Stuff and things, June 2016 by jason / chevron

Once again, it’s been a while D:

I’ve been a very busy bee though! Besides all of the usual podcasts and the day job, I’ve built a couple of major projects, finally have my studio properly set up again, and have been getting more and more involved in local goings on!

Going in chronological order, I think the first major event was the Bridgetown Comedy Festival at which I volunteered. As expected, my position was less than glorious… Just relegated to standing around and maybe hanging up a banner here or there, but still no regrets! I got to meet a few new people, got to catch a couple of comics wrapping up their sets, but otherwise really didn’t have time in my schedule to make it to any of the shows. The festival was easily a great success and I’m glad I was able to help out my little bit!

 

In the middle of everything going on in the last couple of months, Trey and I realized that the 4th anniversary of the release of Prometheus was actually going to synch up with our podcast recording day, so we decided to finally kill the joke and ACTUALLY discuss the greatest movie ever made! It was not only a really fun and deep pod, but also one of our most popular to date! CHECK IT OUT! Prometheus Ultra breakdown

 

From there, one of the biggest projects I’ve had on my mind for the last few years was building a proper recording booth, and I finally had the time and resources to make it a reality! Some of the core elements I wanted were:

- obviously needed to block outside noise

- needed to be easy to break down and transport

- wanted to stay around $300 total cost

- and needed ventilation!

Since it needed to be easy to move around, I didn’t want to build it out too thick with lots of drywall and 2x4’s, so instead I went with 2x3’s and thin plywood. Inside the walls I used the Lowe’s ‘Safe and Sound’ ‘rockwool’ type insulation, sealed the panels with silicone, and added window weatherstripping in all of the gaps between the walls.

I had all of the tools I needed, so no added cost there, but being around 6ft long, 4ft wide, and 6’10” tall, it took A LOT of materials! I had originally thought to make it a straight 4x8 so I wouldn’t have to cut any plywood, but in the end that was just WAY too big to then be put inside… It took a number of days, nights, and weekends to get it all wrapped up, so overall it actually took about a month to completely finish – and even then it’s not 100% for my taste…

The end result? I’d say it’s something like 75% quieter inside than out – but it has been a little hard to tell since this house is generally quiet to begin with. I’ll probably do a more formal write up with lots of details and audio examples of the ‘before and after’.

 

A very intriguing event came across my Twitter feed a while back called the Geek Craft Expo. It’s a nationwide schedule of events that collect local creative and provides tons of foot traffic for potential business. I joined in their kick-off party and made my way through the expo as well.  It was like any vendor’s section at a typical convention or fairground, but it’s exclusively (mostly) hand-made, nerdy-geek related clothes, decorations, and more. There were all kinds of wild items on display from more than a dozen local artists at this Portland expo, and not a single duplicate item to be found! All of the booths were super unique and intriguing.

The expo was started by the comic writer Daniel Way (Deadpool and Wolverine!) and takes place throughout the year in many big cities across the US, visit http://www.geekcraftexpo.com/ to learn more!

Another awesome event that came through town was totally dropped in my lap (thanks to Twitter again!), the Mecum Auto Auction! It was a multi-day event as well, but I didn’t find out about it until the night before! I chose to not sleep and had a deliriously great time in the end. I got to see a TON of awesome cars (way better than the last car show I hit) and having watched a disgusting number of hours of the television showings of these auctions, it was incredible to be able to witness it in person. I highly recommend going to any fellow car folks out there.

The last big project I’ve been working on was a neat, fancy-pantsy shooting gallery for Funemploymentradio.com‘s Cornhole Brewer’s Cup. This one all started when the duo of Greg and Sarah discussed on of Greg’s childhood past times: killing frogs for his neighbor for cash! Sarah just briefly mentioned that it would be cool to have a shooting gallery based on that and the hook in my mind was set.

As goes with most of my projects, it just caught my interest and I could never stop thinking about it until it was real. So I immediately drew up sketch, and after getting the go-ahead set to it. This one moved a lot faster since it was comparatively small next to the recording booth, but also benefitted from the leftover scraps of boards, screws and plywood. I had to invent all of the mechanics of it, which are honestly pretty simple, but it works, looks great, and garnered A LOT of attention at the Cornhole Tournament!

Speaking of which, yesterday was the second round of FER’s Cornhole Brewer’s Cup Tournament, and I actually did much better! Still not a champion, but at least made it out of the first bracket! It was a very nice day out, lots of good beers and great people to mull around with, just a great way to spend an afternoon. I got to reveal my shooting gallery (which got lots of attention) and can’t wait to see and do more!

See you in a month! (lol)

Hi there! Where have you been? by jason / chevron

Yes, I'm still alive, and yes we are permanent residents in Oregon now!

It's an enormous relief to finally be in a house, with room for all of our crap, a job that checks all the boxes, AND FREAKING INTERNET! (*that doesn't suck)

It's still a mess in my new 'studio' area... still need to get everything set up and start designing/building the booth I've been fantasizing about for years. In the meantime I've been soaking in every different kind of experience I can up here - taking advantage of what makes it so special!

