Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my last journal entry and I totally forgot it.
So, what've I missed?
11 years agoAnaphiel
This weekend I had the opportunity to take a short trip by rail from my underground lair in the outskirts of Boston to the uncharted, pristine wilderness of Framingham MA. I learned many things on my journey, and I would like to share some of them with you, my fine internet acquaintances.
1. When choosing a seat on the train, do not sit next to the 40-year-old guy with the coke-bottle glasses and March of Dimes T-Shirt wearing an Amtrak conductor's cap. He is not an Amtrak employee, he is a mentally handicapped gentleman who really loves trains and has memorized the schedules of every train that runs on the eastern seaboard. If you sit near him he will want to discuss said timetables at length with you, and you will be forced to kill either yourself or him to escape.
2. For couples with small babies who wish to travel, you might consider leaving the baby at home, or perhaps in the car at the parking lot near the station if you cannot find a sitter, at least on shorter trips. Your infant's inevitable crying will not endear you to your fellow travelers, who may attempt to kill you or your baby to escape.
3. If you bring your baby on the train and s/he does begin crying, telling the crying infant to "shut up" does not work. Even if you say it in a cutesy baby-talk voice, or yell it very loudly and repeatedly.
4. Likewise, asking your baby "why you gotta be such a attention whore" has no effect, even if said in a cutesy baby-talk voice. Even if you are the infant's mother.
5. I would like to create a cell phone ringtone that sounds like a crying baby, and make everyone that does bring a baby on a train use it for their default ringtone. Also, I would like anyone who purchases a Jay-Z or 50 Cent ringtone to be required to use the crying baby ringtone for every other call (or perhaps random incoming calls would play the crying baby) until they realize the
error of their ways.
6. If you have a press-to-talk or Nextel phone and you are not a delivery driver or construction worker and actually on the job, you too get the baby ringtone.
Not exactly tips, but anecdotes form the same trip:
I'm walking across the Boston Common, it's about 95 degrees out and even though my pasty-white skin reflects back roughly 99% of the sun's harmful rays I'm getting a little sunburned and very sweaty, and there are about a dozen tents set up registering people for one of the charity "Walk for *blank*" evens that we have weekly here, and off to one side there's this huge RV with a big sign out front offering "Free Male Health Screening". So I keep walking and I realize that the walk is a Walk for Prostate Cancer and that the "Male Health Screening" on offer really means "Free prostate exam", and I have to wonder: who the hell would be walking across the Boston Common on a 95-degree day and say "you know what? I think I'm jsut gonna pop in there real quick and get me a colonoscopy." And because I always think a little too much about these kinds of things, I start to feel sorry for the poor doctor if any one of the big sweaty Red Sox-shirt wearing, cargo shorts-rockin' frat guys throwing frisbees on the common sctually did go in for a screening. I mean it can't be pleasant to begin with...
Also, while I was coming back and the train was just pulling into Boston and I was feeling a little whiny because my feet hurt and I'm sunburned and I tweaked my back moving furniture yesterday, I see a guy who you would have to call a "Little Person" these days, on crutches, towing a big freakin' suitcase behind him heading for another train and I immediately felt like the biggest jackass in the world.
Which is par for the course for me.
11 years agoAnaphiel
So I'm once again looking at computer upgrades, this time some parts for my PC, and once again I am struck by the fact that I can buy a floppy drive from NewEgg for $5.99US.
A floppy drive is old tech for sure, but it's still a pretty complicated device, with lots of small metal and plastic parts that at least in theory are machined to pretty small tolerances and assembled in complex ways, a bunch of wires, and some electronics to control it all.
And it costs $5.99, about the same as I pay for a large sub at my local sandwich shop.
Which gets me thinking: how the hell is it possible to sell something like that so cheap?
I mean, to make that happen, somebody somewhere, probably China, first had to design the thing. Presumably he or she got paid to design it. Then all of those small parts had to be made or purchased from another company, everything has to be assembled either by people or by more complex equipment, then the thing gets packaged, marketed, sold, shipped halfway around the world, unloaded by Teamsters, shipped to a warehouse, warehoused, marketed again, then ultimately it gets pulled from a shelf and shipped to me to fill my order.
All for $5.99?
And it gets worse the more you think about it. Those parts are made of metal and plastic, so at some point someone had to dig up the ore or pump the oil. Someone had to smelt it or refine it. Someone shipped the final product to the company that makes the screws, that makes the case parts, etc. The parts are made and the drive assembled using equipment that also had to be made by some other company and then purchased by the floppy disk guys. The ships that ship the thing don't build themselves, and the floppy drives don't magically appear on board the ships... everywhere you look there are more people and more companies involved, all of whom presumably get paid for their part. Every company all along the chain, from the guys building the mine equipment that digs the ore that ships to the refinery to be made into steel that the milling company uses to make the screws that the floppy company buys to make their drives all the way to NewEgg and FedEx presumably makes some small profit out of that $5.99 selling price.
