Monday, October 29, 2012

Clockwork Vaudville

Steam Powered Giraffe
My latest musical obsession has finally busted a barrier I had discussed IN a COUPLE previous posts. Mostly about how I felt that most "steampunk" expressions try a bit to hard to fill the culture with more of the same instead of creating something to be amazing and it happens to fit the scene.

I have mentioned a couple previous endeavors that really speak to me as far as being Steampunk or just being a creation that's amazing and not trying too hard.

"SPG" does this, and really screams to me as a group, as music, as performance, as art.
The above video has, from left to right, "The Jon" who left the group recently, The Spine, Rabbit, and Upgrade, who left the group a while back, performing on their "home turf" busking at a local park.
All of them having trained in Mime, Clown, music & dance, formed this group and developed these characters as well as a backstory and everything.
Anyone who knows me in a theatrical sense knows this sort of thing really turns me on artistically and I have fallen in love.
Honestly, if given the opportunity, I would buy a concertina & develop a robot in a heartbeat if given the chance to perform with them. No lie, I would LOVE to add my tenor to the troupe.

A year or so back they even produced a DVD through a Kickstarter, which led to some excellent music videos showcasing a new clean sound along with some superb music videos.

Although their ravenous fans post excellent video after video from their numerous performances in Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, and the Steampunk Con circuits, its also great to have high quality, high production value samples to show new potential fans. As of the composing of this post I have infected half a dozen other new SPG fans directly and countless other secondary targets.

I would of course like to give thanks to THIS SOURCE where I came across  #5 Brass Goggles Via Houston Press "Top 10 Steampunk Songs" and have been hooked ever since. I literally consumed their media for the week preceding our trip to Disneyland.

I love the attention to detail of their robotic movements and how The Spine has a pneumatic "bounce" to him, and how Rabbit truly moves like one of those mechanical show bots from an amusement park, with the small little isolated ticks and rotations. And then of course their musical talent as a group. In every incarnation of the group so far each member is a master of multiple instruments (vocals count) often switching instruments for different songs. If you have not listened to any of thier music yet, let me tell you, hearing The Spine go from a high sustained harmony and suddenly dropping to a rich baritone just makes your music heart rumble with his vocal chords. And watching Rabbit prance around to Captain Albert Alexander reminds you they're true performers in every respect, not just a band with a gimmick.

They recently added Hatchworth to the lineup, to round out the trio (no punn intended) as he was one of their "humans" until The Jon left, so now the Ticking Mantle shall tell how it sits upon the newest robot.

Above is the song I was introduced to them with and I hope it gets you just as excited as it did me. HERE IS THEIR SITE! There you can get almost everything Steam Powered Giraffe related, including info on where the bots are from, where they went, how to throw money at them for things, as well as a COMIC! It hasn't been updated in a while, but rumor has it from a friend of mine that Rabbit is also a graphic designer (good reason as to why he designed most of their art) so, he might understandably be busy.

And as a nod to "Honeybee," their song which they've intro'd with Rabbit talking about his love Jenny the toaster, I give you, my own bit of SPG fanfic, Jenny
She has gone into a life of performance as well, this is her after a production of Taming of The Shrew. Petruchio used her to tie up Kate, it was set in the generic time frame of 50-60's sitcoms.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


This post going up early so we all have more time to consider it, I will try to put up a small post on Tuesday to "stay on schedule."
There are few things that I do that I am verbally proud of. One of them is my driving. And now I can do that with . . .
 . . . 
Well, I can NOT find a simple clip of Rod Roddy saying "A new Car!!!"
Anyway . . .
I bought my first car that I bought all myself that ISNT over 5 years old. 
I'm not just showing off my new shiny but I'm also asking my friends family & readers to help me out with something. NO, it's not the payments (although, if you like, there is a donate button over there on the right. More money means more ridiculousness here, just saying).
As you might know from previous posts that anything "worth naming" should be. And so now I'm looking for suggestions for the newest member of my family.
Instagram pic by T1nk. Mmm, extra filters makes it taste of nostalgia.
For some background, Subaru is Japanese for the constellation known as the Pleiades. There is a rad little magical girl anime that was made a while back, HERE'S a post on it, with some more info on the mythos of the Pleiades in one of the links to the wiki.
Apparently Impreza is commonly believed to be derived from Italian or Polish meaning "impressive," "a party," "something worth note."
The car itself is a 2011, as the pics show, the Exterior is "Marine Blue Pearl" with "Dark Grey" interior.
Apparently it was a rental in Hawaii before being ordered by a customer who backed out. I don't know why but it sort of gave me a mercenary feel to the car.
Full frontal. Gonna have to wait till I get my vanity plates. Probably a good thing since the name might influence them.
I remember saying back when I started shopping for a car that I might name whatever I got "Pleiades" but then that always feel sort of like that scene from DragonHeart where the Sean Connery dragon is like "So you call my dragon in another language?" but it's still an option. I am a fan of non-English languages for names. one friend has recommended "Blue Steel" in Japanese. Thanks to the "Born on The Island, raised on The Islands, hired out Merc. life, now to serve faithfully as my companion" history to it I kind of developed a "Pacific Adventurer" persona to it that I like. But not sure how to develop that into a name. But of course I'm not married to that idea so feel free to suggest anything.