Back in the central valley in California, it's perfectly fine and reasonable to grow up, get a job, live and die. But little else. Yes there are TONs of experiences that are accessible within a day's travel from where we were, but now? It's more like 30 minutes :D

Now don't get me wrong, there are caveats to living up here. The biggest is that we haven't seen the sun outside of one day a week or so in the month I've been up and around here. It's also averaged about 60 degrees any given day - So all you lizard people that love the sun and being warm all year (goddamn weirdos), just go ahead and stay in CA!

We love this weather. Nothing makes us happier than looking out the windows at any time of day and seeing nothing but a gray, cloudy sky. We still need to experience a real Winter up here, but that shouldn't make or break anything. The easiest way to cope is to remember that millions of people make it through anything this place can throw at us and much, much worse!

 

Some of the more exciting stuff we've done was the Funempradio Cornhole tournament and soon the Bridgetown Comedy Festival!

We played in the very wet cornhole tournament a week or so ago, which was put on by a local podcasting network; Funemployment Radio. We had a great time hanging out at the Landmark Saloon, enjoying the cozy facility, tasty food, and fabulous beers. We also finally got to socialize with some of the locals to try to work on making those all important friends and connections. 

Next month we'll be back to check out the second round of the tournament, and hopefully I'll be able to contribute more to the network and events!

Now, still in terms of contribution, I'm also volunteering to help out with the Bridgetown Comedy Festival that's coming through town in the next few weeks! I won't be doing anything too glorious, but it's still exciting to be a part of something so big and unique, and also have the chance to make new friends! 

This monster comedy fest will feature something like over 120 comedians in eight or so different venues within Portland's downtown area from June 1st to through the 5th. There's far too many great comedians to name, covering all levels of notoriety and style, and I can't wait to be a part of it and make some impressions!

 

We are also finally getting back on track with podcasting on Deathsdoorprods - we skipped what feels like a month of pods due to lack of internet, facilities, and time on all ends of the production... But we crapped out a video games podcast yesterday and will rock a new Chops and The Dewd by Friday!

Anyway, I'm super stoked to finally be settling in and making moves up here in the PNW and can't wait to get further along to where I can start taking some acting and production classes and maybe try to sell some art! Stay tuned!

BEERCADE by jason / chevron

Welp, looks like it's still the old once a month format around here... whatever... Life is a bitch and takes all the time. At least I'm finally in the Portland area for good - as permanent as possible without having our own goddamn house anyway…

As the search for semi-permanent residence continues to drag its fat ass along the coals here, It was time to seek out those little things that make living around here so damn enriching. Step one for me has long been a little outfit called Ground Kontrol; a local beercade on Couch (which my Google maps pronounces ‘cooch’) in downtown Portland.

The folks behind Ground Kontrol have been keeping the faith in terms of preserving and making playable historic arcade machines since 1999 when they first established the original arcade. Since then they’ve built up a collection of over 60 arcade cabinets and 27 pinball tables and added a full service bar and food menu to the mix.

Once inside the facility is exactly as it should be: Tron-like tube lighting, games in every direction, sick lighted tables, and every generation of arcade gaming represented. The floor space is a little cramped, leaving little extra room to move between machines, but it’s a happy balance of quantity and quality. There’s plenty of games that I’ve never seen, let alone in the same room, and enough to require multiple visits to fully explore.

The night I chose to visit was also a special edition beer launch care of Ninkasi Brewing Co. Their first brew from the ‘Ninkasi Space Program’ called (fittingly) Ground Control is an imperial stout brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise, and cocoa nibs and bourbon barrel-aged. I’m absolutely not a fan of stouts, but this one was truly delicious – lots of flavors bounding around and a nice kick.

I’m thankful I finally got to enjoy a piece of the good life here in town, now it’s back to the grindstone of finding a rental to really get the show on the road!

Chevron at the movies by jason / chevron

UUUGGGHHH GAAAD!!! It's been a great big pain in the ass to be alive these last couple of weeks... Hard to find time to post anything! Stupid wisdom teeth, then fillings, then a cold, all while trying to prep and sell our house... holy shit it's been rough.

Finally the fog has started to lift and we're really getting in gear. Chops and the Dewd has mostly stayed on schedule, so here's the newest episodes:

Episode 44

Episode 45

Aside from that, I also watched a bunch of TV and Movies!

The Walking Dead: The new season has started very strong - they've finally gotten into some of the more intriguing elements of the comics including new interactions with the larger world in which the survivors exist. Lots of exciting changes to the roster happen as well, heh heh heh...

Venture Bros: Just business as usual here. And that business is being FACKIN AWESOME, and business is booming! The family has moved into Jonas Venture Jr's skyscraper in New York and have become the center of an all new story line full of new villains and surprising twists on old friends. Overall, this season has the potential to be the best yet, which is absolutely no small feat.

