Archive | April 2013

In memoriam of the man

We said our farewells yesterday. Sully was off all morning, and my wife called me after speaking to the vet, and he said that it was probably time to say goodbye. I left work early and went home. He was on the couch. His head popped up, and he slowly rose and trotted over to say hello. He had a few pieces of bologna, and we got hopeful, so we took him for a walk around the block. It was beautiful. Sully loved going for walks, and I wish we’d done it more. He sniffed around, and tried to pee every 15 feet or so, but it was apparent that he really wasn’t fully himself. When we returned home, I spoke to the vet, and he let me know that what I was hoping to happen would not come to pass. He would not get better, even for a little while. This would get worse, much worse. We didn’t want him to have to experience the pain. We wanted him to go with dignity. We made the call. The kids said goodbye, and we went in.

When the time came, he knew he was loved. My wife held his body and kissed him, while I held his head and looked him in the eyes, telling him how much I love him and how wonderful he is. I thanked him for his love and for letting us be a part of his beautiful life. I watched him go, and completely broke down…

Going home was tough. I drove through never-ending tears and sobbing, and had to remove the crate from the dogs’ area once we got there. Finally, I hung his collar on the cast I made of his paw the night before. For the rest of the night, we were assaulted by bouts of sobbing, crying, and screaming. He was our amazing Sully man. He was “the blanket”. Here are some highlights of his beautiful life.

Sully joined us as a foster. We were part of a pitbull rescue, and there was another dog on death row that we were gonna foster and save. When we called to pick that dog up, we were told that it was too late, but there’s another in the same position. We drove to Harlem that night and rescued him…and he returned the favor. The first time he came out of his crate, after being at our home, he walked over to my wife (she was sitting on the floor) and stepped right into her lap and curled up. This was the beginning of our realization that we’d rescued the most beautiful, kind, and loving little soul on the planet. I remember that we had to put this super smelly sauce on his food because of how bad his kennel cough was.

Sully used to get “the crazies”, and when he did you could see the white around his eyes. He’d look at me and bark, a deep baritone woof. When he got the crazies, he’d run around like any other dog. The only difference is that he didn’t really control his body. One time, he ran at a section of the couch, jumped at it sideways, hit the top part of the couch and flipped it over. Once he rolled off, the weight of the footrest of the couch caused it to right itself, and he had the nerve to look at ME like I was the one who did it. Also, during the crazies, he would spin in circles from the excitement. This was extra fun, since he didn’t watch his surroundings, and would constantly crash into the furniture, sometimes toppling chairs or slamming the table.

Sully liked chewing branches. No, not sticks, branches. I remember when I was cutting up the logs from an old split rail fence. I had the 12 foot sections, and while I was trying to cut up one end with a chainsaw, Sully was biting and dragging the other end. He would also do this if I ever tried to drag around a large branch in the yard, biting one end, and trying like hell to drag it around and chew it. Most dogs chew sticks. Sully was more of a branch guy.

He also had specific marking grounds, certain places in the yard where he would always go and pee. Unfortunately for me, he’d always pee on my damn fireplace outside! I’ve had two, and he made it a point to “bless” both of them….repeatedly. What made matters worse, was that he’d pee for like 10 freaking minutes. Sully was extremely well housebroken, and never had an accident unless he was sick, no matter how long he was left alone. Then, he’d have to go outside and lose half his weight…

He got his name, Sullivan, because when we picked him up, his previous owner who gave him up listed his name as saloman, or something like that. We figured we’d try to keep the name close while remaining literate, so Sully Man was coined. He got his other nickname, blanket, a bit later on. He would jump on our bed and curl up, and when we walked by looking for him, he’d just look up and stay perfectly still, as if to say “nobody here but us blankets”. One specific time, he jumped on the couch. We keep throw blankets folded on top of the couch. He reached up, grabbed some blankets with his mouth, and pulled them down over himself. They he’d lay down and remain “invisible among the blankets”. Once again, nobody here but us blankets.

Another reason for his name, he’d lay on you like a blanket. Sully was a very gentle and affectionate dog. He’d lay in your lap, and just be a silent loving warmth, which added a completeness to comfort and life. He was 70 lbs of lap dog, and would not take no for an answer. Even when I was sitting on the couch trying to work on my laptop, he’d try to crawl in my lap and stomp on my computer. Trying to push him off was like trying to push a large bag of water off of yourself. Push one side, the other slips past. It was a dance that I will miss forever. Once he was on you, however, he’d enable his alter ego…Fambian, or furry ambien. It was near impossible to not fall asleep and remain that way when Sully was curled up with you. Better than any sleep aid, and far more addicting.

