Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Super Bowl issue ad


Tim Tebow, former Heisman Trophy winner and star QB of the Florida Wading Birds, will appear in a "pro-life" ad during the Super Bowl along with his mother. Oops, I meant Gators. Wrong Everglades predator. Anyone could make that mistake. Anyway, they're going to tell their story about how Tim's mommy decided not to abort his high-risk pregnancy, and now he's a star football player! Which isn't something I can argue with. Dead babies are like white running backs: there's no way they'll even get a realistic shot at a Heisman.

Tim and his mom will tell the women of America their story, and remind them that they too WILL GO TO HELL IF THEY CONSIDER ABORTION. I haven't seen the ad--I'd imagine it's non-judgmental in the way that my roommate Rob is non-judgmental when he states that gay people are "immoral" and "indecent." But he doesn't hate them or dislike them or judge them! Heavens, no. Hatred is repugnant. Almost as repugnant as gay people.

Still, at least with this decision CBS is declaring open season. If an odd self-righteous ad about MURDERING BABIES BURN BURN BURN in the middle of a bunch of fun and goofy ads is okay for Jesus, then it has to be okay for everyone else! I'm of the opinion that speech ought to compete. If you have an idea or a belief, you should be prepared to defend it in public. "Oh well, this is just my personal belief," is bullshit. Faith means you don't ask questions. It doesn't mean you don't have to answer them.

CBS threw down the gauntlet of free speech when they inexplicably reversed their "no issue ads" stance for this particular ad, announcing it soon enough before the Super Bowl that no other groups could put together a competing ad or make a buy in time. Props to them! So in the spirit of intellectual honesty and open dialogue, here's my concept for an ad that might transmit my personal beliefs and values to the rest of the country. I think they can learn from my faith and by my example.

The Ad
We open with a shot of an angry "tea party" protest. Piano music plays slowly in a minor key.

Voice Over 1: In Obama's America, are we headed in the right direction?

Fade to Haitian children picking through rubble.

Voice Over 2 (female): In difficult times, we often struggle to see things clearly.

Fade to the burning World Trade Center.

Voice Over 3 (black): We lose track of what's important.

Fade to Samuel L. Jackson alone in front of a mottled gray backdrop. The entire background is out of focus so nobody can tell it's a dropcloth with gray paint spackled all over it.

Jackson: Don't you wish you felt a little more certainty? In times like these, many of us don't where our next paycheck is coming from. Who's going to buy the groceries? What happens if we get sick?

Cut to a crying child. Children cry all the time, so this shouldn't be too hard to get. Can use stock footage if necessary.

Jackson V.O.: It doesn't have to be this way. There is an answer. What do sailors do when they're lost at sea?

Fade back to Jackson.

Jackson V.O.: They look...to the North.

Cut to old-timey images of Norse mythology.

Jackson V.O.: Nothing embodies the American spirit like the beliefs of our--(chuckles)--your Viking ancestors!

Cut to devastated post-Katrina New Orleans. The words "The American Spirit" fade into the center of the frame.

Jackson V.O.: When the great progenitor Ymir was murdered by his own offspring, his blood flooded the world. Countless jotunn were drowned. But the survivors rebuilt! They rebuilt in the exact same way the people of New Orleans did after George Bush destroyed their city with black sorcery.

Cut to bombed-out Baghdad. People are scurrying amongst the rubble and soldiers are making their way through. The word "War" fades into the frame. Fade to a somber shot of flag-draped coffins on a military plane.

Jackson V.O.: Why mourn the dead? In the Norse belief system, you won't have to. They aren't mourned; they're celebrated. Valhalla lacks the self-righteous judgment of Heaven. We're not about how you lived; we're all about how you die! These brave soldiers sup and drink in the hall of the mighty Odin! We should all be so lucky.

Back to Sam. Now he's sitting on a bench in a bright sunlit park. Two adorable children of different ethnicities sit on either side of him. He puts his arms around them and smiles for the camera.

Jackson V.O.: Best of all, when you take up a Norse lifestyle you gain perspective. Perspective on what's really important in life. (Smiles at the children, who smile back.) Because the Eddas tell us that in the final battle at Ragnarok, the elder god Surtr will slay the fertility god Freyr with his flaming sword. And the fires of Surtr will incinerate the Earth after the Doom of the Gods. This lets us rest secure in the knowledge that all our actions and progeny are, fundamentally, meaningless.

Sam stands up from the park bench and begins to walk slowly towards the camera. The ethnic children stand as well. They take his hands as he advances.

Jackson V.O.: Across the sundered span of Bifrost, Asgard lies deserted. The skies of the Earth are a noxious fume. Not because of man-made pollution; oh, no. Because Jormungand, the serpent son of Loki, rose from the ocean and poisoned the sky. After killing Jormungand, Thor will take nine steps and fall dead from the venom. Our world will be ruined and everything we do rendered a cruel joke, because of what? A serpent. A snake.

Zoom in for a tight shot on Sam. His face is a mask of fury. The kids are out of the shot so everyone's forgotten about them already.

Jackson V.O.: Motherfucking snakes.

Cut to black. END

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You're the Man now, Dawg


J.D. Salinger died. He wrote Catcher in the Rye, which I don't have much to say about. I read it years ago and the only reaction I remember was, "This kid is an asshole." But at the same time, it was a thoroughly entertaining and memorable plot device in the film Conspiracy Theory. Patrick Stewart tortures Mel Gibson; you should watch it.

I find it ironic and odd that so much ink has been spilled on this topic. Not because Salinger wasn't important, but because the man spent the better part of his life as an absolute hermit. Nobody heard a peep from him for 30 years. His last work was published in 1965. He wanted nothing to do with fame or the public, so it's pretty funny that so much attention is being paid to him in death. He'd be mortified.

I'll give you a moment to recover from the pun.

Now, I'm going to give Salinger the memorial he would have wanted: nothing. I won't even post a picture of him. That shot above? It's not Salinger; it's Victorian English writer Thomas Hardy. Tony, that picture is clearly like 80 years too old. And it looks nothing like my man J.D., the inspiration for Sean Connery's character in "Finding Forrester." All of these are facts. But I used Thomas Hardy because it's my blog and Thomas Hardy's novels are life-altering experiences. Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge are the literary equivalents of being punched in the stomach over and over, and I mean that in the best possible way. They are agonizing and beautiful and I can't recommend them enough. His novels were considered to be so outrageous that he was effectively blacklisted from publishing anything but poetry for the rest of his life. That's metal. He was probably the most metal of upper-class Victorian novelists, which is really saying something!

Yes, I am an authority on things that are metal. I have an excellent ability to look deeply into a situation, image or what-have-you and determine if it possesses "metal" elements. It's a gift and if you would like to pay me in some way for it, I'd love to chat with you. Also, gifted with segues. You like how I not only went seamlessly from Salinger to Hardy with a set-up picture, but then I also got to stop talking about Salinger in order to not remember him! Garrrr!! Pirate cheer!

*****

Tony's Rules for Simpler Living

1. Don't match your socks.
See those things to the right? Both those things are evil. Matched socks represent everything that is sinister about conformity. Stormtroopers, man. That's no joke. Unless you're a fucking muppet with a rock and a stick. Anyway, I stopped matching my socks the moment I moved out on my own. Why would I spend more time and energy doing something I hate (laundry-related activities) just so my socks, which are always covered by shoes and/or pants, can match perfectly? Ridiculous. I always make sure my socks are roughly the same length because that's easy to determine as I'm looking in the drawer in the morning. By "always" in the preceding sentence, I meant long as I'm wearing shorts. If not, it's open season in the sock drawer!

2. Eat lots of fiber.
I spend like...2 minutes in the bathroom when I go twosies. I know people who routinely spend 10+, and those are a rough 10 minutes. Fiber cuts down on time, pain and suffering. And it helps keep your cholesterol low! I suppose for some people time on the toilet is contemplative time, but those people are wrong. Get in, do your thing, get out. That is utility time and it should be minimized. I have one more point, and it may be controversial so just steel yourself: I think bran muffins are delicious. Along with corn muffins, I could eat them all day. YES, I AM PROVOCATIVE.

3. Credit cards are the enemy.
I don't really mean that; credit cards are awesome. They are essentially fonts of arcane magic, from which money can be made to flow. Eventually the fonts want the money put back into them, but from a convenience standpoint they're tough to beat. The problem is this: like most eldritch creatures that touch our plane, credit cards are tricksy. Specifically, they tell you that you don't need to put all the money back at once! Take your time! Here's a $15 minimum payment option! But that's a trick. The arcane money source doesn't really want money. It wants to devour your blood and bones. It doesn't offer you that minimum payment so your life will be improved; the offer is there to encourage you to run up a lot of debt so the card can fucking eat you. Did you know that in 2006 Congress passed a bill that actually allows debtors to be devoured by their creditors in a completely legal fashion? Yeah, it's pretty great. Obama wanted to roll back the debtors-can-be-eaten legislation, but it's stalled in the Senate for the moment. He'll probably drop it from his agenda over the next couple months, because the American people just aren't ready to live in that kind of fevered Marxist nightmare.

