Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Survival Knife!

Today is my brother's birthday. I have some things I'd like to share about him. But before I get to that, I just want to announce that this will be my last birthday post. I like making people embarrassed and appreciated by doing them, but there are some memories I do not want to share, not because they are embarrassing to the person involved, but because some memories are for me. That and, eventually, I might run out of things to tell and then I'd feel really bad. Anyway, without further ado...

If there's one thing you should know about my brother and I, its that we absolutely hated each other when we were growing up. Actually, I don't know if that is true. Let me rephrase that. I absolutely hated him growing up. He would always pick on me and I would bug him or aggravate him to do something so I could fight him or he could beat me up so I could get him in trouble. The only time we weren't fighting was when we would form a temporary truce to battle my sister, Amber, if she was put in charge and had begun to quickly declare her kingdom a dictatorship. He beat me up so many times when I was younger-although I probably deserved at least half of them. I used to swear to my mother that when I grew up, I was gonna beat him up. Now, that I AM grown up, I don't want to anymore. It was a curious thing how it happened. I remember one day being in the kitchen at our house, and I think I was around twelve, which would put my brother at 16. Out of the blue, he just...started talking to me...asking me about things...telling me that he wanted to show me some stuff he bought and was excited about. I was a bit skeptical. Was this some sort of new military strategy he was starting? Was I on new and dangerous and uncertain ground? But nothing happened. He was being nice to me and just kept being nice to me. He had grown up. I was so glad. Now, we are very close, maybe even the closest of the siblings just because we have many of the same interests. He has influenced me in so many ways, I don't think he even realizes.

Even though he might have picked on me when I was younger, he was still my older brother, and younger brother's all think that their older brother can beat up anyone else's older brother. One time, I was getting into lots of fights at school with a certain kid. This was when I was in kindergarten, so I don't think that the fights were very serious. You can rest easy, Mom. Anyway, I would always fight this boy and sometimes I would win and sometimes he would win. Then there was a few weeks stretch where I couldn't beat him, no matter what I did. So, I asked my brother, even though we didn't get along, on how to fight and what to do. He taught me some things, which I was surprised he did instead of just blowing me off. The next day, I got into a fight with that same boy and I won! I was so happy that I had finally won and I was happy that my brother had helped me do it.

My brother knows so much about so many things. He gets that from our father. He is a library of information and I always ask his opinion about things that I'm unsure about. He never thinks I'm stupid for not knowing something and is always glad to impart his knowledge to all of his family and friends.

One of my favorite childhood memories of my brother is one where for some reason, the tv where we played our video games ended up in the room that we shared along with our video games. My brother and I stayed up the entire night. I'm not even kidding. We played video games all night, and when we would get tired of that, we would play with these new cards that my brother had, which were crazy 8's, Old Maid, and a few other card games. We had so much fun. I think my mom knew we had stayed up all night because the next day, the tv and video games were taken out of our room again.

My brother is a wonderful man. I'm glad that we've become so close and I hope that we continue our relationship for the rest of our lives. Happy birthday, brother.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 Things That Make Me Feel Good

No explanation is needed I hope. Here we go:

1. The song "In This Home On Ice" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

2. Pretty much anything from Keva Juice (although I've heard Wheat Grass juice is disgusting)

3. Jamming with my bands

4. Writing pretty much anything

5. Traveling pretty much anywhere

6. Sushi-the Dragon Roll is to die for

7. Being crazy, which is harder and harder to do, the older I get

8. Watching a movie and knowing in the first five minutes that I'll be a different person when the movie is over (it doesn't happen that often)

9. Dispatching of Ganon in all of his various forms throughout the history of time

10. Intercepting a football in a game

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

With lack of something interesting to write about, I thought I'd write about my Dad's bday 5 days early.

Here are some memories I have of my Dad:

When I was 14 or 15, my father was put in as the Young Men's quorum president and he was in charge of our High Adventure trips. We went up to Durango and went hiking, white water rafting, and mountain biking. The mountain biking turned out to be the highlight of the trip for me. It was 25 miles through a beautiful mountain pass. There was probably 20 of us and once we got out on the trail, we all went our own pace. To this day, it is still one of my favorite memories. There were a lot of times where I was completely by myself, where I couldn't see the person in front of me and I couldn't see the person behind me. I was enjoying the scenery and the sounds of the mountain. The other nice thing is that the trail was mostly in the shade so it wasn't too hot. To keep people from getting lost, my father was riding behind everyone else. And he followed REALLY behind. He got to the end of the trail a whole hour and a half after the person before him. He denies that it was because he was slow though. He just says that "he was enjoying the sights".

