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Be Kung Fu Panda and a Jedi? I. Am. SO. In.

In gaming, Kinect, Product on March 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I’m being honest here.  I saw this news on Facebook Kinect for Xbox360 and gasped out loud at my computer:

Kung Fu Panda 2 is coming to Kinect.  Aside from the obvious good news, the other good news is that my brother’s family has their own Kinect, so I won’t have to fight my nephew for Shifu time (see posts: A New Decade. Another Day of Kung Fu Panda and I Am A Bad Auntie).

Only slightly better than this (with a little more drool):  getting to be a jedi in Kinect Star Wars.  Ohhhhh….   My nephew and I are going to be bonding big time over that one.  Every time I hear the music or see the Kinect trailer, I get goose bumps.

John Williams, what a composing genius…such an iconic theme with emotionally swelling notes.  You could probably put that theme to a scrolling grocery list, and I would get a tear in my eye.  Two games to look forward to…

Apple of My Designer Eye

In consumer tech, dance, Dance Central, fashion and style, Product on March 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm

You had me at hello, new iPad2, largely because of the new cover.

Call me silly, but this stuff makes a difference to a girl with fashion sense. Silver, orange, navy or red… consumer tech should make you happy to come to it every time and work like a dream.  I have yet to purchase the iPad2, as I was waiting to see how much better it would be.

Richard: “They didn’t change much.   It’s just thinner.”

Me: “But did you see the cover?”

It’s kind of the same principle for car cup holders or the ability to change outfits on my dancer in Dance Central.  Small detail, big impact.  I’m thinking…red.

Kinect brings a little “celebrity” treatment

In dance, Dance Central, Kinect, Product, workout on November 17, 2010 at 9:54 am

Just finished yoga.  Locker room.

Overheard around the corner: “Did you try Souja Boy?… How about… I thought… was so hard!!”

“Are you talking about Dance Central…?” (this is me)

“YES!!!” (Two women, in unison, with huge smiles on their faces.) “DO YOU LOVE IT!?!” (them, in caps, big excitement here.)

“I LOVE IT!”  (this is me, in caps, big excitement here)


“I can’t believe it, I’m number four on Bust A Move!” (me again)

(GASP!) (them, in caps again, big excitement here)

“NICE TO MEET YOU!! OMG!” (them)

More conversation ensues about which moves were hard, which songs were easier.

Consensus:  The Lady Gaga songs have the most simple choreography.

Consensus:  The sensor is a little picky on certain moves, but not others.  Curious about this.  Still investigating…

My tip:  More important than the “flava” is the exact mimicking of the dancer.  Trying to spice up the move with your own groove doesn’t really get you more points.  Having your arm/leg/body in the EXACT position as the dancer = FLAWLESS!

I have a few moves to work on to break 1,000,000.  Wish me luck!

I’m burnin’ calories along the way…

Two Ideas for Dance Central in the Name of Health

In dance, Kinect, Product, workout on November 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I don’t know about you, but I have a weakness for french fries.

One of the most appealing things about Kinect’s Dance Central is the calorie burn, which gives me an excuse to indulge every now and then. It’s harder to work it off as we get older… are you with me here?

So Dance Central, I’ve discovered, after working my butt off (Post: Young MC Made Me Sweat) to be in the Top 10 for Bust A Move (Post: No Way! I’m #6), has a WORKOUT MODE, with a calorie counter that earns you achievements, the more you work out.  Aside from the fact that I would have liked to know how much I’ve burned, I probably would have gotten another achievement by now.

So here’s my suggestion for Dance Central: create a feature that suggest to someone who’s been dancing awhile – or dancing on “hard” (the highest level) – to turn on workout mode. Something like a pop up notification:  “Would you like to turn on Workout Mode?”  with of their simple arrows which guide you to more info about this.  My answer would be: YES, DUH.

Anyway, now that you know this, turn on workout mode, earn an achievement and burn some calories.  Maybe save the fries for another time.

A Mom and a Pilates Junkie Walk into My House…

In dance, dog, fashion and style, gaming, Kinect, Product on November 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm

No joke.  Two girlfriends who have no interest in video games broke free from their Nordstrom jeans shopping (serious stuff here) and came over to the house for a super-fast sampling of Dance Central on Kinect before picking up the kids.

It all happened so fast that the dog got really excited and didn’t quite “stay”.  Out she went on the deck for the time being. (More on what happens with Kinect with a big dog in the picture in the next post.)

I pop in Dance Central. and the intro to the game rolls…

“I’m so excited.”  (the Mom)

“This is a good video.” (the Pilates Junkie)

I sign in.

