Archive for August, 2005
Last year: To excercise, save the environment, and save my own money, I attempt to ride my bike to work.
Halfway there I get hit by a car. I decide I don’t want to ride my bike to work anymore.
Monday: To excercise, save the environment, and save my own money, I get a new bike, and attempt to ride it to work.
Halfway there, I accidentally swerve and hit a wall, tearing up my hand. I decide maybe I should ride my bike only recreationally, on weekends and such.
Also, my hand hurts, which means it hurts to type. So I don’t write as much for my website as I normally would.
A new feature! In which I find a few completely random blogs from Blogspot, and mercilessly and snobbily critique them for your viewing pleasure.
Larry’s Wire: http://larryswire.blogspot.com/, by Larry Horist, Public Policy Caucuses
Style: Small-time Conservative Soapbox
Sample: “How is it that Mrs. Sheehan chooses not to direct her venomous wrath at the very people who compelled her son to volunteer for dangerous, but noble, duty? Why is it she chooses to point the finger at the person she accuses as a symbolic killer, while aiding and abetting the very people who really killed Casey Sheehan?”
Critique: The default template and long passages show that Larry isn’t interested in form so much as function. The conservative ranting is fairly standard for this type of blog, but at points, Larry’s Wire shows a piquant sort of amateur novaeau innocence. Unfortunately, he tends too much to the common discussion to make a showing this year, but look for greater things from Larry Horist. Not that much greater, but, we hope, a little.
Rating: A sniff of the snuffbox and a small tip of the hat. No great shakes.
Cinncinnati Greens: http://cincinnatigreens.blogspot.com/, by The Dean of Cinncinnati, et al.
Style: Activist Revenge Blog
Sample: “Gwen, defending the legitimacy of the party, of course flaunted her large list serve. She pointed out to the writer that they had hit 170 members. Today, when reporting to Ken Sain what liars the writers on this blog are, she reported an astounding 180 members now on her list serve. To anyone doing the math that is some significant growth. 10 additions to the list serve in 3 years. I suppose it is difficult to add people to a restricted list when e-mail goes unchecked.”
Critique: Another default template, but at least this one seems to have been selected to match the content, if only in a most basic way. There is a prominent list of five contributors, but the proliferation of posts by one Andrew Warner suggests that he is the motor powering the web presence of Cinncinnati Green party members. A marked absence of politics is available, and the replacement of such with personal arguments and vendettas, seemingly against members of the same party, makes this just another flavor among many. I don’t live in Cinncinnati, I’m not a member of the Green Party, I don’t know Gwen, so why should I care? The answer, unfortunately, is that I shouldn’t. Expand the content, bring out what Cinncinnati Greens means to you, Andrew Warner, and you’ll not have to worry about Gwen’s legitimacy, or unchecked emailing list!
Rating: Poor showing from Cinncinnati. Two fig leaves.
I’m a Proofreader: http://pyepeeler.blogspot.com/, by Pye Peeler
Style: Personal Record masquerading as Career Blog
Sample: “On Friday, after my shift was over, I checked out the traffic report at traffic.com and saw that both the 101 and 405 were quite congested, so I decided to go to a Barnes and Nobles near my work. I browsed through a few magazines (i.e. Psychology Today, NBA Inside Stuff, and Los Angeles). And I learned a few things (e.g. apples, oranges, kidney beans, and fish are good sources of brain food). I’ll probably stop by the bookstore at least a few times a week after work instead of being trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic on my way home.”
Critique: Interest! “A Proofreader”! What an interesting life he must have, constantly reading and proofing, and sometimes both at the same time! But in the thick of it, among the images and text (images! finally, some life in a blog!), there is naught but tidbits about even the most obvious details. How does this proofreading work? Where does he do this proofreading? What does he, in fact, proofread? We find none of it. Instead there is a mundane aftertaste, a character in a boring novel. Go to Barnes and Noble and look at magazines? We do that every day, why shall we bother to read about you doing it? We must admit, however, your grammar does seem impeccable.
