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carolynmichelle Blog

ESPN NHL 2K5, Normally $19.99, Can Be Yours For Just $29.99!

The battle between me and Toys 'R Us continues. First of all, last week, they charged me fifty bucks for Spy Fiction, which retails for forty. Then, I came home and put a curse on Geoffrey and all his unholy offspring. Today, I went back, hoping to pick up ESPN NHL 2K5. They wanted thirty bucks for it.

So, Geoffrey, it is to be war between us then, is it?

First of all, I hate shopping at Toys 'R Us, or at least this particular Toys 'R Us. It's the same one my mom would bring me to when I was younger, and back then, I liked it. It was neat and tidy, and the wall of games was pristine. But man, has it gone downhill since then. The games section is just a disorganized mess, and many of the games they carry aren't out in the display area at all, but only in the case behind the employee station, which begs the question, "Why have a damn display area?!" The only reason I've been shopping there lately is because it's the only place to buy games that's within a reasonable walking distance of my place, I'm without a car right now, and public transportation in LA sucks.

As if to tease me, ESPN NFL 2K5, marked at the appropriate $19.99 price point, was sitting right next to NHL 2K5, for $29.99. But I don't want NFL 2K5. Football games just don't really do it for me. Too much downtime, too much picking of plays and all that. But I really got into hockey games in college when my friends and I would play four player EA NHL, and then I kinda got into the sport of hockey, too. I mean, I couldn't tell you anything about the line-up of the '57 Red Wings or anything, but I like the speed of the game, and I sure was crushed when the Ducks lost their shot at the Cup in game 7 of the Finals back in '03. Also, I want something I can play on Xbox Live, which I've made very little use of, and it would be nice to play something that I have no intention of reviewing for a change, too.

But it wasn't meant to be. Maybe Toys 'R Us figures that most people coming in won't know that Spy Fiction is actually supposed to be forty bucks, and NHL is supposed to be twenty, and if they think that, I'm sure they're right. But not me. I walked home empty-handed.

Well, Geoffrey, you may have gotten me to take a long walk in the blistering Southern California heat for no reason today, but it'll be a cold day in hell before you get an extra ten bucks from me! Again!

I Spy a Game That Could Have Been a Whole Lot Better!

Well, I just posted my review of Spy Fiction. Interestingly, killjoi's most recent journal entry, which I really enjoyed reading, talks about how gaming conventions have evolved over the years, and I've spent much of my time over the past few days, and much of the time in my review, lamenting some of the nutty conventions found in Spy Fiction.

There's one thing I didn't mention in my review, but I will here. You can play as either male agent Billy Bishop or female agent Sheila Crawford. Both of them are, with the help of their miraculous 3DA cams, masters of disguise, although, while Sheila can disguise herself as anyone, male or female, Billy can't disguise himself as a woman (or maybe just isn't comfortable doing it). I was irritated with the fact that Sheila, supposedly this highly trained superspy, has this stereotypically feminine way of walking, even when disguised as a man! Of course, nobody ever notices, but I mean, come on! Also, should you arouse a guard's suspicion, sometimes they will frisk you. Obviously, though, they don't do a very thorough job, because they can frisk Sheila when she's disguised as a man and not notice anything out of the ordinary.

Well, I think I'm gonna go not play games for just a little while. Maybe go for a walk. And hope that tonight, when I go to sleep, I don't hear that voice, that one single voice every guard in Spy Fiction has, saying those same few lines that every guard in Spy Fiction says, echoing in my head.

Dry-Erase Boards vs. the Blog Phenomenon, and Life on Avenue Q

I'm finding it a bit hard to believe that it was ten years ago right now that college was just beginning for me. I lived on campus for all four years, and experienced the cliches of making lifelong friends and having some amazing times. Back then, if you had told me that, ten years down the road, I'd be unemployed and living in a small apartment alone, I'd have said you were crazy! But here I am!

Well, anyway, there's a relatively new musical called Avenue Q that I like quite a bit. It's kinda like Sesame Street for adults. But a whole lot better than that makes it sound. Check it out for yourself. There's a song in Avenue Q called "I Wish I Could Go Back to College," that really does capture a lot of the little things I often miss about those four years. At one point, the main character, Princeton, sings, "I wanna go back to my room and find a message in dry-erase pen on my door!" Yeah, we totally had the whole dry-erase message board thing going on in the dorms, and it was a pleasure returning to the room to find those messages, and to go around and leave them for friends, too. In a way, though, those dry-erase boards seem now, in my life, like a sort of precursor to things like this. Now, instead of leaving messages on dry-erase boards for people in my dorm community, I send and receive messages to and from people here in this online community, people who are all over the place geographically but have all found themselves drawn here for whatever reason. And that's pretty cool.

Continuing my stroll down Memory Lane...Four years ago right now, I started my career as an English teacher. I'm finding it a bit hard to believe, too, that summer vacation is over, and that the school where I taught is starting up again on Tuesday. It definitely feels a bit strange not to be going back this year, and part of me will miss it, but, as much as I enjoyed the experience, and as valuable as it was for me, I felt I would have really come to regret it someday if I didn't pursue other things. It's pretty scary, though, job-hunting and all, which may be right now why I find myself uncharacteristically spending nearly as much time looking back as looking ahead. Waxing Nostalgic: Preferred 2-to-1 Over Waxing Terrified.

"This Mission Just Got a Hell of a Lot More Impossibler."

This is the continuing story of my adventures as an agent of the Special Execution Agency, who, near as I can tell, hardly execute anyone, and whose awe-inspiring motto is, "The last shields on earth." That's right. We're so awesome, we don't even capitalize the name of this puny planet we live on.

