I’ve Become a De Facto Expert of Video Games… And that Sucks 

Oh, hi there. It’s been awhile again. Been busy with my actual job and adult stuff. I actually got a promotion recently, and with it a whole caboodle of additional responsibilities. I actually have a fancy title with direct reports now, which let’s face it, is a terrifying prospect. The fact that the upper management at my company thinks that I should be providing mentorship and career advice to anyone has me questioning their decision-making skills. With that said, I’m still gaming AND writing when I can.  Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my latest: 

There is an old saying that goes, be careful what you wish for, because one day, it may come true. Older people would use this phrase as a response to me pining for something as child would always provide the most utterly ridiculous examples of why I should be “careful for what I wish for.” 

I immediately think back to the movie Home Alone, where a young Macaulay Culkin wishes for his family to disappear and in turn, they forget to take him on vacation to Paris, leaving home to fend for himself during the holidays. 

At first, he’s ecstatic, because he can do whatever he wants, but he soon learns that he misses and loves his family. This came after he tortures and nearly murders two burglars while narrowly avoiding being murdered by them. Really gets me into the Christmas Spirit. 

I remember teachers using this movie as example of being careful of what you wish for, and me thinking to myself, well that is a pretty outlandish. What are the chances that simply wishing to have some alone time leads to assaulting Joe Pesci via blow torch? 

It wasn’t until years later in a philosophy class that I took in college that I learned of the “slippery slope.” Unfortunately, I forgot after years of drinking and abusing my brain and body in various illicit ways.  So, a quick Google search and voila! 

“A slippery slope argument, in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a consequentialist logical device in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect. The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process that leads to the significant effect. This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fear mongering, in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience. The fallacious sense of “slippery slope” is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. In a non-fallacious sense, including use as a legal principle, a middle-ground possibility is acknowledged, and reasoning is provided for the likelihood of the predicted outcome.” 

See! It is amazing that after years of playing football before the invention of concussion protocols, combining Whippets with bong hits, and drinking copious amounts of cheap alcohol – and yet, everything turned out okay. Thank you internet and thank you Wikipedia! 

However, can there possibly be a grain of truth to all of this? I have learned that you should indeed be careful of what you wish for. Hear me out on this. 

When I was in my early teens, back in the greatest decade, known as the 1990’s, my parents and especially my father would ask me when and I’m going to give up playing with these “toys?” The “toys” he was referring to, were video games.  

“Never,” would be my reply. “Gaming is the way of the future and I will never stop. You’ll see, one day, video games will be more popular than everything.” I was a smart kid if I do say so myself, and is it turns out, I was right.  Video games did indeed become insanely popular and mainstream. I am vindicated. So why do I wish gaming was a more niche and less mainstream now? 

Kids find out that I am a gamer and they want to play with me like I’m a novelty. Let’s play with the old man they squeal gleefully, like I’m a dancing monkey or a horse that knows how to do math by tapping its hoof. I don’t like this. I’m not a freak. I’M NOT AN ANIMAL! 

It doesn’t stop there either. Other, non-gaming parents want to know what is good for their kids. I’ll get accosted at functions and get asked questions like, “Hey, you play video games, what’s the deal with Fortnight, Overwatchor whatever new gaming craze of the moment?” To which my reply is, “I don’t know, I don’t play those types of games,” to which many times, is a lie. I just don’t want to discuss games with a non-gamer and also, they should fucking Google it. I’m not trying to be a jerk but discussing video games with someone who is not interested in gaming and solely asking for their kids is mind numbing and negatively impacts my buzz. 

Even scarier than acquittances asking about gaming is the out of the blue stranger wanting to pick my brain about gaming. I travel a lot for work and always brought along a handheld or even more recently, my Nintendo Switch, the sight of which, earlier on, nearer to the console’s launch, would illicit a few questions on the device.  

It’s for these reasons that I avoid gaming related small talk with all strangers. I used to avoid telling people that I was a gamer because I wanted to avoid the negative stereotypes and connotation, on how gaming was anti-social, or for nerds, or for children, or too violent, or made children too violent. Now I avoid gaming related chit chat because I don’t want to get dragged into boring conversation. 

Now there is an even a more troubling issue. I have found that other adults want to know if I can help onboard them into gaming again as they haven’t played in years but want to start up because gaming is popular again. Case and point, my neighbor swung by the house the other day to pick up his daughter, who was on a play date with my daughter and noticed a copy of Game Informer (yes, I’m a dope) on the shelf.  

He apparently turned to my wife and was surprised to find out that I was a gamer, as I didn’t seem like someone who played video games. He mentioned that he used to be a gamer himself, but fell out of it, but perhaps he would pick it up again, with my help. My wife thought this was quaint, while I thought that this idea was terrifying. I’m not trying to be an ass, but the last thing I want to do is to teach another grown man how to be a gamer. I’m too old to be someone’s video game mentor. 

Lastly, I’m reluctant to become friends with other adult gamers, who want me to join up in their leagues or gamer groups. This happens a lot at work actually, where a random co-worker finds out that I am a gamer and then wants my Gamertag so that we can meet up online later. However, I avoid this at all costs for purely selfish and paranoid reasons. Selfish reasons in that I don’t want to give up my free time to play with someone new as I am pretty set in my ways. I don’t want to alter my schedule or the types of games that I enjoy to play with someone new.  

Also, what if I ditch work one day to play video games and my coworker sees me online for 8 hours when I told everyone that I contracted dengue fever? That can lead to bad optics and uncomfortable conversations with HR. 

It’s funny that I have gotten to this point. I wanted to so bad for gaming to become mainstream, and now that it is, I don’t want to embrace it, because I’ve become a tired old man. I almost yearn for the days where gaming was more niche, but I realize that is very selfish. So now I prefer to shut myself in my man cave and play inconspicuously with my small group of friends or randos, rarely revealing my true identity of a gamer. Unless I get pushed, by a young whippersnapper, then I have to beat him down. Never underestimate the old man gamer. 

