Thursday, April 30, 2009

iRack

Recommended by Tiffany:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An $80 Value!

Fifteen Minutes until midnight and I still haven't blogged today. I was trying to think of something to write about but I got distracted my mindless games. I'm a big-time Solitaire junkie, by which I don't just mean Solitaire, but all those types of stupid games that require absolutely nothing but time and a willingness to click on stuff. They're often called "casual games." I like to think of them as Phone Call Games. I like to be doing something when I'm talking on the phone, and these are the types of games I can play without forfeiting any attention to the conversation I'm having.

Big Fish Games is one of the leading purveyors of Phone Call Games, and they're currently giving away four of their games. I haven't played all of them yet, but what I have played has proven fantastically mindless and provided ample opportunity for clicking, so they meet all of my criteria. You'll have to give them an e-mail address, but, seriously, I think you can just make one up.

Go here, follow the directions, click.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Things That Bother Me Way More Than They Should #837

People who pronounce the absent tai in "Cap'n Crunch."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Job Number One

On Saturday night I went to see my first Jet City Improv show, but tonight will be my first time to go as a volunteer worker. There isn't actually a show tonight, and I won't be doing any work yet, but there is a company meeting to which I've been invited, so this is my first experience with the troupe in any official capacity; as anything other than an audience member. I'm 'cited.

So, uh, yeah, that's not the most interesting of blog posts, but I do need to go catch my bus to the meeting in a few minutes and I wanted to be sure I had something here in case I end up being out late, so as not to miss my deadline. I'd write about something that happened during my day, but my day was primarily spent not going to s****l or doing h******k, because it is summer and summer rocks, even if I am starting one of my many jobs just a few days into the break.

Oh, I finally tried Rice Dream non-dairy ice cream style frozen treat today. I've been curious about this stuff as long as I've been vegan. The verdict: it's pretty bad. Weird texture, bland taste. Soy Dream ice cream-esque non-ice cream is da bomb, though.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Moving Picture Show

You know what word I've always really liked? "Movie." It's kinda cute, isn't it? I never call them "films." Obviously, a lot of them aren't. With the unfortunate but understandable digital craze of the modern world, many "films" are more like "memory cards" or "files" or some other term that I can only hope will never catch on, and even the movies that were originally filmed on film are watched on disc or downloaded or ethereally streamed. To refer to an intangible concept like a movie or a song by the name of its physical medium is to ignore the invariability with which recordable concepts will outlast the technology which house them.

Even if films were always films, though, I'd still vastly prefer movie. Why? Three reasons:

1. It's fun to say. Go on, try it. Movie, movie, mooooooovieeeeeeeee!

2. The meaning. What's a movie? Well, it's not a stillie. Modern vernacular may have left "talkies" by the wayside, but movies have survived, and I like that. Not only has "movie" survived; it's fully accepted. Tell someone you want to go see a talkie and they'll tell you to stop being an idiot. Movies, on the other hand, are totally fine, despite the word having the same meaning and being every bit as ridiculous.

3. It makes that one joke about where cows like to go on Saturday nights possible.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kissy th' Face!

Something weird? On the Internet? No way!

Lock lips with robots, dogs, and Klansmen in a game that looks like KidPix on acid!

THE FUNKY PLAYER PLEASE PLAY 'KISSMA' AT WORK!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jake Grind Radio

All that's left is to take this to school, and my summer will begin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Summer... So... Near...

Done with classes. Still have to finish one last painting. Might go watch Garden State for the eleventy-billionth time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

01/01/00

The other day I mentioned that I'd had minor computer problems, which I was able to solve today. My computer, I learned, was freaking out because while flipping through the Windows calendar, I accidentally set the date a month or two in the future. The discrepancy between the real date (which my computer discovered by connecting to the Internet) and the date I'd set made my computer leery and cautious, asking me to obtain security certificates before checking my e-mail, and preventing me from logging onto my Instant Messenger.

Anyway, the problem has been solved now, but this was a chilling reminder of the fragility and terror we still face. Sure, planes didn't drop out of the sky and nuclear plants didn't melt down as a result of my calendar troubles, but I was temporarily delayed before being given the opportunity to read spam for cheap prescription drugs and funny jokes that have been forwarded 17 times before reaching me. This was a real wake-up call. I now know the dangers that a misrepresentation of date can cause in a world too dependent on technology. It was enough to scare me into running to the store for a small generator and a pack of bottled water, just in case.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Final Countdown

Weird day. Felt strange. The reason? It's finals week.

