Sam and Max Hit the Road: Episodes 1 and 2

Alrighty, folks! I hereby kick off this month of  classic point-and-click adventuring with the first two episodes of my playthrough Sam & Max Hit the Road. (And if you’re all like WTF??!, then please read this post. Though you should have read it before clicking on this post but whatevs, yo. I’m not your damn mother.)

The thing about point-and-click games is that, because they aren’t all flashy and shooty, there’s got to be something right off the bat that grabs your attention. The prologue and opening scenes of Hit the Road demonstrate this beautifully. They set up not only the story of our unlikely PIs but also allow plenty trademark humor to shine bright as day. So I’ll be brutally (and stupidly) honest, if you aren’t enthralled by the time I get out onto the world map first episode, then this game — playing or watching — probably isn’t for you. And that’s fine; I’m not here to change anyone’s mind about game. But if you stick with me through the series, I promise that we’ll have one hell of grand time in the gloriously silly world of Sam & Max.

This Blog in May 2016

If you’ve been following me here for any length of time, you’re likely aware that I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to this space. I like to make plans for the blog, and I like to follow through with them, almost, at times, to the point of breaking. Well, this month, things are breaking, um…have broken? Be toats broke? However you want to say it, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing for the real life me. You see, I was recently promoted at work, and I’m all kinds of thrilled and scared and uppity about it. Really though, it’s great! But it’s also, for the moment, very demanding. So I’ve had to place several things on the back burner, at least temporarily, and this blog is one of those things. Yes, it sucks balls, but I’m as serious as a heart attack about my career, so there. As such, I’m taking a sabbatical from new writing this month — there won’t be any new general ramblings, gaming posts, “Play or Pass” articles, or an iTunes diary.

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iTunes diaries, entry #40: “Talk About Suffering” by Greg Graffin

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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Having covered my deep and abiding love for Bad Religion a couple weeks back, it seemed appropriate to focus this month’s iTunes Diary on a related song. And by that I mean the antithesis to the sound of Bad Religion as sung by its lead singer.  In other words, “Talk About Suffering” off of one of Greg Graffin’s solo albums, Cold as the Clay (2006).

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I think I owe Dragon Age II an apology, at least

I recently started replaying the Mass Effect series – made me a MaleShep by the name of Hal (i.e. 2001: A Space Odyssey, not Malcolm in the Middle, though who am I kidding, really), he’s a redhead and a Renegade — and I realized something as I was meandering through ME1’s many sidequests. Almost every active space I traveled to looked the same. Like precisely the same except for environmental debris and, maybe, the locations or accessibility of doors. Every mine I visited looked the same as the mines before it. Every science station and gang hideout and derelict ship had nearly the same layout as the science stations, gang hideouts, and derelict ships before them. I was in awe that I hadn’t noticed this before. And I was embarrassed that my once giddy addiction to the first Mass Effect was so overwhelming that I didn’t take notice of the, well…lazy reuse of level designs.

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ATB’s Top 25 Comedies: (17) Blazing Saddles

The wonderful people behind one of the best sites on the Internet, At the Buzzer, recently invited me to partake in another grand listing event. This time round, it’s all about our favorite comedies! Yes, those movies that make you laugh, cry-laugh, cringe-laugh, and everything in between. Here I’m sharing number 17 on the list, the always amazing and utterly un-PC Blazing Saddles. And be sure to follow ATB where you’ll find other great lists, a great podcast, and great set of gaming videos, and plenty more!

At the Buzzer

This is At the Buzzer’s countdown of the best 25 comedies of all-time. Our panel of 10 cast their votes, and we’re revealing the results one by one until we get to No. 1 on Tuesday, May 10.

And now, our number 17:

17) Blazing Saddles (4 votes, 144 points)

I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists.

…Could you repeat that, sir?

Chris: One of the prevailing types of comedies — and one that has already been featured multiple times on this list, with more to come — is the parody. Some films get a lot of mileage out of taking a genre or motif and breaking it down to the point of ridiculousness. Sometimes the satire…

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Play or Pass: Metal Gear Solid and Mortal Kombat X

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!


Metal Gear Solid cover art © Konami, Sony

Metal Gear Solid cover art © Konami, Sony

I don’t do stealth. At least not to the point that it does me much good in games anyway. I’m typically an impatient gamer. In cases where stealth is called for I’ll usually do my best to as sneaky for as long as I can stand it. Sometimes it works well, and I find myself caught up in the very act of being a “ghost,” like in the Batman: Arkham games. Other times, my attempts go ass-up despite my best efforts, as they did in DisHonored. (I was so sneaky for the first third of the game, and then it all when to hell.) And other times, I just say screw it and start out maniacal from the get-go.  This is not to say that I don’t enjoy games that require forethought and planning. But purely tactical games, such as Metal Gear Solid for the PS1, the first game up this week, just haven’t hopped onto my radar, much if at all.

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Will the New Final Fantasy VII Lure Me Back into the Final Fantasy Universe?

