I'm a 3D animator for an engineering firm by day, husband and daddy by night. Somewhere inbetween all of that I squeeze in time to be a video game enthusiast and writer of wordy things. I'm exceptionally long-winded on all things that aren't myself, so your best bet is to read my blogs and figure out for yourself.
Otherwise known as, "Why I shouldn't teach history."
Long before Al Gore invented the internet, humanity had a need. Nature was calling and the man who stepped up to answer was Joseph Gayetty. While the Romans were busy sharing a sponge-on-a-stick floating in a bucket of brine, Joseph came up with the idea of using soft paper to wipe and dispose of after each trip to the outhouse. He’d sell them in boxes not entirely unlike tissue paper is today and revolutionized copping a squat. A generation later, Irvin and Clarence Scott, two brothers from Philadelphia would later go on to greatness with the invention of the first toilet paper roll with perforated sheets. As a tribute, each and every Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Poopenheimer has taken a moment of silence in respect for these nameless heroes just before they use their miracle product.
There comes a time in every man’s life that he’s in dire need of a pick-me up: at last call it’s probably one more for the road, during retirement it may be a little blue pill and at your completely not-lame LAN parties, it’s our dear friend caffeine. Considering that caffeine occurs naturally, I like to thank the big man upstairs. He’s a peach when it comes to sprinkling this wide green earth with fun herbs and extracts that make living here more interesting. When it came to discovering its true potential, however, we need only thank one Friedlieb Runge. In 1819, Runge was given a box of Arabian mocha beans to analyze and he managed to isolate the world's first sample of pure caffeine. So the next time your eyes are bleeding at 3am while hacking the limbs off of pixilated bodies and you spill some soda on your lap, just nod to yourself and let everybody around you know that it was for your homie Runge.
While we’re discussing multiplayer gaming, it’s fair to mention that the tea bag was invented in 1908 by Thomas Sullivan. Given that he was the type of character who was known to hand-sew the bags before sending them off to customers, I’m pretty sure he’s the patient sort who would find the time to crouch over his latest pwnage victim for the ultimate show of male dominance.
Something that I’m sure all console gamers should appreciate is the fact that your games are linked to a remote control. Do you know what games would be like if you had no way to control the characters? That’s right, JRPGs…
Oh my… I’m sure I’ll be getting some nasty looks for that one. Regardless, while the first wired remote control came from some nobody working for the Zenith corporation, a few years later the first wireless remote was invented by a true hero to mankind, Eugene Polley. He called his remote the ‘Flashmatic’ (1950s catchy, eh?) and it used photocells instead of the infrared we’re used to today. So when you look at that lovely lump of lazy next to you on the couch, snuggle closely against their soft, squishy flesh and say a special ‘thank you’ to the ghost of Eugene Polley for making all of that possible.
Since pre-Biblical times, people have been looking for ways to enjoy the subtler pleasures of intimacy without the traditional side-effect. While many will say that the greatest enemy of birth control since its conception is the Catholic church, I personally blame Charles Goodyear for his rubber contribution to the cause. While I’ve been an avid customer in the past, it replaces a large portion of sensation with a slight edge of security. The true hero of this story would come along over a century later when Frank Colton accidentally created the Pill (although Searle, the company he worked for, was adamant that it was never created) and passed it on to George Pincus… who went on to perfect it and distribute it through Searle. One year after FDA approved the Pill, it was being used by over 1.2 million women. This suggests that at that time there were over 1.2 million happy men, give or take.
That just about does it for today, too much learning at once makes people stupid. I’d go on to mention famous bloggers, but I’m pretty sure that falls somewhere between the cracks of oxymoron and ass-kissing.
In light of this month’s theme, I thought I’d share a story about open communication in the workplace. It’s no secret that I love my potty humor, so here's a little pick-me-up to start your day. In fact, this one happens to be a true story from earlier this morning.
I've been at work for all of an hour at this point and finally decide to go about doing my business in the second office. When I get in there, two of the three stalls are occupied, leaving only the middle one that I hate. First of all, the door latch is faulty, so it swings open if somebody slams one of the other stall doors (this happens more often than you'd think) and second of all it has no water pressure, so you have to flush it twice or else you'll leave evidence. Being a man who prefers to cover his tracks, this is annoying.
