Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Have I Become?

Recently, I started up a new game of The Cave.

As the beautiful, hilarious introduction ended and after I took the time to read through the descriptions of my playable cast of characters, I had no idea what to do next.

Indeed, the game had already started and I was none the wiser.  I opened up the in-game manual and the controls were simple enough but what the heck? "X" did not start my game?!

What sort of shenanigans was this?!

I reached for my phone to see if there was something wrong with me because the Internet has made it so easy to just find a walkthrough and hide any and all embarrassment (well, there is that thing called personal shame but...yeah, no one has to know).

Flash back to last year.

I bought a copy of the Jak & Daxter HD collection because I had to replay that greatness and capture a piece of my youth again.  I loved the series so much, so why not?

Memories are a funny thing.

Or maybe, somehow, I've just grown a little bit dimmer as the years have gone on and my skill which one would think should increase as time goes, actually got dull.

I played through the first Jak & Daxter (the one that still had Daxter in the title.  Psh) and I adored it.  I absolutely loved it this time around.  I remember when I played it back at its release, I was so blown away by parts 2 and 3 of the series! I always thought Part 1 was just okay.

At it's HD release though? I collected every trophy (not a hard task by any means) and genuinely had a fascinating, fun time.

Given that, I booted up the 2nd game (my favourite back in the day) eager to feel that excitement again.  "It's going to be amazeballs!", I thought to myself.

It was anything but.

The controls on the hover devices were a lot harder than I recall.  And I died a lot more than I remember.  And how THE HELL did I manage to do all those blue ring challenges when I was younger? The game suddenly seemed near impossible! In fact, I stopped playing and have yet to go back.

What happened to me?

Who am I?!

With that I bring you back to The Cave.

I figured out what to do and was happily listening to the funny tale and plowing through my game, until I came to the part where I was supposed to throw a hot dog on a spike.

For the life of me, I could not figure out how to throw something.

Umm, what?

Maybe I want to excuse myself and blame it on recent real world stress in my life.

Or maybe I am shamefully admitting that I am no longer the sharpest tool in the shed.

Hi, it's me, Or 2.

And yep, I'm a rubber mallet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Long Lines and Frozen Digits: The Sacrifices Made in The Year of Luigi

I know better.

I would not say I'm a veteran of standing in lines for launch parties and events at Nintendo World but I've stood in a line for Nintendo on at least four other occasions that I can recall.

I've seen the madness of many of their other lines and hence, I have only myself to blame for cold toes and getting there later than I would have liked, to partake in festivities.

But how can you blame anything on that adorable green-clothed man?

Is there anything in this picture that isn't adorable? Okay, maybe the one-eyed orange ghost thing is uh, questionable at best.
You just can't do it, can you?! Unless you're a Mario Loyalist, in which case, I am judging you.  Did you feel the glint-laden stare? That was all in jest...

...or was it?

None of the first world problem stuff matters though because lines (once you've secured your spot with a wristband that confirms your existence) can be rather fun things.

You meet like-minded people.

You meet crazy people.

You try to think of yourself as not being a crazy person but others may disagree.

But at the end of it all, you get to buy a game a day early and unwrap that new smell and take it up your nostrils.  I'm not sure where else you would take a new smell up into but I typed ridiculousness and so it shall remain.

With your new game in hand that you will probably throw on a backlog because after all these years you're still one of those people who refuses to start something new if you're already involved in another venture (and/or you're one of those people who just can't play multiple games at once), you happily collect your swag and head upstairs for the party.

This being the Year of Luigi (hey...wait, I thought it was the Year of the Snake?!), Nintendo planned something special for the launch of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. 

There's something completely amazing about a bunch of Luigis in one room and Nintendo decided to dress us up as the younger, better brother.  Moustaches and Luigi hats were given as the gift for this event with the purchase of the game (and if it's free, it's for me!) because somehow Nintendo knew it would be frickin' hilarious to have a bunch of people in over-sized Luigi hats take over a glass building and spill out into the streets.  Who knew?

