Find a Way To Follow!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Tantrum Game

How many times has it happened to you? You’re out to dinner, at the park, or at some tourist hotspot perhaps. You are having a fine time, perhaps hand-in-hand with the one you love. Suddenly, the peace and tranquility of your moment is shattered by that most insidious and devastating event: somebody’s kid is throwing a tantrum.

Arms flail. Voices wail. There is kicking and screaming. Or maybe you react a bit more calmly, and just grind your teeth. Either way, your day is ruined for at least the next five minutes.

No longer!!! Hearken to my tale and learn the absolute best way to turn a noisy interruption into a laugh riot guaranteed to send your drink through your nose and get applause from innocent bystanders, all the while garnering the baleful glare of the poor besieged parent.

It was some years ago, and Wifefish and I were on our honeymoon. We’d planned our schedule with a healthy mix of romance and being big kids. Part of our time was spent in a lovely cottage on Sanibel Island, and the rest we spent bouncing around amusement parks in Orlando, with one-day stops at the beginning and end of the trip at Busch Gardens, as we’d flown through Tampa.

It didn’t take us long to notice the copious amount of tantrums surrounding us. There were some truly Chernobyl style meltdowns popping off around us like bizarre fireworks of sound and fury. We also noticed a wide range of parental reactions, ranging from appeasement and bargaining to Ming the Merciless and his Iron Fist of Fucking Justice. (That threat of duct taping your kid to the front of the roller coaster, dude? Totally keeping that one.)

While it’s true that the Magic Kingdom can produce joyous squeals from children of all ages, it can also produce an absolutely ridiculous number of very, very loud tantrums. By the 23rd that had detonated nearby us, I was deep into a crowdnoise induced headache. I began to dread the wind up to the piercing wails of “wanna” and “gottahaveit” that do very special things to the adult eardrum. The very act of a strong inhalation by a nearby child put me on edge, wondering if they were about to exercise the nuclear option.

Several days in, Wifefish and I found ourselves at Disney World, closing in on evening. We sat down in the square, just chilling out for a bit and letting the people pass by. That’s when we saw the beginnings of the mother of all tantrums. This little girl in a stroller near us had seen Winnie the Pooh through a window, and beyond that window was one of those spots where you can have dinner with Disney characters for a per-plate price slightly smaller than the federal deficit. The little girl, her eyes fixed upon her own personal Tigger Nirvana, asked her mom if they could have dinner there. Her mom, certainly sensitive to her budget, said no.

Somewhere, thunder rolled. Animals became uneasy in surrounding counties. Mickey, secure in the castle, grasped for Minnie’s hand and told her it would be OK. Four horsemen rode forth, bracketing this child’s stroller as she engaged Tantrum: Apocalypse.

Oddly, I didn’t let the headache take hold. I chose not to be traumatized by the tiny tornado of terror, and instead grinned as I saw Wifefish looking at the same scene of carnage. I adopted my best TV Announcer voice, and began The Game.

“Well, I don’t think we’ve seen a performance this elaborate since Helsinki in 1977. She’s gone for full on technical points here, and has really committed to the routine.”

Wifefish picked it up and ran with it, a twinkle in her eye. “Right you are! If you’ll watch closely, she’s gone with the full head thrash and footkick, a trademark move.”

“She worked hard on that in training.”

“Oh, souvenirs are raining to the pavement as she tosses them out of the stroller”

“A very artistic choice, we’ll have to see how the judges score that one.”

The mother tried to soothe the child, only inspiring further anger. She had seized on Winnie the Pooh, and would not be assuaged until she had feasted in his presence.

“Oh, and she’s out of the stroller! We have a full on tummy flop, striking the pavement with both fists! The crowd are loving it!”

“Listen to the decibels she has achieved, husband! Her vocal coach must be very proud of this performance, she may. Go. For. The. Gold!”

We struggled to maintain our personas, trying not to break out into laughter. The poor besieged mother glanced furtively about her, and seeing people stare, caved. She gave in. The storm passed nearly instantly, the little girl squealing “Winnieeeeeeeee!” The horsemen rode off, downtrodden. Especially Famine, he looked downright forlorn.

