I review Thanksgiving

That turkey really deserves that trophy. It's at the perfect intersection of 54 and 16. First prize.

In New York on Thanksgiving, you must wade.

Those of us who are adept at wading prosper, and shave precious minutes off our trips.

Those who cannot wade through the cars and pedestrians and trains are losing time. And what is life but a long stretch of time?

If you don’t wade, you’re just wasting your life.

This is how you Wade.

What’s wading? Go to the ocean. Stand where the water is as deep as your chest. Face the sea and walk. That’s wading.

That’s what we do in New York, to go faster. Cars and people and traffic and trains replace the the sea.

We wade in the city, those of use who cannot afford surfboards or jet skis.

We don’t have cars. We’re never in taxis. We can barely afford the train. We wade as hard and as fast as we can, and we live longer than you. Because every five minutes you gain by struggling as hard as you can against New York is five more minutes you get to spend as you choose. Immortality is best achieved one step at a time.

Part one of x.


Posted in Criticism, Etc | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Musical Theatre is like baseball.

It’s the great American invention, and no one watches it any more.

Oh snap.


Posted in Musical Theatre | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Review FreeMarket

Another hundred people just got off of the space train.

Another hundred people just got off of the space train.

FreeMarket. Imagine Facebook, if you lived there.

It is the future. You live on a giant floating metal donut near Titan. All food and drink are free. You cannot die, because little robots will find your corpse and rebuild a new body for you. Augmented reality tags hang on everything. The only thing that matters is how many people like you, because if they like you, you get Flow.

And Flow is all.

Once you wrap your head around the idea that the only things you are entitled to on the donut are sustenance and immortality, your whole perspective of the world changes.

This is a game where giving someone a “Frownie” – the equivalent of Facebook’s much-clamored-for-but-never-implemented Unlike button – is worse than killing them.

Sure sure, if someone dies they are unconscious for a day as the Aggregate (the giant AI that runs things) rebuilds their body, but if you Frownie someone they lose Flow. They become less popular. And that is the true death of this game. Unpopularity.

This is a game where life is unashamedly nothing more than a popularity contest.

If you want to pay someone something, you give them Flow. But also, you can earn Flow. If you and someone else become friends, you each get some Flow. You can spend that Flow on anything you want. So the more friends you have, the richer you become. Flow is also used to complete any in-game action, and here you can see the true elegance of the mechanic.

If you want to grow yourself a living Welsh Corgi, like we did last game, you spend flow on it. If you are a direct descendant of Sam Adams and you need to defend yourself in a bowling alley against a direct descendant of Andrew Jackson, which happened to me last game, you spend flow.

The essential elegance of Freemarket does slow down a bit once we get to the card mechanic.

You solve disputes by playing a little card game, which also uses your stats. It’s pretty similar to rolling dice, but since it’s a deck, you can anticipate future results and do some card-counting if you want to. I did. Decks have 45 cards and the cards don’t change, and you don’t reshuffle the discard pile back into the deck, so you can, in some ways, see the future.

The cards are cool, but they do slow down gameplay and force it in certain directions.

As anyone knows, most conflicts can be solved by role-playing the thing out. You don’t always need to get into a prolonged rules-bound engagement.

That’s probably the issue with the cards. With dice, you can just roll one and decide what that means. Every time you want to do something major in Freemarket, you need to do a whole Tarot-style spread to see what happens in the future.

That’s fine if that’s the only kind of conflict resolution you want, but I prefer things a little looser. Still, this is a game I’m absolutely sure I will find myself playing again, because it’s just, well – fun.

Something about this game is very fun. The design and artwork are beautiful. The setting is clever and funny and not pushy or arrogant. You can make pretty much any character you want.

I am John Samuel Adams, 55th generation direct descendant of Sam Adams, and I came to the dount after my family’s attempt to establish New America on Mars failed. I have a robotic eagle painted red white and blue called Uncle Sam. I also have a deadly flying poisonous robot wasp.

My friend is Les Bitters, from the Lebowski family. He’s an expert at growing living organisms, bowling and mixing White Russians. We grew a Corgi for him last game.

We’re barely scratching the surface with these characters. One of the NPCs we interact with is called Galaxy Orange. He’s human, but he’s a giant orange ball of fur with a big black snout. Humans can look like anything now, with so much bio-engineering.

