vaporware (vay – poor – where) n. A term used to describe massively hyped or advertised software that is excessively delayed and ultimately never released.

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*Game not included.

Yes this is an article about a dragon-related computer game, and yes I am actually satirizing it. Just because my name is “Dracophile” doesn’t mean that anything with dragons in it instantly gets five gold stars and a Dracophile Seal of Approval. Quite the contrary, actually; I have taste in what I like. Simply dropping a bunch of random dragons in front of me actually won’t keep me occupied unless you’ve managed to find what I like. DragonPlay, a game that can best be described as “a complete Club Penguin rip-off with dragons” and worst described as “Yahtzee with letters on all the dice”, does not fall into the category of things that I find pleasing.

Of course, I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t originally on the game’s development team at one point in time. When the project was announced in 2006 by the dev team they asked me if I’d like to hop aboard and do graphic design work for the game which I agreed to do and also offered to design the website and host on my own servers. Normally I’d charge for a service like that (because graphic and web design is my job) but I waived all of those fees because “hey, dragons!” They kicked me out about two weeks later because it was readily apparent I was the only developer with a head on my shoulders and a generous helping of common sense and Internet business practices.

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I know of about 48 erotic dragon stories that begin at waterfalls.

I feel that I might be getting a little ahead of myself, though, so I’ll reverse gears and give you a little introduction about the game. DragonPlay was announced in 2006 by the dev team and was set to be released in 2007. 2007 showed up and you know what didn’t? DragonPlay. 2008 rolled on by as well and they said “it’ll be done in 2009”. 2009 is here and almost over and the dev team recently announced this past summer that the title was canceled. Naw, really? You don’t say? After having been in “development” for four years the plug was mercifully pulled and DragonPlay can now rest in Internet peace as a boon-doggle of everyone’s time and resources.

DragonPlay was entirely a byproduct of the “me too” generation of kid-oriented MMOG’s that Club Penguin jump started in 2005. You would be hard-pressed to find one single aspect of DragonPlay that wasn’t Carlos Mencia’d from Club Penguin and rebranded with a different name and/or color scheme which was a hobby that many other “me too” game developers were all about. At its heart you got to walk around in a medieval themed world as a little dragon and you could customize your avatar and decorate your living quarters. Actually, you know what, stop. Full stop. I want you to open another browser window and log into the Club Penguin game. I don’t even care if you don’t have an account just do it for the sake of this article.

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Cut these out and put them on.

You there? Good. Now cut out the glasses pictured above and put them on. They will let you “see” Duke NukemPlay while you are really only playing Club Penguin. Now that you’re in the game’s virtual world just take a moment to take it all in. Look at those luscious environments that were totally not drawn in Microsoft PowerPoint (I am seriously not making that up, FYI). Hey why don’t you try clicking those buttons by the chat bar that let your guy sit down or dance, and after you’re done go walk towards the edge of the screen – look! – a new part of the map! Hey, click on your character while you’re here and look at your player card; there are places for clothing but you don’t have any because you need to buy them with Scales, the currency earned from playing mini-games. And once you’ve decked out your dragon it’s time to pimp out your pad by buying furnishings for your iglo-I mean castle. While you’re at your castle, make sure to feed and take care of your Bugz otherwise they’ll run away!

Do you see where I am going with this? The DragonNukem Forever dev team defended their completely unoriginal “original” game by saying their ideas were wholly of their own conception when in actuality the difference between DukePlay and Club Penguin is the same as the difference between every song Ace of Base has ever recorded. Certain members even had the audacity to attack and criticize New Horizon Interactive (the Club Penguin development company) for “stealing their idea of a stage” in the game.

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Would you steal THIS?

Are you fucking serious? Please, allow me to identify just how incomprehensibly retarded that line of reasoning is. DragonNukem basically pulled an Eric Bauman with Club Penguin and gave it a new coat of paint with the serious intentions to pass it off as a new game. Despite their claims of grandeur their title was virtually unknown because generally when you never release anything people eventually start ignoring you in hopes that you’ll just go away. So please, correct me if I am wrong, what would a well-known Canadian company with an entire department of artists and thinkers be doing on a crappy free phpBB forum full of “programmers” who probably get confused by the opening credits of Look Around You? Do you seriously believe that the idea of a stage perhaps wasn’t so uncommon of an idea that two people can’t come up with it on their own? And on top of that since New Horizon Interactive isn’t some fly-by-night company who can’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground it would be safe to consider that Club Penguin‘s stage was planned out well ahead of DragonPlay Forever‘s likely “hey u kno wut wood be cool a STAEG :D” announcement.

Maybe it’s safe to say I am coming off as a little offensive towards the dearly departed since there are so many other “me too” clones out there that actually saw the light of day, but there is a specific reason that I chose Duke Play Forever and that simply dates back to the very short time I spent on the development team. The head of the dev team was a “visionary” in the sense that he had a vision of something that already existed and access to a Xerox machine. They took themselves way too seriously for a project that was already being done a thousand times better both by New Horizon Interactive as well as the “me too’s” that were staffed by competent people. There was also no sense of how anything worked, it was all just one big cluster of misunderstandings about how a MMOG actually functions, and I spent a good portion of my time typing up long diatribes to try and point them in the right direction because at one point in time I wanted to see this game completed and did everything in my power to aid the ill-fated development.

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Like how making products before making a game wasn’t a good idea.

Perhaps I am being a little arrogant here but even back in 2006 I had game developer credits to my name alongside a small but still formidable list of erroneous game credentials and on top of that I was employed by Miniclip which is the largest online game website in the world. If there was anybody on that team who wasn’t speaking 100% bullshit it was me and instead of heeding my advice all of those years ago they basically canned me and kicked me out of their flaccid community. I’m not saying I could have saved that game but look at what happened to them without a sense of development direction; they all went their own ways until they pulled the project apart at its seams.

And frankly, they deserved it. Congratulations, Duke Nukem Forever, on your Vaporware Lifetime Achievement Award.

– Dracophile

(PS: Take the glasses off and look again. The power to see through DragonPlay‘s facade was inside of you all along.)

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Outside screening of the documentary Chops.

I like film. I like working with film. I like watching films. Most importantly though, I like film. The Rockport Film Festival is, like the name implies, a film festival held in Rockport, Texas. For the past two years I’ve been one of the event photographers which lets me into all of the receptions as well as screenings so I can lurk about and take pictures of people doing things as well as good shots of the drinks and hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments. It’s a great experience because basically I get in for free (after I’ve done my job of course) and have an opportunity to see lots of films I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to see. People tend to underestimate how cool festivals are, which is a shame. Just because it’s not Sundance doesn’t mean it sucks.
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Pictured above: FOOD.

So what’s this article about since I normally am a humor/satire columnist here? It’s a trip report of sorts of my experiences at the festival; my favorite films, cool folks I met, and what went down. The receptions are always full of a fun atmosphere and this year was no exception, from the Rockport Center for the Arts to Artfluential to Latitude each of the get-togethers was a different experience and a chance to talk to other film enthusiasts in attendance. The food was great and professionally catered and since I had a super powerful camera to fool around with I experimented with all sorts of angles and zooms to give the art center a plethora of images to work with. One of the other photographers was busy taking lots of pictures of people so that left me to have a little fun with non-people photos.

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That bottle wasn’t there a second ago.

