Meta Blog Update

Some cool changes are going to come to this blog soon and I’m hoping they’ll make the place look a little more put together.

I created and put a Typeracer profile for this blog in the sidebar. Feel free to challenge me if you want, or just laugh at my typing speed. I am putting it there to hopefully show my increase in typing speed over time and just generally plug that website. Typeracer is awesome.

Second thing, I am planning on putting tags on the site which means this place will be easier to navigate, especially if I keep adding a diversity of content. This means that if you just want to look and stay updated on xylo-a-day stuff, you can filter for that and see only those posts.

I’m thinking about starting another endeavor, but I don’t want to spoil what it is because there is a possibility it might just not happen. Posting will continue as usual until then (and even after that).

And finally, I’m going to try my best not to make this a lifestyle blog.

Banjo and Kazooie: Race to the Death

Have you ever heard of Banjo and Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts?

If you haven’t I’ll start from the beginning. Banjo and Kazooie was a 3d platformer released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998. It was quirky, it was funny, it was well designed, had a rich environment, and most importantly it was loads of fun. The developers at Rare decided to make a sequel on the N64 in 2000… and it was another smash hit. It had more exploration, more story, more platforming, more quirkiness, and most importantly another great load of fun.

Move forward to 2008, Microsoft publishes Rare’s 3rd game in the series on the XBOX360. It comes out completely monstrous. This. Isn’t. Banjo. And. Kazooie. Instead of a fun platforming game that the series was known to be Rare delivered a car building game. There was outrage among the Banjo and Kazooie fans. Safe to say when I played it I was a little more than disappointed.

But then I grew up and when I got into college I played the game again, and I’ll admit, I realized how great of a game it is. The car building mechanics are great, the story is hilarious, the missions and objectives are challenging, and the thing I forgot about when I first played it, I had lots of fun.

I’m not a professional critic (whatever that means) but unlike all the reviews it gets from the Banjo and Kazooie fans, I would rate Banjo and Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts a solid 8-9/10. It isn’t Banjo and Kazooie, and that’s the problem. This was a great game with fun and original mechanics that were never seen before in a game.

It isn’t Banjo and Kazooie, and that’s the problem.

Nowadays gamers everywhere look for games with new and interesting mechanics. I would argue that the build and drive system of BK:NB is refreshing and amazing, and it makes the game unlike anything else, something entirely original. Except it has one thing holding it back. They decided to put the name Banjo and Kazooie on it.

This game is unlike every other game in the series and doesn’t belong in it, but they gave it the IP. Microsoft probably did so to promote sales, knowing that there was already a large fanbase that was excited to get there hands on the next Banjo and Kazooie (if it were to ever be released).

And by giving it the name they won. Not to be anecdotal here, but I wouldn’t have bought a car building game on my own, no matter how great it sounded. But the moment I heard Banjo and Kazooie, I said to myself, “Self, we are going to get that game.” And young me, playing that game hoping for the Banjo and Kazooie’s of my childhood, was disappointed. I wasn’t the only one too.

To reiterate though, I now love this game. It is easily one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had.

Ever since my replay of that game, I have tried analyzing the things I watch and the games I play more objectively. It is easy to get caught up in pointing out the inconsistencies in a series or a remake and forget about what it is all about. The point of any entertainment is to be entertaining. Media created for the sole purpose of entertainment is first and foremost entertainment, and then it is art.

Banjo and Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a video game designed for the sole purpose of entertainment. I would argue that Nuts and Bolts as well as any other game in the Banjo and Kazooie series is art as well and should thus be criticized accordingly, but only after objectively answering the subjective question,”Was this game fun?”

This brings me to current and tantalizing topic of today:
Was the Deathnote live-action movie terrible?

A lot of Netflix reviews seem to think so, but I’m reluctant to say so.

To give some backstory. Deathnote is a well-praised anime that begs the question, “Is it alright to be judge, jury, and executioner if you have good intentions?” The main character Light Yagami, a highly intelligent Japanese high-schooler with good intentions, gets his hand on a notebook that can kill anyone with the wave of a pen. Upon receiving this he decides to rid the world of the trash, and what ensues is a mental cat and mouse chase with the world’s best detective.

Most would say that it is art and philosophy, and I would definitely agree. First and foremost though, it is very entertaining to watch. The show has good meaningful plot, great character development, and an interesting original story. Beyond this, being an anime it is a direct adaption of the manga (Japanese graphic novels). And although the manga has loads of content, the anime varies only slightly from it. And this is where the problem is.

My belief is that the Deathnote live-action movie was mismarketed. Some of the fans of Deathnote believed they were going to get an hour and thirty minute live action adaption of a 37 episode anime. This would be like hearing that the Banjo and Kazooie series that you knew from your childhood is getting a third installment, and so you rush to Gamestop and put down a pre-order for it.

Now you know where I am going with this.

I saw the Deathnote live-action movie and I would rate it a solid 7-8/10. It was an entertaining action movie, that’s all I got to say. The movie varied so much from the anime and the manga that there is no way the producers sat in a room and thought they were making a scene for scene adaption. What they knew they were making was an American action movie adaption with heavy Deathnote themes. And that is where the ultimate problem is. It isn’t Deathnote.

I could write another entire blog post pointing out all the inconsistencies, but I will just have to give the brass tacks that supports my theory. The movie is now set in America, instead of Japan. The main character is a social misfit, rather than an upstanding member of society. They added an entire subplot where the main character gets a girlfriend who helps him. The kid is named Light Turner instead of Light Yagami (this goes back to being set in America).

there is no way the producers sat in a room and thought they were making a scene for scene adaption

And because of all this, I can’t and won’t judge it on the grounds of being an adaption of the art piece everyone knows and loves, I am going to judge it on the grounds of being an American action movie. To tell you the truth, my standards are pretty low for American action movies, and as far as those go, Deathnote, with it’s original (in comparison to other action movies) and dark elements make for an interesting and entertaining watch.