Freemarket is fun. I like it.


Posted in Criticism, Games | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Finding the Hat

The hat can never be finished, Steven. Then what would we all write about?

I salivate. It sits in shipping.

I just completed my order of Finishing the Hat and I eagerly await its arrival at my door, though it may be stolen by bandits in between. It’s pretty much required reading now, I think.

I used to work in shipping. I troubleshot for Best Buy Dot Com. They insisted you called it Best Buy Dot Com, not Best Buy or Best Buy online as any normal company would now. No, this was 1997, and the only thing anyone knew about the web was that you could make a bajillion dollars with it.

So I worked for Best Buy Dot Com. I troubleshot shipping. People ordered stuff online. Sometimes it went to the wrong place. If it did, I got it back to where it was supposed to go.

Best Buy had subcontracted with hundreds of individual shipping companies in those days. Orders could be fulfilled by anyone from UPS to Bob’s Rural Trucking.

Sometimes I just had to call FedEx and get them to reimburse insurance on a lost package. Those were the easy ones.

But sometimes.

Sometimes.

Let’s watch customer service in action.

Peggi is forwarded to me from the call queue. She is a sweet little lady from Palo Alto, CA who has lost her treadmill. Can I please find it for her? Of course I can.

Call me back any time. Here is my phone number and my extenstion.

See.

I have a phone.

It’s a human right to have a phone these days, but if you worked in customer service in 1997, you did not own a phone, even though you spent all day talking on one and no one else ever used it.

That is the company’s phone. And the company says that no one can call you on it. You cannot give out your extension to anyone. If someone calls you directly, transfer them to the main customer service line.

Under no circumstances are you to use that phone for personal business.

You have been denied a human right. Welcome to fourteen dollars an hour.

But me. I have a number. If you are a customer with a problem: “Hey, here’s my extension, you can call me any time, and hey, I’ll tell you my hours, any time you call me within those hours, I will answer the phone and answer you. And I promise you I will fix this. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to fix this, because this is kind of a weird case with your treadmill up in Albany, and Jim Jefferson, oh yeah, this guy Jim Jefferson in Albany, by the way, he got your treadmill, can you believe it?”

Tell them some gossip. It makes them feel like an insider. They like it. This is customer service.

So once Peggi Treadmill of Palo Alto is satisfied that I’m solving her little problem like a big man, I have to look up what damn company is responsible for delivering her treadmill to Albany even though the order form which I am looking at a fax of from the shipping manager says damn well that she lives in Palo Alto, CA.

This is all because Best Buy Dot Com decided to shave a few dollars off of their cost by hiring tiny delivery companies to deliver their products, instead of more sensibly sending everything Fed Express or even via the U.S. Postal Service.

The U.S. Postal Service, by the way, is a very under-rated delivery vector, in my opinion. Use it. It will save you money and it’s usually more reliable. At least it used to be, when I did this, ten years ago.

So. I guess: compare rates before you ship, because you might find something that suprises you.

That’s my little tip for the day.

Back to the story about me working for Best Buy Dot Com.

There’s a big list of companies that might be responsible for this mess, and they pretty much assign orders at random, so I have to call each of those companies and ask for the boss until I found the one that did it.

I really only speak to the bosses. This is Best Buy Dot Com’s money, not mine. Don’t waste Best Buy Dot Com’s money.

So I find out who messed up the delivery. I don’t chastise them, I don’t care, I just want them to fix it. They fix it. It’s fixed. Right? I don’t have to call back? I don’t want to call back but I will and I will waste your time until you fix it, so fix it, ok?

That’s how you do business in Minnesota. Be as passively aggressive as you can be. That’s the language out there. It kind of drove me crazy.

I call Peggi back to flirt with her again.

Me: “Peggi? Peggi, is that you? It’s me, Jason, from Best Buy Dot Com. I just wanted to let you know that we found your package and that we are shipping it to you right now. And Peggi, let me tell you about this. Your package flew like up and down and all around the country and it went in like thirty crazy places, but I found it. I found it, Peggi! It was way up in Albany, NY, can you believe it? Oh-my-god it was sitting in Jim Jefferson’s driveway, and do you know what, his TV was in someone else’s house all the way in Georgia. Do you believe that? Well it’s coming back to you super-speedy now because we’re sorry we messed up and we’re getting it to you absolutely as quickly as possible, and we are super-sorry for the mess up and hey, can I give you a $25 gift card for the trouble?”

