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Remembering Things

A few days ago my wife and I were in town, walking through our local mall. I got a bit disoriented as I was looking around; all the stores were bright, glaring and unpleasant. So I sat down.

It was at this point I realized I'm definitely getting old. Something just struck me, some sort of realization that the world in which I grew up through my teenage years has turned completely upside down. Nothing in that mall was the same as the years in which the mall felt like an important place for me to be, and I got off onto one of my nostalgia trips again. (My Constant Readers know this about myself and my nostalgia trips.)

It's somewhat amazing that such an important part of your life can be stripped away, bulldozed away so vigorously and without regard to anything. I remember reading once that someone described humans and architecture as children with dominoes; no regard to the history of the original building, just desperate to knock it down and build something back up in its place.

Anyway, there were a lot of great memories stashed around that mall and the surrounding areas, and I'm somewhat fortunate enough that I have a wife who didn't grow up in the same locale, so that we can swap stories of what used-to-be and the memories of those places.

Gone: Riverside Raceway/Putt-Putt

Those little go-kart tracks finally made its way to my hometown when I was about 15, and it was THE thing to do for young adolescents for a while. It went in next to the long-standing orange and green classic Putt-Putt course, another favorite hang out (especially for guys like me, with limited funds). At Putt-Putt you could score discount tickets for games and free games with hole-in-ones, and have the ability to take a girl on a date there for as little as a few bucks while still having a good time. Riverside Raceway was far more expensive, so I didn't get to spend as much time there.

Now: A big empty grass field with a real estate sign FOR LEASE. Both replaced by "Bogeys," located elsewhere, which sports batting cages, pizza, putt-putt and go-karts and insanely higher prices.

Gone: Galaxy and Timeout Arcade

I've lamented Galaxy's demise in the past in a blog, a throwback arcade that I've never been able to find since. It wasn't a skee-ball and ticket sort of place, just pure cabinet arcade glory in a very large dark room, which was appealing to gamers and teenagers hanging out alike. Later replaced by Timeout, which had skee-ball and other ticket prize games exchanged at a crappy rate for terrible items, like most places today.

Now: A Smoothie Hut stands where Galaxy once did in the mall, Timeout has been usurped by 4-wheelers and scooters made in China.

Gone: Pizza Hut Express

This little mall version of Pizza Hut served two things: personal pan pizzas and drinks. Despite this, it was CLEARLY the place to hang and eat at the mall. Again, a very attractive option for a cheap date, as personal pans were about $3.50 with a drink.

Now: An enormous food court as is customary with most malls. A jewelry store stands where Pizza Hut once did.

Gone: The Honey Creek Mall Theatre

Replaced by a megaplex behind the mall that sports cold popcorn, higher prices and smaller screens...

Now: A Garfield's chain restaurant.

Gone: KB's Toy Store

There will always be that special place in my heart for the little KB store with blue carpet, as I lusted at its contents with my eyes from the ages of 6-13 or so. Never actually got anything from in there during that time. And the greatest memory of having Dad ask "What do you want for your birthday?" And with tears in my eyes saying "Whateve you can afford I'll like Dad." He took me into KB and got me a Sega Genesis. Best day ever as a child. Not sure how he came up with the cash for it, but after a childhood of "did without," ... Holy s***!

Replaced by an enormous Toys R Us and Babies R Us store outside the mall.

Now: Some random store that sells clothes for kids 4-10 or so.

The interesting thing about all of these "days gone by," is not necessarily how quick they went by, but in such a short span of time in which they do. That sounds redundant. What I mean to say is, it's not the "blink of an eye," thing so much as "It's only been ten years! Why is everything gone! It should last longer!"

To the younger readers of this blog, you likely will already find that some things no longer stand from your childhood, and the twinge of sadness accompanying it.

Focus

What I've come to determine is that my lack of interest in gaming isn't really directly a result of not liking games anymore or not wanting to play games anymore.

I've been trying to sort through this stuff in my head, and after a conversation with a friend I realized what's going on with me.

For the first time since high school, I'm more driven towards a goal (getting healthy and in shape) than I have been driven towards anything I can think of.

So when I get this way, my focus on doing so is...er...extreme. It's what I have to do to stay the course, I guess. I block pretty much everything out, to the point that even sitting in front of the computer seems wasteful to me.

At any rate, in gaming news I'm almost finished with my re-play of Final Fantasy IX, which is what I do during my "cool-down/wind-down/try to get my muscles to recover from the abuse I gave them" time right before I crash at night.

