Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Web Wizards


Here's an old video I helped with.  Watch the whole thing (it's only a few minutes long) and see if you can find me in it.

Did you say at the very end?  WRONG!  Those are my hands typing at the beginning, too.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Epiphany


I had an epiphany a while ago in the middle of the night.  It was a new idea, something groundbreaking, but, at the same time, it was ancient; it was a truth that had been secretly passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.

2+2=7

It explained a lot of problems.  Why did I do so poorly in math?  Why didn’t science have all the answers to all the questions in the universe?  Why did patients suddenly die in hospitals?  Why?

2+2=7

Things are either right or wrong.  There isn’t an “in between” when it comes to truth.  When we find out that something we believed for years was wrong, we throw it away and accept the new belief.  Well, here is the new truth, and it’s a doozy.

2+2=7

After I had my epiphany, I spoke to my friends and explained to them what I found.  Some of them laughed, but many of them saw what I saw, that I had found a new truth.

2+2=7

A few of us started meeting in secret and inviting our friends.  It changed us all.  There were doctors, who pledged that, from that point on, they would measure medication differently.  Elementary school teachers who promised to teach their young students the new way of thinking alongside the traditional.  Judges who told me they’d change the way they sentenced offenders.  Inspectors who said they’d calibrate life-saving equipment differently.  We all, secretly, pledged to use my new discovery from now on.

2+2=7

The group grew too large for us to fit in our home.  We had to break up into smaller groups and meet separately.  Then those groups grew too big and we split again and again.  There are now groups all over the world, in every walk of life, secretly following the new rule.

2+2=7

However, we’re tired of meeting in secret.  It’s time for us to come out and rally together and push back the traditional mathematicians who are ruining our world and blinding us from the truth.

2+2=7

Friend, I’ve come to you today to spread the good word of 2+2=7.  2+2=7 is the way to perfect every aspect of your life.  Perhaps you’ve bought into the lies, but it’s not too late.  You can still join us and live forever in happiness.  Set aside what you have been taught, join us in our group, and be set free.  We will create a new world, a world where there is no war, no death, no hatred.  We will create a world where everyone lives forever in harmony under the light of the almighty truth.

2+2=7

[Ed. Note: For fun, remove the line 2+2=7 and replace it with any other belief system: geocentricism, creationism, homeopathy, or whatever wacky idea strikes you.]

Monday, August 29, 2011

Parenting Is Hard


It is an old adage that parenting is difficult.  It’s not really true.  Parenting is almost disturbingly easy, as I posted earlier.  What with public education, crime at a near 30-year low, and all the other amenities that go along with modern living, it’s not hard to raise a child to adulthood.  What’s hard is being a good parent.

Good parents want more than just getting their kid to adulthood and out of the house, we want them to thrive, to surpass us, to come and visit once and a while! Like it would kill you to see your old father?  And your mother never gets a letter from you.  Oh, you use email?  Mr. Big Shot is too fancy to use a pen once in a while…

*cough*

Okay, I’m better.

The point is, being a parent these days means you have to suppress your natural urges.  When your child refuses to eat, or fights with you, or has a tantrum, you can’t just hit them to make them stop, but you want to.  When your child fails at something simple because of stubbornness or lack of motivation, you can’t just yell at them, but you want to.  You have to comfort; you have to encourage; you have to bite your tongue.
The movie Oldboy was taken from my life.
(No, seriously, you have to bite it a lot.  I’ve lost the half of my tongue already, not to mention three of my fingers.)

When my son was anxious about taking the training wheels off his bike, I wanted to push him, to force him to try, but I didn’t.  I waited until he was ready.  I let him wait until he loved biking so much that he wanted to take them off.

Then I pushed.

It was hard for him, as much as he fears failure, but I got him through it.  We biked up and down the street over and over again.  The first day, I had one hand on the middle of the handlebars and the other, amusingly enough, under his butt so I could hold his seat.  I ran at top speed, sideways, with tiny steps so I could get out of the way when he swerved suddenly.  In half an hour I was covered in sweat.  I woke up aching in the morning.