One of the cool things about being able to attend all of these screenings and receptions is that you get to meet a bunch of people; some of them are local, some of them are here to work, and some are from out of town who are here for the films. Since I’m the photographer usually I blend in and stealthily dart around with my camera, but every so often someone will take the initiative and stop me for a chat. Now, most of the time they’re folks I’ve known for years who recognize me and pull me aside but every so often it’ll be someone new that I haven’t met before. An example was this artist named Ed who was also a performing magician.  Ed had a number of items on display at the Artfluential gallery made entirely out of the scrap material left over from vinyl decals people make for their cars. Ed gathered up a small crowd and pulled me aside as well to check out some card tricks. I’m pretty sure he only pulled me aside because I had a camera, but I was impressed nonetheless.

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Josh (left) and Beau (right) from ATX Event Systems.

The coolest couple of guys that I ran into though have to be the audio/video technicians from ATX Event Systems. Beau (the owner) and Josh (the intern) don’t really fit the bill for what most people assume a tech crew will be like. I’ve worked with various techy people for all sorts of events, and some of them are kinda cold and not very personable. Not these guys; they were at all of the receptions and were right alongside everyone else meeting and greeting folks. They put a lot of energy into what they do and their experience shows in their work, they were able to fine tune their equipment for the unusual interior design of the venue so that everyone could hear the films clearly as well as keeping on top of everything involving the projectors and blocks of movies. Not one error that I saw, and I was at every movie. Did I mention how awesome they were to chat with by the way? I did? I will say it again then.

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Almost 50 movies were screened at the festival.

That’s enough about the non-film parts of the festival, though. I bet you’re probably here to hear what I thought about the films. Below is my selection of personal favorites along with my thoughts on them.

RiP: A Remix Manifesto: RiP is a film produced by Disinformation who’s basically one of those publishers who are “edgy” and “what the government doesn’t want you to know” which is fine in small doses but at first seemed overwhelming for a 80 minute documentary. I was pleasantly surprised though because RiP turned out to be a very well put together middle finger to the large corporations running around stepping on peoples’ toes for minute claims of “copyright infringement” as well as attempting to ensure mash-up artists like Girl Talk are unable to produce their art. (You can buy RiP here for whatever you feel like paying.)

Placebo: Derek doesn’t sell you drugs. He sells you the experience of buying drugs. Placebo is a story of a “drug dealer” who sells nothing but cold medicine and sugar pills but gives them the appearance of real drugs. He travels to various small towns and colleges duping students into buying his warez under the knowledge that “when you’re drunk, everything is a blur anyways”. The campus police is on his tail, but of course when they arrest Derek and test all of his “drugs”… well, let’s just say there’s no smoking gun.

The Mondavi Gang: It’s Brad’s birthday and he’s at a small gathering with his girlfriend, his best friend, and his best friend’s girlfriend. Brad’s friend wants to “talk politics”. Each of the four members of The Mondavi Gang are drastically different politically and their idle conversations quickly boils down into a heated argument about who is right and who is wrong, who should have won and who really won, and who’s political party is the better option. It’s just dinner as usual for these four. (Official site.)

The One Last Time: It’s the big bank heist, and they’ve got two minutes to get the cash from the vault and escape. Four armed men enter the bank with masks bearing the visages of Wizard of Oz characters and get their goods, however unbeknown to them four more criminals disguised as Marvel Comics superheroes barge in and announce there’s a robbery. The two gangs have a stand-off and demand to know from the janitor who sold them the information if he told anyone else. Just as the stand-off begins four nerds on their way to a Star Wars convention pull up at the bank…

Free Lunch: Walter is a kid who has had all the best opportunities in life simply handed to him, and he’s determined to instead work hard to earn the fruits of real labor. Armed with only a city lunch truck and an apathetic cook named Casey, Walter takes to the streets to live “the American Dream”. After his cook bails on him Walter tries to single handedly carry the weight of his food serving company Walter’s World, and in doing so learns just how much that “free lunch” costs.

The Booby Trap: Doug and Luke are your average young boys, and they’ve stumbled across a breastfeeding video. With high hopes for some booby-goodness they pop the VHS tape into the VCR and are instead shocked at the explicit depictions of human anatomy. In a panic they try to eject the tape and hide it, but alas the tape becomes jammed in the VCR… and even worse, mom is coming home! Luke flees leaving Doug to battle with the VCR on his own; what ensues is hilarity at its finest. This was my second-favorite film, and here is my absolute favorite…

Cattle Call: There is not much I can say about Cattle Call to put an image in your head of exactly what it is, because the 3 images provided in that link don’t do a lot of justice – the only aid in making it more confusing. In an effort to try my best, imagine some high speed yodeling/auctioneering, stop motion insanity, someone in a cow costume, and cowboys with spinning hats. It is incomprehensibly insane and has all the trimmings of an acid trip without having to take the drug. If I would have been able to find a link to it I’d provide it, but sadly I cannot find one.
edit: You can view a short excerpt of the film here.

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The screenings were packed!

If you have never been to a film festival I highly recommend going to one if it’s possible for you. There’s a lot of wonderful film art that simply doesn’t get put into the mainstream media and for a good reason, a lot of it isn’t the “norm”. Every film tells a story and I only showcased my 7 favorites out of the 48 shown. The only way to get a true appreciation for the art is to see it for yourself and try something new for once. There are no Michael Bays or James Camerons here, just regular people with a camera and a story to tell.

– Dracophile

(All photos in this article were taken by me and appear courtesy of the Rockport Center for the Arts.)

[Editor’s Note: Portions of this article were originally written as a part of RFSHQ.com’s lineup on December 10th, 2004 (”Humpy Humpy Dinos”).  Excerpts have been modified and new content has been added to it since its original posting.]

Furries. I say one word and instantly you’re either intrigued or disgusted (or other words not appropriate for this article). “Furry” is a subculture of the Internet with an innocent side that’s completely overshadowed by the overwhelmingly gargantuan portion of the fandom that is riddled with bizarre fetishes and costumes with holes in very peculiar places. I can tell you with a straight face that I know some of the cleaner furries and I know just as many if not more of the “darker” ones and frankly I don’t care either way. Whatever floats your boat, yeah? Lots of furs like to claim that “it’s not about the adult stuff” but, yeah, it kind of is. Saying that furry isn’t about the adult artwork is like saying you go to McDonalds just because you like the napkins; you aren’t fooling anybody. I don’t have a problem with furries, some of them are pretty nice but it’s the socially awkward ones you have to watch out for.

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This guy is 50 years old, and that is a female fursuit. Just trust me on this.

In a very early article I wrote for RFSHQ that later became arguably one of the website’s “Greatest Hits” I detailed my misadventures in the public schooling system with a particular furry. I knew he was a furry just from looking at him, if you can believe that. People have that 6th sense (a.k.a. a “gaydar”) to know when someone is gay, well there’s also another 6th sense where you can guess if someone is into furry stuff just by looking at them and this guy fit the bill. I mean no ill-intent, but he stumbled over words, was socially shy, and looked kinda… well, strange. Perhaps the biggest giveaway, though, was that he sat around and drew Digimon all the time.

He was a nice guy with a pleasant demeanor and he was good at what he drew. Really good. He’d spend 30 minutes on a sketch and you’d shit yourself thinking it was official artwork. To further drive this point home he drew me a bunch of dragons in various poses because I had trouble with the anatomy of arms and legs; the reference work he let me have was amazing. Despite all of this I never really made an effort to get too close to him because he was always kind of overbearing about this furry nonsense. He never directly said anything but it was completely obvious as things went on; when someone shows you a drawing of Renamon that’s basically two circles and a line away from being XXX you know there’s something funny going on. Perhaps he thought I shared that personality trait which is why he consulted me for advice and critique on his art but in all honesty I could have done without seeing all of that Digimon smut during high school.

