October 4, 2008
So, about a decade ago I was in a band. It’s not important which one. What’s important is that we were pretty good, and we got signed to a record label. Things went well, we recorded and released an album, went on tour, got drunk, and lived and breathed facemelting rock music for a few years. Skip ahead ten years, and I’m sitting here writing this and I am sort of poor and you can still buy the album I made.
But guess what? I haven’t ever gotten a royalty check! Not ever! I have the contract and the relevant part basically says that I, as well as the three other members, are each entitled to 12.5 percent of each sale. That’s obviously each first sale. Since iTunes hadn’t yet been conceived, it was not factored in, so I don’t know how the hell that should work out.
That details aren’t really important, what’s important is that YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER SIGN A CONTRACT, EVER! Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Just don’t ever do it.
“But hey dude,” you are now thinking, “I thought it was supposed to be about the music.” Yes, yes it was. I am alright with people listening to my music for free. But that isn’t what’s happening. Somebody is making money off it, so if anybody is going to it should be the people who made it. If I had ever gotten anything, that would be more than what I’ve actually gotten. That is why I’m so fucking irritated. Somebody out there is making money off the music I made, in violation of a contract that I can’t afford to have enforced, and they aren’t sharing. In my opinion they should either give it away for free, or give me some of the profits. That’s it.
So again, don’t sign that contract! Even if it sounds like a great deal. At least, have a lawyer present at all times, or maybe to help you negotiate, or befriend a lawyer so he might provide his services pro bono later on, when whoever drafted that contract you just signed finally fucks you, hard.
April 30, 2008
The more adamant detractors of the video games as art argument may be interested to know that aside from being a murder simulator, the most recent installment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise is a simulator of many other things. It might just as easily be called a “Give all your spare change to the homeless simulator,” or a, “Count of Monte Cristo style epic revenge plot simulator,” or a, “Murder an ambulance chasing lawyer who says video games are murder simulators simulator,” All of these would be apt descriptions of the game play contained therein. But the very best facet of this game is its ability to simulate what its like to drive drunk. It is uncanny, and I refuse to believe simply that the designers just happened upon such an accurate rendition. The screen wobbles in a predictable fashion but when added to the car’s tendency to drift side to side when the player is inebriated, it stacks up to be a pretty close resemblance to the real thing. Or at least a pretty close resemblance to what it is like to play GTA 3 while drunk. I’ve done both, and can’t really say which activity it feels most similar to. At any rate, its great because it has all the fun of drunk driving, but none of the rehab or jail time. Seriously Jack Thompson, what was your problem with this game again? It’s awesome!
April 29, 2008
First a quick thing about liveblogging. That’s a thing right? I think so, but there is a very real possibility that I just made it up, and that I mistakenly believe it is a thing that others are already familiar with. I’m going to assume that this is not the case.
So a quick report then, on GTA IV:
2hrs 53min played.
7.35% Game Complete
Thoughts: “Meh.” Perhaps a little closer to “Um…”. I am sure that I am alone in this assessment, if the glittering parade of perfect 10 reviews are any indication of things. Also, Jack Thompson was right about this game. It is a godless abomination and it has intensified my kill crazy blood lust by no less than a factor of five. Maybe six, its still too early to tell, but I definitely feel I’m ready for big boy murder now, you know, irl, as they say.
That is all for now.
March 21, 2008
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
March 16, 2008
Given the choice between a suicide pact with Eva Braun, and violent, face melting, super chopper explosions at the hands of a man with a grappling hook, I certainly would have chosen the latter. Hitler, and his later incarnation, Super Hitler, were men of such a tremendous degree of villainy that scenarios involving face melting and bionic men seem the only appropriate way to end their story.
What a terrible shame for America’s Greatest Generation that they were not given the sudden and complete closure provided by the face melting death, but rather the more hollow sense of victory achieved when one’s foe ingests cyanide and shoots himself, in a sense, retiring undefeated. Or that they possessed the obvious advantages associated with a greater supply of grappling hooks, and bionic soldiers.
With that in mind, I ask you: Why are we repeating the same mistakes?
Our current administration has done nothing to learn from our past failures, and is making them all over again in Iraq. Saddam was just one more global threat gone unnoticed too long because we neglected to bestow upon him a title more representative of the threat he posed. An easy lesson taught by the fact that Super Hitler was almost immediately recognized as a danger, and efforts were likewise undertaken to melt his face. Done and done! Unlike our current war, being waged in a more traditional full scale fashion. For some five years now, we have dishonored our WWII veterans by forcing them to watch helplessly as an entirely new generation finds their youth soured by the horrors of war.
