Survivor X, Challenge 4: What Was That You Asked?

We had another team challenge this week.  We were given 19 statements and we had to find what question or comment prompted those responses.  So our team came up with a slew of responses and then voted on which ones stuck.  The judges picked their favorites from each, for a total of 38 points.  Our team, Nibbish & His Vogons, cleaned up by getting 20 of the 38 available points, leaving 18 for the other two teams.  You can check out the post to see the results.  Below are my submissions that were voted in by the team.

Okay, but it’s twice the cost for full sevice.

Could you change the other half of my oil, please?

One point from DK

A slide rule, an apple and a piece of the Blarneystone.

Only one Plinko chip? What items did you have to guess on?

One point from DK

It was my video game knowledge that saved my life.

Mr. President, you did a barrel roll?

One point from Spooky

Peer pressure makes a (guy/girl) do stupid things.

Why the long face, Benito?

No points

It was going so well until he slipped.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

One point from Spooky

So, I didn’t get a unanimous vote on any of mine, but I got our team four points, so I’m happy.  I’m also happy our team has finished in first place every week.  I’ll end this post with my favorite of the week from our team.

I guess that’s the one good thing about visiting a KKK complex.

We haven’t lost a basketball game there in 12 years!

Star Trek: TNG Countdown FAQ

The countdown begins in four days.  Here’s the obligatory FAQ.

1.  Why?

This past summer I had an internship that required me to be on the road over two hours per day.  I bought an MP3 player to help dull the monotony, but I knew I didn’t want to listen to just music either.  So I decided to convert the TNG episodes to audio files and listen to them on my drive each day.

2.  But why the countdown?

I’ve seen a lot of TNG lists floating around the intertubes.  Top tens and top twenties.  Also, several people have written their individual reviews of episodes.  Many have started blogging about each episode, starting from the beginning, but then petered out before they were finished (e.g. Wil Wheaton, who is mind-blowingly hilarious but stopped after half of season one).  I found that unsatisfying.  So while I listened to the episodes, I decided to take notes.  I thought it would be more fun to share those notes in countdown style.

3.  A lot of Star Trek is also art, costumes, and special effects.  How can you rank them without watching them?

I’ve watched each episode at-least a half-dozen times or more, so I know what they look like.  But it’s amazing how much you miss while being dazzled by all the visuals.  Nuances in conversation are much sharper without the eye candy.  Preparing this countdown has helped me appreciate some episodes more and other less, and I believe part of that is how I took them in.

4.  What’s the format going to be?

Rank and Episode Title, of course.  Then I will more or less simply critique each episode while hopefully being entertaining.  What you will not find:

a)broad summaries of each episode.  I’ll link to Memory Alpha if you don’t remember.
b)nitpicks of minutia–like continuity errors or Data saying a contraction–unless it’s relevant to the plot or character development

5.  How often will you post?

Every day, Monday through Friday.  Promise.

6.  Are you ranking the two-parters together or separately?

For me, the two-part episodes are really feature length episodes artificially split into two parts.  Thus, they will get reviewed as one episode.  So, instead of a countdown beginning at 176, it begins at 168.

7.  I can’t believe you rank ______ that low/high!  Can I laugh and point at you?

Go right ahead.  I just ask two things.  Don’t be an asshole, and try not to get worked up if something is ranked #138 and you think it should be #136.  I didn’t agonize too much over the positioning after a certain point.

8.  Anything else we should know?

Yes.  I do not rank Shades of Gray last.  And you may ridicule me every day until it appears on the list.

Survivor Archives: Vague Classified Ad

This was probably my favorite challenge of season six, and it was also one of my better weeks as well.

You’ll do two classified ads of 100 words or less each:

1. An ad searching for an embalmer or undertaker.
2. An ad searching for someone to work – at any job – in a porn shop.

Both should make the job look enticing and be able to generate interest, though neither should come out and actually say what the seeker is truly seeking.

I decided to join the .jpg rage that was going on that season and created the following:

Unfortunately, these were judged by two separate judges, so they didn’t actually get to see the fact that I was able to use the same last line for both.

Survivor Archives: Book Jacket

Our challenge was to create a book jacket for either the Sears Catalog, the Dictionary, or The Bible.  I tackled the dictionary.  In doing so, I also tackled Noah Webster, who was religiously conservative (especially later in life) and felt education was worthless without Christianity.

 Chris·ti·an·i·ty /ˌkrɪstʃiˈænɪti/ [kris-chee-an-uh-tee] –noun, plural –ties.
1. The most important word in this book.
2. What makes America and all other potential nations great.
3. The religion.

