Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30 - Z

You can tell from the cover that it's blissfully spoofy!

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES 1993) - Exactly as it's titled.  A zombie take-over... And mummies, vampires, werewolves, martians, giant mutant toddlers, tentacles, and all other kinds of creepers!  Raid your neighbor's house for squirt guns full of holy water, silverware to throw at werewolves and weed wackers for that ivy that wants your blood!
Featuring a zany (and I don't use that word lightly) soundtrack and bright, colorful levels, this game is now available for download on several modern consoles.

Special Mentions: Zuma - You know you've played it!


Rob Zombie - Also goes by Robert Cummings, Rob Straker and Robert Wolfgang Zombie.  For a guy with the most shallow ranging vocals ever, Rob Zombie (including White Zombie) is a surprisingly definitive rock icon... an even crazier fact considering he's only put out 5 full albums!
Rob isn't limited to music either.  He's written and directed and acted in feature films.
Also of note: His brother is the frontman for Powerman 5000.

Special Mentions: ZZ Top

I want to thank you all for reading this post and any other you may have read during the month!  As my blog kicks its shoes off to settle down for a well deserved hiatus - largely so that I may return to my work in progress - I'm collecting some stats and preparing them for a post-A to Z report, complete with my take on the whole experience.
See you soon!

Are you as excited as I am about returning to normal life??

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 29 - Y


Yoshi's Island (Nintendo 1995) - (Super Mario World 2)  As usual, Nintendo takes the established formula and makes something brand new, this time in the form of egg tossing and baby sitting (The irony of that just hit me).
This is one of my favorite games in the Mario series.  With great music, varied levels and tons of new challenges, it's truly addictive.

Special Mentions: Young Merlin (SNES)


Yngwie Malmsteen - This was a close one.  I almost said Yes (of whom I couldn't list a single song) or Neil Young (of whom I couldn't list a single song) but then Yngwie came to mind.
Yngwie is a Swedish guitarist who could be considered one of the best guitarists in the world... At least top 15.  He's especially known for his mad sweep picking skills.  I prefer hearing him shred or cover instrumentals over anything lyrical his band puts out.  Here's a vid of Yngwie shredding.  He's good.  But let's face it.  He's no Petrucci.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27 - X


There are a butt load of X-Men video games and a few more X games, but none really change my life so we're fly-by'ing again!

Special Mentions: 
X-Men vs. Street Fighter - Awesome arcade game!  You could blast the bejeezus out of your opponent with special moves.
X-Men: Legends - I always wanted to play this one but just never did... It got great reviews.
X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse - (for SNES)  An addictive, side scrolling, beat-em-up!
Xenogears: I never actually played this game.  But Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross) composed the soundtrack and it is is superb.  I'm listening to it right now.


X-Ecutioners - This group (originally X-Men until copyright infringements resulted in name change) is made up of several DJ's / turntablists.  I would have never heard of these guys if they hadn't collaborated with members of Linkin Park for this song.

Special Mentions: Xhibit - I'm not a huge rap fan, but I remember Xhibit from that show "Pimp my Ride" ... So yeah, this one's a stretch.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26 - W


Too Many!! Let's just do a flyby shall we?

Special Mentions: 
Warcraft - Collect resources, scout the borders, expand and conquer.  I love this kind of game... but as I've mentioned earlier in April, I prefer to play it casually, not competitively
Wario Land - The Gameboy followup to Super Mario Land.  These were fun to play
Warriors of Might and Magic - The only thing I remember about this game is that it had a song I loved.  I have searched for the song ever since playing the game but can't find it :(
Who Framed Roger Rabbit - This was a fun and yet frustrating game from way way back
Wild Arms - I only played the first in this franchise.  It was great and has a great soundtrack
Wing Commander - This 3D space shooter had great cutscenes for its time and was just fun to play
Wolfenstein 3D - One of my first experiences with first person shooters!
Wizards and Warriors - I list this because I hated it so much.  Frustrating game play all about jumping on unlikely ledges, horrible art, a laughable main character, unattractive stats listed across the screen... Blech.
World of Warcraft - I bought this game, played it for a couple of days, and turned it off.  Some people aren't so lucky.


Weezer - This was my favorite band in the late nineties...  at least for one album.  The blue album released in 1994 was my favorite album of the time and I would sing along with - and try to play on guitar - every song on the CD.  For some reason, that was the first and last album of theirs I really cared for. 

Special Mentions: White Snake, White Zombie, The Who, Walk off the Earth

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 25 - V

This is a day of special mentions only, and not because there isn't much to say on these topics, I just won't have time for much else!  I'm sorry!


