06/29/2011

Underground Rap Sensation Lil B Showing Off His “Rare” PS2 Collection

by Matthew Hawkins

I know I say the following a lot: things have been never been crazier, hence the super belated update, yada, yada, yada. And then I go, without fail: but this time I really meant it, etc, etc, etc. Well, guess what? Things have never been crazier, hence the super belated update, but this time I really mean it.

It’s the kind of stuff that’s not fit for public consumption, though I will say it’s pretty heavy stuff and rather though going. The world have been turned upside down variety. Hopefully I’ll be back on the track soon enough. Thankfully it hasn’t been all doom and gloom; lots of cool stuff has been happening as well, mostly related to pals of mine…

Kids In Space & Half-Baked Monsters

Earlier this month saw the long-awaited release of Dave‘s first graphic novel in which he basically did every damn thing himself (the dude has plenty of books under his belt, though as a collaborator of some sort). It’s the collected Astronaut Elementary, re-titled Astronaut Academy, and of course there was a party to celebrate! The opening launch festivities took place at Bergen Street Comics, a place I’ve heard much of but had never gotten a chance to check out, nor any reason to. To be completely honest, after Rocketship closed, my attitude was “well, there goes comics in Brooklyn!” Well, I was clearly wrong; the place is super swell! Great selection of stuff, super friendly folks working there, all the fixings.

Anyhow, as for Dave’s shindig, for starters, you had cupcakes that looked one of the characters in the book, Doug Hiro…

And legit astronaut food…

Dave did a little talk in which he narrated a portion of the book…

With Raina helping out with some of the voices…

Afterward, Dave went back up front to sign copies of his books for friends and fans alike. Meanwhile, I sat back and chatted it up with Steve Flack, next to Dave’s MacBook (one of the somewhat uncommon 13 non-Pro designated model, before it got a Firewire 800 port and SD card slot). Which was running a slideshow of all the stuff that Dave loved as a child, and which directly influenced both his new book and his body of work as a whole…

Steve of course said I could just ask Dave for the images directly, but then take pictures them on my own MacBook monitor? I think not…

Dave also had pages from the book that one could check out firsthand..

And here he is singing my copy….

The big stack of books that didn’t last long…

Tons of folks were at the thing, including many members of Dave’s family, who are mine as well (I’m basically an adopted member). Here’s Dave’s sister Michele with her husband Rob (with John in the background, doing his best to crash the picture)…

All in all a great night! I’m just happy that I didn’t get sick, with all the champaign and astronaut ice cream I had. As for the book, what else can I say? Dave’s my bro, so I’m going to be biased, but it’s awesome! Super cute and ultra fantastic. But don’t take my word for it!

Moving on, not too long afterward was another pal’s book release party, this time for Travis‘ Monster Doodle Book. This one took place in the basement of WORD, another very cozy bookshop (we’re talking actual books, mostly words, not so many funny drawings I’m afraid) in Greenpoint. Guess I can’t mention the day without noting how Dave and I had dinner at the Peruvian chicken joint that the other Dave and I used frequent (before he moved to Williamsburg) beforehand, and then had soft serve ice cream, via the laundry mat across the street of all places. And it was great! I know people who believes it’s a drug front, but I don’t care, so long as their deserts are delicious. I think they also serve hot dogs during lunchtime.

Anyway, for Travis’s shindig, everyone was encouraged to doodle in copies of his new thing. You see, it’s an activity book of sorts; there’s all these partially drawn monsters or proposed challenges (like “Draw an epic puke!”) that the reader is asked to complete. Its actually kinda genius, and I’m not exaggerating.

To make the evening even more special, he had high dry erase boards with again half way complete monsters and scenarios…

This creation of John Green’s was a huge hit (big shock, huh?)…

Dave and Travis…

And Travis with some gal pals with him…

Best author bio pic ever?

Not all doodles were done on dry erase boars; there was plenty of paper to scribble on as well…

Travis ending the night by signing a huge pile of books for the store…

… But yeah, fun for all ages! Actually, dirtying up every single page is going to be one of my summer projects. If you live in NYC, you can get your copy at WORD and other fine stores. Otherwise, the internet is always an option. Dave’s book is available at most comic shops, the good ones at least, but if one is not nearby, there’s always Amazon at least.

