Twitter. Seriously. I hate it, and yet it’s something I’ve written the most articles about. To be honest it’s just a timesink of worthless regurgitated crap and the only practical use I can see it being utilized for is a makeshift RSS feed for people to use to keep up to date with their favorite websites which would be a great idea if RSS didn’t already exist in the first place. I don’t really care what butthole Daniel Tosh just rimmed or if Adam Savage just busted the myth of how many buttholes Daniel Tosh can lick in one minute. The fact that Kim Kardashian has almost as many followers as Barack Obama is pretty much proof that this country is fucked.

Despite all this I think I’ve found something I actually like about the service and that is automated script bots. Yes, the same “people” that try selling you cheap Nikes and WoW gold have also infested Twitter. Normally Twitter would nuke these bot accounts for doing nothing but spamming Viagra links but the trick here is these bots don’t spam URLs only; they’ll post a link once in a while and pad the spam with a few bizarrely generated tweets of utter nonsense. Horse_ebooks, a bot whose products I’m fairly certain revolve around electronic publications of an equestrian nature, is a scripted account of Russian origin whose “filler” tweets may actually be the thoughts of a mad man presented in real time.

I did what anyone else would do in this scenario, I took 20 of my favorite tweets and decided to half-ass an article.

 

Trains and retarded people go hand in hand. Who would have thought?

 

This sounds like a terrible murder comedy. I bet Ben Stiller would have the lead role and his “dead in a river” friend would be someone like Andy Dick.

 


▲ ▲

 

The usage of quotation marks and capital letters is what worries me with this tweet. It’s like Horsey is handing someone a Weed Eater with C4 stuck to it with a wink and internal laugh, waiting for them to try and turn it on.

 

Who the fuck fixes gloves? Aren’t you supposed to just buy new ones? If you’re wearing gloves while using your “metal detector” you’ll have a lot more to fix than just gloves.

 

Holy shit, Horsey are you a magician?!

 

A metal detector?

 

Of course there are other ways to defend yourself besides karate. My personal favorite happens to be firearms.

 

I don’t understand, Horsey. Do you sell hamster ebooks too? Now isn’t the time for diversification.

 

Dear god I hope we aren’t talking about horses here. I think this tweet might be illegal to read in most industrialized countries.

 

Yes. 11 years ago.

 

Thanks, Horsey. It’s good to know you’re delivering the hard-hitting news that other media outlets refuse to acknowledge.

 

What about hamsters? Horses? Do penguins attack too? What happens when a dog attacks us? Do you sell an ebook that covers that subject so we can be prepared for it when it happens?

 

I hope you’re referring to a stable. I know of a furry sex toy company that includes this very same message with all of their “equine trainer” toys.

 

What the fuck kind of Tales of Symphonia fanfiction porn are you quoting this from, Horsey? And why do I have a boner?

 

What about cats named Andy? Will the person who receives this book theoretically enjoy it twice as much?

 

It’s good to know wherever in Russia Horsey lives that he gets the Lifetime Network because he just gave a 140 character summary of every movie they’ve ever aired.

 

The hell? Is this a quote from some kind of gimmicky furry product for people with equine transformation fetishes? Or… holy shit… is this from a magical spell e-tome that can turn people into horses?

 

What? Mutual what? Horse genitalia? TELL ME HORSEY, I NEED TO KNOW! I WANT TO HAVE A SPECIAL, SATISFYING, FULFILLING, AND LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH MY HORSE!!

 

Do they even have Chinese restaurants in Russia?

 

Finding 20 brilliant tweets from Horsey wasn’t too hard, but I had to read through a lot of repeat spam to bring you these little nuggets of joy. I hope you enjoyed this presentation of “Diet” Horse_ebooks, because I have a whole bag full of little gems spit out by this master horse.

– Roastmaster

I graduated with a degree in Communications from a university I’ve opted to redact the name from (you’ll see why later) with cum laude honors in May 2011. It’s a degree I hate, a degree I never plan on using, and a degree that was a mistake and now every time I look at the damn thing all I see is the phrase “I should have done this differently”. I was very apathetic toward my college education so much that I’d frequently skip on buying textbooks and never once did I ever study or “cram” for a test. There were no late 3AM nights studying for the big biology exam or rushing to turn in an assignment because it was due in 15 minutes. I just did not give a shit. I drank Red Bull ironically, not because I had places to go and things to do and through all of this I managed to graduate with a GPA of 3.5. Either I’m some kind of self-defeating genius, or this campus is just where people went when they couldn’t get into the colleges they dream about.

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Pictured above: How I “studied” for tests.

Either way, whatever the case is I went to college and completed it. I didn’t pay attention to a damn thing I didn’t find interesting which means that for most of the classes I took I was there physically but not mentally. I took over 50 classes while enrolled, almost half of which were taken in conjunction with some form of weekly psychiatric counseling. While my Office Space approach to not giving a damn somehow worked in my favor there were still classes I took that were insurmountably worthless. Here’s six [required!!] classes I took that were utter wastes of my time and money.

 

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Student retention is serious business in the college scene. Universities operate because they charge exorbitant tuition rates and own bookstores that operate on GameStop’s “charge the customer $140 for something and give them $10 for it when they trade it in” business model. Of course, it’s not the colleges’ fault that by the time the semester ends your biology textbook has had 17 new editions released and is completely worthless. That’s tangential, but the point I’m getting to is that colleges and universities devote entire budgets and committees to coming up with ways to keep students at their schools, that’s how they can stay in business. More students == more money.

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Unfortunately, photoshopped black students are still worth $0.

My alma matter had this wonderful little program of “triad” and “tetrad” classes with which sounds more like an Asian gang and Tetris marathon than any sort of serious academic system. You took your core curriculum classes in “packs” of 3 or 4 like you were bundling insurance from Progressive or something and the last class in these prefab groups was always a 1 credit hour class titled “First Year Seminar”. FYS was a required class for all non-transfer freshman students and it existed to give new students a chance to “acclimate” to college life. In reality all it did was piss people off and probably didn’t help in the whole “retention” category of things.

First, the class was mandatory for virtually everybody regardless of whether or not you wanted shit spoon-fed to you, and secondly you had to pay for this course. Yep, this uncategorized, worthless, non-transferable 1 hour class was required. Twice. You had to take two semesters of this bullshit hence the title “first year” and all they did was sit you in a room and talk about what you were doing in your other triad/tetrad classes. It was nothing more than a “hey how’s it going” course where you were placed in a room with 20 other new students in an effort to try and get you to make some new friends at the university… because we need a fucking class for this after having been through twelve years of public school doing the exact same thing.

Here’s an actual assignment we were given in this “course”: draw a picture of where you’d like your college education to take you (a.k.a. “what do you want to be when you grow up”). Here’s another: “make a list of songs that you think summarize your life and feelings”. I’m dead serious. What is this? Second fucking grade?

It goes without saying attendance in this class was less than perfect across the board.

 

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I took Macroeconomics Principles because I read the first five letters and defaulted to Godzilla porn and let my dick do the class registration. No, that’s not the reason at all. It was a required course and that’s that. One thing that rings true for virtually every core class is that it’s guaranteed to suck because the instructors are notoriously apathetic about their course and students. They aren’t there to make personal connections with you because they just don’t give a shit; their class is simply full of students who may or may not have any interest in the material whatsoever and are only there because it’s a required class. The professors have better things to worry about and the students have better things to do, like playing guitar in the university cafeteria (and by that I mean repeating the same three goddamn chords while singing shitty Sublime covers to ditsy and easily impressed high school cheerleader has-beens).

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This guy goes to every university.

This particular professor went above and beyond the “not giving a shit” theory and dared to not give two shits. Not only was he an impersonal twat he never physically handed out a single assignment and required everything be done online. He had a special website for submitting essays and a special website for taking weekly quizzes. Yes, two different websites.  Everything we did, including our final exam, was done online. Using online sites is fine and dandy… if you’re taking a goddamn online class from a television commercial. If I’m paying you — more mind you — to sit in a physical lecture room instead of at my laptop in my shitty apartment I kind of expect you to at least Xerox us something. Anything. Give us a paper with words printed on it so we can put it in a notebook and say “oh this is for economics”. Learn how to use Powerpoint and put something on the projector, and if you’re too lazy for even that then at least type something up in fucking Word and throw it up on the screen. Sitting at your desk like a jackass and reminding us to sign up and use a website we will never use again just so your lazy ass can play FreeCell all day is the worst possible way to teach someone. You could teach a preschooler all of his colors wrong on purpose and still be seen as a better educator than this asshole.

The best part about these “handy” online sites is that they graded everything for him automatically. Yes, this cheap son of a bitch didn’t even grade his own assignments. All of the quizzes were either multiple choice or short answer which were graded against a database of phrases and common answers to gauge whether or not they were correct. Even more hilarious was the essay website which basically did the same thing with an entire essay. The instructor didn’t read a single essay unless there was a glitch in the matrix and it spat back a bunch of garbage or an incorrect grade. The website read the essays for him and scanned for basic phrases and their proximity to one another, term/synonym frequencies and ratios, and usage of “vocabulary words” from the textbook chapters. If you knew how to cheat the system you could have submitted a block of “Lorem ipsum” text with key phrases thrown in there and receive a passing grade.

I’m not saying I did that myself, but I’m also not saying I didn’t.

 

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The first two entries in this list came off of the core curriculum roster, and honestly if I wanted to I could fill the remaining four slots of this article with bullshit throwaway classes like US History to Civil War and State & Local Government, but like I mentioned in the economics entry, all core classes suck. Video Production was one of the first degree-specific classes I took meaning that from here on out my courses would have less students in them and more direct interactions with my instructors. I was looking forward to finally getting some quality education now that I had completed the worthless First Year Seminar gauntlet of double tetrads (honestly “gauntlet of double tetrads” sounds like the name of the obstacle course from American Gladiators).

G

Basically the same thing.

Then I met the instructor.

Public Speaking was another required core class that I had to take, and there is some relevance to this statement. Its instructor was honestly one of the most idiotic people I’ve ever had the displeasure of being in the same room as. She was so clueless and ditsy that the closer you stood to her had an inverse effect on your ability to assemble coherent thoughts, not because she was attractive or anything but because she was so incomprehensibly retarded and her field effect was akin to a radio tower of stupid. Wherever she went she was followed by personal subtitles because the only sound that ever came out of her mouth was “DURRRRRR”. She was in charge of teaching the video production course. Joy.

The objective of the course was for us to learn “professional” editing techniques with Final Cut Pro. With this bozo teaching us I’d have been grateful if she taught the class how to turn on the fucking computer. Our first assignment was to create a short 90 second video about anything we wanted so she could gauge what we already knew about editing videos. Just to spite her, I turned in an homage to Zoolander that consisted of my dancing around a Blockbuster Video after hours and breaking things. It was edited beautifully.

Basically the endgame here is that I didn’t learn a damn thing in this class that I didn’t already know; it was an easy “A”. My most memorable experience with this course, however, has to go to the only time I approached the instructor with a problem. After class had dismissed I approached the teacher and wanted to ask her a question, I started with “I have just a quick question, I live off campus and have to commute to get here so I can’t edit all of my videos in the lab directly, many I edit the ‘basic’ stuff at home and bring those pieces to assemble here in the editing lab?”

She looked right at me and replied, “Oh, well, yeah if you have a question you can email me and I’ll get back to you.”

I nodded and said “that’s great but we’re presently standing five feet away from each other and it’s a simple question that I’d like to have an answer to since I just asked it.”

She cocked her head like a dog watching someone jerk off with a raw chicken and after a brief moment wherein I can only assume all three of her brain cells tried to come up with a response she just repeated her previous answer and walked out of the lab.

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“What the fuck do you think this is, a SCHOOL?”

Seriously, for someone who’s supposed to be teaching a public speaking class (let alone video production) could the university have possibly found anymore more socially retarded than this winner? Why the hell would you want to hide behind the veil of computer-mediated communication with your students when one of them is literally in same room as you asking you a simple question in real time? You’re an instructor at a university, it’s time to put your big girl pants on and grow a pair. Metaphorically.

Because if she actually had a pair… then I guess I can understand why she wants to minimize the amount of face-to-face interaction in her life.

 

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I write. I hope this article makes that obvious; if not, we have ourselves a problem. If I had to put together a document that listed all of my qualifications, like a resume… or something, under Skills I’d have two things: “writing” and “dinosaurs”. Not paleontology or anything, just “dinosaurs”. “Technical writing” is a form of writing that can best be described as boilerplate, generic, and tiresome professional writing. I took three technical writing classes: Foundations of Professional Writing, Writing in the Professions, and Writing in Computer-Networked Environments. Yes, those first two sound like the exact same class (spoiler alert: they were). Truth be told all three of them were essentially the same class and I realize I’m cheating by bundling three classes into one entry but I did this with good reason: The curriculum for every technical writing class was written by the same instructor.

If there was ever an example of an instructor being so disconnected with their students this was it. This professor didn’t just idly sit in their office or anything, she was actively engaged with her students but her exuberance was completely nullified by the simple fact that nobody knew what the hell was going on. She’d talk to us about our projects and then the very next week when she asked us how they were coming along she’d have something completely different to say and tell us we were doing it wrong. I’m dead serious.

I had three technical writing classes but she was the instructor for only one of them. We had this bullshit group assignment that was cast upon myself and two random students to continue this “quality assurance survey” that was being done each year. All we had to do was get other technical writing students to fill it out and our job was to interpret the answers.

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Wrong kind of survey.

The problem with this assignment, despite its brainless difficulty, is that when it came to the open-ended opinion questions regarding the tech writing program all of the students ended up using these fields to take pot shots at the instructor. No joke. I’m going to cease explaining the shittiness of the curriculum and let these survey responses, which I’ve held onto all this time, speak for themselves. These are all real and unedited responses collected from this survey:

Q: How do you feel your class(es) in Technical Writing could be improved?
“[The instructor] is really scatter-brained. She doesn’t update her schedule when she changes dates and the class gets confused.”

“For a allegedly professional course, the class I am enrolled in is largely disorganized. There is a lack of structure in the classroom and an overall feeling of hostility.”

“Let all instructors create their own curriculum instead of having one person write it all. It confuses other professors and hinders the educational benefit derived from the classes.”

“Our instructor didn’t even get to teach her own curriculum, it was some premade nonsense from another instructor, and it was also a DECADE old. Everything was outdated, links to examples were broken, and most hilariously of all an example document we were given about POTATO FARMING was seven years newer than the damn course plans.” 

Q: What is the purpose of your community-based project?
“I don’t know. I’ve asked for clarification many times and I get a different answer each time. Your guess is as good as mine.” 

“I really don’t see a purpose because it has nothing to do with school work, so why are we wasting our school time to work on something that doesn’t even relate to school.”

“I don’t know. We don’t understand the assignment and it’s the middle of November. We have no idea what we are supposed to do, and some of us are in fear of failing the class because of this stupid fucking thing.”

Q: Have you been emotionally effected by your “service learning experience”? (SLE = Group Assignment)
“Yes, but not by the project rather by our professor.  This class has been a yo-yo like experience from the beginning.  We are asked to collaborate yet when we speak to our partners we are punished and scolded like little school children.”

“Yeah it’s stressful and very confusing and I don’t like it at all. It’s made me feel okay about skipping tech writing class on a number of occasions because we hardly do anything.”

“No, all though i been pissed off throughout the class because the teachers doesn’t even know what needs to be done on the portfolio so how are students going to know.” 

Q: What personal values do you feel this class has strengthened in you?
“I’d like to say “patience” but I can’t quite bring myself to really say so.” 

This is some serious fangs-out shit right here. We asked a bunch of students their thoughts on the class and almost all of them responded with “this class fucking blows p.s. the instructor is retarded”. Putting our survey results together proved to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it’s not like we can turn in a document to the person who wrote the curriculum that destroys everything she’s put together while making potato farming jokes. (Seriously though? Fucking potato farming?) In the end we weaseled out of it because I went into the survey site at the last minute and purposefully broke all of the open response questions to only record “ ” as an answer regardless of input to demonstrate that none of them ever recorded a valid response.

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We have no idea how it happened. We swear.

