Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Week Off

Sorry to disappoint all (two) of my regular readers (that'd be my buddy, Jimmy and my fiancée, Roxanne), but I'm just not feelin' it this morning. I had a topic in mind, but frankly I spent too many hours playing World of Warcraft this week to focus the idea into a blog. So, rather than rush one out on the fly and have it potentially suck major ass, I figured I'd let the blog rest for a week. I've miraculously been given three days off this coming pay-week (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday), so with all the spare spare time I'll be able to write a blog hopefully worthy of your reading enjoyment. So, until next week boys and girls.

Live Long and Prosper,
~ Carlisle

Next week (unless I get lazy or just caught up playing WoW again): “A Dogmatic ViewAskew”

Sunday, August 10, 2008

WoW! I Kinda Like It

I really have to learn to stop saying “never,” or at least I have to really think about the topic at hand before I say “never.” I once said I would never start a blog. Yet here I am writing a blog and here you are reading it. I even make an effort to update it at least once a week even if I don't have much to say. I said I'd never have a MySpace page. Well guess what? That's right, I have one. When you're own mother has a MySpace page and you don't, it makes you feel a little left out and like your geeky powers have been weakened a bit. So, what's next for me to fall into that I said I'd never do? Well boys and girls, that'd be the world of online gaming. It started with something simple. I love to play EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour, which I just recently acquired the 2008 edition on the cheap because EA is preparing to release the 2009 editions soon (except they're not doing PC versions this time, the bastards – but I digress). Now, the game comes with lots of great golf courses, which I would likely never to play in real life because, well, I suck at real golf plus the courses featured in the game probably cost hundreds of dollars to just play one round. But I wanted more, to which I stumbled upon a site called Not only did they offer free add-on courses for TW2k8, but they also have their own tour of tournaments each week using EA Sports Online. SWEET! So I sign up for the tour and take my first steps into the world of online gaming. Hey, it's just golf right? I would've played just as much if I wasn't online and this is the only online gaming I'm doing... I'm still safe. Ah, but the plot thickens.

A few days after that I came home from work to discover an interesting piece of mail sitting on my desk (you know, old school “snail mail” via the United States Postal Service). There it was, that little plastic DVD box offering a Free 10 Day Trial. It was actually addressed to my brother-in-law-to-be, but my father-in-law-to-be laid it on my desk instead so I could explain what it was before he gave it to Mike. I explained it was a game played online and that yes, after the 10 days you'd have to pay for a subscriptions (about $15 a month). So, Dad told me to do whatever I wanted to with it because he didn't want Mike messing with it. My initial thought was to keep the DVD box and trash the rest. But I didn't. I decided to try it out myself. I mean, what the hell? I'll take a 10 day trial to see what all the hullabaloo is about. And that's how it started.... my decent into THE WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

What was supposed to be a 10 day trial began on Wednesday (8/6/08). It is now Sunday (8/10/08) and I have already logged 14 hours, 37 minutes with my Dwarf Warrior (now level 10) named “Rumplewort” (after an old D&D character I used to play). Oh, and I've spent $40 as well. Yep, my FREE trial turned into full subscription in merely two days time. I didn't fuck around with it either. I didn't just go buy the full version of WoW or just buy the upgraded license key via the website. Oh, hell no! I went out and got The World of Warcraft Battle Chest!

So here's the deal. Within about fifteen minutes into the game with my buddy Rob helping me out (he's the one that's been trying to recruit me into WoW for awhile now) I realize that I'm having fun. I mean really enjoying myself. It's at that point I know I'm screwed. I had seen the Battle Chest at Target a few nights before when my fiancée and I went there to get an item to satiate her own online gaming habit (she plays Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Online and needed a gaming card so she could continue beyond the free version). Once I realized I was hooked on WoW, I knew I'd end up back at Target to get the Battle Chest. So, Friday night after I come home from work and eat a quick supper, I head to Target and drop $40 on my newest obsession. I mean, makes sense to me to do it that way right? A copy of the game itself would've been $20. The expansion pack (Burning Crusade) would've been $30 by itself, not to mention the two strategy guides would've been somewhere around $20-25 apiece I would think. So really, my rational is that I saved myself some cash (at least for now). Yeah, first sign of addiction is rationalizing, eh? What playing WoW the past few days has really done, besides causing me to go to bed an hour or two later than normal, is reminded me how much I miss the old Paper & Ink roleplaying games. I know they still exist and that tons of people still play them. Hell, D&D just came out with a 4th edition last month. But alas, most of my gaming buddies either live hours away (like Charlotte or Atlanta) or pretty much work schedules that don't match up well enough with my own for us to be able to get together regularly enough to play. But I do still miss good old Dungeons & Dragons.