Tron Legacy X Pinball & Williamsburg X Jersey City

So it’s officially summer in New York City, and tons of stuff is going on at every which corner, practically every single night. After spending so many weeks, holed up in my apartment, working and dealing with stuff, I’m eager to bust loose and enjoy some night life (just like Laura from The Fuccons/Hey Mikey… any fans out there?). First stop? The Tron Legacy debut party at Reciprocal Skateboards two Friday ago (which hopefully some of you heard about beforehand via my GSW post on the matter).

The deal is this: I’ve made it a mission to be as educated as possible about the New York game scene, to therefore alert others. I also believe I’ve done a fairly good job of doing my part and contributing towards it. Still, it has become clearer than ever that there are many aspects that I absolutely have zero clue about, like…

The place was super packed, filled with gamers, but of a totally different kind that I was used to. The mood was pretty jovial, though everyone was feeling a tad bit defeated due to the Tron machine being so damn hard. As it would turn out, the left side of the playing filed was the danger zone, where everyone lost control of their ball. I’ve always been interested in pinball, but have no idea of all the intricacies that fills that world, like gets people the most excited and frustrated. Am aiming to learn more, but baby steps. Thankfully, folks were willing to take the time and explain shit, most everyone was super friendly, except for one guy who felt my presence was a total distraction. Hence why I wasn’t able to take that many pictures of the game I’m afraid (not that I wanted someone to mess up my accord)…

As I would discover, and perhaps I look the fool for being so ignorant about this, but there’s a thriving pinball community in NYC, with many different places having machines that everyone congregates at, Reciprocal Skateboards being just one (the place normally has a few machines, and Tron will be there for at least a little while, according to the joint’s owner). And some of these folks are just as diehard, if not more so, than the street fighters you’d used to find at Chinatown Fair and who all currently gather at Next Level.

Again, was a stranger in a strange land, though I did run into a familiar face; Nick Lombardo, who I first became aquatinted with when I used to talk about video games at ICON runs, and which I’m hopeful about returning to (though it might be a bit of an uphill battle… for those also interested, do me a favor and help me convince them). He currently runs Arcade Hunters, and had been there since the early afternoon, shooting video and playing Tron of course. Also became acquainted with a pal of Nick’s, Chris Bucci, whose both a diehard pinball enthusiast and collector.

Nick mentioned that Chris is behind a series of super popular videos online that details his passion and obsession (and which are available on DVD, but only this month, so act fast if you want your copy). The one that piqued my curiosity the most was hearing about an unboxing clip, something that’s rather par for the course when it comes to gaming and tech in general… but for a pinball machine? The accompanying review is also loads of fun to watch, and I don’t even like Family Guy!

There’s apparently a huge tournament happening in the city later this summer, which I’ll try my best to hit. Whether I’ll participate is a totally different story; as bad as I am when it comes to fighting games, nothing compares to my lack of skills in pinball. But still, for those who might be interested, I hope to have detailed info when the time comes.

Moving on, last week I met up with Rob and Michele in their neck of the woods, the Grove Street section of Jersey City, which used to be my old stomping grounds. Was treated to a wonderful soul food dinner, which I still feel pretty guilty about, since it was rather pricey. Especially for just fried chicken, potato salad, and biscuits; never-mind how it’s supposed to be poor people’s food. Though one of the bonuses of having serious drama in one’s life, if you can call it, is the long list of friends who want to hear the details and provide moral support, along with a free meal!

Anyhow, as is the case whenever I pay a visit I still couldn’t get over how much has changed since then. With the ultimate example being how a 2nd Barcade had opening in the area, literally across the street from where they lived no less. So after saying goodnight, I decided to check it out, and…

… It’s essentially the same experience as in Williamsburg. Meaning that there’s a Tempest machine present, but it’s broken. Also, some drunk guy got pissed when I politely asked if I could play the game he was lounging on, while eyeing some girl whose evening he was about to ruin (game was Defender btw). All in all, the place was lame, as somewhat expected. Sorry for the lack of pictures inside, the energy was kinda weird, a mixture of apathy and hostility, so I didn’t feel like snapping too many pics (which is weird, because that’s the general mood on a packed Friday night, not a dead Tuesday evening).

