Saturday, December 27, 2008

My 30 Favorite Video Games: 20-16.

I'm truly sorry it took me so long to get back to this but I have endured two blackouts within the last week and a half (one of which was on Christmas day!), and it's just put me off of everything. I'm getting back on track now, though.

20. Dr. Mario, Publisher: Nintendo, System: NES- A fun and totally addictive puzzle game starring Mario as a doctor throwing pills into a medicine bottle to kill the viruses inside. There were three different color viruses, a blue one, a red one, and a yellow one. You would manipulate blue, red, and yellow capsules, (or a capsule with two different colors) so that they land on the corresponding baddies. Stacking three or more of the same color on top of the virus resulted in the virus dying and thus disappearing. You would continue to do this until the bottle was empty of the viruses, and then you would go to the next screen where the pills fell faster. I loved this game and the soundtrack is one of my favorites. It's one of the first video games that I actually noticed the accompanying musical score. An interesting side note, in a comic based on the game the viruses got names; Fever, Chill, and Weird. I think you can probably guess whose name was what.

19. Katamari Damacy, Publisher: Namco, System: PS2- A third person puzzle game that has you playing the prince who has to rebuild stars, constellations, moon and other bodies in space because the King of All Cosmos ( the prince's father), accidentally destroyed them. You play by manipulating the sticky katamari (which looks a lot like a bumble ball) around to pick up various items with in the area you are. You will have goals that must be met, and if you reach your goal then it helps rebuild part of the Cosmos. It sounds odd, and believe me it is, but it is such fun and really addictive. It's also incredibly Japanese, and it just has that sweet offbeat Japanese flavor that everyone loves.

18. Bust A Move Bash!, Publisher: Majesco, System: Wii- Another awesome puzzle game where you shoot colored bubbles to the top of the screen to connect as many bubbles of the same color as possible to burst sections and clear the area. I've played both Bust A Move ( aka Puzzle Bobble), and Bust A Move Bash! and they are both lots of fun but the Wii, and its controller lends itself really well to the game play and makes it a really fun game experience. It's what we in the business call a winner of a game.

17. Castlevania, Publisher: Konami/Nintendo, System: NES- I love vampires, and vampire stories, always have. More specifically I love Dracula, and when I found out that there was a game called Castlevania that has you going through Dracula's castle killing monsters and then you get to fight Dracula himself at the end, I was hooked, sign me up! It is a lovely game and so much fun. It's typical of its time, in that it's a platformer, but it was a blast. You play Simon Belmont the descendant of a vampire hunting family and you must work your way through the castle killing all manner of ghosts and monsters to get to Dracula and destroy him. Of course it never really takes because there have been about 22 sequels, but it's fun to try. I can remember my Mom marveling at the graphics while I played, (remember she was addicted to the Atari 2600). I had lots of good times playing that game.

16. Doom 3, Publisher: ActiVision, System: Xbox/PC- Doom 3 is basically a remake of the original Doom but with a story, and a whole lot prettier. It is one of the scariest games I have ever played, and let me tell you, it plays like butter. What a fun time that was! It took my boyfriend forever to convince me to play it because it was so damned creepy, but I am so glad that he did. You play the typical bald space marine who lands on Mars just as Hell is about to take over. Your first task is to go find a scientist who has gone off somewhere and bring him back but as you find him all Hell breaks loose... literally. The scientists becomes possessed and you have to kill him, and then make your way back to the Marine base. Along the way you get a myriad of weaponry including a chainsaw (awesome) and the legendary BFG9000. I won't say too much about the story lest I spoil it for anyone who hasn't played it and wants to, but let me just tell you that the game takes you to Hell and back...heh. ;) It makes me sad that there are so many haters, it really is an amazing game. If you like survival horror, first person shooters, or science fiction then this game is for you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I am hoping that everyone has a lovely day to day and that all of your wishes come true. Happy Holidays, and all the best to you all. Here's hoping that 2009 is a better year and that things start to look up. Take care.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Congress to the Middle Class Factory Worker- "F*(k You!"

Yeah, lovely. So now whenever any politician says that they are working for the everyday Joe to ensure that he/she has a good life and the opportunity to make the American Dream a reality we can just point to the latest developments in Washington. The Wall Street white collars get a 700 billion dollar bailout but the blue collar factory workers get the shaft. Nice... Oh and before anyone points to the UAW and their lack of concessions that is not true, they have made concession, many of them. The only thing they stand firm on is the fact that they will not cut benefits to older employees and retirees. That seems only right to me since those people have put their time in and aren't really able to re-enter the workforce.

