Krae (April 15th):
Yes, but is it art?
Now, I'll be the first to admit that web-based comics are universally ridiculed as the pandering kindergarten of creativity... like karaoke, say. Every pre-pubescent funnyman with a scanner thinks he can make a comic, and I myself may be one of them. Talentless wannabe, that is, not pre-pubescent. But the point is, the web is full of comics by people who, let's face it, just aren't that funny, and can't draw any better than my girlfriend's dog.
Am I one of these people? Quite possibly, though I sincerely hope not (for your sake, you poor bastard). I can only imagine these shit-peddlers actually think their comic is funny, not to mention that they have at least a passable functionality with some form of artistic utensil. Which, unfortunately for the webcomic community as a whole (we love you Keen. cha-ching!) they most assuredly don't. So I could very well be deluding myself into thinking S.T.F.U. is any good, and in actuality be one of these pathetic karaoke shriekers that thinks beer helps him sing. And Kyle's no judge, since the tubby bastard wouldn't know goodif it bit him in his pale bulbous ass.
I'm sure I'll get hordes of hate-mail reaffirming this theory. And I'm equally sure I'll take each and every piece of grammatical improbability (u r suck!) to heart and be completely crushed. Don't let that stop you... or hell, if you like the comic, let me know anyway. It never hurts to hear back, whether you despise me or not. Helps dispell that talking to a void feeling. And don't get me wrong here, I'm not the tortured artist I may seem... I'd probably do this with you or without you (how you like that, punk!), but, as they say, we our our own worst critic.
And yeah, get used to self-doubt, kids... it was my best subject in school.
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Kyle (April 16th):
ur comick is the wurst pies uv shit evur! i cant beeleve you even think ur funny, cuz ur not! hahahahaha! how you like that, you fetusfucker?! hahahahahaha!!!!!!11 lololol!!! u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck u r suck!!!!!!!!!1
Yes, kiddies, this is my rant. I figured that if anyone gets to ridicule Krae, it'll be me, by God and by damn. Bet you're all upset I beat you to the punch, huh? Mwaha!
Much like Krae, I could give two whoops in hell if anyone likes the comic or not. Unlike Krae, I'm not nearly as apologetic about it. I enjoy the comic, even though my part in the creative process is limited. Contrary to what some of you might think, I don't even ink it. At least I'm not a tracer. As far as my involvement goes, I'm just the occasional idea-man (and more-than-occasional fall-guy).
For those of you who do like the comic, feel free to IM me, if you have the scourge known as AOL Instant Messenger. My screen-name is CybridSTFU (bonus points to the reader(s) who can tell me just what a Cybrid is). Anyone who messages me with "a/s/l?" will be ignored. Also, keep in mind that I do occasionally go to work, so if I don't respond, I'm either at work, sleeping, or engaging in "some other activity" which prohibits me from responding to you.
Krae (April 24th):
So we went out to the Air Force Base today for some reason or other (Kyle had to do something on-base and suckered me into going along). Suffice to say, they didn't want to let me in. Considering, as Kyle puts it, I look like a terrorist (a terrifyingly wussy terrorist, I suppose), I don't really blame them for questioning my motives for driving into a military base.
However... the guard at the gate checked our I.D. - state issued Drivers Permit for me, and certified Military Brat for my tubby companion - ran us through the third degree ("Are you going to school at the U? What classes are you taking? Who was the third president of the US? Please sing the first three lines of the national anthem...") and then demanded we return to the visitor's center for a pass.
Am I complaining? Not a whit... but after being grilled for a perspiration-inducing couple of minutes by Airman Torquemada, we walked into the Center, showed our I.D. to the nice little old lady, and got me a pass without answering any questions harder than, "Are you sure you won't be going by the BX while you're here, loves?" Hell, she even made us take the pass until 6 pm, which was something like half an hour more than we asked for.
Granted, they actually have both of our I.D. on record now, in case either of us had actually attempted to explode anything, but it just seems that the guard was a hell of a lot more intimidating and deterring than the lady who could very easily have been my grandmother. I half expected her to force cookies on us before she let us out the door.
All-in-all, not too much trouble. Scared the piss out of the two of us, though, let me tell you... that's all I needed, to be locked up in a death-camp (did I say death-camp? I meant "happy camp") in the middle of nowhere on suspicion of being a terrorist or inciting anti-government sentiment or some such. All the geezers in the commissary seemed to want to correct my posture, too, until they craned their necks up and saw the hair. One could almost see the realization that I'm not military slam onto their faces. Geriatric antics.
Which brings me to another point... and forgive me if this offends anybody, but I'm actually curious. What the hell are so many old people doing on an active military base? I mean, I know the miliatary grants you lifelong benefits and so on and so forth, but come on... If I was running a base (and granted, I'm not), I wouldn't want some half-crazed vet caressing the broccoli in my commissary produce aisle. And yes, there was one in there. I mean hell, just imagine if he got into the armory...
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Kyle (April 24th):
Since no one could tell me what a Cybrid is (or no one cared... *sob*), I'll tell you. It's a race of mechanical beings from the Earthsiege and Starsiege series of games by Dynamix. The game is ancient by PC standards (about 4 years old), but I still play it regularly online. I tend to spend most of my time in a CTF (capture-the-flag) server, where I'm known as =EtG= Sparky, an ancient member of the Elite Guard squad. And no, we do not speak in l33t.
So anyway, it seems that some people who play on that server have entirely too much of their ego wrapped up in the game. They obsess over what is fair, what isn't fair, what is cheap, what isn't cheap, and so forth. I'm not a fan of missiles. Sure, the developers put them in the game, but no one's perfect. Missiles require zero ability to use successfully. You slap 'em on your Herc and you're off to the races. No aiming requiring, you can blow the shit out of most anyone.
And to me, that's just no fun at all. I don't bray about my own skills, since if I hit a flag-runner it's normally cuz he's too stupid to know how to dodge or because I just got insanely lucky, or some combination of the two. I like running around in a big hulking machine of death and blowing shit up. Is that so wrong?
And other people take squad rivalries entirely too seriously. It gets to the point where arguments break out the second someone from a rival squad walks in, and it's just a drag. Play the game, don't type naughty words at someone and then whine at the person who killed you because they killed you while you were typing.
So... ugh. Stupid people piss me off. I'm going to start lobbying for legislation requiring all salespeople at stores peddling video games to administer a brief but intense IQ test to anyone purchasing a game with a multiplayer component. S.T.F.U., making multiplayer gaming more enjoyable since 2002.
Krae (April 27th):
I swear to god, the next doe-eyed little brat that asks me when GTA3 is coming out on the Xbox is going to eat the damn controller. As if I could even sell it to him anyway. If he was 16, and it was something else, like DOA3 or something possessing strictly good, old-fashion beatdowns, I might let it slide, but we're talking a seven year old. I can't pretend I didn't notice that.
Oh, and speaking of seven year olds, some little girl slapped my ass today. Wanted to know if she could have a Tekno Puppy or something. Like I'm going to just give it to her, particularly after her father already refused her. Look, widget, it may work on your parents when you ask one and then the other, but it sure as hell won't work on me. So go practice your hangdog puppydog stare on someone else, and most importantly, get your hand off my wallet.
And what is with people that don't pick up their reserves? You put down $5 on a game. The game comes out. The store calls you and lets you know they have it in. The next logical step would be to, oh, go pick up your goddamn game. Right? Or at least go get a refund (happily provided) of your five bucks. Because if you've put money down on the game, we can sell it after 48 hours, but we can't get you out of the freaking system. So every time we get a shipment restocking that title, guess what? It pops up a reminder to call you and hold one for you. It's a freaking nightmare. The easy solution would be to pop you out of the system and pocket the fiver. Can we do that? Don't I wish... stupid ethics.
