3.31.2010

The Bucket List

My speed-reading class, which inhabits my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, is unique. My professor is a middle-aged gentleman with graying hair and a smile that wrinkles his entire face in a homely and disarming way. He is unnaturally sincere in nature: he will ask how our days have been, then will listen with interest to what you have to say. If you were sick the previous day, he will ask if you're feeling better. This sense of empathy is oddly unsettling, but half of my discomfort stems from my cynical nature.

The fact that he teaches a speed-reading class does not help this case of peculiarity. The class itself is, as you might guess, packed; I'm sure the sarcasm spills over into the hallway. I imagine it is difficult to teach someone how to read quickly. I think he's doing fine. But in my mind, some of the exercises he has given us seem incongruous.

The first was the personal mission statement we had to create. Similar to what you might find at a business, they are designed to invigorate and encourage us as we go about our daily lives. He gave us this formula:

3 Verbs + Core Value (Quality) + Audience = Personal Mission Statement

An example of this would be: "To caress, extrapolate, and objectify idiosyncrasies with every Cajun I meet."

If I ever meet a Cajun, you can bet I will caress idiosyncrasies with them.

Cough.

Anyhoo, I finished it and trudged on to the next assignment: the bucket list. We had to think of 30 activities we will do before we die, the sister project being influential people we will meet. After I successfully resisted asking questions about the relevancy of this project, I began wondering, Wow. In several decades or so (sooner, factoring the imminent zombie uprising), I'll be dead. What do I really want to achieve in this life? I put pen to paper and came up with this:

The Bucket List: The Director's Cut

  • Skydiving. But then I thought, Who the heck doesn't want to skydive? That's like ordering vanilla ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Hence, I propose a variation on the theme, something I think will really spice up this activity which, as we all know, needs some added thrill. So here it is; maybe you've heard of it. Ready? Skyfencing. It's exactly like skydiving, but before you deploy your chute, you engage in a violent struggle with rapiers against your skyfencing buddy. If you don't get skewered, or your chute does not get cut, you get an added bonus: you fall into a canyon full of lime-green Jell-O. Skyfencing: coming to a Jell-O filled canyon near you.
  • Capture every Pok√©mon in the world. Well, I take that back. I really just need Articuno, and I will be content. Anybody who knows me knows how much I love Articuno.
  • Steal the Declaration of Independence. If Nicolas Cage can do it, why not me? Security around the one of the two most important documents in the country can't be that tight.
  • Be a contestant on Jeopardy! and spend the entire time flinging nickels at Alex Trebeck's head.
  • Dress like Link and, in Central Park, roll around and begin slicing grass and small shrubberies while shouting, "Yah! Hah! Yah!" Afterward, I'll run to the nearest farm so I can heckle some chickens.
  • Punch Will Ferrell in the face.
  • Win Flight of the Amazon Queen, and while I'm at it, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Beneath a Steel Sky.
  • Construct a cardboard boat. After it is finished, build another one. Don pirate garb. Give pirate garbs to three willing friends. If I am without friends at the time, random strangers will do. Travel to Glen Oak Park, which contains a sizable lake complete with fountain. Do battle on the high seas. After the enemy is vanquished, lead an expedition through the park to where the buried treasure is located.
  • Climb the Eiffel Tower dressed like a condor and fly off, preferably landing in a lake (only if it has a fountain).
  • Punch Keanu Reeves in the face.
  • Hold underground shopping cart drag races in a Kmart.
  • Learn how to play the bagpipes, and buy matching kilt and beret. Grow the compulsory accompanying beard. Memorize Scottish clan war cries. At the next football game, infiltrate the cheerleader squad; the tartan should make my subterfuge infallible. Hijack the cheer routine, and lead the fans in ancient Highland ribaldry.
  • Using a forklift, lift a crate of forks.
  • For one day, replace all the music in a nightclub with Bach. Even for only one day, I'd like to see the philistine denizens of the night life try skank-dancing to his cello suites.
And the last activity on my bucket list?

  • Not watching Lost.

