Monday, December 26, 2005

Portrait of a Badass: Lucas

Character: Lucas Barton
Actor: Jackey Vinson
Film: The Wizard (1989)
Badass Moment: Lucas dons the Power Glove and plays the raddest fifteen seconds of Rad Racer ever witnessed. Then he attempts to use his video game skills as a means by which to impress a girl, and fails.

I cannot stress enough the importance of The Wizard. It is a cinematic staple for anyone who ever picked up an issue of Nintendo Power Magazine, yelled cuss words at the Mother Brain or pushed UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START. It is, for lack of a better metaphore, the National Velvet of the My Little Pony Generation. It's the classic buddy film telling of one boy's rise from adversity to proverbial video game godhood.

To make a great film, you need a great villain, and that's where Lucas comes in. The young hero of The Wizard, James Woods (but you can call him Jimmy), faces numerous obstacles on his path to 8-bit glory, but none so daunting as the dark visage of Lucas. If you don't believe me, just do a Google search and see if you can't find references to Lucas's dialogue. His famous line about the Power Glove is right up there with "Here's lookin' at you, kid" and "Stella!"

If I haven't already convinced you that Lucas is a badass, get a load of this: The dude was so mind-bendingly cool that he was able to get a young, bemulletted Tobey Maguire to join his entourage:

Lucas, you are so bad (-ass). We salute you.


Nothing conveys my feelings about The Wizard quite as accurately as my Internet Movie Database review of the film. According to the IMDb, "15 out of 18 people found the following comment useful."


i love the power glove. it's my mommie. 18 July 2004
Author: jessejace from setagaya tokyo japan

Somewhere along the line, someone realized that it's nigh impossible to make a good movie based on a video game. So instead, they made a movie about the entire Nintendo Entertainment System, thereby capturing all the feel-good nostalgia associated with its hundreds of titles, but without crippling handicaps such as an unfeasible plot or Jean-Claude VanDamme as Colonel William F. Guile. Thus was born The Wizard...a shameless consumerist repackaging of The Who's Tommy, adjusted for a new audience and coming at you in full-on buddy film fashion.

Fred Savage explodes onto the screen as a curly-haired dork with highly articulate eyebrows. He's caught between his divorced parents in a custody battle over his autistic, obsessive-compulsive, equinophobic, dyslexic, colorblind kid brother Jimmy. Realizing that being in the custody of one or more of his parents will most certainly kill Jimmy (and that Jimmy has the superhuman ability to reach level 3 on Double Dragon), Fred Savage does the right thing and whisks his kid brother off to exploit his virtuosic video game playing ability for cash and prizes worth well over $130.

Along the way they meet Haley, who's totally hot if you're 12. Haley misleads Fred and Jimmy on many occasions, notably one scene where renegade truckers steal their entire video game pilgrimage budget and, presumeably, molest them. Still, they stick to their guns (or should I say, their NINTENDO LIGHT GUNS™, for use with Duck Hunt), even managing to outsmart the enigmatic Lucas, a rebellious young boy who apparently lives alone in the desert like Mohammed. But this little messiah has a NINTENDO POWER GLOVE™, buy yours today!

Lucas complicates the story, creating a sordid love triangle between himself, Fred Savage and Haley. He taunts Jimmy ruthlessly ("We wouldn't want you to...WHIZ on yourself.") and, despite having devoted his life to Nintendo games and thus presumably having no friends, a crowd of prepubescent disciples follow him at all times. His secret to success is the Nintendo Power Glove, which is, in Lucas's own words, "so bad." But as most of us know, the truth is that the Nintendo Power Glove was "totally gay." It only did what you wanted it to do when you were punching your friend in the face with it to vent your frustration about its lack of response.

The protagonists' path is beset by peril on all sides. There are teenage white trash hoodlums who exist solely for the purpose of stealing Jimmy's hat and saying lines like "What is this kid, some sort of cyborg?" There are fat salesmen who talk like Foghorn Leghorn, unable to believe that a scrawny kid is better than they are at Contra.