There was a video chat with the dashing brother himself and he took questions from fans.  Someone asked him about Sonic and it must have been a hilarious response because the person was in a fit of laughter after the exchange.  I began wondering if Charles Martinet was stuffed in a tiny box behind the visuals so that the conversations could be so on point.

A cutie attendant decked out in a formal butler-type outfit operated the elevator to second floor where games of "Luigi Pictionary" and whatever else (I don't know, I did not stay that long as it was crowded as all hell and had a hungry friend awaiting my return for dinner plans - I was scared she would go all zombie on my face) were taking place.

He lied to me and told me there was some interesting surprise waiting at the top - and yeah, there were quite the number of Luigi folks shouting out their best guesses to some terrible drawings - but I was half expecting a Boo to pop out some place.  He made it seem all so mysterious!

There's a game of Pictionary going on in that sea of green hats.
Alas, disappointed at the sad lack of Boo, I watched the back of green hat heads for a while and then made my way out.  I have no idea what sort of prizes were given out but I hope someone got a Poltergust 5000.

Come now, surely the cutest thing you've ever seen, right?
Later that evening when my friend and I made our way to Grand Central with our Luigi hats on our heads, it was cool when people hailed us out.

"Aye, LUIGI!!!", was a pretty standard response and the sort of respect Luigi deserves.

"What's with the Luigi hats?", we were met with by some suits.

Why not Luigi hats?

It's the Year of Luigi, after all.

Time to party or alternately, go hide in a corner.

Fellow 3DS Cool Kids Met Via Streetpass: Only 26 because I did not clear my system.  Don't forget, I had a hungry friend and a zombie situation on my hands.  I'm sure there were so many more tags to be had.

Currently listening to: "I'll Be Alright" by Passion Pit.  At $2.99 on an Amazon deal, I wanted to know what the fuss was about.  Now I find myself oddly compelled to these almost trashy Euro synth, mix...hipster weirdness.  Not convinced that this album is great though but the catchy sort of songs are exactly the kinda things I need these days.  No worries, I'll go back to torturing myself with some The Black Keys soon enough now that I have that much more of an appreciation than I did just a year ago.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Ides of March

The Ides of March visited my world one week and one day too early this year.

No, I did not get stabbed by Senators and no, in my dying breath I did not utter a very dramatic "Et Tu, Brute?" but it certainly felt that way when my boss of 9 years hauled my department in for an emergency 1:20 p.m. meeting on March 8th and began the meeting with the news, "It's not good, guys".
It was a gross understatement if ever I heard it.

For the 9 years I've worked at a large law firm in Midtown, I've been at the receiving end of a pay scale that supposedly meets "Industry Standards".  Speaking with colleagues employed in other sectors and other firms confirms that I'm an underpaid peon.  Perhaps it's my fault for staying so long but having a job lulls you into a sense of security.  That cushioned feeling one gets when a steady pay check comes in - enough for bill paying, saving, the occasional concert and maintaining a hobby such as playing video games - is calming.
In the 23 years that the collective 'we' were employed by our client, the news of a filing of bankruptcy took all of 10 seconds to tell and with that, 8 plus people (at least those we know about in our immediate circle) were left with looming unemployment.

The nature of the work has required us to wind down operations and without a fixed end date,  it's been nothing but mixed emotions coming into work every morning knowing that you are hastening the end of your job.

I've heard a lot of advice in the past few weeks:

"Start looking right away!", "Go on vacation, mope around your house for a month then dust yourself off and start looking then." 

"Wait for a severance package!" or quite possibly my favourite today, "Oh...don't rely on a severance package because you're probably not getting one of those that's going to be any more than a 2 week pay check for your almost 10 years of service." 

Well that's completely lovely, isn't it?

These days, I've started noticing a lot more too, now that I am not so self-absorbed.  As I make that death walk to work on mornings, suddenly there seem to be a lot of people with portfolios tucked under their arms.  I whisper "good luck" to them every time I see them under my breath.  It's a little prayer for them and certainly one for myself as I face the same grind in a week or two.

