Friday, November 30, 2018

Chevy Chase Calls Me About Click2Sell

A guy from Click2Sell called me using the name Chevy Chase. Click2Sell is some kind of shady affiliate program that has been trying to get Clovis to join up. Still, I was so happy to hear from Chevy Chase because I loved his work from Caddyshack to the Vacation movies to the Community tv series. I was excited to ask him all sorts of questions, but, since I was taken by surprise by his call, I couldn't come up with anything truly insightful. Well, Chevy must be getting senile because he had no idea what I was talking about.

It turns out that he was saying "CHERRY Chase". He spelled out his name, "C H E R R Y" but couldn't spell "Chase". I then started mocking him by asking him to spell some other words. He eventually got frustrated and hung up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man: Turf Wars

Marvel's PS4 Spider-Man back again this month with Part 2 of its "City That Never Sleeps" DLC: "Turf Wars". Crime Boss and longtime Spider-Man baddie, Hammerhead, is out to take over in the wake of the power vacuum that resulted in Kingpin being thrown in jail. Making matters worse, Hammerhead and his goons have gotten hold of Sable-tech in order to help them take over the city. Yuri, Spider-Man's ally on the NYC police force, is damaged. She's got a personal vendetta against Hammerhead for a number of reasons and she's gone off the rails.

This is another fun entry into PS4 Spider-Man game. Combat is a lot tougher with this one, primarily due to the stepped-up weaponry. "Turf Wars" adds another new enemy type, gang members with powered shields AND jetpacks. These guys can be taken out with the same "slide under 'em and kick 'em from behind" tactic but their shield hurts to punch it, unlike the riot shield guys. Plus, they can do a charge move that can knock out Spidey's web gadgets. My solution? Launch 'em.

Screwball, of course, is back again as well and her challenges have another layer of complexity added to them. For example, stealth challenges now include both photobomb areas AND motion sensors.

In order to illustrate the increased combat difficulty, I've uploaded a video of me taking down a Hammerhead base.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Water Delivery Service Calls Me

A guy from Absopure, a water delivery company called me. He asked for Clovis, so I said "That's my dad" and handed him over. Clovis was having a rough day and was acting pretty senile. When the rep said "We had an inquiry online", Clovis said that he did not read the National Enquirer because it's a rag. After Clovis spouted off a few more random phrases, the guy excused himself and hung up.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Google Home Hub

I picked up the Google Home Hub from Wal-Mart during their Black Friday sale. It was selling for $99 which is down from it's usual retail price of $149. Also, Wal-Mart was offering a $10 Vudu movie credit along with the purchase. Now that I've sat with it for about 24 hours, what do I think?

At the very least, Google Home Hub makes a great digital picture frame. When it's idle, I have it showing a stream of my best pictures. But what makes for a "best" picture? What are the criteria? I don't know. They're hand selected by Google's algorithm. In Google We Trust!

But, what else can it do? Well, first off, I purchased a number of Merkury Innovations Color Smart A21 Light Bulbs to integrate with Google Home so that I can say "Hey Google, turn off the living room lights" or "Hey Google, turn on my bedroom lights". Turning the lights on or off with the voice command is a pretty neat trick, especially when I'm waking up, going to sleep, or walking into the house when it's dark out and the living room lights are out. I'm also fond of having Google read me the news on command. The speaker is decent enough where I'm not noticing any issues with sound quality. The display, however, is smaller than I would like, which is an issue when I'm trying to follow a recipe on video. Google Home can also play your Google Play Music playlists, and that's where you'll notice that the speaker on the Google Home Hub sounds a little flat.

We haven't quite mastered the shared aspects of Google Home yet. When someone in the house asks to add an item to the shopping list, Google Home adds it to their own individual shopping list rather than a shopping list belonging to the entire house. I'm sure there's a way around that. One of the neater things I can do is leave a voice note on Google Home Hub saying, for example "Don't forget to feed the dog" and when a Google Home device is next accessed, the message will play using my own voice.