Achieving Video Game Dad Strength 

Age has a way of sneaking up and defining you. You hit a certain point in life and BOOM, people begin to look at you differently, talk to you differently, and act differently around you. Even though I don’t feel any different emotionally than when I was in my early twenties, I have come to grips that the younger generation sees me as unrelatable. 

I’ve seen it at the office, when I walk into a meeting room and a group of junior associates are yakking it up only to quiet down when I walk in. Their conversation had nothing to do with me and was nothing that I haven’t heard before, but they clammed up just the same. Perhaps not wanting to regale an elder with their weekend shenanigans, even though it sounds relatively tame compared to the trouble I got myself into. 

I see a difference in public too. Simple acts of respect, like someone calling me sir, or mister reminds me that I have entered a new stage in life. It’s especially jarring when someone who is obviously older than me refers to me as sir, like we’re on the same level or kindred spirit. I’m just not ready for that yet. 

Age can be a big definer in sports physical sports as well. Players can be young and inexperienced or they can be in their prime. There are the savvy veterans, maybe not as physically capable as they were a few years ago, but their knowledge of the game and craftiness gives them the ability to lead their teams to success. Then there are the athletes who are past their prime, incapable of coming to grips with the fact that the game has passed them by. 

Or, they can be like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots who seemingly never age. Even though he lost in the Super Bowl this past February, his age and ability had nothing to do with it. In fact, if it wasn’t for him and his impressive offensive numbers, the Patriots would have been blown out. 

His longevity is impressive, given how violent football is. Even the relatively short 10 years I played organized football, from elementary school through high school, my body has paid the price. My fingers are a mangled mess which frighten small children, and the arthritis in my knees do a better job at predicting the weather than the local meteorologist.  Another example of how I may feel young emotionally and at heart, but not always physically.  

My love and knowledge of the game has also allowed me to appreciate the athletes who play it, regardless of what team they play for. I have become somewhat of a fan of Tom Brady, which is a bit odd, since I’m not a Patriots fan. On the contrary, I root for the putrid dumpster fire that is this year’s New York Giants. 

What’s not to like about Tom Brady? He’s handsome, married to a supermodel, and has class.  As Brady has gotten older, has level of play has gotten better. At 40-years-old (just two years older than me), Brady’s skills should be diminishing, and yet, he is still at the top of his game. He gives old timers like myself hope. That’s why I root for him. 

Tom Brady and I have pretty much nothing in common, except for one important thing. As I have gotten older, I have become better at gaming.  This is a FACT! 

I’ve have been gaming a long time and always considered myself good at them, especially single player games. However, put me in a competitive situation online, back in my prime teen years, and I would get trounced. This was during a time when my skills should have been at their peak. 

In my late teens, I would get my ass handed to me in Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament on the PC. Years later, after on the original Xbox, I was being tea bagged in multiplayer on a regular basis in games like Halo 2 and Crimson Skies. How could I be so good at single player and then be thoroughly wrecked in the same game online against live opponents? 

It’s not like I didn’t put in the effort. I would spend hours practicing to no avail. My place was always at the bottom of the rankings. I came to grips that I simply sucked at competitive multiplayer and vowed never to compete again. On occasion my curiosity would get the best of me and I would play some random Call of Duty game, get a thrashing from a racist pre-pubescent child, and be quickly reminded as to why I don’t play multiplayer games. 

Then Halo 4 came along. I picked it up to play the single-player campaign and once I completed that, began to dabble in the multiplayer. At first, I was in way over my head. It was obvious that my competitors didn’t waste their time on the single player campaign and dropped right into multiplayer, and yet, this time, I did not give up. 

For whatever reason I kept on playing and one day I realized that I was not throwing my controller anymore in disgust, I wasn’t pounding the coffee table, and the dog no longer pissed on the rug and hid under the bed in fear when I fired up my Xbox. I was actually playing well, no longer relegated to the bottom of my team’s ranking. On occasion, I would even be on the top, a fluke for sure. Even when my team lost, I could still keep my chin up, knowing that I still played well, which was a good feeling. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst.

A couple of years later Titanfall came out, and again, I continued to excel. I would play along with other friends and even they would remark at how good my level of play was, which meant a lot, since I considered them to be much more skilled than I was. 

The following year I began playing Halo 5 and Gears of War 4, and again, I was competitive. Holding my own against the competition, landing in the top 3 more often than not, and occasionally being the top player in the match. 

It wasn’t until the release of Titanfall 2, that I can honestly say, and pardon my crudeness, that I became a big swinging dick in multiplayer, at the ripe old age of 36. 

Having realized that my advanced age has bestowed onto me remarkable strength and reflexes, I decided to put it to the test. I purchased Player Unknown Battlegrounds for my Xbox One.  

My first game in Player Unknown Battlegrounds landed me in the Top 10, which is excellent for a first time if I do say so myself. I’m not a fan of the game in retrospect, so I have no plans of returning. I took my Top 10 finish and retired with my head held high. 

Lastly, it’s Destiny 2 which really hits home that I’m some kind of Tom Brady of gaming.  

I found myself excelling in the game’s Crucible, even though I wasn’t a fan of it’s slow and prodding pace. In Raids, I was helping to carry my team, often times with the most kills and assists.  

I hope this doesn’t come across as bragging, because I honestly do not know where these skills are coming from. I’m not playing more than I used to, and if anything, I’m playing a lot less with all the projects that come along from buying a new house and having 6-month-old and 5-year-old daughters. 

One would think that as I got older, my reflexes would be dull and decrepit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe after years of playing, I’ve developed some kind of video game “Dad Strength.” 

I have heard about this mythical concept of actual “Dad Strength.” Perhaps you have seen videos online as seemingly normal looking dads accomplishing remarkable things. We’re just like real life super heroes. Pudgy, balding, super heroes, with bad backs, arthritic knees, and big low hanging balls. 

I can without a doubt confirm that actual “Dad Strength” is indeed real. I’m nowhere near as “fit” looking now as a man in his late thirties, compared to when I was a teen or in my twenties, but I can still lift the heavy weights if I want to. I’ll be at the gym and sometimes, I’ll rack up the weight, just to prove that I can still do it. Then I have to explain to my chiropractor why my neck and back are all fucked up.  Also, keep in mind that lifting heavy weights impresses no one, especially attractive girls in tight yoga pants. Turns out that a bald, bearded man with the perfect “dad bod,” doing super heavy squats is not attractive. 

