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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Dan's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
2:20 am
English department whining
Someone in an English department—someone who went to school, ostensibly because they loved the English language, for ten years despite receiving little or no economic gain—wrote this in an e-mail bullet point for the four hour meeting I went to a few weeks ago:

"Bridge to Program Review in the context of innovation"

If CSU fired everyone in this department, including me, we as a civilization would lose nothing except the last means of gainful employment for our remaining Marxists. Pull the trigger.
Friday, April 27th, 2012
2:03 am
Today in class we were arguing about the holocaust (as it relates to a really mediocre novel we're reading.) I argued that the novel's representation of the holocaust as something apart from experience and humanity, without historic precedent or causes, divorced almost from time and understanding—the most boringly orthodox po-mo view—was weirdly diminishing and false. I said, at one point, that it was a human problem, and that's what made it tragic.

A woman in the class, one of the first-year MFAs who hasn't been especially fond of my work all year (I haven't enjoyed hers either, to be fair), stopped me and said out of nowhere that, no, it wasn't a human problem, it was a male problem, and that women were incapable of genocide. I accused her of misandry and then she babbled something else and accused me of being riled up because she was a feminist.

The class was on my side and she is just one person. But when people talk about ideological homogeneity—and a relatively widespread acceptance of completely absurd ideas—in academia, this is what they're talking about. Genocide: Only men can do it. (Unless the women are from Rwanda or Cambodia.)

Next week, if it comes up, I'm planning on debuting a thought I had recently to see if she throws something at me: Belief in Marxism is logically equivalent to global warming denialism, existing as it does in the face of a massive expert consensus against it.
Saturday, November 28th, 2009
10:45 pm
the frustrating thing about classic video games
At this point in my life I feel like I should never, ever die in Super Mario Land.
Friday, November 6th, 2009
1:12 pm
Official Weezer Update
Since my livejournal is currently named after a lyric from El Scorcho I think I'm required to give my Raditude opinions. Verdict: this album is pretty good. I think it is best divided like so:

reasonably intelligent and awesome:Collapse )

reasonably intelligent and pretty good:Collapse )

really stupid and awesome:Collapse )

really stupid:Collapse )

It's apparently $4 on Amazon MP3 right now, so my suggestion is to listen to a song from each of the "awesome" categories and then make your decision. I'm liking it, though.

tentatively updated post-2000 Weezer album tracklistCollapse )
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
1:09 am
Japan
hey guys, guess where I will be spending the next ten days?

1. I get to see Lindsay for the first time in three months.

2. I am going to go all 14-year-old Dan on Akihabara. The streets will run red with used videogames and weird crap. (P.S. I brought my Ness shirt.)
Saturday, October 17th, 2009
6:50 pm
I went down to GameXChange to buy a Super Nintendo controller today.

1. If I were a used video game store, or even the owner of a used video game store, I would just never carry any sports games. Don't get me wrong: I love sports games. But you can tell that GameXChange, which used to be almost exclusively old and weird stuff, has tried but failed to cut down its old cartridge inventory (maybe by 40-50%); everything that's left of, say, their Master System (I was looking for Phantasy Star, but they only had II and III) and 3DO collection is sports. (For the Master System there was a lonely copy of Outrun, lots of boxed and unopened copies of Hang On/Safari Hunt, the pack-in game, and then endless rows of Great Baseball (which was good) and Great Basketball (which was not great.))

All of the N64 sports games, which take up the last two racks and most of the bargain bin, have 50% off stickers that I remember from the last time I went there, which was probably five months ago. 50% off of $3.00 is still not going to get people to buy Madden 64, of which they have—and I am not exaggerating—no fewer than 30 copies.

2. Things that are totally worthless, judging by inventory levels: Sega 32X; Dreamcast controllers; the Spawn game for the Super Nintendo; most Sega Saturn games; Dragon Ball import titles for the PSX; anything relating to the Game Gear. The Genesis used to be in this category but I noticed they were cleaned out today; it's too bad, because if the price was right I might have gotten a Genesis 2, to better fit my Sega CD and 32X. (My original-model Genesis is, by now, kind of finicky.)

3. PS3 slim is pretty cool looking, and anybody trying to sell an old PS3 should avoid putting them right next to each other. Next to the new model the old PS3, which I once thought to be attractive enough, looks as big as any X-BOX IS HUGE joke you care to imagine.

EDIT: So anyway—I know for a fact that I have two working Super Nintendo controllers, one of which is from the rerelease days and therefore as new as a controller can get. Instead of buying another controller, and feeling ashamed of myself, I bought a "TurboTouch 360+", which I remember seeing advertised when I was a little kid.

