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Everyone Has a Frobozz Story
Mar 11th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Frobozz died on Wednesday, January 23rd. It is the worst day of my life.

Frobozz was killed by a rescue dog that we had adopted. The rescue dog got downstairs. She wanted to get downstairs because that was where we kept the dry cat food and the wet cat food. She was food obsessed and I didn’t train that out of her, not yet. I had a camera pointed to the stairs so I could see if she was trying to get downstairs. I checked around 10:40AM on the 23rd and saw that the stuff I put in front of the stairs had been knocked away.¬† As soon as I saw what happened I drove home from work.

Reggie was sitting in a dry sink. He was OK. Two of our dogs were still downstairs in the arcade. Everything I had placed to block the stairs (some pots filled with dirt, two gates, some chairs) had been knocked down the stairs. Everything I had placed as a barrier was broken. Chunks of the pots lay scattered against the floor of the basement. Dirt had been tracked everywhere. I searched the normal spots that Frobozz had hid in since we moved into our home. He would hide behind the water heater, in the storage room, behind the furnace, on top of the Asteroids machine. He wasn’t at any of those places.

I saw that a stool had been knocked over and I looked into an arcade game of mine that didn’t have a back door. That is where I saw Frobozz’s body. He had wedged himself into the game. I don’t know what happened. He was too far in there for the rescue dog to have bit him and killed him. He was just frozen in place. The dog was covered in slashes and cuts – presumably she attacked him and Frobozz fought back and somehow in the process he died.

* * *

My ex-girlfriend Dayna brought Frobozz home as a four-week old barn kitten on a day in August of 2006. We had just moved into a house in Thornton, Colorado. She had brought two older female cats to the relationship before we got Frobozz. We had a lot of space in that house. I had never really had a pet that was my sole responsibility before. She had mentioned that she encountered litters of kittens all the time in her job for county invasive vegetation species enforcement. I remember just saying that I wanted a cat with a” preposterously large head in proportion to his body.” She brought this fuzzy, nigh-feral kitten home and he definitely had a head that was way too big for the rest of his body.

The name “Frobozz” is from the text adventure computer game Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz – Frobozz itself is a province in the game where you attempt to get treasure, solve puzzles, outsmart a wizard and type curse words into the prompt. Frobozz (I’m back to my cat now) as a 4 week kitten had these shocks of hair just jumping off him. He looked that he had just been struck by lightning and as a way to chop up the rest of his day, decided to go toaster bathing. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at cats on the Internet in my day … and your day … and I have never seen any cat go from bizarrely-sketched oddball to a shining example of the perfect feline form like he did. Of course I loved him from the moment I saw him, but I became a little proud in how he prospered and bloomed.

We would wrestle all the time as I took the role of father, mother and sibling for him. I would go to work with long scratches over my arms in order to give him someone to rough house with. He never attacked anyone or anything for any length of time out of malice, it was just the way we played together, the two of us. We played less as he got older as he was more content to sit and nap and observe. I moved out of Thornton, got married to my wife Melissa and we brought all our pets together. My wife spent so much time with Frobozz, he had two people in his life that cared for him terribly.

In telling people what happened, I’ve learned that Frobozz (of course) didn’t cease to exist when people were over and when people spent the night at our place. Everybody has a Frobozz story. Guests at my place(s) tend to wake up before I do a lot of the time. I learned that Frobozz would be the cool companion hanging out while my friends played arcade games. (While Frobozz usually would sleep on the bed with me, he is the only cat I knew that would wake up earlier than myself but not also wake me up.) He liked being around people and I don’t get the sense that he was annoying about demanding attention from them. He just liked watching, liked hanging out. He liked being chill.

He would make a trilling sound when he was about to jump towards me and an “Eh!” sound when he was asleep and someone (the someone usually being me) would pick him up. He was probably taken from his mother cat too early, although there wasn’t any protection from some hawk getting him where he came from. He imprinted on me. We imprinted on each other. Looking back at the years we had together, Jesus, we spent an enormous amount of time just staring at each other as morons together. He would jump onto my lap wherever I was sitting. I would stop what I was doing and we would just look at each other, happy in that.

