Monday, June 30, 2008

End of Side A

This is the end, my only friend, of the end of the Hamburger Challenge, but not the end of JakeyPen. I will be taking some time, though, to sufficiently enjoy not eating my burger. I've enjoyed writing here daily, but it has made the whole thing a bit routine. The number of "I'm blogging be cause I have to, not because I want to" posts has increased lately, and that's not much fun for me. At the same time, the contest has encouraged me to write things I wouldn't have otherwise. So here's the plan: for the next month, no matter what happens, I will not be updating. I won't even open this site. What will you do 'til then? You could chase your tail. You could count your nose goblins. After that, I'll come back, but without any schedules or obligations. At some point, I will set another daily challenge for myself, so if anyone out there is interested in joining a future blogging contest, speak.

This concludes Season One of JakeyPen. M-I-C, see ya real soon, and thanks for reading.

Congratulations Dave+Lily, Marisa, Nicole, and Nora!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Very Quiet Jake

Tonight is a good night I think for listening to Sean Lennon.

And that's pretty much all you're gonna get out of me tonight, 'cause I just packed all my stuff and I am not too chatty and the moment. Also, it's hot. Insane hot. I drank an entire pitcher of iced tea, several cups of water, and some quantity of soymilk, and I'm still thirsty. I'm the Very Hungry Caterpillar of thirst.

As long as I'm linking Sean's MySpace page, I should link this.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pepperoni and Green Peppers, Mushrooms, Olive, Chives

Advertising's got me on the run. If you'd like to read something that should make you sick, check out this study which found that "82% of Consumers React Positively to Receiving Contextual In-Game Ads During Game Play." Bad, yes, but this was a survey designed to prove the effectiveness of desecrating video games for money. There was a certain bias, and there are so many factors in "research" like this that may skew the results. No, what got me was the way people have responded to these findings. People, ordinary people, people who spend huge amounts of time and money on video games agree that an increase of in-game advertising is okay. I've seen Websites where people have, of their own will, commented that they don't mind buying interactive commercials. How can this be?

This bothers me enough from the perspective of someone who plays games, but as someone who wants to make games, I must say that I do not like the idea of selling out becoming the norm. Then again, this isn't a matter of my industry. Auctioning off our integrity is apparently such a fundamental part of human existence that we're advertising it to the stars.

The aliens won't need death-rays or shape-shifting when they come to conquer Earth. We'll happily take them to our leaders for a couple bucks.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The News From Your Bed

I should be moving out any day now, but as much as I like the new apartment and the new roommates, there is one aspect of leaving my current pad that disappoints me. For months I've been planning to do a follow up to the bed post, but with only days until my lease expires, it appears the bed shall outlast me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crazy Week

That's what you get when spend all day working and all night looking for an apartment, but I've finally submitted a rental application. Pending approval of said application, I'm expecting a crazy weekend.

Current question: How does one move without a vehicle? I could rent a truck from a moving company or quickly make friends with a car-owner, but you know me; I like to make things difficult. If I steal a shopping cart, will I be able to fit my futon in it? Hmmm...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Remembering the Carlin

I've spent the night watching, reading, and listening to George Carlin. Now that I think about it, I've spent lots of nights this way. I don't think there's any reason to get too sentimental about George's death, but everyone should at least look up a few of his bits on YouTube, and everyone should keep questioning authority.

Carlin was one of the best.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

While Silly Thoughts Go Through My Head

Dreams I want to record before I forget them: Last night I dreamed that we were living in future times. We lived a future where food could be multiplied. Make a meal for one person, multiply it to serve your whole family. There were still homeless people begging in streets, and people still wouldn't help them. It's not my fault their food isn't motivated enough to multiply.

When I woke up, I reasoned that if we could multiply food, we would never get a rotten apple. Someone would discover a great apple and multiply it until we had specific pieces of celebrity fruit. Maybe we would have a rotten apple, but we would trust that it was good because everyone else liked it and we didn't know any better. I thought, we already do this with people and media. Television is our cloning machine. Make a friend for everyone.

