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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yume Nikki

Back when I was a little guy there was this game called Super Pitfall on the NES. It was a bad, terrible game about cave exploration that had only one draw for me: I wanted to know what was deeper in the cave.

It seemed that the further down I went, the more bizarre the cave became, and sometimes you'd witness the oddest events occurring on the floors below you, like floating heads and balls of light. Even more bizarre was the respawn after you died. It was never accurate. It was random. And sometimes that randomization worked in your favor. Sometimes the randomization took you to rooms and passages that were completely unlike what you just died in. Sometimes, it felt like I had warped into a completely different game.

But then, ten seconds later, a frog would kill me and Game Over, start at the very beginning. Welcome to NES.

From my perspective as a kid, I didn't know about shitty game design or the underlying code that governed these products. To me, this was an adventure into a strange, dark place; and maybe it starts out with spikes and snakes and crap, but further down? Anything could be down there. Anything at all.

And I don't mean new enemies and different textures and more video game stuff. I mean anything, because as a kid that's still how my brain worked and how I saw these games. I expected that, if I went deep enough in Super Pitfall looking for something, then something would look back.

The game became a door. With it, I could reach some of the stranger places in my head. I still can. I still expect that, the next time I die in Super Pitfall, I'm going to respawn in some alien location that I can't understand.
I don't use this totem very often, though. As much as I'd like to see those strange places, the game sucks balls.

A few years ago I played a game called Yume Nikki; also known as Dream Diary.

If Super Pitfall is a door, then Yume Nikki is the monster behind that door.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Most Embarrassing Pho

I sauntered into this Vietnamese restaurant in Albuquerque and ordered the pho, which is essentially a super-big bowl of soup. How cosmopolitan of me. How classy.
Justin, you're going places.

I had no fucking business being in that restaurant.

Picture what it'd look like if you trained your dog to eat with chopsticks and you'll have an idea of what I looked like when I attempted to catch those god-damned noodles and slurp them into my mouth. I fumbled those sticks so badly that most of the food just dropped back into the pho, and that bowl is full of soup broth, so everything I dropped splashed everywhere. I had pho on the table. Pho on my shirt. Pho on the floor.

And I'm hunched over this bowl, slurping so bad it probably sounded intentional. Is slurping bad manners? I was kind of loud. A more intelligent man would've dropped bills on the table and fled the restaurant, but I stayed for the entire meal. It was humiliating.

But do you want to know what made it ten times worse?

The place was empty. Completely empty.

Except for the waiter.

Just one guy. He served me pho, and then he stepped back about two feet and just stood there, and that's where he stayed for the entire meal. He stood right fucking next to me and never moved, never flinched, never fucking did anything while I'm slurping and spitting pho all over the restaurant. Fuck me.

And I managed to make things worse with the side dish: a nice, little salad.
In it, there were these innocent, little cuts of jalapeno, uncooked, seeds and all, and I thought, "Maybe I can't eat pho like a man, but I sure as hell can eat these jalapenos."

Ten seconds later my nose is dripping all over my face. Down my shirt. My eyes are half-shut and my mouth is hanging open. Did I mention that I'd been driving all day with a hood over my head to avoid sunburn so when I took it off in the restaurant the entire back of my head was this big poof, like some kind of hobo mullet. I also had this crazy huge blemish on my nose (I'm thirty years old, what the hell?) and it didn't even look like a blemish. It was freaking enormous. It looked like my nose was broken. Like someone punched me in the face as hard as he could.

At that point, I asked for my bill.

Friday, January 6, 2012


If you want to prove that you're an incredible author then you need to take an unbelievably stupid concept, something totally retarded, and turn it into a story worth reading.

Stephen King's novel, Christine, a story about an evil, killer ghost car that's running people over; is exactly what I'm talking about.

That's the brilliance of it: take an idea so ridiculous that if it actually happened to you, nobody would ever believe you.
Possessed car running over people you know? Who are you going to tell? Even the most open-minded dude on the planet is going to laugh in your face, so the entire novel has this sense of isolation for our protagonist. It's him versus something that even he doesn't believe in. The absurdity of the situation feels more like a nightmare than a joke.

Best of all, underneath the horror story, Christine is a bromance. Arnie and Dennis, the two main characters could have carried this book without the supernatural car, and I would have read it front to back and loved it. The starting chapters are some of my favorites:

In the dim glow of the moon and a nearby streetlight, his face looked ravaged and haglike. He was like a stranger to me then. He was off walking in whatever cold places of the universe a fun-loving God reserves for people like him. I didn't know him. I didn't want to know him. I could only sit there helplessly and hope that the Arnie I did know would come back. After a while, he did.  - SK

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 is Brand New

2011 kind of worked like this for me:
I'd go to work, do menial labor, and in my head I had to keep myself occupied, so by the end of the day there was probably something stupid that I'd want to post about, so I did. It was a good system.

But now I'm changing jobs, I'm moving, 2012 is different, and everything that you and I loved about 2011 is dead (just like how 2012 will be in a year, so don't get too attached).
The point is, writing crap is fun so I'm going to keep doing it, but from here on out I'm doing it with less regularity. That's what happens when you get old. You get tired, and lazy, and weak, with only enough energy left to hate yourself for failing at all your dreams. If you're lucky, you'll prune up and turn into Andy Rooney, but Andy Rooney already did that, so the rest of us are screwed.