Category Archives: Opinion

High Heel Jet Boots

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So for those that don’t know my preferences, I am a Super Smash Brothers fanatic. The idea that my favorite Nintendo characters can come together in one game and beat the ever-living piss out of each other is divine, and every time a new one is coming out I follow every aspect of it. This past Tuesday, my sister and I ordered Papa John’s Pizza and watched the newest Nintendo Direct episode centered all about the next Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS. Here, you can watch it for yourself if you want:

Yes, it’s 39 minutes long, but it contains every bit of information you could possibly want to know, including two brand new, never before revealed characters at the very end. Smash Bros is a big thing with my sister and I; we’ve been playing it together since the original, and I have it on good authority (my own eyes) that she used to sit in her room for hours playing Melee as Zelda/Sheik. She got damn good at it too. As we watched it, we saw the reveals of the returning characters like Zero Suit Samus and Sheik and were excited about the fact that they would be their own characters now. We oohed and ahhed at everything Sakurai presented and laughed at his attempts to recreate the Iwata “directly” hand gesture.

Amidst all of our reactions, I’ll tell you what we didn’t do: we didn’t put a second thought into what each character was wearing.

Afterward, I go online to find that a sect of people are upset that Zero Suit Samus’s new jet boots are high heels. They’re angry that gender stereotypes are being continued because a girl has been given high heels. They don’t like the idea of Zero Suit Samus, a characters whose entire gaming life has been about being a girl in a “man’s world,” is given this minute accessory.

The entire debate has me wondering if I’m even qualified to be a “gamer” anymore. Not because I question my enjoyment of video games and love for the industry, but because I didn’t give a single shit, damn, or f— about the fact that Zero Suit Samus is now wearing the equivalent of high heels. When her portion of the Direct came on, I was more focused on how she played and what she could do than her costume. I hope that doesn’t put me at the minority, but I think it might.

Now I know gender issues are high on the list of industry problems right now, with the very successful hashtag #1ReasonWhy still carrying strong. I fully support every person who wants to get into gaming, be they white, black, man, woman, whatever, but I feel like this jet boot issue is completely overblown. Is your entire opinion of the character really going to be affected because she’s now wearing high-heel jet boots? Will you not buy the game because one character is wearing one piece of digital clothing? It makes zero sense to me that folks would be offended by the type of boots she’s wearing; it’s really not important in the least. Furthermore, if you want gender equality, look no further than the Wii Fit Trainer: both the male and female trainers will be included, and both of them have the same attributes, strengths, weaknesses, and moves. The two are exactly the same in every way, making for literal gender equality in the game that NO ONE is talking about. I find it odd that detractors would turn Samus away, but ignore the Wii Fit Trainer.

Bottom line: think whatever you wish, but I feel like a few aspects of this argument are a tad overblown. In the grand scheme of things, this is not something to get up in arms about. Your heart is in the right place for thinking there’s a major argument to be made, but this isn’t the topic to use as a strong point.

That’s just my two cents.

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21-1

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This entire weekend seemed off, like something crazy was always around the corner.

It started yesterday when I went to get my oil changed at Wal-Mart and I watched one of the mechanics take a quick five-minute snooze in my driver’s seat before the job was done. Next it was the guy on Chester Pike who, when he saw me trying to make a left at a changing light, looked me in the eye and shook his head “no” as he sped through the intersection. Then I witnessed a mini cat-fight in the middle of MacDade Blvd at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon over a plastic bag filled with clothes in someone’s trunk. All of that occured in the span of three hours, 11AM-2PM, while I ran errands.

Now, as I sit here trying to gather my thoughts after yet another fun Wrestlemania gathering, I can’t help but just feel sad. Sad that at the 2:53:44 mark of Wrestlemania 30 (it’s already on WWE Network for replay) my all-time favorite wrestler, The Undertaker, saw his insane 21 win, zero loss streak at the Super Bowl of wrestling shows come to an end. Sad that the one to beat him is a part-time wrestler who has only wrestled in one other match in 2014 beside this one (and that one doesn’t really fit the definition of “match”). Sad that a piece of my childhood has swept away in the river of time, lost forever. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s absolutely true.

