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Once upon a time, a year prior to a certain bombing of a certain harbor named after the June birthstone and Roosevelt still ruled over our fair republic with an iron fist, a clumsy teenager named Archie Andrews was crapped out on the comics stage as the retarded brainchild of a man with the rather dubious name of "Bob Montana". For over 60 years, the badly written, poorly illustrated and cheaply printed Archie Comics is still churned out monthly. Like buttermilk, nobody knows who consumes it, but somebody's got to, because they sell it.
Well, actually, I take that back. That's my churlish Internets persona talking, the spawn of a 21st century irony, a childhood where Archie's Riverdale was a hopelessly backwards neverland of malt shops, Model T jalopy races and that weird crown-hat-beanie thing that Jughead wears. Truth be told, I have something of a fondness for the absolute brainless mush of Archie and Pals, and I'm known to occasionally pick up a digest. That they're called "digests" is somewhat bizarre, since "digest" implies that somewhere there are individual copies bought and sold on a regular basis.
Still, there's an art to reading Archie Comics. First off, you must know the rules of this strange little continuity:
- Archie as a teenager in school exists concurrently with Little Archie, Paranormal Investigator Archie, and whatever the hell happens over in the "New Dynamic Look" Archie. Time is always subjective, but usually at least 15 years behind the current fads. You know something is no longer cool the second Betty adopts it: they're just now getting in-line skates.
- Archie and friends are basically commedia dell'arte interchangeable characters. In one story, Archie can simultaneously be the most popular kid in school and an utter graceless buffoon. Do not try to rationalize characterization. You will fail.
- Archie exists in a permanent purgatory, which he can never escape, no matter how hard he tries. Jughead is the omniscient overlord of this universe. Betty and Veronica are his tormenting demon-harpies, ripping his flesh off and his heart out daily. Like Phantasm, Archie thinks it will all be over when he dies, but in truth he reincarnates as a hideous troll being named Little Archie and the process starts over again. Actually, the Phantasm motif is pretty constant throughout, only Veronica's father is Angus Scrimm.
- Archie has met The Punisher. And it was played straight without the slightest ounce of irony. Even weirder, Riverdale was The Punisher's first stop on the way to Gotham City. Figure that out.
This month, however, it has been announced that Archie will finally choose between Betty and Veronica, and he has chosen Veronica. This has happened before, although not with rings, with one of the greatest cop-outs in history: Cheryl Blossom. While I won't go into the details of the inane Cheryl Blossom's dunderheaded existence, just suffice it to say that it was bad. 61 years in perpetual adolescence and finally the eternally chaste Archie is going to get some.
I can't help but think he's making an enormous mistake. I guess it's not my Hell to live. Unlike Gilligan, who had the Skipper to fall back on when forced to choose between the down-to-Earth Mary Ann and the sultry (but utterly unlikeable) Ginger, Archie has not only Betty and Veronica to choose, but also had to weed out such non-runners as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats.
However, in these woeful economic times, maybe Archie is making a good choice. Veronica is wealthy and clearly capable of keeping him in chocolate malts and sweater vests for the rest of his unholy and miserable existence. Archie's life is almost Miltonian in agony. Any small bit of comfort he can get is probably more than enough to keep him from staring into the brutal realization that Jughead is the unflinching demi-lich Acererak in his own personal Tomb of Horrors.
I think I have sufficiently pumped more nerd in this opine than has ever been delved. Feel free to print it out and shellac it to a chair for future generations to behold.
Ultimately, I suppose that I have a soft shell for Archie because no matter how hard it tried, it still never changed. It was a solid rock of stasis in a steady stream of cultural devolution. I'm not sure I feel comfortable with Archie Andrews having a sex life (although I suppose... no... premarital sex has clearly never been an option for the poor guy, although I'm sure there are plenty of pics on /y/ about it). I don't think the world is ready for the the sex-howl that shook Riverdale.
Being a success on the internet should be like the equivalent of waking up one morning as Quasimodo: people should be throwing rotten cabbages at you as you are wheeled down the streets, you should be chased into cathedrals with pitchforks and torches, you should be found dead in a Parisian catacomb, clutching the dessicated corpse of your beloved Gypsy woman of choice.
You should never want internet success. This is why the internet sucks, and blogging sucks, and Twitter sucks, and everything sucks and you suck and I suck. Sucky sucky suckaroo Magoo.
First off, the lack of journalistic ethics is somewhat dumbfounding in the blogging community. Do they still call it "blogging" now? It seems like that would be one of those terms that would be outdated 5 days after it's coined, like "Surfing the Information Superhighway" was circa 1994. Blogging requires absolutely no training, no statement of sources, and relies almost solely on gossip and hearsay. If you're a conservative blogger, 99% of your "articles" will be thinly cribbed Free Republic rants. If you're a liberal blogger, 98% of your "articles will be thinly cribbed Huffington Post rants. Yes, you're 1% better than conservatives, libbies. If you're like me, and you are an e/n opine writer, a full 100% of everything you say or do has already been covered by Seanbaby and Matt Carracappa in 1998, or if you're very clever maybe you can slide in some Charlie Brooker and hope nobody notices your source, and you dread the inevitable when Brooker finds your blog and mercilessly reams you on Screenburn.
The agonizingly annoying thing about blogging, from the perspective of reading, is that so many bloggers actively push the idea that they somehow found these sources themselves. Everybody in the show really does think they're that interesting. Even worse, bloggers have a tendency to supply each other with ego boosts. The highest goal of your average low-on-the-totem-pole blogger (sup?) is to get linked on Kotaku or Wonkette or whatever your favorite blog happens to be, which fill their daily crap quotient linking to other blogs. It's a vicious circle, inescapable except by just not caring.
Second, just not caring.
You're not allowed to be seen caring what other people read on your blog, all the while actually caring what everybody thinks about it. There's the tendency toward the Geocities Site Hit Paradox. If you mention you want site hits, they never come. Nobody wants to read the opinions of a shameless hit gigolo. It's sort of a subtle undercurrent of etiquette that sort of reminds me of the various unstated court politics of the Gormenghast novels. We're all a bunch of toadying fops, standing around waving lacy handkerchiefs and hoping, praying that somebody will notice how much we don't care if they notice us.
It's always amazed me how similar horror is to comedy. For example, attempting to present horror on television is an incredibly difficult thing to pass by the network Standards and Practices, since horror is based on shocks, exploiting existing social mores, and imagery that some might consider to be offensive. Horror makes us uncomfortable, because horror shows us what it is we DON'T like. To work successfully, horror needs to be a reaction to what the majority of society rejects.
Vampires, for instance, have ceased to be horrifying to us. Originally, Dracula was a horrifyng example of what people in the 1890s West found scary: backwards and corrupt aristocracy, the liberated woman, the fear of sexually transmitted diseases, and the breakdown of the established post-Enlightenment social order. Dracula was scary because he was all the things the 1890s gentleman might find repellent. Frankenstein's monster, similarly, was a manifestation of early 19th century's worries about the amorality of the inevitable extensions of the Age of Reason's search for progress, and there is a very good reason why it took the wife of the second most prominent British Romantic to write it. The monster represents authority gone wrong, authority that translates into fear, because we have to deal with it.
Like monsters, comedy requires a working knowledge of what it is the majority of the audience finds valuable. Comedians and monsters both rely upon the knowledge of communal truths to operate successfully. The comedian is a living monster, only one we want to know, instead of one we don't. We invite the comedian to make us laugh by pointing out the things we know to be true. Jon Stewart and the kids from South Park are characters that ask questions and speak to authority, questioning it. In the circus, clowns are divided into White Face and Auguste (Red Nose), the two primary characters of the circus clown system. White Face represents the character who makes us laugh because he's smarter than the system, Auguste represents the character who rebels against that system. White Face usually takes the pie to the face, and Auguste usually throws it.
The interesting interplay between Batman and his nemesis, The Joker, reflects this weird dichotomy. Batman is a force of authority outside of the control of mundane confines, and The Joker is a reaction in the opposite extreme, the ultimate avatar of chaos. Horror and comedy meet, and because they are so thinly delineated, they become compelling. The 1960s Batman show was an example of taming the horror... the 1960s culture was no longer afraid of authority, and so Batman became a source of comedy. It wasn't until the Reaganite/Thatcher era that authority became something to be scared of again, and Batman took on new relevance, and The Joker returned to his psychotic roots.
The worst thing in the world is when attempts at comedy don't even try to question authority. Circus clowns have ceased to be funny because they are now a cultural institution, completely unresponsive to the desires of the audience, and have mutated into a common childhood phobia. Whereas generations ago, the clown might have been a visual grotesque, it has now become an uncomfortable form of stasis. The clown hasn't had innovation in nearly a century, and ceases to be amusing.
Comedy Central's Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire is a bit like the circus clown. It's a painfully enormous, overwrought and too desperate exercise in nerd-fan-wankery, of the kind that usually happens in bad sprite comics. I can only assume that Comedy Central assumed they were going to get a Blackadder-esque romp through High Fantasy, but what they got was... something else entirely.
The concept is that Krod Mandoon is the Mary Sue of somebody, and the story is about his team of D&D adventurers of various offensive cultural stereotypes trying to take down the evil and cackling Chancellor Dongolor, played by Matt Lucas, the tedious half-star of Little Britain. Yes, "Krod" is "dork" spelled backwards, and "Dongolor" is a name that basically represents the high-water level of comedy you're going to expect here. Like every good D&D party, there's the dumbfoundingly black wizard, the teenage sex fantasy rogue, a wacky half-human sidekick and, yes, the gay cleric.
Little Britain, by the way, is basically an exercise in which two Oxbridge graduates mock those who need the least mockery: the poor, the gay, and the mentally challenged. The show is utterly puerile trash of the highest order, and yet Krod Mandoon seems to top it. It's really quite amazing if examined from a purely humorless, ironic level. It's basically the Hoover Dam of Unfunny, a gigantic structure built solely to restrain funny from bursting forth.
The whole of Krod Mandoon consists in playing up various high fantasy/D&D tropes, while not doing any of them very well. Krod Mandoon, played by Sean Maguire, is a very well acted source of physical buffoonery, but because Sean Maguire is so damningly attractive, the comedy is short lived. Half the first episode consists of Krod, shirtless to expose the admittedly splendid torso of Mr. Maguire, berating his astoundingly attractive girlfriend for wearing a skimpy costume. If Krod was a little less attractive, and his girlfriend a little less sexy, the conceit would work. Instead, we get an episode of The OC in the middle of what is essentially a parody of Xena:Warrior Princess.
The villain, Dongolor, sits in his palace most of the show and much of his "comedy" revolves around him killing various henchmen non-chalantly as he explains, ad nauseum, how he was more popular than Krod in school. Dongolor would be an interesting character if he wasn't so fucking annoying and plagiaristic. He's basically a word-for-word rip-off of Mike Myers' Doctor Evil, and Matt Lucas' horrendously unlikable sort of comic whinginess is so stupidly painful to watch that it just comes off as agonizing.
The whole show is like this... we're supposed to identify with Krod, who is clearly the Mary Sue character of a fairly interesting, yet unseen, 17 year old nerd. His friends are the characters that a particularly unimaginative group of tabletop gamers would roll up in 20 minutes, and the villains are so ridiculously ugly and sociopathic (yet played for laughs) that they're just as, if not more so, unfunny.
The offensiveness of the supporting cast is at a level unseen. For example, the black wizard is so urban that every word he says is in a Chris Rock impression. The gay character, named Bruce (of fucking course), is mincing and limp-wristed, and so annoying that it becomes even worse when Krod displays obvious homophobic behavior around him. Even Reno 911, which thrives on the consistent mincing behavior of the outrageously funny Lieutenant Dangle, justifies this transgressive comedy by making Dangle the most intelligent and relatable character in the cast. Not so here. Krod seems utterly broken that Bruce is the prison boyfriend of his beloved mentor, and makes repeated pointed remarks about not wanting him around. If these are the characters of unseen D&D players, they're all very young, very shielded, and likely living in Orem, Utah.
The crux of this litany is this: comedy, in the case of Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, has been flipped on its ass and has turned into horror. Authority isn't questioned in this show. The whole show sneers down, as if through the monocle of a 17th century fop, at those who society has mocked for so long and so hard. Racism, homophobia and sexism isn't questioned, it's encouraged by the character of Krod, who has no problem whatsoever engaging in all three at once while the writers try to cast him as a sensitive character. For a network that has some of the most progressive and thought-provoking shows in current rotation, this is just unbelievably painful, not even hitting the level of transgression that it thinks it's aiming for. Staring at this brutally and unrelentingly anti-comedy "comedy" is an instance in staring straight into the face of Hannibal Lector, who is juggling and telling knock-knock jokes, or possibly a jaw-droppingly bizarre re-edit of the Masters of the Universe movie.
It actually took me the better part of six months to track down Nester, the mascot for Nintendo Power magazine between 1989 and 1993. The first attempt to contact him, via his agent, ended in disaster when it turned out that the address given me was actually a slaughterhouse in Arizona. After hiring a private detective (at Chris' personal expense no less... whatta guy), we finally tracked down the man that for four years stood as the gateway between the obfuscated world of Nintendo's products and the common man.
Facing Nester is an exercise in suspension of expectation. He is a broad, bespectacled man in his early 30s, the only remnant of his child-star presence being the roundish head that made him famous. I catch up with him at an undisclosed location in Tacoma, Washington.
SECKSCAB: It's been twenty years since you premiered in Nintendo Power, as a sidekick to Howard Philips in the "Howard and Nester" comic. Do you still keep in contact with Howard?