Rating: Average, leaning towards the lower end of the scale.
The World of Staci http://worldofstaci.blogspot.com/, by Staci
Style: I Make Fun of Celebs While Wishing I Was One
Sample: “Fitty-Cent (that’s 50 Cent) has writtten a book called “From Pieces to Weight”. I don’t have anything else to write, but I just wanted to say “Fitty Cent” / “This is Tina Holmes. I’m only putting her here because she’s on one of my favorite shows, Six Feet Under, and I can’t stand her character on that show!!!”
Critique: A sparse template implementation hides even sparser content. There are news pieces cut whole cloth from the wires, and there are pictures inserted from services, but the blog is called “World of Staci,” so where’s the Staci? We only see a little, and frankly, Staci, what we see isn’t encouraging. There are possibilities on the internet, surely, for celeb embarassment (see Go Fug Yourself, Pink is the New Blog– both surreptiously linked here, we presume as inspiration), but they don’t seem to be used here, Staci. Kim Stewart wears *that* dress, and the best we get is “black is back? i don’t think so”? Where is this “oh so exciting life” we were promised? I don’t think so, either.
Rating: Forgettable. Try harder next time.
Belacan Times: http://belacans.blogspot.com/, by “A middle age Malaysian living in Kuala Lumpur”
Style: Personal Mixed Language Craziness
Sample: “B: But i don’t want to spend so much on a car wor…
Mrs B: What’s your budget?
B: You know me lar, as cheap as possible but still wanna a quality car that I can use for 7 years. Kelisa and Savvy around Rm40k, the MyVI around RM50k. The rest, tak mau tengok.
Mrs B: Ya lar, not many choices in that price range.”
Critique: Finally, we have escaped the default template ghetto. A large bloghead invites us to “spice up your life” and we are off and running. At first glance, there is a standard domestic blog here: stories of the household and feelings about dealing with family life and work problems. But there is also a flavor of the foreign blog, as well– our author is an expatriate? To where? From where? Is he posting to home, or from there? Or is he not sure where home is? We certainly aren’t. Finally, there is the language, which, as far as we’re concerned, makes the scene here. What is a “MyVi,” “ya lar,” “tak mau tengok”? We are entranced. It’s a shocking aroma that will keep us reading throughout. All the way back to July 2005.
Rating: Enticing. Added to bookmarks!
The other day I’m looking through press releases on Google News for my new job, and I stumble across this. I thought it was kind of interesting. I thought, “I’d like to speak to this interesting woman.”
Niki Yan is a Chinese actress and writer. She saw the movie Top Gun at a young age, and was very inspired by Tom Cruise, as you can see in the article, and on her website MarryTomCruisein30Days.com (which she told me about during the course of the conversation). She’s now written a book called “My Love For You, Tom Cruise: A Desperate Chinese Girl’s Confession,” an “insightful and inspirational fun book” that is “devoted to the person who changed her life forever — Tom Cruise, the Hollywood movie star.”
Unfortunately, my tape recorder had a few issues during our interview, but I’ve transcribed it as faithfully as possible below. Enjoy.
Interview has been removed at request of subject.
-Does everyone else buy things that at the time are amazing and then, only weeks later, completely forget about them? Because I seem to.
-Google Talk is lame. And no one’s on it. Instant messaging is so 10 years ago.
-Why isn’t it news when I buy a computer?
-Betsimpsier should win the prize for the dumbest bank ad campaign ever. Idiodumbstupider!
-Pitchfork falls all over the new New Pornographers. You think you’re so cool, Pitchfork, don’t you? Yes, yes you do.
-I finally picked up Profit, season 1. Does anyone else remember this show? The main character is an evil bastard who grew up in a box watching television. It’s great. It’s like an anti-Dream On.
That’s all I got. Have a good day.
