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About this blog

Mostly Atari-related projects, and other ramblings. Home of the Artie the Atari comic strip.

Entries in this blog

One year later

So, I've been blogging for an entire year now.   Funny, I've got quite a few less than 365 entries. I've been a little hit and miss in terms of consistency, but I figure that it's an easy standard to live up to, so why change? So look for more of the same in the coming year!   Anyway, I've been making some progress on the Four-Play manual. I won't be able to work on it much over the next couple of days, since I'm teaching tomorrow (and still putting together tomorrow's lecture - students are

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Straight Outta Newhall

So, I've been waiting for this CD for awhile...     Was it worth the wait?   Well - yes! Although I have to admit I was more than a little worried about it, since Weird Al's last album - Poodle Hat - was, I thought, his weakest effort to date. Maybe that's because the album before that - Running With Scissors - was (and still is) his best.   But this is a return to good form for Weird Al, and both his parodies and originals are excellent. I don't really keep up on current music anymore,

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

And then...

I've just been buried at work lately.   And by lately, I mean since early August. Non-stop. Tons of (unpaid) overtime.   I worked 90 hours one week. 20 hours in one day.   And those weren't even in the same week.   But things are starting to calm down. A little bit.   I had to supervise two major construction projects, including the building of an all-new computer lab for running Maya. We were put six weeks behind schedule due to construction issues (and asbestos removal), but fortun

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Goodbye, Maynard

Maynard Ferguson passed away yesterday at the age of 78.   I won't try to recap his life or career. You can read all about that here.   Maynard wasn't the reason I started playing trumpet originally, but he was certainly the spark that ignited my interest in playing jazz, and in fact, kicked off my love of jazz in the first place.   He toured pretty much his entire life, right up until the end. I hope that I can find something that I love to do that much, and be able to leave something of

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

One down...

I just finished the manual for Lady Bug! I think (hope) the proof-reading is all done, and I've sent it (and the label) off to Albert for printing.   It's nice to have Lady Bug done, and it's incredible how fast the game came together (it was only started in January). I think the game turned out great, and I'm amazed John was able to pack so much of the arcade game into the 2600. I hope people like the manual artwork. John likes it (which is the most important thing) and I'm quite happy with t

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Another update on stuff

Did you miss me?   Funny thing about going on vacation and still having internet access - nobody knows when you're "gone".   Anyway, I'm back. Here's my current to-do list: Artwork, label and manual for Lady Bug - In progress Manual for Four-Play - Soon Juno First title screen Label and manual for the AtariVox Bitmap for Bob - Soon-ish Finish RPS manual - Waiting for game to be finished Finish MGD manual - Waiting for game to be finished Start editing "Stella at 20"

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Free cartoons!

This years' showcase of student films from where I work has just been posted on our school's website.   This is about 2 hours and 15 minutes (2 hours, 43 minutes Canadian) of the best films from the Character Animation program, as selected by our faculty. The entire Character Animation student show (which is not online) ran a whopping 7 hours 30 minutes this year. While there were some films that I think should've make it into the showcase that didn't, I think this is a pretty good representat

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

iPod, uPod, we allPod

Well, a saw a sure sign today that iPods have indeed, become a cultural phenomenon.   Yes, I'd heard there were iPod vending machines... but I didn't expect to see one... in my local grocery store.   That's right, the Vons on Lyons avenue, in little old Newhall, California, has one of these:     This isn't it, but it's the same basic machine. Except the one at Vons has nothing but iPods and iPod accessories.   Here's the really weird thing about all of this... I actually bought someth

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Space Cadets (pt. 1)

I've been spending about the last week and a half going through my stuff.   You know the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Everybody has some of it.   Cardboard boxes, with stuff in them, jammed into the back of a closet or attic somewhere.   Stuff that you haven't looked at in years. Years and years. In some cases... decades.   (An aside: the fact that I'm measuring what I consider to be relatively recent events as having passed in "decades" bothers me.)   I didn't think I'd really acc

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

CarZzzz...

Despite the blog title, Cars isn't really a boring film.   Unless you're a little kid. Say, under 5. Maybe 7. Not having kids, it's a little hard for me to judge at what point stuff becomes boring for them (and it's been a lonnng time since I was 7). But based on kids in the audience (one of whom repeatedly kept asking "is it over yet"?), I don't think bringing really little kids to this film is a good idea.   I went to see Cars last week, and I have to admit, it's a much better film than I

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

More music

Some months back, I wrote an entry about some upcoming albums that were coming up that I was planning to buy. I already reviewed one of the albums in the comments (Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights - Re-Whipped), but hadn't gotten to the other ones yet.   One of them, "Weird Al's" new album, isn't finished yet. It's mostly finished, but apparently he has to go back into the studio for some reason (he mentioned something about silly record company politics on his site). Whenever

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

To Do, To Do, Doo Be Doo Be Doo

Why yes, I am running out of "To Do" titles for my blog entries. Thanks for asking.   Well, I'm gradually chipping away at my "To-Do" list. Although there are two more projects added to it now: Label and manual for Lady Bug - In progress. John has approved a couple of design ideas for me to take to the next step. Manual for Four-Play - The label is already done, so the cover for the manual is basically done, too. Incidentally, I'm still working on new illustrations for RPS. Not su

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Once aTron a time...