It's odd how different the world seems today. I didn't do anything extraordinary, but I'm so used to my Monday schedule that the slightest deviation, and the knowledge that my schedule tomorrow won't be exactly the same as past ten Tuesdays, is a shock to my system. Don't get me wrong; I still feel like the walking dead right now, but I have some hope that the freedom that will arrive in a matter of days might be enough to wake me up.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Put Your Hands Together If You Wanna Clap

video

This was a team project. I animated Pauline and the hammer, and my partner did the rest. As you may have noticed, the gorilla has funny style, he has funny grace, but this Kong has no face. This is due tomorrow morning though, so this is what we're presenting. The guy who was supposed to draw the face said he'll get it in by the end of the week, which means I'll probably have to go back to school later this week and help re-film all the animation, which isn't so bad, I guess, because this is distractingly cloudy toward the bottom of the video. If anyone wants me to upload the final version once it's finished, leave a comment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Fresh Batch

I finished Douglas Coupland's "The Gum Thief" this morning. Like everything else the man's ever written, it's shockingly brilliant. I'm also in the middle of my eight-gajillionth re-reading of "Microserfs." As always, it's phenomenal. Next time I go to the library, rather than checking out on of the dozens of books on my list that I haven't read, I'll be looking for "Girlfriend in a Coma," because once definitely wasn't enough for that book.

A minute ago, I went to Coupland's Web site and was surprised to find it updated. I visit his every week or so, and haven't seen an update in over a year.

A day or two ago, my computer crashed and wiped my cookies. Apparently, my outdated cookies had been preventing me from seeing his updates all along - I've missed out on a lot over the past year.

Anyway, this made me wonder if there's any real world equivalent to this; to having old computer files block you from seeing current sites, without you even knowing that you've missed anything. And after only a few moments, yes, I think there are plenty of things like this.

I read an article about phantom limbs this morning, which is a great example. Any sort of tragic loss, really, probably gives one an unrealistic perception of the present. Maybe racism, or other prejudices the world has largely passed. When I'm away from the places where I used to live and the people I know, my own mental images have no way of accounting for the ways they must change, but then I visit my family and my house, and I'm reminded that they've still had a year without me.

Then I started thinking about how very odd it would be to wake up after a long coma and find yourself in a new world, and that reminds me that I need to go to the library as soon as I have a chance.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh, My, Once, Oh, My Twice

Look, I don't run to my blog every time some I know here expresses ignorance of culture, but this is unbelievable. I was talking to Tiff and he brought up the movie, "Being John Malkovich,"which, was directed by Spike Jonze. I told him this reminded me of the director's current work, and asked him if he'd heard about the new "Where the Wild Things Are" movie. He said he didn't know what that was. "Like the book," I said. "It's being adapted into a movie."

"Yeah..." he replied. "I don't know what that is. I've heard the name before..."

A little later, I went to Robin, who was in her room with a friend. "Hey, are you two familiar with 'Where the Wild Things Are'?"

"Uhhhhhhh..."

Me: "The book. You know that book, right?"

"Uhhhhh..."

I started sputtering with exasperation. The friend says, "I think I read it once." This did nothing to assuage me.

Out of four people, I'm the only one who knows what this book is? Is that even possible?

Tiffany also revealed that he's unfamiliar with "Go, Dog, Go!" but I'm afraid to survey the others.

Let me just say that "Do you like my hat?" is one of the greatest comedy bits in all of history, and if you do not know what I'm talking about, you are at a great disadvantage.


"Pierre" and the Dresden Dolls: chocolate and peanut butter. As far as I can tell, they never made a studio recording of this song, which is a shame, because their recorded stuff always sounds better than their live bootlegs, and I can think of no better band to play "Pierre."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Spy a Poppet

Remember this?

Yeah, so I got the craziest job offer today. The guy who taught my "Acting for Animation" class last year, in which I played a played a puppet, as seen in the particularly awkward outtake linked above, e-mailed me to ask if I'd like to do "some giant puppet performance work" over the summer with his puppetry company. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it here, but I am a dude who loves puppets. No, seriously, I do.

Between Nintendo and Jet City Improv, I don't know how much time I'll have for something like this. The e-mail said 4-6 hours a day, which I don't think will work for me. Maybe I can arrange something if I pull some strings. I said that I'd be happy to do what I can when I can.

I'll post more details when they become available. Until then, hang in there.

Extra weirdness: While checking my e-mail, I was strumming "The Rainbow Connection" on my guitar.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Silver Lining

Looking for an upside to global economic ruin? Less money to invest in the creation of things like this.

No, you're not looking at combination headphones/nose-hair clippers. Even better, it's the PediState, the only Game Boy accessory that sedates children with a stream of nitrous oxide.