One fateful day in 2002 I was leaving my history class and walking towards the front of the school. This fellow was also in the same hallway on the opposite side. He was about ten steps in front of me and I wasn’t going to make any effort to start a conversation; I just minded my own business. He dropped his short stack of things, the top of which was crowned by his drawing notebook, and upon hitting the ground everything inside of it cascaded out like a rainbow shooting out of a pot of gold… except instead of a rainbow and a pot of gold it was more like a stream of furry porn shooting out of a notebook containing more furry porn. I just kept walking and inevitably I caught up with him and glanced over as he fervently shuffled his things together and smack on the top of the stack of drawings was an image that was instantly burned into my retinas.

It was a pencil drawing of two Tyrannosaurus rexes making whoopee.

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Artist’s rendition.

How do you react to THAT? I don’t think I reacted at all, I just froze in place because I was terrified that he’d be made aware of my presence and the last thing I needed was him stalking me and showing me dinosaur porn constantly. Somehow, though, he was alerted to my location by some noise or motion that I can’t quite remember. What I do remember was how he suddenly stopped shuffling his papers on the floor and glanced over at me standing by the wall. He stared at me for what seemed like an hour and me not knowing how to even react to this just stared back. I snapped out of the trance and bolted from the hallway and the rest of my high school life from then on was peppered with Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh drawings. Joy.

By now you’re probably wondering what’s up with me rejecting the drawings when my username clearly dictates that my appropriate response would have been to beat him up, take the drawing notebook, and run. Well let me just put it this way: that’s something you don’t do in public. There is a time and place for that kinda business and “after school in the history hallway” is wrong on both counts. Plus he was spoiled by Digimon and really liked to draw anthropomorphic characters… and I don’t like my dragons like that. I’m dropping some big words on you now, so here’s a handy diagram:

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The dragon on the left is anthro, the one on the right isn’t.

When did this article become about my preferences in dragons? That’s strange. Can we talk about furries again because that’s what I really wanted to do here.

In a more recent twist of events at the university I attend I stumbled upon another furry completely on accident. I’m a Journalism major which means that I like to write and I’m pretty good at it (case in point) and because of that choice I take many writing classes at school. Writing classes bring out all sorts of strange people, folks that seem kind of… off. You can tell they’re odd because they don’t speak or act the same way as regular student do, and yet again my furry radar (Furrydar?) was going off on this one person I share a newswriting class with. He’s a little more creepy than dinosaur boy because every so often in class he’ll look at me, and not like a glance either. He tends to hold a gaze, and I can see him out of my peripherals and that’s unsettling. I don’t know what his infatuation is though, because I hardly talk to him. Either he is assuming something about me or maybe I’m just good looking.

An assignment required me to attend some recent university events and write little excerpts about them using certain news formats. I attended this panel of guest speakers in the field of business and things were fine; then he showed up… and sat right next to me. I can be friendly and I can superficially chit-chat with somebody no problem. This, however, would be my folly.

Furries have this underground “symbol” some of them wear to communicate to others that they like doing unmentionable things in mascot costumes. That symbol, appropriately enough, is a paw print. This tidbit of information was something lost in my head so while I was filling the clock with mindless chatter (because otherwise it was silence with him looking at me) I made the mistake of looking at his keyring and asking about a specific keychain.

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You can see where things went wrong.

“Did you graduate from [name of a high school near where I grew up]?” I asked.

He gave me a puzzled look. “No… why?”

“Oh, your keychain, the paw print. That’s their logo, I thought maybe you went to school there,” I replied.

He grinned just a bit. “Oh, that’s an ‘internet thing’,” he said.

Then that missing piece of stray information hit me right in the face and I had one of those internal “fuck me” moments. My initial hunch was right and now that I think of it my book bag has a pretty generous helping of little dragons and alligators hanging off of it. He is probably assuming I’m a furry and that is exactly why he has been giving me those soul piercing looks from the other side of the lecture room. I’m no furry, but I was at a standstill; if I acknowledge the meaning of that keychain then this staring nonsense isn’t going to get better… but likewise if I play stupid he might start playing 20 Questions with me. Mercifully the (late) guest speakers started their presentation so he shut up and I took my required notes for the assignment and left.

This story has no ending, though, because come Monday he’s likely going to be in class and the cycle begins again.

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This guy is also probably 50.

*sigh* Furries.

– Dracophile

[Editor’s Note: Portions of this article were originally written as a part of RFSHQ.com’s lineup on May 15th, 2006 (“Afterlife TV”).  Excerpts have been modified and new content has been added to it since its original posting.]

It’s Halloween and I’d like to be the first writer on GatorAIDS.com to usher in the holiday and wish you all the best, and by “all the best” I mean don’t eat razor blade apples and if you see Michael Jackson in his Thriller get up then he is actually a zombie and you should run. Halloween is that time of the year when everybody fawns over spooky stuff and television networks air all of their scary programming. Nickelodeon is airing special “Spooktacular” episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, Cartoon Network is beating Goosebumps into the ground (which is not even a cartoon great job), American Movie Classics is showing their stock of so-bad-it’s-great horror flicks, and C-SPAN is… well they are just doing business as-is because on any given day watching the American government system self destruct is scary in its own right.

Perhaps the most recognizable facet of Halloween though is Syfy’s annual marathon of their Ghost Hunters show, one of many shows on television that manage to never actually produce anything worthwhile but still get greenlit for second, third, and fourth seasons. Television shows like Travel Channel’s Most Haunted and Syfy’s Ghost Hunters are so poorly faked that they essentially become programming that would be better suited as late night drunken frat boy fodder on Comedy Central.

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22 minutes of “OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT?”

Ghost Hunters has such a knack for not delivering that even their crappy promotional desktop image has a Photoshopped ghost in it because to this day they haven’t captured a single apparition in any of their 105 episodes. Yes, you heard me right — one hundred and five episodes — six of which are “specials”. Ghost Hunters relies mostly on scare tactics and suspense to keep people watching. The first 3/4 of any given episode is simply footage of them running around in abandoned scary-looking places asking each other if they have seen or heard anything, none of which they capture on tape. I very much would like to see that shadowy figure walking around in the corner, but the problem is that your fancy night vision camera is currently set on 100x zoom and is pointed at your eye while you are crapping your pants over nothing.

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They ran out of fake ghosts in the United States.

In another episode a group of explorers tried channeling spirits by placing a glass cup on what looked like a TV tray; they then proceeded to each place a hand on the glass and ask the spirit questions. If this sounds suspiciously like a Ouija board idea then you are absolutely right and everybody knows Ouija boards are toys. The official US Patent documents on Ouija boards even list them as such. Ouija boards operate on a phenomena called the Ideomotor effect which is basically a big five dollar word for “you are subconsciously moving the damn thing by yourself”. It is also worth noting that on an episode of Bullshit! with Penn & Teller they debunked Ouija boards by having a group of wiccans ask a question and get an “answer” except they blindfolded the participants and then turned the board backwards without telling them. They still moved the piece to where “YES” or “NO” would normally be because they had memorized the orientation of the board in their heads and also because this shit is totally fucking fake.

As you can imagine the people in the Ghost Hunters show were freaking out when their little shot glass started flying all over the place. I’m pretty certain if ghosts really are among us they would have better things to do than move a glass around on a table.

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They found a tentacle monster in this episode.

