Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Check out my new blog, The Debacle Debate!


It's been fun here at Three Girls, a Guy and a Blog, but I've set sail to a new location. For some British banter, jump on board and join me at Recreationally Royal.


Amy Harvey is a freshman at Austin College. She appreciates quality chocolate, orders fish and chips without the fish, and is not immune to the charm of a British accent. Follow her on twitter @ahymeh3.


It's time to blow this popsicle stand. It was fun while it lasted.

I can now be found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Special Feature: Snow Creature Competition Winners!!!

The death of the snow brings with it VICTORY for those who had the tenacity to don their winter attire and childish spirits!

FIRST PLACE goes to:

A SHERMAN-ITE!!! Austin College students were in every way out-done by this Sherman resident's Mexican snowman (complete with sombrero and rooster statue).

The jury was especially impressed by the creativity of the sombrero, and the use of bottles for buttons. Fact: this snow-Mexican towers high over every snow creature sighted this season.



Kelby Wilson, Sarah JF, Madeline Smith et al. with a snow-Kirby!

Red Fanta was used to color the feet, and pink lemonade for the body. Sweet action!


And finally, in THIRD PLACE:

Gloria Jones with an adorable momma and baby kangaroo!

It even has a tail!

Props for the school spirit, Gloria.


Special note goes to the top two snow-creatures from last year's snow:

Kim Cook et al.'s snow-honey-bear:

And a snow-softball-player by Samantha Matulis:

As well as the two internet-pirated submissions from Nic Low and Warren Clark:

A HUGE thank you to all those who participated in this years Snow Creature Competition! Your snow creatures may be melted, but now they shall LIVE FOREVER in the depths of the internet!

The Tragic Outcasting of Marty the Grapefruit is Only the Beginning...

Tune in next time for Episode TWO of Mauritania's Revenge!


Aly is a junior at Austin College. She's into photography, environmental and social issues, adventure travel, indie music and art films. Contact her @alytharp.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To The London Eye

Photo Gallery: A Trip Around Austin College

Is It Time To Pull the Plug On American Idol?

Last night, America watched as the once glorious hit show American Idol Season 10 premiered…or at least some of America watched. Ratings this season dropped by a considerable 13% from last year. What do they expect? With Paula gone, Simon kept the show hanging on by a thread. Now, he has moved on to greener pastures (working on The X-Factor, also on Fox).

Now, we have our “amazing” new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, entertaining us with their classic empathetic and frozen deer-in-the-headlights looks. What more could America want? No real forms of constructive criticism, just not knowing what to do. I was excited about this season, thinking they have an opportunity to recreate this show, make it better, but everything just seems same old, same old.

Yes, American Idol possessed the top ratings with 27% of the televisions in the metropolitan area tuned in. By milking this show, they are depriving viewers of possible new shows that have more potential. They’ve filled Glee’s spot for now, and I know I have been so focused on this premiere that I’m not really sure what else is out there right now. So the question remains, is it right not to keep American Idol alive just because America once loved it, or is it time to pull the plug?


Megan is a student at Austin College. She loves music and watching movies. You can contact her at mjones10@austincollege.edu or follow her on twitter, megelizabeth10.

Video Game Addiction: If You're Having Too Much Fun, There's Something Wrong With You

Image courtesy Mondo-Pixel
New study performed in Singapore has determined that 1 in 10 children are video game addicts. Addicts. As in, these children invest so much time into video games that it's negatively affecting their lives. 3,000 children from 3rd, 4t, and 7th grade were given questionnaires by their teachers. The questionnaires featured such questions as "Do you play video games instead of doing your homework or chores?" I still do that. I probably will never stop doing that. Someone else can take out the trash or do the dishes. I'm at the end boss of Chrono Trigger. Destroying Lavos is way more important than doing that paper tonight. Save all of mankind or finish an assignment not-at-the-last-minute? Decisions.

The study was done over a two year period, with reported symptoms of video game addiction being: Increases in anxiety and depression, drops in grades, increased impulsive behavior. Also, "addicted" children had bad social skills. Wait a minute. Impulsive? Bad social skills? Procrastination and an unwillingness to do chores? That sounds like my childhood. Growing up with A.D.D., video games were my bread and butter. Still are, except my social skills are better (I hope). These children don't have these problems because they play video games, they more likely play video games because they have these problems. If that. Correlation does not equal causation. I'm not the only one who's having a problem with this. Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit has voiced his concerns, too. "Video games have displaced television"

This is just another tirade done by closed-minded people like Jack Thompson. The study has already been called into question for its viability, and it's unlikely that it will have any long term effects. Video games are still working to becoming a fully accepted media form, and I'm thankful that we live in a time where things like this don't result in the sort of overreactions experienced in the 80's and 90's. Even though these sorts of things aren't too threatening, that doesn't mean we should just take them laying down. We should speak out against bullshit like this, and make sure that things like this don't go without rebuttal.

