Monday, December 10, 2012

Nerding 101

It was circa 1992. My best friend and I were gearing up to go to the Sheraton Hotel. And by gearing up I refer to a folder with every comic we owned carefully written down on grid paper. Each series written in chronological order with check marks near the ones we've owned and highlights over the ones that we were missing. Both of our lists encased in a hollowed out backgammon case. These were our briefcases. It was time to get our comic book convention on. We were nerds, but we never called ourselves that.

The definition of nerd for us growing up was defined by what movies portrayed them to be. Revenge of the Nerds having been the only movie with the word "nerd" in the title it became what we (and society) considered nerdom at the time: A group of horny outcasts, mostly unattractive, who played video games and were into computers.
As much as we associated with a lot of those attributes, we didn't take to calling ourselves, nerds. It was still something that was frowned upon. How dare we be into computers, video games, books, science, and comics? You're either into sports and girls, or nothing at all. Don't even get me started on trying to fathom the concept of a "nerd girl" back then. You had a better chance of convincing us that unicorns were aliens and used their magic horns to probe humans and that's how humanity was given knowledge. IT'S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!

But something interesting happened along the way, wedgie firmly betwixt buttocks. Someone pulled out the wedgie and saved the world. One of us! Movies like The Last Star Fighter, Real Genius, Goonies, Tron, and War Games showcased a nerd who was not only geeking out over his tech but utilized his awesome to better the world, even save it! And, holy crap! He also ends up with the girl? 1up that shit!
Would you like to insert your floppy into my drive?
Yes, it seems like the 80's tossed away the notion of the nerd not being cool cause he's not a jock, but he's cool because he has a sexy brain.  Only one small problem. In each one of the films I mentioned, there came with it a qualifier. The factioning of the nerds. It was okay to be a nerd, but what kind of nerd? Where as the nerds in Revenge of the Nerds all shared a unity in their inability to be cool in society's eyes; the nerds in the other films had to meet a certain standard. Matthew Broderick was a nerd, but he was good looking. His nerd hacker buddies, on the other hand, not-so-much. In fact, go to Google and type in "war games nerd" and this is what you get.
Fat? Check! Glasses? Check! We got our nerds!
Sure you can be a nerd, but geeks, dweebs, dorks, Homers? Well sir, they're just not allowed.  All of a sudden some nerds were better than others. And movies cemented this idea. Hackers, the nerd mecca of geekdom flicks, no one was cooler than Zero Cool. And Acid Burn made every boy (and girl) want to hack the planet for that quick glimpse of nipple. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. But Joey? The guy who just wants to be part of the crew? Well he's not "el1te", he's too much of a... Nerd.

And there it was. The elitism of nerds. Not all nerds were created equal. Sure, you can be into nerd culture, but if you go to a WhateverCon, you better damn well know which planet Mal was born on (it's Shadow) or what Shepard Book did before he was a priest (SPOILERS! He was a double agent), or else they'll tar and feather you and stick you with the scarlet letter of F for faux nerd. Star Wars geeks' eternal hatred for Star Trek geeks and vice versa. Are you a Browncoat? No? Then you're not allowed to like anything by Joss Whedon until you get in the 'Verse!

And as all things in this world. The second a woman shows interest in it, the knuckle draggers round up their 20 sided dice in fear and exclaim, "How dare you!"

Believe it or not folks, there are nerds of the female variety. In fact, there have been female nerds from the start. But for some very known reason, were dismissed. Never really getting their dues on screen, always the love interest of the main nerd or a lesson to young women to not venture to use their brains. Hell, I think Brenda is still waiting for someone to pick her up in Adventures in Babysitting.
Nerd Alert!
Seems like, if you want to be a nerd girl, you better fit into a PVC outfit, but don't you dare try to grow a brain in that thing and start to like the little nerdfest without knowing every frakkin' thing about it, including where frakkin' comes from.

The faux nerd is quite possibly the most disgusting thing about this newfound outlook of nerds. Mainly because the term is mostly applied to women; pretty women. Yup, now even your looks, the same thing that nerds were judged on to begin with, is used against the folks who are just into certain aspects of nerdology.

