Honeytomb

I am pleased to finally present the published version of my Flash Fiction “Honeytomb.”

Honeytomb” | Storyland Literary Review | October 20th, 2017

This is an odd one, so be forewarned.

Some statistics and factoids about this story. I put about 9 hours of work into this story, which comes to about 14 hours per 1000 words, or 1 minute per word w/r/t writing & editing. The editing saw the removal of over half  the words from the original draft to the current draft. The story is 3.5 years old, and has been submitted to 12 different places (lost 3 times and rejected 9) before it was picked up by Storyland Literary Review.

Another interesting side note. My good friend from College, Dean Steckel, had a story published here as well. And it’s quite good, so I would recommend checking it out as well.

Disaster Eroticism” by Dean Steckel | Storyland Literary Review | August 4th, 2017

 

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Uncle Melvin’s Museum of Physical Media

On the first day of fall, I am pleased to bring you my latest published short story. I’ve written a lot of stories in the past, and published quite a few of them too (a lot this year in fact) and although I’m proud of all of them, at this point though this one I happen to be the most proud of, and would probably refer to it as my favorite.

This is my third story to be published in the Ginger Collect, all three of them published this year, in each of their first three issues.

The story itself was written over the course of 24 hours, and it started as not so much a story but more as a character illustration, and I didn’t know exactly where it would go and quite how it would be written when I started. But over those 24 hours it turned into something (in my opinion anyways) truly beautiful. There is a lot of myself and my peculiar beliefs in the character of Uncle Melvin, though he is certainly more extreme.

I don’t want to say too much more about the story so I can just let you enjoy it. I hope you do, I think you will.

“Uncle Melvin’s Museum of Physical Media” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Three

100 Best NES Games – Episode 1

Before we get into this whole project, I should point out that this is not a list of the 100 best NES games (in my opinion). The title is the name of the Multicart, but it’s deceiving because there’s actually 143 games on it. Unlike other multicarts these are all unique games, not hacks or level jumps that go under strange names, recycling only a handful of games.

I got this Multicart for one and only one game and that is “Little Samson.” Had that game not been included in the list I may have also picked up the cart for the very strange very obscure “Zombie Nation.” The 140+ other games included are an added bonus, and I look forward to playing all/most of them.

The idea of this review is to play each game on the cart (with a few acceptations) for 15 minutes, and if I enjoy it in that time, then add another 45 minutes to the clock and continue the game from there.

There are a lot of games on the cart already, so this is going to be a long project. Also I’ve heard these carts can be finicky, but judging by the fact that it worked perfectly the first time I put it into my Retron 2 I am optimistic. The review will be in 15 episodes, first this overview, episode 2 will have the 10 most anticipated games, and the rest with 10 game reviews per.

I’m looking at at least 50 hours of playtime to get through the project, considerably more if a lot of the games are better than expected. So check back often to see the next review. At the time of publishing this blog post, I have rough draft reviews for games up through episode 5, so more are on the way, I promise.

In the meantime you can peruse the list of games on the cart below. I have a little Key going: * means I own an original cart of the game, ^ means I own an alturntive port or remake of the game (I have Zelda 1 for Gameboy Advance, Ducktales HD Remake for the Wii U, etc.), and ~ means I have a limited form of the game on the NES Remix disk for the Wii U.

 

List:

 

  • Adventure Island 1
  • Adventure Island 2
  • Adventure Island 3
  • Adventure Island 4
  • Adventures of Lolo 1
  • Adventure of Lolo 2
  • Astyanax
  • Balloon Fight~
  • Baseball Stars
  • Batman
  • Batman Returns
  • Bionic Commando
  • Blades of Steel
  • Blaster Master
  • Bomberman 1
  • Bomberman 2
  • Bubble Bobble 1
  • Bubble Bobble 2
  • Castlevania 1
  • Castlevania 2
  • Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers 2
  • Clu Clu Land~
  • Contra
  • Contra Force
  • Super C
  • Crystalis
  • Deja Vu
  • Devil World
  • Donkey Kong~
  • Donkey Kong Jr.~
  • Double Dragon 1
  • Double Dragon 2
  • Double Dragon 3
  • Double Dragon 4
  • Mario^~
  • Ducktales 1^
  • Ducktales 2
  • Earthbound (Mother)
  • Excitebike~
  • Faxanadu*
  • Final Fantasy 1
  • Final Fantasy 2
  • Final Fantasy 3
  • Flintstones 1
  • Flintstones 2
  • Friday the 13th
  • Galaga
  • Gargoyle’s Quest 2
  • Ghosts ‘N Goblins
  • Goonies 1
  • Goonies 2
  • Gradius
  • Guardian Legend
  • Ice Climber~
  • Ice Hockey~
  • Ikari Warriors 1
  • Ikari Warriors 2
  • Ikari Warriors 3
  • Jackal
  • Kickle Cubicle
  • Kid Icarus~
  • Kings of the Beach*
  • Kirby’s Adventure^~
  • Kung Fu
  • Legendary Wings
  • Life Force
  • Little Nemo
  • Little Samson
  • Lode Runner
  • Magician
  • Maniac Mansion
  • Mega Man 1
  • Mega Man 2
  • Mega Man 3
  • Mega Man 4
  • Mega Man 5
  • Mega Man 6
  • Metal Gear
  • Metal Storm
  • Metroid~
  • Mickey Mousecapade
  • Might and Magic
  • Mighty Final Fight
  • Millipede
  • Moon Crystal
  • Ninja Gaiden 1
  • Ninja Gaiden 2
  • Ninja Gaiden 3
  • Over Horizon
  • Pac-Man^
  • Paperboy
  • Parodius
  • Power Blade 1
  • Power Blade 2
  • Rad Racer
  • Rainbow Islands
  • Rampage
  • Ring King
  • River City Ransom
  • Rush ‘N Attack
  • Rygar
  • Samurai Pizza Cats
  • Sansara Naga
  • Section-Z
  • Shadowgate
  • Silver Surfer
  • Skate or Die
  • Smash T.V.
  • Spider-Man
  • Spy Hunter
  • Super Spy Hunter
  • Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Tropics 1
  • Star Tropics 2
  • Stinger
  • Mario Bros.^ ~
  • Super Mario Bros. 1*^~
  • Super Mario Bros. 2~
  • Super Mario Bros. 3~
  • Sweet Home
  • Tecmo Super Bowl
  • TMNT 1*^
  • TMNT 2
  • TMNT 3
  • TMNT Tournament Fighters^
  • Terminator 1
  • Terminator 2
  • Tetris 1*^
  • Tetris 2^
  • Time Diver Eon Man
  • Tiny Toon Adventures 1
  • Tiny Toon Adventures 2
  • Totally Rad
  • Uninvited
  • Vice Project Doom
  • Willow
  • Wily & Light No Rockboard (Mega Man)
  • Zanac
  • The Legend of Zelda 1^~
  • The Legend of Zelda 2*~
  • Zombie Nation