I dreamed I was reading a newspaper with a YouTube video embedded on the cover. When I woke up, I reasoned that this is technology we might develop, but why? There are events which can't be expressed by mere words on a page, but the real answer has nothing to do with news. I pictured myself walking through a store while every pack of toilet paper shouted to me at once, images flashing across the label.

I do not want this future.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picture Book

Remember that month when I had nothing to do except draw six pictures? Remember that time when I got a full-time job? I have 800 drawings due at the beginning of the semester!

Speaking of insane numbers, Ray Davies is coming to town next month. The price of a ticket? $107!! I mean, my congratulations to anyone who can still charge that much after all these years, but honestly! I can't even imagine what it would cost to see a full Kinks reunion.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Same As It Ever Was

I don't care too much for money, but there is one thing I've always wanted, the sort of thing that's sure to set you back a pretty penny. More than any other physical possession, I want a house that's full of secret passages. Is there anyone who hasn't? Rooms, tunnels, rotating bookshelves - heck, I'd be tickled to discover a crawlspace, so long as there aren't too many corpses rotting in it. From crouching on white blocks to secret baseball shirts, I've always been all about amazing secrets, and when secrets are combined with houses, that's the coolest magic of all.

So imagine my delight upon finding that after nearly a year in this apartment, there's been a hidden attic right above my head all along.From the start, I was curious about this indentation, but yesterday was the first time I really inspected it.
I pryed open the door, but it wouldn't go very far, and bits of fluffy puff rained down on me. I would have to let my camera do the exploring.
Oh, secret attic, what mysteries do you hold?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Capital M

And then "arshie!"

Sorry! I ran out of time before finishing today's post! I don't want to lose that Hamburger when I'm so, so close.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lunchtime Conversations

As mentioned several thousand times before, I'm not allowed to talk about my job. Obviously revealing details about unreleased games on a publicly viewable blog would not be good, but in order to protect all secrets, I'm not even allowed to discuss the games I test with my coworkers unless we are safely secluded inside of our office. This means all lunchtime conversation must be about anything other than what we do together all day long. The following is a list of all lunchtime conversation subjects:

1. The weather.

2. What everyone is eating.

3. What everyone is wearing.

4. Foods eaten during previous lunch breaks.

5. Foods to be eaten during future lunch breaks.

6. The size of the cafeteria tables.

7. The weather of other places where we have lived.

8. "Oh, that's right, we're not allowed to talk about the game. I'll tell you after lunch."

9. Previous jobs.

10. "Anyone see any movies lately?" (No)

11. Anime (I think. I have several vague memories of one person or another saying something about watching something with a Japanese-sounding name. By the time I regain consciousness, half my food is gone.)

12. "The cake is a lie." (If you don't know what this means, don't bother looking it up. It's a once-funny nerd joke that has been over-quoted to oblivion. You couldn't spend five minutes in the DigiPen computer labs last year without hearing someone say this, followed by raucous giggling.)

13. The last two make me sound like I'm really down on my coworkers. (Seriously, though, we get along pretty well.)

14. I'm not adding much to the conversation, myself. (So I'm in no position to complain.)

15. Silence.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spore, Spore, Spore! How Do You Like It?

I love Spore! Spore is so great! I haven't even played Spore yet!

Spore is the latest game from genius Will Wright, creator of the Sim series. Spore won't be released for a few more months, but a small piece of the game is available now as a free download. It is loads of fun. It's somewhat similar to the Sim creator from The Sims 2, except instead of being limited to making humans, you can make anything from a spider to a whale to an abstract alien to a human. I haven't spent enough time with it to master all of the nuances, but even after just a few minutes I was making all sorts of crazy creeps.

Download the Spore Creature Creator! Do it! Now!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How High Can You Get?

I could've saved so many clicks if somebody would've just told me that my acceptance letter would come in the mail.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remembering the Automobile

Dark, whimsical questions: Is our way of life sustainable? Realistically, how much longer will we have a car in every garage? Will the world last?

