1.29.2010

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Postings...

The angels are celebrating in Heaven today. As of a couple days ago, six people follow this blog.
Thanks for reading.

Post script: If you see Evan Smith, whip out a recorder and play a jig for him. He knows why.

1.27.2010

Concerning RPGs, Part One

I decided Monday that to let my siste--er, editor--off the hook by doing a short animation of stick figures fighting. Oops. A gerund. Don't hate me, O ye who love grammar.

Unfortunately, the program that I use has more bugs in it than Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. So, I had to come up with something thought-provoking and utterly genius on the fly. It was difficult, but this is a triumphant story of victory over adversity.

And so, I present to you this inclusive--but not exhaustive--diagram explaining RPGs. Enjoy.



(Click to enlarge)

So long and thanks for reading... although you didn't do much today...

1.20.2010

On LEGOs

2009 was a very important year. Not only did I bid adieu to the toils of high school, but I also kissed a delicate, soft goodbye to democracy as we knew it. Michael Jackson moonwalked on that big stage in the sky. The swine gave us the flu. I started this voluptuously beautiful blog.

But perhaps most importantly, Lego Group relaunched its Lego Pirates theme after foolishly discontinuing it twelve years prior.

All who ever played with LEGOs know that the Pirates and Imperial Guard themes are "where it's at." Let me explain.

I will begin first by saying LEGO was a huge part of my life. I think their cold, plastic grip possessed my activities from ages four to nine, when SimCity 3000 supplanted its authority.

When I look back on my not-too-distant-childhood, I find that I was captivated with my big brother's ability to weave together a story on a whim. He would mesmerize me for hours with so called "brain games," which were, simply put, all-original role-playing games straight from the recesses of his mind. I assumed the roles of an adventurer in a fantastic world, a captain of a starship, and a Stegosaurus fending off Deinonychus attacks. For the first two examples, he created fairly large universes to house these experiences; he made maps, civilizations, charts, the works. His skill as a raconteur is one I've always tried to emulate.

I say that because it leads me to my next point. Using our combined imaginations, we created a world for our Legos. In this world, the [Lawful Good] Imperial Guards would constantly battle the [Chaotic Evil] Pirates over a small, unimportant fort on the coast. Each day, the beleaguered defenders of the fort would face extermination from the buccaneers arriving on their brig (The frigate was the object of much covetousness and unattainability between my brother and me. Eventually, sweet rationalization crept in and we settled for our little barge.) Back then, we did not come up with a good reason for the pertinacious--and largely futile--marauds by the outlaws. Now, however, I can think of a couple. For instance, maybe one of the guards had said something nasty about the captain's parrot, or cut off the captain's ear.

Although, now that I think about it, we were startlingly close to an actual pirate's mindset: because they could.

Regardless of their reasons, though, each day the unlawful pirates would set sail in their little ship and combat the guards (Who, I should note, were British. We regarded the blue uniform guards not as French but as the SWAT of eighteenth-century England.) Kelly, the swashbuckler--turned--righteous force for good and awesomeness, played a key role in the defense of thefortification. He was our favorite character. He had a scintillating personality--at least, as much personality as a bandanna-sporting plastic figure could muster. We got his name from the then--Kelly Inn in Kalamazoo, Michigan; we thought it fit him well. It still does.

Unfortunately, I don't really remember the other characters. However, I do remember literally seething at my brother; he had killed off a long-standing character in this universe, and I had grown quite attached to the fellow. Seeing my ire, he relented and my friend's life was restored. My happiness was unbounded and unparalleled.

That is why Pirates and Imperial Guards are important to me. Each boy will have his own tale.

That really concludes my essay. I could continue on, describing how a four-by-one brick was undoubtedly the most-sought-out, most used, and most important brick ever. I could go on about how that nifty little brick separator device was God's gift to children. I could go on.

But I will not.

So long, and thanks for reading.

Post script: I highly recommend visiting The Brick Testament. If you don't mind its hopelessly sarcastic attitude, it's well worth your time.

1.13.2010

On Twilight

This week, I come as another hungry vulture to feast upon the carcass of Stephenie (with the second e-- who does that?) Meyer's now [in]famous Twilight saga. I was loath to do so at first; criticizing her works would cause me to prostitute myself upon a subject already ravished by the whole of humanity. Plus, I have not had the pleasure of reading the fantastic literature she has authored. But then again, I don't really want the pleasure of reading such fantastic literature. Hence, I remain and will remain ignorant of the finer details of the series.

However, I will not let mere ignorance stop me from putting forth my valued opinion. I have already gleaned bushels of information from the mouths of others and from the memorable, critically-acclaimed, high-quality cinematic adaptations of the books. Hence, I am armed to the teeth with as much misinformation as I can hold--without being encumbered, of course. Watch now as I metaphorically apply my lipstick, don my fishnets, and hang out by the streetlamp of judgment. Here goes.