“I love how it’s so futuristic… that you’re just using your hand for the commands.” (the Mom)

“Okay, which song?”  (this is me)

“PUSH IT.” (Both, almost simultaneously, after seeing a few songs)

I pick the Easy mode just to get started.  The Mom jumps in first.

“This is hard!” (The Mom, after a few steps to the music.)   “This is so much fun!”

Pilates Junkie is laughing at the nerdiness of it all.

“I’m totally sweating!” (The Mom)

Pilates Junkie jumps in, laughing at herself for getting about half the moves right.  She also lets out a little gasp when a move isn’t quite right, and the dude tells her, “That’s alright, everyone messes up on that one.”

And just like that, their inaugural Kinect Dance Central session is over.

Final thoughts from them?

The Mom: “OMG I’m totally getting this.  My kids will love it.  I love the no-controller thing.”

Pilates Junkie: “I don’t like the Freestyle so much… when they take your pictures.  I don’t really want to see that.”

I agree.  I’m not a fan of the photo Freestyle feature.  (Xbox – can we disable this?   Don’t mind the Freestyle, don’t need to see the sweaty playback.)

When they leave, I’m back on Bust A Move, trying to stay in the Top 10.  A few rounds later, I post my highest score yet (another blog post, another time).

Xbox is the new mayonnaise.

In fashion and style, gaming, Product, TV watching on October 11, 2010 at 11:29 am

Sometimes I look at our Xbox 360 and think: this thing is a time suck.  But I also think: this thing is saving us money – we have a seemingly endless amount of content for less.

The big spend is, well, unfashionable these days…a trend likely to stick long after the recovery has begun.  During this downturn (are we still calling it that?), we’ve come up with new rules about how/where we spend our cash.  Is that good news for Xbox?

According to a new study published in Ad Age, absolutely.  We watch our budgets, but we still throw down money for an entertainment device.  I know someone who doesn’t have a job but just bought an iPad…in fact, I know several.  Do you? We have a bunch of video games at home, but I am looking forward to Kinect so I can dance like Michael Jackson (July 2010, Can Barely Contain My Excitement…), and Fable III so I can hang out with my virtual dog again (Dec. 2008, I got a dog.  A Fable Dog).

Once upon a time, according to the study, Americans ranked Hellman’s (as in mayonnaise) at the top of list for beloved brands.  We’d throw down a little extra money for a good spread.  Today, we love the brands that provide an escape to entertainment, people and peaceful moments.  We also love the brands that empower us with information (e.g. Google).

Now that you know this, what’s your next purchase?  Will you spend a little extra to give your avatar a new accessory?


Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.

In family, gaming, Halo, Product, relationship, zombie on October 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Last week, around 2am, I stirred in my sleep to find that my husband still hadn’t come to bed.  Battling an ugly cold, I went back to sleep.

Several hours prior, around 9:30pm, as I said goodnight, Richard had logged onto Xbox Live to start a multi-player Halo: Reach session with his two brothers and brother-in-law (two of them on Eastern time, so 12:30am there, already).

Flash forward to the morning after.  I wake up.  He is stirring…barely coherent.

“What time did you come to bed?” (this is me)

“Around five.” (this is him)

Silence.

“Are you serious?” (me)

“Yes.  At least I won’t have to play Halo:Reach anymore.  It’s done.”

“You finished the entire game?” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

“All of you.” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

Mouth agape. (me)

“Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.” (this is him)

“They stayed up all night and played until 8am their time?” (me again, wondering how my sisters-in-law dealt with the little kids and everything)

“Yes.”

I really couldn’t say anything, based on my New Year’s Day obsession with Kung Fu Panda (see post: A new decade. Another day of Kung Fu Panda), but at least I played during the day…on a holiday…and I stopped to walk the dog and eat.  These guys were zombies.

Reflective pause. (me)

“Was it good?” (me again)

“Yes.” (him)

“Do you want me to let you sleep some more?” (me)

“Yes.” (him)

Zombies, I tell you.  Zombies.

Thank goodness we started talking about Family Guy.

In dance, dinner, dog, family, gaming, Halo, Product, TV watching on September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

And… cue the quicksand.  I’m sinking deeper into geek-land.

The other day we were visiting friends, whose pre-teen sons were, let’s just say, brilliant and enlightening (it was like talking to two Stewies from Family Guy, but with less anger).  However, they are boys, and they’re very excited about the recently released Halo: Reach (as in Spartans and multi-threat armor, etc.).

They also can’t wait for controller-free gaming with Kinect.  Suddenly, over hors d’oeuvres, I found myself explaining the benefits versus drawbacks of playing shooter games on Kinect.

