Dischordant Forms

Journals and essays about various topics

Nirvana and Joan Jett

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Thursday night (April 10th), Nirvana* was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were inducted by Michael Stipe, who is one of my favorite singers, and they played four songs with four different vocalists:

  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Joan Jett)
  • “Aneurysm” (Kim Gordon)
  • “Lithium” (Annie Clark)
  • “All Apologies” (Lorde)

Of course, the induction ceremony was not televised live; rather, HBO subscribers (not me) will be able to watch it when it premieres on May 31st. Which is more than seven weeks after the ceremony. Which is annoying, because I would have loved to have watched the whole thing.

Fortunately, I did get a chance to watch the band’s performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I came across an article on HuffPost on Friday that included** audience recordings of “All Apologies” and “Teen Spirit.” While the title, Lorde Covers Nirvana with Joan Jett, Kim Gordon and Annie Clark, was obvious click-bait (and the post itself barely mentioned the other three singers), it did include a video of Jett’s performance.

I watched the video twice.

The first time, during the second chorus, I found myself welling up. For the first time in years, a Nirvana song had moved me in some way other than simply making me want to move my head/hands/body with the music.

A few minutes later, I watched it again, and I cried almost the whole way through.

I loved Nirvana as a teenager. The first time I remember hearing “Teen Spirit” (etc.) was in the early spring of 1992, in my friend Mike’s car one afternoon after track practice. Mike went on to the Naval Academy and eventually became a commander in the Navy Seals, and he died in 2005 in Afghanistan when his chopper was shot down during a search and rescue mission.

I went on to different things. I grieved, like so many did, when I heard about Cobain’s death in 1994, and watched MTV Unplugged all day. I listened to, and devoured, whatever Nirvana music I could get my hands on until it dried up. And I eventually moved on to other music.

Nirvana’s music is awesome, but I saturated myself in it to a point where it ultimately didn’t move me like it had before, and I decided to give it a rest. I rarely purposely listen to Nirvana anymore – although “Drain You” (live, From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah) is a more-than-occasional favorite – but the love and appreciation of their music is still here within me.

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Watching Joan Jett with Nirvana on Friday was a catharsis of sorts.

Joan, well, she nailed it – she was the perfect choice. Her voice fit the song so well, and she was in complete command.

Krist Novoselic was the rock, the steady rumble beneath Nirvana’s howl. He bobbed and bounced and rocked out in his Krist-like way, and it was wonderful.

And Dave Grohl absolutely killed it on the drums, as always. One of my life’s great pleasures is watching him play drums, because he gets such obvious pleasure from it. Seeing his huge grin always brings me joy.

And as I watched that performance, I lost control. Kurt died 20 years ago, and he took his future with him. Many have speculated about what he might have done, had he lived: would Nirvana have continued? If so, what would their future albums have sounded like? Michael Stipe invited Kurt to work with him; how would that have turned out?

Those things will never be definitively answered, because sadly, he died before they could come to pass. But here I was - 20 years later – watching Dave with his big grin, and Krist rocking out, and Joan kicking ass… Suddenly, I was grieving again, for Kurt and his band and the people who knew and loved him. And for my friend Mike, and probably for other things. And the tears ran down my face, and my chest shook, and it felt like a relief.

In some small way, Joan Jett fronting Nirvana was the most perfect coda to Nirvana’s career.

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Along with Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, The E Street Band, Hall & Oates, and others.

** I say “included” because I very much expect audience recordings to be removed for copyright infringement sooner than later. I fully expect to have to remove the video at the top of this post at some point soon for that reason…

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

April 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Digging into “Black Hole Sun” and Superunknown

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My introduction to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” was via the song’s video, which I first saw during the early summer of 1994:

This video was both awesome and, at the time, quite possibly the most fucked-up thing I had ever seen. As a result, the song creeped me out a bit whenever I heard it, because I always associated it with all of the bizarre, psychedelic stuff going on in the video. To this day, if I watch the video, my hair invariably stands on end at points, especially when the black hole sun starts making things turn even more chaotic and weird than they were during the first couple of minutes…

Eventually, I bought Superunknown – which was released 20 years ago this month, and is being re-released as a Super Deluxe edition on April 19th (Record Store Day) – and I got to know the song and its companions a whole lot better.