Mega DVD Marathon Episode 2 – “The A’s”

Abbott and Costello Collector’s Choice Double Features – This is a single 2 sided DVD with an Abbott and Costello movie on each side. Side 1 is Africa Screams, side 2 is Jack and the Beanstalk. A very old DVD in my collection, definitely picked up in the first year of owning a DVD player, back in 2001, and watched many times when I was first getting into old comedies.

Africa Screams – A classic Abbott and Costello film, public domain and included on a lot of bargain bin DVDs (in fact I have another copy of the movie on my Icons of Comedy box set). The movie is very funny, a parody of safari movies with a noticeable nod to the Giant Ape subgenre. It features cannibals which I always find comedic (in a dark way of course), the chief of the tribe arranges the acquisition of the tasty Costello for a bag diamonds. The movie also has Shemp Howard (my favorite stooge), Joe Besser (another lesser known stooge), and Clyde Beatty playing himself. We watched this one last year in my film club to universal enjoyment.

Jack and the Beanstalk – One of the very rare (and only one I know) Abbot and Costello movies to be in color, and also an adaptation of my favorite fairytale. However because of the seen where Costello says a tearful goodbye to the cow he sells for magic beans, I don’t watch this movie. I’ve only seen it once, and I skipped it here.

The accidental spy – This is one of my wife’s movies so I skipped it, though I do love Jacky Chan.

Airplane – an unbeatable classic, a seminal movie of the spoof genre, and Leslie Nelson’s first comedy. The movie is totally screwball, with a lot of double entendre, innuendo, sight gauges, side gauges, slapstick, etc., etc., ad infinitum. This is a movie you could watch a hundred times and still notice new jokes. I actually got this when I think it was FYE was having a sale that you could pick it up for 5$ when buying something else (at a time when DVDs were not cheap like they are/can be today), I picked it up when getting a copy of Nightwish’s Century Child, a disappointing album, but not the DVD.

Animated all-stars: 50 cartoons – I have a lot of good memories connected to this DVD. I baught it while we were in the process of buying out new house, it was packed up right away and I told myself I wouldn’t watch it until we moved into the new house. I kept my promise, and a day or two after unpacking I had it in the DVD player, and with each show (for the most part) it just got better and better. It’s another mill creek DVD, each disk is two sided and there are 2 disks in the set, in sleeves (but strangely the box has a double wide spine even though it definitely dose the need it). Side 1-A is Beetle Bailey, 1-B is Snuffy Smith, both side of disk 2 have an episodes a piece of: the Legend of Prince Valiant, the Magical Adventures of Quasimodo and the Adventure of Flash Gordon; 3 episodes of Cool McCool; an episode of Betty Boop on 2A and Defenders of the Earth on 2B. Let’s go through this piece by piece.

Beetle Bailey – not as good as some of the other stuff on here, the humor tends to be a little on the flat side and it’s a little too American and Militaristic for my taste but it’s not bad. In fact it was good enough that I picked up the complete series (I think) recently when I saw it in the bargain bin. The animation is much sharper then I would have expected, and the show I understand is based off a comic strip. There was a good off color joke I’d explain it but… just watch it for yourself, it’s from the episode “Hoss Laff” and the scene starts at about 2:00, but you can watch all five minutes and change to get an idea of the show.

Snuffy Smiff and Barney Google – Now this is a funny show. Also based on a comic strip, it follows the misadventures of the titular poor hillbilly characters and their friends. There’s one great line from the episode “The Tourist Trap”  where Barney warns tourists not to wake up Snuffy because it will take him a full minute to fall back asleep. Other great episodes are: Pie in the Sky, Snuffy Runs the Gamut. Just this side was worth the (admittedly very cheap) DVD price.

The legend of Prince Valiant – great show with a very 80’s psychadellic opening [link]. It’s a low fantasy medieval world about the titular character on a quest to find Camalot after his father lost his kingdom. The animation and presentation are very well done. This too is also based on a comic strip, and there is also a fairly rare NES game in the franchise. I plan to get the game (if I ever come across it) and I’ve already picked up the first (of two) volume of the series. it will be watched and reviewed of course, but not for quite a while as I’ve filed it under “V” and not “L” just like The Legend of Zelda.

The magical adventures of Quasimodo – I’m not a fan of this cartoon, nor am I a fan of the book it’s (loosely) based on or even French Literature in general. I don’t have a problem with the French, they excel greatly in cuisine, paintings, film, gardening, architecture, wine and so on; however culturally their music and literature often leave much to be desired. But as for this cartoon I skipped it, I’ve watched it before, but probably won’t again.

The adventures of Flash Gordon – I’m also not a huge fan of this cartoon too much either, but I liked it enough to watch it again. generally speaking I never liked the “ pure action hero” cartons and usually preferred the more humor driven shows (the only major exception to this rule is Batman the Animated Series, but that show is on a whole other level). In this cartoon, after flying to the planet Mongo (probably couldn’t use that name these days in a kid’s cartoon) to prevent it from hitting the earth, Flash has to deal with Mongo’s emperor the evil Ming the Merciless (slightly xenophobic, Ming is blatantly Asian). The show has Death, slavery and suggested rape and that’s just the first episode, so it’s kind of strong for a kids show, it has kind of a pulpy feel to it all in all, maybe worth checking out if you’re into the “pure action/superhero” cartoon genre.

Cool McCool – This is a funny little cartoon about a semi-slow witted detective a la Inspector Gadget, Clouseau et. al., very 70’s but still pretty good. I almost let someone borrow the DVD because he had come across the name “McCool” and didn’t know it was real, but I thought better of it, he probably wouldn’t have given it back.