The cast of Ghost Hunters looks professional for being a group of people who chase the invisible equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster and calling them “professional” is kind of a backhanded compliment. They have enough gadget and gizmos on-hand at any given time that I’m surprised they just don’t drive the Ghostbusters hearse around and call it a day. One of their favorite things to do besides mumbling into microphones and calling it EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) is to wield infrared cameras wherever they go. Infrared cameras are essentially heat vision cameras that show a spectrum of color rather than an image on tape; the color determines how hot or cold something is. It’s a widely known “fact” that ghosts create cold spots wherever they are. I am not sure if this has ever been officially substantiated or if it’s just something someone said in a movie once but regardless our ghost hunting buddies take this as serious business.

I will never forget the time that they entered this stonewall room with their cameras and instantly began freaking out over their temperature readings, namely the fact that the floor was cold and the ceiling was hot. They must have been absent that day in Common Sense 101 where the teacher informed everyone that heat rises. I am willing to forgive TAPS though because seeing as how they’ve probably lived in basements their whole lives they haven’t had much firsthand contact entering floors in buildings that are above ground rather than under it. Perhaps my favorite slip-up is when a group of two female TAPS “officers” were screwing around in a room (and I don’t mean “screwing around” as something sexy, I mean they were acting like retards) and got some “strange” readings on their camera. They said, and I quote “it’s nothing, it was just our reflection in that mirror over there.”

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That mirror must have been in this infamous room.

Really? A reflection? A temperature reflection? What the hell kind of mirror is THAT. If that mirror reflects temperatures from across the room you had better take it because while it’s not paranormal that’s a definite scientific anomaly. No, it doesn’t reflect temperatures, you’re just a damn moron and Syfy is just doing their best to try and make good TV which is something they have perpetually struggled with. If their infrared camera was pointed at the mirror the mirror would have been the same color as the wall it was hanging on. The only explanation for their “anomaly” is one of them pointed the camera at another TAPS member and seriously thought she was a ghost.

Ghost Hunters relies on tired old television “cliffhangers” to keep people watching as well as basing their “evidence” entirely off of things that viewers at home simply cannot experience through their television sets and must take their word for it. I am talking about things like “gusts of cool wind”, strange smells, and hearing a bunch of clicks, knocks, or voices that strangely dodge their camera. The only qualifications required for being a cast member on that show are two things: an overactive imagination and nerves like those of a cornered mouse.

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This is basically every episode.

It’s probably a little rude of me to step on people’s toes because apparently there is a sizable fanbase for this crap otherwise they would have never made it to 100 episodes. Ghost Hunters is fueled largely out of Everyman’s strong desire to know what happens after death and if the spirits of their loved ones still linger around in their houses and it’s truly a very vulnerable demographic to prey upon with falsified evidence and nonsensical “evaluations”, but then again the other demographic who gets into this show are socially retarded and will believe anything that gets thrown at them so whatever. As long as you get that paycheck at the end of the day, right?

– Dracophile

Skittles are a classic candy that date back quite a ways (to 1979) and have enjoyed a modest amount of success by means of actually not being that bad as well as having outright bizarre and/or terrifying ad campaigns to support their product. Seriously, who hasn’t dreamed of planting a bag of Skittles into the ground in hopes that a giant rainbow would erupt from the Earth and rain candy on you? That’s seriously a wet dream for some people out there (Jared the Subway Guy, pre-Subway diet). Speaking of rainbows the fact that their slogan “Taste the Rainbow” sounds moderately homosexual is funny and I mean that in a tasteful way. Taste. Rainbow. Tasteful. Weiners. Hah. Back on subject, though, Skittles have come in a variety of flavors so awesome that I can only summarize the Wild Berry variety by saying “holy crap I am freaking out”; Tropical Mix is a close second. Sour Skittles are amazing and for that short period of time when Green Apple and Watermelon were flavors I enjoyed a few extra handfuls of the candies just because. In fact as I type this article I have a few “Fun Size” bags of Skittles tucked away in my desk… even though there is nothing “fun” about a bag of candy that only has somewhere around 8 Skittles in it.

Eventually you have to screw up somewhere down the line though and lo and behold Skittles finally hit a snag. In 2007 Mars rolled out “Chocolate Mix”, a new five flavor mix of Skittles based entirely on — you guessed it — chocolate (actually 4 chocolate and 1 vanilla but let’s not get technical here). On paper the idea sounded great I’m sure; little bite-size morsels of chocolate in a baggie is a wonderful idea. Actually wait a second, didn’t Mars already do something like this once before? Yeah, they did. Those candies are called M&M’s, and I’m pretty sure those aren’t a limited time only thing. Someone must have pulled a fast one and thought it would be funny to swap the labels on the folders marked “To Skittles Factory” and “To M&M’s Factory” because the only way I can consider a mistake of this magnitude being made is by the guy in the mail room at the Skittles plant scratching his head and saying “Well if it came from Corporate then they must be right. Let’s not upset them.”

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CHOCOLATE RAIN

I was at a dollar store a few days ago to pick up a few cheap snacks for a movie night and amongst the various boxes of candy I found this one bag of Chocolate Mix Skittles all by its lonesome (and likely far past its expiration date). There were no other bags of it in the store at all, just this one that had been tossed behind a display of conspicuous Tic Tac knock-offs. I tossed the bag of Skittles into my basket and ponied up the 59 cents (plus applicable taxes in the state of Texas) when the time came to checkout. For those of you readers who are “new” to who I am and my kind of off-beat humor I am no stranger to consuming weird and bizarre foods in the name of Internet comedy. I can safely say I’ve sampled well over a dozen bad energy drinks, Harry Potter jelly beans, Nutrisystem weight loss food, and even DIY teeth whitening applications that had the potential to end horribly just to make people laugh at my expense. It is with great pride that I re-introduce that brand of humor into the world with the newest installment of a side-column I like to call “Don’t Put That In Your Mouth”.

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No really, don’t.

There are five flavors of Chocolate Mix Skittles: S’mores, Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Caramel, Brownie Batter, and Vanilla. I will sample three of each flavor and score them in different areas based upon how poorly they perform their task of fulfilling my enjoyment of a late-nite snack. The criteria that the candies will be judged on are:

  • Relevance: Is it something someone would think of when they hear “chocolate”?
  • Flavor: If I have to describe this then you should just skip to the next article.
  • Aftertaste: Does the Skittle have a pleasant lingering flavor?

First up is S’mores.

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It’s a s’mores ration. Or vitamin. I don’t know.

Relevance: S’mores are a campfire classic. Nothing beats the taste and aroma of a roasted marshmallow with a chunk of milk chocolate between two graham crackers. I’m not even going to make an inappropriate “sandwich” joke here because that’s how awesome this treat is. Fuck you. You cannot have s’mores without chocolate so to an extent this is quite relevant however the actual chocolate only makes up about 1/4th of the s’more treat, so I’m docking some points here. 6/10
Flavor
: It has a hint of marshmallow and a curious taste that kind of resembles stale graham crackers with a hint of chocolate. It’s not bad, but it’s not anything to write home abou– uh, celebrate. 6/10
Aftertaste: It’s lacking, it just makes me feel like I should just make my own s’mores instead of eating these really bizarre imitations. 6/10

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Pudding looks like doo-doo when it’s in pudding form.

Relevance: Naming it “Chocolate Pudding” is kind of redundant all things considered; “Pudding” would have sufficed. If you tell someone “pudding” usually they will instantly think of Bill Cosby and by proxy they will think of his Pudding Pops commercial and thus come to the conclusion of “chocolate” (unless you as a 90 year old in which case they will say “butterscotch”), so this is a winner by association with a little help from incoherent babbling and funny faces. Frazzle snazzle. 10/10
Flavor: Have you ever gotten a bunch of Tootsie Rolls for Halloween and found yourself unable to finish them all? You leave them until Easter and eat another one and when you do it tastes all… stale… and nasty. They embodied that let-down feeling in this candy. It’s all gritty and unpalatable.. I think I’m eating cat litter. 3/10
Aftertaste: It’s not good. It’s not good at all. Make it go away. 🙁 2/10

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Caramel. No dancing.

