hearthfire

Of the many things I’ve done in video games that I haven’t done in real life, one of my favorites was buying a house. Not in the Sims, but in Skyrim. When you buy a house in Skyrim, you start off with just some land and some blueprints.

hearthfire

In real life, buying a house looks more like this:

IMG_3206.JPG

This is our house. THIS is our house. This is OUR house. This IS our house. This is our HOUSE.

Buying a house in Skyrim is relatively easy. You get a letter from a Jarl,(1) you go see him, he has you kill some guys guys for him, and then you can buy the land for a mere 5000 gold.

In real life, it’s much, much, much more difficult. I signed my name twenty-seven times yesterday, and initialed twice. That’s after the forty-five-day waiting period. After a bazillion calls and trazillion documents requiring more signatures and initials and re-writes and…whew.

In Skyrim, I would now begin to build, mine clay and iron, forge hinges and nails, buy lumber, and go to the store for goat horns for lighst and straw to thatch and other nice amenities. You keep grinding away at this, eventually ending up with a great room, a dining space, a hearth, some bedrooms – even a library and trophy room if that’s what you like. And you can own Of the 600+ hours I’ve spent in Skyrim,(2) probably 200 of that has been spent building houses.(3)

In real life, I don’t have to do any of that. Our house is built. It’s been taken care of rather well for the past near-forty years. There’s room for all the cats and for Howie. Room for Ash to have an office and me to have a studio. There’s a rec room and even room for guests. There’s a great yard and a deck and a little creek and lots of birds. Basically, it’s exactly what we could hope for.

In Skyrim, the house would come with a housecarl, a sort-of bodyguard/house-servant/bitch. That’s apparently not a thing in real life, which is a slight bummer. Then again, our house is not likely to be attacked by bandits, spriggans, vampires or dragons, so I suppose that’s something of a fair trade.

But…there it is. We’ve bought a house. We’ve bought a house!


  1. Kind of a mayor/governor/minor king. It’s a soft-J, like in yogging.
  2. Not sure if that’s a number to be proud of or horribly embarrassed of…
  3. Probably also another 100+ hours just reading the books. I found myself firing up the Xbox just to do some reading.
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Jurassic World

It’s not often that I go to the movie, and even more rarely do I see a flick on opening weekend. So I’m going to take advantage of having seen Jurassic World yesterday to tell you a little about it.(1)

Or, well, basically I can sum it up with what I posted on Twitter right after seeing the movie:

My review of Jurassic World: Some dinosaurs just want to watch the world burn.

Yep. That’s basically the story. I’ll let you figure out how that’s possible.

The majority of the reviews I looked at on IMDb commented that it wasn’t as bad as Jurassic Park III, which is like saying something didn’t make you as sick as Taco Bell. But really, it’s a passable summer flick, not much depth, loads of action, and Chris Pratt, who’s so likable you’ll wish he were dating your daughter.  It’s also predictable, it’s re-treading old ground, and there’s nothing much to wonder at.

Which is what made Jurassic Park such a great movie. I remember, back in ’94 or ’95 when I finally got around to seeing it, the sheer wonder I felt “seeing” real, live dinosaurs for the first time. Yes, part of me totally knew that what I was seeming was so much ones and zeros, but another part – a large part of me – wondered where the hell Spielberg found dinosaurs to film. None of the ensuing movies have captured that. This is due in large part to the advances in CG, and that it’s pretty much commonplace. But the movies haven’t strived for wonder through other means.

Jurassic World at least tries. It does. A real, truly valiant effort. It almost gets there once, very nearly. But then that ever-so-beautiful Jurassic Park theme – easily the best theme John William’s ever wrote – swells, trying to play on the wonder you felt twenty years ago…and then what you see falls horribly flat. Maybe if Michael Giacchino hadn’t stood on Williams’s shoulders in that moment, it would have worked. But as it is in the final cut, it doesn’t quite work.

