Posts categorized “Featured Posts”

Thursday, 18 December 2014

New Article: Mario Kart 8 DLC Numbah Wahn!

Link on a Bike!

That’s not a horse…

Nintendo is doing something super-smart with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. They’re releasing DLC (DownLoadable Content) for it. They’ve never really done this before for their Mario Karts, and it is a simple and genius idea. Instead of coming out with a new Mario Kart every few years, just come out with some new tracks and new drivers periodically!

So the first DLC set came out a while back (I wanted to write about it then, but there were… problems), and I thought I’d write some thoughts about the new tracks and drivers. And then you can watch a 1-minute recap video of each of the new tracks! NEAT!

First off, the new drivers!

Tanooki Mario

marios-headIt’s Mario! In his Tanooki Suit from Super Mario Bros 3! That’s right, this is NOT Racoon Mario. This is Tanooki Mario. Tanooki does not equal Racoon. They’re different animals. A very aesthetically pleasing design, but doesn’t seem to play any differently than regular Mario. Or maybe he does? Sometimes the differences between drivers are incredibly subtle.

Cat Peach

peachs-headPeach dressed up in the Cat outfit that everyone got in one of the more recent Mario Games. Honestly, I haven’t tried this driver much because it uncomfortably blurs the line between being an outfit and being a wank destination for furries. *Shudder*


links-headMario Kart’s first foray outside of the Mario franchise! Nintendo has decided to open up Mario Kart to the wider Nintendo world, much like Super Smash Bros. Their first choice is a grown-up link, similar to the classic Link from Ocarina of Time. It’s pretty interesting to see him bumping karts with Donkey Kong and Toad and the like.

There are 8 new tracks in the DLC, divided into 2 new Cups (Egg and Triforce). For the Egg Cup, I chose Link and his motorcycle. For the Triforce Cup, I chose Tanooki Mario and the badass Blue Falcon—Captain Falcon’s hovercar from F-Zero! Wait, why would I do that when the Legend of Zelda track is in the Triforce Cup? You’ll see…

Egg Cup

Yoshi Circuit (Gamecube)

This is one of the tracks from Double Dash, which is still my all-time favorite Mario Kart. Though I have to say, I barely remember it. This is a straight-ahead ground race. There are no hills, no anti-gravity segments, no nothing except turns and turns. In fact, the map of this course is an outline of Yoshi’s silhouette. Hence the name of the track, I suppose. An interesting inclusion, I suppose to contrast the very up-and-down nature of the rest of Mario Kart 8.

Excitebike Arena

THIS is why I chose Link and a motorcycle for the Egg Cup! This is a very simple course with a very cool hook: it’s just a simple, two-turn oval (much like Double Dash’s Baby Park course), but it’s chock-full of ramps and jumps and mud straight from old-school, 8-bit Excitebike! And here’s the hook: every time you play the course, the positioning of the jumps and muds and whatnot is randomized, so it’s a (slightly) different course each time! Plus the music is a great remix of the original Excitebike theme song. This course is a lot of fun, but I wish it would have been 5 laps (like the original Baby Park, which is my all-time favorite course) instead of just three; it’s a bit too short as it is.

Dragon Driftway

A heavily Asian-themed course that is almost 100% anti-gravity. You wind yourself along the body of an enormous Asian dragon (NOT a European-style dragon) over a very old-timey-looking Asian village. The music is very… Asian. Y’know, if it weren’t for the fact that this game was designed by Japan, I would think this course bordered on uncomfortable stereotypes. But it is one of the prettiest courses out there.

Mute City

Incorporating a track from another racing game into Mario Kart? This is a great idea! When this DLC was originally announced they made a big deal about how Mute City was going to be a 100% anti-gravity course. But it comes immediately after Dragon Driftway, which is an almost-100% anti-gravity course, so it seems a little weird. There are some awesome touches in this course, like the way you collect coins by driving over the healing strips from F-Zero. There’s also a really cool shortcut you can take if you have a mushroom.

Triforce Cup

Wario’s Gold Mine (Wii)

For some reason Mario Kart 8 got rid of Mario Kart Wii’s “half-pipe” gameplay mechanic in favor of the anti-gravity mechanic. I’m not sure why they couldn’t do both? So this isn’t a 100%-faithful translation of the Wii’s Wario’s Gold Mine course. But they did bump-up the prettiness factor quite a bit.

Rainbow Road (SNES)

The final boss of the original Mario Kart! The original Rainbow Road was a deadly course with only 90-degree turns and a perilously narrow track. Unfortunately they dumbed it down quite a bit in this version by making the course WAY too wide. It’s actually kinda difficult to fall off, whereas in the original Mario Kart it was kinda difficult to NOT fall off. The Thwomps making the track ripple is an excellent touch, though (especially since you can stunt off of the ripple like they were jumps), and it sure is damnably pretty. It’s just way too easy.

