A Little Too Quiet

Inactivity

Ok … so it’s been super quiet around here. Well, that’s because I just haven’t found the time or interest in writing about my life and, unfortunately, I don’t see that changing in the near future. Which means one thing:

The stanus.net blog will be coming to an end.

It’s been a fun and long run – I started the blog back in February of 2004 – and part of me will miss having these ramblings available on the interweb, but I’m not going to miss it all that much. I still enjoy discussing things in blog-form but prefer talking about opinions that could interest others and foster discussion (something I do over at NBA Sim). This blog, as fun as it was, never really grew outside of an online journal and I no longer have a desire to share life updates in this form – I’ve got Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook for that now.

I’m planning to still keep this little digital real estate to host other projects (most notably stuff for my band) and archive all of the crap I’ve worked on, but I’ll probably keep most of it hidden behind password protection. Really, I’m not completely sure how I’ll handle everything and I probably won’t get to finish these changes until the new year, but things will be very different.

Thanks to everyone who’s read and commented on the posts throughout the years! It’s been a ton of fun.

Current Mood: Taking A Break emoticon Taking A Break

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  • Shelby
    Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 09:41 | #1

    Thanks for the fun but all good things must come to an end – just ask the guy over at Z-news. But, an end always portends a new beginning and I look forward to whatever that may be.

Souped-Up Classic

Murdock: Upgraded

As I mentioned (in a poorly written post), Rusted Hero’s show at The Bitter End was very satisfying. However, it could have been truly spectacular if it wasn’t for one thing: I had trouble keeping my guitar in tune halfway through the set.

I’ve had my Les Paul since 2005, but the axe was already 30 years old by then. As such, some of the pieces to the guitar were a little worn down and others had become antiquated by newer, better replacements. Anyway, I was fed up with the tuning – it had failed me now at two important gigs (our first show was legendarily bad) – and I was ready to pay to fix this beast.

After looking it over, my guitar tech said the plastic tuners I had were notorious as being the worst in the business. I believed him. Since I was now prepared to completely change the tuners, I decided to also change the nut (mine had been producing heavy buzz on a few strings) AND the pickups. The pickups I had produced extremely treble sounds – my guitar sounded like a laser. While I tend to play mostly treble, this tone was even too much for me. So, to sum up, I was getting a shit load done to my guitar!

Exhaustive list of new parts:

  • Grover tuners (metal)
  • New bone nut
  • Seymour Duncan Alinco II-Pro (neck pickup)
  • Seymour Duncan JB (bridge pickup)

A to-be-undisclosed amount of money later and I’m happy to report my guitar feels like new! The pickups give me a thicker, meatier sound without sacrificing much presence. I have no noticeable fret-buzz thanks to my new nut, and I had absolutely NO TUNING issues at my last gig! Sure, it was a bit of a dent to my wallet, but this was a much needed, once in a lifetime upgrade to my guitars (yes, I had my Strat also dealt with).

Site Updates:

  • Updated blog IDs for November 2007
  • Removed Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool (1950) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Sons of Anarchy: Season 1 (2008) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Robert Palmer – Some People Can Do What They Like (1976) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Limousines – Get Sharp (2010) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Ximena Sarinana (2011) to Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Relaxing emoticon Relaxing

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  • Shelby
    Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 05:46 | #1

    First, great picture of the ax and the cat. Second, sounds like you made some big changes that are going to make a difference, but I was wondering about what drives the cost of this type of work. I’m guessing the craftsmanship needed to work on a classic antique like your guitar is what make this kind of restoration so expensive. And unlike computers, musical instruments are always worth upgrading vs replacing.

Among Thieves

Ok, yeah, Uncharted 2 looks beautiful

I’ve only checked in here four times in the past 2 months. It’s not because I haven’t been doing things – quite the contrary! I’ve just found little time or motivation to write about what’s going on.

Well, now comes the lightning round! There are a handful of subjects I want to touch upon but I hate making those boring bulleted list blogs. So, instead, I’ll be spreading out all of the (not interesting) tidbits out into a couple of posts.

