kings of EPs. I recall a time when they had 2 LPs and 3 EPs and it was all downhill after that – in a sense. I recall The Angel And The Dark River and it took them a few years (and one interesting experiment) to get back to excellence. And since 1999, it’s been pretty consistent. The Dreadful Hours may be my favorite, Songs Of Light… not so good. A Line Of Deathless Kings came out in 2006 and since then, while solid, I haven’t been blown away. I like the stuff, but am not wowed and don’t tend to play any of the records/EPs/singles. I definitely liked the orchestral record and The Barghest O’Whitby is an excellent if not tough listen due to its length.

That long intro leads us to this four-song, half-hour offering that is both perfect in its duration and its quality. This stuff is fantastic, culling the best riffs and mood MDB has to offer from their vast catalog of sounds. From Var Gud Over Er‘s classic death growls to the chilling mood of the outro (Only Tears To Replace Her With), this EP is just about perfect. It’s got everything that the band does well. If that is considered playing it safe, then I hope for another LP of familiar safety. And in only one day of listening (four songs, remember), it’s up there with Amorphis’ Circle as the best of the year. Everything I love about MDB is right here. A+!!!

A Good Month For Metal!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music on May 13, 2013 by slateman

Seventh SwamphonyOver the next month we’ll be treated to some exciting new metal releases! In fact, this is the biggest influx of new metal albums in recent memory. It’s simply impossible for them all to underwhelm, right? Let’s see what’s coming out. This is all stuff that’s set for release over a six-week period! I’m pretty psyched…that much should be clear.

My Dying Bride – The Manuscript (13th May)
Dark Tranquillity – Construct (27th May)
Megadeth – Super Collider (4th June)
Children Of Bodom – Halo Of Blood (7th June)
Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn (7th June)
The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack (11th June)
Kalmah – Seventh Swamphony (17th June)
Amon Amarth – Deceiver Of The Gods (24th June)

I’m really psyched for the MDB, hoping for good things. The rest are pretty obvious. Strange that Dark Tranquillity still hasn’t released album art. The record comes out in two weeks!

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.

New Bone Fire MP3: Thirteen III

Posted in Blog, Downloads, MP3s, Music on May 3, 2013 by slateman

With the wife & kids downstate, tonight is the first night to myself in over a year. Plans? Nothin’. Record some metal, play some games, awesome! So, I whipped this one together and in the end…it sounds fucking heavy!!! Wow…I’m quite happy with it! Time to dance around the Bone Fire. \m/

3x4x5 Get! Solved…Finally!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing with tags on April 28, 2013 by slateman

3x4x5 CuboidI received my Tom Z’s 3x4x5 Cuboid last Monday and took the time to tension, lubricate and sticker it. Later that night it exploded, with several internal pieces coming out. Since i didn’t know how to fix that, I took the whole thing apart and 90 minutes later it was in usable form. There is one inner-layer piece that will bandage one layer if placed improperly. Ah, what a nightmare.

In any event, after getting it done, I mixed it up again and started to solve it. However, I messed up on one of the layers which caused parity and I was stuck. Fortunately, solving this was a lot like a 3x3x2 and a 3x3x5 (or 7) and getting it back to cuboid state while avoiding massive parity was not difficult. Once I figured that out, I was able to solve the rest with just that one parity algorithm (modified for even/odd configurations). On Thursday, I solved it!!! No cube has ever stumped me for a full week before. Now that I’ve done it, I still get caught on some situations, but it’s not altogether too difficult once you grasp it all. Solving this was pretty cool. I’ll post that one algorithm in case I ever forget it!

All in all, it’s a very cool puzzle. I’d like to get the 4x4x6 as well. Not an every-day solve, but definitely impressive and fun to work through!

Even Parity
Uu2 R2 F2 Uu2 U2 F2 R2 Uu2

Odd Parity
Uu2 R2 F2 Uu2 F2 R2 Uu2

New Super Mario U: Done!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores / Accomplishments with tags on April 21, 2013 by slateman

mario-u-4-stars

I went through the superstar road and got all the coins for a fourth star. That swimming level sucked. I used a P-Wing to get the last coin on the running stage for the last coin! This revealed the 9th superstar road stage. I was prepared for a nightmare.

Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult; it was just interesting…and cool. So, after beating that, I was pretty psyched but got nothing. This morning I went back and caught every Nabbit but still didn’t get the fifth star…Then I noticed I was missing one hidden exit (#94).

mario-u-completed

After zipping through and getting that, I was greeted with the above message – and have now completed the whole game!!! Sadly, I’ve had enough Super Mario Bros. U for a little while. That’s sad mostly because I have little reason to return to the Wii U. I’m looking forward to the new firmware upgrade coming shortly, however. Once again, I’m also excited for the DLC to return to Mario. 100%! Nice!!!

mario-u-5-stars

Castlevania: Order Of Ecclesia Art

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Game Art, Games with tags on April 21, 2013 by slateman

I can’t say I even remember playing this. After completing Portrait Of Ruin twice, I vaguely recall something afterwards. If anything, it didn’t leave a lasting memory other than ‘Oh, maybe I played that…wasn’t as good as Portrait.’ In any event, I’m trying to go through some hard drive stuff and these two artworks are pretty sweet…so while the game may not have been so spectacular, the art here is. Enjoy!

Order_Of_Ecclesia_1

Order_Of_Ecclesia_2