Monday, September 29, 2008

A Sunday drive with Crownshend

My bother, jRy6, and my cousin Crownshend and I have developed a lively rivalry in Forza 2 on Xbox Live. My brother and I both honed our driving game skills on the PS2's Gran Turismo, but Crownshend got a late start with the genre.

Crownshend has progressed rapidly, but as he's learned to drive with a thumbstick, he's been prone to plunge off the track. Often finding himself hopelessly behind, he developed a desperate tactic to entertain himself: He'd turn around and drive to meet the race leader for a head-on surprise.

Needless to say, this was quite alarming the first few times it happened. It does, however, add an interesting element of strategy to the game. If Crownshend gets quiet for a while or disappears from the track radar, you have to start looking ahead for him. It really keeps you on your toes.

Here's a slideshow of a typical encounter with Crownshend:

I turned the tables on him at least once, at Sebring. He had fallen behind and was in missile mode. Running second, I ran off the track in a curve and found myself way behind jRy6, too. Crownshend was running third and trying to catch up to a target. I came to one of those right-angle turns at the end of a long straight-away. I turned the corner and stopped at the end of the straightaway, perpendicular to his path. I was a perfect T-bone target -- irresistible Crownshend bait.

My patience paid off. He saw me lingering in the turn, and he floored it, aiming for my driver's door. At the last moment, I eased on the gas and stepped out of his path like a matador side-stepping a charging bull, and he rammed the wall in a glorious crash of profanity and sheet metal.

Crownshend is young with fast reflexes, and he's a quick study. He's becoming a better driver, often running even with us and sometimes winning, so his desperation moves are becoming infrequent. But he still sneaks a track missile at us once in a while.

He got us again Sunday night before the Xbox Live maintenance outage shut us down. jRy6 was drafting me, trying to find a spot to pass. I saw Crownshend ahead, bearing down on me at ramming speed.

At the last instant, I jinked left to dodge the incoming kamikaze Crownshend. jRy6, on my bumper, didn't see it coming and -- at the same instant -- pulled right to pass me. I missed Crownshend by perhaps a coat of paint, but jRy6 took the impact full in the face. I heard the crash in my right surround-sound speaker, and jRy6 expressed his surprise with some impromptu longshoremen's ballad as Crownshend laughed like a crazy person.

They were still spinning as I crossed the finish line and won the race!

Well played, Crownshend. Well played.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rock of all ages

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together and let's give a big Sythbane Squadron welcome to the new supergroup, ASGARD! (yeeeah.)

Here's my full review of Rock Band 2 on

I've been dismayed that a joke reference that I sprinkled through my review is perhaps unknown to recent generations of gamers. My friend Kenneth pointed out how long ago "This is Spinal Tap" came out, and it perturbed me. So, to educate those who missed out on this comic masterpiece, here is one of my favorite scenes from the movie, "This one goes to 11 ..."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rocking out

I've posted a preliminary "first impressions" review of Rock Band 2 on's Techcetera blog. I'm not quite through with a full review yet, but I wanted to get something out there since it hit this week!

And thanks, as always, to my buddy Fartknockker for his keen insight and comments!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Behold, the Dark Side

Here's my review of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, posted on the Techcetera blog on Be sure to read the funny captions!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hail Flying Monkey Joe! The Mighty Thor is read!

He did it! My good friend Flying Monkey Joe (that's his code name) has returned from DragonCon with the prize of his quest on my behalf. It is Thor issue #199. As a bonus, he also brought back #201 and an issue from the same era that has both Thor and Conan in it. Who knows what sweaty horrors he endured in Atlanta to retrieve such treasures? I shudder to contemplate it.

He has proved himself to be a mighty comic hunter indeed, and an extraordinary simian soarer! Thanks, Flying Monkey Joe!

I will savor my new/old comic books and report back here on the impressions I have upon reading them.