My dad and I would go to the climbing gym quite a bit when I was younger. I actually preferred it over real climbing because it didn't take long to get to the gym and you didn't have to set anything up. And it was fun. He never climbed that much and always preferred to belay (is that how you spell it?). I always enjoyed these times because we were constantly communicating with each other. I would tell him when I needed to rest and sometimes, I would ask him for suggestions about where to go. One time in particular, I wanted to attempt an overhang, which is pretty difficult because it requires a lot of upper body strength. I had never been able to do it before and my Dad had me watch some of the other more experienced climbers in the gym before I tried it. When it was finally my turn, I was able to emulate what they had done and I did it. However, I was not able to finish the climb. I got past the overhang and then couldn't figure out how to reach the top. Still, it was always fun going with him.

My dad and I always watched the Dallas Cowboys together. My mom hated it a lot of the time because if they were losing, we would get so mad about it. However, if they won, we would be really happy. My dad would always say, "See, life is good when the Cowboys win." I couldn't agree more.

I always have enjoyed talking to my Dad. He knows so much about so many things that it makes him a good conversationalist. If he doesn't know about something, he always asks questions about it. I think I got that same quality from him because I'm the same way.

Instead of getting all mushy like I've done before, I'll just say the thing that sums it up. My Dad is the best man I've ever known. I feel bad for people who don't feel this same way about their own fathers. That's always how it should be. For me, I'm glad that it was. Happy birthday, Dad.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Video Game Review: Lego Indiana Jones

The Indiana Jones trilogy's or quadrilogy's (does anyone really want to count Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?) success is largely due to how much action-packed adventure is in them. One cannot be more adventurous than when they are running from a large boulder thats about to crush them or risking death from many different places to find the Holy Grail. Everything in the movies just screams to be put into a video game. At least, that's what Traveller's Tales was thinking when they made it. Lego Indiana Jones is a fun action game that merges the best things from the Indiana Jones films with the world of Legos.
This is the second game made in the Lego series of games, (the first being Lego Star Wars) and like its predecessor, there is a lot of action in the game with a twist of humor. The humor is one of the highlights of the game as it often pokes fun at characters and is funny to both kids and adults. One instance is that when Indiana sees snakes, he shudders and covers his face. Its funny and also quite adorable. The music is also very good as they were able to obtain the musical score of the films. Can you do better than music from John Williams?
The controls are simple and easy to use and the gameplay is tight. However, the camera can sometimes be a little touchy but this is only a minor problem.
There are loads of different characters you can choose to be, but unlike Lego Star Wars or Lego Batman, there isn't that many characters you would WANT to be. Indiana Jones is the coolest character in his universe. Why would you want to be anyone else?
The other downfall of the game might not be a downfall at all to some. In the end, though it might appeal to all age groups, the game is made for kids. Because of this, the game is often very simple and easy and can sometimes get boring to people who need more of a challenge from their video games. But all in all, Lego Indiana Jones proves to be a fun game that captures the spirit of the Indiana Jones films. And look how cute they are!

Hands down: 8/10

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Video Game Review: Castle Crashers

This is another video game review I wrote a while back.