Well, that was totally cool.   The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Hoozitwhatzit (the "Oscars" guys), held a screening Wednesday evening of a 70mm print of Tron at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, preceded by a panel discussion with director Steven Lisberger, VFX supervisor Richard Taylor, and animator Bill Kroyer.   They went over the laborious process of making the film (including some info I'd never heard before), a few anecdotes about the production, and talked a little ab

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Midwest Classic stuff

Man... what a couple of weeks.   Things have calmed down though, and the last couple of days I've been cranking out stuff to try and get it done for the Midwest Gaming Classic.   I can't go to the show, because, well, it's about umpteen-hundred miles "that way" (pointing in a vaguely Easterly direction). It'd be fun, but it just won't happen.   But I'll be "represented" there anyway. I just finished up three labels for the show (Four-Play demo, Conquest of Mars and another one which Albert

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Back to work

Sorry Bob, couldn't resist.   Well, the second wave of the tsunami known as "work" came in, as I had to create and duplicate DVDs of our end-of-year shows the past couple of weeks. Last year, we sent them out for duplication (although I authored the masters), but we discovered that it was actually cheaper to buy a DVD duplicator, and make our own, than send them out.   Plus, ours look way better. I was never really happy with the printing on the discs last year.   So, I haven't done much

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

The Work Thing

Ahhh... the tsunami of work has finally subsided. Fortunately, I managed to hang onto some debris and survive.   I don't discuss work much in my blog since, well, it's work. I don't really feel the need to discuss work much outside of work. But, I tend to do that anyway, since work pretty-much dominates my life (bad habit to get into - not recommended).   So I work at CalArts as the technician for the Character Animation program. Video production equipment, a couple of Mac labs, file server

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

George ! ! !

So, it turns out that George Lucas has decided to release the original versions of the Star Wars Trilogy after all.   Now, this is very cool news, because I'm a fan of the original Star Wars.   "Episode IV - A New Hope"? Phooey! Ever since I first saw that appear in the opening crawl in 1981 it's looked out-of-place to me.   The original "Star Wars" opening crawl synced better with the opening music, and well... it was Star Wars! The movie I grew up with, having seen it a dozen times durin

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

To do... or not to do...

Well, I'm buried at work for the next few weeks, so I'm not going to be getting anywhere on any projects for awhile.   But before the sky fell in, I did manage to make some progress on a few things: The MGD manual is about 75% done. I just need to do the back page (assuming Alex approves the overall design... that is). I need to revise the label a little bit to better match the manual, too. Started some additional illustrations for the RPS manual. Also lined up someone to help me design b

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Care and feeding of your Atari 2600

I really liked the way the 2600 I drew for my avatar turned out, so I decided to see what else I could do with it.   Here are a couple of illustrations I did for an AtariAge flyer, which Albert is packing in with shipments from the AA store.   They're black and white since, well, they get printed in black and white.       Feel free to make up your own captions.

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

I'm so old...

I was talking to someone about malfunctioning computers the other day, and eventually the conversation turned to "2001: A Space Odyssey". This other person (a college student) hadn't seen it yet, so I recommended it to him.   Then it dawned on me... that movie took place five years ago.   Five years ago!   What happened? It used to be the ultimate futuristic movie! I grew up with that film, marveling at its wonders, and would think of how old I would be when 2001 actually rolled around.  

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Homebreviews - part 5

Well, since Qb has been temporarily added back to the AtariAge store, I'd better get a review written for it before it goes away again.   Qb 5/5   Qb is what I'd describe as an "action/puzzle game". The goal is to slide puzzle pieces around and duplicate a pattern shown on screen. Sounds simple enough, but you're racing against time to finish each puzzle, and you also have to deal with enemies that can pop up and ruin all of your hard work (and you). The gameplay is completely addictive, an

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

A big, flickery mess?

So... back to one of the things on my "To-do" list - namely, "Stupid Game Ideas". (Pretend that was said in a loud, booming voice with lots of echo.)   ...ideas... ...ideas... ...ideas...   These are the games I would make for the Atari 2600, if I had any clue about programming.   And trust me... I don't. I've read through a bunch of the 2600 "how-to" stuff, and even though I kind-of get some of the limitations of the 2600, and have a vague sense of what the hardware is doing, I have no

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Six in a row!

I just realized, that as of yesterday, I've posted to my blog five days in a row! While this is a completely meaningless statistic, I've decided to try and go for a solid week of blog entries, and make it an even bigger completely meaningless statistic!   So, with today and tomorrow left to deal with, I'd better come up with something to post about. Just putting up a mostly empty entry would be cheating.                       Umm... well, I did get a first pass at the Rai

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

It's like eating potato chips

When you start getting homebrew games, you just can't stop at one.   So that's what sparked the idea behind my new avatar. My 2600 just can't get enough new games - it seems to be sitting there saying, "Feed me! Feed me!" As soon as I finish playing one game, it wants another one right away. (Of course, if you've gone without food for almost 20 years, you'd probably be a little grumpy, too.)   Besides all of the homebrews it's recently been fed, it's now able to absolutely gorge itself, than

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

Homebreviews - part 4

The last ones! (At least until I pick up some more games from the AA store.)   Thrust+ 5/5   Thrust+ is one of the best games ever programmed for the 2600. It's a little more expensive than other homebrews, but it's worth every penny. The graphics are incredible, and the gameplay is absolutely flawless. Thrust+ is certainly a challenging game, but not unfairly so. The gravity and momentum that affects your ship feels just right, and even as the heavy Klystron pods you have to rescue cause yo

Nathan Strum

Nathan Strum

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