So, please, in the comments, on my FB page, tweet me, email me text me your recommendation & why (like the story or the definition of the name) and I plan to pick one on or before THURSDAY so it has a name before we go on our roadtrip to DISNAYLAND!! (most likely a post on a couple weeks once we've recovered.) Thanks for the Help, I will announce it's name in another post!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vanilla Fun

As in "Vanilla World of Warcraft" no, not like . . .in the bedroom, although that is where my computer is . . . not for that, specifically . . .
But on to Wow.
As most of us know, on Tuesday Sep. 25th, The one race EVERYONE thought should have been in WoW, whether they wanted it or not FINALLY came to Azzeroth, after four expansions. I was on "the wows" that day and was delighted to discover SO MUCH of the content was available without the expansion proper, such as being able to roll Panderan (not as a monk though, that required the Xpac), and the new Pet Battle system.

So, of course, having never seriously played or owned a copy of Pokemon, or Digimon, Or Monster Rancher, I was instantly addicted to the Pet Battle system. (I also weakly justified it because of the vague potential to acquire a geode pet which, T1nk expressed that she wanted. although now I think you can't trade that one so I will have to farm it off Elementium, but, anyway). My buddy Moose was also on and was chatting with me a bit about the PokeWow, as I realized I had dinged the "Big City Pet Brawlin' - Horde" I saw the Alliance Version as well as the "Multicity" version and knew I had to do them!
So I told Moose to meet me and we flew off to Darnassus on our Horde Toons, ready for sneaky cross faction Capitol Poke-WoW. It was a blast, flying up into Darnassus, forgetting how to get to Exodar and then dying repeatedly because all the guards are 90 now, escaping a hunter in The Deeprun Tram by just hopping on the Tram even though I guess he thought he could take a raid spec'ed Tank & a PvP geared Frost Mage by himself, corpse dropping through IF where we REALIZED the guards had been buffed, and then corpse dropping through SW, avoiding ALL THE WARLOCKS ON THE SERVER (Ally side) and watching allies who DEFINITLY COULD(crazy, most recent season PvPgear) take me and moose not even realize we were only a few miles above them, waiting for the boat to Darn, then Exodar.
 It wasn't until the next day till Moose texted me while I was at work "Dude, we could have just done the battles on Alliance toons and gotten the achievement." To which I replied along the lines of, "yeah, that sounds right, but FUCK THAT! That would have been cheating"
Wich reminds me of a anecdote I often recite:
"Back in my day, we used to grind 15 hours in Winterspring, Uphill! With a 40% speed mount and a .05% drop rate. And we were happy for it! None of your silly cross-realm auto Queues. We had to WAIT for BG's & FIND PUG's and then you had to LIVE with the consequences of your actions and those of the idiots you grouped with CAUSE THEY WERE THERE! EVERYDAY, in Orgrimmar, on top of the bank, yelling about how they were the savior of the Horde and would lead us into victory against the disgusting alliance with their more attractive females, even though they weren't even max level and never really left the capitol city, nor was part of a Guild."
(For more, "ol' Man Ribeye" Rants . . . Hang out with me.)
Ol' RibeyeJack has hunted above his weight class on numerous occasions . . . Back when hunters had mana.
It was shortly after that text I realized a certain TYPE or feel of fun had left WoW, or had to be found, instead of an integral part of it. I have lamented certain changes in the past HERE, and there are a number of posts discussing other aspects of the game. Funny enough, I read a couple old posts and realized some of the information was no longer relevant due to many changes with different patches & expansions.
But here I talk about the power slip and the drop of the challenge curve.

