A Budding Gamer

Knowing my fondness for retro games, this past Christmas my sister and her husband–total gamers, the both of them–got me a Super Nintendo Classic Edition.

For those who aren’t aware, the Super Nintendo Classic Edition is a cool little device that Nintendo released in 2017 that’s similar to their NES Classic: it’s a hand-held version of their classic early 90s Super Nintendo console pre-loaded with 20 classic games, designed to work on modern TVs, and guaranteed to tickle your nostalgia gland and separate you from your hard-earned money!

So while we were visiting my parents over Christmas, I fired it up and gave a few old games a spin. And my pleasure centers were absolutely engaged. Super Mario WorldSuper MetroidF-ZeroDonkey Kong CountrySuper Castlevania . . . aw yeah, total classics. And of course, one of my all-time favorites that I haven’t played in easily twenty yearsMega Man X. I loved that game, and was immediately engaged.

And of course, so was my son.

I mean, Mega Man X, like every single game in the Mega Man franchise, has bright and colorful graphics, fantastic music, exciting gameplay, and robots that fight each other, steal each others weapons, and blow stuff up. In this edition, the main character, X, has to fight animal-based robot masters in order to beat their big boss Sigma. It is, in short, tailor-made for a five-year-old.

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But the presents a bit of a parental conundrum for me. I grew up with Nintendo, getting a set for Christmas in 1987, when I was not much older than my son. I also played Atari with my maternal grandmother, who is always up on technology, and classic Sierra adventure games with my paternal grandfather on his then state-of-the-art Leading Edge computer (with two external disk drives!). So video games were always a thing with me.

I’ve written fondly about retro games before. The music in those old games was often fantastic and inspiring. And speaking of inspiring, the plots and mechanics of many old video games really stoked my imagination, and continue to be an unlikely source of inspiration. And I know for a fact that I am not alone in this.

But I also reflect on all the hours I spent playing video games as a kid, especially as the console generations marched on and got better and better and more realistic, and the games got longer. I always liked role-playing games, you know, those dorky games where you fight monsters and level up and so on. They always had really fun tactical combat, customization of characters, and a lot of options to just go and explore stuff.

They were fun. They were engrossing. And they often took sixty hours to finish.

And as the games got better and better, they got longer and longer.  Continue reading “A Budding Gamer”

Don’t Judge Me!

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Let’s talk about judgment.

It’s a dirty word these days, a dirty idea. To think, someone will dare tell me how I should do this or that, or that something I think is wrong?

Now extrapolate this concept to the idea of God, and people flip out.

But think about this: Society functions only because of judgment. We have laws and rules. We punish offenders who infringe on the law-abidings’ rights as a matter of course. We even have these people in black robes called “judges,” maybe you’ve heard of them?

And yet, the idea of a God that actually judges us is anathema to many. “It’s not fair!” “It’s mean!” and all of that.

I find this so ridiculous it hurts. It seems like the whinings a of an adolescent who doesn’t want to be held responsible for his actions.

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A lot might be a fundamental misunderstanding of how judgment and salvation work. It’s not arbitrary, nor is it reliant on performing just the right actions while saying just the right words.

I think it’s also because the idea of forgiveness is so alien to us Moderns. We don’t even forgive each other—why on Earth would we forgive ourselves, or expect forgiveness from anyone else? Continue reading “Don’t Judge Me!”

2018 Is Here!

Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2018, and you know what that means:

Retrospectives and lists!

I’ll spare you the worst of it, but suffice it to say 2017 was a year of good and bad for yours’ truly. The family was reunited, but apartment living in a new city continued to be a drag. We’re working on fixing it, though, so hopefully soon we’ll have a home again.

On the blogging front, 2017 marked my first full year, and it showed an increase in posting activity and visitors. Admittedly, 2016 was skewed when Scott Adams linked to a post, but still, an increase is an increase.

Doing the rough math, this blog averaged about 24 visitors a day in 2017 over about 23 in 2016, but almost 400 more total viewers. Remember also that I started this blog in May of 2016. It’s be more accurate to do a retrospective like this on May of this year, but where’s the fun in that?

