Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hey, Got 25 Minutes to Spare?

I wanted to do something a little different today. So I decided I'd let you watch me play a bad video game.


...Hey, come back!

This is actually something I've wanted to do for a while. On my primary video game-related website, Kotaku (who've I've referenced before) there is this one writer named Mike Fahey who has an occasional feature called "Fahey Talks at the Game" in which he plays a game (usually a bad one) and...talks at it. As though you're in the room with him. Aww... If you want a sample, I think the best of the bunch are the ones for Ninjabread Man and especially Nancy Drew - The White Wolf of Icicle Creek.

As I said, I'd like to do something similar. Hence, I am debuting my own occasional feature entitled "Andrew Talks to the Game" (notice my creative lawsuit avoidance?). Unfortunately, I don't have a full on camcorder like Fahey does, and my digital camera can't focus on words worth a hoot, so I'm reduced to using my cell phone camera. It does an admirable job, for what it's worth. Still, as it's my first time doing this, I'm still a little rusty.

So, if you have a good 20 minutes and enjoy the sound of my voice, give it a go. If, on the other hand, you got sick while watching pass this one up.

(Let me know what you think in the comments. I have a few ideas for future games, but I'm also willing to take requests.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Tale of a Curious Egg

The Curious Egg - A Tale by Andrew Schnorr

Once upon a time, there was a hardboiled egg (without shell, of course). However, this egg was quite curious. Indeed, it wasn't normal at all. Instead of being milky white in color, it bore a splotchy design of blues, greens, and light purples.

One day, a most worthy and handsome man came across the egg.

"What a curious egg," he said, "Is it of an odd color because there is something wrong with it, or has this egg simply decided that it wishes to be different from the rank and file eggs of this world. If I were to eat this egg, would the taste be as off as the coloring?"

So the dashing man, risking life and limb, bravely took up the egg and placed it within mouth (which had tasted the lips of many maidens throughout the land).

And, eyes closed in anticipation, he bit down, not knowing whether he would live through the night. His pearly-white teeth pierced through the soft flesh of the egg, cutting down straight to its core. There was no turning back now.

Once the top of the curious egg was in his mouth...


The virile man recoiled in horror. "Oh, horror of horror!" screamed the horrible man, "This curious egg has become the odd color because it has become a vessel of poison. Woe is me, for now I die!"

But then the valiant man stopped. He was not dead. And he realized that the curious egg did not, indeed, taste like poison. Indeed, it tasted just like a normal egg.

"You know, despite the odd color, the taste of this curious egg is quite good. Indeed, it is a good egg! But there are still unanswered questions. If, for all intents and purposes, this is a normal egg, why would it have a coloring so nonconforming to the standard of eggs?"

...Looking somewhat to the left, the brilliant man saw his answer.

Blueberries! Dozens and dozens of blueberries, sitting within a lunch tray. Sitting within a pool of their own colorful juice.

"Of course! The egg was not oddly-colored under its own free will. It was been placed on top of these juicy, juicy blueberries, and the flesh of the egg absorbed some of that color! What a splendid solution!"

And so, the universally-loved man accepted the curious egg for what it was. He finished eating the egg. It was delicious. And he lived happily ever after!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

So, Andrew, What's Going On With You?

That's a fair question, title bar. While I'm still on a tight schedule, I thought I'd give a few updates as to what's going on in my real life:

This has been a little bit of a rough-and-tumble semester for me. I'm having a somewhat rockier-than-normal time in my Accounting class. It's not like I'm failing; I'm just...average. Which is fine in the long run, because I have no interest in ever pursuing accounting at this point. Still, it's definitely not going to help my GPA any. So that's no good.

My economics class is a strange creature. I did very well (well above the median) on our only midterm, but I've struggled with about half the homework assignments (the other half were no issue). The main problem with the homework, I think, is that we're never taught the material. It's not in the book, it's not in the lectures; hell, it's not even online! Hence, you need to be either exceptional at lateral thinking, or spend at least 6 hours on a single homework assignment. Blech.

I love my consumer behavior class. Looooove it! It's just fascinating stuff. And I'm good with class participation. I'm known by some people as "the guy that can divine [yes, they actually said 'divine'] all the right answers." No problems, save that we have to do group projects, and I'm in a group with a bunch of people who don't care about the class (and don't know how to write, apparently).

And the rest: I only need 4 out of a possible 40 points in my final module of personal finance. And my Star Wars DeCal is going...I...uh...I'm sorry, I must have something in my eye.

Ain't gonna happen at this point. Even if I found a summer job, working it will be difficult, for reasons I'll explain later.

Now, I'll be honest. While nobody may have been able to tell (because nobody can ever tell), I've actually been in a very irritable, bitter mood for the last couple weeks. It's gotten better, but hasn't completely passed. I am going to hazard a guess and say that part of me is still shaken up about the whole internship thing. For a few reasons. First, I've been thinking that I was no longer needed by the time I was interviewed. Thinking back on my interviews, they were pleasant...perhaps too pleasant. There was never any challenge questions to them. No case questions, no nothing. Just pleasantries. So whose to say that it wasn't a foregone conclusion as I walked in the door.

