Archive | May, 2011

Featured Meme: Rage Comic Memes

18 May

As stated in an earlier article, a meme (pronounced MEEM) is a concept (image or phrase) that becomes popular on the Internet.  Memes can reflect a person’s attitude, predicaments, and just about anything else.  Thanks to Rage Guy, Forever Alone, Troll Face, and other Rage Comic Memes, personal moments of failure, win-itude, and everything within the spectrum can be humorously documented. Continue reading

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Ghost Hunter’s Treat

18 May

    Every step taken on the creaky floorboards of the Stanley Hotel pierced the silence of our ghost tour, screeching like we were walking on banshees, adding a malevolent feel to the already chilling atmosphere. As we climbed the century-old stairs, both my mother and I were hit simultaneously with a wave of nausea. Sweat began to form at my pores, as if I were standing on the edge of a cliff, fearing for my life. I began to notice the smallest, most insignificant details, as if the missing peg in the banister was the cause of my sudden sickness. A small breeze blew on the back of my neck, as if something were breathing on me.
    Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the Stanley Hotel Ghost Tour is one of the best in the country. Not only does the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., have a great armory of residential ghosts, it’s also the place where acclaimed horror author, Stephen King, wrote one of the scariest books of all time, which, in turn, became one of the most famous horror films of all time. (Actually scary movies are hard to come by nowadays, considering that America’s adolescent population thinks movies are a complete waste of time if nobody dies within the first fifteen minutes. When the zenith of a movie is somebody being mutilated by some insane murderer, it leaves no room for proper plot development or characters that are deeper then a mud puddle.)

    Fans of the popular movie The Shining may be surprised and even a little disappointed to discover that the hotel looks nothing like it did in the movie; however, there is a simple explanation for this. At the Stanley Hotel, there is no hedge maze, the hallways aren’t even the same ones shown in the movie, and the bartenders are much less spectral. This is because the movie wasn’t even filmed at the Stanley Hotel. It wasn’t even filmed in America, much less Colorado! The exterior, albeit, was filmed at Ft. Hood Oregon, but everything else was specially built in a studio in London, halfway across the globe from the actual hotel. However, Stephen King was displeased with the movie and thought that it was inaccurate and didn’t follow the book closely enough, so he came back in 1997 with a mini-series he figured would be scarier. Unfortunately, the series never became as popular as the movie.

    The true inspiration for The Shinning is the real Stanley Hotel.  So, fans of ghost hunting won’t be bothered by absence of scenery from the movie.  If it is ghosts you are looking for, a movie set is no place to find them; a haunted hotel is the right place to look. The Stanley Hotel’s claim to fame is not just the fact that Stephen King wrote The Shining there in one night, but it also has an arsenal of ghosts, poltergeists, spectres, and every supernatural manifestation in between.  And, luckily for all penny-pinchers, the tour is not exclusive to those staying at the hotel, and anyone can get in for just $15 for an adult and $10 for the children.

The Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, Oregon, the face of the hotel in the movie.

The Stanley Hotel, the actual inspiration for Stephen King's novel

Mind you, this is not a guarantee that anything out of the ordinary will happen.  Fear not, though, for the tour also provides you with a general understanding of the history of the hotel.  So, of course, when my family and I were in town, I just had to go and check it out. The tour my sister and I were in was full of those typical American type tourists with their flash cameras, fake smiles, sweaty brows, and Bermuda shorts despite being in Colorado during fall break.  And, of course, it didn’t help that one of the most haunted places was next to a staircase in a cramped hallway. I wasn’t sure what was scarier, the ghosts or the thriving mass of humanity pushing in on me from every angle. It seemed as if every nook and cranny in the hotel had a gruesome legend to it. As we passed rooms, the tour guide, Mary, explained to us all about the little boy named Mathew who had died, bedridden of an illness and was a very friendly ghost who oftentimes moved things and stole people’s candy from them.  There were a plethora of scary stories, but so far our tour had failed to dig up even the slightest grain of evidence.

    Mary stood on an old staircase and gently called out to the ghosts while everyone took flash photos of her from all angles, casting an army of shadows onto the wall.  I, being typically cynical, was skeptical of the mumbo-jumbo story of how some lady had died on the stairwell, yadda-yadda-yadda, until my sister, who had religiously been taking pictures every nano-second, tugged on my sleeve and showed me the picture she had just taken.

   Just feet from Mary’s head was a milky white, translucent orb. It hung there in midair, looking almost sinister. I looked up from the camera, frantically searching for a similar object, but could find none. Some of the people behind us noticed our discovery and, therefore, thought that the best course of action would be to scream, “GHOST!” at the top of their lungs, prompting a battalion of tourists to rapidly take as many pictures with the brightest flashes in as little time as possible.