As you'd expect, the promotional video on the official site is hilarious, featuring smug doctors, smiley kids posing, comparisons of the N2O pump to a toy or fighter pilot's mask, and a kid tripping on the gas, all set to that mellow, ukulele-version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that was popular for a while, as well as gratuitous, bloody shots of a little kid getting stitches in his forehead.

The video does not mention why this is any better that just using a regular N2O pump while the kid plays video games, presumably because it is not.

Whatever. Still better than this:

Also available in Original, Blueberry, Mini, and Blueberry Mini.
Dear Jimmy Dean

At diners, I always eat a bite of sausage with a bite of pancake, but this is even better – I mean, it’s on a stick! Thanks for making something so fun to eat.

--James, Salem, MA

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Take One Step, and Then Again

In these tough economic times, people around the globe have been left struggling in ways they've never known before, and I think I have just the solution: We need a new dance craze!

Maybe I've been hanging out with the wrong crowd, but I don't recall any dances hitting it big since The Macarena, and that was, what, ten years ago? The Cha-Cha Slide doesn't count because it was, I think we can all agree, tremendously stupid. That's not to say The Macarena wasn't stupid, but everybody did The Macarena. People are still probably doing the Macarena at your lamer weddings / coming of age parties / sporting events. Brooding teenagers would do it alongside their grandparents. It was a bridge. It brought us together.

We need more of that. Where is our "YMCA?" Where is our "Chicken Dance?"

Could this be a summer project for me? Choreographing the next big dance and penning the accompanying single? It's such a surefire get-rich-quick scheme I'd be a fool not to!

It doesn't stop there, though. For the B-side I'm planning the next great musical homage to dancing. Rather than boasting my prowess regarding the Mashed Potat'uh and the Alligat'uh, though, I will let the world know of my ability to do the dances featured in songs which encourage the listener to "Do the [particular dance]," followed by instructions for said dance.
  • The Twist
  • The Locomotion
  • The Bartman
  • The Mario
  • The Hustle
  • The Hokey-Pokey
  • The Bunny Hop
That's already half a song! Cha-ching!

Interesting side note: "Do the Bartman" off of the DJ Jazzy Jeff produced album "The Simpsons Sings the Blues" was ghostwritten by none other than Michael Jackson. I find this odd because the song contains the line, "If you can do the Bartman, you're bad like Michael Jackson." So, unless that line was added to the song later, Michael Jackson was bragging about himself in a song he wrote but didn't publicly claim as his own.

Bonus trivia: Jackson appeared in an early episode of The Simpsons, voicing a character in a mental institution who thinks he's Michael Jackson. His high-pitched voice and talent for writing music convinces Springfield that he really is MJ, until later in the episode it's revealed that, no, he's just a crazy person. So Michael Jackson played a character who played Michael Jackson, but Michael Jackson did not take credit for his voicework in the episode.

Complicating matters a bit more, Bart spends the aforementioned episode proving his limitless adoration for Michael Jackson, and, as stated above, proclaims some love in "Do the Bartman." Later in the series, however, he claims, and I paraphrase, Michael Jackson is just something made up by grownups to scare little kids.

Now you have a story to impress your coworkers next time things get quiet around the water cooler, though, do offices even have water coolers any more? It seems like water bottles would've more or less killed them off by now.

Text it to your coworkers' Facebook pages.

Monday, April 13, 2009

JokeyPen

Complain, complain, complain... Alright, now my true feelings are out there, but while my net college experience has been negative, there are a few pockets of good, namely this:

While we weren't able to put on any shows this year, and one of our five members will be graduating in next few weeks, we now have a head start on next year, and we had some fun each week. Tonight was our last meeting of the year, but it's nice to have something to look forward to when next year starts.

In the meantime, it looks like I might be doing volunteer work at an improv club in Seattle, so yea.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spice Up Your Life

WANTED: R.U. 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance? R.U. streetwise, outgoing, ambitious and dedicated? Heart Management Ltd are a widely successful music industry management consortium currently forming a choreographed, singing/dancing, all-female pop act for a recording deal. Open audition. Danceworks, 16 Balderton Street. Friday 4 March. 11am-5:30pm. Please bring sheet music or backing cassette


- The call which led to the formation of the Spice Girls

Saturday, April 11, 2009

In Which I Reveal More Than I First Intended, or Life in the 'Pen

Not including weekends in my countdown until the end of the year was a great idea, because, hey, it makes the number that much smaller, but it's a bummer because it means that I still have eight more days today and I'll still have eight more days tomorrow. I've tried to shuffle thing around so that I can actually take the weekend off of school (And why shouldn't I? I've certainly done enough work this year and it's Easter tomorrow.), but I'm not good with time off. I can't stop stressing. I try to distract myself with things I enjoy, but then I feel guilty and I'm completely unable to have any fun or even relax.

