Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today, A Music Tribute For Veterans' Day

Warning: This post contains serious opinions and beliefs involving philosophy and possibly politics. If you can't handle that then skip this one.

Today, November 11th, is Veteran's Day here in the United States. In honor of that, I thought I'd make my own memorial to veterans, both here in the States and around the world. And what better way to do that then with something else I really like: metal! (Note that this is not actually a Top 5 list. Rather, these are 5 songs which help make the point I want to make this Veterans' Day.)

This post is dedicated to the two veterans closest to me: my father and my brother.

5 & 4. Star-Spangled Banner and Declaration Day by Iced Earth
While I do intend honor to everyone who has fought and sacrificed for what they believe and to protect their nation and its people, Veterans' Day is still an American holiday, so it seems only fitting to start us off today with Declaration Day and Star-Spangled Banner, both from Iced Earth's album The Glorious Burden. Now, on with the rest of the show.

3. Purple Heart by Sabaton
Freedom may be free, but the right to pursue that freedom without the influence of tyranny is not. That right has been purchased with the sacrifices made by countless veterans, both American and from all parts of the world. This song is in honor of that sacrifice.

Just because someone doesn't have a purple heart doesn't mean they haven't made that sacrifice. Often the cost is more difficult to see. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real thing, which affects many veterans. These people need support and understanding. They are not just making things up, nor are they ticking time bombs waiting to explode. They're people who are legitimately hurting and need help.

If you know someone with PTSD be understanding and try to help. If you can, why not make a Vet's Day donation to a group like Patriot Outreach or the PTSD Foundation of America?

2. Rise of Evil by Sabaton
I'm reminded of someone I knew as a kid who asked me to consider how much better of a place the world would be without war. I thought about it for a moment, as I was asked, and could only imagine a world where the United States never won its freedom from England, the Nazis ruled the world, and every person lived their lives in fear.

I believe that friend had it backward. If the world were a more perfect place, then there would be no need for war. But there is a need for war, because this world is not a perfect place. There are evil people, and some conflicts simply can not be reconciled.

Sabaton's Rise of Evil tells the story of the rise of the Nazi party of Germany, and serves as a reminder of why, in this broken world, war is an unfortunate necessity.

1. Survivor Guilt by Rise Against
I firmly believe in the power of violence. I have nothing against fighting or against the idea of killing for what you believe, and I absolutely believe in the power of righteous hatred as a transformative catalyst. That said, I hate war. When violence reaches that grandiose of a level, it loses its meaning. People forget why they're fighting, and they forget why they hate.

Violence is a powerful tool, and it should be used responsibly. War should be a last resort, but often it isn't. Sometimes these sacrifices are made in the name of some pompous aristocrat's own ego. Survivor Guilt by Rise Against is all about the evil of pointless war, when good men and women are asked to sacrifice their lives and the lives of others for meaningless causes.

To those who have given your lives, you are not forgotten and you are not hated.

To those politicians who order such deeds in their name of their own selfishness, may that bloody sacrilege stain your soul and curse you forever.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Video Game Review: Windforge, Why Aren't You Good?!

With a game like this, a game that seems like it should be so good, it's difficult to tell from reviews alone whether or not it's worthwhile. I knew going in that the game had a lot of negative reviews, but it was impossible not to at least give it a try and I'll admit, I really, really wanted this game to be good. I mean, it just sounds like it should be awesome. It's basically like Terraria, a game I currently have nearly 2,000 hours of playtime in, with the ship-building mechanic from Space Engineers, and set in a richly detailed steampunk world of floating islands and flying sky whales. There's no way this isn't the greatest game ever made. Right?

Sadly, it's not the greatest game ever made. In fact, it's not a great game at all, or even a good game, or even a mediocre game. Windforge is a game which is fundamentally, fatally flawed. By way of explaining how, and because lists are easy to write, allow me to present to you The Top 3 Things Wrong With Windforge!

