While I’m a bit late to the party on talking about this book since it’s release, I still think about it regularly when I’m out and about, especially when grabbing a beer at a restaurant or bar. BASaSO is an incredibly well researched book about the rise of Goose Island Brewing Company out of Chicago, IL, and the changes that have come with it being owned by ABInBev in it’s culture and how it’s brought to market.
The biggest revelations where just how ruthless “big beer” can be in their quest to regain market share. Incentives for distributors, discounting for bars for only carrying their brands on tap, and one of my least favorite – hiding the fact that that you are behind this new “craft beer” brand (i.e. Blue Moon or Shock Top). But in the end, if you can’t beat them, buy them and grow that way!
I really don’t want to spoil too much of the narrative, but you really get the sense that Goose Island had something special, and that it’s culture and brand has been changed forever post buyout. Was it worth it? I’ll let you decide.
Cinder Inc was originally named after my cat/kitten at the time, who’s still alive and well at the age of 15 or so, though she can no longer really hear or see much.
I’ve been thinking of what I’d like to do here, and mostly I think it will be a way to review/talk about/think about various things I’m doing as always, be it books, movies, shows, beer, home brewing and of course always video games. No set theme for now, because this is and has always been an outlet.
So since my last WordPress install was probably from 2010 or so I’ll need to play with these features a bit more and get used to the editors! Don’t mind me. Just a few ducks on the Frozen Cannon River.
So I decided to move from my old host (1&1) to Amazon’s AWS services. Cheaper, faster and easier to manage. I’d like to start up posting again, but we’ll see what kind of content I’ll produce and get out once I figure it out.
So I’ve been talking for a little while now with Ash about creating a game, and talking with him about what he would do for making his own. The first many many ideas were basically the same game as him iPhone or Wii favorites, but usually with Lego or Star Wars tossed into the mix. (Angry Birds Star Wars, Lego Star Wars Wii Sports and so on) I encouraged him to come up with his own, new idea that hadn’t been done before, and the idea we settled on would be our own little masterpiece together – Robot vs. Monsters.
His basic idea was that you are a robot tasked to protect a city and the people in it from attacking monsters. He wanted 4 levels, and of course a big boss to fight at the end. The goal of each level would be to save all the humans on the level, and to defeat the monsters using your robot’s weapons.
A feature list we collaborated on:
– 4 Action Packed Levels (each with a different environment!)
– Epic boss battle!!
– Save tiny humans!!
– Use exotic robot weaponry! (Swords! Blasters! More!)
– Sound Effects!!
– Side scrolling, 2D, platforming adventure!!!
– Fun for the whole family!!!
Fairly simple right? Except for the fact that I haven’t programmed anything seriously since college over 10 years ago. Forgotten how to ride that bicycle, and what better time than now to learn all over again.
I decided to make it a Flash based game, so it would be easy to share with friends and family. A good part of the reasoning was as well that there would be plenty of documentation, tutorials and help out there on the web for me to use to help build this game.
I chose to use a Flash library called flixel which has been so far an extremely easy to use framework to get my little game started. There is also an incredible wealth of tutorials out there to work with.
I started with their EZPlatformer Tutorial as a base to get the general idea of how to build a platformer, and since then have been busy tinkering with it adding little bits and pieces to learn more.
– Sound effects (coin pickup and jumping)
– A player “sprite” (my artwork is terrible I know!)
– Created a tile based level in an editor (DAME)
– Created my own coins to add to the level
– Managed to get it all, somewhat working, with a scrolling level!
Yes some of the level is broken below (inaccessible areas due to the little guy not being able to jump high enough), but it’s a start! Enjoy tinkering with the first little example of what we’re doing:
Click the window to play. Arrows to move. Space to jump!
The next update should include the following:
– New Robot character
– New, less generic map that’s bigger
– Humans to collect instead of coins
I figure those are easy enough goals to work towards, and creating small goals will make this all that much closer to completion.
Responsibilities for this project: Ash – Lead Designer, Concept Art, Level Concepts, Game Director Brian – Code monkey, Artist, Level Builder
I’m letting Ash guide the game as much as possible so that he feels like it’s his game, and in the meantime I’ll enjoy building a game and learning something new. Enjoy!
Baseball is back! We’re well into the season already and it’s a wonderful thing. I meant to post something about this earlier in the season, but I just didn’t get around to it. So here it goes. My one of maybe other baseball posts as the year goes on.
I love baseball. It’s a funny thing to me. It’s my real first sports love. Maybe I know the NFL and the goings on in Football more these days, but when it comes back to it all, it’s the feel, the sounds, and baseball that I would end up saying is my favorite sport. No contest.
Baseball started early for me. Probably the first thing my dad and I bonded over was baseball. He and I, now that we’re older, have more to talk about, but when I was a kid I was drawn to computers, videogames and books. But one thing we always loved was watching an Oakland A’s game together or playing catch or practicing for my little league games. This was my start with the game.