The X-Files: I've been watching all of the original series for a while now and have made it all the way up to season 6, while also watching the new limited series on Fox. The originals are still some of the best TV I've ever seen, and my only gripe is the lack of continuity in the way that Sculley or Mulder will literally be dying in one episode, and NEVER mention it in the next episode... If it ever does come up, it's a quick "remember that time when..." It's just something that wasn't considered back then I guess...

As for the new short season on Fox, It surely wasn't the best of the X-files, but no worse than the stinkers that would crop up in the early seasons. Though the Were-monster episode was for me, one of the absolute best X-files episodes I've seen. It was one of the goofier ones, but so fun and surprisingly human that it simply felt good to be a part of. Otherwise, the mythology elements we a little too on the nose, the acting was always just a little 'off', and the pacing for most of the shows felt super rushed. The series ended with a cliff hanger, so we'll see if they re-up and finish what they started...

Twin Peaks: Hands-down the worst goddamn show I have ever tried to watch. At least through the first handful of episodes, then it finally settles down and gets interesting. From the very start though the acting ranges from smooth and believable to ridiculous, ham-fisted, and just plain bad. The music is comically terrible throughout and unfortunately sticks with it for the whole ride. Once the show finally starts to peel back the onion layers and the stupid over-acting subsides it turns in to a story that is constantly developing and expertly challenges any suppositions you may have about where it's going. I'm only 8 episodes in to the first season with 22 more in the second, a movie, and potentially a new season to go, so hopefully it's worth it in the end.

Crimson Peak: We waited a long while to finally dig into this one, and my only regret is waiting all this time to finally check it out. A simple review would be, if you like Guillermo Del Torro's movies, this is one of them. He's a master of what he does and this film fits right in with the best of them. 

It's deceptive in it's fantastic and mysterious elements as the main hook really doesn't involve the spooky stuff in any world effecting way - almost the same way that all of the fantasy in Pan's Labyrinth can be dismissed as nothing more than a young girl's imagination. But as with any GDT film, the production value is so high, the world so detailed, and the story so interesting and fresh that it just can't be bad.

Deadpool: This is a goddamn fantastic fucking movie. That's a sentence that you wouldn't think twice of if it was found in the script for Deadpool. It's the most perfectly profane, sexy, gory, violent R rated movie, oh, AND it's about a comic book character! 

Deadpool is a perfectly fresh breath of fresh air that will re-inspire your confidence in the film industry's ability to make movies people actually want and deserve to see. It took a mile trek through dog shit to get it made, but thank God those who fought the good fight did so. 

The 'Merc with a mouth' has long been an entertaining background character in the Marvel comic universe, but his film debut in Wolverine: Origins is universally hated as the worst bastardisation of a comic character in film history. That unfortunate portrayal has finally been reversed in glorious fashion with this new adventure. The script is perfectly on point with the blend of the character and his relation to the world of the X-men. The jokes are equally fleet-footed when they are dead on the nose as they are tossed in to regular conversation. They can be funny and appreciated, without drawing out loud laughs, which just felt right. Almost every line of dialog felt like something I myself would say, as opposed to fake and forced like most attempts at such things.

The story itself is simple and uncluttered. The driving force of the action is believable and grounded for a change, unlike every other 'world-is-ending' scenario, and overall for me it fits right up with Winter Soldier as one of the best comic based films. An absolute must-see!

 

That's all for now - hopefully the next time you hear from me I'll finally be in Portland!

It's Alive... by jason / chevron

Well, I survived! I had three of four wisdom teeth removed, but I didn't die! now I just get to enjoy the twisted roller coaster of pain...

Once that recovery is out of the way it'll be back to work. I've got a new script to record a few parts for which is very exciting, and hopefully the finished product will be out by the end of the year (been working on this one for close to three years now i think!).

Alas, there is no Chops and the Dewd podcast this week - due to the teeth - but next week I should be back to full power and ready to resume business as usual. 

In the meantime I'm working on little things around the house and playing the new PS4 emulation of Dark Cloud 2. I had this game back on PS2 and only got about a quarter of the way through it... It really is a long slog of a game, but the art style, characters, story, systems, and village building mechanics are simply unmatched in anything really. The dungeons are a real grind, seeming to go on for ages, but the rewards and sense of progress achieved help a little to keep it interesting.

The combat is very free-form and accessible, leaving you to develop your own strategies of how to approach each situation, but a lot of the upgrades and items go unexplained for a very long period in the game. Most of what I've done in terms of upgrading and progressing has been through sheer will and guesswork. Nothing is explained when it first becomes available, and there's lots of details to be missed - just a fact of life in a game that's over 12 years old!

