Monday, December 28, 2009

The End

2009 just so happens to be the year of the Beatle. The Beatles mono releases took albums that couldn't be better and made them better. It took familiar tracks and added layers that went unheard/unfelt. Moreover, exploding auditory experiences wasn’t enough; Apple also released Beatles Rock Band. And hands down this is video game of the year. The beautiful visuals, simple, fun, and clean story mode, and the instrument handling do justice to The Beatles' catalogue. While I love my video games that provide revolutionary gaming graphics, insane tales, running through hell-fire and brimstone, evolving a character, realistic burps, etc.- eventually I will stop playing those games, waiting for a new version to come out. Not so for Beatles Rock Band.

Music 2009 also leaves much to be desired. As of late, I haven’t been on the pulse of music. And there have been tons of 09 releases, to name a few: Tortoise, Kings of Convenience, Wolfgang Phoenix, Flaming Lips, Japandroids, Grizzly Bear, Coconut Records, Harlem Shakes, and Owen put out albums. So who stands on top? The cop out answer is The Beatles mono-masters. The real answer though is no one. Not one album stands out as the most amazing piece of 2009. Perhaps I’m missing something and a friend can point me in a better direction. I was digging Kings of Convenience a few weeks back but it isn’t the best of 2009. This year remains largely uninspired and I would show gaping bias to mark Owen as the best of 2009 (although it is). As it stands, I’d rather listen to "The Ricky Gervais Guide To…" series.

Now for a quick and dirty list:

Best Movie: Zombieland

Runner-up: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best TV program: Dexter

Runner-up: Community

Best let down on film: Watchmen

Runner-up: Wolverine

Best Restaurant: Zelda’s Pizza (you can find Cristina and myself there once a week)

Best Comic book: Walking Dead

2009 was sort of a lackluster year more transitory than staple inducing. Sure it had its highlights but I think like most Americans, I believe 2010 will be better. At least I’ll be riding my bike a whole lot more.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pixelated




I'm normally not one to wax massive on daily activities but a relaxing few days has inspired a more wordy post than usual. This weekend I combatted a minor cold and could only fit in an hour or so on the bike. However, it was a tremendous weekend for food, video games, and rocking out to The Beatles. It all began with a rousing game of zombie massacring with my buddy Gabe. Left 4 Dead 2 ups the ante with better levels, added destructive melee weapons (see chainsaw, machetes, and frying pans), improved artificial intelligence, and more skull crushing good times.

Then Cristina and I played so much Beatles Rock Band we could have started calling each other Ringo and George. We essentially played through the entire game in 2 days- it's that good. We grew up on The Beatles, it definitely shows when we're playing, nerdy but fun as hell. Later, we had some pretty good pizza, beer, wine, espresso, etc. at a joint called Onespeed. Their decor is cycling inspired and if you're in Sacramento it's worth checking out.

[Whad' ya mean, you're sold outta pizza!]
I also squeezed in some time with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The multiplayer on this game is so badass I won't be messing with the solo-campaign for awhile. It's the same routine of running around and exploding/blasting players up or sneaking up on them and giving them the ol' what-for, despite the repetition it's endless enjoyment. On the flip side of this game is Beatles Rock Band. The Apple marketing engine is brilliant and constantly gobbles up money in the most worthy ways (see mono-remixes). The Beatles, without a doubt, deserved their own title to make the Rock Band paradigm work. The sheer number of songs/albums, quality of tracks, and history demands it's own setup and experience.
I'm no musician but the rock band titles allow you to enjoy music in new and fun ways; just like I'm no super-soldier but launching video-game grenades satisfies the kid in me (but I am a zombie-slayer). So yah, even in sickness, the weekend was fantastic.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Boy and His Bike

My first bike was a blue BMX equipped with training wheels. As soon as I got those trainers off I broke out of our cul-de-sac and into the wild desert, traversing onto large hills and racing down them as fast as possible. Like many kids I had a deep desire for speed, quickness, and the unknown; and the vehicle that could deliver it all was the bicycle. It was the greatest rush a 5 year old me had ever tapped into. Oh, how little things change.

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I picked up a Cannondale CAAD9 5 from my local bike shop, Mike's Bikes in Sacramento. Their service was top-notch and I didn't feel alienated because this was my first "real" road-bike. I had my heart set on the CAAD but just to compare, I test rode a Specialized Tarmac (impressive bike) but the bike guys even agreed that the CAAD was a better deal- the aluminum frame is second to none. This was also my first proper bike fit and it made all the difference. On this beast, I feel like I can ride over 10 hours no problems and in comfort (maybe I'll test that theory next spring).

This is a frame any cyclist can pick up and improve with little hassle; and plenty of people race on these frames, road and cyclocross. It's equipped with Shimano 105s (perfect for the apprentice me) and I added Shimano Ultegra pedals. There's really no nice comparison with the ol' 1983 Peugeot and a 2010 bike. The CAAD handles amazingly well, holds true/stiff, and is incredibly light. In short, it's swift and smooth. This bike has a lot to offer and I have plenty to learn and much like the blue BMX, I will grow with it.


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