Alright, enough disclaimer text. This first quick check in is to briefly sum up the latest video game I played. Wow, I seriously have gone through something like 6 games this year, already. Bah, this 30-year old cares not for your judgements – I spend my time in the manner I wish! Uncharted 2 is – surprise – the sequel to Uncharted, a PS3 exclusive game I played back in December. Both games revolve around a character named Drake who, much like Indiana Jones, seems to find both lost treasure and danger at every turn in his life. I found the first game a little unbalanced (shooting was monotonous, game went for too long, and the twist in the story was just too far-fetched) but Uncharted 2 really corrected all of these mistakes. It’s a beautiful (best-looking PS3 game I’ve played thus far), fast-paced, taut, playable action movie. The voice acting is great, the length is manageable, and the development team really did a great job at not relying too much on any one gameplay mechanic. In fact, the only real gripe I have is that someone barely escapes falling down a large cliff about every hour in the game – so much so that it becomes comical rather than thrilling.

4 out of 5 dohblogs!

Site Updates:

  • Added The Limousines – Get Sharp (2010) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Marvel Ultimate Alliance [PS3] (2006) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [PS3] (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Sons of Anarchy: Season 1 (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Took down Sullivan Hall gig from Rusted Hero sidebar section

Current Mood: All Good emoticon All Good

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Bitter Rock

Rusted Hero at The Bitter End

I had quite a “bitter” treat earlier this month when Rusted Hero was invited to play at The Bitter End – the famous, long-running New York City rock club. Some notable acts have played there such as Carly Simon, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and, yes, Lada Gaga before she was famous.

Making the experience even better was a trio of intrepid Virginians who made the trip up to NYC. Steve, Brandon and Richard all showed up for a little rocking, a little drinking … and, unfortunately, a lot of rain. The show was great (though I had a little trouble with tuning at times), but afterward, we all got stuck in a torrential downpour. Worse, we were in a godawful karaoke bar as it came down!

It was a wild weekend and I loved every minute of it … ok, being absolutely soaked wasn’t so hot. But what was hot was “Shine On You” from the end of our show!

Enjoy!

Site Updates:

  • Took down The Bitter End gig from Rusted Hero sidebar section
  • Removed Run-D.M.C. (1984) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (2009) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Prince Of Persia [PS3] (2008) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Uncharted 2: Among Thieves [PS3] (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool (1957) to Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Rested emoticon Rested

“What are you?!”

Bataanman

In case you don’t get the reference in this blog’s title, it’s at 1:05 in this video.

I just beat my latest video game escapade, Batman: Arkham Asylum (yes, I realize this actually came out two years ago), and I must emphatically announce that this game IS A MASTERPIECE!

The brief synopsis of the story is that on a fairly routine night, Batman brings the Joker back into Arkham Asylum after picking him up from an escape. The Joker continues to laugh and point out how easy the apprehension was for Batman, which begins to cause suspicion in the Dark Knight. These suspicions are soon proven true for as soon as the Joker is out of Batman’s control, he rips out of his shackles and traps Batman inside the giant insane asylum. The story gets a little more convuluted from there as several other individuals from Batman’s rogue gallery get into the fun, but the pace never lets up and you really get sucked into the game.

The quality of Arkham Asylum really is quite surprising as most video games based on a license (be it comic book, movie, tv show, etc.) blow hard. They’re usually rushed, and receive very little attention to producing good gameplay. Well, Arkham Asylum has it in spades. First of all, Batman is a bad ass, which is very important to portray to be accurate to the character. It was so awesome to see a mob of angry, crazed inmates running at me and knowing I could take all of them out without getting injured. Very cool to be that powerful.

Secondly, they translated the core elements of Batman into gameplay extremely well and very creatively. He’s famously known as the world’s greatest detective and at any time in the game you can go into a “detective mode” where the screen turns all blue. In this mode, enemies stand out and can be seen through walls and armed villains are highlighted. Furthermore, you can see many secret hiding places, traps, and hidden treasures while using your detective skills. Batman’s also a master of all martial arts so he knows how to counter most any type of attack. Thus, foes that are about to hit you glow blue, giving you a split-second to counter their move. The combat is super-fluid and has an almost rhythm game engine (like Guitar Hero). Very cool to play and I’m sure this baby is going to be very influential in future fighting games.

I’d also like to praise how Arkham Asylum both wears it’s influences on its sleeve but also manages to change things up a bit to seem fresh. Sure, it’s a stealth-heavy game like Metal Gear Solid is, but Batman can take on any foe with ease. Also, it’s a lot like the Metroid games where Batman slowly upgrades his tools, allowing him to reach new areas he couldn’t before.