Still, when you gotta go you gotta go... so I go... While sitting back and letting my mind roam towards the simple subtleties of television shows, I happen to glance over and see the dreaded empty toilet paper roll. It had been hidden behind dark plastic as I entered and although I normally check before I even sit down, I'm never all there in the morning (or these days ANY time of day). By this time the guy to the left of me had already exited the premises, leaving only the heavy breather to the right.
With a deep breath I mustered up the courage to announce, "Hey, this is kind of awkward, but there's no toilet paper in this stall. Could you grab a wad and send it over my way?" I sat waiting for a response, greeted only by more heavy breathing.
The breathing continued for a few more minutes before there was a clanking of a belt clicking on the tile and the sound of toilet paper making its way across the roll before ripping off. At this point, I assumed that the first wad would be for himself. The man was occupying the handicap stall, or luxury suite as we call it, and it made sense that maybe he'd finish before walking over to the edge and handing a wad under instead of trying to toss it across. I heard the sound of the second wad being pulled and sighed with relief, only to be disappointed again by the sound of wiping. I was a bit uneasy about the third wad being pulled and when I didn't receive this one either, I realized that whoever this was, not only were they an asshole, they used even more toilet paper than my wife does.
Then, to make the taunting even worse, he turns around, lifts the lid, and begins to take a piss. Why he couldn't do this while dropping a deuce will forever remain a mystery, but there he was, ignoring my subtle cry for help. I tried again, "Hello? I could still use some help over here."
A zipper make it's fast track up north and footsteps as heavy as the breathing made their way across the stall and to the door. Not surprisingly, the man walked right past my stall door without so much as a glance in my direction. I, on the other hand, did get a glance... and then started laughing. The man in the stall next to me was Tim, the one deaf guy in an office of 350. The irony was awesome. I patiently waited until he finished washing his hands and made his way out of the restroom before flushing twice and darting to the next stall over to finish my duty.
Two things immediately flooded my mind. I could've written him a note if I hadn't left my notepad at my desk... and I've got to tell somebody! Fortunately Adria, the only secretary I’ve met with a sense of humor as sick as mine, was at her desk and looked completely offended by my story until I mentioned it was Tim, at which point I thought she was going to cry she was laughing so hard.
Apparently the hardest part of my story to believe was that I'd actually asked for toilet paper, she would've just waited.
Hope you guys got some hyucks out of this one, I know I sure did! Besides, if you can't laugh at yourself, you're probably just better than everybody else.
Whenever somebody asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas this year, she would immediately respond with, “A push-me popper!” Apparently what she was referring to is one of those old corn-popper toys that they’ve had around forever. About a week before Christmas, I asked again, just to make sure we weren’t missing something important (by this point I’m sure we’d already bought her half of Toys’R’Us). Sure enough, she told me she wanted a push-me popper and a baby brother. I told her that Santa shouldn’t have any problem bringing her a push-me popper, but if she wanted a baby brother she was going to have to start going to bed on time.
The next best thing to tying a bell around her neck.
We compromised and she got a LeapFrog ClickStart instead. Bedtime be damned!
My fellow old school gamers should immediately feel familiar with this concept from our C64/Atari days. Personally, I had an old Tandy color computer console. The ClickStart is a console with a wireless keyboard/mouse attachment that plugs directly into the television screen. When you first turn it on, it asks you to set up a profile and then gives you some fun intro screen about a green dog named Scout, who is your pet and guide. Disturbingly enough, he’s also the face you stare at whenever looking down at your keyboard. That’s right folks, the ClickStart teaches your young child to type on the faces of puppies.
No assembly required!
What would any console be without a nice game selection? While the ClickStart doesn’t necessarily have an expansive game selection, it at least has game licenses that she’s familiar with. The ones we picked up were Disney Princesses, Diego, Backyardigans and some Learning Carnival game.
Upon first inspection, I swiftly realized that you get what you pay for. While trying to figure out why it refused to work in a television hooked up to cable, I read a lot of reviews saying that the mouse was faulty. I haven’t had this issue yet, but I’m sure after it gets thrown in fits of rage and frustration a few times it’ll begin to show symptoms of failure.