He was an indoor cat, but occasionally I would think to let him outside so he could experience the outdoors. There was a small storage shed across from the fence at my old house. One day when I had let Frobozz out for a second to get some sunshine, he got away from me. He scaled the fence and hopped over to the barn’s roof… and had no idea how to get down. He cried for help! I was able to knock on the neighbor’s door and get a ladder and get him down. He wasn’t great with being held by most other people for the first few years of his life. When I had him neutered, he was kept in a series of cat cages until he woke up. I had to go back there to get him out because he was back there, squashed as far back as he could go, hissing at the vets that were trying to get him. He came right out when he saw me and we went home. He had been the constant companion in my life for so many years. I had a long period of time when I was single before I met my wife and for the most part it was me living with Frobozz, Boggit and Reggie in a house that was big but not at all empty because I had those three happy¬† clowns to share it with.

* * *

He’s gone forever and it still hasn’t hit me. It hits me all the time, but it hasn’t fully hit me, if that makes any sense. There was a mix up when it came to getting his ashes. I took him to the crematorium the day he died while my wife took the rescue dog back to the rescue. Someone was ahead of me in line at the crematorium trying to negotiate some multi-animal plan or discount or something. I went to one of the rooms they had there with Frobozz’s body. I had wrapped him in blankets and we just sat there waiting. I’m glad I had that time now. He was as long as a cat should be, he weighed what a cat should weigh. In the end wrapped up tight and had to leave him and drove home.

I got a call a couple days later. His ashes were ready for me to pick up. There was a mistake though and it’s funny to me just how little you parse in grief. The weight of the ashes was wrong, it was too low. The wrong name was written on the container. None of this registered with me. I got a call a few days later from the crematorium. They had given the wrong ashes to me. I drove back and made the exchange and all is right now.

* * *

What really hurts the most right now is that I failed him. I utterly and totally failed him. Maybe if you are stacking obstacles in front of the downstairs to stop a new dog to where you are spontaneously generating a new Q*bert level before heading to work, you should consider your housing situation and adjust. I told this four-week old kitten that I would protect him and raise him and ensure he had a good life. Every time someone stayed at our place I would have to explain or have my wife explain the rules about closing the outside doors. He could get hurt outside. We’ve been in endless construction since we moved into our place and contractors, without exception, do not fucking shut doors. So I would have to make sure that he and his brothers and sisters were locked in a room with what they needed so they wouldn’t get outside, get lost, get hurt. I was a paranoid lunatic about all of that because Frobozz needed a paranoid lunatic to stick up for him. He was friendly, sociable and handsome. He was happy to see people and ever curious. He was always kind to his brothers and got along effortless with girl cats. He was all the things that I can’t be but admire in others and I couldn’t imagine raising a creature of any species that would have turned out better than he did.

Each day I get up and feel either grief or rage. It’s usually one or the other. I think of him fighting for his life in an arcade game and how I was too late to save the day. I think of all the wishes I had, I wish that I had worked from home that day or called it on the rescue dog or found a better way to buy time. I didn’t and it haunts me. There is a loss I cannot comprehend because he was the first and only creature that has ever walked the earth that was 100% truly dependent on me from start to finish and I failed him.

He died weeks ago and I do still see him out of the corner of my eye. My brain is tricked into thinking he is just around the corner and then he is not. He was truly the greatest guy there has ever been and if you spent any time in real life with me you liked him too. I hope you know, buddy, that I am so, so sorry.

I love you, Frobozz.


Frobozz, my baby

Frobozz, 2006-2013

We Are All Who Remain
Jul 30th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My cat died four months ago today. I was going to write this a month after Boggit died, but before I could, Willow died.

I was going to write this a month after Willow died, but before I could, Noelani died.

We didn’t grow up with a lot of death in our family and I am experiencing now what millions of others have. I should have taken Boggit in at two weeks and not assumed that him bouncing back with strength was just good health and not the steroids. Maybe I could have switched treatments. I would have drained my saving to put him on chemo now, easily.

But yes, I hadn’t finished grieving the premature death of my tuxedo kitty before Willow and Noelani died.

This has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me. They were beautiful. I think, aside from all the anger, the worst part is that my wife and I became “good” at our pets dying. What I mean by that is when Willow died and my wife handed her body to the vet, she didn’t support her head and it rolled backwards. When Noelani died, I made sure to cradle her head as I gave her to the vet because we’d had so much experience at this by now.

I’m going to post some photos now.