The second issue is just a feeling of...I don't know, failure, I suppose. Maybe this is just a version of me going into a hissy fit when things don't go my way. A quiet, brooding hissy fit. Definitely something to work on. I guess it may just be the achiever in me. I like to have things to show for long periods of effort.

But anyway, I think I may be turning over a new leaf in that regard. While I nominally said in the beginning, "I have accepted the fact that I don't have an internship," I think I may actually have accepted it at this point. And this is due, in part, to...

Summer Sessions:
...My insurance plan. Basically, I decided to apply as a Community Coordinator for the Summer Sessions. It's somewhat like an RA's superior, but also is in charge of Security Monitors. So it will be useful for my job next year. I will be...oh, what? I didn't explain that yet?

My Job Next Year:
So, I got accepted as a Security Coordinator for the 2008-2009 academic year. This is a live-out position, so I don't get free room and board, but I do get paid an hourly wage of $14.50, so that's something. Basically, I'm in charge of all the Security Monitors, who are the people who sit at the front desks of all the buildings and swipe people in.

...Except where I was assigned.

So, it's back to good ol' Clark Kerr Campus for me! I'm not living there of course, and my interaction there will be somewhat limited, but still! Now, at CKC, the SM job is a bit different. Instead of having one in each building (and me being in charge of three buildings), there is one for the entire unit. That means they don't have to swipe people in or be trained for anything like that. They just need to sit there until someone needs something from the front desk. Oh, and the shifts are an hour shorter, so the second shift for the night ends at 1am, not 3am. Oh, and since there's only one booth, there are a total of 14 shifts to have covered each week, not 42.

So, for both the SMs and the SC (me), it's a much easier job.

So I got that going for me. However, it's pretty hectic right now, as we need to hire people. In fact, my weekend is swamped with interviews. Then we have training next weekend. It's definitely filling up my schedule. Good thing I get paid for everything I do relating to it!

So, that brings us back to...

Summer Sessions:
So I, along with someone else, was chosen to be a Community Coordinator for the summer. This is kind of like an SC with added responsibilities, though when there are two people, you can divvy them up somewhat.

I had a pretty good feeling I was going to get the position during the interview, as I was told that there were 2 open slots and 4 applicants, and later that I knew more about "the system" than did the RD I would be working with. (I'm kind of known around the upper management in the Office of Student Development for being an old hand by now.)

So, I'll be in Berkeley over the summer (I never leave)!

To better utilize my time here, I decided to enroll in classes for the first six weeks of summer. One class, specifically. It's in a major I've never heard of: New Media. It's on Interactivity. More specifically, it's on how technology has change interactions with each other, with the world, and with ourselves. Here's a flyer, and the syllabus, so you can get a general idea. I figured that the topic would actually be quite relevant to marketing, so it would be a good idea to take it.

Doing so, though, puts me in an especially interesting situation. I'll talk more about it later, but the general overview is this: if I wanted to, I can graduate in December.

I'll be learning more about exactly how everything's going to work out, so stay tuned!

Losing Weight:
So, I measure myself yesterday, and I weigh 176.6 pounds, that's a scant 1.6 pounds aways from my main target of 175. To put this into perspective, I'm pretty sure I haven't weighed this much since junior high or earlier, when I was a bit shorter. Essentially, I'm in the best shape of my life. Haven't been working on muscles; that's stage two (even so, I still have more than I used to). I think I'm going to take my official "After" pictures once I pass th 175 mark (who knows; it may even be next week).

Oh, and I have an enormous ribcage. That, and other observations, at a later time.

RA Life:
I'm a genius in some respects. Under normal circumstances, I would have anywhere from 14-18 days of duty in a timespan of two months, which can take its toll on you. Through wise negotiation and being the guy that helps out the needy when nobody else does (and nobody ever does), I've managed to make it so that for the months of April and May, I have a combined total of 6 days of duty. :D

Still, I've hit my RA wall a while back. It's time to pass the mantle onto one of my residents, who's going to be an RA next year at Unit 2 (and during the summer, to boot). Actually, I'll let him make his own mantle; mine's a bit faded at this point.

I'm being interviewed today for a position as Creative Committee Director in the Undergraduate Marketing Association. (Yes, this is the same day I am also interviewing others.) I'm a good fit for the position, particularly if I'm one of two co-directors, but if I don't get it, oh well. The way I participate in the organization and the way I hobnob with the current officers, you'd think I was already one.

...And that's all I can think of now. Which is good, because I have to go to bed. Goodnight!

Friday, April 25, 2008

You Know The Internet Has Corrupted You...

When you can see this...

...and turn it into THIS!!!

(Note: No, I didn't just make that today; I've had it for a while. Had I the time to actually make something like that, I would use it to write a real post instead of just filler. Hi-larious filler, but filler nonetheless.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Slightly-Dramatized Conversation In the Dining Common

My Brain: "Let's see, that's one part chocolate milk and two parts nonfat milk. This is going to be a delicious desert!"
Girl: "Excuse me."
Me: "Yes."
Girl: "Can I ask you a quick question?"
My Brain: "Ah, she's probably going to ask about my curious milk-drinking habits."
Girl: "Do you know where I can buy some marijuana around here?"
My Brain: "..."
Me: "..."
Girl: "Do you have any on you?"
Me: "...N, no."
Girl: "Oh, okay." *Walks away.*
Me: "..."
My Brain: "You idiot! You should have asked for her ID!"
Me: "It's not a hall policy to ask where pot can be bought."
My Brain: "Well, you should have at least played along until you got her information!"
Me: "Why?"
My Brain: "So you can set up a sting operation with whoever her RA is!"
Me: "What if she doesn't smoke it in the hall?"
My Brain: "Don't be dense!"
Guy at the Pasta Station: "....."
Me: "......Okay, one part chocolate, two parts nonfat."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Big Girls Don't Fry...

