Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday's Food For Thought - 3/28/08

Come one, come all! It's a very special Friday's Food for Thought!

We here at Hobson's normally try to avoid matters that are strictly of local importance, but this story is just too good to pass up. As most people who have some knowledge of Harding are aware, almost all students are required to attend a daily "chapel" service which lasts for about a half hour in which there are announcements and then a short Christian worship service of some kind. Since the entire student body as well as much of the faculty gather for this event with such regularity, it becomes the perfect time for students to plan and commit mischievous deeds of one sort or another.

This Wednesday morning, one such deed occurred, and it seems to echo the themes of a previous post on Hobsons. Upon exiting the doors to the auditorium where we meet, I looked down at the ground and was greeted with the sight of fetal pigs. Someone seemed to have strewn them about all of the exits during chapel time, leaving them to be discovered by students on their way to get some breakfast or go to class. Most people were disgusted, but some like me were highly amused at the absurdity of looking down and seeing fetal pigs on the ground.

With that story in mind, here is your fetal-pig themed Friday's Food for Thought!

From USA Today, a slightly older story about a more aggressive prank involving fetal pigs:

Swim team inpales fetal pigs on rivals' car antennas.

From the TV Show Angel, a character named Willow professes her love for fetal pigs:

Willow: It had to be something specific. There's lots of jars in the world. Can't shatter 'em all. Oh, I mean you could, but, good things come in jars - peanut butter, jelly, those two-headed fetal pigs at the Natural History Museum.

[Wesley just looks at her]

Willow: Come on. Everybody loves fetal pigs!

As for a video, I will not bother disturbing you with most of the youtube results I found in a vain quest for an appropriate video. If you really want to see some fetal pig action, just search for it on youtube.

Well until next Friday, keep your mind active, and don't forget to stop and admire the fetal pigs of your life!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Customer Service

At the beginning of the year, I ordered a lamp. Now, this was going to be one of the coolest lamps ever, and I was going to enjoy it very much when it came in. However, a couple weeks went by, and there was no sign of my lamp. I decided to email customer service at (I'm not going to link to them because I refuse to give them anything that remotely resembles a plug).I did so, and more time went by, with no response.

To make a long story short, several emails later, I finally get a reply saying that they have some trouble with their supply in China (this little shop (not of horrors) that makes all of this type of lamp), and they basically have no idea when it will be coming in. I also get an email from a real person named Marcus, not a department, who apologizes and says they should have kept me up-to-date better. I can cancel my order and get a refund, or I can just wait. By now, I'm fairly steamed because I had to hound them in order to find out that they don't even have my lamp in stock and have no real way of getting it, but I really want my lamp, so I decided to wait it out, thinking it would just be a few weeks.

Fast forward a couple months. I still haven't heard anything from them, so I email them again. I get no reply, and two weeks later, I send another email, both to the customer service address and to this Marcus character, saying how frustrated I am and that I am never going to buy anything else from them again. That gets a response within a day, and they tell me they're sorry and have no idea when they'll be getting the lamps, and in fact they have taken them completely off their web site because they can't seem to get any. And of course, they didn't notify me of this. So now I've asked for the refund they've continually offered, and am waiting on that.

So that's my recent experience with horrible customer service. Let's contrast that. I recently added the Facebook application Chips n Chat, which is a flash Texas Hold 'Em game. I have nothing but good things to say about it: it's fun, very functional, and they have contests going on pretty much constantly where all you have to do is play like normal to win. When I first started, they had a contest where the first 100 people to play 1,500 hands would win a $20 gift card to an online retailer they chose from a list.

Well, I hovered around rank #35 the entire contest, and 2 days before it was over had play 1,334 hands. Suddenly, however, I couldn't load their application to play, from whatever computer I tried. The contest ended with me ranked #40, and only 35 or so people having completed the 1,500 hands, so I emailed their customer support asking them to count me as having won since I would have played enough in those 2 days to make it, or maybe give me 2 more days to play if I could connect or something, and I didn't get a response, so I assumed it was a lost cause. Well, yesterday I got an email saying I was a winner of the contest and I could have my choice of gift cards. I picked, and everything's happy. In that instance, they just fixed the problem and didn't even need to tell me.

