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March 24, 2009

On romantic gestures...

Inside, I am full of mush. Seriously. Oozing, smooshy mushy mush full of nonpareils and jimmies. So it's kinda chunky but sickeningly sweet. This icky sticky mess is surrounded by a hard outer shell, less candy, more cynical concrete. I don't let many see the inside. When I do, the reaction I get can be anything from horror to embarassment to amusement, and the last thing I want is anyone laughing at me.

There are times, though, that I can't help myself and I have to admit, being in a healthy, long term relationship is making me relax my edges and sometimes the goo spills out. Sorry, I'll clean that up.

The other day, I woke up to find an odd email in my inbox. Apparently, 1500 points had been deposited in my XBox Live account and unless I bought them in my sleep, I had no idea how they got there.

The answer was waiting for me at work. In my work inbox (which I refuse to check from home so early in the morning) was a cute, peppy email from my sweetheart teasing me about buying Peggle from XBLA and reminding me that on Tuesday, the PEarl Jam album Ten would be available for Rock BAnd 2 and that HE put points in my account so I could buy it.

If you know me, this is the equivalent of buying me 4 dozen red roses and having them delivered to me at work via helicopter which would then whisk me away for a sunset picnic. Ok, better than that because I don't think that would do as much for me as the points in my account.

I don't buy much for myself. When I do buy for myself, I have to justify.


I love Pearl Jam. They were such a part of my life when I was a new mom. I remember being in the hospital by myself, in labor with my daughter, and watching Pearl Jam's Jeremy win the Best Video award on the MTV Video Music Awards. Something about their music spoke to me and my kids were brought up on a diet of Ten, Sarah Vaughn and classic Sesame Street.

When we first heard the entire Ten album was coming to Rock Band, I think Tim could hear me plotz all the way from Virginia. Because he is an awesome boyfriend, he told me he would buy me the DLC so I wouldn't have to scrimp or wait or choose just a few tracks. When it came closer to the actual date, it was clear that we would not be together when the album dropped so I figured I would just wait a couple of weeks. Lo and behold, my sweetheart found a way to make it work in one of sweet, sneaky romantic gestures that he is quickly becoming famous for. Sorry, babe, it's called setting a precedent.  Watch out, you may get some of my mush all over you next time I see you.

Umm ... ewww ... sorry, that was ... ANYWHOOO, speaking of romantic gestures ...


The Bloggess posted a link to a website that made even me tear up. How could anyone not say yes??  Though I'm not sure it's the first EVER blog proposal, it is wonderful. Luckily, she said yes.

Congratulations you crazy kids!  Many happy returns. Mommiepie, you got a keeper!

Ok, I gotta go get a mop. Ick.      

November 24, 2007


I've been playing Beautiful Katamari since T got me the 360 and loving every minute of it. I'm one of those people that just like to finish everything and feel as though I've accomplished something rather than just play with no goals in mind. Achievements, I'm embarrassed to say, are just the thing to motivate a person like me to play.

I'm embarrassed because I've spent the better part of 2 years calling T an Achievement Whore only to find out that I'm one too!! Who knew?!

Tonight, I got a biggie in BK. I rolled an Astronomical Katamari, over 1.5 million Km, something we were never able to achieve in the earlier iterations in the Katamari franchise. Sure, I had to download 4 more stages to do it but it was worth it. It was very exciting and all the sweeter because I had been trying so hard to get it. I almost feel as though I have accomplished something today.

November 20, 2007


Spending the night grinding through Beautiful Katamari. The girl is at a friend's birthday party and the boy is going to bed early to get ready for a long day alone at home tomorrow (teacher workday). Trying hard to open Eternal Mode in more levels so I can roam around and find cousins and presents.

If you've never played, I realize this makes absolutely no sense ... get thee to Katamari and enjoy!  I've realized why I like the Katamari series so much. It's my zen. I am in control and I am out of control at the same time. It  is a strange mix of helpless power.  And its purty. 

K, off I go ... Rollin', rollin', rollin' ...

November 18, 2007

Thank you, Jane, I thought it was just me ...

I've been a Guitar Hero fan since I got it for my better half. I didn't think I could play it, being that I'm incompetent at most things that require more finesse than button mashing, but I have actually been able to enjoy myself. My secret ... don't push myself to the point of frustration, which means I'll 5 star all the songs on Medium, thank you, and be happy with that. Plus, it's a great family game that allows me to share some great songs with my kids.

