Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I tried to clean my room and found eight pairs of chopsticks instead.

Not the disposable kind, mind you.  These chopsticks were built to last.  Some of them were even still wrapped inside an awkward package of five marked "For Special Guest."  Engrish aside, this is probably the first dining set that has provided dining accessories for five instead of four or six.  It almost made me want to buy a pentagonal table, until I realized exactly how impractical that would probably be to store.

Perhaps the five sets of chopsticks with the flowers on them were intended to be used exclusively for special guests, meaning I'd have to use different chopsticks for myself and for ordinary guests.  It'd suck if the special guests decided they didn't like flower patterns on their chopsticks.  If that's the case then I'd be able to provide the special guests with an alternative of red or green chopsticks with fish on them, or brown chopsticks with paper cranes on them.

I suppose, though, that if I had a number of special guests over, the most common complaint wouldn't be the pattern on the chopsticks as it would be, "Don't you have any forks and spoons around here?!"

For the record, I think I owned one spoon specifically to get through my Chef Boyardee Dinosaur Pasta phase in my second year of college, but it was cheap and tarnished quickly.  The chopsticks, like I said, appear to be built with durability in mind.

In fact, yeah, I totally had a mug filled with even MORE chopsticks at school.  When I raid the storage center after getting my own place I will probably be able to feed a small army with JUST chopsticks.  I'm not sure I ever bought myself chopsticks at any one point, either, but I did put them to good use writing a speech class report on how to use them to eat instant mashed potatoes.  It's actually easier than using them to eat rice.

I guess the best course of action here would involve just eating everything and anything with chopsticks, to see if they can be effectively used up.  Maybe I should try eating jello with chopsticks next.  Or discount Easter candy.

Nailed it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Awkward Comparisons

In the past year and a half, while I was too busy getting glasses and shortening my hair to blog, I must've glossed over a dozen eerily similar internet articles condemning the practice of comparing yourself to your peers while you're still trying to settle into a career and what have you.  While most of them actually have a point, especially with all this social networking out there, now that I've been twenty-six for a while I've started...thinking.

In particular, I've been thinking about how I'm the same age as Sushi Man, who was a character that I drew a lot in middle school.  In an unprecedentedly cynical move I set the bar so low in describing the harsh and often awkward realities of J.C. Sushi's mid twenties that I figured comparing myself to him would probably just wind up making myself feel way, way, way better about where I stand in life right now.

So I did the only thing that seemed appropriate and pumped out some visuals:

...I swear, I was absolutely definitely in no way thinking about dressing up like Sushi Man and running out to a nerd convention when I bought that shirt.  Maybe if I slept upside down and paid someone to program a video game about him or something so more than three people know who he even is, I'd consider it, but I'd need money for that first and don't really like the convention atmosphere much anyway.

I also really ought to stop thinking too hard about the exact mechanics of that relationship with Mrs. Butterworth.

You know what?  Even though I am unquestionably more prepared to deal with the real world than Sushi Man would have been if he hadn't been conveniently swept up into an alternate dimension so he could actually live out his superhero fantasies, I am approximately 62% creeped out by the amount of similarities there are between the two of us.  With that in mind I can only hope that turning twenty-nine and a half is nowhere near the acid trip I expected that to be when I was thirteen...

Actually, I hear this is a pretty average reaction to realizing you're
about to hit 30.  If anyone's put up with my shenanigans long enough to know who this
crackpot is, you get somewhere in the realm of four million bonus points.

So yeah.  Final verdict, Zelda Vinciguerra officially beat Sushi Man at life, and I probably just slid down a few points on that scale for talking about myself in the third person.  I'm still beating Sushi Man, though, and that feels pretty awesome.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Great Root Beer Heist

Last summer I spent some quantity time with my brother's friends and ended up with the plot for an actual NEW online Choose Your Own Adventure by the end of the day.  Yes, that's right, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure that I did not write when I was eleven!  You play the part of a blue ninja of unspecified gender on a mission to rob a charity walk-a-thon of its root beer.  I'd originally intended for it to be very straightforward, but then I wound up accidentally throwing in this weapon system.  That clogged the pipeline for quite a bit.

After working on this off again and on again over the summer, I've finally finished writing the story and mapping out the flowchart for The Great Root Beer Heist.  You can expect to see 17 unquestionably bad endings and 6 endings that range from dubious at best to very good for the player.  You can also expect to see the ninjas depicted below.

In light of this accomplishment, I've decided to share the process I've been using to create these things.  It all starts with a red composition book.
It has to be a red marble composition book.  I hoard the things like it's nobody's business and that helps keep them straight.  Of course, back when I started doing this I didn't have much of a choice.  They didn't really sell composition books in anything but marble style, and the red color was actually a huge novelty when I was in the fifth grade.  Now that I have them in polka-dot, taupe, European-style, glitter, unruled, and holographic with built in strobe light effects, the red marble's really just to state that yes, this notebook contains Choose Your Own Adventures and their accompanying logistical flowcharts.