NESTER: Sadly no. I haven't seen him since he left Nintendo in 1991. I heard he was working for Lucasarts.
SECKSCAB: Apparently. Wikipedia agrees.
NESTER: I never got to say goodbye. One day he was polishing the gigantic brass Shigeru Miyamoto statue, and the next day he was gone. His desk was completely atomized, after blinking three times.
SECKSCAB: That's... odd.
NESTER: It was like he never existed. Or if he had, it was like he was killed with the Silver Arrows.
SECKSCAB: Were there any other strange occurrences at Nintendo that you can recall?
NESTER: I don't really want to talk about what they did to Donkey Kong.
SECKSCAB: So, you left Nintendo in 1993. What have you been doing since then?
NESTER: Just trying to keep afloat, I guess. We try to keep things turning here in Nester Headquarters. I did return on a consultancy basis in 1996 for Nester's Funky Bowling on the Virtual Boy.
SECKSCAB: I'm sorry, I was not aware...
NESTER: Not many are, sadly. Michael Jackson was the only one who pre-ordered it.
SECKSCAB: Really? Did he send you a note or anything?
NESTER: I think he was dismayed at the "Virtual Boy" not exactly turning out to be what his imagination assumed it to be.
Nester sips the cup of coffee that I purchased him, and looks somewhat saddened.
SECKSCAB: What was the high point of your stardom?
NESTER: Referring to my genitals as "The Rumble Pak".
NESTER: Feel free to use that. Hasn't worked for me in fifteen years.
SECKSCAB: Do you still play video games?
NESTER: I do, yes. I have a Death Knight on Ethelon named "AwesomeKillz", if anyone wants to hit me up. We have a Tabard now. Now accepting all classes and levels, seeking serious players with no drama.
SECKSCAB: So you like World of Warcraft?
NESTER: Keeps me busy, ever since my wife left me. It's just me and the WoW and the Social Security Administration these days.
SECKSCAB: I'm sorry, I was not aware you were married.
NESTER: Twice. I have a son now, Lester.
SECKSCAB: How old is he?
NESTER: He's four years old, (Amy Schultz; localization editor for HAL) is keeping him hostage for the time being. Apparently I'm a "deadbeat dad". So the judge says.
SECKSCAB: That's... er... what was your favorite game you ever reviewed?
NESTER: What the hell does it matter, man? It's all blown to Hell. It's all over. Nester the man is a broken shell and a failure. A heartbroken supertanker full of misery and regret. My spirit has been crushed, every day is a roaring success if I can find the gin.
SECKSCAB: I had no idea.
NESTER: I'm kind of bleak these days.
NESTER: No need to be snarky, man. I know the score. I know the motherfucking score. There's something fishy going on in Maniac Mansion. Grab the remote control on the third floor to summon Robo-Duck. It's a bad night for a curse. Dodongo dislikes smoke.
Nester is nodding back and forth oddly, as if his whole equilibrium is off.
SECKSCAB: So then, do you have any projects for the future? Anything that the fans of Nester would like to hear about?
NESTER: I am going to lay a gigantic dook in about an hour. Inform the press. I will accept the laudatory praise of the universe with all due humility.
With his fifteen minutes up, Nester returns to the Suncoast Video where I found him lurking.
It's true. I don't like to play World of Warcraft. I know it's been available for something like 5 years now, but I just finally downloaded the free trial last week, and I played my 10 days, and now I'm done.
Maybe someday I'll come back, but I was somewhat disenchanted early on. I started as an Undead Warlock, which maybe wasn't the best choice. As I kept playing, I quickly discovered that I had to press about 18 buttons all in exact casting order, tell my minion what to do, and make sure that the dude I'm killing dies when I throw off a certain spell so I can make "Soul Shards".
It was sort of bizarre. The most annoying thing is that I spent about fifteen hours traversing Brill and the skeleton infested hills of Doomy Swampy Scary Land, carrying the bassist from Oingo Boingo's skull around, desperately trying to bury it. I had tried every grave I saw, and nobody told me there was a graveyard behind the chapel. By the time I finally buried the fucking skull, I was about Level 8.
I also didn't die until I hit Level 10. I felt that was somewhat odd.
So, growing bored of my Zombie Warlock, I tried an Orc, which was really fucking dull as hell. I was in a neon orange valley that looked like Duckburg 200 years after the nuke dropped.
Eventually, I discovered the only quest I was interested in, which was the seasonal easter egg hunt. Bear in mind that I had already done the exact same thing in Animal Crossing a week earlier, and I did it splendidly. I got a full set of the Easter Egg furniture.
It then became obvious that building a WoW character is a lot like Animal Crossing, in that you're supposed to do a lot of things: killing 20 centaurs, finding a walrus a red snapper, killing 20 gnolls, planting flowers and trying to breed a blue rose, sending a party of 40 characters to kill a dragon, sending a party of 40 characters to kill Krazy Redd. They're very similar games, really.
I think the deal-sealer was that Nintendo sent me an in-game couch for my in-game house, shaped like a Nintendo DSi. The week previous, I got a red Pikmin hat, and before that was a green St. Patricks hat.
You see, I happen to like that Animal Crossing has no levels or ways to kill characters or anything like that. World of Warcraft does appeal to my desire to collect absolutely everything in the game to see what they do, but the problem is that I have to kill 4,000,000 zombies to do it.
If you want to see the future, Winston, it's Tom Nook's foot, smashing into your face, over and over and over again.
It's not that Animal Crossing doesn't have flaws. The Wii version is the same damn game as all the others, with a few annoying tics to make a learning curve inherent. For example, players and animals build trails based on where they walk most. It took me a few weeks until I realized that my entire village was beginning to look like Planet Arrakis. I now have been spending every last Bell on flowers, the only way to reseed your village's brown.
So, despite Animal Crossing being a flawed game, it's still way more fun than World of Warcraft. Of course, I'm deeply disturbed, and Animal Crossing is the video game equivalent of a padded looney bin cell, where absolutely nothing can possibly be a stressor, so it might, just might, not be for you.
I am willing to paint you a ghost, in watercolor, and mail it to you. WHAT IS THE CATCH? You must immediately email afterwards and tell me HOW, WHEN, WHERE AND WHY this ghost died, and provide me with an EXTRA SPOOKY NAME for said horror. Image and description will then be published on a forthcoming blog!
posted by SecksCab on February 16, 2009 12:17 AM in
Chris and I have been laughing about this one for years. 1998, the year I graduated from high school, and three years until we even met each other, yet within a week of knowing each other in college, Chris and I were doing impressions of this long-forgotten oddity on a nearly daily basis.
"KABOOM! BALL LIGHTNING!"
I had assumed footage of this lameness had been lost to the sands of the fogs of the mists of the winding scrolls of the sands of time, but thanks to YouTube, we now have proof that we were just really drunk at the time.
Sad to say, the kid who lost that tournament made more money than anyone on the Weekly Geek staff has ever seen.
Among my obsessions is a certain penchant for things biographical, i.e. books, and this year I treated myself to a Christmas present: a biography on Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan revolutionary who chopped off the head of the sitting monarch, declared himself the dictatorial "Lord Protector" and assured, by his death, that North America, especially the colonies that would later become the United States, would pretty much be the chosen end-location for all the world's violently deluded Millenialist religious dogmatists who basically give us exactly the reputation we deserve these days as the global asshats and cockends that we allow to manipulate themselves into office.
Sadly, the days of this particular generation's Oliver Cromwells are waning down, and if you can stand to believe it, we have less than a month left of Republican rule over our spatial area. I understand that non-Americans read this site, but this one is primarily directed at the Yanks.
Alright, it's been awhile since I typed in here. I notice that in my absence Chris has re-papered the green room, the snacks are a little better and there's a weird little Vietnamese man in the bathroom who keeps handing me towels. Odd... in my absence, things seem to have gotten better.
I am unnerved by this.
Anyway, what have I been doing while I was away? Well, I have been writing for a certain tabletop gaming company with a particularly angsty reputation and creepy fan base. It may possibly rhyme with "Bright Brolf". Or "Blight Blolf". Or "Gravewight Gravewolf". Yes, I've been writing away at vampires. Like you, Iiiiiiii wasssss oooooonce a maaaaan. Oh well. I'll just go on ahead and sadly admit that unlike the rest of the Weekly Geeks, I am more interested in tabletop than video games. I'm like the Spiritomb on the team of Pikachus.
Be warned: you're about to read some of the geekiest words ever written. I hope you enjoy them.
5. The Vampire Clanbooks
Technically, this should be higher on the list, but I can't in all good conscience put it higher because I assisted in making them. Apparently I'm told this is "Journalistic Integrity" but the truth is that I'm just incredibly embarrassed. Saying you work on Vampire: The Requiem is almost like admitting you write the letters for Penthouse Forum.
There's one thing you need to know about the Vampire: The Requiem series: you should never be seen reading them in public, ever. I made the mistake of reading one on the bus once, and this weird, creepy guy dressed in black with all these strange buckles all over the place sat next to me and started talking. The worst part was he had a teardrop tattoo under his eye. I hadn't the nerve to tell him that I doubted he actually killed a man in prison, but I figured that I might be wrong, and the worst sort of thing you want to say to somebody with a teardrop eye tattoo is that you doubt they killed somebody. What if I'm wrong? He could have shanked me right there with a sharpened spoon or something.
Anyway, creepy guy just started talking. Endlessly. He started telling me about his character and how awesome it was and then he started telling me he was a poet and he just went on to his hopes and dreams right there. Oh, and to make matters worse, he told me that The Temple of the Vampire was always looking for recruits. Then he left.
Anyway, turns out my hometown of Olympia is the home of the "Temple of the Vampire," and now I'm just kind of weirded out about the whole thing. They could be watching me type this right now with a Palantir. Don't they know that's a bad idea? Sauron could be watching!
So, yes, the clanbooks. White Wolf's experiment in awesome. These puppies are slick: full color, 90% artifact text, no tedious rules-crunch to get in the way, and while you're reading them you forget they're gaming books. They are really clever, well written vampire novels. The gimmick is that these are supposed to be the "dossiers" of various young vampires trying to unravel the secrets of their clans, which are basically a White Wolf specific trope that divides "vampires" into "five different kinds of vampires," each with a separate history and origin story. I think it's neat.
These books are gorgeous. I cannot stress that enough. They shine as something really special from across the gaming store. If you like vampires but have never played Requiem, these are still readable alone. That's how weird and awesome they are.
4. Legend of the Five Rings 3.0
L5R is a unique case in the history of tabletop. It started out as a collectible card game, a bit like Magic: The Gathering, but M:tG is based on Dungeons and Dragons, a tabletop game. L5R flipped that. The L5R tabletop is exquisite, full of tons of elegant and simple maneuvers that make a really special game. L5R 2.0 was owned by Wizards of the Coast, and the idea was that they'd take the L5R universe and turn it into a d20 showcase project, revamping the Gygax-written "Oriental Adventures" module for the 90s.
Unfortunately, New Oriental Adventures turned out to be a disaster. They combined the d10 "Roll and Keep" rules of the first edition with the new d20 rules, printing them side by side, in possibly the most confusing corebook ever devised. So confusing, in fact, that I refused to play, despite loving the setting and the player-driven background. It was just too confusing.
Thankfully, somehow, Wizards of the Coast let L5R go, and shortly thereafter 3.0 was written. The Samurais-and-Sorcery genre was reborn. I cannot stress how much I love this game, it's seriously the most beautiful and well-designed game I have ever played. The rules are whip-snap-quick to learn, and feature a unique "Raise" system, where players can wager points in exchange for doing something really cool/epic (like kung fu moves, summoning kami, etc.). It is really amazing and I suggest it to any new tabletop player. It works splendidly.
3. Dungeons and Dragons 4.0
Again, a persnickety spot to place this one, but this is a really special entry. The oldest rpg in existence got it's 4th iteration this year, and it has basically become the most contentious thing in non-video gaming history ever.
Basically, blame it on World of Warcraft. For the first time, Wizards of the Coast was facing the first real threat from video gaming, something that hasn't ever really been a problem. Traditionally, video gamers and tabletop players are the same people, so what happens in one doesn't necessarily affect the other, but WoW really did bite into Dungeons and Dragons' player base. I, personally, noticed it pretty early on. My players were calling in, saying they couldn't play, they were raiding. I had no problem with it, since I can always play a game even if it's with one player. That said, weird situations started to creep in, and it seems that Wizards of the Coast noticed it fast. White Wolf responded by buying the rights to the World of Warcraft tabletop, which is sort of lamebrained when you think about it. Who wants to play a tabletop of a video game (and vice versa, they're just not really popular)?
Wooza wuzza, the end result of D&D 4.0 turned out to be a bit odd. Things were a little bit more archetypical, and a little less full of Gygax-isms. The Bard was gone, the most notable change, my favorite class.
I like Bards, and I need to digress here while I explain why I do. If you don't know what a Bard is, a Bard is a D&D class that completely, utterly and absolutely destroys the concept of the Rogue. They cancel each other out. The Rogue is a sneaky, silent but deadly killer that specializes in scouting and stabbing other people in the back. The Bard is loud, obnoxious and largely incapable of doing anything with any degree of subtlety whatsoever. Players of Bards and players of Rogues generally have diametrically opposed gaming styles and, to be honest, both of us are completely annoying to the more "normal" players who like to play Fighters or Wizards. We're the "flavor" classes.