Finally, you really got to give applause to the team as they NAILED the setting. Arkham Asylum is a creepy place and all of the comic characters are believable, yet highly stylized in a unique way for the game. The voice acting is phenomenal, but when you get the highly acclaimed actors from the original Batman: The Animated Series, you can’t really go wrong. Also, it’s just so great knowing that no matter how unsettling the situation gets, you (as Batman) are the scariest thing in the room.

Site Updates:

  • Removed Robert Plant – Manic Nirvana (1990) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Wages of Win (2007) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Run-D.M.C. (1984) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Shack: 10th Anniversary | 2000-2010 from Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Applause emoticon Applause

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July Bullets

McCutchen at bat

Photo © 2011 Stan Syckes

Blah, I’ve been busy, want to update the blog about it all, but don’t really want to write long prose. Here are some magic bullets. Enjoy. Or don’t!

  • For my dad’s birthday, Stever and I picked up Pittsburgh Pirates tickets for the three of us. I grabbed a Bolt Bus down to DC, then all three of us drove up to Cumberland, Maryland where we visited several old sights and downed some local food (Coney Island hot dogs and Old German beer – not bad)! Then we recreated our Pittsburgh trip from 2002 – down to staying in the same hotel and recreating a photo in the PNC Park bar. We had a great time and all of the dirty details are here.
  • I beat my latest game (to me), BioShock. It’s a first-person shooter with survival horror elements, but the attribute that is most prevalent is the mood. The game takes place in an underwater city that was built in the 1940’s by a millionaire who no longer wanted science to be stifled by politics or religion. What happened is people began to mutate themselves and something went horribly wrong. A premise that is equal parts fascinating and ho-hum, but the execution of the unfolding story is excellent. The combat is a little on the weak side – especially towards the end of the game – and I did play through the whole thing on the Easy setting, but I highly recommend this one to anyone who wants to play a great, eerie game.
  • Rusted Hero traveled to Cedar Knoll, New Jersey where the headquarters of WDHA 105.5 FM is located. There, we recorded two of our songs acoustically and did a quick interview as well for their Home Grown Spotlight blog. I’m not sure if either of these will be played over the radio, but we did a great job (ok, so I was definitely a little nervous during the interview) and I’m really proud of what we accomplished for this great honor! Then, we had another song off our EP played that night on the station! This was the first time I got to hear us live on the radio (I was on a plan for the first play) … an extremely satisfying experience. Don’t worry, I’ll update everyone when our acoustic performance gets put up.

Site Updates:

  • Removed BioShock [PS3] (2008) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Barry Manilow – Barry Manilow II (1974) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Prince of Persia [PS3] (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Took down acoustic performance at WDHA 105.5 from Rusted Hero sidebar section
  • Updated blog IDs for December 2007

Current Mood: No emotion! emoticon No emotion!

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  • Monday, July 18th, 2011 at 12:18 | #1

    Why was being on a plan stopping you from listening to the radio broadcast? Was it an anti-radio plan?

  • Monday, July 18th, 2011 at 14:03 | #2

    Ugh … I meant plane :(

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Droid!

My new device!

It’s been two years since the last one, so expect an obligatory phone-update blog soon.

Oh, wait, here it is!

Over the extended 4th of July weekend, Cassie and I got new phones as both of our individual contracts had expired. She kept needling me to move over to Verizon and, now that they had their own iPhone, I really had no excuses this time. So, we hiked over to the Verizon store on 86th St and I started fiddling with some of the other phones.

… and fell in love with the Droid :( !

With two years of iPhone experience under my belt it’s amazing that it only took about 20 minutes before I realized how much more aligned with my thinking the Droid was. I mean … how have I existed without widgets? My choice was between the X2 (Motorola), the Charge (Samsung) and the Incredible 2 (HTC). Well, while the X2 possessed a large screen and super fast processor, I just hated the way it looked and felt. The Incredible 2, on the other hand, was the slowest of the three and more compact (about the size of my iPhone). I hesitated for a second on that one but ultimately chose the Charge as it had a better screen than even the X2, I loved the physical buttons on the chin, and it boasted 4G connectivity. Really, they all do the same bullshit, so that was good enough for me.

I’ve got a full two weeks to change my mind on this bad boy but so far, I do really like it and PREFER IT to my old iPhanus, so Brandon you can kiss my (_|_) !!!