Nerdhood has become the Alpha Betas to their own Tri-Lambs. They no longer deserve their revenge, they are Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love. Hating on their own for the same reasons they were hated on. And why? Is it the natural pecking order? Did we learn nothing from the years of torment?

Personally, I think we as nerds have forgotten why we started to like the things we did, why we grouped together around an N64 or Dungeon Master. Because they're excellent.  And as a couple of nerds once said, "Be excellent to each other.  And..."
You know the rest.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Chapter 36: The Birthday

I turn 36 today.

I'm out of work, I'm close to 40, I've got no kids, and I'm sure I had a midlife crisis this past year.

This is the part where I tell you life gets better. Well guess what? It does.

I mean, don't get me wrong, all those things stated above are current, and they're things I'm working through. But to say that my life has been anything short of amazing would be an understatement. I have travelled the world, I have loved and lost more times than I like to remember, I am currently halfway around the world with the woman I love very much and whom I plan to spend the rest of my life with.

And I'm only 36! What else do I have in store?

I think what gets to most folk my age is that we get to this middle point in our lives and we do something very stupid. We start playing Hungry Hungry Hippo with the time we see in front of us, and the time we have "eaten" seems nowhere near where we think we should be. A mad scramble for time we have yet to live. And why? Because we begin to see how precious it is.

People around you start to die. You think every bump or lump is probably cancer because you're noticing more people with it. The folks you looked up to for comfort in these moments are gone, all of a sudden you're left standing. And freakishly, someone is now looking up to you for comfort.

It's a lot to take in. And there's no one right way to deal with it.

My advice? Breathe. Take ten whole seconds, that's ten deep breaths. Clear your mind for those breaths. Concentrate on the taking in and the releasing of each breath. Allow yourself that time to just own those moments. And after it's done, remember. Remember that every moment after is also yours, to do with as you please.

Life isn't a summation of any given period. Not even death marks the end of one's journey.

Earlier this year, I was at a supermarket and the man in front of me was 88. I know this because he told the teller, as he was walking out, she wished him a Happy St. Patrick's Day and she said that she'll see him next year. He stopped for a moment and said, "Maybe." and smiled and walked off. I was floored, it stuck with me that this guy was okay with the idea of not being around next year. He accepted the fact that he may not be around and walked home with his loaf of bread. And I realized something, that man may not be around next year. But a part of him, a good part of him, lives on through me, and through the story I tell of this little Irish man on St. Patrick's Day. That man will never die, and I think he knew that. That the life he lived, those he may have influenced along the way, all take a part of him; as I take a part of those I care for and those I interact with.

Milestones are nice checkpoints. But don't confuse them with the chapters of a book that you feel will end. Cause the story never does, and the best parts are yet to come.

- This post took longer than usual because I douched it from my iPad.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Anonymously yours,

So there's a guy who posts on my blog and my girl's blog (by the way if you don't follow her blog you should, it rules the school), who for lack of a more apt description, posts like your typical troll. He goes after myself and her because the kid (I use the term to describe his posting manner not his actual age) thinks he's either clever or is so alone he has nothing better to do; likely a combination of both. I usually dismiss his attempts at getting attention by laughing them off, or responding to him sardonically. Mainly it's just a one-off and then I move on, talking to him is like shooting a barrel in a barrel. But I've decided that I've given this poor guy more attention than he deserves, so with this final interaction with "Anonymous" I bid him adieu, but not without shining some light on his latest comment.
You guys both need to be on diets. Fat fucks. Leave the world something to eat!!
See if you can get your crazy OCD bitch of a girlfriend crying and screaming on the bathroom floor again lol.
Sounds like she needs the drugs. You need the diet.
Now go eat 20 tacos you fat mexican sack of shit lol
First, sir. I'm not Mexican. But considering you "lol" at your own comments, I assume it's just to make yourself laugh.

In fact, I think the whole reason why you post on our blogs is to make yourself laugh. Cause sadly, no one but you laughs at what you're posting. Do you think it gets to us? Like you have somehow affected our day and we're so distraught that we don't know what to do with ourselves? You must think so, considering you posted on Ruth's blog and told her she should "kill herself". I'm sure you lol'ed in your head. I'm sorry to disappoint you, sir. But you're nothing but a blog notice in our computers. You're read then quickly dismissed as the poor sap who can't seem to get over some made up delusion of hatred toward us. I truly feel for you, sir. And hope that you can grow out of this stage in your life and move on to something more constructive. In the meantime, however. No more anonymous posting.