Hey! Remember me? I'm still alive, and it looks like my death schedule may be easing up. So, more than likely, by the time you're reading this, I'll still be sleeping (regardless of what time/day it is).

To make up for it, I'm going to give you a fun topic:

Fried foods!

Now, as I mentioned a while back, I get Late Night about once a week. I'm still figuring out what the prime meal - that is, best food with fewest regrets - is.

I'll tell you one thing that's not the prime meal: chicken strips and fries. And I'll extrapolate a bit further and just say it's the chicken strips. I've had chicken strips and fries about twice this semester, and both times I felt a simultaneous desire to throw up and do jumping jacks. Seriously, I can't eat them any more without feeling really sick.

And this is no small task. I'll be honest: this time last year, I'd literally eat chicken strips and fries (with ranch dip) every single day (or at the least, every other day) for lunch. So, this is a pretty sizable turnaround.

So, at this point, I may be past my fried phase (with the ironic exception of fries, though I do eat fewer of them than before).


That does not mean that I don't get a kick out of seeing the world of all things fried. Yes, should you ever go to a county - perhaps even a state - fair, you'll be able to see, amongst the mullets and empty cans of Bud Light, plenty of booths touting vats of gallons and gallons of bubbling oil. And Lord knows, people are willing to try, er, fry anything.

Perchance, have you heard of any of the following?
Fried Snickers
Fried Mars Bar
Fried Ice Cream
Fried Twinkies
Fried Coca-Cola

But why stop there? There's an entire world of edibles just waiting to be covered in batter and boiled in liquid fat!

Take, for example, Frank Sodolak of Snook, Texas. Sir Sodolak is a man's man. He knows the score, and he's not afraid to go the distance to achieve greatness. For him, why settle with just pan-frying your bacon? That will never do! Instead, Sir Sodolak does what any good American does and takes it to the next level...with cream gravy!

(I'm not sure which part I enjoyed more: the fact that the menu has a cigarette ad, the woman who says it needs more salt, or the fact that a troop of boy scouts could fashion tents out of the shirts of any of the people in that video.)

So, that's chicken fried bacon. Now, while we've all cut two years off our life just by watching that video, at least we can rest assured that it doesn't get any worse than that.




Oh, no!

Oh, GOD!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dear School...

Can I PLEASE go to bed before 4am one of these days?


Getting more than 4 hours a sleep once in two weeks would be nice.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

One Instance of When I Wish Colleges Didn't Have College Students

I have two midterms on Monday, one that I don't really care about; the other that I really need to do well on. I need to be studying this weekend. At the same time, though, I felt it was unfair to you that the top post on here is depressing, so I thought I'd write a quick something to push down all the negative happenings.

Now, here's a pro-tip: if you ever go to Berkeley, or visit Berkeley, or hell, so much as read about Berkeley, never go to Late Night. Okay, I'll be more fair: never go to Late Night on a weekend night. I'm not saying this because about 90% of the food they have is bad for you (though that will be brought up again probably some time later this week).

No, you shouldn't go to Late Night on a weekend night because you will be transported to the inner regions of Hell!

Consider this typical example. As I said, I am studying, but I took a nap and woke up - wet spot next to my mouth on the pillow - a little past 1am. (Actually, I had a very interesting dream, in that it was actually pretty mundane; none of my usual crazy antics. The most unusual part of the dream is that I think there was a chick who liked me in it.) I decide to get something to eat. So, like anyone in my shoes would, I walked over to Crossroads for some Late Night. Keep in mind, this is 1am on a Saturday night in a college town. Up and down the sidewalks, there were people coming from parties, trying to walk straight. Females dressed up like 80s hoochies. Guys sneaking into the halls through emergency exits (which I ran to catch, but they slammed the door in my face; it would have been near-impossible for me to find them).

But truth be told, these failures of the world are relatively scattered on the street. In Late Night, though, they're gathered together like a herd of inebriated cattle.

It's always amazing to see how many people eat at Late Night. You'd think that shortly before 2am, when it closes, there'd be few people, but no! When I left at around 1:55 (more on that in a minute), there were probably 60-some-odd people in the line for the register alone. So there's a boatload of people, and the vast majority are drunk off their asses.

Now, a quick aside. People always tell me, "Oh, you need to learn to drink; it will make you more socially acceptable." Bull. First of all, I am perfectly comfortable with my normal social acceptability. Second, the people I see just rub me the wrong way. When I see a tipsy girl - not even drunk, just tipsy - I am actually revolted. And the guys are even worse, because they get louder and more annoying than before.

