Monthly Archives: April 2016

Steam’s Mega Drive Into the Past


 

Twenty years ago there were two dominant video game consoles during the 90’s: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis.  We played these games for hours on end, drinking tons of soda and staying up way past our bedtime.  These are the old-school nostalgic games that 90’s kids grew up with before smartphones came into play.  You may not be able to find any games from the Sega Mega Drive console, but that is all about to change soon.

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Sega announced that they are releasing tons of games from the Mega Drive console that you can play on Steam for free.  The release of Mega Drive games, initially called the Sega Mega Drive Classics Hub, will be released on April 28th on Steam.  This old-school video game hub will allow you to immerse yourself into the nostalgic world of 90’s gaming.

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The hub itself was designed to look and feel like a kid’s bedroom during the 1990’s.  Anyone who collects at least one game from the Mega Drive system will be able to explore the hub for free.  This 3D hub even has that old CRT-TV that we all used to plug our video game consoles in!

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A trailer was released to showcase the first look of the hub.  At first glance, we see a dark and cramped bedroom with a small nightlight lighting up a bookcase full of Mega Drive games.  The camera cuts to a shot of the old CRT-TV standing on a small box with a Sega Mega Drive console plugged into the TV.  We then see the overall design of the bedroom where you take a game from the cartridge library to insert into the console to start the game.  You can create your own personal library from the pool of games to choose from.  In the end, we see the title designed with shiny retro 90’s graphics.

Sega remarked that they were going release tons of their old titles back in 2011, but they wanted to add unique features that would enhance that retro-gaming atmosphere.  Players can modify and share their favorite games with other people through the player-content portal.  Other additional features for the Mega Drive Hub include local co-op option for games that support it, optional graphic enhancement filters, the ability to save at any point of the game, and controller/keyboard support.  Many of their featured titles that will be released for the hub include Ecco the Dolphin, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, Sonic the Hedgehog, Virtua Fighter 2, Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star II, Ristar, and many other classic games.

The Sega Mega Drive was released in the United States on August 14th, 1989 in New York City and Los Angeles.  It was released under the name ‘Sega Genesis’, constructing their marketing campaign around Sonic the Hedgehog as their mascot.  Sega was trying to market themselves as the ‘cooler’ alternative to the Super Nintendo, appealing the older audiences that were looking for edgier content.

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One example of this marketing technique was the secret code programmed into Mortal Kombat.  On the game’s start screen, players had to press A, B, A, C, A, B, B to unlock the blood and gore content for the matches.  Because of the violent content, Mortal Kombat received more favorable reviews on the Sega consoles than the Super Nintendo and outsold the game 3 times as much.

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Steam’s unique idea to release nostalgic games from the Mega Drive is a great way to tap into the millennial generation.  What enhances this project is that 90’s retro hub that you play your games in, immersing gamers back to that simpler times in life before we all grew up.  Before we played Candy Crush through our smartphones on our way to work, we had to invite our friend over if we wanted to play Sonic the Hedgehog.  Who knows, maybe Steam will work with Nintendo to release games from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  If that were to happen, the 90’s home console war between Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis will arise once again!

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Battle of the Bands


Colleges always have fun events happening within the last few weeks of the Spring semester.  With everyone freaking out about final exams and massive amounts of work to complete, it makes sense to provide some stress-free activities for the students.  My former college Salem State University is chock full of those fun events, including a ‘Battle of the Bands’ concert.

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Yesterday I attended the first ever Battle of the Bands philanthropy concert at Salem State University.  The Battle of the Bands concert was held from 2-7 PM and featured various band competing for 1st prize.  This was hosted by the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity chapter of the school and it took place at the James L. McKeown Memorial Plaza.  Most of the proceeds went toward benefitting veterans who were searching for mortgage-free available homes.

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The concert itself was free, but there was a $10 charge for people who wanted food and drinks.  Food included burgers, hot dogs, chips, and various toppings for your meal.  Beer and wine were sold at the beer garden where young adults can socialize about the show!  There was a 3 beer or wine limit on your wristband that you receive at the gate.  Raffle tickets were also sold to provide people a chance to win some cool prizes.  Prizes included a box filled with snacks, a popcorn bowl filled with DVDs, and a beach package with everything you need for a trip to the beach!

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There were seven bands that played their set during the event.  Bands that participated include GUDSFORLADT, Good Intentions, Man Behind the Curtain, The Frauds, Sway Casey, FREEVØ, and Everyday Astronauts.  Each band played a different type of music genre such as black metal, hip-hop, electronic powerhouse, and classic rock.  Good Intentions was a cover band for Fall-Out Boy and they sang the classic hit “Sugar We’re Going Down”.  Listening to that tune took me back to the emo/punk scene I was fascinated with during middle school!

