Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some notes on Bears In Games.

Episodes 2 and 3 are now up.

I think that I'm going to go for a once a week release schedule after this, as long as I can keep up with ideas for shows. I also might start making them a bit longer, but only if I have guest hosts with me; I can't really imagine myself blathering on about a game for more than ten minutes at a time! I've had a few offers for cohosts after my move to California, so that should be easier. I'm also all ears for any suggestions for future episodes, though my next one is going to be Fable II, as I've already captured all the footage that I need for it. It's also the first game that I'm going to cover which features textual, rather than subtextual, gay references.

I've also thought some about the practice of making really gay characters and flame-baiting out on XBox Live. When I play as Beanies, I'm not really flame baiting. I like Beanies as a character, and I love using a big bearish guy as a fast-moving fighter. As I say in the podcast, I'm absolutely lousy with the slow moving ones. I'm a bit of a button masher (combined with a thrower) so faster characters suit me better, offering generally easier-to-guess combos. As for HawkBear, I made him in order to create the gayest bear I could, just to see how it would turn out. I know from experience that putting him out there on XBox Live is asking for assholery. But think about this for a minute: I wouldn't get a word if I made a scantily clad chick. Yeah, I'm "asking for it" by going out and using this character, but within the context of the game, he's actually relatively clothed. Ivy's outfit has turned into a sliver of metal that barely conceals her watermelon-sized breasts, and rides up her ass. But such is the hypocrisy of the XBox Live user, I guess. And honestly, that was out of 20 or so matches that I recorded playing online, the only one with a negative reaction. Just goes to show that the average Soul Calibur player has a better head on his shoulders than the Halo or Call of Duty ones.

A vaguely related aside: in playing Project Gotham 4, I came across a woman whose alias was "LuvMyDoubleDs". She was in the midst of scolding another player for being a pervert about her alias. I suggested that perhaps her suggestive alias was the reason for such behavior, and she said something along the lines "Oh, make fun of my alias, how original."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bears In Games Podcast Episode 1

Yep, I did my first ever video podcast. Alright, so my RSS skills aren't quite where they should be, but you can subscribe to it if you do so desire. Anyway, I'll just link you to the youtube instance of the video, right here:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Trivial stuff, a beating, and an observation of behavior.

I uploaded my first video to Youtube. I feel like part of the real online world now. Not that the video is particularly exciting, I just wanted to show my coworker Michelle the Create-a-Character that I made using Soul Calibur IV. It does mean that I now have some new equipment for capturing game play, which is perhaps more interesting. Yes, as a testament to my sadness, as soon as I get a laptop capable of editing with Final Cut Pro (which will be next week) I'm going to be doing some video podcasts called Bears in Gaming. Looking at the bear models you can create with say, Soul Calibur IV and Saints Row 2, as well as the gay lifestyles you can lead in Fable 2. Oh, and a short episode comparing Final Fight to the work of Tom of Finland. Could be interesting. I could get shit. Most likely, no one will care. We shall see!


Last night I was walking home from work, via the lousy supermarket on Davie Street, and I saw an old man screaming for help while getting the shit kicked out of him. I ran up to help, and as I did, the man doing the attacking was being pulled off of the old guy by what turned out to be his wife. He yelled something along the lines of "That's what you get for calling my wife a whore!" and the old man stood up, his head was bleeding. I took down the plate of the car the guy got into, and called the cops.

And no one else was doing anything but watching of course.

The old guy was yelling. He was very belligerent. Another older man tried to help him up and he yelled "Get off of me!" to him.

I get anxiety all the time from little things but man, the feeling in my gut while I running up to the old guy was nasty. And while I did get the info to the cops, it also made me remember how, on that very same block three years earlier, a guy made a gay slur about the man I was out on a date with and I did have the urge to pull him out to the middle of the street and beat him. I felt very emasculated that I didn't. Maybe I'm hypocritical calling the cops. I don't know.


Here's something I feel I should write down, and it's not to gossip about the guy, but just because it's a strange slice of human behavior.

I met this man many years ago going out to a Christmas party with my coworkers when I worked at a bookstore. He was a bouncer at a gay bar, and I remember distinctly flirting with him a little as I left. I didn't think of him again.

Two years after that, I was at a different dance bar on New Year's Eve. This guy kept grabbing me, a small, very drunk man, he kept trying to pull me close to him. I wasn't interested in that, but he kept grabbing. I pushed him off and walked away, and then another man came up and said that he was about ready to punch the previous one for harassing me. He was big, broad, and very handsome. I started talking to him, and it was nice. He was hyper and dancing, but in between his dances, we talked some, and arranged to meet up again to see a movie.

We did, and nothing happened other than watching Maid in Manhattan. I don't know why nothing happened, he was cute. I think I was still rebounding from a breakup earlier. I met up with him again the next summer because he wanted to work out with me, and we did that a couple of times. By this time I was living in Denver, and only returned home a few times a year. I tried to meet up with him again, only to leave a message with a roommate who evidently never gave it to this man. I'd also left a voice mail message.

He'd sent me a few short emails apologizing for missing my calls while I was back home, after I'd returned. I tried to meet up with him on my next trip down, and again, he didn't return my call, so I just gave up.

A few more years go by, and I am walking down a street downtown. This guy runs out of the restaurant he was in, and gives me his business card. "I'm so glad to see you, we really need to have dinner this weekend!" he said, and gave me a long hug. He apologized for not keeping contact, before returning to the restaurant. I call him, and we arrange to have dinner that Saturday. It's actually a long drive for me to get down there to see him, about two hours, but I do it. I call him, and he says that his friends came over and that he'd be a little while. I wait at a coffee shop for him, and he does not call back.