3. The Graphics
Here's the thing about the graphics: some of them actually look amazing. The flying whales and the krakens that live in the lower regions of the world, and the larger objects like the giant balloons and clocktowers, are all lovingly rendered. The watercolor background is pretty nice too. It's obvious that the developers really worked hard on the graphics. So what the Hell is up with this?

Click the picture for a larger image.

It looks blocky and awful, like my house is built from stacked up Lincoln Logs. This is because there's no blending or tiling with the graphics, which is weird because even Starbound and Terraria have that. Also, there's an awful lot of these blocks. In Terraria your character is three blocks tall, and in Starbound it's four. Here? Freaking eight! These blocks are tiny is what I'm getting at, which makes construction and destruction a massive chore.

What else makes construction a chore? The painfully bad attempt at 2.5D graphics. Everything is in this weird 3/4ths view which I'm sure the developers thought was just so cool, but really it just gets in the way. It's hard to know what block you're digging at with your jackhammer when you're mining, and it's hard to see what you're doing when you're building on a ship or a home base.

Also, what's with my furniture? Look at that. It looks like it's just painted onto the wall instead of actually sitting on the floor.

2. What Do These Numbers Mean?
I'll admit, math was never my big thing. I mean, I'm not completely stupid with numbers, but it never came as easy to me as other things. That said, what the hell do these numbers mean?

My ship weighs 524 widgets, but I have 1,389 whatsits worth of lift and 30,000 doodads worth of buoyancy! That's worth at least 100 million bananas!

My ship's mass is only 524, and I have 1,389 vertical thrust, so shouldn't I be able to move up and down fairly well? No, I can't. For that matter, why is my vertical thrust only 1,389? My three propellers provide a total thrust of 13,500 (4,500 x 3), so how is that counteracted so greatly by a mass of only 524? And shouldn't my buoyancy of 30,000 totally cancel out the mass issue anyway? Honestly, it wouldn't be that big of a deal if I just knew what these numbers meant. Is my mass 524 kilograms? 524 tons? Who knows? The fact that there are no units given for these numbers just makes them all feel arbitrary.

And no, I'm not so stupid that I can't figure out adding a few extra propellers will let me move again, but I shouldn't have to guess at it. And if you DO want me to have to guess at it, then why bother giving me the numbers at all? It's not like they matter.

This issue doesn't only affect airships either. It's also a problem with armor, weapons, pretty much everything. Earlier in the game my character picked up a set of bronze full plate armor. I was excited because it gave her 30 more defense than my old set of leather-bronze bandit armor, so I put it on and went out to fight some people, and noticed that the bandits who were previously dealing 46 points of damage a shot with their pistols were now doing... 46 points of damage a shot. Seriously, what the Hell do these numbers mean?!

1. Movement
So, if I was designing a game about floating islands and airships, and I had to name what I thought would be the single most important aspect of the gameplay, the one thing that I absolutely had to make sure I didn't screw up no matter what, I would have to say that would be a good jumping mechanic. I mean, we're dealing with a game world where one missed jump means, at best, you fall and break your everything on the next floating island down, or at worst you fall all the way into the planet's core and burn to death. That's not a pleasant way to go.

That said, this game has what might just be the worst jumping algorithm of any game I've ever played. You move too fast, and it's too hard to control where you end up. Even walking is dangerous, as stepping off a slope means the jumping algorithm takes over and sends you rocketing over the nearest ledge straight to your death. I found that latching my grappling hook on to the ground was a necessary step whenever I was near a ledge, so that when I fell I would at least be able to stop myself.

Oh yeah, and let's talk about the grappling hook. I'll admit it's fun to swing around on and feel like I'm a steampunk Spiderman. Even so, the grappling hook isn't much better than anything else. It's too fiddly and too slow to fire, it never seems to connect when you need it to, or else it connects to the wrong thing. Even when it does connect right, it's too unpredictable; sometimes you just stop and hang there, and other times you spin around at high speed, usually straight into your airship's propellers.

