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Logical Ramblings

Humorous stories, reviews, and insights on life, the universe, and everything.

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September 2012

The Legend of The WAPE Ninja

95.1 WAPE (old logo)

There is an old legendary tale of a ninja who terrorized a young man named A-ron (by old I mean around the year 2000).  This ninja had a strange calling card: the 95.1 W-A-P-E stickers, a logo for a local radio station.  The sticker had a giant ape on it and in big yellow letters it said WAPE.  Legend has it that this ninja acquired his stock of stickers from a local Pizza Hut when the server for a takeout only location was very rude to them.  As a form of snarky (and ineffective) form of retribution, this ninja decided to take the entire pile of stickers from a basket sitting next to the cash register before leaving the restaurant.

Somewhere, way out in the woods off of highway 20 lived the young man known as A-ron.  He also considered himself a ninja at the time and was proficient in Tae-kwon-do.  No one knows who the WAPE ninja truly was, but legend has it that it was another young man who was an acquaintance of A-ron, and a hybrid friend / enemy.  It is rumored that the two may have even lived fairly close to one another.

On one faithful evening, the WAPE ninja decided to don his hand made cloak of the night.  It is told that this ninja carried an assortment of seemingly random tools and relics in his travels to counter any unknown circumstances that he may encounter, and on his back he kept a sword.  On this evening, he also carried the WAPE stickers that he had acquired.  He took off in the night running through the forest, and crossing highway 20 onward towards his mortal enemy’s home.  Along the way, as he passed by street signs, no trespassing signs, and family name markers.  Upon encountering each sign or post, the ninja placed a sticker.  All the way leading up to A-ron’s house was a trail of calling cards that would define him.

The tale tells us that A-ron and his family were not home on this fateful evening, and so he left one final calling card on the front door of the home.  A-ron was a friend of mine, and I heard about what had transpired upon his return.  Upon visiting his home, I was shocked to see where the final sticker had been placed on the front door, had peeled the paint away upon its removal.  But this was not the last transgression that A-ron would experience from the W-A-P-E ninja, no.

The tale goes that after a month had passed, and A-ron had felt at ease once again letting the memory of the stickers to fade to the back of his mind, another event took place.  This event would come to haunt A-ron for many years to come.  Speaking from the legends that I’ve heard of course, the night was dark, and it was late in the dead of night when the ninja once again donned his garb of black and took off towards the A-ron residence.  This time the ninja knew that he would be home.  Here I must give a small detail about where A-ron lived.  His home was two stories, the bottom one was much like a basement, which held a small living area and A-ron’s room.  His parents lived upstairs and the bottom area was mainly the domain of A-ron.  It also had its own door leading into the living area, very close to where A-ron rested.

It was to this very door that the ninja came to leave his mark.  He had brought with him a pack of firecrackers strung together and wrapped in wax paper and also, one W-A-P-E sticker.  The ninja decidedly placed these firecrackers on A-ron’s door, using the sticker to cement them to the door.  Then he lit them and disappeared into the night.  Many loud bangs were heard, echoing throughout the darkness, and awakening the unlucky inhabitants of this home.  I can only imagine the look of terror and surprise as A-ron must have felt as he jumped out of his bed and fell on his face.

I was told that they had spent the rest of the night searching the woods with guns trying to find this nefarious ninja to no avail.  For the next seven days they kept a watch out, waiting for his return, but he never came back.  He was never found, and to this very day his identity remains unknown.  I saw first-hand the damage left by those firecrackers, a giant black mark was left on A-ron’s door as a reminder to him, “I was here, remember me, the W-A-P-E ninja“.

Megaman 10 Chronicles: Part One

I’ve finally made the decision to play through the game Megaman 10.  I’m proud to say that I have played through Megaman 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9.  Not 8, no, I refuse to play through that game because it looks and feels like a Klik ‘n Play game, a well-made Klik ‘n Play game, but it just doesn’t have the polish that the others do, but I digress.  I think some may not understand the draw to play through a Megaman game.  At their best they’re frustrating, and at their worst they’re infuriating.  I believe Megaman games are designed to piss you off.  That’s the point, really.  You play: you die, you jump: you die, you shoot enemies: you die.  Each time you die though, you get a lesson in what not to do.  You learn as you go, and when you complete a stage, you get a real sense of accomplishment.  While playing through Megaman 10, I have decided to chronicle my journey here.  I would like to share some of that frustration with you and the many fun absurdities that come along with these great games.

In this posting, I would like to talk about the first stage that I’ve played through.  The way these games are structured is that there are several robot ‘masters’ that you have to beat before you can go after the main antagonist (typically Dr. Wily).  These bosses are usually named [SOMETHING] Man (except for Splash Woman in 9).  The first robot master that I decided to pursue was Sheep Man.  Wait… his name is Sheep Man?  You know you’re running low in the idea tank when you pull out Sheep Man.  So, I was expecting that maybe his stage would be a bunch of dumb sheep jumping over fences or something and maybe his power was to suffocate you with his wool.  Sounds lame I know, but I just didn’t expect much from a sheep.

His stage turned out to be a play on technology somehow.  There were some strange enemies that seemed like a stretch, even for a Megaman game.  One of the enemies was a mouse cursor, and it would click and drag a rectangle which would then turn into smaller ‘pixels’ of squares that would shoot at you.  I’m not exactly sure how technology relates to sheep.  I’m guessing the transition was:
Sheep -> Static Electricity -> Technology -> Clicky the Mouse Cursor Baddie.  Seems like quite a stretch to me.

Clicky the Mouse Cursor

Each one of these stages has a mid-level mini boss.  This stage had a giant light bulb which had to be powered up by running on a conveyor belt, then some blocks appear that you can jump on to get up to the same level as the bulb and shoot it, all while two asshole mini light bulbs, which kind of look like Metroids, try to attack you.  Each time the power goes out for the big bulb, electric shocks are sent out over the wires which you have to try to avoid.  I died at least five times trying to get past this dumb thing.

After having to cross several floor gaps by powering up small floor stands, I came upon one of the most common Megaman pitfalls: disappearing platforms.  These platforms appear and disappear in a certain order often forcing you to jump before the next platform reappears.  This requires dying many times to memorize the pattern.  The ones in this stage weren’t bad at all though, and I finally reached Sheep Man, bahhh.  Sheep Man shoots out electrical shots at you which alternates moving up and down as it comes at you, then he jumps into the air and creates several thunder clouds which spread out through the room and shoot down thunder bolts, after the bolts hit the ground, they travel along both sides of the room, so you need to jump over them to avoid getting hit.  I only died a couple of times trying to defeat this one and once I did I received his power: Thunder Wool, which creates a cloud that shoots out lightning bolts.  It’s hard to gauge the difficulty of this stage in the scheme of other stages I’ve played since I haven’t played in quite a while before this.  I found this stage to be relatively easy, but I know there will be more difficulty on upcoming stages.  I like to play on normal difficulty because I don’t think you can get credit for beating a Megaman game on easy and hard is just asking to put your head through a wall.  Overall this stage was kind of neat, but I think they could have done more with it.

My Sheep Man statistics and ratings:

  • Boss oddity: 8/10
  • Stage likability: 7/10
  • Difficulty rating: 3/10
  • Number of deaths: 10
  • Number of curses at the game: 20
  • Final curse: “Die sheep-fucker!

Why I’m Excited About The Wii U

I’m not going to lie; I’m a fan of Nintendo, ever since I was playing video games on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.  I’ve pretty much always purchased any new Nintendo system that has come out.  I’ve owned the NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, and Wii for home consoles and the Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advanced, and DS Lite for portable gaming systems.  I’ve never regretted any of those purchases because I’ve always found enough software that I enjoyed, that justified buying the console to me.

So, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I plan on getting the Wii U.  I don’t feel like I’ll be buying this system simply because it is made by Nintendo, though that most likely is a factor.  I’m genuinely excited about what it has to offer.

Wii U Gamepad:  Personally, I love the concept of the tablet controller.  At first I was hesitant since I wasn’t sure how comfortable that would be.  I’ve been reassured by several third parties who have had hands on impressions say that it is actually surprisingly comfortable.  I like the different gaming concepts that Nintendo has shown in their upcoming games which use the tablet controller in different ways, but I also like the idea of using it not just for gaming, but for the other software aspects for the console, such as Nintendo TVii.

Nintendo TVii:  I like the idea of having a console that also lets you view content for internet videos, television, and movies.  This is all intended to be included with Wii U through Nintendo TVii, and unlike the Xbox 360, these features will be free, no subscription to some ‘gold’ service to use them.  Could the Wii U be used as a true media center?  I don’t know, but it seems like that may be a possibility, and I like that concept.

Miiverse:  I’m actually fairly surprised that Nintendo is going to have a better relationship with the idea of network connectivity.  I’m not a big user of multiplayer online games, but maybe that could change.  Some of the other integrated features, such as showing other player’s comments or warnings inside of a game seems intriguing to me as well.  I look forward to a new entry in Animal Crossing for the Wii U, one that hopefully comes to fully realize its full potential, instead of adding slight improvements on old features.  That would be very exciting.

HD Graphics:  This has never been a big issue for me, but I do like the games to look good.  This doesn’t necessarily require HD graphics but it’s nice to know that the new system will be capable.  This means that, hopefully, many third party titles that I am interested in will also be available on the Wii U.  It is unfortunate, but there are some titles that I’ve missed out on in the past because I only owned the Nintendo system.  The one title that pretty much convinced me to get an Xbox 360 was Batman Arkham Asylum.  I don’t regret buying the 360 because I have played a number of great titles on that as well.  Still, I try not to buy more than one console in one ‘generation’ because they aren’t what I would consider cheap, and the Wii U is looking like it will have good third party support, which means if/when the next Arkham game comes out, I shouldn’t have to get a different console to play it.

Games:  I’ve seen a good amount of titles listed that are going to be released for the Wii U, and there are a number of them that I will definitely be picking up, and several others that I am interested in and might purchase.  This list consists of Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, ZombiU, Rayman Legends, Aliens: Colonial Marines, 007 Legends, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Rabbids Land, Pikmin 3, Lego City: Undercover, Game & Wario, Darksiders II, Trine 2, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and Bayonetta 2.  For me, that’s more games than I typically buy in a year, and I probably won’t end up buying them all.  It depends on their reviews and how much my interest stays with them by the time they come out.  Some of them I may pick up used quite a while after they come out.  Also, the potential for future Nintendo titles is huge.

So, those are the reasons I’m excited about the Wii U.  If you’re interested in learning more about the Wii U, learn more about it here: Nintendo Wii U.

I just felt like rambling on about it, so, there you go.

Memoirs of an Ex-Video Store Clerk: Mr. Grunt

There was once a time in my life when I had the duty of working as a store clerk at a local small town video store.  I spent three years working in that store and I had actually grown to detest my job by the end of my tenure.  One of the good things about the experience, however, is all of the various stories that I have to tell of it.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Clerks, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I can really relate to Randall’s character and if you haven’t, then you should, it’s hilarious.