Remember the good ol' days when you would travel over to a friends house with controller in hand, and settle down to a couple of hours of hack n' slash via Gauntlet? Castle Crashers revives this old action game genre and breathes (much needed) new life into it.
Developed by The Bohemoth, and published on Xbox Live Arcade and WiiWare, Castle Crashers is light on story but heavy on action and gameplay. The story starts as an evil wizard steals a large diamond (whose importance is unknown even at the end of the game) from the King, and your job is to get it back (as well as saving and making out with 4 princesses who were kidnapped). The four characters that are immediately available is 4 differently colored knights, but the more you play, the more characters you can unlock and Castle Crashers has a whole slew of playable characters. The game has a light-hearted attitude and humor about it that are sure to keep you smiling throughout the game. The actions are fluid and the gameplay is quick.
However, I found that the taking potions (to replenish my health) was touchy sometimes, and I would sometimes die even though I knew I had hit the button to get full life again. The player can level up four different abilities: strength (which increases your attack), magic, defense (which increases your health) and agility (which increases your speed as well as the speed of your ranged attacks). However, the magic ability is the real hero here, and leveling it up early will insure your quick progression through the game. Another nice thing is the vast arsenal of weapons that you can collect throughout the game. As of this writing, I had collected around 40 different weapons, with still more that I had to find. Also, the player can collect different animals that have their own unique abilities. Some will amplify your attack abilities, some will help you find weapons, and others will attack enemies themselves. Each animal is unique and there are around 20 different animals.
The art style is unique and playful and only serves to add to the humor of the game. The music as well is very good and puts the player right into the action. The story is the only main downer here, offering only a new look and a cliched take on the fantasy genre. But at the same time, it is more than enough to expect from an Xbox Live Arcade title. If you want tight and fluid gameplay, with unique characters and light-hearted humor and attitude, Castle Crashers is the game for you. Download it, invite three friends over, and get down to some nice, reminiscent hack n' slash.

Hands Down: 8.75/10

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Video Game Review: Braid

This was a video game review I wrote for fun awhile back. I just thought I'd post it here for memory's sake.

Is there anything that this game doesn't do right? With an amazing art style, a great score, mind-bending puzzles, and an ending that I think that I will be contemplating for the rest of my life, Braid breaks the boundaries of what is expected in an Xbox Live Arcade game.
Braid tells the story of Tim who is looking for the Princess and traverses 6 different worlds to find her. It follows the traditional Super Mario Bros.; at the end of each world the player will arrive at a castle, raise the flag, and be told that the Princess is in another castle. But the puzzles here are the real highlight. Tim has the unique ability of being able to rewind or stop time. I know, I know, you're already thinking that they stole this idea from the Prince of Persia series. But where Prince of Persia used this ability to amplify the action, Braid uses it to amplify the puzzles. Each world changes with the technique that you must solve the puzzles. One world stops moving when your player does. Another world gives you a bubble ability, where you stand in the bubble and are able to rewind time and stay stationary while everything else reverts back to how it was. I had to think for so long about some of these puzzles and some of them require that. Other puzzles require perfect execution and still others require pure dumb luck. Even with the ability to rewind and stop time, you will still be sweating as you try to perfectly execute what needs to be done to solve the puzzle.
The theme of the game deals with the past and with memory, and how revisiting those memories can help us truly understand them. This theme works beautifully with the puzzles and action of the game. And yes, Braid does re-ignite the "video games as an art form" debate and I ask why not? With games like this one and Bioshock, where it is impossible to deny that they have something more to say than just delivering an amazing gaming experience, pretty soon it will be impossible to deny that video games are an art form that are capable of giving the same experiences one can have when viewing a film, painting, or hearing a piece of music. Braid is the best game I've played so far this year (2008), and even though the holiday season has a lot to offer, Braid is still sure to hold up well against all of them.

Hand-Down: 9.5/10

Monday, March 2, 2009

An Open Letter To Concert-Goers

Dear fellow concert-goer,

I know you don't want to stand next to me. I assure you the feeling is mutual. I am sorry that I arrived before you and am now standing in front of you. I know my height does not make it easy for you to see. I could move and let you in front of me but...I'm not going to.
You see, I love this band. I love this band enough to come here and stand next to you, soaked in the sweat of the people around me, smelling smells I couldn't possibly have imagined nor did I ever want to. I know that the next few hours will not be easy for me, but neither are most things worth doing. I remain here in the hope that when I depart, all of the bad things that this experience cost me, namely standing next to you and smelling smells, will likewise depart from my mind and will not diminish the good memory that I will be able to take with me for the rest of my life.
And to answer your question, No, I will not help you find your contacts. The ground under our feet is sticky and I don't recall them ever serving beverages here. My ears are ringing from the noise and they will continue for sometime to ring when I leave. See, I wasn't ignoring you, I just couldn't hear you. But when I did finally hear you, I really did wish I had ignored you.
So, before you start to blow a mixture of marijuana and cigarette smoke into my face, making my clothes and body reek of it so much that I must shower when I get home despite the fact that I will not get home till 1 in the morning and have to wake up 6 hours later, just know that we are not friends and we are not alike. I come from a respectable upbringing, built on morals and education. You seem to have crawled out from beneath a dark and desolate rock, threw on something that resembled clothes and came to the concert. When we leave here, you will go one way, and I will be absolutely sure to go the other. I await those pure sweet moments.