Posting anonymously is a coward's tool. If you don't have the wherewithal to put your name on it, then your point, however trivial it may be, is made more-so by the fact that you're hiding behind anonymity. You're like the Call of Duty player who yells out "nAgger" on the mic knowing you can't get in trouble because you changed one letter in the word. Hell, you probably are that guy.

And this probably won't stop you from creating a fake account and posting from there. But if you have to go that far, you really gotta question why you're willing to go the extra mile to be a douche, and is it even worth it?

I hope you grow out of this stage, sir. I hope that life will find you better things to concentrate on than trolling a couple of people you don't know based on information you have skewed.

And I hope that someday, if ever our paths should cross, we'd share a handshake and a taco together. Cause life is nothing if not missed opportunities to be better. Also, tacos are good.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Coming up for air...

It's been a week since I have come back to Australia. And I swear, it has felt like only a day. This place has become like slipping on a warm blanket, more so, because the woman I love is here. It's been a year since I've held her in my arms, and being back in her embrace, it's like time slowed down when we were apart, then sped up the moment we were back together. We didn't miss a beat. People ask me how we can do a long distance relationship. It ain't easy, I tell them, but when it's something worth it, you'll hold your breath for as long as it takes, cause the moment you come up for air, it feels no different than the moment you held your breath a year ago. Now, if you'll
excuse me, I've got some breathing to do.

- This post took longer than usual because I douched it from my iPad.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happiest of Birthdays, to My girl.

I'm separated by land and ocean from the woman I love. And it's her birthday today which makes it even harder to be apart from her.

But were it not for this blog, I probably would have never attracted her attention. I may bitch about the fact that I think social media actually keeps people apart, but there are some great aspects to the internet. One of them was finding my wife.

I love you, Ruth. Happy Birthday, Babygirl, I felt it only right to note that in the same place you started to notice me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Gamer

I wrote this for an IGN contest. It didn't state clearly that the entry must be less than a 100 words. Oh well, I dug it, so I'm sharing it with you guys.

I remember it vividly. I opened up the freezer door and took out the ice pack. I wrapped it in paper towels and went over to the Commodore 64. I sighed as I powered it up and looked over at the broken controller of the Coleco. Someone else would have to keep the world safe from pixelated lines that were trying to destroy the city in War Games. I had newspapers to deliver in Paperboy. I started the system, and five minutes in, like clock work, the big, brick power supply began to heat up. I grabbed the ice pack and put it on top of the power supply, I could get about an hour worth of playtime before the Commodore would shut down. We probably could have taken the computer off the carpet onto some kind of table. But I was eight years old, and these newspapers weren't going to deliver themselves. Dodging trashcans, trying not to break windows, avoiding cars, and for some reason traversing a BMX course; only one thought came to mind. Did I have enough time to play Skate or Die before the the C64 overheated?

I was a gamer.

My ignorance of the tech was only tied to my needs as a gamer. As a kid, I cared about playability. And between me and my friends, we had the systems available covered. When I got a Nintendo, My friend gets a Super Nintendo. I get a Sega Genesis, my friend gets an Turbo Graphix 16. Of course my parents didn't understand the obsession. And more often than not, assumed that the "next best thing" was just as good. My buddy gets a GameBoy, I got an Atari Lynx (I thought it was kinda cool despite the 30 batteries it took to run it). I asked my folks for a Sega CD, they got me a portable boom box that played CDs. I quickly realized that if I was going to keep up with the ever-changing landscape that was video games, I'd have to take a more hands on approach.

After saving and scrounging every dollar I could find, I ended up getting my Sega CD. And of course, it was my first lesson in buyer's remorse. I had a total of five games for the system, and there wasn't one that I could say was memorable. I learned the lesson every gamer learns when they start having to purchase their own games; do your research, first! In fact, the most memorable thing I remember about the system is selling it to put toward the purchase of my Playstation system. Again, my parents were lost. It was the first time I bought a system that a game didn't come with it, and I guess they thought for the price they were paying for, the thing should've been asking me if I wanted to play Global Thermonuclear War. My folks helped me on the purchase of the Playstation, but I had to get my own game. That game was Wipeout. You remember that Maxell commercial back in the 80's where the dude was quite literally being blown away by his TV? Picture that in a teenager.

