Friday, December 23, 2011

12/23: Super Mario's Economic Downturn

Kudos to the Smosh folks (one of about 400 "funny" Web sites whose pictures always seem to link to articles of women in undress, which probably draws clicks but isn't, you know, "funny") for truly bringing the funny in this series of cancelled and never-finished Super Mario games.

And if you want a few more: 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/22: Mario's Christmas F-bomb

Hey, guess what I just played for my daughter, because we both thought it was G-rated?

On a semi-related note, do you know what appears to be g-rated until the last two seconds of R-ratedness?

I have some new words to explain to a five-year-old now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12/21: Hello, Dear Leader Kin Jong-Un!

Mr. Dear Leader Sir,

Hello, and welcome to this sad American Web site, not nearly as robust and North Koreas mighty Computer systems, which now have VGA graphics that make everyone in the West gasp at 256 entirely different colors. Truly, North Korea contains the entire rainbow of colors, all on one 13-inch CRT monitor! And with Your Nation's Glorious Zip Drive, you can store dozens of floppy discs' worth of information on just one disc! The same one Tom Cruise uses in Mission: Impossible!

I, and the world, share the global grief over your father, Kim Jong-Il, he of the tremendous height and slim waistline and very strong chin. You, Kim Jong-Un, are said to be a video game player. A gamer, as we in the depraved west, with our worship of false monarchies like Burger Kings and Royal Crown Colas would say. Hey, you're not even thirty and you're in control of the hands-down greatest nation that ever has been or will be on earth. You're doing pretty well.

But when you start ruling, and take over your wise and slender father's firm but fair hand, maybe you can take some lessons from the plumber whose adventures you played so frequently when you were in school. Perhaps you already have: your first public appearance, some claim, was inspired by the end up Super Mario Bros. 2.

Think about what Mario does: it's a lot like what your father does. Mario finds treasure from all over the kingdom, and takes it for himself. Mario attacks anything around him that moves, even those that seem to pose no immediate threat to him. He wears a series of amazing outfits. He's not that terribly tall.

I would, with great humility and humbleness, bowing so low my American forehead greasy from inferior Western beef touches the floor, maybe ask that you not copy what Mario does in his video games. Because he is not a real person. The Mushroom Kingdom is a fantasy land.

If Mario were real, his actions would be immoral. Taking from the people without reason is called stealing. Killing those around you is called murder. Wearing bizarre clothing is called being a Page 6 hot mess. Being short-- hey, not everyone gets boxcars in the genetic lottery. You're still taller than Prince.

There's a very^14 small chance you're reading this right now. If you are, you have a chance to be better than your father, to bring your country to the 21st century, to fill their bellies with food and their minds with hope, to open up your country so the outside world can share your culture with theirs. You can be a real hero, and not just in a video game.

12/20: You're no Mario, Buster

They say that comedy lives in the wide shot: the distance that allows you to see the whole person, the whole room they're in, and also gives the perspective and remove to make to emphasize with that person juuuust a little less. The "they" in question who said the quote was Charlie Chaplin, a man who knows comedy.

One of his contemporaries was Buston Keaton, who I like more. Check out his work below, compared to Mario. There's a claim that Keaton's work "inspired" Mario, which I don't really buy. The Keaton clip (from Seven Chances, remade as the Chris O'Donnell Experience -- er, The Bachelor) is a comical chase scene. Keaton pulls his cameras far away so we can see everything that's happening. Doesn't look like to many shots laid down tracks and dollied horizontally, which is what you would do to replicate Mario.

I bring this up because Paris, France has a video game exhibit goin' on right now, and in this write-up they describe Super Mario Bros. as being "loosely inspired" by Buster Keaton's film. I don't see it, myself.

Final note: when I interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto, I asked him if Mario was bald. (Because he wears a hat all the time.) He wasn't bald, Miyamoto said, but his mustache didn't match the hair on his head: the mustache is darker. Perhaps he's been dying his hair, he told me, sotto voce. Also, he thought, maybe it was time to update Mario's mustache. "Maybe a small mustache, like Charlie Chaplin," he said.

So maybe there's something to the silent-movie theory after all. Miyamoto's a fan!

12/19: 84 hours of Mario 64

Super Mario 64 is the sort of game you could play forever...and by "you," I mean a dude named Siglemic.