I could vaguely remember the last half of the game and now I know why. Talk about losing focus! What begins as a compelling story goes way, WAY out into left field into something about something that doesn't quite make sense and throws a lot of ambiguous references towards previous FF games if you haven't played them. Feels like the story could've ended on Disc 2 instead of Disc 4, but hey- it's still awfully good (except graphically) and is still a superior game to much of the refuse that's put out these days.

Oh, and if anyone followed those ramblings, one of my pole vault guys finally did it Saturday; broke the 31 year-old school record by clearing 15'. Woo!

You May Not Like It But...

when Forbes is weighing in on video games, it's time to take notice.


"Sony has approached the PS Vita launch in America with arrogance, pricing the console and games high while opting to debut the device during the slow retail month of February. Mobile app sales more than doubled during the Christmas of 2011 – solid triple digit volume growth. In the meanwhile, even in the Japanese heartland of video games, video game software unit sales are set to decline by double digits in 2011.

Mobile games have traditionally been simple and often very childish – yet slowly but surely, deeper and more sophisticated games are arriving, chipping at the depth advantage long held by the games designed for portable consoles. The majority of consumers are not interested in the 30 to 60-hour epics dominating game charts. The fickle casual gamers have started their grand migration from portable consoles to smartphones and tablets. 2012 could well be the first year when we see the shape of this transition. Early warning signs arrived in 2011."


Updates On Life

It's been a while.

I've lost 40 lbs. working out in beast mode. Pretty swell.

My first pole vaulter has committed to do both football and pole vault in college. (Awesome.) Another is going to commit soon to pole vault. They're both ranked in the top five in the state right now for pole vault, and one guy just tied our indoor school record (14'6") at our very first meet. I'm happy I was able to get guys a college education. I guess if I consider it, that's a big deal.

Gaming news: I download FF IX and play that to get to sleep at night. I'm not interested in having debates and arguments about what Final Fantasy game is best, and I'm not interested in debating whether the games are any good or not. It's a game I enjoy, a game where I can grind until I'm drowsy and save afterwards. Works for me.

I disassembled my fat PS3 and successfully got it back together again. This is big news. The cooling fan was being overtaxed, it needed the dust blown out. I only had about 4 parts left over after I got it back together and it all still works. Yay.

I've been completely remodeling/re-painting our house. Out with the old, in with the newer. I changed up my old-school gaming room and drew a pic of Vivi on the wall. Mostly for my wife, he's her favoritie game character ever.

I've read some of your blogs, responded to a few, but largely I'm not online much. Hope you're all well.

The Greatest Retort Ever

I always appreciate a good troll, and you're definitely up there in that department, but really? Who knows more about dating? Me, a guy who's been on dates with lingerie models and slept with more than you and all your "cool" NY buddies combined, or you -- a PC-Gaming obsessed Internet Warrior who's probably had 3 painfully average looking women in his entire lifetime? I think I win, champ.

Reassessing Who I Am

Since I've been going to the doctor I've summarily found that most of my pain right now is merely from scar tissue buildup from all the work I've had done on myself over the years, and I was given the green light to begin exercising like I used to.

In the past, I've noted that the Story of My Life has been quite different than most of the people I know via Gamespot. I was a jock in high school, a big sports guy...I never really had any issues with dating like so many of my friends, I was generally considered the life of the party (though I was never a drinker- go figure). I always enjoyed video games too, but they weren't my passion. I was more apt to be out with a girl than at home with a game.

Before I make a long story too long, the point is that over the last several months my interest in gaming has waned, as I have said. Every time I sit down to play, I often feel the itch to get up and move...another trait that disassociates me from many of my fellow gaming friends. I just cannot "veg out." When I thought about it, I found that the massive amount of time gaming that I did was always associated with being "layed up," from some various medical problems. And boy have I had a lot of those over the last ten years. It truly altered who I was as a person, mostly in a bad way (mentally and physically).

Now that I'm as ok as I've ever been physically, the interest to sit and just play video games just isn't there. Track conditioning started, and I've come to realize that coaching- that's what I'm really good at. I feel at home there with what I do, I feel self-confident...I just generally feel good about myself. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But, when I'm sitting at home staring at a computer or television screen, I don't feel good. I feel sluggish, depressive, worthless...like my life is wasting away.