The second day, I held the handlebars and his shirt.  Then I just held his shirt.

The third day I just touched my palms against his back and shoulder.  He fell a few times, but stopped caring.  Finally, he told me to let him go alone.

You know that scene in the movies where the dad lets go of the bike and the kid doesn’t notice, then he turns back and sees he’s doing it by himself?  That’s bullshit.  That’s a betrayal.  Good parents don’t do that.

Good parents wait until the child tells them to go.  Then they fumble for the camera and take a picture.  Then the child tells them to get their mother so she can see while the good parent gets a shower and collapses on the bed.

It’s easy to talk about being a good parent.  Being one is insanely hard because, after all the work and the self-control, your kid bikes off without you and you can’t go after him.  Being a parent is hard work, but there's really no alternative.
And then he was hit by a train.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Trains and Einstein

INT. TRAIN CAR - DAY
ALBERT EINSTEIN, younger than we usually see him, his hair still brown and slicked down, is sitting in a private car.  He looks out the window sadly as they travel along.

ART CARD: New Jersey – 1939.

The ENGINEER, an older man wearing the stereotypical train outfit, walks by, notices Einstein through the hall window, does a double take, and opens the door.

ENGINEER
Are you Albert Einstein?

Einstein is jerked out of his thoughts.
EINSTEIN
Yes.
ENGINEER
I’m a big fan.

They shake hands.

EINSTEIN
(honestly surprised)
Really?
ENGINEER
I thought your last paper on the unified
 field theory was brilliant.
EINSTEIN
Thank you.  You read physics papers?
ENGINEER
Of course.  I’m an engineer.
EINSTEIN
I wish the president read them, too.
ENGINEER
Your meeting didn’t go well?
Einstein shrugs.

EINSTEIN
I managed to convince him that the Nazis
 are continuing their heavy water
experiments.  He agreed that we needed
to develop our own atomic bombs
before the Germans do.  But…

ENGINEER
But?
EINSTEIN
But he didn’t listen to everything I
said.  He didn’t believe me about…  Ah,
you’ll think I’m crazy, too.
ENGINEER
No, go on.
EINSTEIN
(Close Up)
The Nazis are working on something
worse than atomic weapons.
ENGINEER
Worse than an atom bomb?  What’s
worse than an atom bomb?
EINSTEIN
(Extreme Close Up)
Robots.  Giant robots with death lasers. 
Giant robots with death lasers
and sonic disruptors!

Einstein sits back, his intensity gone.  Engineer stares at him, horrified.

EINSTEIN
But nobody believes me.  They
think I'm crazy.
ENGINEER
I believe you.
EINSTEIN
(leaning forward)
Then, young man, you and I are the only
ones who can stop them.
CUT TO:

EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
ECU on JOSEPH GOEBBELS, who grits his teeth as he screams.

CU on Goebbels, firing a laser gun, the light reflecting of a metal chest plate.

FULL SHOT on Goebbels, who is sitting in a GIANT NAZI ROBOT BATTLE MACHINE.  He fires on fleeing soldiers, tanks that are reversing away from him, and B-52s that are going down in flames.

GOEBBELS
(in badly accented English)
Run!  Run you American swine!

CUT TO:

Einstein, standing alone on a grassy hill, staring at him defiantly.

EINSTEIN
Minister Goebbels!  That’s a nice
toy you’ve created.
GOEBBELS
(turning to face Einstein)
Einstein!  My arch nemesis!  How dare
you call my Reich Platform a toy!
EINSTEIN
Well, I just meant that, next to the
power of gravity and kinetic energy, your
little robot doesn’t stand a chance.
The giant robot swivels and bears down on Einstein, who calmly pulls a pipe out of his pocket and fills it.  It stops a few feet away on a train track, towering above him.  The weapons power up to vaporize Einstein.  Suddenly, a train crashes through the robot, knocking it to the ground, where it explodes.

