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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You got Geek on my Nerd! You got Nerd on my Geek!

Salutations, readers. This week we'll be delving a bit into the world of Geekhood, and how it differs from Nerddom.

I find that a lot of people still don't quite get the difference between geeks and nerds. As someone who is both, this tends to dissolve my particulate. Part of the problem is that popular culture; you know, those folks who wouldn't touch a geek with a ten meter cattle prod; tends to conflate the two.

So let's try to make things clear, shall we?

The most succinct differentiation between the two terms I've heard comes courtesy of James at Geek loves Nerd. He said that a nerd is a smart person, while a geek is a person who is passionate about some hobby. While this has the benefit of being pithy, it's flawed. First off, not all smart people are nerds. It's how you go about being smart that makes you a nerd. Second, geeks can be nerdy and nerds can be geeky, and this definition doesn't really allow for that.

But it's a good starting point. And with that in mind, here are a few fundamental differences between geeks and nerds.

1) Geeks don't care if they're popular, nerds do.

I think this is the main distinction. Geeks tend to seek out other geeks of their own type and build a community that way. They're niche, and they like it that way, because it's possible to have all those in-jokes that non-geeks find so insufferable.

Nerds, on the other hand, yearn for popularity. They want to be the cool kids, or at least accepted by the cool kids. The movie Revenge of the Nerds is actually a fairly accurate depiction of this mindset. Victory was not claimed because the jocks left the nerds to their own devices, it was achieved by supplanting the jocks' station on campus (except for Gilbert. That guy's got some geek in him.)

(Oh, and Booger is not a nerd. Nor is he a geek. He's just a slob who loves being a slob.)

Take video gaming, for example (we'll be returning to this theme, so buckle up). Every so often, video gamers on internet forums will talk about how video games are becoming more "mainstream," and how great that is. By "mainstream" they usually mean "people won't look at you funny when they find out you like World of Warcraft."

This is, in my opinion, nerd talk.

There are usually dissenters in this discussion, and those people tend to worry about game developers catering to the lowest common denominator, which would make Activision the gold standard of video game development.

This is geek talk. And not just the part where they know that Activision is the devil and say so as if everyone else does too.

Now, this makes geeks sound insular and unwilling to share their hobbies, which are usually nerd qualities (as we'll see in a moment).

The difference is in what the gamer in question is worried about. The nerd worries about how other people will view him. The geek worries about how the inclusion of other people will affect his hobby.

In case you were wondering, I fall into the geek category on this one. I have an example too. Last week I was at the mall with The Missus and The Little One for some rainy-day exercise (the Little One likes walking around the malls and looking at the skylights). I took a few laps with the Little One around the food court while The Missus attended to some pregnant lady business and I spotted three people eating Pizzeria Regina. Two of them were well muscled guys with spiky hair, sunglasses that cost more than I used to make in a week, and t-shirts with the sleeves ripped off. The girl was a slender blonde who had obviously spent a lot of money on clothes that would make her look as much as possible like Paris Hilton. On the floor next to one of the guys was a Gamestop bag.

I didn't ask what they bought, but I'd be willing to bet that 1) it had the numbers "360" on it somewhere and 2) it wasn't Fable 2. This is the face of the mainstream gamer, and this is who game companies will aim their big budgets at.

If I thought for one second that they had a game like Katamari Damacy or Disgaea in that bag, I would be thrilled, because that would have meant that they came to gaming. But I suspect gaming will move more to them than they will move to it. And that makes me a saaaaaad paaaaandaaaaa.

2) Nerds hoard their knowledge, geeks share it.

Indeed, it's hard to stop a geek from sharing knowledge of whatever he has invested himself in.

Nerds tend to treat their knowledge like comic books: The more copies other people own, the less the copy you own is worth. So they tend to jealously guard their knowledge so they can impress themselves with how smart they are.

A geek will be so thrilled you're interested in her hobby that she'll teach you whatever you want to learn about it. My lovely wife is, among other things, a yarn geek. She loves to crochet, and knit, and felt (bet you didn't even know felt could be a verb, did you?) and just about anything else you can do with wool. Since I've known her she's taught at least two people to crochet when they asked her, going so far as to photocopy sections of a book she owns that is no longer in print so they can have access to the same resources she does.

