The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: September 2007

HALO 3… Believe (In Commerce)!

It’s funny.

I was never really interested in getting a game console until the first time I played Halo: Combat Evolved for the PC. I played it so many times that it was like an addiction for me, but what always bummed me out was the play speed. It seemed like it hung so bad sometimes that it was crazy. Then someone let me play it on their XBOX. It was all over, then.

At the time that I first got infected with the HALO epidemic, it was towards the end of the life on the original XBOX console, and I saw no point in going out and buying the XBOX, when the XBOX 360 was going to be on the market shortly. When I let people know that it was my intention to wait, I heard it from everyone. That I would have to wait a long time, and I might not see one for several months after the release date. What these people failed to understand was that my last game console was an Atari 5200… anf if I waited this long, I would be safe waiting a little longer.

About a month after the release, people were still saying that they did not have any in stock… and I was walking through Sam’s Club here in Bakersfield, and what do you know. They had two stacks of 360s. Not empty boxes, not displays, but the real thing. They were $459.99, for the premium edition, and there was a sign that said “One unit to a member.” This immediately killed my plan on buying five and putting them all on ebay and still waiting a little while for my own, so… I bought one for myself.

Now… Here we are, over a year later, and with the release of HALO 3 just a stones throw away, and the rage has still not died down. What amazes me though is not just the game box or the game, but the culture that the game has created.

I sat down tonight and watched all the little movies that they have made for the game… specifically I am referring to the “Believe” campaign. This has got to be one of the most well thought out and most well done advertising campaign that I have ever seen done. The most poignant part of it for me, however, is the emotion factor. I am ex marine, while I have never seen combat, I have spoken with people who have. I have had friends who have fought in several wars, from Korea to Iraq, and in all branches. When I hear them talk about the ones that they lost in battle, the friends, the family, those they never knew, it touches me. When I see these ads, I feel that they worked very hard to convey that same feeling in the spot, and it makes for a very moving commercial.

Is it foolish to get emotional about a commercial for a game? Yes… it is, but I feel that the marketing team that put these series of ads together has outperformed themselves on this go around. You watch these and walk away not with a feeling like you have watched a commercial for a game, but that you have just seen an ad for a new monument for a fallen soldier… or a battle that has yet to happen.

The commercials for this game should qualify for some kind of award in their own right. They are moving, thought provoking and leave you thinking.

To all my HALO friends out there! Game On!

Have a good one, and I will see you all on the ‘Net… hoping to do some fraggin!

Oh No, OJ Again…

OK… When does it just start getting ridiculous? I know that we have not heard anything from Mr. Simpson for a while, and I applaud him for his valiant efforts to not do for the Goldman case what Geraldo Rivera did for Capone’s Vault.

The question I have is this. Exactly how stupid do you have to be to be a celebrity and (allegedly) break into a person’s hotel room and take stuff? OK… Let me play devil’s advocate here for a moment. A Co-Worker today, who’s identity will remain hidden, suggested that this might have been a set-up.

Let’s play with that for a moment, shall we? Someone tells me that there is a guy who took a bunch of my stuff and is hiding it in his room. I have the room number and I know when he will be there (I am only speculating on that, in the case of Mr. Simpson.) All this, and lets add that I am, say, Joe Montana… a face that everyone knows, like O.J.’s. Am I really going to be stupid enough to go and break into the room myself and take the stuff back? No… I would call the friggin’ police… or at the very least, should I suspect that the police would not help me, then I would send a couple people up after giving them a couple bills and have them do the busy work.

Now… Going back to OJ. You would think that with all the crap that he has gone through over the last several years, he would relegate himself to a nice quiet life of simple obscurity, maybe someplace where they have never heard of football, Hertz car rental or the Naked Gun movies. (In all reality, he should have gotten life in prison for his roll in those movies alone.) Someplace like Lake Vostok, or a little village that is not too far away from Barrow, Ak. Instead, he is still out signing autographs and making appearances all over America, all the while scouring golf courses looking for the real killers. These days about the only thing I would ask him to sign is a set of Ginsu knives or a pair of mens gloves that are one size too small for me.

