Star Wars Day At Sea – All Aboard

Before the cruise we had spent two days at Epcot & Magic Kingdom with Sis-in-law Sylvie, Pogo, Shawn and his new girlfriend, Dana (who is utterly cool), which was a blast. Though it did rain while at The Kingdom, we had a great time largely due to Beta Mike and unlimited knowledge of the park – he was the tour guide extrodinaire and would part with nuggets of trivia when we walked by things: “That trash can right there is where they found a human lung.” He pretty much made the entire week interesting and fun by always “being on”.

The morning of the cruise we met at Mike and Johnny’s beautiful home and had a moment with Ms Olive before the dog sitter took over. The other couple we shared the seas with, Thom and Dave, arrived soon after and we set out in two cars to the port. Each mid-sized SUV was packed to the brim with luggage as you can imagine three gay couples would. We stopped in a gas station on the far side of the airport that sold deep fried Gator bits. That people were actually buying. With money.

I. Love. Florida.

We parked and entered the terminal and checked in, no issues. As we waited for our boarding number I wandered in and out of the 4000+ crowd, looking for other 501st comrades and found a few. We chatted and shared our excitement. Nothing compares to Star Wars Nerd Excitement – it’s almost visible in the air and makes cats horny in a 2 mile radius. They should bottle it.

We board. And as you might have read previously, we were announced as the “Healey-Maquette” family. Yeah me and the wooden model. Nobody noticed, we were too excited.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship and the first (of many) drinks in La Piazza. When they released our rooms and our luggage was delivered we dressed for dinner and experienced that evening’s sunset (of many). But before the food trough was lowered, we saw that night’s show and then head into the restaurant. Little did we know that we were already singled out by one of the crew…

Dinner was a curiosity. Dave (a staunch Republican) and Thom (a staunch I never got what he was) told us about their plan to adopt a child in the very near future, told to us while Dave carved up raw garlic across his steak. The wait staff were a bit alarmed by the request yet brought him two hearty sized cloves. He folded them into his steak as we discussed diapers and future travel plans. As one does. I snuck a glance to Thom to see if this was normal and got no indication that this was going to be a problem with him. Later. In a small cabin. To each his own, I thought and fattily dug into my 3rd dessert.

Sharkboy and I retired early while some tried out the nightclubs.

There is NOTHING like sleeping on a ship in somewhat calm waters (the weather was super windy, but not, you know… Royal Caribbean windy)

Ted’s A Bastard Moment

Woman ahead of me in line for coffee, to the barista:

“Visa called me to tell me my card was being used for internet purchases in Malaysia! I’m glad they have someone watching my transactions! It’s amazing they have someone looking at everything!”

Me, no hesitation: “It’s an algorithm. There’s not enough humans in the world to monitor every transaction. That’s just crazy.”

This has been a “Ted’s a Bastard” moment

Restart, Reboot, Reset

This morning, as I was looking for an image to put up to Instagram I realized that I had not noticed the passing of the anniversary of my father’s death.

This did not make me sad at all.

Admittedly I’ve spent the last few years in a funk. This morning’s realization that I had not noticed his …er… death day?…what’s the opposite of Birthday?? …made me kind of relieved. Like I feel like I’m on the other side of grieving. I miss him daily but I’m not sad anymore.

What makes me real sad is the state of this blog. In a frustrating moment I tore everything down and replaced it with a arrogant photo blog theme thinking I was going to just post images.

What was I thinking?

Regardless, I’m “back” as it were. Thanks for sticking with me!



What the hell did I just play?

I had heard buzz about this game since mid-summer last year and frankly I wasn’t impressed with the trailers or screen grabs showing up online. It looked like a step back in terms of game design. Oh how wrong I was…

Scoot to last week. SharkBoy brings home Entertainment Weekly* magazine’s  year end review issue. Slapped in the middle is an article saying how Journey was the game of the year.

At this point I was more than curious. After a couple reviews and some trailers, I was at the SonyStore handing over $15.

Best. $15. Evar.

Within 5 minutes I knew I was playing something different.

Remember how I said in Uncharted 3 there’s that long scene where nothing happens save for Drake walking through the desert with nothing but cut scenes and very little controller action? People either loved it or hated it. If you loved that kind of game play where it’s outside the norm, unconventional and atypical of a shoot ’em up game, then you’ll “get” Journey.

Briefly (’cause tons has been written about it already): Journey is about your character (he? she? it? an armless hooded poncho scarf dude?) making his way across a vast wasteland of desert and snow towards a glowing mountain. Simple.

