All of the Legends of Zelda Review

Did I tell you I had heart surgery?  I don’t know if I mentioned that.

During recovery, I only slept about 2-3 hours per day (I started to think that — because of my robot heart — this all-the-time-awake was going to be the norm, so I started making plans about what to do with (essentially) another lifetime (including trying out all positions in the self-kama-sutra and watching finally finding an appreciation for Garth Brooks); come to find out it was just a side-effect of the anesthesia). Since I had a ton of time on my hands and was unable to move much, I decided to beat all of the Zelda games ever.  Little did I know there’ve been like 30 of them.

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Yes, I beat all these.  I’m already married, so quit asking.

Each one is terrific.  They all have great music and great gameplay and Nintendo somehow makes the games tough enough for long enough that each one is interesting up until the very end.  Each one has little side-quests that aren’t necessary but are fun to figure out and each one is intuitive enough to know that the puzzles Link encounters should be slightly more difficult than the last puzzle.  They’re all variations on a theme (like sex or AC/DC), but it’s a great friggin theme.

Except for one thing.

Now I don’t mean one puzzle on one Zelda game was difficult to figure out and I’m here to bitch about it; I mean there is one thing on every Zelda game that I needed the internet for.

When the original Legend of Zelda came out, I had it for the NES.  At the time it was a revelation: “I can save my game?!”  But it was also so massive that whenever I got lost or didn’t know where to find something, I would have to ask Chuck.  Chuck was my older brother’s gamer friend.  He knew everything about every video game. When I finally beat all eight levels and had to find Ganon, I was lost; I thought I’d been everywhere.  Chuck showed me where Spectacle Rock was and I was able to finally beat it.

But Chuck’s not around anymore.  Chuck sold his Dreamcast for some meth.  So now, on every Zelda game, there’s one part that I cannot figure out.

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Keep your shirt on, ladies.  I told you, I’m married.

Good example: in Majora’s Mask, I have to travel west in order to talk to Zora, the water-people.  But I can’t get over the fence.  The only thing that can hop a fence that big is my horse.  But my horse is caged in a ranch to the south.  But I can’t get to that ranch because Milk Road is blocked.  Now the blockage will disappear on the third day of playing, but when I get through to my horse on that third day, my horse’s captor won’t talk to me because she’s too concerned about her cows getting abducted.  I’m stuck.  Chuck would tell me how to figure this out, but Chuck’s living in a half-way house talking himself out of using that prescription pad he stole.

So instead, I look on the internet.  The internet tells me that I have to use my ocarina to travel back in time three days, re-defeat the bad guy from Snowhead, which will make the snow melt, which unveils a cave where I can talk to a Goron who’ll give me a license to play with gunpowder.  Once I get the license, I can go back to Clock Town, talk to the guy in the bomb shop, he’ll sell me a barrel of gunpowder, which I can use to unblock the path to the ranch where I can get my horse and then jump the fence to talk to the water-people (but only after I help out the lady with her cow problem).

I know that sounds like a joke, but it’s not.  That’s exactly what I had to do.

This happened on every Zelda game. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d do it without walkthroughs.

I guess I could try to get ahold of Chuck.  I hear he does cosplay bj’s for a dimebag.

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Last known photograph of Chuck

Bill Maher’s Stan Lee’s World

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I wish I could rock a ‘stache like this

When Stan Lee died a few days ago, there was a lot of mourning on the internet.  A lot (not enough to condemn the people who screwed Lee over or to contribute to his favorite charity or anything, but still).  Like an uncomfortable amount.

There was a some of the appropriate, “I could only be so lucky to have a life like Stan” or “Face front, true believers!  Excelsior!” There was a lot of hyperbolic, “I’m so incredibly grateful I lived in a world that included Stan Lee” or “RIP to a genius who changed the world.”  This is what Maher was reacting to: this uncomfortable overstatement to the death of a 95-year-old who wrote children’s stories in the 60s and sold them for twelve cents a piece.

Maher said (and I’m going to condense all this to get to the heart of what everyone overreacted to):

“[C]omics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures.  But then twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature… And now when adults are forced to do grown-up things like buy auto insurance, they call it “adulting,” and act like it’s some giant struggle… I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.”

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Is it THAT big a leap to say that a generation of people who love nearly-naked people face-punching each other in order to stop a time-traveling future-self from destroying the current multi-verse elect a failed businessman and game show host?

Notice he’s not talking about Stan Lee here.  He’s talking about comic books (and the generational response to them) in general.  He’s talking about how, in a world where dumb people seem to reign supreme, comics have been sanctified.  He makes an easy connection between these consecrated made-for-children texts and arrested development.  He then makes an (almost as) easy connection between arrested development and the dumb people who seem to reign supreme.

