Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Friday, January 27, 2006

It's A God Damn Wild World Out There...

A lot of folks recommended the Animal Crossing series to Grandma. Good people. FINE people. People who, if you met them on the street would probably be pleasant and cordial and friendly. People with jobs. Intelligent people. People with dark, terrible secrets in their past. People who know the location of no fewer than three decomposing bodies in the woods by the local Wendy's.

The game is sort of like a "dialogue only" version of Psychonauts to Grandma. She waited with a confused look on her face for something to HAPPEN, only to find that her character needed to go to work to pay mortgage. Look, Grandma's RETIRED. Why the hell would she want to deliver FURNITURE?

In Animal Crossing: Wild World, Grandma found herself trapped in a post nuclear winter dystopia in which a new race of animal-humanoid hybrids live, work and pay taxes. They invite Grandma, apparently the only "genetically pure" human for miles, to stay in their midst in an apparent move to further promote successful integration through controlled breeding and pacification through a capitalist system of acquiring furniture and clothes; quietly replacing the "self actualization" section of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs with the desire for a new couch.

Grandma named her character "Dr. Beej."

The DS presents a challenge for me to find out exactly what Grandma's doing in a game. Instead of watching a big ass screen, listening to her bitch, then posting about it, I have to come right out and ask her "so.... what are you doing now?" The first thing Grandma noticed is the primal behaviors of the animals has been swapped with polite conversation. This game really teaches you what's important in the life.

Me - "So what's going on in Animal Crossing?"

Grandma - "I just moved in to this town, and then I went to work, but I forgot to change into my work clothes so I got bitched out about it, then I had to deliver this fucking PACKAGE but she wasn't home, so I had to go LOOKING for her ass."

Me - "Do you like it?"

Grandma - "I don't know yet."

[30 minutes later]

Grandma - "I don't WANT to give you a stupid GIFT! I NEED THAT! I don't even understand why you have to be FRIENDS with this bitch, it's not like the relationship is worth it."

[10 minutes later]

Me - "So what are you doing now?"

Grandma - "Well, I found this museum, but it doesn't have anything in it."

Me - "Yeah, I think you have to buy things and then 'donate' them to the museum.

Grandma - "WHY!?"

Me - "Think of it like a trophy room, to show off your riches for the good of the community."

Grandma - "That's BULLSHIT. Why should I have to do every fucking thing?!"

Me - "Because you're the human, and they are the animals, and that makes you superior somehow."

Grandma - "This game is RACIST."

Me - "No, they're ANIMALS."

Grandma - "Yeah, nice little way of putting it isn't it?"

Me - "Are you suggesting that Animal Crossing is nothing but a socialist caste system in which the rich are necessary yet exploited?"

Grandma - "....Yes."

Me - "How do you figure?"

Grandma - "Well, I move into this town, right? And they already have their shit together- they have a mail system, telephones and mass communications, and free fruit in the trees that anyone can take and eat if they just shake it."

Me - "Okay."

Grandma - "But look at the museum. There isn't anything there. They have this building that they have decided will be used as a museum but they don't have anything to put inside it, and they ALSO leave this rinky-dink shit hole house for me to stay in."

Me - "What are you getting at?"

Grandma - "The animals have everything they need to LIVE, but they need a human for CULTURE."

Me - "You might be on to something."

[30 minutes later]

Grandma - "Alright, I got another one for you."

Me - "Shoot."

Grandma - "Their LANGUAGE."

Me - "What do you mean?"

Grandma - "Well, when they speak, I SEE the subtitles, but I HEAR jibberish. When I write or talk to them, I SEE AND HEAR the letters pronounced correctly."

Me - "So?"

Grandma - "It's as though their saying I'm the only one who can speak properly."

Me - "Hmmm."

Grandma - "Or think about the occupations of some of the characters. The guy who owns the store is a Raccoon, right? Raccoons are nature's thieves. They're also 'nocturnal.'"

Me - "Okay."

Grandma - You can't say that doesn't MEAN something."

Me - "Maybe."

Grandma - "Or look at the mayor! The mayor is a fucking TURTLE. Turtles can put their heads in their shells and IGNORE the rest of the world."

Me - "Just like politicians?"

Grandma - "Exactly."

Me - "Alright, what about the Duck?"

Grandma - "What duck?"

Me - "The duck at the post office."

Grandma - "A duck's a duck. That doesn't mean shit. What I'm curious about it the sisters that make the clothes."

Me - "Why?"

Grandma - "How old do you think they are?"

Me - "So you're saying.... sweatshop?"

Grandma - "Fucking A."

Me - "So let me get this straight. Animal Crossing represents a microcosm of the current Global Economic history, where you, the HUMAN, represent the Western ideals of capitalism and expansion of European religion and culture, and the ANIMALS represent the natives who require you to teach them the ways of the world, even though they are capable and educated in their own right. And thus, it's ethnocentric and evil."

Grandma - "Not exactly."

Me - "Okay, so the ANIMALS represent the working class, who can get by on their own, understand technology enough and enjoy life, but you, the HUMAN, represent Andrew Carnegie, and you have to buy them some libraries otherwise they'll never learn?"

Grandma - "No."

Me - "The HUMAN represents The First World, the ANIMALS represent the third world, and Animal Crossing tries to submit the fallacy that the two systems can work in harmony without anyone being too upset."

Grandma - "....Yes. It's more like that one."

Me - "So, do you like it?"

Grandma - "No, not really. All I do is walk around, talk to people, and buy stuff. I can do the same thing in Knights of the Old Republic, only I get to kill things with a lightsaber."

Game on!!

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sweet Jesus! A New POST!!

So. We're back on schedule now, but you missed a ton of things that happened in the past week. It's my fault. It's a long story, but I think I can cram it all into a single post. If you don't feel like reading a whole lot, let me put it this way: we got some new things, we flew back to New York, we returned to Ohio, she beat some games, she started some games, she hates some games, and we're going to have to rethink this whole "t-shirt" business.

First, Nintendo sent Grandma and I each a brand new DS for... the hell of it, I suppose. They're going to release the Brain Training series in the US soon, and the concept is something Grandma and I would like to utilize to further expand gaming into the isolated demographics of the technologically deficient. The way it's selling in Japan it sounds perfect! That, and Grandma wants to get "smarter." We each got a Mario Kart Edition DS and some games, including Animal Crossing, Nintendogs, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Metroid Pinball, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

More full posts about each game in detail are coming tomorrow, but for the sake of lost time, here's a primer on Grandma's current opinions:

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - "Awesome! Beat it already. Couldn't put it down."

Nintendogs - I told you she'd never play it. "It's a fucking TAMAGOTCHI with FUR!"

Advance Wars: Dual Strike - "It's like chess. Chess with TANKS." She likes it!

Metroid Pinball - "I wonder how Samus ended up inside Tommy?"

Animal Crossing: Wild World - "What the fuck am I supposed to DO here?! You just run around and TALK to people?!" Yes. "I don't get it."

