Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey buddy, can you spare 400 Microsoft Points?

XBox appears to have noticed that they have a user base that consists of more than just teenagers.  As much as I hate, and have always hated, the term Gen-X, that's the easiest way to group together people around my age group who have a common experience base around early video games.  Not to say we're the only ones.  I've met at least two "Gen-Yers" (I apologize) who grew up with the very same games due to having "Gen-X" (last one, I promise) older siblings.  They got the hand-me-down Atari 2600 systems.  I still have one.  Most of the games still work.  Pitfall doesn't, which sucks because that was always my favorite, but I've got re-released versions for Win95 and Playstation.  (Damn it's hard to keep that stuff up to date). 

Now XBox has found the newest way to get me to spend my rather hard-to-come-by-lately money in the form of Microsoft points again.  They're releasing all of my old favorites on XBox Live Arcade.  Bastards!  What a cunning, evil plan!

It all started with DOOM.  Oh the countless hours spent in the early nineties banging arrow keys and spacebars killing simulated 3D bitmap based hellspawn. I honestly don't remember if the original DOOM supported multiplayer (I've still got it around here somewhere, I'll check later) but I remember that DOOM 2 did.  I had countless hours of fun sneaking up behind my best friend with a double-barreled shotgun and blowing him away (that's just fun to say), untill somebody picked up the phone and messed up the damn carrier signal on the modem.  Ah, modems: good times!

XBox released DOOM on XBox Live arcade a few months ago.  Something that primitive probably doesn't appeal to today's youth unless they've got a video game history fetish, but it's nostalgic to those of us that pissed away our youth on it when it was new. 

Next was PacMan.  Oooh, I was GOOD at PacMan when it was a popular new arcade game.  Again, today's youth would probably not look twice at it, wondering "where's the damn plot line?  How do you win?"  You didn't back then.  You proved your mastery over others and your right to rule as master of the tribe by showing how long you could survive the onslaught of digital ghosts on a single quarter.  PacMan was the very first "SuperGame".  The first game that caused a craze.  Today's market is so flooded with titles that there really aren't any crazes any more, other than for consoles themselves.  Back then we had PacMan lunch boxes, PacMan bedsheets, PacMan pajamas, PacMan records (yes, records.  Not CDs.  Those big round black things you put on turntables as part of rap music today used to be a music distribution medium.) PacMan cereal (fortified with Sugar Frosting and High Fructose Corn Syrup), and on and on. 

Now we have PacMan on XBox Live Arcade.  I love it.  My kids hate it.

Then Galaga.  'Nuff said.

Then Frogger.  'Nuff said.

Missile Command, Warlords, and on and on.  Some are the original arcade versions.  Some have the original versions plus an updated version (to help the kids out with it.  Their brains can't process 8-bit graphics). 

And Finally, the Coup de grâce, Duke Nukem 3D.  Oh, they're killing me!  While money is still tight, I figure "Well, $5 for this game isn't a big deal", then another $5, then another, they sneak it in on you.  Then, an epiphany: I'm paying for games I already own!  How do they do that to me?  They're preying on some kind of nostalgia weakness.  I'd be fascinated to know what the psychology behind it is.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Twitter: Crack for the Attention Challenged

I finally broke down and got myself a Twitter account.  I thought "Well, everybody else has got one.  And I might miss some Rory Blyth wisdom that gets sent only to twitter, and not to Neopoleon.com."  In other words, I appeared to have been worried that something might happen on the Internet and I might not know about it. 

That kind of obsession reminds me of the time, back in the early days of the Internet, when I was on a Star Wars Newsgroup.  Remember those?  So being the Star Wars geek that I am, I posted a message that had some part of Empire Strikes Back quoted from memory.  That's dorky enough, but one member noticed that I had gotten one word wrong, and replied with a full two paragraphs of flame about it. 

I always think of that when I want to convince myself that I'm relatively normal.  I choose to not remember the return flame, which I'm pretty sure made use of the word "Waambulance".