You know what else I hate? Getting up at 7am so I can open the goddamn store. There's got to be a law against that or something. I think I'll lobby for decent sleep-schedule legislation. Or maybe I'm too tired and lazy. So g'night kids, I'll see you on Monday with an all-new S.T.F.U. never before seen (outside my apartment).
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Krae (May 1st):
It's Resident Evil day!
Anyway, as I'm writing this I've only seen Biohazard (the Japanese version), and couldn't read it anyway, so don't ask me how it is. I have to spend all day selling it instead of playing it, like you lucky bastards. So don't expect any reviews today.
Oh, and speaking of reviews, I know the game reviews section is going up in fits and starts, and I am aware of most of the problems it's been having, but bear with it and it will get better (in particular, Kyle really will review some stuff soon, he swears). And don't be alarmed at all the older games we're reviewing... we plan to do new stuff, too, but we're building up a database of reviews, and don't want to leave anyone out (that and Ayame will kill me in my sleep if I don't review all my PS1 games*). And believe it or not, some people still haven't bought GTA3. Seriously.
Nothing new to report... working my ass off, slowly drawing some new material (debating on whether or not color is worth it...), you know, the usual. This is the first time I've seen my computer in a few days (damn you EQ!), but I know she misses me. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who finds Scandisk erotic. Heh.
Okay. So. Have fun, enjoy the new comics, it will be done when it's done. Send us e-mail (if you didn't know, you can email either of us by clicking our names at the top of our respective rants, or by clicking the "email" link at the bottom of the page... you'd think this was freaking rocket science). No really, send us email. How about this: the first ten emails win a nude photo of Kyle's Dreamcast. Now that's incentive...
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* Tenchu characters do not actually come to life while I am asleep.
Kyle (May 3rd):
Yes, the day before yesterday was indeed Resident Evil day. However, unlike Krae, I'm not nearly as thrilled. Now you're probably saying "Gasp! He's not a Resident Evil fan?! Burn the heathen, destroy the infidel!"
Nothing so sinister, I'm afraid. It's actually a sad story. I had a GameCube, once upon a time. But I canned it, mainly because I got it right after launch and there weren't very many quality titles. Rogue Leader was okay, but the horrific radar system (I believe it actually caused me to have a seizure at some point, a literal paroxysm of rage brought on by the fact that I couldn't find the goddamn TIE fighter) totally detracted from the game. Super Monkey Ball was good for hours of roommate-bashin' fun, but it did get old.
So now I reap the bitter harvest of my impatience. O Nintendo, how thou mockest me! Thy Resident Evil glory doth wither my soul and cause my testicles to shrivel in awe at thy wondrous anti-aliasing.
Okay, that's taken care of.
Krae and I hope you're all enjoying the new comics, because we certainly had a hoot and a holler making them. Here's a shout out to my ex-girlfriend (but still very good friend) Mandy at Humboldt State University in Northern California. We'll find a way to work you into a comic soon.
So now it's time for me to bust out a review or five, since Krae's been riding me like a bicycle about getting them done. And for the record, Tenchu characters actually do come to life while Krae sleeps. Rikimaru just looks a little bit more heavy-set than he does in the game. Be good, kids.
Krae (May 4th):
Resident Evil, yo. It's where it's at.
After seeing it in English, I'm even more impressed. And whose idea was it anyway to have the zombies regenerate unless you go back and set them aflame with a canister of kerosene?! My manager had to kick me out of the store after work to get me off the damn game. I could kill Kyle for getting rid of his 'Cube. You'd better believe I'd have put a pre-order down on that sucker.
Alright, the rest can wait for the official review (I'd like to play it a few more times before I lay down the final word). So on to other news... um, there are still nude photos of Kyle's dreamcast available. Send an email to win yours today... they're hot hot hot!
Oh, I have a question. Why is it that people feel inclined to smirk/scowl at a guy sitting at a bus stop on the side of the road? Not to mention drive by at improbable speeds hooting and jeering. I just don't understand it. Not everyone owns a car for chrissakes. I have to get to work somehow. I don't see how making use of public transportation marks one as an object of derision. It's not like I was picking my nose or scratching my sack or dancing like an organ grinder's monkey. Yet at least every other car that passed by seeped either scorn or downright hatred in my general direction. I just don't freaking get it.
I thought I was pissed off at the guys in the Electronics Department of the Target next door. They keep sending people over to talk to us when they come back with a broken PS2 outside of the manufacturer's warranty. It's like every time somebody brings back a system and they can't do anything for them, they suggest the person go next door and get us to "fix it". Now, the reason this annoyed me is that we do not do repairs in-store. Units we sell that come back defective get shipped back to be repaired... we don't have spare PS2 parts under the counter.
When I thought about it though, those guys at Target just sent me a sale. I mean, when these people find out they're pretty much fucked, they get pissed... and not at me. They're pissed because they think Target sold them a crappy machine and then shuffled them off next door. And I always mention that if they'd bought it from me, I'd have sold them a 1 or 2 year warranty. Or a preowned system for less than what they paid at Target, with twice the manufacturer's warranty through us (so it's an immediate replacement instead of mailing it somewhere). Where do you think they're going to buy their next console? So, here's a "thanks, guys" to all the Target employees out there.
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Krae (May 11th):
So I finally broke down and took Sean's advice on something, and, as it turned out, he was actually right. Of course, he does know his Anime, so I shouldn't be all that surprised, but I really wasn't expecting Perfect Blue to be that good.
But it was. I had to stop eating to pay better attention... and it still threw me at the end. I just can't believe I never bothered to watch it before now. Trust me (or Sean)... go watch Perfect Blue. Just don't do it right before bed.
In other news, Rep. Joe Baca (D - California), is attempting to pass a bill, H.R. 4645, that will make it a federal crime to rent or sell M rated videogames to minors. (More specifically games targeted are those that contain, "decapitation and dismemberment, murder, car jackings, illegal drug use, rape, prostitution, or assault and other violent crimes".) He's already got 21 co-signees.
I'd like to point out that the ESRB rating system has been in place for quite some time now, and though participation is voluntary, nearly every retail outfit that sells or rents videogames complies with it. Associates selling M rated games without checking ID, or even T rated games to little kids, can and probably will be fired. (Note: I love how CNN bills games rated as "Mature" by the ESRB as "NC-17", a movie rating reserved for pornography.)
But this brings up another point. I tell a kid he can't buy Grand Theft Auto 3 because of the rating... so he buys GTA2 instead, which has been given a "Teen" rating by the arbitrary and inconsistent ESRB. Or worse yet, he convinces his 17+ year old brother, friend, or local homeless person to buy it for him. I mean, are they going to pull a tobacco law out of their asses here and make it illegal to distribute M rated games to minors at all? Big ass warning on the back of the box: "Keep this and all naughty media out of the reach of children"...
And the parents who come in with their kids are no better. They don't even ask what the game is about. I hold myself to a policy of always telling the parents what they're buying for their kids... because most of the time they don't care enough to find out. And "I don't understand this video-game thing" is not a valid excuse. By the time I get to "prostitution" in my long list of fun activities in GTA3, they've put it back, and the kid has sulked out of the store. But why the hell should I have to tell them? There's a clearly marked "M" on the front of it, identified with the ESRB logo. There are ESRB flyers in our store outlining the ratings system. Hell, read the back if you don't know what the game is about... that's what they make the box-art for.
I don't think it's my responsibility to prevent this game from falling into the hands of children. I mean, shit, there's even a caveat in this new proposed law: "...without parental consent", it says. Shit, I'm already in compliance. All they're doing is taking the voluntary ESRB system and saying "if you put X Y or Z in your game, it's going to get such-and-such a rating" instead of someone making a personal, case-by-case judgment on the game... and then making the rating system a federally-enforced criminal code. Fine, Joe... go ahead. You're not going to catch any of us anyway... if we were doing it to begin with, we wouldn't be selling them anymore because we'd have been canned.
