Bass Ackwards Compatibility, or:

tetris

The obsessive quest for my favorite Tetris flavors!

I am a puzzle enthusiast.  I am the girl who carried a Two Minute Mysteries book in her backpack through most of grade school for when she got bored and needed a challenge.  My fifth grade “thesis” was about mechanical and jigsaw puzzles, and I interviewed Harry Rinker as part of my research.  I sometimes wonder if he remembers an interview with the kid who was too nervous to make it through her all of her questions.

My tote bag of Rubik’s Cubes and other mechanical puzzles went on every field trip where they were fought over by my friends who weren’t pro-active enough to bring something to amuse themselves with. My family stopped playing Rubik’s Race with me because they weren’t fast enough.  (Wish my parents hadn’t gotten rid of this game – I would love to have a copy of it again!)  Aaron and I once shared a disastrous game of Advanced Mastermind which resulted in him vowing to never play it again.

I’ve been a Tetris junkie ever since my step dad brought home an NES when I was in grade school.  Our first games other than the ubiquitous Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt were Excitebike and Tetris.  We would play Tetris for hours on end, and I would go to sleep at night seeing the tetraminos in my dreams, all falling into place with perfect order.

Remember when Egghead was still a bricks and mortar store?  I bought a little Tetris keychain there, and never went anywhere without it!  I’d lend it to screaming kids in waiting rooms.  They would be so fascinated by it they would be quiet, and my sanity was worth much more than a $5 toy.  Surprisingly, I always got it back.

So yeah, I love puzzles, especially Tetris.

I picked up a copy of Tetris Worlds for our PS2 a few years back.  The game garnered mediocre reviews, especially for the lame “storyline” of Minos and Tetrions.  However, I completely fell in love with the arcade side because of the diverse variations of Tetris game play, especially Cascade, Sticky, and Fusion.

Fast forward to now, where we no longer own a PS2.  We have a copy of Dr. Mario on the Wii, which is fun, but not always adequate.  Once we got the PS3, I picked up another copy of PS2 Tetris Worlds, assuming that it would be backwards compatible.

No dice.  I don’t remember the exact error message, but it was something along the lines of “FOAD.  We’re not supporting this software because you shouldn’t have gotten rid of your PS2, and they still sell pretty well.  Go buy another one!”

I did a little bit of Googling on it, and it looks like only the first PS3’s off the line were backwards compatible using hardware chips, and later boxes (such as the one we own) are not.  Rumor has it that Sony could release a (possibly already programmed) software update that would fix this quirk, but for whatever reason, are choosing not to.  This puts Sony on my shit list.

Stopped by my (conveniently located) second favorite game shop when Aaron was restless and wanting new games.  While he was mesmerized by the countdown clock to the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, I chatted with the manager and learned that Tetris Worlds was bundled with the original Xbox as part of a compilation disc, and that copies were pretty easy to come by.  Dropped $5 for it, and felt that hours of Tetris hypnosis were within my reach.

Again, no dice.  Per the Xbox site, the bundled version does not play yet on Xbox 360.  My headcount is now two unplayable discs.

I started taking a look at some of the Tetris flavors that were actually programmed for our household’s platforms, and it doesn’t look like any of the current flavors have the game play I am looking for.  I tried the Tetris fishbowl, err, Splash (Xbox 360 arcade) demo, which left me nonplussed.  Tetris Evolution (Xbox 360 disc) only has Cascade, but not Fusion or Sticky.  Playing Tetris with a Wii balance board sounds intriguing, but overall Tetris Party (Wiiware) looks like a Japanimated version for toddlers.  Meh.

Being a stubborn cheapskate about it probably doesn’t help, either.  For whatever reason, I am willing to shell out $5 for a used disc, but reticent to part with $10 to $30 in order to try the newer Tetris flavors.  Apparently Tetris Worlds was also published for GameCube, so I might have better luck tracking down one of those copies because the Wii is overall backwards compatible with GC games.