*****

Goin' ta see them Avatars!

Yesterday at work they called a full department meeting. Rather than being in a meeting room, it was just in the middle of the office while everyone stood around. The announcement: today's a special event day! We're going to get to work at 9, and then be shipped off to a local movie theater to give James Cameron more money than we already have! Does Cameron have some sort of special deal in place that compels people to see his movies in the theaters several times? I guarantee that everyone in a QA department who wants to see Avatar has seen it. Additionally, we will have to pay for our own tickets ($13 because it's the obnoxious 3D version). We will be paid for the time at the theater so it comes out to a net gain, but the final indignity: if we don't want to watch the movie, our only other option is scut work at the office. Not just normal work--having asked, it was specified whatever work we do will suck more than usual.

We have to check in with our leads at the theater so they know where we all are. I assume there will also be mandatory hand-holding during street crossings, and attendance called out loud in the theater (where everyone answers "Here," which is short for "Here I am...rock you like a hurricane"). I'm not actually upset about this because it's objectively better than actually working, but I haven't experienced anything this high school since middle school.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A confession...

I write this as I wait for Mass Effect 2 to install. I won't apologize and you can't make me. I'm sure some of my readers (it kills me just typing those two words) aren't familiar with Mass Effect, but just take my word for it when I tell you that this is something I cannot resist. Cannot. They just don't make a lot of grand Sci Fi epics any more (not sure "they" ever made a lot to begin with) and to have it done by BioWare...just think a longer, fully interactive "Avatar" with galactic space-opera scale. Also, they didn't have to cut 45 minutes of dialogue and character development out of Mass Effect for length. Just sayin'.

I won't go too much into it because EA/Bioware expends quite enough effort promoting themselves as it is. Just believe me when I say I didn't just want this game. I needed it. And when you need something, that's a responsibility.

*****

I saw this today, and such a thing can't go without comment. Whether or not convicts have a right to play D&D isn't a question that interests me, because part of being in jail is being in jail. They don't let you do whatever you want. That's kind of the point. What does interest me is the sorts of guys who'd get into prison D&D.

Are these good-hearted nerds gone wrong? Despite my Hobbesian view of human nature, I'm pretty Locke when it comes to nerds. I just have a hard time believing that nerds can be intrinsically evil, so I like to imagine these guys as poor dorks who stole somebody else's World of Warcraft account. Or maybe murdered their roommates with a katana because somebody macked on somebody else's e-girlfriend, who they met in World of Warcraft. And who is probably an actual female, but one who's trying to get you to move to Washington State so you can settle down, get a job and help her pay for her gastric bypass surgery. That last part is a true story.

The following is roughly how I imagine prison D&D games are played:
Game Master: You and your party enter the shower room. Row upon row of gleaming steel shower heads spray hot water and fill the room with steam. Your visibility is obstructed, and you suffer...(consults a table in his Sourcebook) minus-two to your perception saving rolls.
Player 1: Fuck negative modifiers!
Player 2: Fuck 'em in the ass!
Game Master: What do you do?
Player 1: We move further into the shower room. Shivs drawn.
Game Master: Okay, shivs are out. As you make your way through the cleansing mist, you see three Orcs cleaning themselves in the showers. What do you do?
Player 2: Fuck 'em in the ass!
Player 1: That sounds pretty good.
Game Master: You have to put your shivs away first. You can't attempt a Rape Initiative roll unless both hands are free.
Player 2: Obviously.
Game Master: You have to say it.
Player 1: Fine, we put our shivs away!
Game Master: (rummages through piles of paper) Oookay, here we are. "Rape Initiative Roll Table." It's a 2d8 roll, need 12 or higher for success. Modifier of +1 per point of Strength and Agility over 10. Let's roll away, gentlemen!

You can see pretty easily how this would lead to gang activity. Dorkery is indeed a slippery slope.

*****

Remember the kerfuffle a few months back where a pair of conservative activists posed as a hooker/pimp combo and tried to secure advice and money from ACORN? It was pretty funny and (I thought) a nice little bit of subversive activity. I don't subscribe to the idea that ACORN is some sinister outfit trying to undermine American civilization. If that were the case, they'd have picked a better name. I'm sorry, you're just not going to sell me on the idea of an evil organization called "ACORN." SPECTRE; that works. Furthermore, there's an entire line in Willow where Val Kilmer sarcastically yells "HELP! HELP! THERE'S A PECK HERE WITH AN ACORN POINTED AT ME!" See? Not intimidating. Incidentally, "peck" is probably the greatest racial slur ever invented. Just say it out loud; now there's some teeth. And Italian organizations get worked up over "guido?" Peck, please.

Okay, so we found a shortcoming. They can't all be gems.

Anyway, the kid is back at it. Only this time, he's not using a hidden camera to record demi-criminal jackasses at a charity. He's bugging the offices of Congresspeople! Specifically, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu. It turns out that this is actually a pretty serious crime. Who knew? This guy and a crew of his fellow 20-something conservative cronies lied to get into the office, then admitted their deception when caught. They're being charged with Federal felonies.

The first thing that should have tipped everyone off that this guy was an asshole? He's a "conservative activist" in his 20s. Nobody is a serious conservative in their 20s. It goes against your emotional state, your self-interest...honestly, any serious "conservative" in his 20s is just an asshole who wants an excuse. Conservatism these days is, fundamentally, about being an asshole. When's the last time you met a hippie asshole? You haven't. These guys want to tell gay people they can't get married, while doing crystal meth with male prostitutes. His name is Ted Haggard; look it up.

The thing that really kills me is the line from one of Mr. Illegally-Wiretap-Congress blog posts: "It is time to create chaos for glory." That sounds like a really authentically conservative point of view, young man, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter! Creating chaos: conservative. Doing things for the sake of "glory:" also totally a conservative value. Just like how denying gay people Constitutional rights is conservative. And torturing people is conservative. And raping the wilderness for short-term gains is conservative. That is a hell of an intellectual movement you've built there. I bet you'll go far.

HA! I'm just kidding. He'll be out of the can in a few years, provided he doesn't get caught up in all that D&D-related gang activity. It's a real concern, in case you hadn't heard.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scattered

I Totally Fought a Dog
Not like Mike Vick, though. He did it for money and that's wrong. Seriously, I was accosted by a dog while out running last week. Somebody forgot to close his front gate and suddenly I have a barking snarling mass of fur chasing after me from across the street.

It wasn't a big dog. If it had been, I would have figured out something else. As it was, the thing couldn't have been much over 30 pounds. It wasn't a fearsome beast; it was just being an asshole. Now, I don't really know what you're supposed to do in these situations. Probably just keep running. But I was listening to the musical stylings of Static-X, and Wayne Static won't tolerate no cuttin' 'n' runnin'! I had my dander up and I wasn't about to be intimidated by this stupid dog.

As it got close, I turned on it and just roared in its face. As loud as I possibly could. And it worked! The cur stopped in its track and suddenly looked very confused. I advanced on it, screaming curse words and pointing back at the yard from whence it came. And I'll be damned if the thing didn't turn right around and bolt back to the yard. It squeezed through the half-open gate and stared at me through the fence. VICTORY.

The downside was this: there was a car in the road that slowed down so as to not run the dog over as it crossed. The driver and passenger saw everything and they were looking at me...well, basically in the same way the dog had looked at me. "What the hell was that?" So I felt awkward, but I maintain I was in the right here. That dog wasn't a real threat; it was merely fronting. And maybe you're not supposed to intimidate the local fauna, but let's face it: I am way bigger and stronger than that dog. By the rules of the Animal Kingdom, I am superior and I get to yell in its face. I think that's how it works.

So that's my latest running story. Tune in the next time Tony does battle with jeering children or small animals!

*****

On Television
The NBC late-night kerfuffle has been pretty entertaining for the last week or two. At the very least, everyone should acknowledge the positive in all this: for two weeks, Conan's show was actually worth watching. The situation really couldn't have worked out better for him. He's getting paid to not host a TV show, and his stock is boosted by the combination of good press and the fact that people who never would have watched his boring-ass show actually tuned in for the funny stuff at the end. If all you ever watched of his Tonight Show run was the last 10 episodes, you'd be outraged at NBC for dumping this comic genius. But it just wasn't funny. That's the honest truth and maybe now Conan can get back to entertaining people who appreciate him. He'll never do this because they can't pay him a bazillion dollars, but the best choice would be an hour-long show on Comedy Central after Colbert.

Think about it: he gets his midnight time slot. He could move back to New York. He's on late night cable, so they can let him say and do anything he wants. Colbert's audience is large by cable standards and they're likely to enjoy Conan's humor. Finally, Stewart-Colbert-Conan is an unstoppable two-hour juggernaut of nightly comedy. It would be excellent. But I doubt it will ever happen. He'll end up at Fox, whose late-night talk show hits in recent years have included the hosting talents of Chevy Chase and Wanda Sykes. Kiss of death. You have an assload of money, Conan. You'll never top the Tonight Show no matter what you try to do, so do the right thing and just be funny for the rest of your life.