A nerd would look at that attitude with vague horror. How will she break the curve? How will she win at Trivial Pursuit? How will she lord her unique knowledge over her lessers if she just goes around... sharing it.

Well, the truth is that geeks love to share knowledge and spread the gospel of the geek, or Geekspel, to whoever will accept it.

Just the other day I listed some of the things that make me a geek to my wife, who already knows full well of those things, but I just can't turn down an opportunity to tell the world.

That list, incidentally, is: I own and have read cover-to-cover the Star Trek Encyclopedia, I have a textbook on Klingon and two teach-yourself-Klingon audio cassettes (Conversational Klingon and Power Klingon, in case you were wondering), I have a box full of unusual Star Trek merchandise still sealed in the blister packs (a Harry Mudd action figure, an Orion Slave Girl action figure, and a Talosian action figure to name three), I read The Nitpickers Guide to the Next Generation and made notes in it explaining why his nitpicks weren't errors but did in fact work within the Star Trek universe, and the crown jewel of my collection: a copy of Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise signed by James Doohan!

Mind you, that's just the stuff that makes me a Star Trek geek. And it's not even all of the stuff that makes me a Star Trek Geek, let alone the stuff that makes me a geek in general.

You can't stop a geek from proving his or her geek cred. Right now I'm restraining myself from listing a hundred other things that make me a geek (I have owned no fewer than 12 video game consoles in my life, and I still own 9 of those... stop it!).

Nerds aren't so much into that. A nerd may enjoy telling people about his advanced degrees in astrophysics. He may even get all snippy when you call him Mr. Herman Schwarz instead of Dr. Herman Schwarz. (I can just hear him whining "My name is Jeremy Withstadt! I don't know any Herman Schwarz!"). But try to get him to teach you anything about Astrophysics? You can count the seconds on one hand before he tells you it's too complicated for the likes of you. He don't want you to understand Astrophysics. He went to graduate school, for crying out loud. If you want to learn it, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars and a decade of your life doing it like he did.

3) Nerds are judgemental.

For a group of people who stand well outside of what's consider "normal" in society, nerds spend an awful lot of energy calling people "weird."

Take the subject of LARPing...

Well, let me explain LARPing a little first:

LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. Basically, take Dungeons and Dragons, take it out of the dining room and into the woods, add costumes and foam weapons, and go nuts. It's basically paintball for people who like to say words like "thou" and "smite."

Now, if you've never heard of it before just now, you have one of two reactions:

If you said to yourself "Jeez, some people are so weird." then you're a nerd.

If you said to yourself "Wow! That sounds cool!" then you're a geek.

You don't necessarily have to want to try LARPing to be a geek. You just have to acknowledge that it sounds interesting to someone who isn't necessarily you.

Of course, there are lines to this line of thinking. Furries, (Warning! DO NOT GOOGLE Alert!) for example are and will remain scary freaks no matter how geeky you are.

So there you have it. Three fundamental differences that make nerds and geeks different animals. I haven't yet decided on next week's topic, but it may have something to do with my mint condition issue of Sgt. Rock #1, or my complete set of Toxic Avenger comic books and the arduous journey to acquire issue #10.

If you're very lucky, I might write it in Klingon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cereal Killers

UPDATE: I apologize for the formatting of this post. It should look okay once the post for 7/29 is up and this one is pushed below the sidebar. If not, then I'll have to learn some HTML so I can avoid these problems in the future. Now, on with the show:

Welcome back, folks. This week we cast a suspicious eye on the character featured on popular cereal brands. It seems that every time they change the box art, the characters go a little bit more insane.

When I was a kid, we had our "crazy" cereal characters. Sonny would go Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs on a regular basis. Going Cuckoo usually consisted of jumping really high, or running really fast. I like to think of this as honest in advertising, because if you're feeding your kids Cocoa Puffs, you should have an idea of how they're going to act after two or three bowls of the stuff.