“Oh, she has done it! She has done it! This is more exciting than Florence Whipple in Berlin in ’82! This may be a perfect score!”

We couldn’t hold it in anymore, and we laughed together, long and pleasant. We wiped away tears and looked at each other. We decided that any progeny we would ever have would be doomed, unable to throw any kind of productive fit. There might be therapy bills, but the chance of us caving in to a tantrum is terribly low.

We played the game several times during the trip, and each tantrum around us became an opportunity for us to have a little fun. We developed scoring based on technical prowess, vocality, originality, and of course effectiveness. If a tantrum failed to get the child what it wanted, they lost points to the Russian judge, and typically had to settle for the bronze.

And so, I invite you all to join in. Next time a nearby tantrum threatens your peace, game on!

Remember to score high for originality, and always try to be absurd. It’s worth it for the giggles. I don’t recommend playing the game loud enough for the parents to hear, though, unless you are the parents. It can lead to some interesting times.

Whereas Little Danger isn’t old enough for fits and tantrums, rest assured that he is, in fact, doomed when he starts in. We’ll try to make it easy for him at a zoo or amusement park, recognizing that quite often a tantrum is just crowd burnout. But we also know that sometimes the tantrum is just “I want it”, and since we still haven’t got our money-growing tree, and because “I said so” is still Daddy Law #3, we will do our best not to cave to the tantrum. Unless, of course, Little Danger scores perfectly for originality. Then it’s out of our hands, and all up to the Russian judge.

Note: There is a little button over there on the right hand side. It is a facebook sharing button, and I'd like you to click it. Think about the fun we would have if this game went viral!!! No more being annoyed by tantrums!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip Down Nostalgia Street, vol 7

Welcome to another trip down Nostalgia Street. In today’s offering, we’re going to explore one of the finest, most shining examples of programming bullshittery that was ever offered up for the Sega Genesis. I’m of course speaking of Sword of Sodan, and to quote Homer Simpson, it’s “the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.” This makes today’s post kind of a mash-up of Nostalgia and Hate, much like a Partridge Family rerun marathon.

Sword of Sodan was a monster bait-and-switch scheme of pretty graphics on the packaging that seemed intriguing enough for a young Dangerboy to invest some hard-earned paper route money in. It promised swords and sorcery, slashing and swooshing. It failed to deliver, leaving a smoking crater in the psyche of gamers everywhere.

Reads pretty good to a 13 year old. But it's all LIES!!! LIES I tell you!

Mentioning Sword of Sodan to anyone who ever owned a Sega Genesis is guaranteed to produce a grand mal-worthy shudder and maniacal gnashing of teeth every bit as epic in scale as telling a Kardashian that the cameras have been turned off. Somewhere, racing out from the blue marble we call Earth, is the shockwave of gamer anger produced by this steaming pile of mongoose shit that was passed off as a game.

While still shots of the graphics were quite awesome, the movement of those graphics was marionette-jerky, lowering the cool factor exponentially. The blood was laughable, and more resembled early scenes from the movie “The Blob”, or perhaps Jello night at the nursing home. Also, and I realize I’m being nit-picky here, the sword your character used was completely unbelievable, looking more like an oversized barbecue skewer. (This was probably the reason you had to hit every enemy eleventy gazillion times before they’d die.)

The control scheme was obviously designed by people who sold replacement controllers. I must have tossed that controller at the wall more times than Montana tossed touchdowns. When you have to work to even turn your character around, you have a game design team composed solely of bonobos shipped in from darkest Africa, and have paid them in bananas.

Our hero demonstrates the infamous BBQ skewer crotch stab of doom.

The game featured a clunky potion system that was mostly trial-and-error, requiring heavy use of the pause button, and experimental mixing of potions to get an effect. It is perhaps telling that one possible potion effect is to skip an entire level, as if the designers themselves knew you’d be happy to miss out on the fruits of their labor.

There are games you never finish: maybe they’re too difficult, maybe you rented them or borrowed them for a short time. This game went unfinished by many a gamer for one simple reason: it sucked like an Atlantic City hooker using a Dyson while looking at a plecostomus in the aquarium and listening to Justin Bieber.