*****

Best Worst Movie Trailer

Apparently this movie is periodically screened in Los Angeles as an audience participation event like Rocky Horror. This makes me happy, because somebody out there needs to support and appreciate something like this. Lord knows how Mr. Tommy Wiseau got the funding to pay people to make this movie, because his "production company" has an animated logo made on an Apple IIe back in 1992. It is possible that this "production company" is in fact a front for drug smuggling or money laundering or some other kind of illicit activity that Mr. Wiseau is involved with, and they needed to make this movie to pass an audit. Probably not the case, but I think the possibility needs to be floated.

Tommy Wiseau stars in the movie in addition to writing and directing it. If you are ever in charge of a creative project, insert yourself into as many roles as possible. This is a sign of creative genius. Mr. Wiseau has remarkably combined the acting talent of a 1970s porn star with Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent circa Conan the Barbarian, then topped it all off with the wig of the aforementioned 1970s porn star. The overall package is nothing short of a triumph. My favorite moments:
**0:23, "I would do anything for my girl!" It sounds like during the line, Tommy starts cutting a really long, silent fart and carries it through to the end of the line. So he's trying to deliver as best he can, but the fart is also really warm and that distracts the hell out of him. His accent falls apart almost as bad as James Worthington's during the second half of Avatar.
**0:48 Just two bros chillin' on a bluescreened rooftop. With a football and a sleeveless shirt, 'cause that's what bros do. Also, why do Tommy's clothes always fit him really badly? Was it just a bad week with slim pickings from the Goodwill?
**1:15 "I told him that to make it interesting." His wife is evil, if you're confused so far. He gives her flowers and he's like VEE AHH EXPHAYKTINK HAH HAH HAH but she'll have none of it. That bitch.
**1:25 "YOO AHH TEAHING ME APAHHT, LEEZA!" Money line. Brings the house down. And BAM, the T.V. falls and breaks. SYMBOL!
**1:45 The ending promotional material is priceless. "Experience this quirky black comedy! It's a riot!" Yeah, that's what I got from this trailer. Clearly this is a comedy. A black comedy, because nothing that happens is directly funny. It's just that I imagine at the first screening Mr. Wiseau noticed that the whole audience was laughing. They were all laughing their asses off and he realized the incredible truth: he'd made a comedy so brilliant that not even he--its creator--knew it was a comedy! This is the real creative process, and God damn if it's not rewarding to see it all pan out like this. Brings a tear to my eye.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making Sports Better

I love sports. I spend an inordinate amount of time writing, reading, watching and thinking about sports. Why? Because they don't matter. My life is filled with important issues that need my attention, like how I'm going to ever amount to anything or why we're out of pot. It's liberating to get wrapped up in something that, fundamentally, you don't needto care about. I'm choosing to care about something, and that's a choice I'm privileged to have.

Ludicrous sums of money have been poured into developing sports programming, enough that there's several 24-hour channels focused exclusively on them. The NFL is as good as it's been, the NBA is fantastic and the Yankees have only succeeded at buying a title one out of the past 10 years. Sports are really in a great place right now. That doesn't mean we can't make them better. Here are some ideas.

All-White Leagues
I can't honestly take credit for this one. That should go to Don "Moose" Lewis, who is taking the bold step of starting an all-white basketball league. See that picture of non-racist white person Steve Nash? With his magnificent hair and suit? With his socially acceptable hand gesture? That's what basketball ought to be like. While I love Lewis' passion, I feel like...how to put this...maybe he should have chosen a different sport? Baby steps? No? Okay, basketball it is. I would have started with something a little easier to de-integrate, like Badminton or Ultimate Frisbee. Mr. Lewis is on the right track here, because this isn't about hate. This is just about preferring your game a certain way. Mr. Lewis wants his league to be about "fundamental" basketball, not that crazy "street ball" where you jump and attack the rim and people actually want to watch you play.

Among the proposed rule changes:
1. No jumping. This is the most important rule.
2. No shot blocking. If people start trying to block shots, shooters will have to find a way to elevate their bodies above their defender. The defender obviously needs to respond, and suddenly we're back at jumping.
3. Passing is encouraged, but no-look passing is illegal. A player attempting a pass while not looking directly at his intended target will be assessed an offensive foul.
4. TEENY little shorts.
5. Hair must be moussed and parted. Ideally it'd be parted down the middle, but that's not in the rules. Hey, they're not Nazis.
6. No dunking. See rule #1. If you're tall enough to dunk with your feet on the floor, still no dunking.
7. No fast breaks. This inevitably causes sprinting, which puts us on a slippery slope to the J word. No, not them. They're basically white, so they can play. I meant jumping. Sprinting is a gateway activity; it's like the marijuana of exercise.

I am really excited about the possibilities afforded by this league. Dr. Lewis (he holds no postgraduate degree, but basketball innovators are always referred to as "Doctor." I don't make the rules) points out the three major threats in attending an NBA game: "Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?" I can see where he's coming from. He's just concerned for the integrity of the game. It's not at all like he believes black people are physically and sexually intimidating and is imprinting his own fears and insecurities all over his awesome basketball league. Let's salute this patriot and learn by his example.

Good Super Bowl Halftimes
I'm sure there are people out there who love The Who. I'm also sure that those people are into all kinds of fusty old rubbish and we shouldn't give a crap about them. You know what I've realized from discussing music with my fusty old roommate Rob? People who like classic rock don't buy classic rock. Why would they? The music they enjoy came out 30 years ago and they've owned it for just that long. They might go to see Bruce Springsteen because he takes them back to a special time; a time when things were simpler, when the country's moral fiber was intact and--most importantly--when their penises still worked.

My point is this: in an event that is all about making money and pushing up sales and generating buzz, how are a bunch of 50-year-old dudes raising the bar? Simple answer: they're not. What were the best two halftimes shows of recent years? The Janet Jackson one (we got to see a boob!) and the Prince one (sweet Austin Powers sight gag with his phallus/guitar). They were fun! They had energy! They generated controversy way out of proportion to their actual content! Aside: the Janet Jackson boob thing remains appalling. Not the event; the reaction. It reminded me of how Californian drivers act when it rains. "Holy shit! There's water falling from the sky! What're we gonna do?" They panic, overreact and drive 40mph down the highway. Our nation panicked and overreacted when we saw Janet's old pastied mammary, and we've been driving at 40mph ever since. The Who, indeed. It's like when Stephen Colbert savaged the Press Corps dinner and the next year they exhumed Richard Little's corpse and propped it up onstage for a macabre half-hour of "comedy."

Why not throw in a musical act people would like to see? One that could actually use the opportunity to sell some records and promote themselves? It wouldn't have to be anything that edgy--give Muse the gig and I guarantee they would crush it. Why is the most kinetic, physical high-speed sport promoted during halftime by the revenants of rock stars past? I don't understand it. Also, Pete Townshend is a child pornographer. But you keep those nipples off my screen!

Bloodsport
It's not in italics, so I wasn't talking about the classic film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Our society has gone far enough down the road that we may as well just give up the ghost and officially become a futuristic dystopia. I'll refer you to the helpful worksheet at right--clearly we're just wasting time by not making the transition now. It's like Devil-President Obama told us after Everything Changed: "You're all fucked so you might as well accept it and brand my mark on your scalps."

Right now we feel the need to apologize for the violence in sports. We create Congressional committees to study concussions in football and tut-tut about Boxing and MMA fighting. We get outraged when Ron Artest heads into the stands for a friendly discussion (I'm not gonna get into Stephen Jackson; that man doesn't give a fuck). Hell, Gilbert Arenas' career is all but over after keeping an unloaded gun at the arena. Also because he signed a $100M contract and subsequently went in the toilet. But what if our athletes not only brought guns to work, but used them at work? The Unreal Tournament games showed us how awesome this could be. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a vice half-indulged. "Low-fat" ice cream? Get the fuck out of here. If you want ice cream, eat some ice cream. If you don't want to get fat, don't eat ice cream. We want violence in our sports, but more than anything else we just want to stop feeling guilty about enjoying said violence. Let's get this done and in a generation we'll look back and wonder why we didn't always let athletes murder each other for our amusement. Yes we can.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Design Doc: Wii Shit

Greetings to all developers in esteemed offices worldwide of radiant developer Nintendo company International! It is with many pleasings I tell to you our plan for innovating Nintendo Wii title. Every man rests on his toilet for each day that passes by! These are the fact of existing. What does he do almost never but seldom? Play Nintendo Wii game that makes excitement on his toilet! We draw this game with secrets complete. No firm that is not make Nintendo Wii thinks our thoughts and hence them all are commit massive seppuku. HA! Kiddings are in short order. Here in Nintendo we have made the erection of the most winning company eminently possible, so our new title is cast a hurricane on the world!
-Hiroishi Haruka

Give it up, everyone, for the big man! Mr. Hiroishi is the conceptual genius behind our next big project here at Nintendo of America. His team has drawn up the basics and as your Development Director I've taken the liberty of consolidating them into this document. It's not finished and it won't be for a month or so, but it's important for everyone to be on the same page with this.

