Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just Dance.

I'll spare you the boring apologies for neglecting this blog again. I'm writing now. That's better than nothing, right?

Today a package arrived in the mail. A delightful package from Amazon filled with stuff I ordered. I got a gift card as a late birthday present from my dad, and I decided to wait until after Christmas to redeem it. I want to talk about two things that came in that package.

The first is a video game. Just Dance 2 for the Wii. I played the first Just Dance game at a friend's house a while back, and I really enjoyed it. I read the product description of the new game, and I thought it sounded like it would have some fun dances on it.

I decided to pop in the game after I got home from work today, and I was excited to see that it has a mode called "Just Sweat," which is really a workout/training system. It was actually really fun, and I did, indeed, sweat. Quite a lot. It's probably been my lack of exercise for the last couple months that really caused the sweat. I only worked out for 20 minutes total, but it was intense. I'm sure if anyone looked in my window and saw the way I was flailing around laughed pretty hard about it, too. But I had fun. And I might have even burned a few calories.

I just knew I had to quit when I flailed a bit too harshly and knocked my Nintendo DS off the coffee table, then on the next move flailed in another direction and flung my glasses to the floor. Now I get why they always remind you to wear the wrist strap on the controllers.

The other item that I want to talk about is a book. I'll give you the NERD ALERT now. It's a Wheel of Time book.

For you non-nerdy/geeky types, The Wheel of Time is an epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan. I've been reading it for about 8 years now, though the first book came out decades ago. I'm a little behind right now, and the book I got is book 12 in the series, which came out a year and a half ago. I waited until now because I wanted to get the paperback edition that matches all my other books in the series. I want the whole set to be the same.

This part of the story is sad. Robert Jordan, creator of a vast world filled with vivid characters, died before he was able to finish the series. Another fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, was asked to complete the last book of Jordan's empire.

The first thing I did after dancing a while today was read the forward that Sanderson wrote for this book. I cried. And then I felt pathetic because I was crying over a person I never knew outside of his fiction. Someone who died years ago. And it turns out that this isn't even the last book of the series - it grew to large and Sanderson and the editors decided to break it into three books.

After that, I realized that I was crying over someone real, even though I had never met him, never knew him, and he died a few years ago. All the crying I typically do is because of writers, ultimately, but it's over fiction. Stories make me cry. Television and movies and books most of all. But this time, it was none of that. It wasn't fiction at all.

Now I'm getting sad again, and I don't even know what my point was in sharing this. I should just think about the dancing.

Remember, boys and girls, in less than a year I'm doing a half marathon. I've got to whip myself back into shape. This will be easier once the gym in my work building opens, which will supposedly happen soon, but for now I have the dance, and sweat. And maybe the stray tear or two.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mario: Man of my Dreams

I spent a lot of time with my 9-year-old nephew last Saturday. It was an adventure - by far, it was the most time I've spent with anyone under the age of 10 in a very long time. But that's another blog post.

My nephew is very much a part of our family. He's only 9, but he's already showing off his nerdy/geeky tendencies. He likes books and comics and cartoons - and video games. He really likes video games. I'm sure part of it is his generation, being raised by the first generation of video game lovers who have had the pleasure of enjoying video games for their entire lives. But I can tell that he has a love for the classics.

He asked me a question on Saturday. "Who is your favorite NES character?"

As a big fan of video games, especially the classics, myself, I knew that "NES" referred to the Nintendo Entertainment System - that first Nintendo system that brought Super Mario Bros. into our lives. Just to clarify, I asked my nephew if he meant all of Nintendo, or just the original Nintendo. He assured me that it was original.

I gave it some thought. A lot of the games I enjoy today had their origins on the NES - "Final Fantasy" started there, but the original didn't really have the most memorable characters - that didn't happen until the Super Nintendo came around. "The Legend of Zelda" also began on the NES, and Link - the protagonist character in those games - has always been one of my favorites. But I had to go with the ultimate classic.

"It's gotta be Mario," I replied. "He's where it all began."

My nephew was satisfied with that answer. As a player of plenty of modern games, he knows that Mario has built himself an empire - he's like the godfather of Nintendo games.

It's very true. I love Mario games - the classic platformers. I love the spin-offs, like Mario Kart and Mario Party. I love them all.

Today, I went to the video game page on Amazon to add a game I saw advertised on television to my wish list. That game is for the DS, and it looks like a fun one - it's called "Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem." But I got sidetracked. Right on the front of the Amazon video game page, I saw this:

You can find the info on it here: Super Mario All-Stars on Amazon or here: Official Nintendo Site.

Now, those of you in the know are aware that quite some time ago, a Super Mario All-Stars game came out. For the SNES. It came out in 1993, and it contained Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros - The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros 2, and Super Mario Bros 3. This game, the same. I've even purchased all of those games (except The Lost Levels) through the Virtual Console for the Wii, so I can play them any time I want.