Another issue is one that Rob brought up and which applies to both places: the games are indeed authentic artifacts from the golden age of the arcade, circa the early/mid 80s, to a fault. Sorry, they just don’t work in a bar environment, or any social space. Would be far better if the place(s) had more two-player, simultaneous games. Instead it’s mostly just one person playing and another person watching, which can be a drag sometimes. Though all being said, I still feel bad for missing the IGDA meet-up last night!

Children of the Corn Flakes

Earlier this week, I had plans to hit Coney Island with Joe and June, for nice little mid-week break. Also, we were dying to check out all the new additions to the park, but without the weekend crowd getting in the way. But it was called off due to pending thunderstorms, which never happened of course. So instead, finally did something that was way overdue: crack open my set of Cereal Killer trading cards!

Not sure if I mentioned it or not, but they recently established their own company, Wax Eye, and it’s kicking all sorts of ass. Joe has been an aficionado of novelty cards, so to see him steadily climb the ranks has been a total thrill. After becoming one of the key forces behind the Garbage Pail Kid revival, so it only made sense for him to strike out on his own. With Cereal Killers being the first of hopefully many projects. Especially since, full-disclosure time: I’m part of project number two or three!

Anyhow, a closer look: each case is reminiscent of the triple-packed, fun sized cereal boxes that provided invaluable nourishment to many of us as kids…

In each box you’ll find 20 cards, each depicting a classic cereal box that’s been infused with some horror personality or similar facet of pop culture, for a grand total of 60 all together. Plus some bubble gum (which looks like eye balls, naturally). Here’s just a few that came in mine…

… Without a doubt, Good Fiends in my favorite, with Children of the Corn Flakes a close second (and a huge hit among everyone else, or so I’ve heard).

Apparently some of the more finicky collector types are annoyed by the fact that, after buying X number of cases, they don’t have a complete set. To that, Joe’s response is that the only way to do so is to exchange doubles with others, since they are trading cards after-all. Also harkening back to days of old are the backs, which are simply hilarious (every gag was created by the husband and wife combo)…

Randomly distributed is a limited number of premium cards, and I was lucky to nab one of the original pencil renderings!

Again, I’m biased here, but the first series of Wax Eye’s Cereal Killer cards are well worth picking up. It’s hard to properly describe the ideal person for which the cards are best suited for, since it hits so many marks and tons of folks would love and appreciate them, though I believe if you’re the type that gets warm and fuzzy feelings whenever a current issue of Archie’s Digest or MAD Magazine is spotted, this is an absolute must have! Get yours here.

Asian Movies Are Go… For The Tenth Year Running

Again, summer’s here, which is my favorite time of the year because of one thing mostly: the New York Asian Film Festival! Which starts this weekend. I don’t do it often, but here’s this year’s trailer, embedded for your viewing pleasure…

As previously noted, things are kinda rough for me at the moment. I’m somewhat at a crossroads in life, trying to figure out if the Big Apple is the best place for me from this point forward, or if it’s time to venture forth and seek a new home. Lord knows that I have quite a few pals who want me to relocate to California. But as silly as it sounds, every year the NYAFF reminds me there’s no other place to be, cuz it’s where the NYAFF happens, plain and simple. For an entire decade it’s been where I’ve escaped, to a magical word inhabited by a pro wrestler seeking the cure to his wife from becoming a mermaid, a penis eating tiger man from Korea, an angry Japanese school teacher that gives a student she hates milk that’s been tainted by AIDS blood, and a chair that’s basically a gigantic, gaping wide vagina that pees in people’s mouths. Also, it introduced me the wonder that is Hausu, can’t forget that.

Again, it being their 10th anniversary and all, this year looks to be better than ever. An impossible feat that they managed to achieve repeatedly. And as I try to do each year, I’ll do my best to absorb as many flicks as my brain will allow, before it completely implodes. Besides, I dropped the ball on last year’s coverage and need to make it up! For those who want to see what’s playing, there’s the official website which just launched, though might I also recommend the absolutely fabulous iPhone app?