Ice Ice Outpost

I think maybe this is supposed to be an Ice Clibmers themed course? I’m not sure. But the track is divided into two halves that twist and wind themselves around each other. There are a bunch of shortcuts and alternate routes you can take on this track, and one of them you don’t need a mushroom to use…you just have to be willing to drive off the edge of the track at the correct spot! The course has an interesting design, and there’s a bunch of interesting things going on in the background that I never get to look at because I’m too busy driving (is that a Yoshi helicopter flying around in the background?).

Hyrule Circuit

Y’know, maybe it would have made more sense to play as link in this Cup and use the Blue Falcon in the Egg Cup… but OH WELL! This is actually a pretty standard course, with some curves and jumps and such, but it has a couple of cool features. For one, instead of picking up coins you’re picking up Zelda-style Rupees, complete with Rupee-collecting sound effect (in fact, the whole course is filled with Zelda sound effects and music). Also, when you enter the castle there’s a neat little secret—if three crystal switches are activated in the hallway leading up to the Master Sword room, a secret ramp raises itself (complete with the classic Zelda “secret” sound effect) and you can actually jump up and touch the Master Sword! And since you’re in anti-gravity mode, touching something gives you a boost. So not only do you get to bypass an entire curve, but you get a boost out of it.

And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 40 total. That’s pretty badass! And there’s another DLC on the way this spring, that introduces an Animal Crossing Villager into the driver mix. Who is excite? I am excite! If they keep on extending the life of Mario Kart 8 like this, it could be well on its way to becoming my favorite of them all.

Categories: Featured Posts, Video Games.

Friday, 31 October 2014

New Article: Sew Ghostly with the Ocean Shores Pirate

Squishy scares!

Squishy scares!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I’m back today with another in my long series of Halloween crafts, and I’m joined by everyone’s favorite drawing of a pirate on a piece of plywood, the raging-drunk Ocean Shores Pirate!

Arr, thanks be to ye, mate, for havin’ me back in there here blog o’ yers.

No problem, OCP. Today we’re gonna be whipping up some ghosts.

Didn’ we do one o’ them ghostly crafts a few years back? Here, lemme dig through yer archives… yarr, there it be: Ghostly Crafts with the Ocean Shore Pirate! That were almost five year ago! Did ye think the booze saturatin’ my brain’d make me forget?

No, this is an entirely different craft project. I still hang up that paper ghost garland every year, though!

An’ every year I vomit into the most peculiar o’ places. Let’s be gettin’ on with it, eh?

This year I’m gonna show you how easy it is to make some adorable plush ghosts.

Can ye show ’em how to make a plush version of the ghost o’ me dignity? ‘Cause that be long gone.

Start with some soft white fabric. I have a bunch of white fleece lying around, so I’m going to use that. You could use felt if you want a less-stretchy version.

I… I can’t think o’ any puns that be about stretchiness an’ alcohol. Ye stumped me, ya bastard!

The first thing you should do is draw an outline of the ghost you want to make. Ghosts come in all shapes and sizes, from Pac-Man style scalloped-bottom ghosts to those with long, pointy, trails. They can have arms or not. You can make a bunch of these pretty quickly, so try a whole bunch of styles! Be sure to draw it about ¼″ to ½″ larger than you actually want (for seam allowances).

Draw a Gost!

Draw a Gost!

Arr… I got me a scalloped bottom from fallin’ off a pier into a bed o’ snappin’ scallops! The welts still ain’t gone!

Now make some sort of face for your ghost. You can cut out some eyes from a dark fabric and sew them on, you could use your sewing machine and some satin stitches to make a face out of thread, or you can even take a sharpie and draw on a face. Here I’ve cut two eyes out of some dark gray fleece and sewn them on with a straight stitch around the edges. Whatever you do, be sure to put the face on the opposite side of your drawn outline.

Spooky eyes.

Spooky eyes.

My face be drawn on me piece o’ plywood! Hey! Hey! Pay attention t’me!

Put your piece of fabric face-down on another piece of fabric so that the outline you drew is facing up. Then take it to your sewing machine (you can pin it or baste it if you want, but this isn’t an exact science, so if you don’t want to you don’t have to) and sew all the way around the perimiter, ¼″ to ½″ inside the outline. Leave about a 3″ gap somewhere so you can turn it rightside-out and stuff it.

Sew, sew, sew your ghost!

Sew, sew, sew your ghost!