Betty Boop – I don’t actually watch this cartoon. As you saw from episode 1 I do like Betty Boop, but I don’t like this particular cartoon. It’s a little too 70’s, and I don’t like that Betty gets abducted in it. Also color is not something your supposed to see in a Betty Boop cartoon. It just feels wrong in so many ways.

Defenders of the Earth – I don’t quite understand what this is. It appears to be another super hero cartoon, but it follows the same storyline as the Flash Gordon cartoon w/r/t Mongo and Ming the Merciless, though set on Earth instead of Mongo, and with a different cast of characters Flash Gordon notwithstanding as he appears in this cartoon too.

In review – Animated All-Stars: 50 Cartoons, is a great little package, and brought to my attention cartoons that I was more or less unaware of, several of which I enjoyed quite a bit. If you come across it in a bargain bin and you like cartoons pick it up. It has enough of everything to keep everyone happy.

Apocalypse Now – I actually skipped this one for a few reasons. I’ve seen it before (in a college class) but my copy is currently unopened. It’s a really good movie and I’ve read the source material (Joseph Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness”) several times, but it’s still a movie you need to be in the right mood to watch, and I had just watched a fairly heavy movie in the theater earlier that day. But the biggest reason is I didn’t get a chance to watch it until almost midnight the day it came up, and I didn’t really want to start it and possibly get into it because it is a fairly long movie and I would have been up to 4 in the morning if I did.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters – I’ve only seen this movie 2 maybe 3 times in the past, once in the theater and once or twice after I got the DVD. I haven’t watched ATHF in years and I actually find it funnier now then I did back when I watched the show regularly, and the same goes for the movie. It’s very funny but it is an obscure type of humor, maybe even postmodern. Unlike other franchises that started as TV shows then went onto movies (Ninja Turtles, the Rocky and Bullwinkle franchise) where they inevitably make the movie more serious, plot/story driven, and veer away from the source material, this movie is just a 90 or so minute episode of the TV show, with a little more uncensored swearing and at certain times slightly richer animations. At first I was a little disappointed that it answered no questions the show brought up, but now having delved more deeply into postmodern storytelling, I realize this is not a negative, just enjoy the ride. Also the DVD has a great cover.

Aqua Teen Hunter Force Vol. 1 – I forgot how good this show was. My favorite character in the show by far is Carl Bratanananalewsky, the slovenly neighbor of the Aqua Teens. He is pissed off about living next to them and he doesnt hide it, everything he says is a stitch (right from his very first line in the show “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FRICKEN CAR!” delivered perfectly with the New Jersey vernacular and accent. If that wasn’t funny enough, he is always animated wearing sweatpants, a wife beater, and flip flops (this struck me as funny later on when he would be shown going out to restaurants wearing the exact same outfit. He might be one of my favorite characters from anything, and that would make an interesting list, but I’d have to think about that for a while. Although just about every episode is good in this first volume, I really like: Escape from Leperchautropolis, Bus of the Undead, and MC P Pants.

Aqua Teen Hunter Force Vol. 2 – More great episodes but with 2 flaws. First there’s this weird clip that I used food in a psychological psudo-horror montage at the begin of the DVD which grosses me out, so I just look away from that. The other disappointment is that the show went from having 18 episodes per box to 13 (a lot of the other early adult swim shows did the same thing), and considering the episodes are only 10 minutes long there’s not a whole lot of material. Of course the price (upon release, which is when I got them) didn’t change, but what can you do. Good episodes on the DVD to look out for are: Mail Order Bride, Super Bowl, Super Trivia, and the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future.

Aqua Teen Hunter Force Vol. 3 – better overall presentation in this DVD, but not much new other then that. Good Episodes to look out for in this one: Frat Aliens, Total Re-Carl, the The, The Last One, The Shaving, and Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary.

Aqua Teen Hunter Force Vol 4 – this is the first DVD to have each episode open with a Spacecataze short, a war of pranks between the Plutonians and the Mooninites, better then the doctor weird openings. There is even a special feature where you can watch all the spasecatazs episodes at one shot. The show did in fact get better with age, though a lot of people argue otherwise, a lot of the later episodes are very funny, and very over the top, and this might have been the best of the DVDs if not for one fatal flaw…. the play all feature. When it first came out they kept plugging the “play all” feature as a special feature, and we laughed at the joke, but as it turns out the joke was on us. When you select play all it shows all 13 episodes at the same time, and plays the audio track on top of each other (the noise alone makes it unwatchable). It would be funny if there was an actual play all somewhere to select, but there isn’t (and believe me I checked) so you have to select each episode when you watch this DVD, and you also have to select the commentary on/off each time you do this. They really screwed up on this one. Consequently this is the last ATHF DVD I ever got. I may get the others depending on the price and if I come across them, there are still several good episodes that I’ve seen alone the way. Some of the really good episodes on this DVD: Video Ouija, Gee Wiz, Robositter, T-Shirt of the Dead.

The Aviator – I considered watching this when it came up. I haven’t seen it before, which means I would have to give it my full attention. I did have some time to do it, but when I saw it was a 3 hour movie I had to pass. I did throw the dice to decide weather or not to watch it anyways, but ultimately they told me not to. I picked up this DVD for 2$ from a coworker who was retiring and selling the bulk of his DVD collection piecemeal. There were a few others purchased at this time, and I will mention them when they come up. Well that’s it for the “A’s” now onto the “B’s”.

Half-Way Point

Well, the year is half way gone already, can you believe it? If you remember at the end of last year I did a series of blog posts reviewing the various things I did throughout the year. I won’t be doing a lengthy “series” like that right now, but for the half way mark (July 1st) I will give some quick updates as to how the year is going. Last year’s topics were: Books Read, Movies Watched, Writings, Wake Up Songs, and The Hours. If you’re interested, here is the year thus far.