I really do believe that I have developed some sort of video game “Dad Strength,” as there is really no other scientific explanation. I should suck at online gaming, and yet I’m better at it now than I ever was.  

I even excel at games where I have little to no experience. The past two weekends, I played my 10-year-old nephew in Madden 18. I haven’t played a live person at Madden in nearly 20 years while my nephew plays it daily. At half-time it was 30-0 and he didn’t want to play anymore.  

Perhaps I should’ve taken it easy on him, but I cannot help myself. He vowed to practice all week and that next time, he warned, I wouldn’t be so lucky. Sure enough, after talking a lot of smack during breakfast we fired up Madden again. I took it easy on him and he scored first quickly. As he rubbed it in, I flipped the switch and put up 35 unanswered points. He didn’t know what hit him. He could not fathom how his “old” uncle could be so good at this game. He was at a loss for words. I told him to keep practicing and “get good.” Sure, my wife said I should take it easy on him and let him win, but how else is he supposed to learn? 

Perhaps this is a blessing, since the thought of getting older terrifies me and I hate doing things that old people like doing. Trust me, I know, and see what old people do to keep themselves occupied, when I visit my father-in-law in Florida. He lives in an area we’re the age range is between 80 and “holy shit were you alive before the lightbulb was invented?”  

They love to golf, which I find mind numbing. They love to go to Indian Casinos and drop quarters into the slots, which I find a total waste of money. They like to garden, which I do only out of necessity, so that my neighbors don’t think that they live next to the Munsters. 

Perhaps the one thing that they do that I can tolerate is shuffle board, but only when I’m incredibly drunk. 

So, I don’t plan on giving up gaming anytime soon. I’m simply too good at gaming and getting better at apparently. Also, video games help slow mental decline. I think I’ll just keep playing, even when I look like a Caucasian version of David Lo Pan. Topping leader boards and beating down braggadocios whipper snappers is more fun than shuffle board and Parcheesi anyway. 

Everything Sounds Better When Read Aloud by Metal Gear’s Colonel Campbell

Last week, the US Justice Department indicted 13 Russian nationals for waging an “information warfare” campaign via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook during the 2016 US Presidential Election. That is bad.

You know what is not bad? Having Paul Eiding, the voice actor who plays Colonel Roy Campbell from the Metal Gear series read the juiciest bits of the indictment for your personal amusement.

You could have played this out loud for me without any context and I would immediately have a flashback to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

I now want everything read out loud by Paul Eiding as Colonel Roy Campbell. Insurance policies, books on tape, last wills and testaments, and the long list of terrifying side effects from prescription drug commercials. It’s like ranch dressing. It just makes everything better!

Game & Drink Pairings for the Discerning to Degenerate Gamer 

A couple weeks ago, I posted a blog for the first time since taking a hiatus. I’m not going to rehash this, but if you want to know why I was out, you may read about here. As with most of blogs, my wife likes to read them as well. It’s not that she finds them incredibly interesting or witty but rather she is checking my grammar and writing ability, since she fancies herself an English teacher. (Fun Fact: she’s an English teacher) 

So last week, after she told me that she read my latest blog and I asked her what she thought, she said that it was a bit more serious and somber than my usual posts and it seemed like I wasn’t trying to be funny and stupid. 

She was right. My last post was a bit of a serious entry and a departure from my normal writing style. Some may have been turned off by it. It’s like going to a heavy metal concert and the band decides to play a power ballad or some lame ass shit and everyone decides it’s a good time to go take a piss and grab another beer. 

Speaking of beer… 

Back in college, I had this amazing history professor. I remember the first day of class when I met him. He looked like your stereotypical history professor, right down to the tweed jacket with suade elbow pads.  

As professors invariably do on the first day of class, all he covered was the semester ground rules and the syllabus. He ended the class by saying that we were going to have fun, and history was great, but not as great as Guinness and that the dark stout was proof that there is a god and he loved us. 

Okay, so he was a horrible professor and probably an alcoholic, but it was the easiest ‘A’ in history I ever received. He was also a nice guy and I would bump into him every once and awhile at a bar by school. HUGE SURPRISE! 

So, it was right around this time in my life that I learned that imbibing in a merry brew or other assorted potent potable could be more about just getting black out drunk. An alcoholic beverage or two (or five) could be savored and paired with other things, enhancing the experience. 

For example, sipping a fine whiskey and smoking a cigar is pretty nice and not douchey at all! I can drink wine and eat cheese, olives, cured meats, and bread all day long, every day. Want a little advice, drizzle some honey on the cheese and shove that right in your face—you will not be disappointed.  

I even started drinking beer for the taste and to enjoy the craftmanship that went into the brewing process. Look at me! I have become so civilized. 

Given that life has become so busy now with two children in the house, I have found myself having to multitask the things I love. A cold beer or a stiff drink helps me to unwind after a long day as does a gaming session. Combining the two should be a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.  

However, some games pair better with certain drinks. For example, one wouldn’t drink a cabernet sauvignon with beluga caviar, unless he was some kind of CAVEMAN. We are civilized people here after all. 

So, for my totally unscientific and completely arbitrary study, I looked at some of the games I’ve been playing for approximately the past 12 months and paired them with the drinks that I feel make the most sense. To top off each entry, I will then regale you with an anecdote from my past where I drank too much of said drink, making a complete fool out of myself or perhaps experienced something whimsy. 

So, in not any particular order… PROST! 

Titanfall 2  Guinness 

Titanfall is a fine title, with a surprisingly good single player campaign, with a deep, satisfying, and balanced multiplayer. Whenever I’m in the mood for multiplayer, this is the title I turn to. 

Guinness, as it turns out, is always the drink that I return to as well. Beer is my drink of choice and I drink a lot of it. I’m not shy when it comes to trying new brands, because variety is the spice of life. With that said, there’s something comforting about Guinness. It’s a good standby that never disappoints, much like Titanfall 2. 