(Perhaps, at this point, you think I’ve used the word “suck” too many times. You think my writing lazy, possibly. If so, then I know one thing about you. You never played this game.)

For all of its virtues, or lack thereof, Sword of Sodan was valuable in one respect. It served as an early life lesson in caveat emptor, let the buyer beware indeed. From the day I purchased Sodan onward, I never bought a game based solely on the genre and box description. That lesson did little, though, to quiet the Vaderesque howl of “Noooooooooooooooo!” that still lingers softly in the air over Nostalgia Street.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Post Patty

Of course, yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. I celebrate it weirdly. As someone who knows who the snakes were, I pretty well refuse to wear green.

Instead, I celebrate St Boondocks day. I wear my Boondock Saints T-shirt. Yesterday was another lovely celebration of Celtic heritage, sucking down Conway's Irish Ale and eating my wife's fantastic Bacon Potato stew. Massive yum factor, there.

Of course, being St Boondocks day, we had the annual watching of Boondock Saints, though we were cramped for time last night and only watched the second film. If you've never seen Boondock Saints, do so. It's brilliant storytelling with deep characters, hundreds of uses of the word "fuck" (something like 352 in the 1st film), and lots of gratuitous violence, with a healthy dose of Boston attitude. And some truly irreverent "guy" humor.

The downside of all that tradition observed yesterday, however, means my ass is dragging like a freaking boat anchor this morning. And there is no Jameson in my coffee. It's a cruel day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things I Hate, vol 9

Imagine, if you will, that entertaining the masses had reverted all the way back to bread and circuses; that there were masses of people influencing the emperor to hold a thumbs up or down to eliminate the latest competitor, gleefully cheering as they are removed from view. Now imagine that instead of carnage and gore, idiocy and drama were the draw for the masses. Seem far-fetched? You must not have a television, then. Behold, the glittering gem balefully sucking us in to its hypnotic facets, Reality TV.

Once upon a time, there were game shows and documentaries and scripted shows. All was well. We could have reality revealed to us with a smooth narrative delivered by David Attenborough , as it should be. Another brand of reality was revealed to us in talent show formats, such as the Gong Show. Entertainment was given us by skilled actors, lovingly delivering their lines.

Sadly, this was not good enough for the masses of studio execs. Like the slow marching of the armies of Mordor, the tramping of something “new” approached the television masses. The dollar signs danced pirouettes before their eyes, as they realized they could get rid of paid actors and script writers in one fell swoop.

Arguably, the first step on the slippery slope was COPS, which allowed us collectively to laugh at how perpetually stupid criminals seemed to be. Between it and the talk show format that brought us increasingly idiotic situations (I’m looking at you, Springer), the landscape of television was forever changed. Kind of like a Chernobyl for the mind.

Then came Survivor: a bunch of people vying for a cool million, going out of their gourds on a “deserted” island, just ignore the caterers feeding the camera and lighting crew. I cannot imagine how this became a hit, nor how anyone can fail to understand that the drama is being whipped up by the production staff off-camera. Fear isn’t the mindkiller, schlock TV is.

My appearance on Survivor, should it ever happen, would last exactly 12 ½ minutes, and they’d have to convene the tribe specially to remove my cancerous obstinance. I’d break into the catering trucks regularly, sing and dance like a one man Tony Awards ceremony, and laze about during challenges like Dagwood on Sunday. Of course, I wouldn’t react well to being voted off prematurely, and the results of the after-affects of my binge drinking of every available mai tai in a 40 mile radius will be both predictable and terrible. I’d be winning, the Charlie Sheen way.

To return to the topic at hand, somehow it all went downhill after the Survivor landmark. A grand parade of shadenfreude began, an avalanche of shitty TV show after shitty TV show.

There’s a show where we can watch girls vie for the attentions of one “lucky” bachelor, competing for roses like a pack of sled dogs trying to get the last Beggin’ Strip. I imagine this could be made watchable with the introduction of velociraptors.

She'll eat the other girls on the group date, you know.

There are shows that attempt to resurrect the brief spark of celebrity that washed up has-beens once enjoyed. From Celebrity Rehab to Dancin’ with the Stars, from Gary Busey to Vanilla Ice, it’s all an exercise in squeezing the last 12 seconds out of the proverbial 15 minutes of spotlight.