Willow


Noelani


Boggit

Steve Miller and Deep Dish
Aug 21st, 2015 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Last night, my girlfriend and I went to a Chicago Pizza Deep Dish Style Joint. That’s its name. I’ll wait for Tdarcos to look that up and confirm there’s no place in Denver called that and return.

All right, thanks. So you can get many diffe– everyone wants the pepperoni deep dish but sometimes you don’t want to look like a ham machine in front of your lady, so you entertain the idea of going in there and getting a health pie.

Okay, she’s not a killjoy, it was me. For some reason I started enjoying green peppers, onions and artichoke on pizza now in a way that is a complete betrayal to young me. I ordered the deep dish for us with those toppings. To young me, I might as well have done so in a Yankees jersey.

They say that it takes them 35 minutes to make the deep dish pie, so that means everyone else in the place is gonna get theirs first because some people go in there and order thin crust, which is this whole other thing. The couple in the booth behind us got their deep dish and they ordered a pizza with bacon on it.

I know that bacon as a meme is a really tired thing the Internet ruined, but like Kate Upton on the cover of Sports Illustrated, sometimes you get a reminder why something got popular in the first place. The entire place smelled briefly of bacon. That’s a pretty great scent to have wafting around.

I said to my girlfriend that ordering a bacon deep dish pie is the exact opposite of going to a bar’s jukebox and queuing up the entirety of The Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits.

Now, regardless of what you thought of that line, she didn’t think it was funny and I insisted that it was. I tweeted it and one person clicked “favorite” and that person has the exact same sense of humor I do.

So MAYBE it’s not as uproarious as I thought it was.

But the point I was making is that we’ve all heard The Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits 1974-1978 a million times. That is not an exaggeration.

Look at this thing. Everyone has seen this and heard it way too many times:



I don’t mean “Everyone born in North America has heard it,” I mean everyone on Earth. When those scientists found that one tribe in the Amazon that hadn’t made contact with civilization, the natives shot arrows toward their boat, and the arrowheads all had inscribed some runes upon them that directly translated into the tabs for “Dance Dance Dance.”

I am not even saying it is a BAD album. Wintertime is one of the 200 best songs ever made. The Joker would have been as well if not for the fact that America’s radio stations haven’t gone more than 5 minutes without playing it since its release (helpfully noted in the album’s title to be sometime between 1974 and 1978).

I’m just saying that trapping the denizens of a bar with that album — it’s 14 tracks long and it’s important to remember that you’ve got to endure “True Fine Love” and “The Stake” before getting to The Joker — is the opposite of a nice smell in a bar.

Anyway, so, here’s the thing: someone playing the entirety of the Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974-1978 on a jukebox actually happened to me in a bowling alley when I went home to Rochester one year. Doing this in a bowling alley is even more fiendish than doing it in a bar because you’ve already paid for the lane after someone in your party throws that first gutterball. You’re locked in! At least with a bar there exists the possibility of putting down cash and leaving. I’m not even getting into the fact that this happened in Rochester, another notch for my hometown’s belt. That is what is what I am saying.

(Well, I’m not saying that any more because nobody enjoys this.)

Anyway, if I had more drive, my version of Taken with Robb Sherwin instead of Liam Neeson would have me finding the jukebox guy who did this. 10 years later I’m still reeling.

Introductions: The Don Rogers Show
Jul 16th, 2014 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I will be continuing the top 100 list soon, but I’d like to take an opportunity to re-introduce a radio show that I’m on.

The name of the show is called The Don Rogers Show. I have been tweeting about it and I’m sorry if I have annoyed everyone. I’ll shut up about it.

I’m going to start putting the episodes on the Internet Archive, but in the meantime you can download old episodes here.

So, my deal is that I try to make a text adventure every few years and that’s where all my good stuff is. If you are tired of the wait, this is as good as anything I’ve ever done. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you join me in this continuing audio adventure.

Pinback and Ice Cream Jonsey discuss Breaking Bad S05E09.
Aug 11th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Robb: Please let me know when you have seen it.
Ben: I have seen it.
Robb: Just watching from when the garage door closes till the end over and over.
Robb: That is all I will ever be watching again on this computer.
Ben: That’s pretty much the only thing worth doing with the rest of our lives.

Robb: Walt keeps ESCALATING.
Robb: Every single sentence.
Robb: Except when his hand was up.
Robb: Every other sentence ESCALATED.
Robb: Meanwhile, Dexter still acts like nobody involved knows it’s the last season.
Robb: Just watched the last five minutes again, and
Robb: This is the first time I have ever used the “repeat loop” function of VLC for something other than porn.

