• Even if I’m wrong, I’m right and that’s why I write….


    IS this right or wrong? Whatever, this article won't be as awesome as this. But it will be more confusing!

    Wrong or right, I have no idea what to write, I just know I need to write. The reason I need to write is because I want to be a success. I want more hits to my blog, and I read something somewhere saying if I post more often, I’ll get more hits. I also need to make sure that if I write the right stuff, I’m not wrong. Does that sentence make any sense to you? Well, it shouldn’t – but it makes my readability score turn green and that means more hits from Google and Bing and Yahoo. I’m supposed to repeat certain words several times, like write, right, wrong, and other things. This will make my score right and right is not wrong. And even if I’m wrong, I’m right.

    You might notice that this entry has no content….that’s ok because content is secondary to visibility. You need to market yourself even if you have nothing worth saying….especially if you have nothing worth saying. Just say something…anything….Say how much you love cheese but don’t give a reason why. Say how much you hate dinasours, but make sure you can’t spell the world dinasour. And for heaven’s sake, make sure no one edits your mispelled words! It’s not about the art, it’s not about your creative flow….it’s about marketing…it’s about SEO and making yourself monitizable. Is that a word? Doesn’t matter – I just made it a word. Why? Because even if I’m wrong, I’m right.

    Actually, forget everything I just said…I wrote. People don’t google unique things! People Google the same words over….like weather or gmail or porn or google or flowers or pill indicator. Yes, pill indicator is on the list of most googled terms – sitting at number 26. So, there’s a ton of people staring at random pills and saying “hmm, I  wonder what this does!” Scary thought!

    My readability just dropped to ok, instead of excellent.  I better use short words now. I am short, I am not long. Oh, I  speak in small words. Also, I speak in short sentences. Plus, I am right even if I am wrong. Hmm, that doesn’t seem to be working….it’s dropped to “needs improvement.” I wonder why….I said I was right. I said I was right even if I am wrong! Writing for computers is hard.

    Ok, I did a little edit and got my score back into good territory. Apparantly, I started too many sentences with the same word. That’s….actually a helpful tool. I mean, in this case, it was a matter of stylistic choice, but in general that’s a useful thing. There’s one thing I do need to improve upon here though – I don’t have any subheadings.

    Here’s your damned subheading

    Happy? Good. Ugg, can I rant now? Seriously….the very fact that they want us to use subheadings is because people refuse to read! They just want the basic point – without the prose or the explanations or the….ugg. You get the point. Why do we even have writers if no one is going to read anything? Maybe we should just start making short lists. But I digress. Oh, it’s also saying I haven’t used a “focus” keyword in a heading….sooo

    Here’s your damned wrong subheading

    There….. I also need to add some links to external pages. so. www.google.com. Does that work? Oh, wait….internal links. Random link, coming up! Now we come to the payoff!

    Yep – there you have it. I’ve officially gotten in the green on all the categories. That’s just how simple it is to write. Sure, the tone of voice changed halfway through. I also have to say that some of this just didn’t make sense….but here we go. I wrote over 600 words on utter nonsense. As long as the automated scripts and search engines are happy, evidently I should be happy as well. What a load of crap.

    Wrong....so very very wrong. And gross as well.

    Getting back to frequency of writing….actually that’s something I’m hoping to do. It will be tough, but I have a lot of quality things to say. I realize I made a big fuss about quality over quantity earlier, but sometimes there’s room for both. I can put out two quality posts a month. Aaron has it in him!

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  • Maybe I’ll give Death Cab for Cutie another shot.

    I remember back in the mid 00s, I kind of hated Death Cab for Cutie. I had several reasons, but honestly, I think it was that they were just too popular and I was just too cool for school. I remember a friend of mine from that era used to say that if I don’t like something just because it was popular, I was still letting what is popular influence me. Damn I hated when she would say that. of course, I always said I wasn’t doing that – that I actually did not like whatever song, movie, or what have you. Still looking back at who I was, I’m pretty sure I hated things just because they were popular. I’ll even go so far as to say that I still do that – but I digress.

    Like I said, I didn’t like Death Cab for Cutie back in that era. I did like a few songs here and there. “President of What” felt like a battle cry against the current administration (sadly, that song is even more relevant today). “I Was a Kaleidoscope” is just a fun song. And of course, there’s the cover of “Handle me with Care.” Technically, that’s a Jenny Lewis song, but Ben Gibbard did an amazing job at covering Roy Orbison’s vocals. Oh, and of course the Postal Service still gets several plays a year from me. So it wasn’t like I hated all things Death Cab for Cutie, but I still felt they were overrated.

    One of the reasons I said they were overrated: I always felt like they tried too hard with their lyrics. I remember reading an article after Transantlanticism came out said something about their lyrics being “Hey, aren’t I clever?” I got really excited, and was like “yeah….that’s how I feel about them!” Looking back, maybe I thought that way because I do the same thing. Readers of my blog already know that I sometimes try to push how clever I am on my audience. So maybe there was more to it than just the fact that they were too popular….maybe they reminded me too much of myself. And maybe that scared me – but I digress. Aren’t I clever?

    OK, so what made me change my mind? Pretty much what changes my mind about most music anymore – a random song on Spotify. In this case, it was the song “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Half the song is this amazing instrumental. Four minutes or so in, and you’re like…this is nice. And then the vocals start. At this point, I didn’t even expect vocals, I thought it was all instrumental. It’s almost like two songs smashed together. Once more, the “two songs” don’t quite look like they could fit together…at least not on paper. The two songs feel almost alien from each other. The rhythms don’t match, the instrumentation on the first part does not match the lyrics on the second part…honestly it looks like two cars going full speed and crashing into each other. Yet, when they do crash, what emerges from the wreckage is an amazing and beautiful thing. Ok, so maybe that’s a morbid metaphor, so for the sake of making things well – no one in either car was hurt and their insurance covered the costs in full and both cars got replaced with something better. But I digress again….am I still being clever?

