A Blog Without Direction

March 31, 2008 at 6:34 pm (Uncategorized)

If there’sĀ one thing I definitely miss about discontinuing Survival Hunters Anonymous, it’s having a blog with direction.

(if there’s two things I miss, the second would be forcing people to type “Anonymous” correctly.)

I knew I wanted to have two quality posts a week, I knew they had to relate to Survival and Hunter-ing, and I knew they had to have my personal spin on them. Chances are if I knew how some people, like Matticus, had organized their time blog-wise, and used time-stamping, I would’ve been a bit *more* efficient, but that’s besides the point. I knew what I wanted to get covered, and it was fun.

For me, the research and the writing was the easy part. The hard part was coming up with what to write about. The concerns of the Hunters in my guild weren’t the same as those of the Vox Populi; I wanted to address the things that Hunters and reformed Huntards had in mind.

Simultaneously, it was the very concept of the thing that was appealing to me. I wish I had the pure knowledge of lore that would’ve helped me write out some of Track’s misadventures like the Egotistical Priest; but I could never really separate Trackhoof from who I am, so it was never about the character (as awesome as that would have been), but more so about the person behind the character.

I also liked the idea of helping people. Yes, it was helping them in a video game; but when you think about what kind of game it was, it’s like teaching a kid who rides a bike the finer points of driving manual. It was part of the growth process in the game – and frankly, I love teaching people and watching them grow.

One of the posters over at BlogAzeroth, Bbr, noted that “a true artist’s work is never done” when I stated that SHA was done. He’s right; but an artist also knows when he’s accomplished what he set out to do, or make.

And in regards to my statement of being at the peak of my skill, and leaving at the top of my game – do I still feel that way, one month later?

Yes, I do. I would love to say that there is so much more, a wealth of knowledge out there to learn about the Hunter class; but there really isn’t. The subtlety that exists is mostly within the number-crunching; the realm of the truly “hardcore”.

Thing is, very little of the stuff that will make an impact on game play is through the massive degree of number-crunching that forum guys’ll do. The biggest impact is from educating players to the importance of common sense. Hunters get to the end-game, and wonder how to chain trap, what the “best spec” is, what they should do in raids, et cetera – this is stuff they should be learning to do all along.

That’s why I didn’t delete my blog. That’s why I made an extra post or two. People are still looking for information, for guidance. For direction.

And while I’m not going to make a bodhisattva-esque return, saying “Here i am, my brothers and sisters! I have come back to guide you! I will free you of the Freeze Traps on your minds and the Wyvern Stings confusing your hearts, and lead you down the Golden Path of Hunterdom!”, I believe in the principles of passing on knowledge, and I feel it is downright criminal to deprive people of it.

The greatest teachers of Buddhism, along with every other religion, had their lessons passed down any which way they could, so that willing pupils could find them and enlighten themselves – thus, great minds of ages past could continue to instruct for eternity.

So while I understand the plights of people who want to cut off all their ties to things that they feel they wish to distance themselves from, I disapprove of those who leave an audience bereft of knowledge.

After all, knowledge is the power that helps you make changes in your life – and that is the greatest strength anyone will ever have.

– Brian


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Martin Blank Will Return in…

March 27, 2008 at 1:43 am (Uncategorized)

War, Inc?

One of my favorite unlikely hero concepts is revived…John Cusack as expert assassin.

And he likes hot sauce.

Explosions, wit, pseudo-slapstick comedy, Marisa Tomei… it’s everything I could want in a film.

Okay, if you replace Marisa Tomei with Kate Beckinsale, it’s everything I could want in a film, but it’s still way up there on the list.

And I’m sure Trackhoof would approve, even if John Cusack was doing a shot of hot sauce.


Edit : Track the Elder would approve. Track the Younger, I’m not so sure about.

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A little somethin’.

March 24, 2008 at 10:39 pm (Uncategorized)

I was visiting the grandparents (on my dad’s side) this weekend for Easter – it’s a lovely little house in the suburbs of New York City, right outside of Brooklyn, and with a beach to boot.