The Poor Guy That Had To Stand Next To You

Sunday, March 1, 2009

100 Movies

10th Anniversary 2007 List ↓ Director ↓ Date ↓
I thought my last post was so fun that I'd do another one. This is the 2007 list of the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Movies of All-Time. Inside Stories won the last round so let's see who wins this one. I've put the year next to the film because some of them have been remade. Without further ado:

1. Citizen Kane-1941 1
2. The Godfather-1972 2
3. Casablanca-1942 3
4. Raging Bull-1980 4
5. Singin' in the Rain-1952 5
6. Gone with the Wind-1939 6
7. Lawrence of Arabia-1962
8. Schindler's List-1993 7
9. Vertigo-1958 8
10. The Wizard of Oz-1939 9
11. City Lights-1931
12. The Searchers-1956 10
13. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope-1977 11
14. Psycho-1960 12
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey-1968 13
16. Sunset Boulevard-1950 14
17. The Graduate-1967 15
18. The General-1927
19. On the Waterfront-1954 16
20. It's a Wonderful Life-1946 17
21. Chinatown-1974 18
22. Some Like It Hot-1959 19
23. The Grapes of Wrath-1940
24. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial-1982 20
25. To Kill a Mockingbird-1962 21
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-1939 22
27. High Noon-1952 23
28. All About Eve-1950
29. Double Indemnity-1944 24
30. Apocalypse Now-1979
31. The Maltese Falcon-1941 25
32. The Godfather Part II-1974 26
33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-1975 27
34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-1937 28
35. Annie Hall-1977 29
36. The Bridge on the River Kwai-1957 30
37. The Best Years of Our Lives-1946
38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre-1948 31
39. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb-1964 32
40. The Sound of Music-1965 33
41. King Kong-1933
42. Bonnie and Clyde-1967
43. Midnight Cowboy-1969
44. The Philadelphia Story-1940
45. Shane-1953 34
46. It Happened One Night-1934
47. A Streetcar Named Desire-1951 35
48. Rear Window-1954 36
49. Intolerance-1916
50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring-2001 37
51. West Side Story-1961 38
52. Taxi Driver-1976 39
53. The Deer Hunter-1978 40
54. MASH-1970
55. North by Northwest-1959 41
56. Jaws-1975
57. Rocky-1976 42
58. The Gold Rush-1925
59. Nashville-1975
60. Duck Soup-1933
61. Sullivan's Travels-1941
62. American Graffiti-1973 43
63. Cabaret-1972
64. Network-1976 44
65. The African Queen-1951 45
66. Raiders of the Lost Ark-1981 46
67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?-1966
68. Unforgiven-1992 47
69. Tootsie-1982 48
70. A Clockwork Orange-1971 49
71. Saving Private Ryan-1998 50
72. The Shawshank Redemption-1994 51
73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-1969
74. The Silence of the Lambs-1991 52
75. In the Heat of the Night-1967
76. Forrest Gump-1994 53
77. All the President's Men-1976
78. Modern Times-1936
79. The Wild Bunch-1969 54
80. The Apartment-1960 55
81. Spartacus-1960 56
82. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans-1927
83. Titanic-1997 57
84. Easy Rider-1969 58
85. A Night at the Opera-1935
86. Platoon-1986
87. 12 Angry Men-1957 59
88. Bringing Up Baby-1938
89. The Sixth Sense-1999 60
90. Swing Time-1936
91. Sophie's Choice-1982
92. Goodfellas-1990 61
93. The French Connection-1971 62
94. Pulp Fiction-1994 63
95. The Last Picture Show-1971
96. Do the Right Thing-1989
97. Blade Runner-1982 64
98. Yankee Doodle Dandy-1942
99. Toy Story-1995 65
100. Ben-Hur-1959

I got 65. If no one beats me, don't feel bad. Apparently, I have no life cuz I'm watching movies all the time. :)