All my point really is, is that it doesn’t seem fair to judge media based off it’s predecessors, without first assessing the present media for what it is.

In order, the way I review anything that is meant for entertainment purposes is by first asking the question, “was I entertained?”
From there I might ask more questions, but those would be based off the context of the situation. Stuff like:
“What did they say this media would be?”
“Did they purposely deceive me?”
“Is it supposed to be an adaption, a sequel, or a fresh concept?”

By asking contextual questions after, you can more objectively assess if you wasted your time or truly enjoyed the entertainment for what it is and not what it was or could be.

This is not a lifestyle blog.

A Perl of a Script

“if something — anything — requires more than 90 seconds of his time, he writes a script to automate that.”
-guy from online article

Today was the first time I wrote a script that increased my productivity. Although mundane, I wrote a script to auto-name my notes in class to the current day’s date.

Ever since I got into college I have heard stories of people automating. This was the article that put automation in my scopes. I never want to become so automated that robot me sends my future wife texts, but I was fascinated knowing that there is enough potential in scripting to do such an absurd thing.

I have never really been able to script because I never fully knew a language that was built for scripting. I knew Java, C, C++ but these are known as compiled languages. You have to run the code through another program to get an executable to run for later.

I needed to learn a language like Python or Perl, which is built for more interaction and doesn’t have to be compiled. This yields the great benefit of being able to modify the code and immediately run it. I can easily modify my notes script to format the files a different way and then start running it again like nothing happened.

And this summer, lo and behold, I decided to learn Perl. It is a really fun language to learn, especially coming from C, since Perl’s word and input manipulation is basically indestructible. The script I wrote is in Perl and it took me about an hour to write because I learned Perl at the beginning of summer and then haven’t touched it much since. Now I could probably write a script like that in significantly less time.

This school year I am going to be efficient, I am going to be organized, I am going to be fit, and most importantly, I am going to very best me I can possibly be.

To any students reading this blog, good luck this school year, you’ve got this!

Sound of Silence and Higher Quality Xylophoning

Today I released Sound of Silence on my YouTube channel Xylo-A-Day, there should be a link to the channel in the sidebar if you want to give the channel a look.

When I started that channel I figured it would be tough to do a song everyday. It was. There is an entire period where I was out of town and then sick and didn’t make a video. But even before that, it was tough to play a song everyday. When I tried to stockpile songs, the songs I would choose would be too tough to sight read (which is how I end up producing most of those videos). Sometimes the recording would be too loud, sometimes it would be too soft, the xylophone wouldn’t be sitting on the stand right, the resonators would make a crackling sound because they aren’t sitting right, or any number of other inconveniences.

Finally though, most of those problems are solved. I found a book with simpler, but still catchy melodies that I could sight read and stockpile. I was able to keep the resonators still so they wouldn’t crackle. I figured out the perfect (close-enough) microphone level, and I can keep it there between sessions. Everything is starting to look up for the channel.

So what’s next?

First, I changed the layout of the channel, so it now looks more professional. I added some nice looking channel art (or at least nice for the time being). I made a twitter account which has a link in the sidebar of this blog and the channel on the YouTube channel. I am going to start adding more professional and longer pieces like Sound of Silence. I also intend on starting to do theme weeks where I play from a certain soundtrack for a whole week.

I don’t really have any other plans for the time being, it is just exciting that I have gotten this far. I can’t wait to see what that channel turns into this coming year.



The Upward Spiral

Major Disclaimer: This is not an attempt to become a lifestyle blog.

Like most people, you have probably heard of the downward spiral. It probably goes something like, something bad happens, and then in reaction to that something bad happening a bad decision is made, then something bad happens, and then a bad decision is made, and it just keeps going.

The downward spiral is pretty easy to get into because stress and vice are a perfect combo.

A large assignment that is due weeks from now seems like a daunting task to start, I decide to play video games instead to relieve the stress.
A large assignment that is due days from now seems like an even more daunting task to start, I decide to play video games or sleep instead to relieve the stress.
A large assignment is now due, and I stitched together some garbage to produce a product.
I get a bad grade on the assignment and then become less motivated in class and don’t know the material as well as I should for the next assignment.
A large assignment that is due weeks from now seems like a dau…

This is the main problem with math, unlike plenty of other subjects math stacks on itself. It requires that you understand addition to really understand multiplication. It requires that you understand multiplication to understand raising numbers to powers.

The downward spiral creates problems because it is present you shirking responsibility for future you to do. Then future you becomes present you and present you is salty because past you didn’t do anything.

The upward spiral is the opposite of all of this.

The upward spiral is when present you sacrifices time for future you to be more successful. It is tough and mostly counter-intuitive but is usually worth it.

Examples include:
Going to the gym
Not procrastinating
Making plans
Making a budget
Sleeping enough/not sleeping too much

People like to be instantly gratified which is why it is hard to get on and stay on the upward spiral. It takes days before the effects of the upward spiral are felt.

The best part about the upward spiral though is that it creates the opposite feeling of the downward spiral. Present you will be in a constant stream of gratitude for past you and will be more motivated to help out future you. Then future you will become present you and it will all start over again.

The past two weeks I haven’t posted because I was out of town and then I was sick, but beyond all of that when I got back I became unmotivated. I thought about it more and my desk was dirty and I wasn’t releasing xylophone videos. Everything was piling up and I wasn’t willing to start polishing off my to-do list. I’m still in the chilling mood but I feel like blogging is getting me one step closer to riding that upward spiral.

Sorry for the ramble, I hope this will never become a lifestyle blog.