He’s right.  You know he’s right; that’s why everyone reacted to Maher so vehemently.  Again, he doesn’t mention Stan Lee (and so neither will I).  He’s talking about the infantilization of an entire generation. This was more than a “Don’t speak ill of the dead” -type of situation that we saw with John McCain.  This is a “I’m not a child, you’re the child” -type of situation.  It’s projecting.

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I hope it’s just like the comic (where they battle it out with aliens on the moon while a baby-in-a-toga watches)

My generation (I think we’re called “xennials”) is starting to run things.  And for some reason, the things we want to see are the things we grew up with; it’s stuff we already know.  We want to see X-Men as a movie — but not an original movie — we want to see the things we already know; we want to see Days of Futures Past and The Dark Phoenix Saga and Age of Apocalypse.  We want to see a Justice League movie — but not an original movie — we want to see the things we already know; we want to see Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman and Apokolips Invasion.  We want to see The Winter Soldier and Demon in a Bottle and Civil War and The Infinity Gauntlet come to life just as we imagined it (and you will feel our wrath if it’s not exactly as we imagined it).

It’s not enough to make movie versions of non-movie things we loved when we were kids (hence the comic book movies, but also Trolls, Transformers, and The Lego Movie), we also have to make our own versions of already-in-existence movies we liked as kids. It’s why we have a Jurassic Park that’s just like the original and a Star Wars that’s just like the original and a Ghostbusters that’s just like the original.

My generation has sanctified our childhood and pushed it on everyone else.  The Things from our childhood (again, I don’t know why) have become such a defining part of our adulthood that when you say “Comic books are for kids” we hear “You’re being childish.”

Later that week he went on Larry King (another 95-year-old (actually, I think he’s quite a bit younger, but he sure acts 95)) and defended his comment, as he should: “What I was saying is, a culture that thinks that comic books and comic book movies are profound meditations on the human condition is a dumb fucking culture. And for people to get mad at that just proves my point.”   Again, he’s right.  You know he’s right.

I’m not saying comic books can’t be sophisticated literature.  But I don’t see a bidding war for Cerebus or Concrete or Blankets or Asterios Polyp or Maus or This One Summer.  I see people getting excited because, in the comics, the X-Men and the Avengers get together sometimes, and it’s going to be sooooooo cooooool when they finally get together in a movie.

Just like I imagined.


(As a post script, I have to concede that maybe this entire article is just a thin defense of adulthood getting in the way of my own comic book dreams.  No, you’re projecting!)

A Christmas Card

Christmas newsletters are the worst.  I get a few every year that literally just list the months of the year and what happened during those months.  Usually it says something like:

January: Tom started working second shift

February: I got bored, now that the kids are out of the house, so I took up Zumba.

March: I decided to lose the weight!  No more carbs for me!

April: Tom just refused to do the 5k with me.  But Dave from work said he would…

I take that back.  That’d be interesting.  We could learn the seedy details of the 50-year-olds who cheated on each other (I heard one’s a “cam girl” now).  Usually it’s about how someone got a new dog, and boy she’s a handful.

So I thought it’d be fun to do a fictional one.  Let’s see if The Wife lets me:


Happy Holidays from the Joneses!

We hope this letter finds you in good health and good spirits. We’d like to share what we did in 2018!

As you know, the Joneses have had our share of adventures over the years – being stranded on L. Ron Hubbard’s boat and that time Lindsay mathematically proved the world is indeed flat (and turtles all the way down) both jump to mind – but I think the events of this year really stand out…

Last year the cardiologist, Dr. Light, said that I would have to have open-heart surgery in May to fix a congenital defect (although I’m not sure how “sexually outstanding” is a defect). Because I have what is medically described as “Thor Chest”, Dr. Light recommended an experimental procedure beyond the usual Frankenstein-esque mess of parts from pigs / cows / goretex / serial killer cadavers. So on May 30th – after a few “conflict-based delays” (come to find out he was a “guest” on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew) – we went in for surgery.

Everything went very well. The surgery went much longer than expected because of the mandatory espionage and subsequent destruction of the only copy of the experimental surgery plans, but I was up and walking the next day.

About a week later I was sent home with a list of things to do during recovery. It’s all the normal stuff: keep tabs on blood pressure, make sure to exercise, don’t lie flat, don’t eat the children, take all medication, etc. (I thought the list was weird; if I can lie flat, why wouldn’t I?). Lindsay went back to work, the kids were going to school; everything seemed to be going according to plan. Until my scars started itching.