The Bards of 3.5 were a sort of cuddlefied version of the Epic Bard, a prestige class from the original AD&D, which required a character to have 15 levels in both Fighter and Wizard. Generally, that's at least a 6 year long campaign character. The theory behind the Epic Bard was that he'd old and has seen everything there is to see, so the character steps back a bit and leads other characters to glory. Fair enough. The 3.5 Bards, however, were generally loutish, deliberately zany characters that had the advantage of the Bardic Knowledge skill, which basically turned the character into a walking encyclopedia. Every single time I played one I ended up leading the party, but basically just because I was the only one who had the faintest idea where we were supposed to go in the first place, and 99% of the fun I had was in keeping the Rogues from doing their jobs. Oh, they hated me. And I loved that they hated me.
I'm not against 4.0, in fact, I hold the weird belief that just because the publisher has moved on doesn't mean the books need to be taken off the shelf and burned. I look forward to playing 4.0 and maybe trying something new. Still, I miss you, Bardy McBarderson. May Valhalla treat you well.
2. The "New" and "Improved" Settlers of Catan Miniatures
They can't all be gold, folks, and this one just boggles my mind. I saw these the other day at the gaming shop and my head hurt. Basically, imagine the simple, brilliant grace of Settlers of Catan, that quirky and Germanic board (or is it tile?) game, only mixed with the idiotic "Cranked to 11" aesthetic of Warhammer 40k. It's a set of miniatures for your Catan game that look vaguely like all those little bits and pieces of metal and plastic that are glued to the model of the Millennium Falcon. Nobody really knows what they are supposed to be, they don't contribute anything to the game, and you're supposed to take time out of your precious day playing video games, smoking illegal stimulants and fucking to put them together.
Well, maybe not the last one, since the sort of people who would enjoy this aren't likely to get much at all. Funnily enough though, every guy I've ever met who likes Settlers of Catan is in a relationship, since it's common knowledge that women like this game. That's a certifiable fact that you can take to the bank. You know the fastest way to remove that demographic from the game?
Mix it with a miniatures game.
Miniatures = virgins. Proven. Women hate miniatures, you will never see a woman anywhere within 500 feet of a Games Workshop unless there's a Bath and Body Works immediately adjacent, and introducing miniatures into your cross-demographic game is only dooming it. Seriously.
God damn do I hate miniatures players.
1. The Death of Gary Gygax and the Retirement of Monte Cook
Really, both are sad but when slammed together they make a supernova of depressing news that is unheard of in the whole of gaming history. I don't know what I can really write about it except both are really sad and we can only hope somebody jumps in and takes the mantle for themselves. That sad, likely not.
The Weekly Geek doesn't get political often, but it should be said that we're all progressive (we don't use the slur term "Liberal" that Bush Sr. invented). Since we're also a blog, we occasionally see things that normal media don't, and I found this on Youtube this morning and am shocked it isn't plastered all over the news. Sarah Palin, praying for a pipeline (since those only go to Christians, apparently).
What is worse? A sincere Fundie or an insincere Fundie?
This episode of The Mind Boggleth isn't devoted to a central theme, as it's been a fairly busy week here at Seckscab Inc. I was recently "released" from my job as a picture framer, only to find another identical job at a different outfit, so I have a few weeks unpaid vacation between jobs. This is the advantage of having a skilled trade, I imagine. Somebody, somewhere, is going to need my services at any given time. Picture framing is hardly strenuous work, it's fairly tedious and requires a lot of fine motor skills and attention to detail, so not many people stick with it long enough to learn the details of the job. Add into it the reality that there aren't any colleges who teach picture framing as a major (I had a few seminars in college about general gallery prep, but nothing really specific to how to put the frames together) and I suddenly realize, at the age of 28, that I finally have something to trade goods and services for monetarily.
It's a good feeling, and I suggest to anybody, like me, who hates desk jobs and hates labor work to find a niche service and learn it by rote. Your brain becomes detached from the job and you're free to have remarkable flights of fancy in your head while slaving away, and you develop a sincere case of bipolar syndrome. Not only am I the president of Insane Niche Trade Destined To Drive You To Drink Club For Men, I'm also a member!
While I'm enjoying these few weeks off, I settled in to play the newest installment in the Final Fantasy Ivalice Alliance series, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2. When we last left Ivalice Alliance, Vaan and Penelo were in an annoying Warcraft real time combat environment that involved summoning everything under the sun to kill bosses that are infinitely more powerful than your characters will ever be. If you kill them, it's generally through a combination of luck combined with sheer balls-out lack of strategy.
I was surprised, quite surprisingly, too, in the depth of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2, especially since the first FFTA annoyed the ever loving shit stones out of me. FFTA2 is still annoying at times, but it seems to be of superior mettle. The main plot is far too child-friendly for most adults to get enthralled with (something about an evil clan that wants to rule Ivalice by use of some crazy dimensional rift thing... I dunno, you tell me). What really seals the deal is not the main plot but the various subplots that weave back and forth over 300 quests to build an incredibly funny, character rich, almost Cervantes-esque series of episodes.
One plot arc, possibly my favorite plot arc in anything ever, involves bringing various potions and thingums to a zombie who is trying to commit suicide. If you know the Final Fantasy universe at least in a rudimentary way, the undead are harmed by "White Magic", which is anything that heals HP or MP to living creatures. The plot brings back the suicidal zombie several times, and you get to learn her little story and eventually find a way to bring her back to life, at which point you win a new super-character with lots of love in it. Another plot arc, involving a rival clan from another country who doesn't understand the rules of Ivalice's judge system, moves into your turf and tries to take it over, mafia style.
All in all, if you are a gamer that likes a good laugh and building your characters with the care and attention of a Pokemon Trainer, FFTA2 is your best bet. If you're one of those burly manly-men over at the Xbox playtesting who demand bigger guns, it's maybe not for you. I dunno, I like my games cute and without much depth that I can come back to again and again and check in to see how my d00ds are. FFTA2 fits that bill. I've still got 150 quests to go, even after beating the main plot. I can't wait to unlock them all.
On a complete different note, somebody sent me a link to the Vatican Gift Shop, which offers a peculiar service. Anything can be blessed by the Pope himself for no extra charge, as long as you bought it from them. The gift shop sells enough religious shlock to raise Martin Luther from the dead in rage, but the kicker is that you can have a mousepad bearing adorable Botticelli cherubs BLESSED BY THE POPE. Imagine taking that one to the office on a Monday. And then imagine me as both of your snarky coworkers.
YOU: "Hey guys, my mousepad has been blessed by the Pope. I have signed certificate that says so!"
COWORKER #1: That must be a clerical error!
COWORKER #2: What a nun sequiter!
COWORKER #1: A goddamn cloisterfuck, that's what it is.
COWORKER #2: What'd he do? Wimple out?
COWORKER #1: You're not making this a habit, are you?
COWORKER #2: Quit this bull and take some collars! We can't be Latin starting this Mass of work we've got!
YOU: That last one didn't quite work out.
COWORKER #2: Cardinal since when do I care?
And, lastly, from blessings to blasphemies, we here at the Weekly Geek get a lot of emails begging us to plug shlock. Sometimes it's useful, like when Chris got free beanbag chairs and then forgot to write an article about them, or when Qais got an "intimate massager" and the only thing we heard about it later was a slight buzzing sound as he walked by, here at the palatial Weekly Geek Plaza. That said, probably the worst, least informed attempt at a Plugola/Payola was this week, as a porn site offered us free admittance if we linked them.
Chris runs a tight ship, as well as tight pants, and he tries to keep things as PG-13 as possible. Why he lets me, with a terminal case of Tourette's FUCK ASS COCK, write is beyond me. Still, I'll be damned if he lets me review a porn site on the Weekly Geek.
Trust me, I asked if I could. I explained that it is engaging, well designed and has some of the hottest barely legal vaginas in hardcore scenes with big black studs that will BLOW YOUR MIND, but he would have none of it. He was simply adamant, like the members of the biggest stars the porn industry could summon on the very self-same site, but there was nothing doing. And doing is what they specialize! Lots of doing! Doing it in every position, variation and costume you sick little perverts could possibly get off on!
I just hope they use a condomine patrias et sancte filias.
Things were a lot simpler 22 years ago, weren't they?
Saturday Morning Cartoons were still on until noon, there was no Disney Afternoon yet and pop can openings were pretty small and not yet to their "X-Treem" levels of wideness introduced in the winter of 1999 to address the reality that we, the consumers, simply weren't doing the Dew hard enough. Yes, these were the days of hardcore pay-per-view Shelley Duvall action, the heady months of April O'Neil showing us the first popping cleavage on afternoon television, and the lagging, long-toothed seasons of A.L.F.
Of course, Lucasarts had had a hard year. Howard the Duck had ebbed and waned and waned again, and it looked like Willow was a million years away. Hell, even Maniac Mansion was a year off. So, after laying the not very metaphorical egg that was Howard the Duck, Lucas hired a team, including future-gaming guru Ron Gilbert, to create the first MMORPG, Habitat.
20 years preceding World of Warcraft, Habitat seems a little silly today. The video walkthrough seems laughable (the idea that players would say grammatically correct things like "IT'S A GOOD DAY FOR A TREASURE HUNT!" is particularly quaint). Back when Commodore 64 ruled the world, though, it was amazingly forward thinking and, as revealed in the fascinating article, Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat, many of the common difficulties MMORPG developers face were already in play way back when.
The crux of this rant, however, is about Griefers, both in MMORPGs and in odder places, such as LARPs. I make no secret about the fact that I am a member of The Camarilla, the fan club for White Wolf's Vampire: The Requiem, and in the interest of journalistic/rant-tastic integrity, I must state that I've earned a few paychecks by doing freelance work for them. The Camarilla attempts to do in real life interaction what Habitat attempted to do way back when: build a coherent world of thousands of players who try ("try") to stay in-character and remain friendly out of character with each other. It's a fascinating study in human relationships and cultural dynamics... and... sadly... Griefers.
A Griefer is defined as a person in a gaming environment who actively enjoys attempting to break the system, ruin the enjoyment of others, and basically bully everybody and everything in their way. Habitat's small player base and intimate control mechanisms allowed in-character corrections to be made around these people. For instance, when a Griefer succeeded in killing an "unkillable" Boss, and making away with their super-powered boss weapon, the Habitat staff made an event out of it and had the Boss's gang trap the Griefer's character in the city, where violence couldn't occur. Then, in an amazing pre-Something Awful show of player bravado and developer sensibility, the Boss demanded the super-weapon back, exchanging the super-weapon for several thousand virtual dollars.
In LARP, of course, the consequences are a little deeper. You have to stare at the person trying to fuck you over, and attempt to not rip their lungs out and stuff them up their enormously obese, smelly ass. Some LARP Griefers, just like some online Griefers, actively enjoy seeing other people pissed off at them.
Now, I'm not against a good sense of humor, and I'm all for pranks, mischief and working the mechanics of a game to your benefit. Habitat, and The Camarilla, can teach game developers several things:
- Players need spaces where they can interact with each other without violence. Some players aren't there to level up endlessly or grind through an army of zombies... some players, myself including, prefer to just run around aimlessly and meet new people. A space without risk is necessary for this to occur. Habitat invented the "no violence in town" rule, but it should be expanded to "No violence until I turn off this button which I can't turn back on again".
- Griefers should not be rewarded, nor hindered. Just let them be and eventually they'll piss so many people off that nobody will give them the time of day anymore. Then they'll move on to annoying the Scientologists.
- Always accompany your video game with a video narrated by Sir Ian Holm.
Sure, we've all thought about it. We've all been staring at ourselves in the mirror during the morning shave (or in Chris' circumstance, Simonization), and thought "Just this once, maybe I'll do it." Staring deep into the mirror, shaving foam still on our cheeks, we say "Bloody Mary".
Of course, we all know that it's never the first try that summons forth the demonic daughter of Henry VIII forth from her prison in the mirror. So, perhaps after finishing the shave, maybe after getting out of the shower, toweling ourselves off, we laughingly, jokingly, say "Bloody Mary" a second time.
Then everything freezes. The room goes deathly still. Somewhere in the distance, dogs start howling the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. It's the third one that gets you. You just don't have the guts to do it. Believe me, I've attempted this dozens of times. The third one always gives me pause.
Now, for the sake of science, I venture forth into the bathroom, yet again, and say "Bloody Mary" three times. Here goes. Feel free to look away from the site for a few moments, as this may get gory.
Ah, there we are. Nothing happened at all. Science prevails! Hooray!
Oh, upon further investigation of the myth, I'm supposed to say it 13 times, or in the dark, or nude, while drinking a glass of cat blood, standing on leg or any number of other reasons why my first attempt failed.
I think I did what I needed to do. No Bloody Mary. However, if you'll excuse me, I have some celery and some tomato in the fridge and the liquor store just opened up.
"Or, go to YouTube. You'll see videos of teens experimenting with digital drugs. You can decide for yourself if binaural beats induce drug-like effects."
That's right, parents. Press your legislators to outlaw something that YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOURSELF IF IT ACTUALLY WORKS. While you're at it, let's get placebos outlawed, since sugar pills are made out of sugar and might actually give you cavities.
Seriously, ABC News has really reached the bottom of the barrel with this one. Not only do Binaurals not work, but they're not even an illegal commodity. I suspect this might be an RIAA-plant article, since they haven't had a good "Illegal downloading supports Al-Quaeda" article in some time.
Seriously, d00ds. Try harder or we'll slip some Heroin Binaurals into the overhead music they play at K-Mart, just to see what happens. We can do that, you know. We are Anonymous.