The above diatribe kind of encompasses all of the tech writing classes in general but it doesn’t let me fit in my favorite tidbit about the instructor. The university I attended was comprised of several buildings where classes were grouped by theme or subject. The building designated for the English and Composition had this problem with feral cats; the outside of the building smelled like a cat with a bladder of novelty (or fetish) proportions just pissed all over everything. This was a problem because someone kept feeding the cats and because of this the cats associated this building with free food and ended up camping out in the trees and bushes surrounding it while pissing unendingly. I’ll give you three guesses as to who kept feeding the fucking cats and the last two guesses don’t count.

 

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Contrary to popular belief there’s more to taking a Spanish class than watching Telemundo and grainy VHS copies of Muzzy and ordering food in Spanish from the local Mexican restaurant, an act that’s made only mildly offensive because it’s for “educational purposes”. College-level Spanish is nothing like high school Spanish. Okay, that was a lie; it’s basically the same thing except the rooms don’t have any goofy Spanish posters, there’s no Muzzy, and there’s no field trips to Taco Town. The only field trips you get are “get your own damn tacos and be to class on time”.

Foreign language teachers are, in my experience, some of the best instructors you’ll ever have. They have such colorful personalities and they’re always energetic like they perpetually just snorted a line of coke, and I think it might be because every time you say something to them they mentally hear it twice, in two different languages, at the exact same time. They’re not exuberant, they’re just batshit insane and they’re always one “me gusta” away from painting the walls with their feces.

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This.

I don’t hate my foreign language teachers, though. Between high school and university I took four years of Spanish and because of how fun and involved my instructors were I ended up learning and retaining quite a bit of knowledge of the language, so how come Spanish I & II ended up in this list? Because my university forced some retarded standards on the class that brought down how enjoyable it was. Learning about accents via the instructor’s mascot “Dieresis the Rattlesnake” was fun but practicing our Spanish in the campus language lab was total bullshit.

The language lab was a room that could best be described as looking exactly like the call center for an international technical support company serving Mexico. There were computers and headsets everywhere and people were busily sitting at their machines typing every once in a while and taking breaks to say a few lines in Spanish and repeat them several times like the person on the other end was either deaf or stupid. The assignments from the language lab were required, worth 10% of our final grades, and were present in both Spanish I & II.

I have a bit of an impediment with speaking aloud. It tends to get worse the closer I am to a telephone or a device that serves the same purpose as one. It’s a bizarre and strange phobia, but welcome to my life. In the language lab I was wholly capable of answering the simple test questions on the computer screen, but when it came time to recite things verbally that’s when it fell apart; the software was simply programmed like hell. When it orders you to recite a phrase it will beep without warning and give you barely enough time to speak until it beeps again when you inevitably screw up and the timer starts over. There’s no pause, it just keeps beeping until you say it and say it the right way.

This didn’t sit well with me, as wearing what amounts to a phone headset and being instructed to speak puts me in a weird position. The microscopic window of speech time didn’t make it any better, either. For an assignment that was only supposed to take 20 minutes I ended up sitting in the language lab like a moron for almost an hour. It was easily the most embarrassing thing that I’ve ever done. I abandoned the assignment mid-way through and never returned to do another lab project for either semester.

 

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This is it, and I don’t mean that phrase in the context of being the final tour of a deceased pop star, this was the worst and most worthless class I ever enrolled in. Everything about this course from enrollment to completion was a play-by-play journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy except this was a caricature of Hell comprised entirely of outdated copies of Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.

It all began with a simple roster conflict; to start us off I believe this course had the handbook number “ARTS1301” or something to that extent. The actual number doesn’t matter but the assignment pattern here does; a class ending with “01” was naturally the first in its category. When I was accepted into the university I was accepted under the stipends of the 2006 class handbook where “01” signified “Graphic Design I”. As per my degree plan I was required to take “ARTS1301” as one of my degree-specific courses. Graphic Design II was one of the last classes I ever enrolled in and during the five years it took me to get around to completing it the college restructured their class codes. “ARTS1301” was no longer the first graphic design class; “ARTS1301” was now Graphic Design II. (“00” was now used for the first class.)

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No, really. Y U NO HAS?

I immediately brought this to the attention of my degree counselor and in summary what happened was that they could have overridden the mistakes… if it weren’t for the fact that all the level 1 classes were full. Since this was a computer lab class it’s not like there was an extra chair I could take, I was stuck with the advanced class. However I had graphic design experience so I figured there’d be some catching up but it wouldn’t be killer. Big mistake.

Our instructor was, without a doubt, the most unprofessional person I will ever meet. She was such a hypocritical bitch it’s not even funny. It all began with our first assignment: creating a logo and new advertising package for a local company. This was a real assignment, as in this company would eventually use the “best” logo on their stationery and all of that crap. The company she picked was some construction business whose existing logo, I shit you not, was designed in fucking Jokerman font. Before we ever met these people and were handed business cards with their existing logo I honestly thought I was being fucked with and that this was just a hypothetical exercise and there couldn’t possibly be someone retarded enough to think Jokerman was a suitable font for anything other than a kindergarten fiesta.

The owners of this company just did not give a fuck, they were late to every single class meeting they were supposed to attend which I guess is to be expected when you’re talking about someone stupid enough to use a super-serif typeface on their goddamn stationery. On the day of our final presentation to these dickheads we were sitting in a comfortable office meeting room at the university and I asked to go first because I had a photography appointment at the local aquarium; I was to be taking pictures of dolphins for my photography class and I was psyched. Were the owners of the construction company late? You bet your ass they were. I couldn’t stay for the whole class but I stayed in the office room for a goddamn hour and they were still no shows. I said “screw it” and walked out of the classroom. I had better shit to do, and by “better shit” I mean fucking dolphins.

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Miss THIS for some stupid second-rate construction company? No fuckin’ way. Blow it out your ass.

The people from the construction company could have at least acted like they wanted a free fucking logo. Unprofessional, and pathetically so.

Perhaps the construction mishap wasn’t directly the instructor’s fault, but then again she’s the one who found these jerk offs. This person was the worst teacher ever, she never demonstrated or explained what she was doing, she just assumed we knew everything and I realize this was an advanced class but more people than just me were lost in her “instructions”. After wading through the bullshit of Retarded Construction Incorporated our next assignment was to create a brochure for a local business of our choosing. This was just an exercise, they weren’t going to use it, so we were free to be creative (no Jokerman). She gave us almost seven weeks to make this brochure before giving us our second assignment. Care to know what that was? A complete 14-piece advertising package (billboards, flash ads, banner ads, business cards, etc) for a local business of her choosing.

By the time we “finished” the brochure we had two weeks left in the class… to make fourteen fucking pieces of advertising. If the brochure took seven weeks to make this project, by her timeline, would have theoretically taken almost two years to complete. Mercifully this was a group assignment and we were able to skate by with making two samples and drawing the rest by hand and explaining the design ideas because not learning how to use InDesign was totally the point of this class.

This “professional” graphic designer was adamant about us being to class on time yet she herself was upwards of thirty minutes late on numerous occasions (sometimes just not showing up altogether), and at one point even brought her loudmouth crotchdropping to class with her. What the fuck? Fine. I understand you might have things to take care of in your graphic design job, which I’m sure is just totally fucking busy and time-consuming because it takes hours to place white Helvetica text on a solid color bar, but if you can’t have your shit together to leave at the door when you go into “teacher mode” then get the fuck out of the classroom. You don’t belong here. 

I’m normally a nice guy, and despite how much I hated the first five classes of this article I was soft when it came time for the anonymous semester evaluations for each of our classes, but when this class showed up? I blasted the hell out of it. My “comments regarding the class” was basically everything you just read in this entry. I hope this “teacher” read it, and I hope it made her miserable. Good riddance.

 

I’m summary? College might seem like a waste of time, and for all I know it probably is, but the moral of the story is this: “pursue your dreams no matter what they are, and just because somoene’s name is suffixed with ‘PhD’ that isn’t always a synonym for intelligence”. Also, dolphins.

– Dracophile

Last week we covered 11 craftable items Mojang should incorporate into Minecraft. Since then, Mojang has proceeded to stuff their sandbox game with a bunch of pointless shit and Markus “Notch” Persson has adopted a bizarre affinity for watching animals have sex with each other. I guess we’ll call it even. In between us doing the initial work for the first article and completing the content for today’s article the indie game developer has produced an official 1.8 release as well as a 1.9 pre-release rife with things like snowmen wearing pumpkins on their heads. It’s safe to assume these people have collectively lost their shit and that their next grand idea is going to be a tower that spits out infinite cookies.

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Too late.

Regardless, here’s part two of our “wouldn’t it be cool if…” Minecraft series with 11 more awesome crafting recipes Mojang should use in their game!

 

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minecraft_indianheadwearWhat it is/does: The Indian Headwear is a special kind of helmet that allows the wearer to get some extra distance, power, and critical hit chance behind their arrows, just like a trained Indian archer! While wearing the Indian Headwear it only takes you half as long to charge up a powered shot.

Why you need it: With the addition of new mobs like Endermen, plus the achievement “Sniper Duel”, the bow is becoming a more useful and needed weapon in the Minecraft game. Whereas you could normally get by with just a sword and some guts with the changing climate of the game you can’t just take a lot of damage and eat food anymore, you have to wait for that health to regenerate. This headwear would let you safely attack from a distance, but attack stronger!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Since the headwear itself is just a leather strap with some dangly feathers it wouldn’t offer the standard protection that a normal helmet would, this of course is balanced by the boost it gives to ranged attacks. Also because it boosts attacks, to keep things fair each improved shot would wear down a normal bow 1.5x times as fast.

 

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minecraft_submarineWhat it is/does: The Submarine is a submersible version of the standard Minecraft boat that allows the driver to pilot it above the surface of the water just like a regular boat, but much like the flying ability granted in Creative play the Submarine can also rise and dive in the water to let players explore chasms or to traverse underground water tunnels.

Why you need it: With the new biome updates there’s a lot more water in Minecraft than there used to be, let’s just get that factoid out of the way right now. If you’re unlucky you might get a bad spawn that’ll put you right in the middle of a crappy Kevin Costner movie (with or without the Virtual Boy game that was made after it). The Submarine is a handy took that acts like a boat but comes with the added bonus of letting you dive underwater to explore or even get to your safehouse if you built an undersea mad science lab.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: All in all, the Submarine isn’t that different from the standard boat, it’s even based off of it. The exception here is that the Submarine wouldn’t immediately crumble into wood and sticks upon hitting something, this is to protect the pilot from drowning deep underwater. It’s a basic vehicle built with basic parts, thus it’s non-stackable like the other vehicles and relatively cheap/easy to make.

 

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minecraft_spikedcollarWhat it is/does: Aside from the player there are passive mobs that you can tame to bring onto your side in your journeys. The wolf is one of these mobs, however they have absolutely no mob-specific items to help them out. The Spiked Collar is a piece of armor for your wolf companion that reduces the damage he takes by 50%.

Why you need it: Wolfy (or Yiff’n Buddy if you’re a weirdo) might be a great companion to take with you on journeys, but the unfortunate truth is that they die way too fast. You can effectively double the life of your furry friend and save him from a stray Creeper if you give him this collar, which you could equip by simply right-clicking on your wolf. Now he’s a more formidable companion and won’t be so quick to explode!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Wolves are relatively common, this collar is made of common materials; the two balance one another out. Furthermore with all the different kinds of hostile mobs out there, most of which can do more damage to the wolf than he can dish out, this collar helps balance the game by evening the playing field.

 

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minecraft_defoliantWhat it is/does: Defoliant is the opposite of bone meal. Where bone meal causes plants to grow instantly, Defoliant will kill all plant life within a radius of where it’s placed.

Why you need it: Say you found the perfect place to build something but the land is covered in trees. Sure, you could craft a bunch of axes and chop them all down but what if you don’t need the wood and just want to get rid of everything? Throw a little of this around and your problems are solved. Defoliant could even cause plants like sugar cane and wheat to drop their loot, so this could be a fast way to harvest crops and re-plant them.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Bones for bone meal are common loot dropped from skeletons, and bone meal causes anything to grow instantly. Therefore there should be an equal opposite for it. Defoliant takes more items to create but the items used are easy to obtain from The Nether. Much like bone meal you can stack Defoliant in groups of 64 and one crafting of the powder will net you 4 instances each.

 

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minecraft_mngfyglass-journalWhat it is/does: The Magnifying Glass is an item that, if it’s in your inventory, will show the health and stats of any mob or player your sights are focused on. If the Journal is in your inventory then any enemy or mob you kill will have a chance to drop additional experience orbs.

Why you need it: Minecraft‘s Adventure Update is going to give the game a more “RPG” feel to it by means of introducing experience points, stats, enchanted/titled items, and even boss mobs. There’s going to be more to the game than simply mining for pretty rocks to build giant space dongs out of, and these two items are examples of helpful crafts that can help you ascertain threats and even level-up faster if you’re holding onto them.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: These are simple items to craft and require almost nothing of rarity (except for ink sacs which might be difficult to obtain), and thus their effects are relatively moderate. The Magnifying Glass lets you see enemy health and stats, which is basic information, and the Journal only gives a slight increase to the chance that an enemy might drop additional experience orbs. Both are passive abilities and are only active if you are letting either item occupy a spot in your inventory.

 

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minecraft_decoytargetWhat it is/does: The Decoy Target is a block of flesh that vaguely resembles a human when placed on the ground. The smell of meat and the sight of a humanoid figure will cause hostile mobs to attack the decoy until it breaks, letting you get away from a dangerous situation.

Why you need it: How often have you run out of arrows or broken a sword and have almost been trapped by zombies or spiders? If you’re on the verge of death and without anything that you can use to heal or attack with you might lose your precious diamonds or other rare finds. Throwing down a decoy will give you the extra time to get away and heal or to simply escape with your loot in hand so you can fight another day. Plus if you’re playing on the planned “Hardcore” mode where the map is deleted upon death… the decoy might be a godsend!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Presently there is no use for rotten meat dropped from zombies except for using it to heal wolves. If you eat it you get poisoned which makes it only useful if you’re starving and this is the only thing you have. There are no crafting recipes for the meat at this time. A decoy sounds cheap, but it will crumble after a few hits and due to their perceived size, they cannot be stack in your inventory. Given the nature of death in “Hardcore” mode a decoy would be a valuable item to have with you.

 

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minecraft_ghilliesuitWhat it is/does: A Ghillie Suit in Minecraft would function just like one in real life. This is a suit made of foliage that camouflages the wearer under a thick matting of leaves and plant life to let them sneak around undetected around hostile enemies.

Why you need it: If you travel lightly or you’re only looking to scout to place sights on your map you might not want to attract the attention of hostile mobs around you. Right now if you stand behind vines mobs have to be closer to you to see you, so there’s already some form of camouflage present in the game; this is a piece of armor that would bestow that same perk to you at all times so long as it’s being worn because vines don’t grow everywhere in Minecraft.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: A Ghillie Suit doesn’t exactly offer much protection from anything seeing as how it’s made of plants, it’s mostly used for sneaking around. This would translate into the game by offering only half the protection as a regular piece of chest armor but make up for it by having a camo perk on at all times. It doesn’t require anything special to craft, but it would require you to travel to a swamp biome to get the vines, which could prove tricky if you don’t spawn anywhere near one.

 

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minecraft_dungeonradarWhat it is/does: This radar is a tool that when kept in your inventory will emit periodic blips that will increase in frequency when you get closer to a “monster spawner” block (since these are normally associated with dungeons). It doesn’t point to anything (like the compass might suggest), it merely emits a tone when you are honing in on one.

Why you need it: Let’s face it, searching for loot in Minecraft is FUN. There’s lots of enjoyment to be had in building giant castles and fountains and such but it’s also really fun to go out and find some rare items like music discs, cocoa beans, saddles, and other stuff you can use to trade with on multiplayer servers (except for saddles I guess, because nobody wants those stupid things). This loot radar isn’t a cheat like an X-ray vision texture pack but it is a tool that’s fair and balanced to make loot quests more fun.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: The loot radar requires a lot of stuff to create: wood (8), sticks (3), iron (4), and Redstone dust (4). Even though it requires a compass to craft the compass does nothing and is just for show, holding the Dungeon Loot Radar just shows the compass needle to spin around as if you were in The Nether. All it does it make sounds and offers no clues as to the direction of the dungeon, that’s for your ears to find out. It doesn’t directly give you the location of the dungeon, you still have to find it, but it can help give clues.