But these days the cereal characters have gone from wacky to frightenengly insane.

I mean seriously, let's start with Sonny:

He started off being badly drawn:

Okay, so his taste in shirts is questionable, but there's nothing here that would make you back slowly away and make for the nearest policeman.

Then he grew up and got better artists to design him:
Okay, he's Cuckoo, but he's still friendly. Not in the Helter Skelter zone yet.

But look at him now:
GAH! He's now naked, first of all, and what is with those eyes? That's not Cuckoo. That's "we've switched Sonny's bowl of Cocoa Puffs with industrial strength methamphetamines. Let's see if he notices the difference."

Now, let's consider everyone's favorite ethnic slur: Lucky the Leprechaun!

In the old days, he was your standard, ruddy-cheeked oirish mythological figure. Pointy ears, green suit, clover stuck into the band of his hat. Sure, his eyes were a little beady, and you're suspicious that wasn't milk he poured over the magically delicious "marshmallows," but he was still a jolly type of guy.

Flash forward a bit, and we get a redesign:

Ah, lucky. Cartoonish and friendly, like a Rankin Bass character from a cancelled stop-motion holiday special. He's upgraded to the four-leaf clover now, and the cereal actually looks like something a human child would eat.

But it was not to last:

AUGH! Here! I don't want your Lucky Charms! Take them! Just don't hurt me!



See what I mean? Every redesign brings our beloved cereal mascots closer to inmates from Arkham Asylum.

Even Cap'n Crunch was not immune to the madness.

Okay, so he sort of started insane. Big sword, constricted pupils. And he's obviously been a pathological liar since the start.

(Stays crunchy in milk my eye.)

Moving on, he actually got less crazy, more kindly.

He's bucking the trend here. Kindly expression, normal eyes. He may be a little short of sleep, and he's a little too close to the camera (all right, I'll try the cereal. Back off!) but he's basically your standard issue naval air puffed corn pusher.

But then he relapsed, the poor dear.

I love to eat my crunchy breakfast cereal with some chianti and fava beans.


And finally,

Ahh, but the Crunchberrys that's... that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with... geometric logic... that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers...

He's still Navy, but then so was Captain Bligh.

Finally, I leave the most disturbing transition for last.

Do you perhaps remember the Cinnamon Toast Crunch chefs? There used to be three.

They were never officially named, except the one in the middle.

Oh sure, they all look friendly.

But now there's only one of them. His name is Wendell.

I wouldn't ask him what happened to the other guys.

Just eat your cereal.

Eat it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Dangerous Manual For Gamers

Welcome back. This week we'll be delving into something more substantive than who I am and why I'm blogging here; though I expect I failed to answer both questions spectacularly last week.

This week we'll be delving into how to properly raise a gamer. I draw my inspiration from The Dangerous Book For Boys and the Daring Book For Girls, two tomes that address some practical education that is sorely lacking for our nation's youth. They are well worth checking out if you have kids, or were a kid in the days before they added a fourth letter to Tag.

As a father who will face sharing my penchant for blowing up things in a digitally simulated fantasy world, I think it's important for the young gamer to understand his or her roots. See, when I was a lad, we didn't have games like Bioshock or Infamous. First Person Shooters didn't really come along until I was in high school, and the term "sandbox" still referred to those square things in playgrounds that cats liked to poop in.

As for epic storytelling, you had two choices: Read a book, or play a graphical text adventure. It wasn't until the late 1980s that the first Final Fantasy came out, along with the Sierra graphical text adventures and the venerable Lucasarts games.

Today the options for gaming are wide open. You've got your First Person Shooters, you've got your Third Person Shooters, you've got your point-and-click adventures, you've got your 2D platformers, you've got your 3D platformers. Heck, you've even got 4D platformers if you can take a little pompous self congratulation and pretension. You can play games that let you choose how the game ends, you can play games with multiple paths to the same end, you can even play games that don't have an end. You can play alone, play with a friend, or play with a stranger who will call you cheap because you know how to use the sniper rifle-- and you don't even have to be in the same room. You have games that use buttons, and ones that just know where you're standing and what you're doing with your arms.