I am just mad about The Real Tuesday Weld. The brainchild of a Brit named Stephen Coates, aka "The Clerkenwell Kid", and the sound is a cross between The Propellerheads style of beat-booty mixing and the retro-futuristic-noir style of bands like The Decemberists, The Tiger-Lillies, Marc Almond in his campiest mood, and, yes, my hero, Vic Mizzy. In fact, they start out their album Les Aperitifs et les Digestifs with a jazzy, 1920s speakeasy version of the Addams Family theme, which segues into a melancholy torch song about a wasted life in the fast lane.
Martin Jacques, the operatic falsetto of The Tiger-Lillies, makes a guest appearance on "Someday", and it's really lovely to hear him outside of his evil clown/Edward Gorey persona.
Anyway, if you're looking for the musical equivalent of Lovecraftian steampunk, you could do worse than The Real Tuesday Weld.
If you're reading this on Friday, August 8, 2008, then you will be happy to know that you are not dead due to a man-made black hole sucking you, and the rest of the solar system and surrounding environs, into oblivion. Yesterday, or tomorrow, as I'm writing this, the CERN Large Hadron Particle Collider was turned on for the first time.
First off, this thing is ENORMOUS. It's a 17 mile tube, with the price tag of 6.4 BILLION EUROS. Since Euros are super expensive incomprehensible moon moneys, that's like a billion trillion zillion dollars. Hadron collider? More like HARD-ON collider.
Of course, the likelihood of a black hole forming is extraordinarily remote. Vegas chances are that we'll survive and nothing will have happened. Worst case scenario, Switzerland is evaporated. But will we miss Switzerland?
Let us explore this idea a little further.
- I have never met anyone from Switzerland, or anyone who has personally encountered anybody from Switzerland. I have met somebody who has met Rick Steves, who has been to Switzerland, but Rick Steves is a ginger with eyes that are a bit too close together. I think he's one of the Lizard People, or possibly a Weasley. Maybe both.
- History books are full of countries that do shit. France had Napoleon, Italy had Mussolini, heck, even Belgium has Tintin and Belgium is a completely arbitrary made up nation that exists solely out of certain treaties that were signed after a "war" consisting of twenty people armed with pointy sticks. The fact is that war makes history, not particle colliders, nor, for that matter, the Calvinists. The only thing Switzerland has ever contributed to mankind was Calvinism, and we can all see how that turned out.
- When was the last time you said to your loved one, "Loved one, let's order out for Swiss?" Exactly.
QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM: Switzerland does not exist, except on the Platonic conceptual level, in the same way that love and justice and freedom and George Lucas exist, i.e. they are simply words we made up to describe things that are ephemeral at best, laughably void from our lives at worst.
If you're reading this, and if we survive our impending doom, then Switzerland suddenly has something that proves it exists after all. This is a harrowing thought. What other things may exist that we never had proof of before?
I have considered this possibility, and it occurs to me that the last horizon is not space travel, nanotechnology or particle physics. The last horizon is the Christian Science Reading Room, four words that do not, in any way, describe what is inside those innocuous doors. There is no Christianity, no Science, little to read and more than one room. Furthermore, nobody ever goes in, nobody ever comes out. It's the religious equivalent of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
There could literally be anything behind those doors. ANYTHING.
There could be a Victorian style opium den of vice in there. There could be a child porn ring that puts Jeffrey Jones' basement to shame. There could be Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earheart, Resurrection Mary and Don Knotts back there.
We just don't know.
So, if you're reading this, congratulations on not being vaporized. There's an end to a Lifetime Exclusive Movie of the Week for you.
Welcome to the return of The Mind Boggleth! Every Friday you will be treated to rants, screeds and tirades against society courtesy of the mad mind that is Max Brooks. No, not THAT Max Brooks. Enjoy. --Chris
I recently renewed my membership at Hollywood Video, because I just like the visceral experience of going somewhere, something I rarely do these days, what with Netflix, Youtube and the liquefied food hose I just had installed (they just pump it straight from KFC to my arterial veins, it's pretty sweet; only $60 a month for continual life support, and no need to brush my teeth anymore!). I decided that I actually prefer a video store. Hollywood Video is pretty good at getting rarer DVDs these days, and have recently installed a new "Arthouse Basement" section that amuses me to no end because I can think of exactly two things wrong with that title, but it's a gimmick that works.
They've separated "Arthouse Basement" in very small genres, such as "Foreign - European", "Foreign - Asian", "Gay and Lesbian Friendly" (also known as "Foreign - Australia"), "Animation" (changed from "cartoons" after the Otaku apparently threw a hissy fit, throwing John Kricfalusi from the top of a cathedral in the process) and "Cult Classics", which was always in Hollywood Video in the first place, just over next to "Special Interest", which is where they put the concert DVDs. All this subdivision of genre got me thinking about other, smaller, yet equally important genres that perhaps need their own space on the shelf.
CAR MOVIES: These are generally not Dramas or Comedies, they've been filed under "Action/Adventure" for decades, but I think the Car Movie is it's own genre, and the qualifier is pretty simple. If a movie's content is 75% car chases, people talking about cars, or cars killing people, it goes in "Car Movies". Naturally, this includes 90% of Steve McQueen and James Garner's repertoire, everything involving Jason Statham, and "Christine". Also, did you know that 1/10th of all Pixar movies are about cars? It's true. That's a commanding percentage.
PEOPLE IN SPACE MOVIES: I've always been torn about Sci-Fi. On the one hand, you have some really deep, philosophical, introspective movies that challenge conventional thinking ("2001: A Space Odyssey", "Logan's Run", "Gattaca", etc.), while the rest of Sci-Fi is just Star Wars inspired dreck that tries to sell you on Joseph Campbell somehow being more than a racist nerd who really liked Dairy Queen porn. "Universal Hero" my ass, Campbell. It's lazy writing and even lazier film making. Still, I think that if we remove all the "People in Space" movies from the Sci-Fi section, you maybe could separate the wheat from the chaff, theoretically. Also, while we're at it, let's move the Fantasy section further away from the Sci-Fi section, maybe across the street and into the Android's Dungeon. "Lord of the Rings" is great and all, but Fantasy is a realm reserved for genuine freaks.
On a side rant, I've given up tabletop gaming and anything fantasy related. In a world where John McCain is theLEAST DYSFUNCTIONAL AND INSANE Republican candidate possible, the need for fantasy in my life has diminished. We're living the dream, folks. This is it. Sauron has turned his eye toward the Shire, and us hobbits are about to get steamrolled.
Dueling MAGICIANS: A newcomer to the "Smaller Genre" world, the Dueling Magician movie may perhaps go down as the defining genre of the 2000s, in the same way that Blaxploitation only happened in the 70s and "Starring Seth Green" only happened in the 90s. Films such as "The Prestige", "The Illusionist", Mitchell and Webb's "Magicians" and the latest Quentin Tarantino masterpiece: "Bonzo the Clown vs. The Amazing Anzelini On The Moon". These films have built an exciting world of magic, intrigue and Doug Henning into a new standard. Scientists estimate that by 2009, nearly 30% of all films shot in Hollywood will be about dueling magicians. The other 70% will be sequels to superhero films.
VINCENT PRICE STARING OBSESSIVELY AT A PORTRAIT OF HIS DEAD WIFE: I know, it sounds like a crazily obscure genre, this genre fills up exactly 100% of Vincent Price's career. Films like "The Abominable Dr. Phibes", "Tomb of Ligeia", "The Fall of the House of Usher", "House on Haunted Hill" and "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" have brought us exactly what we, as an audience, demand: nothing but Vincent Price staring obsessively at a portrait of his dead wife. If a formula isn't broken, don't fix it. Keep hacking at it, until it is sublime perfection.
NAZI MOVIES: With all the movies about the Holocaust, it's sort of silly that a few people still believe it never happened. There has been so damn many movies about the Nazis and the Holocaust that it's become a cottage industry, or as the Germans call it, cottagenbrickdermakenzegeschelleshaft.
Not many of us here at the Weekly Geek pay attention to the Olympics... that period of time every four years where we elect a Bush or a Clinton to office. Generally, the Olympics are a tedious bore, and we look forward to getting some good reading time in while the television is inundated with boring sports that were invented to kill people thousands of years ago. The shot put and the caber toss, sports that started out as training exercises for very large and cumbersome assassins during the First Crusade, particularly bore us.
Still, the minds behind Gorillaz (Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn), that wonderfully artificial band, has given us something, well, truly special. Their first video not starring themselves, basically just an advert for BBC Sport's coverage of the dismal boredom that is the Olympics. They have given us a brief, one minute run down of the ancient Chinese text, A Journey to the West, also known as MONKEY QUEST, also known as Dragon Ball Z.
Enjoy, and know that this is all the pleasure you'll get for the next month.
First off, to get it out of the way, I personally have no problem whatsoever with Mega Man 9. I watched the ad and was convinced it was just a really, really impressive fan project. When I saw it will be covered by whatever system you're on, then it suddenly kicked in, "Holy Fishsticks, this is happening".
Second, I actively look forward to the fan whining.
See, fan whining is probably one of the most amusing things on Youtube, forums and real life, to be honest. Fans like to whine. Listening to fans whine about their necromantically extended adolescence's tiny little bumps to the exclusion of EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE PLANET is seriously the most fun you can have. Anime nerds whining about Adult Swim nerds, Final Fantasy nerds whining about Xbox nerds, Watermelon Humping nerds whining about Carrot Dildo nerds. It's great stuff.
I, personally, look forward to the Mega Man nerds whining about this. I look forward to every single little jot and tittle of their wasted lives laid forth for me to psychoanalyze over and over again.
Thirdly, maybe there's still hope for Ducktales 3.
So, you're an indie hipster who shops madly at Threadless? Can't be seen without your Urban Outfitters messenger bag? Do you buy the latest iPod not because you have a huge mp3 collection but because you want people to THINK you have a huge mp3 collection? And do you like Pokemon?
Nintendo has you covered, man.
Aging Pokemaniacs rejoice, there is now a way to proclaim your love of the sport AND be subtle enough that you don't come off as a child molestor. The latest Pokemon franchisee is Pokemon 151, a line of t-shirts that take your favorite teeny-tiny little killing machines and amps them up with haute designs that would put Threadless to shame. While at present only four designs are available, and the site seems to imply that these shirts are only available in Japan, the promise is that eventually the complete 151 initial Pokemon will, indeed, be made available. At present, Hot Topic is stocking retro-90s Pokemon gear, but it would be FANTASTIC if they picked these up and brought the love of Pokemon to the adults among us (myself included) utterly shameless enough to proudly and boldly admit to it.
I live in a tenement. Sure, it's called "comfortable urban living at sustainable lease rates," but it is, in fact, a tenement. During the day it sounds like a cross between an octogenarian Jewish guy's memoirs of Brooklyn, circa 1937, with screaming kids with names like "Sparky" and "Squeezit" playing stickball while their mothers chat away folding laundry outdoors and their fathers trudge off to work in the coal mines or for some guy named "Lucky", and, by night, a Tijuana Red Light District, with more arrests for drugs and prostitution per evening than the Netherlands has a year.
But hey, there's rent control.
My upstairs neighbors recently moved away, and they've been replaced by a new gaggle of titwits who can only be described as the worst, most obnoxious sort of gamers. Now, mind you, I write here for God's sake. I write tabletop supplements. I am comfortable with gamers, even bad ones. Like paraplegics, pedarasts and puppeteers, they're my people. I enjoy watching their strange habits and they generally keep their distance, except for Chris, who has become so clingy in his senility that I've had to expressly forbid him from standing less than two feet of me. He's taken to poking me with a bamboo rod, but I'm willing to compromise. He's a good kid.
Still, my upstairs neighbors cross the fucking line. They went and got Wii Fit. These kids weigh a good 500 lbs between the two of them, and even walking down the hall to take a piss is like the the scene in Jurassic Park with the waterglass and the tyrannosaurus. I'm a fan of loud music, so I, too, can adapt. I'm very good at adaptation.
Now, of course, Centaur #1 and Centaur #2 have decided to get in shape, and using Wii Fit is their ticket to ride. At least, I think it's a Wii Fit. A complete alternate theory exists in my head, and that is it's actually a BDSM dungeon. I hear a lot of pounding and rhythmic thumping, with grunts, moans and plenty of swear words, and that's a complete possibility. All I know is that I can't sleep.
And, like the Incredible Hulk, you wouldn't like me when I can't sleep.
The Weekly Geek is less a blog and more a podcast, this much is true. I completely admit that my little rants here and there on this site are the equivalent of the Tom Jones that's playing over the speakers at the grocery store. You're not there to listen to Tom Jones, you're there to buy rutabagas. Why are you buying rutabagas? I don't know. What's a rutabaga, anyway? I don't know. I don't know a damn thing about rutabagas. It's just a fun word to type.
Rutabaga, rutabaga, rutabaga.
So, ultimately, as far as the Weekly Geek's blog goes, it's here for your convenience while you wait for the podcast to download. A crunchy, sesame flecked breadstick before the Baloney Alfredo that is Mack and Caspian. Would madame prefer some FRESHLY CRACKED PEPPER? Would sir enjoy FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN? Would Her Majesty gasp wistfully at some FRESHLY BUTTERED HAGFISH CUBES?
While the Weekly Geek's Blog is just a side dish, there are, believe it or not, blogs that exist solely for the pleasure of blogging alone. Self-induced bloggery is a disease and a scourge upon the urban landscape, somewhere between prostitution and those embroidered jeans with pseudo-Victorian motifs on them. Blogs like Perez Hilton and Ain't It Cool News are essentially shill-magnification zones, the rebirth of the Payola Scandals of the 1950s.