But somehow, I don't think his little bill would have any effect on anything whatsoever. Kids will still get someone else to buy games for them, or hell, even their parents, who don't care enough to find out what their kids are playing. I've heard people bitch about certain television programs before, too, or certain movies, but no one suggested it should be a federal crime if the networks or movie theaters accidentally let a child see them (and in the case of the theaters, the guys responsible for letting the kid in would... guess what... be fired).
So my proposed bill is as follows: I think it should be a federal crime to distribute games to persons below the age indicated by the ESRB rating, and furthermore, it should be a federal crime for parents to ignore their children's activities to such an extent that they will buy a product for a child with no inkling of what it is about, and then leave them alone with it, as Rep. Joe Baca puts it, "When you are away at work."
And if Rep. Joe Baca wants to bring up Columbine (which had nothing to do with video games that I recall... they tried to blame that one on music), I could point out that what he is essentially saying is the school should have been held criminally liable for allowing those children to bring firearms to school without parental consent. Meanwhile, we poor "teachers" (it's an analogy... piss off) are watching more and more parents buy guns for their children and drop them off at school without ever bothering to ask why. Is it the supermarket clerk's fault if you buy your kid a fourty and he gets tanked when you aren't home?
In other words, don't blame me if your kid gets his hands on a violent or immoral game. He probably got someone else (maybe even you) to buy it for him. If I was selling the game to minors, I would be fired, because, as I said, while ESRB compliance is voluntary, most companies choose to follow it, and therefore the employees of said companies are required to. Furthermore, I, personally, go out of my way to let parents know what they are buying for their kids, since they can't seem to be bothered to find out on their own, and I'm sure I'm not the only courteous clerk out there. So Rep. Joe Baca (D - California), I think maybe you should try taking a little responsibility yourself for what your kids (or grandkids, or what-have-you) are playing, and stop trying to pin it on the industry.
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For more on this story, read the article on CNN.com.
For information on the ESRB, visit their website.
Kyle (May 11th):
Okay, first things first. What is with Mr. Gothtwig and his fuckin' fairy tale shit? You and your gay-ass fairy tales. I shake-a my nuts at you and your stupid stories. I actually flat-out asked him what was up with his story hour histrionics, and he just sort of shrugged and mumbled something. I blame the drugs.
Fun stuff in the news a few days ago. Some jackass from California (who happens to be a member of the House of Representatives, apparently making him someone who matters in the grand scheme of things), Joe Baca by name, started spouting off Lieberman's old song and dance about violence in video games tainting the youth of America.
Just what the fuck is the matter with these people? Most of them probably couldn't tell you what a PlayStation 2 is ("Is that that Japanese house of ill repute I visited when I was vacationing there a year or so ago?") if you dropped one on them. And because people were stupid enough to elect them, they start going off on all these personal crusades.
I'll say it once, and I'll very likely say it again. Video games do not create/cause/breed violence. Every time something happens (every goddamn time!) among the youth of the nation, some fuckwad starts shooting his mouth off and going on the blame-the-game warpath. Here for your reading pleasure, I give you two of the comments from this Baca fuckhead. Heaven alone knows what other stupid shit he said while talking to CNN...
"I've had enough of the violence we're experiencing among our youth."
"When kids play video games, they assume the identity of the characters in the games. ... Do you really want your kids assuming the role of a mass murderer or car jacker when you are away at work?"
Alright shithead, first things first. If you're tired of the violence we're experiencing among our youth, then fucking figure out the real cause. Anyone with functioning brain cells should be able to figure out that most of the violence among kids can be linked to behavioral/psychological disorders, a dysfunctional home life, drug/alcohol abuse, or a combination of all three.
A normal human being does not play Grand Theft Auto III for a few hours and then say to himself, "Well, that was fun. Time to run some people down and shoot a whole mess of other people, and once I'm done doing that, I might just pick up a hooker, fuck her, and then cave in her skull with a bat and take my money back." No, Joe, it doesn't happen.
If by some freak of nature it does happen, see my above comments regarding the cause. When a child, or anyone else for that matter, is incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy, that indicates a fucking problem in his head. Whether that's a result of faulty mental equipment or less-than-stellar parenting is open to debate, but it probably involves a combination of the two. A normal, rational, sane person does not play a violent video game and then go traipsing around blowing holes in random people.
I realize that I really am ranting, but this subject just infuriates me. Rather than address the real root of the problem, politicians and Moral Majority folks point the finger at the pastime of the younger generation. It's exactly like what happened when rock-n-roll started revving up in the 1950s.
So here's my suggestion for you, Joe my lad. Stick to what legislators are good at, which, apparently, is fucking interns and then making them disappear. It's obvious that your head is much too far up your ass for you to address the real issues behind violence among youth. The only things that make me want to go on a berserk killing spree are ignorant wastes of space like you who couldn't find their ass with both hands in their back pockets.
I find it odd, really, that the two Congressmen I've really heard spewing the blame-the-game speech are both named Joe. I imagine it's because a longer name would've been too hard for them to remember.
There. I'm done. Now I can go play Metal Gear Solid 2 and brush up on my infiltrate-and-assassinate skills. Heaven knows I might need them on my next game-driven killing frenzy.
Krae (May 23rd):
Full-color comics are on the way... though I seem to be spending more time working on the page than on the comics. Plenty of reviews up, though, and the page is looking pretty good, so I might actually get around to drawing some more comics soon.
The comic is actually doing better than I was expecting, for only being up a couple of months now... we're averaging about 139 hits per day this month. Personally, I think the automated logger is broken, but then, I'm not really sure what I'm looking at here. So anyway, hope you're enjoying it and let's hear from a few other people... send email to: stfu (at) cox (dot) net
In marketing news, the drop in console prices surprised the hell out of me. Well, not the PS2 (though, with how they've been selling, they didn't really need to change anything), but the XBox took a 33% price hit, and it's only 6 months old. Hopefully, on their behalf, it kicks sales in the ass and they start selling games, or developers aren't going to bother with the XBox, and we'll be stuck with shit like Kabuki Warriors. The 'Cube, scrappy little brother of the console war, dropped too... though if my sources are correct, they didn't need to; they're still within their estimated sales goals and installed-base. But all this maneuvering spawned a marketing flurry at my store, and I've been working my ass off trying to keep up with it all. ("Put these signs up; put all the PS2 boxes up front and take the others down; put the others back, but on the other side; take those signs down and put up these others; move the PS2 display to the other side, where the others are, and move them to the PS2 side; put the first signs back up, but keep the new ones up, too..." and so forth.)
On an entirely different note, has anybody noticed that John Walker Lindh, the American national captured in the Mazar-e Sharif prison uprising in Afghanistan, has apparently dissappeared off the face of the earth? He was all anybody talked about for awhile... "Oh my god, did you hear about that American kid that was working for the Taliban?". And now he's gone. According to this CNN article I found, he was
"...charged with conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, providing support to terrorist organizations and using firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence. He is scheduled to go on trial August 26." (article, 5/10)
Okaaaay... so what the hell happened? Why is it taking so long, and why haven't we heard anything about him? Are Americans so jaded that they simply don't care about an accused defector (I'll point out that treachery is one of the few federal crimes that matters... nobody cares about "Piracy on the High Seas"... and that Rep. Joe Baca wants to make selling a game with a decapitation to a minor an offence of this magnitude). Hell, for all we know, he could already be face-down in a shallow grave. Wouldn't they (the gub'mint) want to carry this trial on a bit more expeditiously, seeing as how they're so worried about him sending messages to the outside?
Okay, so I'm rambling. I'm out to see Episode 2 (finally... for fuck's sake) and here's hoping it doesn't suck. Keep an eye out for color comics in a few weeks... word.