Back in my college days, I would visit a close friend who attended a different school up state. He was friendly with the rugby team and every year I was invited up to a big fund-raising bash where they would serve $3 pints of Guinness. However, since my buddy was close with the team, we didn’t pay a dime and got to drink as much as we wanted. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario? 

We started drinking promptly at noon and in a flash, we were having a good time. Eventually a pretty girl caught my eye and we struck up a conversation. Maybe there was a smooch or two at some point and she invited me outside for a smoke. Things were starting to get… interesting. 

I followed her out and she handed me her pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I lit two cigarettes up at once and handed her one, because I was cool and shit, and we continued the conversation. Then, in mid conversation, while we were standing in the middle of a parking lot, she reaches up under her skirt, drops down her panties, squats down and proceeds to take a piss, right in front of me. 

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” I asked, clearly appalled.  

“Uh, peeing.” The girl nonchalantly slurred. 

I backed away and went back into the bar. Found my friend and told him we had to leave right, fucking, now. 

For the rest of the weekend, I was known as the guy who hooked up with the parking lot pisser. 

Madden NFL 18 – $3.00 40 oz. can of Bud Light from a NYC Pharmacy 

I used to play a lot of Madden football back in the day. It was almost like a signaling of the gaming season restarting after a summer off. The release of a new Madden meant that fun new games would be coming out soon and playing mindless video game FOOTBAAAAAW was a perfect primer to get back into playing regularly. Then I realized how mediocre these games were and took a 5-year pass on the series. 

I took a shot at the series again this year to play the Longshot story mode. While it was surprisingly fun and added a little something different, a part of me still feels like the title was not worth $60 I paid for it. 

The problem with NFL Madden 18, and all the previous titles before it, is that the franchise is hopelessly average, and this is coming from someone who is a football fan. The changes that come out year after year are so evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, that it is hard to get excited about it.  

With that said, people continue to buy this title year after year, so this franchise will never go away. There can be a thermonuclear war that wipes out civilization and EA will still find a way to release a new Madden. The only things that will be left are Twinkies, cockroaches, and new copies of Madden every year. MARK MY WORDS! 

In a way, Bud Light, which is the most blatantly mediocre of beers is the perfect match for the mostly blatantly mediocre of videogames. 

Know what else will be left after a nuclear apocalypse? Stock piles of cheap, watered down, yet surprisingly nasty, Bud Light. 

I used to work in New York City and had to commute in from New Jersey. That meant early mornings and late evenings commuting back and forth. The company I was working for was horrible, so the highlight of my day was buying the cheapest 40 oz. can of beer from the Duane Reade Pharmacy located in the bowels of Penn Station, and drinking it from a brown bag (CLASSY) during my train ride home. More often than not, the cheapest beer would be Bud Light. On rough days I would buy two cans and get sufficiently buzzed. I did this every day after work, and then found myself drinking regularly on weekends for no reason to boot. Finally, after a doctor’s visit for some anxiety, I was told that I was essentially going down the path of becoming an alcoholic, so it was time to cut down on the drinking. 

I eventually found a better job closer to home, working with Lizard People pretending to be humans, but I really didn’t cut down on the drinking, because my co-workers were so unnerving. 

YAY HAPPY STORY!  – Kind-of 

Horizon Zero Dawn – Fine Irish Whiskey 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a gorgeous open world action game that is surprisingly deep and at times wonderfully complex. It can be overwhelming at first glance, but give it some time, enjoy the beautiful graphics, and you’ll get swept away by it. 

Horizon Zero Dawn actually reminds me of the first time I was introduced to fine whiskey. A friend “taught” me how to drink whiskey while enjoying a glass of Johnnie Walker Black. I was told to sip and savor it, instead of drinking it down, enjoying the smoky, oak tinged essence of it. This is quite the departure from doing shots of Irish Mist and chasing it with Guinness, but things change. 

Over the years, I learned to try out different version of whiskies and bourbons. Much like Horizon Zero Dawn, a good whiskey is deep and complex. 

Back during my college days, I was invited by a friend to attend an “authentic” Saint Patrick’s Day party. I’m not sure what made it so authentic, other than we ate a lot off corn beef and cabbage and the drink of choice was primarily top shelf whiskey, chased by cheap beer. 

Anyhow, there are only a couple of things worse than getting drunk on whiskey. I now know that whiskey makes you into an angry, belligerent, stupid drunk, and you will have the worst hangover the following day.  Case and point, the party went from fun to a borderline brawl in just a couple of hours.  

My friend, of pure Irish heritage, who already had too much to drink decided that he would feel so much better if he just threw up. This is a perfectly fine idea when one had too much drink and knows it. The problem is, he decided to purge from out of the opening of a second story barn window. There is nothing more majestic than watching an Irishman vomit out beer, whiskey, and half digested corned beef and cabbage out of a second story barn window and onto a crowd of angry drunk men below.  

It is a sight that I will remember for the rest of my life, up there with seeing the Grand Canyon, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the birth of both my children. 

Sonic Mania  Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers 

After years of miss steps, an honest to goodness Sonic was released that pays homage to the original while omitting human girl on anthropomorphic hedgehog action. 

Playing this game reminds me of my youth. I was 11-years-old when the first Sonic the Hedgehog came out on the Sega Genesis. Sonic Mania takes all of the good that I remembered from the original and none of the bad. It effortlessly infuses old with new creating a great modern take on the speedy side scroller. 

1991 was also around the time that I was introduced to illicit alcohol in the form Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers.  

I vividly remember a warm afternoon in the summer of ’91 playing Sonic the Hedgehog with my friends when the trouble maker of the group (not me, I swear) asked if we wanted to sneak some booze from his father’s garage fridge.  

We all thought this was a splendid idea and road our bikes over to his garage and each of us helped ourselves to a refreshing bottle of Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers. We then road over to a secluded section of a nearby playground and started sipping on our wine coolers, just like grown-ups do. 

Know what else grown-ups do? They smoke, and my friend had that covered too. He swiped a few cigarettes from his grandmother and we all lit up. Man, we were so cool drinking our wine coolers and smoking Virginia Slims in the playground.  