Quick aside: Yes, I am 100% aware that wrestling is scripted, or as detractors like to call it “fake.” “Fake” implies that wrestlers don’t actually get hurt doing these moves or feel any pain whatsoever after a match. “Fake” says that what these guys do is not real, and by that nature doesn’t actually exist. By calling it “fake,” you’re telling me that my eyes have been lying to the rest of my face for the last 24 years, that wrestling doesn’t exist. You’re saying that I didn’t actually go to the Spectrum as a child with my parents, sit right at the guardrail, and watch as my heroes walked right past me to the ring. Did I imagine when Virgil high-fived me? Was I dreaming when one of the Bushwhackers gave me a noogie? I agree that it is indeed scripted, hence why I treat it like a male-focused soap opera, but I will never say it’s “fake.” 

There has never been a time in my life as a wrestling fan where The Undertaker wasn’t a part of it. As long as I can remember I think about getting ready to watch wrestling on Monday nights just to see him. Sure I had other favorites, but no one even came close to The Undertaker in my eyes. I played as him in the video games. I dressed like him for Halloween. I had his action figures, foam fingers, you name it. Even during his “American Badass” biker stage I still thought he was awesome (even though that gimmick in hindsight was totally lame). I can still pinpoint the exact moment where Taker became my wrestling icon: January 22nd, 1994, the Royal Rumble, where Taker fought Yokozuna in a Casket Match for the WWF Championship. Mom and Pop had ordered the pay-per-view for me as a birthday gift, and I watched it with my family as a birthday party. Undertaker lost the match when Yokozuna’s gang interfered, but after the match this happened (skip to 18:59):

To normal people, this is campy special effects backdropped by cheesy commentary. But to a little boy mere hours from his seventh birthday, this was the coolest thing in the entire world. The smoke, the screen, the speech, the rising to the ceiling, all of it…it was just incredible.

Tonight I feel like that moment came full circle. I experienced all five of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief in a mere ten minutes:

Denial: “No way…no way! I don’t believe it! I can’t accept this! What just happened?!

Anger: “BROCK LESNAR?! REALLY? BROCK F@#%IN’ LESNAR?!

Bargaining: “The only way I’m OK with this is if I find out later on that Taker himself requested this ending.

Depression: “Now, as I sit here trying to gather my thoughts after yet another fun Wrestlemania gathering, I can’t help but just feel sad.

Having typed all of my thoughts out, I can now reach acceptance. The reality is setting in: the man just turned 49 on March 24th. He’s made his debut in the WWF/E in November of 1990, a career (assuming he retires tomorrow like I think he will) spanning almost a quarter century. He was a loyal company guy, never jumping ship to WCW or other factions once joining the WWF. He performed to the best of his ability every single night, giving us moves that no man 6 foot 10, 300 pounds should ever be able to accomplish (walking the top rope?!). There’s really nothing else he can give us at this point. He went out with one more shock, even if it was a shock no one really wanted.

One other quick aside before I wrap up: the Undertaker’s loss has reminded me of why I wanted to distance myself from social media for Lent. I went on (it’s Sunday, I’m allowed) to see what people were saying about the match and immediately I saw stuff like “I used to love professional wrestling…and then I turned twelve” or “guys wrestling is fake you’re all dumb for watching it” and so on. It’s one of the worst things about the idea of constant connection: no one is allowed to like anything anymore without someone saying he’s/she’s wrong for liking it. How about this: you like what you like, I like what I like, and neither of us get on the other’s case for it. I remember a time where stories about dragons and swords were reserved for “nerds” and “geeks,” but how many of those not watching Wrestlemania were watching Game of Thrones? I bet a lot.

As I sit here eulogizing the Undertaker’s long career, I realize that I am also eulogizing a part of myself. That little boy who loved the Undertaker and everything he brought to professional wrestling every single night will no longer hear the emphatic GONG that could stop him on a dime. He’ll never again see that man walk down a long aisle beset in blue light, smoke billowing from behind to create the perfect backdrop. The legend has ended, and professional wrestling just won’t be the same without the chance of the dead rising again. People talk about investing time in their favorite TV shows or movies; I invested over twenty years to this professional wrestler, and it seems to finally be coming to an end. It’s bittersweet, but I’m taking the “don’t be sad it ended, smile because it happened” route from here on out.

Thanks, Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway, for two decades plus of entertainment. I doubt you’ll ever read these words, but thanks for choosing to give us your best years on this Earth. You’ll always be my favorite wrestler.