Books – although this is shaping up to be a fairly productive year in other regards, quantity read is not one. At this point I’ve only read 12 books. 6 of which are “new” (i.e. I’ve never read them before), and 2 of which were on paper (both “old” books). Only 2 of the books were of “significant” length (i.e. over 20 hours). One of those “lengthy” books was “A Dance With Dragons” which we all know is quite long, and with finishing it, I have now read the entire Song of Ice and Fire (of what’s available) twice, I am less than thrilled that “Winds of Winter” is still not out yet. I’ve been thinking of taking the Ice and Fire audio books and making a sort of “Anthology” out of the best chapters, and then reading this “Best of Ice and Fire” at the beginning of each year, it will be quite a project. I’m currently working my way through another massive book, James Michener’s “Hawaii.”

Writings – I set a big writing goal for myself at the beginning of this year, each month I am to write/edit: 1 new story, a thorough edit of the previous months story, 1 storyline edited from last year’s novel, 1 thorough edit of a previously unedited story, some fine editing, send some submissions, and (hopefully) get a few pieces published. In review I’ve done: 4 New Stories Written, 2 edited old stories, 6 Trail of Blood storylines edited, 36 submissions, and 6 published pieces. I’m a little behind in some goals, but not too much, considering the quantity at hand. Also I’ve done a total of 13 blog posts so far this year, that includes this one, I need to get better on that front.

Movies Watched – if you read my post back in march, you would see that my winter was spent watching a healthy amount of movies, a lot of “new” movies too (see books for explanation of “new”). I’ve continued because of my “Mega DVD Marathon”, but most of these movies are “Old.” Regardless, so far this year I have watched 38 movies, 22 of which are “new”. This is well ahead of pace for my goal of watching 1 movie every week, even without including the “old movies” I’m only slightly behind pace. The last movie watched thus far has been “Fritz the Cat”,  and in another 3 days I’ll be watching annually viewed favorite musical of all time… 1776.

Video Game Playing – Video Games were not included in the end of the year series last year, but I think that this year they will be. I’m trying to cut back on the amount of video games I play, and I’ve made progress, notably because other things are getting done, but I’ve still played a lot. So far this year I’ve beaten (all for the first time): Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Contra, the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and Shovel Knight (all three regular campaigns). I have played a healthy amount of (but not beaten): Yoshi’s Woolie World, 100 Best NES Games (subject of a forthcoming ongoing review), and Toy Blast (on the iPhone). As of the spring I’ve also taken up the Yoyo seriously again, which is good because it’s physical in nature and keeps me moving more than just a video game would.

Video Game Collecting – the records I’ve kept for collecting are not as thourhough as they should be, so im not sure how this year (so far) stacks up with other years w/r/t collecting, it’s certainly more than last year. So far I have picked up 17 games: 3 for the Wii U, 1 each for the Genesis, 3DS, and SNES, and 11 for the NES. I’ve also picked up a new system, the Sega Genesis Classic (long story more about that later). I would have picked up several more I’m sure if my game store had not closed. My collection as a whole now looks like this: NES (34+3) SNES (11+2) N64 (0+3) GC (20) WII (24) WIIU (10+1) GB (14+6) GBA (4+2) DS (18+1) 3DS (12+2) GEN (29+3) DC (10) PS1 (1) PS2 (13)

Wake Up Songs – You’ll have to wait for the end of the year for the full list, probably December 30th. but I can inform you now that I’ve been keeping track of my wake up songs all year, so far I’ve logged 70 songs. They are so all over the place with theme and genre that I couldn’t even try to give a good breakdown right now, so you’ll have to wait. But just a teaser, the first wake up song of the year was: “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” by Jackie DeShannon, and the most recent song is: Salieri Strikes Back by Warmen.

The Hours – as you know I keep track of the amount of hours I spend doing just about everything, so far here is time spent this year: Reading – 285 hours, Writing – 259 hours, Video Games – 237 hours, Working Out – 108 hours, watching films – 50 hours, making videos – 36 hours, Making Music – 4. I’m glad to see that reading and writing are averaging almost 1.5 hours a day. Video games are up there too, but as long as they aren’t well over writing time then I’m fine. Watching Films is a little skewed, because I do watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and about an hour of YouTube every day, but I don’t log that time because it’s too ingrained with my routine (like working), also if I have the TV on while I write or play video games, I’m not logging those hours either. Music is quite low, unfortunately (due to technical problems) MoonCandle is on hiatus, but we will be back, and as for other music projects I haven’t been feeling the bite this year, but I don’t consider this a bad thing, it will come back and I have plenty to write in the meantime.

And that is the summery of half the year, I hope you’ve enjoyed and that your half year has been as productive.

Cecil the Trophy Hunter

It is with great pleasure that I present my newest story. I know this is recent, the last email about a new published piece was about a week ago, and some of you (I assume) haven’t read that one yet. No worries, I will be on the internet indefinitely, in the meantime here’s another one.

This is my second story to be published in The Ginger Collect, and since it is only their second issue, this gives me the honor of being their first (and only thus far.) Multiple-Contributor.

This story will be a little hard for some people to get through so keep that in mind. It was inspired by the dentist that killed Cecil the Lion back in 2015. It’s a little darker then my usual fair, but if you can get through it I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Cecil the Trophy Hunter” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Two

The Last First Days of School

It brings me great pleasure that I give you my fifth story published this year. Written in 2014 as part of the “14 for 14” project (I’ll have to do another post on that one of these days) this is one of my first forays into the genre of “Creative Non-Fiction,” though not the first of this kind to be published. The story is true, 100%, but it is written more like a story than anything else.

The story deals with a topic that has been very much a part of my entire life, but not one I write about too often… dyslexia. That is not the only topic in the story of course, but I think I’ve written the most accurate description of what living (and growing up) with the disorder is like.

The publication included a picture at the start of the story (this is a semi-common practice for the online medium) and generally the author does not have a choice in the pictures used, which is the in this story. However the editors of Independent Noise picked the exact right picture to represent this story, and I couldn’t have done a better job myself. People who’ve already read this story in rougher forms will immediately know why, but for those of you who haven’t, enjoy the ride.

The Last First Days of School” | Independent Noise | Issue 1.2

Mega DVD Marathon Episode 1 “Intro & #’s”

On Sunday April 16th, around 2:00 pm, I started what will be a very long project. I am going to watch all the DVD’s in my collection in alphabetical order. Right now I have 248 DVDs in my collection and it’s growing all the time. Though what exactly is 248?

