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I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (and Christmas)

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I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a postapocalyptic science fiction short story. The story is about a supercomputer which, after having gained sentience, brings about the near-extinction of humanity. He leaves five humans alive making them virtually immortal so as to torture them endlessly and has been doing so for the last 109 years. The story is creepily horrifying, dangerously disturbing, depressingly dark, and, well, sick.

It is an unforgettable story. I can’t imagine what the reaction to this story must have been when it came out in the year of Canada’s centennial, 1967.

It’s reminded me that humanity has incredibly dark aspects to it. Black hole dark.

So why the kill joy blog post about a story full of suffocating misery during Christmas time?

Because Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the beginning of the end of the sort of evil this story talks about. It’s the celebration of peace on earth. And that I’m incredibly glad that I do have a mouth. And with that mouth I desire to proclaim the Christmas heavenly host’s proclamation in Luke 2:14,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward humanity.”

 

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Lollipops and the Hitler Youth

So the other day my children went to a birthday party at a place called Lollipops. Looks like a fun centre for kids right? Great place to let your kids burn some of that excessive energy while making memories that last a lifetime? Or maybe the first steps towards becoming young members of the Hitler Youth?

Huh!?!? The Hitler Youth? Where would one get that idea!

Well, Lollipops helps prepare goodie bags/party favours for the people holding the party. In this case they made little girl bags and little boy bags. My son got the little boy bag. And in it was this collection of sticker tattoos:

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Let’s ignore the super evil scary looking skulls that probably aren’t suited for two year olds. Hey, we just had Halloween, so we can give the skulls a pass. But let’s look closer here:

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Now just for a moment ignore the half naked lady on a skull tattoo for two year olds and take a look at the three faced creature thing with swastikas coming out of two of its mouths. WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?! Really Lollipops? For little children?

Now maybe you’re thinking, <obligatory surfer voice> “Hey man, Hitler’s Swastikas, are like, you know, orientated the other way. Maybe this is like, you know, the nice Swastikas from some nice Indian religion.” Not sure which nice Indian religion has a three faced Swastika spewing creature surrounded by a half naked woman on a skull, creepy Gacy clown, and demon looking skulls but hey, I’m not an expert in all of India’s religions so who knows.

Fortunately, my wife saw the tattoos before my son, so we were able to quietly remove them from the bag. Not sure what Lollipops was thinking when they purchased these sticker tattoos. On the positive side, they definitely helped create a memory that will last a lifetime. 😀

Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, The Pinnacle of Human Greatness

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So recently I saw what is probably the greatest achievement of humankind ever achieved in the history of the planet. I saw the landmark film, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to watch this. Here’s the trailer:

Jaleel White of Family Matters (Steve Urkel) & Sonic the Hedgehog fame and Robert Picardo, the holo doctor from Star Trek Voyager, give the performances of their careers.

Now I’m not quite sure how to review such a masterpiece. Do I tell you about the emotional depth of the characters? The special effects that make Avatar look like a b-grade movie from 1912? The epic musical score that John Williams and Hans Zimmer would only dream about being able to compose? The watertight script with no plot holes or ridiculous over-the-top concepts (a first in my experience of watching movies)?

No. All I can say in review is that if I had seen this before my children were born I would have little Mega Shark, Crocosaurus, and Megalodon running around my house instead of the obviously lesser names that we chose.

There’s really only one criticism any rational person could make of this work of art, and that’s the title. See, this movie is a sequel to the movie Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009), and well, we know who obviously won in that movie now don’t we?

If you feel like your life has been going nowhere lately, watch this masterpiece. It may change fundamentally how you view humanity and thus, change your life.

My Wonderful Stateless Child

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Parents like to brag about their kids. My kid got an ‘A’ on this, or my kid scored the winning goal here, or my kid discovered the secret to cold fusion, blah blah blah. Well good job parent, your kid discovered the secret to all our energy problems. They got nothing on my youngest daughter.

See, currently, my youngest daughter is stateless.

You’re not falling down in pure awe you say? Well, let me explain what I mean.

My daughter was born here in New Zealand. That’s where things get interesting. New Zealand has a policy where one of your parents has to be a permanent resident or citizen for you to be entitled to citizenship at birth (Charlotte and I are neither). That’s fair. Most nations are like that. But because my daughter was born in NZ, and not in Canada, she doesn’t automatically get Canadian citizenship either because Canada has no idea she exists. Now, she’s entitled to Canadian citizenship because her mummy and daddy are Canadians, but as I said earlier, Canada doesn’t know she exists.

So my daughter has a NZ birth certificate that doesn’t give her NZ citizenship, and she doesn’t have Canadian citizenship, which means my daughter isn’t attached to any state aka she’s stateless! She is Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal. That’s how amazing she is.

So you can go on bragging how your child went to the moon, or graduated with two different double major degrees from Harvard and Oxford concurrently, or discovered how to travel back in time, or whatever. My 5-month old daughter would make any airport or border control area go CRAZY.

Signed,

One Proud Parent

P.S.