I've never directly come out and said that I hate DigiPen on this blog because I haven't exactly kept my identity a secret - there aren't many Jakes here and I've posted enough pictures of myself to make me identifiable to anyone who wants to link me to what I write here. Let's face it, we live in the Google age; and member of the DigiPen faculty or, worse, any future employer could find me without difficulty. I've never come out and said that I hate it here, but I try to be honest in my writing, and anybody who reads this site could piece it all together without any trouble.

So although I've never explicitly typed the words, the sentiment has been clear for a long while: I hate DigiPen. Completely and utterly. I've hated my two years here so far and I expect to hate the next two.

If you are considering me for a job and you've stumbled across this blog years after it was written, you now know the truth, and I feel that's better than me putting on a happy face and saying that everything's alright. I don't think this should preclude you from hiring me.

I've always hated school. I hated high school. I hated junior high. I hated elementary. I hate college; all three of the colleges I've attended so far. When I've told people this, some have asked if I dislike learning, and the answer is no, of course not. I adore learning. There's not much I love more. It's the very reason I hate school. School has done nothing so much as get in the way of my learning.

I'm not dropping out, though. This is, as I said, my third college, my fourth major, and I intend to stay here until I'm done. Most people who come to DigiPen leave before graduation. I can't remember the exact statistic, but I believe it's something like 2/3 of the students who enter never reach the end. The freshman always ask why, and the upperclassmen always tell them that it's because they're not tough enough to get through it. They present it like a challenge. They say they're lazy or not dedicated enough. They say they entered with unrealistic expectations. That last part's certainly true for me. I expected an education. Ha!

The upperclassmen are always so smug in this; so proud that they've lasted. We're not superior. Our only survival advantage over those who got out is that we didn't have the sense to do the same. Some great trait that is.

My best friend here - my only friend here, until recently - dropped out shortly into our second year only to learn that DigiPen is "accredited differently" than real universities. In other words, he couldn't transfer an of his 60-something credit hours to another school, much like I couldn't transfer my previous credits in. At the time, they told me that they didn't accept credit from other colleges because their standards were so much higher that they wanted all DigiPen graduates to have taken the classes directly from DigiPen in order to maintain the integrity of the school. What a fool I must've been to believe that. Just another spoonful of their propaganda.

It's too late for me to get out. I've sunk so much time and money in this dump that I feel like I have no choice but to work through to the other side. At the end, I'll have gained an experience, for better or worse. I can only hope it won't have taken too much of a toll on me by then. Even now, halfway, just two years in, I hate the way this school has made me dull and bitter. I've been through some times in my life, though, and beyond that, it's like I said: school's always been rough for me. I'm resilient. I've always bounced back from whatever's hit me, and I hope that in two years I'll see that this was no different. It does feel different, though.

You want to know my fear? That life in the video game industry really is like life at DigiPen. Want to know the hope that gets me through each day? That life in the video game business isn't like DigiPen.

That's largely why I spend as much time as I do studying this field. Not just the games that I like, but what games mean and why they are the way they are; why the business is what it is. I want to know that there are people making these games; people - real, individual humans - putting themselves and their lives and their worlds into games.

DigiPen is so unreal, so science-fiction. Everyone here is the same, and, at the risk of sounding arrogant, everyone is no one. There's no life beyond school, Magic cards, anime, and Dungeons & Dragons. It's like everyone I meet has the same interests. They all have the same ignorance of the world beyond geek culture, the same bizarre fashion sense, the same hygene, the same ego and sense of entitlement, the same mental strengths and handicaps, the same irrational fears and anxieties, the same inflexability, the same desires. There's no place for me.

I've never felt like I didn't "fit in." Not really. At the same time, I don't know that I've ever totally belonged. The smallest group from which one can be an outcast is three, and I've always thought that in a group of three there would be three distinct people. Now I'm in a school of maybe 1,000 and I feel that the only ones here are them and me, and I'm certainly not them. It's a bizarre feeling, loneliness. Redmond's a beautiful town, with dense buildings downtown, secluded parks and forests, amazing wildlife, varied seasons and weather, rivers, valleys, and mountains, but despite the beauty of it all, I feel like I'm in some hastily constructed research facility in Antarctica, an unsightly blemish in a majestic place far outside the world of my own species.

I digress.

Last summer I worked at Nintendo. You could walk between Nintendo and DigiPen in a minute or two at a moderate pace. DigiPen is actually a part of one of Nintendo's buildings, so they look identical from the outside. Inside, though, they're different planets. DigiPen is Pluto: small, dull, far outside the reach of the sun; not even a planet really. Nintendo is Earth. There are people there, and they are alive. I spotted it my first day there. I had never seen people who seemed so happy to be at work.

