February 19th, 2011


Card Sharps

Upper Deck has the rights to make trading cards for the upcoming Thor movie.  Upper Deck is known for interesting stunts involving the cards.  They had Iron Man cards with bits of armor attached.  They engineered a run of counterfeit YuGiOh cards.  And now, cards for the Thor movie will have fragments of the pants worn by Chris Hemsworth (Thor) or Natalie Portman (Jane Foster).

So, just a reminder to you comic book fans, you can buy Natalie Portman's pants, but you'll never get into them....

You Can't Go Home Again

Today, I'm helping out a friend and decide, I haven't been to my old arcade stomping grounds in a long time, I'll go there and have some laughs.

Shouldn't have bothered.

Remember, I'm a long time video game fan.  This particular haunt was the shit when I was younger.  The floor design was huge, rising and falling and sectioning off in different ways.  Each section had sort of its own game theme.  Great stuff.

Part of what happened to video games is they stopped being games.  Operators complained that each minute players played was a minute money was not going into the machine.  Continues or jumping in for fighting games became standard, and making the difficulty so that a game would either need to be fed in about three minutes or completely over in five became the standard.  As the quality of playtime suffered, people started leaving the arcade for home units and computers where you could actually have an experience.

It's reflected in the changes the place has gone through.  A third of that great old floor is now occupied by a laser tag arena.  There are approximately 17 game machines there.  The rest are redemption games that teach kids the joys of gambling at an early age.  Or you spin a giant wheel for redemption tickets.  A giant crane game.  A Stacker game that cost just south of three bucks a play and was over with, on average, in less than thirty seconds.  The video game machines there  had clearly seen better days.  A Fast And The Furious -- Tokyo Drift machine, one monitor was out, and the other clearly had shorted out capacitors (you learn to recognize these things when you spend as much time around them as I do).  The great Neo Geo machine with four games to choose from at 25 cents a play?  Gone.  T-Mek?  Gone.  Ms. Pac Man is in a forgotten corner, next to the only two pinball machines in the place.  They used to have three DDR machines and one Pump It Up.  Now, just PIU and Into The Groove.

I know times change and so do tastes, but this feels too much like a carnival, not a game hall.  Like, "You aren't here to play games and have fun, you are here to pump your money into our pockets as fast as possible.  Spend enough and you'll get some tickets for worthless crap you can get on eBay for far less than you paid us."

I used to dream of someday opening my own arcade.  Now, I feel like a dinosaur, the only one who remembers when people would share maps for the third key in Pac Man or argue about with was better, SFII or MK.  Or even watch others play, living vicariously through them.  We afficianados just aren't wanted anymore.

The times they are a changin'.  More's the pity.
Enchanting Mermaid

Ten Day Meme: Day Four

Stolen from clionona ....

Day One:  Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Four:  Seven things that cross your mind a lot.

1)  Sex.  I got hormones.  I got needs.

2)  The world and my lack of place in it.  It's still turning, baby.  And those of us who were quite happy with where it was are now either trying to catch up with it again or being left behind.  But we can't be what we were.  We never can.

3)  I said sex, right?  * scrolls up * Oh, yeah.  Okay, another thing that crosses my mind a lot?  Jokes.  Sometimes an idea for a joke will hit me and I'm scrambling to write it down and which characters I've created would be likely to say it so I can expound on it later.  Or remember old jokes that make me laugh.  I'm frequently smiling like I'm in on some private joke.  It's because I remember something like a classic Mel Brooks bit or a routine from MXC or something and enjoying what it triggers.

4)  Mermaids.  My personal progress.  I often wonder how I'm doing in my quest for enlightenment.  Remember, I'm a professional storyteller.  I spend a lot of time figuring out if something is Truth and if I'm just telling myself a private fairy tale.

5)  Sex.  Oops.  Sorry.  Human nature.  Which I guess ties in with #4, only reflecting the world in general instead of me specifically.  Sometimes it's just marveling at the wonderful qualities of humanity, other times it's searching for some shred of hope that mankind is not some colossal failure that hasn't shut down yet, and is there any hope.

6)  Stories.  It doesn't take much for me to start hashing out, say, the layouts for the next comic I draw or the script or anything.  My brain is always working on something constructive.

7)  Sex.

There you go, seven things.  And I didn't think of mermaids once.  :-P

Crazy Eights

I've been periodically sorting through old boxes of stuff, trying to see what might be worth keeping and what should be ditched.  Some things I keep against my better judgment (my Sharp EL-5500II, a scientific calculator and computer that could be programmed in BASIC.  All you can really program it to practically do are complex math equations, and then only one at a time, any modern sci calc runs rings around it.  And yet, I actually spent $10 on new batteries for it, and I don't know why...).  And some things just make me wonder.

The box i've been slowly burrowing my way through is full of vintage cassette tapes from when I was growing up.  Holy crap, I actually bought the Beat Street soundtrack?!?  What, was the Breakin' soundtrack sold out that day?!?  Here's some cassettes of stand up comedy I recorded off the TV.  And....

...I actually two blank 8 track tapes?

I haven't had an 8 track recorder in YEARS (dad had bought a new one and thrown the old one out.  I fished it out of the garbage can and hid it in my room).  These are two forty minute cartridges, still in the shrinkwrap.

Part of me wants to put the music tracks for Lightning Strike, the computer game I made and did the music for, on them, just so I can offer them for sale at conventions and enjoy the looks of utter confusion on people's faces.  I mean, most people will probably ignore it, but Paul Sizer would probably get a kick out of it.  Then again, I have no way to record on the things, let alone play them back.  What's more, the music for the game is only about twelve minutes total and, frankly, wasn't my best composing.  It works as background music because there is so much going on in the game (it's a bullet hell shooter), you don't notice how doggerel it is.  Listen to it without distraction and you'll turn it off after about thirty seconds because you will have gotten the point.

Unless the goal is just to make a phony 8 track tape, in which case, all I need is the label.  I can make one of Head Rush, the ska band I was going to start about ten years ago before giving up because I couldn't play an instrument, let alone the one I really wanted to play in a ska band (bass).

I think this is one time I should just throw it out, let the past go.  There's no going back to 8 tracks.  I mean, good luck finding players nowadays except for eBay.  And why go to something severely outpaced by regular cassettes even when the format was young, CD's, or MP3/Ogg players?

Although I think it would be funny to see my computer game available on CD while the soundtrack itself is on 8 track.