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Breaking the Habit

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I am by no means a completely religious man. I have faith, sure, but church and I haven’t been seen together lately (outside of a few visits to my neighbor’s congregation). However, tomorrow is Lent, and we Catholics are supposed to sacrifice something for 40 days (until Easter Sunday for those rushing to calendars) to make us better people or something. I haven’t given anything up for Lent in a really long time (again, bad religious guy), but this year I’ve decided to take the plunge. I had been thinking of giving up that which I’ve decided to give up for Lent for a long time now; I’ve thought at length about what, if anything, this thing is adding to my life. I’ve come to realize that, outside of a few laughs and a few other small perks, that this thing which I used to treasure has become more of a burden than anything else.

Social media, it’s time you and I went our separate ways for a little while.

Whenever I log on to Facebook or Twitter any more, one of three things happen: I chuckle at a funny picture or joke, I get angry at someone being a moron, or I have no reaction at all. I just scroll through my feed endlessly, looking for something to pique my interest. What’s more, some of the discussions I do see on either feed get me so riled up than they can actually change my mood. I could be feeling more productive than ever, the world is my oyster, then I’ll read a Tweet from some idiot talking about God knows what and I’ll come to a screeching halt. It’s time to break free.

For damn near ten years I’ve spent at least five to ten minutes a day wondering what other people are up to. It used to be interesting, it used to be fun; now it’s either someone complaining about their lives, someone complaining about current events, someone complaining about all the people on Facebook complaining about stuff, or cats. I’ve realized that outside of the occasional link to an interesting article or conversation with a friend or peer that I don’t normally see, Facebook and Twitter have added nothing to my life in a long time, so I’ve decided to take a 40-day break. Score points with the big guy upstairs AND try to break free of these social media chains; it’s a win-win.

Most importantly, I realized that a few 140-character thoughts on Twitter or status updates on Facebook could turn into blog posts or even freelance ideas elsewhere. I figure since I’m losing my ability to quickly spout off and say something stupid about something, I can instead turn here to the personal blog, gather my thoughts, and write something more fleshed out. Who knows, my writing may even be better off for it.

Now, there are two caveats: one, I set up this blog to automatically post links to anything I publish on Facebook and Twitter, because I intend to include links to my work in my blog post ramblings. Also, it’ll make it easier for anything who decides to read the dumb crap I write on here a quick way to see that I posted something. Some may call that cheating, but it does not require me to sign on to either Facebook or Twitter, so I call it sound logic.

Second,  there is the Lenten rule that whatever is given up is allowed to be used on Sundays, so you might see me on Sundays post a thing or two, but I don’t want to make a habit of it.

So there ya go, my manifesto on my plans for the next forty days or so. Thanks for indulging me! Click on “Portfolio” up top to see my latest works, and maybe click on that “Talk to Me” next to it and drop me a line once in a while. No one said anything about emails!

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In Defense of the Grinch and Other Christmas Thoughts

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I love this time of year.

In murky skies of “Christmas is too commercial rabblerabblerabble” and an exorbitant lack of “the spirit” in people this year, my house presses on: we’ve decorated inside and out (special thanks to Matt Boyle, my personal Spider-Man, for helping us with the roof lights), we play Christmas music every chance we get, and I personally have been watching the classic Christmas specials on my phone the last two weeks. With such continued exposure, I’ve noticed a few things that young Jason never really picked up on. Here’s what I mean:

 

The Grinch is completely justified

 

That poor green bastard is completely misunderstood. He doesn’t hate Christmas (or the Whos, for that matter) just for the sake of hating something; he has some totally legitimate reasoning that’s all spelled out for us. The narrator must be a Who down in Whoville, as he shows very little concern for what the Grinch is truly feeling:

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. Or it could be that his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes, he stood there on Christmas Eve hating the Whos.

Oh ok, we’re trying to figure out what makes the Grinch tick, but whatever, let’s just watch him stand there hating everyone for reasons unknown. Except the reasons aren’t unknown: as the Grinch then explains, the arrival of Christmas turns every Who down in Whoville into a stark raving lunatic. Imagine have 364 days of peace and quiet on top of Mt. Krumpet, only to have that serenity shattered by some of the most outlandish noisemakers of all time, all commandeered by a bunch of hooligans. Observe:

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In this shot alone, we have a miniature train, two kids on roller skates with giant nets, two more on the same set of stilts (one blowing a trumpet), another with a hammer for Who knows why, and the last little girl practicing archery on top of a narrow, shaky pile of boxes. Apparently ol’ St. Nick forgot to bring SAFETY AWARENESS for Christmas, but more on that in a bit.

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THIS DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE. What the hell is the point of this?!

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It’s not enough for this guy to bang some cymbals together, no he has himself a giant tuba looking instrument with his own set of wheels. Mobile cacophony deluxe!