Twitter is this bizarre stream of consciousness kind of thing.  After only one day on it, I've added a Twitter widget over to the right there, and set up my laptop near my chair so that I could periodically check if anybody had Twitted lately while watching TV.  It would be a shame if I were to miss one. 

The addiction, though, comes from the fact that posting on Twitter more closely resembles how my brain works than a blog does.  Maybe we're all like that, but since I'm still lacking the Psychology degree, I can only speak for myself.  I tend to think in small text snippets rather than large articles. I'm sitting around watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles instead of packing for my road trip tomorrow.  That seems like something the world needs to know!  Tweet!

I ran across a brilliant article that covers this phenomenon.  http://www.code-magazine.com/Article.aspx?quickid=0809021  Since there's APIs for both Twitter and Messenger, I'll be planning the architecture for my messenger plugin which will allow me to keep up with twitter all of the time, on my drive back.  Why?  Because A) Twitter says it supports IM but I can't find anything that backs that up, B) I'm geeky like that, and C) since my car can't drive itself, I can't actually do any coding on the drive back.  It's tempting to try, though. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Returning the posts

It won't be perfect, but I decided to return my posts to the blog. I've gotten about midway through last October so far. I'll return comments as well, because that's always the best part of a post, but again, they won't be perfect.

Links are bound to be broken. Categories are missing. There will be tears.

"Why, O Cowboy?" you ask.

"Because." I reply. "Sometimes, even the Cowboy does things in haste when in a bad mood, but withholding the wisdom that is The Cowboy from my faithful followers must surely be a sin."

Again, I'm a musician, and we're flaky. I can't promise I won't break down again someday and do the same boneheaded thing again, but at least next time I'll remember what a pain in the ass this was to undo, and maybe think twice before hitting the delete button. 

Update: The posts are back.  There's some weirdness between posts from last year and windows live writer.  I couldn't restore them, but I could recreate them.  Comments have been added to the bottom.  Henry Rollins for President was by far the most popular last year.  Gives me hope [sniff]. 

There were two from this year that I couldn't restore.  C'est la vie.  Comments are at the bottom there too.  Back to trying to make this place interesting....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I give up

I should've stuck with music.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did anybody get the license plate of that metaphysical truck?

Cowboy's Link Of The Day: http://thewebsiteisdown.com/

Will LOTD become a regular feature here?  Probably not, but who knows?  I'm wishy washy that way.  Celes showed me this site last week, and it's up there with some of the funniest stuff I've found on the web.  I'm so gonna crack it first.  One word: Karateka

I was actually asked by a client the other day if I read Rory Blyth's blog.  I stuttered for a minute before answering, "Yeah, Neopoleon.com.  Um... I've heard of it..."  Ok, I was a bit more honest than that, but it didn't seem in my professional best interest to proclaim that I'm The Cowboy, the guy who continually posts comments to his blog but never has anything insightful to say. 

That said, I've been thinking about a lot of things.  Things Celes said to me, things my inner voice said to me (the one with the English accent), and things I've learned from the Tao.  I've been thinking about the whole arbitrary numbering system.  I'm not sure I agree with Celes on that one.  She's a frighteningly insightful person, but it's a subjective system.  It's in how you use it, I believe, and like anything can be used for good or evil.  Like my superpowers.  Someday I will learn to use them for good instead.  In other words, for now I believe it's good for me so I'm keeping it.  Cowboy 2.6.

Get out and do something.  Take that first step.  I passed this along to another friend who seemed to be suffering from the same malady.  I'm not sure if he did anything, but I hope so.  It probably had it's impact lessened as it came from a guy sitting in an airport terminal waiting for a delayed flight, but whatever.  It's one thing to sit in a darkened apartment coding all night.  I understand that, I'm a geek.  It's entirely another thing to sit in a darkened apartment/hotel room all night because you're bored.  Think of something, get off your ass and do it.  You don't have to find anybody else to do something with.  Things are always better with a friend, but if you can't find one, go anyway.  I went to the beach.  The effect on my mental state was staggering. 

