Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?  No F$@#ing Way!

When our original PlayStation 3 died while my husband was playing Sleeping Dogs, for awhile after I was convinced it was the game’s fault. Sleeping Dogs killed our PS3. On and off before the incident, I had been watching the game with piqued interest. I hadn’t been following closely enough to know the story, but I sure did like the way the game looked. And it most certainly didn’t hurt that the lead character Wei Shen had a Nathan Drake look about him. He was well spoken and easy on the eyes.

Hey there, handsome.

Hey there, handsome. Also, uh…girl.

But all that went to shit when the PS3 died still clutching the game disc. And the game was a rental. The fates 2; us 0. The operation to retrieve the disc was painstaking (seriously, how many damn screws does one game console need??) but successful, and it left the PS3 in pieces. The game was returned without incident.

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Library Journies: Stephen King

cary:

Last week, I returned to the past to remember that childhood moment when both books and time were plentiful. I eventually grew out of the book-of-the-month selections offered to kids and tweens and forged my own literary path at my local library. In this post I wrote for Geek Force Network, I recall how once that path veered off into the creepy and sinister territory overseen by Stephen King. Despite harboring young fears of scary books, King’s books spoke to teenage me in a way unlike other books, frankly, directly, and deftly. As everything old is new again, I once more find myself in need of King’s words and eerie visual mastery.

Originally posted on Geek Force Network:

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Lately I’ve had this impulse to read, or rather, re-read some Stephen King books. I can’t put my finger on why, after so many years, that I suddenly have to read them again; all my head is telling me is that I must. But why Stephen King so specifically? I think it has something to do with libraries.

Throughout the better part of my formative years, my mother made sure that my siblings and I visited our local library regularly. In fact, I can picture the interior of that library as clear as day, with the large checkout counter just inside the door. To the left of that was the reference book section. Beyond that was the fiction and non-fiction room. And downstairs was the kids section. And all of it was enveloped in that post-modern, sterile, and beige environment common to many public libraries of the time. But I…

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Totally 80s: Book club order forms

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #42 from 50 Things only ’80s Kids Can Understand

The excitement you got each month when your teacher passed out Troll & Scholastic book order forms.

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One of the best things about elementary school was that, for the most part, the good days outweighed the bad ones.  On music days I got to spend time “singing” and “playing” instruments (best of all were the recorders!) Everybody rejoiced on days that the gym teacher allowed us to play capture the flag and dodge ball. And, of course, Pizza Fridays were just about the best days in the whole universe! But nothing quite compared to the ridiculous joy I derived from book sales and fairs.

Book order forms may have been passed out monthly in Buzzfeed’s world, but I don’t recall it happening that often. (Though maybe it did. My memories are hardly the be all and end all.) But I certainly remember regularly obtaining and perusing those wonderful, colorful, newspaper-y booklets. I can’t really describe how much my younger self simply adored reading. I’d read anything, from scary monster books that gave me nightmares to really kiddy fare like the Berenstain Bears. Between the ages of seven and twelve, books were staple birthday and Christmas gifts. And though I’m sure I balked at the idea of getting books over Barbie, I was secretly quite happy.

Receiving books unwarranted was all well and good, but I didn’t have any power over the titles I received. With the book forms at school however, I did. I had ALL the power to choose whichever books I wanted! Because the books, they were ALL MINE! Mwahahahaha!

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I also had a very vivid imagination thanks to books.

Sure, I could pick any books I wanted, but my parents, the ones footing the bill, had the final say. I could circle 30 books on any given form, and maybe I’d get 1/3rd of my choices. Even though the books were ridiculously cheap by adult standards (some costing mere pennies), in our house all those books needed storage of some kind, which lead to clutter, which lead to messiness, which lead to screams of “where are my [insert series title here] books??” and subsequently irate parents. I’m sure they had some sort of system in place for choosing what to buy, which may have been as simple as setting a price limit ($5, $10), so all I could do was make my choices and hope for the best.

School days that were even more betterer than the book forms days were when the books arrived. Our books were sent to the school, and seemingly like magic, they were already grouped under our names when we got in. The teacher passed out bundles like Santa Claus, and we were happy. I was happy. My bundles were replete with high-flying fantasy, true-to-life stories, eerie tales from the beyond, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels, Mad Libs, and, most certainly, plenty of Garfield! (And free posters, always!) I’d truck all those book homes in my backpack and read, and read, and read until someone (perhaps my Mom calling for dinner) broke my trance. It was the The. Best. Day.

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It bears mentioning that I didn’t get books with each and every form. Otherwise, goodness, I’d have been swimming in compact paperbacks! These special days for me only happened a few times a year. Often they were coupled with a book fair that was held by the school once or twice a year. Held after school or on a weekend, at first I went with my parents and they bought the books. As I got older, I was allowed to attend them “by myself” with my parents acting more as chaperons than police escorts. They’d give me $10 and off I went. Slowly. Oh so slowly. Cause I only had $10, y’know. There was a fine line to walk between getting lots of books and getting the ones that mattered most.

As blissful as these memories are, they are inextricably tied to more melancholy ones. For as many times as I remember received my fresh, uncracked books in school, I also remember the few kids who never got books. Order forms came and went, and they never got any bundles. I won’t sit here and pretend to speculate anything about their lives through the fog of the past, but it did make me a little sad to see them there without any new books. Sadder still, I always felt like I should have shared books with those kids who didn’t have any, but I never did. It was bad enough that I had to share my shiny, new prizes with my younger siblings, with their sticky peanut butter hands and childish carelessness, just because my parents said it “was the nice thing to do.” (gawd, jeez!)