Don't Make Study Abroad An Invitation For Stereotyping

Twelve children from South Korea were in awe while visiting a Sherman school. They gawked at the locks on the lockers and strange musical instruments during a vacation that expanded their view of the world. I used to live in England and I have had personal experience that shows other cultures look down upon Americans. According to the rest of the world, Americans are obnoxious, loud, have bad diets (they’re fat), little respect, the girls are easy, the guys are schmucks, those kinds of things. But then again according to Americans, the Brits are posh, prude, drink tea and biscuits every morning, have awful teeth, and say cheerio to one another.

Different countries and cultures for some reason or another don’t normally get along as you can see by these mangled sterotypes. I don’t really know where this kind of negative ethnocentricity comes from but theres no denying it definitely comes. Each country is a spectacle in the eyes of the rest and by saying that I'm not trying to say that I'm bothered by Korean children judging us or something like that but just curious as to why different cultures invite judgement. Is the British view of America that I know consistent with what the rest of the world thinks? Or is the view different from cultures like that of South Korea.

I once met a foreign exchange student from Germany whose parents sent him to America just so he could realize how good he had it back home. Study abroad opportunities are a chance to abate all the false pretenses that visitors often come along with. But it is possible that we as Americans earn t
hese labels? I sure hope not but the Southern Korean children did mention the unhealthy salt and meat heavy diets common in America and said they were craving vegetables for the duration of the trip. They also did point out that you don’t see that many fat people in Korea and there is a reason for it. So there is concrete evidence that the fat stereotype did come from somewhere, what about the rest?


Amy Harvey is a freshman at Austin College. She likes eating chocolate, cuddling puppies, and wearing onesie pajamas. You can email her at ahymeh@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @ahymeh3.

Fear of Carbon Emission Regulations is Stunting Growth for the United States

Incoming Republican House representatives are scheming to cut funding and stringently oversee the EPA, specifically to prevent them from regulating carbon emissions. Desperate to do something about climate change, the EPA recently declared carbon dioxide a danger to human health and thus within their jurisdiction to regulate under the Clean Air Act of 1970. In contrast, Congress spent the past two years trying to work out a national cap-and-trade policy... and failed.

What Representative Issa of California and his colleagues are trying to do is abusive, bullshit politicking, and it only serves to further ostracize the United States from the rest of the world. Developed countries are expected to take action. While we continue to step backwards, the European Union now has a mandatory carbon emissions cap-and-trade policy, based off a pilot program in the UK, that will significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of Europe.

Regulating the emissions of fossil-fuel based power plants and petroleum refineries-- whether through a carbon emission cap-and-trade market or a bureaucratic mess-- is a necessary step forward for the United States. A step that will boost both our international credibility and our holding in the market for cleaner and more efficient energy technologies.


Aly is a junior at Austin College. She's into photography, environmental and social issues, adventure travel, indie music and art films. Contact her @alytharp.

Let's Play Darius Twin

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where's Waldo This Week?

Starting now, we will have weekly sightings of Wheres Waldo, an old friend who I havn't seen in quite a while. Here's Werner Herzog with an intro...

The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead

I hope you enjoy this video I made today: If not for the song by Owen Pallett (aka Final Fantasy), then for the graffiti art.

I Most Definitely Have a "Solar Powered Life"

Jennifer Lopez: A Copy Cat?

This week, the world's newest beloved American Idol judge, Jennifer Lopez, graced us with her "amazing" new single on the air of Ryan Seacrest's radio show. Too bad this catchy tune "On the Floor" sounds an awful lot like Kat DeLuna's track "Party O'Clock." Both tracks were produced by music mogul RedOne, sounding similar in both melody and harmony. And go figure, the lyrics sound similar as well, making this song seem like an easy quick hit. While Kat DeLuna gushes about how much she loves Jennifer Lopez and claims flattery in the fact that "it's cool when artists like J.Lo are inspired by her musical sound and style," how can we trust Jennifer to give this season's American Idol contestants proper critiquing when she clearly isn't producing anything even close to her own?

Could You Please Be Badass On Somebody Else's Mailbox?

There stands with pride a concrete canvas below a busy overpass layered with competing stories as telling as the wrinkles and frown lines on an old mans face. Mistakes and successes we may never really understand. Some people use graffiti to make a statement others just to say "hey, I'm badass." Hey you may be badass but could you please be badass on somebody else's mailbox? I would personally prefer not to pass by some depiction of a penis while taking my little sister to the park. But, just because we don't enjoy the content we cant ignore it's artistic value...
wow... thats deep...

Nintendo Abolishes Multi-Friend Code Headache

Image from Joystiq
Gone are the days of having to find different friend codes for every fucking Nintendo game you own. At least for the upcoming 3DS, anyway. Nintendo did what they should have done years ago, announcing that the 3DS will have one universal friend code, with the bonus of not having to use codes if the systems are sharing the same Wi-Fi. This is the step that will finally make Nintendo at least somewhat of an equal in the online multiplayer field. It's about time that they fixed this, but apparently, they're only doing it for the 3DS, I guess we'll have to wait for Nintendo's next home console to be on par with the 360 and PS3. I guess we shouldn't be to hard on Nintendo, after all, it only took them 5 years to figure out that they had a bad online setup.


Hey, we're not the only ones who are blogging around here. Check out these other blogs!