This was back when the Walkman and its ilk were beginning to approach their death throes, but to a college student with little in the way of pocket money, the Walkman was great. I bought blank cassettes, dubbed my favorite music onto them, and listened to them through headphones at high volume as I fulfilled my work-study obligations. I worked a job that required virtually zero personal interaction, which made it a perfect opportunity to shut off the world and listen to rock and metal without bothering anyone. I became good friends with the likes of Machine Head, Testament, Alice In Chains, Metallica, and Soundgarden during those (many, many) sessions.

As I made my way through my college years, I developed some pretty specific memories of “Black Hole Sun.” The details of what I was doing while listening are both fuzzy and irrelevant by this time; what I remember vividly is the small epiphanies I would have while listening to Superunknown (which is an album that, if you’re in the right mood, will blow your mind in many very pleasant ways the first several times you listen to it).

“Black Hole Sun” has several interesting elements, some of which are:

  • It’s a slow, steady, heavy rock song, but is well-polished and multi-layered, both vocally and instrumentally.
  • The lead guitar melody has a somewhat haunting, yet beautiful and ethereal quality that contrasts nicely with the heavy parts of the song.
  • The “black hole sun!” screams in the last chorus are pretty awesome.
  • The hard alternate-panned “black hole sun!” vocals during the “won’t you come?” part at the end of the song are pretty remarkable to listen to on headphones… especially the first time you hear them.
  • The John Lennon-inspired vocal harmonies in the choruses sound great.

And there are others – those are just off the top of my head. I didn’t discover each of them on the first listen. When you hear the song come at you from directly in front – as with a music video on TV – you don’t necessarily hear everything. But on headphones, the stereo space revealed nuggets such as the ones I listed above, and from a musical perspective, it was heaven.

Superunknown has several gems. I’m not usually partial to the big hits by an artist – and “Black Hole Sun” was probably Soundgarden’s biggest – but in this case, the song stands on its merits. But there are other great songs on the album. “Like Suicide,” for instance, is not only a great song, but has one of my favorite Soundgarden treats: Chris Cornell singing/screaming at the beginning of Kim Thayil’s guitar solo… and the solo itself is, in my opinion, one of the most emotionally powerful solos I’ve ever heard. He does a smiliar thing at the beginning of the solo in the album’s opener, “Let Me Drown,” which I also love. Other favorites abound… “Head Down” has a great intro; “Fell On Black Days” is just a great song; “Spoonman” needs no explanation; “Fresh Tendrils” (the “shame! shame! throw yourself away” chorus-y part is incredible); and “4th of July” with its down-tuned sludginess that I struggled to comprehend at the time.

From front to back, it’s one of the strongest albums I own. In my humble opinion, there isn’t another Soundgarden album that’s as dynamic and well-written as Superunknown, and 20 years later, it’s still an album that I can enjoy from start to finish.

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

March 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM

On-Base, Slugging, and their absence from MLB.com’s box scores

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For several years, I’ve been disappointed by one thing in particular about MLB.com – “The Official Site of Major League Baseball” – and it has to do with the box score. Mind you, this isn’t my only complaint, but this one sticks in my craw.

My issue is this: if MLB.com is MLB’s official site, why is it that they have some of the most basic box scores on the interwebs? I’m referring to the fact that MLB.com doesn’t show updated On-Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG) in their box scores.