Mario Kart DS - "Finally!! I'm BETTER than someone ONLINE!!"

Her only previous experience with the DS was Zelda: Four Swords or some such thing, and she HATED it. With a passion. Now she's getting into the whole handheld world, and she even bought two games already because they're "so goddamned CHEAP." She purchased "Final Fantasy IV Advance" (which is actually Final Fantasy II) to fill the bottom slot, and "World Championship Poker" for the top. These two choices personify Grandma's "travel game preferences" perfectly. They are both games she's already played on other systems, so she's comfortable whipping them out where ever it is she happens to be without the discomfort of a learning curve.

Grandma made the front page of the Daily Kent Stater on Friday, which I find particularly amusing because I used to GO to Kent State for a time. A total of five fine examples of the student body came out to the house for the piece, including a still photographer, a reporter, a videographer, a producer, and a sound-technician (I think.) In them I witnessed a cross section of the future of American media. It made me want to buy a bumpersticker or something.

Grandma finally beat Dragon Quest VIII (first run through, anyway) with just over 138 hours. That ending you warned us about? The one precipitated by e-mails begging me to avoid the house at all costs while she fought the final boss?

Yeah. Yeah- I was THERE, man. I was at the front lines; in the thick of The Shit, and Charlie came in the form of one of the longest "endings" to a game Grandma's ever experienced.

I thought Final Fantasy VII's ending was long. Then came Final Fantasy VIII which introduced a necessary "recovery period" after finishing, complete with drinks and a bathroom floor cry-laughter reminiscent of Kill Bill Vol. 2. Now THIS.

"Is it DEAD?!"

"It's not over, I don't think he's really dead."

"You have to control him again!? WHAT THE FUCK!? WHEN DOES THIS FUCKING END???"

"I bet that when you 'escort the princess,' the motherfucker jumps OUT at you and you have to fight him again, Sephiroth style."

"This just keeps GOING and GOING....."


"YES! It's over!! CREDITS!! Japanese names, alright! Now I KNOW it's over."

"......what the shit is THAT?!"

I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say it's FAR from over.

So, we get this e-mail from ESPN The Magazine stating that they'd like to do a story on Grandma. Our first reaction was one of confusion, but it's ESPN so.... yeah. Naturally we said "of course!" They arranged a phone interview through MTV and then informed us they'd like to do their own photo shoot.

"Alright, no problem. When would they like to come out?"

MTV - "Actually, they were wondering if you guys would take all your systems and games and stuff and drive out to Cleveland to a studio to do it."

"....I don't think Grandma would go for that. She doesn't take her systems ANYWHERE, man. They are her babies. If she loses a cord or something, it's my ASS. Is there anyway they can shoot here at the house?"

MTV - "I understand, let me call them and see if we can work something out."

"Okay, cool."

[twenty minutes later]

MTV - "Ok, they want to fly you and Grandma out to New York for the photo shoot. Would she be up for that?"

"I don't know let me check. ....HEY GRANDMA! YOU WANT TO GO TO NEW YORK CITY AGAIN?"

Grandma (playing Kameo with the volume all the way up) - "WHY!?"


Grandma - "FUCK YEAH!"

"Okay, I think she's up for it. When do you want us?"

"They'll arrange for travel and hotel and everything, I'll call back when we know for sure."


ESPN tells us not to worry about ANYTHING, they've got it all covered. We didn't even drive to the airport here in Cleveland, they sent a car. That's when the fun began. First, the poor guy backs into the giant telephone pole in front of our house, leaving a nice little gash on the back bumper of this beautiful Town Car. So I'm thinking "Damn, we better tip WELL." Then on Rt 480 the dude gets pulled over for speeding by a cop who looks really pissed.

"License and proof of insurance, NOW."

Driver - "Um, I don't have my insurance here, I work for the limo company, I'm a driver."

"Well what DO you have?"

Driver - "I have THIS [produces mystical get out of jail free card of wonder]"

"I'll be right back."

The officer goes back to his car holding a card I had only heard about in stories; a legend told by taxi drivers I assumed was a fairy tale. He came back quickly and yelled into the window.

"The speed limit is SIXTY. Slow the FUCK DOWN."

Driver - "Yes, sir."

In the process of calling his people and letting them know the status of his brief law enforcement encounter via a cell phone, he missed the exit for the airport. The whole time, Grandma had a big grin on her face. She now had a story to tell.

Our new DS's greatly altered our airport experience this time. The wait before seating just flew on by, although Grandma and I both received stares as we sat next to each other outfitted with matching DS's, furiously fighting each other to the death in Mario Kart. I'd like to believe in a year or so, no one will think to stare at us and discreetly take pictures with their camera phone upon hearing an older woman complain loudly: "You ALWAYS get to be Yoshi! I WANT TO BE YOSHI, GODDAMMIT!"

When we arrived in New York, another suited driver escorted us to our destination: The Essex House (shown here in a happier season.) At the front desk, a man offered Grandma a hot towel. She thanked him, took the thing, and looked at me with a face that said "NOW what the fuck do I do?!" Somehow, through a series of subtle gestures and grunting noises, the proper etiquette was achieved and a balance was maintained. This hotel is NICE. Great staff, the rooms are gorgeous, the mini-bar is STOCKED, it's just all around "fancy-shmancy" as they say in New Haven, Connecticut. Grandma was curious as to why there was no coffee maker. She was fascinated by the Nintendo 64 controller protruding out of the television cabinet, but she didn't touch it for fear of "racking up too many incidentals."

After a brief walk down to get some food, Grandma called it a night and went back up to her room for what I assume was a few hours of DS play followed by sleep. I wasn't really tired, so I walked down 7th Avenue from Central Park West until I found a bar with live jazz music in The Village, and proceeded to drink until I became pleasantly intoxicated. I wandered my way back to the hotel sometime around 4:00am Monday morning, just in time to grab a quick nap on the ridiculously soft bed.

Monday, Grandma and I really weren't up for much sightseeing. We ate breakfast at Cafe Europa on 57th and 7th and listened to a hilarious cell phone conversation by someone who kept referring to themselves as the "footstool of musical theater." I enjoyed the best bagel of my life, while Grandma experimented with an extra strong Espresso; dwarfed by my soup-bowl like Cafe Late.

She had a radio interview with Playstation Mayhem scheduled to take place at MTV, so we headed over to Times Square early to fuck around a bit until it was time. She bought some DS accessories from Toys R Us and stared at the big dinosaur for awhile. Is it wrong to laugh inside every time one sees a child dragged kicking and screaming from the store by their bewildered parents at the sight of the animatronic beast? If it is, I don't want to be RIGHT.

Grandma is now a veteran when it comes to the Viacom building. She knows which floors have which offices, she knows how to check in at the front desk, she's finding her New York groove. We waited for a bit (we were still pretty early) so Grandma decided to pull out the DS again. I think you can tell in this shot how she pimped it out with a "Psychonauts" sticker. It's sort of sacrilegious to cross platform decorations like that, but Grandma doesn't care. DoubleFine, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Working Designs, everybody.... they're all just friends to Grandma.

