BBQ Danielle’s Marinade Chicken

A week or so after the smoked chicken, Danielle did her marinade on a whole chicken we’d cleaved in half. I cooked it on the Weber Kettle at an average of 350 F and it came out GREAT! I did a 2 zone setup with the dark meat facing towards the fire. I took it out when the breasts were 160 (which was approximately 180 for the dark meat – which is the temp most people like dark meat). Look at how juicy that came out!

Chicken BBQ'd on the Weber Kettle
Chicken BBQ’d on the Weber Kettle

Review: The Making of Prince of Persia

The Making of Prince of PersiaThe Making of Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this as part of a bundle – probably Storybundle as I’ve bought nearly all their video game bundles – and I had put it off in favor of other books because I don’t have a strong connection to Prince of Persia (POP henceforth). My family was working poor until I was getting into later elementary school, by which time a lot of computer game industry had lost its first “death” to the consoles. By the time I was playing computer games, it was mostly just RTSes hanging on and we weren’t anywhere near the Steam Renaissance that would make the PC the best place to play games again (except for bad ports).

But a couple months ago, I sat at my computer and took at look at my To Read list on Goodreads and the 400-odd unread ebooks in my Calibre database I’d bought because, “how could you not buy 15 books when they’re about $1 each?” So I made a plan to try and satisfy my need to read newer books with my need to read the books I’d purchased (or face my wife’s wrath at wasting money on books). So I basically sorted the books by date added to Calibre and selected (approximately) one book per bundle (or free release from Tor.com’s ebook club) and when I got to this bundle, I decided to take a look at these journals.

While I was never an Amiga gamer (see above), I’ve read plenty of how it was the superior machine in terms of what it could do at the time compared with Macs or IBM-Clones (what we now call PCs) and yet management ran it into the ground and we were left making up for progress all these decades. Likewise, BeOS was superior to Windows and Mac when it came out, but MS used their anti-trust strong-arming to keep it from taking off. So I’m already used to the idea that the best don’t always rise to the top. Nevertheless, it was frustrating to see how Mechner was thwarted and we almost lost this amazing contribution to video gaming.

Mechner had Broderbund as his publisher – one of the giants of computer gaming at the time. I remember everyone having Print Shop Pro. I remember playing Carmen Sandiego at school and eventually owning it when my family got a computer around the time I was 11. They merged with Sierra, maker of my favorite adventure games as a kid. But they didn’t know what to do with this action game. And they refused to give Mechner a promotional budget. I’m sitting here in 2017, knowing how great this series becomes – I played a bit of the Xbox version when my brothers had it one time when I came home from college. It is the spiritual ancestor of the Assassin’s Creed series. It ends up becoming a movie. Just goes to show it doesn’t matter if what you’re doing is brilliant if you don’t have the right support. (Spoiler: Eventually he gets the right support)

Who should read this book? Anyone who’s interested in the game development scene of the late 80s and early 90s. It was a time when one person could put together a great game and by allying himself with just a few others, produce an incredible game. Since these are his journals they’re very personal, not technical so I think you can enjoy it even if you’re not a technical person.

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Review: Star Wars: Dark Empire

Star Wars: Dark EmpireStar Wars: Dark Empire by Tom Veitch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I said in one of my status updates, this is no longer canon as Disney erased the Extended Universe canon when they took over the franchise. I’m not bothered – we comic book fans are used to canon being changed and alternate universes. I can still enjoy the story.

What’s interesting is that this is a radio play based on a comic book. If I remember correctly, it’s by the same people who did the NPR radio play of the original trilogy. The voice acting is a little wooden, but Billy Dee Williams stops in to do Lando and his acting is great.

The story is interesting, but seems a little rushed when taken out of the context of a comic book. The idea of Luke toying with the Dark Side, given his family history is interesting.

One thing I don’t get about this storyline is that only Leia and Han’s kids are potential Jedi. Yet, before Vader killed the Jedi, there were tons of Jedi. And no reason to think it was hereditary.

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June 2015 Video Game Report

The Witcher (3 hours): Finally had some time to get back to The Witcher. It definitely isn’t the type of game where you want to have long gaps between playthroughs. But there isn’t much I can do about it.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (30 minutes): Scarlett just asked me if we could play Sonic. So we tried to get past the third world for a while, but I kept slipping up.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3: Sonic and Tails fall into a world I can't get them out of
Sonic the Hedgehog 3: Sonic and Tails fall into a world I can’t get them out of

Aladdin (30 minutes): Then she asked me to play Aladdin. I got further into the game than I EVER did in my youth.

Aladdin for the Sega Genesis
Aladdin for the Sega Genesis

Review: The Pen & the Sword

The Pen & the Sword (The Ballad of Nick & Mina 1)The Pen & the Sword by Jonathon Wolfer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think all the problems I have with this book can be summed up with one sentence. This book needed an editor. If it had an editor, it needed a more experienced one. I am not going to fault someone for small spelling errors and grammar mistakes -I make them all the time in reviews and blog posts. But there were a lot of grammar issues, especially apostrophe use. Still, what an editor would have done is tighten up the story a bit.

Now to what I enjoyed about this book. It was fun to see a book take place in the eighties. This also allowed the main characters to be without the net, cell phones, or social media. All of those would have complicated the story inn an unnecessary way. The conceit is pretty interesting – a two-person Buffy story. In fact it’s almost Buffy and a gender swapped Willow, but that wouldn’t do justice to the creativity in display here. After all, Nick has powers in his own right. Once I start thinking of it in those terms, however, the school scenes seem less superfluous.