Enough is enough!
Bring our troops home!
And have them fitted with grappling hooks!
So, my brothers and I have a pretty good relationship. We all have pretty similar interests, and we have stayed close despite geographic distance and adulthood. My older brother has explicitly stated that he does not like when I talk about him. Especially online. For it is there that he has somewhat of a reputation to protect. I can understand that. My younger brother has expressed no such concern. So he will unwittingly be a player in my little experiment. I’m curious how interesting a blog has to be to accrue readership. Also, I’m rather lazy. So, for a while I will be posting past conversations I’ve had with him through the e-mail.
February 27, 2008
These are in no particular order:
1. Final Fantasy X(PS2)
2. Chrono Trigger(SNES)
3. Super Metroid(SNES)
5. Final Fantasy VII(Playstation)
6. Vagrant Story(Playstation)
7. Halo: Combat Evolved(XBox)
8. Final Fantasy III(SNES)
9. Master of Orion II(PC)
10. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
I’ll talk more about these games, and why each is worth your money in a series of posts that will be forthcoming shortly.
For now just call it a top ten list, even though it’s not.
February 26, 2008
I’ll pick up where I left off, which I believe was at the point where I was trying, in vain, to elaborate on my definition of spirituality versus religiosity. I think I came up with a pretty good analogy. Religion is to to spirituality what marriage is to love. Granted, if you analyze this too much, it begins to fall apart. But in the ways that are important to this discussion it holds up pretty well. The analogy makes good sense from an sociological standpoint as well.
I’ll explain. Obviously, love and marriage are related, and tend to go hand in hand. But I don’t think anyone would argue that you can be in love without being married, or that all married couples love one another. I’m reasonably certain that my dad’s parents have hated each other for at least as long as I can remember. But the more important point is the distinction between the two. Love is an emotion, and marriage is one of the ways a person could channel that emotion according to agreed upon rules. I think that will work well enough for now.
So back to my personal history. By the time I met my wife, my connection to religion was beginning to fade, though my spirituality seemed pretty firm. Since I was raised in a Christian church, it makes sense that I still felt an attachment there, if only for nostalgic reasons.
It was important to me that my then-girlfriend (now wife) get to know my parents, and being that they are extraordinarily religious people, encouraging her to develop an interest in the church seemed the best way to do that. She took to it immediately, and has said since that it felt like it had been what was missing from her life. So we were married in the church that I attended growing up. This, as I said in Part I, likely would not have changed even now. Not for religious reasons, I neither believe nor accept that the church is responsible for our success in maintaining a happy marriage. But, that’s one of those traditions that isn’t likely to change soon. I think it goes back to when little girls imagine what their marriage will be like. It’s probably always imagined to be taking place on either a tropical beach, or in a church. Had we done things the way I’d imagined, it would have been quite different. But it’s rather difficult to book the Death Star Throne Room on such short notice. Let alone get Emperor Palpatine to officiate.
Looking back, my confidence in the Christian faith probably had more to do with the fact that I knew no alternatives. Except for mildly different forms of Christianity. Lutheran was about as fringe a religion as was available where I grew up.
I occasionally wondered what, if anything, made my religion different, and therefore more likely to be true. I recall on at least one occasion being given the answer, “Ours is the only religion which worships a living God.”
Of course! That makes perfect sense! Supposing you are already a Christian, already believe in the Christian God, already believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and his divinity, or you just don’t care about facts. Otherwise it is just nonsense.
But I really didn’t have any way to explore how my religion was actually different from other religions. I don’t think I willingly questioned my religion until the whole September 11th thing. I’ve always detested blind hatred of different cultures, but that seemed to be the in thing to do then. So I learned a little bit about Islam. At least enough to find out that Muslims didn’t hate Christians, in fact, Christ is one of their most revered prophets. Hmmm…
When I was in my early twenties, I moved to Florida to go to school, and I made a friend named Ankur. He was, and continues to be, the most enormous and only Hindu I’ve ever met.
We would get drunk and talk about religion. He was easily more familiar with mine than I was his, but there were still a lot of areas where both of us were grossly misinformed.
I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around Hinduism. There really isn’t any history in the religion. No Garden of Eden, no Ark, no Exodus, no Crucifixion, not really anything like that. There were no historical touchstones. The main reason is because all of the texts, for the most part, are fables and metaphors. There isn’t a whole lot to be taken literally.
