music thoughts … Weezer (The Teal Album)

January 29, 2019 3:26pm
Tagged with:

I’m gonna be honest – I don’t really listen to modern music anymore, and maybe that’s why I ended up really liking this album!

I don’t think that I’ve actually listened to Weezer since The Blue Album, which I think was their first one??? That one was pretty influential to my growing up – my band played songs off of it and everything – but the rest of their albums just never really clicked with me.

I stumbled across this very randomly on social media, and when I looked it up and saw that A) it was only $8, and B) it had some great 80’s songs that I love, I decided to give it a try…

That said – it’s kind of a weird selection of songs.

Most of them I really like, but No Scrubs and Stand by Me and even Paranoid don’t really feel like they belong here. That said, my favorites are…

  1. Africa
  2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  3. Billie Jean
  4. Mr. Blue Sky
  5. Take On Me

There are definitely places in a few – Billie Jean, for example – where I wish there was a little more heavy guitar … I’m not crazy how it amps up for the bridge in that one, then dies back off just in time for the chorus, but it’s still a fun take on a great song.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World takes me back to when I first encountered that song as the intro for Dennis Miller’s show on HBO (back before he became a conservative), and Africa is really just a fantastic song to boot!

If they had swapped out a handful of the others for maybe Jungle Boy and Eye of the Tigers and Don’t You (Forget About Me), this album would be just about perfect.

Still, it’s something a little funky and different to listen to in the car, and even old farts like me need that every now and then! 😉

I’ve been kind of geeking out on Pete & Pete nostalgia lately after learning that the actors that played the brothers – Danny Tamberelli and Mike Maronna – not only still hang out and in fact do a podcast together, but they also tour and are coming to Florida this spring and I have tickets to go see them!

Nonetheless, after watching this great series of retrospective videos that Nickelodeon did a couple of years ago with Danny and Mike, it naturally got me thinking about the rest of the cast and what they’re up to these days…

And for a brief moment, I got spooked.

Ellen was always one of my favorite characters on the show, particularly for her bond with Big Pete. What can I say? I was just reaching my teenage years when this show came out, so it was girls like Ellen and Clarissa and Melody and Z.Z. who served as my first crushes on my favorite TV shows that I watched during those years. And yet like much of the rest of the Pete & Pete cast, I couldn’t really recall seeing much Ellen represented in more recent shows, so I decided to google the name of the actress who played her…

…and I got a fairly convincing profile of someone who is apparently very into Donald Trump and conservatism and generally just being an awful human being.

Could that be the same crush from my own boyhood who was a girl, and Pete’s friend, but was she a girlfriend???

Well, thank god – no, she wasn’t!

I’m not going to post the name here because there’s no need to attract unwanted attention, but I will say that her picture was close enough that 25 years later you might say, “Sure, I suppose that could be her.” It wasn’t until listening to a couple of interviews – one with Ellen herself – that it came to light that she’s mostly stepped away from Hollywood and instead is a doctor now! And the other lady was apparently just being born at the time Pete & Pete was airing, so that’s a pretty good indicator that they were definitely different people, too. 😉

Relieved is the right word, that’s for sure. I remember how shocked I was to find that an old friend from high school had gone hardcore conservative, complete with gay bashing on Facebook and the whole nine yards. And I recall me and my friends absolutely loving Dennis Miller and his rants on HBO back in our teenage years, despite his bizarre political flip to the dark side that came a decade later. But not someone from the cast of Pete & Pete.

All of the Blue Tornado Bars in the world couldn’t produce a brain freeze capable of that level of mental shutdown… 😀

Magic for Sale

January 6, 2019 10:10pm
Tagged with:

Some bittersweet news – last week I sent a bunch of Magic cards to Card Kingdom and today they confirmed that they’ll give me over $500 for them!

It’s a little sad because I spent a lot of time as a kid trying to collect a full set and many are barely worth pennies now, but on the upside, I’m going to use the money to start college funds for David and Matthew, which at the end of the day is probably better than them just collecting dust in the closet.