As eccentric as this speed-reading course is, I'm actually looking forward to new exercises that reveal my soul, encourage me throughout the day, and maybe even help me read quicker.

Anyway, DREAMS. Had a Star Wars dream the other day. It's a recurring dream, one of several I experience. The dream itself is complex: all I remember is zipping around in an fighter causing havoc amongst the Imperial fleet. Pretty rad.

And that's it for this post, ladies and gents. So long, and thanks for reading.

3.24.2010

On Indie Games

Having a machine that doesn't run such games as Crysis or Mass Effect 2 without the motherboard exploding into a million delicate pieces is a good thing. It would be awkward to explain to the fatherboard. Moreover, it forces me to take contentment in the smaller and simpler games in the world today. I speak, of course, of indie games: games developed without funding from a video game publisher (such as Bungie).

I've become something of a indie game aficionado lately. Nowadays, finding a great game is a good pick-me-up to the day; they subsequently provides me with (hopefully) an hour or two of diversion.

Let me give you a list of games I've enjoyed so far.

The Chzo Mythos: Well... I've only beaten 5 Days a Stranger, because I have the willpower of a frightened hamster. Made by the one and only Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, this series takes one back to the glory days of point-and-click adventure games. You, the gentleman thief only known as "Trilby," must uncover the secret behind this big cult hullabaloo. It's a worthwhile story, and can be found at http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/games.htm.


This would be difficult to explain to the fatherboard as well.

Today I Die: This is a marvelous game; my brother shares my sentiments. I've already shown it to most of the people I know. So far, only the men have enjoyed playing it. The women have not. Cough.

Featuring a spiffy soundtrack, this game is very intuitive (there's nothing like that inner "aha!" as things make sense) and should last you five minutes. It can be found here: http://www.ludomancy.com/games/today.php.


I apologize for the frustration you will undoubtedly experience.

Cloud: Did you ever want to fly? To soar among the perfect white clouds? Well, now you can watch a blue-haired Asian steal all your innocent joy while he's shepherding clouds like he's a freaking sheep dog. Battle evil dark clouds! Cause thunderstorms! Wish there were NPCs! This is a cute little game that held my attention for around ten minutes. Nowadays I use it to relax. It has soothing music and vivid colors. You can find it at http://cloud.en.softonic.com/ since the original site seems to be down.


Courtesy of USC: Making Children Fly Since 1880.

The Mirror Lied: I'm not going to try to explain this rather unsettling game. I'd give it a A for effort but not much else. If you want it, google it.

Echoes: I stumbled upon this the other day. It is an Asteroid clone faintly similar to Geometry Wars in the sense of colors and explosions so bright they'd make an epileptic pee pure fluorescence. It's a good substitute for the original. You can discover it at http://echoes.en.softonic.com/.

Don't Look Back: Based off the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (which is one of the most depressing stories in the whole arsenal), you can log a good half-hour or so purging the denizens of the underworld (which happen to be a crapload of bats and bouncy things). Also, it boasts a haunting soundtrack. I highly recommend it. You can play it online at http://www.kongregate.com/games/TerryCavanagh/dont-look-back.


Prince of Persia has nothing on this.

I Wanna Be the Guy: The Movie: The Game: Finally, a game for sadomasochists. Without doubt, this is the hardest game you will play, hands down. This is just a small list of the things that can kill you: spikes, blades, apples, anti-gravity apples, gravestones, zombies, the moon, lightning, Mike Tyson, Link (from LoZ), Ryu, Bowser, and ultra-fast-moving Tetris pieces. Consider this clip (CAUTION: contains strong language, and a lot of it [way more than The Boondock Saints]), and you will have a glimpse. It is torture, but fun torture. Not like water-boarding. Find it at http://kayin.pyoko.org/iwbtg/.


Yes, that's you on the right hand side. Good luck.

I hope to compile more games when I come across any that are worth their salt. If you know any worthwhile, please give us a link, yeah?

Post script: I got my ear rinsed out the other day, as I was having mild ear-aches. The clump of wax that emerged resembled a hairball.

So long, and thanks for reading.

