Thursday, January 28, 2010

Marlo

Another week, another blog night. I’ve been back here five months already. How the time does fly here in the ROK. Winter’s almost over. Travel season starts soon, a big reason why I came back here. That, and the health care, and the Taco Bell opening just two months from now. Don’t leave the light on for me, America. I won’t be home soon.

I haven’t been on a trip in forever. Fortunately, this comes to an end in 4 weeks, and in style. On February 26th, I’m going on vacation.

My plan all along has been a trip to Southeast Asia, simply because my trip occurs in late February and early March. I want to get out of the cold, and it’s too expensive to fly to Fiji. My original plan was to fly to Bangkok again and to hit up Laos or Cambodia overland. Flights to BKK from Seoul also seemed expensive, so I decided any Southeast Asian hub (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore) will do.

Ultimately, I chose to fly to Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines for a few reasons. Price was a factor, of course. Also, I’m an airline/airport nerd. Malaysia is a 5 star airline, and the Kuala Lumpur airport is ranked top ten in the world. I’ve never flown Malaysia Airlines or been to the KL airport (or KL period) so I’m excited to check out both. Malaysia boasts pretty much the best food I’ve ever had in my life, so I’m eager to get back to that. Finally, KL is the hub of Air Asia, the largest low-cost airline in, well, Asia.

Kuala Lumpur should be cool for two or three days. There’s the aforementioned food. There are cool neighborhoods and museums. Perhaps most interestingly, KL is famous for cut-rate top-notch hotels. I generally hit up a hostel or cheap hotel in the Chinatowns or Little Indias of the world. However, if I can snag a 5 star joint in the heart of town for $75 a night, it would be hard to turn that down. This falls well within my travel ethos. I’m anti-mid-range. No Holiday Inns for me, at least in foreign counties. I’d rather hit up the character and convenience of a no-name below Motel 6 dump. The only logical alternative? The Ritz.

Beyond KL is where my problem lies. My options are pretty much endless. On Air Asia, I could fly for cheap to any Southeast Asian country, along with India, Bangladesh, the UAE, or Australia. I quickly ruled out UAE and Australia, simply because I don’t want to fly for 7 hours on a 737, especially since Air Asia has no onboard booze. The Subcontinent is essentially out too. Again, long flights, plus too vast and too much paperwork required for a weeklong trip. I’m back to my original square one - anywhere in Southeast Asia. Of the countless options on the table, there are five that I’m considering at the moment. I’ll break them down, including pros on cons. Bah, pros and cons in kinda boring, instead I’ll break the pluses down as Rocky IVs (the finest film ever made) and Rocky Vs (the worst dreck ever filmed).

The first option - my original Cambodia plan. I could fly from KL to Siem Reap and spend a few days hiking around Angkor Wat. After a few days in jungle ruins, I could take the slow boat down the Mekong to Phnom Penh. In PP, I could check out ancient Khmer temples, eat French food, and drink like a Phnish before flying back to KL. IVs of this plan - Angkor, which I’ve wanted to see for years, awesome food, float on the Mekong, go to a new country. Vs - slightly long flight, malaria, no beach.

The second option - Thai beaches. I could take the train from KL to Hat Yai, then take a bus to Krabi and a boat to Koh Phi Phi. Time permitting, I could also head over to Koh Phangan. To save time, I could fly back to KL via either Krabi or Koh Samui. IVs - beaches, a cool SE Asian night train, staying a night in a sketchy crossroads town like Hat Yai, undoubtedly a good time. Vs - not checking out any new countries, though I would be in only new cities; terrorism in southern mainland Thailand, Koh Phi Phi is fairly expensive.

The third option - the western Borneo circuit. I could fly from KL to Kutching, a town in Malaysian Borneo that sounds really cool. After two days, I could take the bus (9 hours) to Pontianak, Indonesia on the west coast of Borneo, just below the Equator. After two days, I could fly to Pulau Bintam, Indonesia, an apparently hellish island that makes Hat Yai look like Stockholm. Flights from Pontianak to Bintam are apparently dirt cheap. I could hang out in Bintam for as long as I could stand it (maybe as long as two hours) before catching a 1 hour boat ride to Singapore. After one night in Singapore, I could head up to Melaka, Malaysia for a couple nights before returning to KL in time to catch my redeye flight home. IVs - longhouses and jungle in Borneo, going to fucking Borneo, a good couple beach days in Indonesia, going to a new country, crosing the Equator, spending one day in familiar environs (Singapore), checking out Melaka which is supposed to be awesome, a good mix of urban/rural. seeing a lot. Vs - a lot of movement, never being settled, never having time to get used to a particular place, a 9 hour bus ride, malaria, having to fly on something called Batavia Airlines.