    While writing this article, I, of course, have been listening to Death Cab for Cutie – some of the more popular songs of course, but also some of the deep cuts. I have a theory that any band worth listening to should have a few songs that are absolutely amazing but just aren’t very well known outside of their fan base. I may not have found those songs with Death Cab (yet), but I got to say, I have not heard a bad song. As far as the “Hi, aren’t I clever lyrics,” I’m not hearing those either. I’m hearing clever lyrics, yes. Lyrics from a master wordsmith. So even if they are saying “Hi, Aren’t I Clever,” they have every right to say so. Maybe that’s what’s got me more receptive to this band. Car crash analogies notwithstanding, I’ve learned in the last 15 years I don’t have to try to be clever, because I am clever. I realize this sounds extremely narcissistic, but I’ve learned how smart I really am, and that it’s ok to admit it. I also know that in admitting this, I gain confidence, and thus come up with even more brilliant ideas, writings, or what have you. I’ve learned that being smart is a strength, just as the clever lyrics of Death Cab for Cutie is also a strength.

    If there’s a point to this article, other than go listen to everything Death Cab for Cutie has ever recorded, it’s don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to analyze why you dislike something. Don’t be afraid to admit you dislike something for stupid reasons. Don’t be afraid of letting your friends point out that you dislike something for stupid reasons. Don’t be afraid to say that you dislike things because you’re not confident in your own abilities. Most of all, don’t be afraid to look back, 15 years later, and say “I was wrong about X.” Tonight, in doing this I not only found an amazing band with several albums to explore, but I also learned something about myself. As I type this, I’m listening to the song “Your New Twin Sized Bed. This is strangely relevant…as the bridge states “It’s like we’re in some kind of hurry, to say Goodbye.” Don’t be in a hurry to say goodbye to music you don’t like, especially if you think you should like it. Maybe it will grow on you, or maybe you’re just being stubborn.

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  • Breaking Up with Godaddy.

    I’ve spent most of today doing something I should have done a long time ago….I’m breaking up with GoDaddy. I’ve had my domains and hosting with them for over ten years (maybe even closer to fifteen). The aaronjedwards.com website literally launched and grew into its current form using GoDaddy’s servers. So why would I kick GoDaddy to the curb? Well, let me tell you!!!!
    The very first reason…a few years back, I found out their CEO hunted elephants. This bothered me enough that I thought “it’s time to change.” I, however, didn’t make the change at that point. I was much too busy to really look into what needed to be done. It’s a pain for sure. So….GoDaddy continued to get my money, month after month for hosting, year after year for domains. They treated me ok, sometimes gave me annoying sales calls, but whatever. As much as I want to stand against the slaughter of elephants, I guess I just had better things to do. The rumor mill is that they’re going to replace their CEO anyways – with a guy who only slaughters puppies…..(sarcasm).
    The second reason emerged about a year ago. I get a notice telling me that some of my files had been infected with malware and I needed to deal with it. Ok….great. I really didn’t know exactly what to do on this front, so I procrastinated. A few days later I get a call from one of their customer service (or lack thereof) reps. The dude was insanely rude, acting like I had done this on purpose. He said it caused their entire system to slow down. Yeah….my dinky little website, which traffic logs state barely had any visits at that point, really did sooooo much damage! I’m totally sure! I eventually just deleted the files they said were problem files…..I really didn’t know what else to do. It caused some minor damage to my website, but nothing that I couldn’t fix with a few Google searches.
    At this point, I decided I needed some extra security, so I looked at a few different highly recommended plugins for WordPress. I installed a few, and got a message saying “ PHP v5.3.24 is not supported….upgrade to PHPv5.4 or higher.” OK, simple enough, or so I thought. Yeah….GoDaddy wouldn’t give me that version of PHP. As a special go (bleep) yourself to those of us who had been using my particular hosting program, GoDaddy would not be giving us anything new and shiny like that. Thanks so much – signed, your loyal customers.
    Regardless, I thought I had my security under control. I thought…..yeah. In September 2017, I got another email from GoDaddy telling me I had more malware. This time I researched what to do and found they have a rollback feature. Wow, this was great….I just selected a restore point and voila! Website fixed and no new calls from GoDaddy! Wooohoo, I knew what to do if this happened again!
    And it did happen again. December 2017. Right after my mom’s funeral – talk about timing, sigh. Ok….so this will take ten minutes, or so I thought. I log in…..and hey! They decided to change my website’s IP address! Guess what I lost in that process? All. My. Restore Points. Maybe if you tried to visit my website during that period of time, you’ll recall an unfriendly error message. It was a constant thorn in my side for over a month, as I couldn’t figure out what exactly to do and really didn’t have the time or energy to figure out a fix. Oh, and my files were still supposedly infected on top of that!
    It turns out that these types of things are prone to happen to bigger shared hosting companies like GoDaddy. I’m not sure of the specifics, but it happens….I guess.? This is actually why they changed what server I was on. Some of my server mates were less than reputable people. But back to that….in doing so, a firewall plugin I had for WordPress was not updated to reflect the new IP address, and thus gave everyone that wonderful error message! For a month! While I googled solution after solution only to get more and more frustrated. Yeah…..ugh. Some of the suggestions I found were to call GoDaddy and tell them what was going on – basically tell them to fix it. Yeah…..when I called, I was once again treated rudely. They told me to go fix it myself – and by fix it myself, they – their attitude implied I do another thing to myself beginning in the letter F. Even though they caused the error….and gave me no warning. Just……ooops! Sorry! Ugh.
    When I found the solution, quite simple. Still, this whole ordeal motivated me to finally end this abusive relationship once and for all. I found the time and that’s all I did that day. And oy what a process it was. For a week after, I wasn’t sure if my website was running on the new host or the old, but I do know when I went to transfer my domain name, GoDaddy was like, 20 percent off if you stay!!!!! I laughed so hard. Yeah….no…..nothing was, will, and would ever keep me from leaving you. GoDaddy….go…..away. I’ve got a new hosting service now, and it’s not you.
    To be fair, I know some of my issues had to do with my level of expertise. I’m a novice on websites, and really only know enough to keep my head above water. But maybe if GoDaddy had been less cold and unforgiving…and maybe if they hadn’t yelled at me over the phone, I might not have had to take the time and perhaps I could have done something fun instead. I’m still wondering if I made a big mistake, sure….but I’ve come too far to turn back now. I’ve given the new hosting service (A2Hosting) my money, and they’ve transfered my domain name. Yeah, some of my stuff still exists on GoDaddy’s servers, but that’s going to change soon – I’m hitting the cancel button this week! The transfer did make my website go down once more – but what a way to learn about MySQL databases!
    One more thing – to the CEO of GoDaddy, if you ever read this…killing Elephants is something only small cowardly, boys do. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  • Brain Damage Related to Time Travel. A found document.