A lot of these are not single movies, there are a lot of TV shows and box sets among them. Some of these (let’s take “1776” for example) are single movies on a single disk, each season of Seinfeld counts as 1 DVD but consists of 4 disks each, wings is the whole series X disks long, each “Lord of the Rings” is a single movie but spread over 2 disks with another 2 disks of bonus material. My 200 classic cartoons (the first DVD on the list – see below) has 4 disks but each disk is close to 5 hours long, while the standard max run time is closer to half that. In total there are actually 487 disks in the DVD collection. The full amount of time they represent I’m not even going to try and calculate, though I can estimate. Assuming that each disk is on average 2.5 hours long (taking into account the very long play DVDs from bargain box sets and double sided disks) then the total collection would be about 1200 hours or 50 days straight of video.

What will not be watched – As I make my way through this collection I will not (in most cases) watch any movie that I have not already watched. The general idea behind this project is to keep these videos on in the background, if it’s a movie that I haven’t seen before I like to give it my full attention, but unfortunately I have other things to do (writing, video games, audiobooks, vinyl, etc.) so I can’t give it my full attention. I am going to make an acceptation with the TV shows, as most of them are sitcoms or cartoons and are generally meant to be played in the background anyways. Also like in Lord of the Rings (and other movies) I won’t be watching much or any of the bonus material, regardless if they are on the same disk or another. I will be noting the DVDs that are skipped and why when they come up. Most will be for reasons relating to what has been mentioned above, but not all.

This Episode will be shorter than the others I expect, I’m only introducing the project and covering the first 2 DVDs that fall in the numeric category of the alpha list. So without further adu, let’s jump into it.

200 classic cartoons – this is one of those awesome mill creek DVDs, 4 disks, some 20 hours or so of cartoons, for 5$. I got it back in the winter of 2013, and it took me quite a while to get through it. There’s some great stuff on here if you’re a fan of old toons.

The first disk is Popeye and Betty Boop (improperly labeled on the back of the box as having Betty Boop first). Several of the Popeyes were on my VHS 4 pack that I watched the hell out of back in the winter of 97 (I think) like “Privet eye Popeye” and “Shuteye Popeye” and there’s some good ones I’ve never seen before like the two Arabian Nights themed Popeyes, and a Popeye sing along, there’s even several black and white Popeye episodes to, always good to see.

Speaking of black and white up next we have Betty Boop (of which I only had a very limited exposure to before this DVD). I find her to be a provocative symbol of femininity even some 90 years later. Interesting to note that in the 20’s, she was usually seen in her short dress with garter, but in later 30’s era toons, thanks to the Haze Code, she is scene much more dressed with fully buttoned collared pantsuits and such. There are two particularly good cartoons that stand out among the rest (though they’re all pretty good). “Judge for a Day” in which Betty describes in verse the way she would ironically torture the people who bother her on a daily bases, such as chaining a man into a bathtub of ice water. This toon also strikes me as funny the way she leaves here houses singing, I can only imagine what the image of an adult woman walking down the street singing a completely made up song would look like. The other one is “Pudgy Picks a Fight” in which Betty’s cute puppy thinks he kills a fox that is actually a Fox fur, it’s darkly funny kind of like the near end sequence of the famous Looney Tune “Feed the Kitty”.

Disk 2 has an assortment of several toons from several series. Most notably the 14 new Three Stooges toons (which I have a VHS of from probably 91), and I may be the only person to say this but I actually like the toons more than the live action stooges shorts, not by too much though I like them both, but seeing cartoons hit each other seems funnier than live people doing it, I don’t know. The DVD is missing the mummy episode, which is a problem because it shows a short clip from it in the slideshow in the menu screen.

Another stand out portion of this Disk is the Mr. Piper cartoons. A very short lived Canadian children’s show hosted by Alan Crofoot, a large tenor opera singer who plays the titular Mr. Piper, his story is a sad one, and the full show is not shown on the DVD, just the theme song, introduction and cartoons. The cartoons are poorly animated and that’s being generous, and they are supposedly based on fairytales, but the only one I even recognize is the 40 Thieves toon. Peter and the Horn is a good one with its very strange convoluted story, almost fractured fairytales in nature (we’ll get to then much much later).

There are 3 Casper episodes on the disk, the first (both on the disk and historically) “There’s Good Boos Tonight” is notoriously sad and I’ll never watch again, but the “Casper and the Moon Men” I like a lot, check it out.

The last 3 toon’s in the disk are from “Mr. Bang, the Skipper and Katrinka” they are new to me from this disk each one involves the three titular characters: the skipper a kind hearted Bumbling old man (w/ corncob pipe), Katrinka his large Eastern European transplant wife, and Mr. Bang an overstressed business man with a short fuse. The skipper runs a trolley and I really like how he refers to the electric company as “dang blasted privateers” classic cartoon cursing.

Disk 3 and 4 unfortunately do not work, they’ve worked in the past, I don’t know why they don’t here. For now I’m watching these on my PS2, and there have been a few DVDs that it won’t read. I plan on getting another real DVD player and moving the PS2 to the den at some point, and I can finish the DVDs at the very end of this project in the “leftovers” post, 2 maybe 3 years from now. But I have a lot of others to get through before that.

1776 – This is my all-time favorite musical and one of my all-time favorite movies. I’m not a huge fan of musicals in general, I don’t have anything against them, but they aren’t something I’m really drawn to either. If you don’t know, the movie is a musical telling of the birth and signing of the Declaration of Independence. If the audio commentary can be believed (which I’ve watched before, but not this time around) it’s extremely accurate. I’ve seen this movie many times, renting it from blockbuster on VHS (how dated of a statement is that?) when I was maybe 10 years old and really really into American history. My interests in both America and History have waned considerably over the recent years, but my feelings for this movie have not. I paid full price (almost 30$) when it first came out on DVD (the restored directors cut) when I saw it on a field trip in high school, when I got home I watched it many times in a row after that. I still watch this movie every Fourth of July, and I’ll be doing so again, gladly in almost exactly 2 months-time (from the day of writing this post). The movie is both funny and serious, with a very heavy (though understandably not surprising) ending. As most people know, there is subtle cross platform reference from this movie to a TV show I watched growing up. The main character of the movie is John Adams (my personal favorite president btw) who is played by William Daniels. Daniels also played Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World and was the principle of John Adams High School, also both the movie and the tv show take place in Philadelphia. Furthermore Danials was the president of the Screen Actors Guild, and this position was also held by Ken Howard who played Thomas Jefferson in 1776, and who was also an American president. John Addams was one of the oldest living presidents dying at the age of 92, Daniels is currently 90. There are other Erie coincidences surrounding these two historic figures, but I won’t be going into them here.