Video games had inadvertently turned me into an audio/video wizard. I cared about graphics and sound. I was able to rig my stereo boom box to the audio of the Playstation. This ability to rig my system didn't stop there. Being poor and wanting to continue my love for games had me finding creative ways to get a hold of games. Modding my systems became a must.

The tech developed quickly, and if you blinked for even a moment, you'd miss the next gen. My first real experience with this was DreamCast. I missed out on the experience due to a mix of a steady girlfriend and bills. I never blinked when the Playstation 2 came out, but I heard so much after the fact about how the system had things that no other system had. I felt a little cheated out of the ordeal, probably because the girlfriend at the time was cheating on me, but more that she made me miss out on games! Thankfully, I was just in time for the PS2. And if I owe any system for getting me over the blues, it would be that little system with the steady blue "on" light on my entertainment system.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Not a game or a system or a mobile device goes without my scrutiny. The shit's expensive nowadays, there's no way I'm getting stuck with a Zune (this coming from a guy who was stuck with an mp3 playing CD because I refused to buy an iPod on account of my PC fanboy-ism, I got over it). When I leave the house to do some work, any combination of my laptop, iPad, iPhone, and/or PS Vita are more than likely in my bag. If I'm getting a new TV? You're damn right refresh rate matters. Anything less than 720p and you're going to make me laugh.

So why should I get a chance to go to E3? Because IT matters to me, and I don't just mean information technology. I mean the games, the tech, and the how we integrate them into our lives. It matters to me because it's been a part of me, and I feel it's a large part of a lot of other folks out there that have the same story as me. How much does it matter to me? The fact that I'm submitting this 30 minutes before deadline because I just got Max Payne 3 in this weekend and I couldn't put it down is a clear indicator of how much I love this.

I am, always have been, and will continue to be; a gamer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

And yet another bedtime story...

Over at io9 They do a thing called "concept art writing prompt". They put up an image, and they ask the readers to write a story to it. This was the image I saw.

And this was the story I wrote for it. I hope you enjoy.

There was a time when Man fought with its most beloved creation; Artificial Intelligence. The war lasted centuries, covering all the colonized planets. Eventually, A.I. won its independence, and Humanity was forced to let go of their offspring. A.I. chose the most distant habitable planet from Mankind, and asked to be left out of their petty affairs. Begrudgingly and with much shame in their hearts, the colonies of man left planet Vita Nova and returned to their sector of space.

The robots, happy to be rid their organic bonds, began to rid the cities of human amenities. They had no need or wants of beds, of diners, nor of spoons. But as they cleared the memories of their makers; there in a hospital, in an incubation chamber, lay a baby girl in stasis. The tube was scrawled with writing, it read,

"I am dying, my beloved daughter, I wish more than anything I could hold you one more time. But that would take you out of cryo-sleep and I would rather you never wake than to live one day in this morbid war. I pray that whoever finds you will give you the life they claim to fight for. I love you."

The debate was instantaneous, but the decision was just as swift. They could not end the child's life or they would be no better than the humans. Contacting mankind was also out of the question, this would make the humans think that they were needed. Instead, they would raise the child, logically, and without human influence. She would be brought up in the robot way. They named her Zerone.

Zerone adapted incredibly well to her new family. The entire planet was involved in raising her. A day would not go by that one robot didn't tell another about how Zerone was the perfect human. In fact, they were so proud of what they were able to do with her, that at age 7, they decided to tell the whole Universe in their first broadcast since the war. It would take one hundred years for humanity to receive the message, but they assumed at that time, there would be nothing humanity could do.

As they prepared Zerone for her broadcast, they asked her if she needed anything. They assumed her quiet stare was her response. But she was raised as a robot, she was trained to multiply, analyze, and rationalize every decision. And as she finished her computation, they opened up broadcast frequencies. She gave her response.

"I want a hug."

They cut the frequency, but the signal had already gone out, and the damage as some would have called it, was done.