Siglemic is trying for the word record at completing Mario 64. Not just finishing but getting every single coin in every single level. He's playign 12 hours a day all week long, streaming his games online. The current best score is one hour, forty-seven minutes. Siglemic is using every  trick in Mario's arsenal -- jumping instead of walking, bouncing around like Ninja Gaiden, memorizing every last square inch of gamespace. He's regularly hittign times well under 2 hours, but is still a minute away from the all-time best score.

Will he make it? How close will he get? And can he teach us that backwards long-jump technique? Keep watching.

Thanks, Complex!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12/18: What is Nintendo's Miyamotogate weather balloon?

So we're in round FOUR of the "Is Shigeru Miyamoto retiring?" saga. A summation:

Round one, Miyamoto tells Chirs Kohler that yes, he is retiring. Retire" is an odd word to use for the world's biggest game designer stepping down from his managerial role at Nintendo to, no other way to put it, design video games. See, Miyamoto supervises the people who supervise the game designers. He's beena  manager way longer than he's been a designer, but he's now going ot go do true game design. Neat.

Round two happens when Nintendo's stock price plunges, and Nintendo gets  apR person to say that what Miyamoto said was "absolutely not true." Kohler quoted a whole pargraph of Miyamoto saying he was stepping down, why he was stepping down,a nd what he would be doing, so this isn't a mistranslated word. Nintendo's denial seems very fishy.

Round three was Nintendo trying to be less "I don't suck, YOU suck" and more diplomatic. The issue of how exactly a man can be so misquoted was again avoided, and instead this mild platitude came forth:

That brings up to round four, where Nintendo had given Kohler the third and possibly final refutation of Miyamoto's "retirement statement." Here's their weather-balloon moment. I'm using "weather-balloon moment" because of the UFO crash in Roswell, which after years of the government response being "Nope, didn't happen" was unsatisfactory. Offering an alternate explanation for facts is always a better strategy than simply calling anyone who states facts a liar. Hence: "yeah, okay, something DID crash, but it was a weather balloon."

What is Nintendo's weather balloon? "[Miyamoto] jokingly mentions retirement to motivate his staff to excel." Aha! What a masterstroke! See, THIS interpretation allows Miyamoto to be accurately quoted. But it's HE who lied! Except he was merely being playful, to inspire his troops. Best of all, the impetus for Miyamoto lying, and the supposed result of it, is the betterment of Nintendo. 

A beautiful, balletic lie...that only came a week too late to do any good.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12/17: Flex your way to a Mario high score!

This great Engadget piece focuses on the dumb-meathead potential of playing a video game with your muscles. Not your finger muscles pressing buttons, but biceps and whatever else you want to attach the sensor to. Mario's probably not the ideal game to play with this, since he runs as well as jumps and stuff. A shooter or a brain-booster game might be more up the appropriate alley. But still: hands, schmands.

12/16: O Mar'o Tree, O Mar'o tree

Thanks, Buzzfeed

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12/15: Super Mario World record! 9,999,990 points!

Your credit cards aren't the only thing maxxed out this season.

Classic gamer Mason Cramer just maxxed out Super Mario World, the SNES classic, scoring the highest number of points possible int he game. In this case, it's 9,999,990 points.

Other people may have done that before. But Cramer did it on what Twin Galaxies, the keeper of the flame for video game high scores, calls Extreme Settings. That is, he did it on his very first Mario. No deaths, despite Cramer no doubt racking up dozens of spare Marios with all those points.

The Examiner article I linked to int he second paragraph gets some good details about what a run like this means: how he would go two or three hours at a location where a game trick would let him get unlimited points, but have to always rush to finish the board in time.

Also, sadly, he was playing on his friend's cartridge: his friend died in 2009. He dedicated the win to his buddy. Now I'm feeling a bad because of a friend of mine who died. Never dominated a video game in his honor. Maybe I should.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12/14: Not angry, this bird: whistling Super Mario, in fact

I thought I say everything. Every type of instrument, every type of performance, every variation of orchestration, every combination of song, singer, and speed. There was nothing you could do with the Super Mario theme song to impress me.

Well, I was happily wrong. I had assumed that only HUMAN ANIMALS would be performing the some.

This avian performance Is deservedly making the memetic rounds: the cockatoo has heard SMB so many times he/she (haven't checked the cloaca to be sure) really gets the jist of the tune. It'd be sweet if this was accidental, but still kind of amazing if done on purpose.

Update: There's already a response video! By a dog.

12/13: Six hundred bucks? Say it ain't so, Mario?

Driving home from work today, I stopped by the old cider mill, which also sells wreathes, grave covers, and gaming console rumors. (But only at Christmastime.) The talk was of the Wii U.