Relevance: Adding caramel to chocolate works for Milky Way bars (which is the standard I am holding these to because Mars also manufactures those) but it’s not something people think about. What about Reese’s cups? Those have peanut butter and when I think of mixing things with chocolate I think of two things: peanuts and peanut butter… which is really the same thing so let’s just say nuts. Taste the rainbow. 5/10
Flavor: Do you know what that pure flavor syrup that they pour into coffee at Starbucks tastes like? I’m weird, I’m sorry. You probably think I just do shots and chasers of flavoring syrups now… that was a one time thing on a dare, I promise. It’s sweet, tastes nothing like caramel, and has this really bland almost bitter kick to it. 4/10
Aftertaste: I either just licked a pro ice skater’s socks or ate sugar and salt at the same time. 2/10

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Vanilla Skittle wants you to stop, collaborate, and also listen.

Relevance: Vanilla isn’t chocolate. It’s not even from the same plant as chocolate. It’s a popular ice cream flavor and that’s all it has in common with the cacao bean confection. What the hell is this doing here? 0/10
Flavor: Imitation vanilla extract is actually made from oak wood, Alton Brown taught me that. I don’t even know what kind of plant gave them this imitation extract but if I had to guess I would pin it on either crabgrass or poison ivy. 1/10
Aftertaste: Vanilla is supposed to be a soothing scent to calm nerves and establish pleasant moods. This manages to take that simple concept and crap all over it. 2/10

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This is brownie batter. No more feces jokes.

Relevance: Does anybody know anyone who makes any kind of brownie that isn’t chocolate? Because I don’t. “Brownie” translates to chocolate, but if you say that word in the wrong neighborhood you will be shot or offered cookies. 10/10
Flavor: OH DEAR GOD THIS ISN’T GOOD DO NOT WANT. 0/10
Aftertaste: where we’re going we don’t need eyes to see ;_; -10/10

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“Please don’t make me eat them, Draco. 🙁 “

That’s it, that’s all five flavors, and while things started out moderately pleasant they quickly spiraled into a sensory insanity of flavors that the taste testers came up with by mixing ingredients Jackson Pollock-style. I think Chocolate Mix is proof that the phrase “they can’t all be winners” applies to everyone. Microsoft had Windows Vista, Vanilla Ice had… well… everything, and Sonic the Hedgehog uh… well you see where I am going with this analogy. Chocolate Mix Skittles went by the wayside for a reason and that reason was because they tasted like the bastard child of Will It Blend and Dirty Jobs.

If you ever come across Chocolate Mix Skittles in your journeys… don’t put them in your mouth.

– Dracophile

Seeing as how I am largely a byproduct of the 1990’s I had the opportunity to grow up enjoying a lot of wondrous things such as MC Hammer making a zillion dollars off of one song and subsequently spending it all on the randomest shit ever (“2 Legit 2 Pay My Bills”), a time when Nickelodeon didn’t suck copious amounts of things I cannot say on this blog, and the awesome green version of Gator Golf (the new orange one is terrifying). Also in the nineties (1993 specifically) this virtually unknown Swedish pop band called Ace of Base released their debut album Happy Nation. If you don’t know who Ace of Base is you still might recognize this song anyways because it’s terribly catchy in a godawful “this is why some people hated the 90’s” kind of way. Here is, arguably, their biggest hit single ever, The Sign.

Well now don’t you just feel energized after hearing that spiffy little jingle? I kinda feel like dancing myself. Ace of Base had other hits from that album as well, here’s another one of their hits called All That She Wants.

No wait a second that can’t be right I just posted that song didn’t I? Let me double check. No, that’s definitely All That She Wants and it sounds exactly like The Sign. They are essentially the same song with different lyrics and both of them were chart-topping hits all over the world. This time let me be serious though, here’s another song by Ace of Base that sounds completely different. In fact it’s a cover of an Aswad song called Don’t Turn Around.

I’m sorry did I say this song was different? Because it’s not. For the third straight hit single this song uses the exact same beat as both The Sign and All That She Wants. It is the exact same beat except with a slightly altered tempo or pitch every time. Was I really the only person picking up on this in the 90’s or is everybody seriously retarded? Surely this madness couldn’t possibly carry into the other non-hit songs on the album right?

You don’t listen very well do you?

I mean seriously are you just not paying attention to anything I am saying?

Hello? Are you still with me?

Hey, asshole! That’s enough!

Excuse me, I’m over here. You’re supposed to be paying attention to me. Stop listening to those Ace of Base songs, please, so I can continue with this pointless article.

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Cover made in 10 seconds? Check. Same song at least 6 times? Check. Effort? Negative.

You heard me when I said this was a best-selling album, right? At one point in time it was kicking Michael Jackon’s ass and, worldwide, was outselling Thriller. Thriller. Michael Jackson, whose musical composition style and vocals are unmatched by hundreds of people who try to imitate him, was being outsold by a CD essentially comprised of the same fucking song over and over again. Luckily Jackson prevailed in the end and Thriller has sold over 100,000,000 albums worldwide and I’m pretty sure him being dead and all is going to make that number increase about twenty fold considering what I know about how people tend to react to stuff. Still, though, to date Happy Nation has sold 23,000,000 million copies worldwide. To put this into some kind of perspective here is a list of albums that Happy Nation has either outsold or is pretty much tied with:

 

  • Britney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again & Baby One More Time
  • Metallia’s eponymous album
  • Madonna’s Like a Virgin
  • Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory
  • U2’s The Joshua Tree
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I guess everybody fell for this too.

In some respect I feel that Ace of Base may have been doing this on a bet, that someone dared them to make an international best-selling album using only a music loop they pulled from a copy of U-Rox DJ Studio Suite 4.5. Well, they did. They sold 23,000,000 copies of that album and from what I remember I don’t recall anybody actually caring. Hell, AllMusic’s review of this album basically states that it’s the same stupid beat over and over again but because it’s catchy they still give the album a 4/5.It’s “catchy”? Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby was “catchy” and he avoided directly plagiarizing Under Pressure by adding a single hi-hat crash to the ripped bassline of that song and people still got uppity and said “hey that’s the same song that’s cheating” but I guess when the actual band just CTRL+V’s the hell out of their own music that’s perfectly fine and apparently gets your album certified 23x Platinum (also known as 2x Diamond) by the RIAA.

It was either a pretty ballsy or blatantly lazy move on Ace of Base’s part, and I don’t quite know whether to give them a thumbs up for trolling the entire world or to toss the copy of this album that I have in the garbage can.

– Dracophile

I was going to originally wait until next month to publish this article but once the true weight of this piece made its presence clear in my head and wouldn’t leave I decided it would be best to go ahead and write it. On Friday November 12th, 1999 a very peculiar event took place. A movie came out actually and — I’m sorry Kevin Smith, this article is not about your movie Dogma — this article is about none other than Pokemon: The First Movie.

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It won the Academy Award for Best Movie Ever Made (in 1999).