Only 2 things were bad about Sully, his gas and his breath. He could clear a room faster than if I stripped off my clothes and started doing naked yoga. He was also one of those dangerous pit bulls, since he was a pit bull/black lab mix. His tail was a lethal weapon, like getting whacked with a baton. We were forced to put any breakable Christmas ornaments on the top of the tree, because Sully’s tail would home run them across the room. I’ve had welts on my leg from him, and I’ll miss them too.

Sully was also not one of those dogs who’d catch food in mid air. Instead, he’d just stare at you while the food landed on his head, occasionally looking puzzled as if he smelled the food on his head and wondered what sorcery I had conjured to accomplish such a feat.

Then there were the car rides. Sully would fight to get in the car, and once there, he’d whine the ENTIRE RIDE! First he’d whine about the window not being open enough, so he couldn’t hang half his freaking body out of the car. Then, he’d whine that he wasn’t in my lap. Sometimes, he’d jump into the front seat and crawl across the console to put his head in my lap for scratchies, repeatedly knocking the car into neutral while I drove. This made evasive maneuvers just a normal part of driving Mr. Man.

Finally, there was his love. Sully loved everyone. If someone came to the house, and he didn’t know them, he’d instantly make a friend. Everyone who met him, loved him. When people expressed fear of the breed, or of dogs in general, we’d introduce them to Sully and he’d work his healing magic on their hearts. My mother would ask to have him stay with her when my father would go away fishing for a week out of the year. They’d curl up and watch old movies together. Our close friend’s daughter met him, and told her mom “I want a Sully”. Quite a few of our friends expressed how much they would love to take Sully home with them. We are incredibly thankful that we were blessed with sharing those 5 years with Sully. He made our world brighter, overflowing with love, and more complete. We will miss you always, Sully Man, and will love you forever!

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“Dad, I just wanna be close…”

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“…..she’s right behind me, isn’t she?”

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“you have chicken for Sully? How about pork? Sully like pork almost as much as he likes referring to himself in the third person!”

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KISSES!!!

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Sully decided that the snowman I was building was an enemy combatant, and proceeded to attack it!

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“Ahhh, that’s the spot! I’ll just lay here and be loved!”

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“Shit, I think she can see me….”

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“Nobody here but us blankets…”

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Farewell beautiful angel, we love you!

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Saying goodbye

It’s taken me awhile to be able to write this. I’ve been wanting to for about a week, but haven’t been able to muster up the courage to face the emotions that are inside. I also wanted to wait until I was absolutely sure of what is going to happen before I jump the gun. Now that we know what’s going to happen, I finally feel that I can lay it all on the table. It’s easier for me to write about something like this once, and refer people to it, rather than go through the pain of reliving these feelings every day for the next month when people who aren’t aware ask me about it.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I received some very bad news. We found out that one of our dogs, Sully (the man), has lymphoma. We have gone down this path before with Cosmo, our old beagle corgi mix, and the treatment was incredibly expensive. We couldn’t afford that kind of expense this time around, and thankfully our vet worked with us to make it affordable. We started Sully on the treatment, and he started responding wonderfully. The tumors shrunk, and he was able to breathe again without issue. He was also acting just like his old self again. Last Wednesday was his first actual dose of chemo, and that is when it all went to shit. 

He came home and wasn’t interested in eating his dinner. He was also very lethargic. We’ve seen this before with Cosmo, so we weren’t all that worried, but we were shocked that he didn’t want any food. We figured he’d feel better by the next day, like Cosmo did, and all would be well. Next day came, still no eating. This happened for a few days. On Saturday, he started vomiting. He’d drink water, and just throw it back up. We took him in, he got anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drugs, and we took him home. Though he did stop vomiting that day, he still wouldn’t eat. The next day, the vomiting came back, and I brought him to the vet again. They admitted him so they could hydrate him and work on the nausea. On Tuesday, he finally was able to eat something. We visited him separately, since I had to work, and both noticed that he wasn’t himself at all. Still, eating was a good sign. I took him for a walk outside, and when he went to take a #2, I saw blood coming out. I told the vet techs, and they said they’ll look into it and follow up tomorrow. I knew this wasn’t a good sign.