If you aren't aware of the Payola Scandals, they worked a bit like this: Record Company A would come to Radio Show Host B, and offer Radio Show Host B several hundred dollars to play one of Record Company A's records over and over again until the public had no choice but to accept it as a required purchase on their next record buying trip. This was, of course, the days before iPods and mp3s, so if a record was being pushed heavily by the record company, your Montgomery Wards or J.C. Penney's or Wilburson-Cockshit-on-Cam's would stock it by dearth of knowing that it was being played so often on the radio.
The Payola system explains why Buddy Holly became famous. I know I'm going to get hundreds (well, maybe one) of hate mails about this, but Buddy Holly was, and still is, the worst singer/songwriter of all time. Buddy Holly is to singing/songwriting what leprosy is to a Fourth of July Barbecue. Thank GOD he died in that plane crash. He fucking deserved it. As he currently burns in Hell for his crimes against humanity, we can all be thankful that Congress took the Payola problem into their own enormously chubby and checkered hands, and outlawed it.
Still, the Payola system lives on, in the so-called NEW MEDIA. NEW MEDIA must always be capitalized, because NEW MEDIA is here to stay. Basically, in the NEW MEDIA Payola, the Payola is even easier than it ever was, because bloggers are generally amateurs who have day jobs, and therefore, no dignity. Whereas before the NEW MEDIA, people who reviewed media were called "critics" and generally had doctorates or war correspondent credentials or very large hats, "critics" these days are rarely actually critical of anything at all, and hopelessly fawning over whatever they're given for free.
A few years ago, the decision was made that E-3 would restrict it's invite-only system to make it much more difficult for bloggers to attend, and the bloggers threw an unholy fit about it. I find it interesting that E-3 has to restrict attendance, whereas the Adult Industry Convention in Las Vegas actually SELLS tickets, and people who are otherwise completely passively associated with the "adult industry" (i.e. they've certainly been on a few covers, and interior pages, if you know what I mean) have no problem getting in. E-3, however, is different, and exceedingly exclusive, and this works to the favor of the gaming companies, because a ticket to E-3 is the blogging equivalent of a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Bloggers will do literally anything to attend, going so far as to give Will Wright a complete pass on his child molestation rumors. Now, I'm not saying Will Wright is a child molestor, but I'm not saying he isn't, and you're free to read between the lines on that, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
And now, the Weekly Geek will never again be invited to E-3.
Will Wright's supposed tendency toward underage pederasty aside, there are a few tricks and tactics to being a successful Indie Blogger Cock and, thus, scoring as many freebies as possible.
1. DRESS AS ECCENTRICALLY AS POSSIBLE
Nothing says "NEW MEDIA" like dressing like an explosion at a K-Mart. Harry J. Knowles, who makes Two Ton Torres look like Karen Carpenter, seems to have started this tendency, although Matt Drudge's "Lemony Snicket" affectations certainly didn't stop that ball from rolling any further than it needed to. Perez Hilton, who otherwise looks like a total cuddlebug, personally keeps Manic Panic in business, and Ana Marie Cox, "Wonkette", tries to buck the trend by presenting herself as a fashionable Barbera Bush style proto-matron, but ends up looking like Cruella de Ville on a chubby day.
I, personally, admit to a certain predilection toward velvet and leather in my wardrobe, and I own a pair of trendy black nerd glasses. Of course, unlike the pretenders, I have spent time in a mental institution, so "eccentricity" is not my goal, it's just the polite way of describing it.
2. PICK A SUBJECT AND NEVER DEVIATE FROM IT.
If your blog's subject is "film", for instance, pick A film, preferably a sci-fi trilogy of some sort, and yammer on and on about it endlessly, comparing every new film you see unfavorably to the brilliance that is your particular hobbyhorse. If your blog is political in nature, pick a hilariously offensive nickname for the leader of your party's opposition ("Black Insane Obama" is a good one, "John McGain" is a slightly more subtle equivalent) and refuse to call that person by their real name. If your blog is about fashion or celebrities, obsess over one certain person ad absurdam.
Remember: Blogging isn't journalism. You're not supposed to be objective. You are to be slavishly one-sided and utterly devoted to your pointless "insider" position.
3. DEMAND AS MUCH FREE SWAG AS POSSIBLE, AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, AND TO AS MANY PLACES AS POSSIBLE.
And don't be afraid to threaten to throw back the thinly woven curtain of deceit surrounding the pedophilic tendencies of your quarry, either. Please give me free Spore stuff.
Again, the Weekly Geek is guilty of this one, although I am, admittedly, not a recipient of as much largesse as others. The worst I get is emails offering me "sneak previews" of shitty web cartoons. And while my particular sickness gets off on cultural fecalphilia, I should, by all rights, be demanding much, much more. I should be demanding paid junkets to the Lucas Ranch for hookers and blow and handjobs from Robert Rodriguez. I not only demand these trinkets, but I also demand to be put on VH1 as an "I Heart the ________" talker. I heart the ________ more than you do, and I can prove it, because I have a blog.
Incidentally, Michael Ian Black* the penultimate hearter of the ________, opened his blog a scant few weeks ago, to coincide with his book of essays about his van customization service. 90% of it is him (charmingly) attempting to start an East/West Rap style feud with David Sedaris. Good for him! My dream is to be a heart-er of something, preferably the 80s, maybe the 90s, but I'll settle for the Oughts in due time.
The Free Swag situation is a problem, sadly, especially in the geekier parts of the blogospheroidmatron. The comic conventions, which have long basically just been an excuse to throw free shit at increasingly desperate nerds, excel (saga) at this tactic. Nerds will love anything they get free shit for, which explains why Iron Man somehow became this century's version of Citizen Kane overnight.
On the video gaming front, from Nintendo, I was given a plastic mannequin hand for my DS. X-Box once gave me a foam rubber brain shaped stress ball and a LANYARD(!), and Sony gave me a keychain shaped like a tomato, in one of the great non-sequiters of all time. Of the three, Nintendo's was the best, thus tainting my opinion of Nintendo for decades to come. Still, I sigh longingly whenever I see that LANYARD(!) and think of my close personal friends at Microsoft (especially Ted in Accounting, KEEP AIMING FOR THAT STAR, YOU CRAZY DIAMOND!). As for Sony, they can choke on their own vomit, so far as I care.
APPENDIX: WEBCOMIC BLOGGING
This one is tricky, and, admittedly, a salvo for the few brave souls who have webcomics AND blogs. Your webcomic must be understood by reading your blog, and your blog must be completely unreadable without first reading the webcomic. This cyclical system is required, and cannot be broken, lest the whole balance of the Chi be thrown off.
Your webcomic explains your blog, and your blog explains your webcomic. Break the circle at your own peril. Penny Arcade once broke this rule, and the next day, Tycho got fat. I know, man. I KNOW, MAN.
*I harbo(u)r a personal lust for Mr. Black that few would ever understand. You think I'm joking. Ha ha. I'm his own personal Mark David Chapman. I'm right behind you, Bright Eyes.
It is prophesied that in the End Times, a dark force will be born in the East, carried on wings of ill-advised marketing and deliberate product placement, that the Anticomedy, the one force of evil so hellaciously non-comedic, will arise. The Anticomedy, upon coming to power, will bring the Laffageddon upon us, and many millions will perish in his wrath.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Myers (not to be confused with Michael Myers, our favorite babysitter-killing sociopath in a William Shatner mask) is, undoubtedly, the Anticomedy. I can confirm this with numerology, I can verify this with Biblical texts, I can point to specific texts in the Secret Vatican Library that point to the Dark One's ineffable plan to obliterate the righteous power of comedy once and for all. That would take time, of course.
The Love Guru is a film about, well, a love guru. In a parody of Dr. Phil crossed with Deepak Chopra, Mike Myers piddles around in his THIRD bad rendition of a Peter Sellers character (Dieter, the host of Sprockets being Dr. Strangelove, Austin Powers being Sellers' turn at James Bond in Casino Royale, and the Love Guru, whose actual name I have forgotten less than 24 hours after viewing it, based on Hrundi V. Bakshi from The Party), using his trademark scatological ha-has and even a urine soaked mop fight to attempt to sell us on the idea of the Love Guru being another film franchise.
What's always confused me about Myers is why he is the one with multimillion dollar puff-piece extravaganzas and Dana Carvey, his ally in the Wayne's World movies, seemingly completely incapable of getting anything made. Sure, The Master of Disguise was a bad movie, but not nearly as bad as The Love Guru, both of which are plotless sketch comedies thinly packed around a broadly based costumed character. Pistachio Disguisey at least gave us the cultural meme "TURTLE, TURTLE, TURTLE." To make it even more insulting, Myers steals practically wholesale the same gimmick, premise and follow-through as Sasha Cohen's brilliant Borat, only without any sense of satire or gravitas that Borat actually brought to the table.
Borat was a broad comic character, yes. The conceit that he was interviewing Americans about American foibles, especially during a time of war and bad political policies, actually made Borat a very timely, very powerful character. Mike Myers, as Guru Pitka, is neither based in a satirical reality nor fantastic enough to be cinematic. Even Austin Powers, a character that was tired 3/4s of the way through the first movie, at least had a plot to keep us busy.
The Love Guru also stars Justin Timberlake as a character named Jacque "Le Coq". Yes. Oh, and the "funny" names only get more obvious. A classic Kids in the Hall sketch, featuring Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley as themselves in a writer's meeting, touches on the rules of "funny" names, ruling that just putting two words together and hoping they sound funny and then attaching a "Mister" ahead of it is rarely funny.
Again, one character is named "Dick Pants".
Oy. Fucking. Vey.
Ultimately, this is one of the classic unfunny comedies, up there with Dan Ackroyd's career killer, Nothing But Trouble. It's tasteless, it's baseless, it's just lame.
Final Judgement: ONLY THE EXORCIST CAN SAVE US NOW.
Well, it's safe to say that the power of animated character is not only made incredibly apparent but thrown right into the face of those who fear it most, as Wall•E takes the metaphorical ball and metaphorically runs with it. Despite positive reviews from just about everybody, a few hold outs are doing what the Internet does best (factionalizing ad infinitum) and the conserva-prigs at Free Republic are hilariously fuming at the film. Whatever it takes to keep the headlines off this douche, right guys?
It looks like Republicans are hating this movie, just because Fred Willard's character drops the "Stay the course" line. Why, yes. Yes it is anti-Republican. It shows us exactly what the world would look like 800 years after a third Bush presidency. The earth will be full of garbage and devoid of human life, and the rare few who somehow manage to escape will be fantastically wealthy and their society will be built on the remnants of whatever and whoever they stepped over to get there.
They didn't complain one bit when Grade-A Crank Brad Bird's looney Randroid screed, The Incredibles, told their audience that some people are born "special" and are therefore criminally suppressed by the rest of society, who should be thankful just to have them around. Republicans LOVED that one, because it reinforced their deep seated paradigm notion that there are, indeed, certain people deserving of much more than others. Brad Bird, you're a cock. Choke somebody on you.
Fat people are now, apparently, a political base of their own, now. I guess I should start getting my membership card pretty shortly, I could use that 10% off at KFC and the Enema Bag Emporium. Being a man who could stand to lose weight, but not a man whose weight has lost him the ability to stand, I have not yet lost touch with the reality of satire. The ultimate animated "Americans are fat" movie, The Triplets of Belleville, to which Pixar owes a great deal in the comedic style and pacing of Wall•E, was never given a broad release by Sony because the fat "lobby" was so offended by it. The "Fat Lobby" sounds like a really smelly place.
But then, of course, fat people are more than welcome to head over to Kung Fu Panda, a film tailor made to their purposes. I believe they just wheel in the Happy Meals by the cart now. It's got everything that Wall•E doesn't... a happy-go-lucky (yet insipid) main character, dozens of well known (yet insipid) A-list voice actors, and more pop (yet insipid) cultural references than you can shake your enormous, enormous booty at. Let them have it, I guess. It's all there, and by the truckload.
If I seem to be commenting frequently on the H.G. Wells characters, the Morlocks and the Eloi, Wall•E seems to reinforce my suspicions that the distinction is happening faster than we think. The film doesn't answer everything, and that's really great. A truly good film won't prechew thought for you like the food the Hoverchair family in this film has to slurp down.
All is not so bleak, I suppose. The truth is that Pixar is a proven quality, and not a single one of their films has ever lost a dime. Parents will bring their kids to Wall•E, young adults will go to Wall•E, post-ironic hipsters such as myself will go to Wall•E. If, perchance, it makes people think about the ramifications of a McCain presidency, so much the better.
I sometimes think that maybe I'm the one who is living in Bizarro World. In the real, non-Bizarro world, George W. Bush is an Austin news weatherman, the dollar is worth the same as a Soviet ruble, and the evolutionary distinction between the Eloi and the Morlocks still had several thousand years before it really kicked in. Unfortunately, here in Bizarro World, everything is the complete opposite. Therefore, instead of heckling the current situation, I think I should just accept it like the good White Male Consumer 25-33 like I am.
Still, there's one Bizarro thing that I know is Bizarro and is going to stay Bizarro: I am not wealthy enough to even comprehend renting a villa in Italy. In fact, I have never actually paused to think to myself, "Self: We should really think about that villa in Italy, what with all this spare time and all of these millions of gold coins we have in the Money Bin, maybe we should get a little place in Tuscany instead of swimming around in all of this obscene monetary excess," that is, of course, before Facebook decided to tell it's advertisers that I am.