It’s odd, living in New Jersey in a house that speaks more of us as American with little glimmers of Irish ancestry here and there (along with some random art, and a Japanese cloth painting). The house itself has airs of being global, but with a certain American pragmatism in terms of placement of essentials (TV, Fridge, stove, et cetera).

Their house, by comparison, is small, but the atmosphere is decidedly European. A family crest of arms facing antique pictures of ancestors, a CD collection with more Irish than you could shake a stick at, a decorative sword, some kitschy ceramic mementos with traditional sayings, and a fridge plastered with equal parts Jesus and family pictures.

Oh, and a garden leprechaun.

Anyway, I happened upon a small song book of traditional Irish fare. I asked to borrow it, and they’ve let me; It’s got chords and whatnot listed, as well as the key for reference, so I’m fine in regards to playing them. Besides, a good 70% of ’em are in D, so that’s cake.

I think the most interesting thing is trying to piece together an attachment to a culture I’ve only seen and heard, but never experienced. Playing some of these songs (quite badly, I might add – damn 2/4!) is a lot like meeting somebody who was a big influence on you when you were, say, two or three, and not seeing them again until you were eighteen. You can’t quite tell why you like this or that, but you know they’re the reason for it.

One song I particularly like is “Finnegan’s Wake” – the Dropkick Murphys covered it on their Do or Die album. Great, funny song. I mean, how can you not love a song about a wake where the dead guy wakes up?

It should be interesting to see what my perspective is like after I’ve gone through it and memorized a couple of these songs… it’s getting in touch with my roots.


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March 22, 2008 at 9:12 pm (Uncategorized)

So one of my good friends and I went out for drinks and karaoke last night; mostly just karaoke.

Unfortunately, we a) live in New Jersey, and b) have been unable to find a suitable bar with a karaoke night and patrons our age, so we sucked it up and went to a local joint populated by the forty-plus age bracket.

It was a good hang. We had a little bit of sacrilegious fun as we duetted on “Sympathy for the Devil”, one of my all-time favorite Stones songs (on Good Friday, no less).

We also were talking about our state of affairs. He’s a teacher, I’m a potential grad student.

Neither of us is where we want to be going right now, naturally, but the worst part of it all is that where we ARE is the pits.

We weren’t the cool kids in high school, naturally, but even then, the people we know who still live in the area aren’t the people we’d be hanging with anyway. And romantic prospects? Sheesh, forget it.

Our town, and the surrounding area, was a cow town up until the 1900’s; after that point, and to this day, it swelled to mediocrity, boasting more pizza places, sushi bars, and Chinese Take-Out joints than one can shake a stick at, with no other attractions outside of cut-rate shopping, fast food, gas, and…more fast food.

There are, however, a few bars within a two-mile radius of where I live, along with liquor stores, proving my theory that the town wants you to gorge yourself on crap food and then drink yourself into next week.

So, what does that leave young people to do?

Very little.

So, that in mind, he’s gone back to World of Warcraft, and playing with some friends from school to keep in touch.

And I honestly can’t blame him. I feel sad, but I did it for the same reasons when I leveled Trackhoof, so i can’t really blame him at all.


P.S. Turns out my old guild imploded. Such is life.

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On Marty Friedman Solos

March 21, 2008 at 3:04 am (Guitar)

Dear Mr. Friedman,

To be perfectly frank, I consider you one of the greatest guitar players of the past 20 years.

Your solo work was incredible, and Rust In Peace is, without doubt, THE best Megadeth album ever released.

I just want to know one thing.

Why, for the sake of my fingers, couldn’t you come up with something on that album that was nice and easy for me to learn?

Why does it all have to be arpeggio-this and speed-run that, and Arabic scales that boggle my mind?

I love your work, man, but my fingers feckin’ hate you right now.


Backseat Elvis

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Love is metal.

March 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm (Uncategorized)

I was listening to a little Youthanasia-era Megadeth in the car today. I feel like it wasn’t really given its due, being that Mustaine wrote much, much more cohesive stuff in his earlier days, and that it sounds a lot like Load-era Metallica.

I’d have to say, my favorite track off that album, far and away, is “A Tout Le Monde”. Helped me get through plenty of rough times in college, tried to learn it a couple times, didn’t go so well.