Wii Shit!
Thus far we've been able to leverage the cutting-edge technology of the Wii entertainment system into games that cover elements of everyday living. From the mundane (Wii Cook) to the exotic (Wii Ski), we do it all. Last quarter's medical-focused title, Wii Gynecology, saw strong sales--though not in the demographics we intended. No less a success!

With this project we've laid those concerns to rest. Like Mr. Hiroishi reminded us, everyone gives birth to gremlins. Check out that happy Wii owner; she just got home from Taco Bell and she's ready to get this show on the road! We'll be putting together an assortment of mini-games that really get at the heart of pooping. What is it we really do on the toilet? What leads to the struggles we experience? In the case of our office, it is usually Hot Pockets out of the vending machine. These are a few of the mini-games we've concocted already:

Wipe Out
The objective here is simple: get clean using as little paper as possible. One square at a time. Using the Wiimote, the player simulates the wiping motion and tries to pick up everything she can. ESRB guidelines prevent us from showing most of the action, but we don't have to. Nobody can really see what they're going for when they wipe in real life, so we can obscure what we have to and it'll actually be more realistic. Both cheeks need cleaning, so this is about wrist motion and really maximizing the surface area with each wipe. After each wipe, we'll automatically load up the next square of toilet paper and use a UI to show the player how much came off on the last square. We don't have a working mock-up yet, but we're planning to display both visual and numeric indicators.

It may be possible to integrate the Wiimote's vibrating function here. If so, we want it to communicate to the user how much is really down there--how thick the brush is, if you get my drift. We plan on offering several difficulty settings that will govern consistency, spread and volume. These aren't final, but Easy might be Oatmeal and Insane might be Beer & In-N-Out.

Broken Seat
For those months on end when one screw on your toilet seat is broken, but you don't want to drive down to Wal-Mart and spend $10 to get a new one. The player's avatar (we'll probably just use the existing Mii functionality) will sit down on the broken seat and begin to drift. The seat, anchored by its lone surviving screw, will cause the avatar to slide around on the bowl constantly. The Wiimote and Nunchuck must be used in concert to balance the player and keep him centered. The sliding action will become more and more pronounced until failure becomes inevitable. Poor performance results in poor scores, and if the player slides far enough he'll fall off the bowl or break the seat completely. Higher difficulty settings will place the player in more hectic locations, such as the bathroom on a tour bus or airplane.

No word yet from Standards if we can make this work, but ideally we'd like to add an Easter Egg for male Miis. Specifically, if a male Mii fails at Broken Seat we want the small random chance for him to get his junk stuck. I live in mortal terror of getting it pinched between the plastic seat and porcelain bowl as they slide around, and I can't imagine how much it would hurt if that happened. Ugh...gives me the willies.

Push It
Part skill check, part endurance trial. The avatar is about to give birth to the mother of all turds, and the player has to guide him through the pitfalls of the experience. 'Cause that bitch is coming out, one way or another. We'll start with a rhythm game, like the player is just sitting down and centering himself for the trial ahead. Maybe he's at work and there are three other people in the bathroom and he needs to really focus before things can move. Whatever the premise, the rhythm game kicks things off.

We move from there to the main event. There will be different turds of various sizes, dimensions, consistencies, contents and descriptions. We'll build a UI that shows how much of the current turd is outside of the player's body. We're going for an iceberg effect here. What do I mean by this? Well, you can always tell basically how much you've gotten out. But you can't tell how much there's still to come. You're 8 inches in the clear? Could be twenty more back there! It's a mystery! This is what we're going for. The player will make furious use of the Wiimote's "Waggle" functionality to convey the sense of exertion, and we'll use another UI to make the player aware of his avatar's current energy levels. The sphincter can't go all-out all the time, so a meter will help the player decide when to pause and take a breather. During "rest" periods, he may optionally engage the rhythm mini-game to help him regain focus and Sphincter Energy quicker. We're not sure exactly how to integrate this: should it be the same rhythm game? Very similar to the first? Not at all similar? We'll hash this out in production meetings.

As with the other mini-games, we'll put together different difficulty settings corresponding roughly to eating habits. Difficulty will be an element of this, but we want to integrate it into the fantastic personalization that the Wii offers. The user should be able, if she desires, to play Wii Shit essentially as herself with her diet. This is a long-range idea and we aren't committed to it, but it's something we'll try to get done. Ideally the eating habits of the user will enable specific widgets--mini-games within mini-games--that we can attach to Push It or any other game. Have you been eating a lot of cheese? It's possible on any given turd that it'll become a Clinger, opening up the Clinger widget (HEAVILY Waggle-based) and throwing a fun new experience the user's way. If implemented properly, the Widget idea could dramatically increase the replay value of our title.

***

So that's what we're looking at for now. We have more ideas, of course, but they're not polished and the whole thing has a lot of iteration left to endure. The next few weeks will involve a lot of closed-door planning with our great production team, but once we know facts we'll post updates for all concerned. We've been doing great work here at Nintendo of America. Know that Mr. Hiroishi sees it all and appreciates it. Enjoy the breather now; we've got a lot of work to do!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mr. Gorbachev, FUMBLE THIS BALL.

The second week of the NFL Playoffs is in the books. There's been a little more controversy than we're used to; see, eight playoff games were scheduled but as far as I can tell only two games were actually played. I'm not sure exactly what's going on and whether the NFL is planning to re-schedule the games that weren't played. It seems like they'd have to, right? I mean, how are you supposed to keep going in the playoffs when only the Cards-Packers and Chargers-Jets games even took place?

I kid, of course. These six "missing" games actually took place. But they may as well not have. Every single one was over in the first half as one team after another simply rolled over. My beloved Patriots were among the casualties. The only good game of the Wild Card round was the ridiculous Cards-Packers shootout, as both teams set their respective skill levels to All-Madden and cut loose. The game was even decided in Madden fashion as a sack led to a freak turnover and still more scoring. And now it was all irrelevant because both teams are out. I'd rather be a Packers fan, because at least your team went down fighting. How many teams can say that at the end of this season? Not mine, certainly. Any wind in the Cardinals' sails was snuffed out by their fumblicious defeat at the hands of the Saints. Finally, yesterday's Chargers-Jets game was a pretty entertaining defensive struggle that ended in anticlimax.

The Jets are a team we all should have seen coming. Every year in the recent past has seen a discredited team come out of nowhere to reach the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl. The Cardinals last year, the Giants the year before that, the Patriots the year before that. The Jets have some unique advantages this year. Because their last two opponents in the regular season (Indy and Cincy) rolled over, they were allowed to get some free momentum. And with the two dominant wins over Cincy and now the win over San Diego, their momentum is truly unstoppable. Why? Because of Rex Ryan.

Look at that dude. When that kind of mass gets rolling with serious momentum...well, it's just physics at that point. Momentum is purely a function of mass and velocity, so the Jets are able to attack the problem at both ends with their high-octane defense and their coach's low-octane metabolism. I will congratulate Mr. Ryan on remedying a failing of his from earlier in the season: namely, his tendency to hoard time-outs so that he might eat them later. Can you eat time-outs? Unfortunately, no. They're not tangible things. But they are things, so Rex assumes he must be able to eat them. Most stuff in the world can be eaten.

Rex Ryan is actually a good coach, as evidenced by his team's defense and the fact that he actually makes good decisions. Norv, trotting out Nate "LOL" Kaeding for a 48-yard attempt when you have 4th and 2 is not a good idea. Onside kicking against a team that's expecting it when you have 2:16 to play, down 3? Not a good idea. Kick it deep against the "Hands" team and force the Jets to play safe. Rex couldn't have gone for it on 4th down from his own 30, but he sure could from yours! Ugh. Of course, I shouldn't be talking smack about other coaches. Beel Beelichick never figured out how to make the defense work, never adapted the offense to the conditions on the ground and somehow expected everyone to believe that Lawrence Maroney was going to be a quality running back. Remember months ago when I wrote that Maroney sucked and would never do anything? That's what happened. And I can't even really take credit for that, because everybody knows Maroney is awful. Ask any Pats fan how he feels.

This is Jim Caldwell. That's actually not a JPEG. It's an embedded video of him on the sidelines yesterday. If you wait to about the 3-minute mark, he blinks and you can totally tell. Anyway, Jim Caldwell does absolutely nothing. Peyton runs the offense, some other guy runs the defense and Caldwell...wears a headset? I bet he's just listening to music and spacing out. That's what I'd do if I got to coach Peyton Manning. I'm convinced he will be the downfall of them at some point, because in a league based on coaching that has to come up. Right? I feel like it did for Norv and Wade this weekend. It will come for Childress next weekend; Sean Payton is a good coach. Brad Childress just makes propeller noises into his headset mic and orders low-percentage passes in obvious run situations. They'll never see it coming!