Neutering of pets, where you don't have to go train others and then learn their abilities, no feeding, normalization where all pets are created equal, even more so NOW that you can spec whatevr pet you like the way you like. WHich I think is cool, but I like the idea of "hunting" and "tameing" and THEN if you like "re-training." Having played a hunter with a LOT of RP during Vanilla, and even on into today, these are small things I miss.
Bigger things it seems really began with what I've heard dubbed, and what I call, EZ-Patch, a few months before Lich King came out, when many things in Wow changed numerically. NPC's and mobs were nerfed and the amount of XP to get to 60 (cap was 70 at the time) was reduced at each level. At the time, the raiding guild I was with, was having serious issues pushing past certain content in a couple different Raids, but as soon as that patch hit, I was able to see a LARGE amount of content I thought we would spend a month or so on. And although it was very cool, it felt a bit cheapened, because I had hard won 2 peices of raiding gear and then with a couple nights of  rushed wipes, I had half a dozen more pieces of various tiers.
More recently with the achievements, titles, pets & mounts going cross-account. Once again, I like it in so far that certain things I want to be able to access no matter what toon I'm on, like ultra rare pets & mounts such as the Lil' T.K. & my Blizzard Blizzcon Bear mount. But with OTHER super-rare items, like Time-Lost Proto Drakes & Emerald Whelplings, a player puts in serious time and energy on one character, I think that's sort of a unique vanity that the character you accomplished it on should be able to sport, not just having a level 12 run around with a critter who's the same level as him.
We came out of the sea and strode through town, desolation in our wake. They killed one of our own attempting a quest that came too near their border, there mightiest(read: lvl 70's) then ran raids into our settlement. Our retribution was swift and sure.
It sort of feels like WoW evolved a lot like consoles did. I mean like how, when some of us were younger we played games on the NES or Sega, I'll even include PS1, and at those tween/adolescent years, those games were HARD. Then you go back to them almost a decade later, and realize, yeah! they were difficult. That's why there were cheats & bugs & game genies. But now, as consoles & the games have evolved, they are still hard, but it's no more "you need a lantern to get through there or you die because that should make sense to you. There is no sign post or multiple ways to light up the area" now the challenge is the AI, other players, more complex styles of play than just the inherent game itself in the form of achievements & awards.
The traditional way to do huge things in WoW was to get a 40 person raid together, and if you didn't have a massive guild, you had to find alternate ways to do things. Sometimes just for the shiggles of having done it. For example, I STILL need to get a 5 man together of level 20 somethings, corpse drop through SW and do Stockades, cause that's not cheating.
"Back in my day, Tarren Mill didn't even have ground! And we were thankful for that lack of floor!" Yay rendering bugs!
Well, I think I've made my point, but then again, I am really looking forward to this expansion because of the story promised by devs & designers, maybe some of that old flavor will creep back in. Time will tell.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bat(man) Country

Pic from
I saw this book blip up on my radar a while back and tucked it away for later, like I do (speaking of which, I think I need out seek out "Scoundrels") and when (I saw it "free on Kindle for limited time" I jumped on it and thought I might read it on the cloud through my browser, but then I "shared" it with my fiance through her Kindle and blasted through the book in no time. I read it like a fiend.  After I read it, I actually bought the hard copy because I found it fantastic. As far as why, below I leave, what I believe to my my only Amazon review of ANYTHING to date.

Just Like A Con
It started a little slow, but the Gonzo Journalism feel it had kept me in until . . . I don't want to spoil anything, so I will say, to me, it felt like after the first third of the tale, it got into full swing. And don't worry, the first third will zoom by, just like an actual con, it was over much too quickly.
I will openly admit here that for a short time I thought this book was non-fiction and based on actual events (other than all the ridiculous things us con-goers KNOW actually happen every con) and was ready to start reading another Thompson-esque author with a secret Nerd-on. But alas, this was a beautiful, heartfelt, perfectly plausible flight of fantasy.
When I got into, what I felt was the "guts" of the story (Saturday night into Sunday night?) I could not put down the book. I blazed through the pages ready for the next event, no matter how terrible, or absurd. I was well rewarded.
I felt it got a little mushy at the end but it's brief enough and it was all info I wanted for closure, and I've read worse, so it was fine.
So yes, much like attending a con, all excited to start, trying to pace it out, make it last, then you get embroiled in the flurry of it all, a whirlwind of adventure punctuated by exhausted blackouts. And finally, the lingering painful ending filled with heartache that it's over but the safe knowledge that it will be there again, and is happening all over the world, hopefully making the human race a little less revolting to be a part of.
Pic from
 If you want to borrow it from me, let me know, its short, and it's an awesome read, highly recommended.