The games look okay. The voices aren’t bad and the colors are nice and bright, it’s just not the high resolution that I’m so spoiled by these days. What kills me is the boring game play. I realize that it’s “funducational” or whatever the hell that thing is, but damn is it like pulling teeth. I haven’t had much exposure to it yet, just the games that come installed in the console and the Ariel games from the Disney Princess cartridge. I was pleasantly surprised that booger didn’t have any trouble navigating the keyboard to find the letters she was supposed to type, but I’m thinking of sticking to flashcards for purposes of letters and words. It’s just more fun if I get to be involved.
With the excitement of Christmas and a crap-ton of goodies from some fat guy with a stag fetish, I don’t think her new games have held her interest for more than an hour. I’m not surprised, it’s only been a couple of days and it has to compete with a remote control dinosaur, a dollhouse and an art easel. However, I’d say that it’s worth the investment if you’re looking for something to kill the time.
Even helps with math homework!
If anybody would like me to go through and review the individual games, let me know and I’ll get on it. Otherwise I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled dribble.
On a side note, do NOT play Fallout 3 while your animal loving daughter is awake. There’s nothing quite like the flood of shame and guilt when you just finished setting up VATS to unload a clip of 10mm ammo into the head of an oncoming ferocious doggy, hit the action button, then watch in horror as your daughter comes in to see what you’re playing and stares in silent awe as Old Yeller’s head goes flying off in slow motion, leaving only a bloody stump where his neck used to be. NOT my best daddy moment… probably not my worst.
For the yet-to-be fathers out there, let me go ahead and shed some light on a little known fact that I’m sure most of my fellow gamer dads on here can attest to – At some point or another, you’re going to screw up. Whether or not you ruin your child’s entire life is a completely different matter, although I’ve been informed that they’re going to blame you once they hit puberty anyway. Lately, my daughter has decided that “Daddy’s wrong” is her new favorite game. I swear her mother taught her that one. So far, the only thing that I can think of doing wrong came from only the best of intentions. Having what I consider to be a typical three year old southern girl, my daughter loves animals and flowers. With this in mind, what could be better than a video game that simulates both? Enter Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland.
I’m sure at this point I’m getting more confused looks than nods of empathy, so I’ll continue. After having several instances of my daughter walking in on more mature games (see previous posts) I decided that it would be better to introduce her to a love of video games without all of the sexual innuendos and graphic violence. Planning ahead, I took off one sunny Saturday afternoon and toiled around the local GameStop looking for the perfect rainy day distraction. Not willing to invest in a new gaming system, I began looking through my options. After a good half hour, I’d narrowed it down to Viva Pinata for the 360 or Harvest Moon for the PS2. Vague fond memories of mindlessly plowing, planting, watering and harvesting for cash-money came to mind as I flipped the box over and over. I was disturbed that the main character was a boy, because I certainly didn’t see it, but Japanese art seems to be drifting that direction these days with effeminate males and girls that would only appeal to china doll collectors and pedophiles.
After a brief epiphany that talking piñatas are creepier than Richard Simmons, I purchased Harvest Moon and trotted home proudly, anxiously awaiting the next rainy day I’d take the first effective step in creating a gamer. This being Texas, it didn’t take too long for a bad weather day and I was ecstatic.
Mom had just stepped out to go grocery shopping and my daughter was staring blankly at a horrific show called The Wonder Pets. It was the perfect time to give it a try. I ran to the bedroom and pulled the box from the top of the bookshelf, walking back in with an obviously fake look of innocence smeared across my face. “I have a surprise for you,” I said, holding the game behind my back. Little eyes widened to saucer state as the magic words were heard and registered. The only thing more exciting than a surprise, is a surprise meant specifically for them. She bolted over and hopped up and down on my toes excitedly until I pulled the game out and snatched it with grabby fingers. She stared intently at the front cover for a good minute before flipping it over and staring at the back, mouth open in awe.
“Can we watch it now, daddy?”
“Even better. We can play it!” I opened it up and pulled out the disk, putting it gently inside the PS2 that we’d been using as the DVD player at the time. The screen came up and I handed her the controls, which she stared at with an overwhelmed look of excitement and confusion. Intro screens came up followed by a menu screen, and then the game could begin… Or so I thought at least.
