10G – You Have Received Validation

How much cooler would life be if it was like an Xbox game? I’m not so much thinking of consequence free violence or 12 year old Halo veterans screaming “PWND!” into your ear so much as I’m thinking of achievements. For anyone who doesn’t know (and if I’ve already swept past you with “pwnd”, this possibly might not be a blog directed at your demographic) all Xbox 360 games come with achievements that you unlock by doing certain tasks in game. The tasks can be as simple as pushing the START button or as daunting as slaying 10,000 zombies. These achievements in turn give you points which are connected to your gamertag which accumulate into a total gamerscore.

Doubtlessly it’s an indication of how obsessed I am by this phenomenon that I can tell you what my gamerscore is literally at any time. I mumble it in my sleep. Perhaps it has something to do with having no money. I can tell myself, “I may not be saving for retirement, but you did get 50G for deflecting an arrow with your knife in Resident Evil 5.” The achievements are heralded by a very pleasing bloop noise and it has turned itself into a system of Pavlovian validation for me. I have a crap day at work, go home and fire up the box, play whatever I’m playing and wait for a bloop. The bloop means I have accomplished something and now I may feel better about myself. Oh I’m not kidding. I know how it sounds (it sounds like a bloop), but that’s where I am.

Now, sure, I could wean myself off of this achievement addiction. But life doesn’t have achievements. Oh, shut up, yes I know it does, I have a graduate degree, but there was a conspicuous lack of blooping when I went up on stage to get it. Besides, it’s not milestones that I need achievements for (I can always bloop under my breath if I feel itchy). I need achievements exactly like the one up top that I will freely admit I stole from someone with graphic design talent. If I heard a bloop when I got to work on time, took out the trash, exercised, or cleaned up after the dogs, then I think my motivation would increase tenfold. Since Microsoft owns the world, I see no reason this couldn’t be downloaded into reality (along with bugs and security loopholes that will take years of patches to fix) posthaste. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go *bloop* 15G – Blog Completed.

When I Woke Today Suddenly Nothing Happened

You know those plans we have for life, the universe, and everything? What happened to those? Why is it as life rolls along it seems the list of things we mean to do versus the list that actually gets accomplished tilts freakishly towards the slow kid side of the see saw? I turned 30 this year so maybe that’s why I think about these things more often. I recall when I did turn 30 that many people told me how little a deal it was and how it truly signified nothing at all but a number. Clearly lying to 29 year olds is some kind of sadistic initiation test, because it is a big deal. It has been to me. It’s also coincided quite spectacularly with the shittiest year of my life. What I’m babbling on towards is that I’m in an angsty (my word, no you cannot have it) place.

That all comes off a bit whiny and I don’t even want this to be about me for the most part. My whole life I’ve dealt with the entirely too real world by escaping into others-stories. Whether they be books, comics, movies, TV shows, video games, or whatever, I find it more comfortable in the lands of make believe than I do my own. From time to time, I’ll use this blog to try to push some of my thoughts on these stories out of my head and make room for more practical things (here I’m referring more towards things like the infinite lives code for the old NES Contra than I am, say, remembering to change my oil). Perhaps some will find it interesting; perhaps not.

By the way, in case you give me credit I totally don’t deserve, the title of the blog and this first entry are from my new life theme song by the brilliant Colin Hay.

VOTE

Since your votes for president in the general election don’t really count (insert Dave’s rambling, incoherent rant on abolishing the Electoral College here), get out and vote in your state’s primary. I completely understand that it’s inconvenient. Vote by mail. I voted in my primary 3 weeks ago, and have to keep reminding myself that the California primary isn’t until Feb. 5. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care who you voted for (though I actually don’t care what party), but get out there and actually do it. You forfeit the right to whine later if you don’t care enough to fill out a ballot.

Bleak House

Everyone in my house is doing their best to infect me. I’m not saying it’s deliberate. That would be wrong. It just seems a little much, is all. My wife has been sick or injured for pretty much a month. This has caused me to retreat to my library as a sort of disease-free holdfast. Thanks to Loma Linda’s unique policy on sick days (sick? who gets sick? thems vacation days!) I cannot be sick. Therefore, I have isolated myself, am bombarding my system with echinacea, and shunning loved ones. The holdfast is now being assaulted on both sides as my stepdaughter is now ill. Germs now hold the east and left gates to the stronghold. I suspect my dog may be ill as well. Well, not really, but he’s a pug, and how can you tell? It’s like trying to diagnose a throw pillow. I remain healthy, but how long can my stellar immune system hold out? Perhaps if I set up some sort of time-release Lysol discharges around the library door…

As if the sickness wasn’t depressing enough, we lost Heath Ledger. His portrayal of the Joker in the upcoming Dark Knight had me, as a fanatic Batman devotee, excited beyond words. Now we’ll never see that as it could have been developed over several films (as was the plan). Moreover, I don’t think he meant to kill himself. I just don’t. I think he worked himself into exhaustion, had trouble sleeping, and was careless with drugs in trying to knock himself out to get some rest. I’ve been there myself and I just think it’s kind of a tragic mistake. Maybe the test results will prove me wrong, but that’s just my random take.

For California, it’s been relatively chilly (we’re talking 40-50 here) and all the mountains surrounding my workplace are snow-covered. This place really does get beautiful in the winter. Everything that’s brown during the intolerable summer, becomes alive and green. You get to see snow waaaaay in the distance where it can remain pretty in concept and not interfere with driving. Best time of year to be here…unless you’re sick…which would be everyone but me….where’s my Lysol?

Dave’s 2007 Favorites

As the time tested combination of nostalgia and boredom inspire me to blog, here are my favorites of 2007.

Movies
1. Juno
2. I Am Legend
3. The Orphanage
4. Michael Clayton
5. Zodiac
6. 3:10 to Yuma
7. The Hoax
8. Charlie Wilson’s War
9. Transformers
10. 300

Video Games
1. Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga
2. Bioshock
3. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
4. Mass Effect
5. Assassin’s Creed
6. Halo 3
7. The Orange Box
8. Vs. Marvel Trading Card Game
9. Scene It: Lights, Camera, Action
10. Beautiful Katamari

TV Shows
1. The Office
2. Battlestar Galactica
3. Lost
4. The Daily Show
5. Scrubs
6. Heroes
7. The Colbert Report
8. House, M.D.
9. 24
10. Hell’s Kitchen

Fiction Books (some may be 2006’s that came out in paperback this year)
1. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessi
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
5. The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
7. World War Z by Max Brooks
8. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
9. The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien
10.Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Non-Fiction Books
1. The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush
2. Manhunt: 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson
3. Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis
4. I Am America…and So Can You by Stephen Colbert
5. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Music
1. The Altar and the Door by Casting Crowns
2. Dreaming Out Loud by OneRepublic
3. Juno Soundtrack by Various Artists
4. Strange Weirdos by Loudon Wainwright III
5. I’m Not There Soundtrack by Various Artists
6. Who We Are by Lifehouse
7. Magic by Bruce Springsteen
8. Into the Wild Soundtrack by Eddie Vedder
9. All That Is Within Me by MercyMe
10.Exile on Mainstream by Matchbox 20

Movie Reviews, Trailers, Polls, Lists, and More!!!

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