We've played through GH, GHII and GH Encore: Rock the 80's and, though 80's was light on content, we have enjoyed them all. We have eagerly awaited GHIII and,since T was in town on release day, we stood in line at midnight to get his reserved copy for the 360. At the time, I didn't have the 360 and I was relegated to playing backup which, by the way, was fine for me. I like playing bass to his lead. Now, I knew that since Neversoft was involved there would be changes but I didn't know, really, what to expect.

What I saw disappointed and angered me. Not only do we have the addition of useless, clumsily animated 'Bow-chika-bow-wow girls' on stage gyrating out of time (it's RATM, for God's sake, ladies, at least pick the pace up!), but the female characters are not the strong rocker chicks that I used to be able to back.

Judy Nails, a former punk tomboy, is all about showing off the bouncy boob physics engine that is so popular nowadays. Casey Lynch, who T used to like to call Heroine Chic, is also glammed up, with straightened blond hair and sporting a girlie bustier ... what the ... didn't she used to be hardcore?  Also, can I just say ... Midori? I'm all about some diversity (thank you for bringing Xavier back) but ... MIDORI?? *sigh* 

What ever happened to the easy going non-sexism that launched the franchise into the stratosphere? Wasn't it perfect them Harmonix was focusing on the music and not just targeting 18-30 year old males but engaging a broader spectrum of audience? I thought Neversoft did a decent job with the Tony Hawk franchise but they seem to forget that there are girls, women, moms, grandmas out there that like to rock (and skateboard, for that matter).

I know, I know ... quit'cher bitchin' and just choose a different character. I do. I usually play as Xavier because he is the essence of cool for me. But what about my 14 year old daughter, who likes to play as a girl? Gone is her favorite punk, Judy Nails. She's stuck with Midori's puffs and backpack or Casey's new sell-out, sexier look. 

I've pretty much kept my mouth shut about this because every time I mention it, I get challenged and I begin to feel as though I'm being close-minded and maybe just a little old-fashioned. For the record, I know I'm not, but I hear so many excuses for and hardly any voices against that I start to think that it's just me. I feel better now, though. Jane over at Game Girl Advance has spoken out on 1UP Yours and written "My Guitar Heroes - and Heroines" and, while I don't agree with all of her guitar heroes, it's nice to see that I'm not totally alone in thinking this game has gone in the wrong direction when it comes to sexism in gaming.

Rock Band ... save us ... remind us that it's really all about the music.

November 17, 2007


Got home later than I expected last night and felt like I had been hit with a Mack truck. Of course, I hadn't, just sat still for 4 hours after not stopping for 3 days. Only got lost a little. Let me tell you, Zebulon, NC, is a lovely little town but I didn't want to be driving through it at 6:00 last night, I just wanted to be home. Unfortunately, BR 64E is not the same as 64E and while they do eventually join together again (just after the aforementioned Zebulon, as a matter of fact) it took quite a bit longer than I thought it would.

I have played on the 360 for most of the day today, stopping only to take the girl to Old Navy to get her a t-shirt and then take her to her school for a concert. I just got in and, since the boy is asleep, I'm going to play a little more GH2 and rack up my last achievements of the day.

*famous last words*

November 12, 2007

A member of the club

A couple of weeks ago when T was down, I got an XBox Live Gamertag to play with on his 360.

Yesterday, it became official. I got my Christmas present early. Yup, I am the proud owner of my own 360. I'm officially next-gen.

I spent some time playing Beautiful Katamari tonight, one of the main reasons I wanted this system. I also have Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Forza (both of which came with the system), and Guitar Hero II. I feel as though my passion for gaming is coming back.

I have the best boyfriend.


November 10, 2007

Sweet surprise

Finally, the long weekend at the end of the endless week. I thought it would never get here. Looks like I have lost my assistant permanently to the office. I was so broken at the end of the day yesterday, I left 2 full carts of books to be put up. I just couldn't do it anymore.

The boy is with the sperm donor and the girl is with her friend's grandparents place on the river. I was facing a weekend alone, wondering what I was supposed to do with myself and tempted to just jump in the car and drive until I couldn't anymore. I have plenty I need to do but nothing I want to do and escape sounded like a good plan.

Luckily, T decided on a whim to come down this weekend, since I have Monday off, and we find ourselves alone in the house for the first 24+ hours of his visit. We have an agenda and it includes lots of canoodling, calamari and GH3 co-op. I can't tell you how restorative time with him is. I was feeling physically battered and so tense this week ... just a few hours together has helped me relax already.  Maybe it was watching the fish in the tank at Gilligan's that did it.