You see, the thing that I had overlooked with the original Harvest Moon game is that there was no voice acting, just a bunch of talk-bubbles. I had hoped that feature would have changed by the time it hit the PS2, but I was horrifically wrong. It took us a good twenty minutes to get through the story/tutorial part of the game with me reading the ever-so slow moving text with only the sounds of some amateur ambient track in the background and a high-pitched beep every time a letter popped up. The same high pitched beep you hear when your keyboard locks up, which shouldn’t be that surprising because it’s exactly what it felt like. My daughter’s pretty good with her letters, but even if she could pick out a few words here and there, the idea of reading a video game is a bit archaic and while I might enjoy text adventures, there’s not a chance in hell that my CG spoiled toddler will be appreciating it anytime soon.
By the time the game actually started and she could run around, she was insanely bored and fidgety. She was also getting frustrated with the game seeing as how she couldn’t do what she wanted and couldn’t figure out what the game wanted her to do. I was even a little confused. Frustrated kids usually means grumpy kids, so I quickly distracted her from the game by picking her up and tossing her in the laundry hamper. As with other games she’s seen and hasn’t liked, she hasn’t asked for it since.
So the moral of today’s story – make sure that you buy your young kids games that don’t require reading, it’s just cruel.
“If you’re too loud, it’s probably awesome.” The expression goes something like that anyway. I’m not really much of one for splitting hairs when there are ear-drums to be busted. Like many people growing up in my generation, I too had dreams of shredding guitar solos and wooing millions with my amazing ability to rock so hard that the dead would shift in their graves to plug their ears holes with boney fingers. This probably had more to do with the glory and fame and the fact that all I had to do was whip out my wee willy winky as an onslaught of lusty airheads forgo the line rule and set to their stage dive of naughty all at once, thus never having to acquire a personality.
Sadly it turns out that I’m tone-deaf and was anything but a prodigy when I picked up my first electric guitar at the tender age of ‘yeah well I probably started too late.’ What it really came down to is that my time has always been divided up based on priority and it actually takes a good chunk of time to learn how to do anything correctly, especially when it comes to music. So I took a healthy dose of fuckital, chased it with piss-water that the trendy refer to as ‘lager’ and decided I’d be an opinionated prick instead. Turns out people seem to like that sort of thing.
It’s well known that where we fail in our hopes, dreams and goals, we attempt to live vicariously through our children, pushing them to succeed where we could never set foot. While I really don’t give two shits if my daughter grows up to be a world famous rock star, I do hope that she manages to break the hearts of every boy with the audacity to come onto her and becomes a famous astronaut, pioneering the universe in a starship made up entirely of women to explore far away worlds without a man in sight. …What was I talking about? Oh right. She’s more than welcome to become a rock star. It’s something that I’ll support, but certainly never push her towards.
For Christmas last year, mommy thought it would be fun to give what I consider to be her one and only taste of banging long sticks – a four-piece drum set. While she was tickled with the idea of making so much noise with so little effort, and I will admit that she’s got damned good rhythm for a three year old, I think she spent most of her time trying to ham up the audience. This finally leads us to the point I was trying to get at from the first paragraph.
I need to stop letting that kid watch unmarked video cassettes...
Rockband and Guitar Hero are the only time that the wifey or I will experience an opportunity to feel like rock gods. What this means to Booger is that she can be an active participant in a rock band that makes decent music as apposed to being a solo act and depending on mommy and daddy as a loyal fan base. Not saying her playing is bad, just saying that it loosens the meaning of the word, ‘music.’
For the time being, she doesn’t exactly seem to grasp the point. It’s not for lack of trying, but she wants to play the notes or hit the color when she wants to and doesn’t understand why she has to do it when the television tells her to. For that matter, she doesn’t understand why she has to do things when I tell her to either. I’ve learned its best not to try and explain the deeper meaning behind complex carbohydrates to a three year old and default to the standard, “Because they’re awesome!” Nobody said I was clever or creative, leave me alone.
Still, all of the confusion with the devices doesn’t seem to deter her from spying the guitars in daddy’s play corner and declaring, “I wanna rock out!” I give her mad props for continuing to try and I’m betting she’ll get it in the next couple of years. Until then, there’s always the drum set (now moved into her room) to give her a practice at whacking the crap out of things when she’s feeling energetic and doesn’t feel like leaping from the couch over the dog with a well-rehearsed war-cry. I’m glad that there are things out there like Rockband to give kids the chance to develop hand-eye coordination and expose them to the wonderful world of music, something that I feel life would be pretty bland about.
Oh and I’m totally kidding about the astronaut thing. She has my permission to date as soon as she turns 30.