Special Mentions: Vagrant Story, Vandal Hearts 2, Vengeance of Excalibur


Special Mentions: Van Halen, Violent Femmes, Veruca Salt, the Verve Pipe - we cover one of theirs... to get the people feelin' cuddly.  You know what I'm talking about.  (We play it better than they do)

April 24 - U


Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Midway) - Of all fighting games for the home console, my friends and I played this one the most.  It didn't matter what was going on, we could always get a game together.  With a list of special moves, fatalities, babalities, animalities, and other 'alities', on paper crumpled from being fought over and stained from having Bubba cola spilled all over it, we would hurl insults and challenges all night, with necks craned to get the best view our respective avatars bouncing and punching about on the 26" tv screen.
This game was the ultimate!  Just look at the selection of fighters! On some consoles there were over 25 fighters to choose from!

Special Mentions: Ultima, Unreal Tournament


Unwritten Law - I love these fellows.  It was when I heard this song (or maybe this one) that I got back into playing the guitar.  SoS covers some of their music.

Special Mentions: U2 - they're huge and I love their music but Unwritten Law made a bigger impression on my life, Underoath

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23 - T


"If a game could be considered ageless, it's Tetris"
Tetris - This game needs no introduction.  It's won "Greatest Game of All Time" by Electronic Gaming Monthly and came in second place in IGN's "100 Greatest Video Games of All Time."  According to Wikipedia, it's sold over 100,000,000 copies... and that's only including sales for cell phones since 2005!  Also, according to Wikipedia, playing Tetris for 30 minutes a day boosts general cognitive functions such as "critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing" and increases cerebral cortex thickness.

To me this is more than just a game.  It's a representation of life... or more specifically, the things we aspire toward in life.  While you're playing the game, you're surviving, dodging obstacles, organizing the crap as it flies toward you as best you can.  In the end, you'll die.  There is no 'beating the game'.  But if you aspire to do more than just survive, you might just get the high score. 
It's not about being perfect.  You can't be perfect.  The game pieces (S and Z particularly) and the algorithm of how they're distributed prevents perfection!  It's about screwing up and continuing on!  It's about making that massive, ugly hole in the tower, hearing your friend say, "Ah, you're screwed now!  It's over!" and then not throwing the controller down but gritting your teeth and focusing and getting through it!  It's about practicing, until you're so used to the pieces flying down at chaotic speeds that you're no longer intimidated to be in the thick of it... You need it to feel alive!
I think any one who's ever tried to stuff a drum set, two amps, guitars, PA systems, bags full of cords, mics, and mic stands into the back of a Chevy Suburban, has reflexively whistled the Tetris theme while doing it!
{For your listening pleasure: NES version - Theme A Theme B  ~  Theme C  (I prefer C) }
I don't just mention Tetris arbitrarily, however.  [shameless nerdy bragging to follow]
I feel it needs to be stated that I have never met a person who can score higher than me in any version of this game.  I don't have a lot of things I can brag about.  But until someone comes and shuts me up, I will brag about this!  If you have a problem with this, all I can say is - Don't hate the player! :)
*Oh, by the way.  Here's a free online version if you want to play it right now!*

Special Mentions: Threads of Fate - Squaresoft action rpg with a great soundtrack
Terranigma - the rare finale to the Soul Blazer trilogy
Twisted Metal - Part racing, part demolition derby with destructible environments!
Turok - Awesome dinosaur hunting games!
Toejam and Earl - Wacky sort of nonsensical game for the Genesis


Tool - I heard of them first in high school.  I loved their dark, heavy sound and unique music videos.  Tool was one of my first experiences with progressive, abstract music.  I've never seen Tool perform but in SoS we opened for a Tool cover band (twice) called Eulogy and they were awesome.  Their front man is just as creepy as Maynard.  See for yourself here. (Not the best quality video... a moron was running lights)

Special Mentions: Three Days Grace, Third Eye Blind, Tonic, Toadies, Tenacious D, Trivium 

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22 - S

So despite how many amazing topics the letter S brings to mind, I have to focus on only one topic, while giving mere mentions to Turesia and Video Games.  I'm so sorry - this is a long one!

S, why are you such a popular letter?