Rex is a good coach, he's just kinda obnoxious and quirky. I actually dig the way he stores his red challenge flags in his mouth during the game. I bet he keeps all kinds of other useful things in there. His neck fat is actually substantial enough that I'd believe he has a kind of pelican-like pouch in there. He can store things like his keys, or a snack for later. Hmm...now that I think about it, that wouldn't really work because you'd drool all over the place. But then, how do squirrels and chipmunks store food in their cheeks without drooling? The world is a mysterious place.

Finally, it's entirely possible that Kurt Warner will retire after this season. I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, I like Kurt Warner and he's played well. I think he deserves to make the Hall of Fame after what he's done in Arizona. On the other, the hilarity of the Matt Leinart Era is something I'm really looking forward to. How many backup QBs are running jokes even before they take over? To illustrate what I'm talking about, the picture at right is the second image that appears on Google when you type in "Matt Leinart." The first image had a broken link so I couldn't use it, but I'll just tell you it involved a beer bong and let your imagination do the rest. After the party shots are a couple of Matt at USC. You have to go a ways before you see an image of Leinart in an NFL uniform playing football. Which is normally the sort of activity I like associated with my QBs--I'd just kinda rather have them throwing footballs and exercising than partying in hot tubs. Dunno what it is. Kurt Warner loves Jesus so much that he doesn't even own a hot tub. Let alone many hot tubs, that would necessitate an entire busload of co-eds. What is he gonna do...with a hot tub?

In case you didn't know this, Jesus hates hot tubs. Their combination of moisture and heat promotes fungal infections, and fungus is a holy abomination because it feeds on the dead. Thus, owning a hot tub goes against the teachings of Christ. If you want to learn more, you can read about it in the Bible!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making a Difference

It's difficult to write a comedy blog in the face of legitimate tragedy. I do my best to find a humorous angle for anything; some topics are more difficult than others. Today I'm writing with a heavy heart, and it'd be much appreciated if my readers could move themselves to action on this. I wouldn't tell anyone what to do or how much to donate--I'm hardly a philanthropist and I don't really know that much about these things.

So I'm appealing to you on behalf of people in terrible circumstances not of their own making. Their lives have been permanently altered and frankly many of them will never recover. They'll muddle along as best they can, but let's face it: many lives have simply ended in senseless tragedy. We can't bring them back. We can only do our best to improve the lives of those who survive. To make things a little easier on them, even if our contributions seem meaningless in the face of disaster.

I speak, of course, of those suffering from Hero Amnesia. These brave men and women have woken on the shores of some deserted island or bedridden in the homes of generous small-town Good Samaritans. They wake with nothing: no knowledge of who they are or how they've found themselves in this situation. They have only a simple weapon with no stats to speak of, and perhaps two Health Potions. Certainly they have no magical powers, and whether they ever had them at all is an open question. These people have had more than their memories erased; their entire identities have been put to the torch and it'll be a long hard road to recover...if they recover at all.

Take a look at the man above. He is Cloud Strife--a victim of Hero Amnesia. One of the worst cases we've ever seen. It has taken not only his identity and his sweet-ass Materia...it's taken his fingers too. His brick-like appendages can barely grasp his comically over-sized sword. Not only is his physical plight pitiable (3X alliteration bonus), but we can clearly see in this image the lengths to which his condition has driven him. He's reduced to traversing narrow and unsafe rope bridges over bottomless chasms, simply to reclaim something that most of us take for granted every day: our identities. Our pasts.

Now let's consider this man's story. He was robbed so completely of his being by H.A. that he doesn't even have a name. Even Cloud was granted that small luxury by fate. The Nameless One, hideously scarred, will make his way through a bizarre and horrifying world about which he knows nothing. His life is threatened at every turn, and he will probably die. If only he could remember his past and the cosmic rules of the twisted place in which he finds himself, he might have a better chance at survival. For what do heroes do when confronted by challenges and mysteries? They attempt to conquer them, throwing themselves unwittingly into a game where there is no easy way out. The man pictured at right has survived thus far only through the aid of demons and floating skulls. These kinds of supernatural horrors--things that would drive to madness the unwarded minds of men (3x)--are commonplace on the hazardous roads these heroes walk.

This man is John Chaser. He knows only his name, and he is a poster child for Hero Amnesia. His inability to process the world around him leaves John unable to resolve the various conflicts he faces. Like lemmings, hundreds of identical black-suited minions have surged into his gunfire. He leaves a trail of bodies and spent casings behind him, and he feels nothing at all for it. Why? Because he can't remember why they're trying to kill him in the first place. He can't make any sense of it, so he plows gamely ahead. Godspeed, John Chaser. May someone hear your need.

Many and varied are the obstacles these brave souls face. Whether they've lost their memories to injury, dark sorcery, reincarnation, immersion in the Lifestream or simply the needs of the plot, their needs are much the same and you are in a unique position to aid them. Not only must they restore their memories; they must also locate and defeat a world-threatening foe. Perhaps the very same foe that took their memories to begin with! This journey is never quick or easy.

For just 70 cents a day, you can make the difference in the life of a amnesiac hero. Your tax-deductible donation goes to support Cloud, The Nameless One and countless others like them. It will help them purchase armor, weapons, potions and even Materia. In the process, you will be helping to stimulate the depressed economies of many sleepy idyllic towns. When you make your pledge, we will send you a photograph of your hero along with a description of his powers and the combat system in which he will operate while laying waste (with your help!) to his enemies. Every month you will receive another update, keeping you appraised of crucial information such as your hero's current level, number of Hit Points and current Skill Tree specialization. If he picks up a really sweet belt, you'll know. If he invests himself in some kind of dual-class specialization, you'll know that too. Finally, if you so choose, you may take the opportunity afforded by these updates to write back to your special hero. You can offer encouragement, advice, or simply share the details of your daily life. We are committed not only to helping those in need, but also to fostering communication between people of different backgrounds. If you feel your hero has made some sub-optimal choices in his stat allocation or weapon selection, you can share those feelings. If you want to share the erotic fan fiction you've written about your hero with him (instead of limiting yourself to message boards!), you can do that too.

Remember, all of us have the ability to make a difference when it comes to Hero Amnesia. It's simply a question of choosing to help. We've done our level best to streamline this process and make it as easy as possible for concerned citizens such as yourself to sponsor an amnesiac hero. Your donations are handled and converted to the relevant currency (gold coins, Gil, Septims, whatever the case may be) by our professional staff. Once again, all donations are fully tax-deductible, and our call center staff is on hand 24/7 to answer your questions. Heroism is, at its core, all about choices. Make the right one, and pledge your donation to fight H.A. today. Remember: sometimes, even heroes need help.

Thank you for your time. God Bless.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just getting my poesy on


We'll kick things off with this. I'm torn: on the one hand, anything that gets more people to read classic literature has to be positive. On the other, the cover of Inferno is graced by a picture of a giant musclebound dude with a red cross stitched into his flesh wielding a gigantic scythe. That's not exactly what the poem was about. I get that EA couldn't make a game of the actual Inferno because this is the plot: "An old dead poet follows an older deader poet around on a guided tour of Hell." You don't make a video game about that.

Instead, you make a video game about killing shit. You name your main character "Dante," place him in Hell and BAM! Magic happens. Now I understand why I can't get a job writing for video games: the people already doing it are so fucking amazing at their jobs that there's just no room. It's like taking up watercolors in the time of da Vinci; how can you possibly improve on it? Best to just give up and write a fucking blog. Incidentally, I've played the Dante's Inferno demo and the cinematics are basically just tits. The gameplay is God of War without the flavor. A dude with a scythe is running around killing stuff to save his wife's tits. At least I think that's what it's about. His wife was in trouble and you could see her tits. I don't know what other conclusions I can draw from this.

I can see a silver lining in this: several thousand mouth-breathing dumbasses will be exposed to one of the most important poems in Western civilization. I don't think they'll realize it's a poem until they open it, but once they do I expect revelations such as "What the FUCK, this doesn't rhyme!" "I didn't know some books had little notes at the bottom of the pages," and "When does this dude get his giant scythe?" To answer the last one: Sixth Circle, Fourth Bolgio. He just kicks ass from there on out. EA, I hope you get what's coming to you. If you can't take the story seriously for your biggest baddest single-player release of the year, you won't be in business much longer. But what do I know? Obviously I was holding the company back: CEO John Riccitiello tells the media that "our fundamentals are strong. We need to continue to cut costs and proceed with our re-structuring." Translation? "This company's executives are great, but all these damn employees keep holding us back with their salaries and their benefits." EA has laid off close to 3000 workers in the last year and continues to hemorrhage money. Clearly they know what's best.