Yeah, I’m trying to finesse the numbers. But I’m still happy about the growing readership here. It’s been fun connecting with lots of people, sharing and gaining new ideas and perspectives. For all of you who read and comment and get in touch via social media, know that you’re much appreciated! Continue reading “2018 Is Here!”

Life Matters: Merry Christmas!

Everyone: Merry Christmas!

Even if Christianity isn’t your thing, have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family.

Christmas and New Year’s are about new beginnings. As my priest said last night, we are all born with a hole in our heart. On Christmas we celebrate the coming of the one who can fill that hole.

I was feeling cranky for various reasons the last few days, a bit out of sort. But you know what? It’s nothing. It doesn’t matter. Life matters.

That’s what Christmas is all about. Just like Easter, this season is brimming with the joy of life…

…God Almighty coming to Earth, carried by a young virgin who will come to be known as the Panagia–All Holy–and the Theotokos–God-bearer.

Christmas is as much about her, the bearer of life, bringing God into the world for us and for our salvation.

I dunno…it’s beautiful, at least to me. Is it getting dusty in here? Where’s my handkerchief…

Merry Christmas everyone!

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

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Interesting Times

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It’s easy to feel yourself swept away by things, insignificant and out of control. Watching the world unfold, one question–maybe the first question–should be:

Why do you care?

The second question, then, might be:

How could you not?

Simple questions with no good answers. Simple questions that, I’m sure, human beings have been asking our ancestors first formed questions in their minds.

I imagine a caveman watching the blizzard from the relative comfort of his cave and pondering his existence. Is this all there is? Am I destined for nothing but fleeing the saber-toothed, hunting the mammoth, and finding shelter? Luckily for us, his answer, and those of thousands like him, was no.

So what’s our excuse?

Are we destined only to scrape enough to pay the taxman and the other bill collectors, to undue the sub-par education of our children, and to try and end life without running afoul of the endless laws that surround us?

It’s a reactive pose, which is why I suspect it creates such deep feelings of powerlessness.

The caveman sure thought so. It was this discomfort that eventually led to the skyscraper and insulation and central heating, the firearm, architectural principles, and the automobile.

So what’s our excuse? Continue reading “Interesting Times”

Jane Austen: The Conclusion

So now that I’ve read every single Jane Austen novel, ever, it’s time to make sense of it all, isn’t it? Isn’t that what blogs are for, to try to create a context–a larger story–even when there isn’t one?

Especially when there isn’t one?

Or maybe, just maybe, I really enjoy writing about reading. And writing.

In any event, I can safely say the following two things:

  1. Jane Austen’s novels are fantastic,
  2. Jane Austen may very well have written the best dialogue the English language has ever seen

What? That’s high praise from a dude reading chick lit, man! But like I said in my very first Jane Austen post many moons ago:

 In reading Sense and Sensibility, I’m struck by how nice it is to enjoy a story where men are manly and women are womanly, each sex exhibiting strengths, weaknesses, and in general complimenting each other the way those in healthy relationships should. Throw away all of the social stuff regarding the limited opportunities for women at that time and enjoy the story for what it is.

No, this isn’t some evil member of the white male patriarchy lamenting his lost power (first of all, I never had any power to begin with). It’s just . . . unique to read a story from a world where people seemed to have confidence in their identities. For starters, there wasn’t any self-loathing or existential angst in these stories. That would invade literature later.

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Anyway, I’ll divide this post into The General section and The Specific section (names subject to change). In the former, I’ll go over what I admire about Jane Austen’s writing, her strengths, and any criticisms I may have. And in the latter part, I’ll give a brief rundown of each book, my takeaway, and an overall rating/ranking that I’m sure will upset most people who study Jane Austen’s works more than I do, but what the hell, it’s my blog. So here goes! Continue reading “Jane Austen: The Conclusion”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! These days, it seems we need it more than ever.

I have left off the God stuff for a while, but today is a perfect day to reflect on the blessings in our lives. We have it so good and yet we remain intent on tearing each other apart…as well as ourselves.

Evil is real. But thankfully, so is good. Never forget this.

Pray for God’s blessings. And don’t be shy about it.

And please, please, please enjoy your family and friends. Sincerity and happiness are underrated, out-of-date, and long overdue for a comeback.

God bless everyone, whomever you are, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

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