The other things that got to me was the volume on product placement. In the first maybe ten minutes, I saw Beats headphones, Samsung Galaxy something phones, Samsung televisions, and Starbucks coffee cups. And then a character in the flick comments upon the park having sold out, saying they should name the new dinosaurs directly after the sponsors: the Verizonasaurus, for example.(2) The product placement was already irritating, but then to have a character in the movie comment about selling out to corporations is wildly insulting.

Add to that the solidly mediocre acting of Bryce Dallas Howard, the predictable story, the logical improbability that a boy in high school and his much younger brother could repair a jeep that’s sat idle for 20+ years, and, well, you have a solidly average film starring a very likable Chris Pratt.

It’ll probably make millions.


  1. There probably won’t be spoilers.
  2. I don’t remember the exact lines.

dooku

Christopher Lee passed away today at the age of 93. The internet is full of tributes already. All I have to say is this:

count-dooku

You were my favorite kinda-lame Sith Lord. Thanks for all the great performances, sir.

black turtleneck and blue jeans

Steve Jobs, though a hero of mine, didn’t get or do everything right. There were more than a few missteps along the way, from some of his early familial relationships to pretty much lying about having “cracked” the vaunted Apple TV. But one thing I’ve come to conclude he got right was his “uniform.”

From Fast Company

From Fast Company

(1)

Every morning I stare at the selections in my closet and just pretty much lose my will to go on living. It’s not that I hate my clothes, it’s that I just don’t even want to make this decision. What I wear should require roughly the same amount of brain power as reciting my ABCs or singing along with old Bon Jovi songs, in my opinion. It should require no more time than the time necessary to don the particular items of clothing before moving on with my life.

I know fashion has its place…but that place is nowhere near me and never has been. You could pull just about any picture of me from the previous ten years and I’ll be wearing any or all of the following:

  • Jeans or cargo pants;
  • T-shirt;
  • Button-up long- or short-sleeve shirt.

I throw the occasional sweater in there because Ohio winters do get cold. Otherwise, that’s it. It’s all just variations on a theme.

And it’s just mere laziness. Having fibromyalgia essentially means that many of my sensory receptors are turned up higher than they are for most people. Rather than turning me into some overweight and sweaty Daredevil though, it just means that loud noises physically hurt, bright lights blind me, and rough fabrics make me want to chew my own flesh off. So most mornings anymore I end up changing my shirt two or three times before I figure out which fabric my skin is comfortable with today. There are some shirts I own that are always comfortable, but generally one wants to avoid wearing the same thing to work everyday.

Unless one is Steve Jobs, which brings me back to my point.

I’ve been wearing the same style – though not the same actual clothes – for over a decade now. But varying my style means I’m spending more time choosing an outfit than I care to spend on it.(2) So why not give in and go Jobs? Why not find a type of pants, a type of t-shirt, and a type of button-up that are comfortable and just go with it? Day in and day in for the next howsoever long?

I just don’t have an answer anymore. So here’s to Steve Jobs, black turtleneck and blue jeans and all.


  1. You can find it here.
  2. And I’m incensed that I just used the phrase “choosing an outfit.” Choosing an outfit is never something I wanted to do with my time unless it was a euphemism for putting on my Bat-suit.

finals

It’s been a long time since I cared about the NBA at all, and just as long since I watched a game. But I tuned in to last night’s game between the Cleveland Cavs and the Golden State Warriors. Cleveland played a solid 48 minutes, but then followed it up with the worst five minutes of OT probably ever.

But I’m rooting for them, and will until the end. I don’t care so much the LeBron James came back; I just always root for any Cleveland team that makes it to the playoffs. Cuz, you know, it doesn’t happen that often.

So: Go Cavs!!!

Cleveland-Cavaliers-Feature

broken bald

A short while ago, I posted about how I intended to go bald gracefully, meaning that I wouldn’t shave my head like so many men out there and pretty much the entire male cast of Breaking Bad.

Well, about a month ago…I decided to shave my head.

I'm ready for my audition Mr. Gilligan

I’m ready for my audition Mr. Gilligan

Now, in my defense, I didn’t shave my head because I’m going bald. If that were the case, I’d’ve done it back when I was like seven.(1) I did it because I was curious as to how I’d look. Well and plus also The Wife wasn’t home.(2)

And I kinda like it. My intent was to shave my head the once and then let grow back whichever hairs still clung to the mortal coil. Instead, I’ve continued shaving my head for all of the past month. I like how it looks and, honestly, it’s easier to maintain than even the paltry amount of hair that I did have.

