Thursday, March 26, 2009

Zombies CAN ride dirt bikes!

Man I love me some zombies. For Christmas I was given a how to survive zombie attacks set of flash cards and after reading, I felt pretty assured I knew what was what. In leading up to the days of Resident Evil 5, Damman argued with me that the game had no zombies, as I hysterically screamed about dirt bike riding zombies from the trailer. Well since my play through, applying my flash card knowledge, I do have to say this is not a “zombie” game, and it is also not a typical Resident Evil game. A lot of purists have been in an uproar over this; I, well, I have enjoyed the product and I’ll be so kind as to tell you why.

RE5 pretty much abandons survival horror like an unwanted child at the mall. No mention of it, no remorse for it, the game just went a different way. This is a shooter… where you can’t actually shoot while you move. Let us call it a “Stand Still Shooter with Inventory Management.” I think that does nicely. I ate this up. I loved the story, I loved the enemies, I thought the levels were varied and unique. Puzzles pleasurable and simple. The variety of weapons ridiculous (more later) and the cooperative experience joyous.

For me, co-op has become the new drug. Damman has become my new video game BFF as we have sought out new ways to constantly annoy each other while achieving a common goal. RE5 provides another way for one person to be all brain, and another to use hap-hazard brawn. (take a guess who is who.) The inventory management allowing you to trade items with your partner creates a fun interplay between who takes what on a given level and what strategies you want to use for a given boss.

The dialog, as Damman explains, is typical RE, very cheesy. Hell by the end of the game, my very first RE experience, I could guess a line before they said it. As I eluded to before, however, the story was fun. It may do a horrible job of trying to explain the history of RE, but as a stand-alone, it won me over.

The replay value for this title is immense. The un-lockable weapons, costumes, special items and game modes make for a unique kind of treasure hunt. I went back through after my first run through and hunted for all the emblems, treasure and missed goodies from before, searching for the kind of completion of a game I rarely desire. Some may call this achievement whoring, some may be disinterested in it. The blank fact is my game clock was about 11 hours to beat it, and I’ve logged another 6 just hunting for things now. Entertainment value is entertainment value folks.

End of the day, this isn’t really RE5 as much as it is RE-a new way to play. It was hella fun, I am going to play some more, a lot more, and I hope to horde all of your magnum ammo in game sometime if you ever play with me too.

Score: 4 out of 5 “Damn it Jason, you blew me up again!”s

Deviant art image stolen from haruningster

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ramblings of a Madman: Get those damn words offa my yard!

This concept that I'm thinking about right now has no beginning or end. If anything it's really just a never ending loop so I guess I'll drop us in at random point x and damn the consequences!

Are video games art? Yes. No? Well why not? Roger Ebert doesn't think so. He's a pretty bright guy I suppose....he does watch alot of movies. Honestly I don't really care anymore. This does of course imply that at one point I did (which is sadly true), but I'm over it. Anyway, art. Clearly art is this special club that only a specified class of things can call themselves. That's a pretty vague definition, but I really don't know how else to define something that applies to Don Quixote, Citizen Kane, and hunks of metal twisted together in the shape of hunks of metal.

So at this point you might be thinking you've figured out my point. How can something as completely worthless as Citizen Kane be considered art while video games get the shaft? Well you're wrong! I have no grievances surrounding what any one wants to claim as art. My grief here is reserved for people "defining" things. We give things names so that we can identify them to each other through means slightly more helpful than pointing and grunting (imagine if you pointed and grunted and everyone just looked at the tip of your finger).

But it wasn't enough just to label individual things, we had to categorize them too. TVs and computers are ELECTRONICS, lawyer and doctor are OCCUPATIONS, hilariously awkward roommates and green dinosaur sidekicks are BABYBOPS. For the most part it is functional. Communication errors are numerous and frustrating but if you've been able to understand more than half the words in this post I call this language phenomenon a rousing success.

So we're good so far. We have names for things. We have categories to put those names in. We even have categories to put the categories in. What happens then when we start getting new things? Who decides when they can join an existing category? Is the term "art" frozen in a certain time so that everything coming after it has to find it's own new category? I don't know about you but I'd say dictionaries are pretty damn heavy already. Not to mention that (according to Wikipedia) "art" was coined sometime before 1750. Who won the Oscar that year?

What it comes down to I suppose is that we assign meaning not just to the things in our lives, but the words too. I consider myself a pretty open-minded, accepting person, but when someone says "this is gay", I know that they probably mean it's bad or lame or disagreeable with them in some way. Hell, what do "bad" and "lame" mean anyway? If you ask me, there's only one word that completely and reliably defines exactly what we associate it with...."thing".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mmmm tastes like bullshit

So I have enjoyed recently, news articles popping up over the backlash against the Acai berry from Brazil. The commercials and billboards and Oprah propaganda about the berry that will “grow your hair back, drop your gut 10 pounds, cure cancer, increase sexual potency” had gotten a little lame.

People were shelling out $80-$90 to buy this stuff and ingest it like it was cocaine. In reality, every berry has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Fruit in general is good for you. Not one study has ever said Acai or any fruit can cure cancer or do anything a multivitamin cannot. The fact is, it only took one genius to say “Hey, Americans don’t know about this South American fruit, lets tell them it will help you grow bigger breasts!”

Tell you what; I have a miracle drug of my own. I swear to your god that if you drink my product more and other beverages less, you will:

  • Lose weight
  • Have clearer skin
  • Feel refreshed
  • Live longer
  • And just about anything else that ails you.