I'm probably going to be chastised for that analogy.

Besides the fact that both Count Chocula and Baby Jesus cry when anyone reads Twilight, here's the first reason to not associate yourself with the franchise: it gives Bram Stoker's Dracula a bad name. This is the touchstone of vampire literature; it was not the first, but it was the best. It has great characters; it has a good plot. In fact, tell me one other book where the villain, hell-bent on world domination, pursues his devilish scheme via investment in real estate? It makes you think what Donald Trump is really up to. And who cares if the all the action takes place in the final fifteen pages of the book? Dracula was satisfyingly decapitated and impaled at the same time. Suck that, Edward.

Secondly, the movies are constructed entirely out of suck. I forget the actress's name, but she just stands there agape; Ryan Robin Robert Patterson rips open his shirt for a paper cut; etc. To put it plainly, the movies came down with a bad case of Eragon. You know what that means. Of course, it didn't really help that the books were lackluster. Also, now I cannot listen to "15 Step" and "Supermassive Black Hole" without correlating them to the first movie. Thanks, a lot, Ms. Meyer. Go watch The Brain That Wouldn't Die. That movie contained better characterization than yours.

Thirdly, vampires are not bedazzled. Period.

Fourthly, middle-aged women read and obsess over the books. That should be your first warning sign right there. I don't know of any mom who obsesses over I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You (which I highly recommend, by the way).

Lastly, you should never say "my spider monkey" to anyone. Not even to an actual spider monkey. Ever.

And that's my opinion of the Twilight saga. If you were at all interested in my view on Twilight's love children (i.e. The Vampire Diaries, The Vampire's Assistant), I firmly believe we should put oak stakes through each and every one of them. The vampire genre is slowly dying. Or undying. Yeah. Undying. You can take that home with you.

There. I declare myself done with this critique. Now that you and I are finished, you can put down your copy of Full Moon or New Moon or Blue Moon or whatever it is, drive to your local library, meander over to the classics section, look up Alexander Dumas, and pick up a copy of his The Count of Monte Cristo. If that's not a romance, I don't know what is.

Don't get me wrong; a lot of people don't even read these days. Reading seems almost a lost art in society today. In fact, in a couple decades I assume that I'll be begging my tween-aged nephews to stop playing Call of Duty 9: Semi-modern Warfare and read the Berenstain Bears, which will be slightly over their reading level.

God help us all.

So long, and thanks for reading.

1.06.2010

Concerning Pokémon

One of the best things about the nineties--besides the glorious fashion trends of neon tracksuits, mullets, and oversized sweaters--was Pokémon. Yes, Pokémon. We all loved them, collected the cards, played the games, watched the TV series, sat impassively as they slowly faded from glory, forgot them, and turned the channel to watch the newest episode of Home Improvement.

Yes, this movement was certainly an instrumental part of the decade, and certainly a topic worthy of discussion. Hence, let us begin.

Pokémon stands for "Pocket Monsters." This is not to be confused with the very-similar Monster in My Pocket, which is so very different. How, you ask? The answer is simple: all Pokémon are six inches tall, are easily collapsible, and require pocket protectors (because Grimer does not come out easily). Monster in My Pocket, on the other hand, denotes a situation of surprise and exclamation: "Ah! There's a Illithid in my pocket! Why does my head hurt so?" Then you fall over dead.

The decreed goal of Pokémon was to "catch'em all"; that is to say, catch every single Pokémon in all the tall grass of all the world. This was a very good concept, until children actually took the time to catch every single critter in all the tall grass of all the world. Apparently developers did not think children had the fortitude to undertake this task and scrambled to find something else to keep our dear children interested in this game. Their answer? Expand the Pokémon gene pool. Kids, they thought, would never want to catch even more Pokémon. They already have enough; they would be content.

Wrong. And thus began the decline of the franchise.

There was something familiar about the original 150. There was something homely and comforting that the expansions couldn't bring. To me, the new Pokémon appear contrived and oddly unsettling. I don't need them, and will never recognize them as part of the official Pokémon canon. I could be just a snob, but then I know a lot of other snobs who share my sentiments.

To remedy this conundrum, I propose this solution: rather than increasing the number of species in the universe, developers should expand the quest. They should collect two of each type of Pokémon. They should construct a giant boat. They put the Pokémon in the boat; a mega-flood comes and wipes out all of Kanto. After this catastrophe, you are put in charge of rebuilding civilization.

The Conquest of Canaan comes out in Pokémon MilkHoney.

Finally, let's talk about Pikachu. I know he's the cutest little rodent you've ever seen. I know he's the mascot of the entire Pokémon franchise. But, all this publicity is making him cocky, dangit. I don't think he deserves this much attention.


Articuno is so much better than Pikachu in so many ways, it would be impossible to recount them all. This graceful ice-bird of death kicks butt. And that's final.

So long, and thanks for reading.