I’ve been thinking about this. And I’ve determined that it takes time to get to know someone. When you first meet someone, you don’t really know them. Sure, you’re probably introduced to them and you know their name and maybe you even know who they are. You can get an impression of what they’re like. But you don’t really know them. Not right away. It takes time to get to know someone.
And I’ve figured that it takes roughly about 100 hours.
Give or take, of course. This is not an exact science. I can’t say for sure that after you’ve been around someone 100 hours, you’ll exactly know all of their intentions and interests and history and secrets. It could take a lifetime with someone to get to know all that. And heck, if they’re lying to you for any reason (they don’t like you, they’re naturally evil, they’re amusing themselves), it will probably take much longer than that. But I’m going to say that, under ideal circumstances, 100 hours is right about the time you get to know someone.
Because here’s my thing: I give the wrong impression. I would say that, if I’m not careful, about 60, maybe 65% of the time that I meet someone, I give the wrong impression. They think I’m something I’m not, or assume I’m always something that I’m usually not. I’m a weird and strange person (I don’t have to tell you that, mikeschramm.com reader), and I change all the time, and so when people look at me, they don’t usually see the average of what I am, they see the extreme. I’m extremely boring, or annoying, or happy, or intelligent or dumb, or lame or cool. I’m not actually any of those things, but that’s the impression they get.
But then, within 100 hours, they’ve had the chance to see a good percentage of what I am. They’ve seen that I’m not that completely lame, but there are a lot of cool things I don’t know about. They see that I can say some intelligent things, but I pretty often say stupid ones. I’m happy sometimes, I’m boring sometimes, I’m annoying– well, no, that’s actually pretty accurate all the time.
And it’s the same with me and other people. I meet someone and think they’re awesome because they love that old TV show that only I love and no one’s ever heard of, but then about 80 hours later into the acquaintance, they tell me that Batman is “teh gay.” End of relationship! Or I’ll meet someone and they give me a strange look, but later I find out they just had something in their eye. Or something like that– that’s the way you all seem to me, people. You’re all so weird.
But after about 100 hours, I’ve seen a few different side of them. And they’ve seen a few different sides of me. The alert among you will note that 100 hours is just over two weeks, which is about how long I’ve spent at my new job. And it seems to me that I’m just finally starting to realize who the people there are, as I think they’re finally starting to realize who I am, too.
So the next time we meet, please don’t just turn around and walk away because you think I’m a weirdo or my hair is messed up. 25 hours in, don’t decline that movie invitation because I happened to mention that I think The Notebook was a terrible movie. Presented with the right evidence, I can change. And you might find, as might I, that, 100 hours in, we actually, when you think about it, have a lot more in common than we thought.
Unless you’re not impressed by Batman. Then, please, just don’t talk to me.
Tuesday, 8/13 :: Dead Air Space
If you’re really bored or something, you could check out my friend Thom’s new blog. He’s written a lot of good poetry on there. At least I think it’s poetry.
Wednesday, 8/14 :: Penguin-y Goodness
I just got back from seeing March of the Penguins. It was really good for a documentary. The penguins ran and jumped, and almost laughed like humans. Almost.
I went with my friend Dave. He said the penguins were “representative of the greater world, tossing and turning like so many scrambled eggs in griddles. My heart leapt and felt, climbed an intricate representation of 80s pop culture symbol David Hasselhoff, then dropped away into what still passes for infinity.”
He’s always saying things like that.
Friday, 8/16 :: Show at Double Door
I went to see my friend Sufjan play at the Double Door this evening. The show was great. I heard he’s going to put out another album, this one about Wisconsin! You heard it here first! Because we’re friends.
Afterwards, we went out for coffee, but he wouldn’t take his helmet off. He’s kind of weird actually. I don’t think I’m going to hang out with him again.
Sunday, 8/18 :: Movie Day!