So I've had some good and bad customer service experiences in the past few weeks, but that's nothing compared to the ups and downs of a guy named Nathaniel. Read about his dramatic tragedy and astounding comeback and feel happy we have companies like Bungie in the world.

Anyone else have any horrible customer service stories?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Online Music

I am a semi-audiophile. I listen to music constantly in my room and car, but I don't have an iPod or other portable music player, so I'm not one of those people who walks around lost in their own aural world. I'm pretty close though, because I'm normally humming or singing to myself, even if it's only in my head. So anyways, I thought I would share a few of my favorite places to discover and listen to music online.

Aurgasm is where I find a whole lot of amazing music from around the world. With the heading, "Your favorite music you've never heard," Aurgasm is a very simple and very functional MP3 blog. The author, Paul Irish, writes a quick paragraph summarizing the style of the artist he's featuring and why he likes them, where he heard about them, etc., and then posts one or two downloadable songs from them, or occasionally a link to a music video or the like. He also has an embedded music player that scrolls with the page and lets you play all the songs he posts directly from his site. The cool thing is, it's all completely legal and above-board. I was reading at a time when he had some trouble with the RIAA, but there were only a couple of small things he was doing wrong, and since then and as a result has made sure that he has permission from all the artists to use their songs or that they're in the public sphere. He also has always included a link to buy the CD the songs are from. I have bought a CD or two from artists I was exposed to on his site, and have definitely listened many times to a lot of the tracks I have downloaded from Aurgasm.

A recent discovery for me is Afternoon Delight, and it's co-part, Bedtime Tunes. Afternoon delight is updated daily, Bedtime Tunes nightly, and they post single songs that sort of fit in with each site, at least in terms of tempo. Afternoon Delight's songs are more upbeat, while Bedtime Tunes' are slower. These sites are less eclectic than Aurgasm and have more popular music that I have heard before, but have still exposed me to some previously-unheard music. I can't really speak for their legality, because they are pretty no frills: while the sites are very functional and well-designed, they're just a list of songs with a music player up top, and I wasn't able to find even an "About Us" section or the like. I assume if you just listen, then you'll be fine whether they're pirating or not, but both sites do allow you to download the music.

Then, of course, there's Purevolume. This site is a very useful tool for bands to self-promote, and because each band is responsible for the content they want to upload, you can listen and download without fear of an RIAA attorney kicking in your door with a subpoena taped to the bottom of his boot. Another very useful feature is the ability to create listener profiles and keep up with your favorite bands and events going on near your location. Purevolume will show you a list of shows going on in your area in the near future involving any of the artists registered on their site, as well as letting you interact with artists through their profile pages and create playlists in their music player. Your profile page also includes a Purevolume blog, favorites list, photo album and friends list, among other things, as well as keeping a running list of updates your favorite artists make. This site is more for local bands, but because it's the Internet (i.e., global), local bands from all over the world become your local bands as well, and I have spent many an hour surfing the Internet with my Purevolume playlist running in the background.

The last site I'll discuss is yet another fairly recent find for me. Songza, self-described as "the music search engine and internet jukebox," is a very simple online music player that just lets you search for any song or artist and then listen to them. You can't download anything, but it has an extensive library to search through, and even though it's claim that "
Songza lets you listen to any song or band" is stretching it a bit (I've had a few searches bring up no results or stuff completely different than what I wanted), in most cases I've been able to find what I want. You also have the ability to share songs through email, embedding them in your own site, linking to it or Twittering it, as well as create playlists and rate songs. Songza also recommends songs you might like based on what you are listening too. I haven't created an account, so I'm not sure what all it allows you to do, but I do know that an account will let you save your playlists, which lets you listen to them on other computers or keep them after clearing your cookies and such.

These four sites are the ones I frequent, but obviously, there are many, many others. Does anyone have any music sites they're partial too, or have tried out and enjoy? I know a lot of people use Pandora, but I haven't really checked it out yet, so if anyone uses that, you might tell us what you think. I didn't even broach the subject of online radio, so there's still a lot out there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday's Food For Thought - 3/21/08

In honor of the late Arthur C. Clarke, a prolific science fiction writer who passed away at the age of 90 on Wednesday after having some breathing problems, the quote this week is from him. Clarke was the last of the "Big Three" of science fiction, surviving Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. As a journalist, I really like this quote.

