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I Snuck Into My Neighbor's House, Once - August 30, 2015

I was watching Malick’s The Tree of Life recently and there is a sequence where the main character, Jack, sneaks into his neighbor’s house. The boy in the film steals a nightgown from the house. This scene reminded me that I also sneaked into my neighbor’s house one time.

It was my next door neighbor and I wasn’t alone. My friend Aaron spearheaded the whole thing. He had been given keys to their house in order to feed their dogs while they were on vacation. I think my brother came along as well, and possibly my sister too. I didn’t steal a nightgown or anything like that, and I didn’t vandalize anything, so don’t think me too bad. I wasn’t even trying to get a rush by going somewhere that I wasn’t allowed. It was to play their Super Nintendo. I had a Sega Genesis, but I’d heard the Super Nintendo was cool, and I wanted to see what it was all about. By my account I sneaked in for academic purposes in order to compare the two video game consoles.

At least one game, Aladdin, is better on the Genesis (right) than the Super Nintendo (left).
The Super Nintendo is generally regarded as the better system, but growing up with a Genesis means that I will always be biased toward that system, and playing my neighbor’s Super Nintendo only confirmed my suspicion that Sega made the better console. I had Disney’s Aladdin for Genesis and they had Aladdin for Super Nintendo. Playing that game on both systems would give me a perfect scientific basis for deciding which of the consoles was better. Indeed, I confirmed that the Genesis version of Aladdin is better, and so as far as I was concerned, the Genesis was the better gaming system.

Back to my original story, though... I got caught. Yes indeed, I got caught sneaking into my neighbor’s house and my Super Nintendo exploit was cut short. It wasn’t my neighbor that caught me, they were on vacation, after all. It was my own mom that caught me. And, bless her heart, she ratted me out to them when they got back from vacation. I, myself, would never rat out my kids for doing such a thing. I’d just give them a quick spanking, have a laugh about it when they weren’t around, and call it a day, except for the spanking part, I probably wouldn’t actually spank them.

That Was a Dumb Game: DreadOut - August 8, 2015

I recently completed the game DreadOut and I’m not going to lie, it could possibly be the worst game I’ve ever played in my life. I’m not even saying that for the sake of hyperbole. I actually looked through the list of all the games I’ve played, and nothing struck me as being worse. Basically this was a game of endless frustration and many temper tantrums. I found myself repeatedly screaming, It’s not fun! It’s not fun!

I don’t even know how to describe how bad it is. Most of the puzzles in the game don’t make sense, so you’ll find yourself wandering around for hours in the same place hoping to find something you didn’t notice before. Initially the game is a little scary, which is something I like in games, but you spend so much time wandering around the same hallways so it becomes more annoying than scary. On top of that, every time you die the game punishes you by making you go through this limbo stage which gets longer and longer every time you die. And there is a boss that you will repeatedly die on. One thing that is truly scary about the game is that the developers have released some free content for it before, and they might do it again, which means I might have to play more of it some day.

A hot female main character does not mean a good game.
Well that pretty sums up my review for the game, but what I really want to discuss is how this game tricked me into playing it. It has a demo, and I played the demo. The game has a hot female main character, and it was at least somewhat entertaining. The demo featured a little bit of exploration and a few fights with ghosts. It seemed interesting enough. I mean, admittedly, I was mostly interested in playing a game with a hot female main character. I thought to myself, Why wouldn’t I play a game with a hot female main character? And I couldn’t come up with an answer to that question, so I got the full version of the game. A decision I regretted.

I was tricked into playing a game with a hot female main character once before. The game was Blades of Time, but that game was just mediocre, not bad, but not great. Maybe that’s why I played DreadOut maybe I expected it to be the same as Blades of Time, a mediocre and forgettable game with a hot female main character. I was tricked though. DreadOut isn’t forgettable. It’s been a few months since I played it, and I can say that I haven’t forgotten it. I have a funny feeling that I’m not going to forget it either. It was that bad.