"What I heard," one old-timer said, "was that this here white doohickey device will cost $600."

Says who I interjected?

"Australia. The price is Australian dollars is $598."

"Oh. I see. Australia hasn't been wrong with its pricing before. And how does Australian dollars --"

"They're the same as US dolalrs."

"Rats. So $600."

"So what?" a young man said. "They dropped the 3DS price within six months. Just wait a bit and the price will come down. It's not like they'll have any good games for the first year anyway."

I intejected at this point, pointing out that I had email Tim Harford a few times regarding his article about console pricing. He said that the rational economic thing to do would be to have a variable pricing system. The die-ahrd gotta-have-its will happily pay the $600. When people stop buying at $600, drop it to $500 and collect more sales. And so on.

"They DO do that," the young man pointed out. "Wasn't the Xbox 360, like, $300?"

"Yes, but there's a presumption of value. If you charge $300, it's worth $300. If you charge $600, it's worth $600, even if the same $4250 of parts went into each. This could be Nintendo's way of getting the most money from every consumer."

"I thought only Mario did that, try to collect every last gold coin in existence."

I raised my eyebrow. "Why do you think Mario learned it from?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

12/12: Mario and Zelda grab some VGA hardware

Oh, man, did I just use the word "hardware" to mean an award I have already become what I despise, what I and everyone else on this earth hates: Joe Buck. It's's just that there's no other easy synonym...

Moving on. The Video Game Awards handed out trophies to Super Mario 3D Land for best handheld game, beating raise-your-hand-if-you-can-name-another-DS-game for best game of 2011. The new Zelda game Skyward Sword won a pair of INSERT NICKNAME OF VGA AWARDS SO PEOPLE THINK I WATCHED THIS AWARD SHOWs, one for Best Wii game and another for Best Motion Game, which merges Wii and Kinect games. And, sigh, PlayStation Move titles, which is like saying the best animated picture award also applies to claymation.

Also included in the Spike telecast -- sheesh, Spike? No wonder I didn't watch this thing: its broadcast way up in the hinterlands of the cable box -- was a tribute to The Legend of Zelda by Seth Green, who either is a big fat nerd or is the world's greatest actor, living out an interactive years-long bit of improv where he pretend to really really care about Thundercats and all that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12/11: Club Nintendo now good for free Mario games

I thought that Kotaku broke this. But Kotaku credited TinyCartridge. And TinyCartridge passed the credit to a dude named Spike who posts on NeoGAF. When i find out that Spike heard form his buddy Colin down the street, I'll duly update this.

Anyway, the "news" is that those Club Nintendo "coins" you earn for registering your hardware and taking surveys and marketing tasks like that can be used for the one thing you'd assume they'd always have been created for: downloading video games. Titles like Super Mario Kart and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! Honestly, I'm a bit puzzled what the coins's possible purpose was, other than faux-decorative, if they couldn't be used for games? Ringtones? Pictures of Pokemon? Nintendo doesn't do DLC: what do people get for joining Club Nintendo, and continuing to be a good Nintendo Maniac and jump through all the hoops?

(Puts corncob pipe in mouth, leans back in cane rocking chair, sips saspirilla) In my day, when you registered your Nintendo -- yeah, that's a noun -- when you registered it you got a free magazine! Nintendo Power! Lotta Ninja Turtles on the cover every month. Howard and Nester comics inside. Plus a map of Link's Adventure. (Reaches out with extremely wrinkled, liver-spotted hand to touch a d-pad.) This was how I moved. (Touches the A button). This shot a spread gun.

12/10: Is Fortune Street worth your time?

At PAX I spent a half-hour playing Fortune Street with other attendees and Nintendo reps. The game itself was about eight minutes of our time. The unskippable animation sequences, showers of weird gamification numbers, and dice-rolling graphics took up the other 22 minutes. It's a relatively fast-moving game, with a lot to process, and maybe there's a brain-overload reason why you can't press A to bypass Bowser waddling from one square to another.

The board we played on was small, maybe 24 squares. The regular Fortune Street boards can be immense, three or four times as big. Playing that could take hours. If this was a board game, instead of a video game of a board game, it would take days: each move requires calculations and readjustments to the prices you charge people.

This game has been around for a decade in Japan, and is making its first appearance stateside. I can't help but think it feels like someone imported, even though everything's been localized to English: all the numbers! So many Dragon Warrior cameos! The assumption that cartoon characters appealing to four-year-olds and a game that's ten times more intricate than Monopoly go hand in hand! The realization that the game would be 90% simpler but 0% different if they got rid of money and just had characters punching each other for damage and then eating pizza to regain health.

