Our Crazy Zoey

Zoey. Who is this flash of fur, this pouncing, spring loaded canine? If you were to sit in my living room, you would find yourself thoroughly entertained by this white haired terrier, who leaps around playing with grapes and takes naps with her squeaky monkey toy.

Going from a geriatric dog to an almost puppy is quite a change up. Suddenly, we find ourselves not checking on the dog to make sure its breathing, but instead to make sure she’s not rolling in mud, or licking the grime off of air conditioners.

The road to training the perfect dog, however, is not by any means gilded.  Zoey’s first two weeks were filled with mishaps.

She was fond of jumping up on furniture and people, sprinting like one possessed by Forrest Gump when let off the chain, and yowling like a small child when left home alone. Laying down normally seems to be beyond her capacity–instead, she drops shoulders to the ground first, scoots along the ground with her backside elevated and her tail wagging, then collapses dramatically down to her side. When excited, her brain shuts off entirely. She also enjoys finding trash and walking around with it in her mouth…Q-tips, used tissues, plastic jugs, whatever tastes delicious. Her ability to learn quickly, however, is astounding. Zoey and the Monkey

Zoey quickly learned that to be petted, she had to quietly sit down, instead of wiping her muddy paws all over your shirt. Her want, however, is to climb up into your lap and smother you, like a heated blanket. The result is an adorable action, in which she uses her paws like hands and hugs your legs whenever she’s sitting next to you.

Her athletic ability is boundless. Oh, were you expecting to eat that pork chop bone you were holding? Too late! One Olympic leap upward, a gentle nibble of the lip, and the bone is being carried away by a wire-haired blur. She’s not only a fan of meat, however–she’ll also gobble tomatoes, lettuce, apples and green beans.

Teaching her not to run off was a big one, one we didn’t want to rush. So for nearly two weeks, we went on about twelve walks a day, with her squiggling against the harness and chain like a hairy grub who possesses the unnatural strength of an ox.

The first day of freedom off this restraining chain ended badly–winding two stray dogs, she took off after the frightened canines, (who ironically are 3x as big as she,) and kept going, and kept going… We knew chasing after her only rewarded her, but we had no choice: it was catch her, or lose her. So there we went, in the dead of an icy winter, with me wearing a thermal top, running shorts, camouflage boots and a flapped hat, sliding down an icy road after a riled animal.

But little Zoe is now on an amended path. Most of her psychotic quirks have faded into cute idiosyncrasies, and she now trots along at your side amiably, without sprinting off into the wild blue yonder. She does, however, still enjoy mud.

How awesome is it, being able to train an awesome dog? (: 

Zoey enjoys the mud
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Five Crazy Confounding Things

At the risk of sounding like a Negative Nelly, there are some things in this world that I simply will never comprehend.

Like—

1) Why the word “Saga” is used for the Twilight series

Am I bashing S. Meyer for writing a popular series of books? Of course not. Will I ever enjoy reading or viewing wannabe Teen Wolf battle verbally with a pale, creepy, perpetual teenager? Of course not. Focusing in only on the movies,  somehow “Saga” just doesn’t fit this series…perhaps we might interject “unfortunate continuation”, in its place?

And the whole “imprinting” on a baby thing, by the guy who can’t seem to keep his shirt on? Weird!! And the fact that I know about it? Worse!!

Team Spock all the way!

2) Television with Weak Premises

You know that series, where the bad thing is established in the Pilot episode, then that same bad thing carries the series through five or more seasons, without any new revelations ever really being established? To name this series would be redundant…it’s running rampant through every station, under different names. It’s like the beast that never sleeps.

3) The Media

To watch the news simultaneously fascinates me and gets my blood boiling.  To avoid the stress, I generally avoid the News–although, to get the scoop on the upcoming elections, I’ve admittedly turned to Fox a few times now, my news channel of choice.

I maintain a firm stance on researching all I care to know about on my own time.

However, were this ninja parade actually to exist? …….Epic!

4) Replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christiansen

You know the very end of Return of the Jedi, when the ghostly images of Anakin, Obi-Wan and Yoda smile upon the Ewok party? While watching this scene in my version of the DVD, I was both shocked and appalled to see that Sebastian Shaw had been replaced by Hayden Christiansen! Anakin died old! Why replace him with his youthful self, if only to say that as a force ghost, he returned to the form he had back before the Dark Side caught hold of him?

This seems to have bothered much more people than just me. One youtuber uploaded the original Anakin ghost, in old man form, just as he should have been kept.