 

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minecraft_longfusetntWhat it is/does: Long Fuse TNT functions exactly like regular TNT in every way except it takes three times as long to detonate when lit or activated by a lever, button, or other apparatus.

Why you need it: According to the Minecraft Wiki, activated TNT takes four seconds to detonate. This is fine if you’re in an open environment or just using one block of TNT in a mine, but for many other instances four seconds isn’t enough time to get away from the blast, especially if you’re setting up a chain reaction or attempting to build a TNT cannon to shoot an activated block of the explosive somewhere. Long Fuse TNT is a safer alternative that can allow you to quickly get away, set up safe chain reactions, or dig deeper by “sounding” depths with activated explosives.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: There’s virtually no difference between long fuse and regular TNT save for detonation time. Long Fuse TNT requires the same amount of materials to craft, plus two pieces of string (which is relatively easy to obtain from spider mobs and abandoned mine shaft dungeons). Gunpowder is a primary ingredient in crafting TNT, and since it’s required for both versions of the explosive, the long fuse version is equally balanced.

 

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minecraft_grapplinghookWhat it is/does: If you hit a cavern or fall into a ravine and don’t have enough blocks to stack up and  climb out with you can toss a Grappling Hook to latch onto a ledge and climb up the wall to safety. Be like Batman and scale canyons in seconds!

Why you need it: If you’re out of materials to build a makeshift “cheat elevator” with to get out of a deep crevice or ravine you might seem stuck, especially if you don’t have the tools to dig your way out. If you’re at the bottom of a canyon and need a way out you can cast the Grappling Hook just like you could a fishing pole and climb up out of a deep cut in the land. The grappling hook will only grab onto a ledge, and once you reach the hook you’re transported atop the block the hook was attached to, less the hook.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: This is a simple item to craft with basic components, making it easy to mass-produce. Because it can be used to quickly scale landforms in an abusable fashion the Grappling Hook is only good for one use before it breaks and a new one must be used. Since it’s classified as a tool these items cannot stack.

 

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minecraft_backpackWhat it is/does: Wearing a Backpack as chest armor won’t offer any protection, but it will double your inventory space to match the capacity of a double-chest!

Why you need it: C’mon, do I really need to explain why you need this? It will double your inventory space! That’s the only reason I have to give!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Carrying twice the normal inventory capacity seems kind of cheap, so to make up for it while wearing a Backpack you aren’t granted any of the protection bonuses as you would wearing any type of chest armor. Wearing this item also prevents your character from dashing, and if it takes too much damage (it is armor after all) it’ll break and you’ll drop the items in the top three rows of your inventory… which you could easily combat by packing an extra Backpack just in case (yo dawg we heard u leik backpacks…).

 

And that brings us to the end of our journey, 11 (12 if you count the double entry) more awesome ideas for useful tools and items for the world of Minecraft! If you read this article and you agree with the ideas, pass it along! Or, if you’re a savvy modder for the game and see something you would like to borrow by all means take what you like and make it work! If you do, send us some screenshots of the items in action and we’ll feature you, your mod, and your site (if you have one) in a shoutout update!

– Dracophile

Some of you reading this might be subscribed to Netflix, if that’s the case then if I quote the phrase “I messed up, I owe you an explanation” you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. The DVD rental and media streaming behemoth has lately been under heavy scrutiny due to raising its prices and changing its available rental/streaming plan structure. What was once “all the DVD’s and streaming you could ever want for ten bucks” now costs — holy shit — sixteen fucking dollars. Stop the presses, this is highway robbery and Netflix is a leather-clad biker wielding a tack hammer strung onto a chain who is also raping your girlfriend at the same time. Netflix’s decision to alter their prices has led to a shitstorm of problems culminating in the company completely severing their trademark “DVD’s in the mail” business practice and stuffing it into their new company “Qwikster”. If you believe jerk-offs like this guy with 26 Twitter followers you’d think Netflix is dead.

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( 1997 – 2011 )

Please. Get over yourselves you whiny pussies. Netflix may have screwed up and dropped the ball but crucifying them alive is no way to treat this company. Here’s five reasons why Netflix, even with the $6 price increase, is still the best deal in TV and movies, bar none.

 

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Have you seen TV lately? I mean, not literally but figuratively; have you paid attention to the amount of utter shit that passes for television these days? Call me cynical but overall television has been downhill since the first season of Survivor. Sure, there have been groundbreaking series such as Lost that demonstrate the lost (hah) art of writing can still keep up with the likes of shit like American Idol but do you know what the real problem is? People are retarded and will mindlessly take in worse and worse programming until everything around them is utter shit. It’s easier and cheaper to cash in on a show about nothing more than a psychologist standing in the house of someone who’s never thrown anything away for two decades and say “holy shit” for 45 minutes multiplied by 20 episodes than it is to go through the process of finding writers, actors, effects artists, catering, or virtually anybody else who doesn’t have a job involving a camera or an editing suite.

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Under that mountain of cat diapers is the last good TV show. Somewhere.

There’s a programming term out there called “least objectionable programming” (LOP) which basically describes a show that you will “tolerate” when nothing of interest is on. Reality TV began as LOP but never went away, in fact while you were busy watching black people yell at each other on Cops producers working for every network in the market were busy reducing costs by getting their own reality shows in the works. What was once mindless crap you’d watch when you had nothing else better to do ended up becoming the status quo. Now there honestly is no television market, every single channel is filled with LOP. Remember when The Learning Channel (TLC) used to show Junkyard Wars and How It’s Made way back in the 1990’s? Yeah, fuck that. It’s easier to follow some unimportant bimbo with 8 kids around and record the mindless shit they do than it is to research and put together something you can actually fucking learn from, you know, considering the word appears in the channel’s goddamn name.

And seriously, where does Discovery Channel get off thinking we want to watch a bunch of old fat guys work on motorcycles for eight fucking seasons?! Holy shit on a Jesus wafer that’s almost 200 episodes of the same exact shit every single time!!

Remember when Animal Planet used to show the documentaries that Discovery Channel used to air? Back when you could watch a program and learn something about an endangered species or something meaningful? Yeah, there’s no money in that anymore, but you want to know what does make money? Midgets with pit bulls. Don’t fucking ask me how but that’s their magic formula. They went from airing educational programming to shows that will make you clinically retarded if you watch them for more than three minutes at a time.

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I don’t know which one is the dog.

And don’t get me started on how the market feeds off of unoriginality. Speaking hypothetically, you know what’s a fun show to watch? Pawn Stars. Now that Pawn Stars has made a quick buck for History Channel there are me too’s out there to completely ruin the market; now we have copycats like Hardcore Pawn and offshoots like Auction Kings popping up on TV. Also, remember the scruffy guy who restores everything the pawn shop buys? Yeah, they gave that nobody a show too. Ever watch American Pickers? What could be better than watching two middle-aged guys wade through the house of someone previously featured on Hoarders? Two chicks doing it. Yeah, Lifetime Network decided that the world needed Picker Sisters, a show that’s exactly the same as American Pickers except the hosts have vaginas. That’s it. Modern-day television is just a cesspool of shit that takes a weekend to shoot 100 episodes’ worth of content and costs a fraction of what it would to produce a show that would require some amount of coherent thought to execute.

How does Netflix fix this? I mean, they have Jersey Shore available for streaming — if you’re Neanderthal enough to watch that kind of crap — but they also feature the few genuine shows presently airing on cable right now. Tired of seeing The X Factor shoved down your throat and want to watch House? Go do it. Want to watch an episode of Saturday Night Live from a decade that didn’t, in your opinion, blow? Go do it. Netflix features most of the programming that gets covered up in a shit-saturated market without having to deal with the shit in the first place.

 

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You know what the best part of watching cable TV is? The part where your show stops so Anthony Sullivan can masturbate into a vacuum steam mop dust-buster and show you how it can improve your car’s performance for only $19.95. Seriously, I believe with the exception of Xbox Live, cable TV is the only thing you can pay for to be blasted with advertisements and it’s only gotten worse since media executives started finding out creative ways to stuff more advertisements into their programming.

On average, a 30-minute television show lasts 22 minutes with the remaining 8 being given to commercials. If you crunch some fuzzy numbers this means that about a fourth of everything you watch on TV is an advertisement. For every three minutes of Piers Morgan punching Howie Mandel in the throat there’s one minute of some ridiculous ad for a Jamster ringtone you don’t need.

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Bobby’s World was the last good thing this man ever did for TV, and that’s pushing it.

The “8 minutes of commercials” became a kind of industry standard, one that’s maintained today, but of course corporations are going to find ways to squeeze in just one more Zhu Zhu Pets commercial into each half-hour of programming because the advertising package for those little electronic hamsters probably cost more than the combined total value of the lives of you and your immediate family multiplied by forty. That’s just extra change in their pockets and since we’re talking about faceless media conglomerates here you know where this is going. Remember when TV shows used to have credits? Actual credits that usually played a reprise of the show’s theme song? Yeah, TV shows made today don’t have those since every channel smashes them into a tiny little column on the left side of the screen so ads can play in the larger half on the right.

Recently Viacom revived some of their old licenses from the nineties to air late at night on the TeenNick channel as “The 90’s Are All That”. As you might imagine, I was pretty floored at the prospect and was eager to see reruns of All That again. The very first night the block aired I knew something was wrong with the episode shown mostly because it didn’t have credits and a lot of the content had been truncated. I sent an email to the department behind the programming block and would you like to know what they told me?

“Due to the changes in the amount of advertising shown on television today as compared to 1994 we had to make some nominal changes to the episodes airing to edit them for time.”

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“CALL NOW FOR MATCHING FLESHLIGHT ATTACHMENTS!”

Yep, Nickelodeon is having to whittle down their old shows because more ads are being shown in television in 2011 than they were 20 years ago. Big surprise, right? Skip all of it, get Netflix.

 

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Perhaps the most infuriating thing about TV is timeliness, something TiVo tried to fix with the advent of the DVR. Most cable companies will give you a free DVR to record your shows which has pretty much led to the dismantling of TV scheduling as we know it. Networks know that you’re probably going to record their best programming and watch it later so they can afford to put their good shows on at their usual times and proceed to fill their morning and afternoon lineup with eight hours of Scrubs or Spongebob Squarepants because that’s basically dead air time nobody’s going to tune into.

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“EM NO SUPARMEN!”

Netflix isn’t a DVR and it doesn’t get new episodes instantly upon airing (that’s what the Internet is for) but if you’re looking to watch a specific episode of a specific show, they have it. There’s no need to wait for the Bob Saget episode of Saturday Night Live to air on E! Entertainment, sitting through three months worth of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (fuck you, Kim Kardashian) just to try and catch your favorite SNL is a thing of the past. All you have to do is turn on Netflix, punch in “saturday night live” in the search box and you’re good to go. You can effectively cut out every single rejected piece of TV trash in a millisecond with the service and watch anything you want right there, right then.  Plus, there’s no commercials.

Also, did I mention the whole “Netflix does full movies too” thing? Because yeah, they do that. I know I’ve kind of underwritten it in this article; you get all the TV shows plus every “premium” movie channel.

 

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Know what you need to watch cable TV? A television. Sounds obvious. You can be poor as shit and still use Netflix though, because while a TV is generally useful for watching TV and movies, you don’t need one. You can watch Netflix on pretty much any TV-enabled device (Playstation 3, Roku, etc) but you can also use their service on your computer, and pretty much all computers are able to play DVD’s these days unless you bought an eMachines junker from Wal-Mart in which case the CD drive is faulty and will start a fire. You could probably watch Netflix on a rock with two sticks glued onto it if they’d give you an activation code for it.

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“So easy even WE can regurgitate catchphrases with it!”

But you can also watch Netflix on a laptop, or a tablet, or a mobile device. Anywhere. You can take virtually every fucking television show and movie ever made with you in your goddamn pocket that you can access at any time. Waiting in line at the airport for your turn for the TSA agent to fit his hand in your ass to search for bombs? You can watch King of the Hill on your Android phone while you stand there spread eagle against the wall. Tired of crunching for that test in the university library? You can login to Netflix on your laptop and watch Aliens from start to finish and turn in an essay on Xenomorphs to your professor because you just don’t give a shit. The point is you can do so much more with a Netflix-enabled device anywhere in the whole entire world than you ever could by sitting in front of your ridiculous 3DTV watching Paula Deen shit butter into a Tupperware bowl.

 

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Finally, standard television is just a goddamn rip off. On average if you subscribe to the “full bells and whistles” package (which is arguably what you get with  Netflix) you’ll end up paying over $100 per month to your cable or satellite TV provider. If you subscribe to Netflix for unlimited streaming and 1 DVD out at a time, which basically guarantees you access to everything they offer with the service, do you want to know how much you’ll be paying?

$16.

No, that’s not missing a zero somewhere, that’s sixteen dollars. For $16 you get a service that has virtually anything ever released on TV that you’d ever want to watch plus movies, you can watch it anywhere, and there are no commercials. Even with the “unfair price hike” that’s still the best deal in entertainment bar none. Even with the ensuing break into two separate companies (owned under the Netflix name) the end result will still be the best damn deal there is.

So everybody needs to quit their bitching and realize that paying $16 to watch the same shit — and then some — that you’d pay $100 for with your cable company is still a pretty damn good deal. There is absolutely no reason people should be up in arms with Netflix other than being whiny little asshats with entitlement complexes. Netflix is to Dish Network as what a value menu cup is to a Super Size one at McDonalds: you’re drinking the same soda, so there’s no reason to buy a giant mug.

– Dracophile and Roastmaster

For the uninitiated or those of you who have lives outside of doing stupid shit on a computer, Minecraft (by Mojang) is one of those games being hailed as “one of the best indie games ever released”. Minecraft is simple, painfully so, which might be the reason why it’s so popular. In a market saturated with needlessly complex bullshit here’s a game where you can just stack a bunch of blocks together that look like a house and let it get blasted by lightning or filled with lava by online griefers wearing giant dongs as a custom player skin. Minecraft is successful because it’s a basic game and you can do whatever you want like Grand Theft Auto minus all the hookers and blow. The creativity is almost endless and lets you combine items and raw materials into dozens of useful tools and decorations.

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Better put that block back where you got it.

We say “almost” though, because although the game is basically a “play by your own rules” open-ended adventure experience, there are a ton of things you can’t make with the raw materials provided. An entire fan-mod community exists to fill this gap, however these modifications are never part of the actual lineup of the game until Mojang picks up the idea(s) and releases them as official items. Below are 11 items conceived by the creative community at GatorCraft, their intended uses, and why they’d be kickass to have in Minecraft.

 

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minecraft_watergunWhat it is/does: The Water Gun is an item that shoots a powerful stream of water which you can use to extinguish fires, push items or mobs around, or attack mobs that are weak against water. The Water Gun’s discharge would simply be an abbreviated form of the game’s own water and would not actually deposit water-spawning blocks.

Why you need it: You never know when you may suddenly become the next recipient of the Minecraft Darwin Awards. Accidents with fire can happen, if you have a Water Gun on your person you’ll be better prepared to deal with it should the need arise. Furthermore Endermen are weak against water, it damages them. This tool could be used as a weapon against those block-stealing asshats.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Because the Water Gun is a tool/weapon you cannot stack them as an item. In terms of durability and considering how much material is consumed by the creation of one (9 iron ingots, a lever, and a dispenser) you could carry yourself with a single Water Gun for a while before you would have to craft a new one.

 

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minecraft_landmineWhat it is/does: It’s a land mine, you hide it somewhere and when an unsuspecting player or mob steps on it… BLAM! Land Mines placed by the user can only be seen by that user and can only be placed on “soft” blocks such as dirt, sand, or snow. Stepping on the pressure plate connected to one causes it to detonate immediately with the force of a regular box of TNT.