There are clues at waypoints along your journey as to why you’re headed to this mountain. An outcropping of rock may have a scarf sticking out of it. A tombstone has runes in it. A destroyed temple offers advancement to the next scene. Each waypoint telling a story, each begging to be discovered and unlocked.

The game is all-round gorgeous. At first I felt the character design and the waypoints to be crude. But combined with the music, physics and the lighting, the aesthetic became acceptable, then desirable. Overwhelming at points. A few moments I found myself thinking of old Tomb Raider environments (partially because the game looks like it’s set in a Aztec/Chinese bizzaro world) and how much of an impact that made on me as a gamer.

Along the way you may encounter other journeymen (journeywomen? journeyits?) that are dressed exactly as you are. At first I was convinced that these were NPCs put into the game to assist you with discovering how to fly, how to find treasures. It wasn’t until after finishing the game did I realize that these were actually other real people, sharing the game experience as well. Since communication between characters is limited in Journey (you can “shout” glyphs or crouch – that’s pretty much it for character controls) you’re forced to help each other wordlessly. In some areas you need help each other to fly higher, “shouting” glyphs at your companion’s scarf to boost their air time. Yeah. Weird.

At this point I’d like to apologize to the first three or four people I met while playing. I didn’t know you were actual meatspace people and I basically tried to run from you, wanting to be alone in the game.

Midpoint, as you slowly discover why you’re headed towards this mountain, you’re attacked by flying laser-eyed vertebrae – you’re tossed into the air and landing hard into the sand. As my character struggled to regain it’s feet, I really started to lay on the existential thinking: since the game to this point was only puzzles and hunt-n-button action, could I die in game? I had played for 2 hours and had not noticed my character’s mortality, not like Uncharted or BioShock or inFamous. There were no threats to my life and I had not noticed. It was at this point I was completely in love with this game.

The next part is kind of Spoiler Alert-y so…

The game follows your typical monomyth (Yeah I know Google) and nearer to the end I felt an overwhelming sense of melancholy, despite it only being a few hours long in gameplay. Not to give the story away, but I felt great sadness because as the ending starts weighing down on you, I thought of my father who I hope that someday will be reunited with again. In the character’s final moments, there is hope and beauty and light.

And I wept like a child during the credits.

Whew. Okay. So. Pretty heavy. I really hope that you play this game and experience the kind of emotional impact I had.

*I know what you’re thinking. I’m taking the Access Hollywood of magazines’ word for what is good out there. Admittedly I like EW. Hate how it’s delivered but that’s a SharkBoy post.

Innie, Outie, Skiddie

I hate my gym.

I hate everything about it. It’s in a basement in a government building (rat’s maze!) and smells like the loading dock/garbage area it sits between. The radio is too loud and staticky and the machines are barely passable for human interactions without some sort of bloodletting injury implied.

The people. Oh god the people that work out there… Sour faced, mouth breathing idiots who would probably instantaneously transform into a column of ash if they smiled. And if they’re not scowling, then they’re using the word “fuck” as an adjective, noun, verb. And as commonly as they would use the word “the”.

In all honesty, I don’t mind the place. It keeps me focused, since I don’t have to deal with any of these issues, really.

But I noticed this morning a peculiar dressing habit of one well built gentleman who has never uttered a single word the whole time I’ve been going there. He’s putting on his dress shirt (I expect he’s a manager somewhere within this huge city building) and in doing so he tucks it into his underwear.

Okay, not weird. I get it. If you were James Bond, you would want your dress shirt to stay in place while you jump across the terracotta shingled rooftops of some Middle Eastern marketplace, so tucking is not a bad thing.

Mr Quiet has tucked his shirt in and THROUGH his briefs’ legs.

Like, right through. Half way down the back of his legs and the two halves of the front of his shirt on either side of his package.

It’s not that he’s wearing an ill fitting shirt. He’s at the gym every day and has a body that shows it, so he’s a shirt-maker’s dream. His silhouette cuts a GQ model shape, so he’s not dressed wrong… he’s just dressing wrong. He looked like he was wearing Speedos over an olde-tyme nightgown, giving him a sort of diaper-ish kind of look.

Now before you say anything in the comments, I know a million people do this to keep their shirts in place, but I’ve never seen it this dramatic.

As I dressed I wondered just what was his underwear for then? And then I realized with a combination of horror and disgust that I pitied that poor man’s dry cleaner.