That brings us to the last mode of movement: airships. Airship movement is... passable. It's a bit wonky sometimes itself, mostly due to inertia and the difficulty of making yourself come to a complete stop. (Seriously, Space Engineers had the inertial dampener system for a reason, Windforge developers.) Also, my ship felt like it had a weird desire to keep drifting upward which always made it very hard to dock properly. Of course, there's also the weirdness of the numbers which I mentioned before, where you always seem to have either not enough thrust so you can barely move, or else too much so you rocket across the map with a slightest touch of the buttons. It's a good thing repairs to your airship are free, because you will crash into things constantly.

KR Rating: [2] BAD

I find that the games I give a rating of 2 out of 5 are generally ambitious failures, and this is no exception. It's clear to me from the detailed nature of this game that the developer really wanted to do a good job. The artwork is great, aside from the afore-mentioned problems. The game world is very interesting and well thought out. (Seriously, just watch this video - this world is amazing.)

It's just a shame that the game they built around this concept is so poorly built. Like Dr. Frankenstein before him, the developer brought his creation to life as a shambling mess that can barely function and will probably end up being the death of us all - I know it's sure killed me more than a few times.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Video Game Review: Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy. This game really bothers me, and it's a bit difficult for me to explain exactly why. Still, if I had to explain (and I kind of do, otherwise this isn't much of a review) then I would put it like this:

Like most people, I originally loved this game. The exploration-based platforming and combat were fun and simple. More, the "inheritance" system - wherein each time you die you take over one of your character's children with a new class, special attack, and collection of traits - was something completely new, which I had never seen any game attempt before.

But of course, you do eventually realize the game's problems. For me, this realization came near the end of my first day with the game I looked over and realized I was level 60 already... and I was barely into the game. I hadn't even beaten the first boss. I wasn't even close to ready to beat the first boss.

This is because you advance SO slowly in this game. At that point, and heck still where I am now a really good run through the dungeon might net me a rune I'll never use and enough gold to get +1 attack power.

But that's not what bothers me.

Then I realized, this game is basically built to reward luck over skill. Everything about this game is luck; the luck to get a nicer build for the procedurally generated castle, the luck to get better rewards in the chests and from enemies. Even combat rewards luck over skill, as the one truly skill-based class (the Hokage) is quickly overshadowed by the others and you're forced to rely on things that are by definition unreliable to win: things like critical hits, MP-using magic attacks, and tanking with high HP.

But that's not what bothers me.

I realized that the game is basically just a time sink. If you really look at it, there's really not a whole lot of content here. If you could go straight through on one try you'd have about four hours of content. It gets stretched out because you die constantly, you advance so slowly, and every time you re-enter the dungeon you've got to run through the same regions you've already been through again and again.

But that's not what bothers me.

No, what bothers me is the fact that this stuff DOESN'T bother me.

The game is just plain fun. The platforming works really well and, while it can be difficult, you always get the sense that you could totally do it if you were just a little bit better. Combat is simple and enjoyable, but also a fair challenge.

The presentation is great, as well. The enemies and environments are beautifully drawn, and the music is the perfect amount of atmospheric without becoming just dull and moody - Diablo's music composers could stand to take a few lessons from these guys.

This is a game I can get into and just play again and again. It's just too bad that every time I load it up I feel like I'm giving in to something evil...

KR Rating: [4] DAMN IT, WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO GOOD?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Top 10 Things Non-Writers Don't Get About Writing

My two biggest long time hobbies are drawing and writing. I don't always put my work up for everyone to see and I admittedly got really lazy for a long time, but I do spend a lot of time doing both.

Having recently gotten into a new writing project, however, I was reminded of just how little non-writers really understand about the writing process. To my friends who aren't writers, I love you all but seriously, some of the things you do are really annoying, and so I'm here to let you know. These are the top 10 things that you really need to understand about writing.