(Hey, you try learning a Marty Friedman solo.)

It’s the core emotion of the song that really stuck with me. I think of it as the other side of the song “Fade To Black” by Metallica, and to a greater extent, like the Dias De Los Muertos. Whereas “Fade To Black” channels the absolute misery and emptiness of somebody deeply depressed or dying, “A Tout Le Monde” looks at the other end – the sadness of dying, and the overwhelming love that somebody leaving us may want to leave behind.

I think Dave said it best, “it was my impression of what I would like to say to people, if I had say, 3 seconds to do so in life before I died I’d say to the entire world, to all my friends, I love you all, and now I must go. These are the last words I’ll ever speak, and they’ll set me free. I don’t need to say I’m sorry, I don’t have to say I’m going to miss you, or I’ll wait for ya. You know, I’ll just say I loved you all, good, bad and different, I loved you all.”

It’s really a beautiful thing.

I don’t apologize for the semi-serious departure. Can’t play at being fun all the time, but if you try to be persistently deep, it becomes an incredible bore, so I try to strike a balance between the two.


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Boredom… the monster returns.

March 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm (Grad School, Planning for the Future)


It’s been probably around 3 weeks since I gave up WoW, but two of them haven’t been spent at home, so the separation was easier.

Now, the move to find other ways to entertain myself begins, to avoid the, “ugh, I hate WoW so much, but I could really use a way to kill an afternoon right now”. “Gulliver’s Travels”, and the tabs for “Ace of Spades” in Guitar World, will do nicely as a replacement. \m/

Also, in other news, I put together a powerpoint presentation with requisite information and a detailed plan for my attendance of grad school for my parents.

I’ll be taking out loans for the expenses, but they’ve promised to help out a bit with housing (if I get into Villanova, it’ll be a stipend for rent for an apartment, if I get into a more local school, it’ll be I get to stay in my room), and they were thoroughly impressed. I covered everything, from requirements, benefits, major choice, and finances to the general five-year plan involved.

They also made the mistake of saying, offhand, “We don’t care what you do, as long as your facts are straight”… so I dressed for the occasion, wearing a tie on my forehead, elf shorts (as in, they’re red and green and have bells on them), a dress shirt, a hawaiian shirt, a martial arts belt, boots, and my sister’s scarf in place of a regular tie. Glorious.

I addressed them in a very business-like manner, right down to my pink flamingo pen, and I was amazed at how composed they were through the whole process, and how we were able to have a serious conversation when I was dressed like an absolute maniac.

I was also amazed at how damn good my legs look in boots.


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Thinking out loud… kind of.

March 15, 2008 at 8:51 pm (Planning for the Future, Reflections)

Got a haircut today – everything had been getting a little shaggy, but I have to say, I like having a nice, close haircut as much as I like feeling the wind flapping everything around.

So I’m back home, all safe. I got to hang with two of my best friends last night, guys that I’ve been friends with since grade school. We’re all in similar predicaments; one is a teacher at a high school who may or may not have a job next year (depends on whether the teacher he’s filling in for comes back from maternity leave), and another is finally fed up with the lack of advancement in his menial job.

But we celebrated anyway. We celebrated the purchase of a new car, the death of an old car, graduate school, and new jobs, all over a southwest chicken egg roll platter, a milkshake, and a burger laden with portobello mushrooms. (Yep, no booze, just greasy diner food.)

It’s odd, but I feel like I’m trying to hide myself less these days. I feel less guarded than I used to be. This past week helped me loosen up a lot, and showed me what kind of a great person my little sister’s grown into – it’s funny, but I think she’s become my new role model.

Oh, and I saw Vanilla Sky for the first time in years. I love Cameron Crowe’s movies (Say Anything and Almost Famous are personal favorites…well, almost anything with John Cusack is a favorite), and it was a chance to re-examine a great film with a changed perspective on life, love, and the whole crazy thing.

I mean, it’s totally whacked out and it makes my head hurt in parts, but it’s still beautifully done. I wish I could write / make a film that closes down Times Square for a single five minute sequence.

Also, changing the name of the blog. No longer will it be Back-Track. My brain happened upon an odd phrase this week during my sleep-deprived delirium, and it seems fitting.