I guess my ultimate verdict on Google Home Hub right now is "So far, so good". I'm waiting to integrate more services into it like a Nest Thermostat and a Nest Doorbell before making a final decision.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2 - More Painful Screwups

With Marvel's Spider-Man for the PS4 dropping Chapter 2 of its "City That Never Sleeps" DLC, "Turf Wars" yesterday, I'll be off of playing Red Dead Redemption 2 for a few days. Even though I still haven't progressed out of Horseshoe Overlook yet,  I've done quite a bit in Red Dead Redemption 2. And with those achievements comes some pretty spectacular and funny failures. I've compiled a new video of some of my favorite fails. Have a look:

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Beatles (White Album) Super Deluxe Edition

I broke down and bought a copy of The Beatles Super Deluxe Edition (or, if you prefer The White Album Super Deluxe Edition). The price tag of $140 made me think twice about getting it. That hefty price made me balk at getting the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Super Deluxe Edition several months ago. Plus, this would be the fifth time that I bought The White Album in some form or another. However, my interest in the White Album was strong enough, and the extra offerings were interesting enough that I felt that I could pull the trigger on this one. And, for the most part, I'm glad I did. I've been living with the album for about a week and I am ready to share my impressions:

The first thing that struck me was the decision to remove the fade over from Back In The U.S.S.R. into Dear Prudence, which I think is a fine idea, but, why fade Dear Prudence up? Why not just start it from the beginning? Glass Onion sounds so different that I almost thought it was a completely different take. And Kenneth Wolstenholme shouting "It's a Goal!" was added back to the end. Yet, John's muttering of "Monsieur, monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?" at the end of "I'm So Tired" is de-emphasized to the point where the final falsetto "Meep" is completely removed. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" sounds great, much less muddied than the original sounded. The falsetto background vocals on "Savoy Truffle" are de-emphasized which actually sounds better to me. I still can't stand listening to "Revolution 9", so I skipped it as always.

It's nice to have the entire Esher demos. I had a bootleg recording of them over 20 years ago but you could tell that it was second generation at best. What we get with this version of The White Album is a recording off of George's original reel-to-reel tape. I've always loved the way that these tracks sound. To me, this is the final appearance of The Beatles as a cohesive unit. They're all joining in and playing and singing together and they sound like they're having a good time. After this, the band would branch off and would act more like studio musicians for each other rather than an actual band.

The rest of the set is filled with alternate takes and studio jams. The thirteen minute version of "Helter Skelter" is underwhelming. The released version is often cited as the first heavy metal song ever recorded, so I had expected the thirteen minute version would shape up to be some kind of thundering monster jam. It sounds more like a blues shuffle, which, while interesting and very listenable, is underwhelming in light of all the hype. Other stand-outs are "Los Paranoias" which is goofy, "Not Guilty (Take 102)" which was criminally left off of The White Album, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Take 3)" which sounds better than the released version, And I love how "Revolution 1 (Take 18)" sounds before it delves into a trippy jam.

I have yet to listen to the album on Blu-Ray and I don't know that I ever will. It's nice to have, but I just don't see a situation where I'll actually use it.

So, should you buy The Beatles Super Deluxe Edition? If you're a big Beatles fan, a completest and/or want to delve into the nuts and bolts of The White Album, the yes, absolutely. If you're just not into the alternate takes and studio jams, then you would do well with the scaled-back Deluxe Edition which includes the remixed album and the Esher demos. If you'd bought The White Album before, should you upgrade to one of the new editions? The 1987 CD versions of this album that most of us grew up with don't do justice to the album, but the 2009 re-master edition sounds good enough that you would be fine with just having that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Cannabis Oil Rep Calls Again

The Cannabis Oil rep called again. Once again, I answered as the stereotypical stoner. This time, however, the rep quickly recognized it as a riff off of Cheech and Chong. Clovis then got on the line and the rep remarked "You guys are characters!". Clovis took offence and said he was a Republican, not a character. The rep seemed to get triggered and said he wanted to give Clovis an analogy. Clovis said that he doesn't want to put anything in his analogy because he poops out of that hole. The rep then went on to talk about building a five bedroom house. Clovis got bored and went to get his accountant to talk to the rep. The rep droned on for a second about building the five bedroom house and then hung up.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Medieval Times

