Leg Cast

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 I sat at the back of the bus because it was empty. Almost all the seats toward the front were taken. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to play my Nintendo 3DS for the twenty minutes to work.

Three stops later and the bus was filled with college students. Three stops later, Ian spotted me.

“Travis,” he yelled and then pushed through the standing passengers because all the seats were then taken. I nodded.

“You should sit,” I said.

“I’m good.”

“How’s the leg?”

“Better. I’m going back to the doctor’s next week.”

“So no operation?”

“We’ll see when I go to the doctor’s next week.”

The bus stopped at the university and almost all the passengers hopped off. I stood up with them.

“You really should take my seat,” I said.

Ian shrugged his shoulders and sat down. I then realized that almost all the seats at the back of the bus were then empty. No more college students.

“Playing anything good?” he asked.

“Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.”

“Cool cool. I played Omega Ruby in the hospital.”

I shut my 3DS and shoved it in my bag. Travis shifted in his seat and stuck out his left leg. The cast was thick and had names scribbled all over it.

“If I had a sharpie I’d let you sign it right now.”

I smiled and looked straight ahead. The bus started to fill again with workers headed downtown just like the two of us. Some wore suits and others wore jeans and flannels like me. No one else seemed to have a broken leg.

“I’m surprised we haven’t run into each other more,” Ian said.

“I usually grab a later bus.”

I sat down next to Ian and pulled out a sharpie. I kept markers and pencils and a sketchpad in my bag because I recently got into drawing. Or rather, I got back into drawing, after a fifteen year hiatus.

I leaned over and looked for a spot to sign my name. Only the bus driver slammed the break and I toppled over. I stood up and looked down at my flannel and saw a black streak across the top.

“It’s not that noticeable,” Ian said.

I signed and put the sharpie back in my bag. “Let me sign the cast another time.”

“We should grab a drink after work. It is Friday.”

We said nothing for the next minute and waited for the bus to stop in front of the building where Ian worked. Only a few small companies worked in the building and Ian’s was in the process of relocating to the larger building across the street.

“I’m serious. I haven’t seen you since you left.”

“I’ll text you,” I said.

“You better.”

He then got up and hopped off the bus. Literally. He balanced on his crutch and used his good leg to hop down the two steps. I pulled out my 3DS because closing the system only put it in sleep mode and I wanted to save the battery.

Two stops later I got off the bus. I then removed my flannel shirt, stuffed it in my bag and walked to the cheapest coffee shop in town.

I suppose I could tell you how Travis broke his leg. I was there. We went to a bar to celebrate my last day. But that’s a story for some other time.

The Beanie

“The beanie is a problem,” Zach said.

I didn’t think so, but I also wasn’t the boss. Zach was. He was twenty-six with sunglasses resting on his buzzed blonde hair. I was a year older than him.

“I wear it everyday,” I said.

“Not with the Thomas Reynolds visiting today,” Zach said.

“I never saw a memo,” I said.

“I didn’t think I had to send one,” Zach said.

So I nodded and left Zach’s office. Apparently sunglasses were alright but beanies weren’t. Our cubicles separated us from each other and no one passing would see me. Not to mention Friday’s were causal day – surely Mr. Reynolds knew this. How could our CEO not know this?

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I wore the beanie all day. I wore it when my co-worker Kenny came by at eleven. He always came by at eleven.

“You’ve got some balls keeping that beanie on all day,” he said. He took a swig from his water bottle with a NYC Social sticker slapped on. He always carried his water bottle.

“He’s meeting with our VPs and they’re on the tenth floor,” I said.

“Yeah but his temporary office is on this floor,” he said.

Now I didn’t consider this. Or rather, I didn’t know this. How could I consider something I didn’t know?

“Still should be fine,” I said. I wasn’t about to tell Kenny that the Mr. Reynolds working on our floor made me nervous.

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I wore the beanie when I crossed the street to grab some pizza for lunch. Every Friday I went to the same place and ordered an extra large slice with pepperoni. The way I figured, I made it through the week with a cobb salad every other day. Besides, Friday was casual day. Friday should also be junk food day.

“Your beanie is cute,” the cashier said. I never saw her before. She must have been new. Otherwise she would have known that I wore my Pikachu beanie every Friday.

“I’ll wear it next Friday just for you,” I said.