This DigiPen hate is nothing new. I had admitted it to myself long before last summer. The fear that the entire industry I had longed to join since I was five or six was the exclusive dominion of DigiPeople had already entered my mind by the time I started at Nintendo. At Nintendo, I quickly discovered that my fellow DigiPen students stuck out tremendously from the rest of the employees. With a surrounding of diversity, even the DigiPen people didn't seem as offensive.

Here I am, the school year still going strong for another week and a few days. Even with all of this in perspective, the only thing I can think is how much I hate the whole situation. The semester can't end soon enough, but I know I'll be right back in the middle of this mess in a few short months, and again the year after that. I'll get through that, too. Somehow.

No, I know how. The same way I've plowed through the last two years. The hope that it's going to get better once this rain clears.

The reason I put up with this torture day after day, the reason I force myself into the school each morning, is the same reason I abandoned my life and flew here in the first place: I want to make video games. It's that simple. I do think I would've learned more useful skills and gained more valuable life experience for gamemaking if I'd gone somewhere else and studied something different. I've known about DigiPen since I was in sixth or seventh grade. One of the main reasons I didn't come here straight out of college (I didn't even apply) was that I didn't think gamemaking had reached a point where it could be taught as a college major yet. By the time I did come here, I learned I was right. The people running this school don't know what their doing, and that's not entirely their fault. I commend them for having the bravado to dive in and be among the first to try figuring out how to teach the gamemakers of the future, but the truth is that they're still very much experimenting and they're a long way from getting it right. Years from now I may be proud to have been among the first generation of Game Design majors, but I doubt that that kind of prestige is actually going to mean as much to me as a real education would have, or a real life during these four years. For now, I only feel cheated.

I said that I didn't think future employers should judge me for sentiments expressed here. Publicly deriding my school like this could sour my reputation. To that I say, let's keep perspective and be honest. I'm a kid whining about school. Don't take it as a sign that I will be disloyal to an employer. My mom and I have given a lot to pay for this education, and I don't think I'm wrong for expecting something out of it. For now, it looks like all that will be a is a degree, a receipt, as I think of it, a sheet of paper that will tell future employers that I have worked and sacrificed. It's a sign of dedication; dedication, even, to a school I hate.

Why would you hire someone who admits they've gotten nothing out of school. I don't know. It's funny that I'm driving myself crazy over a stupid degree. I've heard a DigiPen degree is a valuable thing. I've heard companies are often quick to scoop up DigiPen graduates. I've met enough of the people who will be earning them in the next few years to know that they're no guarantee of quality, talent, or skill. I almost want to separate myself from it all rather than succeeding on the merit of a school I don't believe in.

I guess that's something I need to figure out. For now, all I can do is keep striving for that piece of paper and the hope that it will get me far enough ahead that I can put DigiPen and this whole empty, lonely chapter of my life behind me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Eight More Days

Sorry, blog. I'm gonna go read a book. Maybe I'll care about things again soon.

That's not including weekends, by the way.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fiction is the New Reality

Honesty.

I think we're all used to our governments lying to us. It doesn't matter where you are. Your government lies to you, you know it, and even if that bothers you (how could it not?), it's no shock, no true outrage to learn about another lie. A dishonest politician is the standard.

Think, for just a moment, of what the world might be like if the governments of different nations dealt with one another honestly. Not even world peace, just world honesty. Picture it.

I won't tell you what my own vision is like, partly because I hope you'll actually give it some thought of your own with no interference from me, but also because it's a difficult concept to process. My brain rejects it. I guess I'm more at ease with liars and crooks running the planet than with our leaders admitting fault and being open with others.

I received an e-mail this morning that reminded me of one particularly offensive lie, the denial of the Armenian Genocide. In case you're not already aware, in 1915 the Turkish government began the systematic killing of over 1.5 million Armenian people. The genocide was well documented and there are still survivors, but, according to the Turkish government, it never happened. According to the United States government, it never happened.

Obama has said that he'll change that. I hope he will. Bush said the same thing before he was "elected," but changed his mind, and said it would be a poor choice to speak ill of the Turks, who have been an important ally in the War on Terror.

I think it's a poor choice to deny over 1.5 million murders and to allow a lie to pass for the truth. I'm quite aware that the U.S. doesn't need to make any new enemies right now, but it's been nearly a century. We can't keep putting this off. We don't need an ally that's allowed to kill 1.5 million innocent people without consequence, or even having to admit it. We don't need to hold the current government accountable, but we shouldn't allow killers to rewrite history. By allowing this lie to continue unchallenged, we are making ourselves accomplices to genocide, and that's a problem.