Lots of rain outside today, so I just stayed in and watched movies with my friend Paul. He really wanted to watch Magnolia and Boogie Nights for some reason, but I hadn’t seen Sin City yet, so we watched that.
I couldn’t hear anything, though, because he kept talking to his girlfriend. I don’t know what he sees in her. Total skank.
Tuesday, 8/20 :: Cereal with Ben
He ordered Cheerios! How do you order cheerios at a place where they have like 200 different cereals! I got half Crunchberries, half Cookie Crunch. Cooooookie crunch.
I asked him about Jenny, who I haven’t seen for a while since we had that little fallout at the Give Up release party, and he thought I was jealous of her! I’m totally not!
Ok, yes I am a little. The Wizard was such a great movie.
Thursday, 8/21 :: Skee-ball! And a Surprise!
My friends Corin, Carrie, and Janet and I went out to Dave and Busters to play some skee-ball. I won, big time, but I gave all my tickets to some little kid because that’s much more indie. Afterwards, we all went out to the record store and talked about how lame MTV2 is. Also, the New Yorker, U2 and mainstream radio. Lame.
Oh, btw, while we were there, I saw that they had released a new album! Isn’t that weird, that all my friends are working on cool releases right now? I mean, I’ve known them all a long time, but it seems like they’re all selling their books and albums and art and stuff! How weird! I know!
First, I’m happy to say that after being phoneless for a year, I have purchased a new cell phone. I’m not hopeless enough to actually put the number on this webpage, but I am hopeless enough to use this webpage to say that if you know me and want the number, email me and I’ll give it to you. Then you can call me and we can be phone buddies! BFF!! :-))))) LOL!!11oneoneone
Earlier today I read this article about Streetwars, this large format watergun tag game in NYC. I thought it would be a good idea in Chicago, so I posted on Craiglist saying as much. Then look what happened. I promise that none but the first post is by me.
Posted: 8-18-05, 10:23 am (this post was by me)
This seems awesome– do we have something like this here?
Posted: 8-18-05, 12:20 pm
This would be SOO much fun. I would be 100% in, but some concerns I would have would be the huge scope of a city-wide game. some guys wouldn’t have transportation. some guys would be in the ghetto where a drive by squirting could be retaliated with gunfire. etc. etc. If someone wanted to organize a zoned game where applicants lived/worked within certain blocks (for example south of peterson, east of western north of north ave, then have one for the loop, then one for the south side. or divide them into neighborhoods and you pick which one you’d like to enter) This would all take a hell of an effort by the organizers and I definitely would like to know allthis stuff before I signed up.
Posted: 8-18-05, 12:27 pm
Oh yah! I’m in. I’ll help organize, too.
Posted: 8-18-05, 12:39 pm
i organized a game like this in HS. it was great and got so much attention that the principal asked me to stop it (it was literally distracting teachers during class time). since it was not allowed to be played on school grounds, i said he had no right to stop it. eventually the buzz died down and nobody won. that left the organizer with a bunch of money to spend on spring break. i wonder if anybody will bring it up at the reunion…
have fun, but don’t hurt anybody.
Posted: 8-18-05, 12:55 pm
You guys must have lived under a rock or just weren’t cool enough to have a chance to play this in the past 15 years. It’s been around for YEARS. It’s already up and running and quite well-organized. If you guys actually LEFT YOUR HOUSE instead of trolling these and other boards, maybe you could have actually already played this game.
Have a nice day!!
Posted: 8-18-05 1:15 pm
Are any of you street war supporters the ones who squirted me with the supersoaker from your car (while I was standing on the corner of Addison and Leavitt) when it was 1000 degrees a couple of weeks ago? It felt good, thanks. But next time, don’t aim for my eye. GOSH
Posted: 8-18-05, 1:35 pm
Finally, a benifit to being under-employed!
I’m in. Contact me when you get it going.
Posted: 8-18-05, 1:40 pm (3 hours after my original post)
Here it is people! What you’ve all been waiting for….