Here’s a screenshot from their site for Saturday’s Dodgers/Diamondbacks Opening Day game box in Australia, as seen in a mobile browser:


Regrettably, the box score is on the right side within the mobile format. OBP and SLG would normally take columns slotted to the right of AVG on a site that included them… But I didn’t crop it there just to make a silly point; that’s actually where the page ends. It’s the same on the regular website, which is formatted differently (and very clearly illustrates what I’m talking about):

Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks - March 22, 2014 I MLB_com Box 1

(Really? LOB gets a column, but OBP/SLG don’t? And look at all that space! Plenty of room for a couple more columns…)

Like many fans, when I’m having my morning OJ and Golden Grahams, I do like to peruse the box scores during the season. It’s been this way for decades. And for years and years, I’ve been reading box scores that had OBP and SLG in them.

Also, for years and years, MLB.com has omitted them from their box scores.

What I want to know is, why? Why, if they are the Official Site of Major League Baseball, do they not provide basic percentage stats in the box scores?

OBP and SLG have been around for a long time. They weren’t back-of-the-baseball-card stats when I was growing up (although they are now), and they are often left out of the box scores we see in newspapers, but they’ve been part of common baseball language for as long as I can remember. And they aren’t “new” Sabermetric stats, like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or weighted Runs Created plus (wRC+). They’re basic stats that help measure a player’s offensive production:

OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit-By-Pitches)/(At-Bats + Walks + Hit-By-Pitches + Sacrifice Flies).

SLG = Total Bases/At-Bats.

They’re not without their flaws, but they are important stats, and I’ve been enamored with them since I was a kid.

MLB.com isn’t alone in this: Yahoo Sports and USA Today are two other popular sports pages that omit SLG/OBP. On the other hand, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, ESPN.com, The Sporting News, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and many other major sites do include them. Here’s a screenshot of SI.com’s box from Saturday’s Opening Day game:


Granted, there are other flaws in this particular box, including the fact that Scott Van Slyke’s homer (and all of the game’s RBIs, and other stuff…) apparently didn’t translate to the Batting Summary for some reason, and that his SLG, which was 2.000 after this game, translates to .000 because SI.com doesn’t allocate enough space for four digits and a decimal point in their columns. But that’s an aberration. At least they try to have the information there (and normally these percentages aren’t above 1.000 anyway – one game is an extremely small sample size, obviously).

I love reading about baseball, and I do go to MLB.com regularly for the news and perspectives that they provide. It’s a part of my daily sports-site rounds, as I devour whatever baseball-related information I can get my paws on. It just baffles me that a site which features GameDay, which provides live pitch-by-pitch information for every game during the season, doesn’t list such basic and common percentage stats in its box scores. If I’m reading about a game at MLB.com and I want to peruse the box score, I have to get my OBP/SLG fix somewhere else. That’s fine, I guess; I know the information’s out there. It’s a small thing, really, but it’s also a stupid thing that has gnawed at me for a long time…

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

March 23, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Playing around with plain text and the cloud

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Template in PlainText 2

Template in PlainText 2

As I looked into options for using my new iPad Mini for what I would generally classify as “productivity,” I looked at several options for note taking and cloud syncing. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to describe the activities I’ll be using it for as a cocktail of the following: brainstorming, outlining, and rough drafting; but on a micro level, “productivity” suits me just fine. At any rate, after a few conversations with my brother about it (and after reading some posts by Christopher Mayo on the subject), I decided to go with Dropbox for cloud syncing and plain text (.txt) for my note taking format.

I had considered several other options. The most popular seem to be Evernote and Google Drive (née Docs), although I don’t really think anyone considers Dropbox to be a dark horse necessarily, at this stage of the game. I also considered OneNote/OneDrive/Office Online, but I ended up leaving that for some other time.

