Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Selfie

     It is time again for the usual holiday selfie. I am pushing it here since I posted a selfie with my new game controller a few days ago, but tradition is tradition. It is Halloween, but I am not in costume. It is just your typical, boring selfie.
     You would think like me would be more into Halloween. In my younger days, I was. I have not gone trick or treating since the '80's, but I did the whole costume party and scary movie marathons for years. Not this year, though. I have not watched a single scary movie. Strange, because I am always up for some of the classic Universal horror films. A pox on Tom Cruise for ruining the chance of a modern day revival earlier in the year.
     I did play Castlevania for a good while today. The original NES version. Not any of those sequels and especially not the amine style plaguing the franchise for the last few years. The original reminds me of the Hammer Horror films with Christopher Lee. Hammer plays second fiddle to Universal in my mind, but only because the latter are nearly perfect. All that to say I technically played a horror film rather than watching any. Yes, I lost my touch at the game somewhere along the way.
     Someone made Halloween cupcakes, so there is that. Candy will be half price everywhere, tomorrow, too. I cannot wait to take advantage. I already polished off a bag of mini Milky Way bars earlier this week.
    Now that I look at it, the selfie is pretty good considering what little the camera had with which to work. I am going to use it as my general profile photo on my various social media outlets. At least until Thanksgiving, at any rate. We shall see if the Turkey Day selfie can top it enough to serve as replacement.  

Happy Halloween!

      Happy Halloween!
     Today is the one day of the year we completely undue a couple of the most important life lessons taught to children. One, we let them wear masks and ask strangers for candy. Two, we teach kids there is such a thing as a free lunch—and it is 95% sugar. By the time the damage can be undone, it is Halloween again. What a vicious cycle.
     The best part of Halloween, besides scary movie marathons, is candy will be half priced tomorrow. Hello, Reese's cups and Milky Way bars!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The GameCube Emulator Works Now

    The GameCube emulator, called dolphin for some odd reason, is now working. It needed a .dll file in order to handle the more advanced graphics of the systems. I was nervous the necessity of downloading a file for a brand new, up to date laptop might still mean the emulator would not work, but my fears were for naught. Everything is fine and up to speed.
   Speaking of speed, most of my recent gaming time has been spent playing Mario Kart Double Dash. I owned the game back in 2003. Just to show how long ago that was, I bought it used from Blockbuster. Playing it was my way of unwinding at the end of the day during my final year of law school. I was good enough to unlock most everything by the time I left Virginia for eye surgery. My gaming stuff somehow become misplaced and that was the end of it until last night.
     I have definitely lost my touch in the interim. It has been thirteen years, but I am not only rusty but a whole lot more blind. I cannot tell which is the bigger obstacle at this point. The answer ought to come in a rather short amount of time. On the plus side, I already unlocked the first new available car by beating the first circuit on the easiest setting. Not a particularly great feat, but one takes victories when one can get them.
    Super Smash Bros. Melee is also every bit as much fun as I remember. I owned it back in the day, too. I paid full price for a brand new copy from Amazon rather than buy it used. There were no used copies anywhere. Everyone who bought the game held on to it. No wonder. The senseless violence and mayhem is a great stress reliever. I have not played enough to unlock any of the numerous bonus characters and stages, but give me time.
    My nostalgia trip will likely continue with a long platformer. The remaining GameCube games I owned were of the genre, Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I liked both, so it is tough to decide which one I want to devote the time needed to play through. Nostalgia gaming had me playing many of Mario and Link's past adventures. Burn out may compel me to not play either one for while. Things were much easier when the GameCube emulator was not working.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