For what it’s worth, at least they priced a bit higher than when I had done this same exercise a couple of years ago, but never got around to mailing them off – apparently back in 2015, the dual lands that I had (Underground Sea and Plateau, revised edition) were running $180 and $40, respectively, whereas three years later they were offering $295 and $65 for them!

It was definitely a little unsettling adding cards to the cart that I thought should’ve been worth more, but came in at only a few bucks or less. I basically set my limit at $1 or more, and then added in a handful where they were offering pocket change, but I happened to have a handful of them.

It’s not like they’ve been doing anything at all sitting in my closet for the last umpteen years…

And honestly, I was really impressed by the turnaround – I believe I shipped them Thursday via priority mail, Card Kingdom received them yesterday, and then this evening they had already graded them and confirmed the final selling price.

Their value if everything had been perfect was $595 and I ended up with $514, so I guess that’s not too bad for a stack of playing cards that I literally have had since the mid-90s! Granted, there were a ton that they didn’t even want – anything common or uncommon, plus some rares that they’d only take in bulk which probably would’ve cost me more to ship than I’d have made back.

Thanks again to Card Kingdom for making the entire process surprisingly easy! I think I’d actually heard about them years ago when they were featured on an episode of Kris and Scott’s Scott and Kris Show, so when they showed up on my search for places buying cards via mail and their website was super simple to work with, I was sold.

It makes me wonder what kind of a total I’d have gotten if I’d held onto more of those dual lands that I used to have because back before I started selling off my cards to buy music stuff instead, I’m pretty sure I had a full set of them! Oh well. 😛

My Top 10 NES Games

April 25, 2018 8:23pm
Tagged with:

Inspired by this video from Billy of The Game Chasers citing his top 20 favorite NES games, I thought it might be fun to compile my own top 10 list.

…which was honestly hard for such a nostalgic system because there were just so many games that I wanted to include in the list just because they were classics – almost merely out of obligation!

But I tried to limit that wherever possible and instead focus on the games that I built up such incredible memories playing as a kid because I can still fire up just about any of these games today and be instantly transported back to my elementary school days where weekends were spent playing whatever NES game I had picked out to rent for $2 while my Mom went grocery shopping. 🙂

10. Megan Man 2
Admittedly this is one game that I’m just terrible at today, I was the master of this when I was, like, 8 years old! MM3 had more unique bosses and built on MM2, but this was the game that I cut my teeth on, for sure.

9. Base Wars
I’m not a sports fan at all, but baseball played by robots with guns and rocket launchers?! I would play entire leagues of this game set to two player with the second player empty just so that I could earn tons of money and build a team of the best robots available. The whole baseball part was just a backdrop. 😉

8. Excitebike
When I worked at summer camp, for some reason Excitebike was the go to game played in our cabin whenever any of us had five minutes of free time. It’s such a simple game, and it’s honestly not even that good, yet somehow that’s also what made it GREAT!

7. Battletoads
As Billy mentioned in his own video, Battletoads was ridiculously hard, but I loved how in the very first level there were little secrets like being able to ride the fire-breathing pigs. Plus, it was an added challenge to be able to hurt the other player whereas most other two player games before it had you invulnerable. Also – they’re toads, and they fight! It was by far one of the most unique, creative games of its time!!!

6. Super Mario Bros 3
This was kind of one of those classics, but it was also amazing and revolutionary and the commercial was beyond exciting. I remember we got the game by a friend of my Dad picking it up at a Toys ‘R Us downstate and mailing it to us because this was before video games were available everywhere. The game itself, of course … wow. Giant World. Cloud World. Bowser’s Kingdom. So many rich levels to explore – it’s really no surprise that it’s the #1 game by almost any standard … I honestly just threw it anywhere here to give the rest of my top 10 a fighting chance!

5. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy 2 (IV) for the SNES is probably my favorite game of all-time, but the original Final Fantasy was one of my first introductions to RPGs. The grind was always tough trying to earn enough money for all of the weapons and armor and spells that you wanted/needed, but I loved as you got farther in the game and started getting items that keyed into special traits like Ice Armor vs fire creatures, etc… Plus, the class change was pretty cool.

4. Life Force
It’s like Contra, but in space! I was introduced to this game by one of my older cousins and it was cool because we could play together … plus, the Konami code made it a little easier when you didn’t know what you were doing. I’ve never really gotten into the rest of the Gradius series that this game technically fits into, but this is a personal classic for sure.

3. River City Ransom
I wasn’t big on beat ’em ups, but the way this game combined fighting + RPG elements was intriguing to me. I loved trying all of the different foods to see what they did to your stats, and the fighting power ups learned via lore were neat, too!

2. Crystalis
This is a fantastic game! Rich, expansive maps with a bunch of towns to explore, weapons and armor that have different abilities, and even the four elemental swords have their own power-ups. Even the soundtrack is really good – I remember getting chills as I would approach bosses or key story points because they would cue changes in the music. Crystalis was one of the more complex games that I played as a kid, but it really offered a great world to explore.

1. The Legend of Zelda
THE NES classic, at least for me! I still play this game on a whim all of the time – it’s great to play through while we’re sitting watching TV in the evening because I have most of the game memorized at this point, though admittedly I still need help once I finally get to Death Mountain. One of these days I want to try a swordless run or Zelda randomizer because I think either one would add a neat, new challenge to a game that I first played 30 years ago! Regardless, I can pick this game up just about any time and get lost in Hyrule all over again… 🙂

 

Honorable Mention – Super Mario Bros
And last but certainly not least … I can’t make a list of great NES games without including the very first NES game that I ever played.

The original Super Mario Bros is the game that started it all for so many retro gamers, and despite the levels being repetitious for the most part, it was still an incredible introduction to this new medium of entertainment on the TV.

Atari and the even more primitive consoles were a little before my time, but this plumber’s quest through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue the princess kicked off a lifelong adoration for video games. I honestly don’t play this one very much anymore because I still don’t think I’ve ever beat it 100%, but it’s fun to play for a few levels here and there to warm up the old chops before moving on to something else! 😀

Remembering Toys ‘R Us…

March 22, 2018 9:36pm
Tagged with:

It makes me really sad to think that the store responsible for suppling some of the best toys of my youth, and also my adulthood!, is closing.

Even today, it’s hard for me not to just wander around a Toys ‘R Us and take it all in – the toy sections at Walmart and Target can’t compare to their selection, and searching on Amazon just isn’t quite the same as browsing aisle after aisle after aisle of nothing but toys like Toys ‘R Us has offered us in person. I love the vast variety that can have you one minute looking at toddler toys and singing Elmos, then Power Wheels and scooters, then almost every Lego set currently in production!

I guess the thing that really bothers me is that unlike other types of stores, there really aren’t any alternatives that we can go to aside from those inferior options at other big box retailers for toys and nothing but toys. I mean, it’s bothered me for a while how toy stores have basically disappeared from our malls, except maybe at Christmastime in one of those odd, pop-up stores or kiosks that you know will be long gone come the new year. 

Disney used to have a decent toy store over at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, but it was recently downsized to make room for a bigger Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, I think?

Toys ‘R Us was fantastic, to steal the phrase from Chuck E. Cheese’s, at truly being the one and only place where a kid could be a kid. It was a totally immersive experience to be surrounded by toys from every veritable direction, and so it makes me sad that I won’t be able to treat my own kids to a visit after they get good report cards or we just feel like picking up some new Lego sets.

