Sunday, June 08, 2008

My turtle has a motorcycle . . . and he's not afraid to use it.

I must give glowing praise to Nintendo's Wii game system. It is the Bill Cosby of game systems, in that it didn't take the easy roads of gory violence or scofflaw anti-heroes to gain success. No, it appears they did their darn HOMEWORK and studied what makes games fun. It's a very complex question, if you think about it. Why do we play games? What makes one game more fun than another game? I don't know the answers. But I know that I've never had as much fun playing video games as I have the past few Sunday evenings with my sons.

I could play Mario Kart Wii until the wii hours of the morning, I do so love the racing games. And this one manages to be cooler than all of it's predecessors, with realistic motorcycles as well as cars. The new active steering is a little wonky, but it's just the thing to put me back at the beginner level, making the game like an Everlasting Gobstopper that it will take months or YEARS to master! Yay!

And tonight I discovered this marvelous game that AK got Max for "his" birthday (thinking no doubt it would be good for the twinks. . . ): "Wii Playground". They made physically active video games out of tetherball, dodgeball, soccer, slot cars and . . . even . . . paper airplanes. They are SO simple to learn and SO difficult to master. They somehow manage to equal the playing field between 6 year olds, 12 year olds and grown men. So that even with everyone trying their very best, everyone gets a chance to win. How? I dunno. But those clever Nippon-jin figured it out and I'm grateful.

I would have never thought that a Mortal Kombat-style fighting game that mixes together characters from tens of different varying styles of video games (with totally varying styles of animation. . . ) would have been fun to play. But it's so campy, and they somehow make battle seem so un-violent, that it's one of my favorites. Even though there are hits and kicks and bombs and seizure-inducing vibrations constantly coming through the controllers -- it's done with such a sincerely childish sense of humor that one can't be offended. Indeed, one has to laugh: "Is that a polar bear with sunglasses? He's in the way! Why is my Snake Plisskin tough-guy character swinging a big FISH around? Why is KIRBY the sad, formless pink nothing of a cottonball . . . kicking my BUTT?"

From a marketing perspective, it was very risky what they did when they changed the way we control videogames. And I applaud them for not only taking the risk but by doing it right. It -- stinkin' -- WORKS, the motion-sensing technology does. Never do we curse it for not responding as we think it should, never do the controllers or the plugs break due to poor design or even the standard abuse children dish out. Well, ahem, we did have to send it back due to overheating at first . . . but they fixed it for free and relatively quickly and painlessly. How many companies can do THAT nowadays?

Yep, I'd have to say Nintendo is right up there on my list with LEGO on the list of companies who generally speaking have got their heads on straight and who's products are a generally safe bet for your hard-earned dollars. Yay Wii!

Big Sunday, today was. We've had a lot of those, lately, and have found ourselves en masse in the Bishop's office more Sundays than not. But it's good. Max is now 12, he's a Deacon, he's in the Young Mens' Quorum. I got to confer upon him the Priesthood, ordain him to his office, and give my first priesthood blessing. Which was stressful, but we all survived.

Too Hot is what it is here in PA since about last Thursday. AK says it'll get to 100 tomorrow and you KNOW we roll with HUMIDITY here so stay a state or two away from PA for the next week if you can.

Gratitude. I am grateful for air conditioners that still work even though we haven't turned them on for two years. I'm grateful for my wife's home made quiche, biscuits and stromboli. I'm grateful for a talented, self-confident son and twins who are so terminally happy they just might genuinely go through life never bothering to learn it sucks sometimes. I'm grateful for our jobs and the opportunity to REGULARLY earn money that's already been taxed -- even when it's not quite enough to cover our expenses. I'm grateful for carpets clean enough (for the time being) that we can have guests over for dinner, and I'm grateful for the guests who come to dinner. I'm grateful for Max's Wii, and the time us dudes spend together playing & enjoying each other. I'm grateful for the opportunity to teach in my sons' school because it's taught me so much and opened up new career paths at a time when I'm so in search of a new path. I'm grateful for someone to play raquetball with. I'm grateful to share this beautiful place with my mother.

So many things are so right at this time, even though some things (big things, like the finances) are a little wrong. We are still searching for balance, still getting closer and closer to it than we've ever been, and trying to remember it's a goal worth chasing but not one that's ever truly attained. We're quite familiar with financial straits, but are better today at maintaining our perspective because we are so rich in all of life's other blessings.

Blessed are wii!
As promised so long ago, here are the World's Most Adorable Fire-Haired Dolls and their number one fans Ben and Milo. These little angels belong to the W's from VT, and for the sake of internet privacy we'll call them Princess and Peanut.



Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.


Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.



Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.



 Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.








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