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Krae (June 8th):
As promised, here they are. Color comics. All frames painstakingly hand-painted by underpaid third-world sweatshop children whom I bribed with moldy crusts of stale bread and half a dehydrated lima bean apiece. Borders surgically lased into precision squareness by computers powerful enough to actually run Shadows of Luclin with full graphics without stalling out. Lettering by hundred-year-old Japanese Calligraphic Masters. The shitty art you can blame on me.
Haven't had much time for ranting recently, between working (what genius decided the guy with the least total hours also gets the least number of days off?)* , organizing the aforementioned international strike-force to finish the goddamn color comics for my two fans (hi guys!) and attempting to work through the physical complications of mating with the GameCube. Thus far, I've survived work, and the color comics turned out nicely. I'm not sure about the 'Cube, but she's looking a little round in the middle so keep your fingers crossed for me, huh?
I do, however, have something I want to rant about. And what makes it even better is the obvious fact that the nature of my rant prevents the object of my ire from finding out about it. Let me preface the upcoming spleen venting by proclaiming that my co-workers have been informed of the comic. My manager is looking forward to being ridiculed, as a matter of fact.
About a week ago, I gave the URL to the new Assistant Manager (or "Ass Man" for short). I didn't inform him what it was, except to promise that it wasn't bukkake, or Amsterdam porn, or nudie-pictures of his mom. It was supposed to be a surprise. The little bastard didn't go. I checked back with him every couple of days... "you hit that site yet?" I inquire hopefully. "Not yet, dude," comes the invariable reply. So I went drastic. Asked for his e-mail address.
So no problem, right? I got it, came home, mailed him a link so he wouldn't forget. Mail Administrator sez: User Unknown, undeliverable. Son of a bitch. So I go in to work. Bitch at the guy. He calls his wife to call their tech-support line "again". "Again" he says. Like this happens all the time. Next day, it's fixed. Supposedly. So I go home and try again, and get the same damn error.
So now I suspect one of several problems is occurring, as follows:
A. Assistant Manager needs a new email provider.
B. Assistant Manager is blowing me off.
C. Macintoshes really aren't real computers.
And the ultimate irony, he keeps telling me I'd better not send him any viruses. Bastard can't receive my mail; I can't send him anything, let alone a virus. I don't even know how to purposely send a virus. I may have to find a virus, infiltrate his house ninja-style, and download it onto his Mac if he doesn't fix his email soon. Either that or just break his kneecaps...
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* This means you, Mr. Maple-Leaf Jockeys...
Kyle (June 8th):
Huzzah! We have a Cube again! It's so slick, so sleek, so sexy... I just wanna... ahem. Nevermind.
But yes, I parted with my beloved Dreamcast, mainly because my favorite games for it are now available on other consoles, or will be in the near future. And, well... the siren song of Resident Evil is just impossible to resist. But suffice to say, I'm working my way through the game now and loving every minute of it. For more information, read our reviews on it.
In other news, yesterday marked the first color comic strip here at S.T.F.U. Hats off to Krae, he's been busting his ass to make the comics in color, and I think they look nice indeed.
And since my last post, E3 has come and gone, and the consoles have all dropped in price, thus spurring me into getting a Cube again. Krae and I have quietly (okay, not so quietly) speculated that the X-Block's days may well be numbered, since it's almost unheard of for a console to take a price hit of 33% in its first year of life, let alone its first 6 months. Well, my fingers are crossed in hopes that the X-Block will become the X-Flop.
[Kyle's dubious prayers for the raining of hellfire and brimstone upon the House of Microsoft are not necessarily shared or even endorsed by the management. I am not, however, denying that, hypothetically, something along these lines may have been mentioned... at some point. - Krae]
No other interesting news, short of the fact that I'm nearly tearing my hair out while trying to earn better medals on Rogue Leader. I thought I was good at flight-sims until I played that game. It's kicking my ass in a big way. But the Force is with me, so sooner or later it's only a matter of time... yes, just a matter of time...
Krae (June 16th):
Been busy putting a few finishing touches here and there on more comics and bits and pieces of the page (like the review links to games we haven't done yet don't just go to the first game in that section anymore. Yay.) Finally stumped Sean, too. Apparently Mr. HTML Guru doesn't know any way, short of an applet or some-such, to link to a framed page with something other than the standard frames loading in the sundry frame-panels. Ha!
I just remembered that I like pastries. Breakfast pastries. Doughnuts, in fact. Well, actually though doughnuts are more than sufficient, the most orgasmic of all breakfast pastries are those apple fritter things. Granted, they cost like 20¢ more, but that's a small price to pay for cheap physical gratification. I just had two last night, and I'm wondering if the convenience store across the street got re-stocked while I was asleep.
I'm also wondering how the hell to get people to e-mail us. I mean hell, I offered nudie pictures for chrissakes. Then again, I'm not really sure what I want people to e-mail us about. I suppose you could shower us in praise, I wouldn't mind that. Oh, and if you like the comic, tell your friends about it. Readership is growing slowly, and it's nice to know I'm not just talking to myself here, but with KeenSpace, the best comics-hosting site in all creation forever (cha-ching!), standing around with their collective thumbs up their proverbial asses and not promoting us, nobody has the opportunity, nay, the god-given right to patronize our site.
So, in other words, I'm saying word-of-mouth is the only way we're being promoted. Which means the handful of readers we've got are all people we know personally, and probably see on a fairly regular basis. We need some readers who won't beat me up if I draw a lousy comic (not from lack of desire, mind you). And yes, I realize I'm whining for more readers, and I also realize that it's boring and self-demeaning. So I'll stop now...
... right after this: if you have a friend that likes webcomics or something, tell him about the site. If you know a computer- or videogame-geek, tell him about the comic. If you know any hotties, tell them to e-mail us (Kyle is becoming desperate). If you think the comic sucks... well, tell someone you don't like so much. Just don't tell your parents, because I hereby formally disclaim all responsibility for aneurysm, stroke, cardiac arrest, or any other health or medical condition stemming from, or related to the viewing of this comic.
This has been a broadcast of the emergency begging-for-readership system. We now return you to your regularly scheduled webcomics and internet pornography. Thank you.
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Krae (June 28th):
Commercials... I hate 'em.
My hatred of commercial advertisements in the midst of my regularly scheduled programming is a well documented phenomenon, not so much by scientists and respected researchers on an international panel as... well, my roommates. But validity of the findings aside, I really do dislike commercials.
For one thing, I don't think they aid commerce. I mean, generally speaking if you drink Coke, you aren't going to be persuaded to switch to Pepsi just because they've got Britney Spears. And likewise, Coke commercials just aren't going to matter to you at all. The only useful function served by commercials is to advise consumers of new products. I mean, you aren't going to buy something that you already knew was out there, and already didn't buy, just because you saw it on television. Oh look, a hip commercial with some popular band! I need nasal-hair trimmers! Not going to happen.
But they do inform us of new and exciting products such as throat hair (known as cilia to those nerds you used to beat up on in high school) trimmers. Wow, what will they think of next! I think I need to get me some of those newfangled contraptions. Maybe commercials should be a thirty second clip of new products only, advertising their usefulness, value, and any other relevant (please note the emphasis) points that might influence my decision as to whether or not I want this product. I don't care if Britney Spears likes Pepsi, or if Usher eats Twix, or if Ozzy Osbourne uses Osbourne Nasal-Hair trimmers... I want to know what this shit does for me, and I don't want to know it for 90 seconds, every ten minutes for the rest of my life, even if it is set to a hip soundtrack.
So, to bring this back around to my original rambling goal: video games. They could run advertisements for the Sega Genesis (or the Sega Master System for that matter) and I guarantee that nobody would jump right up and say, "Wow, I have to go get me one of those!". Whereas XBox commercials might just do some good. I do not, however, enjoy this particular run of XBox commercials.
