Friday, October 26, 2007


Halloween is fast approaching, but I'm still not filled with the spirit I typically associate with this time of year, and nothing seems to work. For the past week, nearly all of my free-time has been devoted to costume-making, but even that's not enough to compete with the world's insistence that we should begin decking the halls earlier and earlier each year. I love Christmas as much as anyone, maybe even more than most, but that shouldn't distract me from my love of Halloween. The stores fill their aisles with costumes and candy before summer ends, which sounds great, but it's way too early. What are we supposed to do? Spread the Halloween celebration across three months? No, of course not. So we go into stores and we avoid the seasonal section because we don't want to use up our holiday energy too soon. I should never have to hide from Halloween. Let it come when it's ready. Give it a month, maybe a month and a half. That's plenty. By the time I'm actually ready for the big night, everything's being shoved aside to make room for Animatronic inflatable yard snowglobes. The stores aren't the only ones to blame. Turn on the TV and wait for the commercials to start. Look at the movies being advertised: Saw IV? Groovy! Fred Clause? Get outta here! I'm sure it's filled with edgy jokes and pop-culture references that make great holiday fun for the whole family, but it has no place on my screen for at least another month.

Anyway, the DigiPen Student Association provided a glimmer of hope: A costume contest. It wasn't a legitimate Halloween party, but after being the only person at the University of Houston to dress up last year, I was grateful to be a part of a school that cares about the things that really matter.

Unfortunately, a few days ago I came to the conclusion that there was no way I'd be able to finish my costume before the contest. I'm still working on that one (I have some serious doubts it will be done by Wednesday, but I'll talk about that later), so I was left with two options: skip the contest, or suffer the humiliation of going to a costume contest dressed as myself.

At least it beats dressing as a hobo.

Somehow I failed to win. Someday I'll be hailed a genius, far ahead of my time. Tonight however, I only confused people.
But already it was impossible to say which was which.

A bunch of things went wrong here. It's certainly not the best costume I've ever made, but I kinda like it anyway. I wanted to make something quickly without having to buy anything, so I was pretty limited, especially since I don't really have any costume-building tools or materials aside from what I got for my real costume. If you'd like to see the sort of feeling I was trying to recreate with this, check out John K's musings on the subject of old costumes. Tell me you don't want that Soupy Sales costume. Anyway, a few things should be immediately obvious. First of all, my mask is bland. Really bland. It's weird, creepy, and inaccurate, all of which was intentional, but it lacks anything that says, "This is Jake." Also, I think bright pink skin may have been a bit much, though when you have nothing but a box of Crayola markers, your choices are limited. I made it out of papier-mâché on a chicken wire base, with the nose and lips made from wads of newspaper and masking tape.

Jake in progress

Here's something I didn't know: papier-mâché takes forever to dry. It looked like I wouldn't even be able to finish my quick, replacement costume in time for the contest. I finally decided I could wait no more, and wrapped the whole thing in duct tape, then covered that in masking tape so that I'd have a light base on which to draw. I'd like to point out the incredible restraint I've shown by not making any Halloween mask/masking tape puns. I poked some holes in the sides and tied dental floss. Halloween candy makes an exciting treat, but it's always important to keep proper dental hygiene in mind.

So girly, you like roller skatin'? Yeah, everybody loves roller skatin'!

The shirt's not as bad. Again, it's intentionally "off" in a few ways. It's mediocre. It's pretty tough to draw a picture exactly as you want it when your working with Sharpie on T-shirt, especially in low light. I'm still going to wear it twice a week until it's so full of holes the shops with a "No shirt, no service" policy kick me out, but only because anything with even the most remote connection to me is, let's face it, way past cool. You know you wish my picture was on your shirt.

The cape was a towel. I felt that was this costume's greatest success.

There's still plenty of Halloween goodness coming up on JakeyPen, so stay tuned, and in the meantime, see what you can do to boost your own spirit. Watch a horror movie. Make some sugar cookies in the shapes of bats and pumpkins and decorate them to your heart's delight. Smash up every Christmas display you see. Do whatever you think will work for you.