I’ve used Google Drive before, and I tried out OneDrive etc. several weeks ago, but I didn’t like that everything was only in the cloud with those services. In particular with Office Online in a browser, I found that there were situations where I would be writing an idea down and the auto-save function would momentarily fail. In cases like this, an error message would pop up, and getting rid of that message would cause the page to reload, reverting to the most recent save. In my opinion, this is unacceptable, because if I’m jotting down an idea, and then it’s lost, I have to remember and re-type the idea, and there’s a chance something could be lost along the way. This is particularly vexing if you’re also doing something else like watching a game or listening to a podcast, which can be distracting.

Using plain text and Dropbox eliminates this problem. I make a note locally (on either my computer or my iPad), and save it to my Dropbox folder. It uploads/updates the file online, and then syncs with the other device. There’s none of that “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t catch that last bit…” continuous connectivity garbage that I could get from an browser-based client. This means that my notes will have higher fidelity with respect to my original thoughts than they would have if I had to spend any significant time trying to recapture what I was thinking the first time.

For the PC, I’m using Notepad, Windows’ native text editor. On the iPad, I’m trying out the recently re-launched PlainText 2, which has some nice keyboarding features and syncs easily with Dropbox. It has worked well for me so far.

One odd thing happened when I created a test document in PlainText 2: all of the line breaks were gone when I opened the same file in Notepad. However, if I created a test doc in Notepad, the line breaks survived when I opened it in PlainText 2. I messed around with it a little, but I couldn’t find any option to change that. So I decided to roll with what I knew.

I made several templates in Notepad and saved them to my Dropbox folder. As you can see at the top of this post, I labeled them simply – Template 1, Template 2, etc. – and wrote a short sentence with a line break after it. (And yes, I encouraged myself, because why not?) These all looked fine in PlainText 2. So now, I can use these templates if I have a new set of notes I want to make while I’m away from my PC, and change the file names as necessary. It’s not the absolute most convenient way to do things, I suppose, but it actually only took a couple of minutes to do: make one, and then copy/paste the text into new files.

Other than that small oddity, I think I really like PlainText 2. It should be sufficient for my needs*, and if I find that I need something more robust in the future, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of options.

*It’s highly likely that I will use this method for brainstorming blog ideas on the iPad, rather than making post stubs in the WordPress app, in part because, as I mentioned, PlainText 2 has a nicer keyboard. Additionally, I can paste plain text from Notepad into WordPress on my PC and format to my heart’s content when I’m ready to publish something. We’ll see what happens, but I may have a formula here that works for me.

Also, who ever said that I go about things conventionally?

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

March 22, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Finally entering the mobile age

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It’s 2014, and I have something to admit: until about ten days ago, I was stuck in middle of the previous decade with respect to mobile computing. As in, I had no mobile computing device of any sort. As a matter of fact, I still have a flip phone, which has done very little computing for me over the years (unsurprisingly).

However, I decided to take the plunge a couple of weeks ago. I ended up buying an iPad Mini (the old school, non-retina display model) for a fairly good price. It seems to be working out fine, and I’m enjoying it.

The main reason I picked it up is this: if I want to read anything online, I have to sit at my computer. I built a desktop PC in September 2012 – and that’s working great – but sitting in front of it is not the most physically comfortable way to read for any significant period of time. But for a long time, it has been my only practical option*.

And here’s the thing: I spend tons of time reading blogs and news online. My back doesn’t enjoy it.

*After my iMac died, I tried using the Playstation Vita for mobile browsing since we already own one, but the browser speed is simply atrocious, and the app selection is pathetic. I’ve used it for Twitter occasionally, but that’s about it.

I looked at several options for tablets. For more than a year, I’ve been stifling my desire for something portable, but I could never justify spending the money on something I didn’t absolutely need. I’m glad that I didn’t make the jump to tablet ownership before this. But this month seemed to be the right time to do it. And this iPad fell within my limited price range, and will (I think) be up to my simple demands.