I highly encourage you to read this.


We have not always been at war with Eurasia. 2 + 2 does not equal 5. Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians, and genocide remains unchallenged in Darfur today. This is not okay.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What A Ridiculous Lie My Whole Life Has Been

There was a knock on the door today, an unusual occurrence at our residence, and Tiffany and I both went to answer it while Robin hide from Stranger Danger.

Much to no one's surprise, we were met by people who wanted to sell us stuff we neither want nor need; in this case, a faster Internet connection. Or a slower Internet connection. They didn't really seem to care either way, as long as the made their commission. Tiff beat me to the door, so I stood back in the hallway at let him do the talking.

Ahhhhh!

Here's the thing about Tiffany, though, as he explains it: He doesn't like being rude to people. Huh. Okay, not really my thing, but I guess I can understand. Anyway, he knew our Internet connection was fast enough, he knew our price was pretty decent, and he knew Verizon had nothing to offer us, but rather than saying any of this, he squirmed uncomfortably and answered every question and allowed the salesman to continue their frivolous pitch uninterrupted.

After a few minutes of this, I jumped in, saying that our current connection speed is perfectly sufficient and asking them to skip straight to the price. They asked what we were paying. I wasn't really interested in this game. "If I tell you a price, are you going to try to beat it?" I asked. "Because it just so happens we're paying five dollars... a year." Obnoxious, I'll admit, but after that, they finally revealed the price of their fastest connection. I told them our connection was fine and we didn't need anything that fast. The gave the next fastest connection, priced at more than double what we pay now. I repeated that we already have a great connection speed.

"Why have great Internet when you can have... What's better than great?" One of the salesmen asked. "Why have great Internet when you can have Verizon?"

Then they started cracking up and congratulating themselves on the witty line.

I said no thanks, they pushed a little more, I thanked them and repeated that we were happy with our current service, and they finally left.

Sorry to go into such a detailed account of the story. My only real point with all of this is that I don't think turning away someone who comes to your house to try convincing you to buy something you neither want nor need is rude. Annoying though they may be, they have a job to do, a job that requires them to go door-to-door and bring you this incredible offer. It's a crummy, sleazy job, and tough to respect, but employment can be hard to find, and sometimes good people get stuck in bad jobs.

While I've said already that I acted obnoxiously, I make no apologies for being direct or asking the salespeople to do the same for me. If they truly had a good deal, I was willing to hear it. If not, there would be no sale. What reason do I have to waste their time in this case? Saying no - that is, being honest - is the most polite thing you can do in a situation like that. Playing along with their questions and games, which will only waste everyone's time and will result in either no sale or wasted money, is far more rude.

Once again, this isn't about salesmen; it's about the perception of polite vs. rude. I'm sick of this idea that everyone a unique and beautiful butterfly that needs protecting. If someone says or does something stupid, call it out. You don't have to be rude. You don't have to tell the person that they're an idiot, even if they are. You should be honest, though. What kind of world is afraid of honesty.

Sorry again for rambling so much, but, seriously, keep that point in mind if it didn't get too lost in all of that. Honesty is a good thing, and I've seen too many people to each other and lying to themselves lately.

Oh - totally unrelated, but, Mom, this is Beat, and he is awesome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Which Describes How You're Feeling

I've been playing musical instruments for quite a long time now, but I only really started getting into it in the last few years. If I'm in my room and I'm not eating or reading a book or playing video games - basically, if I'm not doing something that requires the use of my hands - I'm playing my guitar, whether that means my amp is cranked and I'm jumping around like a crazy person or I'm absentmindedly taping the strings while I check my e-mail.

In the days before I'm became an obsessive lunatic, I would hear people talk about how playing music gives them a means to express themselves, and I didn't really understand what that meant. Now that I'm a constant nuisance to all within audible distance, though, I get it. Writing your own music is a very expressive thing, obviously, but it's something I don't do much (though I wish I did it more).

Most of the time, I either idly improvise, plucking out whatever notes and chords my fingers choose, or freely jump around, playing the various songs I know, sometimes being a bit more active and looking up how to play specific songs, or trying to play them by ear. The point is, I either play in a way that's fully loose and subconscious, or I play real songs and play them over and over again, day after day.

It's this repetition that leads to my insight. I might pluck a simple, 2-minute song for an hour. Let's say I do that every day for a week. The logical conclusion would be that by the end of the week, you'd be able to play that song pretty well, but that's not always so. Today, I just couldn't get anything to sound good. Easy songs, songs I know, sound sloppy and weak, and my fingers fumble clumsily. I was particularly bad after returning from an incredibly numbing class. Not coincidentally, I haven't been able to focus very well on anything today. For instance, I should be doing homework, not even difficult homework, but it's tough to force myself. I tried taking a break, but books and video games weren't excused from my apathy. I'm pretty sick of blogging at the moment.