"CNN is one of the participants in the war. I have a fantasy where Ted Turner is elected president but refuses because he doesn't want to give up power."

- Arthur C. Clarke

News Story: One very interesting thing going on in the news right now is the case that recently came before the Supreme Court, District of Columbia v. Heller. Dick Heller is a D.C. security guard who filed suit saying that D.C.'s total ban on handguns is unconstitutional. It has now made it to the SC, and this will be the first time that the Second Amendment has been decidedly ruled on by them, and the first time in over 70 years they've even discussed it. One appeals court struck down the ban, but that will now be decided in the SC. Even if they decide to rule that the Second Amendment gives individual citizens the right to own guns, as appears likely, they must still decide on whether the handgun ban violates that right. The SC will decide on this sometime before June when their session ends.

Video: Fair warning - this is probably both the best and the worst thing I've seen in a long time. Just so you know going into it, EVERYONE in the video was fine afterwards.

This week, you get a bonus video. It is a remixed version of the previous one. You can find a lot of these on YouTube, but this was one of the funnier.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My 10 Favorite Novel Cover Designs

I'll just say straight out that I am a design poseur. I enjoy design a lot, and can appreciate good design, but I tend to act like I know more than I really do. With that said, I can make this post without seeming like I am putting forth a definitive list of great cover designs, or even a list of good ones. These are just designs I have seen and liked, and felt like sharing. The cover designs on novels are many times fascinating; it's interesting to see what they say about the book itself. So without further ado, I present to you my favorite 10, in no particular order.

"Atlas Shrugged" - I am a big fan of Art Deco and the like, so this cover has always been one I liked. This was the cover of the first copy of "Atlas Shrugged" I read, and I liked what it seemed to imply, as well as the general design. You have the sun rising in the background, with rays shooting out, and you have the building to the side, which I always imagined to be the headquarters or Taggart Transcontinental, for those of you who have read the book. Then of course, there's Atlas in the middle, holding up the title itself; I thought that was fairly clever. Anther reason I liked this is that I just like the color green.

"1984" - I tend to be a sort of minimalist with design; I like white space and simple, stark, striking messages. In that respect, "1984"'s cover comes across marvelously. The author and the title in the middle of the book on a white background, with a lidless eye staring out at you. It captures the whole "Big Brother is watching" feeling you get from the book magnificently. Not much to say about this one, and for this, it's a good thing.

"Catch-22" - "Catch-22" is my favorite novel, so it's no surprise it made it onto my list (I never claimed to be impartial). It's pretty basic as well, but one simple thing I like about it is the text. I prefer sans serif text, and the shadow on it gives it depth and makes it stand out. The man and the plane just show main parts of the book, and the ragged edges lend to it's entire tone. I just love this book over-all. It's so ridiculous and dark and funny and thought-provoking, all at the same time.

"I." - This is a book I actually haven't had a chance to read yet, but it is on my list. You can't exactly tell in the picture, but the title ("I.") is cut out of the cover, with the picture of the man on the front page showing through. Once again, simple yet effective.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" - The second and last book on this list I haven't read, this continues the simple theme of the last few books. Aside from enjoying the color, I enjoy the text on this book as well, both the typefaces chosen and the drastic differences in size between the title and the author's name. The single picture in corner completes the off-balance feeling you get looking at it, and one of the things that makes me like it more is that it seems almost to be mimicking the mindset of a wallflower. Like I said, I haven't read it, but I can imagine the guy in the picture standing against the wall by himself at a party, looking around at everyone else and feeling out of place and maybe a bit overwhelmed; off-balance. The entire thing just sort of blends to create a single feeling, which I like.