    I found a document in my files today. I really don’t know where it came from. It appears to be a report from the future. Weird! Read it for yourself….

    Historic document: 2068.7.21
    Subject: Brain damage related to time travel

    In the late 2050s, time travel not only became a possibility, but also available to a consumer level. This caused several problems of course, but one curious problem was that of the brain damaged time traveler. 1 in 350 consumer time travelers would come back from their trips with brain injuries. This never happened in purely scientific travels, even though the technology was similar enough that there should not have been a difference. Data was poured over by medical professionals, physicists, temporal mechanics, and the like. No clues were given. This problem did not discriminate on age, sex, or any other biological factor. Brain damage related to time travel was a mystery condition. We couldn’t even decipher it as a symptom, syndrome, or disease.

    The idea was floated to stop all time travel on the consumer basis, but the Federal Time Travel Act of 2063 stated that temporal travel was considered a right to every American citizen. Other countries were, of course able to ban time travel all together. Still, something had to be done.

    The first action was a series of PSAs – make the public afraid of the idea of time traveling. Of course…..stubborn Americans wouldn’t listen. Time travel did decline in numbers a little, but if Americans aren’t even going to quit smoking, they’re certainly not going to quit going back to see Ramses and Socrates.

    The second action was that of control. Sure, every American has the right to time travel, but there’s no stipulations on Americans having the equipment to travel back in time. We could even monitor biological dafa. We wanted to collect biological data – heart rates, oxygen levels, etc. Of course the ACLU stepped in and the courts told us not without the client’s consent. Very few clients gave us consent. No matter – the data we were allowed to collect produced no new insights.

    We decided to look at the technical logs – maybe the machinery was giving us brain damage. It was a long shot – as I said earlier, the scientific missions always resulted in no brain damage. While the consumer and scientific time travel machines have always been similar, now that the government had a monopoly of the industry, the machines were identical.

    In cases that resulted in brain damage, we compared electrical output, radiation levels – you name it, we compared it. Still – nothing. All technical levels matched those of non-brain damaged travelers.

    We found ourselves in the bottom of a well – no way to escape. We didn’t know what to do next. On a lark, we asked a few clients to wear body cameras. This is where we finally got suspicious of the cause. Well….we had a lead at least.

    We couldn’t make everyone wear a body camera, but most of the cases that did result in brain damage refused to wear body cameras. A few of the cases would lose the signal for a few seconds here and there. The idea was floated that perhaps it wasn’t time travel itself that was causing brain damage, but rather an activity during the time travel experience.

    Our statisticians started pouring over data available. One statistician noted that every single case of brain damage happened during the traveler’s lifetime. No one who went to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or to watch Brutus stab Caesar in the back, came back with brain damage.

    An experiment was decided upon. There was no law stating that we couldn’t trail travelers. Now that all time travel machines were monopolized by the federal government, it would be quite easy to trail travelers. Of course we couldn’t trail every traveler, not even every traveler going back into their own past – but we could do a few here and there…

    The experiment went pretty slowly. Following some travelers after they reached their destinations proved impossible, as they tended to go to private residences. However, that fact alone made a few theories develop. Cross referencing the addresses, most of them would actually go to their childhood houses. So it was theorized that meeting yourself in the past had the chance to cause brain damage. There was no scientific evidence involved, just correlation, so we couldn’t say specifically yes. Still, we did start to warn travelers. Sure enough, this reduced the amount of brain damage related to time travel.

    Of course, we still wanted to prove this. It was decided that we should continue to randomly follow travelers, and look for other factors. Curiously enough, travelers who we caught meeting their past selves never ended up with brain damage. And while brain damage as a whole dropped significantly, it still plateaued at a certain point.

    Finally, a stroke of luck! While trailing a traveler to a childhood baseball game, we witnessed a man smacking his ten year old self across the head. It was right after his ten year old self had mistaken the mother of one of his teammates for a man….and said so out loud and very loudly. When the traveler got back, they had brain damage, Further trials of travelers also confirmed this! Pretty soon it was evident. The cause for brain damage in time travelers were people going back to a time when their past self had said or done something incredibly stupid or shameful, and smacking themselves across the head. One subject had made an advance on their cousin. One had told his teacher to go fuck themselves. One subject smacked themselves just as they were about to defecate in their sister’s bed.

    Of course, the next round of PSAs went out. Brain damage declined even further. It did eventually plateau, but when a traveler came back brain damaged, everyone knew what that traveler had done. The case was closed.

    Long story short, if you want to go back in time and smack yourself silly for calling your aunt Frida a “cow mixed with a pig,” just don’t. You might end up with brain damage. That example was totally not from my own memory banks or anything by the way….I totally made that up. I love you Aunt Frida! I’ll bring you donuts tomorrow!

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  • The 6 most amazing ships in Star trek (that aren’t the Enterprise)

    51 years ago, a “Wagon train to the stars” was launched, and no one – not even Gene Rodenberry himself, had any idea of the life it was going to take. 13 movies, five live action series (err, now it’s six), and even a cartoon….the franchise has certainly been a huge part of our culture. Star Trek has introduced us to characters we love, and even a few that we hate. Star Trek has introduced us to worlds and aliens we would have never met. And of course, the ships! What would Star Trek be without the ships? So many amazing ships too! There’s the Enterprise, the Enterprise A, the Enterprise D, the Enterprise E….ok ok. There are a lot more ships than the six versions of the Enterprise. And as Star Trek is about exploring strange new worlds, and new civilizations, what better way to celebrate than by exploring vessels we don’t know a whole lot about? I mean….we know a lot about the Enterprise D, we were there every week for 7 years! We even know a lot about Voyager and The Defiant. But there’s some ships that are just as interesting which we hardly know about. So…as we prepare to learn about the US Discovery, (and oh how stoked I am about the new series) let’s take a few minutes and….discover…. some of the amazing ships that made Star Trek awesome.