Ok, back to my sweetheart. We had a late lunch so we need to get something to eat before bed. Lord knows we have to keep our strength up.

What? GH3 takes a lot out of you!

August 8, 2006

Rockstar: Supernova

I don't post much of the idiocy that I find online but I just read this article and I am beside myself. Since I have no where to go with my outrage, I thought I would spew it here, dear reader. Aren't you lucky?

Readers of a US parenting magazine are crying foul over the publication's latest cover depicting a woman breastfeeding, with some calling the photo offensive and disgusting.

"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one woman from Kansas wrote in reaction to the picture in Babytalk, a free magazine that caters to young mothers. "I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table."

Um, ok ... first of all, what is wrong with a baby breastfeeding? It is healthier than formula, it is a bonding experience and, I hate to remind you all but THAT IS WHAT OUR BOOBS ARE FOR!! Is it because it is on the cover of a magazine and it is in our faces?

Hmm ... it is 1:15 in a Monday afternoon and, as I flip through the channels, I see commercials for erectile dysfunction, birth control, tampons, and Victoria Secret underwear one after another. Does any of this make anyone else but me uncomfortable? Is this a double standard or is it just me? Yeah, I can flip the channel ... and people don't have to buy the magazine.

Now, let's take a look at this a little closer. The only people who would have this magazine are people that either subscribe to it or are given a copy at the doctor's office. The magazine is called Baby Talk so I'm assuming everyone that reads it is a parent or an OB-GYN or a pediatrician ... on what planet would the image of a breastfeeding baby be uncomfortable to any of these people??

Breastfeeding, while totally natural, is extremely controversial. People get offended if a mother breastfeeds her baby in public. They also get offended when a baby is crying in a public place. Yet most public places do not offer private places for mothers to breastfeed their children. Breastfeeding mothers are forced to either stay home or relegated to the back seat of their cars in distant corners of parking lots. Why do we punish women for caring for their babies while, at the same time, hang huge pictures of half-naked models in window displays?

As for double standard ... Is it offensive to see exposed breasts on the cover of any other magazines? If you look at the picture, you will see that all that is visible is the round silhouette of a breast and a child's face looking loving up at her mother, not a nipple in sight, no cleavage, nothing sexual at all. Meanwhile, you can not pass a magazine stand without seeing extremely provocative images one strategically placed word away from pornography.

Does the breastfeeding baby make people uncomfortable because they think of breasts only as sexual objects? Does this send a mixed message? Does it tickle some inner wellspring of perversity that they are horrified to admit is there? Is America really that puritanical ... or that perverse?

I, for one, welcome the image as a reminder that our breasts are true wonders of nature. While nursing my children, I found a connection with my body that I never had before. At one time, my breasts embarassed me ... too big, too noticeable, always in the way and HELLOO!! I'm up here people!!! Yeah, conversations were sometimes awkward.

Motherhood put me in touch with my breasts (heh, heh, I said touch) and it has forever changed my attitude toward them. They are powerful things. They kept both of my children alive, literally, since neither would take a bottle. As for the pleasure I get from them now ... let's just say that nursing was a good thing in the sensitivity department.

Let me also say that I am not offended by nudity. Well, except for my own, that offends me ... but I enjoy looking at both the male and female figure. I am more offended when the human body is objectified, when it is used solely to garner attention or to sell something. Britney Spears naked and pregnant on the cover of Harper's Bazaar offends me more because she is using her pregnancy as publicity ... she wasn't the first one to do it but her cover was a pale trailer trash imitation of the original glorious cover shot that Demi Moore cover. But put a baby nursing on a baby magazine cover and there is an uproar?? Get over it, America.

And what is it with the women in this article wanting to hide the magazine from their husbands? I've got $5 that says their husbands have much more provocative and perverse images stashed away all over their houses ... the nightstand, the bathroom, the garage, not to mention their harddrives. Don 't any of them subscribe to Sports Illustrated? Can you say swimsuit issue? Don't they watch any sporting events? Even watching F1 (the upper crust of the racing world), there are girls in skimpy outfits that the camera always seems to find. Trust me, guys can find boobs wherever and whenever they want to and none of them have babies attached. No, that is just disgusting.

I wonder if any of these women watch Lifetime or Oxygen? Wall to wall softcore porn. Are they embarassed about that?