Today, Wednesday, we were told good and bad news. The good news is that he’s coming home. My wife picked him up, and said he’s back to acting like himself again. The bad news is that we’re just taking him home for an extended goodbye. We had already agreed that we weren’t going to give him anymore chemo, and figured we’d just let him take the prednisone (which shrunk the tumors) to keep him comfortable and going longer, until the inevitable happened. What we didn’t know, was that the prednisone is what was causing the bleeding, and he has to be off all of it. Now he is on anti-nausea meds only. This basically means that our time with him is very limited.

I can’t even begin to describe the feelings washing over me right now, as if I was drowning in a black sea of sadness and anger, only barely keeping my head above water. The untargeted anger that he was afflicted, the frustration of being powerless to do anything about it, and the sadness and pain that we’re going to lose such a beautiful soul. He’s the youngest of our 3 dogs, and he’s the most affectionate. A complete mush who just wants to curl up and get some love, or just run outside and play. My irrational mind searches for a reason why this would happen to such a beautiful and loving creature, even though I know that such thoughts are futile. 

Sully came to us initially as a foster. We were only holding on to him until someone could adopt him. He was supposed to be euthanized the night we picked him up, due to overcrowding, and we drove out to Harlem to get him. Once we saw how loving and wonderful he is, though, we couldn’t let him go. He curled up in our laps and showed such love and affection, that we couldn’t say goodbye to him. Now, we’re having the same problem. Still, I’m glad that we will have this time to pamper him, love him, and take our time saying goodbye. He will at least get to live out his remaining time in a place of love and comfort, rather than a crate in an animal hospital. Though I’m overflowing with sadness and pain, I do see that there is an upside to this whole thing. He’ll be home. He’ll be loved. Most of all, he’ll be with his people (family), so when the time comes, he won’t be alone. That’s the best any of us could ever hope for. We love you Sully, we always will, and we’re so thankful you shared your love with us. It will never be forgotten.

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The one, the only, the Sully Man, a.k.a. Blanket

Dreaming life away…or am I?

I’ve been thinking, quite a bit lately, about my obsession with movies. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve LOVED movies. I’d definitely say that I’ve seen more than the average person, many of which were odd or obscure by pop culture standards. I’ve also seen tons of them multiple times, and a few in the triple digits. For the past ten years or so, I split my time between movies and TV shows, plowing through season after season like crazy. I’d say I’ve probably watch a few years of straight TV/movies, were they to be put in succession. This got me wondering, “am I wasting my life with this?”.

My mind immediately justified my actions by attempting to compare it to life a century or two ago. People back then worked hard, and told stories. The stories and songs were their entertainment, much like movies and music are now. The main difference is that I’m spending a shitload more time watching the tube than they did telling a few stories a night. While this could sound good to someone who isn’t really debating me, it’s a pretty flimsy argument. Still, it’s kinda all I have.

So many people in our country these days sit in front of a screen and escape. Whether it’s watching youtube videos, TV shows, or movies, we all escape from reality somehow and dream. I still wonder, though. Are we all just dreaming our way through life? Is escaping from reality having a detrimental effect on us? Are we losing sight of what should truly matter to us, simply because we prefer the simplicity, mindlessness, and lack of responsibility that comes with our preferred fiction? I honestly don’t know, but I think it’s something important to look at. We all need to escape and dream a little in order to stay sane, but how much is too much? Have we just become a society of dreamers who are terribly out of touch with reality? Maybe….It would probably explain quite a bit…

I’m falling apart

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Looks like I’m gonna be late to work…again

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’m a whiny complainer. I bitch about pretty much everything, especially when it comes to shit that directly affects me. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about the various aches and pains and such that my body feels like gracing me with, and something solidified. No, it wasn’t my stool… unfortunately…it’s the fact that I’m friggin falling apart, and I only have myself to blame.

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truer words were never spoken

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I work out!

I used to be in pretty excellent shape. I had a physical job that kept me moving all day. I was active after hours, whether it be doing something active with friends or going rollerblading or something. I was generally (physically) healthy, for the most part. I came across a picture of myself from many years ago, and while I was very thin, I was also pretty ripped. I had what is sometimes referred to as whipcord muscle, or lean muscle. That all changed.

sedentary-lifestyleLots of things changed at once. I switched careers from an active one to a sedentary one. I got married and stopped galavanting across the countryside every night. I got older. Problem is, I didn’t really make any changes to the other important shit, like diet. This all resulted in me going from 150lbs to 205lbs in less than a year. Nowadays, I get out of bed, go to work and sit all day, come home to relax and sit on the couch, and then go back to bed. There is some activity, so it’s not like my legs will atrophy and I’ll need a rascal or anything, but it very little. This change in lifestyle is starting to really show its effects, and I’m getting a little tired of it.