I like my Mini. It’s comfortable to hold, and it’s nice to be able to read or browse in an easy chair instead of while sitting at my PC. However, I have been the opposite of productive with it to this point…

I did download a few apps that I suspect will get heavy use over the next couple of years. WordPress and Twitter were the first two, along with a couple of other convenient apps. I also downloaded a boatload of classic books (Project Gutenberg and epubbooks are my friends). However, I made something of a mistake by slapping $1.99 of my credit down on the new-ish puzzle game, Threes.

Threes is a very easy game to learn, but is highly addictive. It’s easy to blow hours at a time combining ones and twos to make threes, and sixes into twelves, and so on. I’ve spent way too much time playing it instead of, you know, blogging and stuff.

However, on Wednesday afternoon I decided to break out of the spell Threes was holding on me. I sat on the couch, fired up the WordPress app and started this post, and although I am finishing it on the computer, I wanted to see how well the app worked. For my purposes – which mainly include the ability to type out and save blog ideas while physically comfortable, it should be fine. It has its limitations, including a less-than-robust tagging interface, but for simple rough-drafting, it seems fine. I could have finished this post on it and published it from my couch, but I got up for a moment mid-post to stretch my legs, and decided that I wanted to do something else for the time being. As such, I’m finishing it now at the computer.

I’m excited about my new Mini. It’s nice to have something that enables me to break away from this chair more often without completely unplugging from the news, viewpoints, and writing that I love. Hopefully, I’ll be using it more for what I would consider to be productive activity and less on puzzle games… but that’s entirely on me, obviously!

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

March 20, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Not a real review: Fable Anniversary (Xbox 360)

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Fable Anniversary

Fable Anniversary (Lionhead Studios) – beautiful, but buggy.

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I was ecstatic when Lionhead Studios announced Fable Anniversary last June. The original Fable – the game that sparked my interest in video games (beyond racing, sports, etc.) as an adult – turns ten years old this year, and remains one of my favorites. A long-hoped-for, remastered-for-HD version of my favorite Xbox game, originally expected to release less than five months after its announcement? I was 100% there.

Of course, it was pushed back to February, ostensibly so that Lionhead could add some final polish and make it the great remake that it deserved to be – and that its fans deserved, and craved.

I picked the game up on its release date (February 4), but I didn’t get around to starting it for a couple of days. Since then, I have put approximately 25 hours into it over the course of a half-dozen play sessions. I’ve spent my time in-game savoring the HD graphics, basking in the soundtrack, and exploring every nook and cranny of Albion. It’s wonderful to see the original Fable in its updated glory. The adventure can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, but I’ve been taking my sweet, sweet time, and I have no regrets about doing so.

The not-real review:

Graphically, Fable Anniversary is a pleasure, although this is expected: in the Xbox 360 era, we’ve already had Fable II and Fable III, which both look bright and colorful; Anniversary feels right at home when compared to those two.

The gameplay is faithful to the original, with the added option of using the Fable II controls. Personally, it’s a pleasure to play a 360-quality Fable game with the map on-screen again, and while the menu interface design has been updated, it still feels like old times, in a good way.

I won’t go into detail about every aspect of the game. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself, and I’m sure most fans of the original game would have a lot of fun revisiting Albion in Anniversary. Plus, this is not a real review.

However, I will note a handful of troubling issues with the game.

1. The original game’s “trade between shops for gold” “bug” – where a player can buy out a vendor, instantly increase that same vendor’s demand (and buy price) for items, and then resell those items back to the vendor for a profit, instantly re-lowering that vendor’s demand (and sell price), ad infinitum – made it into the remastered game intact.