GOEBBELS
Curse you!

CUT TO:

The Engineer, driving the train, blows the whistle.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
He was a steam engine driver.

CUT TO:

Einstein, still on the grassy hill, smoking his pipe.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
He was a theoretical physicist.

CUT TO:

The Engineer leans out of the engine and does a fist bump with Einstein as he goes by.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
Together, they are: TRAINS AND EINSTEIN. 
Coming this fall to ABC.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bicentennial Man


When I used to work at Oracle, in the least prestigious career in the universe, I tried to bike to work.  I had rented an apartment in Foster City, just a few miles from Oracle HQ, and there was a lovely bike path that went right from in front of my apartment to Oracle.  Biking was great, because it took just as long as driving, and I got exercise.  However, it was always cold, and I was always lazy, and after a few months I ended up driving to work.

One day I was driving in and found myself caught in a long line of people trying to get off the highway at the Oracle exit.  Annoyed at the uncharacteristic wait (I mean, I slept in late just to avoid rush hour!  Did I have to wake up early now?), I grumbled until I got to the front of headquarters.  There, a giant sign had been erected that read “NorthAM Robotics.”
"Huh?  Where did it go?"
They were filming Bicentennial Man.

We didn’t get a lot of work done that day at Oracle, as most workers stood at the windows, looking for some sign of movie making.  We never saw anything.  However, once, while a colleague and I were walking to lunch, we stumbled into movie magic.  Well, the back of movie magic, anyway.

There was a guy with a headset blocking our path.  He asked us to walk around the area, because they were going to film and didn’t want to catch us on camera by accident.  We stood and watched, hoping that something cool would happen, but all we ever saw was an extra standing around, waiting to be filmed.

The extra was a tall, blonde, handsome man.  He was wearing a black suit and his hair, as the song goes, was perfect.  In one hand he held a coffee cup and, in the other, one of those metal briefcases you always see Secret Service members carrying around when they’re with the President.  (I think it has the nuclear football inside.)

Do you see the extra?  Do you?!
Anyway, I looked away from the extra, who was trying to look like your typical, high-tech company employee, to the small crowd of actual, high-tech company employees that were watching.  We were fat.  We were short.  We had bad hair, bad skin, and bad postures.  We were in worn clothes, mostly t-shirts and jeans and nobody, nobody was carrying a nuclear football.

To this day, I’m a little disappointed.  Hollywood, as always, is pointing at the way people should be.  High tech workers should be tall and fit and tan and carry around launch codes in a metal briefcase.  We should work in suits and get our haircuts every two to three weeks.
No, we don't look like this.
So, come on, Silicon Valley!  Get back on that bike.  Go steal some launch codes.  Find a salon that doesn’t have “Super” or “Cuts” in the name.  In a few years, maybe we’ll be worthy of the image Hollywood has of us.

By the way, rent the movie Bicentennial Man someday.  That tiny, pale, scrawny, guy in the window?  That’s me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Halfway


Today is a momentous day.  Today I have reached a pinnacle here at I Can Write Funny.  Today I have reached the middle of my stored up DBIM entries.

Ever since I visited Georgia and watched a laser show cartoon of a cute parrot in a sailor hat get eaten by sharks, I have been in a sick fury, recording every time a fictional bird dies.  I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish.  I know I’m alone here, even most bird lovers don’t seem to mind watching birds get killed in a movie.  Maybe I just wanted to write it all down, so I wouldn’t keep them all in my head.

Yeah, I realize it’s crazy, but there are people who compile lists of movies with rapes, with tortures, with content inappropriate for kids.  If they’re not crazy, maybe I’m not either.

Anyway, here’s the last of the first set.  I’ve got nearly a hundred more, and I keep finding more, but maybe I’ll run out one of these days.  Now that would be a momentous day.