Yeah, that one. If I told you that I wasn’t a fan of Pokemon when I was younger then my nose would probably grow to borderline inappropriate lengths this very second. Holy crap did I live for that game when I was in middle school. I was in 5th grade when Pokemon Red and Blue were released for the Nintendo Game Boy in September 1998 and on a whim I picked up a copy of Blue (just to spite all of my friends who got Red). Prior to Pokemon’s North American release my first encounter with the game came with a passing reference to it in a 1995/1996 spoken-word comedy album I took part in wherein I mistakenly referred to one of the characters (Charmander) as “Pokemon”. We wrote the quick joke from a “sneak peak” in a Disney Adventures Magazine issue we read looking for bits to write about and perform.

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I OWN THIS.

When I sat down and started playing Pokemon Blue some crazy stuff had to have gone down in my head. The game shut me up from being all gay about Spyro the Dragon just long enough for me to become engulfed and addicted to the game and one year later when I heard there was a movie coming out I proverbially crapped myself. In hindsight I don’t even know why I was so into Pokemon, truth be told now that I look back on it it’s kind of silly and whenever my friends (toting their fancy DSi’s) ask me if I want to “play Pokes” I just kinda give them that “ewww, no” look. The newest Pokemon RPG game that I have played is 1999’s Pokemon Yellow, and I would very much like to keep it that way. Believe it or not in some strange sense when Gold and Silver came out I saw it more as a hasty addendum to make a quick buck on rather than a truly inspired game, which is something that I have since carried with me this past decade and the current “generation” of Pokemon definitely reflect that notion.

Pokemon Snap, Pokemon’s debut onto the Nintendo 64, was no exception. Good god was that game terrible. Whoever stood up in that marketing meeting and shouted “let’s make them take pictures” needs to be taken outside and put down. Furthermore who could forget Hey You, Pikachu!? I mean, I can’t blame you for wanting to forget it but still, there’s a special kind of awkward that comes with shouting at a yellow rat on a TV screen when he won’t open the magic treasure chest or whatever. In its history Pokemon has had a fair number of trainwrecks but there were a few that were solid gold to me and that’s all that really mattered.

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I OWN ALL OF THESE.

That’s beyond the point, though, because this article pertains specifically to one movie and one movie only. Not a present-day dull franchise or any two-bit spin-off series in the game’s legacy either. I kept a journal off and on during my 5th and 6th grade years (and partly up into 8th grade) and I actually remember keeping track of the days until that movie’s release. I made a big deal about it too and the Friday it came out in theaters I was planning to see it that day and at the 12:00 showing. I was always a good student but I was willing to sacrifice that lame Perfect Attendance award in exchange for seeing Pokemon. The cinema where I live was actually getting the film which was a surprise because they usually pick up a lot of crap movies. I convinced my parents to let me skip school to wait in line to see the Pokemon movie and to top it all off I arrived at the theater somewhere around nine in the morning just to make sure I was the first in line.

Nobody showed up, including the employees, until around 11:30. A few of my friends played hookey as well but all in all they didn’t sell that many tickets for the first showing; it later sold out for the evening showings and I would know because I paid to see those too. I saved my ticket all these years and I really feel that a scan of it would make this article more personal, but for the life of me I cannot find the damn folder the thing is inside of so instead I will simply inform you of my intentions and hope that you will forgive me and my lack of mental categorization of seemingly unimportant artifacts and just pretend that the next picture is a scan of that ticket.

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I ALSO OWN THIS. (ps: sorry for losing the ticket)

That movie was easily the greatest thing that I can remember happening to me when I was younger, which probably sounds incredibly pathetic but when I was younger I had a difficult time making friends and by just playing that stupid game I managed to make quite a few of them, some of whom I still talk to on a regular basis. Everything about the movie was almost magic as it unfolded before me on that giant screen. I remember hearing that now-godawful “Vacation” song by Vitamin C in the Pikachu’s Vacation mini-movie while everyone else around me in the theater took leisure in pointing out and identifying every single Pokemon as they appeared on the screen. The second the television show’s theme song remix played in the film, though, that’s when my mind was blown (and then was subsequently blown a bunch more times in the remaining 92 minutes or so of the movie). Ever since I had beaten Blue a million times it seemed I always wondered what was up with Mewtwo and what he was doing in the Unknown Dungeon (and also what was up with the destroyed lab at Cinnabar Island). This movie answered that and then some. It’s worth noting that although I have been writing for almost 15 years Pokemon was my inspiration to take a break from comedy and work on short fiction and by that I will say through gritted teeth that I once wrote Pokemon fanfiction.

I think now that I look back on it and watch the movie for the purpose of this article I see how so much of it definitely hasn’t aged well and is rather cringeworthy but this was “my thing” back then and as goofy as hell as it is I respect that. The plot was so predictable and cliche even down to Ash getting blown up and he being revived by everybody crying (do I even have to mark that as a spoiler anymore?). It was kinda lame even back then but I didn’t let it bother me because like I hinted to earlier I saw that movie again. And again. And again. I spent a substantial portion of my 6th grade fortune on seeing that movie four times that day and then of course that weekend when my friends who were too cool to skip school went to see it I was invited to go along… so I happily obliged.

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SPOILERS!!

I didn’t pay for all of those tickets, of course. Many of those showings I theater-hopped to attend which was evident especially when it sold out because there were curiously more people than seats in the room and some of us were standing. I paid for probably about 12 tickets to that movie but I remember seeing it a lot more times than that. When we theater-hopped in between shows my friends and I usually hid in the bathroom and just played on our Game Boys until the next showing was ready, then we’d all just trickle into the movie while the previews were starting. Worked every time.

I capitalized on that movie, too. People dropped their promo cards on the floor during every showing so  stuck around after the credits when the lights came on and picked them all up. When all was said and done I had a giant stack of those cards that I later just sold off to other people or traded away.

Holy crap. TRADING.

Burger King, dear god. Burger King had that plethora of Pokemon toys and also had their “official trading night” where everyone met up on Tuesday nights while the movie was in theaters to trade Pokemon and battle each other. That was social networking before shit like MySpace and Facebook existed. The Pokemon community was so alive where I lived that trading night carried on for an entire year until the Burger King in our town closed. I was there, without fail, every Tuesday night. We were fortunate enough that the employees didn’t actually care that we showed up every single week because we mostly kept to ourselves and let’s face it if we’re buying sodas and burgers at least they’re making money off of us and everyone’s happy when money is involved. I ate so many of their kids’ meals in the name of collecting toys and cards it’s a miracle of modern science that I am not grotesquely fat today. I own the original Burger King promotional poster with all of the toys on it as well as the cardboard standee of Mewtwo that was on display (among others). Almost a decade later my talking Pikachu still emits a re-assuring “PIKA-CHU!” whenever I squeeze him.

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I OWN ALL OF THESE.

On November 12, 2009 it will have been ten years since this all took place. A whole decade. I will admit it truly doesn’t “feel like yesterday” like many people say, but in that same respect to me it feels like, at maximum, like two weeks ago. Ten years is such a long time and I just don’t know if I will be able to really fathom the gravity of it all when that day comes and goes this year. It sounds so trivial to mark “the release of an admittedly bad animated movie” as such a major point in my life but it was just that to me. I lived. When I went into high school I really just kind of fell off the radar socially; I became quiet. I didn’t go to very many parties (none, actually) and I didn’t really have a special someone to take to mostly all of the school dances. That quietness still lingers with me today; I’m in my 7th semester at college and I honestly cannot recall “hanging out” with a single person from any of my classes. Ever. I’m just “that guy”, really. The one who everyone knows is a little off-kilter and means well but the one who people just disregard… and I have been “that guy” my whole life.