Metacritic gave the game a rare below-8.5 score, which in this modern world means it's trashed like E.T. at Alamagordo. Still, if you're the sort of person who's enjoyed Mario Party titles, Fortune Street stands with one foot there, and the other between Park Place and Boardwalk. GameFly's your friend.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12/9: Nintendo's War on Reporters

You cannot put a genie back in a bottle. You cannot collect the million feathers scattered from a ripped-open pillow. You cannot unbreak a plate. But you can really run yourself ragged trying to.

Wednesday, Wired ran a piece by Chris Kohler, an exercpt of a longer interview with Mario's main man Shigeru Miyamoto. Nintendo doesn't give many people access to Miyamoto, partly out of an Oz-ian sense of mystery, partly because the guy is too busy to be a PR flak, and partly because Miyamoto is a nice man who will honestly answer a question someone asks.

Here's the scoop-quote from the Wired piece: "Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, ‘I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire,’” Miyamoto said through his interpreter. “I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether. What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”
“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself...Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”

Clear enough, right? He's staying at Nintendo still making games. In fact, the job most people who know about Miyamoto THOUGHT he had is the job he's "retiring" to go do! This is like Spielberg retiring from Dreamworks to focus on directing.

The word "retire," though, is to the stock market slightly less scary than an angry rattlesnake. Nintendo's resident genius is retiring? Sell. Stock prices dropped two percent, shaving millions in market cap off of a company already waifishly lean after a rough financial year.

So Nintendo mustered it courage, remembered the George Costanza line that it's not a lie if you believe it, and said that Kohler misunderstood what Miyamoto said. Miyamoto, by the way, conducts all his interviews via an interpreter despite speaking English, because he wants to be certain nothing he says can be misconstrued. Saying he was misquoted is a bit like saying Vic Vega is a snitch.

After a perhaps overly hasty "Nuh-uh!" response, Nintendo released this additional clarifying statement:

"Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s role at Nintendo is not changing. He will continue to be a driving force in Nintendo’s development efforts. In discussing his priorities at Nintendo in a media interview, Mr. Miyamoto explained how he is encouraging the younger developers at the company to take more initiative and responsibility for developing software. He attempted to convey his priorities moving forward, inclusive of overseeing all video game development and ensuring the quality of all products. Mr. Miyamoto also discussed his desire to pursue fresh ideas and experiences of the kind that sparked his initial interest in video games.”

So Miyamoto, who was going to retire to do some good old-fashioned designing, is now officially still doing all his old stuff, plus still going to do all this new stuff. This is so the stock price that already went down won't go down. 

This leaves me with several new questions. 

One: So he's actually taking on MORE work, an entirely new second job? That's what he meant by "retiring"? 

Two: Is this a ruse? Will he go do his game-workshop thing and not oversee Nintendo's day-by-day endeavors anymore, but we'll still be told that he's on the job? 

Three: Did this just tank Miyamoto's dreams? If he could design games AND run Nintendo's cadre of other designers, he wouldn't have waited 25 years to start doing so. So is he now handcuffed to his old job? 

Four: You don't want to start calling reporters liars, especially reporters who published what I'll put money on as an accurate quote. Just because you don't like what someone says doesn't mean you get to retroactively call them a liar. 

Google, Apple, and Nintendo are the three most beloved companies on earth. Google and Apple have two or three books written about them every year, going back a decade. Nintendo does not. This is why: its relationship with the press is similar to your reaction to your inkjet: here, print this. If it doesn't come out as expected: stupid printer messed up.

It certainly looks like Nintendo wasn't happy with the reaction one of its execs' statements, so it foolishly tried to pretend it never happened. Nintendo is an ostrich, its head in the sand. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

12/8: STOP THE PRESSES! Miyamoto's not leaving!

Chris Kohler of Wired had big news yeterday evening: Shuigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's premiere game designer and the crator of mairo, Zelda, Pikmin, Starfox, etc etc, was retiring. Miyamotos' "retirement" was as a high-level exec surpervising those who made games, whcih would let him get down the the nitty-gritty of making an actual game himself, with a small crew of people. If anyone deserved the change to make his own in-house game studio, it's Miyamoto.

But no! After shares of Nintendo dropped two percent, a Nintendo spokesperson told Reuters "This is absolutely not true...There seems to have been a misunderstanding. He has said all along that he wants to train the younger generation."