    Site Updates:

  • Removed 311 – Music (1993) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney [iPhone] (2010) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Wire: Season 1 (2002) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Spider-Man: Web of Shadows [PS3] (2008) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added BioShock [PS3] (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Update WDHA Acoustic Performance on Rusted Hero sidebar section
  • Update The Bitter End gig on Rusted Hero sidebar section
  • Put up Sullivan Hall gig on Rusted Hero sidebar section
  • Updated blog IDs for January 2008
  • Added Barry Manilow – Barry Manilow II (1974) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Robert Plant – Manic Nirvana (1990) to Currently Enjoying

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Solid Disappointment

Old Snake

After a marathon weekend session, my mission is complete: I have put down Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots with extreme prejudice. This was, obviously, the fourth in the Metal Gear Solid series, a video game franchise that began with my favorite video game of all time.

The game started out alright … sure it was a little jarring to get used to the inevitable changes (Snake was now old, setting was amidst war instead of a solo sneaking mission) but once acclimated I started to really appreciate the phenomenal graphics and legendary gameplay.

But then the story happened! Yes, the very same thing that raised Metal Gear Solid 1 from being a great game to the best game of all time now dragged down beautiful gameplay. Ill-placed fart jokes and bowel movements within serious, war-torn cinematics? Total fanboy service where every character from the previous games is related to every other character? Scene after scene of blubbering people over underdeveloped relationships? A goddamn wedding on a battlefield? What the fuck, Hideo?

I guess it was inevitable. MGS1 set the tone for suddenly ripping away every truth you had held to for 75% of the game and every sequel must have felt the pressure to do something similar. MGS2 turned out to be a virtual mindfuck the entire time. MGS3 had double-crosses and triple-crosses. MGS4 just … well, just got weird and silly. With Hideo Kojima, the creator, saying this would be his final MGS game (although, to be honest, he said the same thing about MGS3) I’m sure there was a push to create some closure. Instead of a nice, little game to send main character, Solid Snake, riding off into the sunset, he totally threw the revelations of MGS2 out the window (turns out … they were lies! What great writing!) and tied all loose ends with rather uncreative bows (I’ll just say it seems like several dead people turned out to … get ready for it … not actually be dead!!!). Ugh.

Still, the great gameplay that lies at the heart of every MGS game is still there and I like the way the map was balanced. MGS’s map showed you every villain AND where they could see which made the game, ultimately, unfair in your favor. MGS3, taking place in the 1960’s, went the opposite route providing no real map to rely on for too long. Here, in MGS4, you could switch on a map that gave impressions of where enemies were, but would start to fuck up if you weren’t quiet – like from running or shooting a gun. Furthermore, with everything turned off, you could call upon Snake’s experience and “see” a visual representation of what he was discerning – where threats were and how close they were to him.

And all of this was beautifully rendered with gorgeous graphics. Sure, the cut scenes started to look a little waxy as the faces looked more mannequin than human, but mostly everything that happened on screen was very impressive.

Oh, well … I guess everything must come to an end sometime, even greatness. 3 out of 5 cardboard boxes.

    Site Updates:

  • Removed Daft Punk – Discovery (2001) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Sounds – Something To Die For (2011) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added 311 – Music (1993) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed NBA Legend [Facebook] (2011) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed UBAS Basketball: Season 1 (2011) from Currently Enjoying
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Current Mood: Eh emoticon Eh

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A Championship In Pictures

Mavs win

Dallas Mavericks: 2011 NBA Champions
Game winner

Game winner
Mavs are tight

Through thick and thin
Emotional

An emotional Dirk leaves the floor
Dirk and his new bud

Dirk and his new bud
Hero

Hero

Current Mood: Proud emoticon Proud

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One More Win

Some dudes in blue

Just like 5 years ago … I write this entry from Game 6 in the NBA Finals. Right now, the commentators are discussing the two teams as they do the pre-game shootaround. My favorite team, the Dallas Mavericks (surprise), are once again facing the Miami Heat.

This time, the game is in Miami.

This time they are up 3-2.

This time the Mavericks could win their very first championship.

Ok, tip off is happening NOW … here we go! ONE MORE WIN!

Current Mood: Deadly (like Dirk’s shot) emoticon Deadly (like Dirk’s shot)

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