If you’re interested in participating, please email us with the following:
1. Where you live/work by region (i.e. Northside, Loop, WS, SS, etc.)
2. Whether you want to be a mark (“victim”) or an assassin
3. A reasonable amount of money you’d pay to participate
4. Any comments/ideas/suggestions
5. Your age
Why are we asking for so much info? Well we need to know how many ppl want to participate, what the entry fee and total prize will be, and whether to split games by region according to interest/availability/access. Once we have all this info, we’ll compile the rules, fees, prizes, etc. and let you all know.
Posted: 8-18-05, 4:24 pm
We are Currently working with the Vancouver Shadow Government to begin setting up a massive city wide competition. This is not a task that will be easily accomplished in a short period of time. We are hoping to turn this into a massive publicized event. Therefore, we need individuals to come forward and offer their aid. We need individuals to help set up a website, someone to design fliers, and roughly 20 individuals who will act as Shadow Government Agents. Becoming a Shadow agent will not bar you from the tournament. We will have an agent tournament coinciding with the general tournament. the winners of both tournaments will then face off in a three day duel. Anybody who is interest in becoming an agent or in aiding in organizing the event, please send an e-mail to ChicagoShadowGovernment@gmail.com —- anyone interested in being updated on the date of the event and/or would like to aid in spreafing the word please send an e-mail to the same e-mail address entitled “player”. We have set up and played similar games at the University of Illinois in Champaign. We promise this event will be landmark and professional.
Of course I sent them an email mentioning that I’m the guy who started the whole thing. How sweet is that, though? Three hours from suggestion to reality. And I cut out about 50 posts of people just saying “sounds like fun, I’m in.” This is what the internet is for– highspeed, superproductive social networking. Post a good idea in a visible place, and practically within minutes, you’ll have up to thousands of people rushing to the cause. That’s freaking sweet. Cindy Sheehan sweet!
Stay tuned to mikeschramm.com for updates on Streetwars: Chicago! Coming soon!
Have you heard of this new browser called Flock? It’s supposedly a “social web browser” meaning in non-geek terms that it’s like Flickr, Firefox, and Blogger combined into one. Whenever it gets released, you’ll be able to create and reference blog posts in one click and drag, and hold conversations between blogs with ease, all right through your web browser. Seems like pretty interesting stuff, if they pull it off, and I’m sure they will.
But the other neat thing about this Flock dealy is that it uses del.icio.us for its bookmarks. There are no actual bookmark folders in the browser, it’s all run through this site called del.icio.us.
I’m not the last person to have heard of del.icio.us, but I’m probably the last person to actually have signed up for it. It’s basically a list of links online that you can use as bookmarks or share with friends, or use in a blog (mikeschramm.com has that bloggin’ sidebar over there, but it’s run differently than del.icio.us). This is good news, then, that Flock will be using an online site to keep bookmarks, because that means that if my computer dies, as it did a little while ago, I won’t lose my bookmarks, because they’ll be kept online. So it’s got that going for it. Which is nice.
Anyway, I was creating my del.icio.us links page today, and I notice that it shows you how many other people have linked to the site that you’re linking to. Slashdot.org, for example, is a very popular site, and so 6,735 (as of presstime) people besides me have linked to it. Boing Boing (who has linked to the me in the past, wink wink) has 1,840 other people who have linked to it. Signal vs. Noise: 184. Chicago Craigslist: 79.
And then I entered mikeschramm.com into my del.icio.us bookmarks.
And no one else had linked to it.
Which seems, admittedly, accurate. But even so.
If its any consolation (and it is), no one else has linked to Zulkey.com either, and Claire Zulkey deserves many more links than I do.
So I have a new goal. By the end of the year, my goal is to get at least 10 people to link to me within del.icio.us. Then, and only then, my life will be complete!
Oh, and I can’t wait to see that Flock browser thing. Sounds cool.