I feel dumb for getting tricked into playing a game with a hot female main character, because I was a boy when Tomb Raider came out, and that game didn’t trick me into playing it. I played the demo for Tomb Raider and I thought to myself, This game could be better, and I didn’t play a Tomb Raider game until they got good (see my post on Lara Croft). So I must admit that I’m a little ashamed of myself (though I do have a bigger budget for video games these days).

Now, I know I’ve sounded sexist as flip in this post, so to clear up some hot air, let me make it clear that I have also played games with hunky male main characters. And I played them solely because they had hunky main male characters. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine was one such game. That game was also mediocre and about as memorable as Blades of Time (which is to say I don’t remember much of it either). Anyway, I’ve ranted on long enough.

Categories: Video Game Reviews

That Was a Dumb Movie: Terminator Genisys - August 2, 2015

The crane crashing through L.A. in Terminator 3 is some of the best action I’ve seen.
I want to start off by qualifying this review by making it clear that I am a huge Terminator fan. The Terminator (the first one from 1984) is my third favorite movie of all time. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, while not one of my top movies, is still quite good. And in terms of pure action Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is one of the best of the genre. I also very much enjoyed the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. As for Terminator Salvation is was meh, not really bad, but not that great. I’m a fan, though.

To prove how much of a fan I am, and real fans will also recognize this: It really bothered me that in Terminator 3 the script repeatedly referred to Schwarzenegger’s cyborg from the first and second movies as a T-101. He was not a T-101 he was a T-800, model 101. To make things worse Schwarzenegger’s cyborg from Terminator 3 claims to be a T-850, which makes sense if the cyborgs from the first two movies were T-800s, because the new one was slightly upgraded. Why would the writers even acknowledge that series 800 was a thing, but then mistakenly refer to the first two terminators as T-101s? It makes no sense.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to establish in the last three paragraphs, is that I don’t just like The Terminator: I’m a fan, and coming from fandom Terminator Genisys was a dumb movie. That’s really all I have to say about it. It was dumb. I don’t really know why it was dumb, because I’m not really a movie reviewer, so I didn’t put that much thought into it. I just didn’t like it very much. Well, I did like the whole theme about how the machines took over the world through cell phones, and I’ve been a high tech heretic for years, with most of my heresy targeted at cell phones, so that was at least lip service to me and my kind.

Really, though, the reason I wrote this post was because I wanted to rant about the whole T-101 thing from Terminator 3. It’s bothered me for years, and it would be a little too late to rant about that, except for the fact that there is a new Terminator movie out. So now’s my chance! Seriously though? Did the guys that wrote Terminator 3 not even watch the first two movies? Was there not one person on the set that knew to correct them? Clearly Schwarzenegger was unfamiliar with the lore because he’s the one that delivered the T-101 lines. I can almost quote Kyle Reese verbatim from The Terminator when he says, The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy, but these are new. They look human.... There is clearly a whole lore behind these terminators, and the T-series is numbered sequentially. T-600s we never see, but apparently they had rubber skin. T-800s looked human. Arnold Schwarzenegger was model 101 of the 800 series. T-1000s were made out of some kind of liquid metal so they probably didn’t even have model numbers because they could look like anything. Next thing we know we’re going to see a Terminator movie that features Phased Plasma Rifles in the 40 Ampere Range.

Categories: Movie Reviews

So, I Bought a Drawing From a Five Year Old - May 12, 2015

I am a collector of fine art. Being that I’m not a millionaire my primary source for art is eBay. I’ve found that if you look carefully you can find authentic original art on eBay. (There are also a lot of Chinese knockoff paintings, but the genuine stuff is out there.) The beauty of art is that it is virtually worthless so you can get nice paintings for relatively cheap, usually a few hundred dollars, and the art dealers are very willing to negotiate on the listed price. The main thing for me is not the value of the piece, it’s how much I like it, so a good painting by an unknown artist has a lot of value to me.