I contacted the doctor via the iPhone app and the intern who reads the emails asked the secretary to call the nurse to get in touch with doctor’s assistant who was on vacation about the itchiness and weird growth forming around the incision. At the beginning of July I finally got an email back saying that I should contact a dermatologist (which would be free because we met our deductable!) about that lump, but by then it was too late; the lump had detached itself and was learning our language. By the time Labor Day rolled around, Kevin (Quinn named him) was like a part of the family.

Having Kevin around was bittersweet. He’d often volunteer to help Paige with her flash cards and would clean the toilets without being asked (he said that the Ty-D-Bowl residue was like candy to him), but he’d also levitate to the medicine cabinet and steal my beta-blockers.

One of his vices was late-night prank calls. He played me a couple tapes; I have to admit, they were pretty funny, (think The Jerky Boys, but not as dirty; a lot of Kevin’s humor is raisin-based) but toward the beginning of October, he’d gone too far: he called Flagstar Bank, Lindsay’s place of work. The police report says what he did was technically a felony, but the lawyer said “felony” is a stretch because what he suggested is just a natural bodily function. Either way, it was time for Kevin to go.

We had a family meeting while Kevin was out running errands (he said he only had two more days until he “served [his] purpose given to [him] by Dr. Light to answer all questions and put an end to human misery”, but whatever) and we decided the best thing to do was to sell him on eBay. While he was gone, it rained and, Kevin being Kevin, he left the windows down. Needless to say, because of the water, Kevin morphed into a terrible hell-demon and we had to vanquish him by saying his real name backwards. The eBay deal fell through too.

Since Kevin left, we sold the Equinox and bought a Jeep, Lindsay got a new job at Delta Dental, Paige started her orthodonture, and Quinn has started losing her baby teeth.

It’s been a year of surprises and a year of triumph. We all hope 2019 is a little calmer. And I hope this itchy rash goes away.

With Love:

The Joneses

A List of Things I Think Would Be Cool to Have but Would Never Use

I think one of the distinctions between childhood and adulthood is knowing when that Cool New Thing is actually pretty close to useless (fidget spinner, pet rock, self-esteem, etc.).  So, as an adult, I would like to present a list of things I still really want, but know I would never use:

  • Heated seats
  • One of those chairs that are so big they’re almost couches
  • A secret passage
  • Steamed milk
  • A bread maker
  • An original Gameboy
  • A light jacket
  • Material to blackmail someone
  • Fresh eggs
  • More than one wife
  • An occasion to use the word “syllogism”

I will update the list as needed

A List of Bands Whose Songs Sound Better Covered

Any song by the following bands sounds better when someone else covers them.  I will add to the list over time.

  • Led Zeppelin (see “Dancing Days” by STP, “Ramble On” by Foo Fighters, even “Come With Me” (essentially a cover of “Kashmir”) by goddamn Puff Daddy is better)
  • Bob Dylan (obviously “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, but also “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Guns N Roses, “Mighty Quinn” by Manfred Mann, even “Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds)
  • David Bowie (obviously “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, but also “Heroes” by The Wallflowers, “Sound and Vision” by Beck, even “Space Oddity” by goddamn Smashing Pumpkins)

The Longest Summer Ever

One day I’m going to make a list of Life Dichotomies — those things that almost contradict each other but are essential for life.

For example, the second you realize that “this is a good time”, you stop having a good time.  Another good one: “Throwing money” at a problem is considered lazy / unethical, but that’s exactly what money is for.

Here’s another one: when bad things are happening, you want time to move fast, you want the experience to go quickly; when good times are happening, you want time to slow down, you want to relish each second.  But it’s always the opposite:

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Being swollen, by skeletal foot almost looks normal

I had heart surgery.  The surgery itself wasn’t too bad.  I spent about a week in the hospital and came home with zero complications (other than the swelling of the feet…

But that’s not really my fault.  I did everything they told me to do, but the brand new beds that they bought we about as comfortable as frozen fruit-of-the-loom dipped in olive oil then dipped in bedbugs; I had back spasms after about an hour.  So, since I’m supposed to be resting, I slept in the recliner they have sitting there for visitors.  I guess having your feet dangle below you as your body is trying to rebuild fluid is a bad idea)

puertorican…as a matter of fact, I had so few complications that the already-paid-for, regularly-prescribed home-nurse that they gave me stopped coming after two days because I didn’t need anything.  Either that or she kept getting offended when The Wife kept calling her “Puerto Rican Nurse” (which isn’t exactly racist, but she kept saying it like she saw a ghost).

