Tuesday, March 31, 2009

R.I.P Shane McConkey

This past week the ski comuntiy lost a true pioneer and legend. Shane McConkey will be dearly missed by all, and I have offically lost one of my heroes. This is a post put up on the k2 skis website, and here is a link to the memorial website. Please support the family any way you can.....they need the good energy right now. R.I.P. Shane, you will never be forgotten. http://shanemcconkey.org/

On March 26, 2009, Shane McConkey died in a ski BASE jumping accident in the Italian Dolomites. We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow K2 family member and offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife Sherry, daughter Ayla and the members of his immediate and extended family around the wintersports world.

In countless ways, Shane defined our sport representing both the limits for which it can be pushed, as well as the idea, lifestyle and romance of skiing. His ability to bring fun everywhere he went was uncanny and the mere mention of his name always made the people who knew him smile. Such was his gift - the ability to be the consummate class clown at one moment and the next to be an absolute professional as a member of our ski development team. Everyone here loved working with Shane. You could depend on him, both to get the job done and to make you laugh. We are happy to have been graced with his presence over the past decade and appreciate his many contributions to our success.

Although McConkey's impressive athleticism and skiing ability made him a icon, Shane moved through life in humble shoes, never letting global fame change his character.

Shane was a pioneer and ringleader of the freeskiing movement in the early 90's, which has since become the de facto image of our sport. His life's work has opened the doors for countless young athletes, whom, without Shane's efforts, would have never had the opportunity.

McConkey was a creative thinker who challenged conventional wisdom in ski design, first driving the fat ski revolution, then convincing us to build him his rockered Pontoon in 2004 -- which instantly made powder skiing easier and more fun for everyone, helping spur arguably the most significant innovation seen in skiing and snowboarding in decades.

Shane was a part of our family. He was the pure embodiment of everything that K2 stands for and we cherished the time we were able to spend with him developing products around the world. In many ways, Shane has changed the way we all think about life and skiing and we will miss him dearly.

Thanks for showing us the way, Shane. It's not going to be the same without you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wisdom is Universal

A wonderful Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but
shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more,
but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and
smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees
but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more
problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little,
drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too
little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our
possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and
hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to
life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but
have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer
space but not inner space.

We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air,
but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.

We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold
more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less
and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small
character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of
two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one
night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer,
to quiet, to kill.

 It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the
stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time
when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going
to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to
you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your

Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only
treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember,
to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all
mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep
inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday
that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak
and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I could say how I feel about RE5, but this review by Adam Sessler of g4tv.com sums it up perfectly; unwilling to evolve with the times.....and having to pay to unlock multiplayer sucks.

Here is the review:

Resident Evil 5 Review--

To say Resident Evil 5 is arriving under a cloud of anticipation would be the understatement of the year.  2005’s Resident Evil 4 was nothing short of a revelation (and received X-Play’s Game of the Year) in how it took a series that was getting seriously long in the tooth and reinvented it wholesale without making it entirely unrecognizable from it’s predecessors.  Four years have passed since its release and in that time the quality, ambition, and innovation in videogames has accelerated at an astonishing rate making the formula that Resident Evil 4 brought to the table less impressive by contemporary standards. Unfortunately, not enough has changed with RE5, in all level of its design, to help it keep pace with the new standards in gaming.

Resident Evil 5 returns somewhat to the main storyline, abandoned since Resident Evil 0, with Chris Redfield on the hunt for bioterrorism in a fictional African country.  As luck would have it in these games he stumbles upon a plot that involves a virus similar to the Las Plagas nastiness of Resident Evil 4.  From here the game devolves into a pursuit of various characters and “the truth” behind the experiments that are the backbone of the Resident Evil storyline.  While it begins with promise to wrap up the lingering details with the operatic pomp of Metal Gear Solid 4RE5’s narrative quickly turns clumsy and slapdash.  Secrets that are reveled are so blatantly telegraphed from the outset that they lack punch, and the thrust of the narrative is so adolescently linear and told through such embarrassing dialogue that any resonance that was hoped for at the end of a thirteen-year story arc are lost forever in the mess.  While storytelling has never been the hallmark of the Resident Evil series it’s unacceptable that what’s in the game is holding to some time-honored tradition.