So, I’m bored now, so I’m going to stop again, but I’ll probably finish this part later today.
February 24, 2008
So, I’ve been playing through Eternal Darkness the last two days. I’ll amend that for anybody who feels like saying, “Yo n00b, where have you been the last six years. I’ve been playing through Eternal Darkness, for the sixth time, the last two days.
To answer some unasked questions; Yes, it is that awesome. No, I have nothing better to do. And, I’m sorry I can’t date you, I’m already married.
Seriously though, that game is outstanding. I am a grown man, and at the moment, I am sobbing with boundless terror. Really! My keyboard is soaked with my salty tears. Ok, it’s not. But the game really is great. For anyone who hasn’t played it I’ll say this: “Play it. Or don’t.” Not a strong enough endorsement you say? Then I offer you this: “Play it or the terrorists win!” That ones true too. They will.
Honestly though, if you haven’t played this game, you haven’t lived… Unless you’ve lived this game, in which case, you probably shouldn’t play it. Because after you’ve lived a life where evil and zombies and Cthulu try to hit you where you live, a game where the same thing happens is probably just not a very good way to hold on to the sanity you have left. But whatever.
To put it simply, Eternal Darkness is one of those rare games that manages to engage you fully. Games like this one don’t come around very often.
I really hope this post isn’t as topically scattered as I think it might be, but that’s what happens when I write two days in a row. The facade begins to crack and it becomes fairly apparent that I am a poor conversationalist.
February 23, 2008
I’m going to make a lot of friends early with this one I’m sure.
I’m an atheist.
This is fun. Let’s be friends.
So I wasn’t always an atheist. I was almost always not an atheist actually. But reality has a way of, you know, being observable, and eventually you start to notice it.
I was born, and seconds later, apparently, was Catholic. Then my family did a sort of Christianity buffet. I’m not really sure why but my parents (by that I mean my mom, since my dad’s altar was the television) decided they just weren’t feeling the Catholic thing. This fact in and of itself should be a good enough reason, as it is in conflict with the policy of many catholic priests. You know, feeling the Catholic thing (meaning penis). Hah! Badum bum Psht! I’m really sorry I don’t know how you spell the noise a rim shot makes.
Anyway, we bounced around to a couple different churches and finally settled in with the Methodists. I’m not sure which ideological requirements it met that the others didn’t. Except of course for the all important, “I prefer a God whose house is less than two blocks down the road.” I’m not kidding or exaggerating. We somehow felt the strongest spiritual connection with absolute nearest church. God really does work in mysterious ways I guess.
What’s more, his ways are so mysterious that if you didn’t know any better, you’d swear he wasn’t even doing anything in the first place.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So I was a good little sheep for many years. Even into adulthood. I got married in a church, a fact which to be completely honest probably wouldn’t be any different even now. But simply as a courtesy to my family, my wife, and her family.
You see, I am one of exactly two atheists in my entire family tree (assuming everyone’s being honest), which is by no means a small tree. This bears some explanation of personal history, so I’ll try to go through things quickly.
My grandparents are both, and have always been, irrefutably catholic. I say irrefutably because if one were to inventory the qualities and behavior of the stereotypical catholic and then imagine what such a person might look like and how he might behave they have basically just pictured my grandpa going about his day.
All my grandparents kids were raised catholic, and all still claim to be Christians. My dad really wasn’t religious, or spiritual throughout my childhood, and adolescence. Sometime around when I was 16 or 17 he attended a Promise Keepers rally in DC and I’m not sure who came back, but I’m pretty sure that my real dad was abducted and replaced. Not really, but he did a complete 180. and now he is a pastor. Really. He has a church and everything. This fact could only count as a strike against religion, but I’ll go more into that later.
So I met my wife, and even though my connection to Christianity was starting to fade, I still would have considered myself just as much a spiritual person as I ever had.
This would be a good time to define a few terms for my purposes. The way I see it, a person need not be religious to be spiritual, and the reverse applies as well. A spiritual person would be someone who felt inclined to believe in divinity, and by that definition, one could argue that I am still a spiritual person. It doesn’t necessarily have to be God whose divinity you believe in. For me, it’s the fantastic order of the universe. The incredible nature of how everything works so smoothly from the microscopic to the cosmic. I am constantly amazed by it. But this isn’t God. It’s not a sentient, conscious, thinking thing.
I’d really like to get out of my habit of amassing a pile of half finished, never posted articles, and I’m sick of writing tonight, so I’ll leave it there for now…
To be continued probably…