    1)The Borg Queen’s Cube (First Contact)…

    Efficient is one word. Egalitarian is another. The Borg Cube has very little in the way of aesthetics, but while it looks like something designed by Soviet Russia, it’s far from a boring ship. Firstly, the size of the ship. It’s huge! In the above picture, you can see the Enterprise E (the largest Enterprise) for scale. The Enterprise looks like it’s the size of a runabout compared to the cube! Borg Cubes are, of course, decentralized. The weaponry could be fired from pretty much any spot on the vessel. Any Borg from any station can do any task. And then of course there’s the fact that it contained a time traveling escape sphere! Seriously….who has one of those, save for the queen of the Borg? The Queen’s Cube, if it were not for the intervention of the Enterprise E, would have assimilated Earth. It’s the only ship to ever evoke the Klingon Death Chant (Perhaps today IS a good day to die) from Worf himself….while captaining the Defiant no less.

    Kelvan Multi-Generational Ship (Original Series)…

    Not much is known about these ships or even what they looked like, but what we do know is quite impressive. First launched in the 1960s, these ships traveled from the Andromeda Galaxy (hence the picture above). In a series full of interstellar travel, it’s hard to believe that intergalactic travel is almost a thing of fairy tales. To put it in perspective, a constitution class ship would take thousands of years to travel in between galaxies. The Kelvan ships can do it in 600. If we fast forward to about the year 4000, we might finally know more about these amazing ships. For now….we know they’re fast. We know they’re built to last for hundreds of years….and that’s just about it. But those facts alone are quite impressive.

    Species 8472’s ships (Voyager)…

    While not a specific ship, these ships are certainly some of the most impressive of the Star Trek universe. Organic technology alone might be impressive enough….but that’s just the start of this species’ amazing ships. The first time we are introduced to these ships, they’ve outright flattened a Borg Armada of 15 ships. What other species can say that? If not for the alliance with Voyager, these ships would have totaled the Borg Collective in six months time. How, you may ask? Their ships were not that big – they only carried one crew member. But these ships used the borg tactics of working in unison. When several ships came together, they could form a planet killer weapon which totally anilated anything in it’s destructive path. If there’s one thing you can take from species 8472 by the way….never piss off a xenophobic species that can wipe out the borg.

    The USS Valiant (Deep Space Nine)…

    While this ship is almost identical to the Defiant, the crew of the Valiant is what makes it so extraordinary. This ship, full of cadets and trapped behind enemy lines for months was able to survive long enough to complete it’s mission. While the captain’s huberis is what ultimately got most of the crew killed, it still must be noted that this was more than an ordinary crew. They knew what they had to do, despite being alone, despite being cut off from communications with rest of Starfleet. Red Sqad, we salute you. We can’t blame you for being inexperienced cadets.

    The Prometheus (Voyager)…

    This ship can separate into three….yes, three parts. Not even the Enterprise-D could do that! Each section of ship was a vessel that was more than adequately prepared to kick the Dominion back to the Gamma quadrant. In addition, it had regenerative shields as well as the same plating as the Defiant (and of course, the Valiant). Oh, did I mention it’s EMH could roam the entire ship without a mobile emitter? And did I mention this ship was the fastest in all of Starfleet? Seriously – it’s almost like they took the best parts from Voyager, the Defiant, and the Enterprise C and mixed them all together. If only they had shown more of the Prometheus….sigh.

    The Narada (Star Trek 2009)…

    This ship (along with Spok’s) pretty much split the Star Trek Universe into two timelines. But asides from that, this ship was essentially a weapon of mass destruction which was far more a match that any and all ships it encountered in the 23rd century. It had a primary assault of several missiles which could seperate into multiple projectiles. It had a drill (I mean, it was a mining ship) which was used to destroy the planet Vulcan!!! And it had a crew that was pissed off. More pissed off than species 8472, as their homeworld had been destroyed and they themselves were catapulted back in time. Yeah…..don’t mess with a shipload of pissed off Romulans. Just don’t.

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  • Five classic games that need a proper, mobile port

    I miss my Pentium 4 home brew tower. I built it when I was in college, mainly to write papers and other college stuff, but it became an entertainment hub in no time. I got my first CD burner and made all kinds of mix CDs. I got my first DVD drive, and realized movies didn’t have to come on huge, clunky, analog tapes. But mostly, I realized how much I loved gaming. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known I liked gaming. I never did get an Atari or an NES back in the mid 80s, but every time I went over to a friend’s house and they had a gaming system, I would beg for an opportunity to get on said system. So when I finally got my brand spanking new computer built, I made sure to include a decent graphics card and all the RAM I could. I no longer do much computer gaming, as computer gaming really isn’t convient for me. Most of my gaming is now done on a PS4 or my Android driven tablet. So of course, that magical day when I found Atari had ported Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 to Android, I got really excited. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia. It made me wonder what other games I used to play the heck out of could be ported to mobile devices. So, of course I had to make a listicle exploring this topic…

    1) Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Yes, I know, they ported the first one. What more do I want? Well, there’s a reason the made Roller Coaster 2 and 3. For starters, I want to build a ride that isn’t going to scare my guests away as soon as it goes a little too fast or maybe loops one too many times. For another thing, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 had a better sandbox mode, easier controls, more rides, and just better everything. Some didn’t like the graphics, but honestly, I found them to be just fine.

    And hey, you can’t cause anywhere near this amount of mayhem in the original!

    2) Sim Copter. This game was already pretty old when I built my computer, but I still loved it. It was so much fun, rescuing sims, upgrading my copter, flying around a Sim city 2 City, and hey…..if I got annoyed by my passengers, well, I could always “accidentally” eject them. I guess every game needs a little bit of an outlet for psychopathic behavior! Of course, I would be remiss in mentioning Sim Copter without also mentioning the fact that there was a “gay Easter egg.” Basically a bunch of male sims appeared in droves, hugging and kissing eacouther. While they removed it, you still saw, what appeared to be a gay pride parade from time to time. Good times! Good times indeed.