Since you're already here in Internetland, allow me to direct your attention to a few great sites:

The construction method of my costume was heavily inspired by mad genius Rob Cockerham, and even though it's not working out nearly as well as I'd hoped, I'm not going to hold it against him. You can expect plenty of links to as I continue my blog, but for now I'll direct you to the Incredible Stuff page, which consists largely of elaborate costumes. Great stuff.

I'm guessing that most of the kids out there already know that Homestar Runner is the pinnacle of Internet-based cartoons, but the site deserves extra attention during holidays. These aren't quite classic specials on a "Great Pumpkin" level, but they're about as close as we can hope to get in this post-Schultz world. The Toons page says that a new Halloween short should premiere next week. In case I've over-hyped this, I'd like to point out that the comedy is pretty offbeat and quirky, and therefore not for everyone. You'll either love it or be utterly confused.

Before I get to the last one, let me diverge from the Web for a second. If you're the sort who plays video games, horror games are awesome and you should be playing them. If you have a GameCube (or Wii), I'd recommend "Resident Evil" and "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem." Both great games, and both far better near Halloween.

Finally, the big one: X-Entertainment. Despite having the most unfortunate name on the Internet, this is Halloween Central. Matt, the site's author, is the master of holiday excitement. This is another site that's not for everyone - if you're older than Generation X, you probably won't be interested, but for those of us who want to read reviews of "Halloween is Grinch Night" or learn how to make a Halloween Mood Table, this is the place. Even a Halloween Master struggles with problems I outlined at the start of this post, though, and it's taken a pretty strong effect this year. While he has, in years past, written a Halloween-related article every day for two months, this year, he hasn't done nearly as much. Fortunately, he keeps everything archived. Search the site for the word "Halloween" and kiss your night goodbye. The one thing I think everyone can enjoy is the X-Entertainment Halloween Jukebox. Sixty-six Halloween-themed songs. I'm listening to the Ghostbusters theme right now. To be honest, the only reason I've written as much as I have tonight is that I wanted a reason to continue sitting here listening to it. Ignore the rest of this if you wish, but don't pass the Halloween Jukebox.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All I Can Tell Ya Is, Brother, You'll Have to Wait

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for me to fulfill last week's promise of a post about my school, but, sadly, all of my blogging energy is currently going into the construction of my Halloween costume. Well, not all of my blogging energy. Obviously I have enough left to write this. But that's it!

By the way, the new Serj Tankian album, Elect the Dead, came out today (actually, it's a little after1:00 as I write this, so yesterday). If you wish to be my friend, I strongly suggest buying it right away. If you want to be safe, you should probably buy the deluxe edition.

Warning: Political Allegory! May Offend Some Viewers!
Edit: I might not have been clear enough - if you're somone whose political views clash with my own (this includes many of you), this video will probably do nothing but anger you. Even if you do agree with it, you might find it fairly difficult to watch, anyway. It's pretty intense.

It seemed like everywhere I looked today, something was calling my name.
"Jaaaaaaaaake... Spend money on meeeeeeeeee... Who cares if you're a
broke college kid... You know I'm worth it..."
If you own a Wii, you better buy Zack & Wiki as soon as possible. Oddly, I didn't see it for sale anywhere, so I don't have it. I'm a loser. I'm really behind on Wii games, and with everything coming out in the next few months, this is only going to grow more problematic, but I'll get nerdy and video gamey another time.
Finally, Ted Leo + the Pharmacists played a show in Seattle tonight and I didn't see it. I just saw them a few months ago, but they're good enough that I still feel like a big, big loser for going to class rather than sneaking off to rock and roll.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Haiku

October nineteenth
I went grocery shopping
Christmas trees displayed

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Honk for Fonk

The best part of living near Seattle:

This guy has a whole Website full of insane commercials. Everything from traditional holiday greetings to a surreal conversation between Forrest Gump, that guy from Sling Blade, and Rainman. I wonder if they ever play that one during Wapner.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In the Hizzouse

Well, I called that one. The week after I start blogging I get buried in work and leave my loyal readers with no indication of the cause of my absence. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

Last time I left you with a fleeting glance at the mess I call home. Today we'll take a closer look at my crib.