On top of all this is the book… All I can say about that is WTF? Next thing you know, him and Osama Bin Laden are going to go on a tour together… I can see the headlines now. “Osama and OJ… On the Road with the ‘I didn’t do it, but if I had…'” Tour. Special guest speaker will be Sirhan Sirhan showcasing his book “It was a ricochet! I was aiming for the chef!”

Yes… I am doing two things here, in the event that you have not noticed. I am venting, and I am making light of the situation. These days it is hard for me to take anything that OJ does seriously. I firmly feel that even if he did not kill those people, he knows who did, which makes him just as guilty as the person who did. At this point there is nothing more to do that to sit back and laugh at him. His life itself has become a mockery of what he once was, there is an entire generation that only knows him for the murder, who has no memory of watching him play ball, and he was a very good player, back when it still meant something. To many of my generation he was a hero, and the Naked Gun movies started to whittle away at that persona that we knew. The murders only stripped away the little that was remaining.

Even with all that I have said here, I have no ill will towards OJ just for the sake being mean. I do feel that if he is guilty of all that he has been accused, then he needs to pay the restitution that he owes, and stop farting around about it. I do not believe in eternal damnation or hell, but I do believe that we all have to end out lives making every attempt to balance the scales towards the good, and I think that he has a long way to go.

Thanks for listening, and if I offended anyone… get over it.

Gifts and the art of giving…

I recall as a child that whenever I got a gift, it was like there was a certain set of rituals that happened beforehand. These usually comprised of my mother making a big fuss about me not looking in her closet, then her walking around telling me how much I was going to like my gift.

Thirty years later, not much has changed, only the actors in the play. Now, usually about two to three weeks before my birthday, my wife will start telling me how much I am going to like my present. Only problem is that now I am a little less enthused by the prospect of getting something. It is not that I do not like the gifts, I have just never been a good gift recipient.

Don’t get me wrong… I love getting gifts, but where the problem lies in not in the getting, but in the response to gifts.  People like to hover when they give you a present, so this creates a feeling of being on display.  You almost need to choreograph your responses with them in mind, even if you know you are going to like the gift, you need to make sure that you express your like in such a way that it is taken well.

The three items on my list as favorite things to get are, in no particular order: Clothes (Excepting underwear.), Tools and Giftcards or Books.  These win a smile from me every time.  There are some sub-categories that are exceptions…  If you buy me a tie, chances are I may use it to string up your cat or dog.  If you buy me underwear… what can I say, just don’t.  But the rest are great.

Now…  While the emotions presented when a gift is given are real, you have to be careful.  To much excitement, even if genuine, can cause the person giving the gift to become skeptical, thinking that you are trying to make them feel good.  To little emotion makes the person think you did or do not like the gift given.  The tell-tale signs of a person not being sure about the gift they have given you or the response you give is a very common comment, that should almost be included on every greeting card.  “If you do not like it, you can take it back and exchange it.”

Next to your doctor telling you “You have cancer!” or your wife saying “Honey, I’m pregnant.” or your kid saying, “Dad, I’m gay and having an affair with your boss.”  These can be some of the worst words to hear from a person.  It immediately puts you on the defensive and you now have to tread carefully with everything else you say.  It sorta reminds me of this conversation that my wife and I had years ago.  A woman can dress beautifully, and when she asks you how she looks, you have to be very careful… because no matter how you answer, she will take it apart and question anything that sounds like it may leave part of her attire or makeup in question.

Back to the gifts…  Like I said, I enjoy getting gifts, that has never been a problem.  However I enjoy giving gifts more than getting them.  There is something uniquely rewarding to the soul when you give something to someone.  I really do not pay attention to how they feel about it.  If they like it, great, if not, then there are several options that they know they have, and I let them worry about that.  Knowing myself and my own take on receiving gifts, I try not to do to others that which bothers me when people give me gifts.  I would like to think I have done pretty good.

For those of you who have given me gifts in the past, rest assured that whatever it was, and whomever it was from, I liked it.  Rarely will I not like something that is given to me, there are two reasons for that, and these are things we should all keep in mind.  1.  If a person takes the time and interest to buy you a gift, then that in itself is a gift.  That the person would take time to look for something for you says volumes about the person and their relationship with you.  That by itself is worth more that the gift.  2. Giving is the ultimate sign of friendship, whether is it an item, or the gift of ones company.  Sometimes the best thing you can give a person is your time, to sit and talk or enjoy each other’s company.