There are, in fact, two commercials. They inform us, in no uncertain terms, that the XBox will cause loss of focus, inability to concentrate on immediate and potentially life-threatening injury, and general autism. Secondly, that thinking about an XBox will cause one to be either: A. Manhandled by an "angry little man in tights" or B. Anally violated by a skateboard. Thirdly, that the XBox is ideally suited to those laid up with medical conditions preventing movement (either a leg made of foam and latex, requiring traction and a cast, or a badly-implemented proctological gag necessitating much laying on of the belly area). IN SHORT: The XBox will make you zone out, resulting in grave bodily prosthetic makeup, and, should your "injury" inhibit mobility, make you the perfect target audience (meaning prone and unable to escape), for the XBox.
Sure they mention the graphics, (in such technical terminology as "great" and "awesome"), as well as the massive (-ly exaggerated) software library, but they really don't get into any of the perks of the system. Just that these two freaking numbskulls wanted the XBox so bad they got themselves injured. Is that going to make anyone buy the system? Probably not. Unless they're a fan of anal violation for its own benefit...
And one last thing before I destroy my (meaning Kyle's) TV. What the hell is with these dual-purpose commercials. You think it's a commercial for Minority Report. More to the point, you think it's over when it shows the cast and title screen and all that. But nooooo... then it has to morph into a Nokia commercial or a Lexus commercial or a Cilia Trimmer commercial or some crap. What the fuck? What does Nokia have to do with Minority Report? "You have one missed call... first missed call: Muuuuuuuurder!" It pisses me off. It's just flagrant product placement, and it serves no purpose. It doesn't make me want a Nokia phone any more than I might already. It doesn't make me want to see the movie, in hopes of spotting a Nokia. No, it just reeks of "marketing ploy", and it makes me want to punch some troglodytic advertising director in his smug little head. I'm not a moron; if you want me to buy your product, tell me why, don't tack your commercial onto the back of something you hope will appeal to me. I mean, I've seen jeans commercials... the logical next step is 85 seconds of strippers and explosions, followed by a 5 second glimpse of the target product surrounded by flashing lights, all set to an upbeat and popular song by a chart-topping alternative artist. I might just have to run out and buy myself an Ozzy Osbourne right now!
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Krae (July 15th):
I've been watching a bit of television recently, and it's done very little except reinforce my dislike of it. And even though I've already expressed my general hatred of commercials, there's one type in particular that I want to bitch about today.
"Macular Degeneration". That's what it's called, and a sad old man has it. He has it, mind you, and the marketing guys of (some product) paid this poor shmuck to do a commercial about having it. Anyway, it's making his eyes do... something. Actually, throughout most of the commercial, all you see is this old man and his dog, as he goes on and on about Macular Degeneration, and how much it sucks, and how I should catch it early or I could end up blind and (oh god) riding the bus.
Tacked on to the end of the commercial, as an afterthought apparently, as if one of the new marketing script-writers for (some product) forgot his sadism orientation, the geriatric dog-lover mentions that Macular Atrophy is when one's eyes lose the ability to focus, and is only a concern if one happens to be sixty-five years old or older, and, presumably, like basset hounds. This is, mind you, the last sentence of the advertisement. I've gone through the last 90 seconds of my life wondering if I, too, might have Macular Degeneration, and am considering how to "catch it before it's too late", and as it turns out, I have another forty-something years before "time runs out".
They don't even mention a product. They say there's a medication that can help... but no name. Not even what it does, though, presumably, it causes your eyes to re-focus (I can see a huge fraternity-market here, if these guys weren't so into old men with dogs). I guess you're supposed to check with a doctor, who will refer you to (some product). This advertisement had to be paid for by somebody, and it's just odd that they shy away from using their product's name.
Anyway, why can't diseases, disorders, and conditions have informative names? So when I see a commercial for Macular Degeneration, Sporadic Clinical Incontinence, or Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy, I'd know I don't need to worry about it. I can flip the channel over to the History Channel and watch some guys getting shot up with 16-inch naval cannons. What they should be called is: "When You're Real Old and Can't Focus Too Good", "When You're Real Old and Your Ass Starts Leaking", and "When Your Muscles Suck Pretty Bad So You Look All Droopy", respectively. Then I'd understand. But when you spend 90 seconds scaring old people about Macular Degeneration, without mentioning what the hell it is, chances are somebody's going to miss the "over 65" bit tacked on in the last 5 seconds and get all freaked out and ask their doctor about (some product). And then the doctor will be so busy explaining that they don't have any geriatric conditions that he won't have time to treat any Clinical Sporadic Incontinence (aka "Occasional Leaking Ass"), and the world will be flooded with grandpa's soupy feces.
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Krae (Aug 8th):
No, we aren't dead. Just busy. I'm up to 40 hours a week at work again, and Kyle just started a 9-5 job (sucker!). But our lives have been relatively trauma-less, aside from the occasional panic-inducing broadband outages that leave us cringing under the beds warding each other off with sticks and profanity.
I do however, have one minor complaint. Not a rant so much as an informal grievance. Hey, the soda machine in the break room is out of rum, could you send someone 'round to restock it when you have a moment? That sort of thing.
And that is: people, if you're going to ask to return a product that you bought, you really ought to bring in the receipt. We do not keep electronic records of every customer that comes through, and no we don't remember you from two weeks ago. And it's not like we made up this receipt thing. For one thing, our return policy is clearly posted in the store. For another, any store you try to return to will require a receipt. "It's been under 14 days, and I left the sticker on it" just doesn't cut it.
Hell, we've already got one of the best return policies in the business. The game sucks, exchange it. The hell with Wall-Mart's (and others) claim that doing so violates copyright laws... it doesn't. If it did, we would have had our asses sued off by now, don't you think? Granted, we don't do refunds unless you haven't opened it, but that's pretty damn standard. Once you give us your money, we're keeping it; you can have anything else, but you can't have the cash.
But people come in, no receipt, no shrink-wrap, disc scratched, lost the instructions, dirt in the case for the love of god... and can I please have a refund? Look, spanky, you have to return it in salable condition. In other words, just because you're returning it, doesn't mean that's the end of it. That money that you spent on the game is essentially coming out of our pocket unless we re-sell it. Even though you have to get something else of equal value. And if it's not mint, we can't, in good faith, sell it as new to someone else...
What I'm getting at, is that refunds/exchanges are not an inalienable fucking right. We don't have to give you your money back, or even give you a different game. Sorry bub, you bought it, it's yours. We don't even have to exchange it if it's defective... the manufacturer does have a warranty, you know. Why do we do it, then? Because we're nice. Well, more because we want your business, but what it comes down to is that we've got a policy of being nice to customers. The customer isn't always right, but he's probably going to get what he wants anyway.
So cut us a break and help us out already, okay? Don't piss on our corporate generosity and, you know... keep the goddamn receipt. And maybe, if it's not too much trouble, try to keep the product you're returning in the same general condition it was in when you bought it. That's all we freaking ask.
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Krae (Sep 5th):
So. Kyle has officially moved out. His new apartment looks really nice on the inside... unfortunately it's positioned in the precise geographical center of the bad part of town. Which means, while he may have clean and fluffy towels, a nice carpet, and a chess set for chrissakes, there are still shifty-looking people in crappy cars cruising slowly through the parking system (not lot, mind you, but system) at all hours of the night, an irridescent oil-slick-like film floating on the pool, and small grubby children with mullets haul-assing down the hallways screaming and pretending to shoot each other with what are hopefully just very convincing MAC 10-replica water-pistols.
Getting there is an excercise in keeping your head low, moving quickly, and not making eye-contact with anyone. And for the love of god, don't stop moving, and don't talk to anybody, for any reason, even if they speak to you first. In other words, once I make it inside, I relax, but getting to his apartment is probably going to give me an ulcer.