Samuel L. Jackson thinks “Snakes on a Plane” is a fantastic title, and I’m inclined to agree with him. Plus, we haven’t done a list in a while. Well, it seems like we haven’t done a list in a while.
Homeless Guy Becomes President
Appliances Can Talk
Women Are Crazy
That’s Not Supposed To Exist, and Yet It’s Killing People
The Dog Who Did Things That Seemed Loveably Human
A Team of Plucky Losers Wins
Two People Who Seem Really Different Fall In Love
Old Guy Acts Like He’s Still In College
The Killer’s Not Who You Think It Is
The World Ends
Hey Mike. Hey.
It’s me. Your gas tank.
I’m a little hungry.
Thirsty, really. I could use a drink. A drink of gas.
Yeah, that’s right.
I’m starting to get a little peckish here. Think you could maybe pull over, get out the old credit card and hook me up?
Oh, come on. Just a little sippy sip. For your old pal Tanky. C’mon, friend. Think of all the fun we had. The other day, I took you to that store, and just a few weeks ago we were going to work almost every day! I took you everwhere, and we went there together. The least you could do is just gimme a little drinky drink.
What’s that? I know it’s expensive man. The stuff you need always is. Well, no, milk isn’t but gas isn’t milk, otherwise we’d have declared war on Wisconsin.
Ok, geez. Sorry. Sensitive subject. Look, I just need a little gas, bud. Just a little bit.
Say, why haven’t I seen you around lately? Seems like just last week we were going to work every day together, and now, in the past few weeks I’ve only seen you once or twice. What’s the deal? You’re not cheating on me are you? Ha!
You have a new job, and there’s no parking? Well how do you–
No. No way. With the bus? You jerk!
And a bike??!? What are you thinking?! You know how unsafe those are? I heard people have to wear helmets! How dare you start seeing some bike over me?
Look, just pull over. There’s a Shell, just pull over right here. I’m getting a little sick of this.
You passed it. Where are you going?
You can’t go home! That’s it, I’m turning the low fuel light on. How would you like it if I stopped right here, mister? How would you like that? Would the bike get you home? How about the bus? Didn’t think so.
Where are you turning? Is this the garage already?
Look, Mike, I’m sorry. I take it all back. You can ride the bike if you want, I just need a little gas. C’mon old buddy, old pal. Just a– aaah crap don’t close that garage door. Seriously, I’ll take you anywhere you need to go.
Just a little gas, that’s all I need. Where are you going now? You’re leaving me out here?
Awww come on, man. I’m thirsty. When am I going to see you next? Fine then, I guess I don’t know either! You’ll be sorry. Don’t close that– oh, fine close the door!
Wow. A bus. I never thought we’d come to this.
Special treat for you today. A few months ago I wrote an article for Newcity about the Final Fantasy “Dear Friends” Concert Series that came through town around then. For the article, I wanted to interview Nobou Uematsu, who’s the composer of all the music for the Final Fantasy series of videogames. So I chatted with his people, and eventually we decided on an email interview.
When I got the answers back, they were not very explanatory, and he didn’t answer all of the questions I sent, so I didn’t end up using much of it in the article. But I was just digging through some old emails, and found his reply, so, in its entirety, here you go.
There are a lot of big Final Fantasy fans in America, but not everyone has played through the games. How can your music appeal to people who haven’t even seen the videogames?
I’m not sure how the music would appeal to a person who hasn’t seen the videogames, but I do hope that after listening to the music, they will try out the game afterwards.
In Japan, music from videogames has won awards and broke sales records, but in America, it’s still kind of looked down upon as a toy, or a disposable medium. Have you heard or felt any sentiments along these lines?
Videogame music was not accepted even in Japan from the very beginning and was probably looked down upon as a toy as well. Also, not all videogame music is selling or is accepted even now. I believe it’s just a matter of the difference in years between our videogame cultures. The only reason why videogame music is accepted more in Japan than in America is because the history of games goes back further in Japan.