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Tap out you pussy!

A few weeks back, my wrist started to hurt again. I’ve had carpal tunnel for years, and it comes and goes. I end up wearing a brace for a few weeks until the pain subsides, but it’s just one more thing at this point. Then, on Tuesday, I woke up with a pain in my right hip. It got so bad throughout the day that I started walking with a cane to keep from putting weight on it. I’ve been using the cane the past few days, and though the pain is subsiding, it’s just one more thing. I also started going to an MMA class once a week, which began about  7-8 weeks ago. 2 days after every single class I’d be sore as hell. One week, about 2 weeks ago or so, I got caught in a guillotine choke, and the guy snapped it too hard and my throat got bruised. I’m still feeling the effects of it when I try to sing, and I’m going to the ENT to have him look at it. And this is just the shit during the past month!

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Why can’t stress just burn fat and make me ripped?!

I’ve had back problems for years, due to the abuse I put my body through when working in warehousing. Now, I have nerve damage in part of my upper back, and I can’t lay in bed for too long without being is horrible pain, even with a Tempur Pedic. Also, as some of you may know, I had surgery last year to correct an issue in my nasal cavity. The surgery worked for the right side, but not the left. Actually, I think the left is worse now than when I started. To make matters WAY better, my allergies just started gang raping my nose and throat with insatiable fervor, thus making me perform like a pubescent boy whenever I sing. Plus, with my nose being clogged all the time now, I make a whistling sound like an oncoming train whenever I breathe heavy. This means every time I have sex it sounds like a train being pulled by oxen, which is probably traumatizing my poor wife. You’re welcome for that image, by the way.

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Your insurance company will thank you as well…

I know what I have to do. I have to stop being lazy. I gotta get off my ass and start exercising, start eating right (I never eat breakfast), and get my shit straightened out at the doctor.  I luck out that I’m not really a snack food person or a candy person, but that’s of little comfort to me right now. It’s sad to say, but this point in my life (I’m mid 30’s) is most likely when I’ll look the best I ever will, physically. I need to capitalize on that or I’m just gonna end up with regret, as well as more aches, pains, and health problems….

Some 3D movies don’t suck

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Yet another lame 3D re-release…or is it?

Last night, I ventured out into the wild wilderness to visit Isla Nublar via my local movie theater. This marks one of the few times I’ve gone to see a re-released movie in the theater, made even more rare since I saw this one in the theater during its original release. Now, I’m not really a fan of the whole 3D tend these days, since I see it as a lame gimmick used to get people to watch shitty movies. I made an exception in this case cuz, well, it’s fucking Jurassic Park! I’ve always loved this movie, especially since I was totally obsessed with dinosaurs for much of my childhood. But how did this movie, which is more than a decade old, hold up to the test of time and switch over to 3D? Well, it’s kinda tough to say, because I cheated when I saw it this time…I had the RiffTrax for it playing on my phone through my headphones!

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The RiffTrax dream team. They don’t make movies, they make fun of them!

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Gotta Pee!!!

I’ve seen this movie literally dozens of times, and almost a dozen times with the RiffTrax playing. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. Years ago, there was a show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. In this show, 3 people (one actor and 2 robots) would watch awful B movies and make fun of them during the flick. It’s actually pretty hilarious. It’s basically just like a director commentary, just with jokes instead of explaining the scene you’re watching. After MST3K ended, the 3 guys who ‘riffed’ the movies started doing the same thing to popular movies, and selling the MP3’s online for you to play during the film. It’s pretty awesome stuff. They’ve done dozens of major blockbuster films, and it really adds to the enjoyment of older films as well as newer ones. Their riff of Jurassic Park is one of the top 5, in my opinion. It’s only 2 people: the main guy Mike Nelson, and guest riffer Weird Al Yankovic! Visit their site, and check out the previews. You won’t be disappointed.

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Pardon me, children, do you have any Grey Poupon?

