Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Unintended Greatness

     Have you ever heard of the "law of unintended consequences," Company?  It is a pretty simple concept.  It holds that any action by any person or body will have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.  It is the reason why someone in every episode of the show Scorpion says "I did not see that coming."  The really fun thing is that sometimes the law of unintended consequences manifests itself in really strange ways.  And recently, a strange unintended consequence has been manifesting itself with the game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
    First, some background. This game was first issued in 1998 and can be played on a number of Nintendo consoles, including but not limited to the N64, Wii, and something called the iQue, which to me sounds like some sort of new miniature city car from Nissan or something.  It has sold, over the course of its lifetime, 7.6 million copies worldwide.  So a lot of people are playing that shit.  But apparently, there is something about this game that makes it amenable to being beat in strange and innovative ways.  And there is your unintended consequence.
     Recently, someone who is known as "Runneryguy2489" was able to beat the entire game blindfolded.  It took him 103 hours to beat it straight through from beginning to end.  That is pretty impressive. What is even more impressive is the amount of time that he has put into mastering this somewhat run of the mill entry in the Legend of Zelda series.
    His strategy was to play the game every Wednesday night for over a year.  I am not sure if the blindfolded mastery was the ultimate goal, but eventually he tried a couple of dungeons blindfolded and worked onward from there until he was able to succeed.  And good for him, that is a really unique feat that he worked hard towards and ultimately reached is goal.  Congratulations, Runnerguy2489.  Kudos to you.
     The thing is, he wasn't the first person to beat the game without seeing it.  In 2010, a blind Canadian man named Jordan Verner defeated the game with the help of other dedicated gamers who each played parts of the game, wrote their moves down in a script, then sent it to him for his computer to read out loud to him.  So it was more like a team effort on that front, at least according to television station WIS in Columbia, South Carolina.
     Earlier this year, apparently someone also beat the game using a Dance Dance Revolution pad, because why the hell not?  That is a totally normal, reasonable, rational thing to do with your time.  You can watch the dude (but not the King of the Dudes), do it on YouTube.
     The fact that two people were able to do it without sight, albeit with some help in one case and a lot of practice in another, tells me that there is some sort of unintended consequence to this game that the developers and coders never intended.  I am not a gamer, I am not a Technical Producer, I am not a Hax0r l3te, I am not even a Maytag repairman.  But I do know that if two people without the power of sight can beat a game then there has to be some sort of rhythm to it, or at least some sort of predictability where the same things happen at the same time every time you play the game. 
    This is not necessarily a bad thing, Company.  Please do not think that I am ragging on the makers of the game.  If I wanted to make fun of the game or its creators I would make fun of the fact that the title is Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time.  What the hell is that about?  Ocarina of time?  They really had to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for that one.  First of all, no one plays the ocarina - not anyone, not anyplace, and not anytime.  This is what an ocarina looks like.  It looks like something that your girlfriend would buy at Pier One for no conceivable reason other than that some idiot working at Pier One said it would look good on your shelf.  Second, it does not allow you to change or affect time other than that I am sure that listening to someone practice the ocarina would probably make one hour feel like approximately fifth-seven years.  So why are you making this weird ceramic musical instrument (and they were very liberally interpreting the term "musical instrument" when they applied to this thing I assure you) the centerpiece of a game?  It makes no sense.
     But I am not here to make fun of the game, or its makers.  That is not the point here.  It is obviously a very popular game which has sold millions upon millions of copies over time, and it obviously has such a devoted following that people will play it for hours and hours and hours on end, and they will help one another across international boundaries and the internet to be more successful at the game.  How cool is that?  I don't see people doing that for GTA or The Pins McGee Bowling Simulator game.  Or Ms. Pac Man.  The point here, Company, is that for all the wonderful things that this game created the unintended consequence is that you can beat it blindfolded.  And somewhere out there someone is probably working on beating it with one arm tied behind their back.  And if they aren't, they should be.
      They should hook up with that Dance Dance Revolution pad guy.  That seems like it would be the easiest way.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Five Minute Blog