And don't get me started on Putnam, the creepy bald guy hired by Fred Savage's mom to bring the kids back home, dead or alive. Meanwhile, Beau Bridges plays Nintendo like my dad, yanking the controller this way and that. Every time Beau Bridges and Christian Slater run into Putnam, a redneck banjo riff kicks in and the whole movie starts to sound like a Menard's commercial while the adversaries engage in automobile/gardening tool combat.

Saved from certain molestation by a grotesque man-child named Spanky, their adventure climaxes when they play Ninja Gaiden with a scary gravel-voiced MC (who also appears to be a child molester) and nearly get eaten by a fake King Kong at UNIVERSAL STUDIOS THEMEPARK™, now open! By the way, Jimmy knows the exact location of the Warp Whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3 prior to the game's release because he reads NINTENDO POWER MAGAZINE™, subscribe today! Jimmy gets the Warp Whistle and uses it to reach World 4 and Lucas looks on helplessly as his empire of Power Gloves comes crashing down around him.

Spackled with golden dialogue, this movie is a subculture in its own right. But while many people quote Lucas's "it's so bad," or Haley's "he touched my breast," for me it doesn't get any better than when Christian Slater says, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™."

What I'm Playing and Why I'm Playing It

Recent days have seen me crack open a couple of my older PS2 games. Currently I'm chipping away at Dark Chronicle (Dark Cloud 2 in the US), developer Level 5's 2003 action/RPG title that successfully combines battle, village building, competitive fishing, photography, item invention, time travel and golf into one cute little game that can now be purchased in Japan for around 2000 yen as part of the PlayStation2 Greatest Hits series. It's a good deal, considering how many hours of gameplay you get for that price...not to mention the fact that the game lets you catch fish, raise them in an aquarium, enter them in a race, and finally punish them by cooking and eating them when they lose the race.

The reason I decided to go back to playing Dark Chronicle? Well, until I finish that game, it's hard for me to rationalize buying Level 5's new "space pirate" themed action/role-playing game, Rogue Galaxy (pictured below). So you see, when I play video games there is always a good reason.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Way of the Shuffle

My blog posts have gotten thin of late. Between work, kanji study, swimming, the War on Christmas and Soul Caliber 3, I've been finding it harder and harder to find time to "tickle the ivories." (Note to PETA: My computer keyboard is not actually made of ivory. Please stop calling.) But a little glance at the upper-right corner of my computer monitor reveals that it's now 12:30 Friday morning, which means I can do my third weekly iPod random top ten list.

By the way, C.I.C. nods knowingly and approvingly to distinguished alumnus Bent Corner, the newest initiate to the Way of the Shuffle (or, shaffuru-do.)

Just kidding, I made up the word shaffuru-do. Now, on to the list!

1. Yamaoka Akira / "Lost Carol" (from Silent Hill 3)
2. Pet Shop Boys / "Up Against It"
3. Asian Kung-Fu Generation / "My World"
4. Semisonic / "Gone to the Movies"
5. Idlewild / "Out of Routine"
6. Ivy / "The Best Thing"
7. Niinuma Kenji / "The Moon and the Prince" (from Katamari Damashii)
8. L'Arc~En~Ciel / "It's the End"
9. R.E.M. / "Orange Crush"
10. Beck / "8.6.82"

Congratulations to Beck, who made number 10 twice in a row, against all odds. If he does it a third time, I'll have to throw salt on my laptop and knock on wood while licking a bible. Which means I'll have to buy a bible. What a hassle. Thanks a lot, Beck.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Better Luck Next Xbox

Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was released last weekend in Japan, sold a disappointing 62,100 units in the first two days (only 39% of units available on launch day). Many blame the low numbers on the delay of Tecmo's Dead or Alive 4, a game crucial to the acquisition of the coveted "dorks without girlfriends" demographic.

Yeah, maybe it's Dead or Alive 4's fault. Or, maybe Microsoft should have put a little more thought into the ridiculous 40,000 yen pricetag. Consumerism may be rampant in this country, but let's be reasonable. 40,000 yen could buy you a hundred puri-kura sessions.