Yessir, gaming has changed since I was a lad. There are no longer video arcades in every mall, where gawky teenagers lay their quarters down for a turn to get completely dominated by the seven year old spamming Hadokens. Todays youth will likely never see a pinball machine outside of a highway rest stop. Nor will todays youth understand why Strider had to be so freaking hard (Answer: You used to have to pay someone for all those continues you're using).

So, how do we make sure todays kids appreciate all they've got when it comes to gaming? Fear not, for I have compiled (dun da da Dun dun Dun DUUUUNNNNN!) a list! A list of games that the new gamer should play before he or she starts playing all the new hotness that's currently out there.

Why? Because if your first experience with a First Person Shooter is Halo, then you can hardly call yourself a gamer. Bioshock is a great game, but unless you've seen what came before, you can't really understand why it's so great.

So, in no particular order, let's examine a list of gaming essentials:

1) Pac Man. Yes, it's trite. But you know what? Trite is just Right with a T in front of it. At least it is if your hearing this read to you, and not reading it. But G-d gave us homonyms for a reason, and we use them here, mister!

Anyway, Pac Man is really the jumping off point. Oh, I'm sure I'll take some heat for not starting with Pong, but for that core single-player experience you can't beat Pac Man.

Pac Man gave us the arbitrary objective that nobody in his right mind would care about, but you still do. Because that little pie chart looking dude is hungry, gosh darn it, and we're going to eat that cherry if it costs us a million dollars in quarters!

Pac Man had a pattern, and if you're going to hold your own against todays boss fights, you need to understand patterns. Pac Man also taught us to conserve our resources. You get four power pellets per level. Four. You can't go back to the shop and buy more, or send your invisible robot buddy to fetch you extra lives. Once those power pellets are gone, it's just you and the invincible mob of rainbow ghosts.

To be a true gamer, you have to learn to respect and fear Pinky.

2) Bullet Hell. Okay, so that's not a game so much as a genre. But if you're going to play shooters, you have to go through bullet hell. Space Invaders, Galaga, Galaxian, Centipede, Millipede, Missile Command, Contra-- these are where you must cut your teeth. Back in the old days, we didn't have fancy buttons to slow down time and make dodging our enemies easier. We had to be sharp, we needed to have reflexes, we needed to know how to lead a target. And most importantly, we needed to have understanding parents who would give us lots of quarters, because the first lesson you learn in Bullet Hell is that death comes easy. You don't have to play all of the bullet hell games-- but I'd say pick two or three just to get an appreciation for the fact that gaming requires skill.

3) Wolfenstein 3D. So, you want to move on to First Person Shooters (hereafter FPSs)? Then you need to meet Grandpa. This was back in the days before the WASD-Mouse combination for controlling an FPS character-- we had to use the arrow keys, and we were thankful for it. We didn't have fancy 3d graphics. We didn't have the Havoc engine. Heck, we didn't even have stairs. It was just us, a selection of basic weapons, and rooms full of nazis that died exactly the same way and left exactly the same blood-soaked corpse no matter which way we were facing. We did, however, have the most bad-arsed flamethrower ever conceived. That sucker had some range on it.

Once you've bested MechaHitler, you can move on to...

4) Doom. But not that newfangled 3D, monsters-jump-out-of-storage-lockers Doom. I'm talking old school, 2D sprite-based pink demons. We still couldn't tilt our heads up, but we could shoot at bad guys who were upstairs from us. We also had a chainsaw, and if we had the stamina we could earn the BFG. Booyah.

And once you've defeated enough of Id's iconic evil horde from hell (there are somthing like 99 levels), you may then play...