Now, every single time I check my Facebook profile, there it is.
It sounds a bit like an M. Night Shyalaman film, doesn't it? "The Villa". The obligatory twist at the end? It's full of BATS. It would be just like The Birds, only, you know, with bats. Even worse yet, it's full of ITALIANATE bats. Bats with names like "Manny" and "Guido". Bats with really great shoes. Bats that own fish markets on the South Side and mysteriously get Christmas cards from Sammy Davis Jr. Bats that have Steve Buscemi on speed dial for blow. Those kind of bats.
Only Facebook isn't trying to rent me a house full of adorable winged mafiosa with echolocation, no. Heavens to Mergatroyd, no! Facebook is trying to honestly convince me, and their respective advertisers at Invitation To Tuscany, that I am in the mood to rent a villa in Italy, and, conversely, that Invitation To Tuscany is not throwing away their hard earned Euros in advertising to riff-raff like me. I'm the kind of jerk that throws financial caution to the wind to splurge from time to time on a Grilld Stuft Burrito at Taco Bell, a place that is so inexpensive they can't even afford to put certain vowels in the names of their products. Even in this time of global kicking up of heels and international high spirits, when people like Henry Kissinger are doing the Charleston with glee since there's just so damn much money around, renting a villa in Italy is just a tad bit pricy for the likes of me.
It's not like I'm blaming Invitation To Tuscany, they're probably owned by a senile necromancer, and their call center is staffed by the zombies of old people, typing very slowly and growling with rotting, pallid lips into those teeny little earpiece/microphones that every office has these days. Nor am I placing the blame on Facebook. No, I'm placing the blame on Hanna-Barbera, because ever since Jabberjaw, the increase in natural disasters, childhood obesity and lupus has increased exponentially.
They call him Jab-Jab-Jab-Jab-Jabberjaw, the most demonic Faustian manipulator you ever saw.
So, Facebook, I know you're trying to build a successful business model and not end up like that shmuck Tom over at MySpace. I can rid you of the influence of Jabberjaw, trust me. It'll be a long, hard process. Lucky for you, I'm a trained professional Life Coach. Just leave all your problems to me. That mean ol' Jabberjaw won't get you.
Your advertisers need to be relevant to the audience, stores like Target or Borders, possibly. Then, once you've got a good, steady set of appropriate advertisers, start slowly picking off Facebook members at random. I can think of a few already, personally. Nothing TOO violent, of course. Just a quick injection of bleach in the buttock, or maybe a nice, quiet strangulation with a necktie. Guns would be a bit messy, yes, but maybe that would be a good idea too. Snipe them in public.
Once you've got a few random Facebook murders under your belt, things will slowly become evident. I've provided you with a business model, Facebook.
1) Ramp up your advertising to be relevant to the audience. Low-to-middle market retailers, bookstores, convenience foods, florists, funeral homes, manufacturers of black textiles, taxidermists, that sort of thing.
2) As you slowly start to pick off Facebookers, one by one, your advertisers will suddenly experience a spike in return clicks.
3) Reign of terror, followed by profit. Reinvestment in Facebook branded cemetaries and the new "WHO'S DEAD YET?" application.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure that Facebook hasn't already started this new campaign. That would explain the sudden rise in advertisements for FTD.
Yes, yes, yes. We're all aware that the Spore Creature Creator has been released. The above blasphemy oozed forth from the Cthonic mind of Scythemantis, lead proprietor of www.bogleech.com. And while the fact that several thousand literal Cock Monsters will be flooding forth from the vile reaches of the Youtub, the question remains: "Why, and to what end?"
God Games have long been the "intellectual" gaming alternative to the more plot/explosive based games of tomb raiding and war craftsmanship. Will Wright, of course, has made his Carnegie-esque fortune off exploiting the public's fantasies of being meddling civil bureaucrats, ant colonies, and combination voyeuristic sadists and micromanaging interior decorators. His latest, Spore, promises to combine the finicky nannying of his previous creations with the rough and tumble world of MMORPGs, essentially fusing Felix Unger and Oscar Madison into one freakishly, well, spore-like spore of Odd Couple.
Ultimately, of course, we pause and ponder if this is good for us. We now have within our power to literally be gods, any time we wants, when we wants. While one part of American society is obsessed with "Intelligent Design", another wants to be able to design their own little intelligences, cute though they may be, running around a virtual landscape. While I'm not saying it's wrong to want to play God now and again (Victor Frankenstein was, of course, the HERO of the book), my idea for Wright, SimEtary, never really got off the ground. Or rather, out of it.
Oscar Wilde once stole a bit from William Shakespeare, who in turn stole it from me, when he said "Brevity is the soul of wit." To verify this undisputed truth, old people are very rarely funny. Occasionally you'll meet a truly hilarious geriatric delinquent, like those old bastards who yank out their dentures to scare small children and rodents, but for the most part, old people aren't very funny at all. The longer something goes on, the less funny it is. This is a solemn, brutal reality, and something I'm about to prove, because this is going to be a very long article, and I dare you to find something to laugh about while reading it.
Take, for instance, The Satyricon by a dead old Roman named Petronius. The thing is supposed to be a hilarious comedy of errors as a slave is freed and suddenly inherits millions of drachma, in sort of a Sid Meier version of Brewster's Millions. This thing goes on and on and on and on, until finally you realize that there is absolutely nothing funny about it all, and you're just reading pages of what the nouveau-riche Roman ate for dinner (flamingo tongues and stuffed dormouse, BTW). It's absolutely dreadful. Still, they classify it as a "comedy", and it apparently was considered to be so in it's day. The Emperor Nero, a man with a high sense of camp if ever there was one, found absolutely nothing funny in The Satyricon, and sentenced Petronius to commit suicide for besmirching his family's reputation with anti-comedy. To further prove that drawing things out beyond their duly alloted minutes is unfunny, Petronius spent his last evening alive reading poetry loudly while slowly bleeding himself to death, tying and untying a tourniquet around his arm during the course of this terminally unfunny party.
Watching Kung Fu Grip is very much like watching Petronius commit suicide. It's long, it's painful, and there's a certain post-ironic bent in knowing that everything about it has already been done somewhere else, funnier. The concept is relatively simple, much like it's intended audience. Some fleeting source of gamer humor is drawn out, suffocated, drawn, quartered, defenestrated, and finally dunked under an icy lake like Rasputin with action figures and dolls. Much hilarity is presumed by invocation of rape, poop jokes and casual racism.
Now, to be fair, I like jokes about rape, bowel movements and casual racism. I am quite the connoisseur, actually. To do these sorts of jokes correctly, they must be served like prosciutto, not like Spam. Thinly sliced, delicately positioned, and surrounded by as many tasteful things as possible. And then jammed up one's nose.
The problem is that we've already seen this thing before, both in ToyFare Magazine's "Twisted Toy Theater" and the mindbogglingly dreary Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network. The advantage that both of these have is production value and the creative goad that is editors/producers/advertisers. The Internet, being srious bizness and all, tends to breed a certain sort of "entertainer" without any sort of limitations to guide the flow of their creativity, leading to a free-for-all of bad taste, bad production, bad timing.
I hate to end a review on a hateful note, call it the softening of this barnacle encrusted heart of mine. Kung Fu Grip... I admire your Mickey Rooney "HEY KIDS LET'S PUT ON A SHOW!" kind of mentality.
Onward and upward!
On the opposite end of the scale is Broken Pixels, a weekly offering starring the Internet's version of Baby Jane, Seanbaby. Seanbaby is a firm believer in the Law of Anti-Charisma, which states that you will be much more interesting, funny and charming if you surround yourself by persons who are socially inept, unfunny and boring. Broken Pixels is a show about old, bad video games, territory that Seanbaby staked and claimed over a decade ago.
For those of us who are old timers at this Internetting thing, Seanbaby used to be the end-all-be-all of awesome websites. His site was witty, well designed, original (for the time) and, most important for the New Media, completely self-absorbed. Seanbaby is an arrogant ass and we loved him for it. He knew we love him for it. And we kept going back. Then, in about 2001, his site went dead, a bleak relic of what we thought was the end of an era. He resurfaced in EGM as their "Crazy Back Of The Magazine Rant" Guy (i.e. what I do here) and occasionally showed up on G4 shows from time to time.
Broken Pixels is a mixed bag. Like I said before, brevity is not this show's gimmick. While each episode is about 15 minutes long, it's at least broken up into several bad games before wrapping up. The hope is to be a Mystery Science Theater 3000 for video games, with Seanbaby and pals yakking it up and exposing some true horrors. Unlike the utterly brilliant Zero Punctuation, which takes brevity to a level of grandeur not seen since Peppin the Short, Broken Pixels takes it's time. Seanbaby takes many long, languid sips of beer.
At the risk of continuing to talk and breaking the brevity thing (oh well, you weren't laughing anyway), most of the games Broken Pixels is mocking have been mocked ad nauseum online for years. The Cho Aniki series, for example, is the standard by which Japanese weirdness can be measured, the Greenwich Mean Time of Nippophilic Insanity. The oddball rail shooter, Space Pirates, has been dissected and snickered at for almost as long. There's just not that much ground here to cover that hasn't been covered.
And there is a but! There really is! I swear!
The real charm of Broken Pixels is not the video games, not the set-up. The charm is the feeling that you're sitting around, listening to guys tell bullshit stories and goof off. At the risk of sounding like I'm hitting on him, Seanbaby has some really, really great stories to tell. One story, referred to here as the "Spunk Burrito" story, is worth the entire price of admission. What Broken Pixels does that I can appreciate is basically take an established format, surround it with a specific topic, and then let a few funny people be funny. It's similar to Stephen Fry's Q.I. in that way. Kung Fu Grip takes the same approach, but fails. Why? NOW YOU KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BURGERS.
Love them or hate them, the Puritans at least had a goal. Several of them, in fact. Redeeming the Church Triumphant from the besodden hands of the Papacy and Powers Temporal, saving the souls of the faithful, guiding them toward an outward perfection suited for their inner Godliness, moving the educational and aesthetic commonweal toward the everlasting love of Jesus Christ, and burning an assload of witches. At least you knew where they stood on any given subject.
Good was good, bad was bad, and in case of confusion, steer toward hatred. They were anything but not apathetic. Sure, they were vicious bastards who'd slit your throat and throw you in the oubliette if you so much as talked out of place, but what's the harm with that? I can think of few people that need a good bit of 17th Century Puritanical asskicking more the absolute titchuckers at Spike TV.
If, in case you are doing the reasonable thing when faced with modern reality and your head is currently encased in a bucket of rapidly solidifying Plaster of Paris, you haven't heard of Spike TV, perhaps you've heard of it's predecessor, The Nashville Network. The "The" is capitalized because it was founded and perpetuated for twenty years by people who called it "TNN", instead of "NN", which logically it should have been. Then again, we are dealing with the utter fuckwits who would watch something called "The Nashville Network" in the first place. People so neanderthalic that the sheer concept of images moving around on a lighted box constituted entertainment, doubly so when said moving images were SINGING AND YODELING, just like the folks on the radio tube!
The fact that "The" in "The Nashville Network" was capitalized is a sticking point, because it led to a cultural dynamic that still haunts us to this day. While The NN never took a political stance officially, it was pretty much de facto Republican, and, along with the Pat Robertson owned Family Channel, built the fundamental anti-rational force of the 1990s, the Christian Coalition. These piddling little factories of nincumpoopery created the atmosphere that led to the fullscale official amnesia of the Bush administration, fed by the belief that nothing between Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan actually happened. When pressed, TNN would revert back to "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC!" just like Robertson would retort "IT'S ALL ABOUT JESUS!", proving that country music fans are not only dogmatic and conservative to the Nth degree, but piranha like in their refusal to admit anything might actually be open to debate.
Then, of course, Viacom put a bead out on TNN, and it was assassinated with one bullet to the forehead like a Yucatan drug lord on a parade float. It was swiftly transmutated into "Spike TV", the idea being a snarky male response to the female Lifetime Network, which is similarly insipid in nearly every context. Whereas Lifetime produces overblown soap operatics by the bushel, Spike doesn't actually produce anything at all, and sticks to the truism that men actively enjoying being able to recite every line from every rerun science fiction and cop drama they can get their greedy, Cheetos-besmirched fingers on.
Spike TV, just so you understand, is a rerun dump. That is all it is, that is all it ever has been. in case Viacom has a movie or television show elsewhere, they advertise it ad nauseum on Spike, since the theory is that anybody who would conceivably want to watch Spike is at least sentient enough to have another, better, network on the Memory button, just itching for a reason to turn elsewhere. In fact, Viacom has taken this into account, and it's a somewhat twistedly brilliant example of Corporate Symbiosis in all it's evil, mutant glory.
As an irrelevant side note emphasizing their patronizing attitude toward the hand that feeds them was the notoriously silly "Video Game Awards", hosted by noted albino marionette, David Spade. I'll give you pause to snicker to yourself at that idea. HINT: They gave an award to "Best Power Up".
In response to this theory, Spike has actually found ways to start disregarding commercials altogether. To this end, they've come up with the "commercial show", which is a mini-show that runs IN THE COMMERCIALS, with advertisements in little sprawling banners under both shows. Where it used to be that you only put up with the commercials so you could watch the show, with the grim reality setting in that with seven million other options available to you on Comcast alone, advertisement and entertainment are now fused at the spine like some sort of freakish, hateful Siamese twin garden gnome that attacks you while stabbing your grandmother with a rusty railroad spike.