After the interview it was off to the studio for the photo shoot. I should preface this by telling the story of "The E-Mail."

While reading the call sheet last week I noticed ESPN was using Jake Chessum for the photography. I immediately recognized the name. As a photographer, I try to remember the names of other photographers when their work strikes me as particularly GOOD. This guy was not one of those. Jake Chessum was a name I recognized from before my "college-networking-name-recognition-plan" came into fruition. He's that big.

I was excited to know I would be meeting someone I admired professionally! So I did the only thing that came to mind. I hit reply on Jeff's call-sheet e-mail and typed something on the lines of "Jake Chessum!? AWESOME! That's cool as hell! He's fucking GOOD!" What I didn't realize is that I did NOT hit "Reply." I hit "Reply All." Among the e-mail addresses on the CC'd list was none other than Mr. Chessum his-own-self.


He was cool about it; he's a groovy enough guy, so the shoot didn't feel tight or posed. He's a very natural photographer, and that's EXACTLY how Grandma likes it. The studio had a great spread at the shoot, so while Grandma did all the work standing there "looking gorgeous" with a controller in her hand; Jeff, the hairstylist, and myself all downed the delicious chicken and mushrooms and olives. Does anyone know the proper name for a water-chestnut wrapped in bacon and marinated? The only word I know that comes to mind is "Mouth-Gasm" and that's not even a real word.

Grandma is sludging her way through all three of her XBox 360 games, and she's got LOTS to say about each. Before I sign off and work on tomorrow's post, I do want to talk about something else. T-Shirts. They were late. I thought some were shipped, they were not, I was pissed, now they really are shipped. I'm VERY sorry to all those who had to wait for their shirts. The worst part was a lot of folks were in the dark for a time while we were dealing with connections and trips and bullshit that should have been taken care of. I don't want anyone to feel ripped off.

The bottom line is, after everyone gets their shirt, I think I'm going to set up a CafePress shop or something similar. I can't depend on others when I make promises personally. Shit just don't WORK that way, son! There's more to it than that, but consider these shirts "EXTREME limited edition" ;)

Alrighty, back to the grind!!


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Slime; They Have Taken Over

Many of you have e-mailed us making sure every thing was alright. We had not posted since Saturday, so naturally the fear was that Grandma, in all her anguish, had forced herself to fall down the stairs, dying; only to leave me with her riches but have a cruel police captain try his utmost to pin her death on me because of an incident some 30 years ago involving a well, an eclipse and a drunken child molester.

I assure you this is not the case. Grandma is alive and well. We both have been extremely busy, is all. I've been working and Grandma.... well, Grandma is working too I suppose.

Sunday Morning, 1:30am

I come home from an assignment for the paper to find Grandma swearing away at Dragon Quest VIII, frustrated by her failure after many attempts to capture a bird of some sort.

"NOOO!!! God DAMMIT!! I don't want to fight!! I have to follow THIS fucking thing's SHADOW!!"
[Grandma tries to flee]
"Oh, you bitch....."

Note: In her 113 hours so far into Dragon Quest VIII, Grandma has not yet discovered that the best way out of a battle is to fight through it rather than to flee. If the escape option is chosen with more powerful enemies (like those she faces now) her turn is lost, the move fails, and the monsters get an additional attack on the party.

"Alright, YOU explain this to me. I have to follow this bird's shadow, and it's supposed to end up on the other side of this island, right? But every time I go into battle I LOSE the fucking thing or it goes somewhere I can't get a ...straight shot, you know? Like a cliff or something I have to go around. And then the thing isn't OVER there."

Me - "I don't know."

"Well you're a lot of fucking help."

Sunday Morning, 5:15am

I go to bed after a few hours of photo editing and a couple hours playing Advance Wars: Dual Strike (more on why we have this later...) Grandma is still playing and eating potato chips (Barbeque) when I head downstairs for bed. She instructs me to pull up the GameFAQ's guide for DQ8 and scroll down to the Arcadia Region chapter so that she may double check to see if she missed any Mini Medals from earlier in the game. Apparently that's important now.

Sunday Morning, 10:32am

Grandma goes to the store and buys a hole-boring attachment for her power drill and some cable management supplies for the game room. She would tell me later that she wants it to look "pretty."

Sunday Morning, 12:00pm

Grandma plays HexicHD on the XBox 360 for a while. Grandma has found that Marathon Mode loses its charm after one acquires a black pearl for the first time. The difficulty and randomness of obtaining the required silver stars and positioning them to get another pearl becomes tedious if you're not up for it. Her only motivation is seeing the higher scores on the Leaderboards above her.

"It's these fucking BOMBS that piss me off. I'll be building a flower underneath or setting up for a pearl and I have to drop everything in SEVEN moves to clear that fucker."

Grandma does NOT wish to be coached while playing HexicHD.

Me - "Here, if you highlight these three-"
Grandma - "GET YOUR HAND OUT OF THE WAY!!! I can't SEE!"
Me - "Right, but I'm telling you, you could have a sta-"
Grandma - "I can DO it! Just work on your own score!"

Sunday Afternoon, 4:50pm

Dinner. Macaroni and Cheese with corndogs and applesauce. I'm stuck on Mission 16 in Advance Wars: Dual Strike and Grandma is once again playing Dragon Quest VIII.

"Alright, now I CAUGHT the stupid thing... but now I can't STEER IT!"

Grandma levels up her characters to max-out single weapon statistics. She gloats to me about things I simply don't understand yet.

"I got the Miracle Slash!! YES! It's about fucking TIME!!"

Sunday Evening, 8:00pm

Grandma takes a break from playing DQ8 on the PS2 to hit some World Championship Poker on XBox Live. The 360 does not yet support WCP, so she has to unplug the ethernet cable and move it down to her XBox.

"You have to set this up so I don't have to keep switching this cable. This is a pain in my ASS."

"Nobody plays this game anymore!! They've all moved on to the sequel! I can't find a decent table!"

Monday Morning, 2:15am

I come upstairs from a cleaning binge to show Grandma my latest discovery while unpacking boxes.

Me - "Hey! Check out what I found!"

Grandma - "What?"

Me - "It's a wireless router!"

Grandma - "...so?"

Me - "So now I can take the cord going into your 360, plug it into this, run three cables going to all three XBoxes, and I can get Wireless internet on the laptop downstairs!"

Grandma - "So I won't have to switch anymore?"

Me - "Nope! You'll have XBox Live on the XBox, the XBox Debug, and the XBox 360 with a port to spare. I just have to daisy-chain the routers together."

Grandma - "Cool! Where did you get that anyway?"

Me - "Ally put it in with my shit before we broke up. I guess she forgot about it!"

Grandma - "Sweet!!"