Another show that would be better with raptors.

There are shows where we voyeuristically watch groups of people self-destruct in endless high school bullshit drama. If I understand correctly, the most ridiculous of these offerings is Jersey Shore, in which a duck-faced hobbit attempts to have “Snooki” with any half-attractive dude. I haven’t actually watched enough to know for sure if this is the real situation, though.

Dangerboy can't handle the Snooki. You know she's at least a 2-bagger.

These shows are as real as wrestling, and typically have scripts, or at the very least scenarios to improv scenes in. That, I think, is what I find most offensive about the genre. The true reality shows that operate as journalistic documentaries actually show you the way things are, only slightly skewed by the presence of a camera. Reality TV, however, destroys what it observes, like some bizarre twist on Quantum Physics. (If you put Charlie Sheen in a box, is he fucking wasted in every parallel universe?)

I’ll admit that I have a sliver of hypocrisy here, there are some “reality” shows that draw my interest. I’ve noted that it’s usually based on something I do or have interest in, or in the production values. If it’s produced well (i.e So You Think You Can Dance after auditions are over), then I can watch the art created by the “real” people, and just enjoy it. If it’s something I find interesting, such as tornados, I can ignore some of the “human drama” aspects of Storm Chasers and just watch cool HD footage of twisters. My hypocrisy goes only so far, though.

(Aside the first: Sadly rare on that show, I’d love for them to do a Blu-Ray of nothing but storm footage, with none of the “human elements.” Maybe David Attenborough could narrate it?) (Further aside: One of the dudes has gotten data from inside twisters now…show me that! That I’m interested in! I don’t give a flying crap if his cameraman is replaced by his girlfriend in a chase, I want to know what the atmospheric pressure was in the core of that thing!)

And so I salute you, Reality TV. But I salute you with one finger. Guess which one. May we all recover from your midget-cake-vote-sing-drama-rehab-fakefest and watch some art from time to time.

Another very special thanks to Wifefish for today's art.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Spirit of Sharing

Well, Little Danger already has it. I put his pacifier in his mouth a couple nights ago, ready to lull him to sleep as is our routine. He pulled it out, smiled his Big Smile (the one that usually comes with giggling), and tried to put it in my mouth instead. My heart may have exploded from the awesome.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Friday night Fracas

Sometimes, it just takes a moment for a day to go right in the shitter. My Friday night was just such an occasion.

We wrapped up our game night (Rogue Trader this time) with the usual reluctance and cliffhanger ending, with just enough suspense to make things interesting until next time. I’d been running the game, so I gladly tagged in to hold Little Danger and get him into sleepy mode so I could put him in his crib.

I sat on the couch, Little Danger in arms, while Wifefish played gracious hostess and jabbered in deep conversation with our friends on the front porch. Sitting peacefully, I heard a THWACK only slightly lower in decibels than Marvin the Martian’s “Earth-shattering Kaboom”. Moments later, Wifefish runs through the house, saying “My car was just hit!”

I put Little Danger down oh-so-gently on the couch, gave him a toy, and hotfooted it out the door. Yep, her car was smacked. Ruffstuff said “It was a white truck.”

I asked “Which way?” and he pointed down the street.

The offending vehicle had sped away, and I could see it off in the distance. I pulled out my cellphone, jumped in my car, and hauled ass down the street, adrenaline slamming into my bloodstream like heroin into Charlie Sheen. Tallyho the fox.

It bears mentioning that I have a loaner car right now, as my van had a mishap when the axle BROKE IN HALF a couple weeks ago. Fortunately, that model has a recall for rear axle problems that “could lead to breakage”, so I don’t have a repair bill. Anyhow, said loaner is a big white Mercury Grand Marquis. It has a big V-8 in it, and bears a striking resemblance to a cop car when it comes up behind you at twenty miles per hour over the speed limit late at night.

I ended up behind the guy pretty quickly, and dialed our 911 dispatch to report the particulars. He squirreled around on back streets before finally pulling in to the local Taco Bell. I rolled behind him to get the plate number, then drove to a nearby lot where I could see him. He got out of his truck, wobbled to the fence, and took a leak on said fence. The guy was obviously as wasted as Lindsey Lohan on a 3 day Rio bender.