Mungo Estate

5 Must Have Dubstep Albums
Ever Wanted To Drive A Tank?

While We Exist

Top 5 Songs To Releasing Your Inner Gay
Nicholas Cage Screams About Bees. I Whine About Horror Movies.

Text Appeal

Minister Of Modification: The Flesh And Blood Spirituality Of David Hahn
Josh Groban What? Who Cares?

Our Modern Gush

That Master Is Dead, But Did Colored Folks Pick Up The Whip?
Top 5 Prematurely Cancelled Shows

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vegan Chef Matty Kime Tells it Like it is

"I have this dream that I could be an Emergency Food Fixer Guy (that's the official title). Imagine me in a lab coat or trench coat full of spices. If someone's cooking a nice meal for a date or something and it's too spicy or salty or just doesn't seem right, for a low, flat rate of -- you know, whatever-- I could come over and fix their food and save the day."

Matty Kime, vegan chef and emergency food fixer guy, is a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. He dreams of someday winning Survivor, bikes regularly, and consumes more garlic and kombucha than you do. For this feature, he graciously agreed to answer some questions I had about veganism: from his own personal experience and reasoning to whether veganism is a healthy or affordable diet.

Q: So where did you learn to be a vegan chef?

A: I went to The School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado. I took a 4 month course specializing in how to make Vegan food. The program was a little different in that it geared me towards becoming a personal chef: it focused on teaching you how to match various flavors and spices to cook with rather than focusing on recipes.

Q: Why did you decide to go there?

A: I was thinking about going to culinary school after high school. I looked into the Culinary Institute of America and Johnson and Wales, however I decided I wanted to take some time off. I became vegan in the meantime and figured that I should follow that in my kind of schooling.

Q: Do you feel like what you learned at the School of Natural Cookery positively influenced any other aspects of your life?

A: Well, I’ve always been interested in cooking. I’m glad I went. Being vegan made me cook whole meals more often and more creatively. My school experience helped me get my foot in the door, and I guess you could say it helped build the foundation for how I cook now and gave me a certain level of confidence.

Q: So how long were you a vegan, and how much of that time would you say ate unhealthily?

A: I was a vegan for 9 years; I would say that I ate unhealthily for the first year and maybe the last year of that. And I guess I eat kind of unhealthily now.

For a long time I kept a really balanced diet. I didn’t drink caffeine or eat any junk food at all. I cut out some other things as well. I didn’t start being a vegan for health reasons, but my reasoning shifted that way over time. Over time I started losing sight of my first reasons, such as the environment, or meat industry – the reasons that are bigger than me.

Q: So why do you think you’re not a vegan now?

A: Pretty much out of laziness.

The first meat I had in nine years was at a farm where I was living for an internship—one of our objectives was to only eat food that grew within 100 miles of us. One day, we caught some ducks from the edge of the property and prepared them for dinner that night. I decided that I wanted to take a full part of the experience, including eating the meat.

But when a friend told me that certain Doritos are vegan, that was the true source of my downfall. I started getting a lot more lax after that. I’m currently re-evaluating what’s healthy for me, and hopefully choosing a diet that’s less harmful to me and more conscious of the infrastructures and industries involved. Between chickens sometimes eating other chickens and the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere because things are done on such a large scale, there’s nothing good or healthy or positive about the meat industry.

Q: So what do you think about genetic modification as the next step in the industrialization of food? Like how they’re trying to genetically modify salmon to speed up their growth, or create genetically modified but otherwise organic food (according to a January 2011 Popular Science article)?

A: When people talk about how it’s needed to feed the masses, it’s just an excuse really. It’s all about making it more available for cheaper; trying to turn a profit, and picking systemic solutions over sustainable practices.

But that’s been going on for a while. Like how green peppers are just red peppers picked early-- that’s why they’re usually a bit cheaper. It makes for more immediate food and money.

Did you know that square watermelons are really popular in Japan? They’re genetically modified to adjust to the space they’re in and grown in glass boxes.

Q: And do you think that being a vegan is affordable? Especially to do so healthily?

A: You know, some people think you can’t get enough protein as a vegan. I think that some meat has pretty poor proteins (for example, pork). The most important protein combination I know of is legume (such as beans or lentils) and grain; they compliment each other very well. And that’s very cheap! The problem is a lot of vegetarians and vegans don’t know how to be healthy and end up eating mostly chips and fries.

My ideal super-food meal is quinoa, garbanzo beans or lentils, and seaweed or some kind of green that’s high in nutrients like kale or broccoli; maybe with other vegetables and garlic.

(cheap trick: if you buy bulk and mark your quinoa as millet when you buy it at Whole Foods, it’s a lot cheaper and they probably won’t notice)

Q: Hey thanks a lot, Matty. Is there anything else you’d like to say while you’re still on your soap box?

A: If you eat fresh garlic and ginger every day, you’ll never get sick.

(But your friends might tell you that you smell bad.)