Not to mention, Toys ‘R Us has been the only local store that’s regularly had Collectible Lego Minifigs when I wanted them because Target and Walmart consistency fall short… :<

I think I might write a little more about this later, once I’ve had a chance to visit my local store and better soak it all in, but in the meantime The Game Chasers just posted a pretty great video looking back at their own memories from growing up as Toys ‘R Us kids. So many memories, so many video games, so many toys… 🙁

I’m honestly not sure if I ever actually was included in one or not, but I frequented a couple of sites that had them and was very jealous of the copious amounts of social fun times that all of their members clearly enjoyed, so for a while I posted my own “cam photos” on comedic-genius.com … I think with the intent of eventually working up the nerve to submit to one of them?

In retrospect, I seemed to like the method of taking a proper picture with a real camera and then using Photoshop to insert the quippy text afterwards instead of having a web cam pointed at me 24×7 and overlaying random quotes or whatever on top of whatever it captured.

Remember, this was long, long before the age of selfies and Instagram and even – *gasp* – moblogging! So you were lucky to get a few witty updates a week in between whatever the hell else we did on the Internet back in the early ’00s!

I stumbled across these when I was hunting for those old blog posts that I just shared, so for the sake of full disclosure … here’s what I looked like back when I had long hair and lived in my Mom’s basement (for about half of them) and divided my time between playing PS2 games and cultivating my budding online publishing empire… 😉

For years and years, my blog here on scottsevener.com was a mirror image of the blogging that I started over at LiveJournal – at least from 2003 – 2011, anyways, until I moved over here and stopped blogging over there. But still, 14 years of blogging always seemed like an impressive archive of the non-formatted writing that I’ve done over the years…

…until now!

Because do you want to know what’s even more impressive than 14 years of blogging?

How about 15 years of blogging?!?!?!

After I wrote my post last week reminiscing about my first adventures of Internetting a la Grex, I got to thinking that even though I technically started blogging on LiveJournal in the spring of 2003 … there was actually some “blogging” that I also did on comedic-genius.com way back when that was the only domain I had other than Just Laugh!

Thankfully I’m a bit of a digital packrat, so I was able to find the old PHP files that made up the original comedic-genius.com that served as the same sort of hub site for my online work that this one does now. But it was sooooo much more grueling because long before the days of adopting WordPress, I created my sites the hard way by coding directly in Notepad – a combination of HTML and PHP in all, with every formatting tag and line break typed by hand instead of this fancy WYSIWYG-editor that is a staple in every major CMS today! 😯

From what I can tell, I did use some sort of blogging software called Fusion PHP … according to the comment tags, anyways … but it was barely a CMS in that I still typed everything by hand and posts were just stored one after another in PHP files as they appeared on the page.

So anyways – I just finished copying the last of 23 new blog posts from 2002 into this site because, err, why not?!

I can’t really vouch for their readability or entertainment value … they’re mostly a mixture of updates about whatever columns I had just finished writing and random life happenings … so I’ll leave that up to you to judge the worth of a 22-year-old’s late night ramblings! 😛

Still, you know me – I think it’s neat to have this kind of stuff to look back at from time to time over the years, and so here are another 11,000 words to add to the pile when reflection time is upon me once again.

By the way – just for reference, I tried to update links wherever I could because all of the humor columns are still available today as well as some of the Just Laugh features, but others never/haven’t yet made it into the latest version so don’t be surprised if a few links here and there appear to be dead-ends.

For what it’s worth, I still think my linking history success rate is probably considerably better than most sites linking back to content from fifteen years ago! 😀

Long before Facebook and Twitter, building my own websites, and even a graphical interface to the Internet in general … there was a Host: prompt.

This is what we saw when we “got online” … at least after fighting for dial-up access lines at the local library that would get snapped up like hotcakes the moment kids started getting out of school. Of course, it probably didn’t help that you had kids like me who would literally connect for hours and hours at a time, whether I was chatting with strangers from around the state or exploring whatever random bits of information gopher found for me or even hacking and slashing my way through MUDs before World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs ever became a thing!

