I'm not an IDIOT who needs COLOR CHEAT CODES
(31 Dec 2015 at 21:28)
Well, here we are at the end of 2015. December was a bunch of travel (14 segments!) and relaxing for me, neither of which make good stories.
The show in New York that I wrote about in post 1126 was awesome. I had some last minute trouble with the electronics after a wire broke (it was hook-up wire, not good for repeated stress). Though I have no recollection of it, I'm certain that at some point when I was assembling that USB laser hat 7 years ago, I momentarily considered, should I really use black wire to denote POSITIVE, just because it's handy? And then thought, sure, it's not like I'm going to FORGET that I made that switch. I'm not an IDIOT who needs COLOR CHEAT CODES. So imagine my chagrin when in 2015 I foolishly soldered the positive and negative leads together and then spent minutes trying to connect to the thing over USB while it was just cooking. But I didn't fry it, and got the software up to modern OS X standards, fit it all in my luggage MacGyver style and got through airport security just fine, and even managed to get the drums there too. The show was super fun! A bunch of people I hadn't seen in ages but who happened to be in NY (or make the trek) surprised me by showing up, and I think I played my weird video game music to about 70 people. Definitely one neat thing about New York is how many people you can find that actually care about some obscure thing like that. I also really enjoyed seeing the other bands rock it live. There are a few videos of my section, and to show my gratitude I also made T7ES-heroifications of songs by Kleenex Girl Wonder and Saskrotch both, all of which I'll try to convert into a reasonable format and post here. But as you know it's New Year's Eve and that means the tradition of Drinking begins imminently!
Also: People have been rediscovering my Alphabetical Star Wars recently due to the new movie. Just tonight I was alerted to this tribute called ACEPS ABLLS which is the same idea applied to the even more hallowed Space Balls. This one is different because it was done automatically, using some new transcription alignment software which seems pretty cool. (It definitely has mistakes in it, but the accuracy is pretty impressive! It even hilariously catches some words in the singing in the closing credits.) So all of you who were asking for alternative supercuts with the ARST ARSW data can now create this on your own without too much tedium.
Kleenex Girl Wonder, Saskrotch, Tom 7, Thunder & Lightning
(30 Nov 2015 at 22:06)
I'm excited that on this Friday, December 4, I'll be playing a show in New York City. I'm delighted that this show is with two artists I really like. Headliner in charge is Kleenex Girl Wonder, whose precocious album Ponyoak is surely in my personal Top 10, and in some ways inspired my own poopy 7-track project(s). I also really love the strange redundant epic Yes Boss, which has some of the best lyrics this side of Franklin Bruno. But wait! This is not just a Rock 'n Roll show. Also performing is Saskrotch, who among other things made the chipmusic for the muy dificil exploration platformer game Rex Rocket. I heartily recommend the game and Saskrotch's sdtk.. (No offense to the other band playing! I just haven't heard your music yet. Also, no official word on whether I like my own music but you can probably guess.)
Here is the Facebook event which you can "friend" or "poke." The show is 4 Dec 2015 at Fat Baby in LES, 7:30 doors, and costs $8/$10.
Though the show is billed as "Tom 7" I'll be performing my Tom 7 Entertainment System project. It's a kind of weird performance-art piece / chiptune thing; you can get a pretty good idea of what from this video of me performing it 8 years ago. I have some new music and some new technology this time, but if you get very bored of things that happen at 8 year intervals and have something in common, I invite you to not attend. But if you live in the York or environs, come say hi!
In other slow progression of time news, I just finished up the busy time at work so I expect to get to finishing some in-progress projects right after I get back from NYC. Watch this spot ----> [ ]
Yikes, this day got away from me and I need to post my monthly post! I spent a long time today designing a ray gun for this costume, but then when I went to 3D print it, it was like an 8 hour print time, so I was scrambling to finish in time.
Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty (FAKE)
I'm literally posting this from the party while wearing the costume! What a nerd! Bye!
36th birthday: Great Race Cake Wreck!
(29 Sep 2015 at 08:17)
Sunday was my 36th birthday, and this year it coincided with the Great Race 10k. Last time that happened I ran it carrying a tiny cake, a feat that I guess no longer seems that difficult to me, and so this year I needed to increase the size of the cake.
It took about a day and a half to make. The cake's skelebones are made of cardboard and its bone adhesive is hot glue. You can see the tab-style construction approach in this in-progress pic:
Cake skeleton in 'wheels-up' configuration
The cake of course also needed to have actual cake! Rose baked almost all of the 17 cakes that adorned it, a scene kind of like this:
Some were mild caketastrophes and we did some America's Test Kitchen stuff to figure out whether it was a good idea to reduce the amount this ingredient or that one in order to get the most pliable and sturdy cake skin, but we didn't keep any notes or nothin' like that. We also made 6 pounds of frosting, which was not nearly enough.
Due to lack of forethought, the cake cardboard was so big that I couldn't fit it out of any of the doors of my house except turned on its side (and then just barely). But thanks to midthought, I did that ahead of adding any cake, which would not have tolerated rotation, and assembled it in the garage. It looked like this:
I did have to use the ladder to put the candles in
How could 6 pounds of frosting not have been enough? The "imagine cake here" stuff I wrote on the cardboard as an insurance policy against the eventuality that the cake would fall off while running. I really didn't have a lot of confidence in the vertical cakes, which were just attached with string and frosting. And if I was just going to be running around in a dirty cardboard box, I wanted people to at least have some hope of puzzling it out after I passed, like "Wait—I think it said something about cake on it? What does 'erstwhile' mean?" But it turned out my cakestimate was off, and we wouldn't have had enough ingredients anyway, so the bottom layer went without cakes (I put some insulation foam down there which you can see in a later picture).
