I play video games…

and right now I’m playing GTAIV like everyone else on the planet (or whoever spent that $500 million filling Rockstar’s coffers right now. Keep up with me over at Gamestooge!

My unobjective review of Ikaruga

My opining on Ikur

Oh Ikaruga, I remember so well the first forum posts concerning you, the sequel to that most excellent of shooters Radiant Silvergun, but you were released for the Dreamcast in 2002, long after that console was dead in the U.S. Forums were buzzing with rumors of your porting to the Gamecube, that we might be blessed with your presence here in the States. I read every scrap of news I could find on you, when I heard you’d be coming stateside I rushed to the local EB games to reserve a copy of you, it didn’t bother me that that guy behind the counter had never heard of you, had to look you up, and then proceeded to butcher your name repeatedly. Whatever.

Then you arrived and I flew over to the EB hoping they hadn’t sold my copy yet. Turns out my copy was the only one they had ordered. I took you home and slid you into the Gamecube, stoked to experience your polarity based game play. The groans and moans about difficulty I’d read on-line hadn’t bothered me. I’d cut my teeth on games like Ninja Gaiden, Alien Soldier, and Gradius, I thought I knew. I was wrong. I’ve never been so humbled by a game in my life. Everything was so simple. Why was I so bad? Shoot everything on the screen. Enemies are black or white when you match their color you absorb their shots, only dying when hit by the opposite color (when white you absorb white shots and die from black and vice-versa when your black). You only has five levels! I never got passed the third. You crushed me. Even on repeated plays I could never get higher than a B on a level. I took my licks and retreated, you were replaced by easier games, games I could beat. Then I sold you back to EB and forgot about you…

But you haunted my dreams, visions of black on white, unending, incomprehensible patterns of monochromatic shots. How could I have failed so miserably? Why had I given up so soon? Too late though to get you back, I could only find you on Ebay and the price to redeem myself was too high… until now. For ten dollars I can play you again on the Xbox 360. I eargerly paid and waited for the download to finish. Finally, I would be able to banish the doubts and vanquish my failings, I would conquer you! So I thought.  Ikaruga, you are no easier now than you were 6 years ago. So my shame begins anew. The difference is that this time I’m not quitting until I’ve seen the ending credits.

Look for the objective, actual, review later this week

A short review of the Pope’s book, Jesus of Nazareth

Now seems like an apt time to talk about my reading of Pope Benedict the XVI book, Jesus of Nazareth, considering he is in the middle of a historic visit to the USA. The best that can be said about it is that it’s short. It could be shorter, there really shouldn’t be so much to say about a carpenter who lived in the first century AD, and who either fancied himself a demi-god or happened to have the right group of friends who fancied him to be. If you’ve walked through your local bookstores religions section though you’ll notice a great deal of thick books expounded on Jesus’ remarkable role in the history of the world, they’re also usually full of greek and latin words. These are the types of books that look good on a bookshelf. I suspect though that if Jesus’ message was so simple and clear you wouldn’t need several 1000 pages to explain to someone. But anyway back to the Pope’s book

It’s all right I guess, I’ve been told by numerous sources (New York Times, Washington Post, etc…) that Benny is one smart guy, he was John Paul’s head theologian. The man can certainly string an argument together and he does, but it always falls apart when we get to of Jesus. Which is the problem with Christianity (or Islam, or Mormonism) Benedict really wants us to believe that Jesus is God, and he holds up the Bible, and the fuzzy feeling he and millions of others get when they think about him as justification for his beliefs. This doesn’t work for me, because Scientologists get the same fuzzy feeling from reading Dianetics and thinking about L. Ron Hubbard, and I know at least two guys who get it when thinking about Playboy magazine. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I can’t see why the age of the Bible and the number of its followers should separate it from the weirdos in the latter two groups.  The Judeo-Christian God isn’t any more legitimate than the Flying Spaghetti Monster or He-Man, he just happens to be followed by a hell of a lot more people. Which brings us to the ultimate problem I have with Jesus of Nazareth, I don’t have any faith. I can follow the Pope’s arguments up until he makes the leap that leaves logic behind and goes head-long into faith…

I could also mention the Pope’s tired argument that if everyone just believed as he did all our problems would go away. If we all just scurried back to the 12th century where the Catholic church controlled their lives but also their thoughts. I’m sorry I don’t believe a sincere belief in Jesus as the Savior of the World and the Catholic Church as his instrument here on earth would stop people from finding reasons to hate and kill each other. In fact the history of western civilization only confirms my belief.

Two More Books off the List… Oh, look there’s still a Library here…

Yesterday I finished reading The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy by Two Guys. I didn’t finish the book but I am done with reading it. I should have just picked up the original article these two wrote. I don’t need a 400 page, immaculately researched, and backed up book to tell me that Israel gets a free pass here in the United States. Turn the news on and you see it does. As do all our other brutal but anti-terrorist friends in the world.  Is this going to change anytime soon? Probably not, the book quotes innumerable politicaians and organizations that all say the same thing, “The Israel Lobby is the most powerful in Washington”, and “They control the public discourse relating to Israel and the Middle-East in this country”. That is a depressing thought, it is also depressing to think that even bringing up the topic of a bias in American discourse towards Israel gets you immediately labeled a new anti-Semite. So I guess that is what I’m going to be looking forward to, when I say that Carter is right and what is going on in Israel and along the West Bank is Apartheid and there is no excuse for it in a democratic country. There is also no excuse for anyone who thinks that it is okay to do so, regardless of the reasoning behind it. Racism is Racism, Hate is Hate. You don’t get rid of it by building walls around it, or killing it.

Enough of the depressing, soul wrenching dump we call the Middle East.

I also just finished Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. I liked the book, but then Buddhism appeals to me Zen in particular because there is no religiousness about it. It’s a practice and it’s solely concerned with the here and now, this existence. If more people were doing that instead of getting weepy eyed and hopeful about what might happen after were dead, the world would be a better place. I didn’t need all the talk about the punk scene in the 80’s but that’s Warner’s life and this is his book… So he can do what he wants. Stripping all the bull out of practice though, I liked that. Also the talk about Godzilla rocks, he needed more of that and less of Ultraman, who likes Ultraman?

In conclusion, if you’re interested in learning about Zen Buddhism without all the ritual and formula and tricky words, without all the baggage you should pick up a copy of the Hardcore Zen.  If you need all the references to back up what you already knew about American foreign policy towards Israel pick up the first book and flip to the back, there is pages of it. Oh, and pointing out the truth doesn’t make you a bigot. Some people just don’t like the truth… Screw them.

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