Mr. GruntAt this local video store, I encountered many characters, some of which seemed to come from a proverbial peanut gallery of twilight-zone-esque creations.  One character that I would like to introduce you to, I shall refer to as Mr. Grunt.  He was an interesting character indeed, an older black man with a scruffy beard.  He was relatively tall, perhaps 6’ 2”, and his hair was, well, it was in the shape of a triangle.  Not an equilateral either, it was an obtuse triangle, and on top of this triangle, he wore a small hat, which sat crooked on top as you can probably imagine.  He had a distinctive smell about him too.  After discussing it with some of my co-workers, we decided we could only describe it as being akin to moldy marijuana.  His most prominent characteristic however, was that he did not speak per se.  At least, he did not speak to me.  His form of communication came in grunts.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how annoying or difficult it is to try to communicate with someone who chooses to speak in various tones of “Mmm” and “Errr”.  No, I probably don’t have to tell you how it drove me ape shit.

Mr. Grunt would never rent movies at the video store; this was because his account was locked.  Apparently he had once rented a movie and had never returned it.  As such, he owed the video store a ridiculous amount of money.  I believe my boss, Bill, would have settled the account for some odd forty dollars.  Yes, forty dollars for one movie.  Bill always had a saying about the Grunts, “They ain’t nothin’ but a bunch ah liars and thieves!” he would say.  Mr. Grunt I believe was just a cousin to the other family members who frequented the store but Bill liked to lump them all together since they all had late fees.  We had a bin of older movies that didn’t rent well enough to keep, oh I don’t know, twelve of them on the shelf, so we would sell them in the bin.  Mr. Grunt would come in and browse through this bin, pick out eight or ten asinine titles (‘Samurai Nuns Escape Mars’, ‘Snake Eater’, ‘Gumbo Takes a Nap’, you know the kind of shit I’m talking about), buy them, and leave.  He was always accompanied by his friend, (another odd character) who we all referred to as ‘The Bitch’.  He followed Mr. Grunt around everywhere he went, it seemed.  They must have been the best of friends because they were always together.

The Bitch

On Friday and Saturday nights, we ran a popcorn machine and everyone who made a purchase or rental would get one free bag of popcorn.  The rule was only one free bag per customer, Bill was very adamant about this, though he himself would gladly hand out more if he really liked a customer.  Mr. Grunt and The Bitch would come in to buy some movies.  The Bitch loved our popcorn, It was like a drug to him, and he would say “Gimme some ah that chronic!” as if I were some drug dealer set up in a shadowy section of the small market center.  On one particular night, we were very busy and I was the only one there.  Everyone and their brother had come in to rent ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’, ‘Boat Trip’, and *shudder* ‘Agent Cody Banks’.  Mr. Grunt and The Bitch had come in to the store to buy some movies.  They were actually some of the first customers in the line.  Mr. Grunt makes his way to the counter and piles his eight movies down like so many coins.  I ring him up and tell him the amount, $24.50.  “Mmm” he grunts with a rasp as he shoves a $20 bill at me.  To the best of my ability, I try to politely remind him of the full amount though I would have liked to have told him that I didn’t know how they did counting in grunt school, but we do it the big boy way here.  “Errrrrm! he quickly retorts, shuffling five extra one dollar bills into my hand.  I’m onto you Mr. Grunt, I’m onto you.  I ring him up, hand him his change, and set the bags containing his movies on the other side of the counter, next to the door.  The Bitch quickly snatches up the free bag of popcorn that I hand him and squeals with joy.  “Ooo boy!  I gots me that chronic!” he exclaimed, and then they left, or at least I thought.

The line was long, and there were probably fifteen or so more people after Mr. Grunt.  As I was checking movies out for them, time passed quickly in the hustle of it all.  I went through that portion of customers when the line began to fill up again.  Twenty or so minutes had probably passed since I had rung up Mr. Grunt.  Then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  He was still standing by the popcorn machine.  He had been there the whole time, and said nary a word (or groan).  His arm was protruding out, hand held open, waiting for something, and he wasn’t even looking at me. He was in his own little world.  He must have been having some major grunt thoughts, and I felt like I was at the zoo. Like some toucan was awaiting me to throw it peanuts.  It was fucking odd I tell you.  I assumed that perhaps he was waiting on a bag of popcorn.  Though The Bitch had already taken the one bag I was supposed to give them, I wasn’t about to attempt to argue with him about it, I didn’t even speak his language.  I filled up another bag of popcorn and inserted it into the slot that his hand was formed in, and like a coin operated kiddy ride, he began to move again.  He turned to me and let out a loud grunt, “Mrrrrrm  Hrrrrrrrmph!”, and he left a satisfied customer.