So, there I am, waiting for my food. And I'm waiting a long time. Half an hour, in fact. I guess when someone orders a garden burger, they have to go out and cultivate, harvest, and process the vegetables before serving it to me. On the other side, all the people who ordered chicken strips and three double cheeseburgers got their orders in no time flat. So, for half an hour, I was just watching these...people. Some guy shouting "San Diego!" every 20 seconds. Another guy demonstrating his lack of dexterity by dropping every piece of food he tried holding (hmm...). A chick being held up by (I assume) her boyfriend, and trying to make out with him, except only making out with open air. A drunk guy on crutches - use your imagination. The list goes on and on.

I almost pity them. Almost. Then I realize that, for the most part, they brought it upon themselves. As such, I give them no quarter. When they try to cut past people in line, I'm always the one who they can't get past. I know I piss off a lot of drunkards when I do that, but I don't give a damn. They should try cutting me when they have some dignity.

So, after I got my food, I left quickly (well, after I threw out my bun and about 2/3 of my fries [which was actually a liberating experience]). I was happy to leave, and I didn't envy the dining hall workers who had to deal with that mess of people every single week (and, in some cases, every day).

"Every time I come to Late Night, I am reminded why I should never come to Late Night."
~Andrew Schnorr

Thursday, April 10, 2008

So, I Got My Answer From Lucasfilm...

I got a phone call around 5:20 or so in the afternoon. I was walking back home from picking up some dinner, but I knew it was them (from the number) so I answered then and there.


What's that, you ask? What did they say?

I think a video can best summarize it.


...Sooooo, yeah. No dice.

There are two points of consolation, though. First of all, I was not rejected because I was unfit, or even because I was not the best candidate. I was rejected because the marketing team decided they did not have the right amount/kind of work to hire an intern. So there was nothing that could be done. The second is that they passed my information onto LucasArts (the video game division) in the off (off) chance that they decide they could use a marketing intern. Still, even with these consolations, this seems like the job search equivalent of your girlfriend breaking up with you and saying, "Oh, it's not you, it's me."

Okay, let me be fair. The good folks at Lucasfilm went out of their way to try to open a position in the marketing team. I am eternally grateful for that, make no mistake. The fact that they couldn't find a place for me is not their fault; it's just business. And business is my business, so I need to live with it.

...Still, it makes me wish I had taken more pictures...

Quick Thoughts on Covers

You know, I was just thinking back to my book.

Namely, I wonder what it would have looked like had I access to a fully-fledged Photoshop program, as opposed to the absolutely primitive Adobe PhotoDeluxe 98 or whatever we had at the time.

One thing I know for sure would have changed would have been the font. The font that's used on my book's cover isn't what I wanted, or what I asked to be used. I guess when typesetting the thing, they weren't able to download the font I asked for, and so they stuck me with some not-exactly-Times-New-Roman font. Granted, it was italicized, but it was still much more plain than the font I had asked them to use (and I don't remember what that font was, so don't ask).

I also think that I might have messed with the picture a bit. If I were to remake it now, I think I would take the picture and make it starker yet more minimalist. It would be abstract, as opposed to showing you exactly what it was showing you; it would make you think.

'Course, I really have no idea if I this is because I have access to greater photo-editing software or because I've changed my own style in the...God, three to four years since I've worked to get the book published. I know I've matured, perhaps gotten a little darker and grittier (or, at other times, more wacky and light-hearted), so perhaps I'm trying to superimpose my current personality onto my older (er, younger) one.

Anyway, to give you an idea of what I mean, I decided to give the cover a little push through Photoshop. Here's how the cover looks to the purchasing public:

And here's what the cover would look like if I had published the book today:

Is it better? Well, I can't really give an unbiased answer. All I know is that I would be more likely to pick up the latter cover at a bookstore...much more likely. Who knows, maybe in another 5 years, I'll be totally turned around on the subject, or maybe I'll think there should be yet another version.

But anyway, it was just a passing thought...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lucasfilm and the Presidio: Pictures!

So, I had my interview with Lucasfilm yesterday. I'll refrain from saying anything about it for the moment (aside from the fact that I overdressed), but I should find out by the end of the week whether or not I have the position, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed in a cautiously optimistic way.

In the meanwhile, I'll show you some pictures I took while at the place where I could potentially work! While this may not sound exciting, Lucasfilm is located at the San Francisco Presidio, which is, in a word, gorgeous. I had arrived early, so I walked around. I also walked around after the interview. I walked around quite a bit, taking in the scenery. These cell-phone pictures really don't do it justice. However, justice was never one of my strong points, so I'll show them anyway. Let's take a look.

The Presidio is a very green place. There are lots of trees. This tree was particularly large and interesting. And I also believe this is the first time I've gotten an honest-to-goodness lens flare in a photo.

More trees. The place was quite wide-open, as you can see. And although I'm completely ignorant about botany (by choice), I think those might be fairly robust Eucalyptus trees. Prove me wrong, science, prove me wrong!

So, this is one of the several buildings which encompass the Letterman Digital Arts Center, which houses the various branches of the Lucas Empire. While definitely modern on the inside, the outsides have a definite 1920s retro feel to them. This isn't the building that I would be working in, should I get the position, but it is the most red building, so that's worth something.

Okay, look at this picture and tell me with a straight face that your mind did not wander here.

Now, that is the building I would be working in, complete with an outdoor stream that seems to spring from nowhere. I wonder if there is something therapeutic about creeks and streams, because they always seem to make me feel better.