I've noticed a dramatic decrease on the grouchometer lately.  I'm sure lots of things factor in to this, not the least of which is a metaphysical boot to the head from my New England friend.  A true friend will do that for you.  Dinner by the Atlantic is good for the soul too, and is also better with a friend.  Time with family is very good, especially if you've been separated.  What continues to confound me though, much like the Arabic version of Who wants to be a Millionaire? (yes, it really does exist) is this whole Tao thing. 

When I try to exert control over my destiny, things seem to fall apart.  When I try to hold on loosely and let this crazy thing called life take me where it wants to, good things tend to happen.  I like to think of it as the river from the Chang-tse parable, where the old man trapped in the river let it take him where it will, using the power of the river rather than fighting it, he was able to save his own life. 

But now the currents seem to be pushing from all sides, and I'm not really going anywhere.  Maybe it's just a temporary eddy.  Perhaps I should just be patient.  Or perhaps I've been deluding myself all this time and I need to just take control. 

Or maybe I never understood the parable at all.  Using the river's currents to your advantage is not the same as surrendering to them.  What I really need right now is a metaphysical parasail. 

All things are better when left in their natural state.  What is the Cowboy's natural state?  I don't know.  None of us really knows, because from day one we're bombarded with the influences of an artificially created civilization.  Things are the way they are because we made them that way.  We've all contributed to it, whether by action or by inaction. 

Imagine you're flying a kite in a field.  It's a windy, blustery day, and the wind is so strong that it blows the kite away.  Rather than let it go, or try to wrestle it to the ground, you simply hold on.  The kite lifts you and carries you away on a rather rough ride.  Nothing that will kill you, but certainly something that might leave you feeling slightly battered afterwards.  Finally the wind dies down, and you plop to the ground.  You get up, dust yourself off, and rather than worrying about how you're going to get home or back to where you started, you simply think "Where am I now?"  Nothing more.  All of the complex thought patterns that form your Ego are gone.  You simply are, and you simply are somewhere.  Perhaps you pick a direction and head off to see what's over there.  You have no motivation other than curiosity.  Somewhere down that path is an adventure, and it will be fun.  You don't know what it is, but you'll have a great time when you get there.  Everything will simply work out.  You don't know how, and you don't care how, but you know it will. 

Where did the kite take you?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I'm at a bar in Rhode Island having a drink[s] and some snacks (which I called dinner) with a blogger friend of mine, and something that was said made me thing of an interview I had seen years ago with Grandpa Munster (or rather the actor who played him, whose name escapes me at the moment).  He was probably in his late 80s at the time, and aside from being infinitely more wrinkled than he used to be, he appeared to be the same person he was back in the 60s when he played Grandpa Munster. 

The quote was "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?"

That was worthy of Yoda, man.  That's right up there with the "what's the sound of one tree clapping in the forest" question.  I try to honestly answer that question when I ask it of myself (the first question, that is).  I think right now I would have to say 17.  Not because I feel young and energetic and nearing my sexual prime (however, if you happen to be Morgan Webb, all of the above is true, please call), but because I feel stupid, confused, and not sure what the hell I'm doing.  Unless you're Morgan Webb, in which case ignore that last sentence and go back to the one about being young and energetic.  Really, really energetic.  call me...

I think I finally get Lisa of Lisa 4.8 (formerly Lisa 4.0) or rather the self versioning system.  We change as we go through this crazy life thing.  It's like the 12 Monkeys quote "The movie never changes but it seems different when we see it again because we're different." 

Why is it whenever I get up to Cowboy 3.0 (Tao Cowboy) the OS reboots and the update gets uninstalled? 

Today, I decided to jump back up to Cowboy 2.5.  I decided to go see the ocean instead of sitting in my hotel room, because a smart person told me that was a stupid thing to do, and she was right. 