As a corollary, the impetus that catalyzed the move, our friend Natasha, has moved out here, causing a division of forces rather than a nerve-wracking hunt for an apartment capable of sustaining four. Anyway, her arrival causes no end of amusement. And alcoholism. And fun. Now 4-player Monkey Ball goodness can be had. But before you think she's just a convenient space-filler in Monkey Fight, or an excuse to become inebriated, allow me to state that on top of all her other virtues, she's also a really excellent person, and she's cool to hang out with. No lie.
So anyway... two days off (in a row! yeah!), can run around the house in next to nothing thanks to Kyle's departure, timely arrival of Natasha the Magnificent, and Super Monkey Ball 2 in my GameCube. Not a whole lot to complain about.
But trust me, you'll hear about it when I think of something.
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Kyle (Sep 26th):
Okay, I'm alive. No really, I am. I've just been... busy, yeah.
So I've got this new job thing going on, though I don't guess it's new since I've actually been working there for 2 months now. For those curious souls in the audience (hello, nice to see the two of you again), I do DSL tech support for Ameritech, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwestern Bell Corp. In short, I'm a corporate wage-slave now. I'm a hostage to fortune, subjected to the stupidity of trailer-trash from all over the Midwest who aren't smart enough to run a calculator (non-graphing), let alone an honest-to-God computer.
Speaking of honest-to-God computers, I have one now. I got a new machine with a spiffy AMD processor and lots of RAM, and all kinds of other goodies (read: Windows XP). That said, I'm in the process of reinstalling all my games and turning the graphical bells and whistles all the way up (read: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault). I'm probably going to turn my old computer into a box for pr0n or mp3s, I haven't quite decided yet. You can cast your vote at www.yourvotedoesntmatter.com, and I assure you that it won't even come close to influencing my decision.
In other news... ::shuffles papers::... yes, well, I believe that's all. Other than the new apartment about which Krae lies like the proverbial dog, there's not much else to report. When I think of something to report, you'll know eventually.
Krae (Oct 7th):
Sorry kids, I've been so goddamned busy I haven't even had time to bitch. I mean, where to begin? My girlfriend left me, my grandmother's in the hospital, I have to move in like a week and I still haven't found a place in my price-range, and I'm freaking sick. I mean, does it get any more fun than this? If I didn't have 800mg Ibuprofen pills and my trusty Albuterol, I don't know where I'd be. Probably curled up in bed crying like a sissy girl, that's where.
Anyway, on to better and more exciting things. Um... well, I guess I already bitched about all the really crappy stuff. My shit's sort of up-in-the-air at the moment, so I might not be up to update for a little while. Who knows. I'll do my best, but don't send angry e-mails if I skip a day here or there. I mean, christ, I'm trying to move. My computer won't even be on. How can you expect me to do a comic when I can't even get internet porn?! I mean come on people.
And yeah, who wants to hear about all the piddly-ass shit when I've got more important stuff to deal with than sit here and rant about how some customer pissed me off. Not that it's easy to piss off a guy who just popped prescription-dose painkillers and force-injected a mist of something-or-other into his broncheal passages. Sometimes being sick ain't so bad...
...and then you realize you've spent the last week doing nothing but playing Animal Crossing, stumbling around at work and trying to look productive, and sleeping 12 hours a day.
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Krae (Oct 11th):
You know what? I just realized that yesterday was our 6 month anniversary. Go us! Haven't even missed a day. 'Course, nobody reads the comic yet, but hey, what can you do.
So, being the emotional lightweight that I am, I'm going to get all mushy and do something nice. Heavens. No, I'm still not putting Justin in the comic. I was thinking more along the lines of doing some drawings for people. What do you think? Drop me a line here if you've got an idea, or if you just want to e-mail me a picture on the off-chance that I decide to draw people.
And while this may seem like yet another sneaky ploy to get e-mail, I can assure you the thought hasn't even crossed my mind. No, really. But seriously, if you have any hope whatsoever of getting me to draw an S.T.F.U. version of you, try to send a picture I can actually like... see. Blurry, group pictures with most of the face obscured by a beer stein are not likely to do me much good.
Maybe I'll have a contest or something... stay tuned.
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Krae (Oct 25th):
I just want to apologize to the cabbies we've commissioned over the last couple of days. Somebody didn't see fit to inform the guy with the money about how much you're supposed to tip a cab driver.
See, I don't take cabs. They're way too expensive for me - I usually take the bus places, and just leave like seriously early. And on the few rare occasions do indulge in a cab-ride, it's usually with somebody else, who's paying. At any rate, suffice to say I don't pay for cabs very often.
Now then, over the last couple of days I've had reason to utilize the services of a taxi not once but twice. To get to the U-Haul to pick up our truck and to get back after returning it. On both occasions I, of course, got stuck with the bill.
Now, I'm figuring, it's a tip. You tip the guy just like you tip your server at the restaurant (a bill I'm very well versed in being stuck with). Presumably the slight fluctuations in tip amount would depend on speed and smoothness of the ride, rather than how good the cab tastes, but the same principle still applies (or so I thought).
So on the first ride, the guy charges me five bucks. I give him six. Fair enough... he was a cool guy, and I figured he deserved the 20% commission for getting us there with a minimum of hassle, and a steady stream of pleasing banter. I got out of the cab thinking of Crazy Taxi, but with less collisions.
The second ride took longer, as we got stuck in traffic, and I wound up with a $6.25 fare. I gave him a ten and asked for change, and he starts counting out singles. He gets up to three, and I'm like whoa, that's fine, to which he replies "Yeah, it is." Like I owe him that seventy five cents. I was completely befuddled, unsure of what the hell was going on, and I was out of the cab and halfway back to our car before I realized I hadn't given him any more of a tip. But hell, that's 12% - not too terrible. Still well within my ten-to-twenty-five-percent tip range, though honestly the ride wasn't that bad. I would have rather given him 15%, but I'm not about to count out the change.
So anyway, I get into the car, and as we're pulling away, I relate the tale of the claiming of my seventy-five cents. My companions... well, I don't think “aghast” is too strong a word under the circumstances. Apparently, instead of tipping a cabbie based on any definable quality of the service provided, it's just customary to give the next even denomination of change. So the first guy, the interesting guy, would have gotten no tip, and the brooding snatcher of my 75¢ would have gotten three extra dollars! By quick poll of the car, I was the only person that wouldn't have just given him the ten and called it good.
So what the hell is up with that? Why do servers in restaurants have to earn their tips, and cabbies get it just by asking for odd denominations of payment? Not only that, but servers take responsibility for the cooks and the bussers. And maybe even the greeters. All the cabbie has to worry about is maybe whether his pine-scented air-freshener is too strong.
This inequality in tipping practices is downright unfair. So I say screw this special taxi-tipping! I'm going to pay them what they deserve, even if it's only a buck. They earned it... no more, and certainly no less. Maybe next time they'll bring me some goddamn condiments.
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Krae (Nov 23rd):
Sweet merciful crap. It's been almost a month I've been without my precious internet, and I'm freaking dying. Or rather, I was, until the cable guy showed up to install my broadband. I nearly kissed the fat bastard.
As a note here, my e-mail addresses aren't quite working yet (though they should be up by the 25th), so any e-mail you want to send me is going to have to wait. Not that anyone ever sent me anything anyway, but just in case you were wondering why I never responded to your polite letters informing me that the comic hadn't updated, that's why.
Nothing much to report... I'm working my ass off, back up to 40 hours a week. Freaking holidays, I tell you what. I swear, retail during the holidays is both the worst and best job ever. I mean, most of the time I freaking hate it; it's busy all the time... I have stupid people asking me stupid questions all the time... too much to do and nowhere near enough time to do any of it... tons of new releases, which I don't have time to play or money to buy or room to display, yet I'm required to provide detailed information on every goddamned one of them at the drop of a hat (“Hey, I want to know if my fourteen-year-old will like this [Insert Name Of New Release] game. Can you tell me what it's about? Who's this person way in the corner on the back of the box? What happens in the end? Why did it get an M rating?”)