    3) Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: Here’s a great example of a turn based game that was great to play with friends – except none of my friends gamed. But maybe if there was a mobile edition? One that didn’t expect the players to sit there, glued to their devices all the time? Why not? So what made this game special, as opposed to the millions of other turned based games out there? This one had technology trees that lead to bizarre and wonderful inventions and secret projects! This game also had amazingly fleshed out personalities….I still have nightmares about Miriam! And yes, one could say that the Civilization games have the same things – so perhaps this could come as a package deal – why not? Sid could probably use the money! Just as long as they include the Alien Crossfire expansion pack.

    4) Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings. Before I bought this game, I bought the demo. Even that provided me a LOT of hours of play. But yes setting up a game with maybe five or six factions….making deals with some, going to war with others. One of my favorite moves was to ally myself with a faction, build a bunch of towers, and park several seige weapons in their town center. Then, when I was almost done with disposing of the other factions, I would simply unally myself and all of a sudden their little kingdom would fall to shambles. They’d be begging for mercy within a minute, but I was never merciful. Mwahahahahahahahah. Yeah….there’s that psychopath I mentioned in Sim Copter.

    5) Sim City 3000 Unlimited: Sim City 4 got really hard, and a lot less fun – even in sandbox mode. While 3 didn’t have as many features as 4, it was hella more enjoyable! And yes, I did just say hella – so sue me. But back to the game. Building roads, subways, neighborhoods, bridges….this must be the feeling Tim Taylor felt everytime he did his signature grunt! I swear, I almost switched my major to city planning because of this game! And if I got mad at the sims, I would just release a disaster. Oops, did I just accidentally destroy your town center? Oh, I am so sorry…..so very sorry. Of course, EA did give us SimCity Build it, but that’s more of a pay and or wait type of game. Honestly, those games frustrate me after about a month, so I tend to give up on them easily. No, I want to play a full on sandbox game of Simcity!

    Oh hey annoying Sims, I just called ET and he’s going to blow up your town!

    Honorable mention – There’s another game I’d like to see on mobile platforms, though I’m not sure if it’s a possibility: Star Trek Armada (or perhaps Armada 2). That game ate more than its fair share of Friday nights. I’d choose a map, and always play the Federation or the Borg. I’d have at least two factions of every alien, and oh the geeky fun I would have! I feel like letting out a half snort, half laugh just thinking about it! I remember one of my favorite moves was to capture a Borg vessel, even if I wasn’t the borg, and use it to assimilate klingons, Romulans, etcetera. By the end of the game, I’d have a true armada of vessels from all four species. I don’t know if a port of this game would really work in Andoid, but it would be interesting to try at least. I mean, what do they have to loose? Resistance would be futile…..you would be assimilated! Oh wait….

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  • Can we please get another Vacation movie?

    Two years ago I walked into a theater – skeptical, yet optimistic. There was a new Vacation movie. I had seen every single Vacation movie multiple times, including Vegas Vacation (Hey! It’s funnier than you remember!). And this one stars one of my favorite actors (Ed Helms). Still – the idea of a new Vacation movie just sat wrong with me. It was a reboot – or so I thought. It was also rehashing the plot of the original, again, or so I thought. Still, my curiosity outweighed my skepticism, so into the theater I went. And I am so glad I did. Despite the reviews, this turned out to be a very funny movie and true to the spirit of the “original” series. Ed Helms Rusty might be my favorite (sorry Johnny Galecci – you’ve been dethroned). And while absurdist humor is not en vouge anymore, this movie was not afraid to take an absurdist route. Sadly, absurdism is probably why Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 26 percent (I will note that IMDB was a little kinder, giving it a 61 percent). Vacation 2015 was so much fun, and as I sat through this film again recently, one thought came through my mind: I want another Vacation movie, dangit! While I can’t find any hints of a new movie in the works, I can only hope the producers take a chance and go for it. And Hey! If they’re looking for some suggestions, I just happen to have some!

    Firstly, let’s not rehash one of the first four movies. It would be really tempting to do another Griswold family Christmas, but I’m not quite sure we’re ready for that yet. A new European Vacation might make sense, as the last scene of Vacation (2015) shows Rusty and Debbie flying to Paris, but we need the kids. And Vegas? Eh….not interested. No, what we need is a fresh destination. I’m thinking Hawaii or Mexico. Somewhere sunny and tropical. And yes, Christmas Vacation 2 went to Hawaii, but no one really counts that movie. Another fun idea: we could see that cabin in Michigan they kept talking about at the begining of the film. Heck, Vacation 2015 was trying to go for a Trains, Planes, and Automobiles vibe – the next movie could go for a Great Outdoors vibe! OK – maybe not.

    This wouldn’t be as funny of it were Ed Helms under the door.

    Secondly, either Get Chevy Chase and Beverly Diangelo to matter or don’t use them at all. I really appreciate the fact that the original couple had a cameo in Vacation. It worked well to establish the film’s place in the canon. Having said that, now that the new series of movies has been placed, maybe we should just steer away from Grandpa and Grandma. Or – maybe we should make them a major part of the movie. Let’s look at Clark’s parents in Christmas Vacation. Would the movie be the same without them? Of course not, their presence mattered. In the same breath – if Clark and Ellen are used, they need to be side characters, again, just like their parents (both sets) in Christmas Vacation. They can come along for the ride if they enrich the movie – but the movie should be about Rusty’s family.

    Thirdly, don’t forget the things that worked in the original movies. There should be some absurdist comedy. There should be some stupidity. There should also be a man just trying to do right by his family. There should be some inconsistencies with the kids – different actors, maybe different ages. There should even be a cousin Eddie Shenanigans. Why not?

    Fourthly, there should be things that are new to this movie and series. Yes – every movie has had a different Rusty, but replacing Ed Helms would be a crime. For one thing, I like him too much. He’s a funny man and fits the part well. He’s also the main character in this series of movies, and not just a smart alec kid that can be replaced. Another different thing, we could perhaps see; some of the Cousin Eddie clan as not just a bunch of hillbillies – but as people who’ve matured and actually have made something of themselves. So yes, do something different. Especially since in Vacation 2015, the tone was actually set by a conversation during the begining sequence of the film where they recognized they couldn’t just redo the old movie.