Those of us with children await the day that the inevitable will happen. Your budding bundle of joy will come opening doors at the single most inopportune time and find themselves facing a situation that their young minds should never be forced to comprehend. And you, incapable of hiding the shame rapidly spreading across your face, are you ready to sit them down and give them an explanation of what they’ve just become witness to in a manner simple enough that they will understand and also delicate enough that it won’t shatter their views of the world forever? But it could’ve been worse. You might’ve been having sex.
My first experience came one afternoon while my little booger was out at the grocery store with mom. Typically I have a window of about 30 seconds from the time I hear the front door open to save my game and turn off the television. On this fateful day, however, I didn’t hear the door. Nor did I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet carrying with them the determination of one single goal – Where’s daddy? Bursting through the door like Wonder Woman getting the drop on some bank robber, I’m greeted with an excitable voice shouting, “Hi daddy! What are you watching?” This is where my palms sweat, my mind goes numb and my mouth mutely mumbles, “Saints Row.”
Like any other day, she skips over and hops in my lap before concerning herself with the unusual shaped remote control in my hand. I start in with some windy episode about what a video game is, which she intently listens to the first sentence of before declaring that it’s her turn. I like to think that I’m a man with nothing to hide, so I hand over the controller and start telling her how to move. We happen to be right by the hospital, and she spies an ambulance. I’d say the entire experience was worth it when I told her she could drive it. Her face lit up like I’d just led her to the end of the rainbow and into a field of unicorns. No harm no foul until she turned around with a shameful look of her own whispering, “I just ran over a people. Do I tell them I’m sorry?”
Things get a bit more awkward. My wife walks in, looks at me, looks at the screen, then looks to our two-year old daughter sitting in my lap looking back and forth between the controller and the mayhem of people fleeing themselves from the path of a crazy underage female driver. I flash my best awkward smile only to have her turn her back on me and walk out of the room. Visions of couch cushions in my head, I go back to instructing my daughter on how to trade in her busted ass ambulance for a shiny new red car, informing her that the driver we just pulled out had stolen the car and we were going to take it back to its rightful owner… as soon as we ditched the police officer who saw us do it. Morals are slippery. It’s about this time that my wife returns into the room, wide-eyed at the load of crap I was feeding my daughter about a modern Robin Hood lifestyle and began snapping pictures of the scene. I’m guessing for blackmail reasons.
(I don't post pictures of my daughter on public bulletins. Nothing personal.)
Watching the mini-map, I noticed a crosshair appear. After bribery of chocolate, I got the controller back from my daughter long enough to race over to my hitman target, pull out the suggested weapon and blast the guy, finishing off the airport hitman activity. Unfortunately, my daughter had been standing in the doorway just out of my eyesight as I did this and began questioning what just happened. As any loving father would, I told her that I needed to take the man’s picture, soon followed by saying he didn’t like having his picture taken and so he laid down on the ground so I couldn’t see his face.
I was perfectly content with this particular lie until my daughter, daddy’s girl that she is, wanted to run around and take people’s pictures. The glee and laughter that came from her innocent yet entranced smile continued to pound down the guilt nail deeper and deeper into my pine box resting place. Finally she got bored and wanted to go play in the back yard for a bit, but not before I showed her that we could ride the train around the city, which she thought was almost as cool as driving the ambulance and turning on the sirens.
Much to my enjoyment, she’s never asked to play the game again. In fact, the only one that she’s requested without walking in on me playing was the ‘scary game,’ otherwise known as Fable II. She has an uncanny fascination with video games, however, and I like to see her explore as much as possible. I found out about nickjr.com and that it has a rather impressive list of games from each and every show. I’ll write up a review about this later seeing as how this one’s already getting a bit lengthy, but I will say that I’m very supportive of introducing her to video games through that website. The games are thought provoking and there’s no way to die, skirting another detailed conversation that I’m terrified to have with her.
One of the things that I am proud to say about my still-developing parenting skills is that my little girl doesn’t subscribe to just one past-time. She’s either playing with toys, playing sports with daddy, playing video games, letting me read to her or doing ABC flashcards (You can get these at Toys’R’Us and I recommend them to any parent trying to teach their child letters and numbers). She’ll watch television and movies, but for the most part she’s incapable of sitting still for that long. So while she requires near-constant companionship and I don’t get to be the gamer I used to be, I’d say I’m getting the better end of the deal.