Inside An American Dictionary of the English Language you will find thirteen additional definitions for the above word, not to mention scores of inspirational terms and phrases grounded in the Scripture. Do you confuse important words like Ark with arc? Have you ever wanted to learn how to properly use “pestilence” during witnessing? Or do you simply forget how to spell Ecclesiastics? Well, look no further as Noah Webster has provided a guide to answer all these questions (and more!) that regularly haunt heretical young minds.

More original than the work of Joseph Emerson Worcester and more righteous than that secular book by Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster is a beacon of light for all sheep who long to develop their spirit along with their language. So open up and immerse yourself in the words* first breathed out by God.

*Also included: newer words!

Worcester and Johnson also published dictionaries if it wasn’t obvious already.

Other than the asterisk joke at the end, I’m not a big fan of this.  The tone is a bit obvious and the jokes not biting enough.  Still, I’m not embarrassed by it.  I neither received a score nor a critique from the judges, but needless to say I did not win immunity that week.

Survivor X, Challenge 3: Half a Conversation

We were given half of a conversation this week and told to turn it into a short story.  The half we got was this:

A: You missed a call.
B:
A: Yeah. There’s no reason not to.
B:
A: No. She never did. Neither did I, for that matter.
B:
A: At the Fall Festival?
B:
A: Yeah, that would have been a disaster.
B:
A: It wasn’t personal. They don’t see things the same way you do.
B:
A: You’re not the only one.
B:
A: Absolutely not.
B:
A: So what are you going to do about it?
B:

I had very little time to work on it this week, and by the time I got around to it, I was so tired I just didn’t care.  The following is awful, but I’ll explain it afterwards when you don’t get it.

A: You missed a call.
B: No, you missed a call. I’m supposed to hang up, remember? Anyway, do you really think we should call Dad back? He’s just going to try and “save” us.
A: Yeah. There’s no reason not to.
B: Ugh, you’re a glutton. He’s incorrigible, just like your ex. She never did learn to use a map, did she?
A: No. She never did. Neither did I, for that matter.
B: Now I can tell why we never got anywhere. At least my right-hand lady never pretended to have any function. Remember where we met?
A: At the Fall Festival?
B: Yeah, I selected her there. Wasn’t until the meteorite hit town that I realized she was useless. She left me that night, too. It’s a good thing she didn’t get with Pokey.
A: Yeah, that would have been a disaster.
B: It was still embarrassing. Elle and Arnie kept ringing everybody in town and blabbing about it.
A: It wasn’t personal. They don’t see things the same way you do.
B: They don’t even see the same things as each other. They’re on completely opposite sides. And now I sit here worrying about my status.
A: You’re not the only one.
B: Oh don’t start. You’re always the one in command. Better equipped. Dad even gave you the ATM card. You’re his favorite, aren’t you?
A: Absolutely not.
B: That’s it. If I have to spend another minute on Earth with you, I’m bound to go crazy.
A: So what are you going to do about it?
B: I’m getting a hamburger and going home. Going to talk to mother, too.

Confused?  No problem.  Since I was lazy, I decided to try and see what a conversation would be like between the A and B buttons on a Super Nintendo controller.  But I had to pick a game that had a telephone in it.  I could only think of one, and that was EarthBound.  If you’ve played the game, go ahead and reread it now and see if it makes slightly more sense.

Okay, now for all the extremely subtle clues no judge should ever be expected to pick up on:

–the A button would answer a phone call in the game, while the B button would hang up
–In the game, you call Dad in order to save the game
–You use the button X to call up the map
–The B buttons “right-hand lady” is the button Y (yeah, a reach, even for this).  The Y button has no function in Earthbound
–The meteorite and the name Pokey are perhaps the biggest giveaways, but that doesn’t say much.  There is no fall festival in Earthbound, so I pretended it started before the game.  That line threw me more than anything.
–Elle and Arnie are stupid references to the “L” and “R” turbo buttons.  You use L to cycle through conversations, and R to ring the bell while on the motorcycle.
–The B button calls up the status screen, and thus he’s worried about his status.
–The A button calls all commands, equips items, and pays for things.  Your Dad literally supplies and replenishes your ATM card in the game.
–I threw the words ‘select’ and ‘start’ in there just to force two more unhelpful clues
–then, I use the words Earth and Bound close together
–then I end it with “mother, too.”  The name of the game in Japan is Mother 2.  Oh, and the primary source of energy in the game is hamburgers.