I fit in with a lot of people back in 1999, I had a lot of friends. I went to “parties” even if said parties were just get-togethers to make a pilgrimage to the theater to see Pokemon: The First Movie or to just watch it on VHS and enjoy snacks and games. I’ve heard of a lot of people having difficulties coping with turning 20 and “growing up” and whatnot, but I didn’t; to me 20 was just another year, so was 21, and 22 will be as well. No, what really pulls on the strings of my heart and my very existence is how fast it seems time has passed since I was sneaking into screenings of Pokemon or hanging out at a fast food restaurant trading cards and shooting the shit with my friends. It doesn’t feel like 10 years have passed and I don’t want to believe that 10 years have come and gone. I don’t want to look back on some of the fondest memories I have in my life in terms of double digits. I don’t care that I am in my twenties these days, I just care that a lot of the things that made me happy are moving farther and farther away, like Wilson in Cast Away.

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God damn it. The crying scene again. GO AWAY.

I never would have thought that a stupid movie would be what would teach me my lesson in growing up, but it did. It doesn’t quite matter how many times I make that wish to be waiting in line at the ticket booth at 9:00 A.M. on November 12th, 1999, because 1999 was a one time event and really, all things considered, I’m glad I made the best of it when I had the chance.

– Dracophile

If you follow me around often enough you may have come across me trying to hawk out invites to this exemplary piece of viral marketing gone awry. I’m willing to look past Lockerz’s reputation of spamming up a boatload of websites in the name of “viral marketing” because frankly, it worked. People got angry (and people still are, just ask /i/nsurgency) but other folks simply wanted to know more about this company that was making an attempt to fit in on 4chan (and failed miserably, I bet they were using tripcodes on /b/)… because hey free video games and other trendy nonsense!

A co-worker of mine at TrackMill sent me an invite supposedly so he could get a free fashionista scarf or something so I decided to see what the big deal was. The Lockerz website lets you earn points by answering marketing survey questions thinly veiled as everyday questions like “Do you like Conan or Jimmy?” or “Would you wait in like 5 hours for a pair of limited edition sneakers?” (I have yet to run into the question “Are you aware that we are just screwing with you?”). Whatever, though, I’ll answer the question, you give me the 2 points… I mean… PTZ… and I’ll redeem them for that Xbox 360 game or something that costs 100 points. By my math that’s almost two months of this crap, what a grind. There are other means to get points like playing games, listening to music, and watching videos but frankly I haven’t seen any of that — it’s always “coming soon”. I think Lockerz suffers from what I call Duke Nukem Forever Syndrome, just be out with it already and quit jerking our chains. Or actually just keep doing that, it’s fun to watch you dance.

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Hey guys! We’re late to the dot-com-bubble party, can we still hang out?

Lockerz’s points store (PTZ Place) is perpetually out of stock, seriously. Apparently it was open at one point in time but now it just looks like a Wal-Mart that’s going out of business; just imagine in your head what that looks like because I know Wal-Marts never close. They’re like Dick Clark: they never die because they feast on the souls of babies. If you really like window shopping at uppity trendy “in” stores in the New York City area you will love endlessly browsing Lockerz’s prize station because just like in New York it’s “look don’t touch”! Do you want that Dylan’s Candy Bar snack pack of dubious origins? Too bad! What about that flash drive disguised as a race car? Better go buy a Hot Wheels and super glue your existing flash drive onto it.

Don’t get me wrong, though, because Lockerz did recently restock their prize store, or so I think. They said they were going to do that recently but when I (tried to) log in and (tried to) redeem some points for a game that’s when this party started. They had only one thing available in their store: A copy of Star Wars: Clone Wars Republic Heroes. For PlayStation 3.

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“We got this at GameStop for $4.99 ENJOY!”

What kind of a prize is that? Giving someone a copy of this godawful game as a PRIZE is like getting a 12th place ribbon in something when there’s only eight participants. Offering this game is insulting and it devalues the word “prize”. I mean, I know that all we are doing is answering questions about what color car we like and there’s no real work involved but when you stick that next to an impossible to get HDTV marked “SOLD OUT” you’re really kind of making a D-bag move here. Have you actually seen an episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars? I might be personally biased against Star Wars because I don’t like it but seriously I’d much rather watch a color bar generator for an hour than subject myself to that terrible show. It reeks of cheap 3D animation made to cash in on a fad and from what I’ve seen it has no real plot or production value whatsoever and they’ve made approximately 78 video game titles about it because kids see it on Cartoon Network which has recently become a cesspool of brilliantly unmentionable cartoons made to look like reality television and shows rejected by Nickelodeon. Here’s a tip, CN, if Viacom is rejecting a show from one of their networks (6teen) it has to be bad. That’s not a sign for you to quickly nab it and air it. I can’t wait for the slew of Johnny Test video games because that’s some quality entertainment right there. Back on the subject of this game, though, the copy they are offering is on the PlayStation 3. Great job, Lockerz, you may as well should have offered some titles for the Tiger Game.com while you were at it.

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What, did you think I was messing with you?

Attempting to navigate the Lockerz website during its restocking time was impossible. I was getting 500 Internal Server Errors and “Page Cannot Be Displayed” errors left and right. Furthermore, Lockerz apparently knew this was going to be a problem so rather than trying to do something about it (like using their Amazon.com funding money to buy a server that didn’t suck) they posted an announcement saying that they’ll ban anybody who refreshes their pages too fast because “we can see who is doing it”. Seriously, I am not making this up. As a professional company there are expectations we the customers (the intelligent ones, at least) have of your organization. Kicking us out because we’re trying to connect to your broke-dick website isn’t one of them. We expect the opposite, actually; we expect to see a page load on our screens and at the very least we expect some form of content in a timely fashion. Is your public relations department on a global vacation or something or are your public relations department and your “group of interns we don’t know what to do with” department the same fucking entity?

Whatever algorithms run the Lockerz’s user interface are insanely confusing. You need 20 friends to join under you to get some special badge for your account (Z-List), well I have 12 and it says I needed 8 more friends — great. Now thanks to some kind of snafu it says I have 0 friends (real awesome for my self-esteem jerkfaces) but still need 8 friends. I am willing to forgive them on their fuzzy math because honestly we’re all guilty of guesstimating, right? I can think of an occasion just the other day when I… actually no, no I can’t because I have never subtracted zero from a number and gotten anything else other than the number I started with. I passed Kindergarten.

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Rule #3.

I really don’t know much about the Lockerz company because this is what is currently on their About page as I type this article (in a black font that clashes with the dark purple background): “Be a lover not a fighter. Wear by itself or layer to make a wow statement. Easily adjusts to create a perfect fit.” Don’t try to think about that phrase in any kind of serious context for longer than ten seconds or blood will come out of your ears. That phrase on that page has to be some kind of design oversight because it reads like a description for a scarf that Bizarro Rambo would wear. Lockerz stumped me for a while, it really did. I was confounded by their backwards marketing practices and their anti-store kind of inventory until I read the Jobs page and learned their “mantra”: “If you are interested in a fast-paced but collaborative environment full of passionate folks who turn 20 years old every day they walk through our doors, Lockerz may be your professional nirvana.” Now turning 20 everyday is just an expression, right? As in, you hire people who are young at heart and you don’t actually hire 20-year-olds who don’t know a damn thing about proper website maintenance to work on your site, do you? It sure feels like you do.

Am I being too hard on Lockerz? No, no I am not. Lockerz is a subsidiary website of Amazon.com and Amazon is clearly capable of maintaining their main website without any problems whatsoever so they’re either simply trolling the annoying trendy hipster crowd with a website designed to appeal to them that only works 5% of the time and is permanently out of stock of everything or they really did designate a staff of people who can’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground to be in charge of a website that they knew would be a traffic nightmare.