I actually ended up flagging down a cop on my own while the dispatcher fiddled around asking me questions, which doesn’t particularly fill me with confidence in case of a real emergency. I pointed out the offender, and then got back in my car where the heater was nice and warm. Standing barefoot in a t-shirt in the cold rain=chilly Dangerboy.

I called Wifefish on the cellphone, and let her know I’d bagged the DUI for the local constabulary. I also gave her the play-by-play as I watched COPS: the live show. To say the guy failed the sobriety check is an understatement of gargantuan proportions, like saying politicians are a little loose with the truth.

I met the cop back at our house, so he could take pictures of the damage el Drunko had caused. We had a pleasant chat session for a little bit; our hometown police are truly some of the finest. I’ve met most of them through one method or another, and they’re always friendly and courteous, unless you do something stupid. Then they courteously throw your ass in the back of the car for a short ride “downtown.” I resisted the urge to wave to the idiot in the back of the cruiser, and bid the officer a good, uneventful night.

The upside to a Friday night interruption is that the poor schlub got to spend the entire weekend in jail, no judge for his bail until Monday morning. I wonder if he ended up with a roommate named “Bubba.” He gets hit with a DUI, a hit and run, and probably public intoxication. I think they’re giving him a pass for pissing on the Taco Bell, because hell…who doesn’t?

Wifefish, almost actual size, points out the dangers of driving drunk.

So now in the aftermath, we have to pay a deductible which will then get reimbursed if the offender’s insurance card wasn’t drawn in crayon. We get to rock out another rental car while Wifefish’s poor little car gets the $6 Million Dollar Man treatment, without the bionic sound effects. And the cops in our little town get to know us a little better.

The score now stands at Dangerboy 2 vs DUIs 0. I could have had a third over the summer, but I didn’t call the cops…I was too busy laughing as the old fart drove down our street, drunk as the proverbial skunk, on a riding lawnmower. We keep it classy around here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We Hold These To Be Self-evident

There are certain truths that pop up in conversation. They may not even be actually true, but they are so widely accepted that they became something you can rely upon. Bring up topic X, get response Y.

Example: If, in a conversation, I say Charlie Sheen, I know that I am going to hear the word “Batshit” in the next 10 sentences. If I say “politician”, I know that I will hear “corruption”, or some version of the word. Granted, sometimes these truths are anything but. Once upon a time, you could say “the world” and you would hear “is flat.” Hell, you can still hear people say Snooki is doable without a paper bag. Some truths are subjective, then, and those we cling to rely greatly upon our point of view. (+10 geek points if you’ve sensed where this is going…)

One of these communal truths that continues to pop up in my social circles surrounds the Star Wars movies. Go on, laugh. And yet, it keeps happening. What is the general opinion that resoundingly echoes across the cosmos; the undeniable juggernaut of logic, the irresistible force that has a light side and a dark side and binds the geekiverse together? Hayden Christensen sucked as Anakin Skywalker.

It’s been years since the films came out, and yet I can still do a one minute countdown anytime the movies come up in a conversation before someone will crack on the Wooden Man. I have yet to surpass that minute, in any social circle. To contrast, it takes 3-5 for somebody to start ripping on Jar-Jar.

Let’s face it; the poor guy stunk on ice. I can’t watch him pour his heart out in the Padme/Anakin post supper scenes without checking to make sure I’m not actually watching Days of Our Intergalactic Lives.

Amongst a cast of players that were big names, were good or even great talents, and drove the story, Hayden stuck out like a chafed nipple. He sucked like a Dyson. He stunk up the joint like Skunk Asshole Soup. For all the nuance he brought to the character, he could have been replaced by a sock puppet.

It's a casting choice I would love to see.

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from watching the films with Little Danger, and I’ve already started a small stockpile of action figures for birthdays and Christmases to come. It’s the least I can do to help support a 6 BILLION dollar merchandising industry based around 6 films and some cartoons. Billion, with a “B”. Holy Carp, I need to design some Dangerboy action figures!

Ladies and germs, a big round of applause to Wifefish for really nailing the Sock Puppet Anakin artwork.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...