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LOOK AT THIS FUCKING THING. Ever stand next to one trumpet at full volume? Imagine the noise Hydra Trumpet here can generate. It even has a little trumpet mouth coming out of a bigger one in the center there. This guy’s favorite word at Christmas dinner is “what?”

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As if small children don’t make enough noise, let’s strap a damn bass drum onto the high chair! Oh, and how about some bike pedals so they can zoom around the house whacking the shit out of it to boot? Something tells me that “Who Hash” was missing an extra “-ish” at the end of it…

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What, the two giant timpanis on wheels weren’t enough for you sir? You needed a giant bike horn to bite as well? Not to mention he’s locked into that device like he’s HanniWho Lecter…how can that possibly be fun?

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This game defies all logic. How does one earn a point? What’s with the drum head that Who holds so the ball can crash through? Furthermore, how do you even play this…

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Oh, so it’s a mix of lacrosse and croquet like the Grinch says, but we can also throw couples roller skating in there too. I’d love to know the concussion rate in this “sport.” Has anyone called Roger Goodell?

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Here’s the mother of all noisemakers: four Whos blowing into it (accomplishing what, I have no idea), one Who playing the triangle because why not, and a conductor to try and harness this audio atrocity. One guy doesn’t even know what the hell he’s supposed to be doing, he’s just tooting along as best he can, slipping a peak at his neighbor’s sheet music when he gets a chance.

I didn’t even mention the feast, where I can only assume they eat as loud as they play, and the part where they all go outside and start ringing giant bells and singing in the middle of the square AT THE ASSCRACK OF DAWN. I hate it when a neighborhood dog barks at 7AM, can you imagine this mess first thing in the morning?

As some folks who I’ve discussed this with have pointed out, it’s only one day a year, why does old Grinchy-poo have to get so jazzed about one day a year? Well, two reasons: one, with all of the nonsense that goes on here, he has to be thinking about it way before the day even comes, possibly even before Halloween. That’s a steady two months of straight up dread before Hurricane Christmas brings a downpour of loudness. Second, and more importantly, it’s not like the scene we’re watching is the first time the Grinch has faced this situation…

Why for 53 years I’ve put up with it now!

Fifty-three years. Fifty. Three. Most of the people I gather with at Christmas haven’t been alive as long as the Grinch has been exposed to this noise torture. Wouldn’t you try to stop it any way you could too?

I don’t blame the Grinch, not one single bit. 53 years is too long to put up with that shit. 

Next topic!

 

Santa Claus is a real jerk sometimes

 

Nothing in this theory is substantiated, it’s merely an observation realized by watching multiple specials back-to-back-to-back, but it seems to me that Rankin-Bass tried really hard to make Santa Claus into a royal asshole. I have five Rankin-Bass specials in my rotation of eleven shows, and in all five of them this jolly old elf isn’t exactly the paragon of politeness that he makes himself out to be. Here’s what I mean:

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town gives us Kris Kringle’s origin story and how he came to be the lovable Santa Claus. Granted, the Burgermeister is an oppressive prick who just needs to watch where he steps, but we learn that Santa Claus got his start as a wanted fugitive, avoiding responsibility and fighting “the man.” Oh, and he married Mrs. Claus in the forest surrounded by animals…is that legally binding?

(This was the weakest example, I promise. It gets better from here.)

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The oft-forgotten Twas The Night Before Christmas begins with the entirety of  Junctionville getting their letters to Santa returned to them adorned with a giant “Not Accepted by Addressee” stamp. Why would Santa crush the dreams of the town and its people like this? Because someone (the crying mouse pictured, yeah a MOUSE) wrote a letter calling Santa a “fraudulent myth” among other things, and St. Nick got his cherry-like nose all twisted. Does Santa have Twitter? I sure as hell hope not, or else he’d never deliver a single gift again with this level of sensitivity. It took a massive clock literally singing Santa’s praises to change his mind. How pompous is that?

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Keeping with the “lack of forgiveness” theme, Frosty the Snowman‘s version of Santa lays down the mother of all threats to the magician Professor Hinkle:

Santa Claus: If you so much as lay a finger on the brim, I will never bring you another Christmas present as long as you live.
Professor Hinkle: [traumatized] Never?
Santa Claus: Never.
Professor Hinkle: No more… trick cards or… magic balls or…?
Santa Claus: No more anything.