Then again, I break off from the Star Wars Traditionalists to say that it might have been cool had Qui-Gon been put into the end. If we’re going to taint the original scene, why not make it actually work? Qui-Gon is the man who made sure young Anakin would become a Jedi through Obi-Wan. But where would it stop? Pretty soon we would have Padme and the whole Jedi council standing there. Luke would have been so confused.

5) Child Beauty Pageants

I admit, watching Toddlers and Tiaras with my sister and aunt is one of my guilty pleasures. Between the ridiculously priced ball-room gowns made for two year olds, and the weird competitiveness between each beauty queen, this show is horrifyingly entertaining.

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So what crazy things confound you?

To Love or to Smirk? Two Indie Games You Need To Play

1) ARM JOE

It’s no secret I’ve been immersed in a certain book series lately. It’s quality is so immensely satisfying, that the book has consumed all my free time. As a tribute to it, I even based my book report off of it–a look at the psyche of one of the characters. So how excited was I, when scanning over the wikipedia page for Les Miserables, I found a reference to a certain Japanese anime game entitled Arm Joe? So excited that I wrote this post.

The Japanese are Les Miserables crazy! Between cartoons, plays and cast recordings, these people just can’t get enough Victor Hugo.

The name Arm Joe  comes from some simple etymology. In Japan, the name for Les Misérables (Aa Mujou, or あぁ 無情) sounds like Arm Joe. “Aa Mujou is an expression of exasperation at all the suffering in the world.”

The gameplay is repetitive and very Japanese. But the opponent options are numerous: Javert can fight Cosette, Cosette can put the whupping on Enjolras, who can take on a gorilla armed Valjean, who can fight Judgment (as in, the ideal of judgment, in man-beast form).

Now, you may be asking–had I ever envisioned RoboJean beating the stuffing out of Eponine, or a strange kangaroo (that has nothing to with the story) named PonPon going all cute and deadly on its opponent? Only in my wildest dreams.

However, the final boss is reportedly crazy hard to beat. The ArmJoe wikipedia page says these words on this frustrating conundrum: “The final boss is impossible to beat, which is understandable since by using Judgment a player can actually complete the game by pressing a single button repeatedly.”

Despite the fond memories of Street Fighter that this game brings back to me, it’s no gem in the video game world. But seeing as Takasse, the main man behind development, spent five years working on this project for a lack of friends, this game gets some major cool value. ArmJoe gets an A+. Leave it to the Japanese to throw lessons like Judgment Overthrows All into their video game.

As far as downloading this epicness, I haven’t found a link that I trust yet. Maybe a future search will turn one up.

2) HARPOONED (or: Japanese Cetacean Research Simulator)

Again, we return to Japan. But this time, the game developer is  American…the type of American who probably  chains himself to a tiny boat, protesting against the hunting of whales, with every episode of Whale Wars saved to his Amazon.com account.

The game’s intent was to show people how heinous the extermination of whales into hamburger meat is. The only effect it had on me, personally, was a desire to don my Cap’n Ahab hat and get to the next level.  Don’t get me wrong–hunting can go to far when you’re exterminating the entire endangered species. But this game didn’t make me feel too much for the whales.

Using the spacebar as your trigger finger, the goal is to fire harpoons upon the whales as they haplessly swim away. Hitting a whale results in a cataclysmic spew of blood that spreads over the water, while convenient little whale steaks and sausages float up to the top of the water. Collect enough whale meat to reach the end of the level, and a message will appear: RESEARCHING

Research goes into how many Whale burgers and how much whale-cat food you can process.

Each level features different challenges. Protestors in orange inflatable pontoon boats try to cut you off from your quarry. The objective is to avoid them (hitting them results in point loss), but it’s kinda fun running them over for the BABUMP sound it makes. Helicopters bearing a News crew also impede your progress, while messages like “Do not harm the protestors. It will cost us money!” appears.

Is this game derogatory? You bet. Depending on what your Save the Whale stance is, and how insulted you may become by playing a Japanese whaler, this game may not be for you.

But is it epic? Yes. Yes, it is.

If you’re interested in downloading Harpooned, I found it on Softpedia.com. But I definitely don’t recommend haphazard downloading. However, Norton analyzed the file before I installed it, and it gave it a good review. So download it at your own risk.

Happy gaming!

The Unresolved Resolutions of 2011

This time last year, I was sitting on a couch, brooding over the resolutions that never quite got a check mark beside them, when the ghost of New Years Past paid me a visit. He told me that it was alright–make those resolutions stick for 2011, and you’ll be set. No regret necessary. But now, sitting at a computer on this day, exactly a year later, I look over the last 365 days and reminisce on these same resolutions…you know, the forgotten ones that get stuffed in the closet with the skeleton.