This book didn’t see me in fire the way Wool did, but the world is interesting and I really like Mina’s personality. In the real world a teen me would’ve wanted to befriend her and wish we could get together.

Additionally, the pacing issues I felt were less is an issue once I got to the end. This is clearly meant to tell the entire story over a trilogy. The sequel is not “More adventures with Nick and Mina”. It is the climax to a sorry begun here. Not my favorite style, but the pacing is probably ok over three books.

The significance of Mina’s name was not lost on me.

Well, on to the sequel.

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The MPAA members know damn well there are legit uses for bittorrent….

….but pretend there aren’t.

Main quote:

In some ways, this is so incredibly shortsighted. Here Sony is so committed to the idea that torrents can’t be shown to have any legal, non-infringing uses (even though there are plenty), that it won’t even allow its own staff to experiment with ways to use the new technology to their own advantage. But just the admission in the email alone shows that Sony’s top execs know damn well that there are legitimate, non-infringing, uses for BitTorrent, and they’re deliberately trying not to use them just to make BitTorrent look much worse than it is.

Way to make me feel old, Spotify. #ThrowbackThursday music today is from when I was in high school and beginning of undergrad.

2014 Blog Stats

WordPress sent me my Jetpack stats email for 2014. Here’s what they said:

A Small Change at the ends of the Posts

I’ve been working with my host to try and figure out why my relatively low traffic site has been having issues. So I’ve rejiggered WP Super CACHE to work well on the site and I’m using Cloudfare on most, if not all, of my WordPress blogs. Yet I’m still getting some periods of time where the site’s offline. So, after many years I’m getting rid of Sociable and YARPP (which produces related posts). YARPP, in particular, if often called out as a plugin that requires a lot of resources. Here’s how things looked before I changed it:

YARPP and Sociable
YARPP and Sociable

Now I’ll be switching to WordPress.com’s Jetpack equivalents. Hopefully that helps. If it jacks everything up, I can always switch back.

Kickstarter Update 4

It’s December and I should have gotten all of my Kickstarter products by now. But that’s not exactly what happened. Every single one of my Kickstarters was late except the one I had the least faith and relationship with – Random Encounter’s Let Me Tell You a Story.

I Fight Dragons – Project Atma (music): Holy COW! This band – my first Kickstarter – nearly disbanded over the Kickstarter! I thought they were the surest bet. They’d self-published their first few albums and they had rented a studio and had a producer and everything. However, they clashed over the direction the producer was taking them and almost broke up.

….and matters finally came to a head on Monday when the rest of the band called a meeting and confronted me.  I still insisted that we had no choice, that we had spent the money for the producer and studio and we had a schedule and we had to stick to it, no matter what.  I argued that backers had expectations, and that I didn’t want to be one of those kickstarters that let people down.  They obviously disagreed strongly, arguing that the real backer expectations were for a great I Fight Dragons album, and that I was the one letting fans down by insisting we move forward on the path we were on.  Tempers flared, words were said in anger, and while we were smart enough not to make any decisions in the heat of the moment, no one backed down and the way we left it that night was that I Fight Dragons was likely done.

They ended up firing the producer and losing the recording space which cost them the money they were going to use to produce the documentary. It was the reward I was looking forward to most after the record itself so that bummed me out. The latest update says we won’t be getting the album until next summer. In the beginning we were getting a lot of bonus tracks and that was awesome. Nothing for a while now and, to be truthful, I’d rather not hear demos of most of the songs (especially the song cycle) before hearing the finished thing. I wouldn’t mind getting some B-sides ahead of time, though.

Jonathan Coulton, Greg Pak, and others – Code Monkey Save World (music and comics): Greg Pak has created three or four other comic Kickstarters and JoCo is no newcomer to the world of self-production. Still this comic has had its share of delays. It was supposed to be ready for Christmas so we got an update recently in which they gave us vouchers to give to people who were supposed to get it as a Christmas gift. This was being delayed hasn’t hurt as much as the IFD album being delayed because while I did put in at the level to get the trade paperback when it is done, we’ve been getting the individual issues along the way on Comixology. Those have still been late, but it’s not too bad. Also, the last update said the book was being sent to the printers so it seems unlikely too many more delays could creep in.

Branwyn – Cyborg Like Me (book): I honestly thought there was no way this would end up delayed. Dude is taking essays he’s already written and then writing forwards and/or afterwards to bring us up to speed with what’s happened since then. The book is mostly a collection of essays about being there when the Internet and other techie geek culture stuff happened so I was most interested in seeing how we went from a Gibson-esque view of the future to what we have today. However, the money was essentially to support him writing full time and it ran out before he could finish the book. So, I think we’re supposed to get it in January now. Least updates of all the Kickstarters. However, updates are text and so is the book – so, unlike the others, it might be tiring to write more words when your product is words.

Random Encounter – Let Me Tell You A Story (music): As I mentioned above, it was the last one I did and I’d never heard of them. But it was the only one on time. The music was good. Some songs were even great. Overall, I really enjoyed their covers/reinterpretations (their Purple Haze/Sephiroth reinterpretation sounds pretty great) and was a little less on board with the original stuff. Still, I’d certainly keep them on my radar for future projects.