An Old Friend Has Passed Away

     You know you are getting old when you hear about former classmates passing away. One from high school died in 2012 at the age of 35. Two college friends are now gone. The most recent—relatively speaking, since he passed in 2015—i just discovered randomly today. Here is a page set up for him by his funeral home.
     I met Michael Campagna in the fall of 1996. he was the friend of a friend, but we were mutually geeky and hit it off. He was a science fiction buff, especially for the original Doctor Who, and was into the internet back when it was still the wild frontier. We both lived in the Towers. The Towers were well known as the worst dorms on the University of South Carolina campus. He was stuck in them because he was a freshman. I was a sophomore, but was using a scooter at the time and needed a larger, ground floor room to store. Lucky me—the towers were the only option. We bonded over enduring the living conditions.
     Though Michael lived in Florida, he was originally from New York. We obviously never saw eye to eye on sports teams. The 1996 World Series in 1996 was between the Atlanta Braves and the new york Yankees. We ribbed each other brutally during the series. I will give Michael credit—he was gracious in victory when the Yankees won it in six games.
     Michael was only a USC student for a year before he moved back to Florida. We kept in contact via the internet for a decade. We would often talk about science fiction or politics well into the night. We griped about roommates, jobs, and schoolwork as are lives evolved. A few months after my colon rupture, Michael and his wife Jessica came to SC to make sure I was okay. They visited again on my birthday both that year and the next. Their visits caused friction with Team Chavis, but what did not? It was no fault of Michael's or Jessica's.  But that is a story for another time.
     We lost touch sometime in 2006. Michael and Jessica had a growing family and an active life in a new church denomination. Michael was a stay at home dad. He was busy building a happy life for himself. I was trapped in my Oubliette Years with Team Chavis and in no mental or emotional state to be much of a friend for anyone. Nevertheless, I feel pangs of guilt for learning of Michael's death two years after the fact. I am sorry it took me so long, Michael. Life is cruel in so many different.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Retro-Gaming Requires the Right Tools

     The retro-gaming on emulators I picked up on a whim a couple weeks ago quickly turned into a habit. Playing on a keyboard was too awkward for the games I wanted to play, so I sought out a good USB enabled controller that could be used with more than one emulator. I found this one over the weekend. So far, it has been great.
     I am an old Nintendo nerd from the late '80's-early '90's. Aside from a brief fling with the Sega Genesis, it has been nothing but Mario, Donkey Kong, et al, for me. I owned an NES, SNES, and a Gamecube. No Nintendo 64, but I played enough with friends to know how cool it was. Right now, there are NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 emulators on my laptop.
     Ironically, I cannot get the most popular Gamecube emulator to run. It is ironic because the controller I am using is intended for the Gamecube. It is made for a Nintendo system, has a wide variety of buttons to assign functions, and is a better fit than many of those clunky controllers out there these days. Always stick with what worked well for you in the past.
      Nintendo fans around my age who enjoyed the same systems over the years can guess with near perfect accuracy what games I downloaded for each system. Talk about a nostalgia trip. I have been on one for days now.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

George W. Bush v. Donald Trump

     Former President George W. Bush heavily criticized current President Donald Trump in a speech yesterday in New York City. Bush showed distaste for the toxic tone of personal attacks in Washington, which he implied were encouraged by Trump's tweeting and loose cannon public statements. Bush also came out against Trump's isolationist trade policies and nativism. The latter Bush believes gives free reign to racism while ignoring the contributions of immigrants.
     I do not care to analyze Bush's critique of Trump's character, methods, or policies. There will be plenty of opportunities to dig into those as time passes. What I would like to note is the change in attitude the left has for Bush. It was not too long ago he was considered worse than Hitler. He was a president intent on curtailing civil liberties who did not care about black people and was an idiot to boot. Now he is an elder statesman who wisely critiques the currently wrong direction the country is headed in.
      This sort of flip flop happens among the left all the time. What will be even more amusing than the 180 degree change of opinion on Bush is when the next ignorant, racist, worse than Hitler Republican president is elected. It will force the left to look fondly at Trump as an elder statesman in comparison.
     It is one of the absurdities of leftist criticism of conservative politicians. Liberals throw nasty, often unfounded labels on conservatives, then take it back when such labels are no longer convenient. It takes all credibility at of the criticism. When that happens, you get situations like now with Trump. No one takes his critics seriously, even when they should, because they have lost all legitimacy by being such hypocrites. Bemusing, to say the least.    