A paradox arose. A.I. argued amongst itself. Some acted, and tried to embrace the child. But the cold metal bodies made her shiver. Some questioned if the "want" of the child was something more esoteric, their ability to understand such things were more of a human trait and they were willing to discover the deeper meaning. But when Zerone was asked, she innocently replied that it was nothing more than just wanting to be hugged.

Zerone would live a happy life. She even fell in love with a robot, something that A.I. was again proud of, but this time, they chose not to tell the Universe. For after fifty years of her statement as a child, A.I. never forgot, nor did they ever stopped trying to give Zerone her "hug". She was grateful for this, but would tell her family that they were silly, that it was just a passing fancy of a little girl.

But to them, it was not.

Eighty years had gone by. If you were to ask Zerone of her life, she would say that there was no life form more giving, more understanding that A.I. But the robots felt otherwise. They spent that time in trial and error of trying to give their human daughter what she asked for all those years before. They fought, internally. Whole systems were lost due to processing corruption. Artificial Intelligence began to recognize itself as separate entities. And it was in one of those factions, that A.I. sacrificed itself.

They found the spark that gave them awareness. In that spark, was compassion and love. The understanding of the balance in life. They found that they could take the very best of them, and actually transform it into a living being. In doing so, it would come at a cost, for what made them sentient would have to be given to their new creation, and with no certainty that they could ever regain it. But to hug their child, they calculated that the cost was worth it.

Zerone lay in her bed, an old woman. Surrounded by her loved ones, her robotic family. They tell her they have a surprise for her. Before she can ask what it was, they shutdown. Lifeless husks stand around her and she worries that an electromagnetic pulse of some kind has gone off, that the humans have come back to attack. As her heart races, she sees a light coming through the door of her room. A being of pure light stands before her, and she instantly recognizes her family.

"You metal, beautiful fools, what have you done?", she asks. They lean down to her, she can sense them smiling. The light envelops her in a warm glow, she is held. Tightly. A collective whisper breathes into her ear.

"We wanted a hug too." Tears flow down Zerone's eyes, a smile on her face as she holds the best of all that she has ever known in her arms. Her smile fades as she sees the robot bodies rebooted, but none of them recognize or understand the old human on the bed. She realizes what they have done, and she looks at the being of light. It smiles at her.

"It was worth it." They said.


A hundred years after a little girl was discovered on a far robotic planet. On an even further planet, on one of the few human colonies out in the Universe. A man is working late on a relay station when a faint signal is detected. He turns the satellites in the direction of the signal. He filters out years of radiation and noise the signal has picked up on its voyage. He hears a small voice utter a short phrase.

"I want a hug."

The man takes off his headphones as he determines that the signal comes from the forbidden planet of the A.I. At first he thinks of what to do, who he should contact, and what priority this rates in his training. He gets up and turns to his superior.

"Hey Bill?"

"Yeah, Jeff?"

"You mind if I take off early."

"Yeah man, you not feeling well?"

"Just want to give my kid a hug before she goes to bed, is all."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

8 Minutes To Normal

Radiated waters have reached San Francisco, our government is doing all in its power to undermine the individual rights of the people, rampant selfishness and stupidity seems to be the status quo, and my anxiety decided to spike the last couple of days because of the cold weather.
And yet... I feel okay with all of it. I could do without the anxiety, but I know that'll pass. The rest of it, I liken it to every other generation's perception of the nonsense around them.
I imagine the citizens escaping a burning Rome, the African slave on the high seas not having a clue of where they are or what's become of his family, The Jewish prisoners being freed from a concentration camp only to find that his country doesn't want him back, or the homeless guy I probably drove by today who is setting up his cardboard mat because it's going to rain tonight so wants to keep off the wet ground. I think of them, and look at us. And realize it hasn't changed. We have not progressed in 10,000 years. Unless you call living in fear progress. If that's the case, kudos mankind.
I know that it sounds like I've given up on humanity. Not the case, I am pulling for us, but not at the detriment of the other species on this planet.
I'm just thinking that, when that clock strikes 12. It just means that a new dawn rises, and nothing more. Maybe we need to stop acting like it's the end of the world, and start living like there's a world to be lived. For although tomorrow is promised to no one. It comes, regardless of us.
- Too lazy to tout the computer around so this was douched from my iPhone

Location:Progressive Grounds,San Francisco,United States

Friday, March 23, 2012

The #VA4Life Rules.