It’s called water assholes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Slightly more competent than three little pigs

First off, I have really enjoyed Newman’s series “Night Shift,” I encourage you to read it if you have not. The series is now available on the right side link bar along with a few others.

Now the topic at hand; I am attempting to grow up. The biggest thing a man can do in life outside of produce life, is put a solid roof over his head, and this is my goal this year. I currently sit in what I perceive to be a stable job, or at least comparatively to everyone else I converse with, more stable than average in today’s climate. I live in a community I have grown affectionate to, and I am sick and tired of throwing rent money away.

I have received more advice than I know what to do with on this situation. Advice from those who have purchased, and those who have done more research on purchasing than I, yet never have. The simple fact remains however, I know no one who has ever purchased in this violent economic climate.

Two sides to this issue are solid facts I, nor any opposed party can dispute: This is a fantastic time to buy, and I have absolutely no wiggle room financially if I fail somehow. The primary motivation for me to do this is long term benefit. I have in my current life, no real way to build equity and wealth. One way to naturally begin building that is to remove the $1,000 I dump monthly and $12k yearly into rent, and instead invest in a home I can return value on some day, thus building equity. This is the path advised to me by my employers, and this is the path many mentors have recommended for me. But let us break down some positives and negatives…

Pros of buying now:
  1. Save equity versus wasting rent.
  2. Build stronger credit.
  3. $8,000 tax credit on my 2009 return.
  4. Lowest fixed rate mortgages in a decade.
  5. Best buyers’ market in my lifetime.

Cons of buying now:
  1. I have a max of 5% to put down.
  2. No cushion to fall on if I lose my job.
  3. Foreclosure problems > missing rent.
  4. Uncertain about career in 5 to 10 years.
  5. No ability to run back home to Michigan.

So there are five for each. I tend to really like the pros, and do not fear most of the cons. I have a lot of faith in myself though, and always have. Quite honestly, I’ve always gotten by and overcome my hurdles and found a way, and feel I can here as well. I respect the cons though, so I list them and evaluate them. The biggest issue for me is not risk of foreclosure. I will have a total monthly due for my home (including tax) that equals slightly above my rent, keeping in mind my pay ticks up semiannually. My biggest issue is being locked into Baltimore. I love it here, but you never know. I am of the mind that this is one of the best job areas I could be in, with a doable commute to D.C. as well. It is certainly a better situation than Michigan.

I welcome your thoughts as I approach this, I am moving slow and heeding advice from professionals and from my friends. I think the advice I welcome most though, are the words from those who not only see the pros and cons, but also know the mental makeup of the one you affectionately call Fucko.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Night Shift: Windy City

So tonight, Chicago is suffering from strong winds, including gusts up to 50 MPH. This makes walking around very fun...

I am in a building tonight with doors on both the east and west sides of the lobby. Due to the winds, whenever a student opens the doors on the east side, they stay blown open and never close. Besides thwarting our security scan system (why scan to unlock a wide open door) this also causes a pressure situation in the lobby which makes it very difficult to open the west doors. So even when the kids scan and unlock those doors, they pull and pull and remain trapped outside. I am then accused of "locking" them outside, to which I can only suggest a better gym workout plan.

The most recent side effect of the wind is that with the doors constantly being open, the lobby has gotten very cold (it is currently 21 degrees with a wind chill of 4). To solve this, I was given a space heater which quickly tripped the circuit breakers and shut off my computer security workstation. So things are going well...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Night Shift: Can't Stay Here

My excitement for the night just ended with two kids being sent out into the rain. Tonight I'm in a building with a sweet lounge for students to hang out in. When I got back from my lunch break, there were a bunch of students hanging out and playing videogames. After a while, they all packed it in, turned off the lights, and left. I sat here at the desk looking at Google Reader for at least an hour and a half, when all of a sudden I heard a loud snort from the dark room. I went to investigate, and there were two kids crashing on the couches in there. I called it in, and officers came over to check on the kids (often these kids might be passed out drunk, etc.) These guys went and explained that they were up visiting some friends, but not allowed to stay with them. "Well you can't stay here!" they were told.

After checking their IDs, and allowing them to make some phone calls to try and wake a friend (to no avail) they were escorted out of the building. I believe they are now hanging out under the train tracks up the road... It's raining pretty hard.

For a second, I felt bad, but then I thought "What idiots come to Chicago with no plan on where they might stay? Welcome to the real world..."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Night Shift: She Caused AIDS

I have started working the night shift in Chicago. It seems to alternate between crazy and totally boring... I basically sit at a desk and deal with college students.

I thought it could lead to a fun new series on this blog, so I'll be calling it Night Shift. It's frequency will depend on the entertainment value of the people I am watching, so if nothing is posted for a while, blame college students in Chicago for not drinking enough...

That said, this was something I overheard the other night from a girl talking to friends about her roommate: "I hate (roommate's name). She caused AIDS. She caused AIDS, and cancer, and global warming..."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Buccigross said something smart!

Normally I hate John Buccigross, but my hatred for him doesn't come close to my hatred for NFL celebrations (perhaps you remember my past work). So when Bucci mentioned this little beauty in his most recent editorial on, I was more than thrilled:

"Malkin has a similar boyishness [compared to Ovechkin] in his interactions with teammates and the way he plays the game with wild abandonment. He is not a freight train or rock star like Ovechkin, but he, too, acts like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning when he scores a goal. It is not the contrived, third-rate end zone skit of an NFL receiver, but a reflex of pure joy. From Russia, with love."