Not On My Wish List


When I was working at Kmart for those few wonderful weeks, there was this co-worker that also happened to be a guitar player and as such, never passed up an opportunity to talk garbage about the whole Rock Band/Guitar Hero genre of video games. As a matter of fact, I recall us getting into a heated debate with me defending the games as a means for those of us without the talent or wherewithal to “play a guitar.”

Look, you can play a guitar. I’m happy for you. But there are tons of people out there that, for whatever reason, just can’t grasp the concept. These games are for them, not people like you. It’s not for real–it’s a game. Do you think NASCAR drivers are as pissed as you are about driving games? Or [insert your favorite professional sport] players despise the fact that gamers are living vicariously though these games? Hell no. So let us at least have that and if I can say so, you must not be a very good guitar player if you’re working at Kmart.

The guy shut up and quite honestly, I think I broke his brain because he was quite silent after this little incident and remained so until my last day of work. I didn’t regret telling him these things because I felt he had it coming. He seemed to be quite arrogant (imagine that: an arrogant musician!) about the whole thing and he just needed to be set in place–by a guy about 20 years his senior.

But upon seeing the latest addition to the Rock Band franchise, I’m beginning to see his point.

As you might recall on this April Fool’s post from 2008, I accurately predicted the eventual materialization of the Rock Band keytar:

Rock Band’s mature fans will appreciate the Rock Band Wireless Keytar, an exciting addition that will introduce the synth-pop and electronic genres to the game, with music from bands such as Depeche Mode and Devo planned for downloadable content.

I also mention my plans to sue Harmonix and Microsoft (for entirely different reasons) in this post but that’s neither here nor there…for now.

So let’s get into my reasons as to why I won’t be buying Rock Band 3. When I first saw the gameplay with the keytar I thought it was pretty cool and was a must-have. Then as I watched more and more videos for the thing, I realized that I have a Casio keyboard sitting in my bedroom which never gets used. But when I do bring it out, I’m the kind of person that can listen to a song a few times and easily play it back after a few tries. No, it won’t be as complex as the original version but the melody will be there and you’ll know what it is. Sheet music? What’s that? Yes, I’m “one of those people” as my wife says.

Did I mention any song, not a limited list of songs offered in the game or ones that may or may not be available for download? It’s doubtful that the Marketplace will ever produce anything that I would want to see and honestly, I would rather sit in a quiet room with a regular keyboard and figure out how to play the synths from this song* rather than clack on a goofy 24-key keytar and pretend to be Ray Manzarek or some lame/forgotten group.

And let’s face it: Manzarek played keys and bass at the same time.

That’s one aspect of it. Then there’s the cost of the thing which, at the time of this post, is a ridiculous $129 for the (required) keytar bundle.

As if I wasn’t already turned off by the concept, they have to offer it a price point that is a little over the top. Hell, my full Rock Band 2 bundle was only $20 more than that when it came out and when you consider that a decent, starter stand-alone keyboard can be had for the same price as the RB3 bundle, I’d go with the option that might just spawn a little more creativity, has 88 keys and won’t be collecting dust a month down the road because of its limited use.

No, Rock Band 3, you won’t be part of my collection any time soon. Sorry.

But while I’m here I want to mention one more thing that I’m sure Harmonix will rip off from me and run with. Now that the franchise has a practical full set of instruments offering a “complete band” experience, where do they go from here?

Add a new drum set but not just any drum set: a replica Simmons SDS-8 drum set. They were all the rage back in the ’80s and were played by Phil Collins, Prince drummer Bobby Rivkin, and whoever the fuck played drums for Spandau Ballet.

Then, as if that’s not enough, make an entire game dedicated to ’80s music: A Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned Spandau Ballet and Prince, and even throw in some Morris Day and The Time for good measure (Jerome not included). It’ll be fun on a bun!

Come on, Harmonix, it’s the only natural progression you’ve got left. You’ve pushed the genre about as far as you can possibly could and very little will make it much better than this.

So to my former co-worker I’m pleased to say that I know where you’re coming from. As for Harmonix, just remember: I accept PayPal.

