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Thraxen Blog

Just when I thought that it was safe to be an Anthrax fan again

Joey "Belladonna" Bellardini, Anthrax vocalist from 1985 to 1992 and 2005 to 2007, has re-taken the position in the pioneer thrash metal band from John Bush, the band's vocalist from 1992 to 2005 and 2009 to 2010.

Belladonna will tour with Anthrax and perform on its next studio album.

Toward the end of Belladonna's first run with Anthrax, the band's music was becoming darker, more mature, more thrashy and somehow simultaneously more melodic. Joey Belladonna's punky singing would have limited the band had it stuck with him, or its new music would have sounded awful because his vocals would have been wrong for that new music.

John Bush, Joey Belladonna's replacement, with his bluesy, more versatile singing voice, allowed Anthrax to expand into musical territory previously beyond reach for the band. Without Bush, Anthrax songs like radio friendly, somewhat melodically complex "Safe Home" and the thrashy, ultra tight "Crush" would not have been possible.

Soon, people will hear Joey Belladonna attempt to perform the songs that wold not have been possible had he never parted with the band.

The re-hiring of Joey Belladonna as Anthrax vocalist is the fourth change in that position in five years for the band. In 2005, Joey Belladonna replaced John Bush (and former Anthrax lead guitarist Danny Spitz replaced Rob Caggiano) for a reunion tour during which the band never performed a song that it recorded after 1992. Bush was asked to perform alongside Belladonna for this tour but declined. When this reunion tour ended in 2007, Belladonna and Spitz were out of the band and Bush and Caggiano were asked to return; Caggiano accepted the offer, but Bush again declined. Dan Nelson became the new Anthrax vocalist in 2007. Less than two years later, and after the band completed a studio album with Dan Nelson on vocals that is unlikely to ever be released, Anthrax claimed that Nelson became "ill" and "resigned" from the band, though Nelson has said that both claims are untrue. John Bush agreed to tour with Anthrax after Dan Nelson was let go but was unwilling to commit to the band on a long-term basis, leading to the return of Joey Belladonna.

Oh well, there will always be memories.

Convergence and giving in to the lack of a touch screen

After four years of service, my beloved 40 gigabyte Zen Touch portable music player is not giving me anything close to the 26 hours of battery life per charge that it used to.

When you are used to going three weeks or so between charges, it is irritating to suddenly have to re-charge every day or three. Especially when you are someone who obsesses over battery life.

In 2005, the Zen Touch offered, by far, the longest battery life for a high capacity portable music player. It was my only option. Today, multiple portable media players last 30 hours or longer (for music) before needing to be re-charged. The battery life-obsessed can now look at features besides battery life when choosing a portable media player.

So what do I replace my Zen Touch with.

A PSP go, the new, download-only version of the PlayStation Portable, which lasts about 10 hours per charge for playing music. With the screen off.

(I chose the black model.)

This was an impulse buy. For some time I was considering replacing my Zen Touch with a Zune HD (which Microsoft claims lasts 33 hours per battery charge) when a 64 gigabyte version of the Zune HD was released or my Zen's battery died completely, whichever came first.

But when I learned that I could buy a PSP go at a discount, that was more temptation than I could handle.

The concept of having all my portable games and all my music available to me at all times in a device that easily fits in a pants pocket is one that greatly appeals to me. I can live with changing discs or cartridges or cards or whatever on a device that stays in one place because the system and its media tend to be near one another. If I want that kind of choice with a portable device, I need to carry everything with me, and I can only hold so much in my pockets at one time.

Say I'm on a bus playing Burnout Legends. Say I'm getting bored of Burnout Legends but I still want to play a game. A few button presses and I'm playing LocoRoco 2. When I'm finished with LocoRoco 2, I can press a few buttons and play Tetris. And when I tire of playing games, I can press a few buttons to listen to The Chair in the Doorway album by Living Colour and then place my PSP go in my pants pocket. All without changing physical media; it's all in the PSP go's internal storage.

