Writing is hard. This statement might bring to mind horrible memories of toys that none-too-subtly reinforce gender roles, but it holds universal appeal; writing well is a difficult process for inexperienced writers, who lack confidence in their prose, as well as for veteran wordsmiths, who know the limits of their prose all too well.  Yet, the problems of writer’s block and graceless prose are not merely abstract problems affecting those with imminent term papers. Yesterday’s Salad loses up to five postings a day due to writer’s block alone, not to mention the many postings that are deleted or left as half-baked drafts because we can’t think of a clever way to finish them.  This grim tide of missing posts must be turned!  Thus, I propose that we institute another regular feature, a battle-royale wherein YS contributors and snappy bloggers considerate enough to comment debate the issues of the day… in five-paragraph essay format!

Discuss amongst yourselves!

So…

April 16, 2007

So… for the moment I’ve stopped playing games.

I know, your reaction is one of the following:

a) Impossible! Mon Dieu!

b) Yeah, the chances of that happening are about as good as your going to ENS to become a literary theorist.

c) Seriously. Stop writing about games. People who play games are simply man-boys who refuse to grow up. I came to this site for the word of the day, or to relish in post-Sausserian notions of alterity, and secretly giggle about obscure references to mainstream popular culture. Fuck you, notwithabang…

To the lot of you, I say, “Nuts!”

Instead, I offer to you a hint at something big. Behold, the first screen from a SaladSoft(tm) computer entertainment!

demo.jpg

We get too many search engine hits from that damn post I did on Supreme Commander. And I really don’t understand why. So, allow me a moment to show some tremendous disrespect of the kindly people who boost our blog stats. Better reviews of the game, written by bona fide English majors, can be found elsewhere on the web, such as Gamespot, and more comprehensive articles on the history of real-time strategy (RTS) games can be found Wikipedia. Furthermore, I didn’t even like the game that much. It’s a good game. But it’s not a great game.

A great RTS game would be Relic’s superb Company of Heroes, or the less tactical, yet sublimely fun Command and Conquer 3. Both are titles that should appeal to fans of RTS’ and newcomers alike, and frankly, Company of Heroes should appeal to anyone interested in the history of World War II… or heck, anyone who enjoyed watching Saving Private Ryan.

So, to shift gears of war entirely, let me propose a premise for a better remake of Supreme Commander by means of a seemingly oblique anecdote. Notwithabang… returned to his New York alma mater earlier this week in order to work on some science-y stuff that he had left over from the past school year, also taking the occasion to visit with Ms. Notwithabang… (hence Shewhomustbeobeyed). The trip was busy and fun, and given the amount of work I had to do, was without incident. That is, until I took a break from the lab and went to the corner grocery store for a snack. There I bumped into none other than GustRobot, future Yesterday’s Salad philosophy columnist and former sublet-er of the SaladCave, the dusky locale in which Yesterday’s Salad was spawned, if not necessarily conceived.

In and of itself, this too would be unremarkable. The SaladCave is in a building adjacent to the store, and numerous salads eaten a day late and other cooking misadventures sponsored by Yesterday’s Salad were made possible by the store’s overpriced-yet-delightful victuals. What was remarkable was what GustRobot was buying. In the many years I have known GustRobot, I have seen him eat approximately five things. 1) Pizza. 2) Carrots. 3) Steak. 4) Double-meat turkey sandwiches. 5) Plain hamburgers. Occasionally there’s a desert item in there. Nothing more. No seasoning, save for some heavy garlic salting of the steak. Certainly no garnishes. Given the cruel efficiency with which he consumes these item, and the superhuman regularity and promptness with which he does so, it’s not hard to see why some of us were under the impression that he *might* be a robot.

Yet, lo and behold, he was there buying a can opener. This confused me. To my knowledge, none of the aforementioned items comes in a can (save for heavily sugared carrots, and God help us all if pizza is ever made available in can form). Could it be that he had simply decided to cut out the charade of human food, and would switch to eating scrap metal he had julienned with the can opener? And if he did, would it give him the strength of five gorillas? So I quit belaboring the obvious and asked him. Read the rest of this entry »

“Frankly, this picture-book series could’ve been a lot better. I could have written it as they did during the war, full of gusto. But that isn’t what I wanted to write. I wanted to write something that wouldn’t have been better off as toilet paper. I didn’t succeed, but if you only take one thing away from it, know that a Superman should live his own life instead of helping humanity.

So long as a person can be kind, it doesn’t really matter what they want to do with their time. Chasing money, searching for wide-open beavers, and even sitting around are perfectly good ways to pass the time. Making your happiness contingent on helping others is terribly noble, but liable to do little for them and less for yourself. All in all, we aren’t worth it.”

Department of Awesome!

April 3, 2007

Daisy: “You’re not one of those sci-fi nerds, are you?”

Tim: “No.”

Daisy: “You don’t spend your evenings on the internet, discussing what, like symbolism and the X-Files –“

Tim (offended): “Look, modern science fiction can be pretty interesting. The thoughts and speculations of our contemporary thinkers have probably never been closer to the truth…”

The fact of the matter is that while games began as a fairly open medium, with games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and a slew of Atari 2600 games appealing to a wide audience, some of the most prolific years of the medium were spent pitching games solely to 18-35 year old men. As such, a high proportion of game titles are either banal or puerile, and it can be pretty wrenching (or ridiculous, depending on your perspective) to hear people prattle on about the importance of video games as an art form. While I would argue that there *have* been some real gems over the years, games that were both satisfying and thought-provoking, they’ve been an awfully slim minority.

With the tremendous sales of the Nintendo Wii (that’s one wasabi-covered lemon of a name!) stretching over the traditional boundaries of the gaming market, we might someday see video games begin to take on some relevance as a mainstream art form. While such shifts are slow and labored in the console market (though it should be said that Nintendo is doing a commendable job in broadening its audience), the independent gaming scene on the PC, which has always been progressive by comparison to the rest of the industry, has released a number of excellent titles in the last few months which should appeal to a wide audience.

For example, consider the upcoming Reunion, by Mike Bithell. Although the video is a little dark, it’s worth looking at even if you don’t like computer games.

Having lived most of his life in the halls of academe, when Mr. Nothwithabang… has worked, it has mostly taken place outside of an office, whether it was bartending, leading group therapy sessions, or occassionally, wrestling a savannah tiger. Thus, forced into the confines of a meager, padded space near the water cooler, it has been somewhat daunting to stay entertained. What follows are a few suggestions for the pursuit of happiness and sanity for the hopelessly becubicled.

1. Attempt to make simple tasks into deeds of Herculean proportion. E.g. Fill a cup of coffee past the brim (surviving on surface tension alone) and attempt to walk it across the office without spilling. In response to the question, “couldn’t you just pour some out?” simply respond, “yes, but if I manage to do this, the bards will sing of my deeds for ages to come.”

2. Attempt a game of tic-tac-toe (or if you’re up on your algebraic notation, chess) via paper airplanes.

3. Hoard office supplies, refusing to give them out unless people request them in 5-7-5 format, answering “Mine mine mine, or I shall help you not.” (note: will not make you popular at the office)

4. Watch an informative video about sexual harrassment in the workplace.

5. Blog.