Grandma continues to play DQ8 while I hook everything up. An IP Address conflict error shows up on the computer in the kitchen, I reset everything and it works beautifully. Grandma tests the wireless connection by playing some MarioKart DS with some folks online, and later contacts some friends in Animal Crossing (more on why we have this later) with no problems. For those all those living within 50 yards or so from the house, "Tim's Shitty Network" shows up in their available connections folder. We doubt anyone will notice.

Monday Morning, 10:00am

Grandma is STILL playing DQ8. It just occurs to me that I've never actually seen her go into her room and sleep. She assures me it happened, but I don't remember it.

Monday Afternoon, 3:45pm

.........The soundtrack to DQ8 starts growing on me as Grandma soars above her kingdom on some giant bird. She shows me a few new weapons she's picked up and demonstrates a quality whip attack. Grandma tells me she's almost done with the game.

"And you said there was no way I would even come CLOSE to what I put in to FFVII. I'd say this is pretty damn close."

Monday Evening, 11:30pm

Grandma is in bed. I play HexicHD for a while trying to beat her high score, now above the 100,000 mark... and fail. I try Condemned but I'm not quite ready to start a new game yet. Out of curiosity and through the benefits of a Premium Package, I utilize the free month of XBox Live Gold and create my own account using the profile name for me on the 360: "BarronVonEspie." I congratulate myself for being so damn clever before realizing just how incredibly "gay" it sounds. "Meh, if the shoe fits..."

Grandma emerges sometime between midnight and 2:00am and I surrender the chair. She plays World Championship Poker and I retreat downstairs to review my photography work from the previous week.

Tuesday Morning, Time Unrecorded

She's STILL up there. From the music I THINK it's DQ8, but she could be playing God Knows What with all the Debug games she's received from MTV.

Tuesday Afternoon, 3:30pm

Day off. I sleep in. A LOT. Grandma is already on the computer reading some document off of GameFAQ's on DQ8 when I wake up. She tells me she isn't "stuck," only "confused." We receive some voicemail from the Post Office, but whatever it was, it's too damn late now. I feel nervous about leaving the blog post-free for the past few days, but the photo-editing has eaten up all my time. Grandma notices.

"Have you posted anything recently?"

Me - "No, why?"

"Because we haven't gotten SHIT for e-mail in the past few days. People are going to think you FORGOT or something."

Thinking that she's on to me for posting about her upcoming birthday, I avoid the topic.

Me - "...Well, there was a holiday."

"They don't celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in motherfucking UK. I guess traffic must be slow everywhere."

Me - "Yup. That's it."

Tuesday Evening, 9:40pm

Grandma is asleep in her chair with the Dragon Quest VIII startup screen playing quietly in front of her. I turn it off and continue working.

God DAMN those slimes. They really take a lot out of a person.

Grandma woke up a few hours ago to fight what she ASSUMED was the final boss of the game. It turns out she still has a ways to go....

...to be continued.

Game on!!

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Grandma's Birthday Is Coming Up...

Hey. Come here... a little closer... okay cool. Check it out, Grandma's birthday is on February 1st. It's her big 7-0. I want to plan something big for her, but she can't fucking KNOW about it. This has been an exciting year for her; probably the most fun she's had in years. I don't mean in the past two or three years, either- I mean in DECADES.

Now she's turning 70. So I need your help...

If anyone would like to send cards or letters or ANYTHING to commemorate Grandma's 70th, send it to:

Barbara St. Hilaire
PO Box 553
Mantua, OH 44255

Grandma doesn't read the blog because she hates seeing pictures of herself, but she DOES read the comments and e-mail, so I'm disabling comments on this post so we don't tip her off. I want to throw a BIG party for her, and the family is all for it- and I know YOU folks are all for it, so lets do something cool. I'm going to record and blog the whole thing, but right now (to quote Ben Kingsley) it's "preparation, preparation, preparation."

Okay? Okay.

Game on.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Two Ways To Play! This Week- Condemned: Criminal Origins

Grandma and I began to play Condemned: Criminal Origins for the XBox 360 today. It began to give her the same sort of "creeped-the-fuck-out" feeling as The Suffering: Ties That Bind. Luckily, we found one feature on the XBox 360 corrects the mood of any game that may intrude on your sanity:

It's iPod compatible.

It's no secret the 360 pretty much plays any mp3 player one hooks up to the two front USB ports, and in the case of Condemned and others- one can turn on the music whilst playing. Now depending on the music you choose, this can transform Condemned into a happy, playful romp down through the semi-abandoned hallways of the post-apocalyptic Disneyland offices; or, if the wrong music is played however, it will simply augment the strange nightmares featuring bloody manikins and Clive Barker paintings.

We put together a little guide to assist you with your choices but we need your help to expand our two playlists. So far we have "Condemned: The Living Nightmare" and "Condemned ...To Be Happy."

Let's start with the WRONG way to play Condemned. It's already a terrifying game, and if you're the type of person that stopped playing Fatal Frame because you didn't want to walk down the hallway and turn the corner because "OMIGOSH, A GHOST COULD BE THERE!!" then this technique will surely drive you to buy your very own Safe Room.

First, let's set up your environment:

You're going to need cigarettes. I prefer Camels, but for the purposes of this experiment, I would suggest those cheap sawdust cigarettes you find for $1.75 a pack, usually named "American Pride" or "Freedom Awesome America" or "War Bonds." You should also wear some Old Spice or some other inexpensive, serial-killer approved fragrance. The nicotine in your system will hype you up, causing frequent panic-attacks when some motherfucker jumps out at you with a lead pipe. Also, the very act of picking up and putting down the cigarette forces you to pause every once and a while, building the tension and breaking your momentum.

Notice the used band-aid in the ashtray. Consider planting one in your own ashtray to simulate the experience of recovering from some unknown injury, or covering up the track marks on your arm before a scheduled visit to your parole officer, who in any instance must be named "Scagnetti." Also include one of those broken wire-ties so that you too can pretend you just cut the makeshift handcuffs from your wrists, evading whatever law enforcement agency happened to be on your case.

Other useful items include a cardboard box labeled "Gwyneth Paltrow's Head," random biblically themed books (bonus points for inappropriate messages carved into the binding with a broken, plastic spork from the recreation center's cafeteria), razor blades, and an assortment of undressed decapitated Barbie(tm) Dolls. Use your imagination!

If you haven't already, hook up your iPod and pop in a copy of Condemned: Criminal Origins. Navigate the menus first; then when your level begins hit the big ol' green button at the center of your controller and go to "Select Music."

You'll notice our copy of the game is displayed by our lovely The Price is Right model: Chainsaw Steve. Chainsaw Steve might be employed by Capcom, but his heart goes out to Monolith on this one. Right now, he wants to get to some tunes, so let's dim the lights, chain the dog to the front of the house and go through the songs that Grandma and I selected to make Condemned our top horror game of the ...um, year... so far.