Ukrainian Politics As Illustrated By Mortal Kombat & The Miracle Of Birth Via Second Life

I will say, it’s going to be even harder than ever to soak in all the Asian cinematic delights that the NYAFF is all about, due to my now jam-packed daily duties. Not that I’m complaining of course!

Speaking of, for those who haven’t been keeping track, here’s highlights from my first official month over at GameSetWatch…

- My first round of game related toys and models rundown for the month of June:

- There’s only one reason why I’m remotely interested with the PlayStation Vita, and it’s the latest by Jonathan Mak.

- Yu Suzuki’s new job and his forgotten fighting game.

- As a big-time enthusiast of video games zines (as pretty much everyone knows), never before have I been so bummed that I can’t understand French!

- Nothing makes me happier writing for GSW than being able to reference SCTV and get paid for it.

- For those who didn’t hear, I called Legend of Zelda for the Wii U game of the show for E3 2011.

- Some new game related shirts are on the horizon, for both Sonic and Galaga fans.

- Mortal Kombat X European politics?

- E3 or Chuck E. Cheese’s?

- Gradius reborn as a slot machine.

- Getting a job via Team Fortress 2.

- Skullgirls keep looking better and better.

- A candid look at the behind the scenes of Super Mario Bros the movie:

- Enjoy the sounds of The Link To The Past (and perhaps other Zelda games as well?).

- Can anyone figured out this unused ending for Shadow of the Colossus?

- Man Hideo Kojima TOTALLY hates the NES version of Metal Gear!

- Pokemon the fighting game?

- The first regular taste of Tumblr Tuesday:

- Bit Pilot goes version 2.0.

- Grasshopper Manufacture does Evangelion?

- The house that Professor Layton built making Gundams?

- And the creator of Mother/Earthbound on Iron Chef.

- Yet another toys and junk update, with a healthy allotment of Capcom:

- Making music with your NES without actually plugging anything in!

- The Virtual Boy arcade cabinet.

- It’s a racing game you can playing with the thing that spits out your receipt at the grocery store. Seriously.

- Familiar with the ultra obscure survivor horror title Sweet Home? Even if not, check out the tribute video.

- The Child of Eden pop-up shop.

- Playing an MMO as performance art? It is if you’re also locked in a cart going cross-country.

- Once again, if you’re a fan of Capcom and got some money to burn there’s plenty of options coming up.

- The latest issue of SCROLL is now available, and for totally free!

- Despite how Child of Eden turned out, the spirit of Rez lives on today in various other games.

- Check out this early beta footage of Super Mario Bros 3.

- The upcoming Persona 4 anime is looking okay I guess.

- The intro stage music from Mega Man X analyzed and celebrated.

- Phoenix Wright x Portal 2.

- What appears to be a Jack Chick Tract starring Nintendo characters, plus other nonsense:

- At long last, Jaleel white returns to the role that made him the star that his is, by being the star of a Sonic fan flick.

- The man who created Sega Rally, Space Channel 5, and Rez’s three favorite games.

- A breakdancer’s tribute to Chrono Trigger.

- Insert Credit is back and in effect, Frank Cifaldi.

- Examples of DS and GameCube debug software in the wild.

- The Ocarina of Time can-can.

- Classic Sega tunes, and the music of Mega Man Zero, totally live.

- Hey, actually decent retro game posters:

- An effort to give all those unpublished pieces that were submitted for Udon’s Mega Man Tribute book some glory after the fact.

- Arkanoid X Philip K. Dick?

- And the final batch of Tumblr lol has something that I still can’t believe didn’t get flagged:

- Armored Core has never been so moe!

- Most painful demonstration of No More Heroes for the PS3 by the most awkward Travis Touchdown cosplayer ever.

- For those of you who were fans of Mega 64′s take on Shenmue; you ain’t seen nothing yet till you’ve seen The Gang’s version.

- Lastly, a look at the Colossi that were never meant to be:

… But that’s not all! Remember, I also write for Guyism. Won’t bother with as many highlights on that end, since most it is stuff everyone should be familiar with (provided one follows gaming’s mainstream news at). Some of my recent favorites include…

- It’s a combination deluxe, sit-down arcade cabinet and beer keg (like, seriously).