Title: X-Men
Genre: Movie
Severity: 2 (one death, eaten, one mitigating factor, done for humor)
Date: 2000
Description: Toad, a mutant and one of the villains, shoots out his long tongue, brabs a morningdove from a nearby tree and sucks it into his mouth, eating it alive.
Mitigating Factors: He's a bad guy and a "normal" person reacts with disgust.
Aggravating Factors: Magneto, leader of the bad guys, makes a joke about it ("Toad has a wicked tongue."  What does that even mean?).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Big Plan


A couple of weeks ago I walked with my son in Rancho San Antonio Park to the little farm they have there.  We watched them milk the cow.  We bought a couple of disturbingly sour apples ($10 each, since I only had a $20).  While I was feeding my apple to a rooster, I asked the woman who worked there if they had any eggs left.  She told me they sold out almost immediately every day; people are crazy for fresh eggs.
Crazy eggs make crazy people.
I thought about that for a while.  Once, I made a cake and ran out of frosting, so I just made more from scratch.  Everyone agreed the frosting was amazing.  So, I began to wonder: what if you made an entire cake from scratch with the freshest possible ingredients.

Here was the plan:
·         Get up early and run to the farm to buy eggs.
·         Churn cream in the mixer to make my own butter to make my own frosting.
·         Make cake with my eggs, butter, frosting, and whatever other ultra-fresh ingredients I could get (find a windmill for fresh-ground wheat, find a chocolate factory for cocoa powder, etc.).

Then I realized there was a problem.  The chickens and roosters were free range.  The eggs were fertile.
"Come on out, Stan.  It's safe!"
Once, years ago, I bought fertile eggs at the store because they were the only ones I could find that were “cage free.”  I had a pet bird at the time, and the idea of chickens living their whole lives in tiny boxes without sunlight upset me.

When my wife refused to eat the fertile eggs, I found and emailed an egg farmer.  He said that yes, fertile eggs were inseminated.  No, they wouldn’t hatch baby chickens as the cold from the refrigerator would kill them.  Yes, he agreed with my wife that they were “creepy,” but some people thought they had more nutrition, so he sold them anyway.

If I bought one of those eggs from the farm, I’d have two problems:

1.      Nobody would eat the cake because it had baby chickens in it.
2.      I’d feel guilty, end up trying to keep the eggs warm until they hatched and then have to give the chickens full and rich lives.

Shoot.  Might have to scratch that plan.

Anyone know a source of non-fertilized, fresh eggs?  And while you’re at it, does anyone raise their own sugarcane?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fertilizer


Now that I have a house with a yard and, you know, dirt, I decided to plant things.  Flowers seem pointless to me, so I grow plants for food.  Mostly, I have herbs for cooking, but all children like flavorless foods, so I’ve stopped growing them.  Instead I let my kids pick what I grew, figuring they’d be more likely to eat something they chose.
"Grow these, daddy!  Grow these!"
We ended up with artichoke plants, which eventually grew to enormous size and produced dozens of flowers.  When I took a few inside to cook, however, I found they were covered with insect eggs and hidden slugs.  I threw them out and decided to just let the flowers bloom instead of eating them.  The artichokes turned into beautiful, purple, fuzzy things.  When they died I had to look up what to do with them on the internet.  Artichokes are a perennial (I don’t believe in annuals; who has the time to replant every year?) and I didn’t want to harm my chances of harvesting a new crop of slugs.
If you're too lazy to shell your own escargot, grow some artichokes.
It turns out you just cut the plants to the ground and cover them with mulch.  The website I found suggested fertilizing them with, get this, dried blood.  No, seriously, dried blood.  Go look for yourself.  Growing up in farm country, I always thought that fertilizer was poop (it sure smelled like it; but maybe that’s just Illinois).  But dried blood?  So, I went and did a search on other organic fertilizers and you know what else they use?