Player Profile: Interview With Nathan Barnatt

"They call me the wreaker the wr-wr-wr-wreaker cuz I wreak so much havoc with my l-l-leg sweeper." - Keith Apicary, Classic Gaming Wiz

Nathan Barnatt, better known in the gaming community as Keith Apicary, is a force to be reckoned with. A gamer actor hybrid, similar to James Rolfe (The Angry Video Nerd), Keith plays on all of our nostalgia for gaming days gone by. Keith Apicary is a 28 year old man who lives with his mother and sister. According to Nathan, Keith is a man "who probably stopped growing mentally at the age of 14 when he was having the most fun, playing Genesis." Every week, through his documentary Talking Classics, Keith gives us a glimpse into what it's like to be astoundingly good at video games, unless he's at a convention, then all hell breaks loose. Nathan's brand of nerdcore humor in combination with his pratfalling abilities have made a strong fanbase and caught the attention of networks, a Keith Apicary pilot has been made, and hopefully will be picked up by a network soon.

I recently had the opportunity to have an interview via Skype with Nathan. I don't have the time or effort to transcribe the entire hour and a half interview, however here are some highlights.

Maxon Foster: What are you playing right now? What's on your now playing list?

Nathan Barnatt: Starwars: The Force Unleashed, Just Cause 2, I really like Geometry Wars, Trials HD, Uncharted 1 and 2. Those are the current gen games that I'm playing a lot these days.

MF: When Keith is at E3, the VGA awards, or Comic-Con, he sometimes has sort of a negative reaction towards the people he meets. He treated some people disdainfully at the VGA's, but it was sort of warranted. He made a good point with the idea of "If you're not here for video games, then what are you here for." Was that done for comedic effect, or was Keith trying to make a point? A little of both?

NB: A little of both. Normally when I go to conventions I'm in a good mood... but when I went to [the VGA's] I was in a bit of a bad mood, and I got irritated because there were all these phoney-baloney people dressed up, and I was like "This is video games, they're for playing on the couch." ... Video games should be more low-key... I looked out at all these people and I thought "You don't know video games. I bet I could ask you some really basic questions, and you wouldn't get them." ...Why do the people on the red carpet have barely anything to do with video games?... It's unrelatable. I asked them questions about video games, and if they didn't know, I didn't want to talk to them anymore. I felt bad afterwards for being kind of mean, but people were kind of into it because it was just for me to do that.

MF: Your fans know that the genesis was your first console. When did you first get it? What was gaming like for you as a kid?

NB: We got our Genesis for Christmas, the summer after it came out. Before I had one, I thought it was something for rich people. I remembered going to my friend's house, and they had a Genesis and an electric stove. I didn't have those things so I was like, wow, these people are rich. When we got the Genesis, my mom had an egg timer and she would set it to 15 minutes, and every time it went off either me or my brothers had to pass the controller off. Our Genesis came with Sonic, and we bought a game called Road Rash. We played Road Rash the most.

MF: There are a lot of very specific references that Keith makes to some parts of gaming that some people might not pick up on. How do you feel about your viewers not always getting the jokes that you make?

NB: There's a lot of nostalgia in Keith's character, and a lot of the jokes come from playing games with my brothers. There are some viewers who might not get the jokes, but hopefully they'll look the references up. I know that when I watch James Rolfe's show that there are some things like glitches I don't get, and I have to look them up. It makes it all the more rewarding.

MF: You do a lot of pratfalling and physical comedy as Keith. When did you first start doing that? Were you classically trained, or is it a hobby?

NB: I've never been classically trained, I'm just good at it. Maybe I'm not good at it, but I like doing it and I keep doing it. I've always been physical. My dad build us a tree fort, so we were always playing around. I'm a skateboarder, and when I was 13 I taught myself to do backflips. ... I didn't really start utilizing my physical abilities until I was around 21. It's really been paying off. Cirque Du Solei has actually hired me to be the clown in their upcoming Michael Jackson show.

The full interview will soon be available on YouTube.

Nathan Barnatt's Talking Classics can be found on his youtube channel.

Interview With Lucas Henry; What Can We Learn From A High School Teacher

Lucas Henry, a High School social studies teacher, has taught at schools on either sides of the railroad tracks and, interested in his perspective, I talked to him about the different approaches required in each of the two scenarios. I witnessed a very different world to the upper-middle class high school which I attended.

He once broke up a fight between two girls in the parking lot across the street. One of them got her shirt and bra torn off, so she was naked. "She was in my 5th period geography class and I saw her naked; embarrassing!"

Also after breaking up a fight between two girls one time he got injured in the process. Once the police came and tried to scare the girls about jail Henry said "no offense, but these are the girls that make jail a scary place, not the girls that are scared to be there."

Lucas Henry now teaches at McKinney High School; your average middle class suburban public High School but once taught at Richard Milburn Academy a school that helps kids when other schools tell them it can't be done. It is a charter school, not public not private, where most of the students that chose to enroll were at the margins of the public school system; they were either behind in a credit, over age 18, had kids of their own (an estimated 20% of students had kids), or had some circumstances that prevented them from attending a "regular" public school. Most had been told they were not welcome at the public school they should be in so there were quite a few kids with severe discipline problems, drug problems, and really bad home lives. No one questioned that this was a school for kids that didn't quite fit in elsewhere.

