Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Super Mario Babbling

I’ve been playing some Super Mario Bros on the 3DS virtual console, and I have to say, DAMN but Super Mario Bros is a hard game.  I’d forgotten just HOW hard.  People always talk about the latest New Super Mario Bros game or whatever being challenging, but really, man—I completed NSMB Wii with a friend, including the damn secret world, and sure it was brutal in places, but claims that it’s anywhere near to the NES game, challenge-wise, are laughable.  Probably part of that is down to me not playing it that much in my formative years—I DO have strong nostalgic memories of playing it at friends’ houses, but I never had an NES of my own, so I didn’t get to REALLY sink my teeth into it until Super Mario All Stars, when I was a little bit older.  The first Mario game I  beat was Supermarioland, and I still have no trouble whatsoever finishing it (both first and second quests) when I revisit it every few years or so (though I think it IS objectively a lot easier), but the original SMB—DAMN.  I honestly cannot quite remember if I ever actually beat it, though I definitely beat the so-called flippin’ “Lost Levels” (including Worlds A-D), which ratchets up the difficulty so much that in the later worlds you feel like you’re playing one of those fuck-you rom hacks (admittedly, I was only able to do this because the SNES version has mercy on you by letting you save your progress after every level, instead of every world.  No way in hell I’d’ve ever won if I had to play through four stages straight).  But plain ol’ SMB?  I’m not so sure.  I know I got to World 8, but I think that’s as far as it went.  I think a big part of my problem is that I haven't quite figured out instinctively how to play with Mario's inertia as opposed to trying to fight it, which leads to frequent needless deaths, but whatever the reason--man.

Anyway, this has been so much pointless babbling, but I want to say this: I feel as though all the Mario mainstays have sort of had their impact diluted by the number of later games they appeared in.  But GOOD GOD, you play SMB, and you are forcibly struck by the sheer horror of a lakitu or an inconveniently-placed pair of hammer bros.  They are not cuddly.  They are nothing less than pure, focused generators of human misery.  Aslan Is Not A Tame Lion.  &c.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage (1861)

Hokay, Framley Parsonage!  So the main plot here…well, actually, I’m not sure there really IS one, quite; it’s certainly more of an ensemble piece than its predecessors.  There are several related stories.  First, we have Mark “my last name looks like a typo” Robarts, a local vicar who foolishly agrees to guarantee a loan for a dissipated MP, Mr. Sowerby, and ends up in all kinds of money trouble.  Then, there’s the inevitable love story, this time involving Mark’s childhood friend Lord Lufton and his sister Lucy.  There’s also a secondary love story—it turns out I was merely premature in my speculation re Doctor Thorne—between the doctor and Miss Dunstable, though it gets surprisingly little ink, and is handled in a rather unromantic, matter-of-fact way.  There’s also a fair bit of passive-aggressive sniping between the Grantlys and Proudies (from Barchester Towers), both of whom are trying to marry off their daughters as best they can.  Finally, there’s some cynical political satire, as Trollope depicts Tories and Whigs in and out of power, no one accomplishing much.
Read more »

Friday, February 13, 2015

Anthony Trollope, Doctor Thorne (1858)

Right.  So there were these two brothers, Thomas and Henry Thorne (distantly related to the Thornes who were minor characters in Barchester Towers).  Thomas, the responsible one, becomes the doctor of the title, while Henry, the fuck-up, seduces a poor girl named Mary Scatcherd; when she gets pregnant, her brother, Roger, murders him, as one does.  She’s in luck, though: an old beau agrees to marry her as long as she gives up the child; she agrees and they go off to Ameri-cay (and if this seems like a rough deal, note that she still gets off far easier than a woman in a Dickens novel would’ve under the same circumstances).  The daughter, also Mary, is left to be raised by the doctor; her background is kept a secret.  She grows up and becomes beautiful and well-beloved by everyone and all that.

Read more »

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Animal Specialities: A Business Plan

Executive Summary
Animal Specialties is a new company that will change the fashion and business worlds forever by selling business attire that makes people look like animals. This will be very popular with young professionals. No one else has ever been bold enough to start a company like ours, but all the indicators suggest that we will be reaching a large, untapped market.

Mission Statement
We are dedicated to providing high-quality animal suits to professionals from all walks of life.