Ben: Didn’t watch Dexter yet.
Ben: They were on at the same time.
Ben: My wife and I both expressed relief, since it meant we wouldn’t have to watch Dexter.

Robb: Yeah, I think the ultimate insult to Dexter and ultimate compliment to BB would be to just not download the last episodes of Dexter.
Robb: Just never know how it ends, because fuck that fucking piece of garbage and fuck it again compared to this.
Ben: Breaking Bad also didn’t do any favors to the show that premiered after it. Same thing happened with Walking Dead when it started. I’m sure it’s a fine show, but Jesus, everything looks like packaged, steamed crap after that.
Robb: They put Walking Dead on after Breaking Bad?
Ben: Yeah, when it first premiered.
Ben: And I was like “this suuuucks.” Which I now disagree with, but I mean… come on, AMC.
Robb: AMC’s schedule should have been the last five minutes of this show. Even back when it was not created yet.
Robb: It should have been a title card that said, “Hank Confronts Walt Scene”
Robb: And leave that up for two hours afterwards.

Ben: I enjoyed the Star Trek discussion.
Robb: Yes.
Robb: I liked the part where those stoned idiots were not aware that the replicator was not in TOS.
Robb: It was all excellent.
Robb: And it would have been a better episode than 50% of TOS.
Robb: And 100% of Voyager and Enterprise.
Ben: Hahha
Robb: And to clarify, I mean Matt Jones explaining the episode > all of Voyager, all of Enterprise.
Ben: Yes.
Robb: If they filmed it, clearly so, but even the version we got.
Ben: That scene was better than every episode of Star Trek except for Best of Both Worlds and the one Harlan Ellison wrote for the original series.
Robb: Let’s not get crazy, but yes.

Robb: I also like that lots of people lost weight, because they are famous now.
Ben: Aaaaah! Interesting. Interesting.
Robb: Badgur, Hanq and Skylarr all lost weight.
Robb: They are all now truly, irrevocably famous, forever.
Robb: And I think Skinny Pete dropped half a pound.
Ben: I didn’t notice that. NICE CATCH. Skaylur was thin to begin with, though, then ballooned, so maybe she just saw herself in a mirror in between shoots.



Robb: The black guy seems to have gained some, but, welp.
Ben: Mostly on the top of his head.
Ben: …mostly.
Robb: OH MY GOD
Robb: DID YOU NOTICE THAT
Robb: YOU ALSO NOTICED THAT
Robb: I started fucking around with the “pincushion” button on my monitor.
Robb: I thought I was going to have to buy a new tube!
Ben: The top of his head is the pile of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters.
Robb: The top of his head is where the American missiles shot out of in “The Day After.”
Ben: His head is Stewie Griffin sideways.

Robb: I will post this as our Breaking Bad analysis.
Robb: Oh, I can’t Select All from gchat anymore.
Robb: Thanks Google.
Robb: Fucking thanks, Google.
Ben: you have to download their Chrome Select-All App now.
Robb: :(

(Editor’s note: the last bit concerns the fact that Ben lives in Albuquerque and ordered a pizza from the place where the pizza pies come from in Breaking Bad. Ben and I have had previous discussions about how nobody that works there knows how to take an order over the phone and nobody that works there seems to comprehend that if you show up, you might order some pie. They act like you are an idiot for calling them or asking them about pizza.)



Ben: Oh dude.
Ben: Venezia’s (Pizza), right? Because of BB…
Robb: Love that place.
Ben: Check it, I got the 24″ PARTY PIE.
Robb: What?!?!?!?!?!
Ben: Just like on the show.
Robb: I’ve never dared!
Ben: The giant fucking pie.
Ben: They’re $3 off on Sunday so everyone was gettin’ ’em.

Ben: The greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
Ben: And I was able to get it without any of the staff apparently understanding what was going on or why I was there!
Robb: You got one for tonight’s show?
Ben: Yes. Breaking Bad Party Pie Yo!
Robb: They have no idea why anyone was there tonight.
Robb: How can you not know? If you work there.

Ben: “Hi, I’d like a 24″ pie with pepperoni, please.” “/quizzical look… hands off to coworker standing nearby.”
Robb: Ha hahahaha
Robb: They don’t know why you would just call up and order a pizza…. and they don’t know why you would order from them, tonight.