Amazing, the stupidity of a society that makes Paris Hilton a celebrity for having no talent and being willing to expose herself as often as possible yet they complain about a child breastfeeding. I, for one, am sick to death with the way women are only looked at as either objects of salivating horn-dog pleasure or bitchy, conniving ball-busters. Nothing like the the sight of one totally pure image to bring out the amazing hypocrisy in our society.

January 7, 2006

Just because I'm a girl...

doesn't mean I can't kick your ass in video games.

I came into video gaming at a later age than most. I was lucky enough to be able to play Pong and Asteroids at my friend Debbie's house. She and Janet and I would spend hours playing, then we'd watch Bugs Bunny cartoons and laugh ourselves silly. The pizza place I worked at then had a tabletop Ms. PacMan that we all loved to play whenever it wasn't busy (there went my paycheck every week!), and the arcade was one of our favorite places to go with our boyfriends during my senior year. Unfortunately, I was dating a guy that only liked pinball and if I wandered off to play anything else (Ohh, shiny!), he would grumble about leaving without me. Yeah, you guessed it, I spent a lot of hours watching him play pinball, pretending to be interested, gazing longingly at the shiny digital portals to nirvana that stood mere feet away.

Once I left high school, my crowd changed. Debbie and Janet went off and got married and started popping out babies and I went off to college. I spent much of my free time reading or in the theater or at the radio station or playing pool in the student union. My friends weren't arcade people (they were drinking, Uno and Trivial Pursuit playing theater people) and I didn't have the money for a console or a computer of my own. During my marriage, the x only liked playing minigolf and skeeball and I, once again, was relegated to waiting for him to finish playing before I could have a turn. Seems he only liked playing games he could win because as soon as I got good at minigolf, he decided he didn't like it anymore. Puss.

I lost touch with the 'gamer girl' inside until about 7 years ago, shortly after I got my first computer. I played several online games and a old friend of mine sent me FFVII for the PC ... I loved that game but my system was sluggish and struggled to run it. A few years later, Santa gave us a PlayStation and a copy of FFIX and that was it. I got hooked over Christmas break and slowly began looking for games that would interest both me and my kids. Yeah, that's me, I can't buy anything that's just for me ... justifying spending money on myself so that I can PLAY is unheard of.

I've since found other games I really like and am really good at. Running Wild is a racing game (you run a footrace as an animal against other animals) and I usually play as the Zebra, Brazz, a cool dude who wears a leather jacket and jeans and is pretty easy to handle. The Crash Bandicoot and Spyro series make up the bulk of our collection and, of the two, I'm more partial to Spyro.

This past year, my boyfriend and I went in on a Gamecube together and worked out a schedule where we could share his PS2 and the Gamecube ... naturally, that opened up a whole new expanded library of games for me to try and fall in love with. This is our month with the PS2 and that means Katamari Damaci and We <3 Katamari are in da house! Yup, officially the first game that I got hooked on. I absolutely love this series, it's quirky sense of humor, non-sexist animation and insane music keep me entertained for hours on end. The attention to detail is amazing.

For those that have never played, I'll try to explain. You play as the very small son of a very large king. He gives you a Katamari, a ball, that you are instructed to roll around a house, picking up objects as you go. The more you roll, the bigger you get and you are able to roll up bigger and bigger stuff. Let me tell you, there is nothing as satisfying as rolling up people, cars, houses, skyscrapers, islands ... and everything you roll up makes a noise so the aural chaos is intense when rolling through a city.

Some people have likened the Prince rolling his Katamari to a dungbeetle rolling his ball 'o dung (including the fine folks at Namco) but this is prettier and probably smells a good bit better.

What captivates me, as a gamer, is the attention to detail. As your katamari grows, your perspective shifts subtly so that you can see more (and less) of what is around you. What seems like an endless field of tacks and paperclips eventually turns into a desktop. Animals that attack you when you are small suddenly get frightened of you when you pick up enough stuff and turn on them. Revenge is sweet.

Eventually, if your katamari gets large enough near the end of your time, your vision is obscured by the clouds. I'm convinced that this is because the game is coded for a player to get only so big at each level and, when you approach that point, they slow you down and reduce your visibility until time runs out. It's quite a feeling to know that you've gone beyond where the designers ever thought you would go. It's even sweeter because I can totally kick my son's ass in Vs. mode. All this in a game that only uses your thumbs. I applaud Namco for having the guts to launch a franchise this quirky and non-mainstream and would encourage others to follow suit.

