Hey, this post is to officially announce that I completed Level 1 of my Pac Tom project. That's a big deal for me but I'm kind of over it because I finished over a year ago, in November 2008! I've been strangely silent on the project since I announced almost being done in the August 2008. It's part of a weird pattern of behavior where I finish or almost finish big projects but then never announce them because my announcement ambitions exceed my announcement wherewithal, which would be such a tiny fraction of the total effort expended (which is weird) so I never actually announce them. This particular case is strange because I'm well on to Pac Tom Level 2, spending many hours every week busting my ass on it in various ways. I'm trying to fix this behavior. Pac Tom Level 1 is done! Soon, the Pac Tom website and my substantial progress on Level 2.
Pac Tom is my project to run the length of every street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. I've been doing it for many years now, accounting for many thousands of miles and many hundreds of hours of running. Level 1 is the area of the city between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (see map above), which is 23.5 square miles. Those black lines are the routes I ran, tracked with my wrist-worn GPS device. I always start or end at my home or work, usually both. The background map is my old Map of Pittsburgh Neighborhoods which I made for Wikipedia. Click for a PDF so you can zoom to your heart's content, as long as its content does not exceed the limits of IEEE floating point. I have new maps now which are not as sloppy, but also not as colorful.
And then I have to do this:
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED Every street, continental Pgh
Escape is a block-pushing puzzle game I've been working on (in various forms) for over ten years now. Over Christmas break I quietly built a new version, the first in a few years. It wraps together a bunch of minor changes that I had made since the last release and switches some of the development tools, which means it's easier for me to now make new releases. Nobody cares about that kinda stuff, but I did also finally draw and add animations for teleporting (both the player and Dalek):
The game upgrades itself, or you can download a fresh install if you don't have it and want to try. I got one report that someone had trouble upgrading, so you might want to save a copy of your game files before doing it (on Windows, just make a copy of the game's installation directory, on Mac, just make a copy of the Escape application icon, which is just the game folder). It works smoothly for me. If anyone has trouble, please post here with as much information as you can, so that we can fix it. Sorry, no linux binary for the new release, for now.
Despite no releases for a while, there's been a steady stream of activity in the Escape community. There are almost 3,000 levels built by dozens of different people, many with clever speedruns or creative subversive solutions. Some are just fantastic. Thanks everyone for their contributions!
Like last time I got a massive response to my request for song title suggestions, using the Facebook. Thanks everylyylyone! Of course I couldn't use them all, but many of these are based on suggestions, and also there are many that made it as lyrics, or that I make oblique reference to in the lyrics. Hear it for yourself by putting the bold studio music sound in your ears, but you'll probably have to wait until tomorrow for me to post the lyrics, cuz I don't have internet at home due to a billing mishap which is a separate story.
Why we don't allow eleven year-olds to run mining operations. Love this one. In these intense guitar-detuning and partial capo configurations, it's a miracle to be able to be able to find multiple parts with different feels, like the major-key chorus. Lucky. One regret is that I didn't let the improvized coda go on longer; I should know better because these often become a favorite part of the song (e.g. Poison Control.)
Sane clown posse ‽. I like the verse motif in this song. I wish it had a more distinct chorus, but I can only blame myself. Would have been called "hot interrobang" (interrobang is the ‽ symbol, which is like a contracted !? only used by nerds and tasteless typographers) by popular request, but I wanted to make sure that my favorite line in the song made sense, so it needs help from the title.
Once upon a tonic clonic. Techno dance party.
A mundane baking event that became a dessastert/confectastrophe level incident. Based on a true story from New York City that Copix or Spoons can tell you about.
Prophet solves the case (it was easy). I felt like this one was a little bit too sparse to be an instrumental, but too spacey to be filled with words, so it has the odd quality of having an instrumental "chrorus", but that doesn't make it less snoozy.
Sistema de entretenimiento de Tomas Siete. Sing me Spanish techno?
My brother's cat which is called Dr. Turtledog, Ph.D.. Mike and Erin are getting a cat and they've already decided to call it Dr. Turtledog, Ph.D., which was my idea.
Regretted purchase. If I was allowed to axe songs from Albums-a-day, this would be the one I'd axe, though it is not entirely without merit.
Watermelon Town, technically Watermelon Township. Okay, here you can really tell I'm making a logorrhea joke in general, because there's just no reason to clarify the incorporation status of this fictional township in the title, especially since that's never referenced in the song. But I do like the logorrhea jokes.
Mr. Natural vs. the Clothes Fascist. At the piano roll recently I have some ailment regarding triplets and polyrhythms. This worked out fine in Once upon a tonic clonic, but this song has at least three failed experiments crammed into it. Likable for a dumping ground though.
Wrecking the ghostlines. This mysterious title was Amy's suggestion. I like writing songs around mysterious titles because it helps me avoid my undesired tendency towards literalism.
* This asterisk coming up is a footnote, which should read "Actually I do endorse these two."
As always, the Tom7.org Foundation would like to remind listeners that the opinions or events expressed in lyrics do not represent the official position or behavior of the lyricist or singer-man (same), and that the Foundation does not endorse drug abuse (prescription or not), improper disposal of handguns, flouting of mining statutes, illegal fireworks or nudity*, or baking with the wrong equipment. Safety is the biggest rush.
We will be playing the new year's eve-eve (that's Dec. 30th) late show at club cafe with our real-life friends Slingshot Genius (acoustic version) at Club Café in the South Side. I've always wanted to play at Club Café; I think it's my favorite venue in Pittsburgh. (In particular I always love the sound there.) So I'm pretty psyched! Also psyched to play with Erika's band. Come down South if you're in town! (Facebook event for the web-lifestyle enabled.)
Also, remember those mega scissors from post 976 that allow you to shred important papers quickly and easily? Probably not. I do, though, so when I'm at my friend's house for dinner and he's like, guys, mystery time: WTF are these mega scissors that I found in the drawer and what are they for? I know the answer. And then I shredded an important credit card, which was not easy: