Risk-y business

It was just over a week ago that I controlled the entire Western Hemisphere. My biggest rival to world domination had retreated to Great Britain, his spirit broken by my overseas offensive. My other two rivals were fighting a brutal but pointless war in the far East. I was virtually assured victory. Then it all fell apart.

I'm speaking of course, about a killer game of Risk. I relate it to you because I think there is a lesson here for us all.

Here's the situation: I do indeed control the entire Western hemisphere. The only three entry points to my territory - Brazil, Alaska, and Greenland - are heavily fortified. The only other person to control a whole continent was Jake, who claimed to only want peace for Europe, but I couldn't stand for that, so I took Iceland. After that, he said the game was over and pulled all of his troops back to Great Britain, generating three troops turn after turn and doing nothing. Josh and Scott were locked in some strange civil war over New Guinea because Josh simply cannot fathom playing Risk without building out from Australia. So I'm looking pretty good.

Then Josh and Scott form an alliance, which I say is totally bogus in games of
Risk. But whatever, they did. So they start coming at me and goad me into fighting a war on three fronts and spreading my troops too thin. Meanwhile, Jake is still building up his forces, really for no reason. Every turn, he just puts three guys in Great Britain and says he's done. Eventually, he gets about 45 troops on this little territory, which essentially turns Great Britain into a police state. There's a bobby on every corner at this point - you can't get away with anything.

Here's where the tide turns - this whole time, Scott has been trying to goad Jake into attacking me. Eventually the goading becomes too much for any man to bear (plus, Scott called him fat, example ONE BILLION of Scott's mouth getting him in trouble) and he turns his enormous army, not on me, but on Scott. He uses the "push" technique, taking Scott's territories one by one, leaving one man to guard them and pushing the huge stack of pieces onward, eventually wiping Scott completely from the board. This entire time, Scott is shaking his head and saying, "I really did not see this coming." It was an amazing act of aggression from a player that had been sitting in Great Britain the entire game. I guess they ran out of tea or something.

So, to make a long story short -

Greek chorus: TOO LATE!

Shut up. So, I'm screwed by this point, so I turn my pieces over to Scott so I can go play PS2. He retreats to Madagascar for some reason - a strange move, considering he had to fight there just to retreat there. Jacob, his mission accomplished but forces depleted, succumbs to Josh's now monstrous Asian army. Eventually, there's a standoff for Madagascar, but Josh wins because he's a jerk and makes alliances. Plus, it was his board we were breaking in, so that's a 10% home-court advantage.

The lesson? Honestly, I've forgotten. It might have been something about not trusting the English or two weak enemies who team up. Or maybe it was something about how Brazilian troops get distracted by their hot women and lose battles they shouldn't. But it was most likely just the general advice of not calling Jake fat, because he'll make you regret it.

And that truly is a lesson for us all.

P.S. Did you know Ron's Patronus takes the form of a Jack Russell terrier? Isn't that adorable? A little dog yipping at evil dementors? I hope he has cause to produce one in Book 7 - I think it would be hilarious. Man, the things you learn while scouring J.K. Rowling interviews at 2 in the morning...


Now that's what I call POWER GAMES

Hey, go check out this site really quick. Seriously, just click on the link and look around for a second. It's not anything gross, it's just a website that sells a video game machine.

Now ask yourself this question: Would you buy anything from that website?

I mean, it's only a non-licensed product that plugs into your TV and lets you play 111 old Nintendo games, right? Nothing out of the ordinary. But let's consider the warning signs, shall we?

#1 - The fantastic page copy that begins, "
Okay well you know about the Original All-In-One Classic Game System, but you don't know about this!!" and later exclaims, "Not to mention you can play actual Famicom & NES cartridge games all in wireless glory if you choose. Gaming Euphoria!" Now THAT's some good, professionally-written copy.

#2 - The actual packaging says nothing about what the product does, only that it was made in China and may have something to do with bare-chested men kickboxing what appear to be killer robots of some kind.

#3 - The system itself resembles a penguin.

#4 - One of their "glowing customer reviews" is literally from Jane Doe.