A pond mean to imitate celebrate the wetlands that used to exist in the Bay Area before it was all built up and industrialized.

I don't know, I just thought this was funny.

And this is the entrance to the main lobby. As you may be able to tell, there's a fountain there. And no, that's no munchkin on top, that's Yoda, whose not munckin nor elf, but an unknown tridactyl species. The Lucasfilm headquarters is actually pretty nice, because it allows people to come in and look, at least into the lobby. While that may not sound like much, the lobby is pretty decked out.

This, for example, was in the lobby. I'm not exactly sure who the guy is, but I'll hazard a guess and say he has something to do with King Kong.

Also in the lobby. A very nice statue of Boba Fett.

And this blurry fellow is, of course, Darth Vader. Compared with the Boba Fett costume, this one is actually somewhat disappointingly plain. And that heavily-padded codpiece has to go, Vader.

Betwixt the two villains is a cabinet filled with all sorts of knick-knacks, trophies, etc.

Shelves filled with the severed, shrunken heads of a number of characters. Somewhat disturbing.

And cute little figurines stand alongside books and Han Solo's blaster, which I never realized had a silencer before. Why a laser gun needs a silencer, I don't know.

Now, those shelves seem to house some classy books. For the most part, they seem to be dictionary's and hardcover books without the slipcovers. Honestly, I think this looks so much nicer than the modern personal library. Were I to become rich and have my own large house, I would decree that no book should be publicly viewable unless it had an "old-world" look to it.

This actually wasn't in the lobby, but in the belly of the building. It's one of the world's oldest film editing machines. There was plenty of stuff that seemed more interesting to take pictures of, but I took a picture of this because the recruiter I was speaking with told me I could. So, I did.

And finally, we have this blurry mess, in which I'm standing next to (and showing off my folder, for some reason) an actual suit of Stormtrooper armor from the original Star Wars movie. And here you can see how overdressed I was.

I blame Haas. I was told to dress in business casual. At Haas, that essentially means "Skip the tie; keep everything else." So, I arrive, snazzily dressed, and find that nobody else is wearing so much as a collared shirt. Hell, one of my interviewers was wearing a hoodie. Hopefully, they'll see me as some misguided youth rather than some business school prick.

Anyway, there you go. Pictures. I'll keep you updated as the week goes on!

Today, I Think, Will Be a *Good* Day is - finally - my in-person interview with Lucasfilm for the marketing position.

Cue the music, boys.

...Let's do this thing!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Some Comic Relief...

Garfield is a strange creature.

And no, I am not talking about the cat himself, although it would be a little strange to see a bright orange cat (particularly one that's supposed to be overweight) walking around while speaking with you telepathically.

I'm talking about the comic itself, or at least it's popularity and tremendous money-making ability.

I'll admit, when I was but a lad, I was an Garfield reader. You could even describe me as avid. Every single day, I would eat breakfast, reading my comics, starting with Garfield.

I look back on those days, and I am ashamed.

Now, it's not just Garfield. If you take a good, hard look at it, about 95% of traditional comics are just plain awful, using tired gags and puns (God, puns!) instead of taking us further. Really, there's only a few print comics that I consider - at a mature age - to be good. The first is Calvin & Hobbes, which just goes beyond the realm of humor and into that of imagination and even social issues. The second would be Pearls Before Swine, which mixes simplistic drawings with occasionally dark humor (somewhat like a certain comic we all know and love). The third would be The Far Side for, well, obvious reasons.

With those - and a few more - exceptions, the rest is just drivel. (And in case you think I'm warming up to the webcomic crowd, keep this in mind: there are less than 10 different webcomics that I pay attention to on a regular basis. There are 3568 webcomics registered on the TopWebcomics database [where you can vote on comics daily]. That's about 0.28%. And that's just considering the number of comics registered. There are a sickeningly large amount more out there, and they're all horrid.)

...Where was I?

Right - Garfield! So, yeah, if you look at the collection of comics on the official website, you can see what I mean. The jokes are really lame, and often repetitive. Yes, you could say that a comic that's been around for 30 years is bound to repeat jokes. However, it almost seems repetitive on a monthly (or, to be fair, yearly) basis. Not a good sign. And apparently, the drawings aren't even done by Jim Davis himself. It's just a bunch of people that were hired to create the strip, so that Davis can take care of the merchandising. Sweet deal.

You: "So, Andrew, you're just going to sit here complaining about Garfield?"

Oh, of course not; that's just the introduction. I am actually here to give you some Garfield-based humor!

You: "Zuh?"

You see, there is humor to be found in the humorless. This was the whole idea behind the cult-hit TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 and it's spiritual successor (of which I am a loyal follower) Rifftrax. (I may talk about them later.) In the comic world, this kind of heckling can be found in things like the Comics Curmudgeon. While not exclusively about Garfield, the Curmudgeon looks at exactly what is wrong with a number of American newspaper comics, and does so in a way that somehow makes them tolerably funny.

But there's even more when it comes to Garfield. By manipulating certain things about it, you can create something new and perhaps even great. It's almost like a Garfield-based culture, primarily made up of people who follow Garfield mainly because they dislike it. There are three examples I'll present.