Alas, it was just another night working at the video store.

Pregnant Dog

So there’s a running joke amongst my wife and friends that I attract weird people and strange situations.  I can think of several that stand out.  I’m sure there are those who can relate, those times when you find yourself thinking “Surely this isn’t really happening?”  Apparently, it’s more common for those situations to occur to me than they are for my friends.  This is one of those occurrences.

Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way.  I’m the type of person who, when I go out to do something, I don’t like to be sidetracked by strangers.  I try to avoid people I don’t know because, usually, things like this happen to me.  Maybe the fact that I try to avoid it is what makes it more common, I don’t know why, but it’s not fair.  It was just a quick trip to the grocery store.  God, I don’t even remember what for, a one item kind of trip, you know?  And the store was less than a mile from our apartment at the time.  It was a run into the store, go through self-checkout, run home kind of trip, just how I like it.

Alas, that’s often not how things end up working out for me.  On my way back to my car, I find myself being heckled by some random elderly woman in the parking lot.  She’s shouting “Hey young boy, hey young boy!” repeatedly.  I think to myself surly she’s not speaking to me, please don’t be speaking to me.  I ignore it, as I often try to do in these situations and proceed to getting into my car and preparing to pull away.  Before I get the chance to do so, the woman is at the side of my car.  Peering through the glass, I turn to look at her, and she gives me a puppy dog look.  I shit you not, she gives me a look like I was her best friend in the whole world, and I was about to leave her life forever.  Only thing is, I didn’t know her, and God help me, I didn’t want to either, but my stupid conscious kicked in.  I should have just driven off.

I roll down the window to see what urgent matter she needs assistance for.  She asks me the age-old question “Do ya got any spare change?”  This is a stupid question to me.  I work for a living, as I like to think most of us do, to support myself and my family.  I don’t really consider any money, be it dollars or cents, to necessarily be designated as ‘spare’.  As in, I don’t need this and I never will, free money for whoever the fuck wants it!  YAY!  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind making donations to reputable causes sometimes, but the way the question is worded just irks me.  I think instead of asking that question, one should instead ask for donations for whatever their cause or need is.  “Excuse me sir, would you like to make a donation to Jim-Bob’s beer fund?”  I’m still not likely to give you money, but I’ll respect you more.  But I digress.  I tell her that, no, I don’t have any spare change.

She then asks me another question, and it was like she pulled it out of a bag of stupid.  “Would you like to buy a pregnant dog?  I gots one in muh truck.”  Seriously?   Did she just ask me if I want to buy a pregnant dog?  I mean, what kind of person goes to a supermarket parking lot, going from stranger to stranger, peddling pregnant dogs?  I’ll tell you the kind, the kind that’s fucking drawn to me.  As if I’m going find myself in a market for such things, Well gee, I know I said I didn’t have any spare change, but I was just looking for one of those in the store here and would you believe they’re all out?  It upset me, I gave her my best WTF face and assured her that I did not, in fact, want to buy a pregnant dog, rolled up my window, and swiftly returned home.

So if you find yourself in the pregnant dog selling business, I have a couple of pointers.  One, the parking lot of a grocery store is not a respectable venue for your business operations.  Two, your product probably isn’t going to hold up well in your pickup truck.  Three, and I can’t stress this enough, understand that you’re in a niche market.  The odds of some random stranger in a parking lot having a need for a pregnant dog are probably not in your favor.  But if you just need to just get it off of your hands, I hear Jim Bob needs beer, maybe the two of you can make an arrangement.  At any rate, please, leave me out of your strange business affairs.

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