I stuff me liver so full o’ booze that it be the size o’ the Wrigley Field in Chicago!

No it isn’t; I’d be able to see it coming out of your piece of plywood if that were the case.

I been meanin’ t’ask ye, matey: how can I be consumin’ so much hooch when I’m just a drawin’ on a piece o’ plywood anyway?


That’s what I thought! Har-har!

Anyway, now cut out your ghost (through both layers of fabric) along the outline you drew.

This ghost is such a cut-up!

This ghost is such a cut-up!

Then turn it rightside-out.

This is why you need to mind the gap.

This is why you need to mind the gap.

There’s your face again!

It's mostly ghostly now!

It’s mostly ghostly now!

And here be my face!

Knock that off!

Ye can’t stop me! Here it be a dozen times!

Now stuff it with some stuffing! No need to overstuff it; it’s easier to finish it if it isn’t bulging with too much stuffing.

Stuff and nonsense!

This ghost is full of stuff and nonsense!

Now to seal up that opening. You can hand-stitch it closed if you want, or you can do what I’m doing here and tuck some of the fabric into the inside of the opening and top-stitch over it to seal it. Then just continue to top-stitch all the way around the ghost.

This top-stitching is the tops!

This top-stitching is the tops!

And while ye be at it, stitch up the hole in me side that got there ’cause I had to sell one o’ me internal organs in order to get more money to buy more hooch!

That’s it! You’re done!

Squishy scares!

Fantôme accompli!

Once you get the hang of this you can crank out bunch of ghosts in very little time. Give them away at your next Halloween party! They also make excellent cuddle buddies for wee ones:

Halloween Buddies!

Halloween Buddies!

Aye, or soak them in the finest rum and ring them out into the greedy, upturned mouths of yer party guests!

Or that. Well, thanks for another fun Halloween craft project, Ocean Shores Pirate.

And thank ye, Chris, fer pretendin’ not to notice that when I burp giant bubbles made o’ vomit & rum come out o’ me mouth and slowly float down to me crotch, where they burst with a fowl stench and a nethers-dampenin’ splash!

What do you think of this project, Ocean Shores Pirate?

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Featured Posts, Holiday.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Nerdiness of Dark Comedy: Part 2

Open Mike Eagle: On that "laugh to keep from crying" tip.

Open Mike Eagle: On that “laugh to keep from crying” tip.

Continuing last Thursday’s article, I am now going to analyze the back half of Open Mike Eagle’s “Dark Comedy” album and talk about the nerdy references of the final seven songs. What’s that? You haven’t read the first part of this article?? Well, fellows, just click here:

[PART 1]

You back? Okay, let’s continue… More… »

Categories: Featured Posts.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Nerdiness of Dark Comedy: Part 1

Dark Comedy

Mike Eagle is bad at sarcasm so he works in absurdity. He’s also kind of a nerd.

In honor of The Mike Eagle Show happening in Seattle tonight, I wanted to write some sorta big article about Mike and his latest album, Dark Comedy. After having listened to it about a dozen times since it was released, I realized that one my favorite things about it is all of the nerdy references he slips into his lyrics. So here are all of the nerdy references I noticed in the first six songs on the album. I prolly missed a bunch; let me know if you heard any that I didn’t. If you’ve already read Part 1, you can head straight to part 2 here:

[PART 2]

Still here? Okay, here we go… More… »

Categories: Featured Posts.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show 2014

Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show

Bright Lights, Big River…

Last Sunday I went to the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show at the Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. I try to go most every year, and I’ve only missed it once or twice in the last several years. It’s a good time.

This year I went with my pinball pal Cassie so we could play lots of two-player pinball and arcade games. The goal I had in mind was to try to play the more interesting and unusual games, the ones that I can’t easily play anywhere else. I think I found some goodies. Let’s run through them!

The Shadow

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

This was the very first thing we played when we got there. It was in a section that was advertising a special, day-glo-style of pinball bulb lighting, which is why this machine looks so funky. I don’t remember much of the game other than it was pretty fun, fast-paced and had a nice, crowded board. There was a fascinating upper floor that had an Arkanoid-like function to it, but I don’t remember exactly how it worked.

Medieval Madness

It's a medieval madhouse! A medieval madhouse!

It’s a medieval madhouse! A medieval madhouse!

Right next to The Shadow was Medieval Madness, also featuring the crazy day-glo lights. This one was a hoot, with lots of crazy stuff going on. In the back-left corner is a castle (you can see it in the photo). If you knock down the drawbridge and then knock down the gate behind it, and then get your ball up into the castle all of the towers start wiggling like crazy and the screen up above shows the castle being destroyed by A NUCLEAR EXPLOSION. A lot of fun, I’d live to play this one a whole bunch.