Hoo boy, the man can’t even touch the hat that, despite his throwing it away, rightfully still belongs to him. Oh, but Santa gives him a chance to repent: “Now you go home and write “I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty” a hundred zillion times. And then maybe – just maybe, mind you – you’ll find something in your stocking tomorrow morning.” Except it will take him far longer than tomorrow morning to write all that out, so you have no intention of keeping your end of the bargain, you old liar. Apparently ol’ Jelly Belly here doesn’t feel the same way about forgiveness as his Christmas co-sponsor Jesus does.

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In A Year Without A Santa Claus,  our boy just doesn’t feel like coming. “There’s not enough spirit, I don’t feel good,” etc. Certainly cares about all the children of the world, doesn’t he? I wish I had the luxury of not working just because I didn’t feel like it. Let’s not even get into how he reveals, in song, how he yelled at a young child, in the middle of the night, as he lay in bed, about not believing. That’s professionalism right there.

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Perhaps worst of all is the Santa we see in the original Rankin-Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  This Santa is a total jackass from pillar to post, first telling Donner that Rudolph wouldn’t be on the sleigh team because of his nose, then publicly emasculating the poor deer when Rudolph’s disguise doesn’t hold up (pictured). “Donner, you should be ashamed of yourself!” What the hell for? He did what you basically told him he had to do, hiding the nose so Rudolph could be accepted. It’s not just deer that face his wrath either; take the elf practice scene for example, when Santa is a total DICK to the innocent little group of elves. First he rushes them along, telling them to “let’s get this over with” as he has to “go down and look over the new deer,” then offers ZERO critique other than “well, it needs work” before he cuts and runs. Thanks for that, St. Dickolas. Add to that how his picky eating habits resemble that of a crying four-year-old, and you have one Santa who belongs on his own naughty list.

 

Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special, Muppet Family Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and the Garfield Christmas Special are the Mount Rushmore of Christmas specials.

No argument needed, it’s just the truth.

 

I had a little fun here with some classic television, but believe me when I say I love every second of all of those shows. I revel in being able to sit down with family and watch them, even though I get wayyyy too involved with their sub-plots.

I hope I was able to give you a laugh on this Saturday before Christmas Day, and I wish the Christians reading this a merry Christmas, the African Americans a happy Kwanzaa, I hope the Jews had a great Hanukkah a couple of weeks ago, and a great Tuesday to the atheists out there. Regardless where you fall in that group, Happy New Year too!

I leave you with the best rendition of We Three Kings you’ll ever hear.

 

 

Nintendo Can Do No Right, Apparently

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Nintendo is the gaming world’s Lebron James. What do I mean by that? Take a listen.

A ton of Nintendo news dropped today. Release dates for various games like Wind Waker HD (September 20 digitally, October 4 physical), Super Mario 3D Land (November 22), Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nov. 22), and more. However, two pieces of news stick out: a $50 price drop for the Wii U just in time for the holidays, and a brand new handheld called the 2DS, pictured below:

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Now, at first the system does look odd: doesn’t fold like the other DS systems, strange shoulder button placement, etc. I agree it’s strange, but once details came out about this new handheld, the reasons for it make total sense. For those unaware, that 2DS is a 3DS without the 3D: it plays all 3DS and DS games, has all of the same pre-loaded software like Find Mii and Face Raiders, and it even can take 3D pictures with the double front cameras, though they obviously won’t appear in 3D on this device. What’s more, the system checks in at $129, $40 less than the original 3DS and $70 less than the XL.

You may be asking what the point is, and that’s simple: when the 3DS launched, I was still in gaming retail. Dozens of worried parents would ask if the 3D capabilities of the 3DS would mess with their children’s eyesight. Some of them, even though I showed them how to turn the 3D off and assured them that no eyes would go crossed, still wouldn’t take the plunge, fearing that their kids would just turn the 3D on anyway. With the 2DS, Nintendo is telling those parents “we hear you, so here’s our solution: a cheaper system with no 3D that can play all of the latest games.” On top of that, the non-folding aspect of the 2DS also gets rid of the MOUNTAINS of broken-hinged DS systems I used to see every day. This thing even has a unique feature in that the entire screen is a touch screen separated by a piece of plastic. Take out 3D and broken hinges, insert full touch capabilities. Sweet! Oh, and it releases the same day as the next installments in the Pokemon franchise, which may be a bit popular to young kids.