Ben: “Lemme get this straight, A, you want a “pizza”. B, you want it NOW.”
Ben: “Let me talk to my manager.”
Robb: Employee’s index finger does circles around her ear
Ben: ‘By the way, “how long do you think that’ll be.’ “30 minutes.” I came back in 12 minutes, because I know more about pies than they do, and a minute later it was ready.
Ben: I think she thought that since it’s twice the size of their normal pie that it takes twice as long to cook.

Robb: I feel that we know more about them and what they will be doing at that job.
Robb: We could show up and predict what their evening would be like, and to those animals it would be like when the one guy who knew science in 1312 could predict eclipses.
Robb: “13 minutes from now the pie will be done”
Robb: “You will get an uptick of business at the time a certain show starts on AMC”
Robb: “Two people will ask you not to cut it”

Ben: HAhahh I almost… I almost…
Ben: But I knew it was going to be enough of an ordeal getting them to prepare any kind of food product.
Robb: Just bringing the thing into the world, though it be their raison d’etre would be tough enough, you felt.
Robb: We would literally be like dark seers, or witches, except for the fact that we’ve had so much of their pie that no witch clothing would fit us.
Ben: The WIDE TEMPLAR.

Ben: Alright, that’s it for me.
Ben: TREAD LIGHTLY

Pinback And The Star Lords Alpha
Nov 2nd, 2012 by Pinback

You want to LORD over the stars! You always have! But you’ve grown up now, had a few kids, cleaned up more than your share of dog diarrhea off the couch, and you’re not sure you have it in you anymore. Maybe you’re not the "type" to lord over stars anymore. Maybe that’s for the youngsters anymore. The young bucks.

Well, what if the stars looked like THIS:

Yeah! YEAH! You’re ready to fucking LORD OVER SOME STARS NOW ain’t ya?

Of course you are, which is why I am happy to let you all know about the upcoming SPACE 4X GAME: STAR LORDS!!! I will be "championing" this game here, because I believe it will be the one space 4x game we’ve always wanted.

It is in early alpha now, but already it is showing signs of being the "chosen one". I mean, Christ! You wanna lord over some stars??

During your 4X-ing, you will of course come across other alien cultures, the exact same way you have since the genre was invented! Look, I am not saying this is going to break any ground here! I am just saying it’s going to take you back to when 4X was fun, and look great while doing it! Look! These alien cultures are about to go to war, because, you know, that’s what they do!

And unlike many recent space 4X offerings, when they go to war, you don’t just get a pretty "combat resolution" screen. You go to FUCKING BATTLE!!! In a TACTICAL BATTLE MAP!!! One… one simple word comes to mind here:

Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted? Since MOO, I mean? Of course it is. And that is why you should PRE-ORDER THE GAME for $20! Like I said, it’s in early alpha, some of the features are currently a little sketchy, and the user interface, while functional, how can I say it politely, "kinda blows wombat ass":

But that doesn’t matter. That’ll get fixed in time.

And now it’s YOUR time, to feel young, as when the world was new!

It is YOUR time…

…to be a STAR LORD.

Ben’s Famous Fast ‘N’ Easy(tm) Chicken Tikka Masala
Oct 30th, 2012 by Pinback

When it comes to "foods people could eat every day", did you know that Chicken Tikka Masala is the only dish that appears on EVERY HUMAN BEING’S LIST OF THOSE FOODS? That’s right! Even the die-hardest seventh-level Vegan cannot resist shovelling this shit into their mouths on a daily basis!

FUN FAX: Did you know "chicken tikka masala" was actually invented in England? Because those banger-eating square-headed warm-beer-drinking a-holes couldn’t be bothered to learn appreciation for actual Indian food? It’s true, I think!

Now, everyone knows that the best version of Chicken Tikka Masala available anywhere in the world is actually in your local supermarket’s freezer section:

I’ve been all around the world and had CTM in thousands, THOUSANDS of different countries and restaurants, and this little frozen box is the best one of all of them.

However, you and I are BOYCOTTING these rat bastards, because they recently replaced half of the curry in the box with RICE. I don’t need RICE, you idiots. I got RICE. I know how to cook RICE. Gimme the goddamn STEW, you FAGGOTS.