The fourth option - Malaysia and Sumatra. I could go down to Melaka for a couple of days, then take the ferry to Sumatra. After a long bus ride, I could fly a couple of puddle jumpers up to extreme northwest of Sumatra for a world-class, largely untouched beach. After a few days there, I could return to KL on a series of flights. IVs - a new country (Indonesia), a real adventure, a trip to an awesome beach. I’d also be going somewhere that’s well off the beaten track, and wouldn’t have to worry about returning on a future (semi-planned) mega Indonesia trip. Vs - pretty rural, and it will require a lot of travel to get there. Also, malaria. Potential unreliability of flights may force me to return to KL several days early.

The fifth option - Peninsular Malaysia. I could go to Melaka, the east coast islands, the interior jungle, the Cameron Highlands, pretty much anywhere that tickled my fancy. I’d see jungle, world class beaches, and certainly eat well throughout. IVs - undoubtedly the easiest option. I wouldn’t have to book any additional transportation in advance. If I wanted to wake up in Ipoh, I’d wake up in Ipoh. I’d only be dealing with buses and trains. I could really get to know a country. World class beaches. The jungle experience would be similar to Borneo or Sumatra, only with no chance of seeing an orangutan. Vs - the least ambitious choice, no new countries, slight malaria threat should I spend much time in the peninsular interior jungle, the least variety.

Like Marlo Stanfield said, this is one of those “good” problems. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My second favorite song

NOTE - this post was originally written as an article for The Point. The Point is undoubtedly the finest pop-culture newspaper available in Northeast Kansas (actually, I'd say it's the best paper in the region period concerning art, music, and beer, ie, stuff that matters). If you live in Lawrence or Topeka, you can pick up a free copy of The Point at pretty much any cool place of business. I highly recommend it. I've read every issue cover to cover, and you know how lazy I am. You will be entertained. Also, it's free. That said, on to the article (and yes, that's the proper term, cause this shit was published in the newspaper, yo.)

Everybody knows my favorite song. It’s been the same for over a hundred years now. My second-favorite song, however, used to change often. Now it doesn’t.

I’d always hated Deathcab for Cutie (spoiler alert - my second-favorite song is by Death Cab for Cutie). I hated their bah-bah song, I hated their glasses, I hated their overall indie-ness, it just didn’t fit into my ethos.

In early 2006, I had just quit my job and was reveling in my well-deserved retirement. Only three weeks removed from the foul world of slinging phones, my sleeping schedule had moved on to a full state-of-nature existence. I went to the bar, then stayed up all night playing video games, then drunken dialed people on their way to work before I went to sleep at 8 a.m. I woke up at 6 p.m. and went to Taco Bell to pick up my one real meal of the day, then ate my food while watching that afternoon’s Tivoed episodes of Saved By the Bell and Dawson’s Creek, followed by The Daily Show and Colbert, then the bar again, then video games again. It was fantastic.

This couldn’t last forever, of course. On one chilly Friday night (excellent detail for Chicago in January, really makes you feel like you’re there) my buddy Daniel called me up from Kansas. He was bored, it was 2 a.m. or so, and he decided he wanted to come up to Chicago for the weekend. His goal - to make it to Chicago in time to watch the Kansas-Kentucky basketball game, which was being nationally televised 9 hours hence. This worked perfectly for me, as I was in the final throes of my battle with Zelda III: A Link to the Past, and I knew that I would have to stay up later than the usual 8 a.m. to finish the game.

The operation ran like clockwork. I beat Zelda, then the liquor store across the street opened, then Daniel arrived, and finally KU tipped off, all within a 20 minute window. We watched the game (the Miles falling-down assist - Michael Lee buzzer three pointer game, as it would turn out), and napped.

Yet, it was clear from my staying up extra late - until 1 pm, and Daniel’s inevitable desire to not play Super-NES-era video games all night, that I would soon have to actually be awake during some daylight hours. The next day, he even wanted to go downtown (the nerve, forcing me to leave my block during the winter). He was interested in buying the then-new iPod video, which could not be done in Lawrence at that time as Lawrence didn’t have an electronics store decent enough to sell iPods (there’s a Best Buy there now, woohoo).