One of the very first sites that I ever came across while surfing this strange, new text-based world was a BBS-like community online called Grex. Living in the middle of nowhere, we didn’t really have much for BBSes because everything would’ve been long-distance, so aside from a single friend’s BBS that his parents let him run out of their lake house when they weren’t there to need the line, Grex was really the first multi-user community I found where multiple users could actually be online at the same time!

In addition to just random chat rooms that would fill with other high school and college kids, as well as the local computer club enthusiasts that ran the place, I eventually also got involved with their forums (which they called conferences). I settled upon a group that talked about pretty much everything that a 14 year-old me was interested in … video games, RPGs, and a little Magic: The Gathering, and that’s where I would do my socializing after school while other kids were out doing whatever normal kids did back in 1994…

It kind of impresses me that some 23 years later, Grex is actually still out therethough from reading through the conferences it’s a shell of its former self and likely only hasn’t been shuttered simply because it would be too much effort. But you can actually still see all of my old posts either by browsing the links below or even better by searching for one of my usernames.

From what I can tell, I had three different ones during my time there:

  • seveners – my first and most unoriginal username
  • setzer – the suave gambler from Final Fantasy 3 (VI)
  • gandalf – we all know who he is…

Stumbling back across this stuff is enough to make me wonder if it’s worth trying to archive this stuff for posterity somehow, though it’s kind of like a half-step ahead from reading private emails … I guess the idea of it all is really more nostalgic than the actual content!

Still, I could run a quick script against it and stuff them in an archive somewhere to find again in another 20 years and that might be neat, even if only to see if I can still remember what Final Fantasy and Magic and Game Genie codes ever were in the first place. 😉

retro thoughts … Life Force (NES)

April 18, 2017 10:15pm
Tagged with:

This game was probably one of my favorite space shooters growing up.

I believe I was introduced to it by my cousin Jamie who’s 10 years older than me, so it was a bit of a turn from the Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda that I cut my teeth on back in 1988 when Nintendo first became a fixture in my young, eight year-old heart! But I loved all of the different power-ups and the Konami code made it a little easier to stumble through a good portion of the game even when you were just starting to learn the controls…

Some thirty years later, it’s still definitely a challenge … or maybe my reflexes just aren’t what they used to be … as I picked up the controller today at random and only got as far as level 3, which I always hated because the fire blasts were next to impossible to avoid! It was also hard for me to really enjoy the power-ups because it felt like I was constantly losing them 15 seconds after I’d gotten them to the point where eventually I just spent them all on speed boosters instead of even trying for the lasers and options like I normally would.

But I do kind of like how, similar to Contra, Konami alternated the perspective between horizontal and vertical scrolling and it adds a fun bit of variety to the game despite only having six levels total. Frankly, it’s quick gameplay is another bonus because today when I sat down to play, I really only had about 10 minutes while I was waiting for something else, so I was able to get in a quick game of Life Force … and make it to level 3 before dying … in a nice, short amount of time!

Playing this game makes me want to hunt down the other games in the Gradius series because I honestly never played any of them except for this one growing up, even though I did gawk at the screenshots of Gradius III in Nintendo Power. If all of the games followed the same basic structure as Life Force did, they should be a lot of fun. 🙂

Christopher – 1, Buzz Lightyear – 0

January 17, 2017 1:19pm
Tagged with:

Today I was reminded of an old episode of the Gobots in which Leader-1 got captured by the Renegades and ran through this machine that effectively disassembled him into little more than a pile of nuts and bolts…

It seems those age ranges that Lego puts on the side of its boxes are there for just such an occasion like when your toddler wanders off with your Lego Buzz Lightyear and proceeds to disassemble him by banging him repeatedly against his high chair’s tray to signal that he’s done with his lunch.

Sorry, Buzz, but if it’s any consolation, the other Guardians did manage to put Leader-1 back together again by the end of their episode, so I’ll see what I can do just as soon as I get this little Renegade of my own put down for a nap! 😉

© 1999 - 2019 Comedic-Genius Media, All Rights Reserved.