    Finally, while this and all the Vacation movies are, as I’ve stated earlier, about a man trying to do right by his family by giving them a decent vacation, we need to realize this is not the 80s anymore. Female characters should be a bit more independent. Christina Applegate’s character, Debbie, should not be a housewife, but rather a working mother herself. We should also see (or at least mention) that Audrey gave up on her sham of a marriage. And hey, if Ellen and Clark are in the movie, we should see that Ellen works just as hard (well, most likely harder) as Clark to keep their bed and breakfast Afloat. Seriously, Ellen must be super woman, considering her husband’s zany schemes.

    The only reason the idiot in pink hadn’t burned down the green house behind them? The woman in blue.

    I know the last movie was kind of a flop; I know doing another movie might be a big risk – and let’s be honest – the critics won’t like it no matter how good they make this movie. Still, there’s a lot of good content just waiting to be explored in a future movie (or two…..or three). Dammit! I want another Vacation movie!

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  • The worst movies…….ever

    I’m usually not very harsh when it comes to movies. If I’ve plopped my 10 or 12 bucks down, I’m most likely going to enjoy myself. My degree in English helps – as it arms me with the ability to find subtext where others might not find it. So I often times find significance and enjoyment in films in which others tend to view as a waste of time and energy. Having said that – there are some movies that simply have no redemption as far as I’m concerned. Come join me will you, as I give a big fat raspberry to what I view as the worst of the worst. These are movies that are absolute abortions, or rather should have been aborted. Seriously Hollywood, why did you make these films?

    Small soldiers – Ok, so my view of this film might be tainted. I went to see it for two reasons. 1) I thought it was going to be a spin off of Toy Story staring the army men. I was stoked to see it and very disappointed when I found out (in the theater) this was not at all related to Toy Story. 2) I was in college and had a crush on a girl who liked to go see the latest films – so I was stoked to be able to talk to her about this one come Monday afternoon in History 101. Sigh….she didn’t even see the damned movie. Ok, ok, so maybe I’m being unfair – maybe this shouldn’t have, as I stated in my opening paragraph, been aborted. And maybe, just maybe, an early 20’s college student just wasn’t the target audience. Still…it was not a good experience for me, and thus it is on my naughty list.

    I thought I was going to see this dangit!!!

    Battleship – After this movie came out, Gail Simone wrote on her twitter feed “I saw Battleship…” The tone, if you can’t tell, was “why the hell did I see Battleship? And that’s pretty much my reaction. Seriously….what kind of idiot decides “Hey, here’s a popular board game, let’s make it into a movie. But let’s not make it like the game at all – let’s add aliens!!! But all that could be forgiven if they had actually given the lead role, Alex Hopper, a freaking personality. He was basically a piece of wood. Seriously – this is the idiot that saves the world? No…just no. This battleship deserves to be sunk.

    Yes please…..

    Napoleon Dynamite – Ok, I realize this is going to be polarizing – I don’t care because I’m right and anyone who disagrees is wrong! Did that sound harsh? Well…..that’s basically the reason I hated the movie. Almost every character was an absolute jerk. It wasn’t just the mean high school teenagers, Napoleon’s uncle, grandma, and brother….the titular character was an absolute jerk. In fact….there were two characters, and only two out of a pretty large cast that weren’t absolut jerks. There was Deb, who probably should run away from that town as soon as she turns 18, and there was Pedro. Oooo, and let’s talk about Pedro. The character himself is fine, but his cousins were nothing but a Hispanic stereotype. Kids who dress in the Vato style and drive around in low-riders. Oh, but that isn’t the only racist stereotype. Napoleon’s eventual sister-in-law, Lafawnduh is a walking stereotype. Even her name – I just spent five minutes googling said name, and all I found was references to this movie, thus I feel safe in saying this: Lafawnduh sounds like a name a bunch of white people would make up trying to make fun of African Americans. Napoleon dynamite is a racist turd of a movie and a study in how not to treat people. Naopolean Bonaparte was exciled to Malba; Napolean Dynamite should be exciled down the toilet and into the sewers!

    Where’s a giant meteor when you need one? Gosh! That’s harsh!

    San Andreas – Hey, let’s make a movie based on the fallacy that the entire state of California is going to fall into the ocean! Ok, ok, I actually enjoy movies like this, but I have to care about the characters. In San Andreas, I found myself just wishing Dwayne Johnson’s role would just freaking die already. Oh, and let’s talk about the fact that he goes to save his daughter. Sure, this is noble, yadda yadda yadda, but in doing so he abandons his post and therefore condemns others to die. Seriously – he’s a helicopter rescue pilot – he is needed right now, and yet he decides he doesn’t need to fulfill his duties. I can’t blame him mind you, but I hope when the dust settles, he’s severely reprimanded by his superiors. Actually, 90 percent of the movie could have been rescued if this one character was maybe rehashed a bit. You hear that Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas is all your….fault.

    And then thrown into this scientifically impossible pit.

    Skyline – This is, undeniably, the worse movie I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I felt this movie was written by a committee. I can hear them in their board rooms: “Ok, this worked in the Matrix, so let’s use it. This worked in Star Wars, so let’s use it. This works in…” you get the idea. The main character was the biggest douche nozzle ever. OK, so he’s going to break up with his girlfriend, then he finds out she’s pregnant, and then at the very end when the aliens have sucked up their brains, they still find each other because true love? Huh? So….we go from “I’m done with this girl,” to “I won’t let anything, even our disembodiment, stand in the way of true love!!!” Right. And by the way, they’re the only couple, out of the billions of couples on Earth, who are able to find each other because of the power of love…riiiiight. Some other notes – every time I started to actually like a character, they got killed or brain sucked by the aliens. And let’s not forget that while the entire planet was being invaded, this movie focuses on just a handful of people. I guess their lives are more important than anyone else’s…. By the way, for added torture, there was also Battle LA. Basically the same movie, only it was military people instead of civilians. I heard the two movies were supposed to actually be one, but someone got mad or something. So instead of one pile of crap, we got two! What a deal! What a brain sucking turd of a deal. I’m so glad this movie flopped at the theater.