10. Writing dark stories is not a cry for help.
For some reason I don't understand - maybe some strange leftover urge from Lit class - all non-writers always seem to assume that anything you write is a secret allegory for your own life. This is especially true if you tend to write darker stories like I do; if I had a nickel for every person who read one of my stories and then tried to play armchair psychiatrist to me... well, I'd probably have a few more nickels. No, people. The fact that I'm writing a character with an abusive father does not mean I hate my dad. The fact that a character dies at the end does not mean I'm suicidal. It's called creating drama, you uncultured philistines.

9. I can hate any character, including my main character, and write them anyway.
Of course, liking them does make writing a whole lot easier, but it's not a necessity. This one, as near as I can tell, ties into the above entry. Non-writers assume that the main character is meant to be the author him or herself, so obviously if I hate my main character then I must hate myself, right? No. It doesn't work that way. The truth is that as you write your creation will take on a life of its own, which is also why...

8. Yes, your own writing can legitimately surprise you.
Non-writers are always flabbergasted by this one. How could a story you write and that you presumably had planned out in advance surprise you? It's true that I usually have some idea of where my story is going to go before I write it. It's also true that often, by the time I get to the parts I had spent so long planning in my head, I suddenly realize what I had planned is not something that the character would actually do. At all. I've had entire stories pull a 180 on me before. It happens.

7. Don't ask me what my story is about.
This one I'll admit is kind of weird. If you ask me about a book that someone else wrote I can tell you all about it. It's about a guy who does some stuff and then stuff happens as a result so he has to do some other stuff, the end. But ask me what my own story is about and suddenly I draw a complete blank. It's not that I don't know, I just don't feel like I can do it justice with a short description. If you really want to know what my story is about do me a favor: wait until it's done and read it. But do remember that...

6. No, you can't read it yet.
Even though stories are not necessarily auto-biographical they are a writer's emotions being put on display. It's been said before that being a writer is like showing your butt to the world; well, if you've gotta do it, then you at least want to make sure it's clean first, right? Just relax. You'll get to read it at the same time as everyone else. Honestly, you probably wouldn't like what's there right now anyway since...

5. The first draft is never, ever worth publishing.
I often hear non-writers ask what is the purpose of a "rewrite." They always have this idea of a master writer sitting down and writing out a flawless masterpiece on the first try. This idea is absurd. Even Stephen King's first drafts are crappy messes of loose plot threads. You just don't realize, because you never see it. And while we're on the topic of publishing...

4. Don't ask me when I'm going to get published.
I don't know. I might never get published. I might not even be trying to get published. Believe it or not a lot of writers write as a hobby, and even those who do intend to get published might not want to publish every work they write. Among writers there is what's known as "trunk works." That is, works that you finish and then hide in a trunk in your attic because, for whatever reason, you just don't want anyone to see it. Maybe it's not as good, or too personal, or maybe you were just using it to try out new ideas. Whatever the reason, it's not going to be published. (And people, please stop posthumously publishing trunk works from famous authors. You have no idea how much of a dick that makes you.)

3. Also, if you try to read my story over my shoulder, I will punch you.
As I mentioned at the start, my two major hobbies are drawing and writing. Needless to say I quickly developed a habit of sitting at the very back of a room with no one around me, because both of these hobbies draw in looky-loos like flies to a trash can. If I don't want to let you read my story yet, then I definitely don't want you looking over my shoulder at it.

2. And if you try to take my notebook away so you can "fix" my story, I will kill you. (And it will be a closed-casket funeral.)
Now that I'm a 6'6" grown man with a shaved head who looks like he could stomp most people flat and occasionally makes small children cry, people don't do this anymore, but back in high school I was just a fat nerd and yes I had people try to snatch my notebook away so they could "fix" whatever it was I was working on. The worst part was they didn't even think they were being jerks. Both of the people who did this to me were close friends who honestly thought that they were helping. They were not helping.