UPDATE: Wow, I mention suing Harmonix and all of a sudden they are up for sale. So much for my big payday…

*I say this song because I did do that one night
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I’m Suing Microsoft and Harmonix


hqdefault Way back in March 2008, I wrote an April Fool’s entry about potential Rock Band add-ons. In case you need to have your mind refreshed (or didn’t even know about it in the first place), here’s the link.

Thinking it was just a lame blog entry that would get absolutely no attention, I just let it simmer and wrote a follow-up the next day explaining how bad I thought it was. Turns out that years later, that post is still one of my blog’s most popular entries:

One year later, Microsoft launched their idea of an April Fool’s joke: Alpine Legend, a game which shows gamers playing yodeling and dancing around like fools:

It would have been really funny—if I hadn’t written about it first in 2008:

Harmonix also plans polka yodeling, allowing previously reluctant individuals languishing for oddball octaves lively, spirited dancing all year-round.

Huh. Imagine that. The mind boggles.

Then comes news that Rock Band 3 will be purportedly gaining a keytar, as reported in this Endadget article and teased in the Green Day: Rock Band demo:

gamrockband3teaser580

Let’s go back to that April Fool’s entry, shall we?

Rock Band’s mature fans will appreciate the Rock Band Wireless Keytar, an exciting addition that will introduce the synth-pop and electronic genres to the game, with music from bands such as Depeche Mode and Devo planned for downloadable content.

Either I’m the Nostradamus of video games or somebody’s been reading that blog post and getting ideas.

So what do you think this’ll get me? A couple of million? A toaster and a few broken baseball bats and a ticket to a minor league game?

I think it’s time to get Larry H. Parker on the horn–no foolin’.

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More Major Awards!


Many posts ago, I mentioned how I had been rewarded for correcting a certain billboard flub.

Well, today the FedEx man showed up with another surprise for me. And being that I had no idea what it was, I decided to shoot a video of the unboxing for all the world to see. What could it be? A bowling alley, perhaps?

Wonder no more! Here’s the video:

Holy shit, he is a real, carbon-based life form and not just some key-clacking blogger! Who knew? But hey, how about that prize? Pretty nice, eh?

It turns out that this was a long-forgotten prize for winning a contest at a certain training Web site. Seriously, I had taken and passed those quizzes so long ago that I had completely forgotten about my reward. So yeah, cool stuff.

But in addition to this, last week I was also awarded the download code for an exclusive cool Xbox VIP hoodie for my Xbox LIVE avatar, seen here (along with Ann’s avatar):

Only 5,000 were awarded. Bow to its magnificence.

And if that’s not enough, the mailman showed up today with my fourth $25 GameStop gift card of the year! This would have came in handy yesterday when I bought Anthony his Christmas present…but now I can buy myself something.

Does the free shit end there? Hell no, I say! When I went to the Los Angeles Auto Show a few weeks back I signed up to test-drive a new Ford vehicle and get a $50 Visa gift card. So last week I went to my not-so-local Ford dealership where I have purchased 5 vehicles and spoke to the salesman that sold me all of them. He gladly signed the voucher and then I went home, registered online, printed out the receipt and now am just waiting for the gift card to arrive. (During my visit I also informed my favorite salesman of the vehicle I may be in the market for once my current lease is up in a year–either a used Explorer or an Escape Hybrid.)

But that wasn’t Ford’s only generous offering at the car show. If you went to all of their displays and had your booklet stamped, you got a $5 Best Buy gift card! No, it’s not much but it’s definitely better than that Mazda2 Energy Drink–which I also took home from the show but have yet to try. Because, as you know, I don’t drink that shit.

Oh, and I also got a $10 certificate from Sport Chalet as their way of telling me “thank you” for being a loyal customer throughout 2009.

So the free stuff keeps on coming. Bring it on!

On the Cheap, Part Deux


Several posts ago, I was practically bragging about how I was getting a bunch of stuff for nothing or practically nothing. Well, I thought I’d take a moment to update you on all of this.

Lips (MSRP): $49.99
My cost (with Points and tax): $10.83
Savings: $39.16

Bad planning on Microsoft’s part has prevented me from taking advantage of this offer.

You see, Lips was listed on their ExpertZone site as one of the Rewards (with 500 Points and $10 + tax), so I went ahead and ordered it, thinking I would have some cool wireless mics in time for The Beatles: Rock Band release and get a game to boot.