I am hanging on to the PS2 and Xbox 360 copies in the (hopefully likely) event that software patches are released and my quest will be over.  In the meantime, I have discovered Trash Panic, a fun downloadable game from the PS3 arcade.  Think environmentally conscious cousin of Tetris.  I get to blow up things in a trash can in order to make it all fit, but at the risk of generating a high carbon footprint.

Be seeing you!


Cute microbes on sale

Geek in the City Radio Issue 30 – Gunnin’ for the Basterds!

What an issue! This week, on GeekintheCity Radio, Dave Walker joins the show to give his thoughts on the newest film from Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds. Has Q.T. returned to Pam Grier awesome, or is this another trip in the Death Proof? Then, Aaron, Dave, Dan Clark, and Fatboy Roberts comment on what is cool and why critics need to stop trying. Then, Aaron interviews Portland locals Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber about their pending book from Image Comics, Underground. Next, Dan brings new toy news; followed by unleashed graphic novel rage on a one Sarah Boxer of Slate.com. Where else but GeekintheCity Radio!

This weeks musical break:

AggroEl Luchador Negro

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A Re-Post, Blame Slate.com

Interesting how editorials from “learned” media outlets cause this article to re-surface once a year. Many thanks to Slate and the painfully ignorant Sarah Boxer, I was wondering where I would get some extra topics for the show this week. (Since one shouldn’t spend 90 minutes on Quentin Tarantino).

Posted originally in February, 2006:

Much thanks to Ersogoth for pointing out to me the February 16, 2006 Wired magazine column written by Tony Long. In just a few paragraphs Tony has elevated my annoyance level to heights that only John Byrne and Orson Scott Card have been able to previously achieve. (There is one level higher, alas; I cannot mention this person without breaking a New Year’s resolution). A self-professing Luddite (likely, Wired’s answer to “token”), Tony Long takes to task the assault upon the written word. Now, as one who will often correct a person for using words like Neanderthal and forte incorrectly, regardless of their station or what is happening at the moment, I can sympathize with many of his arguments. Indeed, I found myself agreeing on some of his complaints and defiant stance against linguistic mediocrity. (That’s right folks, your friendly neighborhood Geek has cracked open his old college books. The “big” words are going to fly.) In fact, it is completely possible and likely that I would have left the entire article alone had he not decided to use my people as the foundational nomenclature of his argument.

Tony Long has the stones to call out the “Comic Book Generation”?

I still find it interesting and perhaps even borderline insulting that those who have likely not read a comic since their single digit years still believe them to be poorly written. However, perhaps I am taking his use of “comic book generation” as an example of grammatical ignorance a bit too far. Then again, maybe I am not. Certainly, many a comic book reader may lack the normal social graces. Even though I could say the same about rabid sports fans or and other hobby obsessed group, I highly doubt Mr. Long would refer to them as the “Pigskin Generation”. Some of my earliest comic reading memories were of me entranced by heroic adventures, the comic resting upon my lap and at my side, a dictionary. You read right, a dictionary. See, unlike many kids or funny books, comics, as a rule, do not speak down to their target audience. Assuming the person isn’t reading Archie or Disney comics, it is highly likely they are reading stories that are more advanced then an outsider would assume. Sure, a Grant Morrison book about a group of metaphysical superheroes fighting a hidden shadow government is outlandish and completely over the top; but, it sure does force you to stay on top of your Triple Word Score words. I may have accepted Tony Long’s comment had his article been written in the early 1950s and 60s, but not with today’s current crop of writers. You can’t blame the decline of the written word on the “comic book generation” when the top selling comics of the day are penned by New York Times #1 selling authors and Emmy award winning screenplay writers.