#5 - Clicking the "Contact Us" link will reveal that they operate out of a P.O. Box in Chicago. There's an e-mail address, but no phone number. Take that, authorities trying to track them down!

#6 - In their FAQ, the question "Is there a warranty on the system?" is answered as such: "
Yes, when you purchase these systems directly from us you get a full staff for customer service questions and full warranty support." Ah, I see. Very detailed warranty. Very comforting.

#7 - The controller is wireless. This is awesome, but if you want to play two player, you have to plug the second controller into the first controller. Double awesome.

Additional warning signs not seen on website:

#1 - A kiosk at the Springfield mall was selling these not more than a month ago. I went back recently - the kiosk was deserted.

#2 - A sign posted in my local Game XChange read, "Ask the clerk about our special non-licensed Nintendo game players! $35!" It was not out for display - you had to ask to see it. This is literally an item being sold out of the back room.

That's a lot of warning signs.

I still bought it.

It's the shadiest thing I've ever bought.

And it's the coolest thing ever.

The menu claims that it actually is 12,000 games in one. However, a little investigation reveals that it's only the original 111 games given hundreds of other names by the crazy Chinese programmers. For example, any attempt to boot up the game Policeman and Thief results in the game Paperboy.

Also, the thing still looks like a penguin. Even worse, when you push the power button (its nose), the eyes light up and it looks like a demonic penguin is staring at you. And you can't turn it away, because then the wireless receiver doesn't read the incoming signal. But you can plug the light gun into the side of it and play Duck Hunt, which Allyn does gleefully.

Oh, did I mention I bought it as a wedding present for Josh and Allyn?

Allyn is an old-school gamer at heart and loves Super Mario Brothers more than anything, so I thought she's appreciate the chance to play it on a system that resembles a demonic penguin. (And you should see the body english that girl uses when she really needs Mario to jump far. It's amazing.)

So if there are authorities looking for the owners of these slightly shady machines, I can give you their address.


Pure genius

I've decided I need to post more frequently, but a lot of times I don't get to blogging until the end of the day and by then I'm tired and want to write about certain things but don't want to give these things short shrift so I just skip it and hold off until tomorrow but then I feel bad because I didn't post anything and this vicious cycle continues until it's been almost a week and I feel like a slacker and so I just blurt everything out in one long run-on sentence BUT NOT ANYMORE!! IT ENDS TONIGHT!!

I was going through all my pictures on my computer and realized that there are plenty of gems that deserved to be shared but for one reason or another (laziness) have never been. So from now on, if I can't give you a good blog entry, I'll at least try to give you a good pick-a-ture, then attempt to make a pseudo-witty comment about it, then allow you to make truly witty and often cutting comments about it. That's how, from this point forward, we will roll. Most pictures are worth a thousand words. Mine will be worth no more than 275. I'm not greedy. So I now present to you the very first...


This one is in honor of tonight's return of DICEY (way to be on the ball, The Meez). It's a pic from one of last year's rehearsals. The game was Blind Freeze and I had just taken someone's position. My brilliant initiation: "How do you like my new hand hat? It's made from my hands, and it's a hat. It's my handhat."

Honestly people, with that kind of genius, I don't understand why I'm not famous already.


A historic day

Hold the phone. Batten the hatches. Lock up your daughters. It has finally come to pass.

One of the Ryder brothers owns a gaming platform.

After a childhood full of anguish from not owning a Nintendo (despite many requests), a tortured adolescence spent going to friends' houses to play Goldeneye*, and a college career in which I spent more time in other people's dorm rooms than my own, just because they had Soul Caliber II**, the cycle of depravity has ended.

Apparently, getting married is AWESOME. Besides the fact that you pledge yourself to another person and all that hullaballoo, people give you a TON of cool stuff. Josh no longer goes anywhere unless he knows he's going to receive a gift at his destination. And he and Allyn now have a real fountain in their apartment that showers a cascade of Target gift cards. It's right in the middle of their kitchen. Very weird, but extremely opulent.