So for you at home, nothing much has changed. For people in Nintendo, the klaxons are ringing. Miyamoto himself has yet to comment on whether he was misquoted, or -- what seems more likely -- he's being politely asked to reconsider stepping down from his senior post.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12/7: Sayonara, Miyamoto-san



Still processing, but here's some first thoughts:

Miyamoto has spent 30 years straight stepping back. He was never a John Carmack or a Richard Garriott: he knew what he wanted, but needed to tell others (notably Gunpei Yokoi), who would figure out how. This was one of his great strengths, since instead of seeing what was possible and working backwards to create gameplay, he thought of gameplay and then found out if that was possible. Often it was, to everyone's  surprise.

Just grabbed his business card to double-check his title: "Director & General Manager, Entertainment Analysis & Development Div." That really does not sound like much fun. That sounds like a guy who runs algorithms at Great Dominion to see when it's time to order more paper towels for the restrooms. And for all the well-deserved laudatories he's received over the years -- wow, over the decades -- he's much more of a manager now than a designer.

Games need managers more than they need designers. Tina Fey has a great anecdote in Bossypants than a key role of a manager is saying "no." The scene calls for a bran muffin on a plate, and the props people deliver a three-layer cake on a tray out of Versailles. it'd be superfunny if this showed up, right? The manager's role is so say no, just the muffin on the plate: everything can't be always funny. Miyamoto, I think, does a lot of that. His guidance is such that you probably don't ever feel like he's telling you where you can't go, just where you should go.

Chris Kohler's scoop continues, saying that Miyamoto isn't fully retiring the way we think of it, aka not going to work and watching daytime TV. He'll still be at Nintendo...except he'll be designing games. He hasn't really done that in a long time. For all the credit he gets, he probably hasn't actually done that much you can directly see in the Mario world. I'm fairly certain most of the people who did come up with those great levels, those outfits, that play experience: they would all pass on their credit to Miyamoto-san, or to those he trained.

First thought registered. Back to our regularly scheduled programming, which for me is Bridesmaids.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12/6: Mario's ornamental enemies

There aren't a huge number of shapes and characters that easily lend themselves to being handpainted on a ball ornament. Anythign with a boxy shape is going to look too Mercator-y, not natural. Anythign too round is probably already out there in ornament form if you go looking -- billiard balls, globes, snowmen.

That's one of the things that makes this cute four-pack of balls, all based on Mario enemies, so much fun. The Chain Chomp, the Bob-Omb, a Boo, and a Piranha Plant. All naturally rounded, surprisingly since they came fromt he eight-bit era where square shapes were just easier to pull off. And unlike certain other Chain Chomp Etsy items, this one won't bite off your privates.


Thanks, TechnaBob!

Monday, December 5, 2011

12/5: Mario's true love...Toad?

Mario (or, to break the illusion for any five-year-olds reading, a man dressed up as Super Mario) recently protested the Westboro Baptist Church, which are basically seven angry hateful people that the entire world despises, but since the called themselves a church it makes people think of an actual Baptist Church. By the same token, I could call my recycling bin the Presbyterian Alliance: still make it a piece of plastic with diet Dr Pepper cans in it. Wish the WBC guys would stop getting attention -- and herein I enter the paradox of wishing a group would not receive attention by talking and writing about them, giving them the actual attention they need to keep going, and my thoughts fold in on themselves like a Grant Morrison comic and I've turned into the real enemy, me and my mind!

But Mario's appearance brings up an interesting idea: Toad keeps on interrupting Mario, saying that the princess is in another castle. Very convenient that Toad's alwasy there. Maybe Toad's the one who Mario should be rescuing. As David Alan Grier used to say, "Liketahearit, hereitgoes."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

12/4: A Very Mario Nativity Scene

There's a new reason to want to see London for the holidays. You can see the Gamestation video game nativity scene, where Mario, Solid Snake, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are the three wise men.

I know, I know, you're asking: Who's Mary and Joseph? That would be Zelda and Marcus Fenix. And the stable animals? Yoshi and Sonic!

And the big finale...stepping into the role of Baby Jesus...
Gamestation Christmas Nativity


Saturday, December 3, 2011

12/3: A Saturday six-pack of Mariolatry

A Saturday six-pack of Mario activity going 'round the Internet. or Interwebs, or series of tubes, or whatever the new cutesy word for the Internet is.

-- Set phasers to "aww": a little girls' balance beam routine is set to a Super Mario game.

-- File under D, for "duh": people bought more 3DSes now that Mario is out for it.