To put it bluntly, I just wrote the story out in a notebook.  This was also the step where I closed the project and called it a day back in the 90s.  I still like writing my first draft in a real notebook on a stoop or bench or someplace weird, because there's less Internet there to distract me.
The second step is the one I just finished now.  I created a flowchart so I know exactly what pages need to be done.  As I finish them I fill in the little bubbles with a colored pencil or something.

I definitely do not actually perform this step on a large white board set up in public.  This is probably the worst way to make a flowchart, actually.  People around here have an overwhelming tendency to see important things written on erasable surfaces and erase them.  I use regular paper instead, because filling in the bubbles with a real colored pencil is a lot more satisfying than filling it in with the paint bucket tool in a separate tab.
 I don't even start doing anything on the computer until this is done.  I make the images first because there is a 100% chance of the image above not actually happening with that.  I set up the page in Dream Weaver and keep it simple.  Image, block of text, links at the bottom.  Boom.  Done.

And this is why there hasn't been a Lu Encounter update in over a month.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why aren't pineapple Twizzlers a thing?

I found myself awake in the middle of the night again last night, as many creative sorts do.  Probably out of habit. Why is it that all the best ideas wait to show up until the middle of the night?  Why don't they cooperate with their host and pop up at more convenient times, when you're not trying to get some sleep?

I digress.  I found myself lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling for at least thirty minutes wondering if Twizzlers came in pineapple flavor or not, for no real apparent reason, trying in vain to resist the urge to get up and google it (probably costing me an additional hour or so of sleep in the process).  Resistance was futile.  Turns out that Twizzlers do not come in pineapple flavor.  BUT THEY SHOULD, DARN IT.  THEY REALLY, REALLY SHOULD.

I then took it upon myself to draw some sketches of Minor 6th from the Amazing Harmonizing Police Force as a boy about to embark on a noble quest to save his homeland from invading forces.  He's one of those spry roguish sorts.  Because, you know, blog entries are always better with pictures.  It makes people more apt to read the text, after all.

He looks oddly like the demon spawn of Raz from Psychonauts, Norman from ParaNorman, Timmy from the Fairly Oddparents, and Hub from Mega Man Battle Network.  As an adult he looks less like those guys and more like one of my old choir directors.  

I need to get my head back in the game.  And Hershey's needs to get on that pineapple Twizzler idea, stat.  Seriously, pineapple Twizzlers would be nothing short of awesome. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might...

Hey guys!  Hey!  HEEEY!  Guess what?  My website has an arcade filled with all the random crap I've done!

I was a really prolific little kid when it came to writing.  Just this past week I finished drawing and coding another Choose Your Own Adventure entitled "Wish Upon a Nintendo 64."  If you didn't get enough death scenes and questionable fifth-grade-me-logic with the Prototype Lu Encounter, it's definitely worth a look.  Despite the wimpy-sounding title, this one boasts almost twice as many deaths as Protolu.  In fact, only two of the ten endings aren't awful, and they both have strings attached as opposed to flat-out getting to game happily ever after.

As far as plot goes, your evil and nerdy Uncle Bill decides to steal your Nintendo 64, and you need to go to absurd odds just to get it back.  Including risking lots and lots of gratuitous death.  It could practically function as a very intense Nintendo 64 ad.  "The Nintendo 64 is so great that most kids are willing to risk their lives to get it back from their evil uncles!  Buy one today!"

Fun fact: I took that opportunity to showcase my two favorite N64 games of all time.

Even more fun and factual: Neither of them were Ocarina of Time.  Even as a kid I still thought OOT was overrated.  Some things never change.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Everything's better with stickers

About a month ago I bought a day planner so I'd be more on top of things, such as finishing my projects and remembering to blog about them.  Whenever the daily quota is reached, I give myself a sticker.  When I exceed it, I get a shiny sticker.  And whenever something out of my control comes up and completely uproots my plans I get to draw a little icon depicting what went horribly, horribly wrong.

Something went horribly, horribly wrong for the last five days in a row, starting with Tonio's AC adapter deciding that it no longer wanted to power the laptop about a nanosecond from me finishing the second of my late 90s Choose Your Own Adventure extravaganzas and an added bonus I'm tacking onto my website for the fun of things.  I actually meant to get this done weeks ago, but that's when my dad decided I was going to stain the entire deck.

So yeah.  Stay tuned and expect imminent awesome in the near future.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Blast from the Past

          When I was about ten or eleven years old, I hoarded composition books and filled them to the brim with about every type of creative endeavor you can possibly imagine.  Screenplays.  Game design.  Documentaries. Musicals.  Books.  Interpretive Dance  You name it, I probably dabbled in it during my childhood, and chances are the story had something to do with a holiday.
          I specifically had a notebook designed just for Choose Your Own Adventure stories.  Most of them were short and pretty odd, but looking at them they just seemed like something you'd have an easier time following through a website.  My web design skills could definitely use some improvement, so I figured, hey!  Why not practice using some original material I've already written?
          So The Proto Lu Encounter came to fruition.  The Lu Encounter is a plot I've been working with for ages.  This particular version is probably one of its earliest iterations and involves surviving the 4th of July with your evil aunt Lu.  The current Lu Encounter is nothing like this at all and involves robots, a global domination plot, product placement and sandwiches.  Consider this a very early prototype, complete with a very, very old-school graphic style.