The only take-home complications I had were that I couldn’t seem to keep a normal temperature — I was either extremely hot (like “I’m a sitcom mom on a very special menopause episode” hot) or extremely cold (like “that Seinfeld where Kramer isn’t wearing a coat because he wants to look cool for the party and then they get locked out of George’s car by Saddam Hussein so he’s comedically shivering” cold) — and I couldn’t sleep.  At all.  For weeks.

That’s an exaggeration.  Of course I slept.  But it was about two hours a day.  Sometimes, on a good day, I could get four.  Not in a row, of course.  My schedule was generally this: the family goes to bed around 9:00, I stay up to watch Colbert, then I close my eyes ’til about 4:00.  At which point, I would do my exercises (which consisted of lifting my arms many times and walking around the dining room table) and go close my eyes again.  The kids get up around 7:00 and I spend the rest of the day trying to figure out how to spend the rest of the day.

Every day seemed like several days.  The summer felt like several summers (I’m sure there’s a Game of Thrones meme I could add here, but I’ve never seen it).  This was one of the few times in my life where I wanted everything to fly by, where I wanted to forget everything, where I wanted to sleep away the day, and instead I was aware of every second.

Now that I’m better (the prognosis being that I shouldn’t have to do anything out-of-the-ordinary for about a decade) and have a newfound appreciation for everything, life is flying past me in a blur.

It’s wonderfully frustrating.

And I’m Fine

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Stay classy, Ann Arbor

There’s no denying there’s a rift in the country today.  It seems to fall straight down party lines.  People say it’s because of the rhetoric that speaks to two different sets of people; others say that it’s because we’ve gotten into this tribalism where we’re defined by reactions of The Other (that is to say, it’s not enough that I like my team, I also must hate your team).  I think it’s a lot simpler than that.

Things are changing quickly.  It wasn’t that long ago that I had calendars, shopping lists, clocks in every room, a camera, photo albums, a computer room, a laptop, a discman, a CD-wallet, copies of CDs in my car, a multi-disc changer component stereo, a radio, a telephone with long-distance, a calling card, a VCR, a DVD player, a tape recorder, a printer, a scanner, several road maps, different calculators, a newspaper subscription, cable, an encyclopedia set, a dictionary, a thesaurus, several flashlights, a rolodex, recipe books, a bunch of regular books, a travel agent, a banker, an investment specialist, a filing cabinet with many files, and a white noise machine.  Now I own a phone.  It’s a lot to get used to.

Add all that change to the natural narcissism of people (although, I think everyone only reading news that caters to them isn’t helping) and here’s what you have: “I did these things that society has evolved out of, and I’m OK”

I got spanked when I was a kid, and I turned out fine.

We drove around Lake Michigan in the bed of a pickup and I turned out fine.

I used to watch TV on a schedule and the only was to catch an episode if you missed it was to watch it again at the designated time during summer reruns and I turned out fine.

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What if I stuck with it…?

No one says, “I am a trainwreck.  I have a ton of Daddy Issues so I always look for compliments from older men.  I seem to be addicted to everything and I have the absolute worst taste in TV (I can no longer make love unless The Bachelor Winter Games is playing in the background).  I’m not sure how refusing to brush my teeth works itself in there…”  Everyone says “I’m OK” because we all honestly believe it.  How devastating would it be to look at yourself in the mirror every day and say, “I picked the wrong religion.  I picked the wrong job.  I picked the wrong spouse.  These things that happened to me messed me up beyond saving.  I am broken; some of it’s how I grew up, but a lot of it is what I’ve done since then”?  We all — just to survive — have to say that where we’re at is good enough (at least for now).

And of the two schools of political thought, which one reminisces about the old days?  Which one wants to conserve their past?

Everything else falls to the left.

This also contributes the feeling of superiority of the liberals.  Of course everyone wants free health care and free college and less violence and a clean planet; that should be the goal of all societies.  From the liberal’s point of view, you’d be dumb not to want these things.  But from the right: “We paid for all our doctor’s visits growing up — even when dad got cancer — and we turned out just fine. I worked my way through college — paid for every cent — and I turned out just fine.  I got beat up in school once in a while — it taught me to be tough — and I turned out just fine.  We had asbestos in my middle school — I remember when they replaced it with fiberglass — and we turned out just fine.”  It feels like a personal slight to tell someone they have to be respectful to gays when they’ve spent their whole life trying not to get called a queer.

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It can’t be THAT hard

How would you react if someone told you your favorite music can be created by anyone? Do you take a good long look at your personal choices and weighing the evidence at it comes in, eventually arriving at a point where you try to discover new points of view?  No; you say, “Nut-uh!  You don’t know!  Rhyming is hard!  Words are hard! Sound is hard!”