Isn't elitism great?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My 30 Favorite Video Games; 25-21

25. Space Invaders, Publisher: Midway, System: Atari- This is indeed a classic. It's a fixed shooter that has you defending the Earth against an invading alien hoard. You get three turns and when you clear a screen the aliens descend faster. I have as many good memories of my Mother playing this game as I do of playing it myself. She was truly addicted to it. Some days I would go to school and she would start playing only to realize when I got home that she had been playing all day. I have an awesome Mom.

24. Tempest, Publisher: Atari, System: Arcade- I didn't get to play this game nearly enough since I could only play it at the arcade, but man it was fun.You would move a claw like space ship around these corridor things in space and shoot any enemies flying up the corridors. It was fun and had vector graphics which at the time were really cool.

23. Donkey Kong, Publisher: Nintendo, System: Atari/Arcade- Who would have guessed that a game about a love triangle between a carpenter named Jumpman an ape called Donkey Kong, and a lady named...well, Lady would be so popular? I can remember the line at the arcade waiting to play. Everyone loved this damned game, and I was so happy to get the Atari port even if the graphics kind of sucked...I had Donkey Kong! It's one of the first platformers and the idea was fairly simple. Work your way up the levels of a construction site and save the lady from the ape. It was lots of fun, but it was difficult. Of course now Jumpman is famous and we all know him as Mario. He also changed careers. I guess being a plumber is more lucrative? And Lady is now known as Pauline. Apparently the inspiration for the game was King Kong, (duh), Popeye, (huh?), and Beauty and the Beast. Ah factoids can be fun.

22. Centipede, Publisher: Atari, System: Atari/Arcade- The first major video game to be developed by a woman. It was also one of the first to have a major female fan base. What fun it was. I adored it at the arcade and I loved it on the Atari. It also had a child's level so the little ones could play too. A shooter where the object was to shoot each of the centipede segments and the falling debris. You also shot the scorpions for extra points. Of course like every other game once you cleared a stage it got faster. That's how you got good reflexes! I also really enjoyed Millipede but Centipede will always be special to me.

21. Super Mario Bros., Publisher: Nintendo, System: NES, The first game I played on my Nintendo Entertainment System. This was one of the games that led me to giving up games for nearly 11 years. I got so addicted to trying to get through those levels that I ignored my studies, not a good thing at all. It's about Mario (Jumpman from Donkey Kong) who is trying to rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil King Koopa. Ah good times. Other people were getting drunk and staying out late while in college and I was playing my NES, what a nerd!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why The Double Standard?

Has anyone noticed that Angelina Jolie has been demonized for something half of Hollywood has done...hell half of the world has done? Angelina Jolie seems to have committed the unpardonable sin of ruining one of America's favorite romances. She "stole" Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston, and apparently no one, (by no one I mean the entertainment media/tabloid magazines) is willing to let this go. I am still reading about how Angie is hurting Jen in some way or other. Am I the only person sick to death of reading this tripe while waiting in line at the check out counter at the grocery store?

Seriously, why is this still a bone of contention for these publications when seemingly every other famous person who has done the same thing gets a pass? Are we still reading about how Owen Wilson is a horrible person for "stealing" Kate Hudson away from her husband? Did it even come up at the time that it happened? What about Claire Danes? She and Billy Crudup were dating while Mary-Louise Parker was pregnant with his child, where was the outrage? Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid were together for years and yet there was very little said about when Russel Crowe purportedly came between them. The list goes on and on. I could write a whole book on people, famous and not who have left their spouse for someone else . It's just a fact of life. The fact of the matter is the only people who should be held responsible for a relationship failing are the two people in the relationship. Yet Brad Pitt gets very little negative press. Odd. It's also a private matter and I don't think anyone should judge a relationship because the only people who are privy to all of the information are those directly involved. So why the vitriol for this one woman who for all intents and purposes seems to be a genuinely caring and decent human being? Is it because she's a vamp? She's unapologetic? Because she came off as "weird" when she first started in show business? None of those reasons seem good enough to continue to write so many negative things about her. Would the press be more sympathetic if she and Brad were to break up? That seems rather vindictive.