When I saw a drawing by a five year old on eBay I had to have it!
I’ve collected a few pieces so far. A kitten, a woman, a cityscape, as well as others, and I thought I ought to add something religious to the mix, so I decided to look for a painting of the Christian god, Jesus, and what did I find but a drawing by a five year old named Ricky! What, I thought, what could this be? Some kind of joke? No. It was a drawing by a five year old that his dad put up for auction for him.

As soon as I saw it I knew that I must own it. I mean what five year old could could possibly have the ego to think that his drawing had any value? I knew I had to feed his ego. In all fairness to the boy, there was a remark in the description mentioning that the family was having hard times, and little Ricky wanted to do what he could to help, so he made a run of 100 drawings of Jesus on the cross to sell. I doubt there was any actual arrogance involved. Now, don’t think that I bought that drawing out of pity, because I’m sure the family doesn’t want pity. I do empathize with them, but the reason I bought the drawing was mostly for myself. You see, I just wanted to be able to tell this story. I wanted to tell the world the story of how I bought a drawing from a five year old. That’s it. I doubt that Ricky even made two dollars. It cost me $4.95 total. Shipping was a buck twenty, and with packing supplies and eBay and PayPal fees I’m sure Ricky didn’t get much. (His dad probably gave him a five dollar bill, so it was probably a net loss for the family.)

Okay, so mostly I bought the drawing for me, to tell this story, but I do admit that I kind of hope that I made Ricky feel good. Maybe his family isn’t going to be rich but maybe he feels like he did something to contribute. I hope I didn’t give him delusions of grandeur, though. Apparently he made a run of 100 of these drawings, so I hope he’s not expecting to make five hundred dollars, because the likelihood of that is pretty low.

Now onto the analysis of the drawing...

Jesus on the Cross by Ricky-Limited Edition

To fully understand a piece of art, we must first be fluent with its lines, colors, themes, and subject, then ask two questions: 1) How skillfully has the objective of the art been rendered and 2) How important is that objective? Question 1 rates the artwork’s perfection; question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the artwork’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter. If the artwork’s score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the artwork yields the measure of its greatness. A landscape by Monet may score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Michelangelo painting, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the art to be truly great... Who am I kidding, it’s a drawing by a five year old. It’s fantastic.

Why I Hate "Sent from my iPhone" - April 19, 2015

I have some character flaws I’m not proud of, one of them is my irrational hatred of certain tech companies, Apple Inc being one of them. I think the root of my disdain started when Apple had an ad campaign that portrayed Microsoft as All-Business-and-No-Fun. That irritated me to the core, because I play video games, and it’s pretty much an undisputed fact that if you want to play video games on a computer, you do it on Windows. You can watch the ads yourself:

That was just the beginning of my dislike for Apple. What really made me loathe them was something I experienced in college: I emailed one of my math professors, she emailed me back, and at the bottom of her email was the signature Sent from my iPhone. I didn’t have any particular dislike for this professor (though, I admit, some students did, but I think that was because they were bad at math), but something about seeing Sent from my iPhone was so annoying that all I could think was, Well aren’t you so flipping special that you sent an email from your iPhone. I guess you just accomplished the most important thing that’s ever been accomplished in your life by doing so. You should be awarded another Ph.D. in email sending. I’ve seen that email signature many more times since then, some within the last month, and I can still go on and on about how irritated I am by it. I mean if you were four years old and you sent your first email in your life, maybe, just maybe, I would be okay with you saying Sent from my iPhone. But every darn time you send an email? Are you serious? I mean seriously, are you that proud of yourself that you have to say it every time? Can you tell how annoyed I am by this?

So this gets me to another issue that I have. Apple wants its customers to feel like they are aware of, and using, the latest technology, that their customers are tech savvy. I may be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure you can change the setting on your iPhone so that it doesn’t attach that signature to every message you send, but you know what? You didn’t change it. Wake up call! You’re not tech savvy. Of course, I must acknowledge that there is the possibility that you want to brag that you sent an email from your iPhone, in that case I guess you want to come off as a condescending, high-and-mighty, pretentious elitist.

So, in conclusion, I feel that I’ve made my point that my dislike of Apple is completely irrational. So, yeah, I gotta work on that character flaw.

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