Speaking of that; being this is an emulation of a PS2 game on the PS4, it looks absolutely beautiful! So much of the graphics scale up to today's specs without looking ridiculous, and the cartoonish art style really lends itself to this upgrade. it really makes me want to check out the other games they've released, but I really need to be budget minded these days :(

Anywho, I'll be around and back to my usual nonsense in no time, just happy to be alive and on the road to wellness again! Ta-ta for now!

BORING! by jason / chevron

Man... It's been a full month now since I've been a free man, and from the outside it sure looks and feels like I haven't done a DAMN THING! Yuck.

It's been a lot of behind the scenes work on the home front mostly... Just getting stuff lined up for the eventual move, boring house repair crap, you know.

Aside from that, the podcasts are back in full swing - video games and Chops and the Dewd both have new episodes out in the wild: Video_Games - C&D40

I've also seen The Force Awakens THREE times now, beat the main campaign in Just Cause 3, and even streamed a couple of gaming sessions for the FIRST TIME EVER! Which I fully intend to do more of... just nailing down my setup. Using the Sony wireless headphone/mic for the voice over kinda sucks, so I've got to look in to using my studio mic for the audio. I know it's not terribly complex, but it's just not as easy as firing up the PS4 and hitting 'Stream'!

Anywho, I'm getting my wisdom teeth pulled on the 20th, so here's hoping I don't die, wake up with brain damage, have an allergic reaction, or end up with a permanent numb mouth that fucks up my voice over aspirations! No apprehension here, oh no! FML...

Nominated??? oh, and Merry Christmas!! by jason / chevron

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope the old, fat, red man was good to you all this year!

News is light over here, just working on beating a few PS4 games and laying low, taking it easy. Only another week before the new year, when the real work starts!

One really neat thing did come up today though, and it was a complete surprise for me this morning... At the 1hr1m mark on the Adam Carolla podcast 'Donald Trump/Ace Awards 2015' episode (LINK) they go in to the nominees for 'Best Caller' of 2015. And who do you think was number three of three in the category? LITTLE OL' ME!

The original call definitely won't go down in the books as one of the finest moments in my VO career, but hell - if it made enough of an impact to be recalled months later (sarcastically/tongue-in-cheek or not), that has to say SOMETHING right?

The gist is that I planned a little skit to run by Carolla and crew with a few voices I was playing around with. I called in one day, and without any introduction, went right in to the 'act'. It landed with a resounding THUD.

Adam wasn't getting where I was going with it and joyfully pointed out the lack of depth to the 'characters' I made up. The biggest problem from my perspective was; I'm not a writer. I have no intention of making a career writing funny jokes, skits or scripts - I plan to READ them! So when I made up some rando BS skit aping a Crank Yankers joke ("let me put my brother on the phone"), it ended up being pretty meh overall.

'Bald' Bryan at least gave me props for having a good handle on actually creating and working the voices, and even still remembers the "balls" I have for even going for it :) But who knows what the consensus may be...

Again though, the fact that it made enough of an impression, good or bad, is still an exceptional feat for a nobody I say!

Exciting stuff to be sure, and fun over all. I plan to try to call back in and see if they'll chat some more about the whole thing. I think it'd be fun, and would give me a chance to ask Adam for some advice for the whole dream that this is... we shall see!

In other news, Trey and I did a nice hour long 'spoilercast' for the new Star Wars! here's a LINK but beware - THERE ARE SPOILERS!

In closing, I hope that everyone has a fun, happy holiday season, and hope to see you all in 2016! (and tell all of your dang friends to check me out too!!!)

1 day, 1 hour, 13 minutes, 20 seconds by jason / chevron

BON VOYAGE!!!!

That's it! Soon this current chapter of my life/career will end, turning the page to an all new adventure in the Northwest!

For all of my work friends making their way here for the first time, here's a few links to guide you through some of the projects I've worked on over the last few years:

Voice Over Projects

Art/Projects

Playstation Experience podcast

You'll also see a smattering of podcasts throughout, just don't let your kids listen - we are dirty foul mouth sailors with very bad taste... NSFW for sure :)

Look forward to lots of content here (I swear!), since i'll be doubling my focus on this and all of my projects as well as finishing tying things up here in the valley...

18 days, 3 hours, 12 mins, 35 seconds… by jason / chevron

18 days, 3 hours, 12 mins, 35 seconds…

That’s how much longer I have at my soon to be ‘old’ job! WOW!

Oh, here's some recent Chops and the Dew Action for ya!

Episode 34: Medal of Sacrifice

Episode 35: Covers Aren't Copyright Infringement

Episode 36: Call of Duty Advanced: F*ck F*ck whatever

Now, in funtime news; there’s been a LOT of Fallout 4, Battlefront, and Need For Speed in my life lately… oh my!

It’s too easy to simply talk about the low hanging mutfruit and bantha muffins, so I’ll take the wildcard Need for Speed first.