Are cars on the way out? It will be a slow process. We may run out of fuel. We may become environmentally conscious to the point where we're no longer comfortable using fuels, or we can't afford them. We may develop hoverboards and teleportation devices that bend time and space. Will we be driving cars at the end of the century? What about twenty years from now? Disease, famine, flooding, pollution, nuclear war, asteroids, supernovae, zombies - will there be anyone left to fill our driver's seats?

Setting aside the overwhelming possibility of a return of the living dead or a Return of the Living Dead Part II, I have my doubts that the automobile, at least as we know it, will survive to the end of humanity. Sure, it will exist in some way, but think about what cars mean to us now. Most obviously, they are our most convenient, efficient means of everyday transportation. In many ways, they provide the core to society's physical place in the world. Where we live and how we arrange our homes and business - all a result of the road. Streets dominate the our landscapes. Our first toys are tiny cars, and soon we build our own Hot Wheels tracks, and before that, after we've left the hospital, before we even enter our home for the first time, we are strapped into our car seats and buckled tightly.

And it's all brand new. The Ford Model T was first produced one hundred years ago. There are people older than the commercially available car. Will they live to see the end?

Cars will not disappear in an instant. There are simply too many, and they mean too much to us, but are they timeless? There will be car enthusiasts in the future. The vinyl record upended our culture overnight. Now, it too has enthusiasts. They love the retro feel of dropping the needle into a groove and boast of the medium's superior quality. Meanwhile, the masses slip their iPods in their pockets and shuffle until the battery dies.

Horses. Bikes. Camels. Rickshaws. Sleds. Boats. Buggies. Trains. Feet.

How will you remember the automobile?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not Pictured: Spandex

Bug testing a game is not the same as playing it, and I've found that my job does not significantly cut into my desire to play video games for recreation. The logical part of my brain, however, feels that a minimum of eight hours per day is more than enough. Why, then, do I feel that is acceptable to watch TV or browse the Internet?

Maybe it's because the Internet provides me with very old pictures of experimental transportation:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Behind the Scenes

I try not to write about the process of blogging too often. I like to think that there are more interesting things in my life than the activity that's taking place this very second. Imagine a conversation in which someone describes to you the way that move their mouth, lungs, and vocal chords in concert in order to express the thoughts which form in the brain. Dull.

Here's how it works, though. Some days, something so thrilling happens that I race to the computer and start typing. Most days, I sit down and wait for inspiration to strike. This is can take plenty of time. Often, I have other things I'd rather do than blog about how there are things I'd rather do than blog.

I have a rough mental list of things I'd like to eventually write about, but I also have the bad habit of waiting until fairly to late to begin writing, so rather than wasting one of my good ideas when I'm afraid I won't have time to fully explore it, I begin brainstorming new topics, but if I do come up with something good, I usually dump it on the list and wait for something shallower to enter my mind. Occasionally, I don't even get that far, and I have to wake up early tomorrow for work so I throw something stupid on this site press the submit button brush my teeth and go to bed goodnight.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Beautiful Day In the Neverhood

My friends, I am a dude who has played lots of computer and video games, but there is one game that has always eluded me.

I remember going to stores when this game came out over a decade ago and just staring at that box. Even now, it's completely unlike any other game I've ever seen. I didn't know a thing about the game, but I was quite certain that I would love it.

I've still never played it, but my sentiment hasn't changed, and every detail I learn convinces me further that it is surely something special. First of all, the graphics are rendered entirely from clay, a technique that's exceedingly rare in the world of video games.

The ClayFighter series also featured Claymation graphics

The game was created by Doug TenNapel, which means we can safely put another tally in the "pro" column. TenNapel is likely best known as the creator of Earthworm Jim, pictured above in his guest role in ClayFighter 63 1/3. TenNapel is a pretty talented animator, and in the few clips I've seen of The Neverhood, his skill shows. He's mostly focusing on his career as a comic/cartoon artist these days and, amazingly enough, is currently working on feature-length movie adaptations of both Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood. Speaking of movies, various unreliable Websites tell me that Steven Spielberg was in some way involved with this game, which would make sense, since it was published by Dreamworks in the company's early days. Speaking of Spielberg and games, I've heard Boom Blox is fun, but I haven't played it. Speaking of games I haven't played, The Neverhood. The Neverhood.