“Does Kinect work with shooter games?” (John)

“Well, it’s really not for shooter games, because of the timing.”  (This is me… and I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.)

“How does it work with shooter games?” (Trevor)

“It’s not what you really want for shooter games to be effective in your game.  By the time you react, tell it to do what you want, then it reacts and shoots… it’s a little too far past the moment.  In that type of situation, you really want the immediacy of the controller to just hit the button and fire the shot.”  (WHO. AM. I?)

“Oh.  Yeah, I guess you would just want to hit A.”  (John)

“Exactly.”  (I pause.  Please pass the red pepper dip and celery.)

Soon afterward, conversation shifted to the brilliance of Seth McFarlane and the season premiere of Family Guy.

Whew.  That was fun, but just a little bit alarming.

(That being said, I am excited to dance MJ moves on Kinect.)

Are You Too Busy Watching Project Runway to Video Chat?

In dog, fashion and style, gaming, interior decorating, Product, relationship, travel, TV watching on September 6, 2010 at 11:32 am

When we first moved in together, Richard tried his best to convince me we did not need cable because we had a ton of content options through Xbox Live.  I told him, no, I needed cable to a) do my job…sometimes, and b) because I wanted to watch shows like American Idol real-time (as detailed in my post, Sept. 25, ’08:  How Do I Watch Cable?  Really, Just Cable).

So, we hooked up one television for cable.  Problem is, it is the living room’s 64″ television, where Richard prefers to play shooter games, watch his action/violence movies and test new technology.  Most of the time, he gets there first, and I’m blocked out of my cable shows.

Richard, visiting family, calls me the other night. Predictably, I’m catching up on my cable shows and at one with my armchair with the dog at my feet, curled up in an orange ball and snoring.  I have no competition for the remote(s).

Here’s how the phone call went:

“Do you want to try to video chat over Xbox Live?  Or are you too busy watching Project Runway?”  (this is him)

“???” (the bubble over my head…wondering how he knew I was, at that very moment, waiting to see who would get the Auf Wiedersehen from Heidi.)

“Okay, what do I do?” (I know this will make him very happy, so I put Heidi on pause.)

“You have to get a headset and plug it into the controller.  Then you have to log on as xboxbride.” (him)

I reach into the boxes in which I’ve stored all his gaming accessories (see: Sept. 8, ’08 post, I Made Friends With the Container Store) and fish out a headset.  Then, I follow his directions.

He tells me how to do something else, but either I can’t “make it work” a la Tim Gunn, or I am too uncreative at that moment to problem-solve.

“Never mind, sweetheart.”  (him)

“Can we just talk on the phone?” (I am thinking… “like normal people”?)

We do.

It wasn’t long before I found out that Peach (below) got the Auf Wiedersehen and Michael C. won the challenge of turning an ugly bridesmaid’s dress into a wearable party outfit (black dress below) in Episode 6:  “You Can Totally Wear That Again”.  Why is it that bridesmaids dresses are always so ugly, anyway?

Why Does One Need Multi-Threat Armor? It’s about more than Halo: Reach..

In dog, family, fashion and style, gaming, Halo, movies, Product, relationship, TV watching on August 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

“Do you want to watch something while we eat?”

This is a normal question Richard poses to me as we sit down to dinner. However, also normal: having to sort through all the new videos on Xbox Live before we can even get to something like, say, Mad Men (you know, the amazing, award-winning show on AMC).

The other evening, this was the video that I experienced as I was taking my first few bites: Game Stop – Halo: Reach

It is a promotion to pre-order one of the most highly-anticipated titles in the video game world through Game Stop. If you pre-order, you get exclusive, multi-threat armor. Multi-threat armor. Again for the nosebleed seats… multi-threat armor.

My initial reaction of a raised eyebrow of confusion/bubble over my head: “seriously?” changed when I thought of Reach as a metaphor. By the end of the Game Stop promo video, I understood. If you really think about it, sometimes… on the job or in life… life changes so drastically, one needs multi-threat armor to cope or fend off the bad guys, the bad times, and the hardest challenges one faces (e.g. family illness, job loss, etc.). After all, we are in the middle of an economic downturn that is unique in many ways, and many of us just don’t know how to predict what will happen…what to expect.

Would it be such a bad idea to have multi-threat armor right now? Anyone? Bueller? What does that look like? For me, it’s entertainment like Mad Men, my yoga practice, the dog, growing my own herbs and cooking from them, and of course, my husband. That’s my multi-threat armor. What’s yours? If you can’t think of anything right away… maybe Game Stop can help. We all need a little multi-threat armor now and then.