GrantB.net

Topics may include programming, classic console games, comic books, kung fu flicks, spaghetti westerns, or giant cartoon robots.
Grant Birchmeier is from West Michigan but currently lives in Chicagoland.

Comic books I bought: Nov 25-Dec 9, 2015

I should post stuff here more often. How about I run down my comic book purchases from Nov 25 to Dec 9? Let's dork it up in here.

Nov 25

Aquaman #46 (DC) - I'm about to drop this title. One of the best New 52 launches settled down, becoming merely pretty good toward the end of Geoff Johns' inaugural run and through Jeff Parker's tenure, but Cullen Bunn's story since #41 has me losing interest with every issue. We're 6 installments into a weird alternate-universe Atlantis storyline and I just don't care.

The Fuse #16 (Image) - One of my favorite books on the shelf right now is this police procedural that takes place in a city on a shitty space station orbiting Earth. Rather than focusing on a single case, this current storyline centers on the station's annual "Perihelion" celebration and the precinct's struggle to keep general order and juggle several high-profile events (including a high-end cat burglar, a mob-hit-turned-hospital-standoff, and a serial killer). This is the best arc yet.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2 (Marvel) - It's good. Not great, but good.

Silver Surfer #15 (Marvel) - Mike Allred's novel take on Silver Surfer concludes as Surfer and Dawn create a universe. This book has been pretty weird, but a still-accessible kinda weird. I guess the next issue will be a new relaunch at #1, but that's cosmetic, because the creative team will not change.

Venom Space Knight #1 (Marvel) - This was a surprise. I didn't really know what to expect, but I got a painted space action story that knew how to move. Robbie Thompson and Ariel Olivetti are kicking off a new title right.

Dec 1

Barrier #1 (Panel Syndicate) - Bryan K. Vaughn's new release on his pay-what-you-want digital site. Starts off as a pretty interesting border drama with main characters on each side of the divide, right up until the last page where... whaaaaaaat.

Dec 2

Cyborg #5 (DC) - Ugh, will this boring storyline just end already? Writer David Walker scored a lot of points with his fantastic Shaft miniseries, but he is just not hitting it here, and this alternate-dimension Borg noise needs to stop ASAP. The next arc needs to get away from this crap and do something more grounded, else I'm done.

Midnighter #7 (DC) - This book is pretty great. Maybe it shouldn't be, as the main character is just a technologically-enhanced combat machine vigilante who doesn't ever actually seem to be in danger, but writer Steve Orlando has written a character who is fun to read and tries to have a personal life in between missions. In this issue, Midnighter faces an actual threat. I should have seen this twist coming, but for some reason I didn't.

Nova #2 (Marvel) - I should probably be past reading about a 14-year-old superhero, but I like Marvel's cosmic stuff and I've been into Nova since the 2007 Abnett/Lanning-written series about the previous guy. Sam's just got his long-lost dad back (also a Nova), and they're falling into a tag-team groove... until a monster-fight incident reveals that Sam's dad might not be totally normal anymore. I'm thinking I might be able to start reading this series with my son in another year or so.

Replica #1 (AfterShock) - Checked this out on a recommendation from the comic shop guy (thanks, Kirk!). Trevor Carter is a under-resourced cop on a grimy intergalactic hub, and I'm a sucker for grimy space stuff (see The Fuse above). It starts with him wishing his precinct had more capable cops, and ends with him having a bunch of clones. I'm in.

Dec 9

Constantine, The Hellblazer #7 (DC) - After the previous botch that was the New 52 Contantine title finally and rightfully got terminated, DC appears to have lightened up on the editorial reins and allowed writers Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV to write the non-superhero-tainted book that the character deserves. And it's been pretty darn good so far. Riley Rossmo's art also helps, a much-welcome departure from the DC superhero house-style that seems to have been previously enforced. It's not the Vertigo book that we all wish DC hadn't killed in 2013, but it's almost worthy of the name. And hey! This issue has Swamp Thing!

Guardians of the Galaxy #3 (Marvel) - See earlier comment about issue #2.

NES Game Inventory

I collect NES games. Here's a continuously-updated list of what I have.

Games that are crossed out are games that I got rid of.

"5-screw" means it's an early NES release, before they switched to the 3-security-screw cartridge style.