I did see the ocean today, and that's a cool thing for somebody that normally lives as far from an ocean as one can get.  Unfortunately it was dark by the time I got there and getting there involved getting lost, parking in front of a strangers house, and driving the wrong way down a one way street in a rental car with no coverage, so all I really saw was this big black mass that I assumed was the ocean because it smelled and sounded like an ocean.  Cool stuff.  Then I hung out and did cool stuff in Massachusetts with one of those cool blogger type people.  That's so Cowboy 2.5.  This is going to sound stupid, but I've had this weird fascination with Massachusetts since I was a kid, and today I can finally say "I've been to Massachusetts". 

So I ask you: How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fast is good, Loud is good, Fast and Loud is better

News you might actually want to know!  I've decided I have to get an XM satellite receiver for my car.  The rental car I'm driving has XM installed (obviously in an attempt to entice customers like me into buying their own.. good job guys) and as I'm surfing through a few hundred channels of crap (oddly like cable TV) I stumbled across a gem.

Are you ready?

No, you're not.  Take a deep breath and prepare yourself.  I'll wait.


Now?  ok... let me know.



Ok?  good.  Here it is.

XM Radio has an all day 24 hour AC/DC station!

Uh huh... oh yeah... uh uh... oh yeah...

I've heard that it takes an outsider to truly appreciate the beauty of a location, and given that I can't find much to say for Kansas, I think that might be true.  Rhode Island, for all it's itty bitty size, is beautiful country. 

But you haven't lived until you've driven a little tiny compact car down a New England highway at 80mph weaving in and out of traffic playing AC/DC's "Big Balls" as loud as those tiny little speakers can go.  Those poor Rhode Island drivers were probably thinking "That bunghole drives like those morons in Kansas!  What the hell is he thinking?"  Maybe I should have gotten the insurance after all...

Oh, I can't wait to get the 'Stang back and put an XM receiver in it.  Good Times! 

Dude, where's my blog?

Sometimes you have a day when everything just seems to suck.

Then sometimes you have a day when everything really does suck.

Then sometimes you have a day when, try as you might, you can find no redeeming qualities for said day that justify the fact that you dragged your lazy ass out of bed that morning.

Then, every once in a while, you have a day where everything just seems so phenomenally abysmal that you just want to say "fuck it all" and you go and delete your blog.  You almost immediately regret something like that, but it's too late to take it back.  Many things in life are like that. 

Technically, I could put all the posts back, and I even could restore all of the comments.  That would be a lot of work, but I could do it.   Then another thought occurs to me: I've done this before.  This particular incarnation of my blog has been by far the most successful, and actually led to some relationships I value (not that kind, dumbass).  But every once in a while, it's nice to start over.  That's the opportunity I've given myself in a self-indulgent moment of anger. 

I won't be returning the deleted posts here, but I won't be closing up shop just yet.  The Adventures of the Cowboy aren't over yet, in fact something tells me that everything that's happened up to now is just the prologue. 

I apologize to everybody who actually took time to comment here, just to have some dumbass delete it.  As much as I want to I can't guarantee it won't happen again, but I can tell you it doesn't happen often.  I am a musician and we're an overly emotional bunch prone to bouts of depression.  But if you stick around, maybe things will get interesting again.  Please don't be afraid to comment in the future.  Try to remember that the Internet is a fluid thing, and nothing here is really all that permanent anyway. 

It should also be noted that unlike the current leader of the free world, I can admit when I was wrong.  There.  I said it. Take that, right wing politicians!

Special thanks to my friends (Internet and otherwise, that line is becoming a little blurred) who aren't afraid to call me out on shit.  I get it, even if sometimes it seems like I don't. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Later, all...

66 posts of shit: gone.  Today, I've made the Internet a better place.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Captain Ultra is, like, awesome ya know...

If you're a geek like me, then you should be able to appreciate The Defenders of Stan


A friend of mine sent me this link recently, it's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.  This is proof positive that what the TV networks see fit to throw obscene amounts of money at is not generally deserving of it.  The Internet just might put all the TV executives out of a job as well.  Interesting times....