One of my friends, took a swig of wine cooler and had a loooong satisfying drag from his cigarette, he looked at me, and winked, almost to say that life doesn’t get much better than this… and then he vomited his Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler all over himself. My other friend did the same. Me and another managed to compose ourselves, but just barely. I rode my bike home, went to my room and skipped dinner that night, complaining of a stomachache. 

I wish I could say that I learned a valuable lesson that day and never had a drink or a cigarette again, but then I would be lying. 

Destiny 2 – Vodka & Red Bull 

 

Destiny 2 is my new infatuation. I enjoyed the first one, but it got old for me fast. Then one day I put down the original and never played it again. The new raids and DLC couldn’t even draw me back in. I can see that this is not going to be the case for Destiny 2. 

I don’t know if it is the inclusion of a semi competent if unoriginal story, which the first game lacked entirely, or the more streamlined leveling system, but this game has its hooks in me. I think about all day, waiting for the moment to have some free time to play. On the weekends, I’ll play late into the night, having to squeeze in just one more raid, one more patrol, one more public event, or just one more visit to the traveler.  If only there was a drink that could me sufficiently buzzed yet get me wired up at the same time so that I can continue playing into the wee hours. 

Do people still drink Vodka and Red Bull? The entire concept of mixing a depressant (vodka) with a stimulant (Red Bull) seems like a bad idea. Just the thought of drinking a Vodka and Red Bull now makes my heart palpitate. In the late 90’s and early aughts however, Vodka and Red Bull was just what the doctor ordered when hitting the clubs—that and Ecstasy.  

I wasn’t a big club goer but there was a short time where me and friends frequented them. It seemed like that was what everyone did back in the late 90’s and early aughts. Even if you weren’t into dancing, or hated dance music, you still went to a club, at least that was the case for me and my friends. 

Back in the day, there was three solid choices in New York City to go clubbing. There was the Limelight, which was perfect if you were a moody goth. The club was a converted church and they played dark trance music mostly. There was a legend there that clubgoers who went to the Limelight were at risked at getting poked by someone a with a hypodermic needle. Once you realized what was going on, a mysterious person would then hand you a black rose and whisper in your ear, “welcome to my nightmare.”  Legend has it, the needle was infected with HIV. Even if this is not true and just an urban legend, that is seriously fucked up. We didn’t go to the Limelight that much. 

There was the aptly named Sound Factory, which was your typical mega club that catered to mostly the bridge and tunnel crowd. There was a very good chance of bumping into your stereotypical Bobby Bachagaloop, Tony Bagadonuts, and their whole entourage from Long Island there. Make inadvertent eye contact with one of them, just for a millisecond, and they were ready to fight because you must be some kind of a “queerah.” Glance at one of their girlfriends and they were ready to fight because you also must be some kind of a “queerah,” which makes no sense to me, but apparently makes perfect sense to a coked-up juicehead from Ronkonkoma.  

Of course, there were a bunch of underground clubs that were super exclusive and normally required you to wait online for hours just to get turned away when you got to the door.  Fuck those places.  

Then there was the Culture Club, which was just kitschy stupid fun. This place was a theme club, essentially playing revamped 80’s dance tunes that were kicked up a notch as well as run of the mill dance and electronica. People went there just to have fun and there was very rarely any trouble. Seeing packs of girls on a bachelorette party was common, as were 21st birthday parties, and tourists. It was one of the few clubs where I felt relatively safe from juice heads from “Strong Island,” deranged psychopaths with dirty hypodermic needles, and Paris Hilton look-a-likes asking me if I had any coke. 

One night, while partying at the culture club, I already had a bunch of Vodka and Red Bulls in me, as well as god knows what else, all I know was I feeling incredibly euphoric and felt a kinship with everyone around me.  

Around 3:00 AM, the fire alarm goes off, the house lights come on, and everyone is ushered out by security into the streets. We were told that the club won’t be reopening for the night. Feeling a bit hungry, my group, and a lot of other club goers, made our way to street vendors selling your typical dirty water dogs, pretzels, and knishes.  

Nothing hits the spot better after a night of clubbing than street food. According to my friend, I struck up a merry conversation with two gentlemen dressed up as Boy George and Billy Idol. Who knows, they could have actually been Boy George and Billy Idol, I was too drunk and high to know any better.   

I have no idea what we spoke about, but according to multiple accounts, I bought both of them hotdogs and we talked about politics and sports for almost an hour. 

So, what are your favorite drink and game pairings? Have any depraved drinking incidents? Share them in the comments. 

For a Time, I Was a Gamer that Didn’t Play Video Games 

Hi folks. Remember me? Wait, come back. Don’t be that way. I had a lot going on. All good things really, just been very busy. Don’t be upset, you’re still my number one. I won’t pretend that we can pick up right where we left off, but maybe you can give me the opportunity to win back your hearts. 

The past 6 months have been a whirlwind. A lot of life changing events occurred since my last post. I can’t say that none of the things that happened were unplanned. On the contrary, they were all planned, so there is no one I can blame, other than myself. As my wife is more than willing to remind me, time and time again, I am not an intelligent man. 

While I have been away, I left my previous employer, which apparently was a company that was a front for intergalactic Lizard People bent on world domination. In turn, I started at a new company. The transition has been a challenge, but worthwhile and rewarding.  

I have also sold my first home and purchased a new one. This was by far, one of the most stressful things I have ever done. Purchasing a home, when you’re a renter is easy, compared to selling a home, then trying to time things just right so that you can roll in funds from the sale into a new home purchase. Of course, once you get through all the paper work, mortgage applications, lawyers, realtors, you then must pack up and actual move, which used a form of torture in the less civilized world. 

Oh, and those aforementioned lawyers. Fuck these people. I hope the Lizard People pretending to be the humans that are my former coworkers enslave all the lawyers first. I despised the sellers’ attorney’s attitude and lack of intelligence and MY attorney an even lazier nickel and diming piece of shit. Does being a lawyer make people miserable or do miserable people become lawyers? I actually have a friend who is an attorney and he actively tells younger people who are considering a profession in law to consider something else. 