Josh has managed to convince everyone that matters (i.e. Allyn, Mom, himself) that basic mastery of video games is an essential skill for today's youth minister. Ergo, buying a Playstation 2 can be counted as a business expense/preparation for a career of molding the minds of youth. So he swiped a few Target gift cards from the fountain and did just that. He and I were rocking out at Lord of the Rings: Return of the King last night (He was Aragorn. I was Legolas. And we were awesome.) And Allyn was really enjoying my gift of Super Puzzle Fighter, which she inexplicably refers to as Jewel Thief. Good times.

Man, anybody want to have a fake wedding and scam some gifts***?

*Which I still suck at.
**Of which I remain the CHAMPION OF THE UNIVERSE.
Scarlett Johansson, I'm looking in your direction.


A lighter?

I don't know what it is about my current social life that keeps putting me around kids who shout hilarious things, but it happened again tonight. I was at a cookout with Josh and Allyn with some of their friends (because most of my social life is in fact vicarious) and I was playing ladder golf with a bunch of kids.

One of these kids was a small child with a toy gun (which Josh and were never allowed to play with as kids - I cite this as the main reason why I am now so weak-willed and afraid of conflict) and he was of course firing it every which way. It was one of those toy revolvers that don't really shoot anything, but just makes clicking noises. So he's click-clicking away and all of a sudden he yells,

"WHEN I SHOOT...YOU...YOU GUYS GO!" *pause* *click*

We were already in the midst of our game, so I don't really know what he was trying to signal the start of. But it gets better. A little while later, he yells,


I suppose this should be alarming behavior, but he was really cute about it, so we didn't take it as a red flag. Until, not a second later, this escapes his mouth:


Now, as to why a lighter is necessary for the operation of the gun, your guess is as good as mine. I suppose he might have been pretending the gun was a can of hair spray and was ready to make a homemade flamethrower, but that seems like a stretch for a little kid. All I know was I was laughing so hard, I had to skip my next throw. Man, kids are hilarious.


Hot and holy

Like most of you out there in InternetLand, I get a lot of junk e-mail (also known as spam, for those of you who haven't heard), especially to my old e-mail address that I've been using since I started visited Warez sites...I mean surfing the Internet.

Most of the spam I get is your general, run-of-the-mill spam. Increase the size of your package, generic drugs from God-knows-where, earn money by doing nothing, that kind of thing. But occassionally, they're on subjects that interest me.

And nothing interests me more than sexy Christian singles.

Because I like my ladies hot, but holy. Sexy, but sectarian. Bone-able, but baptized. And so when I get an e-mail (solicited or otherwise) claiming that there's a place where I can meet these sexy Christian singles on the web, I'm all ears. Especially when opening that e-mail leads to this happy surprise:

Yowza. No one said anything about sexy ASIAN Christian singles. That totally sweetens the deal. I think this lady will totally drum up a lot of business. Because if there's one thing Christians love, it's blatant displays of near-pornographic material.

I showed
this a while ago to Josh and Allyn and they had these very different responses:

Allyn - "
what is christian about that girl? don't advertise if it's not for sale. a motto to live by."

Josh - "That's hilarious. Her lingerie must have been blessed."

And Allyn's response to Josh's comment? It was, and I quote, "ugh."

I swear, those two are a hit reality TV show waiting to happen. Laugh a minute, they are.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some "advertising" to do.


Ah, youth

You'd think that at a Springfield Muni production of "Beauty and the Beast," all the laughs would come from the show. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. It's Hambone.

Actually, I didn't know his name. At this fateful evening, most of my hearty laughs were earned before the show by the totally adorable young lad in the seat to my right. When I got there, it was raining off and on, to the point that the outdoor show was in jeopardy. So the little boy's Grandma was fashioning a poncho for him out of a garbage bag, a la Garden State. Now picture the little ball of energy, about 5 or 6, SO excited that he gets to see dancing teacups on stage tonight. We have this exchange as a sort of introduction:

Boy: (to me) I'm wearing a garbage bag!

Me: Yeah, you are.