In all, the gift is not the important part, it is the friendship of the people in your life.  They are the true gifts… everything else is just icing for the cake.

The Blog lives

OK… This is the latest in many attempts at building a better blog.  For those of you who have not, or chose not to read my work, I hope that you will start.  I am not full of myself, and I certainly do not consider myself to be a literary master.  Like all of us, I feel I have something to say, and I, unlike many people I have met in my trips around the sun, like to hear what you have to say about my writing.  There will be mis-spellings, and occasional bad grammar… that is not the responses I am hoping for.

The purpose of the Blog concept is to allow for the exchange of ideas or thought.  Letting people talk in a place that is effectively neutral ground…

Please feel free to read through my archives… They go back about two years, and all of them are gems… at least I think so.  Please feel free to say otherwise.

Happy Blogging!

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Thanks.

The Master Chief doth approach

As we get closer to the release of HALO 3, I am reminded of many things… I just cannot recall what they are at the moment, or why they were important when I first thought of them.

With the release of H3, I stop to consider two very important matters that border on the life altering and awe-inspiring.  First, how to plan the two vacation days I plan of taking in a semi vegetative state in my office at home playing this game, and two, why the hell am I, a nearly forty year old man, spending $125+ dollars on a game?

Again… these are both important questions, and have deep moral meanings, but greater yet are the smaller ones… like how will I fit the port-o-pottie into my office, and what will I eat for the two days I plan on staying in my office after I finally get the game?  How will I prevent my wife from walking into my office and interrupting me at some crucial moment in game play without doing something that might envolve police and small arms fire?  How do they get those little malt canisters into the cans of Boddington’s ale?

All Very important questions, and ones that I will delve into more deeply as the release date approaches.

I do wonder, however…  I put my name on the list and paid my deposit when GameStop first started taking names and deposits for the game, so I am curious as to how far down their list my name is, and how long I will have to wait.

In closing, I will alter a great quote by a great man.

If Winston Churchell were awaiting the release of H3, this is what he might have said:

“Never has a game meant so much, to so many and cost so much!”

Trek…

Yes yes… we have all heard it. The words of William Shatner are permanently ingrained on the world.

“Get a life”

I do enjoy Star Trek… It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite story lines. But there are limits to everything and I have to agree with Shatner when he made the comment .

There are people that take the series entirely too seriously, and delve a little too deeply into the fantasy. While this article is about them, it is not meant to hurt or make fun of them… at least not too much. 😉

I consider myself a “Trekkie”. This is, for all of you out there that may not be familiar with the term, the Old School trek fan. I was not around when the series first aired, but I was a child of the syndication era of Star Trek. This was fine with me, because I got to experience all sorts of rich and entertaining 70’s Sci-fi in addition to Star Trek.

My TV watching of the 70’s included such shows as Space:1999, Buck Rogers in the 25th century, and Quark, among many other gems of television watching. So I was not without fuel for my imagination.

But I digress… Back to Trek…

I have been to a couple Sci-fi conventions, and one thing that amazes me is how much people devote of their lives to the fantasy of Trek, as well as the myriad other Sci-Fi fodder that there is out there, but for the sake of this argument, Trek.

I can understand the people that sit and have heated discussions about the physics of Star Trek, because in that, they are talking about something that actually has something to verify. Phasers work because of established (if not a little vague at the time) laws of physics. Warp engines are based on the theory of warping space/time… etc. Going to a show dressed like a Klingon, Romulan or any other of the vast universe of Star Trek charactors, serves no purpose… at least to me.

I do notice several things, though. Why is it that people insist on going to these things dressed up as people that they could not possibly be? I remember seeing a woman dressed like Seven-of-Nine, and she would probably have been very convincing… had Seven-of-Nine come from a collective of borg cubes somewhere in the backwater of an Oklahoma trailer park and had given birth to several Mini-Borgs, and looked like a little of each of them stayed with her.

Or the folks that wear, and anyone who has been to a CON has seen them, an uniform that is obviously for a person a few sizes larger, and the resulting effect is that this is a person whom suffered a strange and little publicized result of losing a few too many molecules in the transporter, or perhaps a Star Trek era Jenny Craig program gone horribly wrong.