So I've been biking, hiking, walking, lifting weights again. Doing woodwork again. Working on home projects. And it feels great.

I've lost 21 pounds in the last 4 weeks already. More inches than pounds, because I'm putting on muscle mass that I used to have and lost. I still have a long way to go to where I want to be, but I have the motivation and drive to do it that I had long lost. A few years ago I was there, but only because of my reflux surgery disallowing me to eat- not the same.

I don't eat fast food anymore. I don't eat red meat. I take vitamin supplements, I do things healthy in general. And now that I'm back into that routine, I feel so ungodly better it's really inarticulable. No more sluggish moments, no more late nights of not sleeping, no more depression and feeling of worthlessness.

Does this mean that anyone who's not like me is a bad person now? Of course not. Does that mean I'll never game again? Nope. I'm still me, but I've adjusted it to a better type of me. Fact is, sitting on your ass and gaming and eating with little recourse for anything else is a bad way to live; something that's NEVER brought up on a gaming site (naturally).

What propelled me into this line of mental state? A few things; I have several extremely large friends and relatives as well, and a few of them I'm legitimately afraid they're going to die a premature death. Part of it was the depression of not fitting into my clothes anymore. Part of it was the physical and mental state I was in. A big part was sitting at a Magic:The Gathering shop one day thinking "I don't want to be these people in ten years." They're free to live their lives as they so choose and I respect that, but it's not for me. I saw people ten years younger than me who weighed 200 lbs. more than me. I saw people ten years older than me with no money, no families (wives, girlfriends, nothing), looking haggard, sleep deprived from long nights of gaming and sleeping in and junk food...and I didn't want to be them either. It's just not my genetic makeup.

I've rambled on too long in my trademark style, so I'll stop for now. I'm mostly free writing this out, so if it's disjointed so be it. I apologize for nothing, because free writing is good for the soul. Until next time kids, don't take any wooden nickels.

The Juggernaut Will Crush You (Gaming Stuff!)

I saw yesterday that over 400 million copies of Call of Duty MW3 have been sold. Like it or not it's a juggernaut, and its popularity cannot be denied.

I bought it myself; but before you get perplexed knowing that I hate online play...understand that I enjoy it for completely different reasons that the other 399,999,999 people out there. The campaigns remind me very much of the arcade games I used to play back in the day, with flashy explosions and blasting bad guys. Probably the only guy in the history of Call of Duty to not buy the game for online play. Weird, I know.

I've also been playing a strange-but-fun older game called Blood Bowl. Mostly because my brother-in-law loves the board game, and desperately wants to play it. I tried but was incredibly lost, so I found this for $7 at a pawn shop. It's given me a much better understanding of wth is going on. It's sort of like D&D with American football elements instead of dungeons. O.o So now that I got the hang of it, I looked to see how much the board game was.

$82.00?????? And that's without all the little miniature guys that cost as much as $50??????? A team????? So if I buy the game and all the teams, I'm looking at least a cool $500?????

I guess a simple ?! would've sufficed, but the ??????? felt so much more expressive through my fingers.

I'm now totally understanding everyone's commenting of the flood of games that have descended down on the market in one fell swoop. Toni is hacking away at Skyrim, and I desperately want to play it too...but I have so many games to finish, including Batman: Arkham City. You know you've a lot on your plate when you are putting a game like that down for other things.

In other news (the sort many don't care about), I've been in and out of the doctor for my stomach as I've detailed a lot over the years... trying to figure out what's causing my weight gain and abdominal pain. Found out I have some benign cysts, but no cancerous masses. *Whew* Maybe surgery next month to remove part of my intestines, or bypass them, as they don't seem to always work...

At any rate I read my old blogs and it seems like I come across and decrepit and crippled but I'm really not, I get by fairly well. The cool thing about stomach problems (or nasal problems) is that no one can tell from the outside! :P

I still love my new puppy, but I wouldn't sell my soul for her:

Puppy

4G Is Available In My Area

...and I got it (mobile broadband). Out here in the sticks, it's the only internetz that is readily available, and suddenly the idea of downloading, um, anything became relevant.

Over the last several years since moving out to the country, I could think of scores of things to download. Now I sit here and wonder what those things could have possibly been.

I have utilized it though. The first thing? "Wow, look. That youtube video just...plays." :roll:

I was also able to download the 250 mb Catwoman add-on for Batman: AC (yeah, the internet was so bad that 250mb was not obtainable).