Rocky & Bullwinkle Pinball

Hey, kids! Watch me make this ball go down a hole!

Hey, kids! Watch me make this ball go down a hole!

This one was just mean. Just mean. It seemed like every single element on the board was designed to aim your ball directly down a hole with no chance of it being intercepted by a flipper. We didn’t enjoy playing this one very much at all.

Lost Tomb

Is there more than one room in this game? The world may never know.

Is there more than one room in this game? The world may never know.

An interesting dungeon-crawling game whose levels were kind of in the vein of Berserk. Problem was, we couldn’t get to any of the rooms other than the first one. See, once you leave the first room you end up in an inbetween area with a couple of staircases that go to different rooms so you can choose your path through the tomb. Unfortunately due to vagaries with the joystick, it was almost impossible to control your character and get him to actually move through this area (even though the controls seemed to be just fine in the first room). And there are enemies in this area that kill you if you don’t move very quickly. So we never got to either of the other available rooms; we just got killed dead over and over. *Sad trombone noise*

Banzai Run

Hot pinball on pinball action.

Hot pinball on pinball action.

A mainstay of any Pinball Expo, and one I always try to play, this fascinating game actually has a second pinball board… in the backstop. Yes, that’s right, there’s a completely-vertical pinball board that takes up most of the backstop. If you hit your ball into the upper-left corner of the main board there’s a chance that a magnet will pick it up and deliver it into the backstop, where pinball madness ensues. You see, in a vertical pinball board the ball is completely within the throes of gravity, so it moves fast. And I mean fast.

Cassie & I split up here for a bit so we could play some stuff that might not interest the other. Continuing:


There ain't no one named Gorbachev in Moscow, Idaho!

There ain’t no one named Gorbachev in Moscow, Idaho!

A bit of a cheater due to this machine being at Dorky’s Arcade just down the street, but last time I was in there it was out of order, so… In Taxi you are trying to pick up and deliver some pop-culture icons, like Dracula, Marilyn Monroe, and Mikhail Gorbachev. ‘Cause this game was made in the 1980s.




Another bit of a cheater in that this game isn’t exactly a rarity, but it is still always nice to come across it and is a hoot to play. You are a penguin who pushes blocks around in an attempt to squish all enemies before they run into you.

Skull & Crossbones

What would you call me if I swashed a buckle?

What would you call me if I swashed a buckle?

A very bizarre pirate sword-fighting game, with a seemingly intricate sword-controlling system. I never really got the hang of it. But I did kill a bunch of ninjas in one of the levels. It’s also about trying to get your treasure back from a medieval-style wizard, so there’s that. I’d be curious to know if this game is fun if you get good at the controls.

Speed Rumbler

Driven to drive.

Driven to drive.

A fascinating, overhead-view driving/shooting/running around, vertical-scrolling SHMUP. It kinda defies classification. But you spend most of your time careening around in a vehicle, running over guys with guns and shooting other cars. You can get out of your car any time you want, and if your car gets too much damage it starts to flash and then you have to get out or it’ll explode with you in it! Like Blaster Master, you’re pretty vulnerable when you’re not in your car, but there are no dungeons designed to be explored when you’re out-of-car.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Whip the Thugee guards, Indy! Whip them!

Whip the Thugee guards, Indy! Whip them good!

A pure nostalgia trip. A pizza place down in the Tacoma/Puyallup area used to have this game, and I would play it whenever I was there, usually with Geoff & his family and friends. Remember to whip the Thugee guards! Please! There are two alternating styles of play: running around a dungeon with a whip, trying to save kids; and speeding down mine cart tracks, trying to keep from getting flipped over.


We'll kill the beast!

We’ll kill the beast!

In truth this isn’t a very fun game. Based loosely on the weird fantasy/sci-fi movie from 1983, this seems more like it was made in 1980 than one year before Super Mario Bros. came out. You advance through several static, non-scrolling boards, each with its own slight variation of goal but all with equally poor controls and graphics.

Time Pilot

It's Time...

It’s Time…

If anyone ever wants to buy me an arcade game, this is the one I would want, hands-down. Time Pilot is my all-time favorite classic arcade game. And I’m pretty durned good at it, too. In fact, that’s my high score there in the photo, still there at the end of the final day of a classic arcade expo. I’d say that’s pretty good. I love this game. Love, love, love it.

Police Force

This police station is like a zoo!

This police station is like a zoo!

A pinball game about fighting crime. Sorry, I should have said “fighting animal crime.” You see, this pinball game is full of anthropomorphic cops and criminals. Here, take a look at the criminal animals:

Marching two by two...

