the Melt challenge

In Just for fun on June 2, 2011 at 11:38 PM

The Man Vs Food guy, Adam Richman, came to Cleveland a while back and took the Melt Challenge. You can check out the video here:

3 slices of bread, all 13 cheeses, and a heaping pile of fries and slaw. Altogether, it’s about 5 pounds of food including almost 3.5 pounds of cheese. Giving dangerously cheesy a whole new meaning.

After hearing about this challenge (and Adam Richman’s success), my friend Todd decided to try to attempt it. So yesterday a few of us went up to Melt, although only Todd planned on tackling the big cheese. Melt is always pretty packed so we wound up sitting around or a while, taking in the eclectic mix of decorations, from xmas and easter lawn ornaments to video game posters and more traditional beer ads. Our menus were pasted on the backside of old record sleeves, a nice touch.

Our waiter gave it his best shot to dissuade Todd from taking the challenge, including vague warnings about the hazards of mixing so may diffferent cheeses together. Undeterred, Todd ordered his $22 challenge plate (and a pepsi). I went for the Parmageddon, which included a couple of potatoe and cheese peirogies  slipped right into my grilled cheese. Pretty delicious.

By the time Todd’s plate was up the rest of us had finished – all we could do was watch his steady descent into extreme discomfort. I say he was doomed form the start – he had filled up on Pepsi and was immediately reluctant to “dive in”. He insisted on using a fork and knife to tackle the sandwich even though the cheese was getting harder every minute. Speed was the name of the game, hadn’t he seen Man vs Food? Well, as it turns out, Todd hadn’t even watched that episode. Jesus, Todd.

After about an hour he had succeeded in taking in about half of the sandwich, one gooey mouthfull at a time, but he had barely skimmed the top layer off the fries, let alone the slaw, Worst of all, every minute the cheese was becoming more and mor elike a solid brick wedged between greasy slices of bread. After about twenty more painful minutes of groaning and pecking Todd called it quits. In the end, he had barely finished half of the challenge. I scored big on leftovers though.

I guess it just goes to show you that you can’t walk into these things cold – serious training is a must. I would suggest throwing down about a pound of cheese a day before attempting this challenge, the more variety the better. And also, do wind sprints. Cus you know, calories.

“In a basement rollin’ dice… I’m a wizard”

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2011 at 1:10 AM

I DM a 4e group for some friends every summer. None of us had ever played before this edition so I guess we’re a part of the wave of new roleplayers flooding basements after cutting our teeth on console MMOs.

I’m new to the die-rolling scene, but my personal nerd history is long and diverse. Taking those things into account, I love videos like these:

This was only posted a few days ago but it has been blowing up! About 100,000 views at the time of this posting; we’ll see where it ends up.

Also, classic

 I actually saw a few 4e books in Target the other day, which was a new experience. Not really the natural habitat of the creatures that devour that sort of material, at least in my experience. Then again, I’ve done a fari amount of my D&D-related purchasing either online or at Borders (before, you know).

It’s hard to beat the atmosphere of your local hobby games store though. You know, where funky chicks and dudes hang out eating pizza and playing MTG all day. Good times – let’s not get too mainstream, ok?

Getting Started with 8-bit Music

In Games/Tech, Music on May 2, 2011 at 1:37 AM

some items used in making chiptunes (from web)

I recently became interested in making what is usually called “8bit” or “chiptune” music. There is a lot of it out there, and some of it sounds pretty good. Some bands with an 8bit sound like Anamanaguchi ( have actually developed decent followings in the mainstream. Alright, but what is it?

Basically, 8-bit involves using the capabilities of early electronic gaming consoles, e.g. Gameboy, Famicom, or NES, to mix and perform pieces of music. You wouldn’t necessarily expect it, but this hardware can produce a pretty phenomenal variety of sounds ranging from the characteristic bleeps to relatively complex drum kits and dubstep-like basslines.

The beauty of 8-bit is that it is relatively accessible. You don’t need a physical instrument or specialized skills (beyond a general knowledge of music). The first thing you’ll want is tracker to allow you to mix the tunes. For the gameboy, a good choice is Little Sound DJ (LSDJ) ( The physical cartridges to put in your gameboy are relatively hard to come by and maybe a bit pricey, but you can get the newest version as a file direct to your PC for $2.00, which beats the hell out of buying a keyboard. The file is worthless by itself though – you will also need a gameboy emulator which will simulate the gameboy on your PC. A good, free choice is Visual Boy Advance, which you can get at (make sure you’re downloading the actual file at the bottom of that page – there are some misleading advertisements on that site; sigh).

Once you’ve got your ROM and emulator, you’re ready to make chiptunes. Open the emulator and open the LSDJ file from there – this will bring yo to the starting screen:

LSDJ starting screen

My mission in this post is just to get you started, so I won’t go into the specifics of manipulating the tracker here. I can direct to several tutorials that I found very helpful though! Take a look at these:
…and you’ll be making your own music in no time! Be sure to check out other people’s garage creations on It’s a good place to post your own tunes (once you’re ready) or just check out other talent for some inspiration! There’s a good forum as well.

I hope this was helpful – I had a bit of trouble when I first looked into this a few weeks ago, but I’m having a great time now. I find the whole prospect very interesting – music created and performed exclusively digitally might just be the future. LSDJ is impressive in its own right, but we also have autotune, synthesizers, MIDI, and software like Symphony. Now I’ll admit that people don’t always have the nicest things to say about some of those things, but think about what they have to offer. Even if you aren’t a gifted singer when it comes down to your concrete vocal chords, you might have beautiful things to say ayway. Technology like autotune helps you to find a voice that people will want to hear.

Our self-expression is getting more and more technological, at least in my appraisal of the situation. What this means is that more and more people are getting the opportunity to connect with others in an artistic way. You might be thinking that our conventions are the problem – we should applaud singers like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits precisely because they go against our common conceptions of beautiful singing voices. In that regard, technology like autotune is harmful because it locks-in arbitrary restrictions with regard to what sounds we find appealing. These are reasonable fears, but I think that our technology will open up whole new avenues of expression – although it sometimes constricts, it also liberates. We can’t forget that this is about access and opportunity.