The first is the Garfield Comic Randomizer. It was created by someone who noted that you can create a comic just as coherent and funny as a normal Garfield strip just by taking three completely random panels and slapping them together. Sometimes (and particularly because you can lock panels to keep them from randomizing) you can create some comics that are genuinely funny for some sick reason. Here's an example of one I made.In this, you can see that Garfield's wonderfully-planned day has just fallen apart because of his inability to keep his guilt at bay, caused primarily by an abusive relationship with his owner (my interpretation). This had me silent laughing for a minute or so. It just worked so perfectly (if you can make any good ones, be sure to post it in the comments).

The second thing I'll show is Garfield Minus Garfield. This was based on an observation that when you remove Garfield from the strip completely, leaving only Jon, it takes on an entirely new level, appearing to be a strip about, and I quote, "a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb."

Here's a few samples, which makes you wonder why we don't have a comic devoted to a schizophrenic main character.

Similar to this idea is that of Realfield, in which the cartoon Garfield is replaced by a realistic-looking (and silent) cat. Unfortunately, there's only a few of those.

Finally, we have Lasagna Cat, which features videos. (In fact, it might be easiest just to go straight to their Youtube page.) Each video is comprised of three parts. The first part is a live-action reenactment of some Garfield strip (reinforcing the point of how lame they are, despite the canned-in laughter). The second part simply shows said strip. Finally, the third part is a music video (or, rather, a "tribute" to Jim Davis) which will usually feature parts of the previous clip shown to some real song. The production values are surprisingly good. And while there is a scant 27 episodes, there are definitely some gems amongst them. Here are a couple of my favorites:

The rest are definitely worth checking out, as well.

And that's about that. Really, I hope you'll forgive me for enjoying Garfield when I was but a lad (because you know you did too, people under 40!). Perhaps by the time my children are reading comics, they will be reading those which use intelligent humor, and which have lofty themes and ideas...

...or that are about schizophrenia. S'all good.

Have You Ever Wondered What I Would Look Like if I Were a Pretentious Snob???

Well, wonder no more!

I'll see you at the next art gallery opening!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Fools Day Damage Report (UPDATED!!!)

So, April Fools Day has been over for a couple days now. I think it's safe to come out from your hiding places. I thought it'd be good to go over what I experienced on that most crazy of days.

But first, some background!

I used to hate April Fool's Day until 2002.

HATE it!

The reason for this is pretty straightforward. I've always been the fool. The April fool, as it were. I have memories of my father waking me up when I was a child, telling me in subsequent years that my bird, dog, grandmother, and mother had died during the night!

(Now, I'll be fair; I'm not sure if these memories are accurate - I don't remember very much about my childhood - but they're the only memories I have regarding the topic, so you better sort things out, Dad!)

And yet, despite all my efforts, I could never be the fooler. Imagine, if you will, a 10-year-old Andrew Schnorr walking up to you, saying in his choir boy voice (and this is verbatim):
"Say, how old are you?"
You: "Um, 25."
10-Year-Old Andrew Schnorr: "25? I thought you were 26......April Fools!"

...Had I a time machine, my first order of business would be to go back and slap myself.

Anyway, as I said, I didn't start tolerating April Fool's Day until 2002. The reason for that was because a website that I worked on at the time called (later changed to, which doesn't look like it's been updated in nearly a year) had an April Fool's Day prank in which the entire site was replaced by a background repeating image of Dark Helmet (from Spaceballs) and the entire text (in size-72 font) of a short story called "Repent, Harlequin," Said the Ticktockman, which I consider quite influential to me. The story brought about my creation of the "Temporal Master," which in turn got me started on my Chronicles of Fate storyline, which is (er, will be) seven books plus a prequel. Pretty damn influential, I'd say.

So, yeah, I became okay with April Fool's Day.

However, I would say it's only after I came to college and became more entrenched not just in internet usage, but in internet culture, that I actually came to enjoy the mock-holiday. April Fool's Day is basically the day when all bets are off on the Internet. It allows for much easier and more creative ways of pranking people.

That's not to say pranks should be relegated to the net, though. There's plenty of fun to be had in the real world, especially after I've become better at fooling people. I've also become more aware (that is, paranoid) of any potential pranks that could be pulled on me. And that's key: staying one step ahead of the game.

...Now, let's take a look at some of the things I was involved with this year.

Joke #1 - In the Halls:
So, the first April Fool's Day prank I was involved in actually began one-and-a-half before the day began. It was actually a collaboration betwixt some residents and I. ...Okay, it was their idea; I have to claim limited liability for, y'know, the job's sake. The last thing I want is an angry resident telling the powers-that-be that I'm ruining their life. So, my involvement, although limited, was strategic.

Here's the premise: We chose a resident of mine who is a really nice guy, and also extremely involved (he's actually going to be an RA next year, and he's also campaigning for the ASUC). So, he's not around terribly much. Basically, we wanted him to think something bad had happened. Namely, he got robbed.

So, at least half the floor was in on it. While the resident was out at campaigning rally with one of his roommates, his other roommate was messing up their room, opening drawers, moving stuff around, and - most importantly - removing all three laptops from the room and putting them in someone else's room.