Marching two by two… TO JAIL!


Save the humanoids!

Save the humanoids!

This is a Galaga-style game. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the green planet along the right side of the screen is lined with about 10 humanoid figures. Enemies launch from a cluster in the upper-left corner of the screen. You have to shoot them from your perch on the blue planet along the bottom of the screen before they snatch a humanoid from the green planet and take them back to their cluster. Kinda like a cross between Galaga and Defender.


More that meets the eye.

More that meets the eye.

This game threw me for a loop and consistently surprised me. It seems to change every few seconds into a completely different game.

  • First you’re flying around a planet, trying to shoot weird, irregularly-shaped “zones” on it as they turn yellow, while they shoot at you.
  • Once you shoot enough yellow zones, a ship that looks a lot like yours appears in the planet and you land and attach to it. The shots that the zones put out transform into “meteors” and start trying to shoot you. You can’t leave the planet, but can only move around within its confines while trying to shoot the meteors.
  • Once you shoot all the meteors, the screen completely wipes and is replaced by a back-and forth ascending maze (think the girders in Donkey Kong’s first level), and suddenly it’s almost a platform-style game as you slowly fly through the maze, shooting or avoiding tiny little people that pop out of the walls and charge you, and weird bird-shaped enemies, and a bunch of other seemingly-random stuff.
  • When you get to the end of the maze, you’re confronted suddenly with a Phoenix-style boss, a big ship with a gigantic, central eye that is protected by layers of regenerating shields. And also suddenly your gun can only shoot about 1″ in front of you instead of all the way across the screen. You have to drill through the shield to zap the eye while it tries to shoot you (easy for it to do since you have to get withing point-blank range to hit it). Also there are more of those tiny flying people along the sides of the screen who are also trying to shoot you.
  • If you manage to shoot the eye, the ship it was contained in vanishes, and now the eye starts zooming all over the screen trying to ram into you while you get confined to only being able to move left and right along the bottom of the screen, Galaga-style. If you manage to shoot the eye four times then you win! And you go back to the first board with the planet of yellow zones.

SO WEIRD. But so cool in that it is so many games in one.

Return of the Jedi

Yub-nub, Chief Chirpa. Yub-nub, my homie.

Yub-nub, Chief Chirpa. Yub-nub, my homie.

This one is also a big nostalgia trip for me. I used to play this all the time in arcades when I was a kid. There are three levels: A speederbike level where you try to lure enemy speederbikes into Ewok traps; An AT-ST level where you pilot your stolen Imperial walker and try to avoid logs and other hazards; and a Death Star run level, where you pilot the Millenium Falcon into the heart of the Death Start to destroy its reactor… and then turn around and try to out-run the ensuing explosion. All of this is in isometric, ¾-view.

Star Wars

May the Force be with your balls.

May the Force be with your balls.

A nice, 1980s-style pinball game based on Episodes 4-6. There is a Death Star on the board, and an even bigger R2-D2 who looms over the Death Star. It’s fun to make him squeal and squeak. It’s a pretty well-designed board with a lot of cool features.


Huh? Oh, nothing. Just punchin' monkeys.

Huh? Oh, nothing. Just punchin’ monkeys.

Another extreme nostalgia trip for me. In Kangaroo you play a mama who is trying to climb a tree to rescue her baby kangaroo from a bunch of punk monkeys that like to toss fruit at you. Don’t worry, you can punch them. For a game about a kangaroo, the jumping feature is extremely limited; you can’t jump very high at all). Like Donkey Kong there are several different boards through which you progress.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

After Kangaroo it was time to re-meet up with Cassie for lunch at the little lunch counter area off to the side of the main expo floor. I had chicken strips and garlic fries. Cassie had a burger, bananas, and a chocolate bar. She then constructed this sculpture, which she christened “Washington Crossing the Delaware:”

What other POSSIBLE name is there for this sculpture!?

What other POSSIBLE name is there for this sculpture!?

Then we continued on in the afternoon with more two-player madness.


I foolishly did not take a photo of this game! It was in a Magic Sword cabinet, to boot! Tumblepop is a 1990s Bubble Bobble-style game, where you have vacuum cleaners that you use to suck up enemies and then spit them back out at other enemies. Imagine Kirby with Bubble Bobble levels, only you don’t get super powers from the enemies you suck up in the vacuum. Interesting. Not as good as the crazy cactus game in a similar vein that they had last year.


Boxy but good.

Boxy but good.

Kind of a competitive, two-player vs tetris style game, except instead of trying to line up blocks you’re trying to make the blocks into quadrangles by shooting one-square blocks that attach to the irregularly-shaped blocks that are descending ever towards you. It’s surprisingly fun. There’s some sorta mechanic that lets you complete multiple rectangles at the same time, but I never got the hang of that.