The above is nothing more than a drawn-out introduction for today's post, the topic of which is "Here's some music I like." The music in question comes from The Neverhood. It's wacky.

The Neverhood Theme

Operator Plays A Little Pingpong

Everybody Way Oh!

If you like what you hear here, here, hear more. A full soundtrack for the game has been released and re-released, but even Amazon is sold-out. You could also try playing the game, but I don't think it's going to be any easier to find. I've been looking for years.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Always a Bridesmaid... Wait, No I'm Not

I think most JakeyPen readers are members of my family, which means the majority of my audience won't be visiting the site this weekend since everyone except me is attending my cousin Mark's wedding. Sorry I'm missing everyone.

Congratulations, Mark and Susanna!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hail to the Leaf

Weird: I was waiting for a bus earlier tonight and saw a "McKinney for President 2008" bumper sticker. Have any of you ever even heard of Cynthia McKinney? Jaime, you don't have to answer that. Am I alone ignorant, or is this candidate's publicity coming primarily from bumper stickers?

I looked McKinney up, likely making this the first time in history that a political bumper sticker has had even the slightest effect on anyone. The biggest surprise? I mostly agree with her, even if she says things like "walking the talk." I'm still not going to vote for her, mostly because she doesn't wear a flag pin, but at least she's probably not a secret Muslim.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eye, Eye, Cap'n!

Dudes, what is up with my eye? Did I scratch it, or is this what happens when you spend all day playing video games?

This is about as close as I can come to talking about the job I'll be doing for eight or more hours a day for the rest of the summer, assuming my eye doesn't fall out.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries

A transcription of the day's thoughts: "This is unbelievable. I'm in Nintendo. I can't believe this. I work here. This is amazing. I work at Nintendo. Incredible. This Nintendo. I can't believe I'm here. I'm here, and this is where I work. Amazing. Incredibly amazing. I don't believe this."

Rinse and repeat.

I don't think there's much more I'm allowed to say. It's even better than I imagined.

More news: I've found new roommates. I'm moving out!

More news: DiCaprio to Play Nolan Bushnell in Atari

But mostly, I'm so excited about my job! Woo hoo!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pow-Pow-Power Wheels

Two things that are likely to happen tomorrow: I'll be less interested in spending my free-time playing computer and video games, and I'll be unable to write about the games I am playing. As my last hurrah, here are two recommendations. Both of these games are available for free, but you'll first have to download and register Steam. Obnoxious, but hey! Free games!

The first is called Audiosurf. I downloaded the demo a few months ago, which let me play the game three times, then told me I'd have to pay for the full version to play more. I opened the game again the other day and was surprised to find that I was able continue playing. I'm not sure if this was some sort of glitch or if the game's creators have decided to be generous. The game's site gives the option to download the demo or pay $10 for the full game. I say get the demo - if you're lucky, you'll get the whole thing for free. If not, no loss, and you might find that the game is worth the low price.

Judged solely by the gameplay mechanics, Audiosurf is fairly lame. You guide a rocket ship-like thing down a highway and collect or avoid different blocks. You move left and right through the lanes in the road, with no control over the rocket's speed. There are several game-modes, but I only like one (Mono). So why can't I stop playing it? Audio surf is less of a game and more of an interactive way to experience music. Just pick any song and the game will use some algorithm (algorhythm?) to generate a roller coaster-y level that follows the sound of the music, complete with trippy bursts of visual flourish. It's the rare type of game that puts me into a hypnotic trance.

Of course, the amount of fun you'll have depends entirely on the music you choose. The game comes with the "Orange Box" soundtrack, but you'll have be much better off if you have a decent collection of tunes on your computer. So far I've found the most success with the Beatles and System of a Down. Fast, punky rock and mellow psychedelic music have provided some awesome results. Oh, and be sure to crank some Ace of Base. Rhythm games were made for dance music. Funk seems like it would be good, but is the beat is too erratic, it can be irritating. Disco is another mixed genre - "Don't Leave Me This Way"? Groovy. "Stayin' Alive", on the other hand, made me so sea-sick I had to quit playing.