An orb typically visible in photos of the Stanley Hotel hallways.

    Upon further research, there is a seemingly plausible explanation for why we see these orbs.  People say it’s because of out-of-focus dust hovering in front of the lens of the camera, and it reflects the flash into the lens.  However, under the same theory, we would we not see “orbs” every time we took a flash picture in a darkly lit room?  Dust is everywhere, so why is it that we only see such things in places that people claim to be “haunted?”  It shall remain a mystery to all until another plausible solution pops-up on the inter-webs.    

      For those not interested in the supernatural, The Stanley Hotel is nestled inside a nice town in Colorado called Estes Park, which offers a number of tourist attractions.  The area is surrounded by mountains (with hiking and horseback riding trails), and the town itself features many small stores arranged to form a sort of mall, and a Holiday Inn is located about a mile from the infamous manor. Instead of slowly going crazy cooped up in a hotel room like the movie’s main character, you can peruse Estes Park’s many shops and boutiques and beautiful, scenic trails through the Rocky Mountains out of town.  Estes Park can entertain anyone from a rowdy college frat boy to a quaint family of five with its wide range of activities and assortment of shops.

More Proof Japan is Awesome

12 May

     One of the things I’ve put on my bucket list is to travel around the world to various destinations, one of which is Tokyo. The culture of that island nation is fascinating. They have contributed greatly to the world in art, science, technology, and philosophy. I often find myself focusing on their technology, though. Example: Video Games.  What video game is that crazy Hunter thinking about now? Okami, a game for PS2 and Wii created by Capcom, CriWare, and ReadyAtDawn.
    Consider the storyline:  Long ago, in a peaceful village known as Kamiki, a ritual was held every year of sacrificing a young maiden to the great eight-headed serpent, Orochi. On the 100th year of this horrible rite, two brave souls stepped forward to put an end to Orochi’s reign: the great warrior Nagi and an enigmatic wolf known as Shiranui. They marched into Orochi’s lair and killed it by getting it drunk and cutting its heads off. Sadly, in the fight, Shiranui was killed. The heroic lupine fighter was immortalized as a statue in Kamiki Village. One hundred years have passed since then, and darkness is stirring again. The statue of Shiranui is brought to life as Okami Amaterasu, god of the sun. (That’s you.) Amaterasu, aka Ammy, must defeat the evil beings plaguing the earth once again, as well as restoring people’s faith in the gods.

Yeah, your dog can fetch, play dead, whatever. Can your dog perform exorcisms? I didn't think so!

     This game is, in every right, amazing. The graphics are like Japanese art.  It has, in fact, been featured in the Smithsonian’s recent “Art of Video Games” exhibit.  Link to http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/.  The music is beautiful. The story is magnificent, as well as being based on Japanese Shinto mythology. What really miffs me, though, is that none of my friends have heard of this game. (Then again, most of them have Xbox 360’s, but even the ones who do have a PS2 or Wii still have never heard of it.) It has received multiple awards and is designed for two popular, but different, systems.  However, it’s practically invisible. Most people just know it as “that game with the wolf on it.”
    Among the people of the Internet, the game has just recently sparked some popularity due to extremely well-known Youtube gamer Chuggaaconroy recording a 100% walkthrough with commentary.  It inspired me enough to buy the game, and I’m sure many other nerds got their copy as well. If you stumble upon this article, get the game, and love it as much as I do.  Please spread awareness. Thank you.
    Getting back to why this game is awesome, it has… (hmm, where to begin?) several minigames that involve fishing, digging, and destroying things–plus, sidequests galore.  Almost every NPC in the game has a sidequest-related purpose.  All these off-the-beaten-path missions net you “praise orbs” you can use to power up your health, money, and more. 

Meet Orochi. I have a feeling you're not going to like him.

    Now if you go up onto the upper-right hand corner of your browser and search images of Amaterasu, you’ll probably see a weird, fiery gadget on her back. That is what is known as a divine instrument.  It’s a weapon.  There are three types of weapons, each with its own delicious flavor of pain: 1) Reflectors – These mirrors are standard in power for attacking and can deflect enemy attacks. 2) Rosaries – Strings of beads are surprisingly good weapons, very fast, and capable of rapid fire bead blasting. 3) Glaives – They are swords. Enough said.
    Amaterasu’s arsenal of attacks doesn’t end there, though. The real deal that makes this game so awesome is the Celestial Brush. Once you cue it up, various symbols can be drawn to trigger a great many abilities. However, you only have one brush power from the start, you must find your fellow gods to reclaim the other techniques. Here are a few:

Sunrise – Mastered by Amaterasu, god of the sun.
Draw a circle in the sky to make the sun appear and make it the day’s beginning.