One interesting thing that you have to deal with as a composer of videogame music is the repetition– players will often hear your music for hours on end as they fight through a certain dungeon or cave. How did you approach this as a composer?
I never really found this to be a hurdle. Although, I do try to write so that the player would not get bored of the music after listening to it repeatedly.
What other videogame music do you enjoy (other than your own)?
The Tower of Druaga
Super Mario Bros..
What’s your favorite Final Fantasy music?
FFVII, FFVIII, FFIX
Are you working on the music for Final Fantasy 12? What can you tell us about the game?
Um, no comment?
And of course, in a year or two, we’re scheduled to see the Playstation 3. Does Square-Enix have any plans for the next generation system? With better technology, will we see any changes in the way videogame music will be composed and incorporated into the game?
I cannot comment on how I would compose or integrate the music into a game until the console is completed.
Anything else you want to share with your American fans?
I’ve been astonished by the number of FF fans outside of Japan and am also very honored. I am looking forward to meeting you all at the concert venue.
I don’t know why I can’t seem to talk to bartenders at bars. Maybe there’s some code that I’m not in on, or some bit of coolness that I’m just not privy to. Or, maybe they just don’t like the way I look.
Whatever it is, conversations between bartenders and I never really work out. I can’t get a message across, and then when I do, they think I’m an idiot. It’s like trying to tell a French chef how to make a hamburger.
Bartender: [After me standing at the bar for 15 minutes, and him helping 5 hot girls get their cosmos before even looking at me, he nods in my direction]
Me: Hey, can I get a–
Bartender: What you need, man?
Me: Sorry I was just telling you what I wanted.
Bartender: [Points at ear] What’s that? Gotta speak up.
Me: I’ll have a Guinness.
Bartender: No Guinness.
Me: No Guinness? What kind of bar is this?
Bartender: Only draft for Guinness.
Me: Right, that’s why I want a draft Guiness draft.
Bartender: [pours my beer in way less time than it takes to pour a Guinness, so I'm even less happy about that]
Me: Can I give you a credit card?
Bartender: Credit card? I need your ID.
Me: No problem.
Bartender: And there’s a $20 minimum.
Me: $20 minimum on the credit card?
Bartender: And I need your ID.
Me: Yeah, you said that. Look, how much is the beer?
Me: OK, look, I’ll just give you cash.
Bartender: What’s that? Can’t hear you.
Me: Cash! I’ll give you the cash!
Bartender: You should have said that in the first place, man!
Me: I… Whatever. Here’s your money.
Bartender: What? Only a buck tip?
You can see why, when I go out to bars, I send someone else for the beer. Someday, we’ll have robot bartenders, and my life will be great.
Me: Hey, can I get a Guinness?
ROBOT BARTENDER: [Pours Guinness, taking his sweet roboty time] THAT WILL BE $5.
Me: Sure, buddy! Can I use a credit card?
ROBOT BARTENDER: PLEASE INSERT CARD IN MY MOUTH.
Me: You got it! Need an ID?
ROBOT BARTENDER: RETINAL SCAN COMPLETE. ID NOT NECESSARY.
Me: Wow, great! You’re a terrific bartender, here’s a big tip!
ROBOT BARTENDER: THOUGH I THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMPLIMENT, A TIP IS NOT NECESSARY. ENJOY YOUR DRINK, HUMAN MASTER.
So, so much better.
If you’re in Chicago, come see this band this evening. They’re good and stuff.
The other day I was talking about Christians and videogames, and I postulated (have you noticed that I use that word a lot? I like it) that not only can Christians not make good videogames, they also don’t write science fiction very well.
In a shocking turn of events, my friend Ben sent me an email arguing against me. Me! Seriously. I know!
Orson Scott Card(Ender’s Game and it’s sequels, which are all excellent) is an example of a good Christian SciFi writer. Given, he’s Mormon, but it’s still a form of Christianity whether the rest of the Christianity wants to admit it or not.