1. It is compatible with both the Genesis and the Super Nintendo(!)

2. It has, in lieu of a d-pad, a capacitive touch pad (the titular 360.) This is pretty cool in theory but is making my first replay of A Link to the Past since I was in sixth grade more difficult than it needs to be. That said, I thought these things were awesome when I was young and impressionable, so I am glad I'm finally using one.

3. It'll be the first controller I plug in when somebody releases a Sega Genesis web browser, but in the meantime I'm glad I'm mainly just playing through all the RPGs I've missed; playing a platformer with this thing would be a nightmare.

4. A Link to the Past is still awesome. Just finished the Eastern Palace.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
1:57 pm
FACT: Mario Sunshine is awesome
Why was everybody so disappointed, again?
Sunday, July 26th, 2009
9:15 pm
And the Fan of the Books
I'm rereading Harry Potter from the beginning, because a friend of mine has started going through the books for the first time (he stopped at three, in his words, for no apparent reason) and reminded me how much I love them.

It's amazing how good these books are. Well written, ingeniously plotted, engaging... when I was twelve and reading Chamber of Secrets (the first one I read, because the books weren't famous enough for me to know I was Doing It Wrong) the saddest thing in the world was that I was a year too old to go to Hogwarts. (Fitzgerald mentions in his journals that he, like a lot of children of a certain age, was convinced he was a foundling with famous and shadowy parents, destined for great things. Nothing hits that note harder and better than Harry Potter.)

I started yesterday, and I'll probably finish Sorcerer's Stone tomorrow. Just like last time.
Monday, April 13th, 2009
7:44 pm
Matching up my favorite things
Lately my roommates and I have rewatched the first two seasons of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which I have on DVD. It's—as I have said too many times, to too many people—the only show from your childhood that is way better, now, than it was then. In my most pseudo-intellectual moments I've been comparing it with EarthBound, since they're both surreal, warm, suburban-American things that transcend the genre they're in. So I thought it was funny to hear the creators of Pete & Pete mention (in the episode commentary) the "mission statement" that informed their writing and filming and casting of the show, which goes like this: "funny, strange, sad, beautiful"

You, dear Livejournal friends, will remember this Itoi-cast slogan for MOTHER 3 (and the MOTHER series as a whole, I would guess): "strange, funny, heartrending."
Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
9:20 am
Monday, March 16th, 2009
1:25 am
I am perfectly positioned.
I normally wouldn't post about something like this on my LiveJournal, because normally I don't post on my LiveJournal. But I feel like this is important because I am within the very small shaded portion of the Venn Diagram that would be able to notice this. It is, therefore, my duty to set it in stone. 

Here it is: Kristen Wiig, hereafter known as the one funny comedienne currently appearing on Saturday Night Live, looks exactly like Ginevra King, F. Scott Fitzgerald's first love. You see what I mean here: few people watch SNL anymore; fewer people who watch SNL anymore have read no fewer than four biographies of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Attached is the requisite comparison photo:

requisite comparison photosCollapse )

If I never earn my MFA, never enter a university's English department, I will have contributed this one thing to Fitzgerald scholarship. Matthew Bruccoli would be proud. 
Thursday, January 1st, 2009
1:23 am
Oh, buddy.
Happy ninetieth, J.D. Salinger. Thanks for Catcher, and Nine Stories, and the uncollected ones I'm finally reading on my Christmas Kindle. Please don't burn whatever it is you've been writing these forty-four years.

Obligatory New York Times article on the occasion, which--obviously and frustratingly--has Nothing We Don't Already Know.
Thursday, December 18th, 2008
6:21 pm
Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
11:38 am
mother 1 danecdote®
So I finished EB0.

This blows my mind even more than Mother 3. I remember one of the first times I ever looked up EarthBound on the internet—I saw the Game Boy Color petition and I misunderstood it, thinking that, since it was translated, the petition meant that it would come out soon. I was probably eleven. I was at Best Buy one day and I asked the clerk if they had EarthBound Zero, and if they didn't, when it would come out.

After I realized the petition was just a petition I tried playing it for the first time. Still eleven, I would guess, maybe twelve. I got to the graveyard.

I always got to the graveyard. When I'm fourteen, when I'm sixteen, when I'm nineteen—these are just the main playthroughs. There were more. The zombie ghosts, the mayor, maybe Pippi once or twice. In the beginning, the game is just not fun. The dialogue isn't pitch perfect like in EB, the battles are indescribably primitive, and having desperately avoided spoilers the whole time I get the feeling that the game is basically the same as EarthBound, and that I would be missing nothing by avoiding it. Eventually I decide firmly something I'd been batting around in my head during every playthrough: I wouldn't waste my last bit of MOTHER goodness on a laptop screen with a broken keyboard. I would only play it when I could play it on TV.