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Many students took time from their busy schedule to check out the bands that were playing.  Some people threw the Frisbee around while others played the popular corn hole game.  It isn’t a real college environment without playing the classic corn hole game with your buddies!

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After hearing some amazing bands play some tunes, it was now time to reveal the final scores!  3rd place went to the energetic hip-hop group Sway Casey.  The 2nd place prize went to The Frauds.  Everyday Astronauts ended up taking the 1st place prize for being the best band at the concert.

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I had a great time attending this free concert at Salem State University!  It felt good to venture back to my old school to hear some unique bands rock out.  This was a fun event to reunite with my old friends and I even made some new friends of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.  All of this was for an amazing cause to help veterans find a good home after returning from the perils of war.

 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Murder House Criss-Cross


A few weeks ago I was binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer after a long day of running errands.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, the ass-kicking vampire slayer of Sunnydale, California.  The casts include Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, and David Boreanaz.

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I was in the middle of season 4 where Buffy is now in college with her best friend Willow.  Episode four of the series, titled Fear Itself, was about the Scooby gang entering a frat house for a Halloween party.  While watching the episode, I noticed something unusual about the fraternity house where the haunted house party was taking place.

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After a few quick glances of the house, I was shocked to realize that it was THE Murder House that was used for season one of American Horror Story!

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Guys… I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.

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You heard me right folks!  That was THE infamous mansion used for Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Murder House.  The first season of American Horror Story revolved around a series of linked murders in a historic mansion with an amazing cast starring Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Tarissa Farmiga, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, and Jessica Lange.  Memorable events such as the Rubber Man and Bartholomew came to my mind when seeing Buffy Summers with her friends in that fraternity house.

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That fraternity house used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is known as Alfred Rosenheim’s mansion in Los Angeles.  The mansion was built on 1908 and is currently located in 1120 Westchester Place at Country Club Park.  It was known was “Billionaire Row” back in 1908 because it was known to some of the wealthiest families who resided there.  Rosenheim’s mansion was built with materials such as Italian bricks, African Oak, Teal, Walnut, Maple, and some Peruvian Mahogany that was used for some wood-paneling.  There is an over-sized living room that features a cross-beamed ceiling and tile fireplace.  Guests can eat at the dining room that features an antique Japanese theme with peacock feathers and flowers.  A dramatic circular library was also built with a pink Blood-Marble fireplace and features built-in Tiffany Glass for the leaded glass doors and windows.

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Alfred Rosenheim’s mansion has been a historical entertainment hub used for many films, TV shows, music videos, concerts, recording sessions, and other private events.  Some infamous shows that were filmed there include CSI: Miami, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, Californication, Dragnet, Six Feet Under, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, Angel, and many more series.

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A few months ago, the infamous Murder House was listed at Airbnb.  Alfred Rosenheim’s mansion can be booked for 16 people and features 9 bedrooms with 4 ½ baths for everyone.  The mansion is currently listed for $1450/night for anyone who dares to sleep in the murder house from American Horror Story.

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            This mansion has become a historic landmark in Los Angeles for the entertainment industry.  It is always intriguing to learn about notorious buildings that have been used for various movies and TV series.  Alfred Rosenheim’s mansion is one of many cultural filming landmarks within the Los Angeles area.  There are other famous areas that have been filmed at multiple times including the Santa Monica Pier or Encino High School.  Filming in Los Angeles has always been the norm for employees in the entertainment industry

  

My Adventures at the Boston ‘Grown-Up’ Museum


Boston is always the best city to wander around during the Spring and Summer time.  Lots of pop-up events happen once the weather gets warmer.  Yesterday I went out to one of the pop-up events at the Boston’s Children’s Museum, or what was formerly called Boston’s ‘Grown-Up’ Museum.

The Boston ‘Grown-Up’ Museum opened on Thursday at 6-9 p.m.  Young adults ranging from 20-30 years old entered the museum for an action-packed night full of fun.  Patrons were challenged to show off their expert corn hole skills, hurl fast balls at the speed pitch game, and even take the last giant Jenga block without letting the tower fall down!  People also raced to the top in the three-story Climb, a big netted play area to climb up on.  Climbing up that play areas was hard for me because I didn’t have the energy like I used to when I was a kid!

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Food and drinks were provided for the ‘grown-ups’ while they played around at the museum.  Some of the food sold included pretzels, steak and cheese subs, Italian sausage sandwiches, hot dogs and loaded nachos.  Adults could help themselves to a beer or wine and walk with their friends to all parts of the event.