Why you need it: A Land Mine can be an effective trap to use against hostile mobs or to indirectly attack neutral mobs by getting them to step on one. Land Mines can be used in PvP maps as a battle tactic or in regular SMP maps to deter other players from approaching private containers. Furthermore you could probably grief the hell out of someone’s server if they haven’t banned TNT by placing a bunch of these all over the place.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Land Mines are similar in composition to standard TNT and because of it are just as powerful and require about the same amount of resources. They can be stackable up to 64 per unit and banned in multiplayer maps with anti-fire and anti-explosive plugins.

 

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What it is/does: A Tent is a safe haven from the threat of mobs spawning when the sun goes down in Minecraft Land. You can pack up a Tent and take it with you anywhere, but like a bed you can only use it at night. Using a Tent causes the night cycle to skip and the Tent is discarded after you awaken.

Why you need it: Ever been stuck in the middle of nowhere while scouting for sights and caverns? When it becomes night time that’s when all the hostile mobs come out to play and if you aren’t prepared for it you can find yourself dead in no time. You can either pack with you a bunch of extraneous crap to assemble a rudimentary safehouse where you currently stand (requires a bed, some kind of building material, and torches) or you can pack a single item and get the whole thing rolled up into one.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: The Tent restores no health, but it is a powerful item that lets you skip time just as if you were safe and sound in your home. For that reason you couldn’t stack these in your inventory (can’t stack beds either) and they are discarded after each use.

 

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minecraft_powerarmorWhat it is/does: Power Armor is a special kind of chest armor that you can wear to boost your attack strength and power! While wearing Power Armor all melee damage done with swords, axes, picks, shovels, and hoes will do twice as much damage, plus improve your chances of getting a critical hit! Other than that, the armor provides the same amount of damage resistance and protection as a normal chestplate.

Why you need it: Let’s face it, you’re going to be fighting other creatures in Minecraft. Whether you’re dealing with plundering dungeons or trying to efficiently get leather items to drop from cows you’re going to be using melee attacks nonstop and Power Armor boosts the amount of damage you can do!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Power Armor takes one less piece of material to craft, however in place of that it requires a single piece of Diamond Block (9 diamonds compressed into one). The boost in attack is largely governed by having to find 9 diamonds, which is more than it takes to make a single piece of diamond chest armor in the first place.

 

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minecraft_regenerator[NOTE: The snowballs in the picture to the left represent Ender Pearls.]

What it is/does: A Teleport Block is an efficient way to let you travel around places of interest on your map. It requires at least two blocks placed somewhere on the map to function, but when activated the blocks act like portals between each other transporting you and your inventory to wherever the other block is located. Having more than 2 blocks in play causes you to transport to them in order of their original placement.

Why you need it: Navigating around your world can be pretty easy when you are only getting started but what about when you branch out to search for caverns, mines, and sites of interest? There’s gotta be a better way of keeping track of all of these places besides pressing F3 and writing down the X and Z coordinates, that’s kinda cheating! Using Teleport Blocks is one solution to getting from place to place quickly so you can survey a mine, mark it, and return at a later time!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Making a Teleport Block that functions requires at least two blocks (which are stackable). Before you can even use a Teleport Block you need to have 10 pieces of obsidian and 8 Ender Pearls, not an easy task considering obsidian requires a diamond pickaxe to mine and Endermen are notoriously dangerous and hard to battle. To minimize the amount of abuse used by these blocks, once they are placed they cannot be re-mined to be placed again elsewhere, they do not drop anything when broken.

 

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minecraft_ninjastarsWhat it is/does: Throwing Stars are sharp metal objects that can be thrown an honorable distance by right clicking (using your viewing cross as an aiming reticle). They’re similar to arrows but do not require a bow to be used.

Why you need it: Because ninjas are cool. No, really though, not everyone fancies themselves an archer in Minecraft. Archery takes at least two spots of your inventory up: one for the bow, and another for the arrows. Throwing Stars take up one space and are a quick solution to do some long-distance damage if the need arises. They’re a practical form of self defense that can easily be fashioned on-the-go if you’re in the middle of a mine.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Throwing Stars are pretty inexpensive to make. One round of crafting is good for 4 stars which do comparable damage to an arrow fired from a bow. Throwing Stars cannot be charged, however, so they only do a baseline damage. This is made up for by not requiring extra equipment to use, you just equip a stack and you’re good to go; they are a quick and efficient item at the expense of doing less damage. Thrown stars are not retrievable, however another idea could be to craft a bigger star out of five ingots (placed in an X pattern) that can be retrieved when thrown.

 

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minecraft_portableritualWhat it is/does: The Portable Ritual is just what its name implies, a portable device that can be used in a pinch. The problem it aims to correct is the possibility of being killed or stranded in The Nether. Using a Portable Ritual is a way to be transported back to the main portal you used to enter The Nether so you may safely restock your items or leave if necessary.

Why you need it: The Nether is a pretty goddamn dangerous place what with its lava ocean and flying squid monsters that shoot explosive cannonballs at you. It’s a pretty scary place and it’s very easy to inadvertently get yourself killed since traversing the lava ocean is treacherous in its own right and building a Netherrack ladder to harvest Glowstone makes you an easy target for projectile weapons. Basically anything you do in The Nether leaves you wide open for a good raping. This is your out; if you are on the verge of death and you have a Portable Ritual you may be able to save your ass and get out alive or at least die close to the portal so you can recover your stuff.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Cheating death is pretty… cheap. Because of this the Portable Ritual takes 8 pieces of obsidian, that’s only two less than the “economy” version of a standard portal. Also like its bigger brother the Portable Ritual requires a flint & iron to function. Due to its implied size you can’t stack these items, and they are a one-time use kinda thing. They cannot be placed anywhere as they are a “tool” item.

 

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minecraft_spikearmorWhat it is/does: Spike Armor is armor made from the tanned and dried hide of the robust cactus. It functions similarly to a leather tunic except while wearing Spike Armor any physical/melee damage you receive will deal a fraction of it back to the attacker thanks to cacti being covered with what seems like a trillion tiny thorns.

Why you need it: Having a variety of armors at your disposal allows you to build a better character, especially with the looming gaze of experience points right at the verge of being used in the game. Spike Armor is a lightweight and easy to fashion piece of protection that is weak overall but functions well for the “scouter” type of miner. Other than making dyes there is no present use for cacti in Minecraft so using it to make a special type of armor gives the resource some additional use.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Spike Armor functions just like leather armor in the scope of protection and durability and it requires just as many pieces to create. It is just as “weak” as leather armor because cacti can be found everywhere and because they are a plant and can be easily farmed the resource is not too time consuming or labor intensive to find.

 

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minecraft_glowarmorWhat it is/does: Glow Armor is a chestplate made from Glowstone that emits a steady aura of light around the player wearing it. The effect of Glow Armor is akin to carrying a lit torch with you wherever you go as a passive effect. Glow Armor offers the same protection as iron armor.

Why you need it: Sometimes throwing down torches when you’re just exploring can be tedious. Additionally if you’re only scoping out small portions of a bigger mine sometimes you don’t need to go through and light the whole place up, having a passive effect can help save on time, time that is better spent exploring!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: One piece of Glow Armor takes 8 pieces of Glowstone to create (or 32 Glowstone dusts) which is only available in The Nether, and usually in very precarious places to boot. Mining enough dust to create 8 full blocks of Glowstone requires much effort making this armor a very valuable commodity with a nice perk to boot.

 

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minecraft_repellantWhat it is/does: Repellent is a form of orange powder that can be sprinkled around on the ground similar to Redstone dust. Hostile mobs won’t go near the dust and will try to find a way around it if they are making an attempt to attack you. If there is no other way to reach you, and if the mob is incapable of jumping, Repellent functions just like an invisible wall.

Why you need it: If you’re digging through a mine and want to make sure nothing is going to surprise you from the back all you have to do is sprinkle a bit of Repellent on the ground and mobs will be kept at bay. Additionally if you’re searching for dungeons and want to crack one open, but don’t want to deal with a flood of hostile mobs, you can salt the floor with Repellent before breaking open the wall so you can safely retreat and attack mobs from a distance.

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Each crafting of Repellent gives you 4 instances of it, with a maximum of 64 per stack. Repellent is a half and half mixture of common stock (Redstone dust) and rare Nether-only material (Glowstone dust), because of this each crafting only gives you 4, but you have the ability to stack them. Much like Redstone dust you can retrieve Repellent and place it elsewhere.

 

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minecraft_ropeladderWhat it is/does: It’s just like a regular ladder… except rope. You can use a Rope Ladder to climb up to places without requiring a wall to be there to place a ladder on. Rope Ladders function like vines in that they can hang from a solid block except with these items you can climb up them.

Why you need it: Not only can the requirement to have a wall behind a ladder can be unsightly for floating structures but traversing the new ravine landmass can be made easier with a Rope Ladder, simply get the ladder started and continue to place more as you climb down to safely reach the bottom of the crevice to further explore!

Value/rarity to usefulness ratio: Similar to the original ladder item crafting a Rope Ladder will yield 2 items. The ability to quickly traverse landmasses without having to use the back of a wall seems exploitable, but this is countered with the fact that string, the required component of Rope Ladders, is only dropped as loot from spider mobs and 2 Rope Ladders require 7 pieces of string to make causing the Rope Ladder to be a difficult item to produce without the use of a mob farm.

 

So there you have it, 11 ideas for craftable items that Mojang or other industrious programmers are welcome to take to use as their own in Minecraft! (But give us a shout-out if you decide to use one!)

– Dracophile

I don’t talk about family much in my articles on GatorAIDS mostly because they aren’t funny (my family, not my articles you asshole). They’re mundane people who don’t really do much of anything of importance and are noticeably quieter than I am. For example, while growing up any time you opened my bedroom door you’d be blasted with the theme song to Crossfire. This was the only door in the house that was sound-activated. Similarly, the place I live now is just as loud and has led to at least five prior evictions. Like any good son I am still in contact with my family and I still visit and see them and we go do family things even though everywhere I walk I’m followed by 80’s hair bands and my actions are normally accompanied by hot guitar licks and people stop and ask me for my autograph constantly because I am INTERNET FAMOUS.

A team of motivational speakers once paid a visit to my brother’s school and spoke to him and his classmates about how bullying is bad and that you should treat others with respect and all that which is perfectly fine. Then they proceeded to break a bunch of shit that they had brought with them because they’re also a performance group. Weird, but again totally fine. Afterward they handed each kid a card that doubled as a ticket to a show they were performing in town.

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EXTREME BRACES.

My brother was just visited by Team Impact and was given a pass to their show. Nobody in my family, except for me, knew what was about to happen.

For those who aren’t in the know, and trust me don’t feel bad because there are a lot of you, Team Impact is a religious group that performs “feats of strength” in the name of Our Lord. Or Their Lord, I guess. I’m atheist so all I see is a bunch of priests with ‘roid rage smashing shit in a church. I may not have a religion but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the beliefs of others, unless they are Christian Furries, so if Team Impact wants to punch holes through wood while reading the Bible they can do whatever the fuck they want. I’ll still look at them like they’re retarded though, not because of the fact that they’re religious but because this is how they practice their craft.

You might be wondering how the fuck these jokers were allowed into a school, a public state-owned facility, when there’s a little clause about “separation of church and state” in the US Constitution. That’s where that little card comes into play; when Team Impact visited the school they broke some baseball bats and deepthroated silicone dolphin cocks stuffed with bricks and told the kids to treat others with respect but they never once mentioned anything about Jesus during the entire assembly. Technically they were just there as performance artists and motivational speakers. The show they were putting on, and inviting the kids to, is where they’d have full reign to preach until they were out of breath and wooden boards to break.

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They even know the art of “planking”.

Nobody was any wiser to their predatory loophole tactics and honestly that’s what pissed me off about these dickwads. They weren’t holding their show somewhere obvious like the First Church of Sammy Sosa or another locale that would have instantly raised suspicions. No, they were performing at a local convention center where everything from monster truck rallies to anime conventions are held every year. A show where people do nothing but break shit seemed like it would fit right in there with Grave Digger and teenage virgins dressing up as Inuyasha characters.

You don’t even know you’re seeing a religious sermon until about half way through the show when the hos-I mean, when the preacher mentions that we should all pray so that Muscles McPecs can fit the entire golf club up his ass. You’re too busy laughing and cheering these jokers on that you almost skip right over the “wait what the fuck did this guy just say” thought. I knew from the moment my brother said “Team Impact” that these guys were a religious group mostly because I waste all of my free time trolling people so I played along like I didn’t know who these people were just because I wanted to see firsthand just how ridiculous they really are. Here’s a YouTube video that demonstrates what I mean:

All these guys do are just a bunch of shitty parlor tricks spaced out with lots of padding and religious quips. That video shows the same “breaking a row of bricks” trick at least four dozen times. Save for things like picking up admittedly heavy objects/people everything they do takes virtually no strength at all if you know the secret to doing it properly so guess what I’m about to do? Yeah, I’m going to tell you exactly how Team Impact does their shows so now the only thing they can be known for is parlor tricks and sermons. Much like the real “miracles” of the Bible if you know the tricks to them you can see there’s nothing but smoke and mirrors in front of you. I’m like James Fucking Randi… except minus the gay thing.

WARNING: As per safety standards and all of that bullshit I am supposed to tell you not to try these tricks at home because they can be dangerous if done improperly. However, since Team Fucking Impact is capable of doing these things and not fucking them up (most of the time), I’m pretty sure you can probably do it too.

 

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Breaking a stack of boards is like an act of rites in the world of martial arts, something you have to do if you want to get that white belt and be knee-deep in pussy, but honestly it’s not that hard if you know the gimmick to doing it. Wood has grains in it and the direction of these grains, the density of the wood, and how dry the wood is all factor in to how easy it is to break it. White pine is used in martial arts because it’s basically the easiest kind of wood to break due to its mostly straight grains and dryness. When you break wood you break it with the grain, not against it; this is why a fucking seven year old can do this.

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NEVER LET THE QUEERS MARRY.

You might be wondering how bricks come into play here then since it’s just a solid piece of stone (or so you think). Is there a secret to breaking a brick, too? Uh, yes. There is. A brick, like wood, will break at its weakest point. Look at the bricks Team Impact is using, they’re the decorative types people buy to put in their gardens when they retire but haven’t yet resorted to eating canned cat food. Not only are some of those bricks not breaking but for the ones that are look at where they’re all failing: right between the circular humps. This isn’t so much a feat of strength as it is taking advantage of the structural weaknesses of garden decorations. Also the concrete mixture used to make these bricks is airier and lighter than most bricks because these are generally purchased in larger quantities from home improvement stores and are used as decor-fucking-aitions and aren’t meant for building or walking on.

What about ice? Team Impact fucking loves to break ice, too. Breaking ice is even simpler: they freeze water in molds that have irregular patterns and holes in them. Where does this ice break when they hit it? On the fucking holes. There’s so many holes in each slab of ice that all you have to do is fart on them and they’ll turn into snow cones.

Stacking breakable objects is negligible. Once you break the top piece the rest come with it as you follow through. Team Impact puts dowel rods and pencils between each piece of wood to make breaking them that much easier.

 

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Back in the 1940’s and 50’s hot water bags were a popular form of relief for back pain and the like but when the electric blanket was invented most people stopped using them in lieu of the convenience of electrical appliances and today hot water bags are mostly used by people with pregnancy and enema fetishes. Oh, and Team Impact likes to blow them up like balloons until they burst.

Also, they look like giant nutsacks when inflated.

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I bet you weren’t expecting it to be THAT blatant, were you?

Haha, you probably thought I was fucking with you. No really, that’s a goddamn scrotum. Here’s a picture from another angle of a member of Team Impact drinking the cum straight out of a freshly severed pair of horse gonads. For all the gay hating and homophobia associated with the church at large here’s a picture that if properly taken out of context, say with an image macro or something, can set Team Impact’s reputation down to that of the Westboro Baptist Church in terms of how seriously people take their message.

So how do you blow up a hot water bag like a balloon?

Like a fucking balloon you idiot. There is no skill to this whatsoever it just looks impressive because the bag reaches a large size before it pops; blowing it up is a matter of holding it in such a way where you can pinch off the top of it to prevent air from escaping while you take another breath and exhale it into the rubber bag. Repeat until deafening boom.