1. It is extremely @#%$ing obnoxious when you disturb me while I'm writing.
You think it's no big deal. You are wrong. Writing is an extremely emotional process. I actually have an entire ritual I go through to "clear the air" and get myself into a proper mindset before I sit down and write. Once I get into my writing it's not something I can just stop and then pick back up on a dime.

I'm going to put this as clear as I can for all of my non-writer friends out there, and keep in mind that there is no exaggeration in this statement at all: Being interrupted while you're writing is exactly the same as being interrupted while you're having sex.

Monday, September 15, 2014

4 More Obnoxious Internet Commenters I Missed

Way back in 2012 I was inspired by a combination of Cracked.com and a handful of trolls at the Agony Booth to write my article 6 More Obnoxious Internet Commenters Cracked Missed. Unfortunately, I quickly realized I had left a few out, and so I was inspired again to create this list, of four more obnoxious internet commenters. Oh, and just as with the last time, you'll likely never be able to get rid of these guys.

4. The Like Button Warrior

You know what's scary? People. They believe in things and they don't like assholes slandering them.

You know what's easy? Hitting the "Like" button on a post that slanders those people for you! It puts the message across, but no one can get mad at you because technically it wasn't you that said it!

Just to be clear, we're not talking about just any person who hits the "Like" button on an insulting comment. No, this is about people who hit the "Like" button on insulting comments, while simultaneously feigning reasonability themselves. The funniest thing about these people is, they honestly believe that they're being sneaky, and that no one will ever figure out their secret motives.

Why you can't get rid of him:
Because what he did was such a pusilanimous gesture of passive aggressive defiance that most moderators can't be bothered to do anything about it. And, you know, it's probably fine. Simply being the coward that he is is already a worse punishment on this guy than anything that anyone else could possibly give.

3. The Sad Sack

You've defeated his arguments with mountains of evidence. And so it is with a sigh of sad reluctance he finally breaks down and admits defeat. Perhaps it's true that you know more about the constitutionality of the capital gains tax than he does. It's no surprise. After all, he's nothing but a poor starving little boy from Ethiopia, with five types of brain cancer caused by all the abuse he receives from his evil stepmother. The doctors have given him only five weeks to live, but he still loves his family and his life so much more than a person like you could ever understand. So congratulations. You win. Monster.

There's just one thing his miserable life story left out: even if it's true (It's not.) how exactly is it relevant at all to what you were discussing? (It's not.)

Why you can't get rid of him:
Because what sort of wretched person would want to punish a poor nine year old boy with only a head and a burlap sack filled with leaves for a body?

Okay, no. Actually, it's because as with the like button warrior, above, this one is so pathetic that it's not worth bothering with. If you think about it, that's probably the best course anyway. Acknowledging his claims only serves to give them validity. The best way to combat this one is to just ignore it completely.

2. The Parrot

Everything this guy needs to know about debating he learned in Kindergarten.

"Oh yeah? Well everything you need to know about sucking you learned in your mom! HAH!"

When challenged the parrot reaches back to his elementary school training days, gathers all the skills he learned arguing with other kids on the playground, and valiantly recites your own argument back at you with one or two words changed to make it more insulting.

Not always its own thing, parroting is also a tactic of many other obnoxious commenter types. Humorously, the parrot truly believes that this is the height of wit, and will always be convinced that he totally just "got you."

Why you can't get rid of him:
You might be able to get rid of him, but since what he's saying is basically only two degrees off from what you're saying, getting him banned generally means getting banned yourself. As with most of these the best thing to do is ignore them. Just ask yourself, who's dumber: the parrot, or the person arguing with it like he expects a real conversation from a mindless animal?

1. The Contrarian

The world is full of morons, believing things that are so obviously wrong, often for reasons that are poorly considered, if they've even been considered at all. As far as the contrarian is concerned this group includes absolutely everyone that's not him. Everyone else is just so obviously wrong, and it's up to him to let them know it, at any cost...or so he'd have you believe.