“Isn’t it going to be like seventy degrees outside?” she said.

Alright, so I didn’t think of this either. It was a cold winter – we were in the middle of March and the high was only thirty – so the idea of not wearing my beanie next Friday kinda bothered me.

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I wore the beanie during my department’s meeting at 4. Why Zach insisted on having meetings at four on a Friday I had no idea. We discussed our targets for the Fall season. That’s right, Fall. It was still March and I was worried about not wearing my beanie for the Spring and now I had to think about the Christmas season.

“Mr. Reynolds will be stopping by during our meeting. He’s been visiting all of the departments and I told him to drop by during our weekly meeting.”

Alright, so I wasn’t expecting that, I really wasn’t. Why would the CEO bother to drop in on us? We were just a group of analysts whose work could be done by anyone. We weren’t that important.

But wait, why did I assume that the CEO was that kind of guy? He could genuinely care about his employees, and that a visit to everyone could boost morale. But if that was the case, why was wearing my beanie such a big damn deal?

“You have ten seconds to take off that beanie,” Zach said. He was now standing by the door and kept it open part way with his hand. I looked over to Kenny who just shrugged his shoulders. He always shrugged his shoulders when he thought he knew something I didn’t.

And just as Zach opened the door I pulled off the beanie. I pulled it off because I didn’t want to look like a fool, but also because I didn’t know what I believed in anymore, I really didn’t.

Game Night

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Saturday night was Game Night. It started back in fourth grade when my classmate Jason bragged during recess how he could kick everyone’s butts in Super Smash Bros. He always chose Link.

“No way you can beat me,” I said. My character was Pikachu. We decided to settle this the following Saturday night at my house. My mom was happy that I finally had a friend.

“He’s not my friend,” I told her, but she didn’t believe me.

We played without items, then with items. Ian shouted “the hammer! the hammer!” and blew me away. We played that night for six hours and lost count of who won the most matches. We decided to settle it the following Saturday.

Mom was right.

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Saturday night was Game Night. Jason and I rotated Saturdays at each other’s homes. We still played Nintendo 64 at my place but played Xbox at his. I would’ve asked for an Xbox too but mom was out of work and I knew Christmas would be small. This was back in the seventh grade. Daniel also started coming to our game nights – he just moved from Long Island and I sat next to him in Science.

More and more game nights moved to Jason’s. Out top game choice was Halo. I sucked, I really did. Shooters weren’t my thing. But Jason and Daniel always pushed to play so of course I joined.

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Friday night was game night. Our hangouts expanded to include a couple of our other buddies and rotated between mine and Daniel’s homes. I hadn’t talked to Jason much since freshman year. He found junior varsity football and became a certifiable jock. I always thought his father pushed him into it. I was never a popular kid.

I now had a Wii and Daniel had PS3. I didn’t have too may Wii games so we mostly played Melee – though GameCube was old news – and created some ridiculous Miis. Daniel’s brother was already out of high and bought us beer. The more we drank the more ridiculous the Miis. We tried to create a Pikachu-man and came pretty damn close.

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Every night was game night. My roommate Shawn brought his Nintendo 64 so we set this up in our dorm room. We played Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. He was a quiet, awkward guy and I suppose that’s why we got along. We kept a running tally of our wins on a dry board hung on our door for others to see. He always kicked my ass. It was years since I played Nintendo 64 but it was the only system he ever had.

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Last Friday I brought back game night. The night before me and a couple co-workers got drunk at the dive bar across from our office. We talked about old school video games. We also argued over who was the best in Melee.

“We’ll settle this at my place,” I said. I didn’t have a GameCube but my roommate Roger did. So the next night Connor and Justin came over and we played. Conner chose Falco. Justin chose Link. I chose Pikachu.

We played with items and without them. We played on a timer and on stock. One time I grabbed the hammer and thought of Jason back in the fourth grade, thought “damn, everything’s changed,” and then yelled “The hammer! The hammer!”

Twenty Sarcastic Comments about Diddy Kong 64 Maps

Last week I posted sixteen sarcastic comments on the Mario Kart 64 maps (view post here), and I decided to do something similar for Diddy Kong Racing.