    Skyline’s brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Oh Micheal Bay, how you spit upon my childhood. Is that a bit harsh? Yeah…probably. Still, as someone who was the target age of the first wave of Transformers, I feel justified in saying this. Yeah, the first movie kind of sucked, but the second movie – well that was just more than awful. From the two streetwise, jive-talking autobots, to Devistator’s testicles, this movie just…no. Just no. Bad Micheal Bay, why does he keep making movies? Well – at least the third movie wasn’t as bad. In fact it kind of gave me what I wanted in the first two installments, that is Big Giant Robots Killing Each other. Added note: #5 just came out and while it’s not as bad as 2, it certainly is close! (bleep) you, Micheal Bay. (Bleep ) you in the (bleep) until you (bleep) and (bleep) like a red hot (bleep) and a I (vleep) you in the (bleep) like bongo!

    More of this please!
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  • Setting goals: traveling the road to failure?

    Most of us at some time in our lives have set a goal. Sometimes we achieve said goals, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes our goals are small – maybe we want to go to bed at a certain time. Some of our goals are larger – maybe we want to pay off our credit cards in two years. Some of our goals may even be extremely ambitious – maybe we want to be the very first person, or at least person of our gender, ethnic group, et cetera to do a certain task. For instance, maybe Hillary Clinton had set the goal to be the first woman president, or maybe Micheal Jordan had set a goal to be the first NBA player to – whatever basketball milestone he achieved – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we stop this! Or at the very least, thoroughly examine what we set as goals. But why? Why am I telling all of you to reject what society has drilled in our head from day one? Simple; the very goals we are setting because society has told us that’s what we need to do, are destroying our society!

    Let me back up a little. Firstly, let’s examine what a goal actually is. The word goal most likely stems from the middle English word “gal” which means obstacle or barrier. The very first usage of the actual word “goal,” was from the 15th century and meant the end point of a race. Ok, sure…sounds simple enough. A goal is, in a way, the end point of some sort of competition. But said competition is exactly what we need to question. With every goal we make, we must ask “who are we competing against?” Sure, at times, we are only competing against ourselves. However, so many other times, we are competing against others. Say that your goal is to be the first person to set foot on Mars. That’s an ambitious dream and most of us will celebrate your accomplishment with you. However, at what cost? Firstly, no one else will ever be able to say they were the first to set foot on Mars. Is that really fair? What makes you so special that out of the seven billion people on this planet, you alone get to say “I’m first to set foot on another planet.”? Are you really that amazing of a person? Nope! While you trained a lot more than others – and let’s be fair – you deserve it more than most of us – you’ll still be setting yourself ahead of say, your team you traveled with to Mars. You are probably mission commander, and you probably earned that position. However, maybe if the mission had happened a year later, the person sitting next to you in the pod as you descend to the surface of Mars would deserve this honor. Doesn’t matter – you took that right for yourself. All because you set a goal for yourself without questioning if you deserve it more than anyone else in all of humanity, both present and future. Ok, but what if my goal isn’t so grandiose? What if my goal is to go to bed a little earlier. There’s no harm in that, right? Well…maybe there is. That’s what I’m asking you to consider. If you want to go to bed say, a half hour earlier, that means you will have to cut a half hour of activity from your schedule. What are you doing with that half an hour? Are you engaging with other humans? Are you doing something that might ease someone’s burden? Maybe you’re cleaning the toilet, maybe you’re talking to loved ones. Maybe you’re just vegging out in front of the boob tube, but maybe you’re part of a neilsen family and that show you no longer watch because you go to bed early gets canceled! A little hyperbolic – but my point is that every single goal we make can have any number of consequences on other people. Going back to the first person on Mars, said person isn’t just taking away the tilte of “first” from all of present and future humanity, but they’re also dedicating a lot of time to do so. How much time away from their family did they take to accomplish this goal? Heck, how much money did we, the taxpayers, pay for this goal to happen?

    This brings me to my next point – many of our goals take more than just ourselves to accomplish. And yet who reaps in the glory of accomplishment? Ourselves. Still, we must learn to thank those that make our goals possible. The first man on Mars will be a giant turd if they don’t thank their fellow mission mates, ground crew, and family for all their sacrifices so one person can achieve what no other human will ever accomplish again. Not to mention the politicians who allocated funds to the mission, and those of us who pay for the mission with our tax dollars. The person who wants to get to bed early should probably thank their spouse for cleaning the toilet for them, and the friends they’re spending less time with. Oh, and if the goal is to save X amount of dollars? Well, let’s just remember, money is a finite resource, that means someone else doesn’t get that money which you’re hoarding. Maybe you need to thank the propriateers of establishments you’re not spending money at because of your goal to save money.

    I realize this entire stance sounds a bit entitled. I’m not standing in your way if you want to accomplish something. However, our society suffers greatly because we don’t ask what impact our actions, and in these cases, our goals, have on each other. When we set a goal without asking who said goal affects, we have already failed in reaching said goal (even if we succeed). When our goals rob our fellow man of prestige, time, money, and et cetera, perhaps we should rethink our goals.

    I’ll end this by saying I love hockey. When I’m at a hockey game, and the team I’m rooting for scores a goal, I cheer and yell and have no sympathy for the other team. When the other team scores a goal, I boo and hiss, because they took something away from my team. The antithesis of my goal rethinking philosophy is to realize that other people will have goals and even if they’re being selfish with said goals, it is just as selfish to not let someone accomplish a goal because we aren’t getting something. I’m not talking about something we need – sure if someone’s goal is going to keep us from getting enough sleep, food, shelter, et cetera – we should stand up for our rights. However, sometimes we have to let people have their goals even though it might inconvenience us. If your friend wants to get more sleep, you should probably let them do so. Don’t say you’re entitled to their time. And again, I really don’t care if you want to be the first person on Mars – more power to you! I’m even happy to pay my tax dollars to make this happen! Seriously though….don’t make your wife clean the toilet. She needs her sleep just as much as you.

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  • 7 Songs that make no sense – and yet make total sense

    Nonsense – utter nonsense. It really makes no sense, but that’s of course the point. If it made any, even the slightest amount of sense, it wouldn’t be utter nonsense would it? It would be partial nonsense. And yet sometimes, in just the right context, utter nonsense makes all the damned sense possible. Especially if said nonsense can be found in a song. Plenty of songs use nonsensical lyrics, but somehow the meaning of the song shines through nonetheless. Mind you – it may or may not be the intention of the song writer, but then again I tend to stray away from the intentional fallacy. Let’s take a look at a few of these songs, shall we?