The rusty railroad spike, of course, is what the network is named after, y'see.
AH, BUT WHAT IS HE RANTING ABOUT, you ask. And rightfully so.
Weekly Geek (Greek?) HQ recently received a not so thinly veiled attempt by the Spike TV treants to get us to pawn off to you their latest awful idea, a Commercial Show called "Hot Chicks with Cheat Codes".
Hold it. Scan up. Read that again. Then read it out loud. Then read it in a silly voice.
"Hot Chicks with Cheat Codes".
The morons reign victorious. We're doomed. Humanity only has a good few years left, it's been a great run, but all things need to come to a timely end. Yoko has joined the band. Better cash your Economic Stimulus checks ASAP, because it's the last hurrah before the concentration camps.
There is a saying in advertising circles, "No publicity is bad publicity". Therefore, we at the Weekly Geek will not be giving this foreskin wrinkle the time of day by linking you to it. That would be giving them exactly what they want. Oh, no. We have a much worse idea. I will be illustrating it for you with MS Paint.
The effect, to be frank, is exactly what we saw.
Braindead models stroking controllers like dildos, "bitchin'" pseudo-rock music, playovers of Halo greenscreened behind them.
Yes, we get it. You have absolute, utter disdain for your desired audience. And we can't blame you. If they're falling for this, we hate them too. The British equivalent of Spike TV, "Nuts TV" (yes, you read that just as correctly), has a show called "Fit and Fearless". Scantily clad models are locked in haunted houses with cameras, the idea being that presumably young British men enjoy a bizarre combination of sado-masochism and 19th century Blavatsky Spiritism.
Brilliant media commentator Charlie Brooker has written his piece about Nuts TV, and I boldly stride forth in his jowly shadow by saying that the point behind "Hot Chicks with Cheat Codes" is equally terrifying: presumably you're supposed to be masturbating while watching it, but doing so means you're totally, undeniably insane. "Fit and Fearless" is the next logical step, followed by "Bikini'd and Bound", which is essentially just softcore dungeon play with a streaming banner underneath inviting us to purchase Axe bodyspray. After that it's just a long, languid close up of a bleeding corpse, although doubtlessly, Spike will ace that up a bit with some tips on how to avoid the police read by wacky, sarcastic jerks deserving of a good unwrapped SlimJim being rammed down their tanned, impossibly intolerable little snouts.
I leave this blahdy-blah with this final thought: according to Wikipedia. Spike TV's average viewer age is 42. Mayhap they should reconsider their concepts just a bit. "Hot Chicks and Tax Tips", 'Hot Chicks and Mortgages", "Hot Chicks and A Solid Plan for Building That Patio You've Always Been Talking About" may be a little bit less insulting.
Unlike the rest of the Geeks (Greeks?), I live to the south of Seattle, in Olympia, Washington, which is a lovely little slice of heaven somewhere between Tolkien's Shire and the Green Greens arena in Smash Brothers. It's basically a town interspersed by enormous sections of forested hills, running straight up against Puget Sound. I really do like it here, and not simply because I'm not forced to drive on 75 degree angle streets. Sure, there's lots of foul smelling hippies, there's only one 24 hour grocery store, and renting movies from a foreign land is impossible without the help of Netflix.
Still, there's something most foul that lurks just a few yards away from my Sensory Deprivation Chamber, and that is a garter snake hibernaculum. What's a hibernaculum, you ask? OH DEARIE ME. From Wikipedia:
"In zoology, a hibernaculum is the location chosen by an animal for hibernation. Commonly this may be a hibernating mammal or insect."
Of course, this is Wikipedia, so it's also got "In music, Hibernaculum is a single by Mike Oldfield from his The Songs of Distant Earth album, and the name of an album by the band Earth." Thankfully, Wikipedia has a policy where they try to discourage trivia sections. Hopefully that also applies to everything I'm not immediately interested in.
Garter snakes, in case you were not aware, are not hatched from eggs like other snakes. They are born live. Female garter snakes secrete a pheromone that attracts male garter snakes for miles, gathering in one little hole by the hundreds around the one female. One of these female garter snakes (and presumably her many female offspring) has chosen the vacant forest lot behind my apartment as her mating space, not to mention the hundreds of females she also has pumped out over the years. I don't know (or even care) how long garter snakes live. I don't want to.
I need to preface this by saying that I actually like creepy crawly things, generally. I like rats, after a roommate bred them and I learned they were actually fairly clean and intelligent. I like spiders, especially after I allowed one that lived in my window to live and I watched it make it's lovely web every morning. I even have an emperor scorpion encased in orange lucite on my coffee table, which I consider to be one of my favorite objects.
But if there's one thing I hate, more than anything else on the planet, it's snakes.
Sweet Christ do I hate snakes. I hate everything about them, I hate everything they do, I hate their activities and, most importantly, I hate the way they writhe about. I hate their cold, unblinking eyes. I hate their glassy, alien, evil scales. I hate that they manufacture neurotoxin like it's going out of style.
I. Hate. Snakes.
I once dated a girl (zomg, I know, rite?) that was equally terrified of snakes. It was probably the only thing we had in common. She took it the next step and hated anything that reminded her of snakes, included pussycats, which admittedly have that cold predatorial streak to them, when they're not being ADORABLE. So, clearly, I'm not THAT bad. I'm not phobic of snakes, I just hate them. I feel no compunction whatsoever fulfilling the Biblical mandate to crush their heads beneath the heel of my foot. I swerve to hit one on the road.
Anyway, with spring comes snakes, by the hundred. I always jump when I see one, every single time. I think that maybe it's an ancestral Jungian imperative. Somewhere in my genetics, snakes were a serious problem. Ancient Sexcabs were flung into a daily life-or-death struggle with these demonic creatures, and I am doomed to repeat their struggle even into the modern world and the Pacific Northwest, where our snakes are actually fairly innocuous.
I not only wish that all snakes were eradicated, but that we set up some sort of Department of Herpetological Homeland Security, where all governmental bureaus have a single clearinghouse from which to attack the ever increasing snake menace. I, personally, am for the death penalty for any being caught being a snake without legal authority to do so. Of course, I might be a little old fashioned in these things, so a snake Abu Ghraib and a snake Gauntanamo is also acceptable. The snakes need to be humiliated, first. They need to be photographed in sexually humiliating poses and forced to recant their snaky ways at gunpoint. These snake prisons will have very tiny bars on the windows, so the snakes can look out and see the world that they are no longer allowed to be participants in, to remind them that their kind cannot be tolerated in this modern day and age. Imagine little orange snake prison uniforms. Little snake shivs and little snake gay rape scenes. Little snake prison law degrees and little snake dining halls and little snake murders in little snake laundry rooms. Little snake Aryan Brotherhoods.
Yes, a prison for snakes is what we need, because they've been snakes once, they will be snakes again, and they will continuing being snakes as long as they're allowed that freedom. We have the children to think about, first and foremost. He have to keep these recidivist serpents off the streets and out of the playgrounds.
One of the things about being a misanthrope is that people are constantly not inviting you to things. Usually, of course, I don't mind. This is because I don't like people. I don't understand them. They stand around with their hands in their pockets and their haircuts and their clothes and their breathing of oxygen and I think that, ultimately, I just would rather not talk to them at all.
Still, in those circumstances when I have to (and there's not so many of them these days), I am at a complete loss about what to talk about. I don't watch television. That's not an idle liberal pseudo-hipster boast, I seriously just don't have the time, money or interest required to maintain a hobby like watching television. I'd rather sit in here and type away at my Livejournal, TYPE TYPE TYPE, and pretend that when I do watch Arrested Development endlessly on DVD while drawing, it's somehow not creepy and reductive at all when I sometimes like to act out the part of Buster Bluth, who I identify with the most (largely because I lost my left hand to a loose seal in 1997). When I absolutely must indulge in the unforgivable sin of "yak", I have very little capability of starting it.
One time, I had a feckless wanker of a friend tell me that every conversation is about give and take, and that if I wanted to be successful, I need to pretend to be interested in the other party's half. This tells me that not only do successful conversationalists actively enjoy the activity, they're also perpetuating the deceit. Of course they're not interested in my half of the conversation. They are only waiting for me to stop talking long enough to get their attack of opportunity.
I'm told that most conversations involve one of the following things:
The past weekend
The upcoming weekend
The weather of the past weekend
The weather of the upcoming weekend
I'm also told that public conversations are supposed to try to avoid religion, politics or sex. I would like to point out that these are my three favorite topics, and the only things that I am possibly qualified to talk about, having personally engaged in all three multiple times with multiple partners. I think that this is why I am at a loss when it comes to talking. I don't really notice the weather or the weekend, and I don't really think that talking about either will do anything. It's just wormy talk for wormy talk's sake.
On the plus side, I can think of one reason why I should have conversations: each time I meet somebody new, that's one new person to hate completely and wholeheartedly. That's a grand thing. A fine shot in the arm to keep my misery intact.
And, lo, this is perhaps why I love Facebook so much, and my invitation to join was accepted with some wariness that eventually sprouted like a turtle covered in mutagen. Every day is just a brand new person to loathe utterly. Even better that Facebook is little more than friendly, Chuck E. Cheese style Orwellian surveillance. I can watch all of my "friends" meet other "friends" and add annoying doo-bobs and widgets which all ask me the ultimate question... do I want to accept or REJECT them?
Oh, how I love to press the REJECT button. If only real life conversations had the option.
"Oh, hi. How are you today? How was your weekend?"
"It's a scorcher!"
"Stop, collaborate and listen, Ice is back with a brand new..."
It's wonderful. Thank you, Facebook. Now get offa mah lawn.
I don't really watch TV, not so much anymore, especially now that digital is becoming mandatory and that means paying for channels I would never watch. Since the freedom to use bunny-ears has been taken away from us, I have decided to stop paying for cable. I've also decided to connect via wi-fi to the Starbucks down the street, so between that and the reality that I don't buy video games anymore, my net entertainment budget is down less than 1% of my income, which is apparently BLASPHEMY to Corporate America, especially for an unmarried white male between 25 and 36.
The reality behind my newfound miserliness is due to the fact that every entertainment mode is now pretty much demanding a "subscription fee" from me, with the exception of my Nintendo DS, which I only ever hook up to the wi-fi in order to download this week's free Professor Layton puzzle. Last week, it was a maaaaze.
I feel that it is actually necessary to state that I, deeply, personally, from the very bottom of my soul, loathe "subscribing" for the freedom to be entertained. I only buy DVDs I care about and I have no intention whatsoever to upgrade to Blu-Ray (probably going to end my association with paying for media with this incarnation... fuck the RIAA, they're a dead horse anyway). If I want to go see a new movie (and why would I? All movies that go to theaters I'm capable of walking to are "event movies," full of shitty CGI and that lame blue filter that Spielberg slaps on everything), I attend during a matinée and smuggle my own snacks in.*
Xbox? Do I need to pay a monthly fee to be yelled at by middle school students? No. World of Warcraft? If I'm paying to play a video game, I'm paying so that eventually I can win it and return it to the store for a partial refund to apply to another game, repeating this cycle ad absurdum. If I can't do that, I'll pirate the game five years down the line and play it on my own shed-yule. If you can't work with me, developers, you're working against me and thus deserving of my disdain.
Yes, indeed. I am what Best Buy internal literature calls a "Devil Customer," a cheapskate determined to squeeze maximum enjoyment out of minimum investment. I'm the kind of feller who buys Totino's Pizzas ten for a dollar, picks off the sub-par toppings and replaces them with actual vegetables yanked from the Food Bank. I don't pay for things I don't enjoy and I don't experiment if I have to pay for the privilege of doing so. I go to Costco on Saturdays and gorge on free samples, one day out of the week I don't have to purchase food. I watch any show I need to watch on Youtube, I hold no religious beliefs that require the investment of a tithe and I've been known to walk a few miles to get a used object from the Craigslist "Free" listings.
I'm cheap. I have no qualms about being so. I think it was the Writer's Strike that put it into perspective for me, but subscription television is just not a bargain when you think about it.
So, my latest cheapness is in my refusal to pay for cable networks that I don't watch. Call me a spoiled member of the Youtube generation (and, yes, you will, since I'm sure that SO many corporate executives read this blog and actually pay attention to what we proles have to say from their insulated yacht anchored off the coast of Dubai). The situation breaks down like this:
25% of all networks I wouldn't watch anyway, regardless of how awesome they may be to their niche market (Bravo, Style Network, Golf Network, Nickelodeon, Noggin, any shopping channel).
25% of all networks try too hard to garner my demographic and so therefore present noodly focus-grouped bullshit that I actively avoid because I'm a hipster doofus that wouldn't be caught dead watching that anyway, lest my reputation suffer (Spike TV, ESPN Anything, FX, MTV)
25% of all networks that act like I owe them a pence daily just out of dearth of being around so long (Any news network, The Weather Channel, the Big Four, WB).
20% of all networks that I might be interested in but only in an incidental, post-ironic sort of way (Food Network, Game Show Network, TV Land).
This leads us to the remaining 5%, the only networks I will ever actually want to watch, despite their myriad internal problems and general lack of interest to me outside of "Oh hey, a documentary about Hitler": History Channel, Comedy Central, PBS and C-Span.
Those are the only four channels I'm interested in paying for, Comcast. One of them isn't on Basic Cable, so I'm required to order Expanded Cable if I want to watch History Channel. Locally, that's $40 a month.
Forty of my dollars.
For four channels.
That's ten dollars a month to watch "History's Mysteries". Ten bread a month to watch "The Colbert Report," ten balloons a month to watch "Charlie Rose," ten smackers a month to watch "Book Notes".