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See also: Zombo.com

– Dracophile

If you’re this far into this website and my articles you may have picked up a subtle hint that I’m a dragon fan. Actually, this is still a pretty new website so maybe you haven’t been able to really read into this place yet but regardless of that my penname is “Dracophile” so that has to be worth something. If I told you I didn’t have the gayest man-crush ever on Spyro the Dragon then I would be lying to you and liars go to Hell. When The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon was released in 2008 a bunch of various merchandise tie-ins came out with it including a couple of theater-sized poster prints of Spyro the Dragon himself. I wanted those posters. Really bad. Various online retailers and sellers on eBay had some for sale but at the time I didn’t have the funds to acquire them.

When I finally had the disposable income I had put away specifically for “super smexy dragon posters” I found that not a whole lot of people were selling them anymore which was depressing. I dug around and then I finally found a seller on eBay who had not only both of the posters but had them at a few bucks cheaper than I remember them being. I was floored when I checked out the listing; it seemed like everything matched up and that I was going to get those nifty Spyro prints I wanted.

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Above: Sexy.

Problems arose about a week into this ordeal when I contacted the seller and asked where the posters were since if they were being shipped inside the country I should’ve had them by then.

“All of my merchandise is sent out of a warehouse in Hong Kong,” he replied.

FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU–

At that very moment in time I realized that this whole transaction was going to be some kind of trainwreck of bad and when those posters arrived it would be beneficial to my well-being to just mark that thing “RETURN TO SENDER” and get my money back. However against my intuition I decided to open the poster tube when it came in a week later just for the hell of it. This is what was inside.

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Diet sexy. Just one calorie.

You might look at that and say “That looks like Spyro to me, Dracophile. Why are you whining about it?” I’m glad you did, because let me ask you to re-observe the actual image at the beginning of this article. Have a look at that color fade; yeah, it looks like someone hit the Sepia tone button in Photoshop but didn’t quite slide the intensity bar over all the way. The second poster is equally as bad if not moreso; but let’s not harp on the color intensity (or the apparent lack thereof) because this party bus has only just begun its journey out of the fun station. Check out the vertical lines going through these babies. There’s more vertical nonsense going on here than in all thirteen X-Games combined.

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More vertical than Tony Hawk.

The auction listing touted these as being “professionally printed”, no joke; but I’m a forgiving person so I’m willing to blame this one on something lost in translation. In the United States “professionally printed” means just that, it’s something that came from a well-maintained press; hell, you could even claim the $5 Jonas Brothers posters at fucking Wal-Mart are professionally printed but I’m going to take an alternate route and just say they’re value-priced dart boards. “Professionally printed” in Hong Kong actually means (and this is 100% true because I used Google Translator on it) “when we sent this to the print queue that little message popped up about the printer being low on ink but we just clicked ‘OK’ and printed it anyways hope you don’t mind”. How anybody could take a look at that poster and mark it anything other than “Scratch N’ Dent clearance sale” is simply asking for more negative feedback than eBay will allow someone to give for one transaction.

I’m going to pull a Billy Mays here and say that if you call right now I’ll triple the offer. Yes, you heard me right there’s a third major point here that I feel is going to complete the sell to you that this is one of the best articles currently hosted on this website. Take a look at this:

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Wanna bet GameWallpapers.com doesn’t know about this?

Yes, those are copyright-fucking-watermarks. I mean, I know it goes without saying that when things are coming out of Asia there’s a solid chance they might be counterfeits or knock-offs but to what extent do they make it glaringly obvious? Seeing two watches side by side with one named “ROLEX” and the other “ROLEK” might actually appear to be the same to an unsuspecting person until they eventually spot the letter “K” and make the connection and likewise there’s a plethora of iPod knock-offs that look almost identical to the real thing but not quite. Whoever is forcing nine-year-olds to make these posters decided to take a hint from the guy who did the box art for Okami and not even bother to remove the original watermarks. Let’s look at it this way, at least we can’t give him the same grief we gave Eric Bauman in the early 00’s with his stupid eBaum’s World watermarks. You know which ones I’m talking about.

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Spoiler: Look near the mouth.

This story does have a happy ending however, despite the near 900-word chunk of dragon nerdrage up above. After contacting the seller and basically sending him a carbon copy of this article minus the witty anecdotes (I put the words “PayPal claim” in their places) he refunded me the money I had spent and said I could hang onto the posters. Actually wait, I lied; I think I said something along the lines of “I can’t justify hanging these in a garage” and then I CTRL+V’d the phrase “PayPal claim” about fifty times. “PayPal” is the magic word when it comes to eBay drama because PayPal actually couldn’t give any less of a crap about their customers, especially those who get enough negative feedback and complaints because they can and will kill your account and not give you your money. Saying “PayPal claim” is like putting an e-gun to someone’s head and demanding something. It works.

So here I am now back where I started… plus two posters. I think I’ll go hang them in the garage.

– Dracophile

This is a very odd find I made on eBay a few weeks back. This was listed as a Chinese pirated Atari cart, however it is fairly new because it’s intended as a joke on the Atari Flashback console released in 2004. Naturally, I picked this game up at the Buy It Now price of $45.00 because it seemed to be rare and hard to find, as I found no information on it online. It had to be a new cart that has surfaced, and it is PAL format.

I received it in the mail, still in its box and everything. The box is an oddity because it claims to have “00” Games on it, but in reality it has 3 games with no varying difficulties. It also has “Not Authentic” printed on its box. Hey, what is better than honesty, ya know? This is actually a pretty decent pirate cart. I don’t even think it is truly a pirate cartridge at all because the games here are all original! However, there is evidence to say it is a pirate cart because of its box art, it’s the Flashback box art, and shows the special controller for the Flashback. This game doesn’t need any fancy controllers, just a standard joystick and you’re set to go!

Game one is called “Find The Missing Original Games”. This game plays similar to Pac-Man and Lock ‘N’ Chase. You have to make your way through a Pac-Manish maze and find the little cartridges all over the floor. While you do this the Atari Administration will be on your ass trying to capture you and get the cartidges back from you. You are able to open and close doors, plant walls, and pick up extra bonus points like Post-It notes, staplers, and tape.

The next game is a very zany, fast paced action game called “Go Buy A 2600 On eBay”. In this eBay sim game you start at the eBay homepage and you have to actually find a 2600 for “sale” and bid on it. The auctions really do last for up to 7 days, just like the real eBay! In order to try this out I had to give up watching Spike TV for a whole week. At first there is not much action, but then in the last half hour or so the bid war is on big time. You have to keep hitting “Refresh” to make sure you’re in the lead. If you aren’t, you have to place another bid. If you win the 2600 you beat the game! If you lose, well then you just wasted a week. Still a fun gem though.

The next and final game is the most humorous and is called “Throw This Piece Of Crap Into A Lake”. The title is misleading though. You aren’t throwing this game into a lake, but rather, it’s a game where you have to throw the Flashback into a lake. It sounds easy, but really this game is like Human Cannonball and you have to get the trajectory just right or else you will miss. The lakes will randomly differ in size, and the wind will speed up or change direction. You have to adjust it perfectly to get the bonus points. If a shark jumps up and eats it before it hits the water, you get a triple score multiplier, so watch for their jumping patterns.

All in all this game has it flaws, sometimes it is too easy, or the games get boring fast like the eBay one, but overall it’s a really funny game and is actually fun to play. I highly recommend you search on eBay for a copy of CrapBack, you won’t be disappointed!

– Dracophile