That’s how you make people happy. That’s customer service.

People say “Super” a lot in Minnesota. It’s kind of weird.

I’m looking forward to the book arriving.


Posted in Musical Theatre | Tagged , | 1 Comment

World’s Greatest

“I can’t stick around here long,” I said.

“Ok,” she said.

“I’m always travelling,” I said.

“Ok,” she said.

She was blond, streaks of black in her hair, golden sunglasses on her head like birds’ wings.

“I can’t do it either,” she said.

“Alright,” I said, “But if I’m ever back and staying around.”

“If you come back,” she said.

“I probably won’t,” I said.

“Ok,” she said.

“Ok,” I said.

“I like you,” she said.

“I like you,” I said.

Her shorts were dark blue, hugged her just above her hips. Her skin was canary against them.

Her arms were slender. She was always honest.

I imagined us together in twenty years.

The children looked good.

I guess it might have worked out.


Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“I Still Like Bret Favre” – photograph from the Rally to Restore Sanity

Matt Kern snapped this photo of a “Bret” Favre supporter at the recent Stewart / Colbert rally:

Liking someone means never having to know how to spell their name.


Posted in Etc, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Ninja Politics of Nick Kane!

Not this kind of ninja politics.

God bless Nick Kane. Maybe you guys didn’t catch him on Community, but I did. He was in a scene with Chevy Chase. That’s awesome.

The first day I met Nick Kane was when he razor scootered into auditions for the Paris Business Review, my old sketch comedy group.

He didn’t walk in. Nick Kane would never stoop to walk in to a room when he could skip, cartwheel or razor scoot instead. He razor scooted into our auditions. His pants were made from brown and green felt, and he was wearing a tweed jacket. I think the elbows had patches.

We’d set up a round table in the middle of the room, because our idea was really that people could just sit down and get to know one another and see if our comic sensibilities matched. I met some cool people that day, many of whom are still my friends, and the cosmic clown Nick Kane was among them, but he never sat down.

He only razor scooted. In circles and circles around the table. And he never stopped talking.

I don’t understand a thing he does, but I love it.

Ok, enough kissing his ass, here’s his latest film, from Stickman Films:


Posted in video, Web | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Creepy Weird Halloween: Animali strani

My number one all time favorite sea monster.

Nature is so weird, so weird.

I promise to complete my post about the seven ghosts of Michael Jackson. One day you will see what I’ve seen and you will recoil in horror.


Posted in video, Web | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Creepy Weird Halloween: “The Slender-man”

If you lurk in the dark corners of the internet, you know about the Slender-man. Like Zalgo and the other Creepypasta Avatars, he clutches at your dreams.

A tall, shapeshifting man in black type creature, his origins have been traced at least to 19th Century Germany.

Here, leave this playing in the background, it’s callers to Coast to Coast:

He is known as a kidnapper and killer of children. A few photos of him exist:

That one kid is so mad about being marched off to die.


This was before the library burned down.

German woodcut, 19th century. They had some awesome battles with demons back then.

Boo!


More Creepy Weird Halloween:

Star Wars representado con dibujos tradicionales mexicanos.

Rand Paul Curb Stomp

Creepy Weird Halloween: “Japan sea monster”

Closet Door Fail – Post #666!

Single Ladies Fail

Zalgo

Silly Symphony – The Skeleton Dance – 1929

F.A.T.A.L. Original Theme Song

Situation: Halloween – Where is my ghost?

Anything Can Happen on Halloween – Tim Curry

Gimme Pizza! – The Olsen Twins

Helping Johnny Remember – Ashleigh Nankivell

Posted in video, Web | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Nuclears’ debut full-length album!

The Nuclears are Maximum Rock & Roll.

$10 gets you the new album and helps them raise money to record it through kickstarter.

They are some awesome dudes, check it out:

Get yourself a copy here:

The Nuclears’ debut full-length album!


Posted in music, video, Web | Tagged , | Leave a comment