5) Half Life Every other FPS from Doom to here was just trying to be this. This was the first FPS with a story that didn't take the player out of the world for any reason. From the tram ride in the beginning to the bouncy-bounce room at the end, you were Gordon Freeman. Even the health powerups and ammunition pickups were revolutionary for the time. For the first time in an FPS rather than being glowing orbs floating at eye level above the ground with the word "HEALTH" or "AMMO" scrawled on them, they just looked like medical equipment and bullets. Not only that, but the powerups were located in logical places. No more could you expect to find a +100 health pack stuffed in a nook in the air ducts. Nope, they were in medical labs, in barracks, and perhaps located near dead people who didn't get a chance to use them.

Half Life: This stuff just got real.

Going backward in the wayback machine, we'll look at platformers. And if you're going to look at platformers, you need to get to know...

6) Mario.. It's hard to describe exactly how much influence Mario has had on gamers. He started out rescuing a babe in a red coctail dress (Her name, incidentally, is Pauline) from a giant gorilla using only his wits and the occasional mechanical hammer. No matter how many times we saved her she always got caught by that gorilla again, and the gorilla would just get stronger. That might explain why Mario dumped her for Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Brothers.

These days Mario is in everything-- driving games, sports games, fighting games, and of course platformers. We'll be limiting our discussion of Mario to platformers in this section. If you're going to understand where platformers came from, you need to follow Mario's arc from the beginning. So lay your hands on the one-button controller of Donkey Kong. This is the essence of platforming: running, jumping, climbing, and dodging.

Then came Mario Brothers-- note the absence of the word "Super." This was a co-op one-screen platformer where Mario and his brother Luigi had a run in with proto-goombas. Don't try to butt-stomp them, though. In the original Mario Brothers, you had to knock them on their heads by hitting the ground they walked on from underneath with your head.

After that came Super Mario Brothers, which featured the magic growth and fireball mushrooms that you could eat to become more powerful. This game also introduced the warp-zone, which you could get to if you jumped places you didn't think you could go. It also restored the Donkey Kong tradition of rescuing women from hulking beasts that like to throw things at you over and over and over, until either you break or the game does.

Then came the sequels, which refined 2D platforming. And then we had Mario 64, which took platforming 3D while miraculously not wrecking the franchise.

There is no single Mario game that you can play to really get a feel for how far platformers have come. Every Mario Platformer is good in its own way, so you'll just have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Donkey Kong awaits, and from there you can play Mario Brothers, then Super Mario Brothers. Super Mario 2 and 3 are useful to see how 2D platforming evolved into SuperMarioWorld, which is the gold standard as far as this gamer is concerned.

I recommend at least trying every Mario platformer, 2D and 3D, with the possible exception of Super Mario Sunshine, which I personally hated. Mario knows why.

7) Final Fantasy. So let's shift gears a bit and address RPGs. Or, at least, JRPGs which stands for Japanese RPG. I know a lot of people don't like JRPGs, but they are an influential genre. You shouldn't let anyone tell you whether to like it, you should experience the amnesia for yourself. And that starts with Final Fantasy. All of the elements of a true JRPG are in Square's iconic first entry into the Final Fantasy series. Random Battles, turn based combat, level grinding, party management, air-ships, and, of course, the dot-dot-dot school of emoting. You get to pick your party in this one, but I recommend against going with all white mages. If you do, prepare to fall down a lot and die.

8) The Legend of Zelda. I'll admit I never played a Zelda game all the way through. It's not a type of game that appeals to me. The Action RPG (or ARPG, which is the noise I generally make trying to play one) in the Zelda style offers neither enough action nor enough RPG to suit me. But The Missus loves Zelda, and I have to live with her. Plus, I would be entirely remiss to fail to mention such an influential title. If you're going to play action RPGs, Zelda is the place to start, and you have to start at the beginning. Because the beginning is where the start is. They're like synonyms and everything.

9) Fallout. If we're going to talk about JRPGs and ARPGs, you can bet your sweet bippy we'll be talking about regular RPGs (which, ironically, are NOT called RRPGS, though they sometimes are called WRPGs, which stands for Wregular RPG). And if you want to know what RPGs are about, you have to experience the isometric, postapocalyptic world of the original Fallout. Fallout is not a long game, unless you want it to be. It's also not a hard game, unless you make it one. You roll your character completely blind the first time you play, make choices that actually influence the way the game plays out, and you can befriend a dog who will fight and die for you and ask nothing more than an iguana on a stick.