It’s a funny thing this baseball. It’s impossible to try and explain the rules to someone who doesn’t know. I remember seeing a minor league game with some friends of the family who were from England. It was as impossible to explain to them as cricket is to explain to us. The weird nuances, the terminology that just becomes second nature to you as a kid because you play it and are surrounded by it. This is baseball!
It’s the years I spent playing it as a kid in little league. You always had the kids who’s parents forced them to play, and the kids who were more gifted with athletic abilities. Me? I was in the middle. I loved to play, but was in no way gifted with natural athletic prowess. I played for many years, but it was entering those High School years that left me behind. I was okay at the game, but never great enough to play on the high school team. Other school sports called me.
It’s all the major league games I remember going to as a kid. The tailgates. The vendors calling out “Cold beer here! Peanuuuuutttssss!” The cheers of the crowd. The joy of rising out of your seat after the crack of a well hit ball, and the hope of it being a home run for your team! The hope, every time you go, of catching a foul ball. (only once in all my years of games have I gotten one and that may be it for my lifetime! I hope not.) The food. The hot summer days. The little fold down seats. It’s heaven.
But here’s in the end what I’m trying to get at. I love baseball. I love the feel of the game. I love the pace of the game. I love the sounds of the game. I love seeing all levels of the game being played. From the little league game to the Mariner’s (who seem to have an aversion to winning these days). I don’t mind the long games. The games where no one is scoring because the pitchers are really on fire. The games where the score is more like a football game. It’s all great.
It, to me, is the only major American sport that is suited to listening to on the radio if you can’t be there or watch it on the TV. Maybe it’s the years I’ve watched and played the game, but the pace of the game, and the simplicity of where the ball can go on any given play lends itself well to play by play, and I never mind hearing a game as I can always picture it in my head so easily.
So here’s to the Spring and Summer, when I get my baseball fix in. When I get to a Mariner’s or a Tacoma Rainier’s game as often as I can. Where even if I’m not sitting and watching the game, I love to hear it in the background in the evening while I make dinner, clean the house or play with my son. Here’s to the game itself. Even if my local team isn’t winning all the time. I’m still a fan. I’ll be there. I may throw my hand up in frustration in another loss, but I’ll be back the next day with the hope of a win, and if nothing else the good feelings of the game.
So, in an experiment last year, I kept a written record of all the books I read and ended up writing each of them up on here. It was different to do so. It for one thing kept me writing a little bit, but it also provided a way to talk a bit more about the books I’ve read. It’s not that anyone else reads this site, but maybe others will come by some time and find something they didn’t expect and enjoy it as well. Or be warned off it.
So I went back and took a look and compiled a few stats of what I did last year. Maybe in years to come I’ll be able to compare them to each other. All the page counts came from Amazon, and I tried to find the copy of the book I read to get close to the right page count.
41 Total Books Read in 2009
17,160 Total Pages
3.4 Books a Month Average
1,430 Pages a Month Average
419 Pages Per Book Average
Sadly only 4 out of the 41 were non-fiction, which I’ll strive to improve this next year. I’ve been building up my “to read” shelf quick a bit in January and February, and along with books given to me by friends, I have my work cut out for me already in these first few months of the year.
I really enjoyed seeing what I’ve read listed out. Call it the nerd in me, or just the satisfying feeling of completion and love of reading, but this exercise had worth. I’m thinking of recording other areas of my life for a bit of reflection, but am not sure what other area lend themselves to this type of record. Any ideas?
Yes, I know I’m really really late at getting this going for the month of December. My bad.
Bauchelain and Korbal Broach Vol. 1 – Steven Erikson – A collection of three novellas that were previously only available from a small private print house, these stories are a great, well written, and humorous look into the pair of necromancers Erikson has created for his Malazan world. Here, with the freedom that comes from not writing a novel, Erikson pulls an incredible amount of wit and humor, but serious good writing to back it all up. I know I’ve read a lot of this series over the last year, but I’d put this as a highlight just for the sheer fun of the stories.
Invisible – Paul Auster – Ah, probably my favorite modern fiction writer has finally put out a book that doesn’t frustrate me completely. I wrote about his last book and wished he’d just stop writing for a while, because it felt like he was just phoning in a story and fulfilling a contract, and had no interest in producing something new, but instead rehashing his familiar themes over and over.
Invisible was different. It felt fresh from him. The story of students experiences in 1967, and the three different perspectives of that continuing story, and the encounters with a mysterious Frenchman and his girlfriend. Deeply compelling, I read it over the course of three nights, so I couldn’t put it down, it relied so much less on his typical themes, but at least did bring out his favorite of a writer writing about writing. The book leaves you with questions as to the truth of the different stories, and the what lies were told and what the motives the characters may have for lying. His best since Oracle Night for me personally.
I’m also planning a 2009 retrospective on all the books I read last year. Some nerdy stats, some breakdowns by type and the like. Can’t not do that! I love making lists and collecting things along that nature!