Now, where did I come in? I was the one who set-up the last domino in the rally. After giving my advice on how the "crime scene" should look (based on typical thief habits), I sent a text message out at 10:30pm. It was sent to the resident and his roommate, but I made it seem like a mass text message. Here's what it said:
"Hey everybody! Sorry about the mass text message, but we've gotten reports that there are trespassers in the halls. We haven't caught anybody yet, but we're working on it. In the meantime, remember to lock your doors when you're not in your rooms, and to not let strangers into the halls. Stay safe!"
See? It's mostly just nebulous information coupled with some advice. Pretty believable (especially more believable than the original idea that I should call the resident personally to warn him). And it's good advice to follow anyway, with or without trespassers in the halls.

As fate would have it, the resident arrived at 12:15am (making a legitimate April Fool's Day joke) and found his room messed up. Unfortunately, he thought nothing of it; he's a college student after all. But after his roommate (who I was worried wouldn't be able to keep a straight face) asked where all the laptops were, he became...I guess you could say desperate. But before he could go report it, everyone appeared and showed him how he got prank'd!

He may have had a minute heart attack, but he'll be fine. ;)

Joke #2 - On The Lobotomist's Dream:
So, as some of you may remember, last year my April Fool's Day activity on TLD was my coming out of the closet. Of course, it was promptly changed the next day, adding a single - yet vital - word to it, so as to avoid any confusion.

I wanted to be a bit more all-encompassing this time, something a little less in-jokey. And, truth be told, I had thought this idea up last November. So it wasn't just a spur-of-the-moment thing. Basically, I thought to myself, "What if this blog was actually about Lobotomy?" And the rest fleshed itself out quite well.

You can read the post a little below this one (or just click here). However, you're still reading that with about 20 of my faces staring at you. Hence, I recommend you read it the way it was meant to be read, and that means going to the Alternate Lobotomist's Dream. (I apologize for the funky formatting; even though the Google Page Creator is cool, they don't allow you to control the base HTML of the pages.)

The most tedious part of this was making it so you couldn't see any of my other posts. On Blogger, you can do this by saving them, one by one, as drafts. Do that 230+ times (and again to publish them again) and you have yourself some grade-A frustration. The rest was relatively straightforward, and quite fun.

Some fun facts:
-The picture of "Dr. Frank Corlin" is actually some random doctor that got arrested for buying sex with pain medication (or, um, selling pain medication for sex; whatever, it's all bartering). I found it on, like, page 26 of an image search of "old doctor".
-I actually learned quite a bit about Lobotomy when researching for the joke.
-I don't know if you can tell, but there are several places that I would have used italics that Doc C used bold. I don't know, using bold for emphasis just seems like an old-person thing to do.
-I'm not sure, but someone may have actually thought it was legit. Look at this one comment I got:
It's an interesting argument..."why alter all of the brain when you can create an effect with a localized solution." I think that actually has merit.
I suggest you pursue this argument in your defense and compare the two with brutal honesty.
Now, this could have been someone I know continuing the joke (how could I tell; it's anonymous). However, if it was someone who did think I was for real, then that made my week! :D And perhaps I (or Doc C) will end up writing an argument to this extent.

THE JOKE'S ON ME 1: Okay, this is a little aside for things that happened that, while pulled by nobody in particular, came back to bite me in the butt. I kept my Alternate TLD up for two days. Why? Because I thought that nearly nobody had seen it on April Fool's Day. Why would I think something like that? Well, look at my Analytics report on visitors.
That's, like, a 98% drop in readership. I was livid! Why would people abandon me on Fun Day? It wasn't until I got the site back in normal working order that I realized the truth: when I switched the format of the site, I inadvertently deleted the Analytics measuring tool.


Joke #3 - On Elderly Apple:
Oftentimes, comics (both the traditional and web- variety) will do something crazy for April Fool's Day. However, Elderly Apple's a tough nut to crack. How exactly does one do a "crazy" comic when the whole goddamn series is just one big non-sequitur?

So, I decided I should change my medium. Instead of my normal marker/colored pencil combo, I went with Photoshop painting and a picture (a real picture!) of an apple (you have to stay true to your roots, dawg).

But, even as whimsical as EA usually is, there is some logic to the madness. I decided to throw that out the window, though, when I created WAAAAAAAHHH!!!

There's three instances of the word "WAAAAAAAHHH!!!" that I put in the comic; one in the picture itself, one in the picture's title (which you see by holding your cursor over the image on the main page; if you never knew about that, you're missing out on some of the better jokes), and of course, in my comment.

(P.S. If you have a good memory, you may remember me using a similar phrase before...)

Interestingly enough, an enlarged version of this comic is my current desktop background.

Not My Joke #1 - Youtube:
I probably got Rickrolled a dozen times on April Fool's Day.

What's that, you've never been Rickrolled? Here, let me assist you. Enjoy.

In case you didn't know, that was Rick Astley singing his hit 1987 song "Never Gonna Give You Up." As far as internet "trap" pranks, this is probably safest, cleanest, most wholesome of them all (and trust me, you don't want to know about the others). Basically, you set up an unrelated link that tricks people into watching Astley's soulful performance.

So, Youtube decided to pick up on this. On April 1st, every single one of the videos on their front page went to a video of "Never Gonna Give You Up." They even had created an entire profile for it.

Good fun. Except now I have a cheesy 80s song stuck in my head. The horror.