Rejuvenation – Mastered by Yomigami, god of restoration.
Scribble in something broken and watch it reappear!

Power Slash –  Mastered by Tachigami, god of rending.
A straight line becomes a sword that slashes through the hardest of obstacles.

There are more, but I wouldn’t want to give spoilers. Then again, you are on the Internet…

A city in the game settles down in the evening. I freakin' love the art direction in this game.

Recapping, this game is awesome. If it’s not a ten out of ten, it’s pretty darn close. So, the next time you want to rid a country of evil while looking at awesome graphics and listening to beautiful music, go find that game with the wolf on it.
                            Regards,
                            Hunter

How to Be Cool in 10+ Steps

4 May

Are you cool?  Check out our checklists and see how you fare.  Keep reading, and you will learn how to achieve this elusive trait.  If you’re already there, congratulations.  I’m not.

Iceman, the Marvel comics superhero, as shown on the website http://www.samruby.com

I need to be more “cool.”  I am decidedly un-cool.  Does that make me warm?  No, it makes me embarrassing.  People can take one look at me and tell exactly how I feel.  And that can be a terrible handicap.  For example, when I lose my temper, I can’t hide it, which makes me look like a toddler in mid-tantrum instead of the paragon of virtue that I pretend to be.  Also, I tend to gush about things I like, which is fine unless the other people aren’t rabid fans of Techno.

 Just in case you, too, need to be more cool, let’s look up a definition for the word.  After that, we can give you some rock-solid advice on how achieve coolness.

 Our good friend Wikipedia has the answer.  It always does, even though most of the information you read there isn’t expert.  (And most of what you read on the Internet isn’t interesting.) 

 “Something regarded as cool is an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist.”  Okay…what?  (Preparing to menu-dive into a maze of links…)

Zeitgeist (pronounced TSITE GUYST) is a German word meaning “the spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age.” It can be traced to philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder in the mid-1700s.  He was associated with the artistic movement known as “Sturm und Drang,” which is mentioned here because it has such a cool-sounding name, especially when you say it with a German accent (SCHTOORM OONDRANG.)  That was a time “in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment.”

Hey, wait a minute…  Extremes of emotion?  That’s not cool.  The name of the movement translates to “storm and urge,” which describes the way I act now.  I’m afraid we will have to abandon this tangent.  I guess it used to be trendy to rage about things in Germany.  The Nazis certainly thought so.  In contrast, today’s Germans are among the coolest, most under-reacting people on Earth.  (Maybe that’s why they’re good at Techno.)

 The Merriam Webster dictionary says cool is “marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self-control,” which is what I thought it should mean. It also defines cool as “very good,” which is the most unenlightening definition ever.   It offers one final definition as “fashionable or hip,” but it fails to define “hip” correctly.  All it says is (noun) “part of the human body,” or “fruit of the rosebush rose,” or (verb) “to sprain or dislocate,” or (interjection) “exclamation used in cheers.”  This is wrong.  You know as well as I do that hip is an adjective meaning cool.

We’ve come full circle:  Cool means hip.  Hip mean cool.  It’s time to look for other answers.  A Google search yield mostly minor websites and joke videos.  A website does exist named “Howtobecool.com,” but it offers lame links such as “find friends” and “depression support” that cool people don’t need.  (Apparently I’m not the only person having trouble with this concept.)

The website alanwho.com advises:  Disregard what other people say.  Don’t try to make everyone happy.  Never argue.  Don’t slouch.  Speak confidently.  Walk with a “glide.”  Bend rules, but don’t break them.  Never whine.  Be patient.  Stay focused.  Use few words.   Avoid overused slang.  Speak highly of your friends. Never talk down to anyone.   Have diverse friends.  Don’t join clubs.  Always keep learning. 

Well, that’s not a bad start, but I doubt it will impress the bar crowd–you know, those cool, 20-somethings, the beautiful people, who hang out all night, doing Xtreme fun things.

The website AskMen.com advises:  Have a nice, good-looking girlfriend.  Don’t over-call your friends; have a purpose when you call them.  Dress well.  Be knowledgeable.  Be funny.  Don’t be a downer.

That sounds more like being admirable than cool.