Really though, I most enjoy how my head feels. When it’s freshly shaved, it feels like soft leather. The next day, like smooth stubble. The following day, like a soft bristle brush. It’s not until it starts to feel like hair again that I want to shave it fresh, which is usually on about the fourth or fifth day.

How long will I keep it? Given how quickly my hair disappeared all on it own, I’d say I’m destined to look like this more-or-less forever, even if I decide to let it grow back.


  1. Okay, in reality I began noticing evidence of my impending baldness when I was in my early 20s. But people were telling me even in high school that I had a receding hairline. Which I responded to with the always appropriate “Your mom has a receding hairline!”
  2. Her response was, “I miss your hair.” To which I replied, “Welcome to my life.”

an open letter to nintendo

First off, let me congratulate you on still being around. As a company, I mean. You’ve been around since 1889, and that’s no small feat. Many companies have gone under or been bought-out or became subsidiaries of other companies in half the time you’ve been around. Yet you have escaped each of those fates, and fairly smoothly made the transition from a playing-card company to a hugely successful video-game company back in the 80s. Well done.

And even though I’m about get a bit unfriendly, I want you to know that I hope you’re around for a long time still. Playing The Legend of Zelda games has brought me many, many happy hours exploring nooks and crannies, chopping down the grass, and breaking people’s pottery. Thank you ever so much for that. Please keep it up.

Maybe, though, it’s time to cut the horse shit.

Back in 1996, you gave the world the Nintendo 64. It was great, or at least the games were. Mario 64? The Ocarina of Time? Still great games today, as evidenced by the fact that people are still buying them. The controller was a bit awkward, especially after having had the Playstation controller in my hands for the previous year, but it was functional. And again, the games, am I right? Great stuff.

But you did something then that, though at the time didn’t seem like a huge thing, signaled the world of Nintendo-to-come. Sony’s new console used CDs. Hell, even the Sega Genesis had a CD version. We, the consumers, liked CDs because they held more data and because they brought the promise of backward-compatibility. The load-times of CD-based games was considerably longer, but it was a trade-off. You, on the other hand, insisted that we, the consumers, preferred cartridges. Not true…but games on CD was still pretty new so hardly anyone took notice.

By the time the GameCube came out in 2001, though, CDs were the media of choice for video games. And yeah, you gave us a console that used CDs…sort of.

game discs

These little proprietary discs not only prevented the GameCube from playing DVDs and audio CDs – something the competitors could do – but they held less data. The GameCube discs held 1.5GB whereas the Playstation and Xbox discs held 8.5GB. This meant that GameCube games required higher compression, lower graphics, or sometimes even dropped features. Sometimes all three. It sucked to have a GameCube back then, though The Wind Waker was easily the best game of the generation in my opinion.

So then now let’s talk about the Wii. You did pretty well, sales-wise, with the Wii. I remember GameStop switching their stores around, from Xbox games at the front to Nintendo games. And yeah, you finally gave us straight-forward optical discs…though of course you still didn’t support DVDs. But still, good job catching on…some ten years later.

You also gave us motion-control in the form of the Wii Remote.

Now, I love Wii Tennis and Wii Bowling just as much as anyone. Furthermore, I’m not going to press you to be like the other guys. I like how you try to innovate and sometimes that innovation works really, really well. The New Nintendo 3DS XL, for example, is awesome. It’s a 3D experience the way it should truly be done, with no glasses and no razor-thin sweet spot. Good job.

When I sit down to play a real game, though, I want a real controller, something the Wii does not deliver.

I’ve spent the last three months logging roughly 80 hours on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. What a great game. It has everything I’ve come to love from a Zelda game, some new things that made it better than my other favorite, and some really great characters and development…some of the best in the series, really. Great job. Love it. Keep it up.