-God bless Lil B. For reals.

- You know him, you love him: let’s heard it for Gabe Newell!

- Behold the potentially next great thing in video game documentaries.

- As a diehard Zelda fan, gets me excited every time I’ve watched it (which has been literally countless times).

- Genesis game endings spoiled, and assorted SNES games pissed on, literally.

- There’s nothing more than I love than angry people on Xbox Live.

- One guy plays games like a champ, the other, like your dad.

- My other pick for E3′s game of the show can be viewed here.

- And if I actually had the chance to attend this year, I would have totally hung out with this guy.

- As if it needs to be said, but, lol Second Life!

- Ever notice how the future, as depicted in video games of today, just looks like WipeOut?

- God bless Jamie Kennedy (even though I still have no idea why he’s famous).

- Hey, it’s a bunch of women being disgusted by Duke Nukem Forever, guest starring my pal Mal! Also, find out why the game truly is repugnant.

- Finally, for two weeks I had the PlayStation Phone, aka the Xperia Play, and here’s my review:

One Last Thing (Comics Can Make Kids Happy, And Some Could Really Use Some Right About Now)

Guess it’s time to wrap things up. Was actually to end things with a game review! Of Rez 2, aka Child of Eden to be exact, but I’m running way long (as usual). That and how I thought I’d beat it by now, but that hasn’t happened. So next time!

Actually, one of the new ideas is to have more reviews on a regular basis, and in a more formalized manner than in the past. Got a few other ideas… including shorter, more regular posts, which I always promise but never deliver on Yet this time I might have to, due to necessity? As noted at the end of last time, because I’ve got so many writing commitments to adhere to, this blog will have to undergo some changes, which I’m still trying to figure out. As funny as it sounds, the need to write might result in more attention given to this blog, and not less as it would first seem.

Though the days of being able to casually crank out long ass posts like this one are clearly over. It take way much longer to get all this out, more so than usual. A few of the other changes are mostly cosmetic: perhaps some might have noticed that the links page has been axed (I loved managing the thing… actually it was a pain in the ass, but the end result was something very pretty… but having two parts of my blog dedicated to the same basic info was rather pointless). I desperately need to update the hit-lit to the right, and am thinking of just nuking the forums. What do you folks think? Anyone out there still lurking?

The biggest change, thus far at least, has been the adding of Disqus as the means to handle and manage comments! Unfortunately, all the previous ones that were important are backwards. Not sure if it’s fixable or not… but hopefully that’ll lead to more conversations going. Jason has also brought up the idea of having a Reddit sub-group to possibly replace the forums, which is somewhat similar to dmauro’s idea of a fort90 sub-group in Canvas. Any users out there btw? Also, any suggestion regarding any of this matter would be appreciated. I feel the need to take things to the next level, or something like that.

One last thing: so how’s that zine of mine going? Truth be told, there’s been very little progress since my last update on the matter, But because I’ve already explained myself (and begged for forgiveness) to all the Kickstarter donators already, how about instead I talk about another initiative that’s being spearheaded by some pals of mine?

The Comics Express for Joplin, Missouri is the work of Dave Roman, Dave’s old boss at Nick Mag and all around awesome human being, Chris Duffy, my former editor there as well and the woman who I basically owe my entire career in video game journalism to, Carmen Morais, and the woman who under her watch, established Nick Mag as the best darn kids publication that the world has ever seen and maybe ever will. She also signed all our checks, which makes her even cooler.

Well those four have banded together to once again to brighten the lives of children, but in this instance, it’s far more serious: countless children lost their homes, as well as their families in some instances, because of the deadly tornado that ripped through Missouri last month. it is hoped that a free comic book, produced just for them, and featuring the talents of some of the most amazing cartoonists anywhere, might help add a little extra sunshine in their days.

They recently met their goal, but donations are still warmly welcome; with the production costs covered, whatever else will go towards the Joplin Public Schools Adopt-a-Classroom fund. To find out more, as well as to donate, simply hit the Comics Express homepage!

… Alright, this is it for reals. Next time? Child of Eden review, part 1 of my NYAFF 2011 report, maybe pics from Coney Island at last? Perhaps a combination of the three? As always, stay tuned…

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