Monday, March 30, 2009

80 Days UP - "Sweet Soul Brother..."

There's a new Dunkin' Donuts ad on TV that's kind of pissing me off. It starts off with a bunch of kids sitting around watching television. Now, you can tell right away that this commercial is attacking the very idea of watching television - the kids are just sitting there, staring blankly at the screen with their mouths agape. You can hear generic cartoon sound effects coming from the screen as it slowly rots their brains away. Suddenly, a blue tractor beam bursts out of the television and begins to pull the children in (apparently at this point, TVs of the world have moved onto 'Phase II'* of their plan - which is...eating them?). There's one child, who until that point hadn't been looking at this blue screen of death, who turns and immediately turns zombie faced and begins getting sucked in. All hope seems lost for this poor family when - who should come in to save the day but Dad! And he's got...Dunkin' Donuts!!! The children immediately break free of the television's grasp over them and run to the kitchen to enjoy some "family time" over 2000 empty calories of literally no nutritional value.*

The lesser of two evils?

Now, there are several issues with this ad that strike me as counter-productive at best, and flat out hypocritical at worst. First of all, a television commercial that starts off by reminding the viewer of how dangerous television watching is strikes me as just as intelligent as posting a sign that says: "Eat less donuts, gain less weight!" in every D.D. in the country. Second, connecting a box of donuts with "family time" is a bit of a stretch. If what was actually on television was presumably any good and my dad came home with a box of donuts, I would most likely grab a donut and go right back to watching* whatever I was watching. Even if these kids weren't watching TV, how long does it take to eat a donut - two minutes? Not a lot of Q.T. to squeeze in there. I suppose dad could get his kids 50 donuts and buy himself enough time to tell them how much he hates his job. This way they get to hear a story and take a ride on board the early onset diabetes train!

Look, let's just be honest here. I'm ribbing on Dunkin' Donuts, but hey, full disclosure: I like a nice fresh donut every now and again. They're delicious. I mean, D.D. doesn't hold a candle to Krispy Kreme, but that's besides the point. What I'm trying to say is - don't market yourself as something you very clearly are not. And don't VILLIFY something else for the sake of promoting your own equally-shitty-for-you product. T.V. gets a bad rap sometimes because yes, too much of it really isn't good for you, for a number of reasons. But you know what else isn't very good for you in large doses? DONUTS. So why don't you go ahead and just ignore what color that pot is, Dunkin', and just maybe spend some time reminding people how those sugary fried pieces of dough taste better than any vegetable ever will.

-Matt

Currently Playing: Went back and played some classic DOOM recently, which I loved just as much as I did back when I was 12. Still working on Assassin's Creed, Exit 2, Rock Band (Don't Stop Believin' DLC tomorrow, baby!) and T.W.E.N.Y. (250+ hours - oh Square Enix, please release me from your horrible 100% completion vice grip - you know my OCD makes me weak)


*Phase III: Profit!
*Oh, and P.S. - the last shot has the dog being pulled into the television by the blue tractor light while the family enjoys their feast. Even donuts couldn't save everyone.
*Granted, dad and I never had the best relationship growing up...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

69 Days UP - "Its tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time..."

A recent tragedy in the news made me think about skiing and how it's one of those things on a short list that I personally would rather experience virtually rather than in reality. Now, don't get me wrong - I love sports, even though I'm fairly terrible at most of them. And I'm also not a coward - I've boogie boarded in the Atlantic Ocean, played tackle football with friends, and hacky sacked in a totally concrete-laden area. But something about skiing always just turned me off.

For starters, when I bundle up in three layers of clothing, put on a pair of thick gloves and waterproof boots, the first thought on my mind isn't: "Let's get mobile!" I'll ask you for a second time not to get me wrong, and remind you that I also A) enjoy playing in the snow, as anyone who's watched me spend 5 minutes making the perfect snowball and/or snow angel can attest, and B) like going downhill at tremendous speeds. (But honestly, for that, I'll just head back to Great Adventure and hit up El Toro again - in jeans and a t-shirt!)
Pictured Above: MORE FLAGS, MORE FUN!!!
Now I'm sure a great many stand-up comic has casually observed this better than me, but for the time, cost, effort, and risk to go skiing, there are a million other things I'd rather be doing. Now...video game skiing? Hells yeah, sign me up! A great skiing game like SSX (well really, the only skiing game series I've played besides SLALOM - shudder) perfectly captures everything I'd ever want out of the skiing/snowboarding experience with absolutely none of the downsides.*
It's TRICKY TRICKY TRICKY!!!
The same thing goes for crossing a dangerous intersection, fightin' dudes on the streets, serving beer, running a city, driving like a madman, and playing in a Rock Band*.

So, have video games ruined my ambitions, or the potential for real-life experiences? Nah, they just let me dabble in things I'd probably never want to do anyway...