 

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Beginning largely in the 1980’s ripping a phone book in half is something you’d normally see a WWF wrestler or “World’s Strongest Man” do and you’d be in awe because a San Francisco or New York telephone directory is as thick as a Bible except with slightly more worth even in today’s age. Unlike Team Impact the things people with the title “World’s Strongest Man” do actually involve an incredible amount of strength but ripping a phone book is just a trick anyone can do to appear tough. The secret to destroying a phone book in mere seconds spread like wildfire on YouTube and in an episode of Mythbusters Adam Savage takes a moment to demonstrate exactly how to do it and overall Adam looks like a pretty scrawny and average guy. You don’t need muscles to do this.

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“Fuck phone books.” – Adam Savage

I don’t need to harp on this one much, do I? This was an Internet fad, get with the times.

 

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When Team Impact needs to fill the clock while their stage crew preps for another sleight of hand many of the team members will toss one another a can of soda and squeeze it with their bare hands until it bursts turning their preaching sermon into what amounts to a Gallagher concert except somehow even more depressing.

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Haha his inflatable nutsack burs- no wait that’s just Sprite.

There’s some science to this trick but for the most part you can probably guess how to do it. The soda of choice used by Team Impact is diet 7up and/or diet Sprite, and yes both “diet” and “7up/Sprite” make a difference, here’s why. Citrus sodas such as Sprite and 7up are fizzier than other soft drinks sold in stores, this is a fact popular among elementary school science fairs. In addition to that diet sodas have artificial sweeteners in them and because of this are simply more prone to releasing carbonated gasses faster than their non-diet counterparts. What does this add up to? When you shake a diet 7up pressure builds up inside of the can much faster than it would if you were shaking a can of regular Coke. The cans, however, are of the same size and make which means from a common sense standpoint the can of diet 7up would be more prone to failure.

(If you look closely in the photo above you can see a white can of Sprite, that’s diet Sprite, amid the sea of horse semen.)

 

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You don’t have to go to a Team Impact show to see a trick involving a bed of nails. The “bed of nails” gag is something that’s been a part of sideshow circus acts for decades and is a routine trick performed in middle eastern countries. The idea here is that if one nail is dangerous enough to pierce your skin then an entire bed of nails is just stupidly dangerous and if you lay on it and survive long enough to drink a glass of water you’ll leak out of a thousand tiny holes like Bugs Bunny. This isn’t the case. The more nails you add to a bed of nails the less dangerous it becomes, if you can believe that.

The science behind this phenomenon is simple: if you were to step on one nail that’s the full force of your body going down on a single sharp point but with hundreds of nails all in close proximity, and with you laying on your back to maximize the surface area, your weight is distributed across multiple nails and you’re able to safely lay on the bed without so much as a scratch. This example of distribution of weight and surface area makes for a popular high school physics gag, you may have seen it before:

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This is how Trojan tests their condoms.

The nails won’t even pop a fucking balloon, of course you can lay on the bed of nails. The most dangerous part of the bed of nails trick is getting off of the bed and Team Impact just fucking skips it altogether because they wouldn’t know how to do a real trick if they read it on a humor website with “AIDS” in its title. Anytime they perform the nail trick they always place a smaller bed of nails on top of someone’s chest who’s already laying on their back safely on the floor while someone else lays on top of the underside of the bed of nails (what was that about homophobia?). When it comes to the nails it doesn’t matter if you’re on your chest or back, the principle still applies either way; Team Impact simply dumbs it down to its lowest denominator and tests the “sharpness” of the nails by throwing extra cans of diet Sprite at it.

I’m fucking serious.

 

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Rebar is a form of reinforcement steel used in the construction of buildings. It’s the rusting metal you see protruding out of concrete blocks that are all broken up. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and sizes which are invariably more or less resistant to pressures and bending depending on their makeup and diameter. Team Impact likes to bend them “with their teeth” to show off how tough they are.

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This giant paperclip is FUCKING DELICIOUS.

This is one of their “big acts” and honestly out of everything they do this has got to be the most fake of them all. They don’t even bend it with their teeth like they say, the towel is there to simply obscure your view so they can claim that’s what they’re doing. When they bend rebar “with their teeth” they first bend it slightly by hand so there’s a weak point in the metal where a bend has already been started. From here, when they put it into their mouths they simply keep it in place by biting on nothing but the towel (if even that) and bending the rest of the bar by hand. Mind you, rebar isn’t very tough to bend if you get the cheapest shit you can find and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case here since they’ve already proven it to be true in other tricks and are about to prove it again with their final two tricks:

 

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When you see a baseball bat you don’t immediately think of it breaking, it’s a solid piece of wood and it has to be pretty sturdy to hold up to repeated punishments of being slammed against things coming into contact with it at almost 100MPH when the bat itself is swung with enough force to break your goddamn skull. Then again maybe the first thought that pops into your head is the fabled super Grand Slam where a player hits a ball so hard that the wooden bat shatters into pieces and flies into the audience and kills someone. If you’re not immediately thinking of a wooden bat and you spent your childhood playing with aluminum bats (or you were mugged and beaten up with such an object) you might be wondering how the hell this is possible because that bat probably hurt like a sonofabitch.

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Wow great placement of that non-phallic bat there, chump.

Wooden bats are made out of wood (surprise surprise) thus they are subject to all of the structural weaknesses of wooden boards. When Team Impact breaks a bat it breaks in one of two ways: it breaks long the grain of the bat or it breaks at the weakest point (where the handle widens into the bat itself). I’ve explained the science behind wood, here’s a little more about metal bats. Wood naturally absorbs blows and impacts because of the properties of the material, metal does not. To ensure players don’t receive the full force of striking the ball being transferred from the bat directly into their wrists there are a number of features added to metal bats to make them safer to use.

For one, here’s a page full of a bunch of science regarding flexible metal bats. Another simpler option is the placement of a rubber “ring” separating the handle and the bat to absorb and lessen the force being transferred into the player’s hands. Both the flexing point and the rubber ring are the “weak points” of a metal bat and whenever Reverend Brick Puncher snaps one in half it’s less of an impressive feat of strength and more or less simply abusing the structural weakness of the bat itself much like the trick involving bricks and ice.

 

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Finally, we come to Team Impact’s last favorite parlor trick: rolling up a frying pan. Surely something as solid as a frying pan couldn’t be as weak as a baseball bat or a can of diet soda, right? I mean, if you’re like me you have a pan in your kitchen that you cook everything in and for years it hasn’t so much as developed a scratch anywhere on its surface. There’s no way say, for example, a big buff white guy could destroy one with his bare hands, is there?

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FUCK BREAKFAST.

Wrong you are. There’s actually a pretty easy way to decommission a frying pan and it involves buying the cheapest most low-end pan you can find because at first glance a frying pan is a frying pan. If you handed an expensive pan and a cheap pan to someone they probably couldn’t tell them apart because they’re basically identical to one another however its what’s on the inside that matters. Cheaper pans are made of shitty alloys that can hold their shape but they heat unevenly and basically suck at everything they do; just try cooking with one sometime, you will fucking hate it.

These cheap alloys are all it takes for a pan to make a metal “clang” when you tap it on the table but also be completely weak and fragile if you apply enough force. It’s all in the thumbs; getting the proper grip on the pan is key to crushing it, and crushing it easily. It’s all about leverage and keeping the handle parallel with the ground since the pan handle usually has rivets of some sort fastening it to the pan which won’t bend. With enough patience you’ll be well on your way to having one metal burrito that the geniuses at eHow are kind enough to point out isn’t suitable for cooking with if you unroll it.

 

And there you have it. 8 “feats of strength” by Team Impact that are nothing more than petty party tricks. If you were to learn the ropes of these easy tricks and line them up one by one it would take you at most about 15 minutes to go through all of them. Unsurprisingly this is exactly how long it takes Team Impact to do the same if you were to cut out all of the fluffing and padding they do in their shows. Hilariously enough each and every time one of the team members attempt something “hard”, like breaking a bat, the announcer is quick to mention that they “don’t attempt this trick very often” to get the crowd going. There’s hardly any concentration required to break a fucking bat, you just do it, but therein lies the fact that this is about 15 seconds’ worth of entertainment so to stretch it out into a five fucking minute ordeal they do nothing but fake strain under the “strength” of a goddamn three foot long bat no thicker than an inch at its smallest point and make it look like they’re developing a fucking hernia over it until with a sudden “crack” the bat snaps in two.

Then they calm you down and drone about Christ for a while.

All in all, the most hilarious part of the show is seeing just how many people get pissed off at how predatory these dickheads are and walk out during the show once they find out it’s nothing more than a traveling church. There’s a certain hilarious assholishness present in the room when the preacher is begging people not to leave and people continue to walk out of the show with a “fuck you, you lied to us you faggot” expression on their face. I stayed for the whole show relishing in how shocked, awkward, and distressed the rest of my family looked having been duped into the sermon and laughed the entire way home.

But seriously, fuck you Team Impact. That’s pretty goddamn low to try and brainwash kids by breaking bats at their school and duping them into seeing a sermon.

– Roastmaster

Ever come across one of those thrift store finds that just screams out “BUY ME”? Maybe it’s a Hot Wheels car that seems a little pricey but you have a good feeling it’s worth a fortune or it’s the complete X-Files TV series on VHS but either way there’s a good chance you’ve seen something in a shop once before and immediately knew it was a good deal. I had one of those moments myself recently; I bought a Sega Saturn game console for $20.

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Pictured above: One J-Note well spent?

Yeah, I totally just referred to a twenty as a “J-Note” in that picture caption. Speaking of J-Notes, I probably should have just kept it in my pants. Long story short, this $20 Saturn was a nightmare. Now that I’ve spoiled the bulk of the story you don’t have to read this article, but you can if you want to I guess.

Half Price Books is a secondhand store I visit pretty frequently and yes I found the Sega Saturn there… in a bookstore of all places. As big of a fan as I am of classic video games I have never owned a Saturn; I’ve owned copies of rare and/or popular games for the system (Panzer Dragoon, NiGHTS, etc.) but getting my hands on the console complete with its cords and the like was always just a little bit out of my reach. That’s why when I saw the console on sale in the store for $40 I decided to take a look just for the hell of it.

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Books, Records, Magazines, and tons of other unrelated crap.

$40 is about what I’d pay for the console if it were complete with its cables and a controller but the console sitting behind the locked glass case came without a controller, a stark violation of the chain’s policy on accepting used game consoles. I inquired about the exception and was told it’s because they hardly ever get any Saturns in stock. This, of course, coming from a guy who works in a store whose predominant sales come from books. I’m fairly certain they don’t get very many anythings when it comes to stuff that isn’t bound and paperback.

Clearly the second question here was “why does this console smell like utter ass”, then. No, actually it wasn’t; that was my third question, and I only asked it mentally. My real second question was “did you test this” and their answer was a hilariously inappropriate “yes and no”. “And no?” How is there an “and no” with this? You either plugged this thing in or you didn’t, there’s hardly any in between, except of course this console didn’t have any controllers. I was told the console was “plugged in and turned on” but wasn’t fully tested because there were no games to test it with. I guess this guy didn’t get the memo that any given Half Price Books store also has an inventory of about 6,000 CDs from various indie bands and every CD-based console in the history of time has been able to read a music CD but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he looked like his favorite time of day was 4:20.

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Honestly? This just looks like some retarded sciency device from Portal. Or a Sony Discman. Same difference.

I put on my poker face and offered them $20 for the console seeing as how it wasn’t fully tested and missing a controller. The employee wore the same look as he contemplated the offer, then agreed with it and brought the Saturn to the register.

This is all fine and dandy and I’m sure you’re just absolutely fascinated with my trip report from the time I visited Book Land and I’m sure you’re probably wondering where this is all going. Well, remember when I said I mentally asked the question of “why does this console smell like fetid ass”? Yeah, that’s where this comes into play.

See, when I bought this thing I knew full well from its outward appearance — and it’s smell — that this console would need restoration work before it would be fully functional. Yes it was tested but a console in this state could probably go with a good scrubbing to get it in full working order especially since the status of the CD reader was still a big unknown. I knew this when I bought it however what I didn’t know is what was actually inside of the console that I’d been touching and hanging onto and carrying around with me for about an hour and a half. When I took the console home to open it up, the discovery hit me like a swarm of cockroaches.

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Mostly because it was full of DEAD ONES.

The Saturn smelled terrible; it smelled so much like smoke that if I didn’t know any better, and if he wasn’t dead, I’d have assumed this was something coughed up by Morton Downey Jr. At the same time the system also smelled like stale air and public bathrooms but I know from experience that mostly-sealed containers tend to hold scents and they can be cleaned with a little bit of work. The smell wasn’t a dealbreaker and I still paid for the system and took it with me (obviously) but the second I cracked open the case and discovered its special bonus I immediately put the lid back on and concluded that to fix and clean this thing I’d need a hell of a lot more than what I had laying around at the time.

This was bad but if you can believe it, and I know you will because if I led with “full of dead bugs” anything I say past this point will sound plausible, it got worse from there. As I proceeded to dismantle the system piece by piece (outside in the garage so I wouldn’t get roach fragments embedded in my carpet) each layer of electronics I removed uncovered more and more filth. It was like a trip through the layers of Hell except there was only four of them and one of those layers was hypothetically capable of reading disc media. I can’t even explain what this shit was that coated the system and I want to say it looked like dried Coca-Cola but I know better than to assume it was something as innocent as that; for all I know I was scraping and cleaning liquefied insects off of the motherboard of this thing. You know what would help my point here? Another picture:

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The scatological humor writes itself, folks.

Clearly by this point the solution for anybody mentally sound would have been to throw the pieces into a plastic bag and bring it back to Half Price Books and say “here’s the console you sold me, it’s full of dead bugs and AIDS, I want my money back and PS you cockbags should stick to selling books” but I don’t necessarily consider “mentally sound” to be a descriptor that suits my persona. My username is “Dracophile”, you do the math. I was determined to polish this turd mostly out of spite and also to entertain the thought of whether or not this thing would really work once it was all cobbled back together. There was enough filth inside of this console to make a barrio Goodwill store look like Tiffany’s; this console was literally Oscar the Grouch’s jizz rag and I’d imagine using a video game console for that purpose would be bizarrely obtrusive.

Normally when you spot clean or give a tune up to a video game console you can do so with some Q-tips and rubbing alcohol. Despite what Nintendo would lead you to believe, yes, you can safely clean a game with the solvent; Nintendo only told you the liquid melted all games within five miles of an open bottle of it because they didn’t want you to know that a 79 cent bottle of rubbing alcohol from Walgreens can outperform their proprietary $20 NES Cleaning Kit ten thousand times over. Rubbing alcohol is the magical flammable elixir that can solve every single ailment that can befall a piece of gaming equipment except whatever this damn thing was caked with. I’m just going to name it The Invincible Filth and state that it’s a substance deserving of being issued an SCP number.

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Above: The world’s most disgusting game of Operation.

Look at all that crap. Not only does that photograph feature at least eight pieces of a Sega Saturn covered in Event Horizon-scale filth it also has three containers with flammable contents: compressed air duster, rubbing alcohol, and a Sobe bottle filled with Red Bull. This is a containment breach of a Class-XK biohazard surrounded by things that would explode if you did so much as looked at them funny and I sat right in front of it for two hours meticulously cleaning and reassembling this console to put it in working condition. Among the things that needed to be repaired, aside from the millimeter-thick dried brown sludge, included: resetting the springs of the CD tray, replacing the backup battery for the built-in memory, and installing that fancy modchip I got off the Internet.

No, wait. Not that last one.

“Tested” my ass. Who can possibly press the “open” button on a game console, end up opening the lid by hand, NOT put a CD in there, and then say it works? Yeah, it turns on. That’s about all it does. When I opened this thing up it looked like a roach motel crossed with the Holocaust. Opening this console unleashed pestilence of such a scale that it caused the Texas Hill Country to burst into flames. There wasn’t a ghost responsible for making the baby in Paranormal Activity 2 “Michael Jackson” out of his crib, it was the fact that this very console was sitting in the living room of the house.

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That movie had a lot of inconsistencies. Also, this article has now jumped the shark.