For future posts with relatively few DVD’s I’ll combine a few letters into one.  I figured with the lengthy introduction and lengthy first DVD, thus is probably a good place to stop for this episode. Tune in for more of the Mega DVD Marathon.

R.I.P Denis Johnson

I was sad to see a recent article in the New Yorker stating that Dennis Johnson has passed away last week at the age of 67. Certainly not an old age, but considering the lifestyle of his earlier years, perhaps he lived longer than expected. He was a heavy drinker and drug user, clearly evident in his interconnected story collection “Jesus’ Son” which is supposedly based on his life experiences. His fiction was Simple and Heavy and usually quite short (which I admire greatly), and if anything can be derived from his fiction it is pretty safe to say that he was not a happy person. Probably not the type of person you’d want to spend a whole lot of time around, despite his immense talent as a storyteller.

At this point I have read 3 of his novels, 1 novella, the above mentioned short story collection, and 1 uncollected short story. This would probably be a good time to briefly review each of them.

Angles – I haven’t read this novel yet, but I do plan on doing so. It was listed in David Foster Wallace’s “Overlooked” essay where he lists 5 highly underrated novels. This essay is in fact where I first came across Johnson, and had I not, I may have never read anything by him. The problem is (as far as I know) that this book is not available on audio yet, and from what I’ve seen I think it’s one of his longer works, so that might be another problem, but we’ll see.

Jesus’ Son – the First Johnson work I ever read and generally accepted as his best, certainly best known, and also the only one to be made into a movie (which I haven’t seen, and may not ever see, given the subject matter). The book is an interconnected story collection about drug addicts in Seattle. The stories are all really short for the most part and work really well with each other in the collection, likewise they all work really well as standalone stories, as I have now read most of them in my ongoing anthology project. Like most of his audio books this one is read by Will Patton, who is a very good voice actor, not because he is great at affecting different voices, but because he has a rugged dirty voice that echoes the overall tone of the book outstandingly.

Tree of Smoke – Johnson’s longest novel (or at least longest that I’ve read), three times as long as the other two on this list. It takes place in and around the Vietnam War, a man who’s joined the army and his kid brother back home. There are some really heavy spots in it, but some great story telling as well. There is one character, a black man, who only refers to himself as “Black Man” and who is very over the top. You find out later in the novel that his real name is “Charles Blackman” and states that people always laugh when he tells them that, but the man he tells this to says “It just seems sad.” There is also a healthy amount of Psychological Warfare in novel as well, most diffidently worth the read.

Nobody Move – this novel is about a man who finds himself on the run from some very bad people and ends up having an affair with a Native American woman who is also on the run from a crooked judge who also happens to be her husband. This is the kind of novel that starts off murky and you have no idea where it will go, and takes you on a wild ride. Also very much worth the read, it’s also lighter (though not a light book) and shorter then other’s he’s written, so it’s probably a good place to start with Johnson’s work.

Train Dreams – for me it’s between this book and Tree of Smoke for my favorite Johnson work, but it’s hard to choose because they are very different. This is a novella, winner of a Pulitzer and an Aga Khan, it’s an epic tale of a single man from the west, born in the later 1800’s and living into the 1960’s and some of the people he’s encountered along the way. The “story” opens when the man is working on the transcontinental railroad and witnesses a Chinese man who escapes from being hanged on a trestle bridge. It’s a very short book, only 2 hours and change, and very good. I would say it’s a good place to start with Johnson accept for the fact that it’s very different from most of his other works.

The Laughing Monsters – My least favorite of Johnson’s works, at least from what I’ve read so far. It takes place in Africa, and follows a man who works for Interpol as he tags along with an old Africa friend of his who is in the midst of some kind of money making scheme, and his fiancé. There are a lot of secrets that the three primary characters are keeping from each other, to the point where it gets kind of annoying. That, the setting, and the fact that the book is not read by will Patton, make this one you might want to put later on the list.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden – a short story, perhaps the last to be published in his life (certainly the last to be Published in the New Yorker), was selected for the Best American Short Stories 2015, which is otherwise a very good collection and still stands out well on its own. Longer for a story, it deals with a divorced man, and the strange similarities between his two ex-wives.

Posthumous Collection – I’ve been hopping for years that at some point they would release a new collection of Johnson stories, either an omnibus that includes Jesus’ Son, Train Dreams, and The Largesse of the Sea Maiden; or a standalone collection including The Largesse of the Sea Maiden but not the other two. I don’t know how much short fiction Johnson has written in his lifetime, but I think another collection should be released. He also originally started out as a poet, so maybe some of his poems could be included to fill out the collection better. Of course I have no connection to his estate so it is only a wise at best.

Rest in Peace Denis Johnson, you and you’re writing will truly be missed.

Cartridge Review Vol 4 “The Leftovers”

Almost a year after starting this project, I am finally finishing off the last of the cartridge reviews. This volume has games from multiple systems being reviewed, all of them have been purchased after their respective systems had been reviewed. Without further adu, I bring you the cartridge review leftovers.

100 Best NES Games (NES) – this is a multi-cart with a deceptive name, there are actually 143 unique games on the cartridge. I got it as basically a holding space for several mythically rare NES games (most specifically “Little Samson”), but there is a lot of good stuff on the cart. Also it works perfectly, so far anyways, and strange as it is, it seems to have made some of my other games work better, but that’s probably a coincidence. I’d go into more detail about it, but I won’t, because it will be the subject of a forthcoming multi-part series, that I’m sure you will all enjoy.

Aero the Acrobat (SNES) – I remember wanting this game a lot when it came out, but never got it, the Geneses version at least. Well I’m glad I didn’t pay original price back then for it because it wasn’t all that good. The game play is similar to Mighty Max or Denis the Menes in its non-linear style, the power ups are borderline useless for how short they last, and the goals are next to impossible to find. In the half hour of play I couldn’t get through the first stage. On the positive side the game looks great graphically speaking and the health and lives are fairly generous. A good piece for the overall collection, but I won’t be playing it very often.