I, like many gamers, have been a fan of Need for Speed for a long, long time… All the way back to “Road and Track Presents: The Need for Speed” (lol). Since that first fateful display of polygonal motor mayhem they have released exactly 452 Need for Speed games – and I’ve played most of them. This actually sound a lot like a previous post I wrote somewhere regarding PCars I believe… Anywho, this all new entry marks a bunch of changes to formula since the last title ‘Rivals’ released in 2013.

The biggest change is the return to ‘Underground’ format (from the NFS: Underground line of games) – nighttime competitive street racing that actually resembles what really goes on in street racing culture. Of course it isn’t as completely ‘accurate’ and realistic as say, Fast and Furious, but it’s pretty dang close. This style focuses on the purchase of stock models, deep customization of performance and visual flair, and mostly realistic street racing, drifting, and the like.

Gone is the ‘Most Wanted’ list of super cars, Speed Cameras, and smashable billboards five stories off the ground – and in its place are a nice spread of cars real people drive and race, a million customization options, and a deep, well-acted, quality storyline.

Wait, what?

“Storyline”? “Well acted”? But wait, there’s more: IT’S ALL LIVE-ACTION!!!

That’s right, for the second or third time now, the NFS series has done something only Wing Commander dare try; They have filmed real human beings walking and talking! But the most shocking thing is how shockingly GOOD it is.

The characters have character, their lines and delivery are very realistic, and all of the scenes are fairly long, single-cuts – that’s a big deal for mainstream actors in big budget AAA movies, let alone such a thing in a videogame. It’s amazing!

Some of the lines do still come off as cheesy since there’s always going to be a goofy “oh man, he doesn’t know about the double pump the clutch to get the rev matching on your downshift on the entry to the 90 degree left hander? Lololol” type of line in there, but I really like it.

Now for the actual gameplay – I found it to be some of the best Need for Speed driving setup in a LONG time. Ghost Games (used to be a lot of ex-Burnout devs) handled this one and it shows. Once you get accustomed to the rules of the physics in this game, the rewards of success fall into your lap like rain.

I may be a little ahead of the curve with all my car-game experience, so the first bunch of challenges haven’t put up much of a fight, but I’ve already hit performance walls that remind me I can’t stick with the same first car through the whole game. New performance parts need to be bought and installed, and after a certain point, you just need more car to compete. The upgrading and purchasing of new cars is simple and quick, which takes the pain out of the process, and you’ll very soon be riding in some sick metal with more than enough ponies to pound the competition.

After spending around 10 hours with the game and driving three of the ~20 cars, I’m hooked. The visuals are among the best I’ve played on PS4, as long as you’re moving. Tree textures are flat when stared at parked on the side of the road… But the overall ‘style’ of the graphics are also a sweet treat. The team went to great lengths to lend a sort of film-like appearance to the game overall, including flared lights and film grain that add to the visual flair.

I’ll definitely be putting a lot of miles on this one.

 

In other news, I’ve also been playing a ton of Fallout 4 – which may get its own thread on here, “Tales from the Commonwealth” , and Battlefront(2015).

Both are completely engrossing titles that require a nice blend of skill and strategy in a first or third person world of futuristic combat, though Fallout follows a much slower pace.

Battlefront is the Star Wars game made for fans of the physical world the movies take place in. It’s for the nerds whose pants tighten when they hear a Tie Fighter scream overhead as they zig-zag between the laser blasts of rebel scum while also locking on to an airspeeder that’s trying to bind up the legs of the same At-At they stand beneath… Yeah, I’m one of ‘those’ nerds. And My God does this game deliver on all fronts.

The stories of Star Wars and its characters are one thing, but there is so much more to the galaxy that is expressed through all of the vehicles, weapons, and planets of the series, and that’s what this game gives you. All of the classic battlegrounds from the films appear, including ones not yet experienced in the films. Whole new areas of Endor and Tattoine, but none of that prequel crap – YET…

There are new, but thematically appropriate, weapons to take hold of, and an experience/unlocking system that rewards your dedication with new weapons, abilities, and outfits to customize your player – which is really helpful if you have a certain ‘style’ or approach to FPS games. Myself, I’m a lone wolf type, but not quite a sniper, so I usually go with a medium range blaster and some grenades, but theirs equal opportunity for close combat with shotgun blasters and long range sniper rifles to cover all the bases.

The gameplay is fast, fluid, and I have yet to see even a single dropped connection (on my end) or any kind of glitching – Obviously lessons learned from Battlefield! In my opinion, this is the single best Star Wars game available right now – including previous entries of any type, and I only hope they have a lot in store for future updates and expansions – there’s so much they can pull from!

Now, Fallout… I’ll be very brief as this has gone quite long already J

If you like Fallout games, you’ll love Fallout 4.

 

Thanks for reading kids! And remember, never stop chasing your dreams!

Random Dump by jason / chevron

Hey Party People!

Down below you'll find the most recent episode of the World's Favorite Podcast*, Chops and the Dewd! It's terrible as ever, but it's fun damn it, and that's what counts!