  • 1943
  • Adv of Lolo 1
  • Adv of Lolo 2
  • Adv of Lolo 3
  • Back to the Future
  • Bad Dudes
  • Bad Street Brawler
  • Barker Bill's Trick Shooting
  • Baseball (5-screw)
  • Bigfoot
  • Blades of Steel
  • Bomberman
  • Breakthru (5-screw)
  • Bump 'n' Jump
  • Burgertime
  • Castlequest
  • Castlevania (5-screw)
  • Castlevania 2 (gave away)
  • Castlevania 3
  • Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers
  • Clash at Demonhead
  • Cobra Triangle
  • Codename: Viper
  • Commando (5-screw)
  • Contra
  • Crystalis
  • Cybernoid
  • Darkman
  • Defender 2
  • Deadly Towers
  • Deja Vu
  • Demon Sword
  • Dick Tracy
  • Disney's Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
  • Donkey Kong Classics
  • Double Dragon
  • Double Dragon 2
  • Double Dribble
  • Dr. Mario
  • Dragon Power
  • Duck Hunt (5-screw)
  • Duck Hunt (3-screw)
  • Dungeon Magic
  • Elevator Action (5-screw)
  • Excitebike
  • Faxanadu
  • Final Fantasy
  • Fire 'n Ice
  • Flying Warriors
  • Gargoyle's Quest 2
  • Gauntlet
  • Ghosts 'n Goblins
  • GI Joe
  • GI Joe 2
  • Golf (5-screw)
  • Golgo 13
  • Goonies 2
  • Gradius
  • Gremlins 2
  • Guerilla War
  • Gyruss
  • Hogan's Alley (5-screw)
  • Ice Climber (5-screw)
  • Jaws
  • Jeopardy!
  • Karate Champ
  • Karnov
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kings of the Beach
  • Kirby's Adventure
  • Knight Rider
  • Laser Invasion
  • Legendary Wings
  • Litte Nemo the Dream Master (gave away)
  • Mach Rider
  • Mafat Conspiracy
  • Mario Bros (5-screw)
  • Mega Man
  • Mega Man 2
  • Mega Man 3
  • Mega Man 4
  • Mega Man 5
  • Mega Man 6
  • Metal Gear
  • Metroid (old label)
  • Metroid (new label)
  • Mighty Bomb Jack
  • Mighty Final Fight
  • Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
  • Milon's Secret Castle
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Monster Truck Rally
  • Mystery Quest
  • Operation Wolf
  • Paperboy
  • Phantom Fighter
  • Pipe Dream
  • Platoon
  • Popeye
  • Predator
  • Punisher
  • Q*bert
  • RC Pro Am
  • Rad Racer 2
  • Rainbow Islands
  • Rambo
  • River City Ransom
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  • RoboCop
  • RoboWarrior
  • Rocket Ranger
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Rygar (2 copies?)
  • Shooting Range
  • Skate or Die
  • Snake's Revenge (aka Metal Gear 2)
  • Soccer (5-screw)
  • Solstice
  • Sqoon (5-screw)
  • Star Trek 25th Anniversary
  • Stealth ATF
  • Super Dodge Ball
  • Super Mario Bros
  • Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt
  • Super Team Games
  • Superspike V-Ball
  • Swamp Thing
  • Swords & Serpents
  • Tag Team Wrestling
  • Target Renegade
  • Tennis (5-screw)
  • Thrilla's Surfari
  • Thundercade
  • Tiger-Heli
  • Time Lord
  • Top Gun
  • Track & Field 2
  • Urban Champion (5-screw)
  • Vice Project Doom
  • Volleyball (5-screw)
  • Winter Games
  • Wrath of the Black Manta
  • Wrecking Crew (5-screw)
  • Zoda's Revenge (StarTropics 2)

Hack carts - these are not legit games, but hacks or translations or unreleased prototype ROMs that someone put on a cart. (These are often referred to as "reproductions", but that's a misnomer.)

  • Zelda Outlands (remix hack)
  • Adventure Island 4 (translated Japan-only release)
  • HeroQuest (unreleased prototype)

Like an asinine phoenix

GrantB.net lives again.

It's all custom built, this time with Ruby on Rails. I've been part of a few big Rails projects at work, and I thought it'd be fun to build something to my own specs instead of a client's.

The page design is not quite where I want it. It's basically there, but there are a half-dozen or so things that aren't right, plus I'm sure it looks like a mess on mobile. But, sometimes you just have to pull the trigger and go live, or else you never will (a lesson one of my clients really needs to figure out).

Other web-dev-dorkery notes:

  • Supports writing posts in Markdown via the Redcarpet gem. I've grown to love Markdown.
  • No Javascript right now. Javascript can do some really neat stuff now, especially with AngularJS, but I haven't gotten that fancy here yet.
  • No Bootstrap. It's nice, but I just felt like doing things the hard way. I've got plans for a future project, where I will use Bootstrap.
  • I really like the style on my admin interface, but only I can see it. Hm.

The next high priority is making automated backups. Got burned by this once; not going to happen again.

But I'm not even on Foursquare...

*13 is Live

Star 13 (aka *13) is now live on MySpace! http://myspace.com/star13music.

This is the new project from Jeff Scheel, frontman of the new-defunct industrial rock band Gravity Kills, a band which I was a pretty big fan of.

The official website, which is still just a placeholder, is here:
http://star13music.com.
Jeff says it should be live real soon.