At this point, I am puzzled by his behavior. The man ran out of a restaurant in the middle of winter to arrange this dinner. I discuss it with a friend the next night, and we are both unable to figure out this guy, and his strange motivations.

A year and a half later, he tells me that he is going to in two months Vancouver and wants to meet up. He throws out some ideas of me showing him the city, taking in a few dinners, etcetera. I say sure, for the hell of it. I admit to agreeing to the dinner that last time just out of sheer curiosity as to whether or not he'd show up, so I wasn't all that bent about it. He follows this up with a message every couple of weeks keeping me posted on his trip. He sends me a text message saying how much he's looking forward to seeing me, and that he will be in town on the following Wednesday. That Wednesday, he sends a text message wondering if I am free for dinner the next night. I say yes, and then the next day, I ask when he was thinking of meeting for dinner, and he says that he only has an hour and a half for it, and that three of his friends are going to join us. As fun as that would be, I politely decline, suggesting that we reschedule to have dinner one on one. Then he writes back that he's actually very busy this weekend and probably won't have time for that.

Needless to say, he never contacted me again.

So, my final thought on the matter is this: did he have some sort of brain tumor?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The ettiquette of tipping.

Here's something that happened a while ago but I never actually wrote down.

I was taking a cab from the Las Vegas airport to the Hilton one Friday afternoon. I hadn't slept at all. The entire trip there had been a bit of a disaster. I'd mixed up the "to" and "from" when I booked the flight on Southwest. It had me leaving Las Vegas on Friday to Seattle, and then returning on Saturday. I needed Seattle to Las Vegas, returning Sunday. I should not have booked the tickets while half-asleep. This meant $80 out of pocket to rebook the tickets; not a very lucky start, really.

I wasn't paying too much attention to where the cab was going. I knew Vegas well enough to know that he wasn't taking me for a ride. I was people watching. He grabbed his cell phone, and made a call. This is not unusual for cab drivers. The cab driver looked as you might imagine a cab driver to look; middle eastern, mid forties, a bit of a paunch, greying hair, stubble. Maybe he was Turkish? Or Algerian?

I watched him talk on his phone. I thought about how more judgmental people would have ordered him to put down the phone. I wasn't going to do that. I was above that. I had respect for the man, and knew that he was an expert of navigating the roads of Vegas. He knew what he was doing.

Then he plowed into the Acura in front of us which had stopped before making a right turn at an intersection.

The impact wasn't that bad. The fender and bumper were heavily dented on the Acura, but it was drivable. It had that sound that car crashes make in real life, but never do in movies: a cushioned thump combined with the sound of an aluminum can being crushed. The two business-suited men and the one business-skirt-and-shirt wearing woman stepped out of their car.

"Oh, fuck," I said. The impact wasn't that bad. I was wearing a seat belt, and so was the driver.

"I am going to lose my job for this," the cab driver said, still talking on his cellular phone. The three occupants of the Acura stood between the cab and their car, surveying the damage. The cab driver kept talking on his phone for another thirty seconds or so, in a language I didn't understand, before hanging up.

"I am going to have to call this in," he said. "I am going to lose my job for this."

"I'm sorry," I said. He repeated that statement over and over again. His tone was sad, defeated. I saw the big Hilton sign at the end of the very, very long block, past the Vegas Convention Center.

"If you hit a car, they fire you, right away," he said. I said I was sorry again. The three from the other vehicle stood, staring.

He called the dispatch, and I only heard his side of the conversation. "Yes, I hit the rear of the car. Yes, I have a passenger." At this point he half-turned to me. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine."

"He's fine. They will send another cab."

I look out at the Hilton again. "It's okay, man, I can just walk."

"It will be $18.50," he said. I gave him a twenty. For some reason, I tipped him the extra dollar fifty.

I regret this now.

A dispatch from home

I did get an email from my Ma today. It contained this picture.

They're all getting old now. So they can sleep together.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The eponymous mix.

I named this stupid blog thing after a mix CD of mine I made on my 29th birthday. If you want to experience the true sound of Creaks of an Encroaching Decade, simply make this:

1. Music for a Found Harmonium - Penguin Cafe Orchestra
2. Hold Yr Terror Close - The Go! Team
3. American Boy (Ft. Kayne West) - Estelle
4. Dead Disco - Metric
5. D.A.N.C.E. (MSTRKRFT Remix) - Jusice
6. More - Junkie XL
7. Great DJ - The Ting Tings
8. L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold
9. More Shopping - Bran Van 3000 Ft. Momus
10. Asia No Junshin - Puffy Ami Yumi
11. Self Control - Laura Branigan
12. Reptilia - The Strokes
13. Sing Me Spanish Techno - The New Pornographers
14. So Nice So Smart - Kimya Dawson
15. Sweet Surrender - Sarah McLachlan
16. I Gotcha - Liza Minnelli
17. Schweine - Glukoza
18. Huddle Formation - The Go! Team
19. Tower of Song - Leonard Cohen

It was a few months ago, and I still like some of the songs on there... so that's good.

Yeah, yeah.

We all know to what dedication I devote this sort of deal.

That is to say, none.

Things That Stress Me Out, October 26th Edition

5. Little Big Planet.
4. Doing stuff that no one gives a shit about.
3. Not being sure whether or not I'll be living in California in a few weeks.
2. People with better taste in music than me.
1. Giant spiders.

Numbers 5 and 4 are somewhat related. User generated content just puts a lot of pressure on me to make something great, and I'm sure whatever I'd create is terrible, so then I just sulk and don't bother.

Plus I'm no good at platformers.

I should probably be thinking more about #3, but I don't actually know what's going to happen there.

I'm not feelin' too good still, but I should be ok to go to work tomorrow. I'll just NyQuil it up tonight.