Playlist Title: "Condemned: The Living Nightmare"
1. DJ Shadow - "Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt"
2. Aphex Twin - "Vodhosbn"
3. Schubert - "Ave Maria"
4. Incubus - "Megalomaniac"
5. Iron Butterfly - "Innagoddavida"

6. Godspeed You Black Emperor! - "The Dead Flag Blues"
7. Mogwai - "Like Herod"
8. Nine Inch Nails - "A Warm Place"
9. Death In Vegas - "Soul Auctioneer"
10. A Perfect Circle - "The Noose"

Okay! Now that you're hiding in the closet with a flashlight, and a taser brandishing a piece of metal conduit, let's try the same thing only without all the years of therapy.

Let's start by removing the cigarettes and identifying paraphernalia and replace it with a healthy bowl of delicious, air-popped popcorn with light, melted butter on top (with extra salt, or course) and a glass of chocolate milk. You'll notice that this glass is half-full because the photographer couldn't control their urges and took a giant swig already. The milk will have a calming effect on your nerves and the popcorn is easy enough to eat so that you may run through the hallways of Condemned, bashing folks left and right to your heart's content without pausing for a breath.

Now give Chainsaw Steve a break and use instead a cute, fluffy snow-leopard (or any creature that falls under the cutesy genus within the animal kingdom.) Just make certain you don't get any fur blocking those ventilation holes! Your house will burn to the ground. Yay! This next playlist features songs that Grandma and I have determined are the best terror-breakers for Condemned, or songs that happen to contrast the game so comically, you'll die smiling instead of bleeding; and that's a GOOD thing.

Playlist Title: "CONDEMNED ...to be happy!"
1. Guided By Voices - "Glad Girls"
2. Jurassic 5 - "Jurass Finish First"
3. Ace of Base - "The Sign"
4. 2 Unlimited - "Get Ready For This"
5. Basement Jaxx - "Romeo"

6. Chemical Brothers - "The Sunshine Underground"
7. The Eels - "Last Stop: This Town"
8. The Flaming Lips - "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Part 1)"
9. Dexy's Midnight Runners - "Come On Eileen"
10. Green Day - "King For A Day"
11. Folk Implosion - "Free To Go"
12. The Postal Service - "We Will Become Silhouettes"

So go try it out! Most of the songs are available through iTunes, Yahoo Music, or MSN Music. Also, submit your own playlist nominations via the "Add Comment" feature here so we can use your ideas throughout Grandma's game. We need more ideas.

Game on!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Farewell, Twenty Dollars; We Hardly Knew Ye

The XBox 360 has become an addiction for us all. Microsoft has established a new sphere of influence within this house, and that damnable system is the opiate that will bring our little castle to its knees. Shall we fight back? No. They are too great a force; and the sweet taste of the XBox Live Arcade keeps the morale of our troops distracted and unready for battle.

Normally, such things would go unnoticed. Grandma has an impressive console that not only compliments all of her years of gaming, it applauds it by glimpsing into the future. Usually we would not care about the consequences.

But I lost twenty dollars, goddammit.


That's one less than blackjack and one more than nineteen, for those of you keeping track. A seemingly small amount of legal tender; petty even, when contrasted to far larger sums such as the remaining balance of my student loans, or the total spent in my lifetime on Gobstoppers (God DAMN you Willy Wonka!!) ...but that twenty dollars was mine, and mine alone. It's gone now. It will never come back.

For those of you unfamiliar with a twenty dollar bill, preferring electronic means to pay for goods and services, it comes in the form of a green shaded parchment adorned with the likeness of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of The United States. Andrew Jackson once said: "No one need think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody." By god he was right. I know that now. I was naive and innocent several hours ago; O how I long to go back to that time of primitive childish ignorance. I was happier then.

XBox Live Arcade is filled with addictive titles, many of which you recommended to us; such as Geometry Wars, Zuma, and Bejeweled 2. The demos are never enough. They give you just a hint of the drug you once knew; just enough to taste the memory of bliss you once had playing the older, perhaps PC versions. It was easy to see Grandma's delight with Geometry Wars even though the sparkled firework graphics of the mayhem on screen was reflected so vividly upon her bifocals, obscuring her eyes. "Now THAT is fucking BEAUTIFUL" she cooed. "We've GOT to get this thing, man."

"Alright, cool!" I managed to say, for even I was transfixed upon the screen; the loud whirring of the 360 silenced by the pounding techno resonating throughout the house.

It would have to be ours.

But how?

Microsoft Points can be purchased at GameStop, Walmart and Best Buy by obtaining tiny plastic cards with any number of letters, symbols or numerals that will magically transform a demo into the preferred "full version;" truly- a kiss to the frog prince of gaming.

But the kiss was not to be.

The trip to GameStop was joyful; there were four of us then, I'm not certain how many are alive now. We all talked about what Bobby would buy with his ill begotten $14 store credit from two traded games. We discussed strategies to alternate gaming schedules, so that no one would miss the opportunity to play one of the many titles we would have in our possession by nights-end. We listened to the radio; we laughed and joked... GOD how stupid we were! Why didn't anyone tell us? Were we so uninformed?!

The card was behind the glass case above the counter guarded by a surly looking gentleman of considerable height, who would inevitably ask us about our intentions. We knew the score. We calmly buy the artifact, politely deny his request that we reserve a copy of the upcoming releases, leave quickly but safely- and transverse the dangerous roads between Aurora and Mantua with the constant reminder that we carry precious cargo.


Yes, the Card that would provide us, all of us, with hours of entertainment and friendly competition. Grandma eyed the man suspiciously, the decapitated Donky Kong and Legend of Zelda suckers on the counter tempted her- but she obeyed her well trained instincts and went to BATTLE.

Grandma - "Um... Hi, do you have that Microsoft Points card ...thing for the 360?"

The Man - "Yup. Here ya go."

Grandma - "Cool, how much?"

The Man - "Ummm...... $19.99 exactly."

Grandma - "Great!"

Me - "I got this one; here's a twenty."

The Man - "Okay.... would you like to reserve a copy of Elder Scrolls IV?"

Me - "Not just yet."

The Man - "Great! Here's your receipt, have a nice day!"

Me/Grandma - "You too, dude!"

And it was over.

We drove, BY THE HEAVENS we drove; the sharp plastic encasing the card stuck ever so slightly out of the bag, taunting us and yet comforting us; for it was ours. Nothing would come between us and XBox Live Arcade anymore. We were safe, it seemed. There was only one thing left to do. One FINAL task: Scratch off the back bottom left section of the card to reveal the number that would enable the magic to run its course, FEEDING us with Geometry Wars and Zuma.

I cut around the edge of the package, then used brute force to rip the layers in twain; revealing the card- the card, O THE CARD was so vulnerable now- NOTHING COULD STOP ME!!! I brandished my scissor blade and came down; DOWN upon the surface of the scratch card! The scratching continued, full force; the shavings of plastic and soft, malleable card-flesh flew into the air, creating a snow; a cascade of falling pieces that fell upon my arms as I raised the card closer to inspect my work, checking for anything I might have missed that would require more SCRATCHING.

Everyone was standing around, watching me. No doubt they noticed the grave look that changed my visage from the cheerful card-scratcher into the horrified and depressed person you see today. Their expressions changed too- first from glee to worry; then from worry to panic.