Returning to my apartment, new iPod in hand, Daniel logically wanted to put songs on it. Fortunately, since he was on a 9-hour each way road trip, he had every CD that mattered to him at the time in his truck. I reaped the benefits of this, as he uploaded them all to my computer in order to sync them onto his new device. This included the then-new Death Cab For Cutie CD, “Plans”. I was mortally opposed to his befouling my music library with such indie drek, but he argued that I could erase the CD after he downloaded it to the iPod. This seemed reasonable to me, although I was far to lazy to actually search for the offending tracks in order to delete them.

Daniel left, and because his visit required me to be awake at obscene hours like 4 p.m., I fell back into being awake for upwards of three daylight hours per day. I decided to use this newfound early-to-rise vigor to travel. I booked a flight to Florida to see my dad the following week, and while there, I bought (well, bought isn’t the right word, nor is frequent flyer miles, but it’s closer to the latter than the former. Yes, it was legal. Yes, it was shady. I won’t elaborate anymore than that) a business-class flight to Europe immediately thereafter.

Two days after leaving Florida, I flew to Copenhagen. This was supposed to be a quick layover but ended up being a day trip due to a Scandinavian Airlines strike. Worked for me. Free hotel, free dinner, free breakfast, free taxi, and free booze in Copenhagen made for an unexpected good time in a country I’d never been to. I got a quick KLM flight to Amsterdam, my original destination, to meet my buddy Cree, who was touring Europe at the time. Slinging phones sucks. Unemployment wins.

Amsterdam is a fine place to begin a European adventure, particularly one that involves renting a car, and especially one in which I had no intention of driving. See, there are certain products available for purchase in Amsterdam that are not available in other places. Of course, I speak of tulips. We (and by me, I mean Cree, as I was far too concerned with tulips and other local foliage matters to actually drive) drove through Holland, Belgium, and Germany. After a week on the road, we arrived in Munich, where Cree was taking German classes, and I was on my own.

I caught the train to Vienna. I went to my hostel bar the first night, and went to bed after the bar closed at midnight due to my long train ride and a particularly raucous night at the Haufbrau Haus in Munich the night before. I got up early the following morning and headed to Schonbrunn, the Hapsburg’s summer palace on the outskirts of Vienna.

It was cold, bitingly so, with snow on the ground. February in Vienna, nothing like it. Schonbrunn boasted its share of tourists given the weather conditions, but I presume the Hapsburgs hung out there in July for a reason. Rocking my own pod, I walked up a lonely hill along a snow-dusted path to a grotto that had been well-loved by Marie-Theresse (or some other Hapsburg, my Central European history is pretty weak) and took a look around. There were no other people within sight. I still had plenty of tulips in my pocket, and realized this would be a perfect time to tiptoe through them.

In a reasonably altered state, I began my way down the snowy path. My pod was playing the usual fare when it chose the predictable Death Cab for Cutie song, the one from the record that I intended to delete but never did. It hit, oh man did it hit. I listened to it three times in a row while walking across the snowy palace grounds. I caught the subway for downtown Vienna to hit up some coffee shops, museums, and a schnitzel place.

By the time I returned to the hostel that night, I’d listened to the song no less than 14 times. When I returned to the hostel bar, I met these two amazingly beautiful Chilean girls who had hooked up their MP3 player to the bar’s PA system. Guess what song they were playing? Sometimes, life just makes too much sense.

I didn’t get around to listening to the rest of the record until my train to Prague the following day, and it seemed these Deathcabs were no one hit wonder. “Plans” is a great record. Given my feeling about the band beforehand, it killed me to say so, but it seems that my first impression of Deathcab was (gulp) wrong. I love that album from beginning to end (other than some a couple obvious filler songs in the middle) but 3 years later, the song that still sticks with me is the first that I’d heard - “Soul Meets Body” - my second favorite song.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Every story has its price

What’s the fair cost for a good story? By this, I mean what is a suitable monetary amount to be spent or lost over the course of an interesting event? Regarding this question, I am not concerned with other cost factors like public humiliation, injury, or loss of important relationships. This is a question that I’ve pondered for years.

Stay with me here.