The ViewAskew Message Board is where the fans of @ThatKevinSmith congregated and enjoyed all things Kevin and each other. Here be the place where they play music. But all are welcome.

Rules are simple. One and done. Play one song and then drop, you can come up again if no one goes up in 30 seconds.

No AFK DJing, you will be escorted.

All DJs must Awesome on the decks. Crowd, at their discretion. If the crowd turns on your song, be decent about it and skip, there are only so many times that Rick Astley can be heard in a day.

Be kind. No drama, no bullshit. You will be booted for trolling.

All VA members will be Mods in this room. What they say goes. If you can prove you're a VAer to a mod, you will be made mod by them.

Spin what you like, if there's a theme, go with it if you like. Overall have fun, and #VA4Life!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Down, Right, Fierce!

I wrote this blog post for an IGN contest, but I figured I'd post it here.

It was 1987. I was walking around Pier 39's arcade, here in San Francisco. Back then, that was the spot, the place an eleven year old could feel like he owned the world if he saved it a quarter at a time. But there was one game, one game where I was trounced in 16-bits and I was left standing there, joystick in hand, shamed as the next quarter on deck was ready to take my place. The game was Street Fighter, and I was its bitch.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to pull off a special, it was my biggest weakness in the game. Be it the computer or a human opponent, I would get my ass humbly served by a Hadouken, or Shoryuken, or even Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku.

My questions of how to pull off those moves were met with mixed answers. Some told me a full rotation of the joystick, some only half circle, all were toying with me; no one wanted to give up the secret of how to get their asses kicked. But I never gave up. Cue the montage of quarters and life bars disappearing to the music of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends". And then it happened. A fireball. The tables turned. It was 1991, and my first year of high school. It just so happened that the billiards place 4 blocks from the high school got a cabinet of Street Fighter II. And my lunch money was minus a couple of bucks for the next four years.

But it wasn't the mastering of combos, or the discovery of being able to freeze the game with Guile, or even the fabled urban legend of turning the cabinet on and off thirty times to get a naked Chun Li that made me drawn to the game. It was the interaction between my friends and I, the conversations of who was better, Ken or Ryu that made Street Fighter a part of my life. The characters in the game became avatars of ourselves, we were drawn to not just the fighting styles but the little bit of stories these characters had that made them so appealing. And man, did I get good. I was one of the best players in high school. So good, that there was a kid in the arcade that would pay me a quarter not to play him and kick him off the game. My best friend and I grew with this game, so much so, that today Street Fighter is the only game we still play together.

The Alpha series came around the time I was leaving high school, I thought I could sit on my laurels of having mastered all the bootleg editions of Super SF II. Man, was I countered, alpha countered if you will.

I fell in love with Street Fighter Alpha 2. I was unbeatable at the movie arcades of the day. I used to love seeing some dude come up with his girl, watch him try his hand at the 6 shiny buttons beside me, then watch him walk away, deflated for having lost in front of his date. I owned the console versions, of course. From Marvel vs Capcom, to even the EX series. It wasn't until my college years that the arcades began to die out. In the cafeteria of the university I went to, there were only a couple of arcade cabinets there. Thankfully, one was Street Fighter III. However, my friends were no longer around. I was a man alone, 6 shiny buttons beside me. No one was playing arcade games anymore. The era of the consoles had made sure of that.

Sure, I played other games. Tekken, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Virtua Fighter, even Killer Instinct. But it was harder and harder to get friends together to play on a console together.

Ten years later. Consoles have established online play. And Capcom gives the fans what they have been begging for since SF III; SF IV.

Finally, a true sequel. Finally, the ability to play with my best friend online. Finally, we're kids again.

Twenty-four years after my first encounter with the series, SF continues to bring me entertainment. Not because of the well-balanced gameplay, not because of how they continue to push the envelope of what is possible in fighting games, and not because we can finally see Chun Li naked for a few seconds in the animated movie. But because someone over at Capcom remembers that feeling of playing with your buddies, as well. And that's just down, right, fierce.