Then again, every once in awhile I get a cool customer, and it's the best feeling to help them out. And the feeling of accomplishment when you get something done, or get the store clean (even though you know it'll be screwed again by the time you get in the next day), or to just survive the day without killing any little Yu-Gi-Oh! masters or VMU-lifting punks. Almost makes it worth getting up at 5am.
So that's about it. When I figure out what happened to the last couple of comics that were supposed to update, I'll get them up. New comics will be coming soon, though I don't know how much time I'll have for updates and reviews during the holidays. If I don't see you again before the new year, happy holidays, suckas.
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PS: Happy Birthday, Kim!
Krae (Dec 6th):
Yes, I noticed that S.T.F.U. is really white now. I noticed that when I did it... what, you didn't think it did this on its own, did you? I'm also thinking about re-doing the logo, and maybe adding some graphics or something. Or perhaps I'll just be lazy as usual.
I had Thanksgiving dinner with Kyle's family (not on Thanksgiving, 'cuz he pulled a holiday shift, the tubby, overworked bastard). It was freaking awesome... maybe I've just been living on my own for too long (go Mac-'n'-Cheeze and frozen meals!), but I will now swear before all humanity that anyone claiming in my presence that Kyle's mom does not cook like God is going to eat my fist. I think I had fourths. It was really cool that his mom and pop invited me (and Natasha) to dinner, since neither of us has family in town, and you know Kyle would just gloat.
And despite my absolute fascination with cornbread for the past couple of weeks, once we started, I didn't even notice. Honest. There was like, turkey, and green beans, and potatoes, and stuffing... oh god, the stuffing had like bits of apple in it - it was so good... And by the time we were through, you couldn't have forced cornbread on me. Christ, it was good. They wouldn't let me help clean up, though... Anyway, it was freaking awesome.
Nothing much to complain about at the moment. I'm sure I'll think of something soon. Just a complete lack of free time... what with getting up at 5am to open the goddamn store (who decided stores open early during the holidays?) and working long shifts, I usually leave the house before sunrise, and I'm lucky if I make it home before sunset. Crazy!
Once again, a birthday to report... today's my Mom's birthday. She probably doesn't read this (at least I hope not... next time I come home I'll be grounded for life), but that's alright. Happy Birthday anyway, Mom. It's funny, my mom, dad, sister and I were all born in the cold. Matter of fact, my sister's the only one of us who missed Winter, hanging off at the ass-end of Autumn like she is. She always has to be difficult...
It's really freakin' cold though... beginning to see frost in the mornings. I hope it snows.
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Krae (Dec 18th):
An older guy came into the store the other day, and wandered around aimlessly for a couple of minutes until I picked him up. Determined in the first couple of seconds that he was shopping for his eleven-year-old kid, and that he needed a PS2 game or two. So I steered him over in the right direction and hung around to make myself useful. The conversation went roughly like this:
“So what's popular right now?” he asks me.
“Well, for an eleven-year-old, we've got a couple of options,” I say. And then I take a deep breath and begin to launch into my pitch. We've got a couple of featured games (with specials running on them even) that we like to point out to all the customers. We have a quota we're supposed to make, but it's not because they're bad games, it's just because the vendor paid our company some ungodly amount of money to sell a huge number of them. Anyway, back to the conversation...
“The new Harry Potter game is really popular... even for older kids. I was playing it on my break just the other day, and the manager had to turn off the machine to get me to come back to work.”
The guy shakes his head. “We don't let him play games about witchcraft,” he replies, warily.
But this isn't even the worst of it... undaunted, I plunge on. “Also, there are a couple of very popular Teen-Rated games. This one [Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers] is an action-game, based on the first two Lord of the Rings movies. And this one [007: Nightfire] is a James Bond game... just like playing a movie, but it's got a unique storyline.”
“Are they violent?” he quips.
“A bit,” I admit. “Lord of the Rings is an action-adventure game, with lots of warfare and sword-play. Like I said, it's based on the movie, which is rated PG-13... though I don't think it's too old for an eleven-year-old. If you let him see the movie, the game will be fine for him. And there's not even really any blood in Nightfire... lots of shooting, but it's not gory.”
“Well, I'm trying to steer him away from violent video-games. I had a talk with his teacher, and she says he's displaying violent behavior. Like he was punching some other kid's backpack. Really punching it.”
I stare incredulously, and he continues: “And the other day, I saw him playing this game. He was killing old women, and there was swearing, and 'ladies of the night'. I don't remember what it was called.”
“Grand Theft Auto,” I reply. “You know, that's rated Mature... and got that rating for a very good reason.”
“Yeah, that's it. Well anyway, I think my older son bought it for him, and I didn't know until I happened to come into their room while they were playing yesterday and saw that. Anyway, when I found out about that, I threw all those games away, and now I'm looking for something like... Tetris.”
The conversation was pretty much over at that point. Much as I admire his belated sense of responsiblity for parenting his kids, it's a little late to decide to pay attention to what he's playing now. Not to mention that the sentiment is a little misguided... if the kid's starting to display violent tendencies, maybe it's not the video-games, but the complete lack of attention his parents pay him while he plays them. Or even if it isn't, there's something wrong with that kid that has nothing to do with video-games. Maybe you might have to keep him away from games like GTA, Hitman, Soldier of Fortune, etc... but it's not the games that are doing it to him.
I mean jeezus, how many times do I have to go over this point? And the wost of it is, I'm not allowed to throw a bitch-fit while I'm at work. No, I can't do anything that might possibly upset or offend the almighty customer. So when he stands there and tells me video-games are despicable and they're ruining his child, I'm supposed to nod and smile and agree. Yes, sir, I am a filth-merchant... can I help you find something to corrupt your cherubic children today?
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Krae (Dec 21st):
It has occurred to me, in the last day or two, that I've inadvertently joined the dark side. Observe:
When selling Mature-Rated video-games, our company requires (and condones) only that the Sales Associate inform the purchaser, be he fifty years old or five, that the game has been rated Mature by the ESRB (or Entertainment Software Rating Board) and may not be suitable for children. That's it.
Our entire store, by general consensus but on an individual basis (as the company doesn't require or even acknowledge the practice), regulate the flow of Mature-Rated games to kids. Meaning we will not sell an M-Rated game to someone under 17 without a parent or guardian present to give permission. And we'll do our damndest to explain why the game got the rating it did, to the point of nearly attempting to dissuade the parent from allowing the child to purchase the game.
I, for instance, have gone out of my way to mention prostitution to every mother that has attempted to buy Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
It suddenly popped into my head today while watching a newly informed mother drag her adolescent son out of the store by his ear that I've sold my soul to Lieberman. Not that I repent of keeping parents informed. I think that if parents actually listened to people like me (and the other guys at other video-game stores all over the country... EB and GameStop and all the others) there wouldn't be a need for ESRB; they'd know what their kids were playing, and what a game was about before they even bought it. They would do the parenting, not me. They would decide what's appropriate or inappropriate for their particular child, rather than me, my company, or the ESRfuckingB.
No, what I repent of is working so hard to actually convince parents that it's bad for their kids. By going out of my way to explain the immoral (or at the very least amoral) themes and activities in games like Vice City I am, in effect, suggesting to parents that they shouldn't buy the game. I have never informed a parent of the fun of Vice City, or tried to justify the violence and crime. I've pointed out all the negative and then waited expectantly... and it very rarely fails to evoke the expected response.
