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AveryS Blog

I've been remiss...

I haven't posted here in forever (as evidenced by the fact that my last entry lampoons J. Allard for excessive pre-launch hype), but I felt compelled to after having completed the glorious Gears of War on Hardcore. If I didn't have to head to classes in a few hours, I'd probably make a stab at the Insane difficulty right now. Having not yet even scratched the surface of Gears' multiplayer experience, I am already prepared to say that I have not so greatly enjoyed a game since perhaps Resident Evil 4, which Gears has supplanted as my action game high water mark.

At present, the Xbox 360 is my only next-gen (or "new-gen") console, but I shan't be bidding on any eBay auctions in the near future. Twilight Princess is the only game calling to me on the Wii, and the highly Zelda-esque Okami has largely sated my appetite for that sort of action, anyway. The PS3 doesn't currently boast any games I couldn't do without. Resistance: Fall of Man looks mildly appealing, as I like the idea of an alien invasion's averting WWII, and sparing Jews the camps. Ani ohev otcha, Mr. Alien!

On a more personal note, in case any of you has been wondering what I'm up to, I am getting my learn on at Columbia University, where I study French, English and Hebrew. I have simultaneously been learning Gemora (commentary on the Mishnayot, or Talmudic lessons) at Aish HaTorah, with the goal of one day receiving smicha (orthodox rabbinical ordination). Being intensely studious and intensely Jewish really cuts into my gaming time, but it's kind of worth it.

I keep pretty busy, but occasionally have enough time to myself to start missing the GameSpot crew, with whom I spent 1.5 very formative years. I also still find San Francisco preferable to New York, but maybe that's just because it's 31 degrees right now.

For good measure, here are a couple of choice photos from my Central European sojourn:

The Plunge

Allard! We thought you might not live to see
The zero hour you'd toiled to bring to hand.
Your rear tyre slipped; your tired arms lost command
Of tin and of steel--now costly debris.

What pain! What distress! What ignominy!
Your cries were shrill—but you were not unmanned.
You prayed and you grasped your gold LiveStrong band.
"Find help, my friends!" was your only decree.

A WinCE mobile dialed 911.
You focused your thoughts on Perfect Dark Zero.
Your neck was injected with a tranq gun;
You drew in your breath, thought of De Niro.
Your clothing suffered most, when all was done,
But that torn "Allard" coat spelled "Hero."

Yet, I before I conclude, I must remark
That you've much changed in the past sev'ral years.
Your hair is gone, as is your gut of beer.
You're looking sleeker than a mako shark.

A bald, fat nerd, few socialites would hark.
Now, Paris Hilton is tonguing your ears!
A stud has emerged; the dork disappeared.
But with other geeks have you missed the mark?

XO5 show gave us greater insight;
Perfect Dark was finally on display.
Since TGS, we'd just yearned to alight,
But were wary of donning more cosplay.
Now it's clear the 360's hella tight,
But the launch lineup's hardly a bouquet.

Topher Grace is Venom?!?

You may remember Topher Grace as the geeky protagonist of Fox's That '70s Show. Or perhaps, like me, you were too busy staring at the incomparable Mila Kunis (then underaged). In any event, the picture comparison below should jar your memory.

Eddie Brock/Venom, like the Sandman and the rest of the early Spider-Man villains, is friggin' enormous. His neck is the size of Topher Grace's quadriceps. The message is that Spider-Man's toned, agile swimmer's build triumphs over the steriod-fueled meatheads he fights. Of course, it's going to be tough to see Eddie Brock as a teutonic titan when he's being played by a guy who looks like a computer science student from middle America.

Sam Raimi is probably going to argue that it was Eddie Brock's alien suit that turned him into a monster. While it's true that it made him helluva tough and angry, it didn't turn a geek into a giant. Neither can months of gym time, supposing they even instruct Topher to bulk up.

If the little guy is fighting other little guys, it's no longer inspiring; it's just midget wrestling all over again, and that's not even legal in some states, such as the state of sobriety.

Next on Jack Thompson's hit list...

I started replaying Tales of Symphonia a few days ago, hoping to once again take comfort in its dial-a-cliché storyline and one-dimensional characters. Instead, I realized for the first time just how seedy this T-rated game can be! I have Jack Thompson to thank for making me sensitive to this kind of subtle innuendo in seemingly innocuous titles.

GameSpot Meme?

Inspired by TimT

My top five albums, in order of preference:

1. Rasputina, Frustration Plantation

2. Mindless Self Indulgence, Frankenstein Girls May Seem Strangely Sexy

3. Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile

4. Queen, A Night at the Opera

5. KMFDM, Symbols

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes

Six (6) tablespoons confectioners' sugar:
Arrested, suddenly and acutely,
I longed for those confectionary snowballs—
An alabaster pyramid, disarmingly pure,
Beside black philters, brewed by caramel hands.

Two (2) cups all-purpose flour:
Bright expanses of land,
And half a ruble for every acre.
Monuments, skyscrapers--
Bran and stalk, outstretched to firmament--
Your enduring strength is softened by

One (1) cup butter:
Melting down three wind-twined curves,
A sigmoid serpent, proffering
An Exodus from Eden,
But not a Fall from grace.
Not the knowledge of an apple,
But the wisdom of

One (1) cup chopped walnuts:
Bitter and intellectual,
Rough and textured
As conversation—
Both leave the tongue raw
And the mind ripe.
Scattered amongst us,
Spreading your potent

One (1) teaspoon vanilla extract:
You're too intense to drink,
Too precious to dilute.
You spice every palate,
And thereby never overwhelm
Just a one (1).

