Friday, March 28, 2008

Another Friday Night, and I Ain't Got Nobody

I know, I need to update. Just not a ton going on, largely because my peers are lame people who prefer working to going out and doing things, particularly on Fridays during Spring Break. Lame, I say!

Anyway, if you haven't yet seen Garfield Minus Garfield yet, you should check it out. Constant hilarity. Larger update coming soon, I promise, once I have fun things to talk about.
Oh, and Battlestar Galactica comes back this Friday! If only I had cable, I'd be set!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wanna smash? Yeah, let's smash.

For a brief but blissful period of my life, I and many of my friends lived in two distinct worlds. In one, we were bright, energetic, somewhat alcoholic but nonetheless charming college students. We spoke of the usual things college students spoke of, we did some of the usual things college students did. We were never exactly normal, but we still existed as if in a world commonly shared by the bulk of college-going humanity.

But in our other, more awe-inspiring existence, we lived and breathed an entirely different society. This society had its own knowledge-base, its own skill sets. Its own lexicon. It was a hermeneutic system so self-contained that even those with whom we shared common interests could not bridge the gap without extensive exposure.

This world was the world of Super Smash Brothers.

Yes, many people played Smash across the college campus. But I highly doubt that anyone else brought to it the slavish, almost fanatical devotion that we did. At any hour of the day or night, you could probably find a game going on in the dorm. We left the N64 out in the common room, plugged into the tv, and people could just wander by and join up. I became a non-res at the dorm specifically so I could continue playing after I moved into my first apartment. It was almost sickening how much we played this game.

And we were good. You'd be very hard pressed to find people better than us at the original Smash. We all had our set characters, we played for hours and hours and hours, constantly rotating in and out, where victory was the only thing that kept you in the game. I was good at Smash beyond any measure of ever being good at anything. When I die, whatever my achievements, they'll never surpass the skills I had developed at Super Smash Brothers. I could win a Pulitzer, but whatever I had written would be less skillful than the skill with which I played this video game every day of my sophmore and junior years of college.

We were all damn good. It got to the point that, while a distinct and unofficial hierarchy existed, there were many of us with whom it would come down to what we had just eaten, or how much we had slept that night, to determine who would go on a winning streak. But I don't think it too hubristic to claim that I was one of the top three players of the game in the dorm, which would probably make me one of the top players on Northwestern's campus. I was freaky good at that game in a way I've never been as good at anything.

But more importantly for the purposes of this blog post, we had created an entire world around Smash Brothers. We had a name for everything, our own unofficial language that was completely impenetrable to outsiders. I mention this because last night I was playing Smash Brothers Brawl, the new version for the wii, and all those old memories came flooding back in a visceral, almost violent way. I found myself thinking of those times as I walked back from TGD's place, and I couldn't keep away a stupid, asinine grin.

So, to clarify matters a bit for those with whom I will now be playing Brawl, and as a fond trip down memory lane for all my Northwestern folk, I offer you the following lexicon:

Dark Samus: My character of choice. It was Samus Aran, but an evil version.
Insanely Powerful Back Kick: Samus' weapon of dealing ungodly pain to her foes.
The rat (or the fucking rat): Pikachu, the electric little rodent.
Tomacco: A large tomato with an "M" in the middle. Restores 100% of your health.
Jigglybitch: Jigglypuff, the weakest character of the entire game. Her weapon was song.
I got your face!: The act of ingesting someone whilst playing as Kirby, thus stealing their power. Always exclaimed with a tone of glee.
Cock-rocket!: Quantum's battle cry whenever he activated Fox McCloud's rocket pack.
Ness of the D'Ubervilles: A typo on a Tess paper's title page after an epic five hour session. Courtesy of Ranger.
Dubs-Slayer: The name given to a friend of ours who came out of nowhere to beat me, due largely to his extremely unorthodox Link fighting style.
Beam Sword: The equivalent of a nuclear bomb in sword form. Turned your average Yoshi or Kirby into the equivalent of Voltron wielding the blazing sword.
Death by fan: The most ignominious death known to man. The equivalent of getting your ass kicked by Jessica Simpson.
Fox McCloud of the Clan McCloud: Starfox, the Highlander.
Electro-Condom: Fox McCloud's personal shield.
Booooooooom!!!!!!!!: The battle cry of Luigi's superpunch. Exclaimed always in a high, nasally voice.
Egg-e-mon: The pokemon that gave you eggs.
Dragonmon: The pokemon dragon.
Ass-Gas: The gas-emitting pokemon
Coin-e-mon: The pokemon who emitted harmful coins.
Rock-e-mon: The pokemon who dropped rocks on you from above.
Fatass: The pokemon who falls from the sky, crushing you with his giant ass.
Star-e-mon: The star-shooting pokemon.

I'm sure there were others, so I invite my fellow Smash-addicts of yore to chime in. And for those of you who will be playing with me (and losing to me) at Brawl, please keep in mind that whenever I say something that seems completely incongruous if not downright stupid, I'm not insane. I've just traveled back in time about seven years to a far more idyllic period.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Who Keeps the Martians Under Wraps?

This past week I had one of the most surreal experiences ever as a T.A. A student came to meet with me, with no real clear idea what he wanted his paper to be about. But he had narrowed it down to two options (after I explained to him that the story he had spent the most time on was not, in fact, one we assigned for the class), so we went over both of them. The first was a faintly intriguing though very nebulous investigation into Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." The second was a bit more...unusual. Here is a reproduction of the conversation as best I remember it:

Student: Also, I was thinking of writing on "The Cask of Amontillado."

Me: Ok, why did you find that one so interesting?

Student: Well, there's that one line about him being a Mason, and I thought that was really interesting because I'm a Mason myself.

Me: (incredulous) Ok...?

Student: I'm really fascinated by all the history, and I think the fight in the story might have something to do with the Great Schism of 1753, which would be a really cool thing to look at.

Me: (shocked and confused): Ok.... And how would that help understand the story more? Why might that matter to Poe?

Student: Yeah, I'm not really sure.

Me: You might want to go with the other one, then. Seems like there's more to work with.

So now I've got a Mason in my section. And I'm terrified that if I give him a bad grade, his masonic brothers will rise up and bring about my downfall in some obscure, hidden-hand fashion. Or maybe they'll just wall me up inside a crypt in a bizarre bit of irony.

On the plus side, I'm really tempted to ask him just how true the National Treasure movies are.