It’s a perfect way to allow those younger kids to get in on the fun without also segregating the normal gamer crowds, as we’ll just continue on with our normal 3DS handhelds. No harm, no foul…except if Twitter is to be believed, this is the worst decision of all time. Everything from “this is stupid” to “why Nintendo why” to “*expletive* *expletive* *expletive* *expletive* Nintendo *expletive* *expletive*.”

The reaction boggles my mind. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Yes, I don’t have to agree with it. However, it’s worth talking about why these people feel this way. Are they afraid Nintendo is replacing the 3DS with this? That’s not happening. Do they not understand that Nintendo isn’t going after everyone, just the kids with this device? Could be.

How about Nintendo can do no right? Yeah, that sounds right.

Remember when the 3DS was selling gangbusters (and probably still will)? Remember when the system was releasing hit after hit after hit and everyone raved about how strong it was compared to the Wii U? Do we really think that making a kid-friendly system that parents won’t have to worry about will impact 3DS sales negatively? If anything, this will send software sales through the roof! Launching the system the same day as Pokemon X and Y makes even more sense, as kids who are upgrading to the 3DS for Pokemon just made their arguments stronger. What is the problem?

To further my point, the majority of Tweets I saw about the $50 Wii U price drop were “it’s not enough” or “now it’s the same price as the white one, who cares?” Now we have a situation where people urged Nintendo to drop the price, they responded, and now it’s insufficient! What gives?

It seems Nintendo can do no right outside of its loyal fanatics, which makes them a perfect parallel for Lebron James. He’s the same way in the NBA, as fans outside of Miami (especially in Cleveland) still revile him for “The Decision” in 2010, even after he proved two NBA titles later that his move to Miami was the right one.

Maybe Nintendo should give King James a call for sponsorship; it’s a perfect fit.

 

See ya, Charlie

Charlie Manuel

 

I’ll never forget October 29th, 2008.

School and work flew by that day, except for the last hour of work. I switched on the radio at Marple GameStop, heard ol’ Harry’s voice through the speakers, and World Series Game 5 was back on. I heard Pedro Feliz knock in what would be the Series-winning run and jumped up and down like a moron, slapping my hand on the counter so hard it still hurts me almost five years later (I wish I had seen the security tape, I probably looked like a total dope). The store closed at 9:00, I was in my car at 9:05 on my way home to watch the final innings.

I got home at the top of the 8th, a Wawa sandwich waiting for me. I don’t even remember eating it, though I do recall holding it close to my face in sheer terror during every pitch. Eventually it was the top of the ninth, and Brad Lidge took the mound. We all know what happened next, and why I ended up in MacDade Blvd GameStop’s parking lot cheering like a fool. For the first time in my then-21 years of life (and still the only time in my now-26 years), a Philadelphia team had done “it.”

We all had our favorite players, Utley, Howard, Hamels, etc. However, no matter who your favorite player was on the field, there was one guy in the dugout you loved unconditionally: the skipper Charlie Manuel.

He was an entire city’s wise ol’ grandpa, telling stories with a rambling southern drawl and walking to the mound with a trademark gait. Where Andy Reid was the target of many an Eagles fan’s rage, Cholly was universally loved. Winning a championship will do that, of course, but even before that I’d argue Charlie was the most popular head coach in Philly. Andy Reid was a bumbler who couldn’t call a timeout, the Sixers’ coaching position was a revolving door, and the Flyers were still pre-Laviolette. Meanwhile, the Phillies snuck their way into the 2007 playoffs on the last day, then the next year won it all. World F—ing Champions, as our second baseman put it so succinctly.

Today, the city’s grandpa was told his services were no longer needed in a disastrous season. My baseball mind says it’s a good thing–if we were going to reboot the team at the end of the year, why wait?–but my heart is heavy. Anyone born from 1981 on who tells you that they’re not the least bit sentimental about this move is either lying or soulless. All of us in that 32-year span has only seen one Phillies team win the World Series, and Charlie Manuel led them to it.  He says he’s going to take the rest of the season off to think, but I know he’ll be managing next year, and that’ll just be too weird.

Monday I go to the fifth game in the six-pack my wife bought me for Christmas, the first one of the rest of my Phillies fan life. It’s been a good run, Charlie. See ya around the ballpark.

Saints Row Infographic…I can’t even describe it

 

 

I would try to add to this, but I just can’t. Deep Silver buying Saints Row IV might be the best thing that ever happened to the series, because the PR team in charge knows what’s UP. Read, learn, love, and play Saints Row next week.

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30 Years of (What WWE Wants to Remember of) Wrestlemania!