It's not the first regular computer RPG ever, and I'm sure I'll take some flack for not including Ultima (which I exclude not out of disdain, but because I've never played it and won't recommend a game I haven't played), but it's a very influential title, and if you're going to play the Bethesda incarnation you should wrap you brain around the original to appreciate what came before. Plus, the Fallout3 doesn't let you target the crotch to make people explode with the power sledge.

10) Starcraft. So, you want to play Real Time Strategy, eh? You think you're hardcore because you've heard of Sins of a Solar Empire? You think your victories in Red Alert 3 make you ba'ad, or phat, or whatever formerly denigrating term has been converted to a superlative by besneakered rapscallions?

Well until you've experienced the Zerg Rush, you need to back that truck up. Starcraft is the RTS so iconic that it took them over 10 years to make a sequel that might possibly surpass it. The only thing that's been in development longer is Duke Nukem Forever, if you can call that development.

That's right. I made a DNF joke. It's that kind of site.

You can look to Warcraft too, a bit, but Starcraft actually features character races that are significantly different from each other, rather than just green humans with pig farms.

11) C-C-C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER. Fighting games get their own segment, like Mario and Bullet Hell, because there really isn't one good fighting game that captures the essence fighting game experience.

You could, of course, start at the beginning and play the original Street Fighter. But then you'd be convinced that old games suck, and this is contrary to the purpose of this article. So you'll have to start with Street Fighter 2. Capcom's perennial favorite is the grand-daddy of one-on-one, 2D sprite based fighting. Before they started spamming sequels with random combinations of the words ultra, hyper, super, mega, tournament, championship and edition, we were spamming hadoukens with Ryu and Sonic Booms with Guile. Games like Street Fighter 2 are the main reason why any arcades at all remain open, aside from crummy cheap broken claw machines and crummy cheap rigged games that claim to let you win a Sony PSP if you can hit the buttons at the right time (yeah, right. I'm sure that game is totally possible to win.) Street Fighter 2 might feel a little slow for those of you who think doing a fireball (down, down and toward, toward) and pressing all six attack buttons is an acceptable way to win a match, but this is where it all started.

Street Fighter 2 also brought us the first female fighting game characters in Chun Li and Cammy, thus inspiring a whole generation of perverts at deviantart.

Of course, if you insist on being avante garde you can play SNKs contribution to the fighting game scene, since King of Fighters came out only 4 years after Street Fighter 2, but my understanding is that you have to pick one or the other, because being good at SF2 precludes understanding what the heck is going on with the controls in KOF, and vice versa.

KOF also brought us Mai Shiranui, who had the benefit of satisfying rule 34 (which you must NEVER google if you value your sanity or-- if you're reading this at work-- your job) of the internet without the intervention of the internet.

Of course, there's more to fighting games that just spritely fireballs and inappropriately dressed women. Fighting games went three dimensional in the early 1990s. If you're first exposure to 3D fighting games is Dead or Alive's contribution to, ahem, physics engines, then you need to go back to your roots and see how far fighting games have come. Virtua Fighter featured a deep move set, colorful characters, and a physics model that meant if player 1 jumped then player 2 had time to make a sandwich and eat it before player 1 got close enough to punch out of the air.

Fighting game snots will tell you not to bother with Tekken. But fighting games snots think that counting frames of animation and timing button presses to them is normal human behavior, so they can be safely discounted as people who take things entirely too seriously for their own good.

12) Final Fight. This is a game that was shamelessly cribbed from and ripped off throughout my entire childhood in arcades, and it provided the seeds from which games like God of War sprang. The Beat-Em-Up. Two buttons (attack and jump) and hitting them both together would cost you health and clear a room. It was also hard as heck, because you paid cash money for continues and Capcom wasn't running a charity.

The Final Fight formula capitalized on by lots of intellectual property holders (X-men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, Alien Versus Predator) and all of them were their own flavor of awesome. (I have a special place in my heart for the AVP one) but to truly appreciate the beat-em-up genre, you really have to start with Final Fight.