Raiden Fighters 2

Awash in a sea of bullets.

Awash in a sea of bullets.

Back in the early 2000s, in the early days after Fools Play moved to Olympia, after each show we would go to Red Robin for food and hanging out. In the arcade room therein was Raiden Fighters, and Geoff & I would waste a few quarters on that madhouse of a game every time we had the chance. This is the sequel to that game, an insanely-busy vertical-scrolling SHMUP that lets you choose your ship (each of which has different powers), and then power up either its lasers or its missiles, depending on which power-ups you collect. Plus the screen is always full of a bajillion moving things, many of which can kill you in one shot. It’s P.C. (Pretty Crazy).

Surprise Special Guest:

Lego my deetwo!

Lego my deetwo!

This jaunty li’l fellow showed up at this point and paraded through the expo hall. He was covered in legos.

The Black Hole



The Black Hole is innovative for having a second, “basement” board below the main board (under a piece of clear glass) that slants the opposite way as the main one. If you are lucky/skilled, you can get your ball down there for extra inverted fun!

Haunted House

It's a ghostly rhythm.

It’s a ghostly rhythm.

This one has a similar “basement” board to The Black Hole’s, but this one-ups The Black Hole by also having an upper, “attic” board! That’s right, it’s a three-story pinball game! It’s also a very fun one, and I’m a sucker for a good haunted house.


We don't need no stinkin' pterodactyl!

We don’t need no stinkin’ pterodactyl!

The fascinating, head-to-head, simultaneous two-player pinball game themed around the video game of the same name. The players sit on opposite sides of the board, which slants up from both sides to peak in the middle. You try to score points with the ball(s) on your side of the board, and also try to sink them into the holes on your opponent’s side of the board! There are usually several balls in play at once, especially during the final 30 seconds when ball after ball gets launched until time runs out. This was one of the more fun two-player experiences at the expo.

When Cassie used the restroom I killed time by playing a couple of games:

Stunt Cycle

For our next stunt... one more bus!

For our next stunt… one more bus!

Old as dirt, this game has only one control: throttle. I know, it looks like the controller handlebars should let you steer, but they’re bolted firmly in place. All you can do is throttle up and down to make your little guy on the screen go faster or slower. You have to be going the correct speed when you get to the bottom level to jump over all the buses but not go so fast that you overshoot the ramp on the other side of the buses. That’s it. Whee?

Relief Pitcher

What a - wait for it - relief!

What a – wait for it – relief!

A sportsball game. You use a joystick to aim your pitch and one of three buttons to choose your pitch. And then after three outs you bat. Meh. I was really just killing time with this one.


And that’s pretty much everything that I played that I couldn’t really easily play elsewhere. There was another one I forgot to take a photo of, a 3D racing game in which you controlled a kind of flying ship.

That may seem like some good games (good games), but the best is yet to come. For, you see, at the NWPAS in 2014 was one of the greatest pinball machines ever made:

Team Les Schwab

Is this real life?

Is this real life?

Yes, this is “Team Les Schwab.” Yes, the same Les Schwab that offered FREE BEEF if you purchase tires!

Because Les Schwab is a tire company, the game is car-themed:

Les Schwab is More Fun!

Les Schwab is More Fun!

There are a lot of weird and wacky touches throughout the game and the case, such as a “Blue-Light” special that spells out Carrera:

Now on aisle 6: a Carrera.

Now on aisle 6: a Carrera.

Instead of a start button, there is actually an ignition key that you turn:

Take a key for coming in.

Take a key for coming in.

But by far the best part about this pinball machine is contained in two simple words:



I always have a metric tonne of funne at the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show every year I’m able to go. Since they’ve moved it to Tacoma it’s been a lot easier for me to do so! Hooray!

The scent of nerd sweat in the air...

The scent of nerd sweat in the air…

Perhaps next year you will join me there! PERHAPS!

Categories: Featured Posts, Pictures, Tacoma, Video Games.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Mystery Day Trip #5: Slug Bugs, Steamrollers, and Cyclops Pickles (an Instagrammed Adventure)

I'll explain later...

I’ll explain later…

This past Sunday a bunch of my friends and family went on our fifth Mystery Day Trip! What’s a Mystery Day Trip? Well, I’ll explain (if you already know, you can skip this part and go straight to the main event). In the morning you get together with a bunch of friends and family. Everyone brings a day trip itinerary: a small handful of things to do during the course of a day. Generally there are some restrictions, like the whole day can’t cost more than $20 per person, or your destination can’t be more than a two-hour drive away from your starting point, the whole trip can’t take more than about nine hours. Y’know, stuff like that.