 

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I stood in line to grab a Harpoon IPA.  As I stood waiting in line, I noticed these creepy dolls inside the glass cases.  These creepy dolls seemed vintage and old, looking like they were staring at all of the customers!  With a beer in my hand, I ventured out to start my journey around the place.

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My adventure started in the ‘Arthur’ room, which consisted of activities related to PBS’s Arthur cartoon.  There was a big bookcase display of many Arthur books that I used to read in elementary school.  In one room there was a map of Elwood City and guests were asked to find the characters’ house from the series.  Other than the Arthur room, there were some activities related to the spin-off series Postcards From Buster.

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Once I had enough of the Arthur room, I made my way to the ‘Kindergarten’ area where I let my imaginations run wild.  I made a cool triangle structure with these plastic square blocks I put together.  Just like the Arthur section, there was another bookcase filled with old picture books I used to read.

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Over in the 2nd floor was the sports section that provided many physical challenges.  There were 3 basketball hoops with funky backboards getting in the way of the rim.  Nearby the court were two rock-climbing walls that you had to wall-climb around.  Within the middle of the floor was a lit-up LED dance game where people had to avoid the red ball coming at their way.

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Another fun exhibit I wandered around was the ‘Construction Zone’ area.  This area was all about the world of construction, providing child-like construction equipment for everyone to play with.  All around the floors were black rubber pipes to crawl into.  Just like the ‘Kindergarten’ exhibit, there were wooden blocks for creating tall buildings.

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One of the last areas I looked at was the ‘Peep’s World’ exhibit.  Peep’s World consisted mostly of water activities with toys that collected water.  Nearby the water area were foamy blocks that you could connect through small or big holes within the shapes.  Someone actually created a throne out of the foam blocks, which was really impressive!

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Overall the Boston ‘Grown-Up’ Museum was a success.  I had a ball walking around the museum and acting like a kid again.  After a long day of work, it felt great to blow off some steam by climbing up the netted play area.  Being an adult can be frustrating sometimes, so it is always great to find events that let you release your inner childhood.  We will always be growing older, but we should never forget the kid inside of us.  Our minds were fascinated by every little thing that we discovered when we were young.  It’s events like the Boston ‘Grown-Up’ Museum that always remind us of the simpler things in life.

 

 

Stephen King’s Netted Horrors


America’s notorious horror novelist Stephen King attends opening day at Fenway park every year.  Stephen King has been a Red Sox season ticket holder for a long time, with his seats directly at the Red Sox dugout section.  However, there was something truly horrifying that he noticed at the game: expanded netting was placed all around the park.

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Stephen King is an acclaimed horror novelist who wrote famous pieces such as The Shining, Misery, Christine, It, and many other gruesome tales.  He received a call from Red Sox executive Sean Walsh, informing him that certain areas of Fenway Park would be covered by netting.  Walsh told King that he would viewing the game through netting due to safety issues.  King strongly disliked the idea of the new netting setup.  He published an article to the opinion section of the Boston Globe, saying that the extended netting is, “one more step toward taking the taste & texture out of the game I care for above all others”.

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The new netting setup was unveiled this year after getting its approval in 2015.  This net stretches from the Red Sox dugout area to the visiting team’s dugout, extending at 9 feet 8 inches from the top of the wall in front of the first row of seats.  Extended nets came from a series of horrific incidents involving foul balls and broken bats flying into the seats.  A total of 1,750 fans were injured in the stands last year due to foul balls or broken bat pieces.

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After reading through his article, I thought that Stephen King brought up some great points.  Fans have gotten hurt in the stands before, yet we set up the extended netting this year.  74 million fans attended Major League Baseball games in 2015.  If you were to do the math in terms of number of fans injured divided by the number fans who attended the game, you will find a VERY small percentage of people who were injured.

In terms of safety issues, when does protection become overprotection?  When do we draw the line in terms of safety?  Sure the extended netting was created in the name of “safety”, but at what cost?  King points out in his article that we live in an increasingly cosseted society where forces larger than us take charge of our safety.

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I stand by Stephen King’s idea that the extended netting idea is absolutely ridiculous.  For someone who shocked the world with his horrific tales, King was truly horrified by what he saw when he got to his seat.  What was once America’s greatest pastime has been swallowed up in the sue-happy, mollycoddled police state we currently live in.  The whole experience of attending a baseball game has been over.  Remember the days when you brought your baseball glove with hopes of catching that foul ball?  Yup, that will be long gone with the “safety” net in place.  My prediction for this PR nightmare is that ticket sales will decrease and publicity will go down the drain once the complaints role in.

Check out Stephen King’s article here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/04/10/protective-netting-fenway-thanks-but-thanks/HS3Yat4rLgRGYMk83a26zN/story.html