Of course, it's not hard to tell when you're in a mood like this. Like I said, though, the repetition is why I find this interesting. When something is subconsciously bugging me a I try to draw, I end up with a picture that may not be as good as it could've been otherwise, but I never draw the same thing the same way twice, so it's tough to gauge. On the other hand, I do play the same music perpetually. The slightest variation or struggle is strong clue that today is not that same as yesterday. I guess the next step is figuring out how to harness subtle shifts and feelings to work for me. I suspect it's the key to further expressiveness, song writing.

Also, the title of the last two days' posts have been They Might Be Giants references. This was not on purpose.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Home Before the Screen Door Slammed

Whoa - out later than I expected. I was gonna talk about stuff, but there's not enough time. Fortunately, by utter coincidence, I did write a thing today. It's sort of journal-y, a note to myself, probably of little interest to you, dear readers, but there are a lot of letters in it. You don't need to read it; it's just here to fill space and make me look like a responsible blogger. Enjoy. Or ignore, whatever.

When someone wants to make a book or movie – a good book or movie - they usually want to tell a story. They want to convey some experience or feeling or relationship or event – something human and relatable. When someone wants to make a game – generally speaking, so far – they want to make a game that captures the spirit of a game or movie that already exists, or they want to explore some game mechanic. There may be some humanity, the humanity derived from the already-existing source material, but too rarely is there a distinct, original human touch. That's not to say books or movies or any other media are better than games, or that they're infallible, or that all games are victims of this habit, but it is a trend that's prevalent almost to the point of being the accepted norm. There's talk in game design of building design around “one cool thing,” that one play mechanic that that separates a game from the pack and that receives the bulk of development focus. This certainly has merit, but imagine a movie doing the same. A movie can be shot around an equivalent concept, focusing on one cool cinematic technique, but it would be largely dismissed as shallow, putting style over substance. That's not a perfect comparison, and I must repeat that movies, especially shorts, can be about their cinematography with fantastic results, but even if that were the case, how much more powerful might the message be if instead of being about the cinematography, the movie was about being about the cinematography? Perhaps the desire for mature, sophisticated games is no more than the desire for games to stop being about themselves and to start being about something.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

We Can Blog If We Want To

It's the Safety Post.

Off to work on homework. Hoping I'll return before midnight. Hoping I won't have to go back again as soon as the school opens tomorrow.

Update: The good news is that I got out of school before midnight. The bad news is the school closed four hours earlier than I expected, so I'll heading back at 7:30 tomorrow morning. Will that give me enough time to finish my work? Who knows? I'm excited!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Children of the Corn

Regarding yesterday's story, here's an excerpt from an instant message conversation I had earlier today:

v|e|r|a hey now! says:
oh I was also wondering . why corn?
Jake says:
Ha!
Jake says:
I was wondering if anyone would ask.
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
So I do!
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
I mean I do the asking part
Jake says:
The entire thing is a lot of meaningless rubbish.
Jake says:
It was an experiment; a test.
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
but it contains a lot of letters
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
what were you testing? I thought you were making allusions to be honest
Jake says:
I thought I'd write a bunch of awful drivel, but with a serious tone, the sort of thing that might almost seem to have some secondary meaning if only it weren't so stupid.
Jake says:
The truth is, there's no allegory, no meaning.
Jake says:
IT's really as stupid and pointless as it appears on the surface.
Jake says:
And I wanted to know if anyone would call me out on it.
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
maybe in the eye of the spectator it isn't that, everyone takes its own interpretation from it . A lonely mother might've cried while reading it, think about it
Jake says:
Hm.
Jake says:
I guess you're right.
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
like usually!
Jake says:
And so it becomes a statement on the way we can project purpose onto anything.
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
yesss ... could be good in so many ways
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
and for me it is good, because it makes me giggle throughout the whole day. I could turn everything said into a joke (okay most of it)
Jake says:
I actually purposely limited my corn puns.
Jake says:
I wanted to keep it somewhat serious rather than letting it grow into an excuse to make as many jokes about corn startch and corn syrup as possible.
Jake says:
That was very difficult for me.
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
classy!
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
I see that
v|e|r|a hey now! says:
are you any good at spider solitaire?
Jake says:
I am fantastic at Spider Solitaire.
And I am!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Baby Corn

Once upon a time, in a field on a farm, a little baby corn was born. It was all covered in sticky mud, but the farmer cut it from the stalk and wiped it off and wrapped it in a towel. The mommy corn was exhausted, but she was so happy to hold her little baby corn. The daddy corn smoked a corn cob pipe and called all the carrots and tomatoes to tell them the good news. Soon the mommy corn was tired and needed rest, and the baby corn was very tired, too, so it was given a spot amongst the other new baby corns, where it quickly fell asleep.