Because classes were small, less than 20 usually, Lucas Henry said he concentrated on giving them life skills in addition to content. Most of them were never going to need to know most of the social studies curriculum so he focused on teaching them how to be polite, responsible, good parents, good citizens, etc. He teaches some of that now; for example he greets each student at the door with a handshake every morning, but most of his time is now spent on content.

When asked if he had a different relationship with the kids at The classes were much more intimate and there was a definite family feel to it. "I loved those kids; It broke my heart when they would make bad decisions, but the successes were just that much more rewarding."

For example; two of his students who most likely wouldn't have graduated from High School anywhere else went on to college to become teachers. There was one student who couldn't pass any TAKS test but after working so hard together, he finally passed. Though this is not a big accomplishment for most, it was big for him.

Another of Lucas' Students was really bad; he had a drug problem and stole lots of stuff to support it, he was terrible in school and never tried. One day he got arrested in class and was taken to TYC for about 4 months. When he returned he was a completely different person. He cut off all of his long hair and donated it to Locks of Love, and he showed up on time ready to learn everyday. His problem, according to Henry, was that no one ever told him what to do before jail. He didn't know people were supposed to get up and have a routine everyday. When he came back to school they helped him graduate on time and he joined the army.

Though the turnover rate was high, more kids graduated that not and graduation day was always special because you knew you were looking at a bunch of kids that wouldn't be there without you, "at MHS, most of the students would be fine without me."

It does seem like quite a different feel to the High School many of us experience; their prom queen was eight months pregnant and lots of kids wore ankle bracelets because they were on probation so prom dresses looked silly. But yet I can only imagine how much more rewarding and essential a school like Richard Milburn is.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Three Girls, a Guy, and a Podcast

Check our first official group podcast to find out more about the transition town initiative and Tyler Ward's cover of Teenage Dream.

Three Girls, a Guy, and a Podcast; Alternate Reality Check by ahymeh

Were back again with an alternate reality check featuring a random survey, coverage of the remake of the movie Drop Dead Fred, and a review of Dead Space 2.

Five Minutes with the Unfathomable

Hitting the scene with their unique sound, nothing quite compares to Unfathom, a Dallas native band. The band is made up of Brandon McInnis (vocals), Derek Troxtell (guitar), Lisa Chou (synth), Nick Troxtell (bass), and Stephanie Thornton (drums).

Starting it all, Brandon and Derek spent much of their time in an Austin College practice room turned recording studio in Craig Hall. Talking about the twists and turns that led from classical music to J-pop to their current alternative/rock sound, I sat down for an interview with Brandon McInnis (via Skype) and cousins Nick and Derek Troxtell.

How did Unfathom form?

Brandon: It actually all started with J-pop. I was a Japanese major at Austin College and studied abroad for a semester. My host mom told me I should I try writing Japanese music so I did. When I came back to Sherman, I got a job at Circuit City fixing computers. That’s where I met Derek. It was just us to begin with. We started out playing like at AC Lunar Festival. We actually ended up touring in Japan.

Derek: That’s when we brought in Lisa, and we had a different drummer at that time.

Brandon: But about Japan, to make a long story short-we were white. There’s no way it would have worked out so we switched to rock.

What was touring in Japan like?

Brandon: It was lots of fun but stressful. We self-managed that tour. We learned that it is definitely important to outsource some responsibilities. As a performer, it’s hard to find balance when you’re managing yourself.

Derek: We would have to set-up and then still have energy for the crowd.

Brandon (laughs): Derek do you remember Timmy?

Derek (laughs): Oh yeah! So Timmy was this kid in Japan who would run on stage to bring me a different guitar while we were performing. This one time, some girl threw a lead bra at the stage while he was running on and totally took out Timmy!

Brandon: It was hilarious!

Derek: But yeah, we lost Timmy’s help after that.

What is your favorite thing about performing?

Nick: There are so many different aspects to it.

Brandon: Yeah definitely. I would say it’s the rush. Everything just evaporates and it’s awesome. It’s you and the stage and your fans.

Nick: Like at Edgefest, as we got ready to perform, there was a huge rush of people on either side.

Who are some of your influences?

Brandon: I would definitely say Paramore.

Nick: My main influence is definitely Rush.

Derek: One thing that’s very interesting about us is we all have very different musical backgrounds. Brandon was into classical music.

Brandon: Yeah, I sang opera for six years.

Derek: Yeah, we all have all these different tastes ranging from jazz to The Birthday Massacre.

How much do you practice?

Brandon (laughs): Oh, you know, we’ll go for with no food or water for four or five days, just music.

Derek: We practice every Sunday for four or five hours.
Do you have any gigs coming up?

Brandon: We planning on playing at The Door in Dallas. Right now, we’re focusing on a full CD.

Derek: It should be releasing this year if everything goes smoothly, very soon.

After I finished my interview questions, we just talked for a little bit. Brandon told me about how he and Derek turned one of the old practice rooms in Craig Hall into a small recording studio. They actually calked the acoustic panels.

“He would record the vocals, and I played to that,” Derek said.

Brandon said that Derek has been a really good friend to him.