If only that were all…

Long also goes on to complain about the use of anachronisms in our everyday language. Again, I can agree with Long on some points. There is little more annoying then reading a message from someone and have it contain a large amount of LOL, ROTFLOL, and IMO. To say nothing of the fact of how it makes you feel when you realize that you don’t really know what the hell the other person is writing about. Not many people are willing to write back and humbly ask, “Um, what does ROTFLOL stand for”? I say not many because the reply is often preceded with a HAHA, and we all know that stands for. Long, though, does not stop at the use of text message and email language short cuts. No, he then sets his site on terms that are more technical. True, they may not have a place in everyday grammar, but to discredit them because you refuse to evolve as a writer is poor judgment. For example, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) pertains to computers and hails back to the time before what was viewed on a computer screen and what was output in print were similar. It is completely fine if Luddites like Tony Long can’t stand the use of such a term used in popular culture (The technical people aren’t thrilled, either), but to be fair, he had better be prepared to cut out his own career’s shortcuts.

“But couple those deficient grammar skills with the shorthand that’s become prevalent in fast communication (not to mention all those irritating acronyms: LOL, WYSIWYG, IMHO, etc.) and you’ve just struck a match next to a can of gasoline.”

Did you notice anything strange? No, I didn’t think you did. You didn’t notice the grammatical shortcut because it has been is use for centuries. Read it again; see if you can find it. Still nothing? It is the colon, that tiny “:” before a writer begins to list words that go to support their argument. In effect, the colon is a symbolic acronym for “please read the following items in order that will prove my point in the former sentence”. While it might be fun to write that phrase occasionally, it would get old very fast, just like typing a longer description that explains how what you see on the screen is what will ultimately be output would get old every time a technical writer had to pen a user manual for us non-technical folks… Us Luddites. Sure, the written word has taken some hits in recent years. It will probably get even worse as communication devices continue to evolve faster than our biological export tools can work. Will it ruin the grace and beauty of the written word? I highly doubt it. If anything, it will cause people to appreciate good prose even more.

Therefore, Mr. Long, you keep complaining and fighting. I will keep evolving.

And reading comics.

The New Battlestar Movie – An Editorial

I recognize and understand that a lot of the bitching being done about the news of a Battlestar Galactica movie being made is hilarious when you go back to around 2002 and read some articles/comments regarding Moore’s remake before anyone had seen a frame of footage. The Aint it Cool archives in particular are pretty funny. The editorials on behalf of quality genre entertainment IN FAVOR of Larson’s original vision. The impassioned defenses of Daggits and Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain. Spittle, red-faced rage, claw-marks in the keyboard type of stuff. It’s a glorious example of nostalgia unexamined being given voice, a vein of internet comedy rich with irony. I wonder how much irony is running through our veins right now online, as the lovers of Moore/Eick’s version now sound a LOT like the people who thought Larson/Bellisario/Hatch were the only ones with the rights to touch anything Battlestar related.

Granted, it’s easier to take such a hardline position when the show you’re defending is NOT a cheezy piece of pandering bullshit, but is, in fact, one of the most well-recieved pieces of televised Sci-Fi ever, and definitely one of the most influential filmic works of the last 10 years in terms of style. The protestations seem so much more righteous when you’re defending something worth a shit, even if the people who love(d) the show are split on it’s last 10 hours and it’s (un)success, depending. I personally count myself amongst those who would call the film the finest Sci-Fi show ever made, and the finale as a piece of tonal perfection.singerbsg1

So, taking that into account, I’ve done my fair share of tantrum throwing and public ranting, wild-eyed and foamy mouthed. I’m in the calm down period, where the rationality seeps in around the edges as I take deep breaths, and the realization is this: I’m going to watch the fucking thing in 2011. I could posture and bullshit about principle, but the fact of the matter is, regardless of how good the show was, it was just a TV show. Principle is wasted on such things as popular entertainment. What kind of an asshole doesn’t see a movie out of principle? Don’t get me wrong, I understand not seeing a film because you think it looks shitty, the ads are awful, the director is crappy, the actors piss you off. Those are valid reasons based on the quality of a finished product you’ve been exposed to in some form, more than likely marketing. But to say “I won’t see Battlestar Galactica on principle, out of deference to Moore?” I can see not visiting an eatery because it’s owners mistreat their workers. I can see not visiting a nightclub because it’s ownership has been shown to be mildly racist. I can see not purchasing a certain brand of personal cleanser because of animal testing. But such stands of moral fortitude are fucking stupid when it comes to TV and movies. You can’t talk about principle if you don’t couple it with perspective, otherwise you’re just being a grandstanding prick. Just like the people who STILL haven’t watched Moore/Eick’s BSG because they disagreed with their ideas on principle. Their massive loss. If only for the fact they missed out on Bear’s score, one of the finest pieces of film music since John Williams set pen to paper in the late 70’s.

