Archive for the ‘Hobbies’ Category

A Fistful of Quarters

September 4, 2009

Last weekend, I wisely finally listened to Netflix’s recommendation and watched The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.  The critically acclaimed documentary follows everyday family man Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for Donkey Kong from reigning champion/Nick Cave look-a-like/arrogant coward Billy Mitchell:

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Managing to be heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, this film has the power to move you. Touching on topics ranging from coping with depression to living with integrity and discovering the true meaning of being a winner, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is much more than an easy laugh at super arcade nerds.

The King of Kong reminded me of another classic David vs. Goliath gaming battle currently ensuing, but only this time, it’s among the arcades themselves! Of course, I’m referring to the Help Save the Arcades campaign (presented by none other than Stride gum):

Sadly, many arcades across the country are down to their last quarter and facing closure. It’s time gamers everywhere band together and Save the Arcades! By simply playing the insanely epic Zapataur, you can help one of four amazing arcades score $25,000 and continue to provide gaming goodness to their community. Every point you score will be added to the tally of the arcade you choose to support. So the more you play, the better chance that the arcade you’re rooting for will score $25,000.

As of right now, DeKalb’s Star Worlds Arcade (Christina’s new favorite hometown destination) lacks the fan dedication necessary for achieving victory. Considering how cool owner Pacman Pat was the last time we tried to make an appearance on his turf, I’m willing to turn my back on local Game Galaxy to help his cause and you should too. Next time you’re bored and wasting time online (i.e. right now), consider battling the most formidable manbeast in all the forsaken land via a game of Zapataur and donate the points DeKalb’s way.

As Christina elegantly stated on her Facebook profile, “Do it for Pacman Pat! Show that even the underdog has a chance!” I’m betting that Pat doesn’t believe in the saying, “Life’s a video game — no matter how good you get, you’re always zapped in the end.” Let’s help the man keep the faith, Bon Jovi style.

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A Lifetime as a Human Resource

August 17, 2009

If nothing else, long distance relationships requiring air travel beneficially allow one the ability to catch up on magazine subscription reading.  This past weekend, my Tampa-bound flight to meet up with my mom and Christina for my cousin’s wedding celebration provided the opportunity to dive into Esquire‘s new September issue.

While discussing the recent spike in U.S. unemployment, Stephen Marche’s A Thousand Words About Our Culture piece titled “Why Are You Working So Hard?” especially struck a chord by elucidating the root of my current life-defining contemplations of sorts:

In American pop culture, as in American life, work has become the ultimate cipher, simultaneously giving meaning to our daily lives and stripping away, filling our time and emptying it, making us who we are and crushing our souls in the same sweeping and terrible gesture.

Once the work started to disappear, we were left with free time and uncomfortable questions.  What is the point of all this work if the end result is more work for the purpose of yet more work?  Could it be the economic catastrophe has been a relief?  We needed a pause and we got one, and we’ve started to ask ourselves what the hell we’re working for.

Granted, my situation is by no means unique to my age bracket, but I’d love to figure out a resolution as soon as possible.  As I beat my head against the wall (of life!), I envy those that already have an answer to what they’re working for.  All that being said, while I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, my love for cinema surely provides an exciting escape.

For those that know me well, I’ve been of fan of making amateur hour videos that barely pass as movies for years.  While I was catching up on my July edition en route to my special lady, my usual partner-in-crime took the leap into filmmaking competition by collaborating with some close Nashville friends to create an award-winning 48HR Film Project masterpiece.

For your viewing pleasure, I bring you Bret, Tyler, and David’s gem, “Shadow of a Woman” — the dramatic winner of five 48HR Film awards, including first runner-up overall:

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As Robert Altman once said, “filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.”  While I’m trying to figure out my own, what better way than to spend time doing what you love with the ones you love.

On the next production, I’m definitely clearing my overwhelmingly bustling schedule to heroically lead our team’s march out of the shadows into the promised land of blue ribbons and worldwide acclaim.

There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand

May 9, 2009

With looming unemployment around the corner, I’m naturally weighing my options as far as relocation goes.  I’ve always been taught that one of the best ways to make important decisions can be through a thorough pros vs. cons list.  “Staying in Nashville” may have just received a game-changer after my discovery of Fleur de Lis Flavors.