The website mindfields.org.uk advises:  Learn to do with less attention.  Don’t compete with other people for attention.  Say less than is necessary.  Learn to behave well from those who don’t know how.  Do not ‘freeload’ or overstay your welcome.  Never whine.  Appear unhurried.  Be different — but not too different. Appear not to want things you cannot have.  Exercise courtesy and tact at all times.

That sounds more like being polite than cool

A more practical approach comes from Wikihow.com.   In short:  Remember that you can’t please everyone.  Present yourself well in public.  Be calm and confident.  Stand up for yourself but avoid arguing.  Speak briefly and clearly.  Converse well.  Use humor and laugh at yourself.  Develop your goals and talents.  Find real friends.  Be friendly but not overly eager.  Dress in your own style.  Be yourself.  Do the right thing.  Don’t brag.  Don’t do drugs.

Good advice, especially appropriate for the preppy floating through life.

A humorous perspective comes from the website loganwhitehurst.com.  He writes:  Have a killer pickup line.  Don’t do what your parents want you to do.  Imitate the appearance of someone you think is cool.  Have an enigmatic nickname.  Reference Fonzie.  Have an enviable job.  Know your coffee drinks.  Be prepared for any situation.  Parallel park well.  Be in a band.

According to the above advice, I already fit the definition of cool.  And since I know that isn’t true, the advice must be off-target.

Back to Wiki’s original definition–if cool means in “the spirit of the times,” that makes it close to the meaning of “trendy.”  Therefore, it may approximate the term “hipster.”  Those people make a point of knowing what is cool before it’s cool.  Once it becomes mainstream, it’s over for the hipsters.  So, are hipsters the definition of cool?  Maybe, for some people, they are.  For most people, hipsters are laughably presumptuous.  How can anyone be cool when they are trying too hard?

Perhaps it is time to look back to ancient Eastern philosophy for the answer.  Ninja is cool.  Chuck Norris is… well, he used to be cool until people started telling all of those jokes. The creed of Tae Kwon Do, Korean martial arts, sums it up nicely:  Respect.  Courtesy.  Goodness.  Trustworthiness.  Loyalty. Humility.  Courage.  Patience.  Integrity.  Perseverance.  Self-control.  Indomitable Spirit.  Does anyone care to argue with a martial arts master?  No?  Good move.

People seem to agree that coolness goes deeper than surface actions and appearances.  “How to Be Cool” turned into a list of actual character traits that comprise a psychologically well-adjusted personality!

What’s more, a distinct difference emerged between “popular people” and “cool people.”  Popular people are often too social and outspoken to be truly cool. Popular people follow the crowd, but cool people find their own way.  Popular people can be snarky, but cool people rise above base behavior.   On the other hand, cool people can end up being popular, but the catch is, they don’t care.

In short, cool is a good way to be.  I’d rather be cool than popular because cool people have integrity.  Based on the best suggestions so far, plus a few suggestions of our own, here is a list of 10+ ways to achieve cooldom:

 Traits of a Cool Person:

1.  Calm – Don’t overreact to anything–good or bad.  Let it go, and move on.

2.  Dignified – Have pride in yourself without arrogance.  Don’t hero-worship.

3.  Respectful – Be courteous to people.  Be considerate of nature.

4.  Understated – Speak your mind sparingly and effectively.

5.  Confident – Know your abilities, and be sure of what you do.

6.  Satisfied – Be comfortable with who you are.  Be content with what you have.

7.  Well-centered – Know your own feelings and values.  Be true to yourself.

8.  Low maintenance – Don’t seek attention.  Don’t be emotionally needy.

9.  Self-directed – Make your own decisions.  Find your own happiness.

10.  Original – Express yourself in a unique way.  Be creative and inventive.

11.  Stylish – Care about your appearance.  Present yourself well in public.

12.  Clever – Be alert, aware, and resourceful.

13.  Witty – Maintain your sense of humor.  Direct laughs at yourself.

14.  Talented – Develop your skills and knowledge.  Do something admirable.

If that list is too serious, or you don’t want to go through the difficult job of actually becoming a better person, all that is left is to become pseudo-cool–in other words, a Cool Poser.  An unfortunate number of people choose this easy but pathetic route.

 How to Pose as a Cool Person:

1.  Buy overpriced clothing and accessories.

2.  Own the newest and latest electronics.

3.  Go into debt for a hot car.

4.  Learn how to swagger.

5.  Imitate gang hand signs.

6.  Overuse catchy phrases.

7.  Curse in every sentence.

8.  Drop obscure references.

9.  Constantly text.

10.  Become a self-proclaimed expert.

11.  Show no emotion.

12   Be nice only to other cool people.

13.  Ignore inferior people.

14.  Remember:  It’s all about you.

–Chris

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