Also, C.S. Lewis wrote good Christian based SciFi, and both the Narnia books and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are basically just trumped up versions of the New Testament.
OK, those are actually both good points.
I should have made my point a little clearer. It wasn’t really that Christians can’t make good videogames and sci fi– they can, and, as Ben says, they do.
My point was that they can’t make good Christian videogames and Sci Fi. Ender’s Game is a great book, but you don’t come away from it with a deeper respect for God. Sure, if someone explains the messianic implications to you, you might be able to draw some conclusions about the way OSC felt about religion and Ender, but it’s not a Christian book in that it doesn’t attempt to encourage you towards Christ.
I talked about the reasons for this last time. Sci Fi as a genre is dependent on creating fantastical worlds, all the more fantastical because they end up being eerily similar to ours. If you create a fantastical version of God, it’s called idolatry, and it’s not something that Christians do to sell their religions. More likely, it’s what good authors do to try to knock it down. In a “progress and justice” good way, of course.
But I digress. The Chronicles of Narnia is a great series of books, and C.S. Lewis was much more Christian than your average author. Have you ever read The Screwtape Letters? There’s some hardcore fundamentalism in there. If anyone was going to write a Christian fantasy, it would be C.S. Lewis.
Here’s the rub, though: The Chronicles of Narnia is allegory. Allegory changes everything. Sci Fi works on the fact that you know that this world is a strange representation of our world. If you read about flying cars in a book, all you have to do is look out the window to know that you’re reading Sci Fi. But in allegory, not only do imperfect imitations represent other things, but the story itself has to stand on its own. Sure, the symbolism can work on one level, but one rule of allegory is that the story you’re telling (it’s been a while since I read it, but CoN is about a lion who fights a witch inside a wardrobe) about the things that symbolize the things you’re telling the story about (C.S. Lewis is really talking about God and his relation to Creation) have to work as two seperate things. They both have to work on both levels.
Which means that you can read Chronicles of Narnia, not realizing it’s about God, and still get something out of the story. Which makes it, since you don’t HAVE to think about God, not necessarily a Christian book. Does it work as Christian allegory? Yes. Unless you switch around the symbols, which, since C.S. Lewis is long gone, might be possible.
As for Lord of the Rings, I haven’t studied the Christian aspects of that much. If you know more than I do, email me about it.
Finally, I should add one more thing. I mentioned this the other day, but probably not as clearly as I should have. Just because I don’t believe that Christians can make good videogames doesn’t mean it can’t happen. A great programmer can make a great videogame about anything, just as a really great writer can make you see any point of view with any story. I just don’t think it’s happened yet, in videogames or Sci Fi.
Fortunately for Christians, the religion’s been around for centuries, and videogames and Sci Fi are almost totally new. So there’s time. Just like almost everything else having to do with God, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I’ve become a fisherman.
In World of Warcraft, that is. Inside the game that’s been sucking my life away going on two months now, there’s a little fishing minigame. Anywhere in the game you find a body of water, you can whip out a fishing pole and start hooking fish.
As fun as it sounds, the actual process is a little boring– basically you click once, and then wait a bit, and then click again. So, in the time between clicking, I made up a little fishing ditty to sing. There’s no real tune for it– I pretty much just wrote the words. Maybe an aspiring songcrafter among you would care to come up with a few chords for it.
I sang it in the game until the other players told me to shut up, but I like it.
Oh I fish and I fish and I fish and I fish,
And catch all the fish I do.
But the biggest fish I’ll ever have caught,
Yes the biggest fish is you.
You were my love since a wee young lad,
And yes I know it’s true:
I’ve caught a lot of fish in the deep, deep sea,
But the biggest fish is you.
And I’ll keep fishing until I grow old,
As old as the sky is blue,
But through all those years, I’ll remember my dear,
That the biggest fish…
The biggest fish I’ll ever have caught,
Was you, my dear, was you.
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