This sort of scenario is what makes the PSP go an amazing device, and it is not currently possible with any other hardware.

Not legally or with good games anyway.

Still, it would have been nice if the PSP go had a touchscreen. A few months ago, I went as far as saying that I would not buy a PSP go because it had no touchscreen. A touchscreen and stylus are what make the Nintendo DS versatile, allowing it to run games and non-games that do all sorts of things that are impossible or difficult by pressing buttons. (Ever try playing Meteos by pressing buttons? Don't.) But even without a touchscreen, there are plenty excellent games to be played on a PSP go, and they are all available at all times.

Not that there is no buyer's remorse with my PSP go impulse buy. The PSP go is weak as a music player. It can play music well, but it is missing basic features that devices that are primarily music players have. There is no play queue, so unless you want to listen in artist/album/track order (or by mood with the optional, free SenseMe channels software), you must first create a playlist on a computer and then transfer it to your PSP go or select a new track as soon as the track that was playing ends. Windows Media Audio files cannot be played until after WMA playback is enabled, which requires an Internet connection. Copy-protected audio files will not play. And as already mentioned, battery life is weak compared to devices designed primarily for music.

So if anyone wants to buy me a Walkman X, please do.

Life lessons

There is an unwritten law that says that all blogs must have an entry about life lessons and/or life advice. Here's this blog's entry on the subject.

  • A classy, expensive watch is the best way to get others to take you seriously. It works better than a suit.
  • A unique pair of eyeglasses is the best way to make others aware that you will not accept what everyone else is willing to accept.
  • Web browsing on a phone is no fun, even with a "good" mobile Web browser.

It's been a while, I know. I'll post a real blog entry sooner or later.

"Son, I met your mother on PlayStation Home"

"I didn't know what she looked like, had no idea of her age range or even know if she was a woman, but she had a female avatar, so I asked her to send me topless pictures of herself, to which she immediately agreed. I liked what I saw, so I asked her to meet me in person so that we could have sex."

"As we were snuggling, I discovered that she had not only a great body, but also a charming personality. One thing led to another, and here we are: married with kids."

I witness this on PlayStation Home all the time. (Except for the part about getting married and having children.)

Maybe I am getting too old for this, or perhaps it is my lack of experience with Internet social networking, but it surprises and shocks me that there are so many sleazy, tactless men out there who have no issue with going up to female avatars (that may or may not be controlled by women) and asking for revealing photographs, or more.

And it surprises and shocks me more that so many women are apparently willing to comply with such requests from men with whom they know nothing about.

But then, I am inexperienced with social networking over the Internet. I don't use MySpace. I don't have a Facebook account. And I don't "get" Second Life, much less why Reuters had a bureau on it.

I thought, at best, that these services and their competitors were for socializing without socializing, and, at worst, that they could be excuses for employers to fire you because of damaging personal information made public on them.

I had no idea that this seedy element existed.

Naive, I know. Anything on the Internet that can be used for sex is used for sex.

I started using PlayStation Home because it's free, was already there and required no setup on my part. I assumed that I would use it once and never touch it again. Socializing without socializing is of no interest to me.

But morbid amusement is.

Men trying to pick up women who may or may not really be women is the most common and the most amusing, but it is not the only thing that makes PlayStation Home amusing. That alone could get dull after a while. There is also racism, sexism, sexual harasment, homophobia, xenophobia and all sorts of other forms of stupidity.

I don't know where it's all coming from. I thought that most people had evolved beyond such bigotry decades ago, or at least knew to keep their prejudices to themselves. I certainly don't see anywhere as much of it in the real world as I see on PlayStation Home.

In the real world, these things are disturbing, but on PlayStation Home, they're harmless and therefore amusing. No one can truly do anything to you unless you give out your personal information.

Seeing this stupidity is what makes PlayStation Home fun, and why I keep on coming back.