Backseat Elvis.

Of course, I’ll still answer to Track. It’s what you know me as. But I feel like that’s the name that best reflects what I feel like, and gives a sense of purpose to the writing; chronicling the journey of a Backseat Elvis to Elvis in the Driver’s Seat.

(no leaving the building jokes, please.)

-Brian / Track / Backseat Elvis.

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March 13, 2008 at 5:06 pm (Uncategorized, WoW)

Despite the advanced hour of the morning that this post is being written at (and I am loathe to say “morning” to begin with, since it’s damn near 12 pm), I still feel blah.

Yes, I couldn’t resist going to a college bar party.

Yes, I am aware that it was a Wednesday.

Yes, I didn’t get carded. (that in itself deserves a small degree of celebration.)

Yes, I am aware that, after the bartenders, doorman, and DJ, I was the oldest person there by a margin of anywhere from 1 to 4 years.

Also, I got the DJ to take a break from all the hip-hop and play some Cheap Trick. Originally, I was thinking Sex Pistols, or possibly Motorhead, but I figured on the following :

a) Cheap Trick kicks ass.
b) Sex Pistols might, sadly, be over the heads of many of these kids. Not everybody can get the party going to Anarchy in the UK.
c) I have a soft spot for making good party mixes. I wanted to give him an easy segue into “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, which, of course, was his intention.

He also pulled out some Prince and, shocker, Corey Hart in between the random rap songs. I approve heavily of Prince. Always and in perpetuity.

(Well, except for that whole symbol-for-the-name-thing, that was just the tiniest bit whacked out.)

So, I was up with the night owls. Still rose with the eagles, as they say.

And this makes me happy. Well, it makes me sad that such a post needs to exist, as my firm belief is that it is not entirely that hard to play any class, one just needs to learn properly. And class-specific quests like the Rhok’delar and Lok’delar helped that, to a degree, pre-Burning Crusade. They provided reward and incentive for taking your skills to the next level.

My only suggestion, in retrospect, is that Blizz set up a second tier of class-learning quests, much like the initial “tame XYZ” quests for the Hunters and “heal ABC” for healers, but covering the slightly more advanced stuff – like, for instance, chain trapping.

God, a hunter not knowing how to chain trap is like putting a four-year old on the highway with a Lamborghini. It’s a fast, reckless, inevitable disaster.

But I digress. Life after WoW is good, and I’m happy that there are some educated folk out there to pass on the knowledge, even if there are a bunch of halfwits who wouldn’t know crowd control if it bit ’em in the ass.

Which, often, it does.


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Getting paid to complain?

March 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm (Grad School)

So I’m crashing out here at Villanova, in a room that makes the average jail cell look comfortable, hanging out with my sister. She’s the best.

She’s also slightly deranged, but her friends are just as whacky.

So what’m I doing here?

Grad school, baby.

I sat in on a class last night, and for all the months I worked at Apple, I finally feel like I’m using my brain at a higher level. Lots of interesting stuff, as it’s on Organizational Communications, a subject I have no experience with but am incredibly intrigued by. The prof was awesome, very accommodating, and I even participated.

Well, despite having 4 hours of sleep. I’m still surprised that I made as much sense as I did.

But anyway, grad school’s definitely the ticket. Once i got past the earth-shattering revelation that I would in no way be able to handle five classes a semester, full-time student or not (I’m used to taking five classes, even six), and I wouldn’t be out in a year, everything started making a bit more sense.

Plus, the prof mentioned what he does outside of teaching – consulting for companies, looking at channels of communication / data and telling them, objectively, what’s lacking or misdirected, and helping them achieve what they want to by offering directions or suggestions.

I think it’s awesome that people would actually pay somebody to objectively look at their company and tell them what they’re doing wrong. I think it’s more awesome that I could be that person.

Also, there were a couple cute as hell lady grad students there.


-Brian / Track

P.S. Sleeping on floors is highly underrated. Dorms, as I recalled all too late, are highly overrated. But I was very happy to find out that good local apartments can be had for as little as $500 a month with a roommate. Cheaper than back home!

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