Two examples: A) a Korean buddy of mine once told me a story about his first trip to Seoul (he’s from the provinces) and how he got tricked into going into a fairly shady nightclub. Sadly, I don’t remember the details, but at the end of the night he was forced to shell out $1,400. B) one of my all-time greatest stories comes from Mexico. I won’t recount it at this time, but I will say that it involved a cage, tequila, the destruction of my favorite pair of boxers, and obviously public humiliation. Yet, the fiduciary damage that I absorbed was a mere twenty dollars, making this tale quite a deal.

The point? Obviously, sometimes, interesting things happen only because somebody is willing to spend an extraordinary amount of money to create drama, and other times interesting things happen despite spending next to nothing. I suppose you knew this. I guess my real question concerns the fiscal worth of a story to the storyteller. I suppose I would pay, say, $640 for the permanent rights to my Mexico story. Of course, had I spent $640 the night it happened, it would take away from the tale. My Korean buddy would certainly prefer to have spent considerably less than $1,400 for his story, but had he paid much less, it wouldn’t be as funny.

My buddy Daniel is famous for living and creating interesting adventures that cost him next to nothing. Offhand, I can think of three classic Daniel stories that cost him less than $50 combined. My buddy Cree is famous for living and creating interesting adventures that cost him amazing sums of money. Offhand, I can thing of three classic Cree stories that cost him thousands of dollars. For sheer entertainment, I would give the nod to Cree for having slightly better stories. However, the average Cree story costs 20 or 30 times more than the average Daniel story, and they certainly aren’t 20 or 30 times better. My Korean buddy’s story is clearly a “Cree,” and my Mexico story is more a “Daniel.”

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I’ve generally been lucky regarding wallets. Sunglasses, not so much. I’ve lost hundreds (probably an accurate number) over the years. Cameras have been a sticking point too. I’ve lost four of those. I’ve lost keys, I’ve lost packs of smokes, I’ve lost phone numbers. Pretty much, if it’s in my pockets, I’ll lose it eventually. Until Saturday, I’d only lost my wallet once, on the Orange Line El in Chicago in 2004 after getting smashed at BWI and my ensuing Southwest flight to Midway.

I lost my wallet at Gecko’s bar in Itaewon on Saturday night. I realized it a few minutes after leaving the bar, and quickly returned. I got it back, cards intact, but the “good samaritan” that turned it in to the bar liberated me of $130 or so - obviously the weight of which caused my wallet to fall out of my pocket to begin with.

Upon losing $130 for no good reason, I instantly thought of all the ways I would have rather lost the money. I could have gone to the track. I could have put it all in roulette. I could have bought this awesome $100 Lego set displayed at my local supermarket. I could have gone to Costco and bought a shitload of fancy cheese. I could have bought a pair of Levi’s (the going rate here). I could have bought 65 bottles of Jinro wine. I could have hired a maid for a month. I could have set it on fire for shits and grins. I could have (well, would have) spent it on booze.

Losing $130 is still no call to go home. I took out some more cash, and headed to The Wolfhound Pub with my buddies. While angrily pissing and moaning about my misfortune, I managed to meet a girl.

We got along swimmingly. For some reason, I spent the early portion of our conversation talking about “Spring Awakening,” a play that I was in in 1997 that is now a pretty big deal on Broadway (though from what I understand, our little student-produced job in Tacoma didn’t have a whole lot of bearing over the success that the show has experienced in New York.). She’s a Korean girl, but one that lived in New York for over a decade and spoke perfect English. She’s arty, creative, and western in mindset. She’s just the type of girl guys like me look for at an Irish Pub in Itaewon on a Saturday night, and she knew it. The Wolfhound closed. My buddies and I suggested a change of venue, and she and her friend were happy to go. It was 3:30 in the morning.

We stopped at a food stand, where a Korean dude she knew came buy and talked to her (in Korean, of course.) I assumed she would bail, but I wasn’t too invested and thus didn’t care. She didn’t leave. We went to The Loft (hardly Itaewon’s finest bar, but it was open and nearby) and I paid her cover, allowing her to drink all she wanted for free for the next... 20 minutes. The stupid Loft ends it’s Ladies Night promotion at 4 a.m. - bummer.

After getting situated, she forced me onto the dance floor and (ugh) coerced me to dance. Not too long into this, some other dude came up to her. This guy (another Korean) had cheesy DJ-style can headphones around his neck. He was not the DJ. I considered intervening, but again, I didn’t particularly care, or at least wanted to think that way. Eventually, he came up to me, apologized, and was never heard from again. Strange.