Only two words escaped my mouth:

"Mother FUCKER."

Grandma glanced at the card and then looked back up at me. "Use a penny next time, asshole. Pff! He used SCISSORS!"

My Pride. It is dead.

Game on!!!

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Grandma #4 on Top Ten Most Interesting People In Gaming for 2005!!

GamerGod.com has named Grandma as the fourth most interesting person in gaming in 2005. This is a BIG honor for her. I am so proud of her!! The article was Slashdotted, bringing a lot of debate upon the list. There were some folks who questioned pretty much the whole list, noting that pro gamers were remarkably absent; or that the designers of their favorite games of 2005 were not listed. Some questions the existence of the list at all; why should we categorically classify ranking to things using the number ten? Why not the roman numeral "X" for instance? Do they have a problem with "X?" If so, why?

No one questioned Grandma's placement on the list more, however, than Grandma herself.

Grandma - "I don't deserve that shit- there are a TON of better gamers out there! There are people that do this for a LIVING! Why am I there?!"

Me - "Well, the list is of the 'most interesting people in gaming in 2005' not the best gamers in the world."

Grandma - "Oh, come on. Who the fuck am I? I'm not interesting."

Me - "Bullshit, you're plenty interesting! You know how many people who meet you later tell other people how fucking awesome you are?"

Grandma - "Yeah. One. You. You little shit!"

Me - "Well, I think you're awesome."

Grandma - "Whatever you say. Sure."

Me - "Jack Thompson is on the list..."

Grandma - "Oh yeah, where did he place?"

Me - "Let's just say he's ahead of you."

Grandma - "Who else is ahead of me?"

Me - "Leeroy Jenkins."

Grandma - "..."

Me - "You know, ...the video."

Grandma - "..."


Grandma - "..."

Me - "Come on-"

Grandma - "Yeah, no- I know. Well who did I beat?"

Me - "Will Wright."

Grandma - "Alright, now I KNOW that's a bunch of bullshit. How the fuck did I beat HIM?!"

Me - "I don't know. You also beat the Governor of Illinois and the PSP licker girl."

Grandma - "....."

Me - "I think it's awesome!!!!"

Grandma - [dirty look; gazing into my obviously disturbed and broken mind]

Me - "Don't you think it's cool?"

Grandma - "I think it's great! I just don't think I deserve it!"

Me - "Well, wait for your next copy of EGM. Remember that interview?"

Grandma - "Why? Tim, why- what are they writing about?"

Me - "You'll see! [evil grin]"

Grandma - "You're a weird kid."

Thank you Grimwell, Grandma is very honored. I get name dropping rights now too, so it's brilliant for both of us!

In some other fun and exciting news, Grandma got to do some more live radio today on the one and only Tokyo Fm 80.0Mhz for the show 6 Sense. To hear the show, click on the intro artwork, then Web Radio then select January 10th and click on the Toyota View Up Tomorrow clip. It's a flash based site and the interview was in both English and Japanese.

We have many very loyal Japanese readers so Grandma was excited to be on the show. She would like to imagine the possibility that any one of her favorite Japanese gaming companies may be listening to the show and hear some love from a truly grateful American fan. To tell the truth the interview embarrassed me somewhat; we Americans are not known for our vast thirst of foreign language adaptation. We really should begin teaching kids multiple languages earlier in life so they don't end up like me; who only really knows a few phrases in other languages besides English.

I blame the schools. And Jack Thompson.

Game on!!

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Grandma in New York City: Days 2 & 3

We're back in Cleveland, now. The past two days in NYC were not only fun, they were sublime. Grandma is exhausted, but she's in heaven. She is ready to do it again. She knows her job, she knows the crew, she knows the games.

She knows she wants me to get the goddamn camera out of her face so she can get back to her brand spankin' new XBox 360.

MTV thought she should have one handy.

Thursday morning Grandma and I made the short trip from the Millennium Broadway Hotel over to MTV studios, less than a block away. We briefly went over the day's itinerary before they whisked her away for makeup and wardrobe. Grandma isn't really a "foundation and lipstick" girl, so the experience was a bit strange for her. She enjoyed it nonetheless. Suzie was also getting ready for the cameras, and had an interesting conversation with Grandma about an icon of Times Square ;) Grandma really liked Suzie; she didn't quite recognize who she was until halfway through the conversation.

Grandma was familiar with bluescreen work from watching embedded "making-of" videos for certain games that utilized the technology, but she had never seen a studio before, let alone WORK in one. The studio's windows were just a floor above Broadway, and the gathering crowds combined with NYPD cruisers and honking taxies were silenced by thick sound-proofing and giant face "Yo" banners that adorned the building. Everyone in the studio worked quickly to set the lights and position the camera for the chroma values relayed via headsets from an unseen control room. Grandma was given short instructions on the coming shoot, and we all tried to explain to Grandma the relaxed nature of the shoot; that she could simply be herself, and they would edit and bleep out anything that didn't meet standards. "You can just say what you think about the games, just be honest- tell us 'in your own words' what you felt while playing..." said one.
"You can use the language that you're accustomed to using in this, it's okay- don't try to censor yourself" said another. Grandma tilted her head a bit as if to say "...excuse me, I think I need a bit more clarification on this point." Someone in the control room noticed her obvious confusion and chimed in; the voice of god, booming over the studio causing everyone without headsets to look up:
"Just say whatever the fuck you want."

Grandma burst out laughing. She understood.

If you ever wondered what its like to be on camera in such a place and you happen to ask Grandma, she would probably say "it's really fucking BRIGHT." Four large arrays of lamps plus numerous overhead spotlights illuminated Grandma to such a degree that if she were to remain on set for too long, the concentrated photons focused by her bifocals would have burned holes in her eyeballs. In her words, it was "awesome."

Grandma nailed her reviews with ease, surprising pretty much everybody. We were way ahead of schedule, so Grandma got to meet Seth Green for a minute or so before he went on TRL. Rather than slobbering on the man about Robot Chicken, Family Guy, Buffy and Austin Powers, Grandma just treated him as he treated her, as just another gamer. He was in a hurry, but it was very cool of him to stop and say hello to Grandma.

During a break, Grandma and I got to grab some lunch and do something she's always wanted to try: a carriage ride through Central Park. It was a dreary winter day in New York, so I don't think she got the full experience, and the trip was with me, Mellissa and Jessie; me with my big honkin' still camera, Jessie with his big honkin' 3CCD video camera, and Mellissa with a big honkin' boom microphone- so it was, shall we say "less than romantic." She loved it, however. The whole time the four of us were bullshitting about video games, so she had a blast.

Damien presented her with a tour of the TRL studio space, and gave her a gift that has to be seen to believed. Grandma has used a cane ever since her knee started acting up again, and MTV knew this- so they made her a functional cane with a mounted Logitec wireless XBox controller, pimped out with G-Hole insignia, so that she may walk down any red carpet that appears before her with confidence. West Coast Customs lost out on this one, it was all "the prop guys." We salute you, O prop guys of MTV. It's a hell of a cane.