Yep, D&D. The granddaddy of 'em all. Say what you will about it but let's be honest. If Gary Gygax (may he rest in peace) and Dave Arneson hadn't invented D&D back in the '70s, none of us would be playing WoW today. It is my completely unvarnished opinion that all gamers owe thanks to those two pioneers who changed the face of gaming from just cards and board games to a broader world of being able to become a different character and explore our imaginations in a fantasy setting. And while I may not play anymore (it's been about 4 or 5 years since I've played in fact) I still have the materials and I still long for a day when my friends and I can sit around a table and enjoy each other's company while gaming instead of chatting over the Internet. And though I said at the beginning of this blog that I needed to be careful when saying “never,” I still make the following statement with confidence. I may play World of Warcraft for a month, a year, or beyond, but I will never relinquish my trusty 20-sided dice!

Huzzah! And Happy Gaming,
~ Carlisle

Next week's planned (but not set in stone yet) topic: “A Dogmatic ViewAskew”

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Graves Point of View(Askew)

I love Kevin Smith films. In fact, my original intent for this week's blog was to share the wit and wisdom of Randal Graves, but I thought, 'How can I talk about Randal and leave out the entire rest of the View Askewniverse?' It just can't be done! And while my tiny little blog is no place to introduce you to the vastness of Kevin Smith's warped little world, it is a place to learn about some of the key characters (or at least, some of my favorite characters). We'll start with Randal and Dante.

Randal Graves

Dante Hicks

Randal Graves and Dante Hicks, the protagonists of Clerks, Clerks the Animated Series and Clerks II. These two guys are, I'm assuming, the first characters created in the View Askewniverse since Clerks is the first of Smith's films. What can I say? I love these guys. As someone who has worked retail/customer service for years, their points of view on customers is so spot on. As Randal puts it in Clerks, “This job would be great if it weren't for the fucking customers.” They present the proverbial two-sides-of-the-same-coin concept. Dante hates his job but still diligently does it and helps the customers even though he hates them while Randal hates his job and isn't afraid to say so or tell a customer who's being an asshole that they're being an asshole. Dante tries to be socially acceptable, Randal just does or says what he pleases no matter how taboo or inappropriate it may be, even to the point of using terminology that is, in truth, racially insulting while not realizing it and trying denying that it is. You can call Randal ignorant and socially maladjusted if you want, but he is, in his own perverse way, refreshing to watch because he doesn't really care about so called social norms or politically correct speech and behavior. Dante, on the other hand, could be said to have the metaphorical stick-up-his-ass and while trying to be an adult, never really takes the risks that would propel him into the kind of life or career that he has the intelligence for (reminds me of me).

Jay (right) and Silent Bob

Jay and Silent Bob, the comic relief recurring characters in the View Askewniverse. Drug dealers (sort of). Dumb-asses. Slackers. These are the only two characters in the View Askew canon of films that appear in every episode (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II). What can I say about these two? I'm not sure what Kevin Smith's purpose was with these two guys, but damn they're funny. Jay talks entirely to much and generally has ignorant things to say, while Silent Bob on the other hand is, well, silent (hence the name) except for when something profound needs to be said and then he turns out to be the most intelligent person in the whole flick (interesting that Smith cast himself in the role). They're typically background characters who only show up when needed, but in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back they're the main protagonists. That film basically has no plot. It serves as almost a parody of Smith's earlier works (gotta love a guy who can poke fun at his own shit).

To be honest, that's pretty much it for favorite characters. Dante and Randal because I can see a bit of myself in both of them – Dante, the wants to be an adult and responsible one and Randal, the doesn't give a shit and refuses to grow up and still plays video games, etc. one. Jay and Silent Bob are just plain funny in a twisted sort of way (perhaps Kevin was trying to show what can happen if you kill too many brain cells by smoking pot?). As far as favorite films, I'd naturally have to go with Clerks (which I've referenced in my blog, “Random Rantings of a Retail Sales Clerk”) After that, I'd have to say Dogma is a definite favorite for the very poignant, though thought provoking, criticisms of the Catholic Church and religion in general (it was actually the second View Askew movie I had seen the first time I watched it). But that really could be a blog in and of itself (uh oh, could that be next week's topic? Tune it next week fans – same bat blog, same bat web address).

Basically, if you've never seen a View Askew flick, do it. They're funny as hell and usually have some great social commentary as well. Kevin has a way of making you think while you laugh (usually anyway – Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back being the possible exception). I do, however, recommend watching them in order if possible. You can get away with sneaking Dogma in at any point but Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will make no sense at all if you haven't first seen Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy and don't watch Clerks II until you've seen Strike Back because then Jay and Bob's scenes won't make as much sense if you do, and Jay's t-shirt in Clerks II wont make sense unless you've seen Dogma. You know what? Just watch them in order and it'll all make more sense – Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and finally Clerks II in that order and all will be right with the Universe – or should I say, Askewniverse?

~ Carlisle

Next week: well, you know me... I can't decide what I'm writing from week to week lately so you'll just have to be surprised :-P