3.17.2010

On Doctors

Today, we spelunk the dangers around you. Use this as a handy map next time you encounter someone who has earned a Doctor of Medicine, Science, Philosophy, etc.

No matter how long pretended to concentrate by squinting furiously, I could not find a suitable place for Dr. Strangelove.

So long, and thanks for reading.


3.10.2010

The Story of the Creation of Seasons, As Told by the Ancient Greeks

Hades was sad. The other gods were enjoying themselves, living their carefree lives as if the giants had just been overthrown: Helios was energetically driving his decked-out sun-chariot through the heavens, Artemis was running chastely through the woods in pursuit of a stag like that one scene from The Last of the Mohicans, Poseidon was playing water polo with his son Triton, and Zeus was, well, doing what Zeus usually did. Cough.

No one, however, wanted to play with Hades.

Hades was a great guy--he was just misunderstood. He wasn't really the life of the party. In fact, at Hephaestus' last birthday party, the god of the underworld, drinking a bit too much of Bacchus' wine, raced onstage faster than Kanye West and started giving a stand-up routine. It flopped. No one laughed at his jokes. Athena was the worst--she just about threw a spear at his head. Hades guessed she wasn't really the sort of girl for deadpan humor. She was such a headache.

Dating was even worse. You'd think chicks would be impressed that he sole ruler of a gigantic kingdom. They didn't. He was generous, too. He never turned down a poor soul looking for asylum in his realm. He even flossed. Women just didn't understand.

Even so, Hades wanted a wife who would get his jokes, a wife that he could never grow old with. So, fed up with the whole dating scene, he decided to be a bit more direct and go the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers route. Setting off, he found his brother Zeus and inquired of him where he could find a wife.

"Dude--bro," replied Zeus, "you're the freakin' god of the underworld. Just take the woman you want!" Then, aside, he added, "That's what I do."

Hades thought this was an excellent idea. "Dude, that's an excellent idea. I know just the lady I want."

Zeus nodded, turning away. "Good. Also, put some cologne on," the god said. "You smell like death, and you don't want to scare her even more than you undoubtedly will."

Hades sniffed himself, then sighed in recollection. "Oh, sorry--it's the mung beans."

The object of Hades's affections was a young goddess named Persephone. She was a bit of a loner, but she was clever, kind, and pretty. Several of the gods had tried to win her heart, but one obstacle had always blocked their path, one which Hades would soon circumvent: her mother, Demeter. Demeter guarded her daughter incessantly; Hades thought she did so because Persephone was totally wicked awesome and her mum was under the misguided belief that no man was worthy of such an honor.

So, Hades hatched a harrowing plan. He did so with catchy montage music in the background similar to Ocean's 11 or The Italian Job.

One bright day, Persephone was out picking flowers with some of her girlfriends. They were laughing and giggling and talking about how ironic it would be if Hades suddenly burst forth from the ground when BAM! The ground split open and Hades burst forth from the ground (not unlike Lavos [1999 A.D.]) riding on his pimped-out chariot (which I imagine was a hearse combined with a Hummer combined with pure testosterone). Quick as one of Zeus's thunderbolts, he snatched Persephone, cast a mocking eye to Helios' carriage, and raced back into the earth from whence he came, leaving the poor nymphs utterly gobsmacked.

News travels fast in ancient Greece. Persephone's charming mother soon caught wind of her daughter's kidnapping and went berserk trying to look for her--so much so that she, the goddess of cereal (Frosted Flakes, Life, etc.) and flora, neglected her duties. The world began to die.

Helios had had enough. Nothing much escaped his gaze; he had clearly seen Hades snatch the young girl. He really didn't like to interfere in other people's affairs, but the line had clearly been crossed--his chariot was clearly more awesomer than Hades. He told Demeter exactly what happened.

She stormed to Zeus and demanded the return of her daughter. The mighty god, who had been hearing the dying pleas of his constituents, grudgingly agreed with her. His brother would have to return the goddess to her mother. He sent Hermes, the fastest of the lot, to fetch her.