So now I'm fighting this guy who's kind of like Revolver Ocelot (just about everything in this game is "kind of like" something), except he's American, he has a different gun of choice, he can somersault and dash around like some kind of mutant superhero, and fighting him actually seems to be kind of tough. First he makes you follow him through this sort of obstacle course in which the biggest obstacle is the bullets he keeps hitting you with, (Ow! Quit it! Ow! Quit it!)and then you follow him into the next room where you can actually fight him. The problem is that I used all my health packs getting through the obstacle course, and now that I'm in the room where I have to fight him, I don't know if I can manage to win on one health bar. This is compounded by the fact that I, while normally an almost obsessively frequent saver, apparently went through this entire somewhat lengthy level without saving once! I'm sure I could get through the obstacle course without spending so much health now that I know what to do, but unfortunately my only choices at this point are to try to keep fighting him without the benefit of any health packs, or to play through the entire level again to get another run at the obstacle course.

Well, whatever I choose to do, the fate of the free world will have to wait. I'ma go make a sandwich.

"It's Not Mission: Difficult; it's Mission: Really Annoying."

So I'm at this point in Spy Fiction that's ripped right out of the first Mission: Impossible movie. And after trying and failing many times to rappel myself down to that oh-so-highly guarded computer without triggering any of the security systems, I finally manage to do it. I get to the machine, I extract the top-secret information, and then, I get snagged by an infra-red beam on my way up and out of there! And guess what? I get to do the whole thing over again!

Yay!

My Carrie Bradshaw Moment: "Is Love Really All You Need?"

Okay, switching gears from rock writer to lifestyle columnist! Allow me just for a moment to indulge my inner Carrie Bradshaw. If you've ever seen Sex and the City, you know that each week, something happens, some issue arises in her life and in the lives of her girlfriends, to trigger some sort of question which becomes the topic of her article. "Is it smarter to follow your heart or your head?" "Do we need distance to get close?" "Is honesty really the best policy?" That sort of thing. Well, if I were Carrie Bradshaw, I think the big question I'd be exploring in my Sex and the City article right now is, "Is love really all you need?" It's certainly been an issue in my life and the lives of some girlfriends recently. Not unlike Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and the other one, my friends and I have sat around debating this topic recently. Some of my friends think that yes, love is all you need in a relationship, that love can conquer all, while other friends argue that love, by itself, just isn't enough, that two people can love each other but still be missing some crucial je ne sais quoi without which things just won't work.

And then, by sheer coincidence, this idea was brought home to me again at a wedding I attended this past weekend at which the bride and groom walked off as a string quartet played the Beatles song whose truths or lack thereof my friends and I have been debating of late.

Come to think of it, that "your heart or your head" question isn't bad, either.

Shinedown-a-Go-Go!

Since I named this journal...at least for now...after a movie about an aspiring rock journalist, I figured I should write about the occasional live show here myself. So here's my rant on the last live show I attended.


On Monday, August 23rd, I accompanied a friend to the Gibson-A-Go-Go battle of the bands at the Whisky here in Los Angeles. The winning band was awarded a Gibson endorsement deal and prize package. I'm pretty sure you can see the back of my head in one of the pictures on that page! What you can't see on that page is just how royally bad the headlining band Shinedown was; nor can you witness the utterly embarrassing banter of Gibson’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

At first, I was encouraged. The festivities were hosted by Richard Blade! Even if you didn't grow up in L.A. hearing his quasi-British-accented voice daily on the airwaves of KROQ, surely you remember him as the DTV host from the film Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Blade was cool that night. He did the best he could with a bad situation. But after three local bands-two of them pretty good-did their thing and headliners Shinedown took the stage, there was nothing the Blade could do. We were doomed to an hour or so of musical sucknitude of the highest order.

Remember that little band called Creed from a few years back, and how hard they sucked? Well, Shinedown is like a pale imitation of Creed. This slam of their album at allmusic.com nails their sound exactly. (sound number one: heavy! sound number two: brooding!) But as dull as I'm sure the music is on CD, seeing it played live was downright hilarious. Apparently they've been opening for Van Halen lately, and maybe in the arenas lead singer Brent Smith's theatrics play better, but in the intimate setting of the Whisky, his solemn gazes out over the audience, looking like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, his face contorting in the existential pain that tears at his very soul, looked like so much pretentious nonsense. Smith's pre-song rants were quite choice, as well. For each song, he had different instructions he wanted the audience to follow. The most humorous of these was when he told everyone to hold up their lighters or their cell phones for the duration of a song. Sure, that can look pretty neat in a dark arena, where each cell phone and lighter is a separate point of light, but in a well-lit club, the sight of people standing there waving their cell phones in the air is just goofy. He also cleared up some long-standing confusion I've had about their song 45. "No matter what anyone tells you," he said, "this song is about hope!" I was relieved to finally get an answer from the source, because Jimmy had told me it was about drugs, and Marcy said it was about war, and Phil said it was about this one time that the lead singer watched Cobra eight times in one day, and I really just didn't know who to believe.

Anyway, when sweet, merciful Time finally brought an end to the interminable Shinedown set, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz came up to announce the winner of the Battle of the Bands competition. He really, really should have let Richard Blade do it. But instead, he took to the stage and tried to work this crowd of rock fans by making references to (I kid you not!) Lawrence Welk.

On second thought, I don't blame him for doing this. I wish Lawrence Welk could have played instead of Shinedown, too.

(Show your support for Shinedown! Request "45" on KCXX!)

edit: Sorry about those ugly blue links.