Snowballs

A brand new New Orleans-style snowball and specialty snack shop, Fleur de Lis Flavors (meaning “flower of the lily”) proudly serves “mouth watering and refreshing snowballs that are Naturally N’awlins with a little Nashville twang.”  Reading the founder’s personal history felt like déjà vu (minus the “being a young girl in New Orleans” part):

As a young girl growing up in New Orleans, I cannot remember life without snowballs. Snowball stands are located throughout the city and are frequented by locals and tourists alike. I remember taking family trips to the snowball stand on hot days, stepping up to the counter and ordering my favorite snowball. We hung out for a little while outside of the stand to “knock the top off” or eat the top part of the snowball that towered over the lip of the cup. This was done so the snowball was easier to transport.

One of my favorite childhood memories was visiting summer snowball stands in Mt. Vernon and the Jersey Shore.  As many can attest, this love for icy treats has held true through the rest of my life, resulting in snowcone machine Christmas presents, frequent “Happy Hour” stops to Sonic, and icee bets with certain uncles during days out on the golf course.  Needless to say, I’m pumped to hear that Nashville now offers the same original treat I fell in love with as a 5 year old.

You may be asking yourself, “Are snowballs different from snowcones?”  The answer is YES.  While both are delectable frozen treats from heaven, snowballs are made from finely shaved filtered ice that is shaved when you order, ensuring a lighter, fluffy texture.  It’s like eating freshly fallen snow with a delicious sugar-filled topping.  Basically, even though snowcones still dominate all other standard frozen treats, snowballs are playing in their own exclusive premier league (similar to Creme Soda with all other soft drinks).

Arguably, a snowball stand’s best feature is the variety of incredibly tasty flavors it has to offer.  While I may or may not have a gallon of all-time favorite Tiger’s Blood safely secured in my apartment for my own snowcone making pleasures, Fleur de Lis Flavors offers over 40 other flavorings for snowballs as well!

The new Nashville shop also makes freshly-squeezed lemonade, hot roasted nuts, and chocolate covered frozen bananas.  Due to my continued lack of maturity, I loved the website’s description of these other products, most notably the Cinnamon Vanilla Roasted Nuts:

No HOT sign needed! You can smell when these nuts are ready!

No HOT sign needed! You can smell when these nuts are ready!

The storefront operation is located at the Nashville Farmers’ Market next to the Bicentennial Mall in Downtown Nashville (900 8th Ave N).  If you live in the area, do yourself a favor and enjoy this gift from above.

Diplomacy: “Ruining friendships for the past 50 years”

March 3, 2009

Diplomacy could quite possibly be my least favorite board game of all time. While it certainly doesn’t help that I’m a sore loser to begin with (e.g., my relatives jokingly bought me the board game Sorry as a toddler), I have a hard time enjoying games where winning inevitably requires deception and/or betrayal.

I don’t let many people close by design, but the good friends I do have are very trustworthy and dependable. I was introduced to Diplomacy by a group of pals who fall into this category, so you can imagine my surprise when I realized I had just been ushered into a game that destroys all that is good about life and humanity.

Some Diplomacy advocates believe the game is “terrific” because it isn’t dictated by a roll of the dice, but I’d rather try my hand at luck over hoping regional “ties” hold true. Alliances only hold a certain shelf life in Diplomacy, because reaching the promised land of world domination requires a strategic backstab or two.

Diplomacy is simply not a “feel good” game. You’re in a constant state of doubt with real-life friends, so the excitement from actually winning in no way matches the mental and time investment required to get there. I’ve developed ulcers over the course of writing this diatribe just thinking about it.

To make matters worse, Diplomacy takes an eternity to play. After several “years” into the game (hours or weeks depending on in-person or online matches), there are still at least three major players duking it out. In-person games inevitably end with the remaining competitors deciding to quit, something eliminated players were likely advocating hours earlier.

Consider me soft, weak, or passive, but I hate everything about this board game and will never play again unless forced to in hell. If nothing else, Diplomacy proves I could never be a politician and I’m totally at peace with that realization.