Persephone, meanwhile, was being lavished upon by the king of the underworld. He had prepared a fine feast for his bride, complete with tender strips of roast beast, steaming dishes of asparagus and carrots, and mashed potatoes (he was a hometown kind-of-guy). But, to his distress, she was quite distraught at being abducted and refused to eat anything.

"Come on, my dear," goaded Hades, "can I not convince you even a pomegranate?" For he knew, that if she ate food of the underworld, she would be forever linked with it. He cooed and cajoled, insisted and inquired, until at last she said,

"Just a couple seeds to quell my appetite."

Boom, thought Hades, just as Hermes fluttered in. The winged god raised an eyebrow at the couple, and spoke.

"Hey, Hades. Just wanted to let you know that, yeah, Demeter's kinda angry at you, and that, yeah, Zeus kinda wants you to return Persephone."

Hope flashed across the young goddess's face, but Hades just laughed. "Well, that's where we have a problem..."

Demeter and Hades soon reached a deal; Persephone would spend half the year with her mother, and the other half in the underworld. Every time the young goddess was with Hades, the vegetation on the earth began to die. When mother and daughter reunited, the world became alive again. And thus began the seasons.

Persephone learned to enjoy Hade's company, although it is still unclear if she laughed at his jokes. Regardless, Hades found himself a woman, and Persephone never looked at pomegranates the same way again. A truly happy ending.

So long, and thanks for reading.

3.04.2010

On Stream of Consciousness

It's okay, my friends--I'm sorry about having to make you wait for this wall post like fans waiting for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know you've come to expect these ravishingly ingenious posts the same way I expect Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, a new Yahtzee review, and a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs. And so, dear friends, I heartily apologize for this belated commentary.

Today, I figured that I would talk about using stream of consciousness. This is a literary device wherein the author writes the equivalent of the thoughts of a character; usually this is in the form of an interior monologue. Coincidentally, it's also the title of a The Outer Limits episode.

You know, The Outer Limits does not at all remind me of my Monday, but I need a transitional sentence for optimal flow. Monday, instead of doing something productive such as washing the dishes or working on improving my weaker drumming hand, I watched a PBS documentary on assisted suicide. I would definitely compare it to driving by a car accident in the sense that watching it was awful (I felt my soul grow old, shrivel, and evaporate) but I could not, for the life of me, peel my eyes away from it. So, for an hour, I journeyed alongside this poor old man as he made a decision to end his life, go through the process and paperwork of it all, drink the deathly concoction, and die. Yes. They filmed it.

That was my Monday.

Monday was also important because my literature class finished reading Jane Eyre, which means only one thing: Faulkner is next on the menu. Ever since reading "Barn Burning," I have avoided his works like it was coughing up the bubonic plague. I do hold him in high disdain; however, I may just have an aversion for authors with actual literary talent. Who knows. In any case, I will have to read As I Lay Dying whether I like it or not.

As I recall, "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" contained elements of stream of consciousness.

As I write this post, I am looping my playlist between Anathallo's "Italo" and Passion Pit's "Little Secrets." I have been doing this for the past hour, and I have had both songs stuck in my head for an entire month, and still I have not grown tired of them. They are truly wonderful.

The other day, I watched Blade Runner. My brother, an aspiring film snob (as he called himself), suggested it offhandedly in a conversation. Well, I watched it. It was okay. A well-made film for its time, but nothing compared to Manos: The Hands of Fate.

The best way to write in stream of consciousness is to let your mind wander. For instance, I'm not even sure if I should qualify this topic as a genuine, bona fide post, because I feel it gives me complete complacency when it comes to coherency. In other words, it's just a gigantic fluff ball of nothingness.

I would tend to agree with myself on this issue.

Oh! One more thing about Monday. Monday night, I had the most marvelous dream: I had Edward Elric's alchemical powers coupled, mind you, with a wand from the Harry Potter universe. So, while I was busy transmuting trees into giant fists that demolished my enemies (which happened to be orcish creatures with wings), I was busy casting Incendio spells every which way. It was marvelous.

And that, dear friends, is streaming your consciousness.

So long, and thanks for reading.