"Franny and Zooey" - To finish up the stark, plain covers, "Franny and Zooey" fits in marvelously with other books like "1984." I probably wouldn't have included this one, since it is so much like some of the others here, except there is a bit of interesting information behind it. This is what all Salinger's novels look like now (in paperback form), and the interesting thing about it is that he has control over what goes on the cover, and after "Nine Stories" was published with a picture of a girl on the front, he has only allowed text on them since. I also just like the design, with the all-caps serif. I don't know what typeface it is, but I like the alternating heavier and lighter strokes, as well as the more angled and curved serifs.

"The Sound and the Fury" - I'll say it: I really did not like this book. I never really got into, could barely follow the story (mainly because I wasn't really paying attention to it and I read it so infrequently it took me several months to finish it), and, while the idea has some merit, I didn't particularly like the switch-off of narrators in this case. But I love the cover design. It sort of sums up what the title says to me: it looks like a storm coming, but not quite here yet; you can hear the thunder in the distance and know that, soon, you will be surrounded by sound and fury, but for now, you can just see it coming. I like the overlapping text, the typeface used for the title and the color scheme in general. I like how "Faulkner" looks like it is on a metal plaque that is worn in but still fairly new. Overall, I just really like the cover.

"The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide" - OK, this one looks fairly plain, but the overall effect isn't. This book is leather-bound, with gold-leafed pages, a gold ribbon bookmark and gold embossing on the cover, spine and back. It is a regal, serious-looking (except for the eye-less smilies sticking out their tongues) volume that it reality contains one of the loopiest, silliest stories I've ever read. The visual irony is COMPLETELY in style for the book, and makes it one of my favorite books I own. Also, the typeface is cool.

"Slaughterhouse-Five" - This is the overarching design of Vonnegut's books currently, and I really like it. The large "V" in the background moves your eyes down the page, and I just really like the symmetry of the entire thing. The horizontal lines contrast nicely with the downward slashes of the "V", and the centered text at the bottom, the picture up top and the wrapping text in the top corners balance the entire thing. It just makes one cohesive feel to the book, and the typeface is, once again, cool.

"The Great Gatsby" - I just had to put this in here. Besides being one of my favorite books, "The Great Gatsby"'s original cover design is one of the most iconic designs ever. There are just so many things to like about it, symbolism being the main thing, just like the story itself. The brilliant crash of lights is like the parties Gatsby threw and just sort of capture the attitude and frivolity of the "flappers" of the times and the characters in the story, yet the lights are blurred, showing Gatsby's, among other's, confusion and struggle. A woman's face stares out over the scene, with iris of a reclining female form, whisping hair and brilliantly red lips. The lights can almost be her jewelry. There's more to say about this one than I can here, so I'll just stop and let you look at it.

I hope this has, if nothing else, made you think about the outsides of the books you read as well as the insides. Like I said earlier, I'm not artist, designer or critic, and these are just my opinions. Does anyone have any cover design they've noticed and liked for some reason or another, or no reason at all? Let me know in the comments section; I'm interested in hearing what other people thing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Waking Ned Divine

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would write something that is mildly Irish in flavor:

I am not a movie connoisseur, at least not to the level of most of my peers. Generally, I watch a handful of bigger titles, along with most sci-fi and action movies. As for horror, chick flicks, indie … I am a cinematically clueless. I rarely darken the cinema’s door. However, I have recently discovered that holiday breaks from school are prime time for me to make up for all the years I didn’t watch what everyone else was talking about.

Over Christmas Break, I had the pleasure of watching Waking Ned Divine, an Irish comedy. Though I am not extremely educated in film, I can safely say that Waking Ned Divine is strange. The plot is straightforward, but the humor is different. Not British humor, exactly—more like Irish humor, I suppose.

A quick synopsis: in a small Irish fishing village, Ned Divine wins the seven million pound lottery and dies from shock. Finding the winning ticket in his rigor mortis hand, the village conspires to fool the agency into thinking that Ned is alive in order to collect the money.

I would rate or critique the movie, but 1) I have already stated that I am not qualified in moviedom and 2) I watched the flick at around 2:00 in the morning, so I was not lucid enough to fully synthesize what I was watching. I would say that if you are in the mood for something a little different, you might look into renting Waking Ned Divine. Not a fantastic comedy, but everyone needs a little more Ireland in their life.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi-day's Food For Thought - 3/14/08

A very festive π Day to all! [Or Albert Einstein’s birthday, if you prefer.]