Perhaps the biggest change in my life is that I became a dad again. That’s right folks, my ding dong is still strong and my loins have spawned fruit again.  

Now this was a planned pregnancy, so that’s fancy talk for being treated like a piece of meat by the wife. Sounds great a first, but it really isn’t. She had iPhone apps, and timetables, and best practices that must be followed. No wining, dining, and romance this time around. This pregnancy was going to be cold, clinical, and efficient like German S&M. It was all worth it in the end, as it resulted in a healthy, happy, and perfect little girl. I’m actually typing this from the hospital right now, as my wife and newborn rest. 

So, to say that I have been busy is an understatement. One may ask when do I even have time to play games, and the answer to that is I really don’t. Matter of fact, I have had very little time to a lot of things that I enjoy lately, which has been taking quite a toll on me.  

Gaming, along with exercise, reading, and writing is what keeps me grounded. I suffer from anxiety and depression, and when I feel like I’m going down to a “bad place,” my pastimes keep me grounded and normalize me. As one can imagine, changing jobs, moving, and having another child, even though all good things, can really mess with a person’s psyche. 

Then one day, while I was lurking on some gaming related blogs and catching up on news, I had an existential crisis.  Am I even a gamer anymore, since I haven’t played an actual video game in months? Then some panic and anxiety began to set in. Will I even have the time to play games in any extended capacity anymore?  

I mentioned in the past that I have been on this quest to create my optimal gaming space. At the new house, I was able to get damn near close to my ideal. It was one of the first things I set up in my move, and then for weeks, I hardly spent any time there. My new job is demanding and time consuming, my older daughter is starting kindergarten, and there is now an infant in the house. Add all those things to my regular day to day tasks and I was starting to think that my gaming days are over. 

This is a painful thought. I have always considered myself to be a gamer and the idea of no longer being able to actually play video games, because of my career and family was terrifying. I was also feeling like I was being selfish. Should I even be worrying about my lack of time to play video games because I had so much more important things to do? 

The answer to that question is yes, I should be worried about it, because I enjoy playing video games, they are part of my identity, and they allow me to be centered. Sometimes you have to be selfish and make time for yourself. That sounds like something Sigmund Freud would say, right before snorting a huge line of cocaine. 

In all seriousness though, you can be a gamer that doesn’t play games. Being a fan or a follower of gaming makes you a gamer in my eyes. For those months where I wasn’t playing any games, I still considered myself a gamer and even if I don’t play as much as I used to. In much of the same way, I consider myself an auto enthusiast, who drives a hum drum boring ass SUV, I still can appreciate a Ferrari or a Lamborghini when I see one.  

I’ve written in the past on how getting older and having more responsibilities has a tendency of stripping away the free time available for casual pursuits. Well friends, it only gets worse. If you’re in school, classes will become more and more challenging and require more study. Buying a house? Well, houses will always need to be fixed and updated regardless of how new they are or in what condition they are in. Thinking about having kids or already have them? Well as kids get older they begin to have activities of their own, like swim classes, soccer practice, play dates, concerts, plays, and recitals. Lastly, you work hard and move up the corporate ladder getting paid a lot more, but then you find that you’re working 80 hours a week and so stressed out from the amount of responsibility you, hardly have the energy to do anything. 

However, even with all of the above, you need to make time to do what makes you happy. I’m going to continue playing, reading, and writing about gaming even if it’s just for minutes a night, because that is what gamers do and doing those things brings joy and balance in my life. I’m not going to let life get in the way of my favorite pastime. 

Maybe when the kids are in college I will have the opportunity to play more games. I reckon 13 years from now, which, in the grand scheme of things, is not that long off and just imagine how great the games will be by then. That’s something to look forward to. 

Stop Trying to Get Your Significant Other into Gaming

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and you know what that means? Articles about how to get your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife into games. Take it from me, an expert in gaming and relationships, that there is nothing more overrated than gaming with your significant other. You should just be happy to have someone that will touch your genitals (FOR FREE) and lets you game in peace alone.

I’ve been married nine years to a woman who loves me regardless of all my faults, which are many. Before that, I’ve been in my fair share of relationships. Each of these relationships shared two recurring themes. One, that these girls were damn lucky to be with a stud like myself, and two, every girl I was in a relationship with could care less about games.

Now, some of these girls were simply aloof to my gaming past time. My wife falls into this category. I’m just some smart, hot, ripped guy that plays video games, and she, and all the girls before her put up with it, because they love me THAT MUCH!

However, there was one girlfriend, once upon a time, that despised my gaming so much that she actively tried to cure me of the habit. She was a twisted and evil person. She’ll remain nameless for this blog, to protect the innocent. Also, I’m completely terrified of this girl to this day and hope that she never finds me. Saying her name aloud could possible cause her to materialize, like Voldemort.

I’d readily admit that I was a different person when this crazy girl and I were an item. I had more hair, for example. I also drank a lot more, smoked, and experimented with the occasional recreational drug. She, took it upon herself to try and cure me of all these habits. She also felt it necessary to cure me of the most detestable and vile habit of them all. Gaming.

She didn’t let her hatred to video games be known to me right away.  She would humor me by listening to me drone on about games, or occasionally playing them with me, but as I got more emotionally vested in the relationship, she began to tighten the screws. She started dropping subtle and not so subtle hints that she wasn’t a gamer and she wasn’t going to be in a relationship with a gamer.

Finally, she revealed her coup de gras, a video game cessation plan, which included removing my consoles from my bedroom, and a handy chart in which I could track the consecutive days that have passed without gaming. You may be thinking that I must be joking, and I can tell you that I am indeed being dead serious.

Any man in his right mind would run from this situation as quickly as possible, but I wasn’t just “any man.” I was in my early twenties and I was thinking with the head that sat not upon my shoulders but the one in between legs. So, I did what any young man would do. I lied about what I was doing. YEAH THAT’S THE TICKET!

I told her that I went days and even weeks without playing a game after pulling all-nighters. I told her that I haven’t bought a game in months after blowing a portion of my paycheck on them. I told her that I totally wasn’t going to buy any new consoles with the intention of buying all the new consoles. I was living a lie, but admitting to her that I was still gaming would have led to my ding dong being neglected, and I was too lazy to find another girlfriend.