Yes, we have applied for her Canadian Citizenship 🙂

End of an Era

Hiroshi Yamauchi

I went online to check the latest news and low and behold I saw a news story I wasn’t expecting: Hiroshi Yamauchi, who ran Nintendo for more than 50 years and led the Japanese company’s transition from traditional playing-card maker to video game giant, had died. He was 85.

Kind of weird since I had just restarted blogging yesterday and I chose to talk about one of Nintendo’s most influential NES games, Final Fantasy.

I never actually owned a Nintendo growing up. When I was really young my older brother had a Nintendo. My favourite memories from that era were 1) Trying to move Mario by moving the NES controller like a Wii controller and my older brother calling me an idiot for not pressing the Directional pad arrows. Little did he know I was pioneering the future 2) Deleting my brothers games and losing his passwords (which made him very happy) and 3) My brother getting the golden NES cartridge of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Because of that, I prefer Zelda II over all other Zelda games which is unfortunate for me because it is the most different and despised game in the franchise.

Once my brother left the only access I had to a Nintendo was largely from a next door neighbour in my apartment building who owned a Nintendo (the previously mentioned Danny from the Final Fantasy post). My favourite memories from that era was beating 1) Final Fantasy I 2) Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu (a cool platformer) and 3) Faxanadu (a nifty side-scrolling RPG). Of course there are all the memories of the arguments, fights, excitement, tears, power failures, lost passwords, making up passwords, blowing in the cartridge, and massive confusion the games caused that I love as well.

Video games played a big role in my childhood. It’s just a part of what makes me, me. And let’s not forget all the amazing music in video games, especially the Final Fantasy series.

In that vein, here is a video my friend James posted on my Facebook page in response to my previous Final Fantasy post that I think has a keen (humorous) insight into the gamer mind 😀

So thank you Hiroshi Yamauchi for making Nintendo what it was and indirectly playing a role in my life.

 

Have you ever wanted to save the world?

I grew up saving the world. True story. It began with the game Final Fantasy. Not just any Final Fantasy though. Not Final Fantay XXIXIXIX. No. Final Fantasy I (yes, that’s the number one). It was amazing.

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I was in elementary/primary school. It all started a couple of months before summer holidays. Me and my friend Danny began a long journey to save the world. It involved protecting the world by making four orbs shiny and stopping some time traveling knight/EVIL ITSELF INCARNATE named Garland/CHAOS.

Back when there was no internet, no walkthroughs (that’s right, we didn’t have the ’84 page explorers handbook’, we were HARDCORE), being 9 years old, and having never played an RPG before it took us a considerably long time to get to the end. By the end of the summer (so four months later) we were there. Right about to travel back in time and save the world.

Then there was a power failure and it wiped the battery save of our game (thank you Nintendo and your incredibly reliable battery cartridge save features). I felt like I had let the world down.

But we didn’t give up. We didn’t surrender. We didn’t keep the lemons. We made lemonade and we started again. And now we knew. We knew what we needed to do. We knew where to go. We knew what would make for a much better party. Sorry Red Mage, you get ditched for the incredibly amazing and broken Black Belt/Master.

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It took us only two weeks to get back to where we were. And we were ready. And we won. We saved the world. We stopped the “makes-no-sense-time-paradox-evil-incarnate-bad guy”. It was great.

And while I don’t do much saving of the world anymore, I’m glad to be serving the true saviour of the world. Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.

Continuum: Best Canadian Sci-Fi Show Ever

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I recently finished the first season of Continuum. This show is by far the best Canadian sci-fi TV show I have ever seen…ever. Definitely one of my new favourite sci-fi shows period. And a big A+ for Canadian television. But you know what’s even more phenomenal? Its level of amazing is the direct inverse of how lame the premise of the show sounds: A detective from the year 2077 finds herself trapped in present day Vancouver and searching for ruthless criminals from the future.

Reading up on the history of the show apparently the creator tried to get a US network to pick it up. Naturally, they all thought “that is the stupidest sounding show we have ever heard.” But then a Canadian network, Showcase, heard about it and were like “wow, that sounds AMAZING!! Here’s lots of money!”

And normally in cases like that all you can do is:

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But not in this case. No. This show is addictive. Interesting twists and turns. Time travel. Flashbacks. Wrestling with various theories of time. Potential problems with time travel. And the coolest and most Canadian theme of all: who do you actually cheer for?

See, the show has a brilliant balance of good and bad to create maximum tension. Do you cheer for the people who have the noble cause but use the worst of means to achieve their ends? Or do you cheer for the people who support a horrible cause but do so using noble means? And are our heroes really heroes? And are our villains really villains? I.DON’T.KNOW.!.!

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But I love it! 😀

Now, the show isn’t perfect. There is reasonable level of suspension of disbelief. But it could be a lot worse. So if you are someone who can handle a little suspension of disbelief, and you like time travel, sci fi, twists and turns, and having Canada at the centre of world events instead of that other country, then this show is for you.

Season 1 is finished and season 2 begins this April 21st. If you have been itching for a new sci-fi tv show, I heartily recommend you give it a chance!