Grandma stepped up to the window to see the crowds below, and for that moment, she was a rock star. She waved, they waved; she was excited and a little embarrassed simultaneously, but it was great. While she was distracted by a moment of window-induced fame, Alex snuck up behind her with a large cardboard box and said "we got you a little something Grandma."

Grandma turned around just as the box was opened.

Inside the box, Grandma recognized a logo that had proved unattainable for two excruciating months. Her self conscious awareness of the scrutiny outside that window flew away, and there on the TRL stage, Grandma and her XBox 360 met for the first time. She received the Premium Package XBox 360 with an extra wireless controller, games, and other goodies to assist Grandma in her new position as Senior Games Correspondent.

Later that evening, Grandma and I went down to St. Mark's on a recommendation by cxc and Brett Alters in the comments section of our last post. We couldn't afford the clothes, as most of our money had already gone towards taxis and endless trips to Delis, Pizza shops, Chipotle, and McDonalds, but good lord that game shop was sweet. They had a copy of Intelligent Qube in mint condition for PS1. You know how long we have tried to find that bitch?! They had Intellivisions, Ataris, TurboGrafix 16s, Nintendo, Genesis, The 32x (but not the best Star Wars game ever to grace the system; they said it would be in on Monday), and pretty much every video game Grandma had ever played. We knew where to go on our next trip out, and we're bringing cash this time.

We went directly from St. Mark's over to Union Square Theater for a screening of the movie Grandma's Boy. I felt sort of ill during the screening from all the pizza I had consumed, so I wasn't up for a comedy without alcohol of some kind, and Regal cinemas doesn't serve beer or mixed beverages. We ordered a giant bucket of popcorn, a large Cherry Coke for me and a large Diet Coke for Grandma, and prepared for our first ever movie screening.

The first thing we noticed is that certain sections we roped off for those like us who were "on the list." The scrolling marquee outside the theater had no mention of the flick, so it took some whispering employees for us to find the number. We had fairly good seats and everyone was really polite. Grandma loved the moments in which the elderly characters accidentally became stoned. She laughed an unusually loud cackle on this scene, which tells me there are things about Grandma I didn't know. I would give a full review of the movie, but it was really just a treat for Grandma, and she seemed to like it enough so I don't want to ruin things with my own jaded opinions.

We went back to the hotel, completely worn out from the excitement of the day- and immediately removed the XBox 360 from its neat, airport-ready package to hook it up to the flat screen television in the room. Imagine you're in the 47th floor of a gorgeous hotel overlooking Times Square and The Chrysler Building (which Grandma noted as the final level of a Parasite Eve game) with all of New York City just an elevator ride and a taxi hail away; and there is a brand new XBox 360 with that sweet smell of static wrapping paper snug in its box, what are you going to do?

We plugged in the 360 of course.

Grandma and I played a bit of Kameo, but we learned fast that the tiny speakers in the hotel room don't do the large screen justice, so we were afraid to try games like King Kong and Condemned here rather than at home. She was fascinated by the Dashboard system and fell asleep playing Hexic HD; knowing full well that any achievements she racked up would be wasted when she transferred her Microsoft given XBox Live account (thanks againTriXie!) to her new machine, but who cares. It's HER XBox 360. It already has a name. "The Beast."

I am completely in awe of this thing. Within five minutes of hooking the fucker up, I had already plugged in a Nikon D100 via a USB cord and uploaded a background image for Grandma, and also plugged in my iPod and was grooving to some music while trying to beat her Hexic high score.

Oh is it nice ;)

Let's just hope the games are good. A brilliant system is worthless without great games; so Grandma is about to do some serious "reviewing." This creates an interesting contrast of opinion for Grandma; if a game is good, then "of course it's fucking good! It's a next-gen system with a good developer!!" If a game is mediocre or bad, then "oh Jesus fucking Christ on a CROSS, WHAT a disppointment!!!! WHAT THE FUCK!?" So far, Grandma is digging Kameo; and King Kong has intrigued her- but that is neither here nor there, I'm getting ahead of myself:

Day 3.

Grandma got up extra early for a whole SLEW of radio interviews, and everyone was incredibly nice to Grandma, so thanks guys. The first was at the ungodly time of 7:10am in Jeff's office in the Viacom building (NICE view from up there) with the Mattie in the Morning in Boston (great bunch of folks.) Then breakfast with Jeff (who worked on GTA at Rockstar previously, so the man's a gamer- the three of us get along great; we dig the same stuff.) All of us drove down to the CBS Broadcast Center for Grandma's radio tour, named as such because she magically traveled the country in disembodied voice form. Grandma was on XTRA in San Diego, CA; KXJM, Portland, OR; WJBX, Naples, FL; and KRBZ in Kansas City, KS. Grandma had a blast, especially on the taped shows in which she didn't have to worry about the FCC monetarily ripping out her vocal chords for certain forbidden phrases she uses sometimes.

THEN she had a photo shoot back at MTV which was all kinds of awesome; (I'll show you the shots they took soon; the man was GOOD.) As an unexpected benefit of the shoot, they had a PSP and a DS there which Grandma quickly used for "educational" purposes. Grandma also has to play Guitar Hero now, everyone is telling her to try it, so she's GOT to see that thing. After it was over, Grandma and I took a cab down to Chinatown to try that Dim Sum cxc told us about (Grandma liked it, I still prefer pieces of dead animal in my food instead of vegetarian dishes; no offense, it's just a personal taste) and grab some souvenirs for the family back home.

[Also, four-inch nerf foam nunchakus are not to be placed in carry-on luggage, donchaknow.]

After Chinatown, we went back to MTV to collect some things we left there, give them stuff we thought they'd like, and say goodbye to the folks that made NYC Grandma's second home. They didn't overly flatter Grandma, or shower her with heavy, unnecessary compliments; nor were they rude and snobbish, treating her like some Midwestern hick. They were very cool. They were sincere. They were great; and Grandma can't wait to work again.

Thanks MTV.

So! We have a lot of news coming up, a lot to share on the site, a lot of t-shirts to ship out to you (if I haven't e-mailed you yet to verify your size and address, I will in the next couple days, I like to do everything personally; also, it may take some time to get there, please be patient!!) and the Old Grandma Hardcore Grandma's Boy Grandma Giveaway Thing is still going strong, so make sure you e-mail me to be included in the drawing for the gift packs. ...I know I'm forgetting something... shit. OH! Remember, Grandma's gamertag is "OGHC" so look for her online. We have a lot more posts coming, folks.

A LOT more.

Game on!!

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Grandma In New York City: Day 1

Grandma and I flew to NYC today to help begin work on new episodes of The G-Hole at MTV Studios.

We started our day at 5:00am, beating the worst of Cleveland rush hour to get to the airport early. Lessons learned: There is no such thing as "Long Term Parking," only "we're so far away we might as well have WALKED here" parking. To whomever invented the moving walkway- you indeed are a god.