At any rate it would seem that this story has gotten old, so whose fault is it that this nonsense is still being published? The magazines for writing it or the soccer moms and gossip hounds who have taken this one Hollywood breakup too personally and keep buying this garbage to read all of the lurid details of how Anglina Jolie is ruining Jennifer Aniston's life? Honestly, Jennifer Aniston is fine and will continue to be fine because most of America thinks she's adorable, and loves her. She's filthy rich, and still incredibly famous. She's dated Vince Vaughn and is currently dating John Mayer...yeah, poor Jennifer. What a couple of loser uggos those two are. What a horrible life she leads. She could only be happy if she and Brad Pitt stayed together. Are people convinced that she's that pathetic? I mean Brad Pitt is gorgeous but he's not the second coming for god's sake. Jeez people, really. Can we stop kicking the dead horse already?

Monday, December 8, 2008

My 30 Favorite Video Games Of All Time- 30-26

Like most people of my generation I grew up with video games. My uncle bought an Atari 2600 before it was assigned a number, (it was just called the Atari). And I soon inherited it when he upgraded to Intelevision. I then got an NES and soon realized that I could become hopelessly addicted to games if I wasn't careful so I took a hiatus from gaming. A long hiatus. I didn't play video games again until I got my computer in 2002 and bought some games for it. I only mention this because there is a big gap in the generations when I wasn't playing games regularly. However since I have gotten back into gaming again I thought I would do what lots of bloggers do and list my all time favorite games, (so far) for people to ponder. Here is the list, enjoy.

Note: I am listing publisher and system after the game title. The publisher is who published the game and the system is the system that I played it on, not necessarily the system that it originated on.

30. Pong, Publisher: Atari, System: Atari- A simple game. Just keep hitting the little square "ball" with your rectangular "paddle". The highest score wins. It sounds so primitive and boring compared to what we have now, but it was addictive and lots of fun. I first played this when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I believe I got good enough to beat my 30 year old uncle. A classic, the beginning of what is now a billion dollar industry, and lots of good memories for those of us old enough to have played it.

29. Atlantis, Publisher: ActiVision, System: Atari- One of the original ActiVision games. You control three turrets that is underwater and is supposed to be protecting the lost city of Atlantis. Space ships fly over head and you must shoot them for points. Occasionally there is a ship with a laser beam that will destroy part of the city if you don't destroy it first. you can rebuild the city but you must keep shooting the ships to do so. If enough of the city is destroyed the game is over. What a blast this game was. Again, simple but fun. I recently played it again on the ActiVision Anthology for the PS2 and it was just as much fun now as it was then.

28. Night Driver, Publisher: Atari, System: Atari- A first person driving game that takes place at night, (hence the game title). According to Wikipedia this was the first game to have first person real time graphics, but that assertion could be in error. At any rate this was a really fun game and it was fast. I was really very good at it and used the dial controller to play it. I played it with the analog stick on my PS2 and found that I'm rather rusty at it, but I prefer to think that it's because the stick is harder than the old controller I used to use.

27. Frogger, Publisher: Sega/Gremlin, System: Atari/Arcade- Pretty much everyone at least has heard of Frogger thanks to that infamous episode of Seinfeld. I played Frogger at the arcade and on my Atari and I loved it. Getting the little green guy across traffic and the river was fun and it made you feel good if you could manage to keep him from getting squished, or eaten or drowned. Good times.

26. Super Breakout, Publisher: Atari, System: Atari- The second video game I ever played. It has the same idea as Pong in that you hit the ball with the paddle but you must break all of the wall down to win and proceed to the next level. Fun and quite hard when the ball gets going really fast. You have many levels with different walls and some even have blockades that you have to bounce around to get to the wall to break it down. This is a Nolan Bushnell game and was worked on by the great Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. By the way, if you go to Chuck E. Cheese you're giving Bushnell money since he founded that as well. Personally I liked Showbiz Pizza better.

Old Age?

So, apparently I made a blog here at Blogger in 2005 and forgot all about it. Odd. It is called Velvet Cyber Love and is a dreadful Pepto Bismol pink. I must have hit my head when I picked those colors, (my apologies to all of the people who love pink). Anyway, disregard that blog as I have no intention of using it. I'm going to try to figure out how I can delete it without having to resort to contacting Blogger for help.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The destruction of Flint Michigan and many other industrial cities.