Being a responsible adult is no fun

Remember the orange pair of glasses with the black highlights that I showed in the last entry?

It was really, really expensive.

As in, it cost more than the other three pairs of glasses combined.

I had wanted an orange pair of glasses for several months. When I was given a new eyeglasses prescription, I had my excuse to buy one.

Alas, orange glasses are uncommon, I discovered. Many stores had no orange, and the ones that did have something had nothing that fit my style. I figured that SEE Eyewear would have something, but not even there.

But there were places that I had avoided, and had hoped that I would never step inside, but I saw no other option to get my orange glasses.

If you have a bold sense of style and more money than sense (or more debt than cents), a luxury eyewear store is the place to go to get your next pair of glasses. Such stores carry glasses in colors, shapes, materials and sizes more interesting than what is available at, for example, Pearle Vision.

Indeed, I found my perfect pair of glasses at a luxury eyewear store. It's a semi-rimless frame with thin, curvy half-rims; a double bridge and thick temples. The fronts of the rims and top bridge of this mostly orange frame are black, and a layer of black covers much of each orange temple.

orange glasses
This is why I can't buy anything fun for several months.

Almost perfect anyway. I would have preferred a brighter shade of orange, but this is as close to a perfect pair of glasses as I will ever see.

But perfect is ultra-expensive. I have more sense than money. I would like to retire at some point, so I have to cut back on other things to "pay" for my perfect pair of glasses.

That starts with video games. The five Wii games that I ordered last month? They're all still in plastic--I ordered the DS version of Final Fantasy IV with them and decided to play it first--so they are going back for a refund. As much as I would like to play these games, the potential consequence of working until I die is one that I fear too much to consider.

And no additional game purchases for at least several months. Or anything else that isn't necessary.

Well, maybe a few movies.

Hey Nintendo,

By making the bright blue DSi available to anyone in North America who wants one, you are denying me the ability to be the cool guy with the cool item that no one else has.

Instead, the bright blue DSi will be the sort of item that people will buy thinking that it will show others that they are unique, bold and "edgy," just like the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other people who also buy bright blue DSis to show others that they are unique, bold and "edgy."

Kind of like how all those artsy people prove that they are all unique individuals by all wearing Movado Classic Museum watches.

Oh, wait.

bright blue Nintendo DSi
Soon, you can be one of the hundreds of thousands of unique individuals to own a bright blue Nintendo DSi.

Let the safe and neutral shades be available to everyone. Any striking shades should be available only to me.

It was bad enough when Nooka and HTC became known brands, but at least with those I had a little while to be "the only one" with their products. With the DSi in bright blue available everywhere from the beginning, that will never be possible.

Oh well, there's always ColorWare.

No longer tired of innovation (or among the "geeks and otaku")

It finally happened.

My Wii, which for eight months was little more than a Nintendo Channel video player, is being used for games again.

Over the last few days, I have downloaded World of Goo, Toki Tori, Lost Winds and Tetris Party and ordered copies of de Blob, Boom Blox, Mercury Meltdown Revolution, No More Heroes and Link's Crossbow Training (with that piece of plastic).

All that not playing Wii games must have created a pent-up desire to play Wii games.

It was getting to the point that I was considering selling my Wii. Now I might just send it to ColorWare to have it painted orange when the warranty expires.

Orange Wii

Apparently my taste in video games is bipolar. I just went eight months playing almost nothing but traditional, "deep" games that made little attempt to innovate and were based on evolutions of concepts made popular by games like Super Mario Bros. (1985), Prince of Persia (1989), Wolfenstein 3D (1992), King's Quest (1983) and Ultima III (1983).

I wanted to play the often simple, quirky, innovative games for the Nintendo DS and Wii to show that I was a unique individual just like the millions of people who play such games to show that they are unique individuals, but the desire was not there.

No, the video games that I most desired were Mirror's Edge (inspired by Prince of Persia) and Little Big Planet (inspired by Super Mario Bros.), and the other games that I wanted did not do anything truly new either.