Even so, I nearly cried when I read the product description. It's a giant bucket of nostalgia and I want it. I want the goodies that come with it (a Mario history book and a soundtrack CD). This game encompasses everything that I loved about video games in my childhood.

Those of you buying me Christmas presents: the game comes out on Sunday. It's a mere $30 if you buy it on Amazon (free shipping!) - that's a steal for a new Wii game. Just sayin'. It'll be on my Wish List.

I may be 30 years old, but the chubby plumber with the red hat will always hold a place in my heart as my first true love.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cartoons and Facebook

If you're on Facebook, surely you've seen the latest viral trend to change your profile picture to a favorite cartoon from your childhood. The post most people are adding to their status updates is something like this:

"Change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday (Dec. 6) there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. This is to support the fight against violence towards children."

There are many variations on the status update - this was just taken from one of the many posts I saw my various friends make. Over the course of the weekend, I've seen a ton of different cartoons from my childhood popping up in my Facebook news feed. It's been a wonderful trek down memory lane, reminding me about all the cartoons I don't get to watch anymore.

Personally, I didn't add the status update, but I did change my profile picture to one of Lisa Simpson. Technically, The Simpsons started when I was a child - I was a kid in the late 80s when the show began. But I chose that picture because I already had it in my file of profile pictures on Facebook - I've used it as my profile picture before. I like Lisa Simpson.

What I really want to address is the last bit of that status update - the bit about fighting violence against children. Me changing my profile picture to an image of Lisa Simpson is going to do absolutely nothing to fight child abuse. And I know that. I just like Lisa Simpson. That's why I didn't bother adding that stupid status update to my profile. I know it's not going to do anything.

And don't get me started on "raising awareness." We all know that child abuse happens, and we all know that we probably should be doing something about it. Remember the first couple posts I made in this blog? I wrote about that Facebook trend where women were encouraged to post the color of their bra to "raise awareness" for breast cancer. I went off on that concept then, and this one is exactly the same.

But you all know this, and you probably all think the same thing I do. You're probably all just like me - you wanted to remember the cartoons of your youth, and you've been enjoying seeing them all infect your Facebook newsfeeds. Right?

Today, I saw something new. Supposedly, the whole idea of changing your profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood was started by a group of child molesters. Supposedly they think that if the kids see a picture of a cartoon, they'll be more likely to accept the friend request.

This may or may not be true, I have no idea. However, I know that my Lisa Simpson picture is not going to make a difference whether or not some sort of pervert is going to try to prey on his next victim. How does it benefit the bad guys if all my friends are posting pictures from cartoons? I don't really get it. Why do the pedophiles need a viral Facebook trend to change their profile pictures to cartoons? I've seen it plenty of times before this trend started - like I said, I've used the Lisa Simpson picture before.

It's all a matter of scaring the masses. The bad people are out to get your children. We're all going to get cancer and die. Everything in the world is bad and nothing is ever good or done just for the fun of it. There's always a group out there with an ulterior motive, and I'm sick of it.

Use your brains, people. If you like cartoons, change your profile picture. If you don't like cartoons, leave your picture the way it was. It won't matter one way or the other.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Feeling Introspective

What is it about the holidays that makes me feel so down in the dumps?

I'm sitting here in my house - both the snowstorm outside and a raging cough are keeping me cooped up indoors, with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. Well, my computer is here, too, and the television. But none of that is real. It's just me here.

I can't seem to stop myself from watching sappy movies where the girl inevitably finds the love of her life. Happily ever after and all that crap. I cry. Then I remember that it's been over a year since I've even been close to being on a date, so naturally I find myself wandering over to OK Cupid to see what's there... which of course, ultimately, is nothing I'm interested in.

This is the same stupid cycle I always end up in, and it always crops up this time of year. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the short days and minimal sunlight. I get sad because I'm alone. I think about trying to find someone to cure the aloneness, then realize that I couldn't find anyone who would take me for what I am because of my big butt and bigger gut and my chubby fingers and stupid squinty eyes. Naturally, instead of doing something to get rid of those first three (can't do much about the eyes), I consider the fact that I always fail when I try to better myself. I give up before I even start, and I end up sitting on my couch crying, then blogging about it. Next I will, without fail, raid my pantry and fridge for anything resembling junk food. Then I'll continue sitting on my ass watching stupid sappy movies and the cycle begins anew.

My landlord is showing my apartment tomorrow to a potential new renter. I should be tidying up so that the place actually looks presentable. Instead, I'm engaging in self-destructive behavior that I know isn't good for me.

(Huh. Someone is trying to have a conversation with me on OK Cupid right now. Unfortunately, he seems to have no concept of grammar, and he freely admits that he doesn't like to read. Why on earth does this guy claim to want to get to know me? Oh well - told him I'm not feeling chatty and he hasn't written a word since. Excellent.)

Ok, it's time for me to find some dinner now. Then I might go to bed.