Finally, one day, she and I were walking through the mall and we passed a GameStop that had a Soulcalibur II kiosk up front. I was looking forward to playing that game and asked my girlfriend if she wanted to play me and surprisingly enough, she agreed.

What transpired on that fateful day was me giving my girlfriend a digital beat down for the ages. I was relentless and she was getting pissed, but refused to give up as she was extremely competitive. Round after round, she would get pummeled, and as she became even more visibly upset, I refused to back down.

It was like payback for months of her anti-gamer bullshit. It got so bad that another couple that was walking by stopped to watch, and the girl turned to her boyfriend and said sarcastically, “nice pair.”

Nice pair indeed. It dawned at me, at precisely that moment, as I rained down digital blow after blow on my girlfriend that this relationship was over. We started to drift apart and eventually broke up and became “friends.” Then I decided to go on an adventure and moved on from her entirely, but that’s another story.

After the crazy girl, I gained some much-needed self-confidence. If I learned anything from that relationship, was that I should be true to myself and my passions. I no longer hid the fact that I was a gamer, and if a new girl came along and had reservations that I was some immature man-child for being a gamer, well she was more than welcome to find someone else. That happened a few times and I wasn’t broken up about it, but quite the opposite. I felt relief knowing that I wasn’t going to get emotionally vested in a person that didn’t like me for who I am and if someone doesn’t like me for who am, then they can leave, simple as that.

There were days when I thought how great it would be to find a girl that was into gaming, but I found a far better thing. I found a girl that just let me be me and she became my wife. Isn’t that sweet?

The thought has crossed my mind about trying to turn my wife into gaming and it dawned on me that this would be a horrible idea.

Gaming, for me at least, is a release. It’s a break from the stresses of the day. Those stresses include work and my family. I like my job and I love my family, but I need time away from them to stay centered and gaming is my outlet for that.

I’m also not pleasant to be around when I’m gaming as I’m a competitive prick and don’t like to lose when I play online. My wife hates it when I play online, but she tolerates it and I don’t want to subject her to it. My next gaming set up is going to be in a sound proof basement so that she can’t hear me and tell me to tone it down.

Also, there is a very good possibility that if my wife got into gaming, she wouldn’t be into the same types of games that I am. We don’t even like the same type of movies and TV shows. God forbid that she got into JRPGs or some horrible shit like that. We’d have to get a fucking divorce. By the way, JRPGs are the Real Housewives of the video game world.

The worst thing however, would be if we DID like the same types of games. There have been shows that we were both fans of. We try to watch them together, but there always comes a day when my wife is home for whatever reason and binge watches a series that we were SUPPOSED to watch together. This is inexcusable, and I then will binge watch other series out of spite.

The same thing would surely occur if we liked the same type of games. I’d imagine coming home one day to find my wife’s character in some random game leveled up way past mine and that would send me into an epic rage. I’ll flip tables and punch holes in the walls like a roid-raging meathead and the dog will piss on the carpet out of fear. I like to avoid putting myself into these situations, because I’m a gentleman.

Trust me when I say this, as I have given this much thought and have the requisite experience, that gaming with your significant other is simply not worth it. It’s a slippery slope that will only lead to resentment, spiteful actions, tears, and genitalia being ignored. Just be happy that you found someone that lets you game in peace.

And if you ever meet a girl that put hours of effort creating a chart, on foam board, with fancy stickers, color coding, and other crazy fucking shit, to help you break your disgusting gaming habit, run as fast as you fucking can. Or you can do what I did and lay low in a foreign country for several months. That worked out well too.

Marathoning Anything is a Bad Idea

I run a lot. I started running late winter of last year when I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror while getting out of the shower and threw up a little bit in my mouth.

I have always been a little bit of a jock, but I admit that I let myself go. Injuries, a bad job, and a bout with depression caused me to pack on pounds. Then one day I caught a glimpse of myself and did not recognize the person I saw, and like Forest Gump, I decided to become a shrimp boat captain. I also took up running.

The running lead to eating healthier, losing weight, rejoining a gym, and having a better outlook on life. I feel fit again which increased my confidence.

Also, if you’re a guy, losing weight makes your ding dong look bigger, which is an added bonus. Gyms should advertise this and their memberships would increase by 70%. JOIN NOW AND GET A BIGGER DING DONG! ™ I just trademarked that so don’t even think about stealing it or I’ll sue.

In less than a year, I’m back to my normal weight and ran a 5K and a 10K, which are quite the accomplishments for me, as I have never considered myself a runner. I have already started training for a half marathon and I have aspirations, of possibly running a full marathon in a year.

I used to live in Manhattan and every year, I looked forward to the NYC Marathon. It was just fun walking around and seeing the runners and cheering them on. There was an electricity in the air. Now, maybe a year from now, I will be among those runners.

Getting a little ahead of myself, I started looking into what a marathon training program was like, when I came across some of things that can occur to you during and after running a grueling 26.2 miles and HOLY FUCK!

Did you know that “runner’s diarrhea” is a thing? The adrenaline of running such a long distance, and the jostling of your guts, pulls blood from other areas of your body to your insides and can cause you to spontaneously shit your pants.

Long distance runners also have to worry about severe chaffing in their legs and nipples. And when I say severe, I mean bleeding nipples severe.

Speaking of blood, many marathon runners experience something called haematuria, which is fancy talk for PISSING BLOOD, but it’s okay, because that’s totally normal.

So it turns out that running a marathon is not actually a good for you. Also, by the way, the first person to actually run a marathon was a man called Philippides, who was a Greek courier. Back in 490 BC Philippides ran 25 miles from the battlefield in Marathon to the city of Athens, so he can announce the Greek victory over the Persians. He then promptly dropped dead from exhaustion.

Long and short of it, running a marathon has been a bad idea since its inception, and yet people continue to do it, because we’re dumb.

It’s really no surprise. Doing anything for a long amount of time is bad for you, including playing video games. I used to sit all day and night playing games after spending all day either sitting on my ass in a classroom or at my job.