Asterix and the Great Rescue (Genesis) – like the previous game, this game was also on my wishlist way back in the hay day of the system. I thought it was based on Vikings, and continued to think that up until I started playing it again for this review. As it turns out the game is about a pair of Gauls (the ancient French that fought against the Roman Empire). I wasn’t a huge fan of this game when I first tested it  giving the game a rare 2 points (largely due to difficulty). This time around I found it a little more interesting. I got up to the 5th part of level 1 (I think, it’s not clear what exactly a level is in this game). The graphics are very cartoony, like a comic book, which makes sense since it’s based on a French comic book series from the 60’s of the same name, and that’s good, but the game play is very hard. Perhaps with several hours of play it will get better, but we’ll see, I’m not very interested. I have a few games to get through before that.

Back to the Future (NES) – this game has been fairly heavily covered by AVGN and considered as a very bad game. My copy of it is not in the best of shape, at first I didn’t think it worked at all, but I realized that if you reset button many times in a row eventually it will work, which is good. Although certainly not the best game on the system, and ignoring the fact that it has almost nothing do to with the source material, it’s actually not that bad of a game, pretty good in fact. It’s a twitchy reflex type game, with a good pick up and play quality, just throw it in and see how far you can go this time (like an old arcade game), and I really like those types of games. Believe it or not, I actually give this game 4 stars, easily in the top quarter of my collection (even if that does change your opinion of all these reviews in general).

Back to the future II&III (NES) – I had to pick up the sequel, there was just no way around it. This game (plus: Battletoads, Jack Nicklaus, and Othello) are all my most recent games, picked up just a week before posting this review. Back to the Future II&III is a notoriously horrendous game and I’d have to agree. Unlike the twitch based semi-shooter of the original back to the future LJN game (see above) this one is a platformer with slippery controls and 1-hit deaths. On the plus side you are given 10 lives and unlimited continues, which would be okay if the goal was to make it to the end of the level, but that’s of course not how you progress in this game. Apparently the point is to collect items and return them to their proper time. I say apparently because in the 15 minutes I played this game I didn’t find a single item. Another plus is that the game is actually 2 games in one (as the title suggests) and there is a fairly easy way to skip to the second game, hold A+B and press select, then unscramble the given phrase, and boom your back in the Old West. This game is similar in nature to the first with slightly different graphics, I don’t know exactly what the goals are though, and they’re probably just as convoluted as the first game. I give the game 2 stars, I’ve played worse, there is plenty to explore and some (though not much) potential to give this game attention.

Barney’s Hide and Seek Game (Genesis) – surprisingly, this game is far better than it has any right to be. There is a significant amount of voice work considering the era and limited capabilities of the technology at the time. The game is beautifully animated and (as expected) very very cute. The object is to find 5 kids and 5 toys hidden throughout 4 levels. You use the d-pad to direct Barney and any button to interact with anything around, any button, this includes the start button which does not pause the game (the one problem I have with the game), also if you don’t do anything for a while Barney will start to move on his own and eventually he will finish the level. The vast majority of Genesis games are either black or red spined, but Barney has a purple spine. It’s also not very expensive, I would recommend picking it up if you see it.

Battletoads (NES) – A notoriously difficult game, but well remembered, and one of the rare “good games” to be reviewed by AVGN [link] (and also one of my favorite episodes). This is one of the games that I greatly (but respectfully) disagree with the Ultimate NES Guide Book, I give it 4 stars, they give it 2.5. Evidently they have received some considerable flack for the low rating by others as well. When I got the game my goal that day was to either get this game or “Dragon’s Lair” and this is the one that happened to be at the store. The game was not cheap and I was a little disappointed to find that I paid significantly more then it’s standard price. I was more disappointed to find that it doesn’t not work on my Retron 2. It works at first but freezes in the middle of level 2, and there’s nothing to be done. There is evidently a way to warp past level 2, but I haven’t tried the method yet. Despite this set back I am going to keep the game, I expect it to appreciate in value and I plan to eventually get a better famiclone or even a real NES at some point in the future. I’m most disappointed though that this game is not included in my NES multicart (mentioned above).

The Chessmaster (SNES) – Of the games in my “vast” video game collection, most of them have been picked up with little to no knowledge of the game itself. I have a sort of “wishlist” that I keep on my phone of games I really want and I could order them online if I was interested, but typically I enjoy the hunt. 10$ is about my limit for games that I don’t know anything about. Sometimes in the hunt I find a very good one, sometimes not so much, but it wasn’t much money and my collection is one step closer to being completed. Chessmaster for the SNES was one of the games on my wishlist. I played the hell out of it on vizzidboard, and will likely do the same now that I have a physical copy. I did play one game for this review, and lost. You can see the game for yourself below, if you know how to read algebraic chess notation, enjoy: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.a3 Ba5 8.b4 Bb6 9.e4 Bxd4 10.Bb2 dxe4 11.Bxe4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bxb2 13.Qxd8 Rxd8 14.Rd1 Rxd1+ 15.Kxd1 Bxa3 16.Nf3 Nc6 17.Re1 Bxb4 18.Re3 f5 19.Nfg5 fxe4 20.Rxe4 Bf5 21. Re8+ Rxe8 22.f3 Re1#

Dragon Warrior (NES) – first off this game did not work very well the first time I played it. I had to blow it, clean it with alcohol, blow the system, and every other trick I know, and the first time it finally did work it wasn’t “perfect” rough graphics and almost impossible to read writing (which, being an RPG, is a problem since there is an awful lot to read) then I put it in again and the game was crisp and fine, and now the cart seems to work fine every time I put it in. One of the first things I’ve noticed was the “church music” it’s “Veridis Quo” by Daft Punk, off their seminal album “Discovery”. It’s not exactly the same music, but it’s damn close. For this review I continued on with the saved game and kept grinding away beating up Drakes and Slimes. In the half hour I made it up to level 4 (that’s skill level 4, which increases your heath and hit power but doesn’t progress you to any different place). I’m going to attempt to play this game all the way through at some point sooner than later.