“There were times when all-nighters were pulled in that practice room. I would get really frustrated working,” Brandon said. “Derek would say, ‘It’s okay, you can do it,’ or, ‘SUCK IT UP!’ depending on what was appropriate to the situation.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Five Games That Are So Bad They're Good

Sometimes you run into a game that at first glance, appears to be pretty shitty, however once you start playing it you may find that (on accident) the game ends up being really, really fun(ny). Here are 5 such games, and this is only scratching the surface.

Tommy Moe's Winter Skiing and Snowboarding Extreme (SNES)

Tommy Moe is ready to make a game that he doesn't star in!
What it is: Tommy Moe's Winter Skiing and Snowboarding Extreme (TMWSASE) appears to at first be a simple skiing and snowboarding emulator, and it basically is. Choosing between skiing or snowboarding, you can proceed to race in time trials against your friend, or do a free-run of the mountain.

Why it sucks: There's no simultaneous play, the music is either non-existent or generic, and you don't really get a good sense of competition when you play. I can rarely enjoy this game unless I'm playing it with a friend.

How it gets good: The controls are tight, and when you start going of moguls, the games animation for jumping is fairly ridiculous. When playing 2 player and doing free-run mode, you find that free-run is actually a race to get all the way down the mountain while going through checkpoints (similar to games like the Cruis'n series). Eventually the game throws in situations like snowmobiles (which can be mercilessly plowed through) and full white outs which usually happen around the time that you have enough adrenaline in you to get upset by them. A true sense of competition can form as you watch your opponent who has learned from your mistakes go farther down the trail than you before hitting too many patches of ice or rocks and running out of time. And you have to love the day glow outfit that your character wears. How can you say no to 90's ski attire?

Ballz 3D (SNES)

What it is: Ballz 3D is a 3D fighting game filled with crass humor and awkwardness. You play as any of 8 characters made up of, you guessed it, balls. The storyline consists of you beating the shit out of everyone else so that you can earn colored belts (which increase your strength) and eventually fight The Jester.

Why it sucks: This game is bad for many, many reasons, one of which is that the intro to the game sounds incredibly suggestive. At one point it literally sounds like someone is saying "RA-RA-RAPE." See for yourself. Intro aside, the games controls are awkward due to being set on a 3D plane. Any fighting game that requires a jump button is sure to be awkward. The music is generic, none of the songs (except the chilling intro) stick in your mind. If you don't have a sense of humor, the game is really terrible.

How it gets good: If you DO have a sense of humor, this game can be fairly entertaining. Any game where a ballerina has a move that consists of kicking all the male characters in the groin (which does in fact put them into stun) is worthwhile. The karate master cuts limbs off. Try fighting with one leg. The billboards in the background shot random things that are mildly entertaining (RIGHT IN THE SNACKIES). The game's goofiness factor is off the charts. As a fighting game, aside from having to have a jump button, the game is decent. It's not a direct knock-off of any other fighting game, and features distinct characters with distinct movesets. The superhero flies and has hurricane breath. The body builder's fatality consists of him giving you the bum's rush and accidentally slamming your head into the ground. INTO. The cast also features a monkey, a rhinocerous-man-thing, and a clown (who pelvic thrusts on the select screen.) The ball aesthetic is taken advantage of, and frequently characters will temporary transform into something else, example: Bruiser the bodybuilder can transform into a tornado. If the tornado fails to connect, when he reforms, he'll be scrambled and in a unique state where he can't attack and can only hop on one foot. The game is awkward, and it knows it. Still can't get over that intro, though...

Last Action Hero (SNES)

What it is: A movie game made to go hand in hand with The Last Action Hero, this game succeeded in being as big of a flop as the movie it was made after.

Why it sucks: Terrible hit collisions, two attack types (punch and kick), a useless crouch, a useless jump, and wave after wave of generic enemies.

How it gets good: When the character you play as crouches, it looks like he's doing a sweet air guitar. Don't believe me? Check it out.

(Yes, I did make this video myself...)

Fighting Street (TurboGrafx-16)

What it is: The only port of the original Street Fighter arcade game, Fighting Street was only released on the TurboGrafx-16 FOR GOOD REASON

Why it sucks: You can only choose one character, Ryu. When a second player appears, they play as Ken (who at this point in the series WAS RYU). You get all the shotokan moves of Street Fighter fame, the Shoryuken, the Hadoken, and the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. One problem though, THE MOVES ARE INCREDIBLY HARD TO PULL OFF. The game functions on two buttons, one for kick and one for punch. As a result, the strength of the attack is determined by how long the button is pressed. This makes things incredibly sloppy.

How it gets good: Those hard to pull off moves? When they do connect, dear God it is sweet. Combine the fact that you're playing the original Street Fighter with the cheesey win/lose quotes, along with muffled audio, this game can be at lease mildly entertaining. Don't play the 1 Player mode, though.

(Heads up, the volume on this vid is wonky.)

Double Dungeons (TurboGrafx-16)

What it is: Remember the old Windows 95 screensaver of the 1st person perspective maze? That's Double Dungeons in a nutshell. You're sent into the dungeon for an arbitrary reason. Kill the evil thing inside of it. Do another mission.

