Welcome to yet another installment of A Thumb To The Eye. I’ll be your host, Chuck Platt. Hopefully, you took the opportunity to kick it Abe Lincoln style on Monday, because President’s Day is all about getting bombed, wrestling, and getting shot in the back of the head. phone rings What I MEANT to say was, President’s Day is all about acknowledging the contributions of high powered international cartels to the president and how that relates to… phone rings, again Well, according to the person on the phone, what I really meant to say was: President’s Day is all about appreciating the influences of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and all the other former presidents. There, that wasn’t too hard… Or was it?
Looks like a fun- filled six weeks is ahead of me, for once. I love late winter/ early spring. Next Tuesday I’ll be at the Smackdown! taping at Kemper Arena, cheering the heels and booing the faces, taunting Billy Gunn, and trying to resist making a “Turd Life: Basic Poopanomics” sign with a Mr. Hanky style John Cena on it. God, I love me some wrestling. Should be a good time, especially with Heather’s new digital camera, since we should come home with 400 or so pics. Also on the wrestling kick, I picked up the Mick Foley DVD last Tuesday and fell in love. Funny thing is, I’ve been watching the promos more than the matches. There is just some magical “thing” when Mick is on the stick.
Musically, I’ve been feeling, different. First of all, I picked up the Probot CD, which is Dave Grohl and the lead singers of all the crazy metal bands my mom wouldn’t let me have when I was a kid: Mercyful Fate, Voivod, Motorhead. It might be a little tongue in cheek, but it’s a great listen AND, since it has so many singers and tempo changes, my girlfriend is less likely to turn it off in favor of the dreaded radio. Besides Probot, the Darkness have snuck back into my CD player, with horrible sing alongs included. BUT, more than any of those, there is Ryan Adams’ Rock N Roll. For the last few years I have hated (HATED) Ryan Adams, so- called Alt Country, his band Whiskeytown, and anything else he was connected to. There was just something about him and his music that rubbed me the wrong way. Here was this “indie savior” with all his big talk of what music should and shouldn’t be and his big single is the trite and conveniently timed “New York, New York.” I couldn’t stand the guy. Then, a weird thing happened, I read the review of his new album in Blender and the fucking LOVED it. I was intrigued. $10 later and I was infatuated. The guitar tones, song structures, the lyrics, the vibe of the whole album was so incredible that it has been on the constant play stack far longer than most things last. Also, Love is Hell vol. 1 and 2 are good too, just not Rock N Roll good. Anyone know where to start my Sisters of Mercy collection?
Then, there’s the comic show… Planet Comicon! I went to last year’s show with a guy from work, Rod, and had a blast. This year looks to be no different, aside from the absence of the Penny Arcade guys, who I had never heard of when I went to last year’s show. Also missing is George Perez… In their stead, however, are some of my favourite comics creators: Bruce Jones, of the Hulk, Steve Niles, of 30 Days of Night, and Phil Hester, my favorite artist in all of comicdom. Last year, he signed all three of my issues of Firebreather, for which I was super grateful, but this year I am sooo springing the cash for a page or a sketch. I NEED a Phil Hester piece to hang up. But, even more than original art, I am going to work on my great work. Started last year, I began work on a complete collection of the Fantastic Four. Yes, I know I could have picked something a bit… cheaper, but I love the Fantastic Four more than any other book. As with last year, I am focusing on the sub- $1 issues, the bargain bin stuff. Also on my hit list are What if? and Power Pack back issues. Hell, maybe I should tighten up a few scripts and hand them out…
But what, you ask, about gaming? Well, as with the week before, this was a week for Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2. First, a slight correction. I said you could wield a warhammer in each hand with Borador. That was erroneous. Only Dorn can do such a thing. My bad, although I am shocked no one caught it. Any way, after playing two- player until six in the morning last week, I must confess that this is a game MADE for two players. I don’t remember having so much fun in an RPG type game. My other obsession has been Colonization for the PC. I can’t put my finger on it, but this is one game I can’t get enough of. Sunday saw me expunge a few games that got no play from my collection in exchange for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, although, much like Doshin, I haven’t gotten any game time with it yet.
I really don’t think I’d be the person I am today, were it not for kitsch. There is no telling the life I would lead, bereft of novelty, morbidity, and pastiche. Whether it’s Jim Kelly kicking some fool in the teeth, a giant vinyl Japanese robot, Hawaiian shirts, fondue (I actually have TWO fondue sets, and I am sooo contemplating a third), the music of Esquivel, corny joke books, outdated electronics, comedy records, or dusty musical instruments, I drown my sorrows in the silliness of yesterday on a daily basis. I’ll take novelty over edgy any day. Where does this sense of joy, extracted from the silly and disposable come from? I’m not a sociologist, but I have to figure that Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, yardsaling and flea market digging with my mother and grandmother, Godzilla and Conan movies, comic books, and Dr. Demento make me pretty suspicious that nurture trumped nature on this one. When I finally developed the attention span needed to watch a whole movie, it was Mystery Science Theater 3000 I watched, not HBO, although I did partake in some serious Skinemax viewership. for a long time, I felt alone in this love of the strange side of pop history, but, as I see my fellow Kliq members dig up Eggplant Wizard and R.O.B. the Robot, listen to the 14 yo. Girls sing about Slush Puppies, read RetroCrush, and see marathon after marathon of “I Love the 80’s” on VH1, I know I am not alone. Come with me, then, on the first tour through the trash heaps of gamedom, and smell….