We took our teenage daughters to see Youtube star and beauty influencer James Charles at the grand opening of Morphe in Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. I had never heard of James Charles or Morphe, but I was familiar enough with Woodfield Mall to get everyone there and safely navigate the crowd of angsty teenagers. Back in my early post-College days, I lived within 10 minutes from Woodfield Mall and would end up there at least once a week to catch a movie, drink in one of the restaurants or shop for over-priced merchandise. Back then, Woodfield Mall was usually pretty busy. And, despite everything I have read about the impending demise of brick-and-mortar retail, Woodfield Mall seems to be bucking the trend. It even has an open Sears store!

The line to see James Charles was huge. I had never heard of James Charles since before last week, and we had no desire to stand in line with a bunch of teens, so we let our daughters fend for themselves and went off to explore on our own.

The Nopiest Nope That Ever Noped. 

After our daughters had properly basked in the presence of James Charles, we headed out for dinner at Medieval Times which is pretty close to Woodfield Mall. The last time I was there was about 4 years ago and I remember it being packed to the gills with people while we waited to get in. It really wasn't so bad this time. I'd say that the place was about 2/3 full at best. I was able to get 50% off tickets just by searching for Medieval Times coupon codes on the Internet. So, I splurged on a few upgrades and got us an early entry and seats closer to the action.

The food is still as good as it was the last time I was there. The dragon's blood (tomato bisque) was some of the best I'd ever had and the chicken was decent. I had forgotten that you have to eat like a peasant and that no utensils are provided. And the coffee is still amazing. I managed to bribe our Man-Wench to slip me the label of the coffee brand that Medieval Times uses so that I can buy some myself.

Of course, the best thing about Medieval Times is the show and tournament. I felt that the performers were a little off their game this time. I'm sure that comes with doing the last show of the night. I also found it a bit odd that they made a point of mentioning that some of the battles were to the death, yet some of the supposedly "dead" opponents came back to fight again. Maybe the Queen has a really good doctor that she put to use for the tournament. Maybe there's a necromancer on staff. I'm sure that total realism isn't a concern for Medieval Times. All in all, we had a great time and are already planning on  going again sometime soon.

Go BLUE! The Blue Knight Would Eventually Win The Tournament

Thanks to the magic of Youtube, I dug up an old commercial for the Medieval Times Schaumburg Castle:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Painful Screwups

Looks like I finished Marvel's Spider-Man just in time. Red Dead Redemption 2 came out last week and I'm a few hours into it now. It's a truly beautiful game with a lot of depth and a lot of things to do in the open world. After progressing through the initial "teach you how to play" chapter, I've spent most of my time exploring, hunting and raiding the occasional ranch for materials. My muscle memory must still be stuck on Marvel's Spider-Man because I keep running into things in Red Dead Redepmption 2. And, occasionally, things run into me. On purpose. Check out the video below to see my most painful screwups in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Stop IRS Debt Calls Me

A rep from a so-called tax relief company called Stop IRS Dept called me. I strung him along a little bit by pretending to look for paperwork which culminated in me flushing a toilet. I then pretended to fart and said it was "Farting Friday". I told the rep that the IRS was planning to garnish my wages, which I thought had something to do with food presentation.

I was handed off to a "Senior Tax Advisor". I said I was expecting a Mexican because of the word "Senior" and said I was disappointed. The rep said that life is filled with little disappointments. I replied "Yeah, your wife knows that very well".

He hung up on me.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man Screwball Combat Challenge Gold

The Screwball Challenges are the scourge of Marvel's Spider-Man DLC: "The Heist". Getting the bronze level is tough enough. Getting gold on the challenge seems impossible when you first start out. Here's a video I made of me getting gold on a Screwball combat challenge. What you need to do is try not to engage the enemies until you get into a photobomb area. Once you do, start jamming on your gadgets, favoring the impact webs, tripwire webs and web bombs. Also, make sure you have the regeneration power enabled plus the add-on that gives you a gadget refill whenever you do a finisher.