Trying Again: The Random Ten

As my sister pointed out, my first attempt at an iPod-generated Top Ten revealed that I HAVE THE MOST BORING MUSIC COLLECTION IN THE WORLD. (She didn't say that in so many words, but we have a psychic understanding, so I know.) It was a rude awakening for me, like a wet salmon to the face, being the music snob that I seem to be. I'm going to give it one more try, eyes shut and fingers crossed, hoping that my iPod doesn't embarass me again. [Shaking fist at iPod] And if you do...

1. Death In Vegas / "Girls"
2. Chemical Brothers / "My Elastic Eye"
3. m-flo / "Orbit 3"
4. Apollo 440 / "High On Your Own Supply"
5. The Cardigans / "Celia Inside"
6. Aphex Twin / "Alberto Balsam"
7. Son of Waves Studio / "Even the Most Backwards Tribe"
8. Esthero / "Country Livin' (The World I Know)
9. Human League / "Fascination"
10. Beck / "Readymade"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wisconsinites Unite! (Against Bill O'Reilly)

Fox News' squareheaded dimwit Bill "Oh, Really?" O'Reilly singled out Madison, WI on Tuesday as a place where "you expect those people to be communing with Satan."

I'm not from Madison. I've only been to Madison three or four times. In fact, I associate Madison with unpleasant memories of my ex-girlfriend, whose home was just a few dairy farms away from the Capitol dome. But I happen to know that Madison is the greatest city in the American Midwest (degree for degree Fahrenheit).

Billy O is on notice. Soon as he starts talking trash about Setagaya Ward, I'm coming over there. And I'm bringing a mob of angry, Satan-worshipping cheeseheads with me.

[ the article at Media Matters ]

Bill O'Reilly communes with Satan on live TV

PS: Did you hear? We won the War on Christmas! Never again will we be terrorized by visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Video Game Posters for Sale

[ the auction ]

This time around the lot includes promo posters for King of Fighters and Guilty Gear, two of the most fashion-conscious fighting games around.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Me Too!

I like cats. In fact, I am a cat. A cat of the "copy" variety. A copycat. That's why I decided to copycat a number of online journalists, most recently my sister, with a random top-ten list generated by my iPod. Wow, sounds fun! Sounds like an activity that will reveal my stuck-in-the-80s-and-90s music tastes! Let's try it.

1. Blur / "Day Upon Day" (live)
2. Cibo Matto / "Spoon" (Super Relax EP version)
3. Garbage / "Queer"
4. Quruli* / "Joze's Theme II"
5. Bjork / "The Anchor Song"
6. The Prodigy / "Mind Fields"
7. Matthew Sweet / "Falling"
8. Utada Hikaru / "Animato"
9. Spacehog / "To Be a Millionaire...Was It Likely?"
10. Rage Against the Machine / "Bulls on Parade"

* Quruli is the best band in the whole wide yerld.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Spam Spam Spam Spam

Yahoo Mail does a pretty good job of filtering spam messages and bulk adverts into a separate folder so they can be deleted quickly. It does occasionally, however, make a mistake and put a non-spam message into the bulk folder, or vice-versa. Today I was scanning the list of subject lines in my bulk folder just to make sure there wasn't anything important in it before I trashed it. One especially strange subject line caught my eye so I clicked on it, revealing this cryptic message:

If you like smoking but hate cigarette taste and smell.
Especially for you we created pleasant and gentle menthol
cigarettes that have very elegant scent and refreshing taste.
If you are going to the deserted island, don’t forget a whole bunch of
good delicious cigarettes with you.
At least don’t give up the best of them – smoking.
A cigarette is better than woman – it will never yell at you for having another one before.
It takes a few minutes to smoke a cigarette, but the enjoyment lasts much longer.

Most spam mail reads like it was written by a committee of ESL students but I felt that this one in particular had a certain je ne se pas.