Our scheduled time of departure was 11:00am, so we dutifully arrived at Cleveland Hopkins airport at 9:00am. Grandma's technical status as a handicapped person in the state of Ohio earned her a wheel chair ride all the way to the gate. Lesson learned: the TSA has forged complex criteria for the character of a handicapped terrorist; Grandma fits the profile precisely. Lesson #2: those ramps are much steeper than they look; be careful when whisking your grandparents along the trenches of an imagined Death Star while closing your eyes, meditating and awaiting Obi Wan's command to fire.

As we climbed above the dreary midwestern weather damned to hit us yet again in New York, Grandma discovered the multiple remedies of gum chewing. The door to the lavatory was never completely latched, swinging open once and awhile and cracking the poor bastard behind us on the head. It was probably the closest we had ever come to the Flying Fortress Belgian Experience (coming to a Six Flags near you.) Lesson learned: "O Fortuna" is not the best song to cue up on the iPod when taking off to alleviate anxiousness. Classical music != soothing.

The first recognizable landmark seen from the sky was the Coney Island Parachute Jump, made famous by Darren Aronofsky in such movies as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and Herbie Fully Loaded. Lesson learned: Google Earth ain't got SHIT on the capacity of one to obtain bearings based on movie recognition. To their credit, it's still only in Beta.

MTV gave us a ride to the hotel to commence our day of sightseeing. Grandma utilized the time to immediately walk a block to Time's Square to play some games at some of the many fine retail establishments along the strip of billboard adorned uberstores. Some folks from MTV came along to show her some things. Luckily, murdering Leo DiCaprio's father provoking an unrealistic vow of vengeance was not part of the tour; it turns out this particular incident didn't happen on their turf. Lesson learned: Grandma likes the naked cowboy. Who would have thought?

As the sunlight faded, I spent most of the time on the phone going over the itinerary for the studio and press work in the coming days. MTV promised fun, exictement and surprises; and Grandma is the sort of cat that digs all three! I could picture Grandma living in this city. The woman is in her element. I, on the other hand, dropped my precious lighter down a subway vent and walked up 7th Avenue until the price for a new one dropped from "I LOVE NEW YORK" $2.99 down to "I LOVE TITTIES AND BEER" $.75. I love New York, but I look and most likely smell like a tourist. Lesson learned: Al Roker is actually five inches tall and has a high and squeaky voice, much like Vanity Smurf; but the man seems to tip well.

Today we learned much. Tomorrow: we go to work.

Game on!

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

20th Century Fox to Grandma: "We think you'll like it!"

Our long time readers will remember in October when Grandma and I first saw the trailer to Grandma's Boy, an Adam Sandleresque sort of comedy (in fact, the movie is brought to us via Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions.) It prompted me to really question the sort of humor our site produced, and ultimately settle that indeed, Sandler and I just love Grandmas.

I finished the post with a message to the makers that read: "[we] offer 20th Century Fox something human; the ability to say with sincerity that there are people like this; it isn't abnormal or strange for someone to game for 30 years, and it isn't inappropriate for the elderly to get their kicks like everyone else. If this movie is entertaining it is because of the characters, and not because different types of folks act beyond what is expected; something to be laughed at. Tell us if it's anything different!"

Well they responded. They tell Grandma and I it is different; and that Grandma would probably agree.

Grandma is intrigued.

Here's the copy from the movie's press release: "The latest comedy from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, GRANDMA’S BOY features gamers and grannies, sex and partying, bong vases and footie pajamas…and even a Tae Kwan Do master chimpanzee (don’t call him a monkey). Allen Covert (“The Longest Yard”) takes on the title role as Alex, the world’s oldest video game tester who is forced to move in with his grandma and her two 80-year-old friends. Alex hits rock bottom when a jealous nerdboy swipes a hot video game that Alex has been developing, and tries to pass it off as his own. But help is on the way from Grandma, who is now a master gamer."

Alright, I'll bite- but we've got to see this thing first; we really have to know if it's as funny as Grandma thinks it is- she saw the trailer again when we went to see Doom, another comedy about gaming. Grandma doesn't mind sex, drugs and gaming in movies; in fact she'd probably like to see MORE of those specific elements portrayed in a better way. Think of the CSI episode in which a gamer is accused to violently murdering someone because he was trained on video games. Grandma: "FUCK that shit. Games don't cause violence, stupid people do." Think of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Johnny Depp version) in which the television crazed kid is transformed into a video game crazed punk dipshit who must learn his moral lesson. Grandma: "We're not all like that little brat, I hope they know." Think of Rules of Attraction, in which all gay guys are shown as whiny, needy little pussies that crave sex 24/7. Grandma: "Can't they just show a NORMAL gay dude?" Think of Requiem for a Dream, in which the message is clearly "DON'T EVER DO DRUGS, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST; WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU, DO YOU WANT YOUR ARM CHOPPED OFF AND GIVE BLOW JOBS TO ASSHOLES?!?!" Grandma: "Yellow in the morning... Blue in the afternoon... ...nah, as long as you don't ABUSE the shit you probably won't end up like them."

I watch CSI sometimes, Grandma and I liked Willy Wonka, I own Rules of Attraction and Requiem for a Dream was brilliant- but they don't show things as they are for sex, drugs and Grandma's version of Rock and Roll. Games and gamers have been given a bad show before, we're told that this movie is different; that gamers are hip, groovy people too- and so are grandmas. God I hope so.

So we'll definitely check it out.

Shit, Grandma LOVED Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer; that's just her deal. I'm by no means the "real" Grandma's Boy, just so we get that out of the way; but I'm curious about the parallels in this story and ours. Is the grandma intrinsically a gamer or does she begin later in life? Is she just awesome because or does she have to achieve that coolness? I have to know, now! The main character is supposed to "hit rock bottom" so we have something in common on that one ;)

So if the movie is as you say it is, 20th Century Fox, Grandma and I will be in the theaters to see it. Thanks for being cool enough to acknowledge our concern; you didn't have to do that- so... awesome!

They also want to prove it to you folks to. 20th Century Fox suggested and we agreed to promote a little giveaway for our readers. No money is exchanging hands on this, it's just them wanting to give a little- and we're alright with that. As long as Grandma and I don't "sell out" by giving a positive review of a movie we haven't seen yet, or worse: outright lying about Grandma's opinion of the film when we do, in exchange for money or games or sexual favors, it's all good.


E-mail me with your name, phone number and address to enter the random drawing for a Grandma's Boy gift pack, which they tell me includes a hat, t-shirt, finger brace, and a movie poster. Include in the subject line "Old Grandma Hardcore's Grandma's Boy Grandma Giveaway Thing." This is just a drawing for our site, so that ups your chances of getting some free swag. Winners will be selected randomly, and we're not selling your info to anybody, so don't worry about spam or junkmail on this one.

We have 4 gift packs, and winners will be announced on January 13th!

Game on!

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