So a while ago Lindsay and I were at a Pinball convention with an enormous, flea-markety video game sale going on. You could buy posters, you could buy pinball parts, you could buy anime things and Japanese videogame swag with giant eyes or breasts or Chun Li thighs. And you could buy any obscure game you'd ever heard of. Those NES Reproduction guys had a booth. They were selling EarthBound Zero, cover art and all, for $25. Playing it on an NES, at my leisure, with no instant messages popping in front of the screen—that was all I wanted, profiting on piracy or not.

And now, months later, I'm finished. I loved it. I loved the grinding, I loved the dry parts, I loved the incredible non-linearity—now that I'm doing the post-game forum read, like I did with Mother 3, I see that you don't even have to get the party members when I did, or ever, to beat the game—and I loved the "no crying until the end" story.

There's something primitive and, I don't know, mysterious—inscrutable? If I throw more words at it the emotion will appear and describe itself—about this game in this medium. The emotion and the feeling of the game coming through eight bits. The blooping music and the jittery movements. If some of the things that happen in this game were to happen in a PlayStation game it just wouldn't be the same. I probably wouldn't enjoy it. I'd probably make fun of it. But it seems so sincere, on the NES, like a game about twelve-year olds should feel.

Anyway, I don't know if anybody else would feel like I felt while I was playing it. I'm becoming increasingly aware that everything I like, and the way I interpret everything I like, comes filtered through and enhanced by so many childhood predispositions and nostalgic misunderstandings that it's impossible to really explain to a lot of people why I enjoy a lot of things. But EB0 was great and everyone should finish it even if they've put it off since they were very young because it's difficult and dry in places. The end.

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, November 22nd, 2008
10:59 pm
Mother 3 danpinion™
So I finally beat Mother 3 last night. It would have been earlier, but upgrading the Wii emulator broke my save state and I had to fix saving with one of the most convoluted methods I've ever encountered, which took even longer than it should have because I own a Mac and not a PC.

Anyway, it was a lot more conventional than EarthBound, as far as RPGs go, but that says a lot more about how unconventional EarthBound is than it does about Mother 3's conventionality—there are no swords or sorcery, and the only castle in the game proves to have a really strange backstory. The main difference is that the movement of the game has moved from EB0/EB's non-linearity, exemplified by eventually learning teleportation, to a chapter-based format where there's very little back-tracking allowed.

It's a little disappointing, obviously, because that non-linearity was the very idea behind EB0 and an important part of EarthBound, but I was surprised at how well they managed to do the conventional story thing. There's some weird drift—things that were important at the beginning quickly become transparent McGuffins and disappear from the game halfway through, and some ideas seem overdeveloped for how long they stick around—but the characters are likable and the main ideas and themes come through pretty well. Duster and Kumatora are better developed than the average party members, and Boney becomes a weird exercise in inventory management, because his one asset in battles is his speed.

I mean, there are some benefits to the linearity, too. In EB0 and EB the narrative mostly happens outside of the characters—they're prophesied to do something, or one day a poltergeist shows up in their house. But in M3 they're given integral roles. The scenic nature of the story allows for some great "moments", too, individually memorable scenes, which is not something that you got a lot of in EarthBound. (I'm thinking mainly of the first trip to Club Titiboo.)

I'm a little sad that there won't be another big, globetrotting suburban-America RPG coming out of Japan, but what we got instead was a lot of fun. And I'm not done with EB0 yet, anyway.
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
10:54 am
your state rep
Serious election pet peeve: at my bus stop today a group of Chris Kelly supporters--he is the creepy-looking challenger for state representative in the Columbia district, slogan "Keep the porch light on for me!"--had massive signs that all read

CHRIS KELLY
My State Representative!

Well, no, he isn't. Your state representative is Ed Robb right now, and come January it'll be the guy who gets elected. That's how it works.
Saturday, October 18th, 2008
7:41 pm
oh man
I just hacked my Wii to play Mother 3 on it. I feel like a champion, even though I couldn't find my Zelda and had to rent a copy.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
3:48 pm
The X-Files
This movie is going to bomb--only $10 million in its opening weekend, why on earth did they put a movie based on a seven-year-old series in the summer?--which is a real shame, because it was awesome. I was happy to see at least one X-Files thing in its first run, since I didn't become a fan until it was cancelled.

Even if you didn't watch the series I'd recommend it; it helps to be a fan of the X-Files's weird earnest-b-movie villains, but as Ebert said, it's a suspenseful thriller in and of itself. Well-directed and well-acted, and reminiscent of the Dark Knight in the way that the craft of it--the lack of CGI, the plot, the small-area scenes--seems timeless.

And if it helps, it'll probably be in the dollar theaters soon enough.
Friday, May 30th, 2008
4:36 pm
theory
Dumb internet memes alone: dumb.

Dumb internet memes combined into the video for Weezer's new single: awesome.

Friday, May 23rd, 2008
1:52 pm
daaa na na naaa, naa na naaaa
Indiana Jones is the best thing ever.
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