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Today 2K Sports announced the successor to WWE 13’s Attitude Era: 30 Years of Wrestlemania Mode for WWE 2K14. 45 matches spanning the entire 30-year history of “The Showcase of the Immortals. Three matches have been announced: Hogan/Andre from Wrestlemania III, Hogan/Rock from WM18, and Rock/Cena from WM28 (not WM29, because no one wants to recognize Cena beating Rock. No one.)

I loved Attitude Era Mode, and I love this idea as well. Just hearing about the mode, before the full roster reveal on Saturday, tells me that we’ll get Ricky Steamboat (Wrestlemania III, vs Savage), Sgt. Slaughter (Wrestlemania VII, vs Hogan), and maybe even Kurt Angle (WM19, vs Brock Lesnar). However, I’m curious…will 2K actually cover the ENTIRE history of Wrestlemania?

Wrestlemania 20 gave us one of the best World Heavyweight Championship matches I’ve ever seen. However, due to events a few years later, WWE refuses to acknowledges that match even exists. Why?

chrisbenoit

 

Because this guy won.

Chris Benoit captured the World Heavyweight Championship that night, beating Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a thrilling Triple Threat match. The moment shared by Benoit and the late Eddie Guerrero after the match, both champions, won’t soon leave the memories of longtime wrestling fans. Unfortunately, because of Benoit’s heinous acts in 2007, WWE refuses to remind us of how excellent that match was.

I get it: Benoit did a horrible, horrible thing. No argument from me there. However, erasing the in-ring achievements of one of the best technical wrestlers in my lifetime is rather shortsighted. We all know that match happened, we all know who won, so why keep ignoring it? With this new mode in WWE 2K14 recapping the biggest moments in Wrestlemania’s three-decade-long history, the main event of the 20th anniversary should be included.

Do I think this is going to happen? No, I don’t. Instead, the match that will be included from Wrestlemania 20 will be Undertaker/Kane III, or Evolution vs Rock N Sock, or Cena vs Big Show. However, the tenured wrestling fans know the real main event; we’ll just have to create it ourselves.

Bucking the #Trends

If you listened to the recently released VS Node 28, you heard me wax poetic a bit about social media and its possible impact on video game journalism. If you didn’t, here ya go:

Back in journalism school, if one thing was repeatedly shoved into our heads, it was to be fair, unbiased, and objective in our approach. Even if what we reported on makes our skin crawl, we have to dive in headfirst in order to do our job properly. Journalistic integrity was the message, and most got it loud and clear. However, this was before Facebook and Twitter really took off, before social media ingrained itself into our culture. Now, we can say anything we want, in any manner we want, about anything we want without giving it a second thought.

So what does this have to do with video game journalism? Well, simple: these social outlets give game journalists more exposure than ever. With that exposure comes the added difficulty of maintaining that objectivity. Sure, most of those accounts have some kind of disclaimer saying “the thoughts and ideas written here are that of the individual and not of any media outlet he or she may work for,” but what does that really accomplish? Did the musician who got a little carried away after a recent hockey game have that disclaimer in his information? If he did, it didn’t matter, because his band kicked him out right after it. Disclaimer or not, he was now associated with what he Tweeted, and his credibility and image were tarnished.

That’s the major obstacle for the games journalists: maintaining objectivity and credibility not only in their work but on their social media pages. I can’t tell you how many leading faces in games journalism I’ve unfollowed recently because they’re A) insulting, B) miserable, or C) outspoken to the point of nausea. Granted, they are all entitled to their opinion, this is ‘MURICA and we can say what we want, but when the Tweets begin to color my perception of their work, work that I enjoy reading, it’s best to just tune them out. An example would be a particular writer who was incredibly outspoken about a certain game, then reviewed it without putting the thoughts he Tweeted into the review. To paraphrase the cliche, he told me how he really felt, yet I didn’t see it in the article he was paid to write. The whole thing seemed backwards.

If you need a recent event to make the case for you, look no further than the Xbox One reveal two weeks ago. As the event progressed, my Twitter feed (myself included, admittedly) became a snark war; a footrace to see who could throw the first jab at what was being shown. Sure, it was good for laughs, but eventually I wondered just what the hell the point was. Why was I so hellbent on getting my licks in? If I’m supposed to be a journalist, like the piece of paper I spent four years working to obtain says I am, doesn’t this fly in the face of the integrity and objectivity I was taught in the first place?