One of these resolutions was to set school as my numero uno. Instead, it took a back seat to my book, friends, and family–which, although not a despicable act, really set my teeth on edge at times with stress. My grades didn’t suffer too much by it, but my pride did.

Having fallen from my high horse of security, my thoughts turned to some successes.

A resolution that came true was to clean the tornado impact zone of the house–my room. Have you ever seen Hoarders? Tone the people on that show down by about 90% and you can envision me, throwing stuff I don’t really need into boxes that just end up hiding my bed, clogging the way to the closet, and overflowing out from underneath the mattress. Ah, but I’m proud to say that, yes! The room did get organized. You can now walk in it and find all my stuff. And yes! I really grew as a person from the experience of giving some of my old stuff away.

All in all, I’d say 2011 was a great year. I’ve taken major steps into deciding what I’d like to do with my life…the person I’d like to be, the milestones I’d like to hit, the tours I’d like to conduct as a park ranger, the screenplays I’d like to write for Hollywood (can you imagine a clean movie that actually captivates?!). Looking ahead on the road of life, I can see everything I dream of doing, the notches I’ve tightened in the belt of success, and all that still remains in the unfinished bin. The openness of it all…I’ve never felt so free.

But, you know? Those old, dusty resolutions don’t look so bad with a little spit and polish. So here’s my new resolution;  instead of just setting a single goal that means MASSIVE change,  I’m going to set a few monthly goals instead, so that I’ll build up to the change that needs to happen. That way, on this day next year, I might just compose a much different blog post–all the things I accomplished in 2012.

Here’s to you, readers! May you have the most excellent, fulfilling year imaginable.

In honor of the New Year’s Day Star Wars marathon, let’s throw it back to Yoda for the mantra of 2012—

“Do or do not…there is no try.”

This Blogger’s Top Movie Picks of 2012

Well, friends, it’s nearly New Years, and like most, I’ve got some resolutions for 2012. Firstly, I’d like to resolve to eat less frozen yogurt. It’s an addictive habit that’s honestly gotten the best of me. Another resolution would be to hit the theater every month, like a good, devoted geek.

It’s such a good time to be alive!! There’s plenty of upcoming challenges coming to America’s shores, and although times might get rough, I have my top movie picks to look forward to with bated breath.

1) THE HOBBIT!

For those of you who have read the “other” blog (the link can be found in the post entitled “Shameless Marketing for the Other Blog”), you’ll know that I’m deeply in love with The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again.  Peter Jackson gets a big slice of that love. The man’s vision rings so true with the pictures Tolkien painted with his words! *Checks watch* Insert excited screech now.

2) THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

When I found the gift set box for Batman Begins in Lowes, my jaw fell open, and I was this close to doing a happy dance. After seeing the darkness that The Dark Knight left Bruce Wayne in, I have great faith in this, the third installment of the only Batman series worth its salt.

3) RED TAILS

A WWII tale from Lucas Films, a story of over-coming segregation, this trailer stirred my patriotic blood. This is no wait-for-Pay-Per-View movie, this is a go-to-that-theater event.

4) THE GREY

A man, stranded in the Alaskan wilderness, staving off wolves with broken bottles taped to his knuckles? AMAZING!

5) THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Can you say bone chilling? That phrase is certainly in my vocabulary after watching this movie trailer. I’m not normally a fan of horror flicks, nor am I overtly fond of Daniel Radcliffe, but this movie seems like it should induce quality tendrils of fear running down my spine.

6) BATTLESHIP

First we received the gift of Cowboys vrs. Aliens. Now we get to watch Navy vrs. Aliens? Is anyone else pumped for this?

7) WRATH OF THE TITANS

Confession: I slept through the the first movie, Clash of the Titans. But this sequel may just have a story-line, and, (dare we hope?), a lame robo-owl. Bubo, we love you!

8) JOHN CARTER

Yes, it’s going to be bad. But I’m sure I can chalk John Carter up with all of my other favorite, cheesy sci-fi movies. Interesting factoid: Had this movie come out in animated form back in 1930, it would have beat Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If I were to put a guess to the plot, I would say Planet of the Apes meets Conan meets Avatar meets Tatooine from the Star Wars series.

9) THE THREE STOOGES

Can I even dare hope this movie won’t disappoint me? What can beat the old series, where three lovely girls were inexpressibly head over heels in love with the Stooges? Where Larry, Curly, Moe (and sometimes Shemp) would get into gun fights that lasted twenty minutes, that mostly consisted of face slaps and eye pokes? Just keep my  Stooges clean, film-makers, that’s all I ask of you.

There’s no trailer out for this one yet. As soon as I find one, it will be posted here in an edit of the post. Fingers crossed on this movie!