     So it is five minutes before the top of the hour, as they would say in the radio business.  And since I have some things that I want to do come the top of the hour, in the traditional style of a media mogul, I am going to just write you a five minute blog today, Company.  Five minutes.  I have no plan, I have no subject picked out really, I just know that I have five minutes and that I guess that we are going to find out how many words per minute I can type, by typing all sorts of words and counting them and then dividing by five.  Also in the traditional style of a media mogul.
     What do you think about that, Company?  I know, probably not much.  But I just don't care.  This is what you are getting.  Sometimes you don't exactly get what you signed up for.  You wanted something smart, something topical, something maybe up to date.  Nope, you are weird ramblings mixed with a strange pinch of irrational anger.  VERY irrational anger.
     I have exactly no reason to be angry with you, dear Company.  Exactly none.  Yet there it was, just in the paragraph above.  For no reason.  I guess that I am just the worst kind of person.  The kind who is angry for no reason.  And that is that, Company.  The true colors of me, the media mogul, Big Dave, who also owns the Kim Jong Il Metal Foundary, the glorious rising sun of all metal foundaries, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
     And now it is the top of the hour.  So I've gotta go.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The H is O

     I am not sure if you know this, Company, but not too long after we here at Big Dave and Company built our elaborate Worldwide Headquarters, I sent out for some unpaid interns from the local ag school to plant me a top notch garden on the roof of the main building, in the grand tradition.  And right in the middle I instructed them to put a sweet fire pit, a fire pit which I filled with dead grass, weeds, and other assorted debris from my yard, also in the grand tradition. 
    Well I made the mistake of telling some of them that I was going to light the things in my fire pit on fire, and soon they were all clamoring for a spot around my campfire.  It was BYOB, to they BTOB, which when mixed with the radio and some sparkling conversation, came to be a pretty nice time.  But too nice a time, because soon there were more requests.  No, wait, I lied.  Soon there were more demands.
The Worldwide Headquarters is located inside a Dire Straits video
     First came the demands from the people who decided not to show the first time.  "When are you going to have another fire, Mr. Media Mogul with nothing better to do?"  "I thought that maybe you were going to have a fir tonight so I can drink beers in your backyard."  And so on and do forth.  Then, the cries and the devious plans and the e-mails back and forth reached an undeniable crescendo.  "We had such a nice time, you must have another fire."  So the fire is on I guess.
     But I have been resisting.  I am not for this not even a little bit.  Because it is not the same.  Now the H is O.  THE. HEAT. IS. ON.  Pun not intended but I wish it were.  Because all these people had a nice time at the first fire but not they want another.  The expectation is there.  The pressure is on.  And that never leads to anything but disaster.
     Here is the thing, Company.  Sometimes, things just happen.  And in fact, the best things usually just happen.   And when you try to recreate that moment that just happened, it never lives up to the expectation and the hype.  The sequel is never as good as the first movie, am I right?  Go watch Major League 2 and tell me how that goes for you.  Now, when you are done with that, go watch Smokey and the Bandit 3, tell me how that one is working out for you, and then maybe realize that you shouldn't be taking movie recommendations from me because that movie is terrible and you will never get that hour and a half of your life back.  I thought you would have figured that out by now.
     Anyway, the first fire had a certain magic because all of the elements sort of just came together in the most unexpected way.  The fire.  The people.  The starry night.  The alcohol had a lot to do with it I am sure.  But all of those bits of recipe were present in just the right quantities with just the right cooking time and temperature and suddenly something wonderful occurred.  And everyone who was there had that lodged in their brain, and worse yet HAS THAT EXPECTATION.
    But it can't happen.  I won't happen.  No matter what, you can't have those same ingredients with the same conditions, no matter what you expect.  So now I feel the pressure to recreate that which cannot be recreated so that the attendees get what they expect.  And with that pressure, the H which we have already discussed is O, gets turned up a notch and the recipe can't possibly cook right.  So it will be forced.  And while it will be fine - and I am sure it will be - but it won't be the same.  And I will know it.  And the veterans of the first fire will know it.  And the people who came after hearing about it won't know but they will be feeling a little let down.
    Then the magic will be gone.  Because when that whole scenario happens, and it will happen, it sucks all of the magic out of the person doing the cooking (which is me in this scenario, Company.  it's me), but it also manages to suck a little of the magic out of the original event just through association.  And that is sad.  Because a second cake that doesn't turn out right shouldn't be a reflection on the one that you tried that made you order. 