Why it sucks: The game only has about 4 audio tracks, one of which you'll be hearing over, and over, and over, and over again. That in combination with the graphics can make this game a big headache. The maze that you're in never changes, it's the same grey walls again and again. The battle system consists of pressing the same button repeatedly until whatever you're fighting dies.

How it gets good: It's called Double Dungeon because believe it or not, it's a 2-player-simultaneous game. It's rather difficult to do, but you can find your friend in the dungeon, and even fight him. Taking on the boss with your friend can be pretty rewarding, although it doesn't add much to the battle. While the repetitive maze can be a bit dumb, the idea of needing to cartograph your surroundings is kind of cool. The missions have hilarious typos and sometimes refuse to make sense. In one mission "prolog" I was told that I was to save a girl who had been captured by a demon. When I then fought and killed a snowman, the "epilog" said, "Congratulations, you have killed the snowman and rescued the girl." Wtf? And while the music can get repetitive, the intro has undeniable 90's charm (unfortunately I couldn't find the intro music online anywhere.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 5 Songs Most Likely to Get Stuck In Your Head!

"Who Let the Dogs Out?" blasts through the radio and listeners always become excited. We love these hits that play on repeat through our brains. However, about a day later of singing these tunes to ourselves, and we find that we are not so in love anymore.

Many people become victims of earworms everyday. An earworm is the portion of a song that gets stuck on repeat in our head. Professor James Kellaris from the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration conducted an extensive study on earworms.

"A cognitive itch is a kind of metaphor that explains how these songs get stuck in our head," Kellaris says. "The only way to scratch a cognitive itch is to repeat the offending melody in our minds."

Some of these offending melodies are songs we know all too well:

1. Other. Everyone has his or her worst earworm.

In my case, it was "Hey, Soul Sister." Last year, my brother became really obsessed with this song and it played constantly in our car. Every member of my family was caught singing it at one point or another. What makes this song an earworm is its repetitive chorus and upbeat sounding music.

2. Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" Jingle

One we all recognize, this one planted itself in our minds because of the repetition of the chorus, "Baby back, baby back, baby back ribs." This jingle does not stand alone. The freecreditreport.com guy wormed his way into our hearts...and minds playing several songs that I still find myself singing a year after I first heard him.

3. "Who Let the Dogs Out"

Although I never deciphered all of the words, this song blasted at every roller skating party I ever went to as a child. It's so upbeat it's difficult not to find yourself singing it days later after hearing it. It is even featured on the first Just Dance game for Wii.

4. "We Will Rock You"

There is no denying this song is an earworm. Because of the constant "stomp-stomp-clap" that can be heard in the stands at pretty much any sporting event you attend, it is impossible not to find yourself singing along.

5. Kit-Kat Candy-Bar Jingle

"Gimme a Break" from this song! The Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle has been varied in so many ways now. No matter what though, the chorus finds its way consistently into my head.

The important thing to know is that you are not alone in your struggles with earworms. It's something that almost all of us experience. My personal advice would be to be aware of how much you are listening to a song and try to expose yourself to music you really enjoy, that way you can experience a pleasant earworm.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tired of Reading? Mini-Podcasts Are Here!

Stuff of high school legend: incidents of streakers and go-gurt mishaps, listen up!

Now Playing and Next Level Mini-Podcasts

"Now Playing"

Now Playing by Digital Self

"Next Level"

Next Level by Digital Self

Here are my mini-podcasts, a little teaser for what's to come in the upcoming weeks!

Special Guest Nigel Caldwel Explains the Ruling Class of Grass

3G1G+B_Grass by Digital Self

Two Girls, One Guy, My Cat and My Grandma Make Groundbreaking Podcast?

3G1G+B_Mara's Anus Letter by Digital Self

They Say That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Who We Are

Hey everyone, my podcasts are up! I interviewed a friend of mine on a truly moving experience from meeting a band. My second podcast includes poem that I found quite hilarious. Anyways, I hope you check them out. Enjoy!

What Makes Us Who We Are by Digital Self

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue... by Digital Self

Free Indie Game: Cave Story

The granddaddy of all indie games, Cave Story is considered to be one of the best free indie games available. Taking on the role of an amnesia stricken robot, it is your goal to run, jump, and shoot your way through the network of caves you find yourself in, while helping those you encounter. It's undeniably charming. The imagery is cute, but not sickening. The game is challenging, yet the learning curve is easy enough that anyone can pick it up. It's great for beginnersor hardcore gamers. If you enjoy Metroid-vania style games built on exploration and platforming, then definitely give this game a play. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone.

Get it here.

Three Girls, a Guy, and a Random Video

3 Girls, 1 Guy and Your Problems

Your Problem: I find myself obsessively looking through pictures of myself on facebook... Sometimes i'm drunk or high, sometimes it's late at night and other times it's in the morning when I get out of the shower. Am I just living in the past? Am I extremely narcissistic? Is this my fault or Facebook's?

Our opinions:

Amy: Yes. It's yours and Facebook's fault. By signing up for an account you have to accept the inevitable narcissistic tendencies that the site encourages. But you have to consider, are you worth obsessing over?