Plus, who has the time and money to go to the store and microwave a box of food? Nobody! However, we all have the time and money to go to the store and cook it fresh!

But we don’t have a LOT of time or money, and plus we are not good at following complicated directions, which is why we need:

Ben’s Famous "Fast ‘n’ Easy(tm)" Chicken Tikka Masala

Alright. There’s two parts to this. The chicken, and the sauce. So as not to OVERWHELM your Scotch-addled brain with too much at once, we’ll cover these separately:

THE CHICKEN

————–

– a couple chicken bresses

– a cup of plain yogurt

– juice of 1 lemon

– 1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, cumin, cinammon, red pepper (optional, for heat)

1. Cut chicken bresses into 1 inch cubes.

2. Mix yogurt, lemon, and spices together.

3. Put chicken in there, and let marinate for an hour. Normally I’d say "overnight", but this is FAST N GODDAMN EASY.

4. Cook the chicken, however you find FASTEST AND EASIEST. Me, I’d just throw that shit under the broiler for ten minutes, but you got your own life to live.

SAAAAAUCE

========

– 1 tbsp butter

– Couple cloves of garlic, minced

– 1 cup (8oz can) tomato sauce

– 2 tsp garam masala (you can find this! at your store! in the spices!)

– 1 tsp coriander (or just substitute another tsp garam masala)

– 1 tsp each salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, sugar, red pepper (optional, for heat)

– 1 cup heavy cream

1. Cook garlic in the butter for a minute.

2. Add tomato sauce and spices, stir and let simmer for five minutes.

3. Add cream, and let sauce simmer until thickened to the DESIRED THICKNESS. Which is thinner than you might think. It should coat the back of a spoon, but not hold its shape in the pan at all.

FINISHING IT UP

===========

1. Add chicken to sauce, simmer until warmed through.

2. Make some goddamn rice.

3. Garnish with chopped cilantro if you have any.

4. GO TO TOWN!

Thank you.

I’m here to answer your questions.

Pinback’s Cool of the Day: BALLOONS
Oct 1st, 2012 by Pinback

Today a bunch of hot air balloons flew over our place! Like, close enough where the people in them were saying, not yelling, “Mornin'” and taking pictures of us while we took pictures back. Apparently in this area that’s not a big deal, but it was by far the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.

Well, I decided right then and there that I would get totally into hot air balloons for at least the rest of the day. “How do you steer them?” I asked myself! “How do you pilot them?” I asked myself!! “WTF?!!” I asked myself! Then I stopped screwing around and reminded myself “Hey, there’s probably a hot air balloon simulator somewhere.”

There is! It’s only 2D, but in terms of learning how balloons work and simulating control of one, this seems pretty spot on, as there are only two controls: make the air in the balloon hotter, make the air in the balloon not as hot.

Using those controls you are tasked with completing… a task (going somewhere, then turning around and landing where you started), and like all great human endeavors, it seems incredibly stupid and simplistic before you start, but then you realize it isn’t.

So my COOL OF THE DAY is:

http://balloonsimulator.com

And the most frightening thing I learned today was the answer to my original question, “how do you steer them?” Which is, in a very literal sense: You don’t.

The above link will give you due appreciation of that fact.

Enjoy!


Here was the balloon that said “Mornin'”, if you want to play along at home. They eventually landed in the backyard of the house about three down from ours.



I mean, imagine walking out of your house in the morning, looking up and seeing this. Wouldn’t you be, like, “whoa”? We were like, “whoa”.



Who Framed Wreck-It Ralph? (As A Launching Point To An Arcade Post)
Jun 8th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

There is a movie in development called Wreck-It Ralph. I hope it makes a billion dollars and everyone involved had that moment where they go see it in a theater and sneak in some scotch to celebrate a job well done, because if I worked on movies I’d totally sneak in a little bit of the old Johnny Dapper when a movie I worked on premiered. I know this because I don’t work in movies and still bring a flask.

I want those things for the crew behind Ralph because I am a liker, and I like things. But then there’s stuff like this promotional poster:

Ha ha! Remember those guys from that game??!

Rather than face the outrage of this insult a moment longer, I took my concerns to Twitter, which left me about a million characters short to express anything meaningful on the subject. Not that I didn’t try.

My pal Jason asked me if I would have thought the same about Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It’s different, but I sure wasn’t going to be able to express that on Twitter. And please keep in mind that none of this is really as annoying in the real world as a paper cut or a stubbed toe, but let me be a crazy person anyway.