Monday, October 16, 2017

Golfing with Gene Simmons

     It has been a while since I was any sort of avid gamer. Over the years I owned an NES, Genesis, Playstation, and a Gamecube. Only with the NES did I play a wide variety of games. Most of the the other three were spent with sports games almost exclusively with a few indulgences to my geek roots. My poor eyesight made it tough to continue playing video games.
     Until recent weeks, that is. Discontinued gaming systems generally find there way online along with their library of titles. The old technology runs smoothly on modern laptops, too. So I have downloaded several gaming systems along with a bunch of games. My game choices are mostly the result of nostalgic rage for the NES from the late '80's- early '90's. The graphics are blips and stick figures compared to what is available today, but the NES cannot be beat for pure fun.
     I will not bore you with the long list of games I am playing, but I will mentioned the game screen capped above. Some tech wizards have played around with many games and modded them in some pretty wild ways. My favorite so far is the otherwise bland Golf for the NES. It was one of the premiere, black box NES titles. The game is normally as bare bones as you can get. It is eighteen holes of golf with no computer opponent or even a soundtrack. Yet it is still fun even in its simplicity. Someone made it even more fun by allowing you to play as KISS front man Gene Simmons.
     You can actually play as any member of KISS, but Simmons is the most recognizable of the four because of his hair. The limits of 8-bit graphics make it difficult to distinguish the make up of the other band members. I have not tried him, but I assume Ace Frehley is too high to make it through 18 holes. There is something cool about playing a round of golf as Simmons rather than the chubby Mario clone your golfer normally is.
     I had not played Golf in probably 24 years prior to rediscovering it several days ago. I was good at it at one point, but definitely lost my touch during the years of absence. There have been several incidents in which I wanted to throw my clubs into a water hazard. I am getting better with practice. Since there is no computer opponent, only your best score recorded for posterity, I do not need to be good. I only need to improve upon what I have shot before.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Perhaps You Should Consider Pringles

     A strangely unsettling parody of a Pringles advertisement. The art is impressive, but I doubt it does Pringles sales any favors. Well, may be not. I could go for some sour cream and onion flavored right about now. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer Analysis

     I opted not to sit through Monday Night Football for the Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer. There was no need to suffer through this irritating in so many ways NFL season when YouTube would post the trailer almost simultaneously. Maybe enough geeks were charitable enough to tune in live for the NFL to enjoy a decent ratings boost for the first time in 2017.
     The trailer looks exciting. Past trailers for The Last Jedi emphasized more the undercover mission into the First order by Finn and Poe. While men on a mission can make for a cool movie, we were all hoping for more about Luke skywalker training Rey. That is what we finally got.
    Luke appears to be a broken man from his failures as a Jedi intructor. Rey demonstrates on impressive control of the force, so much so Luke is afraid to train her for fear she will turn to the dark side. While I think the final scene is a misdirection, Rey appears to ask Kylo for guidance in finding her path. Maybe she does flirt with the dark side. Then again, there is a point at which Rey is being tortured by Snope, so perhaps Rey has been captured at some point instead.
     It is interesting to note in the Millennium Falcon scene with Chewbacca and the screaming critter we do not get to see how is in the co-pilot seat. Maybe it is Luke joining in a mission to rescue Rey from Snope? What are the odds Luke might sacrifice himself sometime during the film?
   We cannot talk about the death of an iconic character without discussing General Leia. This is the last we will see of the late Carrie Fisher as Leia. The trailer particularly focus on a scene in which Kylo, in a TIE Fighter, is about to attack the Resistance's flagship with Leia on board. It is clear by the expressions of their faces each sense's the other. Does Kylo possess the nerve to kill his mother even if it would help push him to the dark side like grandpappy Darth Vader? It feels more likely Kylo will eventually travel the road of redemption, but Leia must be written out somehow. I do not believe her exit would be made so obvious in the trailer.
     My thought may be way off the mark. Recall how misdirecting the trailer for Rogue One was when it came to the final film. The misdirection was more than mere re-shoots between the trailer and the final film. Although that was a factor, the powers that be like to surprise spoiler happy fans as much a possible. I expect to be extremely happy with what hits the screen.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Harvey Weinstein Story is Nothing But Bread and Circuses