*****

A modest proposal
I didn't capitalize because I ain't gonna front on J. Swift. No fronting for the same reason I don't eat goose: some creatures are so filled with bile and spite that you half-expect them to haunt you from beyond the grave. Have you been attacked by a flock of geese? Have you been mocked by a satirical Scottish revenant? This are the things you have to think about when you write a blog.

Anyway, here's the proposal: we construct an enormous dome over Washington, D.C. The entire apparatus of the Federal government is sealed inside it. There they must stay until they resign (in the case of government workers) or lose re-election. They continue to govern the country from inside the dome. We obey the laws they pass and for the vast majority of the nation everything remains as usual. But what we've provided for our elected representatives is something really special: a magical environment where delusion is free to express itself. If there's anything we've learned from the whole health-care debacle, it's this: reality only slows these people down. We cannot allow the deliberations of the Senate to be broadcast on C-SPAN (a network nobody outside of Washington watches) because it would be impossible to have a real, substantive debate with cameras present. I didn't even make that up! Look, I've watched a lot of Jersey Shore and I know that even the most reprehensible congress between human beings gets done on camera.

So rather than bemoan the decay of our political system, I say we double down on whimsy. By constructing the dome, we aren't protecting ourselves from them: we're protecting them from our reality. Like the characters of The Neverending Story, political operatives in D.C. are threatened by the leakage of the real world into their world. Like the characters in The Neverending Story, they LOVE being fondled by teenaged boys. The real reason this health care bill has been frought with such acrimony is simply that we, the real people of the United States, have been too involved. We confuse and disorient such gentle spirits of the forest as Mitch McConnell (who incidentally is a dead ringer for my deceased grandmother). By building the dome, we protect them and honestly we protect ourselves. Has our involvement in the bill really helped anything or anybody? Doesn't look like it, huh?

It's more than health care, though. I saw John Yoo on The Daily Show the other day and I was pretty excited because I thought "finally somebody's going to get this scumbag," but there were no cops at all! He just talked to Jon Stewart and then he got up and left. Somebody really should demand an explanation from the NYPD; it's not too often a legitimate war criminal just walks the streets where you can grab him. This man provided the legal justification used to torture hundreds of people and he just walks around talking about it! That's not too smart, John. The good news? You could kidnap, beat and torture John Yoo almost to death and then call him as your own witness in court to get you off the hook!

"But Tony," you protest, "who will build this dome? Who's got the engineering know-how and technical expertise?" Simple: Pauly Shore. Does anyone in the universe know more about sealed dome habitats? "But Tony," you protest again, "I'm an environmental engineer and I know all sorts of wack shit about domes." Did you star alongside the estimable Stephen Baldwin in a feature film named for such a structure? I thought not. I think my work here is done. By the way, if you ever sit down to watch Bio-Dome I recommend safety goggles. Not to keep the movie out; to keep your eyeballs in, as they may sprout legs and attempt to crawl out of your skull. This is what happened to Stevie Wonder. I will leave you with a quotation by Mr. Baldwin that I think really illustrates how we all ought to live our lives:

"I thought Bio-Dome was pretty cool. I had fun making it and I'm a huge Pauly Shore fan. I'd go to his movies and be on the floor of the aisle, convulsing with laughter. And, in the meantime, my wife would sit in her chair, saying, 'Honey, what's wrong with him?' She just didn't get it. But Bio-Dome was whack. Now I get all these seven- and 12-year-old kids coming up to me on the street, saying, 'Yo, dude! You rule.' That was what I wanted, for those guys to dig me."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lame Mutant Powers


Hollywood has been responsible for plenty of atrocities over the last decade, but there was no trend more tragic than the Hindenberg Trilogy. Put simply, this is the practice of establishing a promising new franchise or intellectual property--and then plowing it into the ground with overwrought abominations of sequels. The Matrix. Star Wars and Pirates. Few trilogies were as ultimately foul as Marvel's Spider-Man, which survived a wobbly Christ-imagery-filled second outing but murdered itself so thoroughly in the third that I'm pretty sure they had to take Tobey Maguire out behind the shed. I don't recall seeing him lately.

Hindenberg trilogies are not simply film franchises that had poor entries or headed south; they must be gigantic mega-blockbusters loaded with stars, and when they crash and burn they must do so in a uniquely teeth-grindingly atrocious way. Remember, this isn't just a thing blowing up; it's a zeppelin, the biggest slowest most cumbersome invention in human history, which we also saw fit to fill with flammable gas.

The second X-Men movie faked us out by being better than the first, but the third was wretched all the same. The silver lining? Confirming the comedy potential in mutant powers. Magneto's army of mutant rabble contained the most ill-conceived specimens imaginable. Hell, they even made that Asian human porcupine guy a real character. His power has absolutely no utility, combat or otherwise, yet he's part of Magneto's inner circle and one of his primary henchmen? Really? Given the limited openings for these prime henching positions in today's economy, you'd imagine the competition would be a little tighter. Be that as it may, Spiny comes up huge when Magneto needs a kindly old nurse murdered. Spiny gives her a comforting hug, and...shank! This was the ultimate contest for him, something he'd trained years for, the greatest challenge to which he could aspire: killing a defenseless old woman with a hug. Inspired by Spiny Asian Mutant, I've created a few henchman mutants for the next X-Men. Because there's no way in hell they're not making another one; you know it and I know it. Let's turn the rage to constructive ends and move on.

Warm
At all times and places, from the searing desert to the numbing cold of the Siberian tundra, he is uncomfortably warm. His costume is made from dry-fit athletic material so he can maintain adequate ventilation. He specializes in rescue and recon, as he can exist with manageable discomfort in any location on Earth. Catchphrases include, "You know where there's a Jamba Juice around here?" and "Is it cool if I open a window?" He is strong against elemental-based opponents like Iceman, but weak against injury-based opponents like Wolverine. Rumored to suffer from a severe case of Athlete's Foot, as a result of sticky sweaty conditions in his socks. Ewww.

Vend
His mutant power allows him to extract wares from and generally manipulate any vending machine known to man. Many years ago he attempted to shake loose a bag of Doritos that was stuck on the little coil and ended up trapped beneath a radioactive vending machine! Doctors were able to save his life, but not before the radiation had permanently altered his DNA! Like Spider-Man, Vend's powers were not granted from birth and because of this his guilt gnaws at him. Magneto uses Vend to gather supplies for the mutant army he is constructing; not only do they feast nightly on granola bars and Twix, but the evil genius's coffers are kept overflowing with spare change! His powers extend to any machine that holds transactions, so ATMs and gas pumps alike have been known to bend to his will.

Pheromone
This man's skin cells can secrete a special chemical that, when mixed with oxygen, rapidly disperses in the surrounding environment and makes animals really, really horny. He is truly a force of nature when engaged in forest combat--even the mighty Wolverine cannot pursue his enemies when his legs are heavy with actual live wolverines humping furiously away. The forest hideout used by the rebel mutants in X-Men 3 will be nothing compared to the giant fortress they've built for the next blockbuster hit (starring Thomas Jane as Wolverine and Eugene Levy as Beast)! They're planning a giant 30-minute battle scene as the X-Men battle the forces of Magneto knee-deep in fornicating wildlife.

Game Genie
This mutant will be a big hit in Magneto's secret army, because with a touch of his hand he can deploy all the myriad powers of the consumer electronics classic! Any video game you could possibly play can be modified by his gift, and you can get more lives or infinite ammo or anything you want, provided you have the little booklet with the codes for whatever game you want to play. Oh, and his power only works on the gaming systems for which actual Game Genie products were created, so nothing after the Sega Game Gear. But if you want to just rock the holy shit out of the original Mortal Kombat, you go right ahead and show those Enduro rounds what's up. Game Genie will survive the fourth X-Men movie, because during the final battle he'll challenge Wolverine to Contra 3 but he'll cheat so he gets those blue C missiles (what does that stand for, anyway? Cold? Crush?) that blow away everything. Wolverine only realizes afterwards that he's been duped, and he gets all mad and he yells up at the camera with his claws out like RRRAAAAAAA.

The Observer
This guy's powers single-handedly put Jerry Seinfeld out of business. Considered the greatest observational humor comic alive, The Observer is revealed as a closeted mutant by Magneto and recruited into his army. He has no real combat abilities, though that never really held Spiny back. Rather, his mutant powers allow him to scan his surroundings for quirky or ironic details and explain them with maximum humor value. He's essentially the Bob Hope of the mutant army, entertaining them nightly with jokes that start with the phrases "Have you ever noticed..." and "What's the DEAL...." It doesn't go over too well, since these social outcasts have spent most of their lives in hiding; not traveling on those commercial airliners with the special bathrooms just for first class. What is UP with those? Are they nicer than the other bathrooms? And why the curtain? Like Bob Hope, The Observer is a tired act from his first show; like Hope, he's kept aloft by the fact that his audience is an army. They spend 90% of their time sitting around bored, and the other 10% trying not to die. In the movie's climactic scene, The Observer is cut in half by Wolverine after remarking that he should just be called Claw Man.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adventures in QA, vol. 1

I recently got a job, which was not really that exciting because unemployment rules. As long as you're okay being poor, which I am. Both okay and poor. I don't mean to make it into a joke (he wrote on his humor blog) because it's a genuinely important social program. It makes a huge difference in people's lives; it did in mine after getting laid off back in May. But after a while, making no goddamn money just becomes a lifestyle. I got a letter from the Social Security Administration informing me of my lifetime contributions and projecting my future benefits. It was one of the funniest documents I have ever received from the federal government. My total lifetime earnings add up to less than the yearly salaries of many of my college classmates. Also, let's be real--I am 25 years old and I am never going to see a penny from Social Security. When I reach the eligible age I'll feel fortunate if our shattered, parched society even remembers what Social Security used to be. As I trudge through seas of radioactive silt, I'll marvel at the time when the elderly got checks in the mail--rather than being forced to wander off into the wastes when their time came round.