… Like in A Fiddler on the Roof

Resident Evil 5 ReviewRegrettably, tradition plays yet another role in RE5’s flaws.  The control scheme mirrors that of RE4 which was an improvement for the series back then but comes across as an unfortunate anachronism wholly unjustified by the game in 2009.  Chris Redfield and his co-op partner Sheva once again move with plodding sluggishness that is only partially relieved by running and still cannot move while shooting.  Rotating the character to aim or just see what’s happening is equally slow and the quick 180-degree turns so frequently discombobulate your perspective that the aggregate effect of the controls neuters the satisfaction of combat.  This is not to say that the controls render the game unplayable, but it is baffling to figure out how the experience is enhanced by what comes across as arbitrary impediments to gameplay that only serve to heighten the tension by virtue of the frustration incurred.  RE5 is, first and foremost an action game, what little puzzles elements that characterized the series before are few and inconsequential, with that in mind, the decision to disregard the gameplay standards in third person action games over the past five years seems nothing short of myopic given the numerous gamers brought into the fold during this generation who will undoubtedly find themselves hamstrung by the controls.

Curiously the game itself doesn’t seem to accept its own control scheme. Quicktime events appear frequently during combat offering melee attacks and during boss battles for dodge rolls.   It seems like a cop-out to include these options at the whim of the game rather than organically incorporate them into the control scheme, they’re clearly deemed useful to survival in the game or they wouldn’t need to be included.  The dodge roll in particular would alleviate the awkwardness of the quick-turn.  

Another instance of the controls and the game seeming out of sync is the inventory system.  Unlike previous
 Resident Evil games, opening your inventory occurs in real-time, it does not pause the game.  Nonetheless the inventory is as cumbersome to navigate as in previous installments with each item having up to five different uses.   Thankfully a quick select is made available for four items tied to the d-pad, but each character only has nine slots available overall, making each slot woefully significant.  Between the challenge presented by the controls in combat and the difficulty navigating the inventory in an efficient amount of time accessing those five other slots in combat can prove to be yet another unnecessary burden.

Brain-Fed Zombies and Brainless Sidekicks

Resident Evil 5 ReviewIn a nod to other games, RE5 allows the player to take cover, which becomes essential in the latter section of the game as the zombified enemies have guns (yup!). Although, once again,  this attempt to accommodate contemporary game design is hampered by the game’s fidelity to its control scheme, once in cover you cannot move in cover nor can you alternate your viewpoint from right to left and must leave cover, move, and take cover again to improve your vantage point.

These instances when the game’s design and control come in conflict with one another pale in comparison to the experience of playing the game in single player, with the co-op character Sheva being controlled by A.I.  The concept clearly is that the challenges presented by the controls and the more 360-degree nature of the combat are alleviated by having another character that can flank enemies and offer assistance.  While that doesn’t excuse the control scheme, it would make it acceptable if Sheva was reliable when being controlled by the computer.  She isn’t.  As Chris Redfield you can offer up two commands “Attack” and “Cover.”  In “cover” Sheva stays close to you and conserves ammo, primarily by leaning on her weakest armament.  In “attack” Sheva will more aggressively go after the enemies and default to stronger weapons.  Problem is in “attack” she unloads all her ammo indiscriminately without judging or prioritizing the enemies at hand, in addition she exercises a fearlessness that results in many deaths, which forces a restart to the section, whether nor not you are still alive.  Typically you’ll want to have Sheva near you, with weapons you do not intend on using and the majority of the health (she is good at healing you at the right time), as you take on the lion’s share of the death dealing.

It’s perfectly fine to play the game with this strategy, but the game is designed for two efficient players.  Several set pieces, especially the boss battles clearly are laid out for strategies where both characters attack the problem from different angles, the workaround approaches to accommodate the A.I.’s limitations leaden the experience and only heighten the frustrations with the game’s decision on the controls and inventory.  The survival horror motif, as established in the 
Resident Evil series, has always been about enduring with limited supplies.  Playing RE5 alone, the limitations seem to be the game itself as it continuously gets in the way of an enjoyable experience.  