Then there was the guy I saw that was dressed like Scotty. Except he was balding, black, missing the entire right side of his lower dental work, and would make the real Scotty (in the last two of the movies he was in) look like Mr. Universe.

Conversely, there are the ones that show up to these dressed in such a manner that they should almost be banned to an adult’s only section. Women dressed like Seven-of-Nine that would make Jeri Ryan run screaming at them with visions of a cat fight in mind. Women made up to be Orion slave girls that even I would consider putting some money down for (If my wife is reading this, it was a JOKE!!!) And a host of other people that really look quite good in their dress. My favorite was the woman who must have gotten the wrong memo, and came to the Trek Con as Leah in the Jabba scene from ROTJ, complete with shackles and bikini. As I recall.. she was the only person there from Star Wars…

I may sound like I am being and ass… but I am not. I enjoy these shows very much but I can just not understand why people spend so much time making the outfits, dressing up and going to these shows when it is really just as rewarding to go as yourself, and play… god forbid… yourself!

I am not a Kirk, Spock, Checkov, and certainly not Sulu (haven’t we learned some interesting things about him, in recent years.) I am myself… an avid Trekkie who loves the shows, read many of the books, is intensely interested in the science, but understands that I am still here, in this universe, and will probably never be anything more than just a fan.

There is nothing wrong with that. I am content to live me life as such, and to go to the shows and watch all the other people who do dress up. I will not call them names, as I have heard others do, because they are still people. Some are smart, some are challenged when they encounter a doorknob. Some have vibrant and active lives, others have had no more rewarding relationship than that of a person they met online but have never had the nerve to meet in person.

They cover all walks of life… and I am sure they are all good people. But still I am miffed, and I suppose I always will be.

If you are reading this, and taking offense, don’t. None is intended. In fact, I have a friend, whom I am pretty sure never reads my work anyway, who has himself a suit of Star Wars StormTrooper armor… but I would never do it. But yah know… if it makes you happy, and does not hurt anyone, then why not?

Stupid Questions

I was watching one of those “Global Disaster” shows on Discovery tonight, and how the east coast of the United States may be wiped out by the collapse of part of the La Palma island in the Canary’s.

Anyway… Listening to the show, more than actually watching it, I was reminded of a person I went to school with. For the sake of his privacy, I will give him the name Dick… which is oddly what he is, and another version of his name.

This person was the odd member of the group I hung out with. We all belonged to cliques when we were in school… Nowadays they are considered more like gangs, and some schools try to prevent people from gathering too much.

We were a group of nerds… Pretty much all of us, except Dick, were pretty good at what we did. Most of our time that was not spent in class, was spent in the computer room working on programs… except Dick… who spent most of his time, looking back in retrospect, playing games and bothering us.

He used to have these ideas he would pursue us about, and ask us for our input on… and these had to be, quite possibly, the stupidest or most irrelevant ideas that one could possibly think of.

One that stands out to me the most was this work of cerebral artwork:

“Hey… if you looked up and saw a nuclear missile coming right at you, what would you do?”

OK… Let us look at the deep and troubling philosophical nature of this question… Alright, Bullshit, there it is. Lets look at the reality of the question in the hopes that Dick ever wanders into this site.

1. Even if you were lucky enough to happen to glance up and see the device approaching, then you would only have seconds to really think about anything before you became incinerated, or at the very least blinded… at which time the only thing you will be thinking is “Damn I wish I was dead.”

2. Who Cares? You can think of what ever you wanted, but what good would it do? It reminds me of the poor whale that was created, along with the bowl of petunias, as a result of the Infinite Improbability drive over the planet Magrathea in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. You can think anything you want, and come up with what ever opinions you want, but but after a few moments, you will meet the same fate as the Whale and the petunias.

3. And finally… it’s just the dumbest question you can ask and does not deserve an answer. If you could look up a Thesaurus listing for dumb questions like this, you might find the following:

a. What would you do if you saw the sun go Nova?
b. Where would you go if you had nowhere to go fast?
c. What happens to all the missing socks that disappear in the dryer?

In closing, I need to add the following.

Dick was, at one time, a good friend… but as times changed and the rest of the group grew up and moved on in our lives, he stayed in his world… not moving and not growing up or taking the responsibilities that life and age cast upon him. Because of this, and only because of his own short sightedness, did he lose those who were his friends.

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