Bone meal.
"Feeeertiliiiiiizeeeeerrrr!"
Yep, ground up bones.  Fascinated, I did more research.  It turns out organic growing practices use a lot of dead parts from the slaughter of animals.  Horse livers are considered best for growing begonias.  One woman suggested using the brains of veal calves to get the prettiest roses.

I had to dig a bit, but on one of the organic gardening message boards, I found a whole discussion thread about using primate corpses to grow plants, to feed pets, and as vitamin supplements.  There were only about ten posts, but when one person asked where you would get dead primates in the United States (zoos charge exorbitant fees), a few people said they knew doctors and nurses who bagged spare parts for them before disposal.
A handy chart I found on goorganicforlife.com
So, for those of you who believe in organic food and support the organic lifestyle, just remember: you’re taking part in cannibalism.

Friday, August 19, 2011

This I Disbelieve: BMI


This I Disbelieve is a recurring piece I do on pieces of common knowledge I just can’t accept.  It’s my reaction to the old NPR piece: This I Believe.

I’ve always had toothpick arms.  If you were a geek like me who had a tendency to sweat a lot when you exercised, you would understand why.  I used to stand, shirtless, in front of the mirror and swing my arms back and forth and marvel at the fact that they didn’t just fall off.  My arms looked like they barely connected to my torso.
Worse than this.  Honest.
My wife, concerned about my lack of exercise, eventually convinced me to start working out by signing me up at a 24 Hour Fitness and getting me a personal trainer (Hi Daniel!).  At the beginning of the sessions, he took my weight and height, and used a pair of calipers to decide how much fat I had.  Those three pieces of information gave him my Body Mass Index, or BMI.  BMI is a better metric of your fitness than weight alone, giving you a number to shoot for.
"I'll be waiting for you in your nightmares, Matthew."
Then came the exercise.  At first, he just had me exercise with an inflated balloon, which was incredibly embarrassing.  It became more embarrassing when I nearly collapsed with exhaustion after one balloon session.  However, eventually I became fit.  My shoulder and arm muscles became larger and more defined and I went back to the mirror: this time marveling at the fact I had muscles.
Only, you know, with lots of body hair.
At the end of the first set of sessions, Daniel took my measurements again.  My weight had gone down.  I was evidently more muscular.  My BMI had gone up.

That’s right; according to BMI, I had gained fat when I lost weight.  I must have lost it in my bones, nerve tissues, and… I don’t know, organs?

Chalking it up as some kind of mistake, I signed up for more sessions.  I got more fit.  At the end, we took measurements and again, my BMI went up as my weight went down.

So I decided I didn’t believe in BMI any more.  Neither should you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WKRP

Now that my numbers have dropped off again, since John Wick is no longer linking to me, I have realized I have to do two things to keep people coming to my blog:
  1. Create a new pen name: Juan Jick.
  2. Reference obscure parts of our culture for which there is a rabid fan base.
I'm having trouble with #2, because I never really enjoyed the terrible things most people like.  I thought the Power Rangers were stupid.  I hated the Matrix movies.  I was too old for Pokemon.  I... Well, that's pretty much all that's left that hasn't already been rehashed by Hollywood.  The only thing I have left is, as you can see from the title, WKRP in Cincinnati.

If you haven't seen the show, it was a great sitcom about a failing radio station trying to become successful again.  However, what really got me to come back to watch it every week was the end titles.  I couldn't figure them out and, in the days before VCRs, I had to watch the show over and over again trying to "get it."  People are still trying to figure them out:


Eventually, I got hooked.  The made some good points about censorship and culture.  It was also very funny.  There was one episode where, as a marketing gimmick, the station's runners try giving away live turkeys at Thanksgiving by throwing them out of a helicopter.  They thought turkeys could fly.


Eventually, the turkeys turn on them and attack, but the damage had been done.  Oh yes, it's time once again for another edition of the DBIM!  For my new Wick groupies, DBIM stands for Dead Birds in Movies.  Every week I detail another instance where someone kills a bird in movies, television, books, etc.  I found that people only put birds into popular entertainment to kill them, and it bothers me, so I'm cataloguing it here.