The Sweet Stench of Novelty!
This week’s inductee is none other than the biggest player in the game, Mario Mario. Mario as kitsch? Surely I must jest! Alas, no, I am serious. Mario is a constantly, and consistently, kitschy character. More than anything, he reminds me of the Three Stooges and here’s why: In every Stooges movie, they would have the same names, the same relationships, and the same personalities, but the jobs would change. Now, take a look at Mario’s career path:
RPG Hero (Although technically a plumber still, he fulfills the RPG Hero requirement of never actually speaking.)
I’m sure I missed a few, but this isn’t a resume. Mario, at the insistence of his corporate masters, is stuck playing the same character over and over in different games. Why won’t they let him break out? Why? Are they afraid? All that’s left for Mario to do now is be a lawyer and he can marry any woman he wants with her parents’ approval, except, of course for Princess Peach. Now that I think about it, why would he even WANT to hook up with Peach? She is a mushroom, after all. Don’t they reproduce via spores? It would so suck for Mario to finally get some from Peach and all she does is spray some spores on him, roll over, and go to sleep. He’ll be right back to spanking the old Donkey Kong before his honeymoon’s over.
So, in Chuck’s Hall of Gaming Kitsch, the first entrant is:
1. Mario’s Career Path
If you have any pieces of gaming kitsch you wish to share, please feel free to drop me a line. You’ll get credit for the idea AND I won’t make fun of you. Unless your name rhymes with something, then you are sooo fair game.
The Rule of Thumb
Over the weekend, I, and the rest of the gaming crew, had some stimulating conversation about, among other things, wrestling games and importing. After talking to Nute and Yeager for awhile, I realized two things: the average gamer doesn’t know how easy import gaming can be and that our country is sucking hard in the wrestling game department. So, to help all of you along that don’t know any better, I am introducing a new department to my column, the Rule of Thumb, to help people into the world of import gaming. If you are already importing and don’t need any help, skip this. If you are too intimidated, busy, or apathetic to import, you can skip ahead, too. If you are a fellow importer and want to share tips, tricks and recommendations with people new to importing, feel free to drop me a line.
This week’s installment is all about getting ready to import. First of all, make sure you have one hell of a good surge protector. You should be using one already, but if you are not, get one. A surge protector is your friend and ally, it can save you money and frustration. Make sure you don’t skimp on this. I would also make sure I had a big stack of printer paper, for printing FAQs, a drawer exclusively for gaming paraphernalia, to put obi strips and other things that come with you newly imported titles in, spare memory cards, so you can keep import data separately, even if this isn’t required for the system you are using, it saves a lot of confusion and possible compatibility troubles later, and a notebook and paper, to make personal notation for each game. With that in hand, your gaming experience should be ready to begin.
Next week: the Dreamcast, Wrestling Games, and You!
Can you believe I have never done a pimping section? Me neither, so here we go:
Cory Laflin: Oddly enough, the closest Kliq member, geographically speaking, but the one I know the least, as of yet. It’s called AIM, dude. His best column, so far, would have to be this one, mainly because his war with Matt Wong was so hilarious.
Misha Sumra: It’s funny how well two people so far apart in the temporal world can get along in the digital one. As soon as a system allows me to buy someone abroad a beer, Misha gets his first round on me. This is where I think he really hit his stride, as a Kliq member, and I started to believe he was a real guy and not one of Alex’s alter egos. Enjoy Crystal Chronicles, you git.
Lee Motherfucking Baxley: Lee is the Man, simply put. I don’t really “get” anime or traditional RPGs, but I find myself unable to stop reading whatever it is he writes. I think he has that special something. His BAKA column is one of the best things this site has ever hosted.
Bryan Berg: Bryan is something else, a different animal, if you will. I can do nothing but respect his work. And he is secretly a Ninja! Well, at least he was until I outed him. As a Ninja, that is, not the other way. You know what I mean. Honestly, I think his latest column was his best. Keep on keeping on.
Alex-2: The butt of more intra-Kliq jokes from me than anyone else yet, still, one of my best friends on the site. I’m always looking to write more stuff with him, as I think our styles mesh nicely. A great kid and a Norwegian Athlete, to boot. I might have to drop the Alex-2 moniker to call him “Norwegian Wood” from now on. Why? Mainly because I’m kind of an asshole like that. Here’s the fanboy commentary.
liquidcross: I don’t know liquid, but I know I love his columns and his writing style. Too much, in fact, ass my dwindling word count can be partially attributed to my adoration of his style. I love brevity. Read all of his columns, every last one.
Fred Badlissi: He loves Bad Religion, thus making him cooler than most people. He was here before me, and has been kicking ass the whole time. I only wish I could be as insightful and funny. (As an aside, I sooo didn’t read this week’s column until I just plugged it. Sorry about the content overlap there, Fred. May I one day aspire to your coolness.)
Alex Lucard: What can I say about Alex? Nothing. He has been one of my best friends for almost a year and to put into words what that means to me would be cheap and half hearted. He has been there when no one else was, and, along with Alex Williams, helped me crawl back to my feet and get my shit together. There’s no telling what my life would be like without Lucard around. Plus, he is totally a Gwar fan!
Bebito, Chris… you need some new content. For real. I miss both of your writing. Come back, please…
Well, shower, wrestling, beer, and Buffalo Wings are waiting. Play some good games this week and I’ll see you next Tuesday.