-Matt

Currently Playing: Just finished God of War II (stupid cliffhanger ending), just about to finish doing EVERYTHING in T.W.E.W.Y., resisting the temptation of PEGGLE, and if the unemployment continues, I may just get around to Mass Effect now...

*Plus the added bonus of a great soundtrack, ridiculous tricks, and huge orange afros!
*This one I'm literally just not talented enough to do, which I'm ok with.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

60 Days UP - "Change will come, oh, change will come..."

I've been unemployed for about a month now, and looking for a job all day is incredibly boring. Here's how I managed to slack off for about 30 minutes today:

video
Will Change Come? That's the question I've put forth. And a response comes from an unlikely* source.

Special Thanks to: Fall Out Boy, Barack Obama Poster, The Incredible Hulk Bobblehead, R.O.B., and of course, Milhouse.

-Matt

Currently playing: Umm...nothing! I'm, uh, too busy looking for a job.

*(ok, well, maybe super obvious)

Monday, March 2, 2009

53 Days UP - "Detox Just To Retox!"

I recently visited the beautiful country of Argentina (seen above, just to the right of, and above the plane engine) where I became briefly "Re-Paused." You see, I used most of my DS's battery during my flight over, and when I arrived at my hostel and was given a multi-port charger I immediately noticed that while my cell phone, my camera, and my iPod were all doing just fine, the DS for some reason rejected the power supply.
Right at this moment getting a proper charger for me DS became my quest. Well, side-quest, to be more precise, as travelling to Argentina to charge my DS would be something of a ridiculous story for my grandkids.* So for the time being I took it as a sign and decided to enjoy the lovely sights and sounds of Buenos Aires. I had 8 days to enjoy everything the city had to offer, on top of a wedding of two dear friends that had brought me to the country in the first place.

Despite all the wonderful food, the wine, and the bizarre mating rituals of the Argentine people whereby all women are expected to hit on the men, I was still...distracted. "At the very least," I said to myself, while averting my eyes from yet another suitor, "I'll want to have my DS charged for the plane ride back, right?"

Finally, at long last, a clue! Two days into my trip, while I was on an official guided city bus tour on a bus whose engine was apparently fitted to run on dulce de leche, I snapped a shot of a place I noticed had video games in the display window. A store in the Microcentro apparently called "electronic things." Say no more!
A few days later, after I had mastered the Argentine subway system, where all the men are required to ride on the top and/or sides of the moving cars in an effort to combat what they call: "El viajero vago," I returned to the site of "electronic things" only to be devastated by what lay before me:
Turns out, due to several supposed sightings of the ghost of Eva Peron, they had closed down half the city to investigate*. I drowned my sorrows in empanadas and matte and resigned myself to the fact that I would perhaps never be able to charge my DS down there.

Later that evening, I made my way back to the hostel. After dodging a score of infectious tango performers turning, heaving, and dancing their way through the streets I made it back to room where I stared longingly at my poor battery-starved portable gaming device. Apparently I had begun sobbing softly because Andres, an employee at Hostel Belgrano overheard me. Normally the staff wouldn't understand my muffled sobs, but Andres was different. Andres, you see, spoke English.

Andres was kind enough to point out that amazingly enough, around the corner from the hostel was a location selling Nintendo DS games and supplies, and they might have what I needed in order to charge my system. I immediately lept from my bed, ran up to the exit to the hostel, kicked a soccer ball through a flap at the base of the door, (as is Argentine custom) and made haste to the store.
The store had exactly what I needed! After turning down a number of rare and unique animals* I finally got what I needed. I ran back to the hostel, retrieved the soccer ball and kicked it back through the flap at the bottom of the door (as is Argentine custom) and tested the device out. Huzzah! Success!

Of course, I didn't just spend the rest of my time in lovely Buenos Aires alone in my room on my DS. I actually spent some of that time showing it off to Andres at the hostel! He was so excited about what I showed him that he took a break from his lame-o non-plastic, non-Rock Band compatible real guitar and started downloading some games onto his laptop*. I successfully reignited a lost passion for him, how about that!
All in all it was a great trip. I learned a lot about a new country, and - this may sound trite - but a lot about myself. Here's to wonderful new experiences!

-Matt

Currently Playing: The World Ends With You (I am seriously addicted - if you are reading this, please send help), Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Assassin's Creed, Contra IV.

*"But then...why would you want to leave the country at all, grandpa?" "And there, in that question my child, lies the answer..."
*The latino equivalents of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson were last seen exploring Recoleta Cemetary for clues. Pedro Venkman was later heard saying: "Es verdad. El hombre no tiene un pene."
*"No necesito un Mogwai!!!"
*While I may have taken some liberties in this story, what happened with Andres is 100% real. I only hope I didn't ruin some budding musician's future, and in fact only convinced a future gamer designer the path of his true desires.