And yet the thing still costs $5.99. I don't get it.
ELO's song "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" is actually one of their least catchy songs.
11 years agoAnaphiel
It's like Christmas in May at the old Anaphiel household, and my best gift just arrived today from Japan: 100% pure packaging porn, and incidentally a great collection of art by Japanese artist/designer Range Murata.
The envelope on the top contains a signed, numbered print unique to this edition of the book:
The book itself is a large-format 4-ring binder enclosed in a heavy plastic slipcover.
Each print at the front of the book is printed single-sided on heavy art paper... beautiful printing job.
There are a couple of large fold-out posters bound in there...
As well as some 2-page foldouts...
Some non-anime work:
Murata also designs furniture, jewelry, clothings, accessories, motorcycles etc., and the book contains sketches and blueprints for some of the physical objects he's worked on:
And there are a couple of calendars and smaller books bound in at the back of the binder for no real reason. This one includes the obligatory jailbait Japanese schoolgirl pinup.
Now, my question whenever I handle something like this is why don't more US artists produce monographs of this quality? I'm sure it's very expensive (I've worked in printing for years and this is one expensive book to produce), but there must be enough rabid fanbois like me out there to make it a paying proposition in short runs at least. You listening, Phil Hale?
12 years agoAnaphiel
I just bought a new bike helmet, and since i live in Boston where everything costs about 15% more than it does anywhere else - it's like we're spending Canadian dollars - it was actually cheaper for me to order it from citysports.com and have it shipped from Kentucky than it would have been to walk to the City Sports store and buy it off the shelf.
So I ordered it online, and the helmet arrives on my doorstep in a big box marked "Fragile", and now I'm wondering:
Should I return it?
And I just noticed that the frozen pizza I bought says "Cook Before Serving" on the box.
12 years agoAnaphiel
Wow, it's been over two months since I last updated this journal. Either I've been busy or I've been unforgiveably lazy, or perhaps my life just isn't very interesting. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which is more likely.
Actually I've been spending most of my time at Archive.org, downloading live Andrew Bird and Godspeed You! Black Emperor tracks. I now have about fifteen different versions of GYBE's "Albanian", one of the few songs I can name that not only damage your hearing, but your actual overall health. It's that good.
Man, I still have 27 Explosions in the Sky gigs to DL, and those 117 Camper Van Beethoven shows aren't going to download themselves... I gotta go.
12 years agoAnaphiel
So I finally got around to buying Psychonauts, a terrific little game from Double Fine/Majesco that garnered more Game of the Year mentions than it actually sold copies, and I got it for $9.90 when it's actually worth more like $99.00. I honestly feel it's one of those games like Sam and Max Hit The Road that'll be selling for $60 on eBay in a few years once it gets scarce. This is all to be expected as it was created by Tim Shafer, the man behind Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, etc., all games which are now selling for like $60 on eBay despite being commercial disappointments.
Psychonauts feels stylistically a lot like Shafers earlier work, but instead of being a straight-ahead adventure game, it blends elements of adventure games and action platformers in a pretty unique way. It's funny as hell, very well-written, amazingly original in every way, somehow manages to make platforming fun, features some amazing voice acting, blah blah blah. Good game.
I felt so guilty about not buying it when it first came out that I also bought Majesco's Advent Rising, which is actually worth more like $.99. I'm not sure exactly what's so wrong about Advent Rising, but it does feel like it just arrived via a time warp from 1999, like it's Anachronox on crystal meth, and any game that not only uses a checkpoints-only save system (which I can live with) but which makes you start fresh from the beginning of a level if you quit deserves to be bargain-binned. Hey Majesco! Why not let me start from the last CHECKPOINT, huh?
So I have a new game, a new sort of half-game retro experience, two season's worth of Arrested Development to watch, and today I got the first season of Hill Street Blues and both seasons of The Young Ones on DVD.
How the hell am I supposed to get any work done?
Oh, you see how Majesco tried to save money by using pretty much the same files for printing the manuals for both games? That's pretty much the attitude that prevails throughout Advent Rising. I do notice that there are no review scores listed in the Advent Rising ad...
12 years agoAnaphiel
More pseudo-random Photoshoppery: images that may or may not end up as a new website or as a subsection of the existing website.
I have two very distinctive design styles: my "personal" style tends to be pretty grungy (like these images), while the work I do for paying customers tends to be super clean and minimalist. I need to figure out a way to make a website that adequately spotlights both styles.
This isn't it.
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