More than just being argumentative and stubborn, the contrarian is so deadset on being against the maximum number of people possible that he'll even go so far as to reverse his own opinion to do so. Maybe he's just so convinced that everyone but him is stupid that he sees people agreeing with him as proof that he was wrong all along. More likely, though, he's just a troll.

Why you can't get rid of him:
You can, sometimes, if he's caught early enough or if he's stupid about it. Often times the contrarian is smart, though. He takes it slow and after a while he'll build a collection of followers just like the one line wonder from the last list - people who mistake his trolling for wisdom and think he's some sort of guru. Banning him at that point risks angering his followers, so you'll need to wait for an incident that can provide a reason to get rid of him and prove his idiocy all at once.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Creepypasta Review: Jeff The Killer

I know what you're asking. What is Jeff the Killer? Jeff the Killer is what's referred to on the internet as a "creepypasta." Creepypasta, for those not in the know, is basically a sub-genre of horror defined as being exclusively written by hyperactive 12-year-olds who have never read a horror story before. None of them are scary and most of them aren't even particularly good stories.

Let me make this clear: I'm not a particularly brave person. I absolutely believe in ghosts. I grew up being scared witless by R.L. Stine before graduating to being scared by H.P. Lovecraft. Plus, my revolver is located across the room from where I sleep which is going to be terribly inconvenient when my home finally does get invaded by an undead serial killer. So believe me, it's not some sort of heroic valor that lets me resist being scared by these things, they're just not scary.

Jeff the Killer is one of the most well known of all creepypastas, and also one of the worst. It's also where the infamous creepypasta face came from. You know what I'm talking about.

This is supposed to be a real face. Apparently Jeff is made out of magic marker and Photoshop.

That's the reason why I read it, and after doing so I just knew I had to write a blog post on just how much this thing sucked.

The story begins with a misguided attempt at setting itself up as a "true story" with a fake Newspaper bit about a boy surviving a serial killer. Naturally, it completely blows it by including an action scene, because real reporters always use those in their articles, right?

It goes on to tell the origin story of Jeff the Killer, a little boy who moves to a new town and who is immediately ambushed by knife-wielding middle-schoolers. I'm not joking. After fighting them off, somehow, the police decide that he and his brother attacked the three kids with no provocation and send his brother to a Juvenile Detention Center with no trial or investigation.

Later, the three kids attack him again and he kills them all, while getting his own face horribly scarred in the process, at which point he goes insane, mutilates his face even further, and kills his whole family for no real reason.

Ugh...

So, where do I even begin?

How about by asking, why do the police blame Jeff and his brother Liu for the incident? (Also, why are two brothers named Jeff and Liu?) But really. The three bullies - Randy, Troy, and Keith - aren't exactly subtle. They skateboard around the city with knives and attack random people in broad daylight. In the story's climax they jump their skateboards straight over a privacy fence (some God damned how) and invade a backyard birthday party with pistols and knives so that they can beat up Jeff. Put simply, these kids are crazy and sloppy and there is no way the whole city is unaware of it.

The thing is, the story doesn't even care. Why do the police not immediately suspect the three underage knife-wielding hoodlums who the story clearly states attack people like this all the time? Just because. Why does perfectly normal Jeff go irrevocably insane after two fistfights, while the other characters don't? Just because. Why do Jeff's burns turn his hair black? Just because. Seriously, why are two brothers named freaking Jeff (an English name) and Liu (a Chinese name)? Just because.

They just didn't care, folks.

KR Rating: [0] SHOVEL

Here's the big thing, though: even if the plot made sense this turkey would still give you literary salmonella. The author writes with all the suspense of a textbook and the subtlety of that same textbook being thrown at your face. At no point does he come close to creating suspense or horror, and it's not even like he's really trying.

I want to make something extra clear here to any aspiring horror or creepypasta writers.

Horror is not about violence, gore, or surprise.

Violence, surprise, and gore are not scary because they are concrete. They exist in the here and now. That means they can be dealt with. Horror comes not from terrible things happening in the present, but from imagining terrible things happening in the future. It's about creating an atmosphere of dread. It's about suspense - that is the essence of horror.