It’s fairly obvious that Lionhead isn’t terribly concerned with the ease of gold-making in the series. After all, Fable II and III both had fairly simple, repetitive job systems that made gold-making a mindless afterthought after players put in a little bit of initial work. However, I would argue that this a broken system that needed to be fixed. They did fix it to some extent in Fable II, which had a much better “sale” system, but in remaining faithful to the original in this case, they trivialized several other systems. For instance, with basically unlimited gold, the use of Health/Will potions and Resurrection Phials goes from somewhat strategic (in the first hour or two of play) to completely trivial: when you’re sitting on 500+ Health/Will potions, you can use them like candy and it’s not challenging. Additionally, getting very good armor and weapons becomes simply a matter of opening up new areas (and thus, new vendors), with little-to-no real cost. And getting the “Choosing My Religion” achievement for donating at least 100,000 gold at the Temple of Avo (which also rewards a very strong melee weapon) is a drop in the bucket. There is no real choice necessary there (unless you deliberately choose not to make gold that way); instead of making choices have consequence, you simply buy what you need – even an achievement – while suffering virtually no effect on your overall gold balance.

2. The game freezes way too often, which is a problem. It’s happened to me more times than I’ve cared to count. On Sunday, for instance, I played for just over two hours and had to shut off/restart my 360 three times. The first time it happened was early on in the game, when I was halfway through the “Twinblade’s Camp” core quest. I was mollified when I realized that I could load from the latest checkpoint, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I’ve had to hard-restart my 360 almost 20 times with Fable Anniversary, and even though Lionhead came out with a stability update a few weeks after release, I’m still having many of the same problems.

3. There are some annoying jagged edges in the game. The one that has annoyed me the most – probably because I’ve used it so many times – has been a problem where, if I run straight into a cullis gate (usually at the Heroes Guild), I can’t actually get onto it. I have to approach it in a semi-circular manner in order to avoid the jag, which is just a pain. There are some other ground jags, but nothing that has been as consistently frustrating as the cullis gate issue. Fortunately, we have the Guild Seal, and I’ve taken to using it almost exclusively for teleportation.

4. On that note, I’ve also noticed some instances where, when attempting to use the down button on the d-pad (Guild Seal) to teleport, the game instead reflects that I’ve used either the right or left d-pad buttons, which means I use some type of expression (usually a fart, which I guess is hilarious in its own way), eat something I didn’t want to eat, or something to that effect. At certain points, that has been frustrating, particularly at times when I was some distance from the nearest cullis gate. Since the update, this seems to have toned down, although I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence.

There are other gameplay elements that aren’t the cleanest, but these bugs are the ones that have bothered me the most, because they’re particularly immersion-breaking and because I would think that, aside from #1, Lionhead would have been able to smooth out the game’s rough edges (bugs) with the extra time afforded them by the delay.

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In general, I’ve had a heck of a lot of fun playing Fable Anniversary. It’s been great to revisit the old stories, places, music, and choices. I’ve laughed a lot, and enjoyed the coziness of the game. At the same time, I’ve found myself getting chills during certain quests, even though I’ve done them before: the quest sequences where you a) find out Lady Grey’s secret at Grey House and b) fight through the graveyard on the way to Bargate Prison were, in particular, very cool combinations of atmosphere, music, and spooky situations.

Looking back at the original through this fresh experience, it’s easier to see how Lionhead took some big leaps forward from Fable to Fable II, with jobs, the vendor sale system, combat system, expanded pub games, and the social/Renown/relationship overhauls. While I still sort of want to look back on my experiences with the original and tell people that the first Fable was the best game in the series – and I do think that it’s still my favorite – I have a much greater appreciation for the changes in game mechanics that Lionhead made in the second game now. Fable Anniversary is great, and it’s a loving tribute to the original classic, but it also shows both its age and its limitations when compared to its newer brethren. As such, it generally deserves its decent-but-not-smokin’-hot review scores.

I would definitely recommend Fable Anniversary to fans of the original Fable, as well as fans of Fable II and III who haven’t played the original, if for nothing other than to experience the original story. Albion is rich with lore, and for those who never played it on Xbox (or never owned an Xbox), this is a wonderful opportunity to visit that era in its history.