     I planned to avoid any discussion of Harvey Weinstein since I could not care less about him or anything associated with his personal life. I recall rumors circulating as far back as 1999 of Weinstein's sexual deviancy out in the open at Hollywood parties. His film studio, Miramax, was on top of the cinema world at the time. As with Roman Polanski and his sexual assault on a thirteen year old girl, Hollywood will look the other way when you make films that win at both the box office and awards shows.
     The word is The New York Times could have broke this story ten years ago. Since I am aware of rumors dating back eighteen years, the paper has probably been sitting on it longer than that. But does it really matter? Weinstein is a Hollywood producer. Those guys are pretty much stereotyped as sexual deviants. The old stories of the young starlet and the casting couch long pre-dates Weinstein. So no one legitimately looks to Hollywood as a beacon of virtue.
     So today Meryl Streep emerges as the main voice condemning Weinstein for his alleged acts. Streep's condemnation being a headline all across the internet prompted me to write this post. The press is using Streep to gran the public's attention to what is about as unimportant story as imaginable. Particularly so when compared to other events currently happening like the wildfires in California, hurricane aftermath potential war with North Korea, and the investigation into the Las Vegas mass shooting.
     The Weinstein drama is pure bread and circuses to distract the public from the issues to which it needs to pay attention. Do not fall for it—especially if social justice warriors attempt to turn it into a full fledged feminists v. the patriarchy battle.  

Columbus Day

    Donald Trump declared today Columbus Day with any of the politically correct qualms barack Obama mired the holiday in. You know, how Christopher Columbus destroyed the pristine environment and lead to the genocide of the indigenous people and their human sacrifice and such? 
      Everyone lives on stolen land, folks. It is all part of history.  Just appreciate the fact the left has finally found an illegal immigrant they do not like in Columbus.
      Remember to put out the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria decorations on the front lawn in celebration..

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mike Pence's PR Power Play

    Vice-President Mike Pence attended the San Francisco 49ers-Indianoplis Colts today. When the 49ers took a knee during the national anthem, pence and his twenty some member entourage left in counter-protest. Pence knew full well the 49ers would protest the anthem, so his counter-protest was viewed as a manufactured public relations stunt.
     We live in highly cynical time in which there are suspicions of the motivations of every action, but yes, Pence engaged in a public relations stunt. He was reinforcing President Donald Trump's position the NFL protestors are being unpatriotic in their anthem protest without utilizing Trump's inflammatory manner.
     Whether Pence's counter-protest is a good idea is debatable, but making an enemy of the NFL appears to be working. Trump supporters have so far stuck with him no matter what while turning their wrath on anything and anyone who appears to impede the process of “making America great again.” Trump holds his base together by giving them an enemy. It is cynical, but as noted, we live in cynical times.
     The NFL's television ratings were down 11% as of last week. Ticket sales are down 17%. The Miami Dolphins owner demands his players stand for the anthem. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who took a knee not against the anthem, but in solidarity with his team, stated any player who protests the anthem will not be allowed to play. So the NFL is attempting to repair the public relations damage even as quite a few players continue the anthem protest. The damage done to the NFL is self-inflicted and will linger on well past the almost certain Band aid over a bullet wound uber-patriotic halftime show of the Super Bowl.
     Personally, it is bemusing after a week of heated debate over gun control in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history, we are back to talking about football anthem protests. The country is not only deeply cynical these days, but incredibly strange as well.   