That is also this story's greatest failure, and really the failure of creepypasta in general.

It's especially sad, because the story does have some interesting aspects which, if given more consideration, could have made for a decent story.

Jeff's struggle with the bullies, and the adults who refuse to believe the truth, could have made for an interesting plot. Everyone who has ever been a kid knows the frustration of having adults refuse to believe them when they're telling the truth. Couple that with having to deal with psychotic, knife-wielding bullies (who your parents refuse to believe even exist) and you've definitely got something that could drive a kid mad.

Sadly, the story never dwells on that. Nothing much comes of that storyline, plus as mentioned before the bullies are so over the top that the adults' disbelief just comes off as stupidity anyway.

For that matter, the dark force that drives Jeff, which takes control of him and allows him to easily defeat the three armed bullies in both of their altercations... what is that? Where does it come from? Again nothing much ever really comes of this. It's mentioned in passing a few times, but the author clearly isn't interested in examining it.

Perhaps even worse, Jeff after his transformation into the titular "The Killer" is not an interesting villain, and again it's disappointing because the author came so close. Again, here's a tip for any aspiring writers: a good horror villain has a reason for why he kills who he kills. Jason Voorhees goes after young adults who are negligent in their duty of protecting the younger generation, because those are the kind of people who caused his death. Dexter goes after other serial killers because he thinks it makes his own lust for murder okay.

What is Jeff's motivation? Maybe he could go after bullies like the ones who burned him and scarred his face? Nope. Maybe he could go after negligent parents who are dismissive of their children, like his were? Nope. He just goes after everyone, because he "snapped" and "enjoys killing now."

I honestly wonder why the author made the decision to write this story as a creepypasta when he was so clearly uninterested in any of the dramatic or frightening aspects. He's clearly far more interested in writing an action story, he even has one of the bullies utter a stereotypical action movie one-liner before lighting Jeff on fire!

Of course, it's not like the action scenes are any more plausible or better written then the rest so it's probably just as well. The only thing that could have saved Jeff the Killer is a better writer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Non-Review: Top 5 Foods You've Been Eating RIGHT All Along

It all started with the bananas.

That's not a sentence I ever particularly wanted to say before, but now that I have I'm wondering how I went so long having not.

For those not in the know, a video came out a while ago describing the way monkeys peel bananas, which starts at the bottom instead of at the top. While the video was new the method was not, it's been passed around on the internet for decades and no one ever cared because, truth be told, neither method is really any better or easier than the other.

But the internet doesn't care about sense, and as a result the video went viral. Stupid people all over the world watched and honestly believed they'd been peeling bananas wrong their whole lives. More importantly, semi-stupid people all over the world suddenly realized all at once that, holy shit, all you need to do to be hailed as a genius in this world is post a video of yourself opening fruit in a weird way!

Suddenly the internet exploded with terrible food advice videos, much like the explosion you would use to peel a banana in a Michael Bay movie. Also like a Michael Bay movie, all of these tips are stupid. I've looked at lots of them both new and old and come up with five of my favorites, as well as why they're wrong.

5. Cake
You know what's worse than stale, dried out cake? Nothing, which is why I don't feel bad about making human sacrifices to the gods of darkness in exchange for my cakes always remaining moist. But for those of you who aren't on speaking terms with the denizens of Hell, there's still hope! Enter Numberphile with his video The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake.

In case you're too lazy to watch the video, I'll sum it up like this: rather than cutting out wedges, which leaves the sides exposed to dry out in the fridge, you take a thin slice straight out of the middle, cut it in two, and then push the two halves together. It's so simple!

Of course, it does remove all ability to control the size of your slices for those party guests who may want more or less cake, forces you to mush your filthy hands all over the cake, and will utterly ruin any cake not iced with fondant. But that's a small price to pay for moist cake, right?