Not My Joke #2 - Google + Virgin = Virgle:
Google is always decent with their jokes, but I really have to hand it to them for their work this year in creating a much broader, more interactive prank. As always, it was simple; when you went onto Google, you saw a little link for something called Virgle, which is a cooperative effort between them and fellow giant company, Virgin. To do what, exactly? Well, to colonize Mars!

You know what, it's too involved for me to explain. Here, just go read it yourself. Go on. I can wait.

Finished reading? Good. Now, if you went through the whole thing, you'll be able to see that there were introduction videos by the co-founders of Google and Richard Branson. Now, I really like Richard Branson; always have. However, the Google boys (especially the gray-haired one) desperately need to work on their public speaking abilitities.

Now, you'll also see that you could send in a 30-second video response as a sort of "application" to become a Virgle pioneer. Now, there were 300+ videos responding to this. Half of them were well over 30 seconds, and about 85% of them were either totally crappy or the people didn't seem to understand that the whole thing was a joke. I decided to join along. Here's my entry.

(Oh, and here's a copy of that flag.) The hope was that I would get a "At least he's honest" acceptance into the program.

THE JOKE'S ON ME 2: Unfortunately, things didn't go as smoothly as planned. For some reason (and I still cannot figure out why), there was some technical problem preventing my video from being used as a reply to theirs. So I went through all that work, blood, sweat, toil, and heartache for nothing except a 3-star rating from some random jerk (I would have given it a 4, personally).

Okay, that's all. This is by no means the full extent of all that occurred on April Fool's Day, but it is a healthy sampling. And to think that I used to hate this holiday, an opportunity to have so much fun...shameful. In any event, I hope you enjoyed your April Fool's Day shenanigans. From Doc C and all of us here, take care and God Bless.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Welcome to the Lobotomist's Dream!

A hearty hello and welcome to my colleagues and colleagues soon to be!

My name is Dr. Frank Corlin. I am a licensed lobotomist, and I have been practicing it for 36 years without ever taking a vacation from my beautiful Maryland home. In fact, I've lived in Maryland for my whole life, sharing the last 40 of them with my beautiful wife, Barbara. We've had 2 children, and are just now watching our 2 grandchildren growing up. (Little Chester calls me Doc C; I love it!)

But I'm not here to talk to you about my personal life (though I will mention it from time to time). No, I'm here to talk about my profession.

Lobotomy has been, I think, unfairly singled out in the medical world as a dangerous operation at best, and a crock at worst. This seems to stem from people's ideas that no science relating to a brain's physical state has any merit. Oh, yes, psychology and psychiatry are well-respected, because they tackle the mental issues, but lobotomy has been lumped in with phrenology just because we have to touch the brain.

I once had a patient who came to me (or rather, I was referred to her by my colleague, Dr. Phillip Kohl) and asked me, without a moment's hesitation, "Doctor, isn't lobotomy just a pseudoscience created by the Aztecs?"

I must have scared her, I was laughing so heartily.

"No," I replied, "You're thinking of trepanation, a process created by the Incan people in which they removed a piece of the skull in order to relieve pressure from the brain."

"Oh, then what is lobotomy?" she asked with genuine interest.

I smiled back at her as I said, "We remove a piece of the brain."

Of course, the concept scared the living daylights out of her. But after the procedure was done, she was calm and quiet as a clam. I'm sure she was pleased by the procedure, and by the fact that she didn't let her preconceptions get in the way.

Now, lobotomy first came into general use in 1890, by Dr. Gottlieb Burckhardt. Here is a picture of him. A brilliant Swiss man, Burckhardt removed pieces of the frontal lobes of six different patients who were suffering from psychosis. As with all brand new procedures, the results were somewhat mixed. One of the patients died after the operation, and another was from in a river 10 days later. The rest exhibited some form of altered behavior, mostly for the better. While this may sound like poor odds, a 2/3 success rate is actually quite high, particularly for 19th-century European medical practices. In his work, Dr. Burckhardt showed what miracles could be achieved simply by eliminating some uneeded gray matter.

In more recent times, lobotomies have reduced in frequency, mainly due to a lack of proper information, and because of mind-altering drugs. Now, you'll forgive me if I'm a little biased, but why are people so opposed to removing a small part of their brain, but are completely keen on doping up the entire organ? There's a bit of irrationality there, mainly brought on by the crafty advertising (or some would say propaganda) of the pharmaceutical companies.

Because the practice has diminished, so have the practitioners. I am one of only a handful of certified lobotomists in the United States . And remember, you should never let an unlicensed lobotomist operate on you - that's called homicide. (Sorry, that's a little bit of lobotomy humor for you.)

Unfortunately, I can only reach and teach so many people in Somerset and it's surrounding cities. That's when my daughter suggested that I create a "weblog," which is a kind of online journal. I thought that it was a brilliant idea. And so, here I am, spreading my knowledge and passion for this science...and art!

Now, I think this is a good start, but I definitely want to hear what you are interested in. In these weblogs, visitors are allowed to write comments. There is a button that says "comment" below. If you click on it, you can write a response to what I say. It's somewhat like a bulletin board! So, if you are interested, leave a comment. Give any suggestions and hard-hitting questions you have about lobotomy, or about Doc C. I'm here for you, so let's make this weblog a powerful tool for lobotomy enthusiasts everywhere!