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Top Ten Tom Petty Songs

     The video sticks out more in my mind because of the demented Alice in Wonderland music video in heavy rotation during the early days of MTV, but the song has an ethereal appeal.
     The song is not actually about a girl's suicide, but it was the song playing on the radio when Buffalo Bill kidnapped the senator's daughter in The Silence of the Lambs, so there are unsettling connotation regardless. I think it is supposed to be upbeat, though.
     The song is not actually about marijuana, but the video features a coroner in love with a dead woman. Apparently, the misconceptions about 'American Girl' were not disturbing enough.
     More famous for its video starring a young Johnny Depp, the song is a catchy, but ultimately depressing indictment on the pitfalls of instant stardom and the crashing down that often comes afterward. The public is a fickle mistress.
     Personal anthems are often too self-indulgent for my tastes. These guys are paid millions of dollars to sing songs. Just how much antagonism can they face in life? Yes, I am probably being harsh. “I Won't Back Down” manages to break through my harshness. The feat alone merits inclusion in my top ten.
     Catchy and surreal. I, too, duet with Del Shannon on “Runaway” from time to time.
     I like the Neil Young vibe. Petty even channels Young in the video with the hat, jacket, and harmonica. I always play this song the way it was intended without blurring out the drug reference.
     Upbeat, but still addresses the trials and tribulations of life. I aspire to write about those topics in the same manner. You be the judge of the results.
     I love "Wildflowers” the same reason I love “Blackbird” by the Beatles. If it needs to be explained more than that, you will never understand.
     The idyllic portrait of life in California is just about everyone's favorite Petty song, is it not? It certainly has received the most radio airplay. There are plenty of great covers from artists as diverse as John Mayer and Deanna Carter.  

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Do the Lurxh

     Here is a dance craze from the '60's I was not aware happened. Or maybe it just did not catch on that well. Anyone remember when The Simpsons tried to make The Bartman popular in the early '90's? Television popularity does not often translate to commercial success in music.
     Ted Cassidy could certainly move for a 6' 9” guy.
     There is some notion Cassidy did not want to participate in launching a dance craze. He may have done only done so in order to make ends meet. I hope that is not true. It is much more pleasant to believe he was having fun with it.  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Late Night Hosts Respond to Las Vegas Mass Shooting

     What do the nightly, non-news oriented shows have to say in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas? Late night show hosts no longer have their finger on the pulse on most of America has Johnny Carson once did. These days, they hold sway over much smaller audiences with particular bents that must be appeased. This was not really the case until recent years. No matter the biases of his respective audience, the first post 9/11 episodes struck a unifying tone of national mornings without becoming political. Those days are certainly gone.
     The most predictable response was from Jimmy Kimmel. I do not mean to imply his tearful plea for gun control was not as heartfelt as how his infant's heart surgery motivated him to support a more socialized healthcare system. I am all for someone high profile making the case for his beliefs. But he has been elevated as a progressive standard bearer to the point the Senate ran it proposed healthcare reform legislation through an unofficial Jimmy Kimmel Test. I only offer up the point Kimmel enjoys armed security at the studio and probably has the same personally. I doubt he advocates they give up their weapons.
     The next was Conan O'Brien. I am split down the middle with his response. On the one hand, his monologue started as a somber note and diverged into another plea for gun control. He O'Brien arrived at his office Monday morning, a staff member handed him a copy of comments he made after the Sandy Hook and Pulse nightclub shootings to review what he might want to say about Las Vegas. O'Brien remarked how disheartening it is a comedian keeps a file of comments on what to say after a mass shooting. The reality of it struck me, too. But O'Brien chose to promote, as he did after the Pulse shooting, a ban on AR-15. He had a perfect segue to addressing how a normally fun event such as a concert turned into a horrific tragedy with a positive message of carrying on without fear, but he promoted a political agenda instead.
     I am going to end on a positive note with some praise for Jimmy Fallon. Granted, he has never been particularly political. The Monologue, traditionally filled with jokes on politics, is his weakest point as a host. He generally goofs around with politicians and journalists of every political bent without demonstrating his own ideology. Last night, he addressed our national mourning over the Las Vegas without politics and spoke a comforting unifying message before introducing Miley Cyrus and Adam Sandler—how is that for an odd pair—to perform a cover of Dido's “No Freedom.” There is much animosity of Cyrus' political views and recent train wreck professional decisions. There is probably a general low opinion of Sandler for his crass movie career. But I must say, the duet was a touching way to punctuate Fallon's classy response to the tragedy in Las Vegas. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tom Petty (1950-2017)