Speaking of which, The Book of Eli looks so goddamned awesome that I can't even rationally discuss it. It's Fallout with Denzel killing people (something he rocks at; see Man on Fire) and Gary Oldman as the villain. Sold. See that guy on the right? That's kinda like Denzel.

Adventures in QA!
My job is testing video games. This is called Quality Assurance. As you might imagine, there are a lot of odd people who get into this. Plenty of well-adjusted folks too, but the loons are inevitable. This series will be about them, and their colorful stories that enrich all our lives. Many of these people were known by two names: the names their disappointed parents gave them, and the names we gave them so we could talk shit about them in company e-mails.

Dante
Poor Dante. He wasn't a bad guy or a freak, just a dude with some problems at home and some poor priorities (so he doesn't have a nickname). He had the desk next to mine and he was the first person I talked to. His problem was this: he could not stay awake. I'm not talking narcolepsy, he'd just nod off whenever it was quiet for a spell. This is not a good thing to do at work. He got grief for it a half-dozen times a day, got sent home for it twice and still just couldn't stay awake. This man was eventually fired from his job playing video games.

Big Red
Unfortunately not named for the Viking-themed fake toy from the classic SNL ad. Big Red was a giant fat dude boasting a healthy head of red curls. He was very much a ginger. He was that particular flavor of giant fat dude who only wears shorts. I'm not sure why, but my pet theory is that their thick layers of insulation render them impervious to the elements. At that point, why not just adopt a uniform and wear the same thing every day? Makes sense to me.

Here's a fun thing about California office buildings, especially the ones that have been built recently (and are usually in use by tech companies): the floors and walls have a lot of bounce in them. This is by design, as I was reminded yesterday during a small earthquake. But a side effect is this: you can often feel footsteps before you hear them or see their source. This is even true of normal-sized people, but it's pronounced enough with the big'uns that you can actually identify specific people around corners and through cubicle walls. Just by their gait. And let me tell you, Big Red's gait was quite a thing. I always work with a water bottle on my desk and it was like the scene from Jurassic Park where the cars are stopped dead in the night and the T-Rex is coming. You just see Jeff Goldblum's little glass of water...thud. "Man, fuck Jeff Goldblum!"

The best story about Big Red--well, it's not so much a story as an ongoing reality--is that he peed with his pants down. Like, standing at the urinal in a public restroom in an office building. It was fucked up. I don't know how anyone arrives at this practice to begin with, and my female readers will probably not know what I'm talking about, but this is the sort of thing that you would expect from a five-year-old boy. I knew kids in second grade who were still doing this, and we gave them crap for it. It's a weird thing: "what is this strange porcelain altar? I'm to pee in it? Well, then I'd better take my pants all the way off!" So yes, this was Big Red. The most disturbing question: what happens when he's done and it's time to pull them shits up? Does he bend his knees, squat, grab and raise? Does he bend over to do it? If so, would his face end up breaking the plane of the urinal? More to the point, did this process result in the horrifying deaths of co-workers like that first girl in The Ring? I honestly never found out. Big Red only lasted a month or two before his dismissal from the Rock Band team. Considering that the Rock Band team was the general storage for all the worst and most maladjusted losers in QA (seriously, those people were freaks), this is remarkable.

Shrek
Her name was Melissa. She was one of the leads for another team, and she was one of the most uncompromisingly hideous individuals I have ever beheld. No description I can give of this gorgon will do her justice, but she was an enormous fat woman with a giant goiter on her face. She smoked like a factory and cursed like a factory that manufactures miniatures of sailors and is staffed by former longshoremen. Her personality was awful and abrasive, which is ridiculous. How can you be that ugly and not develop a nice kind demeanor to compensate? Public schools are the closest thing our society has to natural selection, and normally these kinks get hammered out. She had enormous moles on her face and her leathery skin sagged enough to form jowls. She was basically a sea monster. Picture a slightly younger Al Davis.

But how old was she? This topic came up once with one of my managers, who knew but wanted me to guess. I would have said 44 off the top of my head. I figured the cigarettes would make her look older, so I lowballed it with a 35. My manager shook her head. Melissa, it turned out, was twenty-seven years old. Holy shit. I still have difficulty believing it, and if you'd ever seen the beast you'd agree. This shit doesn't just happen, unless you drink from the wrong grail or keep a dark covenant with a painting in your attic.

Shrek was eventually let go, because she was not only a giant bitch but also a terrible worker and inept leader. How did she rise to her fairly high rank in QA? Because it's QA and nobody knows what the fuck is going on. I will leave you with a horrifying parting shot: one fine day not long before her dismissal, Shrek gave one of her subordinates a ride home. His name was Keith and he was a douchey guy about my age who wore a lot of black. At some point on the ride home, they stopped at a bar and had a few drinks. Then they went to somebody's place and had sex. How do I know about it? The same way anyone else knows: either because they were there, or because she told people at work about it. No matter how gross you think this might be, it is nothing compared to how I feel about it having beheld the misbegotten spawn of Grendel with my own eyes. Even hearing about it secondhand, I wanted to descend into a paroxysm of cathartic self-loathing like Ace Ventura after he realized EINHORN IS FINKLE! FINKLE IS EINHORN! No, fuck you, that didn't need spoiler tags. It's already out on VHS!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cougars, and some dorkery

On New Years Eve, my roommate and I went out to a couple bars in San Mateo. Rob does this because he legitimately enjoys smelling 30 people while he waits in line for the privilege of paying $6 for a glass of beer. I did it because doing so created a nonzero chance of having sex with another person. Not that I hooked up or even made an attempt, but I like to put myself in situations where positive-yet-unlikely things could potentially happen. For example, I go running several times a week on the off chance that I develop super-speed as the result of some crazy burst of cosmic radiation. I also watched The Jersey Shore hoping that somebody would punch the squeaky short chick in the face, and look how that turned out! Seriously, violence is wrong. But seriously, that girl had it coming. I can't decide if she more closely resembles a homemade hamburger that got left on the grill way too long, or a turd.

The first bar had five people in it. Two of them worked there and the other three were Mexican dudes who just sat there brining their mustaches in beer. Loud music, the principle instruments of which were the trumpet and accordion, blared from beneath a disco ball. I don't mean to be culturally insensitive (honest!), but the great musical tools of Mexican civilization are clown instruments. As in, instruments that you might imagine a merry clown playing as he gambols out from the hellish confines of a 40-year-old Volkswagen. I'm not trying to be offensive, but I'm succeeding in spite of that.

We left after a drink and went to a second place. This was much more crowded and lively. We managed to swoop in on some real estate at the bar, which was nice because getting a drink in that place takes forever. It's like trying to get a health care bill passed WHO'S WITH ME? UP HERE FOR TOPICAL HUMOR! YEAH! I'm sorry, Jay Leno's staying with us and he just tried to hijack my blog. I had to beat him to death with his own shoes. Back to the bar: once we'd been there for a spell, a crew of three ladies and a gentleman came by and took seats next to us. There was a couple in their late 40s, a woman in her late-thirties and another in her early thirties. The youngest (woot) stopped and stared at me quite obviously. There was an uncomfortable moment before she blurted out, "Are you an actor?" Nope. "I feel like I've seen your face!" I'm sorry, we haven't met. I'm Tony.

She introduces herself. If you think you know where this is going, you are wrong. I start to say something, but she's talking to her cougar wingmate:
"Doesn't he look like someone?"
"He does! Someone famous!" They think for a moment.
"SCOOBY DOO!"
"Oh my god, it's Scooby Doo!"

This had gone south with surprising speed. I asked them whether they meant Scooby Doo the dog, or perhaps the man who owns the dog? In retrospect there was no answer to this question that would have made me happy. It turns out they meant Shaggy. Which I guess is positive; after all, the man does solve mysteries. He contributes more to society than I do. I was prepared to swallow this indignity and move on, but the next few passers-by were regaled with shouts of Hey look it's Scooby Doo! They didn't even clarify they meant the owner, not the dog. I didn't stick around for too much longer, and in any event I had to finish Uncharted. Rob admonished me later for passing on the opportunity, but that man would throw down with Bavmorda if she gave him a look. Do not want.