-- Acrophobia alert: Playing Super Mario 3D Land can be traumatic if you have a fear of heights.

-- I'd make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle joke, but no one remembers them: Say "To shell with it" with this Koopa backpack.

-- Music for accordion, accordion, and accordion: Bulgarian Accordion Mario players are amazing, amazingly Bulgarian.

-- The new fake trailer?: Someone's whipped up a fake start screen for a gross, gorgeous HD Mario game. No game, just the start screen...which makes my imagination go crazy trying to match gameplay to the visuals.

Friday, December 2, 2011

12/2: Ragtime Mario!

I am not a musical person. I have family members who are, but that gene never developed in me. I tried saxophone in fourth grade, and an experience with the oboe that probably should have been tramautic, and maybe was, because after that day with the oboe...that cold godless day...(shudder)...I never played music again.

Soon after that, my brief knowledge of reading music went away, vestigial as the coccyx bone to my life. I stand, to borrow Richard Curtis's line, in bewildered awe at anyone who can play anything more on the piano than the GE theme.


What you are watching is a man well-trained in the piano, who is given sheet music to (I think) Super Mario World. He starts playing, and ragtimes it up, not missing a note, speeding up just when the time grows dear at the end of the "level." This is like a magic trick to me: squiggles on a page! He can turn then into music! They TALK TO HIM! he's discovering the tune as his fingers dance around the keys!

I'm flabbergasted by this. it's embarrassing. I have friend who can sight-read music, and like a three-year-old I ask them again and again "So, you just look at the notes, and you can play it? You can HEAR it in your head!?" And they say yes. And I say "wow."

Then I ask them to tell it again.

12/1: ANOTHER Mario Opera?

I opened up one of the chapters on my book with a description of Jonathan Mann's Super Mario opera. I did so partly to show that Mario has become such a universal figure that when we reach for universal figures for our new operas, which in centuries past were for the great love stories of our time, we now reach for him. And it's true: Mario and Peach are no Abelard and Heloise, no Tristan and Isolde, but they're much more well known than, say whoever the people were in Step Up 2.

Turns out Jonathan Mann was merely the first. There's a new opera in town -- or, rather, a 2.5-minute clip of operatic singing/narrating over SMB footage. It's a fine job, but at this point my palette for Mario clips resembles a Deadhead's auditory canal; there are very few working nodes left: most all of them have burned out from overexposure. I knew a man who sold CDs at my college, and never a more sour and acerbic man walked the halls of the Browser Student Center. The man could feel nothing but pain, or at least that was how he exhibited himself to the world. Ask him about the new releases, this was the response: "They suck. They all suck. Everything sucks now." Always be closing!


I realize saying this as I pass on the opera link is spitting in the soup as I serve it to so, so I should probably refrain from doing so. let me make it up to the opera guys: their voices are clear and strong, they achieve a remarkable feat in writing a stirring march that feels totally at home in a Mario game while being an original composition, and they avoid the easy jokes about mushrooms and such. Kudos, or more appopriately: bravo.

11/30: Minecraft's Super Mario Land tribute

I visited a model train museum called Northlandz a little while back: lots of model trains. You walk in one room,a nd behdin glass is a whole mountain range, and a whoel town, fileld with cars and teensy people and entire housign developments. scattered everywhere are train tracks, and thousands of trains are chugging by, left and right. it's amazing. Then You walk to another room, and there's a whole amusement park. And another room and there's a scale model of a 500-foot gorge. then a quarry. And so on. By the end I was completely numb to any of the awe and majesty and coolness of the first few rooms. And then I walked intoa  room that was eight times the size of any previous room.


I hate that feeling, that beating-down of emotion by sheer abundance until you're as incapable of feeling joy as Veruca Salt. Competitive eaters who tackle five pounds of fudge probably know what I'm talking about. For everyone else, might I point out this Minecraft Super Mario Land tribute?

Just to sum up: someone built a aircraft carrier-sized bigature of a Game Boy. And then build the title screen of Super Mario Land on it by using a variety of gray flat bricks as pixels. Then did it again, again, again again again, each time grabbing a screencap. The end result, hundreds of hours of work, is a reproduction of a Mario game most Mario fans wouldn't even put in the top ten of Mario game.

That's devotion.

That's inspiration.

That's so incomprehensible I'll admit to skipping to the end of the movie, because watching it cycled my amazement bar so fully round it went 'round the horn back into boredom, the same vague boredom when I wonder if other planets have water on them.

Thanks, engadget!