I don’t even know where I was going with that Paranormal Activity reference. The fact of the matter is this was more or less a task of reassembling and reanimating a corpse than it was about simply opening and cleaning a video game console. I cleaned each and every piece by hand and stuck it all back together and then I popped in a legitimate copy of Panzer Dragoon. After a journey through metaphorical hell the console sprang to life and the CD tray began buzzing as the laser slid back and forth to read the disc. The console worked.

Yep, you heard me right, the shit-caked Sega Saturn worked.

Since I had established the system was in working condition the next step was to open it back up and ready it for the modchip that I said I didn’t buy. I opened the console to get ready to install the chip and-

Wait, this is a model 1 console. In my haste to get a Saturn for such a cheap price I didn’t even pay attention to the fact that I had purchased the wrong fucking system. Sure, this modchip will work with this system but do you want to see the soldering and modification schematics required?

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This is STEP ONE. Step two involves the phrase “go fuck yourself”.

See, with a second model console the chip is pretty easy to install: bridge a connection, attach a wire to the power supply, plug the chip into an available expansion bay. Simple. With the first run of consoles the chip requires you to have the technical ingenuity of MacGuyver on crack; all of those green lines are new wires that must be run between connections that otherwise need to be bridged. The purple lines are existing connections that need to be severed and the inset shown in the bottom corner is a connection that requires you to connect something from the front of the chip onto the back. You think I can do that? I write unfunny jokes for a living. Screw that. This entire ordeal now only begs one question:

Does anybody want a newly refurbished Sega Saturn for $20?

– Dracophile

The title of this article is pretty crappy and unintentionally vague. “Collectible coins” can reference a lot of things such as video game items, how you can seduce a dragon, or worthless little metallic circles usually bearing national tragedies (both domestic and presidential). Collecting coins is a respectable hobby if you know what you’re doing and if you play your cards right you can cash in your… cash… for more cash (shit was so cash). It’s common knowledge that money and things that resemble money can equal more money so it didn’t take long for companies to show up touting “commemoratives” and “legal tender” currency that only has value if you live in the Bumfuck Islands just off the coast of The People’s Sovereign Republic of Neverland. Coins can be collectible, however just like anything else that’s specifically created to be collectible these “highly collectible” coins whose producers claim will only increase in value will do anything but. Here’s seven “collectible” coins which if you purchased them means you are retarded.

 

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There are a lot of ways you can tastefully pay tribute to a national tragedy, making a pop-up coin isn’t one of them. I don’t understand what the fucking christ National Collectors’ Mint was smoking when they came up with this idea but it must have been something pretty damn potent. When was the last time you could remember seeing such a coin? Exactly. The concept of a piece of currency that has a pop-up feature is so incomprehensibly retarded that when the aliens invade our planet long after we nuke ourselves they’ll find one of these coins in the rubble and conclude there’s absolutely nothing of value or merit on this rock and leave. That’s right, this work of art is so offensive that it’ll devalue the entire planet when the alien terraforming real estate industry picks up in 2116.

Wow. Isn’t that just the most tasteful thing you’ve ever seen? I would have loved to have been in the meeting where someone decided a pop-up coin was an appropriate way to pay respect and tribute to a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of thousands. Who even thinks of this kind of object anyways? I mean, I understand this is meant to be a collectible and not actual currency but you don’t exactly see people turning antique cars into vibrating beds or soda dispensers.

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“Guys I just had a brilliant idea. Let’s make a coin out of THIS. A pop-up coin!!”

The commercial states National Collectors Mint donates five bucks from every sale to 9/11 memorials and efforts which doesn’t exactly make them seem like a bad guy until you find out that the very September 11th charities that NCM donated to rejected the fucking donations. That’s right, the people and organizations responsible for actually giving a shit about those who perished in the attacks had the balls to look National Collectors Mint straight in the eye and tell them to go fuck themselves and that they didn’t want their money, even if it was to the tune of two million dollars.

Yeah, they turned down two million dollars just because they don’t deal with money from con artists.

Not ones to be outdone (or to take the hint that their antics offended legitimate charities), National Collectors Mint produced yet another pop-up coin five years later that included the original Twin Towers gimmick plus a pop-up casting of the USS New York, a ship that was built using steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage.

 

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Maybe you heard about it in the news or from a friend who never believes what “The Man” tells him but a few months ago we killed that Bin Laden guy. Yup, shot him right in the face. All those idle nights at the Army camp spent playing Call of Duty finally paid off. President Obama got to make an address on TV trolling George W. Bush and for a split second the USA shit their pants in patriotic glee. Or maybe we all just rolled our eyes and said “it’s about goddamn time”; I’m not sure on that one, US History was a subject I wasn’t too good at in school. Regardless, the guy responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks paid the ultimate price even if said “price” was only showcased to a group of six soldiers and wasn’t broadcast live to the entire world like the death of Saddam Hussein.

It didn’t take long for someone to make a stupid coin out of the accomplishment, though.

Holy shit did you see that commercial? It was like a goddamn movie! Whoever created that ad must have binged on patriotic movies for at least four straight days before they cut that commercial together. These people are freaking insane and they pulled out all the stops when they came up with this piece of schlock. Sure, National Collectors Mint might try to pull at your heartstrings with their ads but the creatures at Historic Coin Mint just do not give a shit. Complete with reenactments filmed in broad daylight with fucking night vision (IT’S GREEN IT MUST BE TOP SECRET) every second of this commercial hits you with 100% unrefined patriotism. They even got a buff Army-lookalike guy to unpack the bonus mission guide that comes with their coins:

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“I asked for a goddamn toothbrush and deodorant and they sent THIS SHIT?”

Not only do you get a gold coin plus three novels’ worth of military facts and a nerdy lapel pin for 20 bucks they’ll also throw in a silver coin exactly like the gold one absolutely free. I’m not an economist but for them to be able to sell both a gold and silver coin for under $20 the precious coating on the outside of that coin cannot possibly be more than .01 nanometers thick, it’s simply impossible. However regardless of the actual lack of value of this currency the “JUSTICE COIN” is legal tender in all former Confederate states.

 

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If I hadn’t just shown you a 9/11 coin that has a pop-up feature you might take one look at this next coin and doubtfully cross your arms and roll your eyes. Come on, a light up coin? Really? No, I’m not trolling you. This is a real coin, I swear. Would you believe it, though, that the same geniuses responsible for bringing us the September 11th pop-up coin are also responsible for inventing the world’s first light up coin? Yep, what we have here is another brilliant idea from National Collectors Mint who proudly touts their creation as “world’s first” without really understanding why nobody has ever been retarded enough to make a light up coin.

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See the twinkle? That’s value added.

[Editor’s Note: The commercial for this coin has been pulled from YouTube.]

If you’re paying attention to the advertisement and not simply watching it to laugh at how ridiculous of a product this coin is you may have picked up on the passing mention that the coin is actually legal tender in the Republic of Palau. You may also have watched the commercial and started wondering why the music implies that somebody is about to get murdered. This coin really is legal tender in Palau though it’s “non-circulated” meaning that the Palau government isn’t minting this currency themselves probably because they don’t have proper access to the assembly lines required to put fucking lights in their money. All this talk of Palau, however, is probably causing you to wonder just where in the world this place is because let’s face it you haven’t even heard of its existence until just now.

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Palau is right there. In the circle. In the water.

Yep, right there next to Indonesia… somewhere. Palau’s economy is more than likely based upon Nike sweatshops and Komodo dragon maulings. When it’s not busy existing as a natural connect-the-dots puzzle Palau enjoys things like financial bankruptcy and being the butt of jokes told by Internet comedians who really don’t understand or know anything about Palauian (??) culture and/or history. Seriously, sorry Palau but you can’t say letting NCM mint currency for you — currency that lights up — wasn’t a lapse of judgment on your part. Somewhere out there in Palau a convenience store owner probably has more of these things than he knows what to do with even though legally they’re worth exactly one dollar.

Their economy is now a joke thanks to National Collectors Mint.

 

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Quick! Name something Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy have in common!

You probably just said to yourself “they both got shot in the head”. Congratulations, you’re thinking alongside 99.9999% (that’s four nines) of the US population. The other 0.0001% is the CEO of National Collectors Mint who honestly thinks you can market a coin-based product called “The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” featuring Lincoln and Kennedy and not have it focus on the obvious fact that both presidents were assassinated and have airs of conspiracy theories around them. Come on, for fuck’s sake their heads are the only thing featured on the coins and wouldn’t you know that’s exactly where both of them were shot. Seriously, the product page for this coin set starts its list of facts with “Lincoln was elected in 1846 and Kennedy in 1946” and it doesn’t take long for it to fall apart into assassination facts from there.

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This is what’s on the back of both coins.

What could have been a coin set that paid tribute to things that didn’t involve each president getting a bullet lodged in their skulls, such as Abraham Lincoln’s drive to abolish slavery or John F. Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis, ends up being a tasteless rehashing of tired facts and celebrates their terms in the most inappropriate ways possible. Yeah, we know both of them were shot by crazy people so why don’t you save that kind of over-analytical nonsense for Final Destination and conspiracy theorists to wallow in? What’s next, are you going to make a coin out of the grassy knoll and the play Lincoln was seeing before he was killed? There wasn’t a commercial for this product but I’d have loved to see it because there’s nothing quite as tacky as National Collectors Mint more than likely taking footage of Kennedy’s assassination and looping an animation of a spinning coin on top of it.

I’m just surprised they didn’t make this coin play the national fucking anthem or something since they’ve already secured the market for both pop-up and light up coins.

 

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People have different ways of commemorating George W. Bush; some people make coins and others make toilet paper, but you’d be surprised how many of the former don’t understand Stephen Colbert’s “great president or greatest president” joke. Political affiliations aside it’s pretty commonplace for presidents to appear on currency and currency commemoratives, that’s simply tradition… however the only denomination President Bush should ever appear on is the $1 trillion dollar bill — the approximate cost of the war in Iraq/Afghanistan.

I’m not going to lie, the only real reason I selected this coin for this article wasn’t so that I could take pot shots at G.W. but instead so I could make fun of the “coin expert” who kind of resembles a fatter Super Mario. I mean, he’s not the first ever paid testimonial to grace our televisions but he’s one of the few who suffer from a blatantly obvious case of “I’m reading this from a script” syndrome. There’s absolutely nothing sincere or genuine about the way he deadpans his lines or acts like he’s really inspecting the Bush coin. The people behind American Mint’s commercial could have had better success getting a bunch of socially awkward You Can’t Do That On Television lifers to narrate and fake enthusiasm about their shitty product.

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American Mint should have made their currency INTERACTIVE.

Also what’s with the tagline of “we’re only making 50,000 of these and destroying the molds”? American Mint is either grossly over-estimating or under-estimating how collectible they perceive their product to be. Furthermore “worldwide limited availability”? Yeah, I’m sure people in Russia and Japan give two shits about getting their hands on a coin that’s worth exactly nothing. Additionally, speaking of value, the coin claims it’s worth $10; ten bucks where? It sure as hell isn’t American currency so unless there’s some unknown country approving the minting of this trash (I hear Palau is receptive to such offers) this token, valued at ten American Mint Fun Bucks,  is worth exactly $0 in the real world. It’s pretty hard for something worthless to increase in value, great job guys.

 

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When Barack Obama became President Obama two things happened simultaneously: African-Americans coast to coast rejoiced that the nation came together and elected a black president, and someone else made a fucking plate. Dare I say it, Barack Obama’s inauguration may very well have had more shady merchandise based off of it than all ten years’ worth of 9/11 commemorations. From shirts to plates to bumper stickers and posters everybody was getting in on this whole “we got a black dude in the White House” nonsense, completely devaluing and undermining the gravity of the accomplishment in the process, but nothing takes the cake quite like the coins offered by U.S. Coin Network. It was common knowledge that somebody was going to make a stupid ass coin to “remember” this historical time, but nobody thought it would be this crazy. Here’s Montel Williams with how you can own a piece of history.

I apologize for the crappy video quality because as much as I’d like to say the actual commercial looked like that it doesn’t. That is the way Montel Williams actually talks, however. Montel is incapable of coherent speech, whenever he opens his mouth he ends up compressing multi-syllable words into something resembling the rambling and incoherent drawl of a drunk man. Despite this he still finds ways to show up on TV hawking everything from Obama coins to blenders to loan sharks and even colon cleansing products. (Fact: Montel’s colon cleansing system is him putting his mouth onto your butthole and sucking everything out of it.)

I could tear into Montel Williams for an hour and a half but that wouldn’t make a lick of difference. Montel does nothing but promote products that are more worthless than the airing rights to his canceled talk show but these Obama coins are the alpha and the omega of everything he has or will ever promote. I could tell you what’s wrong with these coins myself, but I think showing you another video would be the best route:

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They’re fucking quarters with stickers on them.

U.S. Coin Network’s website could not have possibly been open longer than a weekend or however long it took customers to find out that they had bought $1.25 worth of quarters for twenty bucks. Judging by the quality of the printed stickers in the news broadcast you wouldn’t even have to be in the same building as the Obama coins to have them set off your bullshit detectors. Either nobody told Montel what he was selling or he’s simply stupid enough to believe putting a sticker on top of a Chuck E. Cheese token qualifies as minting currency which is pretty terrifying considering he’s doing ads for Money Mutual these days.

Lesson learned: Never take financial advice from Montel Williams. Montel Jordan on the other hand…

 

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If I were to tell you National Collectors Mint (yeah these guys again) was offering a $20 bill commemorating September 11th there’s a pretty good chance you’d assume they were selling real $20 bills pre-folded in such a way that makes it look like the burning Twin Towers, but you’d be wrong. Don’t worry I was shocked to hear otherwise too but the actual product is so much funnier: it’s a $20 silver certificate bill, in Liberian currency, valued at exactly $20 (Liberian). It’s a legal tender bank note that I suppose you could use to pay for something in Liberia, but I’m not sure what. Maybe a plane ticket for a flight out of Liberia?

Take it all in. All of it. This was a real commercial.

I don’t even know where to begin. The factoid calling out to me the loudest is the description the uploader on YouTube provided. He was watching an episode of madTV and thought this commercial was one of their gag ads which I guess places commercials by National Collectors Mint on the same level of entertainment as second-rate variety shows.

After watching that commercial my head is just a sea of mindfuck. National Collectors Mint states  their silver certificate is bigger than all denominations of US currency. Uh, great? How is that a selling point? Actually how is that a selling point so strong that it’s used as the first one of the commercial? Who cares if it’s bigger than US currency, that doesn’t mean it’s worth more; I’m fairly certain that’s what the numbers on the fucking bill stand for — and oh god does NCM have a grip on numbers. My favorite part of this commercial isn’t the fact that they discovered 9 + 11 equals 20, but that it apparently took them seven years to figure this out. Just think, they invented the pop-up coin in the interim even though this whole time the numbers “9” and “11” were sitting right in front of them just waiting for someone, anyone, at NCM to make the connection.

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This smarmy bastard may have failed the first grade but he’s an S-class con.

One of National Collectors Mint’s favorite hobbies was promoting coins that were made from “Ground Zero silver”, silver recovered from bank vaults underneath the World Trade Center. Boy oh boy did NCM love to rape the hearts of veterans and families with that tagline by claiming the silver was “priceless”. Actually it wasn’t “priceless”, it was worth about $4.20 an ounce on 9/11/2001. Just a factoid. Silver sitting inside of a vault without any kind of special markings that would connect it to a historical event like a shipwreck or a terrorist attack is worth exactly whatever the trading rate of silver is on any given day and I’m fairly certain the “recovery silver” wasn’t stamped with WTC seals or anything of the sort. It’s fucking silver. Silver is silver, that’s why it’s called silver.

After they’ve hit you with enough patriotism to make even Toby Keith vomit they remind us all that their note is being sold at “face value”, which is $20. What they fail to mention is that this is $20 in Liberian currency which is worth approximately 31 cents (USD). If they were really selling this at face value then you’d almost be able to buy this with one of those counterfeit Obama coins mentioned earlier in the article. Also it’s not solid silver because there’s no way you could stretch 31 cents’ worth of silver into something bigger than a bill of actual US currency; it’s apparently a piece of thick cardstock paper covered in silver leaf so not only is it needlessly expensive it’s also fragile and ultimately worthless in the end. The only place these bills will ever end up is, well…

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WTB: Worthless Liberian currency.