I'm from Flint Michigan, most of you know this. I have been reading about how the Big Three have been needing a bailout, and I am in favor of it. Not because I have any great love for the corporations themselves but because I know that the failure of the auto industry will cause Michigan's already failing economy to go belly up. Not to mention the fact that I have friends and family who would lose their pensions that they worked long and hard for.

I read that most people are under the impression that GM, Ford and Chrysler could just file for bankruptcy and then re-adjust everything, start over and they would thrive like K-Mart did. Well there's a difference between the big three and K-Mart. If you go to K-Mart and buy a TV you aren't buying their brand. You are buying Sony or some other brand so if they happen to go belly up and your TV goes on the fritz you can go to Sony and get the parts to fix it. People aren't going to reconsider buying from K-Mart because they know that they won't be holding a product that can't be fixed. If GM is in bankruptcy people won't want to buy a Buick because if GM goes under in two years they're stuck with a car with no way to get parts...see the difference?

Another thing that really pisses me off are the people blaming the average shop rat for all of the problems that the Three are having because of being "overpaid" and Union deals. What? Seriously? The average auto worker makes 25.00 an hour. Sure, he/she gets medical and such but why not? That pales in comparison with what lots of other people are being paid. 25 dollars an hour works out to about 50,000.00 a year. The average salary in the U.S. is 46,000.00 So that's about right. Lets put this into perspective shall we? The CEO of GM made 15 million last year. that works out to 7500 dollars an hour, that's 300 times what the average shop rat makes an hour and this is the dickhole who let GM go down the crapper. Yet people think it's the union's fault for demanding such high pay for the employees? That's all kinds of messed up. You want these corporation to do better? Stop letting them move jobs outside of the U.S. then expecting big tax breaks. Stop letting CEOs get huge salaries and then mismanaging the corporation knowing that they will be okay because they'll be getting a golden parachute.

Flint, Detroit, Allentown, Scranton, and many other industrial towns all through the rust belt are going under and no one seems to care. It breaks my heart.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm attempting Young Adult fiction.

I've never really thought about writing YA but I was looking at some typical YA and I noticed something odd. There are all kinds of vampire novels, there are lots of fantasy and space science fiction too, but no real cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk, (save for the original short story Cyberpunk by Bruce Bethke, but then I doubt he was writing YA, he just happened to write about teenagers). I wonder why that is. It would seem that teens would love a good cyberpunk story. Anyway, I've started it but just barely. I feel good about it though, so hopefully it goes somewhere.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Thanksgiving and I 'm going to be cooking and cleaning all day.

Yep, I am the chef de la Maison here so I am going to be doing all of the cooking and most of the cleaning. I will be exhausted, however we will be eating well.

Thanksgiving day menu-
Roast turkey
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Sausage cornbread dressing
Candied sweet potato casserole
Fancy green beans with onions, mushrooms, and ham
Cranberry sauce
Pickle tray
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

I hope everyone has a great day, and gets lots of good stuff to eat. Best wishes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner

When I was growing up in my hometown of Flint Michigan I would watch TV, go to movies, and read books and they would be set in lots of different towns in the U.S.. I noticed that lots of towns some of them pretty small and obscure to be represented in the arts. Flint however, was mostly ignored, (except for the TV program called The Fitzpatricks an hour long drama series set in Flint about a steel worker and his family...wha?). Then, when I was in high school I came across a book by Theodore Weesner called The Car Thief. It is set in the early 60s and while it is never called by name the city in which the novel is set is clearly Flint. The road names, the descriptions and the landmarks are all Flint. Of course I was quite happy to read this book because I had always wondered why Flint wasn't used more often in fiction, or as a setting for TV and movies. We certainly have an interesting mix of people, and a colorful history. Well I started reading the book and my excitement that it was set in Fling was replaced by the excitement that the books was really well written and the story was amazing. One of the best novels I've ever read. I often list it as one of my favorites.

It's about Alex, a boy who lives alone with his alcoholic factory worker father. Alex is troubled since his mother left and spends his free time stealing cars and taking them on joy rides around the city. Soon he's caught for one of the thefts and is sentenced to spend time at the juvenile Detention Center on Pasedena Ave. The book is sad, and really a wonderful story. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good book about coming of age, or if you're from Flint and want to read a good book set in our hometown.