I’m not one to kiss and tell, but we started making out shortly after this. Then, things got ridiculous.

While continuing to make out, we both talked about being writers. I told her about this blog, but promised not to write about her. It would not be the last lie I told. She said she wanted to be famous. She said she would be famous, to remember her name. It would not be the last lie she told. She was, like I said, an arty girl in New York. We spent a considerable amount of time talking about New York and Hollywood.

I talked about how I knew people in Hollywood - clearly a total lie. A fun lie, nonetheless. I haven’t told that particular lie in years, and I feel as though I was a better person when I used to brag to girls about my false Hollywood connections. I didn’t mean to lie, of course. At the time, I think I believed it on some level.

Here’s the kicker. She told me that Bradley Cooper (y’know, from The Hangover) was her ex-boyfriend. By the transitive property of movies, I suppose that means I could hook up with Scarlett Johannson.

As her friend was still around, and it was really late, I decided to ask for her number. She was a kook, but she was a cute and interesting kook. She wouldn’t give it to me. She was still willing to make out with me, in fact quite eager to continue doing so, but she wouldn’t give me her number. This was an unprecedented development for me. I’ve never made out with a girl at the bar who later refused to give me her number. I didn’t know what to think of this. I offered to walk her home (she lived nearby), and she shockingly agreed to this. We left, but her friend back at the bar called her twelve seconds later, and she said she had to leave with her friend. She still wouldn’t give me her number. She said we’d meet again anyway, which I suppose could happen since Itaewon isn’t that big. She left with her friend (a chick, btw).
I found my buddies, and declared that shots and beers were in order, stat. After all, the whole time that I’d been talking to the girl, I’d nursed two drinks - one that came free with my cover to theLloft, and the other that she bought. It was 6 a.m., and I was nearly sober again.

During these late night/early morning drinks, I pondered this question: is the story of this wacky night worth $130 to me? Losing my wallet changed the trajectory of the night. Had it not happened, we probably would have never gone to the Wolfhound. Even if we had it wouldn’t have been at as opportune a time to meet that girl. Plus, my mindset would have been wholly different.

Fast forward to the cab ride home. The taxi dropped us off at McDonald’s at 7:30 a.m. (strangely, its still dark at 7:30 a.m. here in the winter) so we could get some hotcakes. As I was ordering my breakfast, the taxi driver came into the McDonald’s, came up to me, and handed me MY WALLET. Unbelievable. Twice in one night. There were a couple bucks poking out of the top, so I peeled them out and gave them to the cabbie in gratitude. He declined at first, then accepted the tip. Again, there is no tipping here. I ordered my hotcakes, then opened my wallet to pay - it was empty. I only had $20 or $30 on me at that point, but the cabbie made off with that. On the plus side, I had my wallet intact so I could pay for my hotcakes with a card. On the minus side, there’s simply no way this story is worth $160. Unless you’re Cree.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Armored Jae-hak draws near

I was going to write this as a comment, then I realized I could just do it as a post. Here’s my positive reactions to Kickass’s video game top 20:

- Ballsy to do a cross-system top-20.

- Zelda is a solid number one. It’s over 20 years old, but I played it for the 9001st time a couple weeks ago and still enjoyed the hell out of it. Plus, Zelda second quest isn’t just revolutionary, it’s singular. To my knowledge, no other video game included an almost wholly different second quest. Lots of games feature New Game +, but it’s always the exact same game only easier. Only Zelda invented whole new dungeons and locations for its second quest. I’ve only beaten it once. I should play second quest again.

- I am shocked, shocked, that Kickass ranked Street Fighter 2 arcade over Mortal Combat arcade. I would rank Street Fighter 2 higher, but I was much better at Street Fighter than I was at MK. In 1993, the only year that mattered for MK arcade, Dr. Kickass was literally the second best player in the world, he murdered me at it every time.