Besides Podding and Plotting, I had the opportunity to witness the majesty that is Ghost at the Warfield in San Francisco. An awesome last gasp and part of my list of things to do in this part of California before I GTFO and never look back!

The show was just as good as the reviews of the performances would suggest. The band is fantastic at recreating the albums' tracks, and it's taken to the next level with the addition of their physical presence and energy. There really isn't too much going on visually besides their costumes and some lighting, but it's more about the music anyway.

As a follow-up to that, they also made an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert the this last Friday night. They played my favorite single, 'Cirice', and looked and sounded great. Hopefully a ton of new fans will have discovered them from this appearance and help perpetuate their rise in the industry!

The only let down was that they seem to have been forced into a really short time slot and had to cut a bunch of sections out of the song... The intro was all but non-existent, and a few different bits were basically cut in half. The result sounded fine, but also lost a lot of the dramatic pacing that makes the song so great. Only fans will notice though, and the newbies that might hope on the Ghost train will be pleasantly surprised when they hear the real thing!

 

Well, that's all I care to share for now kids, but I've got lots of cool stuff I'm looking forward to blathering about; there's a couple of BIG weeks for gaming coming down the pipe - Fallout 4 drops next week and  Star Wars: Battlefront the week after... meaning I've got to get my shit together and finally finish Metal Gear... oof!

Sayonara Stalkers! 

*unofficially 

12-11-2015 by jason / chevron

Soon my friends… Soon.

Soon I will embark on a new chapter in my life. Soon I will be freed from the confines of a ‘9-5’ and will finally be allowed to pursue all of those pursuits I have so desperately desired but had little energy or time for. December 11th will be the day I shed my shackles and finally get the time I need to completely submerge myself into the arts!

Just think of the possibilities! FULL-TIME Voice Acting, Podcasting, Video Game Streaming, Commenting and Reviewing, YouTube Videos, Drawing, Sculpting, Music… SO MUCH STUFF TO DO! And no more of this one post a month shit!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Most of you already know, but in addition to this new freedom, I’ll also be joining the exodus to the Pacific Northwest as have so many of us tired, dusty, and downtrodden Californians have. This Spring we will embark on our biggest life changing endeavor; moving to Portland Oregon!

It’s been a goal of ours for years to escape the doldrums of the California Central Valley for greener pastures. This part of the world is great for anyone that wants a solid, long-term career with a company that likely isn’t going anywhere in the next 20+ years; but therein lies the problem: not going anywhere.

There is nothing else here.

Sure you can grow up in relative safety and comfort, work a decent job, and raise a family to rinse and repeat the same life story; but if you want anything else out of life, the cost of entry is high. You need to leave the valley to get into anything other than agriculture, warehousing or general business.

The closest alternatives are San Francisco and Los Angeles, 2 and 4.75 hours respectively, and neither are truly ‘improvements’. SF is exceedingly expensive to even approach what is achievable in the valley in terms of a home, and LA is so thick with toxic air and people that you can’t breathe – but both offer an extraordinary wealth of opportunities in the industries of Art and Entertainment.

But, so does the Northwest!

From the outside looking in, the opportunities are the same, if less abundant, but the bar of entry is lower, as well as the ceiling. I feel it’s the perfect environment to grow and test your ideas, the perfect place to make friends and collaborators out of the thousands of creative types that already live there. And if anything starts to click along, it’s still just a flight or a phone call away from the rest of the world.

Also, its goddamn beautiful.

Myself and Mrs chops enjoy the rain as well, so we are perfectly set in that regard.  We’re apparently called Pluviophiles. Google it :)

“Times they are a changin’”. I've never been so excited. I've waited years, perhaps too long, to make this kind of move, but it has to work... I can't keep running in the hamster wheel of the corporate world, running with the rats... There's no cheese at the end of that maze for me. 

My dream is simply to make a living doing what I love: making cool shit and working with cool people.

Here’s hoping you’ll be along for the ride! Talk to you all soon…

What have you done for me lately Eddie? by jason / chevron

Hello Boils and Ghouls! 

Goddamn am I burnt out! UGH... work sucks balls when you don't have any passion for what you do... when there's nothing to look forward to in the day. No ambition, just drag ass with ungrateful, pushy, stupid people, day after day... shit gets OLD! And it's even worse when it's over 100 degrees and the whole state is on fire! It looks like someone's taking a picture with a sepia filter on outside from all the dang smoke!

On the bright side, cool stuff should happen after the next couple of weeks slide by, and in the meantime I've been listening to Ghost non-stop (going to see them live in October!) and have sunk a couple dozen hours in to Metal Gear Solid 5!

That game is simply incredible... It's a big bite to try to take if you're not a born and bred gamer, as the plot, controls, rules of engagement, and depth of the subsystems are pretty intense and overwhelming, but it is seriously one of the greatest games ever made. Just like all of the main series entries in the Metal Gear franchise. 

And as always, I've got plenty of podcasts for your indulgence! Have at it!