*****

And speaking of Bavmorda: time for dork stuff! I give you Volume 1 of a new series:

Classic Films in Leetspeak, vol. 1: "Willow"

This is a story about a n00b who becomes a pro. This midget called Willow lives in the woods and finds this big person baby. His kids are like "ZOMG" but he says "no wai, big people FTL." He takes it to the midget town where this badass wizard is picking a n00b for next year. Willow takes the test and the wizard is all "FAIL" but then he's like "u were pro all along." Willow and some other midgets take the baby to the crossroads where they meet Val Kilmer. But in this movie he's called Mad Martigan. He's in jail and he's asks "plz lemme out" but the midgets just say "QQ moar." Then they ditch Willow and he lets out Val Kilmer and gives him the baby. But then some fairies steal the baby and Willow's like WTF so he chases them until this hot-ass chick appears. She gives Willow the baby and talks about some wizard chick and says "take dis wand to dat bitch."

Willow meets up with Val Kilmer in some bar where he's pretending to be a girl. But this big dude comes in and yells "Tits or GTFO" and he has to GTFO along with Willow. So Willow finds this wizard chick but it turns out she's like a squirrel or something? She wants him to turn her back into a hot-ass chick but he can't and she's like OMFG u fail. The evil bitch-queen Bavmorda's henchmen show up and grab everyone. They take them to jail, but the fairies break them out. Then Val Kilmer sees the queen's daughter (who is hawt) and he's like OMFG cyb0r? But she's like no, GTFO. Val Kilmer escapes and rides to safety in a snowball.

They meet up with these good guy soldiers and ride to this castle with the baby. She's gonna be safe there but NOPE because there's trolls and stuff, and Willow's all "I h8 trolls." The bad guys attack the castle but Val Kilmer fights them off while Willow tries to pro it up and fix the wizard chick. He just makes this dragon instead, which is cool cause it eats the bad guys but bad cause it eats everybody else too. Willow throws magic acorns at it but it's like RU srs? Val Kilmer saves him and totally roadhouses the dragon.

Now the good guy army goes to the bad guy base. Bavmorda comes out and they're all "give up!" and she's all "LOL U R PIGS LMFAO" and they turn into pigs. Willow is safe and he fixes the wizard chick and she fixes everyone else. Then they fight the bad guys. There's this huge battle with dudes dying everywhere and Val Kilmer's bro dies and they're like "I <3 U 4 EVA." So he goes nuts and starts killing the shit out of the bad guys like "I'm up in ur base killin ur mans." The good guys run up the tower and Bavmorda has the baby and she's like YOU'RE TOO LATE I SET US UP THE BOMB. Willow grabs the baby and goes "now he's gone roflcopters" and the baby is totally gone. Bavmorda yells OH NOES and knocks over a bowl of acid that like melts her or something. Then Willow pulls out the baby because he was J/K all along! He goes home and everything is awesome and the wizard says he's finally a pro the end.

FIN, though I know Waldo's long since declared TLDR on this post.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Livejournal of Nathan Drake


Yo I just got this working
Startin this up to chronicle my journeys thru the jungle Im sure college will be! I dunno how much Ill post updates cause Im signed up for like 3 classes this semester and I expect a lot of late nights with the books...LOL Im shittin you, I can ace this junk with my eyes shut. I finished unpacking the last of my stuff and finally we got the mini fridge rockin! We can't get beers yet and nobody on our hall has a fake ID but I was like "Hey I'll break into the liquor store by climbing up the back side and in through the vents and swipe some beers" and now we got beers comin out our asses LOL! These hot bitches came by earlier and they were like "Oh hey you guys have a poster of Scarface" and I was like fuck yeah we do! Both these girls totally wanted me but prob not enough to go at the same time. Better watch out Chico State, Nate Dogg's coming at you a thousand miles an hour!
Posted by natedogdrakedog 5:27pm Sep 3 2000

My adviser is a total douche
So I was a little late to this meeting. I was walking across the quad but then this dude fell off his bike right in front of me! And I just grabbed the bike and like started riding off towards the student center, cause I felt like that was the way to go, you know? But then people are yelling at me and the whole quad is staring, which is BS because I just did what I thought was right. I can see how people got mad but I didn't think that far ahead. That's how Nate rolls, you know? Then I got to the student center but the front door was locked and I didn't have my student ID. Ugh. So I climbed up a column in the courtyard and across these yellow bricks that stuck out of the building and I jumped up to a window so I could get in. But all this made me late and my adviser had a total cow about it but I was like, "Hold on dude, I have a total plan for the rest of my life."

I told him all about it but then he started giving me shit! It turns out there isn't even a major called Indiana Jones Studies. I asked if there was anything like Indiana Jones Studies and he told me to write Undecided on my forms. Which didn't answer my question at all, but I think they let you design your own major if you BS them hard enough.
Posted by natedogdrakedog 6:44pm Sep 13 2000

Oh my god I was so wasted
I hope my mom doesn't read this but we had the most amazing party last night and I did like 8 shots in 20 minutes and the rest of the night was just blurrrrrrrrrr after that LOL. After that I went out to the balcony and this hot babe was there and I was like "I'll jump off this balcony if you show me your tits" and she just laughed. So I said it again and she said she wasn't doing it so I jumped off the balcony anyway to show her I was serious. Cause you know maybe she'll show me her tits after all and I fell two stories onto the concrete and it HURT LIKE HELL. Man but with all the shots it wasn't so bad and I got up but I guess that that girl with the tits ran off crying or something when I fell. She doesnt know what she's missing. I climbed back up the wall to the balcony and the girls who stayed thought it was sweet and later I boned one of them. She looked all right but the first girl was hotter. There was almost a MAJOR CRISIS because I was getting it on with this girl but I didn't have a condom. She was all surprised, like why didn't I have one, but that's BS cause how was I supposed to know I was gonna get it on like right now? Nobody thinks that far ahead but I found a flavored one in her roommate's desk and that worked fine I guess.
Posted by natedogdrakedog 11:06pm Sep 26 2000

This school is so easy
So first of all, I've been in this Ancient Languages class for a damn month before they finally let us read some real old stuff. It's all history and that might be okay but none of it is the kind of history where you can get treasure. All wars and plagues and crap. It's cool if some people just love reading, but for most of this NOBODY got any money. They just found something out and their fellow dorks thought it was cool. So what? Anyway we got copies of some ancient manuscript and I gotta say it was the simplest stuff I ever saw. The squiggles are just obvious, I dunno how to explain it. So I just start reading and next thing I know the teacher's like "Nathan, what do you think the passage means?" So I told him, cause nobody's gonna say Nate Drake's a dummy, and it's freaking obvious so screw him. But then he gets all up in arms, like how do I read this dead ancient language I've never seen before? I don't know what he was trying to pull because those squiggles were easy as hell, so I was like SCREW YOU and I just WALKED OUT LMAO! I'm not gonna be part of some joke I don't understand. I'm not worried about the teacher because I do all the homework and stuff. They're not allowed to fail you if you do the homework.
Posted by natedogdrakedog 2:55pm Oct 10 2000

So I was running from some explosions
Just on the way back from lunch with three hot bitches at the student union. They were out of pepperoni pizza so I just said screw pizza and got a sandwich from that Subway they opened last month. These bitches were all talking about how fine their asses are and how much they love gunfire and rough bonings. That was cool but eventually I had to get back home cause I was out of hair gel and I needed to go home to get more hair gel out of the cabinet. The front of my hair needs to stay fuckin vertical at all times or Nate Dogg's not looking fly. Anyway on the way back this big truck plowed into the quad and it fell over. There were sparks everywhere like ffffssssshhhhh and eventually something exploded; I dunno what part of the truck cause I don't know shit about trucks. But it blew up so I was running from the fiery wreck as it rolled behind me. Eventually it ran into a tree which fell over and knocked down another tree which almost crushed me. And this hottie is just kinda watching the whole thing, so as I run by her I yell "GOT WOOD?" Cause it's a tree, right? But she doesn't even say a thing and I couldn't get her number cause obviously I'm running from explosions. What a frigid bitch.

In other news I'm rockin my classes and sorted my shit out with that adviser. I went back hoping I'd get a different guy but I went into my office and it was the same dude. Talk about unlucky, but Nate Drake is all about adapting to the situation. Like that time when I drank that whole aquarium but my roommate Doug was like whaaaaaa and so I made myself throw up just the fish and one of the rocks. I kept the treasure chest cause is Indiana Jones giving treasure back? Maybe to Nazis with guns, but he's taking it right back afterwards. Anyway I filled out the forms and the adviser dude said to check Sociology so I did. I don't really want to do magic but I said I was cool with like, learning to dodge magic spells. The adviser said that was okay as long as I signed the form so I signed it and he let me leave. Rack up another win for the Drake Dogg!
Posted by natedogdrakedog 1:21pm Oct 25 2000