All the itineraries get put in a hat or bag or whatevs, then someone (preferably a cute kid) draws an itinerary from the bag, and that’s the one that gets done that day!

This was the 5th Mystery Day Trip. The previous ones included:

  1. A Tour of Japanese Gardens in Seattle
  2. “Circle in the Sound” — Taking the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, then driving back to Tacoma down the peninsula, exploring on the way.
  3. Exploring the Issaquah area, including Cougar Mountain Zoo and Boehm’s Candy Factory!
  4. Exploring Olympia, including the Olympia Farmer’s Market, the Heritage Park Fountain, and Wolf Haven International

Of those four trips, THREE of them were designed by either me or Carrie. So we didn’t bring any itineraries this time; we like to let someone else have the glory now and then.

We met at Bluebeard Coffee at 10:00(ish) AM and randomly chose an itinerary. Mystery Day Trip #5 was a bit different than the others: it was an in-town day trip!

(Side note: all the photos in this article are embedded Instagram photos. If they’re not showing up for you, well, try using a different browser or something. I dunno.)

Mystery Day Trip #5: Artsy Tacoma!

Stop #1: WW Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park!

The WW Seymour Botanical Conservatory is a lovely (though small) arboretum in Wright Park in the Stadium District of Tacoma (just west of Downtown). This day they were actually having a very cool exhibit. Local schoolkids had designed animals that were then created in blown glass and distributed among the foliage!

There were also some real-life animals, in a little Koi pond in one corner:

And, of course, plenty of conserved botanicals:



This was my favorite kid-designed animal, though: The Slug-Butterfly-Firefly:

You can see the glass versions here, resting on the leaves:

And there were some pretty flowers…

And some pretty people! Especially those two in the middle:

Stop #2: Wayzgoose!

Wayzgoose is an annual gathering of printmakers that happens at King’s Books in Tacoma, kinda right between Stadium District and Downtown. Why is it called Wayzgoose? It’s some old-timey word. Anyway, there were printmakers galore, selling their prints and also having fun little activities where kids could make their own simple prints in a variety of simple ways.

There was also printmaking using a steamroller. Y’know. As there always is:

A couple of really cool prints came out from under that steamroller. One was of the old, defunct Never Never Land amusement park that used to be in Tacoma, and the other was of a giant octopus (and was labeled, helpfully, “Giant Octopus”).

By the way, the Never Never Land amusement park is a fascinating story in its own right, but not one for right now. You can see what happened to a bunch of the figures that used to be in the park, though. It’s kinda creepy.

The inside of King’s Books was a bit of a madhouse. It was P-P-P-PACKED. Especially packed was a line for the Beautiful Angle poster makers. Apparently you could make your own Beautiful Angle poster or something? I dunno, we had a bunch of kids with us so none of us felt like waiting in a line like that.

Also, Carrie ran into about fifty people that she knew.

Stop #3: Lunch Break at Freighthouse Square’s Food Court

Freighthouse Square is an old freight house (of all things) near the Tacoma Dome that was transformed a long time ago into a kind of shopping mall. I guess it’s kinda like a very small (and much lower-rent) version of Pike’s Place in Seattle, but without all the food & produce vendors. We didn’t go there to shop; we went there because there’s free, unlimited parking in the parking garage, and there is a food court where we at our lunches (though most of us packed our own picnic lunches).

And one other reason: Freighthouse Square is one end of the Tacoma Link Light Rail route, which we boarded after lunch to head to our final destination…

Stop #4: The Museum of Glass!

I’ve lived in Tacoma for almost 15 years. That’s longer than there has been a Museum of Glass, and yet I’d never been there before (except for a friend’s wedding reception that was held there, but that doesn’t count).

Once you get off the light rail Downtown, you have to walk over Highway 705 across the famed Bridge of Glass (above) to get to the museum.

The Museum of Glass isn’t just static museum; it’s a working museum. That big, weird, cone-shaped structure on the south end of the building is actually a functioning chimney. Inside is a real-life hot shop where real-life glassmakers ply their craft.

There are stadium-riser seats you can sit in and watch these crafstpeople at work, and a “narrator” of sorts tells you what’s going on and answers questions. This day they were making big (12″) glass balls in Seahawks colors for some sort of corporate gift. It was very interesting to watch, especially when of the people had a spare minute and decided to make a glass horse. Just because.