Ghost - Meliora by jason / chevron

Rejoice! The third full album release from Ghost is upon us! Meliora (Latin for ‘better’) came out last week and the name fits perfectly. This is the pinnacle of Ghost thus far in every way. The songs are tighter, cleaner, and overall more completely realized than ever before. Nothing is gone, nothing has changed, except that everything just sounds and feels ‘better’!

I’ve already listened to the whole album three times this morning as I write this, which is completely rare for me. Most albums I pick up I have to revisit weeks and months after release before they finally click. Deftones’ Koi No Yokan took over a year to finally sink in, now it’s one of my all-time favorites, but as with all of Ghost’s music; the hook is set from day one.

To catch anyone up that needs it, Ghost is a Swedish rock band that specializes in horror/satanic melodic, what I consider, concept music. Their physical appearance compliments and carries on the theme of the music in that the lead singer, “Papa Emeritus III” resembles a skull-faced satanic pope and the rest of the band dress as masked Friars. Their identities remain unknown to this day, an impressive feat in 2015 – but rumors have potentially identified them as a group of established musicians who have dabbled in other genres through the years.

To me, the music itself is easiest described as a modern day Black Sabbath. With all of the same early-days evil undertones and black subject matter retained, Ghost also shares a lot of that structure of killer riffs, catchy hooks, and memorable lyrics. Some moments on this album in particular feel like something pulled from Flash Gordon or a 70’s rock opera, which is a great thing in this case. The songs on this album range from medium tempo straight rock to ballads and creepy interludes. Equal parts guitar, bass, drums, layered vocals, and organ/keyboard tones paint an aural canvas that fills the mind with imagery of a world gone dark; a world after the rise of ‘the beast’.

There are a few shortcomings that I find with this album, and they are shared with previous works as well. They are only slightly detrimental to the overall package, as the art and mastery on display is unequaled by the rest of my catalogue.

Every song has a great hook somewhere in a verse or chorus, but what bugs me is how many are just plain overused.  Majesty is a perfect example of taking a good thing too damn far… The chorus is awesome; the way this great riff is structured between the guitar, bass, vocals and the sweet little drum beat is pure musical alchemy. But by the fifteenth time it’s played in the song I’m a little depressed… Then the 45th time I hear “spirit, absent”, “cry for absolution” or “my mummy dust” I’m ready to barf a scarab.

Cirice, the first single released from the album earlier this year, is still one of the most perfect songs I’ve ever taken in. It stirs emotion, gracefully tells a story, and lacks the any of the repetition of other songs. The verses and emphasis are changed slightly throughout, creating a sense of progression  that runs exactly the way I wish all artists would write; not A,B,C,A,B,C – but instead A,B,C,D,E,F.

‘He Is’ is another great song, a ballad that tells the story of finding inspiration in their dark lord and a perfect example of how Ghost delivers on their objective of showing the bright side of Satanism. It’s a bright and uplifting song that feels like finding your way out of a depression in how it starts off sullen and melancholy, but ends high and proud (thanks to ‘him’). Dark and fun!

The mixing is much more appealing than previous albums, with a much more upfront guitar and more well blended bass and drums. The vocals have also come a good long way forward on this album as well, feeling much more perfected, where previous albums made me feel like some things could have cooked a little longer before being tracked. That said, one of the other little disappointing things I find with a lot of Ghost’s lyrics are the bits that are forced in. The singer will speak with a certain cadence for a few bars, but then cram a bunch of extra words in to a too-small space, killing the established rhythm of the verse. That’s a pet peeve of mine that I’ve had with many bands, and have always felt it should be a hard point of focus when writing… take the extra time to reword that segment, find a way to make the same statement but in a way that maintains that rhythm…

Overall the album is exactly what I wanted, what it should be. A little bit of progress, an increase in song scale, and more of the dark magic that makes Ghost so compelling and silly fun. I just read another review that compared them to a new Kiss… I’ll allow it. Everyone knows exactly what Kiss is and was, and it was fucking fun – that’s all that really matters. People buy the shit out of Taylor Swift, Kanye, and Rihanna records, why can’t we harder/darker folks have a little fun too? The classic rock vibes and hot organ bits hit the sweet spot between rote cliché and steadfast commitment to the sound and act perfectly and serve the subject matter just as well as heavy, thrash or speed metal can. Better even!

Me encanta! 4.5/5 if anyone's counting stars these days...

Bobbleheads, Car Drama, Pipe Dreams, oh my! by jason / chevron

Hey party people, how you been!?

It's only been exactly one month since I posted... sad. Can't wait till stuff like this can actually be my 'job', instead of wasting away at a 9-5 (6-3 for me, actually)! Ahhh someday...

Anyway, a recent art project of mine made a great impression on the recipients :) which is very uplifting and encouraging! Makes me consider commission work... would be nice...

In the meantime I had a nice brush with harsh reality when my car threw a skull and crossbones 'Contact Dealer' engine code... WTF... that sounds like "park me now and do not attempt to anything".