The other game that caught my interest (and my heart) this year was Lego Star Wars. Oh. My. God. Too much fun. Tim and I had a BLAST playing this game together, laughing ourselves silly, joining forces in battle and figuring out puzzles together. We have fun kicking the snot out of each other in the Diner (where losing studs and lives doesn't matter) and we both love killing JarJar. I mean, come on, who wouldn't?!?!

And don't even get me started on Animal Crossing. While Tim and I both enjoyed this for the novelty of it, my daughter absolutely loves it. I could keep playing it forever, and I will continue to visit every time the 'Cube is here, but I've met most of my goals and my only choice is to move into the next town and start all over there. Not sure I'll do that but my character, Booger, has a pretty sweet pad and more money than I'll ever have.

If it sounds like I only like non-competitive, fun kiddie games, I don't. I've enjoyed playing First Person Shooters like Halo and Metroid and I enjoy the Tony Hawk series, even though I suck at it. I really think that I would like a fighter, since I'm taking karate. I wish I could find a fighter that is close to real karate, though, something that celebrates the honor code of the samuri, either bare handed or with weapons. For realism, it would be open hand, gradually allowing the use of weapons as you advance.

Unfortunately, most of the fighters I've looked at seem to be more focused on the characters and the flash (of skin), kind of like the difference between real wrestling the WWF. Seriously, what self respecting fighter would fight in high heels and a strapless gown or, worse yet, a thong bikini held together with ribbon.

Now before you go off saying "Oh, she's just another chick that is pissed because the girls in the game are hotter than her." let me just say two things. "DUH!" and "That's not the only reason I get upset." I'm all for strong women characters but the sexist representations are just beyond me. Tim attributes it to a cultural difference (most fighting games are Japanese) but I would think that Japan would celebrate its rich cultural heritage (at least in a fighting game) rather than exploit it. I'm thinking 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' would make a fabulous game with a strong female lead who kicks ass and is also gorgeous.

My karate class is filled with gorgeous women that kick ass, from my daughter to Michele and Kelly to Lee, our Sensai. They are all gorgeous powerhouses with strength and depth and they would never think of sparring in high heel boots and a thong ... unless they had to. *ahem*

I bring all this up because of #5 on my Uberlist. Tim is a gamer through and through and it's one of the many things we both enjoy. We don't play many games together - we are both solitary people that enjoy playing single player games - but when we do find a game we both like and we can play together (like LSW) we enjoy the hell out of it.

My desire to be a better gamer is two (or three) - fold.

1) I would like to be a better gamer so that I can keep up with him when we play together. Several times, he has handed me the controller for his 360 and I won't take it because I am not familiar with the interface ... and I HATE being stupid or inept.

2) I would like to be a better gamer because I would like to experience the gameplay of some games that I won't try because of their sexist stereotypes. That way, if the gameplay sucks, I can legitimately say "I've played it and it sucks and it's not because it's all jiggly bits and things." I can't spend my life complaining about bad games ... I'm going to learn what works and what doesn't and maybe I'll come up with some legitimate ideas for games, who knows? And I know just the programmer to help with the execution.

3) I would like to be a better gamer because I am on a quest to have more fun in my life and I know that the better I get, the more fun I will have.

I'm looking forward to the release of Okami later this year (Hmm, US release in May '06, just in time for my birthday!!) and am looking for other games that I might enjoy. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to speak up. I'm all thumbs ... umm, ears.

Addendum: I just read an article (a winded, convoluted article, at that) over at the Escapist that just pissed me slam off. It started out talking about how the gaming industry doesn't understand women, delves into evolutionay psychology for several pages and ends with the following paragraph:

All this leads to a suggestion for what might work for women in games: social reasoning. The ideal game for women, according to this simplified model, would be some sort of interactive soap opera or bodice ripper, presenting the player with complex social problems as she seeks the ideal mate. Contrast this with the kind of software currently being offered to women and you can see why so little progress has been made with this group.

To that I say a hearty "SCREW YOU!" I may be an anomoly but I don't watch soap operas, I don't read bodice rippers, and I'm not on a life-long quest seeking my ideal mate.

shut up, doesn't count! just 'cause I met him there doesn't mean anything. that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'd rather play a game where the men and the women were on equal footing with equal strengths and weaknesses. As a female who has spent the last 10 years being both the hunter/gatherer and the nurturer, I sayjust give us a game that doesn't assume that we are all simpering prissies, that some of us actually enjoy stategy and action.

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