The fun parts, to me, of Roger Rabbit involve the plot of Bob Hoskins trying to solve a crime in this unique world we’re presented with. I don’t want to call Eddie Valiant a classic noir protagonist, because I haven’t seen it enough times to name his characteristics, prejudices and arc by memory, but he does wear a trench coat and is a private eye, so let’s go with that. I like noir. Photographs of Jessica Rabbit literally playing patty-cake is hilarious. Roger Rabbit has an annoying voice, but isn’t annoying. That’s amazing. It really has a great script. I think reasonable people agree it’s a good movie, maybe even a great one. I’m sure it’s hundreds of spots below Seven Samurai and the bed jumping scene of Return of the King on IMDB, but what good, maybe great movie isn’t.

With that in mind, I couldn’t have cared less about all the other cartoon characters they tried to cram into Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

The part where Donald Duck and Daffy Duck engage in dueling pianos was stupid and dragged. Maybe if Elmer Fudd was actually murdering denizens of ToonTown with a sawed-off shotgun that’d be something and a decent use of all the characters the filmmakers licensed, but all the other appearances were fan fictiony. Seeing Dolan Duck in the background of frames 1,023 through 1,046 isn’t just automatically interesting to me.

(Popeye wasn’t in it, I remember. I always liked that. I felt like he was on my side. If you have a guy who eats spinach all the time not do something that apparently every other character who had ever been in an animation cel agreed to then you know he is standing up for his principles.)

I don’t know anything about the movie of Wreck-It Ralph, other than the fact that the plot (an arcade bad guy trying to make good) is perfectly fine on its own. That’s a legitimate idea for a movie, and I am going to try my best to make some kids tonight so I can bring them to the theater and they can enjoy it when it gets released. OK I was gonna do that anyway, bow chicka bow.

But what would be even better than Q*bert and Slick being destitute in a promotional image (and the image is great, don’t get me wrong) would be a Q*bert movie. Written by Warren Davis and/or Jeff Lee. It’s their stuff!

I know I am crazy when it comes to this, and that’s fine. I think that you get a special relationship with the character of Q*bert when you are soaked in sweat on a summer day trying to figure out why your Q*bert machine is spontaneously resetting in a cool basement. You develop a thing for Mr. Do! when you accidentally push it down the stairs to your game room and spend 20 hours over two days trying to get the thing working again. I mean, there was a stretch of time, before Mr. Do! was famous, where kids went into an arcade and sized the thing up. They knew nothing about it. The game became a thing we (well, er, I) still care about 30 years later because it was awesome and amazing and interesting on its own merits. We’re now living in a world where the interesting stuff to consume increased exponentially and I think it’s cheating to shove the heads of Pengo and the Lode Runner down in the water so you can float a little yourself.

So. Maybe Kazutoshi Ueda will get unfrozen from whatever cybernetic think tank the world stashed him into when he was done creating the masterpiece Mr. Do!. Maybe he wants to make a screenplay! Maybe that was his lifelong dream, I don’t know. The character of Bugs Bunny wasn’t going to have possible future films closed to him based on how Roger Rabbit did, but arcade characters have nowhere near that much pull. This is probably it for them. I just think it’d be cool for the people who developed the games in the first place to have their opportunities (as — last I heard — the games Joust and Asteroids do), rather than prop up this other thing, Wreck-It Ralph, that ought to die or flourish based on its own qualities.

… Oh. And regardless of how dramatic I was being over Twitter, I would still maintain that a Food Fight movie staring a kid whose jaw can dislodge to ten times its normal size would be an amazing disaster movie.

Humbled.
Mar 10th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My game Cryptozookeeper won some awards last weekend. There were many categories — you can see the list of winners here, the transcript of the on-line ceremony here, and the list of nominees here.

With the XYZZY Awards, I closed a chapter of my life. It took five years to make the game, and it’s been 9 months since I released it. In all that time, for every semi-exotic animal I encountered, my first thoughts were “Can I get a picture?” and “What cryptid would it make if crossed with MAN?” It’s different now. I jogged by the Denver Zoo with my girlfriend the other night. (Well, we weren’t what you would call extremely close, but elephants carry a scent that make the entire world seem tightly packed.) It was just a jog. There weren’t any thoughts of getting a ladder to scale the fence and a gas mask to snap some pics for the game.