     It truly has been an awful day. Tom Petty was a musical legend. His legacy deserves much more attention than it is going to receive because the focus is on the Las Vegas mass shooting that occurred last night. As it should be. But I need to say a few words about Petty. He played my kind of rock and roll.
     I heard scattered Petty songs throughout my early life like “American Girl' and “Rebels.” My first prominent memory of Petty was in the early days of MTV when “Don't Come Around Here No More” was in heavy rotation. I was already into science fiction and fantasy, so the surreal Alice in Wonderland themed video always caught my eye. I still like the eery feel of the song today.
     It was in the late '80's I became a real fan of Petty. This was the ear of songs like “Free Fallin'” and “Into the Great Wide Open,” as well as his stint with the all star line up of the Traveling Wilburys. Petty continued to impress throughout much of the '90's with “Mary Jane's Last Dance” and “You Don't know How It Feels.”
     Petty was found in his home this morning not breathing and in cardiac arrest. The Los Angeles Police Department prematurely declared the singer had died, then retracted the statement after stating his death had not been confirmed. Alas, it turned out ultimately to be the case. We lost a musical giant.
     Godspeed, Mr. Petty.


The Las Vegas Mass Shooting and Our Toxic Culture

     Like most of you, I woke up this morning to the news of the worst mass shooting in United States history. The first realization I received was the top headline of a news site that claimed 50 dead and 200 wounded. My first thought was an ISIS terror attack somewhere in Europe. It only took a few seconds to realize I was wrong on both counts. We had not only suffered another mass shooting, but it was the worst mass shooting we had ever suffered.
     The early hours of mass shootings are always the most disheartening. It is particularly worse when answers are not forthcoming. All we know right now is a retired accountant named Stephen Paddock opened fire with an automatic weapon from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay hotel and casino on the crowd at a country music festival across. the street, killing 58 people and wounding 515. He committed suicide before he could offer any rationale to his evil actions. Can anyone else rationalize our actions in response to not understanding this tragedy?
     In our increasingly tribal culture, we are not accentuating any of the unifying factors that exist even in a time of national sorrow when they are most important. Conservatives went to one side claiming the shooting had to be Islamic terror. Gun supporters were afraid the left was going to use the incident to push gun control. Indeed, they did, and added race into the mix because the shooter was white. A CBS executive posted on social media she felt no sympathy for the victims because country music fans are generally Republicans. We cannot even mourn our dead for taking up the routine biases and taking shots at the usual suspects. It is almost like we are dragging out an old, dog eared script to follow time and time again.
     Stop politicizing everything! Guns, music fans, TV awards shows, gender, race, the NFL, and the national anthem among just about everything else. Quit taking the things that are either extremely important or frivolous escapism for people and weaponizing it in pursuit of your own agenda. The heart of the problem in our country is an existential crisis that is going unaddressed because the search for meaning is being replaced by destroying what everyone else believes in instead. It needs to stop!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Periodic Reminder

      One may insist the spirit of this post runs contrary to the general advice to “let dead leaves fall,” but I did vow months ago to make a periodic reminder of the status of my personal belongings. While it is important to let go of the little things, it is also important to keep your word. I weighed the two concepts and decided keeping a vow is more important under the circumstances. What good is a person who fails to keep his promises?
      You may recall when I intervened in the Darlington County sheriff's race I had been abandoned to a nursing home by Team Chavis while they kept all of my personal belongings, surrogate for the campaign said all of my belongings were actually boxed up. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows this claim is false. No reason exist to keep any of my stuff if Team Chavis has no intention of ever contacting me again. But I called their bluff and will continue to do so. I have friends in Hartsville who are willing to retrieve my stuff. All they need is the go ahead fro Team Chavis. It is a go ahead that will, of course, never come.
     This is the character of your new sheriff, Darlington. He does not care about doing the right thing. He only cares about the sense of self-worth he derives from wearing a uniform. I will continue to serve as a source of truth for this matter.

Sarcasm Awareness Month

     October is Sarcasm Awareness Month. With Halloween capping the month off, the combination makes October the scariest month of the year. Of course, Halloween candy is sweet, but sarcasm is a dose of poison candy. 
     It goes without saying I engage in the occasional sarcastic barb myself. So brace yourselves. October is going to be my month to shine.
       Like I need to tell you that.