Hold on, I am going to go get a piece of cake.

 *     *     *

     Okay, so anyway, there is a way that you can avoid this sort of disappointing second date scenario.  The key to success is to take the second event in its own right - for whatever it is worth just as itself - as opposed to looking at it in terms of the first event.  Instead of Major League 2, you need to have The Bourne Ulitmatum.  So that you can tell the events are linked and have many of the same attributes but can still stand alone.  Wipe that first campfire from your memory and just find a place for the second somewhere else in the brain.  That is the way to do it.  The trick is making everyone buy into that.  The alcohol will help.  But you also have to be smooth about it, Company.  That is why, I am a media mogul - because I work the best when the heat is on.  And the H is O, my friends.  The H is O.

Friday, October 02, 2015

A Prayer for a Broken Society

     A friend of mine has something behind his knee called a Baker's cyst.  It occurs when there is damage in the joint causing the joint to create and retain excess fluid, which forms a cyst when it has nowhere else to go.  It is a very painful thing.  If you take the time to look that up on the Internet - because that is what everyone wants to have in their search history - you will see that  there really isn't a cure for a Baker's cyst.  You can treat the symptoms, but the only way to truly solve the Baker's cyst problem is to cure whatever is ailing the joint as a whole so that it stops producing fluid.
     As I have been thinking about the horrible school shooting that occurred at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, and the one before that, and the one before that, etc, etc. it is apparent to me that something is deeply wrong and broken in our country and society as a whole.
     It has come to pass that we have to do this whole painful, unnecessary scene over and over again too often these days.  There have been 294 mass shootings in the first 274 days of 2015 according to Mother Jones.  Over one hundred 9100) times since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, one governor or another has stood at one podium or another in a capital somewhere in America an sent our prayers for the latest victims of a school shooting.  It has happened forty-five (45) times so far in 2015 as Newsweek reports.  And every time, before the tears have dried, before the crime scene tape comes down, before the evidence has all been catalogued, one politician or another stands up and all the rhetoric and posturing and mudslinging over gun control beings.
      But it is all bullshit, and none of it actually matters.  Regardless of your stance on guns and gun control, that is not the problem here.  Guns are the Baker's cyst.  We can slap all of the controls and waiting periods and background checks and gun safety classes on that we want, but it won't solve the problem.  The problem is that somewhere along the way we as a society have devalued human life so much that we find this acceptable.  THE ONLY WAY TO STOP THIS SORT OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE IS TO TEACH PEOPLE THAT IT IS NOT OKAY TO JUST SHOOT OTHERS FOR NO REASON. 
      That is the only way that this is going to work.  And the sad, terrible truth is that the fix will not be fast.  There is a lost generation of people out there who have lost the skills to reason correctly, to ask for help, or to understand that walking into a school, movie theater, shopping mall, church, temple, post office, or any other public gathering place is simply something that should not be done.  There will be a lot more blood, a lot more tears, a lot more rhetoric, a lot more press conferences, before we every get it through our heads that we have to accept other, tolerate others, and just not kill one another all the time.
    So as you sit and reflect on the things that have happened in Oregon this week, and you begin to send out your thoughts and prayers, send them out for the families of the victims.  Send them out for the survivors.  Don't send them out for the deceased because they do not need them - Heaven has thirteen more souls in it today for sure.  But maybe take a minute to send some of those thought and prayers to the people who have this sort of sickness inside of themselves.  Who think that perpetrating this kind of awful, horrible, unacceptable act is okay.  Because they are the ones who have lost their way.  Those people need a dose of help from whatever deity is willing to send it.  So save one of them, you will save many more of the rest of us.  And that is the only way this will ever end.