My apartment is on a hill. Everything in Washington is on a hill. I don't think I've seen a flat surface yet. What this means is that my building is three stories on one side and two stories on the other. Tall in the front and short in the back, sort of like a reverse mullet. You can guess where I live.


My ride. Sweet, no? When I ride through town, people occasionally roll down there windows and yell out compliments. "Yo, dude! Nice bike!" They laugh and speed off. I'm happy to spread joy.

I'm still a bit new at this. It looks like today's pictures will be presented in Amazing Blur-O-Vision! They should look fine if you click on them, but you probably don't have much need for a high resolution image of my front hall unless you want a good look at that light switch. Which you might. It's a pretty nice light switch.

The living room, complete with a TV that's so small you can only watch it from a foot away. There's also a nice-looking speaker system that's not plugged into anything, a Wii, and an Xbox 360. All the electronic/entertainment stuff pictured belongs to the twins except for my little stack of DVDs.
In this picture you're treated to a rare insider's look at our junk mail. The kitchen table is sort of a dumping ground. The twins went to a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament this weekend and dropped their GameCube controllers here when they came home. You may also notice backpacks, shoes, and pizza boxes. Zac bought some ping-pong paddles and balls a few days ago with the intent of turning the eating-table into a tennis-table. While I was initially a bit worried that this would interfere with my meals (no one wants a ping-pong ball in their Forsted Flakes), it's actually encouraged the kids to keep the table a bit neater.
This is the kitchen. It's sort of a dumping ground. As we explore more rooms, you'll see that this is a common trend.
A pretty typical scene. If you visit, be sure to wear sandals when you go in the kitchen unless you like the crunch of crumbs between your toes. Filth aside, it's a nice kitchen. That window points to the living room and through that door we have...

A laundry room! I don't have much to say about it, but I wasn't expecting to have a washer and dryer in my first apartment.
Back in the living room. No one really uses the futon (Zac's), but the chair (mine) is a great place if you're into sitting, especially since I got it for free. I went to a garage sale and it had a big "FREE" sign on it. The guy there even helped me get it home. It was in good shape, but they still suggested throwing something over it, so I covered it in my spare sheets. Look for more low-budget decorating techniques from Jake every Thursday at 8/7c on HGTV. Past my chair is the balcony and the box for the twin's TV. It's been there for a few weeks now. Why? I don't know. Must be the new trend. The box look is in. Waaay in.
A very junky side table covered in my junk. I would say that book is only semi-ultimate. My school's library has a whole section of video game history books. I feel nerdy enough about checking video game history books out of a library. I feel nerdier knowing that I've already read about half of the books multiple times.
I have a fireplace! Nah ne nah ne nah nah! Take that, dorm-dwellers!
That air mattress from the last post? A thing of the past. But it's not just a bed...
It's a Transformer!
(Warning: link contains a riding mower who says a bad word)
Ah, now here's a video game collection. None of that Xbox trash. I got the TV from the same garage sale as the chair, but not for free. Cheap, though.
My worldly possessions. To answer the question before it's asked, I did not go to the Austin Game Developers Conference. The bag was one of the prizes I won at my school's carnival.
Zac lives on the left.
Now I live on the left. It's all about perspective, ya see.
JakeyBlog: everything you want to see and so much more!

I have another chair story. The local Value Village had a 50% off on all used items sale one day, so I bought this office chair. By "local" I mean two or three miles away. And the return trip is all uphill. It's not much of a story, but you get some pretty funny looks when you're pushing an old chair up the road. I covered this one with a cheap tapestry. Also in this picture, most of my school books. What kind of textbooks does a video game major study? Consider this a sneak preview for next week when I'll most likely start talking about school.
Finally, here's what really matters: my totally bad mouse pad. Take a look at that. It's a skeleton with a Mohawk playing soccer. Throw in the hyper-dramatic fire-hued sky and you have perhaps the most gnarly thing in existence, but the artist wasn't content to stop there. Oh no! This mouse pad is holographic. As soon as someone develops the technology to make 3D tattoos, I'm getting a Mohawked skeleton footballer on my chest.