You know what else is a small price to pay? $1.72, which is the price of 200 square feet of saran wrap at Target.

...huh. Now I kind of feel like a dick for all those human sacrifices.

4. Peelable Fruits
If there's one thing I've learned from watching television commercials it's that most new inventions are useless, and that includes new methods for eating food. The second thing I've learned from watching television commercials, is that the only way to make these useless inventions look useful is to lie your ass off about the older, better products that everyone is already using. This video by Buzzfeed handily demonstrates this technique by decrying the old, outdated method of peeling fruit by lopping off enormous hunks of it with a knife, which is a technique I'm pretty sure has never been used outside of the fantasy land of TV commercials and internet videos.

Seriously, it's called a peeler. It's been around for almost 100 years now, and it's really cheap. There is no excuse for you not having one.

But the why isn't what's important here. If it was then I'd also question what sort of person peels a kiwi in the first place. What's important here is the method. Fortunately for us, the video also handily demonstrates its own worthlessness by showing us the leftover skin of their spoon-gutted kiwi, which just happens to still hold most of their kiwi on it. When your new method for peeling a fruit not only wastes more fruit than a peeler would, but it even wastes more than the exaggerated, idiot method that you're complaining about... you know you've done something wrong.

Speaking of wasting fruit...

3. Strawberries
Coming from fifty seconds into the same video, we get this brilliant advice for looking stupid while removing the stem from a strawberry. Just push a straw through the strawberry and the stem will pop right off, without the waste of cutting it off with a knife!

Except, wait, you're still wasting a significant portion of your strawberry, aren't you? I mean, just because the wasted portion is in the form a cylindrical core instead of a thin knife slice doesn't mean you're not still wasting it. I kind of feel like whoever came up with this just thought "strawberry has the word straw in it, and now I'm pushing a straw into a strawberry! Ha!" and then their brain died before it could figure out how stupid that was.

Also, speaking as a person who likes strawberries and also likes baking food items using strawberries I have to say, picking the stems off by hand is not only easier, it also doesn't waste any of the strawberry at all.

2. Tic-Tacs
In case you haven't noticed by now, one of the best parts about these videos is how they usually show, within the video itself, how terrible they are. This video by CrazyRussianHacker is no different.

According to this video and others, opening the Tic-Tac container and shaking one out is wrong. Instead, you hold it upside down, tap it once, and a single Tic-Tac will drop into the cap and then be "dispensed" when you open it. The reason I picked this video over the others is because of how beautifully it reveals the truth. As you see, the guy has to open the cap veeeery slooowly to avoid spilling, and he still screws it up most of the time anyway.

1. Apples
Everyone knows apples. They're tasty, they're usually red but sometimes green, and they have that inedible tough core, right? Not so, according to this video. It turns out that if you eat an apple from the top down or from the bottom up you get enough of the good part with each bite that you don't even notice the tough, awful core.

Also, you will apparently be a boss.

I almost feel bad about debunking this one, because chances are doing so will actually save a few stupid peoples' lives. See, apple seeds or "pips" actually contain cyanide, which you might recognize as that thing that the bad guys take in movies to keep James Bond from interrogating them.

Ordinarily, the amount of cyanide in an apple seed isn't enough to bother you. The seed's outer shell keeps most of the cyanide inside, and even if you chew on one your body can break down and detoxify the cyanide without too much trouble. Problem is, you're no longer swallowing a seed or two by accident, you're now eating the entire supply of them with every apple and you know you'll accidentally bite down on more than one of them. Eat a few apples worth of seeds a day and you can expect headaches and nausea at the very least, or coma and death at the most.

What's more, detoxifying poisonous compounds puts a strain on your body's organs, which will add up if you're a big fan of apples. It turns out if you eat them like the video suggests an apple a day will make sure your doctor remains very close to you... because your kidneys are going to shut down.

Also, most real people who have actually tried this report that the core is still totally awful even if you eat the apple from the top down, so there's that too.