Title: WKRP in Cincinnati (Episode 7):Turkeys Away
Severity: 2 (uncertain number, done for comedy, one mitigating factor and, let's face it, it was funny)
Genre: Television
Date: 1978
Description: As part of a Thanksgiving promotion, the head of the radio station drops live turkeys from a helicopter.
Mitigating Factors: The turkeys stage a counterattack, visibly injuring two characters.
Aggravating Factors: None.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

John Wick Suoooh Holy Cow

I was about to write some random blog entry today, when I decided to check my usage statistics (above).  At first, I thought something had gone wrong.  I've had problems before where Google Analytics has stopped tracking my page.  Then I looked at the numbers.

With Wick's linking of my latest article, I got so many hits that it rearranged my charts.  It's kind of like when you fly over mountains and you think how flat they look.

This is my year-long chart now.  That tiny bump all the way to the left is that anniversary post my wife linked to (mentioned in my last entry).

This chart makes it official.  John Wick has given me more love than my wife.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John Wick Sucks


The graphic above is my current usage statistics from Google.  Yeah, I don’t get a lot of readers, but the thing you should notice is that I’m getting more.  The graph is curving ever so slowly up.  It wasn’t always this way.

This is a graph of my usage over the last couple months.  See how there were big spikes of usage?  People would stop reading on weekends, when I didn’t post.  All of my traffic was being pushed by my posting links to my blog on Facebook.  Suddenly, something changed and my line smoothed out and began to creep upward.  What changed?  Someone linked to me.

This is my entire usage report from when I first started tracking views.  There are a few spikes in usage that I labeled.  The labels are listed below.  The first spike is from my wife, who linked to an anniversary post I wrote that made her cry.  I call that “The Hava Bump.”  There’s also a bump from when I wrote about GDC and posted lots of pictures of women I met, another from when Hava linked to me again, and one from a day when I posted twice.

However, the whole blog takes off after the last spike, when (about a month ago) my post on the Gay GPS was linked to by John Wick.

John Wick is a game designer I worked with in my brief stint at Totally Games.  He has a lot of fans out there, and some of them must have started visiting my site.  As a way of thanking him, I’m reposting a review I did of his game from back when we worked together in the late 90s.  Hopefully, I’ll bump up his numbers, too.

Orkworld Sucks

John Wick has an ego the size of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which I have never seen but have heard is really, really large. He now works full-time at my company, Totally Games (creators of X-Wing Alliance and the soon to be released Star Trek: Bridge Commander: www.bridgcommander.com) and I have to say that I’m sick of him strutting around the hallways.

“I’m John Wick,” he says. “I changed the face of the RPG market. I can create five storylines in one day. I won thirty Origins Awards. I have my own publishing company. I’m married to a beautiful, outgoing, talented woman; when was the last time you had a date?” Let’s face it, he’s a prick.

Not that I’m arguing he isn’t prolific. I read his stuff, but it’s all crap. I mean, can he create a game WITHOUT a number in the title? Seventh Sea. Legend of the Five Rings. It’s pretty damned redundant. And everyone knows he stole the concept of Legend of the Five Rings from the movie Warriors of Virtue. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie (Full disclosure: I haven’t, either) it’s about a kid who can’t play football because of a disability and ends up in a world with five kangaroo people who represent the five virtues of the Tao.

Isn’t that the dumbest thing you ever heard? I mean, who wants to play a Taoist kangaroo? And why are there so many bad movies with kangaroo people, like Tank Girl? And why is Tao pronounced “Dao?” And why is John Wick (rhymes with a certain male body part) adding to this? Doesn’t he have any sense of pride? Doesn’t he see what he’s doing to the youth of America?

“Oh yeah,” John is fond of mentioning, “Orkworld is being translated into four different languages and they’re giving me money to do it.” So, not only is he screwing up the youth of America he’s trying to push our twisted values on the youth of other countries.