And then there are the moments that I try to be optimistic.

"Well hey, the job provided me the opportunity to buy myself some games.  In between looking I can catch up on that atrocious backlog!"

But my heart has not really been in it.  I've been struggling to play "Breath of Fire IV" amongst other things for the past few weeks and I have the occasional chuckle at some of the dialog but if I can play for more than five minutes at a time, it's a lot. 

I think this is what they call a funk.

Tomorrow though, I am off to pick up my copy of "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" at Nintendo World's launch party in NYC.  It was bought on a Christmas credit I had from my very kind sister.

It's probably the last game I will purchase for some while.  So, here's hoping that little green plumber can show me his brave stance against the scary things in this world and give me the courage to go out there and do same.  Well, you know...not become a Ghostbuster (although, any job openings in that field?!) or anything, but some encouragement to stay strong during the tough job hunt would be welcome.

At the very least, I hope he whistles that nervous little tune/theme song as he did in the first game. 

That always cheered me up.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy H1's Day

Happy St. Paddy's Day (or whatever it is you people call it)!

In celebration of her own day, H1 bought us some cupcakes.  Hiding within the chocolate muddy frosting were nasty surprises...

...the sort of nasty surprises that one may close their eyes and have nightmares about.

Or perhaps the sort that will have me sleeping with one eye open tonight.

As if these tiny, green hellions are not terrifying as is, what with a third hand growing out of their heads and straight through their hats (a feather in their cap, you say? Look again!), whilst digging their hands into their chests to tear out their hearts, then certainly...

...the "gold pots" clutched under their arms are cause for alarm.  Gold pots? Or children's heads turned to gold?!

Currently: nervously watching my back.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Note to Selves

When the Halal guys at the cart on 53rd and 6th with the famous yellow bags give you a little bit of pepper sauce upon request, do not look at them as though they have lost their ever-loving minds and ask for more.

Just in case my note was not clear enough, remember:

That shit is hot and it almost defeated us.

All I see is red.

And yet, somehow, all I can think about is eating some right now.  

Monday, March 04, 2013

Snowfall in February!

It snowed during the first week of February - enough snowfall to go out there and create an army of Zombie Snowmen (Killer Mutant Snow Goons?), enjoy a snow day building Lego and general laziness.

And I did nothing of the sort!

No zombie army was crafted.  There was no massacre in the front yard, there was no building of Lego Werewolves and Mummies and there was certainly no general laziness.  I recall working from home...

Though, it wasn't all horrible (okay.  It was plenty horrible as Clee was not with us but there's always next year! Despair not!) as H1 and I baked a chocolate cake at the request of work frenemies and I took a few pictures of the snow as it fell and quietly piled up in the early stages on its way to 15 inches.

First up...chocolate cake.  Does it look tasty? No? Well it is.

Only on the first day, right after its baked though.  Or at least that is when it's best.
Next, the snow...

...and the snowy owl.
and snowy bats!'re probably wondering why there are Halloween decorations outside but you'd be wrong to wonder.  Halloween is always in the HOchieS' hearts.  Deal.
with snowy bird houses.  (No birds were inside during the time this picture was taken - actually no birds are in here, ever.)
now with more twigs!
and berries.
And flower buds that have no business being around.  What?
Some trees that don't look like much.

Okay, and this little guy.  A bud that charmed me.  He's an acceptable Winter bud.  Not like that other thing that was the remnants of a rose. 
So that was Snow in February for you.  We've not had too much in terms of major snow falls.  We have had dustings and a couple of inches here and there but really, it's been a decent winter for us.  Not so much for others but let me not talk as we're still in Winter for another few weeks and there's talk of snow on Wednesday.

I'm sure H1 will thank me to shut my pie hole.

Currently listening to: "Selene" by Imagine Dragons.  Can't quite figure them out yet.  The Killers influenced? Las Vegas as they may claim? I don't know.  I halfway like them for their halfway good album with a halfway mess on the rest of it.

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