Again, these posts were inspired by the Pleated Jeans post  Sarcastic Mottos for All 50 States

*All images courtesy of Super Mario Wiki

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Ancient Lake

Like Luigi’s Raceway, but with a dinosaur

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Fossil Canyon

Like Ancient Lake, but at sunset

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Jungle Falls

Come for the waterfalls, stay for the dino bones

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Hot Top Volcano

Where lava has never been less threatening

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Everfrost Peak

A.K.A Winter Wonderland with Planes

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Walrus Cove

Just kidding, there’s no walrus. There’s a loop-de-loop though!

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Snowball Valley

The snowballs will kill you

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Frost Village

Despite the name, there’s only three houses

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Whale Bay

Tropical Moby Dick

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Crescent Island

You drive through the pirate ship this time

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Pirate Lagoon

Yeah, you have to use the hovercraft

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Treasure Caves

Generic course, but with a cave

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Windmill Planes

No dragons here

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Greenwood Village

Now THIS is a village… with no dragons

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Boulder Canyon

There will be logs… but still no dragons

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Haunted Woods

These ghosts are more harmless than boos

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Spacedust Alley

The future is really, really purple

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Darkmoon Caverns

Six Flags, with craters

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Spaceport Alpha

Because every spaceport should have lasers to kill it’s inhabitants

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Star City

Viva Las Vegas

How I Almost Picked Up a Girl With My Pokemon T-Shirt

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“Love the shirt,” this girl to my side said. She played with her black ponytail while sipping a margarita.

“Birthday gift from my roommate,” I said. I was lying of course. I wasn’t about to tell this girl my mom sent me a Pokemon t-shirt.

She smiled and turned on the stool to face me. “I had Pokemon blue,” she said.

“Me too!” I said.

“Who did you start with?” she asked.

“Let’s say ours together,” I said.

“One…two… three!” we said.

“Bulbasaur,” I said.

“Charmander,” she said.

“Really? I always thought Charmander kinda sucked,” I said. I finished the White Russian in my hand and waved the bartender for another.

“No he didn’t,” she said.

“Of course he did,” I said. “He sucked against Brock. Scratch did shit against Geodude and Onix.”

The bartender set another White Russian on the counter. I started sipping.

This girl looked down to her margarita. “You don’t have to be so rude.”

“I’m just being honest,” I said.

“They’re not mutually exclusive,” she said. I watched her stand up and walk away.

I stayed at the bar and finished my drink. I’m serious when I say this barcade was cheap. The people huddled around the different games – Q-bert, the Simpsons, Caterpillar. – playing for fifty cents a pop. Only the most popular games were a quarter more.

And the girl was playing the Simpsons by herself. I could play second, I thought. We’d be a team, and I could show her that I’m not an asshole. I reached into my pocket and saw that I had fifty cents left. Perfect.

“Close me out,” I told the bartender. He nodded and passed my bill of eighteen dollars.

I walked to the Simpsons game where this girl was still playing. “I can join you, I got the fifty cents,” I said.

“It’s seventy-five,” she said without looking away from the screen.

“Ok,” I said and left.

The kicker of it all – I first chose Charmander. I don’t know why I lied. After loosing to Brock several times I started a new game and chose Bulbasaur. Much, much easier.

Video Games Win Grammys Too!

OK, so once in Grammy history has an award gone to a video game song. This was in 2011, when Baba Yetu from Civilization IV won the “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists” category at the 53rd awards ceremony (view the Wikipedia article here).

The field opened up in April 2012, when the Recording Academy opened up the following categories to video game music:

Best Music for Visual Media
Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
Best Song Written for Visual Media

That December, the score for the video game Journey was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

Video game scores and songs are recognized by several other associations each year, including:

The Game Awards (produced by Geoff Keighley, who before worked on the Spike Video Game Awards):

  • 2014 Best Score/Soundtrack – Destiny

International Film Music Critics Association:

  • 2014 Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media nominees (winners will be announced February 19th)
    • Assassin’s Creed: Unity, music by Chris Tilton and Sarah Schachner
    • The Banner Saga, music by Austin Wintory
    • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, music by Óscar Araujo
    • Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, music by Geoff Knorr, Griffin Cohen, Michael Curran and Grant Kirkhope
    • World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, music by Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Sam Cardon, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti and Eímear Noone

What are some of your favorite video game songs and scores? Leave a comment below!