So November with the holiday and birthday for Ash, I found myself either going to bed too late, or getting distracted with a game on the phone. Needless to say I only completed two books for the month.
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – So the sad reason of what pushed me to get this book was one of those cheesy Facebook quizzes that told me what “book” I was based on answering a couple of random questions. It’s one of those books that’s always on the Borders “recommended” reading tables, and you see it on lists of great novels. One trip to Half Price Books later and the book came to reside on my shelves.
It’s a fascinating novel concerned with the rise and fall of a family and the parallel and very joined story of the rise and fall of the town the patriarch founded. The family history has all the scandal, love, war and odd dynamics that can happen. There is a sense of the mystical, and superstition rules many members of the family, but others are war veterans trying to escape their past, or tireless carousers who meet early ends. It’s characters are what really keep this novel together. With many generations of the families drama played out, and all their names typically being a continuation of the family name, it never descends into a muddle of characters because of the strong personality that each of them displays.
One of the mothers of a generation had a meek personality, and at a portion of the book you even forget she exists, because of the forcefulness of her offspring and their wives, but as she outlives them and enters he own old age, you see her try and reassert herself by repairing and restoring the home, but eventually succumbing and failing. It’s a fascinating book and I couldn’t have asked for more in an unknown novel to me. Please read!
Angels & Visitations – Neil Gaiman – A random pickup from Goodwill one afternoon, I picked it up for the love of his comic work and a couple of his novels. Neil Gaiman, the wonderful comic book writer known for his Sandman series, is one of those wonderfully creative writers when it comes to wondrous stories. Very steeped in myths and legends, this collection of some of his short stories, introductions and poetry is a good quick look at some of what he’s about. From a hard boiled detective story about Humpty Dumpty or a modern telling of Billy Goat’s Gruff or a great tale about the Holy Grail, it’s a wonderful, fanciful ride through some great reading and well worth it.
So really, October was Harry Potter month. I ended up getting hooked, and couldn’t stop reading them until I had finished with them, and the only reason I had another book in the middle of them all was I had it in my car for reading on my lunch breaks at work. We’ll start with the non-Potter book first and then a general Potter fest to complete the rest of the month out.
Moneyball – Michael Lewis – A very controversial book when it came out, Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland A’s Baseball team) and his uncanny ability to put together a consistently winning team that had a budget much less than half of his major competition in Baseball (think of the Yankee’s payroll!). Great book that shows a front office that in an effort to save money looked to the stats of a player and what the players statistics told about their potential. It pits the “old guard” scouting core who looked more at the physical and mental make up of a ballplayer. They frequently would pass on players who didn’t look like a ballplayer physically, but Beane and his staff would find something about the player in his stats to like – Walk to Strikout ratio or their On Base Percentage – and discover diamonds in the rough. \Unfortunately others picked up parts of his ideas over these last few years, and it’s harder to find a good deal anymore for those lackluster A’s. Our own Mariners now have a GM in place who has similar principles in evaluating talent and has helped turn the M’s from a 2nd worst team in the majors to a winning record and significant growth in only a year. Great read, and I want to read his other book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which covers the story of the Left Tackle position in Football. Great writer.
I’ve not looked at lists of others favorite Harry Potters, but I found that I enjoyed Goblet of Fire probably the best out of the series, followed by either The Prisoner of Azkaban or Order of the Phoenix. Book 4 just had a great mix of action, new characters with the other schools joining in and giving you a bigger picture of the wizarding world at large. Plus Harry Potter vs. a Dragon. Excellent. Still book 5 and 6 continued well, but book 7 was almost a let down, saved by the excellent scenes at the end, the middle part just drug on and on as Harry and co. wandered through the wilderness for months seemingly doing not much other than arguing. Thanks guys. Let’s get back to saving the world please!
As a modern book series for children, I can’t believe how well Harry Potter succeeds. I’m also so pleased at how well it reads for an adult as well, and can see why so many people were gladly toting these things when each new one came out. As I’ve mentioned before, I love books that get people reading and how much these books helped many kids who wouldn’t normally read, actually sit down and do so is wonderful. Bonus points for them being actual good books! What’s also great is how this series also has flawed characters. Harry’s not perfect. He get’s angry, he looses his temper over silly things, but has a hard time apologizing sometimes. But, in the end he’s also got a great heart, and he’s got great loyal friends who all learn to stick with each other through thick and thin. He’s occasionally whiny and boorish, but then it helps make him all that more believable of a kid stuck in an impossible situation.
In the end, it’s a series I’d recommend to anyone. Looking for a relaxing book to enjoy on a rainy day? Potter. Looking for the beach book? Potter’d work. Looking for a fantastical take on England? Potter there sir. I’ll gladly have my son read these in a few years when he gets older and is looking for books to start reading. With his appetite for books already I’m sure he’ll love to read these when he get’s of age and I’d love to share them with him and read them again when that time comes.