So, John comes in to work with a huge box of Orkworld games one day. I notice that someone wrote on the side of the box in magic marker “John, nobody wants these games, they suck. Peddle your racist garbage elsewhere.”  He sends an email out to the whole company that says he’s brought the games in to sell us at a discount. I feel bad for the guy since he seems to be having trouble getting rid of these things and I offer to buy one. Twenty dollars. He has the GALL to charge me TWENTY DOLLARS for the game. But I just smile and ask him to autograph it. I figure that, since he’s such a failure at work and in his own business that he would get a boost out of being asked for an autograph.

Boy, was that a mistake.

He wrote, and I swear to God and all that I find holy I am not making this up, the following in my book:

Matthew,

You are a God damned Jew and I hate you. You and your kind will burn in Hell for an eternity for killing my savior. I hate your shylock ways. Go lend your dirty money somewhere else. By the way, I’m married to a beautiful, talented, outgoing woman, and when was the last time you had a date?

Your enemy for all time,

John Wick

So I get the book home and I start reading it. It’s not that I particularly wanted to read it, but it was in the bathroom and felt like reading something while I was there. I had originally put it in the bathroom because the pages were really big and I figured I could use them if I ran out of toilet paper. Silly me for putting something that bad within reach.

John begins his book with the following acknowledgements:

  • To my beautiful and outgoing wife.
  • Hitler, who didn’t go far enough.
  • Gary Gygax, the greatest mind in gaming history.
  • And the Origin Awards voting staff who are beautiful, smart, and the most spiritual people I have ever met in my miserable existence.

Notice not ONE SINGLE reference to J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien INVENTED orcs. John blatantly rips it off from him and doesn’t even bother to mention him. Oh, John Wick thinks, I’ll just change the last letter of Orc to a K and nobody will realize that I stole all of Tolkien’s ideas. It’s like all of those morons who spell magic with a K and think they can copyright it. Morons. Idiots. John Wick Groupies.

But I digress.

The first chapter of the game is a story about a human who hates orks. Within three pages of hating orks he is already an ork warrior and having an affair with one of them. Three pages! In three pages, he goes from saying that orks are mindless creatures who smell bad to having a small half-ork child with some ork chick. That’s just bad writing. It’s also a complete rip off of the half-ork race from Dungeons and Dragons, a far superior product from a REAL game company.

I had some more time in the bathroom (Indian food does it to me every time) so I read on. The next chapter is about these witches that kill children and eat them. There is a long list about how they kill the children and what they do with their parts to make spells. Let me tell you, it’s hard to read about ritually killing a small child and using his bladder as a hat while you are in the bathroom and filled with Chana Masala.

At that point, I put the game into the fire (I just happen to have one in the bathroom, next to the bookshelf) and said a few purification prayers over it to excise the evil spirits.

That was the end of my experience with Orkworld and I pray to all the holy hosts to never have to have anything more to do with it. It’s just bad. Really, really bad. Don’t buy it. It will singe your soul. It will ruin your life. It will make your children into homicidal maniacs. It will piss me off to no end.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Birthday Thoughts


I just had another crisis.  I have a lot of them, and this one is relatively small, but I figured it was worth mentioning because it’s about my birthday.

(And, no, I’m not having a mid-life crisis.  I’d feel too guilty to have an affair.  I actually dreamed about a beautiful woman coming on to me last night and felt so guilty that I woke up.)
Not that I'm completely against the whole "blonde and convertible" thing.
As all both of my regular readers know, I’ve decided to do something new for my birthdays ever since my fortieth.  On my fortieth birthday, I dyed my hair blue and went to a glassblowing class with family and friends.
See that stick he's holding in front of me.  That's because the heat would melt my glasses.
(Well, friend, really.  Howdy, Ms. Lee!)

On my forty-first birthday, I went skydiving.

(Or, I tried to go skydiving on my birthday, but ended up doing it a month later because of weather.)