Here’s where I’m gonna have to call him out:

- Grand Theft Auto 3. This game causes a bit of a conundrum. It was revolutionary, and clearly the best game of it’s day (2001). However, one year later, Vice City introduced motorcycles, a far superior soundtrack, and interesting voice actors into the Grand Theft Auto universe, and thus made GTA3 essentially unplayable. Obviously, there could be no Vice City without GTA3. Then again, there could be no Ocarina without The Legend of Zelda. Ocarina is a brilliant game with amazing technical advances, and 10 years newer than the original Zelda. Yet, Ocarina makes Zelda no less playable. Vice City shut down GTA3 on the same platform one year later. San Andreas was even better than Vice City. When choosing a representative game for the GTA series o the PS2, San Andreas is undoubtedly the best. Prove me wrong. Try playing 2 hours into GTA3. You can’t. It’s more dated than games 10 or 20 years its senior.

- In the same type of category, I have to shoot down Dragon Warrior. It broke new ground, it has brilliant Engrish quotes, and it was the focus of my life for months. Nowadays, it’s unplayable. Try it. 97% of the game is saving money and raising levels. It’s wretched. I attempted to play through it again in 2006 when I was unemployed and literally had nothing better to do, and I couldn’t finish it.

- Sir, if you’re going fully cross-platform, I can’t believe you left out Digger and that unnecessary surgery game on the Cordata.

- I’m amazed that you picked Tecmo Super Bowl on the Genesis. Of all the Tecmo and Madden titles, Tecmo Super Bowl on Genesis was the only one that I consistently beat you at. You had no answer for Reggie White and Favre.

I can’t compare apples and rutabagas. Here’s my all time top 10 NES games:

10. Marble Madness
9. Ninja Gaiden
8. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out
7. Mega Man 2
6. Simon’s Quest
5. Tecmo Bowl
4. Metroid
3. Super Mario 3
2. The Legend of Zelda
1. Super Mario Bros

And yeah, I can’t believe I left off Dragon Warrior III and IV, Castlevania and Castlevania III, Ice Hockey, and what the hell, Rush N’ Attack.

Non-video game post tomorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Video Games - Kickass

I would like to add that Jae-hak forgot one key video game system. Sega CD. I think I bought the 3rd unit ever sold (out of 4 units made). But nothing beat coming home after a long day of junior high, popping in a game of Snatcher, and finding some hookers. Those were kickass times.

My list will be the top twenty video games. Of all time. On any system.

20. Wonderboy 3: The Dragon’s Trap – Sega Master System
19. NBA Jam - Arcade
18. Super Mario Cart - SNES
17. Metroid - NES
16. Modern Warfare 2 – Xbox 360
15. Resident Evil – PS1
14. Dragon Warrior - NES
13. Mega Man 2 – NES
12. Mass Effect – Xbox 360
11. Rise of the Dragon – Sega CD
10. Golden Eye – N64
9. Grand Theft Auto 3 – PS2
8. Halo – Xbox
7. Chrono Trigger - SNES
6. Tecmo Super Bowl – Genesis
5. Mortal Kombat - Arcade
4. Oblivion – Xbox 360
3. Super Mario Brothers - NES
2. Street Fighter 2 – Arcade
1. The Legend of Zelda - NES

Discuss.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Video Games!!!! (and al queda)

This is the 145th post here at Nintendo is Right, Nascar is Wrong. I figure its finally time to talk Nintendo.

First, I want to talk about terrorism. Fucking hell. When will this plague of inconvenience end? Yeah, I understand, lives are at stake, blah blah, but I’m a person that plans his week around crossing the large street in front of my apartment as few times as possible. If I run out of water in my apartment (the tap water in Korea is not safe for human consumption) then my solution is to guzzle soju until I pass out rather than the unconscionable burden of taking an elevator down 6 floors to the convenience store on the first floor.

Some brain dead horsefucker tries to light his shoes on fire, now everyone (well, everyone in America, not so much here) has to take off their goddamn shoes before getting on a plane. A couple of goat rusty-tromboners try to make some asinine liquid based bomb in London, and now everyone (here too) has to smuggle toothpaste like a drug mule. Plus, we get the added perk of paying $4.69 for a fucking half liter of water should we become thirsty past security. Now, some derelict Cincinnati-bow-tier of manatees decides to attempt to blow his dick off over Detroit. Great. I can’t wait to see what ridiculous security procedures become permanent now. I hope it’s the only logical one - banning pants on airliners. At last that will save me the trouble of taking off my belt before going through the metal detector.

Anyhow, Nintendo. Plus, for the hell of it: lists. I should have done lists last week for the decade thing. Everyone does lists for that sort of thing. I’m a sucker for lists. I spent the whole of December 26th hungover, indoors, and reading end of the decade lists. It was easily a top ten day.