Problem was, I also spied Doom II on Xbox Live and decided to re-hash some nostalgia factor and I've been playing that first. :P

It's definitely easier than I remember, but it's still fun (to me). Well, sort of easier. I accidentally died once in the midst of thinking "Why did I think this game so hard?" When I came back to life, I realized you lose all your weapons except a pistol. And here comes a tromping cyberdemon. Well, poop.

Well, that's my life lately other than starting back at work and taking care of mah new doggy, she's awesome. Most common remark: Whoa. That's gonna be a BIG dog. :shock:

-My PC is dying, and a new gaming PC is very, very low on my list of priorities. I have gotten old.

-Bleached my hair blonde. Likely I will make it blue or something. The kids at school dig it, and adminstrators hate it. :)

-Kangaroos can only jump if their tail is first touching the ground.

-Very few people gave out candy on Halloween. My 4 year-old neice said "I guess nobody likes my costume." :(

Other Favorite Conversations

Friend:Hey! (points at sky) Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight I-

Me: Dude. That's Venus bro'.

Friend: Oh. Well s***!

Me: That was pretty lame anyway.

Friend: Yeah, it was.

___________________________________________

Me: (To Mom) So, last Friday Toni and I went by the shop and we saw (mutual friend). We sat for a while and talked, had a good time.

Mom: Oh that's cool. (Idle chit-chat) So what did you two go and do on Friday?

Me: ......

___________________________________________

My Father: (To 12 year-old nephew) So buddy, what kind of girls are you checking out at school these days? Got your eyes on any particular hot number?

Me: Dad, seriously don't embara-

Nephew: Well, mostly I look at blonde girls with big boobs. But I also like Asian girls. And dark-skinned girls too.

Me: :shock:

___________________________________________

Me: Facebook is so much more enjoyable on this new iPad.

Friend1: Damn... new dog, new iPad. Did you hit the lottery or something? #spoiled

Me: Nope, just making bad investment decisions. Easy to do when you feel bad.

Friend1: LOL Well, broke is relative if you're happy.

Me: Agree! Broke doesn't matter if what you already have makes you smile

Friend2: Awwww. The cuteness is disgusting.

___________________________________________

Friend: God! Why is it so windy and cold out today? :x

Me: Low pressure system came down out of the NW this morning, pushed that upper high out that was keeping it warm. Tends to be less breezy under that high pressure dome than when a swirling low comes in.

Friend: It was a rhetorical gripe, a** hole.

Me: Oh, I know. I just like to p*** you off. Remember the Venus thing?

Stuff, Or How I Bought Things

I haven't bought games, because I bought Demon's Souls a few weeks ago, woefully underestimating the time I would need to put into this game. :shock: It's fun, aside from some serious troll invasion. The online campaign is a troller's wet dream.

So, the first thing I bought was this: She's Mee-Kah, Oneida for "Clever raccoon." She's a Saint Bernard. She'll get big.

Mee-Kah Considering she weighs 20 lbs. at 8 weeks old. :P

I'd been having a hard time lately, mostly because I'm having migraines and pressure in my head since my surgery. I do a lot of outdoor activities, and I'm getting nosebleeds now. So, you know. What do you do when you feel bad besides buy stuff? Yeah...

I also bought a iPad. After several years of owing no particular affinity to anything with a lower case "i," in front of it...now I have a pod, a pad and a phone. :roll:

I blame Demon's Souls. I was constantly confused or frustrated, and I kept squinting at walkthroughs on my phone while laying in bed trying to play the aggravating game. So...I got the iPad. It's just like the phone, except bigger and uh... without the phone. At any rate, now I can read my walkthroughs very clearly as I get PWNED by a black phantom, which is handy.

Two weeks and offseason conditioning begins for the track team, at which point I will likely disappear. Often I think of quitting. It's very difficult to deal with high school kids. If you don't have any, trust me. If you do, you know what's up. But then I get texts like I got last night:

Coach,

Hey, I was just wondering if you had your surgery and if you were feeling better if you did. I've been doing a lot of working out on my own after school. I even got the poles out and did pole runs and sand pit drills and mini hurdles just like you showed us. Hope you are doing ok and I miss you guys a lot.

*sniff* I'm cool. Just my allergies. So then once again you feel like a d-bag because you've been thinking of walking away from the few really good kids that count on you and look up to you. (sigh)

Well anyway, that's that.

-Prez