The next day, the mommy and daddy corn were allowed to leave the farm with their fresh-picked baby corn. The mommy corn held the baby corn lovingly in the nursery, but the daddy corn gave them both a kiss and went off to store. He was sad to leave his baby corn, but he knew it was important for him to produce so that he could support his growing family.

The baby corn grew and, in time, was big enough to start school. The young corn, no longer a baby, joined the other young corns on the bus. The mommy corn was sad to see her baby corn go - it was as though the little sprout had been shucked only yesterday - but time, indeed, had passed, and it was time for the mommy corn to return to the fields and support her family.

Before long, it was time for the young corn to go off to college. The daddy corn was proud of his little corn. The mommy corn knew this day would come, but she never thought it would be so soon. She tried to be strong, but she would miss her baby corn.

Then one day, the young corn returned home, but not alone. All the corns were seated for their corn meal when the young corns announced that they were to be married.

The grandma and grandpa corn had grown older, slightly shriveled, they're kernels turning gray and falling out, but they felt young again as they stood in the fields and looked upon the new mommy corn and daddy corn and the baby corn they would call their own.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another Day, Another Lousy Blogger

Too much homework for me to waste time being clever or creative, so we'll go with an old standby: metablogging.

I was reviewing the Shiny Buttons Blog-Off! rules to determine whether or not Jaime had technically lost (Vera, by the way, is out now. So long, Kermit!), and rule #3 caught my eye. Did you know I have to keep up this daily blogging nonesuch for 59 more days?! Who thought that was a good idea? No wonder everyone's dropping out.

Yeah, whatever. Now I don't feel as bad about writing stupid filler like this occasionally. Which defeats the point of being in a blog challenge, obviously, but, yeah, whatever.

At least I managed to work in an ultra-subtle reference to a song by an ultra-obscure band.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Birfday Jokes

Hey did you guys know it's my birfday? Yep, April Fool's Day - it's not a joke, but it is a funny day. I'm gonna celebrate by telling you guys some jokes. Who's ready to laugh?

Okay, so I got some CDs today. What's the deal with the packaging on these things, anyway? They sure are hard to open, aren't they?

That reminds me of airports. Airports sure are crazy, aren't they? What's up with that safety procedure. Boy, that thing sure is a trip! And once you get in the air, they give you strange food. Doesn't taste very good, does it? No, we don't like that airplane food, do we? Except for the peanuts! HA! Airplane peanuts! Funny stuff. And once you're done eating, sometimes you have to use airport bathrooms! Ha! Funny, funny stuff. Those airports are crazy!

And when yo get off an airplane, who do you see? People who are different than you! Some people look different than me or speak in a different way! You know? Ha! Do we anyone here who's a different race than me? Or even someone from a different region than me? Ha, ha! You're different than me. That's funny.

You know who's really different? Men and women! They're so different! Sometimes their differences cause them to approach situations in different ways. Sometimes men and women have disagreements! It's very funny when men and women disagree about things.

You know who else is very different? Jack Nicholson. Can you imagine Jack Nicholson meeting Christopher Walken? It might go a little something like this...

Christopher Walken: "Wow! You're Jack Nicholson!"
Jack Nicholson: [putting on sunglasses and arching his eyebrows] "You can't handle the truth!"
Bill Cosby: "Ya see, the thing about the pudding is it says the darndest things, ya see!"

Cats and dogs are also very different. Cats are so lazy. Dogs bark and poop. So different!

It's almost time for me to go, but before I do, I want you to know that I'm a real, serious person with a lot of important opinions, so I'm going to tell you some political jokes. Man, politicians sure are crazy, aren't they? You know what I mean? They are stupid.

Wow, thank you! You've been great! I'm Jake, the birfday comic. Be sure to check out my upcoming HBO special where I complain about my girlfriend for a while, then fill up the rest of the hour shouting swear words and making funny faces. Don't miss it! Goodnight, everybody!

* * *

The CDs were "The Reminder" by Feist and "Kissing Like It's Love" by The Voyces, and they are both incredible. I also got Wario Land: Shake It! for Wii, which I am loving so far, and a very nice sum of money. Throw in some cards and e-mails, and a bit of cake and Soy Dream later tonight (plus a bit of unseasonal snow), and you get a decent pile of birthday stuff. Probably best not to throw them in a pile, though. No one wants to get frosting on their Wario.