There are many companies that sell business clothing. However, Animal Specialties is the first clothing company to specialize in selling business clothes that also allow the wearers to look like their favorite animals. Since many people don’t like having to wear the same boring suits every day, there is a wide market for suits of professional clothes that look like elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippopotami, and many other popular animals.

Market Analysis
Our biggest market consists of young professionals who are willing to think outside the box. Older people may not appreciate the idea of our company, or think that some animal costumes are not suitable for everyday office use. However, market surveys indicate that the younger generation is more interested in new ideas, and that they are eager to dress up as animals at work.

Marketing and Sales Strategies
Animal Specialties will launch with a large-scale advertising campaign in popular lifestyle and fashion magazines aimed at both women and men, including Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, and GQ. We will also sponsor launch parties in major cities around the world. Everybody is going to know about Animal Specialties, and the due to the fact that our company is fulfilling a previously-unmet need, we will also get a lot of free media attention.

Organization and Management
For now, our company consists of three people. The president, Regular GeoX, was the originator of this visionary idea. He has a lot of experience with animals and knows how best to guide the young company. Our vice president, Mr. Y, is the former editor of several prominent fashion magazines, and brings us his experience and knowledge of the industry. Finally, our fashion designer, Ms. Z, is an expert in the field: she has years of experience designing animal costumes for circuses, theaters, and carnivals. The actual production of the costumes themselves will be outsourced to trusted professionals in Indonesia and Malaysia. As the company expands, we will naturally hire new people to deal with the additional demand.

Funding Requirements
We estimate that we will need approximately seven million dollars for initial expenditures, including production, advertising, and office rental space. However, this represents a very safe investment, as all of our research indicates that sales will be high. We should be able to recoup investors’ money in as little as six months.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Perspective: you cant haz it.

So there’s this woman I’m friends with on facebook, whom…I never actually met; I’m not quite sure how this happened.  But be that as it may, there we were, and it was fine, she seemed pretty solid and smart with typically okay politics.  And then, as you may have heard, the king of Saudi Arabia died, and she wrote THIS:

I taught ESL to students under the Saudi scholarship program for a few years, and it was indescribably enriching to my life. I ate kabsa, learned about Islam, saw tons of wedding photos, held an occasional newborn baby, and laughed--A LOT. Thanks, King Abdullah, for sharing these fantastic students with me!

Ha ha, yes, he may have sanctioned the beatings of pro-democracy advocates, his country may have continued to be one of the most viciously repressive and misogynistic places on Earth, he have have sanctioned and funded terrorism, BUT HEY, at least he gave some white girl from Ohio a chance to feel culturally enriched, so hey, SIX OF ONE HALF DOZEN OF THE OTHER, amirite?  Yes, obviously, that comment isn't specifically endorsing the regime as a whole, but trumpeting only the positive you see in people who were world-class shitheads is just perverse, and that whole post just looks like something you'd see in The Onion making fun of comically self-centered, narcissistic college kids.  And it isn’t even like Mussolini and the trains (JUST PRETEND THEY DID, OKAY?), because at least there the statement is “well, he may have been bad at least he made the trains run on time!,” conceding that maybe he did some stuff that wasn’t so great.  This is more like saying, after his death, “he made the trains run on time!” as if that were his primary legacy.  Good GOSH.

It’s obvious that she really just wanted to use the king’s death as an opportunity to brag about how awesome and culturally enriched she is, that this wasn’t any kind of political statement, but really, now.  Pretty embarrassing all ‘round.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers (1857)

It's a very direct sequel to The Warden, and it makes you wonder why such things were, as far as I can tell, not often done in Victorian fiction.  The industry was big business, so why wouldn't more people capitalize on successes to make an extra buck?  Maybe because the average Victorian novel was so long; the authors always felt they'd said all they had to say about that.  Then again, that doesn't stop our contemporary authors of twelve-volume fantasy "epics."
Read more »

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Anthony Trollope, The Warden (1855)

Okay, time to read Trollope (or, as the kids say, ttrt). My only experience with the man was from reading The Way We Live Now many years ago. I indistinctly remember liking it but not being blown away, but mainly, I remember a character called Lord Nidderdale, just because it's so fun to say. Nidderdale. Anyway, clearly that wasn't enough, so let's dive into his most famous thing, which is this six-volume Chronicles of Barsetshire series, shall we?
Read more »