Anyways, the Rifftrax made it more of a comedy, but that doesn’t mean the movie didn’t hold up. The special effects in the movie held up very well, and was FAR more believable than pretty much ANY scene in Avatar (which I loathe). You see the dinosaurs on screen, and they look fucking real! This is probably because THEY WERE! For this movie, animatronics and models were used often for the dinosaurs, making it way more realistic. I hate the current trend of mostly CGI and less actual puppets, models, and make-up. It just looks stupid, and to me, Avatar is my prime example. It looked more like an animated film than it did a live action movie. Jurassic Park didn’t suffer from that. The effects in it look much more realistic than most movies released today. The story and acting were still good as well. The real question is, does the 3D add to the movie, or seem like more of a gimmick like pretty much every other 3D movie?

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Sorry, this doesn’t look real, this looks like a head shop blacklight poster…

Personally, I think the way they did the 3D in Jurassic Park made it even more enjoyable, and considering how much I hate 3D movies, that’s quite a statement for me to make. Like I said before, most 3D in movies is, to me, just a pointless gimmick to distract people from an otherwise shitty movie. However, put it in an awesome movie like Jurassic Park, and that changes. The 3D was done extremely well, and made the immersion into Jurassic Park far deeper. I was shocked at how much it felt like actually being there, even with the RiffTrax playing. This made me realize my real reason for hating 3D in movies. It’s not the 3D, it’s the shitty movies! Either a movie is terrible, and the 3D just doesn’t help, or the movie is decent but the 3D doesn’t add anything to it. Using something like 3D should be a subtle immersion tool, not something to wow people with the lame “object coming at you” crap. I really hope the industry would move in that direction, but the money is there, so they’re gonna cash in. It’s just a shame that the 3D aspect might make people not see movies like this which are actually awesome in 3D.

So, to clarify, I fully support going to see this flick in 3D. I actually think it’s worth it, and if you can run the Rifftrax during the show, it’s even better.

 

KUNDA STRATTA MONTOSA KANDA!!!

Let me start out by saying that I’m a BIG Evil Dead fan. I loved the original, the sequel, and of course the Army of Darkness! A pretty large part of my love for them had to do with the awesome Bruce Campbell. With that in mind, it should not be surprising that I have been hesitant about seeing the new remake of Evil Dead. Without him in the lead role, I couldn’t see it being anywhere near the original. After getting over that, which I must admit took a good amount of time, I realized that they were remaking the original, which was a straight up horror flick. I saw the red band trailer, and was then hooked. I wanted to go last Thursday night at midnight, but was way too exhausted to do so. I watched it this past Saturday, and I must say that I was happy with what was done.

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Come on in, I made cookies!!!

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!

I’ll start out with the story. There are certainly some major deviations from the original storyline here. The original was a bunch of kids on spring break who headed to an isolated cabin to party. The remake is about an intervention for a character named Mia, who is basically the same as Cheryl from the original, so that she can kick heroin. This gives a good enough reason for the others to not believe her when she gets foliage raped and possessed, since she’s detoxing. OK, I’m getting ahead of myself here. The movie opens with a guy, who is most likely supposed to be the professor from the original, about to burn his daughter in the basement in an effort to save her soul from the deadite possession. It’s a pretty sick scene, and sets up the movie well. When the kids first arrive, they see that the cabin (which belongs to Mia and her brother) had been broken into. A nice touch of fan service is tied into the beginning here. When you meet Mia, she is sitting on an old, abandoned, rusted out car. That car is none other than the classic! Well, it’s probably NOT actually the real classic, since Bruce has said numerous times that he wants to blow it up or something, but it’s the same make and model Olds. It was a nice touch.

The people who show up at this intervention are Mia (junkie), her brother David and his girlfriend Natalie, Eric (their childhood friend), and Olivia (another friend who is also a nurse). David also brings their dog, grandpa. Mia complains about a smell in the cabin, and they end up finding the basement. Odd that they didn’t know about it, since they grew up coming to this cabin as kids, but whatever. Turns out, the basement is where the opening scene took place, and it’s filled with dead cats hung up with barbed wire, and the necronomicon, which is wrapped in a garbage bag and bound with barbed wire. If you’re asking why the book was left behind, I have no idea. That part doesn’t really make sense. Anyways, Mia tries to escape after the detoxing kicks in full force, and at the same time, Eric reads from the book and unleashes the demon. Mia gets a little viney woodland action, and the demon starts to take her over. The rest of the flick is pretty much how the original went, with the exception of the ending. Don’t bother asking, I’m not giving that shit away at all. Just know that it doesn’t end the way the original ends at all. Also, stay after the credits for a super brief fan service scene. It’s all of 5 seconds, but it’s worth it.