Boy: (to audience in general) I'M WEARING A GARBAGE BAG!! (dances around)

Hilarious. But the fun did not stop there. In response to his query as to how much time was remaining before the show started, his Grandma said there was about two minutes, so if he counted to sixty twice, the show would start. This was his obvious reaction, which Grandma really should have seen coming:

(again, to audience in general) ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR! FIVE! SIX! SEVEN!

I think he got into the teens before Grandma got embarrassed and made him quiet down. Meanwhile, I'm shaking from laughter in the seat next to him. But he kept going. At some point he got impatient:

Boy: (to stage) C'MON, START IT!!

But my favorite thing he said all night (and his little show only took place before the curtain rose. I think he was asleep by intermission.) was this:

Boy: (to I-don't-know-who) EVERYBODY SWITCH SEATS!!

As I noted, I don't know who he was yelling at. Maybe he was just yelling at his family in the couple of seats next to him, maybe he was yelling at the entire row, maybe he meant for the entire audience to get up and switch seats with someone. I don't know. But man, how much fun would it have been if everyone had done it?

At what age do we learn to be embarrassed? Can I go back and skip it?


Keep reading, I might do a trick

Last night while watching the Illinois State Fair Parade, I had a revelation about the continued devolution of the human race. That revelation was this:

Sometime in the future, there will come a day when the youth of America communicate solely through message T-shirts.

It's an epidemic that has already reached alarming proportions. It seems everywhere I looked, at least half of any given group of teenagers were wearing shirts with inane messages on them like, "Keep staring, I might do a trick" and "I'm with him because he requires perfection" and "Seriously, I swear I'm not an idiot."

Are these really considered clever amongst the youth of today? Are they wearing these to school and walking through the halls with huge laughter rippling in their wake? And can you even wear message T-shirts* more than once? The second time around, aren't all your classmates just like, "Hey, Ronald's wearing his camo 'Ha! Now you can't see me' shirt again. How about that." The surprise seems like it's only good once. I feel like if you need your T-shirt to say something clever and witty** for you, you need to just give it up.

Mark my words: the teenagers of the future will have no need for verbal communication. They will all be issued high-tech T-shirts upon reaching the age of 11 (teenagers are getting younger and younger). These T-shirts will have microthin LCD screens on the front and can display thousands of "witty" sayings that will be used in all forms of communication. Teens will have no need to communicate anything that isn't a prepackaged T-shirt saying.

And then Pestilence, Famine, War, and then the world ends***.

*Message T-shirts: very easy to mistype and leave out the "r," thus turning the phrase even more appropriate.
**I think it's very rare when a message T-shirt is clever and/or witty and/or even funny. However, in doing research for this post, I discovered a series of musical instrument-based message T's. And the line "Pianists Love to Tinkle" did earn an honest chuckle. What can I say, I loves me some musical puns.
***I used the footnotes bit again.

Feel free to leave your favorite/least favorite saying from a message T.



As long as we're on the trivia kick, here's a bit of trivia for you: What's the deadliest punchline in history?

Answer: "you
sockdologizing old man-trap."

It was during the raucous laughter that followed this line that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Booth was one of the most popular stage actors of his day and although he was not in the cast of Our American Cousin that night at Ford's Theatre, he did know the play quite well and waited until the largest laugh line of the night to make his move, in hopes that the laughter would mask the sound of his gunshot.

The whole line reads as follows: "
"Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap." This line makes very little sense out of context and judging from what passed for Civil War humor, it would doubtfully make us laugh much today even if it were in context.

However, the moral remains clear: Humor, though a profound tool of joy, can also be subverted for evil means. Therefore, I shall no longer practice it.

Statler: (from balcony) I wasn't aware that he ever did! Doh-ho-ho-ho!

P.S. I went to the Lincoln Presidential Museum today. It was way cool and I learned a lot. Thank you, museum, for making learning fun.


My favorite trivia answer

Well, I was going to have a whole series of posts in which I relate favorite stories of the wedding, but Rob not only beat me to the punch, he picked pretty much the same exact moments I was going to talk about. But I'll scan in some pictures soon and perhaps witty comments will accompany.