You can hear the new track, a cover of David Bowie's I'm Afraid of Americans at MySpace in radio edit form, and purchase the studio track at iTunes or Snocap.

(Did you catch when I posted the demo of this track a few months ago?)

Server Crash Aftermath

So one April afternoon I find this in my inbox from the guy who hosts this site:

Happen to have a backup of your website?

And my site was down. Dammit.

On the bright side, I did have backups. Unfortunately, they are from January 2006. Doh!

Thanks to Google and Yahoo caches (which I now love), I was able to recover all textual blog content. All of my photos are safe (the originals are stored on my laptop), but a few other not-really-important images are lost.

My Perl blog code that I wrote and deployed last September, however, is gone. I'm kinda pissed about that, but I should have known better than to not back it up.

Perl cgi sucks anyway. I've been wanting to re-do it in PHP, so now I'm doing it. Hopefully I can bang it out pretty fast.

We Are Married

This is certainly a surprise to many, but not a shock to all. Me and Kathy got married last Friday, February 15 in front of a judge downtown.

This date has nothing to do with Valentine's day. It is, in fact, the 11th anniversary of the day that I initially asked her out. This happened in 1997, after the Metallica concert at Van Andel arena in Grand Rapids. We were attempting to round up our group of friends in preparation for the drive home, and I found myself with her in the middle of the crowd, and I went for it. (It's important to note that this concert was during Metallica's Load tour, when they still had credibility and respect and didn't have to hire a therapist to help them work together.)

So why the stealth marriage? We've been dating for 11 years, and living together for almost 7; we were practically married already. Every time we started talking about a ceremony, we got hung up on details that neither of us really care about. We don't have the time or the interest to plan something big. We figured 11 years was a good milestone; let's just do it and not put it off any longer. My mom still wants us to have a party of some sort, and I guess me and Kathy will consider it.

The picture that the judge took of us isn't very good, so here's a picture of us afterward as we wait to eat at our favorite restaurant.

Married and hungry

Hooray!

I Will Finally Fix the IE Display Problems

At the moment, if you use IE, you will see a banner on this page that notifies you that I'm well aware that this page looks like crap to you. Yesterday, it basically said "Screw you, IE users!" Until now, I guess I was holding a hard line that if Microsoft won't support the web standards that every other browser supports, screw them and the people using their crap browser.

But I'm job hunting. For computer jobs. And I might be applying for some web-related jobs. So you might reason that I probably shouldn't be telling IE users to suck it on my home page.

This week, I'm going to try to fix the IE display. It'll be a little tough, for one because I don't have a machine that runs Windows and thus I can't test the page conveniently. It's also tough because the IE rendering engine has, since IE 3 or 4, mis-implemented key parts of CSS. Yes, even in the brand spanking new IE 7. It's something the web standards community has been complaining to Microsoft about for a long time.

So anyway, by next week hopefully this page will look okay in IE. It might not look the same in IE as it does in other browsers, but it won't look like it was designed by a chimpanzee who gave up halfway through.

Of course, if you use Opera or Firefox, you shouldn't notice any change at all.

Pictures from WizardWorld 2007

WizardWorld Chicago 2007 was in August this year, and again I took pictures of all the crazy costumes. And now, 4 months later, I'm finally putting them up!

As an aside, I've been playing with the Python Imaging Library, which is a really handy way to edit images once you figure it out. I wrote a couple scripts that will resize, make thumbnails, and copywrite-stamp the images really quickly. I'll post the scripts soon, after I've had a chance to clean them up a bit.

Anyway, back to the pics. Unfortunately, I went on Friday, not Saturday, which is much busier and probably had many more costumes to snap. But hey, I got what I got.

I only got one celebrity, Michael Madsen, who you might have seen in Kill Bill 1 & 2. There were other celebs, but for some reason or another, I didn't get them.

I think there was a Fett family reunion nearby or something, because damn were a lot of Mandalorian Armor costumes. As usual, the Star Wars contingent was well represented and of a high quality that implies too much money was spent. But then again, that's what makes the pictures not suck.

The other highlights for me were Dr. Weird (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and Wario. Those are bold choices gentlemen, and you've executed well.

Anyway, enough exposition. Here's the pics:

Star-13 Demo - "I'm Afraid of Americans"

A GrantB.net exclusive! (I think)

Jeff Scheel, lead singer of somewhat-defunct industrial rock band Gravity Kills, has a new project coming up soon, to be dubbed Star13. And I have a demo!

It's a cover of David Bowie's I'm Afraid of Americans (from Earthling, one of my favorite albums).

This is (in his words) "only a very rough demo". Jeff says that it is not finished. A final version will "go to radio in about 2 months".

Download this track here!

Ignore this block if you somehow can see it. It's a hack to force the 'yieldbox' div to be as wide as the viewport allows, even if the content isn't wide.