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Watch Martyr if you wanna throw up from gore.

Now, onto other topics. Gore. Before seeing this film, I was told that it was incredibly gory. My friend’s girl actually had to leave the theater because she almost threw up. Unfortunately, I don’t completely agree. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely a gory flick, and those unaccustomed to gore might find it a little rough, but it’s definitely not gonna make a gory top ten or anything. What I CAN say about the gore, is that it’s artfully done. All prosthetics and make-up, and not at all gratuitous. There was gore when needed, but it wasn’t overdone at all. In my opinion, it fit perfectly, and was pulled off really well.

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None could ever hold a candle to this man!

Next up, humor. Let’s face it, the original had some really hilarious moments. Breaking the boards over the girl’s head, lots of the dialogue, and most of the acting was pretty hilarious overall to those of us who are obsessed with horror movies. This endeavor had much less humor, but the little bit it had was pretty fucking great. I laughed out loud a few times, though some of them were during moments where other people were horrified, so I got some really interesting looks during the movie. Most of it was situational, with the exception of the Eric character, who, by the end of the movie, had me cracking up.

Finally, the scare factor. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t really see this as a cheesy jump and scare movie. There weren’t many cheap scares, but the ones that were there were good. There was a fair amount of scares followed by some really gross shit, which was awesome. The combination really worked well for me. I could see people who get scared during these types of movies being a bit scared, but not as much as some others, in my opinion. Still, as I said, it was done well.

Honestly, I only have one issue with the movie. During the ending, some of the dialogue bugged me. It just seemed a little out of place and lame, sort of a throwback to the one liners from movies like Scream or I know what you did last summer. Apart from that minor gripe, I must say that I REALLY enjoyed this movie. It was creepy, gory, ridiculous, and super fun. I’d definitely see it again in the theater. It had enough of the original to give great fan service, and enough of its own stuff to update a true classic well enough to not have me hate it. I must say, I’m MOSTLY against remakes of awesome movies. Total Recall and others like it were pointless, and just made a mockery of the originals, which were awesome. Then, though, you have remakes like Dawn of the Dead and Fright Night, which in my opinion were fucking awesome and did good service to their source material. Evil Dead has now joined their hallowed halls. So, why the fuck are you still reading this? Go see that fucking movie or I’ll swallow your soul!!!

My case for classic gaming

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Say hi to Virgin Interactive and SIerra for me, and tell them we miss them….

Yesterday, I became aware that Disney closed the LucasArts game studio. This represents pretty much the last of the good classic PC game studios whose games I loved as a kid, and made me more than a little sad. This event also brought my reasons for gaming the way I do into stark contrast.

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The birth of obsession

I’ve been a gamer ever since I could play with my brother’s Atari 2600, but my obsession with it arrived when I first played Castevania on the NES at my friend’s house. I begged and pleaded with my parents for one, and my wish was eventually granted. This started an avalanche of gaming obsession that has lasted for most of my life…until recently. Going into the current gen of gaming, I was still pretty obsessed with gaming. Eventually, though, my interest waned substantially. When I noticed the change, I became curious about it, and really tried to understand it. I had a few realizations, and yesterday’s news gave me the final nail in the coffin.

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Why can’t I quit you?!

My interest in gaming actually hasn’t gone away, per se, it’s changed. I’m much more interested in playing older titles than new ones. Right now, I’m playing through Final Fantasy 7 for the 12th time or so, though some of that is due to the fact that I can safely play it in front of the kids without CPS breaking down the door. At first I thought it was because of my strong sense of nostaligia, but I’m drawn to older games I’ve never played just as much. Many in the gaming industry may completely disagree with my reasons, so I’ll say right off that these are my opinions, not any sort of scientifically proven fact. There, that should keep the hate mail to a minimum…..maybe.

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Classic awesomeness!

Anyways, current games just seldom have any real ‘spirit’. Triple A titles these days are developed more from a business standpoint, than from a love for gaming standpoint. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that everyone has the business aspect in mind, even years ago, but it seemed much more fun back then. The bigger games could be totally wacky and goofy, like Leisure Suit Larry or Space Quest, and people still loved the shit outta them. I spent countless hours on games that, if sites like IGN and GameInformer existed back then, would have been reviewed horribly and panned. That wasn’t the point, though. We weren’t using review scores to tell them which games were worth buying, we chose games based on the description, box art, story, shareware demo, etc. If a game looked fun, we bought it. If it sucked, we still played it. These days, games have to be a home run. They have to have the absolute best graphics and sound, online components, etc. It’s become a cookie cutter industry based on formulas for “good games”. There are a few indie developers out there making some cool stuff, but they don’t get the attention they deserve and struggle.