If I break down my "List of things to spend my money on," which I keep laminated in my wallet so that it isn't ruined when it goes through the wash, it's just not worth it to me.
The proposal, therefore, Comcast, is that you give me something to spend my money on, or I'll go elsewhere. And you're not. You're not doing anything about the fact that these networks then expect us to stay and pay attention to the ADVERTISEMENTS, which we're ostensibly supposed to be enthused by (really though, how often can you tell us that any given product exists? We can see it on the shelves, we know it does).
The contrary proposal, assuming Comcast (or whoever your cable company happens to be) doesn't pay attention (and why would they from that yacht in Dubai?) is that we stop paying for entertainment entirely unless they find a way to make entertainment entertaining and therefore worthy of our ::Realbucks::. The library is free. It's not difficult to get the Internet for free if you live in an urban area. A box of Legos doesn't require a subscription. Sex is always a great option. Whatever, I'm doing my part to drag down those at the top who pay no attention to those of us at the bottom, and so should you.
Steal entertainment today!
*In response to me and my hated ilk, the theater chains have started phasing out actual employees, and automate their snack counters. I hate automated anything. Do not automate things. You may automate things when I get my maid robot like in The Jetsons. Until then, I will avoid your skinflinty ways in favor of my own, superior skinflinty ways.
From Trademork: On February 25, 2008, Twentieth Century Fox, producer and distributor of the TV show Futurama has filed to protect the trademark Slurm in relation to “carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks; fruit drinks; fruit juices; mineral and aerated water; bottled drinking water; energy drinks; syrups and powders for making soft drinks and other beverages, namely soft drinks, fruit drinks and tea; coffee-flavored soft drinks; Ramune (Japanese soda pops); powders used in the preparation of isotonic sports drinks and sports beverages”.
I personally can't want to see what Slurm actually tastes like. I'm imagining a cross between Sweetarts Slush and melted lime Jell-o, or possibly the old (and divine) DnL.
The Weekly Geek rarely works blue, but I came across an image over at my favoritest site in the world, Portal of Evil, that threw me into such a paroxysm of horror that I still can't get over it. Ladies, the fainting couch is prepared for your gentle disposition, and gentlemen are requested to refrain from profanities upon gazing on what is possible the scariest thing the world has ever seen: the inside of a RealDoll.
It is like something out of a Cronenburg movie. It will haunt my nightmares until the day I lurch stumbling from this mockery of a mortal existence.
posted by SecksCab on February 12, 2008 12:56 AM in
The voice actors of Spongebob Squarepants may be annoying, but they're a professional lot. As a treat to the Annie Awards audience, they decided to dub over three of my favorite films, Casablanca,Singing in the Rain and, yes, The Godfather. The results are somewhere north of sublime.
You need to release the Monkey Island series and the Maniac Mansion/Day of the Tentacle games on DS, which is fully compatible with the SCUMM system, lest we are forced through illegal means to pirate-apprentice these good games. Let us do it legally and we will, GLADLY.
If you're moderately interested in blogs, which I assume you are because there is plenty of outdoors you could be playing in right now, you may be aware of the commentraversy involving a blogger from Gizmodo turning off all the TV screens at the CES convention (what does it stand for? Cunts Educating the Self-Important, apparently) with a handy device called a TV-B-Gone. Those without a sense of humor are OUTRAGED, repeat, OUTRAGED that a blogger would be guilty of such an "infantile" crime.
Well, let's put things in perspective. CES limited bloggers from regular amenities, such as the usual convention coffee and donut room, and went through an inane regimenting process where only certain blogs were allowed to attend. Would the Weekly Geek have been invited? No. We're not "big" enough.
So, God bless Gizmodo. It is perfectly acceptable to harangue and harass the high-falutin', and the whole affair has the charm of the old dude in the monocle and top hat in the Three Stooges getting hit by Larry Fine with a cream pie. Then, of course, you've got the neo-conservative "BUSINESS GOOD CORPORATIONS BETTER" crowd that is dredging up the ol' "They were messing with people's PAYCHECKS!" argument.
Trust me, kids. No bodies paychecks were in any worry. Let's tack this down financially, shall we?
A big Las Vegas convention booth, for two people, costs well over $15,000. That is at least a good 15,000 times more money than the Weekly Geek brings in on a monthly basis, once we factor in Furniss' cocaine habit and Qais' "sensual masseuse" fees. Any "small business" that can afford a weekend at $15,000 (not counting the cost of lodging and feeding those employees) is not in any fear of losing money over a single convention snafu.
The greater issue is this: CES feels that it is so mindbogglingly important that they're now fully intending to further ignominize the loathed bloggers, of any site, that we're just not likely to even see any blogs invited at all, period, barring incredibly strict behavior and censorship rules, which essentially makes any reputable blog immediately out of the running. That is an overreaction to a non-problem, and one of the exact reasons why blogs are necessary as a form of journalism. The little guy WILL be represented, regardless of how strict the rules might happen to be, and as the Muggles say, the truth will out. The blogs will take a more skeptical and aggressive stance in response, and it will make self-congratulating conventions such as these increasingly irrelevant, like E3 eventually became.
I'm sorry, CES. You might represent the corporations, but we represent the customers. Like produces like, culturally. Treat bloggers as unwanted children at the big kid's table, and they will act like it in response. Treat bloggers with the respect and dignity that they deserve, and they will return in kind.
posted by SecksCab on January 14, 2008 11:14 PM in
I've long been a fan of Garfield. When I was in my misspent youth, I would draw the dumb fucker over and over again in my notebook, dreaming of the day when I, too, could make scads of money off repeating the same three jokes endlessly for the newspapers. That dream died when I learned that newspaper comic syndicates hate babies, but my love for Garfield has taken a new, 21st century twist. How?
Well, it's easy to understand. Garfield cannot actually talk. Jon is insane. The life of a desperately horny bachelor and his bizarrely pampered cat and constantly abused dog becomes really very funny when you realize it's a chronicle of one man's slow descent into the darkest regions of the soul.
Imagine my glee when I discovered the Lasagna Cat series on Youtube, by Fatal Farm, who previously wowed the world with some truly bizarre DuckTales fursuit rape fantasy porn. In the spirit of Andy Warhol, Jim Davis is tributed with endless (and I do mean endless.... there are about 30 of these things) live action presentations of Garfield and Jon's wacky exploits. Here's a few to whet your whistle...
Garfield and Liz have a Fischerspooner moment.
Final Fantasy VI? Don't mind if we do! (With "Lasagna" as a player character!)
Garfield's Rotten Tomatoes entries come back to haunt him.
One of the more amusing aspects of post-Garfield existence is understanding the "correct" way to read a Garfield cartoon. Basically, one just ignores everything Garfield "says", and focus on the fact that Jon is clearly insane. Beginning with Jon cavorting around in tights and an elf outfit (complete with jingle bells), and featuring a visit to his bizarrely dysfunctional family (featuring Jon's rarely seen brother, Doc-Boy, voiced by none other than SQUIGGY, and PAT FUCKING HARRINGTON as Jon's dad), this is one of Phil Roman's more ludicrous outings.
In true Christmas Special fashion, the Jon Family allows their cat to sit at the table and then proceed to sit around it on only one side, a la the Last Supper. Jon's mother is blind, by the way. Jon's grandmother, who seems to be wearing Homestar Runner's shirt, and delivers the greatest line of this monstrosity: "How did you know I needed a kitty in my lap?"
As we delve deeper into Jon's schizophrenic behavior, we learn that it's genetic. Grandma proudly exclaims that Grandpa was a sociopath except on Christmas. Don't miss the highlight of the piece, Jon's father reading their sacred religious text, "Binky, the Clown Who Saved Christmas".
Not exactly Lorenzo Music's best work, but I imagine it would be just as much fun with Bill Murray in a giant foam Garfield suit and ping-pong balls on everyone's eyes. Garfield gets particularly maudlin in the third act (as if that's in some way possible for Garfield to get MORE maudlin than he usually is). Between Jon's delusional behavior, Doc-Boy's perpetual adolescence and male pattern baldness, and Grandma's intolerable hatred of Jews, this is possibly the worst Third Act ever.
One of several Super Mario Christmas specials that will grace the table during this Festival of Low Lights, Cave Christmas arrives rather late in the franchise's NBC career, after Princess Peach met Milli Vanilli and ostensibly before the incredibly ill-advised guest appearance by Barbara Fucking Bush, this season dispatched utterly with Toad and replaced him with an obnoxious cave-boy named "Oogtar". Did they bother to get a new voice actor, though?
Oogtar is the exact same voice as Toad, only a little gruntier. I wouldn't mind Oogtar so much if he wasn't a blatant rip off of an already RETARDED character, Bubba Duck.
Anyway, the plot here is relatively simple. Oogtar enjoys bullying Off-Model Yoshi. Mario decides to pump some Biblical Consumerism up their asses. Bowser and Morton Koopa Jr. (or Koopa and Bully if you're a retard) interject. Wackiness and big Peach hair ensues. Painful.
One question... what does Peach's enormous jewel on her dress do? Is it the source of her power? What is she doing in Dino-Land? Is Toadsworth staging a coup d'etat? So many questions. Too little gravity control.
Not many people remember the Free Willy cartoon. Not many people remember being circumsized, either, but it's just as painful. We kick off the Terrible Christmas Cartoon Advent Calendar with a tale of a disturbed boy, a whale, underwater space pirates, a loose seal named "Lucille", thinly veiled homosexuality and a terrible theme song. Best part of the deal? Socially relevant climate change issues!!
On the plus side, the secret weakness of middle age hippies is revealed.
There are no snowmen in Puget Sound this year, however: "We're desperately low on snow this year, so I made one out of PINECONES."
Working at The Major National Chain Toystore That Shall Not Be Named gives me a few perks that the other Geeks don't have. For example, I find out which new fire Pokemon is the most powerful (I kid you not... they handed out a little "test yourself" sheet so we could talk about Pokemon without being embarrassed) a month before anyone else. I find out which of the High School Musical kids is the one with the inter-nudes (Gabriella, btw).
And, annoyingly, Sony rails at me for not selling their product.
I will need to preface this by saying that I was forced to sign a NDA about where I work, so I cannot ever actually say which one it was. I will give you a hint: their mascot has a black tongue. 'Nuff said. Anyway, I rarely attend meetings, since I don't see customers, and 9 out of 10 meetings involve screaming sessions about why we're not selling "Protection Plans".
Why are we not selling "Protection Plans"? Because our customers generally have at least two brain cells that connect together, that's why.
I need to digress a bit and rail about "Protection Plans". They're not insurance. They're not warranties. Getting paid out is purely at the discretion of the selling party, and thus, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY. You have no legal rights outside of the freedom to write a sternly worded telegram.
Mr. Sony enters the store, trying to be all hip and not fat (failing on both accounts) and proceeds to kick off the PS3 presentation with a harsh screed on how WE, the salesman, make the difference in selling his turd of a product. WE, not the myopic uber-corporation intent on cramming Blu-Ray down our throats like it or not, are the reason the PS3 isn't selling.
He turns around and goes through the sample list, including the only game I'm remotely interested in (Little Big Planet), and proceeds to take questions.
Dumb girl question: "Can I play World of Warcraft on it?"
Dumb Sony answer: "Not yet."
Amusingly irate question from the bike assemblers: "If this system is $500, and the Wii is $250, how can you possibly assert that this is a good 'starter' system?"
Sony answer: "We don't, actually. We're well aware that the people who are buying the PS3 are hardcore players. And they *deep breath of condescension* don't like to booooooooooooowl."
Long, hateful hiss from the crowd.
My question: "How will Sony deal with the reality that the small, quirky games that made the PS2 great are not being developed, in favor of these immensely baroque All-Singing, All-Dancing extravaganzas that the casual player doesn't care about? Where are the Katamari Damacys and the Psychonauts?"
His answer: "HAVE I SHOWN YOU SONY HOME?!"
Ah yes... it was beautiful.
A co-worker, who looks uncannily like Chris, asked the ultimate question: "Are you looking forward to Halo 3?"
Dark, dark silence.
A piercing glare of hatred in Sony guy's face.
"I brought lanyards."
That done, we filed out, and I realized I had a slit in my pants and I was too embarrassed to stand much longer, but other than that, an expression of Sony's desperation. And there were cupcakes.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, we won't be fooled again.
The first of Seckscab's Monthly Toy Round-Ups kicks off with a visit from Conan the Barbarian, lead poisoning by Dora the Explora, and Castle(Awesome)Vania.
Worlds of wonder indeed, Geeks of the Week! It's time to talk about this month's toys. As the only geek on staff with any area of expertise in this subject (working at The National Toy Chain That Shall Not Be Named), I can guarantee you at least a modicum wad of fun as we carefully maintain the facade that toys are a respectable purchase for adult Americans of a certain tax bracket.
Remember now, we're in a new era. Comics are called "graphic novels", video games are called "massively multiplayer organic roleplaying games" and action figures are called "poseable statuettes". Sort of. It's amusing that a generation ago, the term "action figure" was in and of itself an attempt to not call them "dolls". We can thank George Lucas for that.
Using state of the art computer generated imagery, Seckscab recants the Top 5 Worst People He Has Ever Met, which immediately puts them in the running for the Top 5 Worst People On The Planet. Will one of these human blood boils surpass such luminaries as Kim-Jong Il, George W. Bush and Philip Seymour Hoffman? You decide! So much MS Paint madness your eyes may bleed with glee!
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