– Dracophile

 

I’ve been writing observational and product-based Internet comedy for far too long; it’s gotten to the point where I cannot go to a bargain store without feeling like I have to glance at the cheap toys or Mexican DVD’s because there’s a chance I’ll find something that would make a great base for an article. I only ever write articles for about 30% of the crap I buy, the rest just gets tossed out or Goodwill’d. That mentality has to change if I plan on keeping GatorAIDS relevant, current, and updated on a regular basis so here’s the theme of today’s article. It’s so hilariously atrocious that all I have to do is say it and then smack down WordPress’ “More” line because I know you’ll love it. Are you ready? Here it is:

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Dun, dun, DUNNNNNNN.

Counterfeit Lego. And now here’s the More line:


I’m going to assume everybody reading this knows what Lego is. If you don’t then please check to ensure you’re a part of the “Earth” demographic that visits this site (shout-out to all of my homies on Reptilicus-9!). Lego — you know — those ridiculously overpriced pieces of plastic that snap together to form models that you can play with for all of about three minutes before the wheels and stuff pop off? Yeah, a counterfeit of that. While gawking at all of the crap sold at a Dollar General store I visited while away on a trip I came upon the toy aisle wherein after discharging the contents of one damaged container of silly string directly into the face of GatorAIDS columnist FPS ref1ex I discovered a small cache of these glorious products.

Counterfeit Lego, to me at least, is like an elusive Pokemon in the comedy world. I’ve seen other people post about it but never once have I discovered any of it for my own. Mega Bloks and other widely distributed off-brands don’t count; I’m talking real legitimate knock offs here, the kind where the packaging just screams “the contents of this box were made in a sweatshop in China and in accordance with Chinese work standards contain at least half of a human finger”. One of the main places I go to get my dose of Not Lego comedy is a site called Reasonably Clever but honestly rather than genuinely laugh at the content there I end up questioning the mental stability of the webmaster. I mean, I just want to laugh at counterfeit Lego; I don’t want to know the exact part and model numbers being ripped off. That kind of Lego dedication is borderlining on being downright creepy.

No, I take that back. It is creepy. It’s fucking Lego, dude.

I understand the webmaster’s “duty” to provide clean content seeing as how when he isn’t making fun of things like Zephyr Knight Skeleton Town Treasure he maintains a G-rated comic strip made entirely out of Lego (obsession much?). Me? I don’t have to watch my content for family-friendly programming. Fuck your family. I’ll say whatever I want because GatorAIDS isn’t a kids’ site. It has “AIDS” in the title; if you’re letting your child on this place then you’re a worse parent than Casey Anthony. Just to spite your parenting skills I’m going to throw down a sex term that your kid is now going to ask you about. Dirty Sanchez.

We’re all adults (mostly) here at GatorAIDS and we’re going to be treating and playing with these toys as such, so without further adieu here’s the loot:

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Phat lewtz.

Here we have five sets of Bizarro Lego representing the fine craftsmanship of two companies: Best-Lock and Funmark, two establishments whose websites look exactly how you’d imagine a manufacturer of dangerous knock-off toys would. Seriously, it’s freaky. Both companies have their products brought to us by the fine folks at DOLGENCORP LLC. I don’t know if the capital letters are required or not but it appears as such on both types of boxes; whoever was responsible for typing up the DOLGENCORP name left caps lock on. (Fun Fact: If you haven’t figured out the mystery puzzle, “Dolgencorp” is a mashed up abbreviation of “Dollar General Corporation”.)

Moving right along, here’s the lowdown on the three sets from Best-Lock.


 

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Straight from either China, Germany, or Canada we have three members of the Best-Lock toy family. I say they’re from those three countries because I can’t tell for sure. The box says “Made in China” but it also says the designs and concepts were created in Canada and Germany (and let’s not forget our friends in the United States who brought these blocks to us). That’s right; it took a UN meeting to make these toys happen. Best-Lock earns bonus points for fostering international peace right off the bat. They then shatter this notion of peace by apparently being licensed by the US Army to make official Army play sets because I guess when it comes to doing things cheap the Army knows how to get it done in the most efficient manner. Cue Iraqi War jokes.

One thing Best-Lock really wants us to know is that their bricks “work with other brands”. This message is repeated on the box three times in English and nine other times in a variety of other languages including Italian, French, and Klingon plus the context-less phrase “100% COMPATIBLE” is emblazoned on the box as well; that’s 13 instances of compatibility which falls just a mere 2 phrases short of becoming an e-Harmony commercial. What these “other brands” are Best-Lock does not say… but clearly these are Mega Bloks rip-offs.

The rest of the box is simply a crapshoot of repeated phrases and graphics. The back of the box lists all the pieces contained inside the set while every other side of it has the Best-Lock logo and some mentioning of compatibility with other brands. The front of the box says that children aged 0-3 shouldn’t play with these toys (if I were Stuart Ashen I’d call the icon a “Sad Onion”) and yet the bottom of the box says that you should be at least five years old to ride the Best-Lock rollercoaster. I guess they can’t quite make up their minds. It’s also apparently recyclable if you want to throw it away I guess. Or maybe it’s not and this is just a collection of regurgitated iconography that shows up on every counterfeit product in the world (hint: it is).

 

clego_parts_policeThe first hate crime I opened from Best-Lock was their police car which I have somewhat  affectionately named “Donut”. Donut came with a bag of parts, a couple of “POLICE” stickers, and some instructions whose first two steps were “put the wheels on, then flip the thing over”, because I guess you need two steps for that.

The first step requires you to build upon an existing car frame which is suspiciously thin and brittle. I measured it and it’s exactly one millimeter thick. For our American readers who never bothered to learn the Metric system you can consider this “Really Goddamn Thin” and can achieve the same thickness by folding a piece of paper in half. That’s what I’m working on here; the damn thing bends in the middle.

Upon sticking this together I realized that this is essentially a solid brick with wheels and required all of about thirty seconds’ worth of effort to come up with. Half of the pieces stuck together so incredibly well that they may as well be superglued while the other half simply would not lock in the least bit. For a company called “Best-Lock” you’d think they’d have at least the meaning of their company name down but honestly what could you possibly expect from a second-rate imitator? I completed Donut, stuck his stickers on the side panels, and then promptly realized that the wheels don’t turn very well and they don’t come off; meanwhile, the windshield will simply not stay on.

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“To protect and DERP.”

 

clego_parts_firetruckUp next and also from the Best-Lock “TOWN” series is this fire truck that I never assigned a name to because I loathe its very existence. For this reason it shall forever be known as “Untitled Fire Truck”.

Untitled Fire Truck also came with a couple stickers of poorly printed generic fire truck graphics but it’s suspiciously lacking the same cheap brittle base that Donut came with. Instead, the very first step of this thing’s instructions are to set a bunch of pieces side by side and then place a longer flat piece on top of them. This is somehow easier than starting with the long piece as a baseplate; Best-Lock are clearly the experts here, not me.

For the most part this truck was a no brainer with the exception of its windshield. Untitled Fire Truck expressed the same exact flaws resulting from cheap molds and crappy plastic but it demonstrated it in such a way that it caused the windshield piece to simply refuse to stay on. I don’t mean that it was loose and just fell off easily (like the police car), I mean that the pieces were so warped and screwed up that placing the windshield on would inevitably cause it to fly right the fuck off.

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But nonetheless I got it to sit still.

 

clego_parts_kimmyFinally we come to the last Best-Lock car, a pink Jeep-looking thing that I have named “Kimmy” for no reason other than that’s what it was called on the box and I figured the name was stupid enough to stick. Kimmy didn’t come with any stickers but she came with the same black baseplate as Donut which ends up sticking out like a sore thumb amid the nauseating sea of pink blocks.

Even though Kimmy clearly looks like a convertible it’s the only vehicle out of the three that has proper doors which look like obvious rip-offs of the same part that Lego includes sporadically in their sets. One of Kimmy’s doors suffers from a case of super glue while the other won’t stay on worth a damn. Mmmm, quality.

It’s worth pointing out, now that we’re three cars into this article, that all of Best-Lock’s cars don’t have rubber tires. They have these nasty horrid plastic pieces of shit that kind of resemble wheels but don’t serve their purpose at all. A better idea would have been to just make all of these damned vehicles into sleds because that’s about all they amount to with the hardware provided by the factory.

But I digress. Here’s a completed Kimmy:

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Please MTV, pimp my ride!


 

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Now this is REAL counterfeiting at its best. Best-Lock made an effort to make their toy packaging stand out and look legitimate but Funmark just does not give a shit at all. Their line, titled “Fun Mini Bricks Set”, is just a sad looking mish-mash of ugly fonts and Web 2.0 clip art no doubt stolen from some Angry Birds rip-off. The photograph of the model on the box isn’t even in focus. Both boxes are described as being a “Harvester” yet neither one actually looks like a harvester; upon flipping the box over I’m greeted with the phrase “collect all harvester in different version” which leads me to believe that nobody at Funmark knows what a harvester actually is. It’s like they only received one page out of a “Learn English Fast” book that focused solely and entirely on farm equipment and this was the only word they learned.

Funmark takes Lego pretty damn seriously and suggests that their products are for kids 6 years old and up. Honestly by this point if your child is six and he’s still putting Legos and shit in his nose then he’s probably retarded. You can stop fooling yourself into believing he’s a “late bloomer” and just accept the fact that either your sperm is defective or your womb is a fail factory.

Unlike the Best-Lock toys, which were of different vehicles, these two Funmark cars are basically the same thing so to tell them apart I’m just going to name them by the color of the hat worn by its driver on the box: Green and Red.

 

clego_parts_greenI almost cried in glee when I opened the box and poured the contents out. I was expecting some kind of half-assed attempt from Best-Lock judging by the amount of work they put into their packaging but with Funmark I was just expecting bottom of the barrel absolute garbage, and oh my god. Oh. My. God. This is it.

First things first, we’re renaming this vehicle to “Gray” because unlike the picture on the box this person isn’t wearing a green hat. Due to the color of his headwear I’m assuming he’s a member of LulzSec; I honestly thought they would be driving nicer cars. Secondly I feel the need to point out the fact that our friend Gray here isn’t wearing any pants. He’s straight up driving his pseudo-farm equipment while freeballin’ it, and that my friends takes balls. Balls which I can clearly see.

It took me a moment but I realized that the Funmark sets are the only two that came with people. All of Best-Lock’s vehicles are apparently driven by ghosts or are kidnapped members of the Cars movie universe that have undergone heavy surgery to obscure their grotesquely horrifying faces. I guess you’re trading perceived quality for the inclusion of little people.

I don’t know what Gray is driving but it sure as hell isn’t a harvester. This thing looks like it has machine guns or something on the side. Also I don’t understand the need to have included transparent blue blocks for the front end of the car, is it for added coolness? If so how come the rest of the car is a bunch of ugly mismatched crap? Who cares, here’s Gray in all his implied glory:

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He can’t even reach the damn steering wheel.

 

clego_parts_redI’m not going to lie to you, Red is almost no different from Gray; the two even share some parts between them like whatever the hell those red handlebar things are. They also both like transparent blue for some reason I have yet to figure out. Red also came with a god awful assortment of colored parts. Much like his friend Gray they all match about as well as an average Jersey Shore cast member trying to dress themselves.

I guess if I were as well-educated about Lego as the guy from Reasonably Clever was I could be a lot more critical of these sets, but I realize all I do here is look at the box and laugh, open it and laugh, assemble the  set and laugh, and then go touch myself to Jurassic Park. I really don’t know how to make a joke that appeals to Lego fans. I don’t know if this is a rip-off of some popular set or what, but I know I can strike a humor chord with you geeky types by saying someone ripped Red’s brain out.

No, I mean it. I took his hat off to see what he was hiding. He doesn’t have a brain. He seems to be a good sport about it though.

Since these are the only two sets that came with little mini-figures I decided it would be for the best if I at least took a look at these jokers. Both of the guys that came with Funmark’s “harvesters” have malformed asses; neither of them can “sit” on their vehicles with their full ass because the little holes in their buttcheeks where the brick studs would go are too small. I thought long and hard about the various anal sex jokes the previous sentence implied and after working my crank mentally I simply decided to go with the obvious “they must be virgins” joke.

They also have a serial number of some sort printed directly on their backsides; Red, for example, is 4XX5F10. Actually they both are. Nevermind. Trying to unravel the mysteries of Funmark’s idiocy is too damn hard. They should stick to making unsafe trikes for babies or whatever it is they spend their time doing because I know it sure as hell isn’t Lego or Flash intros for their site.

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I guess it doesn’t take a brain to drive this.

 

With all five of these sets built (and about $6 poorer after buying them) I found myself without much more to do so I decided to end this exploration into the realm of shitty knock-off Lego the only way I know how: by fighting the cars against one another to see who’s the King of Cheap. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Cheapo-Demo-Lego-Derby:

Additionally, the Reasonably Clever blog I had mentioned previously in this article likes to take an arrogant and pretentious road and boast about not being able to wait to throw these sets in the trash. Why? Why throw them away? These things are fucking fun because they’re so cheap. Look at this aftermath of Cheapo-Demo-Lego-Derby, I haven’t had this much fun since- wait, wait what is that? OH GOD WHAT IS IT DOING?!

 

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– Dracophile and FPS ref1ex

About two years ago I was a guest editor on the now defunct website VitalViper where I maintained the weekly humor column 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days in the Life Of Dracophile (don’t worry, if you’re interested in reading these articles they’ve all been reposted here on GatorAIDS and dated accordingly). One of the articles I claimed as a WIP but never had the chance to write was this very one. I resigned from the website rather unceremoniously due to personal reasons and took most of my article WIP’s with me; this particular one has sat at the bottom of my “ideas” list since then only because its subject matter isn’t something that I felt I could portray as “funny”. The article is more somber than anything, depressing if you’re in the right frame of mind mostly because it’s a kind of “tour” of sorts of a large mall that is basically dead, and I mean dead. Aside from a Sears there’s literally nothing inside of Sunrise Mall; it’s about as hollow as a cheerleader’s skull.

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THESE DOLPHINS ARE HOMELESS.

With that said I’ll still do my best to present this tour of a living-dead mall in a humorous light though it’s kind of hard to do so when you’re explaining how grand a place where you spent your childhood used to be.

First, a brief history lesson. Sunrise Mall was constructed in 1979 in Corpus Christi, Texas with a number of anchor stores. “Anchor” stores are the businesses occupying the giant (and usually dual-floor) spaces in a mall and they’re called “anchors” because if you lose them your mall will float directly into the Bermuda Triangle; the aforementioned Sears is the only anchor store remaining in Sunrise Mall. (Well, that and a Burlington Coat Factory. They must sell a fuckton of coats but considering the temperature in Texas never drops below 100 I’m going to assume Burlington is a drug front.)

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Maybe Mervyn’s should have sold drugs too.

According to Wikipedia (who also agrees that multiple stroke victims have higher vital signs than this property) the mall met its first decline when the Frost Bros anchor store closed in 1988 (it was later bought by Burlington Drug Factory). If there was a decline then I missed it because during the 1990’s Sunrise Mall was still booming. They had a Cinemark movie theater for $1 movies that had already enjoyed their runs in the regular cinema circuit, a brand new food court, more parking garages, a Stein Mart store, and Montgomery Wards. Sunrise Mall was still a better alternative than the mall right down the street: Padre Staples Mall.

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I guess Sunrise Mall really WARDED off Wards, oh ho ho!

Padre Staples Mall in the 1990’s was what Sunrise Mall is today: a decrepit and run-down building that smelled of urine and dead homeless people. Padre Staples Mall was a mess, it had stores but for the most part each business sat between two closed storefronts and the food court almost seemed like an afterthought. The mall had a giant carousel in its center foyer but given the atmosphere of the place there was a 100% chance that if you rode it you’d be groped by at least three child predators hiding underneath the spinning tea cups. To summarize, I remember going into Padre Staples Mall once before and finding what appeared to be baby shit all over the floor by the entrance doors. I have yet to find doo doo at Sunrise Mall but honestly it’s only a matter of time.