First list - top 10 video game systems:

10 - TurboGrafx 16 - in late 89 or early 90, my buddy Wiley got one of these, with Bonk’s Advenure, of course. It was the first time I had ever seen a 16 bit (4th gen) system. The graphics in “Bonk’s Adventure” was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life at the time. Unfortunately, I believe the unit that the good people at TurboGrafx sold to Wiley was the only one they ever sold.

9 - Xbox 360 - I never owned one, but it’s a solid system. Dr. Kickass got one the week they came out, so I had access to one for several months. Microsoft got the controller right this time, fixing the most glaring error of their original machine.

8 - PlayStation - again, I never owned one, but Dr. Kickass had one in the later days of our communal existence in our childhood home. It upped the ante on a number of titles that ported across systems, and it exclusively held the divine Final Fantasy VII.

7 - Nintendo Wii - the first of a shitload of Nintendo products on this list. Like the others I’ve mentioned, I’ve never owned a Wii, but its an obvious game changer. My local bar sports one, and it’s a great excuse to talk to girls. It’s also nice to get the experience of playing tennis while staying indoors and drinking beer.

6. Sega Master System - it makes the list and the more famed Genesis doesn’t. Why? Two reasons. Wonder Boy 3 - The Dragon’s Trap is one of the best video games I’ve ever played. Plus, Joe Montana’s Sportstalk Football was revolutionary. “And they line up for a punt on second down and I. Can’t. Believe it. It’s a fake!” In the many, many times that my brother -er- Dr. Kickass and I played each other in that game, we never once called a conventional play. It was all halfback passes and flea-flickers and fake punts on second down for the computer announcer’s reaction.

5. Nintendo DS - this is my newest system. I never had a Game Boy back when, and I was never really a fan. Yeah, I beat greyscale Super Mario Land, but shit was hard on a one inch screen, even for Old Eagle Eye here. The DS rules. The games look fantastic on the small screen, and it has tons of awesome titles.

4. Nintendo 64 - The N64 was thoroughly crushed by the PS1 in sales, it had a clunky controller, it clung to cartridge technology well past its time, and before the rabid success of Wii and DS, it seemed like the beginning of the end for Nintendo. Why is it number 4? The 64 was the exclusive realm of three all-time classics. Mario 64. Goldeneye. Ocarina of Time (and Majora’s Mask, which I’ve determined is the better game upon recently replaying both). Each of these changed what video games were, what they meant to people. I got solid grades my sophomore year of college, but I spent far more time perfecting my 007 game than studying for any given class.

3. Super Nintendo Entertainment System - the 16-bit king. Sega never came up with anything graphically like Donkey Kong Country. SNES also sported my pick for best RPG ever - Chrono Trigger. If there’s a game I’ve spent more hours on (lifetime) than Chrono, then it’s Tecmo Super Bowl 3. Like Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz, Radiohead’s Kid A matches up perfectly with Tecmo Super Bowl 3.

2. PlayStation 2 - It was the coin of the realm forever. I don’t think any other console was dominant for so long. It was the exclusive (at first) and best platform for the eternal sixth gen Grand Theft Auto games. It was the only game in town for playing God of War or Final Fantasy X.

1. CD-i - the largest machine evar... obviously, I kid here. Number one all-time is obviously the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES is the best possible argument against anti-trust forces. The NES was, essentially, a monopoly. Its only competition was the Sega Master System and the Atari 7800, and the only person I knew in real life that bought these systems was my brother. He didn’t own them at the same time, he bought an Atari, it broke in a week, and he traded it in for a Sega. He never would have bought either if he didn’t already have unfettered access to my NES. With a few exceptions (Wonder Boy 3, Bonk’s adventure, Joe Montana Sportstalk Football) pretty much every game at the time that mattered was an exclusive NES property. Super Mario 1, 2, and 3. Tecmo Bowl. Contra. Metroid. Zelda 1 and 2. Mega Man. This is just a list of titles I’ve re-defeated in the last couple weeks. The NES also launched Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Ninja Gaiden, and Dragon Warrior. Plus, it’s the blog’s namesake. I had little recourse.

Meh, that’s long enough. No more lists today.

Dr. Kickass, get in the game. I know you’re busy, but post something video game related in the next 72 hours.
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