I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I’ve come to a decision: with E3 2013 a week away, I’m going to take a whole new approach to my use of Twitter during my coverage. Any Tweets you see from me will either be straight-up facts or objective praise/criticism. No snark, no digs, no malice; just the events of E3, as they’re happening, as fast as I can. I may allow myself to get excited a few times (if you think I’ll remain reserved when Smash is revealed, you’re friggin’ crazy), but the majority of my social media presence concering E3 will be, to the best of my ability, objective and fair. It’s what I went to school for, after all, I may as well practice it too.

Basically, there’s a difference between “here’s the info, I do/don’t like it and here’s why” and “holy shit this games sucks and looks bad lololol omgwtfbbq.” I’m trying to be the former. There’ll be plenty of snark and negativity; I just want to cover the show and enjoy it while I do.

It’ll be hard to avoid E3 next week, but if you’re looking for just the facts (m’am) with a little bit of objective opining, @BigManFanelli on the Twitters will be a good place to get it.

Regardless, enjoy E3, and I look forward to having a shit-ton more to talk about once the smoke clears.

Oh, What A Night…

So if you haven’t been following the Facebooks and Twitters of basically every single person I know, Stephanie and I FINALLY tied the knot on Friday! WOOOOO!!!

A couple of the funnier pictures from Glenolden Park lol.

It was an amazing day from start to finish, with a beautiful ceremony at Notre Dame and the best damn party I’ve ever been to right after it at the Oaks. I cannot say enough about how well everything went for us.

Before I talk about specifics of our excellent night, I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly positive response Stephanie and I received, from the comments, likes, and Wall posts on Facebook to the various Tweets that came in. We tried to keep up and like them all, but in the craziness of the night itself and the lack of cell phone service in our Paradise Stream hotel suite, we just couldn’t keep up.

If we missed your post or Tweet, rest assured that it was NOT ignored. We saw it, we loved it, and we love you for taking the time out of your day to be a part of ours. We would have never gotten to the altar if not for the love and kindness we’ve been shown since November 11th, 2004, when this crazy journey started. Thanks for all of your kind posts, we really do appreciate it 🙂

Now, onto the finer points of the night, starting with a quick PSA:

– We found a blue Nautica suit jacket on one of the seats after everyone left. It was at the table closest to the door on the RIGHT SIDE of the dance floor. If anyone is missing their suit jacket, it is in the backseat of my car and not as lost as you thought it was :-).


This little turd right here is one lucky feline. For those that don’t know the story, in between the ceremony and reception, we went to get photos taken at Glenolden Park (as I mentioned above). There was a gazebo right near the entryway that we found and thought would be perfect. Pops went ahead to check things out as we all loaded off of the party bus. As I approached the gazebo, my dad turned to me, his face white as a ghost, and said “we can’t take pictures here.” I asked why, and he told me to come look for myself. As I approached, I had heard a noise I couldn’t place…a loud, shrill cry, over and over again. When I got there and looked down, I couldn’t believe what I saw:

This little guy, crying his two-week-old lungs out. He was covered in flies and maggot eggs, and one of his legs was mangled beyond recognition. I tried to warn everyone to avoid the gazebo, but my sister heard “kitten” and “box” and, ever the “OH GOD THAT KITTEN IS SO CUTE LET ME SEE” opportunist, went to go look for herself.

Long story short: we found another place to get pictures, and my Aunt Pat immediately took the kitten to Glenolden Animal Hospital for care. Doctors cared for the little bugger over night, and while the injured leg did need to be amputated, now he sleeps in my aunt’s house in Broomall, fighting his way to a likely full recovery. I’ve since found out that someone called the Stoney Creek Vet ON THURSDAY to report the kitten, and he was ignored. That means the little bugger sat in that box for MORE THAN A DAY. It’s a beautiful thing that, on a day of celebration for two lives coming together, we were able to save a less fortunate life in the process. Fight on, kitty, fight on.

And to the turd who left him there: I wish you nothing but a swift kick upside your head and a head-first dive into the shallow end of a swimming pool.

P.S.: I believe that “Spunky” is the leading candidate for the kitten’s name, but I’d like to throw “Glen” into the ring. He was found in GLEN-olden Park, after all.

If anyone at the reception was wondering what that Asian-sounding song that someone requested for me was, look no further than this. Notice we did the dance from the video too. Awesome.

I hope everyone who joined us in our special day had the time of their lives, and I hope we can all get together for a party like that again. Wedding, birthday, anniversary, I don’t care; let’s boogie down like we did last Friday again. I had TOO much fun.

God bless everyone, now to go be married!

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