Special Mentions: 
[Super Metroid, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, SUPER MARIO BROS] - Some of my all time favorite games and franchises
[Star Fox, Shining Force, Soul Reaver, Shadowrun, Sonic the Hedgehog] - More of my favorites but not quite as much
Street Fighter 2, Star Tropics, Suikoden Tierkreis, Shadow Man, Space Quest, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Spy Hunter, Super Bomberman, Syphon Filter


Small Town Life - This was my first band.  I'd recently moved back to my small hometown and my friend Brian invited me to join his band.  Twas a Christian rock band and I joined as rhythm guitarist.  We played shows here and there, usually church functions, and I developed my guitaring skills and bought a new guitar.  Eventually our guitarist Dame was replaced by Chris.  Bassist Greg was replaced by Eric and drummer Eric was replaced by Bryan.  Brian remained on keys and lead vocals.  Sometime after that, Eric, Chris and Bryan faded away and Brian moved to Nashville.
It was shortly here after that I met Ryan, lead singer of Christian rock band, Eraphym (which was much heavier music than STL).  I joined Eraphym as guitarist.  Seth was on bass, Brian was occasionally lead guitar, and Austin was drummer.
Eraphym: Brian  Ryan  Seth  Austin  David

We played some shows, largely church related but some other venues as well.  At some point Seth and Austin went their own ways. Instead of disbanding, Ryan and I found Eric and Chris (originally Small Town Life) and Chris' brother Jamie and renamed Eraphym...
ShatterPath: David  Eric  Ryan  Chris (Jamie not pictured)

ShatterPath - A heavy rock band with Christian members.  In this band, we played all over Georgia, mostly in the Atlanta area, but as far south as Valdosta and as far north as Toccoa.  Eventually we raised funds and traveled to Illinois to camp out for a week in the corn fields of Bushnell and play in the one and only Cornerstone Festival (which was absolutely awesome, by the way).
ShatterPath reunion show 2008: Eric  David  Ryan  Kelan  Chris

Well, once again, the individuals in the band could no longer stand the front man all went their own ways and Ryan moved to Hawaii.
By the way, here's what Ryan's been up to. (He's solely responsible for all the songs found here)
During my time in ShatterPath, I'd met a fellow named Brandon who was the guitarist of another pretty established band.  He heard I played bass (something I'd picked up in various praise and worship teams) and since his band was in need of a bassist, he asked me to fill in in the band known as...
Setup before third show with David as bassist for SoS... still rocking an upside down Rickenbacker
Sound of Silence (No relation to Simon and Garfunkel) - A heavy rock / post alternative band.  Brandon was guitarist and backup vocals, Rusty was drummer and backup vocals, JT was lead vocals.  After a few shows, I joined as full time bassist (at which point I finally bought a left-handed bass and stopped playing a righty upside-down).
JT  Brandon  David  ?  Rusty

We played and toured the southeast, playing any and every venue that would have us.

During this time we saved money and recorded a full length album.  We also underwent a name change.  We were tired of the correlation to Simon and Garfunkel (largely because we are nothing like them). Google Sound of Silence and see what I mean.  Anyway, we dropped a new album under the name...

SoS: David  Brandon  JT  Rusty
Something Once Sacred - Same band for the most part.  We continued playing all over the southeast, meeting different national acts and opening for some as well. 
David  Theory of a Deadman  JT
Eventually, the band parted ways with JT, the frontman.  It wasn't pretty.  But that's that.

Rusty (No mowhawk)  Brandon (just married)  JT (No tattoos)  David (sweet tie)
Today, Brandon is guitarist and lead vocals.  Rusty is drummer and backup vocals.  I'm still the bassist.  I haven't sang since ShatterPath and don't mean to.  We're past the dream of making it to the sky and beyond and I'm focusing most of my creative energy on other endeavors.
But I wouldn't change a thing.
Interview at Aramada FM
Post show... Just don't ask.
Brandon  David  Drew  JT  Rusty  Brandon  Craig

Water: For when the crowd doesn't supply you something harder
Shirtless: Because the crowd was overly generous
JT (with tats)  David

Thanks for reading.

Special Mentions: ... I can't even begin to name all influential S bands.  But if you want to, feel free below!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20 - R

In a slight deviation from my ever-shifting standards, this post will focus mainly on ONE subject...

image: windows7themes.net

Resident Evil (Capcom) - Zombie, survival horror!!  One of the widest known franchises, with over twenty video games, seven movies (two are CGI), novels, comics, toys... I think they're actually marketing the T-virus so we can play Resident Evil in real life!
This game may not have invented the survival horror genre of video games, but it brought the genre alive... Or at least undead.

image: psvitarealm.com
The first game had very little music, the worst voice acting you've ever heard, a maze of a mansion to explore with no map, hardly any ammo for your gun (compounded by the fact that zombies take multiple shots to kill), and awkward camera angles.  And yet it was the coolest game I'd ever played.  Never before had a game startled me, freaked me out and made me feel trapped and helpless.  It was perfect.
The games got better.  They ventured out of the mansion, got more playable characters, got bigger and better enemies and tweaked those horrendous controls.