The only exception to this was Picross DS, but that story is worthy of its own blog entry.

Now the poles have switched.

My Wii is getting plenty of use, and to a lesser extent, so is my Nintendo DS Lite. I am buying and playing all sorts of simple, quirky games, and I have little interest in the upcoming "deep" games that I would have lusted after just a few weeks ago.

You get excited about Brutal Legend, Heavy Rain, Infamous, Rage, L.A. Noire and I Am Alive. I will join you when my poles switch again. I cannot get myself to care about them today.

Really, I Am Alive should be my most anticipated video game ever. This game is about me.

Or at least some guy named Adam who lives in Chicago.

For now, I will get excited about Flower, Noby Noby Boy and... whatever the promising upcoming Wii and Nintendo DS games are. It has been a while since I paid attention to the Wii and DS software lineups.

I am almost positive that my poles will switch again. This is not the first time that this has happened. Almost two years ago, not long after purchasing a PlayStation 3, I had no desire to use it for much other than Go! Sudoku and Guilty Gear X2's Survival Mode. Most of the games that I was playing were simple, touchscreen-focused Nintendo DS games.

Months later, I was anxious for Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Rock Band, Unreal Tournament III and Phantom Hourglass, and did not care much about anything offering instant gratification anymore.

But do not call my current gaming mood "casual." The four Wii games that I recently downloaded were supposed to be complemented by a fifth (Helix), but the Wii Shop Channel informed me that I did not have enough space for Helix on my Wii when I tried to purchase it. Needing additional Wii storage places me among the "geeks and otaku," according to Nintendo Europe senior marketing Director Laurent Fischer.

Because I have been declared a "geek" or an "otaku" (or perhaps both), I cannot be casual.

Fischer later apologized for the comment and Nintendo has since announced that a future Wii firmware update will allow WiiWare and Virtual Console purchases to be downloaded directly to SD cards, though there are conflicting reports over whether it will be possible to run Wii downloads directly from SD cards.

I could delete something on my Wii to make room for Helix, but I refuse. It's the principle. I should not have to do this, so I am not doing this.

And until this is fixed, Nintendo will have to live with the grief that I have given it $18 in unearned revenue.

I can be the first to shop the New Express Sexy Stretch

I thought that I was finished mocking Express' seemingly untargeted advertisements and promotions. The joke was getting old. Maybe lack of sleep is getting to me, but its latest e-mail promotion has me laughing.

More than the one from last month offering a free panty with no purchase necessary.

This new e-mail promotion, entitled "Be the first to shop the New Express Sexy Stretch + new reductions $9.99 and up," tells me that the online exclusive New Express Sexy Stretch is "our most flattering fabric yet in eight exclusive styIes... we're bringing back sexy" (ellipses in the original e-mail) and suggests that I shop now.

Thanks for acknowledging that I am among the elite by offering me the opportunity to be the first to wear your Sexy Stretch, Express, but I have to decline. This is not my styIe.

New Express Sexy Stretch promo
I have no desire to wear any of these eight exclusive styIes.

My styIe is men's clothing.

And when did sexy go away? Since I started receiving promotional e-mails from Express in September, I have been made aware that I can "steal the spotlight" with The Little Black Dress because "if sexy has a color, it must be black;" that sexy racerbacks and halters for her are among "this season's must-have vests;" that "the season's sexiest jeans are worn;" that leggings are "one sexy styIe with countless sexy options;" that lace, shine and shimmer make The Little Black Dress (apparently a different The Little Black Dress) "a whole new sexy;" that "the season's sexiest neckline" can be found on the cowl-neck sleeveless blouse, cowl-neck sexy basics tee and cowl-neck sweater dress and that sexy, silk essentials for her are available "in every color under the sun."

Now you're telling me, Express, that you are bringing sexy back. I didn't know that sexy was gone, and you, Express, are responsible for giving me that impression.