My favorite part of the museum, though, was the hallway in the back where (you’ll notice a theme here) kids had designed artworks, which were then recreated in glass! There were several good ones, such as a Loch Ness Monster with a pig’s head and a tank made out of candy. But this was my favorite: The Neon Green One Eyed Cyclops Pickle:

In the back of one of the exhibit rooms we stumbled upon the very cool “Look! See? The Colors and Letters of Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert” exhibit. In the very back was a whole wall of light-up letters that you could take down and arrange howsoever you saw fit. We just had to take advantage of that:

Finally, after exploring the museum some more the kids started bottoming out (and it was about 5:00). The Museum of Glass was the last stop on the itinerary. So we decided to call it a day and head on back home. On the way out of the Museum we were met with a lovely farewell:

This was a very interesting Mystery Day Trip in that it wasn’t so much a trip as it was just a tooling around town. But still, we did a bunch of things in our own backyard that we’d never actually done before. I’d never been to Wayzgoose or the Glass Museum before. But now I have. Thanks to Mystery Day Trip!

They’re really fun. All y’all should plan your own Mystery Day Trips. Or let me know if you want in on our next one. You never know where you’ll end up!

Categories: Featured Posts, Tacoma.

Friday, 7 March 2014

New Article: Tweeting the Oscars

And the Tweet Goes To...

And the Tweet Goes To…

This year it seemed like Twitter upstaged the Oscars in some big ways. And I, yes, even I got in on the action. Earlier in the weekend I made a decision:

I then started a show-long joke that I doubt anyone actually got because (A) very few people follow me on Twitter and (B) it was a four-hour joke with a punchline that doesn’t really look like a punchline unless you know I was doing a joke. Let’s see if you can figure it out. Look closely at this first tweet, and then watch the time stamps on the following tweets.

Get it? The overall theme was that I would live-tweet the Oscars but miss the vast majority of it by making and eating dinner and then taking a two-hour bathroom break. Yeah, okay, it wasn’t that funny, but it sure was ambitious.

Twitter was actually a part of the Oscar ceremony in a big way this year. Host Ellen DeGeneres was very vocal about tweeting the goings-on, including her now-infamous, twitter-breaking, group selfie (more on that later). Gobs of the celebrities in attendance were tweeting the goings-on as well. But for me the real highlight of Oscar tweeting was Chrissy Teigen.

Chrissy Teigen is a model and the wife of singer John Legend. She was on the cover of the 50th Anniversary Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue:

Not only that, but she just happens to be whip-smart and one of the funniest people on Twitter. She also had my favorite dress of anyone at the Oscars:

She was very active on Twitter that night, which led to two of my favorite Twitter moments of the Oscars. She started out pretty normal:

But she soon made a rather critical spelling error in a tweet about Angelina Jolie:

Apparently her followers started to rib her something fierce about it, and she was understandably embarrassed:

But she quickly gave up and embraced it:

And after that it was on: finding a way to insert one or more scatological words in to celebrity names. In the span of the next couple of minutes we got:

  1. Bradley Pooper
  2. Leonardo dicraprio
  3. Amy Shatams
  4. Brad Shitt
  5. Angelina PooPee

And soon, of course, her fans joined in and sent her gems like:

  • Liza Shitsmelli
  • Steve Fartin
  • Anne Crapaway
  • Joseph Gordon-Levshitt
  • Natalie Pootman
  • Gwynneth Boweltro

After which Chrissy sagely observed:

But my absolute favorite part of the night came just a few minutes later, when Ellen DeGeneres created her group selfie tweet. She gathered a bunch of celebrities and took a photo (well, had Bradley Cooper take a photo), which she tweeted in an attempt to break the record for most re-tweets of a photo. It worked:

But one Katie Henderson, who was watching the television at that moment, noticed someone in the background with a camera raised…

Yes, that’s Chrissy Teigen behind everyone, taking a photo of a photo being taken! And here it is:

Well, I thought that was pretty durned awexome.

But anyway. Aside from the show-long lame joke that I concocted, there was another reason why I didn’t really live-tweet the Oscars. And that’s the fact that I actually really enjoy the Oscars. I always have. There’s a reason why I write an article about the Oscars every year. And sitting there with a phone or laptop in my hand, forcing myself to be funny/sarcastic about something that I genuinely enjoy experiencing just sounded like a special kind of Hell to me. So instead I made my cute li’l joke, sat back, and enjoyed the show.

I think Kris Straub said it best, so I’ll let this strip from his Chainsawsuit webcomic sum up my feelings:

Source: Chainsawsuit by Kris Straub.

Source: Chainsawsuit by Kris Straub.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being funny. People pay five bucks a head every weekend to see me be funny. But sometimes there’s nothing wrong with just putting Twitter down and being immersed in the moment. Try it sometime.

Categories: Featured Posts.