I don’t want to be that kind of asshole. And Bryan Singer is a pretty good director. Combine that with my sense of curiosity, and unless the ads look mindless and the early critical reception is pure poison on a Uwe Boll level, I’m pretty certain I’m going to see this thing. I hear word of Singer taking meetings with Justin Timberlake, and I know there’s a chance he’s going to be Starbuck in this revamping of the core concept, and I grind my teeth. I like Timberlake, and I think he’s got a good film career in him. Maybe as Apollo, I can see it. But not as Starbuck. Even so, even with the knowledge that all we’re getting is an Adama wholly different than Greene or Olmos, and a Starbuck that isn’t Katee Sackhoff OR Dirk Benedict, and a director whose last shot at a beloved property was a self-indulgent, bloated, reverential mess? I’m gonna see it. I know I’m gonna see it. I’m not gonna start cheerleading for the thing, don’t get me wrong. But this movie isn’t going to replace that complete series box set at any time. It won’t even replace the 78 series. It will be its own thing, and it’ll be interesting to look at, even if it’s  only interesting in the same way a lot of BSG fans are discovering that 78 series on Hulu with chortles, guffaws and winces. People still sought it out, and gave it a shot. The show came up short, but they still at least gave it a shot.singerbsg5

I’ll give this a shot. A fair one. If it fails, it fails, and so what, I didn’t fuckin make it, it’s not my baby, it’s just another shitty movie I saw in a theater one day. I’m still VERY skeptical. The speed that this thing is coming together with tells me that Universal doesn’t give a shit about the quality, only about the potential for having their own homegrown “Star Trek” revival. It’s misguided thinking at best, not looking at why Star Trek was dead, why that revival worked, not devoting an ounce of thought beyond “They got one of those at Paramount, do we have one here at Universal?” The whole thing just feels crassly blatant in its cash-grab, fuck-the-quality feel. Almost like when ABC threw money at Larson because they saw Lucas shoving millions by the fistful into his still nascent neck-pouch-goiter-thing. And we ended up with a pretty looking, empty, stupid, pandering shitpile of sci-fi entertainment.

My hope? They rescind the statement that they’re not going to play in Moore’s sandbox, and they tell a story set on the Battlestar Galactica, during the First Cylon War in Moore’s timeline. No Adama commanding, no Apollo, no Starbuck, no journey across the stars, no quest to find earth, no apocalypse. Just a straight up War Movie set in space featuring a bunch of young bucks on the decks of a badass spaceship shooting holy fuck out of robots? I might start getting out pom-pom’s for that. It’s distanced from both shows, and presents enough of a blank slate. It’s reimagination on the level Universal seems to want, without having to explore the now exhausted concept of apocalyptic footrace across the cosmos yet again. Hell, have the Galactica fight another colony’s Battlestar, pre-Cylon War. From when the Cylons did all the Colonials dirty work. There are options here.singerbsg3

Those options won’t be explored, because Larson is almost devoid of skill as a storyteller, and Singer isn’t great at coming up with a story, either (Superman Returns, his initial BSG pitch about 6 years ago) and we’ll end up with Timber-buck getting his pew-pew on as another revamping of Stu Phillips’ classic theme rumbles in the background. And I’ll be in the theater watching it. Either being disappointed and rolling my eyes at this waste of money and time. Or being pleased at how something called Battlestar Galactica ended up being a decent movie in spite of its goofy name. Just like in 2003. Until then, the rage I’m seeing and feeling is too impotent. There’s nothing to it. At least, nothing yet.

Bobby “Fatboy” Roberts
Afternoons, 101.1 KUFO-FM
www.cortandfatboy.com
fatboy@kufo.com