The Wards picture up above is kind of a spoiler but honestly you can mark the more rapid downfall of the mall with the closure of that particular store. Montgomery Wards (no relation to the flea market of the same name) fell apart financially around the end of the nineties. In an effort to save money they hacked “Montgomery” off of their name and became just “Wards” (I think to save on the amount of money it cost to have those giant light-up marquees made) but it wasn’t enough. The company went bankrupt and liquidated all of its assets and the Wards at Sunrise Mall closed. Mervyn’s followed suit a few years later after Sunrise Mall just had to build Mervyn’s space special for the outlet to open. There was a Stein Mart (a general clothing store) on the property that helped keep the mall alive but the problem was that Stein Mart was only accessible from the parking lot and it was connected to the mall by a long corridor. Stein Mart didn’t close but they said “fuck this” and moved their business to the shopping center across the street next to Target and a grocery store.

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Stein Mart had a special sign and everything.

Sears is still open because they are fucking Sears; they could open in the middle of Chernobyl and still stay in business because they’re a successful company. There are two parking garages at Sunrise Mall, none of them are near Sears, therefore none of them are ever occupied. The parking lot outside of Sears is about the only place you’ll ever see cars at the mall and that’s only because people are there to buy a new lawnmower, a tool set, glasses, and shirts. Burlington Coat Factory is still open because, like I said before: drugs.

In 2008 the property was foreclosed on by the bank and their energy provider had enough of Sunrise Mall’s non-paying bullshit and cut the power temporarily. If there were any businesses there by this point they were long gone, enough was enough. Presently, and I’m being serious here, there is one place in the food court, the movie theater, the aforementioned anchor stores, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, a POW/MIA memorabilia store, an ironic unemployment office, and about three dozen empty stores and broken dreams. There are no “middle of the walkway” kiosk stores, all of them went bankrupt and closed. At best you’ll run into about seven people walking around inside the mall and eight of them are going to be old people walking around for exercise looking at the various storefronts and talking about what used to be there.

So, that’s it for Sunrise Mall. There’s nothing left and the property is only really open because there’s a Sears. Late at night the entire mall closes down except for the movie theater which has only stayed alive because people apparently don’t mind watching damaged films for $1 (50 cents on Wednesdays). What follows below is a breakdown of what the mall looks like today along with my insight or reflections on what used to be there.

 

Food Court

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“Oh boy let’s go see FUCKING SMURFS!!”

When it had more than just the suspiciously named “Orange Creations” the food court at Sunrise Mall had about a dozen outlets you could eat at. Among them were a Wendy’s, two Asian food places, an ice cream bar, Orange Julius, a pizza place, and a handful of others all strung together side by side with a giant faux boat whose deck made up the majority of the dining area. One by one as traffic began to subside the eateries all closed until only Wendy’s and Orange Creations were left. There’s another Wendy’s in the mall’s goddamn parking lot (which is still open) so the chain saw no need to have two locations that were essentially next to each other; the food court Wendy’s closed.

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Just one of the many unkempt neon food court signs in the mall.

As a kid, back when there were actually places to eat at in the mall, I can fondly remember seeing movies with my mother and getting a bite to eat afterward; there were a lot of options. My favorite place was a restaurant front called Famous Corn Dog. Famous Corn Dog, like the name implies, was a Mexican food place. No, I’m kidding. They sold corn dogs and that was about it. When you’re five years old a restaurant that serves nothing but corn dogs and chicken nuggets is like and early Christmas; these days I probably wouldn’t eat there unless I was doing so for nostalgic value but honestly walking alongside the empty storefront really made me want another one of their dogs. At least I can remember what it was like to sit on a giant fake boat and eat one, though.

Once the mall began to fall apart the food court fell into disrepair (like the dead neon above shows). Places started routinely failing health inspections and it got to the point where no restaurant, even the Wendy’s, could score above a “B” with most places reeling in C’s and D’s and dare I say F’s. It wasn’t because they didn’t take care of their stuff, it was solely because the mall owners just couldn’t afford to keep the place clean. Walking through the food court you can really see artifacts of age, like soda machines touting logo stickers from the 1980’s, things that really needed to be replaced 20 years later but never were.

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Ohhh, you wanted a cookie? FUCK YOU.

Great American Cookie (or whatever the company used to be called in the 1990’s had a pretty prominent place in the mall while it was open. You could buy little cookies of various flavors and styles or a “cookie pizza by the slice” kind of thing where you could get a big slice of iced chocolate chip cookie. They also offered whole cookie pizzas for sale for any occasion, most of which turned green when the example pizzas were left in the display cases for too long. Great American Cookie sold cookies by the truckload during the height of Sunrise Mall’s life; they sold so many cookies that they had special permission to build a fucking oven into the outside wall with a window that let you see the baking cookies inside.

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Of course, the oven is full of dead rats or something now.

For some reason the lights at Great American Cookie still operate which has let the advertisement pictures fade to hell and back.

 

Entertainment & Specialty Stores

Like any mall Sunrise featured a lot of clothing stores. When you’re a kid clothing stores are fucking lame and when you’re older guess what? Still lame. If you wanted me to I could sit here and reminisce about places like Melrose (which is still open) or Tuxedo Junction or Street Threads but honestly does it really matter? They sell clothes and that’s it. The more memorable places inside of a mall are the entertainment outlets, places where you could hang out and network with people over more than gaudy sweaters. Sunrise Mall was home to a lot of these kinds of places, the last of which finally closed as recently as a year ago (wherein it was the last of such places for almost a straight decade).

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Yup. Trains. No joke.

Take the place known only as “Trains” for instance. I’m pretty sure they didn’t sell anything, it was just a space occupied by a bunch of train and model enthusiasts. It sounds ridiculously stupid until you stepped inside and saw that the whole “store” was taken up by a massive model train set. Fine, it still sounds stupid, but look at it this way: I think trains are retarded and even I thought this place was fucking awesome. The amount of attention to detail put into the hand-painted models and mountains and the towns the trains traveled through was just incredible. It was the same WIP set every time you went there but you kept going back because you wanted to see what the new additions would look like. When I took the picture of the storefront I could still see a lot of stuff inside of there so supposedly they may still be open but I was there at 3 o’clock and they weren’t so I have no idea of what their hours could be.

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You can play Dead Dead Revolution here.

Here’s the obligatory arcade creatively called “The Arcade” (formerly Aladdin’s Castle). As you might imagine when the mall was really jumping this arcade was incredibly busy. They had a “birthday party zone” in the far corner that was always decorated with party hats like someone was expecting a party but the party never came. Never once did I ever see a birthday there except for the time when one of my cousins actually had a birthday party at the arcade. Other than that one though, nothing. The games presently in the arcade have been there a long time and the arcade has been in lock-down for quite a while. Much like the train place I have no idea when it’s open. The last few times I was there every arcade game had a price tag on it, they were all for sale. Most of my memories of this place are all pretty recent, like walking by this air hockey table where a friend and I would waste afternoons playing against each other.

Like most arcades you could win tickets, and somewhere around here I actually have about 50 tickets from this place, but I hold onto them rather than trading them in for Tootsie Rolls because I know this place is basically doomed.

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It’s like a miniature haunted house inside of a mall!

I believe the place above was once called “Fun Park” (or “Fun Land”, not sure on that one). It was one of the first stores to close doing so in the very early 90’s. Fun Park was a lot like The Arcade except it was aimed at very young guests, kind of like the kiddo section at a Chuck E. Cheese’s. Fun Park had Ski-Ball, (mini) mini golf, an obligatory ball pit, and a jungle gym among other stuff I cannot quite remember. The only memory I have of this place is one of the oldest ones still rattling around in my head; I could not have been older than three or four when I was last there. I was playing miniature golf and tripped over something (probably my own putter) and cut my knee open on a sharp metal corner of a coin-op machine next to me. Mind you, this was the 1990’s, toys were still pretty goddamn dangerous and weren’t made of 100% Nerf like they are today. This was back when you’d get hurt and suck it up, but of course seeing a patron get injured was bad for business so the arcade clerk helped patch my knee up, gave me a bunch of free tokens, and an Icee on the house.

Fun Park closed about a year later.

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THE KINGDOM OF CANDY. (Postmortem.)

Every mall has one of those “buy by the pound” candy stores, here’s Sunrise Mall’s. It was called Candy Castle and was inhumanly resilient to closure even while everything else around it fell apart and burned to the ground. The Castle stood tall among the death offering jelly beans and gummy sharks for far more than they’d cost if you went to a gas station to buy them instead. There wasn’t a whole lot special about Candy Castle other than the fact that it was there almost forever and seemed to have a very exclusive contract with the mall’s owners. Candy Castle was free to build on the OUTSIDE of their storefront and even renovate the floor, artifacts of their creativity are still visible to this day even though the neons are long gone.

Fact: Candy Castle’s space is worth 25 cents more than those around it because there’s a quarter embedded in the floor where the gumball machine used to be.

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This place used to be “Never Get Laid, Inc.”

In the 1980’s and partially into the 1990’s it was still en vogue to play Dungeons & Dragons. It seems to be making a cult comeback today but in recent years if you still played that game people would look at you with judging gazes and shake their heads in slow dismissal at you and your LARPer friends. The place photographed above used to be Gamers’ Guild, a hangout spot designated for tabletop RPG’s and card games. They were able to bend the physical properties of the universe to fit an obscene amount of tables into their store plus a snack bar. They also had a miniature store where they’d sell collectibles and books at about 400% markup.

Gamers’ Guild was the hangout for the more pretentious lot, the kinds of mouthbreathers who would hold a five hour argument over whether or not George Lucas ruined Star Wars by making Episodes I through III. Every single stereotype about assholish comic store owners was echoed with the people you would encounter in that store and they hated younger customers, especially those who wanted to use their tables to play Pokemon. Those kinds of customers weren’t completely dismissed, however, there was a special place for them:

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No jokes here. Just looking at this picture ruins my day.

This place used to be Collectible Treasures. They were a “general purpose” collectors’ store and sold things like Beanie Babies and, uh, Beanie Babies but when Pokemon was in full swing they made the bulk of their money selling and trading cards and other paraphernalia. Collectible Treasures was always busy. Always. It was full of Pokemon fans buying starter decks, booster packs, single cards, posters, books, movies, everything. Fucking everything. They didn’t have the greatest deals in town but if you were looking for something in particular they had it. They always did. To this day I believe in their backroom they either had some kind of magical teleporter that led straight to Japan or they kidnapped a small portion of a Thailand assembly line and ordered them to make Pokemon products.

For a store that had so much they also had little to no breathing room. The entirety of the store was floor to ceiling Pokemon. If you wanted to hang out with other “trainers” you had to do that outside the store, which was fine because right in front of Collectible Treasures was a spacious foyer with benches and there used to be a table where you could chill out and play a round of Pokemon or trade or just do whatever.

And like the rest of the mall, it’s dead.

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Holy shit is that place OPEN?!

That’s Pretzel World, and yes it’s open. Aside from the Orange Creations place in the food court it is the only other snack/food shop open in the entire mall and all they sell are pretzels that are like $3 each. It blows my fucking mind. You’d think at that price they’d have been one of the first shops to go, especially even today considering the amount of nothing that occupies Sunrise Mall, but for some reason Pretzel World hasn’t closed.

They must be working with Burlington Coat Factory.

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The cast of Jackass was here once upon a time.

Last but not least, here’s the only other place that has as much sentimental value to me as Collectible Treasures. I spent my entire middle school life hanging out playing Pokemon in the mall but when I was in high school I started kicking around the Rock & Roll Plus store, a slightly more adult atmosphere (okay they sold cock piercings so I guess it was a lot more adult). Rock & Roll Plus was a general pop culture kind of store that occupied three storefronts. They had combined two of them into one store and had another storefront dedicated to advertising their location in the mall. They meant business and when I mentioned at the beginning of this section there was only one specialty store that closed within the last year this one was it. I frequented the Rock & Roll Plus store all the way up through college.

The one thing I kept my eye on during all the years I spent there was a locked display case full of incredibly overpriced but totally awesome dragon figurines, the really bad ass kind. The first time I saw that case I was in 9th grade and every so often I’d check up to see if any of them had been clearanced out. I checked for what spanned almost a decade and the owners never marked their figurines down even when they were closing their doors the dragons were the special asterisk at the end of the “90% off everything must go” banners. I didn’t really need the figurines, they’d have been nice to have, but they were cool to look at. I don’t think I had room for them at my place anyways so I guess it’s for the best that I never bought them.

When Collectible Treasures closed down a lot of their inventory showed up at the Rock & Roll Plus store in their own version of a collectibles department. While they were closing I folded and bought a palm-sized PVC Charizard figurine just because I knew that the last decent place in Sunrise Mall was about to close for good and this would be my last opportunity to take something home from a place where I spent the better part of my childhood kicking around.

Charizard sits on my desk.

 

The Rest of Sunrise Mall

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Not even Dead Rising would be fun here.

Walking around the mall today has a strange eerie feeling. It’s literally empty, it’s like being able to explore an abandoned property — with all the dangers of doing so — except you can buy a fucking pretzel if you wanted to. The fucked up thing is that unlike Padre Staples Mall (which has been bought out by Trademark Properties and turned into the incredibly high-scale La Palmera) Sunrise Mall has some history behind it like the fact that portions of what was meant to be a blockbuster Generation X movie were filmed on location there. The house where that movie was filmed is in impeccable condition, but the mall? Well, you’re right in the middle of that tour.

Save for the lights, and that’s pushing it, nothing works at the mall anymore. Everything has been shut down to save on power or water. The escalators have been turned off for years and much like the obvious Mitch Hedberg joke, no, they don’t have signs that say “temporarily stairs sorry for the convenience”.

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See? They’re just blocked off that’s all.

You can see part of the water display between the escalators. The pool is arguably the most iconic feature of the mall and for a point in time it had recently been renovated to actually function again but due to a lack of patrons and the expense to keep it running (Texas is presently in the middle of a drought) it was of course shut off once more. Presently people toss pennies in there out of irony, I believe. There’s also an elevator in the mall that looks like a time machine from the 1980’s but I don’t dare use it; elevators cost money, money that I know Sunrise Mall doesn’t have so I just take the stairs right next to it.

There’s also a huge beautiful mural painted on the wall inside the tunnel that connected Stein Mart to the rest of the mall. It’s full of aquatic life painted with gorgeous detail. I’m happy to see the art is still in good condition but sad that if the mall ever closes people won’t be able to enjoy it. The dolphins from the beginning of the article are a part of this mural, but here’s more pictures of the rest of it so at least someone can enjoy it when the doors likely close for good: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

The most depressing thing in the mall, if I had to pick one, is how obvious it is that the owners realize they basically have no money to properly keep the place looking nice. Floors are cracked, lights are burnt out or broken, outside marquees need to be repainted or replaced, and metal closure gates need to be repaired. Sunrise Mall is presently owned by International Bank of Commerce, the bank who is owed the most money by Sunrise Mall, because the property was purchased at a foreclosure auction. That’s right, one bank repo’d the mall, another one bought it.

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They can’t even buy letter stickers in the right font.

Part of the reason why Sunrise Mall is a hollow shell of its former self (literally) is because people refuse to see it as anything more than that and honestly this article really isn’t helping matters. You can’t really blame us though because most of the people who say the mall is dead are comparing it to the way we remember it, before it looked like the set of I Am Legend. If you heard the Rapture was about to take place and you hid inside of Sunrise Mall when you stepped out of hiding you’d look around and shout “FUCK” and believe that the Rapture actually happened. You could kill someone and hide the body in this mall and nobody would find it for at least three months, guaranteed. Even if you threw the body right in the middle of the empty pool the odds are still stacked in your favor.

As much as I’d like to see the mall bounce back, and trust me I hope it does, it just seems futile. I’d still walk around that place and see where Candy Castle used to be and think of nothing else than buying blue candy sharks and refuse to enter the new store. Unless it was like, an adult dragon and dinosaur novelty store. Then I’d consider it.

Fuck it, I’d go in there.

– Dracophile

(You can read more about Sunrise Mall at Deadmalls.com.)