You will receive extra credit points for sampling Bad Dudes. If you're bad enough to save the President, have a cheeseburger!

And though it's not a classic game, you should really lay your hands on a copy of God Hand on the PS2. Now there was a game.

And there you have it, new gamers. I'm sure I missed some genres (flight sims, combat flight sims, driving games, turn-based strategy, adventure games, MMORPGs) and I'm sure to have alienated some readers by excluding their own favorite classics (Xcom, Civilizations, Full Throttle) but there is a very good reason for that: I haven't played enough of the classics in those genres to have a good recommendation.

Perhaps if there is enough interest in this article-- which is already mightly overlong (anyone making "that's what she said" jokes will have to live with the fact that he's the sort of person who makes "that's what she said" jokes. You've been duly warned)-- and I get some interesting emails on the subject, then I'll write a part 2. For now, I'll leave you with this.

Happy Wednesday, me buckos. Next week: Should you be worried that the characters on your cereal boxes will murder you with an axe? Find out next Wednesday here at Free Toy Inside.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why Is Everyone Afraid of Seven (Answer in today's timestamp)

Okay, so I know there's already a post on this blog, but it's more of a placeholder than anything else, and anyway it's my blog and I can call this the inaugural post if I want to.

So, this week I'd like to give a little bit of an introduction about who I am and what I'm about here.

Well, I'm a husband to a beautiful wife and father of 1.667 beautiful children. I'm currently unemployed, which turned out to be a dark cloud to go with a silver lining, because it's meant I've been able to help The Missus out around the house while she finishes building our second child. She'll be done soon, so if anyone out there is in need of an electrical engineer, you can reach me through here. :)

Now that I've invalidated my manhood by using a smiley in a blog post, I'll try to make up for it by talking a little bit about my hobbies.

I play video games, and I own several consoles as well as a laptop that suffices as a gaming rig provided I don't play anything more recent than Sins of a Solar Empire (which is an awesome game-- I like to call it a RTS (Real Time Strategy) game for people who hate RTS games.) My PS3 and PSP are the most active. As of today I'm juggling Infamous and Oblivion, because I'm a fiend for open world gameplay.

Ooh. Strike one.

I also sculpt and paint miniatures for tabletop wargames. I don't play any, except Heroscape, which has pre-painted miniatures, I just like to make them. So far I've only painted two 29mm night goblins, and I've sculpted a couple of 54mm guys. The most recent sculpt (as they say in the biz) is inspired by the Heavy from Team Fortress 2. Pictures to follow as soon as I get time to photograph them.

Ouch. Toy soldiers and video games in one paragraph. Strike two.

Well, let's try this. I play the banjo. I'm not very good, and I haven't had time to practice since The Little One was born two years ago (my, how time flies!) but I used to do a pretty good Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and I can play most Christmas carols by ear.

Hmm. Since I have one more that's sure to be a home run, let's call that one a foul ball.

Oh yes. I collect firearms. By "collect" I mean I own a couple and I like to take them out and do some target shooting. No, I won't tell you how many or where they are. :)

Dang it! Those smileys are insidious! Well, to heck with it. I know I'm a man, and I have a beautiful wife and 1.667 children to prove it.

My plans for this space include (ir)regular weekly updates where I'll spout off about something that's not really important to anyone but me. There will be no politics-- this is a site for fun and humor and if anyone gets angry about anything I say here, my hope is that it's because that person is a big freak and not because I said anything contentious. Basically, I'm hoping to keep the content of this blog in line with the title: free, insubstantial and is probably coated with toxic paint.

For the incurable optimists out there, my hope is to one day do a podcast as a companion piece to this blog. Don't hold your breath, though. Heck, I'll be happy if I can just keep up with the weekly updates on the blog.

Anyway, that's about it. Short post for the inauguration of Free Toy Inside. Next week we'll talk about something more interesting. I don't want to give too much away, but it will involve talking at length about me.

You roll your eyes, but you'll be back. See you then, because I'm watching you through the site-meter widget.