I took it in to the local 'stealership' and spent the rest of the day working from home... work interspersed with zombie slaying parkour in Dying Light (PS4) of course!

In the end, the death curse on my car ended up being nothing more than a blown fuse... A $135 fuse, but that's what you get when you actually believe what your car is telling you. Fool me once mofo... next time I'll do the usual and figure it out my damn self!

 

Aside from that it's been the usual; Podcasts, wet dreams about my possible future of VO, podcasting, and art in the North West... Oh, and a nice return to the world of Netflix!

We had Netflix for a couple years from way back when it was still new. We dumped it once the streaming ended up being a boring collection of straight-to-DVD off-brand movies that no one wants to see. We cut bait and never looked back... until now!

There's so much good shit on there nowadays and so much money being spent on unique content made exclusively for Netflix that it's hard to ignore. I'm catching up on Wet Hot American Summer; the serial follow up to a movie I regrettably never knew existed, while my wife is watching Orange Is The New Black like some kind of lesbian prison sex fiend, ugh. The show is really good though...

Outside of all that noise there's been the usual podcasting for you all to feverishly consume!!!!

\\\days go by\\\ by jason / chevron

Hello internet! I'm back for post 2 of 2 for the month :)   but I've also got STUFF to talk about!

I've been planning and plotting a move - a physical move - from central California to the Portland area in Oregon! Hopefully in the next few months there will be big strides made and by 2016 the wheels will be rolling North, the hell out of this sad, dirty, hot dust bowl that we've turned California into...

In the meantime, I've been gaming away in between my research of PDX. I spent a little time playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt via Gamefly and was ready to quit after the first 30 minutes. Sad really, as I was looking forward to spending a lot of time with Geralt as this is the first entry in the series to appear on consoles in addition to PC. Unfortunately, I felt the established 'character' laid upon Geralt interferes with the immersion as you are given conversation choices that one; don't fit the established character profile, or two; don't affect any change (like the light side/dark side in the KOTOR or Mass Effect series'). That, and the combat is stupid; HOW is this the third game in the series, where the main character is a renowned bad-ass beast-slayer, yet it drops you into a world where A FUCKING DOG CAN KILL YOU IN THREE HITS? GARBAGE!

That rant aside, I voted with my dollars and BOUGHT Batman: Arkham Knight. This is how to make a AAA game folks.

If you aren't familiar with the Arkham series, you're not a gamer, so skip the next paragraph or so :) This series has always made me seriously feel like I was the Batman. The controls have always been fluid and fun and push you around a very well realized world full of detail and nods to the source material.

This entry in the series is the first on the new generation of consoles and is absolutely the best looking and playing open-world game released to date. GTAV is also a great game with a beautiful world to screw around in, but Arkham simply oozes comic/action vibes out of every perfectly rendered pixel. The rain beading and rolling off Batman's cowl and cape are less than one percent of the meaty visual detail to behold in this game. If it was nothing more than an empty, still model of Gotham to fly through and nothing else; it would be Game Of The Year. BUT, you ALSO get to BE THE GODDAMN BATMAN in this amazing visual smorgasbord.

As Batman you can traipse around the town with your batarangs, batclaw, batcape, batgun,  batboots, and batthong to your heart's content; leaping from rooftop to sewer drain while mercilessly beating the bone marrow out of street thugs - or - hop in the Batmobile at almost any time and rip through Gotham like it was a goddamn Christopher Nolan movie with an unlimited budget!

The Batmobile is fun as hell, and is just one more glorious addition to an overflowing game that includes (DEEP INHALE): a main story line featuring favorite baddies and mysterious new foes, Riddler puzzles/racetracks, Man-bat shenanigans, tag-team mini-battles, an army of tanks and mercenaries to throttle, rescue missions, Riddler trophy collect-a-thons, innumerable skill upgrades, thousands of fan-service Easter eggs, and God knows what else! (phew!)

So yeah *pant, pant* I'll be having a lot of that please!

I also recently wrote a small news release regarding Batman HERE that details the release and  'UN-release' of Batman on PC, and another news beat on a little studios new project and status as a developer HERE.

In addition to all of that, (*huff*puff*) there's also been a couple new Chops and the Dewd episodes, E3 coverage, and a Games podcast over on Death's Door Prods you can check out as well!

By the way; a friend of mine recently introduced me to a little Swedish band called Ghost - these guys are effing brilliant. It's like a modern Black Sabbath with a visual/sound like almost nothing else of late - a little metal, a little poppy, but pure evil and fun! you must check them out!

And with that I'm off to feed the dogs and don the cowl of the bat - until next time true believers! Goodbye!

Hey There! by jason / chevron

What's new people!? how 'bout another episode of Chops & the Dewd???

There's even more exciting content to come, trust me... the next episode has the most epic intro ever attempted on a podcast...

I just posted new demos as well, why not take a listen!?