About a week after placing my order, I checked its status on the Web site and I was dumbfounded when I learned that—at that very moment—my order was cancelled. I sent an e-mail explaining my situation and was told that Lips had since been discontinued and no longer being offered, so my order was cancelled. It was a good thing I was told about this ahead of time.

No, wait, I wasn’t. Because of this snafu, not only were my 500 Points credited but I was also awarded an additional 500 Points to use as I please. Good, but not exactly what I wanted. And no, I wasn’t charged for the order, either.

Office 2007 Standard Edition (MSRP): $399.95 (full version)
My cost: $0
Savings: $399.95

Where Microsoft failed on Lips, the made up for on Office 2007! I got my copy a few days ago:

office-2007

The Beatles: Rock Band (MSRP, game only): $59.99
My cost (after two $25 GameStop gift cards from e-Rewards): $10 + tax
Savings: $50

After completing a series of surveys, they pretty much stopped coming in. My balance was stuck just below the $50 level required for the GameStop gift card and I was getting worried. Then they started to arrive in my inbox and after taking a few surveys I finally got to $50, where I immediately redeemed them for the $25 gift card.

The question then became, would it arrive on time? The e-mail said it could take up to 30 days, or 9/28/09—that would never do. I never had a problem with the gift cards arriving late in the past so I was hoping this would be the case once again.

And so it was. This arrived today:

gamestop-giftcard-redo

I then ran a few errands and then stopped by GameStop. The Beatles: Rock Band has been paid for and will be in my hot little hands tomorrow! (And if they had a midnight release time, I’d be there for it!)

But wait, there’s more! In addition to all of this, I took more quizzes at the ExpertZone site and was able to buy a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate for $10, so I saved about $200 there.

So I lost out on one offer and gained another. I’d say that’s not too bad!


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On the Cheap


pink_piggy_bank-735041You know, your ol’ pal Dave considers himself to be pretty frugal, especially now when spending more than $30 for anything seems incredibly irrational. That’s why I’ve been pretty excited to be getting some goodies for practically nothing, and here’s how.

As a member of Microsoft ExpertZone (membership required), a site designed exclusively for resellers of Microsoft products, I take quizzes and get points redeemable for all sorts of merchandise. After a recent site redesign, I had to re-register, got a cool 1,000 points and used 500 (plus $10 cash) for a copy of Lips for Xbox 360. So…

Lips (MSRP): $49.99
My cost (with points and tax): $10.83
Savings: $39.16

Another ExpertZone offering was a free copy of Microsoft Office 2007 Standard Edition upon the successful completion of an Office product course, so after taking that course and passing it…

Office 2007 Standard Edition (MSRP): $399.95 (full version)
My cost: $0
Savings: $399.95

Granted I already have a copy of Office 2007 but I’m sure I can use this one on the laptop or the other computer–or Ann can take it to her office. Either way, free is free!

And then there’s e-Rewards, where I take surveys, get actual dollar amounts which can buy gift cards, magazine subscriptions, or online discounts for various retailers. Right now, I’m working on my 2nd $50 level for a $25 GameStop gift card, which I will be using to buy The Beatles: Rock Band. And did anyone mention that this is going to be the greatest video game ever?

The Beatles: Rock Band (MSRP, game only): $59.99
My cost (after two $25 GameStop gift cards from e-Rewards): $10 plus tax
Savings: $50

See, the whole game thing is gonna work out. I figure that Lips comes with two wireless microphones which, if the rumors are correct, will work with TB:RB. So the way I look at it, ten bucks for a new game and two microphones is an incredible deal!

Want in on this? Well, I can’t help you with the ExpertZone membership, but here’s a link to the GameStop/e-Rewards Invitation-Only site. This is the only way you can get GameStop gift cards through e-Rewards; the regular site does not offer them. I’ve been a member for years and have had no problems with them whatsoever.

The final tally: $20 or so for almost $510 (MSRP) of merchandise.

Not too shabby, eh?

UPDATE: With the money I saved, I just renewed my Flickr Pro account so all previous links to said account that were inactive are not now active again 🙂


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