Everyone now knows  that sitting long periods of time is bad for you and it’s the reasons why we’re getting fat. Humans are made to move and we simply don’t move all that much anymore.

What really scared scares the crap out of me though is something called deep vein thrombosis or DVT. Essentially, it’s a blood clot that can form in your legs after long periods of sitting or lying and if that clot breaks loose and it travels to your lungs or your brain you’re in serious trouble. Like pulmonary embolism or stroke kind of trouble.

David Bloom, a journalist at NBC News died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism from DVT while assignment in Iraq. He was sitting for long periods of time while embedded with combat units. I also imagine that as a journalist, he sat for long periods of time at a desk as well. He was only 39 years old.

So this is all scary stuff and it has caused me to change my lifestyle, and I’ll be serious for a minute and say that I hope everyone reading this heeds this advice. Bad habits die hard, and it gets harder the older you get. With all the great games that came out and are coming out this holiday, it’s tempting to sit around and play them all day. I can empathize, just remember to take a break every now and move for a bit. Don’t be like poor Philippides. Be more like Richard Simmons.

5 Creepy Video Game Clowns, Just in Time for Halloween

Have you heard that there’s a creepy clown epidemic going on? It’s true, the media is going crazy reporting scary looking clowns menacing small children and adults alike. As someone who has a fear of clowns, sometimes referred to as “coulrophobia,” this is not a good time for yours truly.

My fear of clowns is something very real. I don’t go around saying that I have a fear of clowns because I’m trying to be cool or different, and yes there are people out there that do that. Clowns are annoying and dumb to most people, but to me, they cause an irrational fight or flight response. Clowns exists to do one thing and that is to fuck with you.  That is their humor and raison d’être. They use you as a prop to make others laugh, and my fear is that I will be the one that is singled out in a crowd to be that prop.

My fear is well known amongst my family and friends. My sister once invited me to an off Broadway show in New York City. I asked what it was about and she said it was like Cirque du Soleil. I reminded her that if there was one thing that I hated more than clowns, it’s artsy, European clowns. She assured me that there would be no clowns. My sister, you should know is a liar. The ENTIRE show consisted of sad, artsy, European clowns.

In between each act, in which there were three, clowns would descend into the audience where they would proceed to fuck with the audience. I sat in my seat, frozen with anxiety, gripping the armrests, praying that they would not approach me. I had visions that one would sneak up on me and have me smell a flower on his lapel, only to get squirted in the face. He would then offer his handkerchief, which would have no end when trying to pull it out of his pocket. He would then drop something, asking me to pick it up for him, only to bend over so that he can kick me in the ass. The audience would laugh and I would have punched him the face. Children would cry and then I’d be the asshole. It’s a lose/lose situation.

Now I find myself in the middle of this creepy clown epidemic. There are clowns standing on street corners in the middle of the night as well as reports of them menacing children. It’s ridiculous and the people who are doing this obviously have nothing better to do. They’re just playing stupid pranks, which is, after all, what clowns do.

I was at the chiropractor for my regular treatment, as I’m old and my body is falling apart, and I was getting a massage, when my masseuse, who loves to talk, brought up the topic of the clown sightings. First off, I wish my masseuse would talk less and massage more. I’m here trying to relax and clowns make me tense. SHE SHOULD KNOW BETTER!

She then asks me when I think the clown sightings will stop and I said nonchalantly that it will end when someone like me severely hurts or worse case, kills one, and then it will stop. She then utters the dumbest thing I have ever heard. She says that she feels bad for the “professional” clowns who are probably seeing a decline in work due to the creepy clown sightings. I could not disagree more. I hope the entire clown industry crashes and never recovers.

ONTO THE LIST!

  1. Mall Clown – Heavy Rain 

This incarnation of a fever dream is encountered relatively early in Heavy Rain. Ethan, the main protagonist, is asked by his son to purchase a balloon from this mall clown. Jason disappears shortly after. COINCIDENCE? I think not.

  1. Fargus – Pandemonium 1 & 2

I never played these games. I would see the box art in stores and see Fargus’ cold, dead eyes and be instantly turned off.

  1. Sweet Tooth – Twisted Metal Series

I loved the Twisted Metal series and one of the reasons why is because I could dispatch Sweet Tooth and his hoard of clown minions with extreme prejudice. Blowing up his demented ice cream truck had a cathartic quality for me.

  1. Adam McIntyre, aka Adam the Clown – Dead Rising 2 

What is up with mall clowns in video games? Adam the clown is a boss in Dead Rising 2.  Apparently, he went insane when zombies ate his audience. I say he was insane to begin with. One has to be to consider going into clowning as a profession.

Again, I experienced extreme satisfaction after defeating this clown and having him fall on his revving chainsaws. Rest in pieces Bozo.

  1. Nights – Nights into Dreams Series

Nights, I suppose, is a harlequin rather than your typical clown. Harlequins, as you know, originated in Italy in the late 16th century. Therefore, Nights is an artsy European clown and is the worst of the bunch. He’d be right at home at a Cirque du Soleil performance.

I was a Sega devotee growing up and had a Saturn. I picked up this game, despite there being a clown on the cover and against my better judgement. I so wanted to enjoy this game, but could not get into it. To this day I have no idea why people look back fondly at this title and its abomination of a main character.

Also, Nights only comes out at night (GET IT?), and in your dreams, so he’s essentially Freddy Kruger.

I’m sure I neglected to include many of your favorites. If so, let me know in the comments. Also, if you’re a clown, I’m sorry if I offended you. This is all a joke. Please don’t come to my house.

Disney Really Wants Housewives and Stay at Home Mom’s to See Doctor Strange

Disney owns ABC, which airs the long running soap opera General Hospital. Disney also owns Marvel, which has a new Doctor Strange movie releasing November 4. What a great opportunity to cross-promote!

This scene from the October 12 airing of General Hospital is horrible and cringe inducing and yet, I’m glad it exists. It’s proof that regardless how inept one may be, he or she can still rise to the top of the corporate ladder and make million dollar decisions.