    Stand – REM: This has been noted as one of the most influential songs to my life, but really this song is nothing but a bunch of meaningless words strung together. The song basically was a dare among the band to write the dumbest and insane song that they could. And really – if you look at the lyrics – yeah….they’re pretty dumb. Take the line, “If wishes were trees – the trees would be falling.” If you’re not a very analytical person, that line might not make any sense. And yet it tells the listener that their dreams and wishes aren’t being fulfilled….that if they were trees – they would just let those trees fall down and rot. And that’s just one line of the song! The entire song tells you to “Stand in the place where you are,” and then tells you to face North or West. The song tells you to take a good look at your point of view, and adjust it to accommodate where you are, where you’ve been, and where you could be. The song tells you to take a Stand, but don’t be afraid to change that Stand if you need to.

    Untitled #5 (Álafoss) – Sigur Ros: I could have chosen anything from the () album, but I chose #8 because it’s my favorite. The lyrics are full on gibberish. They mean NOTHING. They are not in a foreign language as most of Sigur Ros songs are – they are in a made up gibberish tongue the lead vocalist uses to find the melody of the song before any actual words can be applied. If any song (or in this case, album) could be said to be meaningless, it’s this one. And yet – meaning abounds. It’s almost as though one is listening to a classical piece; this album gives us similar ways to interpret itself. It digs into our soul and brings up base feelings. Sometimes we don’t even know these feelings exist. An extended slow bass line can make us feel like we’re coming out of the cold. A high pitched vocal can tell us the state of the world is driving us insane. The only clues in the songs are the title, and even in #5, Álafoss is just where the band records! And yet it’s a symphony full of meaning – different meaning to each person – but meaning nonetheless.

    Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead: This song is nothing but a string of non-sequiturs strung together. It’s almost like a computer tried to write a song by taking popular phrases and rhyming them. I mean, how the heck does “the dog has not been fed in years” and “she can’t read at 17” really fit together? They don’t! And that’s the beauty of this song. Each line might fit with the previous – but not really. And it certainly won’t fit with the rest of the lyrics. It almost forms a stream of consciousness – or perhaps describes the madness of the world (the same madness described in Untitled #5). I will say the chorus does serve as a burrito wrapper for this mess of a song: I will get by/I will survive. Somehow – through this madness….I, and later we, will survive. Somehow we’ll make it through this crazy world – even if the dog who hasn’t been fed decides to make a snack of your drummer’s tibia bone (yeah, watch the video).

    Stacked Crooked – The New Pornographers: Sometimes Carl Newman (of The New Pornographers) just doesn’t care about what the lyrics say, rather he cares about how the lyrics sound. Stacked Crooked is one of those songs. I spent years trying to find meaning in the lyrics – looking at fan theories stating anything from starting their own Vietnam style war to the quest of trying to find a prostitute. I finally decided the meaning for myself is a quest for power. One the speaker will be doomed to fail. The song starts out with the line, “I counted on my private Altamont.” This is, of course, a reference to the Altamont festival in 1969 – where the Hell’s Angels were hired for security with tragic results. Throughout the song, the speaker seems to know they’re doomed to fail. They lost a deal, they’ve got an Achilles heel, and they know they’re heading for the guillotine. And of course, they’re “stacked crooked in this quest.” Come to think of it, this could have been sung by LBJ. All of a sudden, the Vietneam style war seems to make more sense.

    They Might be Giants – Fingertips:
    if you’re unfamiliar with Fingertips, it’s actually 21 mini songs ranging from 4 to 12 seconds in length. According to TMBG, these mini songs are supposed to simulate a CD on random, skipping from song to song. And while that’s a perfectly plausible answer, there’s an even better theory – and since I said I don’t like to commit the intentional fallacy (even though I did in the last paragraph), I’m going with the theory that makes more sense. The theory is that these 21 songs are telling the life story of someone from conception (Everything is catching on fire) to death (I’m having a heart attack), and finally into the afterlife (I walk along darken corridors). It marks life moments such as the visit of the tooth fairy (I found a new friend, underneath my pillow), Adolescence (Leave me alone, leave me alone), Marrige (something grabbed ahold of my hand), divorce (I don’t understand you), and even second marriages (The day that love came to play). The songs even point out that life begins and ends with other people putting their fingertips all over you. It’s really an amazing song(s) if you look at it through this theory!

    Richard Harris – MacArthur Park: This song gets a lot of hate because the over-dramatization of the cake that got left out in the rain (I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again! OOOOH NOOOOO!!!!). Ok, yeah….sure. It might be a little upsetting, but that line was certainly a bit hyperbolic. Having said that – a true appreciator of music knows that this was more than just cake. This is the relationship the speaker laments over the course of the song. Sure – what the heck is the rain? We don’t really know – it doesn’t make sense. We can guess that maybe it’s metaphorical for crying (I mean he cried so hard about a stupid cake, three times!), but the lines feel like nonsense. Still – we know something else is going on. Poor guy. Maybe he should have had a better fashion sense. I mean, striped pants? Seriously?

    I am the Walrus – The Beatles: As the first lyrics (I am he as you are he as you are me
    and we are all together) we just wonder how many freaking doses of LSD John Lennon dropped before writing this gem. And what the hell is the Walrus and how can you also be an eggman? And does that mean they are also the Walrus as they are the eggman as well as they are? Seriously, this song will give you a headache trying to interpret it! Lennon even said it was just a bunch of randomness put together. You know what else is a bunch of randomness put together? LIFE! Yes. Life is random as this song. Yes, part of I am the Walrus is from a dream, part of it is from Through the Looking Glass, part is from a childhood lymeric , but they were all obviously influences in Lennon’s life. The blending of this randomness represents the blending of Lennon’s (and ultimately everyone’s) life, and what influences him and us. Perhaps if I were to write this song, it would be called “I am the Nerfherder,” as Star Wars influenced me. It would quote Emily Dickenson, AC/DC, and reference that strange dream I had about the coffee shop that I know exists, even though I know it doesn’t really exist. But I digress – It doesn’t matter what the Walrus is. The Walrus isn’t Lennon – but the Walrus, is part of Lennon’s internal lore. Thus the Walrus IS Lennon, and Lennon is the Walrus. Goo goo g’joob!

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