Just please please please don’t make me cut through mobs of Moblins with a Wii remote again. Please don’t make me have to make a bow-and-arrow motion with the controller and Nunchuck. Please don’t make particular attack that requires the system to recognize that I am, in fact, holding the controller perpendicular to the ground.

Because the system is absolute shite at recognizing these things. Absolute. Shite.

For a while I just thought it was me. But then I noticed how frequently I had to re-center the controller whilst trying to sight-in the bow and arrow. Or the claw-shots. Or the Hook Beetle. And if it gets off-center with those things, it certainly gets off-center when I’m swinging it around trying to kill some Stalfos. I thought it might be my controller, but the second controller did the same thing. So, no.

The Wii Remote is great for party games. But for real games, give me a real controller. No more motion controller for me.

Now there’s this Wii U thing, which I’ve totally ignored because…why would I get it? But I hear that there’s a Zelda game coming out on it soonish, so I’d been thinking about getting one. After my experience with Skyward Sword, though, it’s not happening. I’m not buying another Nintendo console until you at least give me the option of a real controller. And I don’t know what that controller for the Wii U is, but it’s not a real controller.

Right now I’m looking forward to a GameBoy Advance game because I want to get back to good-old button-mashing. That should tell you something.

Sincerely,
A fan

what she couldn’t say

This is Anita Sarkeesian. She is one of the women who gamers have been throwing hate at simply because she pointed out some very obvious misogynistic things about video games. This video is a response to the embarrassingly large amount of harassment she’s dealt with for the past couple of years.

While I am incredibly proud that Ms. Sarkeesian had the courage to say what she couldn’t say, I am heart-breakingly disappointed that we live in a world that allows this kind of harassment to happen.

Limitless

Apple CEO and seemingly the nicest guy in the universe, Tim Cook, did an interview over at Fast Company. There are the usual nuggets: Apple Watch, Apple v. Microsoft, cracks in the Apple armor. But it was a bit in the second paragraph that lit my brain up today. He talks about how Steve Jobs never accepted the “limited life” that most people seem to live, thinking that they can’t influence or change things much. Cook said that Jobs

got each of us [his top executives] to reject that philosophy. If you can do that, then you can change things. If you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world.

If you can embrace that the things that you can do are limitless…That clause can be taken two ways:

  1. That there is no limit to the number or amount of things that you can do;
  2. That there is no limit to each of the things that you do.

Even more importantly, Cook states that clause as though it’s a fact rather than a supposition. The only conditional aspect of that statement is if you embrace.

Think about three things that you do. Things that you make. Anything at all that isn’t on the level of binge-watching or hanging out on Tumblr. Say maybe you knit or maybe you speak three languages or maybe you cook really well. Now, accept that those three things are limitless. Not that they can be but that they are.

What sized ding might you put in the universe? How might you change it?

happy

Have you even simply been happy?

I’ve been asking myself this question quite frequently over the past two weeks. Since Ash and I moved into this house – though that correlation does not itself equal causation – I sit back at least once each day and think This is happiness.

It’s not elation, not joy, not exuberance. It’s not gaiety. If anything, it’s somewhere between contentedness and light-heartedness.

Or maybe not between, exactly. Maybe it’s a happiness that’s borne of those two things. And being in love with the air around me.

Because I don’t feel like dancing in the streets. Shouting from the rooftops. Telling the whole world. Instead, I feel like simply sitting here in this feeling. It doesn’t beg to be announced, shared or multiplied. It simply is. And I am in it. Or maybe part of it. Or more probably, both.

Years ago, I looked into what His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to say about happiness. Like many Buddhist precepts, his advice is as simple as it is impossible: To be happy, be happy. Like many Buddhist precepts, it’s taken me years to understand that, to accept it. Though I know I’m nowhere near finished with it, or it with me.

Of late, however, I feel as though I’m living it. There are concrete reasons for it, and likely there are reasons I’m not aware of yet. Though it doesn’t beg to be reasoned, such is my nature. I try simply to live in it, to be in it with my lovely wife, our lovely families and our lovely family of fury quadrupeds.

Put my heart on a scale, fighting balance opposite a feather. Today, the feather will sink.