image: fanpop.com
The pinnacle of the franchise, and one of my favorite games ever is Resident Evil 4.
Your enemies aren't exactly zombies, but close enough.  They still gang up and mindlessly stumble through your stream of bullets to eat your face.
The atmosphere is dark and gloomy.  The muffled mumbling of the "zombies" carries through the misty graveyards or down the dimly lit corridors and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The game has become 3rd person shooter, not awkward angled camera shots and I guess it's debatable whether this is truly an improvement for survival horror.  It's an improvement if these were straight action games...
Eventually you're joined by the president's daughter, who's been kidnapped and you're trying to save.  As far as a partner, she's baggage.  She only serves to get herself into danger and heighten the tension.

image: gamerant.com

Capcom tasted the mighty dollar... It heard the nerdly whisperings of zit pinchers and their precious Call of Doodie... It listened to the straining grind of the Gears of War... It felt the haunting chorus of chanting Halo monks...
And Resident Evil is survival horror no more.
It has become action / first-person shooter / multiplayer.  Everything I originally loved about the series, they shat all over to chase fickle trends.  I bought Resident Evil 5.  It was fun.  I played Resident Evil 6.  One third of it was really good.  But they aren't what they were.
Play Resident Evil 4.


Special Mentions: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rancid, Rage Against the Machine, Rush, Radiohead

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19 - Q

It's rainy today and Q is a dull letter indeed.


Quest for Glory (Sierra)- I'm showing my age here, but the act of installing and playing Quest for Glory I Remake (1991) on the PC is what started my interest in computers, back before home internet of even user interfaces... Before computers mattered.  These were awesome games.  Their graphics blew away the NES,  but my computer lagged like crazy and since I had no sound card, it was all bleeps and bloops.
I've turned this game on again since then to find that, unlike Mario and Mega Man, it hasn't aged well.  I'd say its modern equivalent is along the lines of Skyrm.  But at the time, it was revolutionary; building a hero, one stat at a time and seeing him come to life.
Quest for Glory games were greatly instrumental in my love for fantasy.

Special Mentions: Q-bert

Queen - Their music is just fun. Every rock fan (or Wayne's World fan) knows this one.  Their genre of music has never been my favorite but there's no denying Queen's rock abilities.  Many great songs came from them.

Special Mentions: Queens of the Stone Age

Let's meet again on a better day than Q, shall we?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18 - P

Ok, there are simply TOO many games and bands to only feature one so instead, I'm briefly mentioning several!
Paper Mario - Surprisungly fun 2.5-D side-scrolling adventure
Populous - My first "sim" game, where you are a god, creating and altering the earth for your peons
Parasite Eve - A creepy, atmospheric mixture of Final Fantasy and Resident Evil
Professor Layton - My son loves these games.  All about puzzles, and absolutely addictive
Pitfall - The original (Atari) game is a frustrating mofo!
Pokemon - I'm only listing this to apologize to the fans for not having more to say about such a huge franchise!  My son loves these, too
Portal - Brilliant action / puzzler! Who can deny the sarcastic GLaDOS?
Primal Rage - Select your dinosaur and fight to the ...extinction?
Prince of Persia - The latest ones pose an interesting question: What would you  do (and who would you punch in the face) if you could backup time 15 seconds immediately after?
Peggle - Got this for my wife for her DS as an entry to video games.  She loved it! Then forgot it.

(Placing a link to a favorite tune of mine for each band)
Paramore - Love Hayley's voice.  They had a song on Guitar Hero and though I don't love the game, I love rocking out the song.
Pearl Jam - A huge influence of mine.  Eddy Vedder has one of the best rock voices in my opinion.
Pixies - They aren't so well known but I was infatuated with this band for a while.  For those of you who don't know, the song that played on Fight Club when the skyscrapers collapsed in the background was by the Pixies.
Presidents of the United States of America - Awesome band.  I love all their songs.  It was rumored that the guitarist played a 3-string guitar and the bassist played a 2-string bass... I haven't confirmed this either.
Puddle of Mud - We play a couple of these guys tunes.  I'm not the biggest fan of his nostril-heavy voice but they have some great songs.  When I first saw this video it kind of tore me up... Guess I could relate.  Dammit. Still gets to me.
Project 86 - I saw them at Cornerstone in Illinois.  To this day, they're one of my favorite bands.
Prodigy - I'M THE FIRE STARTAH!!!!