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My experience with Fable Anniversary:

  • Previous Fable experience: played the original several times. Also played II several times, and III once.
  • General game thoughts: beautiful – and still a lot of fun – but also a bit buggy, and shows its age.
  • Graphics: not cutting-edge anymore, but generally on par with other 360 Fable entries.
  • System/game performance: generally consistent with the original, and very playable, but – again – has some unfortunately frustrating bugs.
  • Music: excellent, as usual – a game soundtrack worth buying.
  • Xbox Smartglass: I didn’t test the Smartglass features. Additionally, I didn’t feel like spending extra money for the premium features, and they aren’t totally necessary anyway (although from what I’ve read, they’re pretty cool).

Note: Not a real review is a new series here at Dischordant Forms, where I write about my experiences playing through various video games – usually older games that I can get at bargain bin prices (although this game is something of an exception in that regard). These posts should not be considered actual reviews, which are usually written by people who are both competent gamers and decent writers. These are simply my impressions, and the context in which those are formed may be vastly different from that of most other players/readers.

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

March 10, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Sad as I am to say it, winter can ‘wrap it up’ any time now

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This is the ground outside right now: downed branches, tightly frozen into the icy snow beneath them.

The ground outside: downed branches, most of which are firmly frozen into/under rock-solid snow.

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It’s the first week of March, and we’re nearing the end of the most winter-y winter I have experienced in almost ten years.

This past weekend, we braced ourselves for the 673rd snowstorm of the season. Thankfully, we only got about an inch or so. Nonetheless, when I decided to brave the cold for a walk on Monday, it only took being outside for about 90 seconds of mid-teens temps and wind for me to change my mind.

I do get outside most days, if only briefly. I go to work five days per week, and I park a good distance from the entrance in order to get some brisk walking in for a minute or so on the way in and out.

If this sounds strange, let me explain why I do this.

The barrage of snow we’ve received here in the northeast over the past couple of months, combined with generally erratic weather, has left snow piled high and sidewalks icy or otherwise impassible. Because the last thing I need is to break a leg (or worse) on the ice, I decided to only take walks this winter when the weather was well above freezing and I could walk on dry ground.

I’ve started parking my car away from the entrance to my job, because I’ve found that the parking lot at work is generally clear, and I can usually walk from my parking spot to the door without endangering myself. Of course, I will park close and tread carefully when ice is king, but I like that I’m at least forcing myself to get a modicum of exercise most days.

I do stand and walk around all day at my job anyway, and I’m glad for this, because it means that I’m not completely neglecting exercise just because walking outside is dangerous. However, I’m looking forward to spring, and the opportunity to get outside for sustained walks on a regular basis.

Since global warming is obviously a myth – Exhibit A: the 2013-14 Polar Vortex (Ha ha!) If next winter is as volatile, snowy, and cold as this one has been, I’m seriously considering investing in something that I can strap to my shoes in order to have a sure grip on slippery ground. I don’t want to go through another winter taking one walk per week-to-ten-days like I have this year. Sure, eating moderately well, parking far away from my job entrance when possible, and getting that occasional real walk in has kept me relatively trim this winter, but I’ve still wrestled with cabin fever from time to time, and I don’t really enjoy that at all.

I actually love winter – particularly at the beginning of the season. I like the cold. In theory, I can always put more clothing on if I’m cold, whereas in the summer, when it sits between the high 80s and the low 100s for a couple of months in a row, I’m sweaty and miserable. I love the beauty of snow, and I love Christmas time, and so on. But right now, winter is little more than a dirty mess on the ground. And I’m not physically up to weathering the wind chill on a long walk due to my determination to avoid slipping.

But I don’t like walking outside and then turning around to go back in because it’s too frigid. It’s embarrassing, for goodness’ sake! I’m not even sure why I admitted that! Oh well. Next winter, I want to be armored and ready to handle those elements… by taking plenty of walks, despite the weather.

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Thanks for reading this post by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!

Written by Russ

March 5, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Posted in photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

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