A. Score

Spiral, Part One

Here's the first installment of what I hope to be a lengthy videogame storyline. If you're having trouble figruing out what the gameplay would be like, think NiGHTS. It'll make sense eventually.


Nothing has such permanence as ruin. There's something about the quiet desolation of a Teatro Greco—a spiral of rusticated granite—that can inspire a dizzying awe. That the will of a single mind, as executed by several hundred pairs of arms, can crumble and reshape mountains seemed to Benjamin Schultz the ultimate testament to the glory of God.

"To fill and subdue the earth," He mused aloud to the barely-conscious woman beside him. Sitting upright, a polyester pillow wedged between him and the corner of his coal-black walls, Ben could almost feel the healing glow of he Sicilian countryside burn the oil from his pock-marked face.

Perhaps the product of a proud lineage of European cartographers, Ben would spend hours tracing each tortuous line of a map with a thin, agile forefinger—as he would the face of a lover. Pages torn from the kind of library atlases never intended to leave the Reference section encircled Ben's room. Especially colorful depictions of the Oceanic archipelago, or of the Central American peninsula were arranged with a single-mindedness and deliberate irregularity that exposed the mania of their architect. While most found this singular mosaic visually distracting, it focused Ben's thoughts like a prescription lens. Ben's mind was as variegated and textured as the world itself. Experienced at once, its breadth was overwhelming. To study the rough line of a single seismic fault was to focus on a particular facet of his mind, to pay that piece of himself its due.

When, as a teenager, Ben had taken this tourist's map of downtown Taormina from the smallest of Veloria's six travel agencies, he couldn't have known of the picture on its reverse side, or that its view of that grass-covered stadium seating—split into sixteen machine-folded rectangles—would convert him to Deism for that one moment of crystalline clarity.

"Rea. Wake up." A rough hand on the shallow crescent of her back. "Rea, you have to wake up because I love you."

"You don't love me." Rea muffled her words with the bedspread, softening the rebuke. "You love the idea of us."

"All girls say that."

"And every one of them has been wrong, except for meee?" Rea turned to her back and managed a wry smile.

"If you don't believe me, just feel my skin. It's all hot and itchy because you make my blood rise to the surface." Ben extended a thin, dark arm for examination. Rea brushed it away. "It's stuffy in here. Hand me a cigarette."

Ben was an artist, but only because putting paint to canvas is one of a number of things that ineluctably assigns one such a status. Those few inches of oak and interwoven cotton that separate paint from walls also separate blue-collared painters from black-bereted artists. Ben was aware of the hypocrisy, and reveled in it. His own biography, prominently displayed at his openings, proudly marked him as a fraud.

The very term "photorealism" exposes the emptiness of its practice. In the mid-eighteenth century, many believed that the advent of photography would mark the end of painting. The medium had simply been outmoded, like Sienese fresco technique in the Italian Renaissance. History has proven those doomsayers wrong, but only because artists have chosen to aggrandize the inaccuracy of the brush, rather than hide it. In essence, for the past hundred years, executional error has been accepted as artistry. Through his unflinchingly realistic scenes of common, bucolic existence, Benjamin Schultz exposes the futility of his own métier. Apart from his flawless execution, Benjamin's work is devoid of any merit. This anti-artist is therefore a greater deconstructionist—in its truest sense—than any of his contemporaries.

Ben's paintings were like windows for people without a view. Whether the joke was on Ben's patrons, or on Ben himself, one couldn't be sure. It's a difficult feat to determine the value of an oeuvre, and not Ben's function. Rea was pleased with the filthy lucre his infrequent shows generated, and that was enough to satisfy.

His last exhibition, however, had been an unmitigated disaster. An enormous departure from his previous body of work, and from his aesthetic ethos at large, Spiral had mystified the critics, who invariably panned the display. Ben's backers were displeased; Rea was displeased; Rea's parents—Ben's mecutanim—were also displeased. The tongue-in-cheek bio had changed too. Appearing, this time, on pale yellow strips of granulated paper, it read:

Benjamin Schultz, infamous iconoclast, hasn't strayed from his deconstructive mode. He has, however, altered the vehicle through which that message is conveyed. The artist invites you to abandon your prior conceptions about his work, and enter the Spiral unfettered.

The show's central piece, Schultz's Dream, had a haunting resonance with many of the guests, but held little appeal. Ben had retained the technical precision with which he systematically stripped the humanity from his work. Far from his usual unremarkable urban scene, however, Ben's Dream was otherworldly, hellish, surreal. Painted on a circular canvas, and using the fisheye perspective of Parmigianino's self-portrait, the huge painting depicted a barren, cracked landscape—like a dried-up mud flat. The sole figure, enlarged and deformed by its position at the fisheye's stretched center, seemed to beseech his viewer to free him. What looked like phantasmal hands extended from that parched earth, and encloistered the figure in a kind of cage. Apparently, not one opening attendee had had a sofa to match.

Substantive Posting!

Does it bother or excite me
That I'll never see The End Credits?
I never knew "persistent world"
Meant implacable yearning,
Satyric longing,
Effigy's Disease.

Slave to my online ersatz,
I grow--
Thin as a shell,
Single-minded as a snail.

I grow too in experience,
A pomegranate band,
Seasons spent underground.
Demeter's lost me to "de meter."

Does it bother or excite me
That I'm living a double life,
Unaided by gangsters, molls, or speakeasies?
That my secret identity
Is more famous than my real one?

Ligeia. Li-gei-a.
Three short syllables
Run down the tongue,
A rivulet of shiny spittle.

Spittle I'll lay in
When I inevitably collapse
At the keyboard.

Is this condition congenital?
We'll never know.
I've neatly removed myself
From the gene pool.

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