10) THE AVENGERS

Every super hero from the last decade, smashing enemies together? If the film makers can keep the action taut, and the story line going strong with all those conflicting main characters, then they’ll have my applause.

11) ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

Abe Lincoln inspires me. His speeches rouse my spirit. His memory gives me the will to become a greater American. So the fact that they’re making him into a vampire slayer in this day and age, when dumb Twilight vampires rule the hearts of every pre-teen in this country, is a little bit relieving. At last, we’re coming out of vampire-drama and putting fictional blood-suckers back in their place, which is under a wooden stake. Don’t worry, Abe, you’ll still live in our hearts as President.

The Vicarious Author: How to live it up…through that guy.

Authors. The very word gives me visions of Victor Hugo, portraying his grief of his daughter’s death, his disgust of most politics, down into a rough draft by candlelight in the 1860’s. I imagine Charles Dickens, envisioning scenes of misty graveyards while ink forms into sentences before his hand. Harriet Beecher Stowe, meeting Abraham Lincoln, spreading light on the plight of American slavery. Even Rick Riordan, brushing up on his Greek mythology to create the Percy Jackson series. These writers took the experiences of themselves and others, impressions of stories they’d heard, ideas that spring impulsively to the mind, and remembrances of the people in their lives to create the stories we love.

Did Hugo fall from the mast of a prison ship, in the effort to save another convict’s life? Probably not. But his character’s actions matched that of his own in many other respects, including Jean Valjean’s bequeathing of a fortune to the poor upon his death, an action Hugo did himself on his own death bed.

Then again, that wonderful word Author summons another visual. Has anyone seen Nim’s Island? The movie about the spoiled kid whose dad goes missing, and she lives on the island with the animals, like an overly spunky, aggravating child version of George of the Jungle, minus the Toucan and Gorilla? Anyway, put that annoying plot line aside, and you’ve got Jodie Foster playing an OCD, germ phobic writer, who plasters her hands with Germ-X every chance she gets, will only eat canned Progresso soup, and can’t even set foot outside to get her mail without hyperventilating. Her only true friend? An imaginary man, clad in an Indiana Jones fedora, who also happens to be the star in her best selling Alex Rover book series. Alex frequently visits this writer, giving frank advice, telling her to get out and do something with her life…then, the movie gets irritating again, but that first ten minutes? Pure gold. Why? Because, in a way, I am that writer.

Do I love Germ-X? Yes, sir. Progresso soup? Awesomeness canned. Have I ever been hunted by ethereal creatures in a dark wood, my side dripping with blood, my breath a heavy rasping in my chest? Nope. But I’ve come close.

It’s frightening to be in the underbrush of Texas, a rifle in your hand, tracking the hog you’ve got a weak blood trail on, while what seems like a millions screaming pigs can be heard in the dark nearby.  Stories of hunters getting mauled and/or eaten by their tusked quarry flash dimly in your memory, but who cares? You’ve never felt so alive, and the loaded gun is ready at hand. You shine your light through the gloom of the cloudy darkness, listen for the reassuring footsteps of your friend in the night, and push on, determined to find your harvested animal.

Then again, the horses my characters ride so often? I’ve maybe ridden a horse…for like, two weeks of my life? After I fell off the animal I was learning on, I never really got back on, besides an occasional trail ride. The spoiled food my characters eat, their other dining options depleted? I live the cushy life of a kid whose amazing parents provide nutritional food. The taste of mold has never been willingly placed into my mouth, but the point is, I can imagine the desperation it would take to eat such food, because I’ve felt desperation in other situations.

Knowledge for the next scene in a book can be taken from Wikipedia, your local library, even just listening to your grandpa’s stories about him and his friend/enemy, Newty Cline (which, unfortunately for Newty, sounds a lot like “Nude-y” when said out loud.)

The task of writing is a strange, fulfilling mixture of your inner grit, your deepest weaknesses, your imagined fantasies, the things you’ve done, or the things you passionately wish to do. Betrayal, love, loneliness, are very real things–the transferal of those emotions to the character is easy, the portrayal of its realness is difficult. And as horrifying as watching your latest chapter be read by others is, it’s gratifying, knowing you completed another piece of something you love.

If only authors were like the Most Interesting Man in the World. We would live vicariously through ourselves, making our vicarious characters all the more vicarious.

People would hang on our every word…even the prepositions. I totally stole that joke.

*DISCLAIMER: I am merely a fan of Calvin, Hobbs, and Bill Watterson. In no way does Calvin and Hobbs belong to me, and in no universe will this blog post inspire awful truck bumper stickers. My respects to the wit and creativity of Mr. Watterson.*