It’s quite obvious neither judge picked up on any of that (and I don’t blame them). Here were their comments:

Spooky: It doesn’t have the punch with the jokes like the others, it’s just a clean little story that’s not fleshed out enough. Maybe I’m tired, because I can’t think of anything more specific to write on this one. 2

DK: There’s not a lot I can grab onto here – I can’t get a sense of the characters, and it never quite gets off the ground. 2

Okay, they’re both being really nice here.  But they were tired and I had one of the last stories they judged.  So thanks for not being mean, guys.  I really think if I was the only person who had kept the letters “A” and “B” for my people talking I may have had a chance.  But even had I been way more obvious about my intent, scores of 2/2 are just fine.  Anyway, our team still advances, because my teammates didn’t suck like this.

I promise to write something better next week.

Survivor X, Challenge 2: Community Story

This week our goal was to get with our seven teammates and create a story.  Each of us wrote a different section and we then had to make them mesh.  My section (sixth of eight) was “Rallying The Troops” and I went as metaphorical as I feasibly could with that, as the only troops were a single man and his conscience.  You can read the whole story here.  Our team did very well with an overall score of 4/5 from the judges, and we do not have to eliminate anybody this week.

And here’s my part, alone.

“Damn Gipetto,” Roger muttered, as he put his hand on the stick. He stayed on the gas for a quarter mile, but his conscience eventually ran out of plausible excuses for not turning back. He glanced at the clock, sighed, and took the next ramp.

As he approached the wretched man, Roger looked for signs of life but saw nothing obvious. Part of him hoped he would fine none, as much for the man’s sake as his own. But as he nudged the man’s arm with his boot, he heard a faint cough. “Alright, buddy,” Roger whispered, hoisting the man up and into the bed of his truck. “You owe me one.”

Driving faster than even he considered safe, Roger looked down at his new passenger, as well as the fresh blood now staining the seat. His stare was greeted with one from the stranger. “Thank you,” the man said, his voice trembling.

“You got a name?” Roger asked.
“Thomas.”
“A last name?”
His new friend passed out.

And the judge’s reactions.

Spooky: I suppose we’re getting metaphorical with the “rallying the troops” thing, but I’m guessing every team will do that. I’m starting to see that it’s difficult to score these without thinking of the rest of the story, by the way. Maybe just one score would have made sense. On the other hand, I may feel that way only because this team has been VERY good at keeping the style consistent throughout. 4

DK:  Strong consistent atmosphere, and something about the way this one is written strikes me a little bit more than the other ones (just the effectiveness of the language or something). 5

And that, my friends, is my first ever score of five in Survivor.

 

Best Non-Boss Enemies (NES) #3-#1

#3  EGGPLANT WIZARD  (Kid Icarus)

Back in the day, programmers dreamed up ways to force the player to constantly backtrack.  So in all the dungeons Pit must traverse, eggplant wizards patiently wait for humans in order to turn them into walking whales. The good guys have installed registered nurses in each dungeon that will administer the whale antidote, but naturally they are officed near the entrance, many many rooms away from these mad scientists. To this day, I have never eaten an eggplant. And frankly, I get a little nervous whenever I see one.

#2  WARMECH  (Final Fantasy)

The baddest enemy in the land is not even a boss. Nintendo always claimed that there was a 1/64 chance of meeting this mean motherfucker on Tiamat’s Plank Of Death, but for me it was about three in four. After a couple of high-tech NUKES, your band of brothers was terminated and sent back to the tent you camped out in beneath the Mirage Tower. And you were sent to bed cursing Warmech’s name under your breath.

#1 SLIME  (Dragon Warrior)

The first villian in the first modern role-playing game smiled innocently at you, then ravaged your face before you could so much as wave your bamboo stick at it. Finding the coveted metal slime could yield enough experience to save several hours of mindless level-building, but the swift cowards usually fled right when the butterflies began to dance beneath your chain mail. Their reproductive prowress is well known throughout many kingdoms as they find their way into every legend of Dragon Warrior.  And despite their relative weakness, they manage to always maintain their smile, satisfied with their simple, yet meaningful life of tempering young adventurers in raw slime. May slime forever fill adventurers with such joy.

Best Non-Boss Enemies (NES) #6-#4

#6  CRAZY WOMAN  (Paperboy)

This paperboy has the worst job in the history of civilization. Not only is he expected to throw newspapers twenty feet onto a doorstep (or into the mailbox–yipes!), everyone in town hates him. Dogs try to crash his bike. Women in go-karts try to run him over. Spare wheels seem to veer in his direction as they roll down the sidewalk. Even Death himself stands by with his sickle, waiting to collect his soul shall any of the former succeed. But the worst of all of them are the plastered housewives that mistake the paperboy for their cheating husbands. Even when the poor guy perfectly shoots the morning tribune into the mail slot, this bitch comes out with a rolling pin, hell bent for revenge. At least she can’t run as fast as the paperboy can pedal.