I eventually traded a life with book forms for one with a library card; however, my younger brother and sister still got the forms. On occasion, I’d glance through one even though I was far too “cool” and “adult” for such nonsense. Still, the idea of getting new books rather than the ratty library books (which, yes, were so much more accessible), was really quite appealing. And I remember the smiles on my siblings’ faces when they brought home their bundles of new books.

Best. Day. Ever!

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Community Post: The Embarrassing Joys of Lost Kingdoms II

cary:

On April 6, 2013, the Internet became a better place for us all, for on that day United We Game was UNLEASHED UPON THE WORLD!! Not that I’m excited about a brand new gaming site that I helped create or anything. But yes, this month marks UWG’s 1-year anniversary! And everyone there is incredibly excited and happy with reaching this important threshold. To kick off UWG’s birthday month, we’ve been posting our favorite guilty pleasure games. You know the ones…those games that you’d never play in mixed company? Games that send shivers down the spines of many but warm your heart? Yeah, those games. Here I’m sharing the post that kicked off the series from the wonderful Duck of Indeed.

Originally posted on United We Game:

Image from Flickr User: Migue Alcaino

Image from Flickr User: Migue Alcaino

Thanks to an idea from Chip of “Games I Made My Girlfriend Play”, the admins and contributors of UWG will be posting a series of community posts over the next span of days on the topic of our “guilty pleasure” games in celebration of April Fool’s Day. And it looks as if the Duck gets the honor of starting things off. And on April Fool’s Day, of all days! Score!

Well, we all have some games we’re rather embarrassed to admit that we like, right? And if you deny it, I’ll only assume that you have a game in mind you’re just keeping secret from me…. Well, I have some of these games, as well. I often have pretty decent taste in games, or so I like to believe. I love “The Legend of Zelda” and “Kingdom Hearts” and “Halo”, but I…

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The Day I Cracked My Nintendo DS

That fierce robotic guy in blue that we all know and respect as Mega Man holds very special place in my gaming heart. But as with many relationships, our has had its ups and downs. We soared to new levels of fun and frustration with Mega Man 1-8 in the Anniversary Collection! We triumphed together over Chill Penguin and his cohorts in Mega Man X. And, most recently, we comfortably picked things back up with Mega Man X2. And so far, when I eke in some time to play, things move along smoothly with only the occasion curse of anger. It was my own fault then when I decided to test the waters in getting a Mega Man game for my Nintendo DS some years back.

When I was looking to bring the blue bomber to my DS, I knew that I didn’t want to begin at the beginning, for (1) I already had, and (2) I couldn’t even if I did want to. Not only had I previously conquered Mega Man: Anniversary Collection and Mega Man X, but you couldn’t play Game Boy or Game Boy Color games on the DS. So that was that and I had to start in the middle somewhere with a GBA game. The title I found was Mega Man Zero (2002).

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Itunes Diaries, entry #15: “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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As likely as it is for a general tune to get stuck in my head, sometimes the subject matter of a particular song needles itself in there over time. And that isn’t always good thing, at first. When I was young, car rides meant music, and car music was either extra, extra lite rock or classical.  It took me many years to learn to appreciate either, so the “adult contemporary” stuff really grated on my nerves for a time. I couldn’t stand the “bird song” (“Close to You” by the Carpenters), the “pineapple song” (“Escape [The Pina Colada Song]” by Rupert Holmes), or the song I’m talking about here, the “camel song” – “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur.

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In Defense of the Gaming Unitasker

cary:

Many of us remember with fondness the good old days of the “plug-and-play” video game console. Well, as dangerous as nostalgia can be, the Ataris and Segas and NESs of days gone by are still vivid parts of many of our gaming lives. Pop in a game, press start, and off you go into a world without load times and cut scenes. Game consoles of today are true marvels of modern design and capability. They’ve serve multiple functions and show gaming in some of the best light they’ve seen in years. So it’s not like I want a total return to the past, as I discuss in this United We Game post, it’s just that when I want to play an Xbox or PlayStation game, all I want to do is play a game. No TV, no Internet, just play.

Originally posted on United We Game:

Image by Flickr user Great Beyond

Image by Flickr user Great Beyond

Here on United We Game, one of the things that often come up in our posts and comments has how wonderful it is to be a gamer these days. With nothing less than a plethora of games at our fingertips and means by which to play them, it’s hard to imagine going back to time when gaming wasn’t so prevalent. I know I wouldn’t want to, except…well…there is one thing I kind of miss. The gaming-onlyconsole. For a couple decades, from arcade machines to the rise of home consoles, we lived with devices that served one purpose and one purpose only: to play video games.  They weren’t music players, they weren’t video players, they weren’t connected to an information superhighway; they were just video game consoles.

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Totally 80s: Jem and the Holograms

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #4 from 53 Things Only 80s Girls Can Understand

You knew being a rock star with a secret identity was the best job ever!

With the recent announcement that a Jem and the Holgrams movie is in the works, it only seems appropriate that I cover it here. Also…c’mon…it’s JEM!

While Jem has a ways to go before reaching the levels of revitalization of My Little Pony, she was king of a small big deal when I was a kid. I say “small” because, at least in my neck of the woods, Jem dolls were never quite as popular as Barbie and the Cabbage Patch Kids. But all of my friends then them, at least one. I had one — Pizzazz, the leader of the “bad girls” band and rival of the Holograms, the Misfits (no relation). And she ruled over the Barbies in my house, with her single knee sock and electric green hair.

Pizzazz

You want “badass” in plastic and polyester? You got it right here.

 

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