With all the news of the FFXV demo recently dominating my social media feed (haven’t played it myself…yet), I nearly forgot that a FFVII remake is totally still in the works! Final Fantasy and I have grown apart considerably since I completed FFIII and FFIV a number of years back. Despite the fact that I really enjoy the games — FFVII is a favorite — a divide remains. In this post I wrote several months ago for United We Game, I explored the idea that maybe, just maybe, the FFVII remake would somehow lure me back into the world of chocobos and moogles.

United We Game

Image by Flickr user GogDog (CC)Image by Flickr user GogDog (CC)

When the Final Fantasy VII remake was officially announced at this past weekend’s PlayStation Experience 2015 conference, I watched in awe and confusion. The gameplay video that was shown was exciting and unexpected. It looked like FFVII, but it also really didn’t. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Cloud’s spiky blond hair and familiar Buster Sword, I probably would have thought it was an entirely new game. But it wasn’t. It was Final Fantasy VII for a whole new generation. And it was Final Fantasy VII for a previous generation to experience anew.

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This isn’t just a punk rock song: The sounds of Bad Religion

The following post originally appeared on Geek Force Network, August 9, 2013. Some of the video links have been updated.

In life there is music that one likes, music that one dislikes, music that one tolerates enough to not tune out, and music that deeply and  immediately connects with one’s soul. That intimate connection occurred the first time I heard Bad Religion. It didn’t, however, suddenly transform into someone with a pink mohawk, Doc Martens, and a ear full of safety pins – I’ve never been quite so blatant with my hobbies. But after my first BR encounter, I had to have more. Their cerebral music and smart tones spoke to me. I had to know everything I possibly could about this incredible band, their music and their message. And then, of course, I had to know more about punk music. And so began the descent.

For me, Bad Religion served as the perfect gateway into the genre – they’re as intellectual and thoughtful in their music as they are rough and tumble. To those unfamiliar with but curious about BR, the place to start is their first album, How Could Hell be Any Worse?, which contains a particularly poignant and pointed diddy about armageddon. As for singles, “American Jesus” from Recipe for Hate might be their most well-known song. It’s a great song that sits squarely in the middle of their success. But for anyone who wants a quick sampling of some of their offerings before diving into the heady waters, here are six to get you started. (Note that the occasional curse word is flung here and there in their lyrics. Best to not put these songs on blast at the office. Unless your office is totally cool like that.)

*****

“Do What You Want” (Suffer, 1988)

I need not add more glowing praise to the album Suffer than has already been heaped onto it. Simply stated, it’s truly a masterpiece in sound, word, and design. If I could only have one song off this album, it would probably be “Do What You Want.” It’s a quintessential BR song – fast, jarring, and a little sarcastic. Maybe. Is the message really as simple “do what you want, but don’t do it around me?” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t…

*****

“I Want to Conquer the World” (No Control, 1989)

If I kick the bucket anytime soon, I want this song to be played as my ashes are strewn about the lands. Just thinking about the massive guitars in “I Want to Conquer the World” makes my heart beat a little faster. While it doesn’t have the chant of, say, Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn,” it’s the best BR to sing (or yell) along with. Because who doesn’t want to conquer the world? Seriously, play this song and give “I want to conquer the world!” your all. You’ll totally feel better afterwards.

*****

“Anesthesia” (Against the Grain, 1990)

The best bands are able to combine both outward and inward lyrics; and the really great ones make you question which are which. I’ve read that “Anesthesia” is about Charles Manson. I’ve also read that it’s about heroin addiction. I would tend to side with the latter idea here, but I don’t really know. All I know is that mystery and melody combine into one hell of a song.

*****

“No Direction” (Generator, 1992)

If you know this song, can you pick out the one word that lead singer Greg Graffin changed in the lyrics in this recent live performance? (The guys of BR certainly aren’t slouches when it comes to pop culture, ha!) To me, “No Direction” sums up the single most important message of BR (if they have a message to tell, that is): follow yourself not the “leader.” And the whole “tell ’em” bridge might be one of the best climaxes in a BR song, or in any song, ever.

*****

“A Streetkid Named Desire” (The New America, 2000)

The New America marks one a several departures in sound that BR has taken over the years; and it’s a great album that’s both political and personal. “A Streetkid Named Desire” tells the very relatable of growing up as an outsider. It’s perfect song for when you’re feeling out of sorts or can’t seem progress over a rut. I like this song in tandem with All’s “I’ll Get There,” because, as Graffin says, “I know that paradise is some other place, and I’ll get there another day.”

*****

“Sorrow” (The Process of Belief, 2002)

What exactly is “Sorrow” about? War? Family relationships? A story from the Bible? There are several different ways to interpret this song, which is what makes it one of my favorite off The Process of Belief. There’s a bit of melancholy imbued in the lyrics, which is offset by the driving harmonies. As much as I like the quick, in-and-out of a one minute punk song, sometimes a little more time is needed to tell a story. BR knows exactly when a little more is just enough; and “Sorrow” is a great example of this.

*****

So now that I’ve sounded off, it’s your turn. If you’re a Bad Religion fan, what’s your favorite song or album? If not, have you experienced “love at first listen” with a particular song or artist?