#5  SHOE KURIBO  (Super Mario Bros. 3)

I have a feeling that Sky World 5-3 is the psych ward for goombas that have gone off their collective rockers.  It’s the only place in any Mario game you will find goombas aimlessly jumping around in oversized shoes.   They look intimidating at first like any deranged person, but as long as you pay attention, they’re mostly harmless.  Unfortunately, even if you manage to steal a shoe from the demented goombas, you can walk on munchers for only a  thousand feet or so before the smell gets so bad you chuck it for good.   The best thing to do is point and laugh at them before moving on.

#4  DARKNUTS  (The Legend of Zelda)

While the wizzrobes are the toughest enemies in the game, they are also the most rage-inducing beasts on the NES.  And this list should not inspire rage.  Our friends, the darknuts, provide a healthy, yet fair challenge to the novice Link.   Darknuts huddle in enormous packs, and with their eight eyes, erratically poke their sword in Link’s way. Some of the more intellectually-minded nuts make friends with the sword-stealing bubbles, making them a venerable army of destruction. Of course, even the smartest of the lot are attracted to pretty bombs. Still, their existence demanded the need for red potions wherever they dwelt.

Tune in tomorrow for the finale!

 

Best Non-Boss Enemies (NES) #10-#7

Game designers usually pull out all the stops when creating the next big bad boss. But not enough credit is given when a truly awe-inspiring regular comes into the fray, for better or for worse.   Goomba was the first of these baddies most of us encountered.  The following may not be the hardest non-boss enemies you’ll ever meet, but they are ten that have won a soft place in our hearts.

#10  METROID  (Metroid)

Just when you thought getting rid of your ice gun for the wave beam was a radical idea, along comes the title character, who apparently sustains its life force by sucking yours through your spacesuit. With a hull rivaling that of a Klingon Bird of Prey, it takes five missiles to off this parasite. But in a miraculous display of inefficient natural selection, it can be frozen solid (albeit for only a few seconds) with a spray of ice water. Without it, getting past the metroids is tougher than Mother Brain herself.

#9  THE DRAGON  (Shadowgate)

I was never as frightened by him as the narrator insisted I was (FEAR GRIPS YOU AS YOU ENTER THIS HOT ROOM!!), but I had to hand it to the dragon. Hiding in the darkness, he practically begged novice adventurers to steal his booty. So much as flinch and a wave of flames engulfed the room. He was the only character that couldn’t be defeated, and even the shield was only strong enough to withstand a few fiery gusts. Whenever I got stuck in Shadowgate, I’d always come back to this room, persistent in a plan to off the beast. I bow to thee, fine dragon.

#8  THE MOUTHS  (Willow)

The land where Willow resides is certainly strange and magical, so believe me I was psyched when I came across a plantation of footballs! Running through the field proved fatal, and a valuable lesson was learned; the land of Willow has no room for secular pleasures, something I should have learned earlier after putting the moves on Sorsha and getting bitch-slapped. Who knew that transforming into a slimey monster was the only way to have some fun?

#7  MEN CARRYING GLASS  (Back to the Future)

Just like the movie, Marty is constantly tormented by crazy civillians, hula hoopin’ broads, and swarms of bees. But these two men are innocently doing synchronized mime in the middle of the street.  Watch out for that oil slick fellas!  Apparently, they don’t seem to appreciate my attempt to run through their dance and throw them off beat.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment!

Survivor Archives: Fiction 59

I won’t be creating a Survivor page for season six as not all of the challenges would translate well (e.g. caption contest) to this blog.   But now would seem the appropriate time to post the two other 59-word stories I have done in the past.   The first was completed for season six, and the other I did while as a judge, just for fun.

Arthur was a rock.

Metaphorically? No, Arthur was a pussy. The other rocks said so. He strove to rise above the label. But it was no use.

Tuesday, a man took Arthur. Soon, he adorned a lady’s finger. For the next fifty years, Arthur would hone his sense of irony, helping one man gain what he hoped to lose.

And…

One day, a young black man with a checkered past decided to conquer his demons. Taking two steps forward, he began his journey on the straight and narrow. Sadly, his path was frequently blocked by his white peers. But with support from his extended family, he marched on. Suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he found salvation. Checkmate.

Spooky judged both and wound giving me a score of 4 on both.  So that now makes me four for four on scores of four.  Wherefore?  I want more!

Ahem.

The second one is clever but more or less a huge groaner.  I’m still quite proud of the first one.