Maxon: The fact that you look at pictures of yourself without engaging in acts of self-deprecation most likely indicate that you are "well balanced" (whatever that means) or that you may be narcissistic. Ultimately this is only cause for worry if you or someone who's close to you feels that it is interfering with your life in a negative way.

Aly: Facebook definitely fuels ego-centrism and narcissism in the sense that it puts our lives in a visual and digital format for us to hash over... over and over. Try going a while without your Facebook? Try telling yourself, "hell yeah, that's a good prof pic!" and then calling it quits? Try getting rid of all your worldly possessions and hiking to Alaska?

Megan: I have a personal theory about facebook. Simply by having a facebook we are all creepers! I don't know of anyone who doesn't at least occasionally flip through facebook photos. By having a facebook, you are not only saying that you creep on other people's facebook updates and photos, but you are also giving the facebook world permission to creep on you. While yes, you probably should be mindful of the amount of time you spend "creeping" on facebook, you should also know that you are not alone in this problem.

Will Russia's Shift to Linux Reinforce Cyber Anarchy?

Our American values are at stake. Last December, while competing Mac and Windows advertisements were airing on televisions throughout our great land (just in time for Christmas shopping), Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed an order mandating that the Russian government switch the entirety of its computer infrastructure from Microsoft Windows to Linux open-source software by 2015.
Photo from Treehugger

Linux is unique in that it is rooted in the ideology of "free software" and the free culture movement, which endorses the copying, modification and continued sharing of software (and other information).

This communistic/anarchistic view of the cyber-world rests on the premise that the internet inherently makes information non-rivalrous and non- excludable, thus making information a "public good". Treating it as such (rather than intentionally creating locks and compatibility errors to protect a given company's capital and intellectual property) theoretically maximizes creative productivity and innovation.

So why is the Russian government switching to Linux operating systems? Likely, part of it has to do with not wanting to depend upon "Western" software. But also, Russian schools have been switching over to Linux ever since 2007 because it made technology education significantly more affordable and accessible-- meaning there's a whole legion of Linux-indoctrinated young blood to pool tech support workers from. Good idea, Putin.

I do wonder (naively, i might add) if having the codes of government software openly available (part of the bargain price and "copyleft" agreement) will somehow increase the threat of security breaches and information tapping-- which would be ironic, considering the masterminds behind Wikileaks are a part the free culture movement heralding open-source.

What does seem certain to me, though, is that the expansion of Linux-based IT support and use in Russia is going to greatly expand the quality and viability of open-source software. I wouldn't be surprised if governments in developing countries around the world follow suit, narrowing the technology gap and reinforcing a paradigm shift in how we copyright and capitalize upon information.

Beiber is CSI's "Target of Obsession"

If you're part of the 70% of middle aged males that watch CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and also have a crush on Justin Beiber, well you're in luck! This February baby Beiber is scheduled to return to CSI in an episode entitled "Targets of Obsession". I would refer the decision maker here to this picture of a father at a Beiber concert and ask her to consider her target audience.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Will The 3DS Deliver On Its Promises?

The 3DS in all its glory.
(Note the two cameras for 3D photo taking)
The 3DS was made available to the public at Nintendo World 2011, and "Rambo the Bear" a Destructioid reader was there to deliver first-hand observations. Reactions are positive, despite some of the concerns that gamers have been having.

The initial game line up appears to be made up of remakes of games that are already in existence. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Super Street Fighter 4 are all launch titles. While this is balanced out with a new Kingdom Hearts game and a new Kid Icarus title, it's a little unfortunate that the hype is about making games already in existence into 3D.

The 3D function itself has also been a concern, as Nintendo has mentioned that a sweet spot is needed to view the game properly, with developers going so far as to say that the 3DS is best played on a table, kind of nerfing the whole portability aspect. Don't expect the images to pop out of the screen, the 3DS is providing 3D without glasses, not miracles. The 3D effect is more like looking into a diorama or through a window. As the slider is adjusted, the depth increases. The sweet spot is real, however, 3D is not the only thing the 3DS has to offer, although it's the name of the fucking system. Nintendo is releasing a more powerful handheld, I don't really care about whether or not I can always see something in 3D. I'm looking forward to more content, longer games, more music. I'm looking forward to the hardware providing more opportunities. 3D is cool and all, but it's just a gimmick.

3D functionality aside, the 3DS is having a few stumbling blocks that don't seem to be acceptable. Xenophobia Region locking will be used on the 3DS, ending the era of being able to play any game made for a handheld no matter what country it was made for. The battery life has also become a concern, as the 3DS has the lowest battery life out of all the rechargeable handhelds Nintendo has made. So not only will I have to recharge my 3DS every five minutes (exaggeration), but I also won't be able to play games that weren't released in the state I bought my 3DS in (also an exaggeration).

Overall, the 3DS looks like it will do what Nintendo always does, mess up the status quo in a way that irritates everyone else. It's good to have a maverick, as things stay interesting. While it seems that the 3DS will be a proper successor to Nintendo's handheld market, I can't really say for sure until I hold one in my hands, hopefully in March.