With their new glut of fake commercials, Geico is cementing itself as the new Energizer bunny. And just like the bunny, at first I loved it, now I want to shoot it. Just give me a clear shot, lizard. I dare you.

But fear not, as I made a lovely discovery on this wonderful thing called the Internet today. As the title of this post alludes - my favorite piece of trivia is knowing the names of the two old Muppet dudes who sit in the balcony and make fun of stuff. Because the world can never have too much Waldorf and Statler.


Calm after the storm

Well, the wedding was wonderful. Everything went smoothly, everyone was looking lovely (the groomsmen looked money, I'll tell you that right now), and I didn't forget the ring. I kept it in my tux pocket all day and would do periodic ring checks. This is where I would just say, "Ring Check!" to no one in particular as I checked to make sure it was still in its box. During pictures before the ceremony, I checked about once every half hour, but as we got closer and closer, I started checking more frequently until eventually, just before I walked in the church, I was checking about once a second. This was difficult, as the motion of removing the box from the pocket and opening it to check takes more than a second, so it just became one continuous motion of checking. It looked as awkward as it sounds, but I didn't lose it!

Many of you were wondering how my toast went. I'll post it in the replies so you can read it if you like. Obviously it loses something when you read it instead of EXPERIENCE it, but it's the next best thing. (That sentence would be funnier if I could figure out a way to make the word "experience" glow neon green and kind of bulge in and out. And also, there would be a "waa-aaah" sound, like it was toxic waste. But I can't. So imagine it. There, wasn't that funnier?) It seemed to go over quite well and I received many compliments on it, so I'm happy. My jam session with the Rhythmaires went very well too. Man, I love those guys. So old, yet so awesome.

So the happy couple are off on their Caribbean cruise, the relatives have all gone home (except for Gramma - we're rocking it together for another couple weeks), and I'm still here. But it's okay - I'm playing Guild Wars again and Josh leaving means I'll finally get a crack at the new Harry Potter. And I've all of a sudden got a lead on a great place in Chicago. So in short, my life is good. Hope yours is too.

(Except for yours, Scott and Rob. Hitting on my underage cousin means your lives are forfeit. FORFEIT, I SAY!!)

P.S. After seeing Wedding Crashers, I came to this conclusion: Christopher Walken could read the phone book to me and I would die from laughing before he got halfway through the A's.


Weird...and gross. Greird.

So...my brother's getting married today. As I mentioned in the title, that's weird/gross. But I think it's going to be okay, because the girl's pretty cool. Here's just one example why.

Recently, I was helping Josh assemble some new furniture, because I'm SUPER handy with the tools. At some point, I made fun of Allyn for accenting a common phrase in a weird way. (Like how most people say they're going to Best BUY, she would say she's going to BEST Buy.) So she gets all fake mad and yells:

"Well, I'm sorry I'm put-TING the wrong ac-CENT on some of my WORDS!"

That's right. She tried to accent the wrong syllable of a one-syllable word. It was one of those moments that was so hilarious, I had to run out of the room. That's my favorite kind of laughing. Anyone who can make me laugh like that, intentionally or not, is okay by me.

I'm the Best Man today, so I have to do all kinds of stuff like remember the ring and give the toast and tie cans to the car and stuff like that. Let's hope I don't forget anything.


A question that defines your very life

So a lot of cool things have happened recently that deserve recapping, but I'm not going to talk about them right now because I'm going to bed. But here's a question for you all:

My brother just got a new cell phone and it can use mp3s as ringtones. This might not be that exciting, except that he's offering those people in his inner circle the opportunity to pick what song - nay, what snippet - they would like to represent them whenever they call.

So here's the dilemma: out of all the music I love, what should I pick to represent my entire being (at least, as it's encapsulated in my brother's cell phone)? Do I go with my song of the moment? Do I pick a timeless classic? Do I go with a quirky lyric that represents me or a catchy melody? Or do I just say shove it all and go with Tom Jones?

So I offer the problem up to you: What song snippet, dear readers, should I pick? I anxiously await your opinion.

(You can also say what song snippet you would pick for yourself. I'm not THAT self-centered. I'll find your choices interesting, I swear.)