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In space, no one can hear you clean!

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Ahhhh, memories….

OK, I’m getting off topic…classic gaming…right. SO, a big difference between then and now, is that back then it was all pretty fresh and new. People were pushing for cooler graphics and sound due to hardware limitations, and writing some really fun stories for these games. Some games, like Myst or 7th Guest, were more about interactive storytelling than high scores or achievements. I remember playing X-Wing for MSDOS for hours, because I was a huge SW fan and loved feeling like I was part of that universe. Nowadays, graphics are not really much of a selling point, since the games all look pretty damn amazing, and the majority of games and game types are pretty much the same old shit, just in a new box. Most gamers exacerbate that by shelling out $60+ for the latest Call of Duty or Madden, which is essentially last year’s offering with different boards, weapons, or players. Games these days, to me, feel tired and recycled. The few newer games I play or even get interested in, are interesting only because of the story. Lots of newer games I’ve played have had awful story lines, and I’d get bored and stop playing. Others, like Amalur, Darkness, Infamous, and God of War, have stories that I find cool, and take that interactive storytelling role, just with more evisceration.

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I get this weird feeling like something should’ve been there…

Another issue I have with new games is that they’re rushed through development. They go to market with game breaking bugs, and are in constant need of patching. I’m not saying that old games were bug free, far from it, but the rushed dev cycle causes more potential problems and makes making games only about money, and not about producing polished products. If you want a good example of this, look at Skyrim. There were so many horrible bugs in that game that I’m glad I never bought it.

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Even this dude knows the truth!

The other issue I have with development, is that games these days focus more on multiplayer than single player campaigns. This is a HUGE gripe for me, since I seldom feel the urge to go online and get completely pwned by people who do nothing but play online, while getting cursed out and mocked by 13 year olds because I suck (which is mostly due to the very steep learning curve for online gaming.). My most recent foray into online gaming was MAG for the PS3 a few years ago. I gave it a shot, and that’s just what I got….shot….repeatedly. I couldn’t even get 50 yards from the spawn point because the other team had snipers covering it. The aggravation drove me from it, and the only times I play online now are with a few of my closest buddies when we get pwned as a group in Halo. Single player story campaigns are where it’s at for me. A really good single player part of a game can easily demolish any online multiplayer. Try playing MAG for a few hours, then switch over to God of War 3, and you’ll see what I mean. Or, better yet, play Uncharted 2 multiplayer, then the single player campaign from the same game. Very different. Personally, I think game companies make multiplayer portions for their games in a vain attempt to provide some sort of replayability in an otherwise mediocre game. This leads me to my next points.

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Utterly punishing…

My last points are more a comparison of the times than anything else. Games used to be more about the high scores than just beating the level, and I enjoyed that aspect of it. I still love arcade games and pinball because of this. It makes the replayability of the game much higher, since I’m always trying for the best score to get my initials in the top 5. Finally, the difficulty. Most games on the market today are cakewalks, and can be breezed through rather easily. Try doing that to the original Donkey Kong, or Bionic Commando. Chances are, you won’t do well. The games were punishing, and required much more skill to play, let alone master. I know, this made games less accessible to the masses, but why can’t we have both? Make some fluffy games for nOObs, and leave the normal ones for us!

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This is where it’s at!!!

Still, I don’t see much in the way of innovation anymore. The last game I played that I thought was really cool, which I never finished, was Heavy Rain. That game is like a current take on the interactive storytelling games of old, and what little I played of it was excellent. Once I finish Aliens: Colonial Marines (I know, I know, but I’m a die hard Aliens fan and MUST play it since it’s canon), I’m going to revisit Heavy Rain and play through. Apart from that, I’m sticking with the games and eras of gaming that I enjoyed the most, and most of that is retro. I’d much rather play arcade games for 4 hours, than Call of Duty for 4 hours. If that means I’m no longer a “true gamer” or “hardcore gamer”, then so be it. At least I’ll be completely happy with my selection of games, and that’s all that should matter. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Lands of Lore…or maybe Galaga…ok, probably both.