The game was made to be played with a mouse or keyboard (do not use the keyboard; it's horrible), but I've rigged a more interesting control scheme.Playing Trackmania Nations with a steering wheel makes a bit more sense. That's right, this a car racing game. Yippee!
Ordinarily, I'm not a big fan of driving games. What makes this such a rad racer? Well, for starters, you have the option of playing......IN 3-D!!
But even if you don't have a pair of the ol' red & cyans, this game is pretty unique. The level-design is positively insane. You dodge obstacles, speed through loop-de-loops, and catch more air than them Duke boys. It's a racing game, but coming in first place is often less of a concern than making it to the finish line.

The controls are fantastically simple (if you're using a keyboard, you'll only need the arrow keys), but the challenge many tracks can be daunting. The game comes with dozens of tracks of increasing difficulty. There's also an tool that allows you to build your own course, which is one of the best editors I've ever seen in any game. Anyone can build a track, and if you play online, you'll be on user made levels. It's cool, because you'll find a whole collection of brand new courses every time you play, but it comes at a price. The only rule for a track to be eligible for online play is that is has to be possible to reach the finish line. Most players are apparently most interested in pushing the limits of "possible." I manage to finish about one in four races online. Trackmania is fun, but it's crazy-hard.

Both of these games, by the way, are very pretty. If you happen to have purchased a new computer in the last week, downloading these games would be an excellent way to see what your fancy-pants machine can do.

Did you make it all the way through that? I know most, if not all, of you don't have the slightest desire to read about computer games. Thanks for indulging me. And if you skipped ahead, what is wrong with you? I take one day to write about something that interests me and you scroll through it. Wow, real polite. Hey, you don't know - I might have snuck some clever jokes in there that you would have enjoyed, but you see "computer games" and start spinning that little clicky wheel in the middle of your mouse. I made a Dukes of Hazard reference, I'll have you know, and I don't think that's ever going to happen again. But forget it. Who needs you anyway? Jerk.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I Don't Want To Bang On the Drum All Day

Two days until the job officially begins, which means two days of freedom. So how am I spending my last unburdened weekend? Playing video games. I should be out taking long bike rides or going to the movies or something (Alright! Kung Fu Panda, anyone? No, I kid, it looks so terrible.), but, honestly, I can't wait for Monday; I'm simply waiting for time to pass.

It's so cool to get a job you actually want.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day Number One

I'd love to talk about my first day at Nintendo, but there's really nothing to report. Today was the usual new job business - signing stacks of forms, taking a drug test - no different than any other company. My real first day of work is Monday, but don't expect too much then, either. I'm sure there's a pile of Non-Disclosure Agreements waiting for me. At least I got to pee in a cup today.

Before the cup o' pee (this is the best pee in a cup ever!), I, of course, got to spend lots of time in a waiting room. After thumbing through a few worn-out magazines my gaze drifted toward a TV tuned to the Curious George show. Wow. Second funniest thing I've ever seen.

I didn't start watching until a few minutes into the show, so I missed a few plot points, but it seems some lady had asked to George to work at her candy shop while she went out to do other things. Let me remind you now that George is an ordinary monkey. He may be unusually curious, but he he's still a monkey in a human world. So some guy comes in and asks for mint candy. George doesn't know which candy is mint, so he picks up a piece, bites it in half, and shows the filling to guy. The guy looks at the monkey and tells him that it doesn't look like mint, so George bites another one. Again, it doesn't look like mint. At this point, the customer is yelling at George, and the poor monkey is trying his hardest, but the man finally gives up. "I don't have time for this! I'll come back later, and you better have the mint candy by then."

As soon as this guy leaves, a woman walks in and gives George this complicated order. She wants six pieces of pink candy and four divided into two boxes, or something, so George sticks a bunch of candy in a couple of boxes and hands it to her. Now this woman is yelling. Now an old dude walks in and asks for a single piece of candy, but the crazy woman is still yelling, so George begins rearranging the boxes, but the old dude wants another piece of candy, so George helps him, but the woman is yelling. The old man asks for another piece of candy and George accidentally gives him one of the pieces he had bitten earlier. The man takess at the monkey pox-ridden chocolate and says very seriously, "This is only half a piece of candy. I better only have to pay half price."