Jack Nicklaus’ Greatest 18 Hole Championship Golf (NES) – I’m a fan of golf games as I’ve probably mentioned, this is the third one I have for the NES and before I got Lunar Pool the original black box Golf was my favorite game (owned) for the system, so when I saw the price tag for this game, there really was no excuse not to pick it up. That being said, this is not a great game, it is in fact tied for the lowest rated golf game (of 7) in the NES Guide Book. The game is fairly standard fair for golf of the generation with the standard power meter mechanic and somewhat better graphics then others. As its mouth full of a title might suggest the 18 holes are all based on “famous holes” from courses around the world, which is a pretty cool idea, Jack Nicklaus himself gives a very brief explanation and opinion on each hole. One problem with the game is when the course is rendered, it’s done slowly with a number of lines at a time, I don’t know if this is for effect or the game having difficulty rendering, in practice it’s just annoying. The bigger problem is the putting: it might take you one hit to sink the ball on a putt or 10, and this seems to be random. Maybe if you play the game a lot you can figure them out, but I get the feeling this is not the case. In a half hour I played 9 of the holes and was 28 shots over. I give the game 2 stars, again there is the potential to come back and play and give it another fair play, but it’s not high on my too do list.

Jeopardy (SNES) – I love Jeopardy, it’s my favorite show currently on TV and one of only 2 TV shows that I watch regularly (the other being… you guessed it, “Wheel of Fortune”). I figured it was about time to pick up a copy for some system. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but it turned out to be a pretty good game, large variety of questions and a liberal enough timer for answering them. The one problem is that the questions are not multiple choice, you have to type them out, and you have to spell them right. In the systems heyday, it would have been unplayable for me because I am an atrocious speller. However in today’s world, with the advent of the smart phone with spell check, it’s hardly a problem. In my opinion this is not cheating, I am not looking up any answers, just figuring out the right spelling. I tend to do fairly well in this game, and I due fairly well while playing the show at home itself. Good game for trivia fans.

King of the Beach (NES) – I picked up this game for 2$ and expected a game that barely functioned from a programming standpoint or didn’t even work at all. Not only did it work in both regards but was actually kind of fun. I had watched a healthy amount of beach volleyball on last summer’s Olympics, being very un-American and cheering against Walsh-Jennings (though I won’t get into why here). The only downside to this game is that you play as males not females, and (though I could be wrong) there didn’t seem to be a two player mode. Not bad for 2$ at any rate.

Light Crusader (Genesis) – Another game that was picked up because of name & cart art, without knowing anything about it. The game is a dungeon crawler RPG, and it’s actually a lot of fun, it reminds me a lot of Zelda (and that’s always a good thing). The various people speak to you through dialuge boxes, and this includes a cat that just says “Meow.” In one room there are 4 fish on the floor that you could (or you would think could) grab and eat to replenish your heath, but when you touch them a dioluge box reading “Meow” comes up, it took me a while before I saw the cat in the room, and I smiled at how cute it was. The game though is not cute in general, but a nice sword and sorcery piece. I’d recommend checking it out, and I plan to make my way significantly through it at some point, also sooner rather than later.

Othello (NES) – I’ve wanted this game since the last time I was at the game store and saw stacks of them available, I didn’t know anything about the game, but that’s not a problem, how many other games have titles from Shakespearian plays? That alone is a good enough reason to pick it up, considering how cheap it is. As it turns out the game is actually reverse, which I had a feeling it would be, and I already have a copy of that game on my Gameboy 4in1 fun pack (see Vol. 3 of this series). The presentation here is much better. I had to look up how to play it and afterword I got better, but not great, I’ll need some practice (and now I can practice it any time I want on the NES, which I might do to tell you the truth, it’s a nice quick relaxing thinking game). In the half hour test, I played 4 or 5 games, drew one, and lost the rest. At some point I may play this game against the Gameboy game and see who is better, my guess is the NES.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) – When I saw it at the game store I couldn’t pass it up, even though I already have it on the Wii Virtual Consul. It’s another of the relatively few “good games” to be reviewed by the AVGN [link]. I never got very far in the game, until I started playing it for this review. I made it to the infamous damn dam level (the second part of the second level) where you have to swim and defuse bombs. Yeah, it was hard as hell, lost the game twice at this section in the time I spent playing it, though I enjoyed it and I am interested in watching how the level is done and trying to do it myself. Yet another piece for my future TMNT mega review.

Top Gun (NES) – The Nerd covered top gun several episodes, making it one of his more covered games. I didn’t think it’s quite as bad as he was making it, but it’s not too good either. I couldn’t get past the second level, the targets move too fast to hit often, and the landing is a little out of place, since you don’t take off yourself, reach alt yourself, etc. I did fairly well at the infamous landing sequences, landing the jet 3 out of 4 times. It was about time I picked this game up and I’m glad I did, even if it’s not that good.

Track & Field II (NES) – my wife actually picked this game up when we were at the store asking: “do we have this? It’s a lot of fun.” We didn’t, and the price was right so I grabbed it. As it turned out, yes, it’s probably the best sports game on the system that I’ve played (other then golf). There are several different mini-games, most (but not all) from the track and field Olympic events, such as running and hammer throw, the best event though is the shot gun segment. I played my own little fantasy Olympics while watching the Olympics last summer. It was a good time, definitely a game to keep your eye out for.

World Games (NES) – I picked this one up thinking I would have a similar experience to “Track & Field II.” There are a bunch of interesting sports on this game that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in video game form before, such as caber tossing, log rolling, and bull riding (all evident by the cartridge cover), and yes they are all on the game, but the controls are horrendous. After failing every mini-game, I had to look up how to play them, and even with that, some I still couldn’t figure out. The game was promising, there must have been a better way to achieve what it set out to do. This is not a game I would recommend to anyone unless there trying to complete their collection.

And that completes my very brief reviews of all my cartridge games thus far. Perhaps next year I will have acquired more and do a cartridge review for 2017. NES (29+3) SNES (10+2) N64 (0+3) GC (20) WII (24) WIIU (10+1) GB (14+6) GBA (4+2) DS (18+1) 3DS (10+2) GEN (28+3) DC (10) PS1 (1) PS2 (13)