As soon as I was struck by this realization, I altered my tactics. An elderly gentleman bought Vice City, and while I was suggesting the Strategy Guide, I asked if it was for himself, or a gift for someone else. When he told me it was for his thirteen-year-old grandson, I did not launch into my spiel about hookers and killing cops. What did, on the other hand, was inform him that the game had received a Mature-Rating by the ESRB (as required by my company), and suggested that he let the boy's parents know so they could check it out while he's playing, or better yet, sit down and enjoy it with him so they know what it's about. I printed out a gift-receipt for him, and he went off on his jovial way, without me poisoning his ears with talk of cement overshoes. He knew he'd bought an adult game, but he wasn't convinced it was bad.
And you know what? I felt a lot better. Maybe they'll return it... maybe I'll get a lot more returns this way, as a matter of fact. But at least the parents will be paying attention. At least they'll have some responsibility, not going in blind, but able to make a decision for themselves instead of listening to me make their decision for them by mentioning certain buzz-words immediately considered “evil” and “wrong”. And maybe a few kids will get their hands on some awesome (but Mature-Rated) games this Christmas, because their parents looked at them, trusted their kids, and decided “hey this isn't so bad after all”.
Because, you know... it is just a game.
Press [esc] to exit POS: _
PS: Happy Birthday, Dad!
Krae (Dec 25th):
'Twas the eve of the update, and all through the night
Work had been frenzied to get it just right.
The art waited patiently in Photoshop,
But into my head a comic wouldn't pop.
The guys were no help: while I'm slaving away,
Sean's curled in the tub reading an anime;
Even Kyle had begun his own revelry -
of eggnog spiked with rum he'd drank heavily;
So of our band only Natasha espied
The landlord, with flashlight, patrolling outside.
She warily went to the window to find
Just what sort of "merriment" he had in mind.
But as it turns out, 'twas no spot-inspection;
Rather some sort of intruder detection.
He'd received reports, though as yet seen no proof,
Of some sort of fat prowler up on the roof.
Of course, knowing us, the first thing he checked was:
Was Kyle drunk, and did we have him with us.
More stumbling than walking we dragged him outside;
He couldn't get up on the roof if he tried.
"First eggnog, then vodka, tequila, and lager!
then Guinness, Jack Daniels, sake and Budweiser!
To the top of the roof? Nosir, I'm off to bed -
Now bugger off; let me sleep, or I'll have your heads."
>As sacks tossed by garbagemen taking the trash,
Pitched in the compactor land with a crash,
So into his bed the soused butter-ball flopped;
While we others returned to the tasks we had dropped.
And then came a tinkling of shattering glass;
Which once again rousted me up off my ass.
As we came to the kitchen, we desperately strove
To comprehend what was sitting on our stove.
I looked at the others; we gaped like fishes,
At Santa Claus, perched among yesterday's dishes.
When wits were recovered, we gave him a hand:
His bag was stuck the vent of the stove-fan
His eyes - how they glowered! He looked really pissed;
and all our inquiries he quickly dismissed.
His "droll little mouth" profanity mumbled,
As off to the living room Santa Claus trundled.
He seemed annoyed at the landlord's attention;
Schedule endangered by this intervention.
And as Santa waddled off, clearly irate,
Sean, Natasha and I broke into debate.
Should we turn the old elf in; could we, at that?
Sean voted we help him, but keep the toy-sack.
I stated that should we not summon police,
We'd violate the fugitive-clause in our lease.
Evicted or not, though, we had to help out,
But as we decided we heard Kyle shout.
Drunken Kyle had done the unthinkable -
Santa lay on the floor, knocked insensible!
"I'm the only fat bastard needed 'round here,
I don't even need no eight goddamned reindeer,
And now, I'm quite pleased to inform all of you
There's no Christmas this year, so S.T.F.U."
Press [esc] to exit POS: _
Krae (Dec 31st):
A quick note on propaganda before I begin: every once in awhile I take it into my silly little head that I want to go find some news. I want to know what's going on, who we're at war with this week, what sort of horrors are being committed upon Average Joe Americana by corporations, foreigners, lone-gunmen, or satanists. Most of the time I wind up looking at the technology and gaming news, because that's stuff I can actually relate to... but that doesn't mean I'm totally blind to Issues (with a capital “I”). Like just what the hell is this “Showdown Iraq” business on CNN? That sounds like a goddamn Clancy game. Might as well put a link on CNN.com saying “Iraq: We're Coming For Your Ass, Saddam”...
I remember reading about Russian and German soldiers (and civilians, for that matter) tuning in to the BBC illegally to get accurate accounts of the warfare in WWII... because their news reporting was completely controlled by their respective governments. And nobody knew when a sweeping victory over Pissantville, Poland (with a three-page spread in all the periodicals) was disguising a horrific defeat and rout from Importantgrad. I always found that a little strange, and very saddening, that the people were not even allowed true accounts of what was going on. And it just struck me today that the only news I trust anymore is the BBC... and even then, I know I'm hearing Westernized accounts. I hesitate to use the word “chilling”, but that's pretty fucked up right there.
So hell with you, MSNBC, and ABCNews, and yea, even most beloved CNN, I no longer trust your accounts - you are no longer “news”, but rather “entertainment”... and more than a little propaganda.
So, that said, here's what I really want to bitch about: Lieberman keeps giving me more and more reasons to want to kill him. Now, I'm not a violent individual. I do play video games, even violent, amoral, immoral, and Mature video games. But that didn't make me a violent, belligerent, or immoral person. I am not misogynistic. I do not like guns. I do not want to injure minorities, the elderly, or people of any group based on religion, sexual orientation, race, and so on and so forth. In short, playing Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat (for example), have not made me into a frenzied psychotic killer. No, Joseph Lieberman accusing me of being a bad person for playing these games is what evokes the homicidal urges.
I imagine myself hunting him down, Tenchu-style, and whipping a katana across his spine. Or facing him one-on-one in a personal fighting-game-style deathmatch. Or just wading in, guns blazing, and shooting up his place. Not that I wish him any particular malice, but I think it'd be nice for him to get an idea what the fuck he's suggesting here. Ordinary people play video games, and become the character, acting out all the bad behavior from the game? Please...
This is the article that got my blood boiling this time, but it seems like anything Joe attaches his name to these days is bound to piss me off. The guy's a freaking mental-case. I mean, to think that a game could warp an individual to the extent he claims... Sure you can get health back by picking up a prostitute in GTA3; that's still a long step from cutting your finger and looking for a hooker rather than a band-aid. I'm outraged at the very idea... I mean, setting aside the arguments I could make, the rebuttals to his points, I'm offended I'd even have to. I mean, what sort of freakish hypothesis is this? Personally, I'm beginning to think that maybe the Senate should have some sort of rating, because obviously it takes an ordinary windbag and makes him dangerously influential.
Let me invent an example, here: “I neglected my child for seven years of his life, only seeing him long enough to beat the tar out of him when I got drunk enough to bother trying to find him. Other than that, he was reared by the television. I think at some point one of my crack-whore girlfriends tried to reach out to him, but I beat the shit out of her and stopped that right quick; nobody knows how to raise my kid better'n me. Anyway, one day I found out he'd been playing all sorts of violent video-games, and my good pal Senator Joe Lieberman (D - Connecticut) told me that's why he stole my gun and shot himself. So I'ma sign a petition to have all games with guns burned. For all grieving fathers like me, I want to thank Joey L. for tellin' it like it is.”
So fuck you, Joe. Some of us are responsible human beings. Some of us have parents who know us, who are aware of what we're playing, and who have the time to teach us that while ripping someone's still-beating heart from his chest in Mortal Kombat might be a cool fatality-move, it might not be such a good idea to emulate it on the playground. Some of us can use the “prostitute health-cheat” on GTA3 and still respect women. Some of us know the difference between a game and goddamned reality.
But just in case, watch your back, Joe. I'm real good at Tenchu.
Press [esc] to exit POS: _
a syeichas, ya govoryu “privet” potomou chto prosto ya mogou.
(yes I know my grammar and probably spelling are horrible...)