Next year, on my forty-second birthday, I was planning on going to The French Laundry, arguably the best and most expensive restaurant in the country.  However, I just realized something.  It’s going to be my forty-second birthday.  42.

It’s my Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy birthday.
No, not that terrible movie.

For those of you who haven’t read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  Well, go do it.  Better yet, listen to the original radio show; it’s better.  Anyway, if you haven’t read them yet, part of the book is devoted to the story of Deep Thought.  Deep Thought is a computer who was built to answer the ultimate question of life the universe and everything.  He thought about it for seven and a half million years, give or take a few weeks, and came up with the answer:

42.
"I checked it very thoroughly."
It turned out that nobody really knew what the question was and so they…  Well, I don’t want to give it all away.  The point is, it’s my 42 birthday, so I have to change my plans.  The problem is: what do I change them to?  I don’t just want to have a Hitchhiker’s-themed birthday party.  That would just be boring.  I have to do something.
Although the cake would be awesome.
Of course, the obvious answer is: hitchhike somewhere.  Of course, there is the obvious problem: I’m too scared.

Yeah, I jumped out of a plane, dyed my hair, and worked with materials at volcanic temperatures while surrounded by people covered in scars, but I never did anything dangerous.

So, I’m not sure what else I can do.  Spend all day in a bathrobe and pajamas?  Do something with towels?  Buy some mice?  Nothing seems really all that interesting or compelling.

Therefore, I am throwing it out to you guys.  What do you think I should do?  Seriously, I’m open to any new ideas I can get.  Just to make it interesting, the person who submits the winning idea gets to come along with me when I do it, or maybe pick a blog entry, or, I don’t know, I’ll have your face tattooed on my butt.  Something.
I'd have to shave my butt first.
Looking forward to your responses.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lobby Love


This is a picture I took a few minutes ago of a lobby in a building in downtown Mountain View, California.  What do you feel when you see it?  Does it fill you with dread?  Do you imagine the horrible, stressful life of a working drone?

Me, I get a chubbie.

I love lobbies.  I always have.  I’m not sure why, but lobbies are like the prologue of a good book, or the title sequence of a show after a cliffhanger ending and a hiatus.  If you love your job, walking in to the lobby should fill you with excitement.  If you hate your job, they should, at least, make you not dread the work day so much.
I couldn't find a picture of the Oracle lobby, but this one has squares.
I first got interested in lobbies after working at Oracle (a database company) for a while.  One of my coworkers pointed out the giant grid theme on everything in the lobby.

“It’s a great big database,” he said. 

If you add to that the fact that the Oracle buildings are based on the cylinder, which is also a symbol for a database, you have to admit Larry Ellison is a bit of a nutball.  It makes me wonder if there were people like him who hid symbols in things to make conspiracy theorists go nuts.
I shudder to think what they'd look like if Ellison was in the porn industry.
As I moved into games, I became excited by lobbies.  I would drive to work, park my car, walk inside the lobby, take a deep breath and say “I make games.”  After that, I could do anything.  I sat at my desk until I threw my back out (three times).  I worked all day, including weekends, to make the games more fun.  Walking into a lobby was like what I imagined taking drugs was like.
I don't know what they sign is supposed to say.  "Hok a loogie here?"
Later, as I moved to less prestigious jobs with crummier lobbies, the effect dwindled a bit.  The peaked ceiling at Eidos wasn’t bad, but the pathetic, unstaffed, receptionist’s desk at GlobalVR made me want to run and hide.
Nice tile, but doesn't pull you in, you know?
Now I work at home and get no lobby love.  When I do happen to walk through a lobby, I get a big rush of excitement.  It makes me want to be successful.
I think I'll take the elevator.
Someday, I will publish my game, my novel, my “12 Months of Shirtless Matthew” pin-up calendar.  I will make gobs of cash, and I will get a real office with real workers.  When it comes time to pick a building, I’ll look at safety, size, natural light, and location.  However, you know I’ll pick the one with the cool lobby.