More people enter the store. George is overwhelmed, so he starts flinging handfuls of candy on the counter. A man begins to flail his hands like a fourteen year-old girl and screams: "Ooooo, free samples!" Everyone in the store, by the way, is an adult; out of the ten or so people who showed up while I was watching, there was one kid. George continues to throw everything within reach and make Frank Welker sounds.

At about this time, the store's owner returns and sees the bustling crowd. "Wow, George, you've brought in so many customers!" She helps with all the orders, and then takes inventory. "Oh, no, George. You gave away more than you sold. Now I can't afford any more ingredients. I'm out of business." Perhaps leaving a business in the hands of monkeys isn't the best way to go.

It reminded me of how glad I am that I won't be returning to retail work this summer.

And if you were curious, the number one funniest thing:

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I'm a Nintendo game tester!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pushing Little Children With Their Fully Automatics

I got a call today from Staples.

They don't start hiring for summer positions until the beginning of next month.

While copying the above videos, I happened upon a short called Close Personal Friend, written and co-directed by Douglas Coupland, so it's obviously brilliant. Almost every line spoken was taken straight from Microserfs, but since Microserfs is the best book ever written, that's a good thing. If you like this movie, you should read the book.

I will warn you that it's about twenty-four minutes long.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Will Work For Hourly Wage

I'm applying for jobs!

I went back to Nintendo to see if any new jobs had opened, and ya know what? I was directed to a kiosk with a grimy keyboard and an outdated computer. That's right - Nintendo uses the sort of standard, online application I mocked just days ago. I'm so disillusioned!

At the same, it's Nintendo. It will take a lot more than a stupid application process to turn me against Nintendo. Unfortunately, none of the positions listed appear to be summer jobs, but it's Nintendo. I'll happily apply for anything if it means getting my foot in the door. Let me playtest games, stick me in the warehouse, make me scrub toilets for minimum wage - whatever.

I did, however, just find another site that does appear to list summer-type jobs at Nintendo, so if you'll excuse me, I have to answer a few dozen questions about where I live.

On another note:
That thing I said I was going to write? I'm putting it on indefinite hold. Believe me, it's not anything you want to read. It seems to me that if I've put it off this long, I might as well just wait until I'm feeling inspired enough to write it well. It will appear here eventually, but I'm not going to make a big deal of it. You probably won't even know that you've read it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Fingers Were Crossed

Sike, again! You know the drill by now - job, apartment, e-mail - blah, blah, blah. Anyway, whoops, I lost track of time, so I'm putting off the piece I mentioned yesterday for a bit longer.

I don't even have a good video today, so how about a music recommendation? You know what band is good? Like, mondo-good? Bishop Allen. Bishop Allen is great. They put on a fantastic live show, too. Part of one of their songs was played in Saved!, which was a pretty decent movie. Listen to them. Love them. Catch them with your butterfly nets. Take another picture of them with your click click click click camera. Invite them over for a cup of tea. If you feel like dancing, dance with them.

This is the band's official site, complete with free mp3s.

This is not the band's official site. This is the Daytrotter site, but it has a bunch of live recordings of Bishop Allen songs that you should download right away.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happiness is a Can of Spray Paint

There's something I've wanted to write about for a few days now, but between looking for work, new roommates, and checking my e-mail, blogging has been a low priority lately. I've been pre-writing it in my head (mind-bloggling), but it's a little more thoughtful than most of the drivel I slop into the trough for you, my dear, hoggish readers. I know you filthy swine will gladly gobble anything I toss your way, but this one's for me. I'd like to give it a bit more time.

So here's the deal: I'm gonna slack a bit today, but I'll work ten times harder tomorrow.

As countless teachers have taught me through the years, there's no better way to slack than to show a video. Fortunately, this is an amazing one.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.