Playing co-op is a different story, as the game opens up dynamic approaches to its challenges and the frustrations are fewer and further between.  Playing co-op actually feels like a different game with the levels opening up new opportunities to experiment with play styles that had no easy application in single player.  Perhaps the greatest surprise is the split-screen mode which doesn’t follow the traditional 50/50 split but instead doesn’t use the entire real estate of the screen in favor of maintaining the correct screen proportions in both halves.  It works amazingly well; in fact it sometimes works better than online as 
RE5 is well suited to strategizing with someone right next to you rather than over a headset.  Either way, co-op is the way the game should be played, although its rather long running time does require a good commitment from a friend.

Resident Evil 5 ReviewWhile RE5 is far more accessible in co-op one thing it doesn’t fix is the uneven nature of the game’s design.  There are some great sections in the beginning of the game, in particular the coastal shantytown at the beginning and the “native village” a little further in.  Both of these sequences are fraught with a compelling atmosphere; that of a society in collapse and a dank foggy swampland, and both stand out as fresh and new.  The rest of the game is nowhere near as compelling with overused locales of laboratories, a cargo ship, and a temple that seems more appropriate to Tomb Raider thanResident Evil.  Moreover the scenarios also becomes increasingly contrived with conveyer belts, lever puzzles, and the odd decision to give the infected enemies guns and grenades, reducing the game to a strange and unsatisfying derivation of Gears and multiple other third-person shooter.  As is traditional with the series the Boss Battles are standouts although the latter third of the game has a few that left me scratching my head as to their logic and design.  While RE4 did eventually drag on, there was a sense of consistency and invention that propelled the game, here many of the elements feel piled on without much care or enthusiasm.

History and Context

One more matter does need to be addressed.  Ever since the first trailer, there has been concern about
RE5’s portrayal of Africans.  Frustratingly the majority of the thinking has been a zero-sum debate as to whether the game is racist or not, as if those are the only two labels that can be applied.   Let me be clear, the game is not racist, insofar as it in no way attempts to advance an agenda of one group’s superiority over another.  Nonetheless the game does traffic in some truly loaded images, the most blatant of which are the residents of the native village who are adorned in grass skirts, tribal masks, and spears; images that held much currency through the centuries of colonial rule and were used to justify the imperialism vis-a-vis this “otherness.”  In addition, the allusions to Mogadishu in the beginning and an enemy who is meant to evoke African strongmen dictators like Idi Amin also serve to provoke more contemporary anxieties through their exoticism. These caricatures are not being utilized in RE5 to reconsider their significance or re-evaluate our seduction to their implications but are merely vehicles for our entertainment by virtue of their exoticization.  For me, the use of these images feels careless and exploitative and casts pallor over what is nothing more than escapist entertainment, were they not employed, they would not have been missed.

Resident Evil - Degeneration

Resident Evil 5 ReviewAlright this review has been decidedly cranky-pants so it is worth reiterating that the game has its high points, especially the astonishing visuals and the effectiveness of co-op play.  Resident Evil 5 is mired in poor design decisions that drag down the experience and render single-player campaign a tedious exercise in working around the game.  It’s frustrating to see a game that I so looked forward to playing and carried with it such potential, sabotage itself in so many ways.  Compared against the ambition of games like BioshockMass Effect, and Assassin’s CreedResident Evil 5 seems timid, unwilling to move out of its comfort zone.  It’s a shame.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Being a big fan of the graphic novel I was expecting the worse.....but the movie actually turned out ok.
1. I know they changed the ending, but it made sense why they did it, inorder to convey the original ending in film form would have taken the explination of a lot of backstory.
2. The acting (especially Dr. Manhatten, Night Owl, and Rorschach) was suprisingly good.
3. Their was humor - I know the graphic novel had very little humor in it, but a 2 hour and 45 minute movie without a laugh would have been a little hard to handle.
4. Malin Akerman is hella hot.
5. The source material is so brillient, the movie couldn't be all bad.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Beautiful Song......

It is currently storming in thr SF Bay Area, and this song began to play on my Itunes. It is a beautiful song, and went really well with my current mood/the weather. I hope you all enjoy it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


This past week a girl killed herself at SI in San Francisco. Enough has been said about the incident, that I don't need to give my two cents, exept that suicide is a very tragic thing, and seems like a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do; ending your life and putting the people who love you through unimaginable pain, however if you are so unhappy that takingyour own life becomes a real possability, then my heart goes out to you. Here is the link to the facebook group dedicated in her memory, I hope it reminds everyone that no matter how bad things get, that people love you and suicide is never the answer.