In the aftermath, I realize I really left some things by the wayside. My house is a mess. A raccoon ate my chimney two years ago and I haven’t put the new panels I painted up. The sunflowers depicted in this Caltrops thread basically took over my entire back yard in the summers that followed. I have to clean that area up. I have dear friends I haven’t called on the phone to chat with, family members I haven’t been in proper contact with, and someone said something about a black President??

I’ve tried to thank everyone a zillion times since I put this game out there. But I wanted there to be one last spot where I did so. Gerrit, who played Vest, was the first guy I involved in the production: he sent me source pictures according to the snippets of plot I gave him over the course of three or four years. He kept the same purple shirt and his beard the same length to make it easy for me to digitally-manipulate him into New Mexico. There was something inspiring about another round of source pics. There were very few actual pictures of the player character in Fallacy of Dawn — mostly because my brother had aged 10 years from the main head shot I used. But there’s lots of Gerrit in this, and I think it makes the attempt at storytelling more complete.

Jonathan Blask’s scenes were shot in a hotel room in Las Vegas, during the 2007 Classic Gaming Expo. I remember that text game folks Nick Montfort, Adam Thornton and Jason Scott were around for this. Jason generously let me borrow his camera, which was clutch because half of the shots I took of Jon with my camera were blurry and unusable. Adam was also great sport, being OK with getting divided him in half, in Photoshop, to exteeeeeeeend him and create a giant mass of a man in Igor Cytserz.

I knew a couple things that would happen when I asked Alex to play Lebbeus: I knew he would knock it out of the park, and I knew it might take a year or two for him to get me the source shots. Both were right! I had no idea that in making this game he would introduce me to my dear friend Jennifer, who played Bleem in the house party scene. I met them both in Edinburgh three years ago, and the friendships that this silly little sci-fi game inspired will always be the thing I treasure most.

Clint Hoagland was incredibly generous to offer up his music to me. Clint and knew each other through Caltrops and I find him to be a kindred soul — I think, in another lifetime, under different circumstances, we would both be pursuing our creative passions full-time, but instead we’re, ah, in IT. I must have listened to his wonderful songs a thousand times each while making the game, and in putting that link in this article, I played Everything Seems Perfect one more time.

I will always be grateful to Dayna for putting up with me during the first few years of work on this game. I know I didn’t make it easy. She also introduced me to Alana, who played Jane — I knew I needed one genuinely nice character in the game, and Alana just has this sweetness about her that shines through. She’s adjusting the mannequin’s tie on the back of the DVD box, and I think that little black and white shot captures what a thoughtful person she is.

Greg, Lysander, Worm and hygraed from this website’s forum tested Crypto over and over again in the first couple of years, and Jon Blask, Marius, Michael, Johnny and Flack gave me tons of feedback to allow me to actually get it out the door. They found so many amazing things — when Deanna reacts to Grimloft in the end game? That was because Michael noted it in his transcripts. (Michael’s transcripts, in particular, were a delight to read, just filled with advice, questions he forced me to think about and more than a couple plot holes I was able to solve.) I was also greatly aided by people who only had a chance to run through parts of the game for a little bit: to Bananadine, Last, Juhana, Pinner, Brian, Sorrel, Zseni and Mike Sousa — I owe you all a debt.

(Oh, and Tdarcos as well, of course! The word “humbled” can also apply to his experiences with the game. Needless to say, I will be considering players that are new to text adventures in a way I didn’t when I started Crypto.)

I had blogged before about how my friend Randy is responsible for the game looking like it does — he runs a haunted house – but I didn’t get a chance to mention that we also got together with our friend Dusty and put him in some old robes to “be” Ukilicoz. I am blessed to have so many friends like Sarge, Vark, Worm and Pinner show trust in me that I would make them look good in my text game.

Lastly, my girlfriend has been wonderful throughout this (waves hands) all of this. I took her to see Get Lamp, and she has met some of my friends that I’ve met through interactive fiction enthusiasm, but this is… this is a bit of an esoteric hobby that so many of us are into. I don’t have a good answer as to why I’m not just trying to write a book, except for the fact that I feel so strongly for IF. She’s been amazing.

That so many people enjoyed the game I worked on means the world to me, and all I can say is that you have my promise that I’ll throw as much blood into the ones in the future as I did this one. Thank you. I remain humbled.

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