Which was probably for the better. The skeleton was already sagging under the weight and the butter soaking into its paper joints.
That night I barely slept due to cakemares. These were not performative fears, but two main worries: That I would wake to find the cake had collapsed under its own weight, yielding deflcakegate, or that an enterprising ant would have found its way up the sawhorse legs to discover the motherlode, and I'd wake to find the costume teeming with millions of ants. Third worry: both scenarios. But in the morning it was fine, a simple team-lift effort, using the knees and not the lower back, to get it on me. I immediately realized that I was going to need a mouth hole, which I cut from the inside out, since it would not be easy to get that thing off again.
I stepped on a bathroom scale before and after to weigh in. The edifice was 30 lbs.
No longer a need to smile for photos
Since it also wouldn't fit in a normal car, we walked to the start, about 2 miles up the hill known as Squirrel. We got there pretty early, and managed to get it off for 20 minutes while we waited for the race to start.
This was probably the worst first mile of any costume I've done. Most of the other costumes are things you might reasonably wear walking for a short distance, and just get hard because of how they destroy your body. This one was really hard to start, and I was trying to keep it from ripping apart, and of course had not spent any time thinking about race ergonomics, so it was just bouncing its weight on my shoulders with each step. The shoulders got sweaty, the cardboard got softy, and tore, and some people were like "Looks like it's time to give up the cake! Do you need some help getting it off?" and I'm like "I'm not giving up!!". I had a bunch of weird arm techniques like where I'd lean backwards into the cake with my head and neck and push my elbows into my belly so that my hands would be rigid tripod legs, or where I'd lift the whole cake onto straight-up arms to breathe for a sec (but then I couldn't see), etc. Eventually the head came off except for a small cardboard tendon, and I looked like this:
Oops, forgot that I needed to smile again
But the flip side is that as cake fell off, it became lighter and somewhat easier. I decided to make a point to not actively shed cake, but when it did fall of of its own accord I was fine with that. In the last half, more and more hit the street, and it became plausible again to put the head back on and hold the bottom of the costume up with my elbows or whatever.
By the end of the race, it was light enough that I could run almost at a pace that one would call "running". I'm in this video crossing the finish line at about 8:30. My official time was 1h21m55s, slow of course but not all that bad. There's also some humorous coverage in local news. I'm sore in pretty weird ways today!
This is the busiest time of year for me at work, so I haven't had much time to finish and projects, and I try to spend that energy on non-computer stuff. (Up now, to complement the wood work: Welding!) My NES emulator stuff is very nearly finished and about to pay off, though I'd be surprised if I have a video put together before November. One day I will have lots more free time. For now I am boring!
I do also unwind with video games, for which I have some short recommendations and non-recommendations:
Crypt of the Necrodancer Wow, I loved this game! The pitch sounds ridiculous: A cross between Dance Dance Revolution and dungeon-crawlers like Rogue. But somehow, it really works great. The music is not complicated; with a few exceptions you pretty much just have to take a step on every beat. And all but crazy people just play on a keyboard, not a real dance pad. It seems so daunting at first, but you start to learn how to use the items right, and the patterns of the enemies, and you realize it has a lot of depth and it's possible to be really, really good at it, and then that next achievement you thought you'd never even attempt starts to seem attainable. It's not quite as polished and balanced as Spelunky, but it might be half as good as that game, which is saying a lot.
Axiom Verge was a very good "Metroidvania" (I hate this genre name and like to call it "exploration platformer", but nobody knows what that means). It has great controls and gets loads of details right (like tuning and timing certain sound effects to the music). Some flaws, but about as good as, say, Metroid Fusion, which is impressive given that it was all made by a single person.
Inescapable, on the other hand was billed as the "best Metroidvania I didn't play", which as far as I know used to be true, but I played it and it was super disappointing. To give you some sense: There are only three different enemy sprites in the game, and two different types of environments; the rest is made up with palette switches. Not worth it.
Please, Don't Touch Anything Is a mostly straightforward single-screen clicky adventure to find all the endings. But it is short and charming and has great graphics and music, plus shout outs to a bunch of favorites of mine.
Battlefield: Hardline. I still play pretty much every first-person shooter that comes out, and almost always enjoy them whether they're good or bad. This one was only "OK"; some cute stuff but not nearly as impressive (neither technically or in art direction) as Battlefields 3 and 4. It was weird that you are supposedly a cop and can arrest people, or you can just shoot everyone you see, and never face any repercussions or even like personal regret. I only tried the single player. I banned myself from multiplayer in Battlefield and Call of Duty after I somehow found myself grinding for hours a day in order to get a service star (100 kills) for every weapon (75 of them). After I finished I promptly deleted the game in disgust and never looked back.
TIS-100 Is a strange game that I can't imagine anyone liking unless you're a programmer (and if you like it, you are a programmer and should consider also programming computers). But it is good programming puzzles on a weird computer. The main disappointment for me was that while programming for old limited architectures is really fun even in the modern era, using old software tools is not. Manually renumbering instructions instead of like using a symbolic assembler just felt like a chore. Still, recommended.
Some others I played recently and liked: The Talos Principle, La-Mulana, Kentucky Route Zero, Rex Rocket.
IN OTHER NEWS, The Great Race 10K is on my birthday again this year. Last time it was on my birthday I ran with a cake and last year it was balloons. I have a few candidate ideas, but nothing has quite stuck in my mind yet, so if you have suggestions, let's hear 'em!