Today ranks among the most intellectual of all holidays: a celebration of the arcane, irrational value for the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. In order to fully appreciate the mathematical mastery of Pi, this Friday’s Food For Thought is dedicated to 3.141 and the rest ad infinitum.

As there is very little new news relating to π, our story for this week will be substituted with a crash course in Piphilology, the study of obsession over Pi. The goal of this field is to memorize as many of the infinite digits as possible, often by use of mnemonic devices. Example:

The point I said a blind Bulgarian in France would know.

Or, if you prefer, in iambic pentameter:

Now I defy a tenet gallantly
Of circle canon law: these integers
Importing circles' quotients are, we see,
Unwieldy long series of cockle burs
Put all together, get no clarity;
Mnemonics shan't describeth so reformed
Creating, with a grammercy plainly,
A sonnet liberated yet conformed.
Strangely, the queer'st rules I manipulate
Being followéd, do facilitate
Whimsical musings from geometric bard.
This poesy, unabashed as it's distressed,
Evolvéd coherent - a simple test,
Discov'ring poetry no numerals jarred.

All this being said, I will probably be satisfied for the rest of my days to approximate π to 3.141, though I have a healthy yet weirded-out respect for all of you piphilologists out there. To conclude, a pi-related video:

[And don’t forget—Beware the Ides of March tomorrow!]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Board Game Review - Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is another one of those foreign games that are tons of fun. In Puerto Rico, an economic and city-building game, you are acting as a plantation owner in the city of San Juan on Puerto Rico during the colonial period, and you control virtually all aspects of life: what buildings will be built, what crops will be produced and which of your colonists will work where, among other things. Your job is to manage the economy so as to make more money, build more buildings and ship more goods than any other player.

Each player plays on their own game board, which is divided into two main areas. There is an island area, where you build plantations to produce one of the game's 5 resources: corn, indigo, sugar, tobacco and coffee; and there is a city area, which is where you build normal buildings that have some special effect, like allowing you to utilize your plantations or get extra money for selling your goods in the trading house instead of shipping them. Each building also gives you a certain amount of victory points, depending on how expensive it is: the bigger, the better. Victory points, as the name suggests, are how you win the game, and they are also gained by shipping out your goods on cargo ships. Whoever has the most at the end of the game, wins.

The game is played in rounds, and during each round each player takes a turn. Now what is unique about Puerto Rico is that during each players' turn, they chose to do a single action; however, after they have completed that action, everyone else is given the opportunity to do the same thing, only the original player gets an advantage for picking that action. Each player selects one of the several jobs during their turn, which tells them what action everyone will be taking and what the bonus will be for the player.

There are jobs like the mayor, in which each person gets to place one of their colonists in a job of their choosing, but the mayor gets to place 2; the settler, who gets to pick either a new plantation to place or a quarry to help with building costs, while the other players only get to chose from the plantations left over; the captain, who gets bonus victory points when everyone ships their goods; or the craftsman, who allows everyone to produce but gets extra goods themselves. There are also the Trader and Builder jobs, which are fairly self-explanatory, and depending on how many people there are, one or two prospector jobs, which only give the choosing player extra money.

There is very little direct player interaction in Puerto Rico; it is a game of management, but how you decide to manage your assets affects the others in a large way. The cargo ships can only hold one type of good and in limited quantities; if there is no room for someone's goods during a shipping phase, they have to get rid of them. Only so many goods can be sold to the trading house, so one player can be blocked from selling their highly profitable coffee by another player beating them to the punch. And then, of course, you have to decide every time you pick a job what the effects of the actions taken will be on everyone else. If someone has just built a new building that will give them an advantage, you probably wouldn't pick the mayor job and let them place a colonist in it to operate it. Virtually everything done in the game affects the other players in some way, because you are all on the same small island, working to be the biggest and best.

Puerto Rico is another wonderful medium-sized group game, for 3 to 5 players. At an hour and a half to two hours, it's a game you have to plan to play, but it is perfect for a weekend gaming night or the like. Puerto Rico has won several international board game awards, and is currently ranked the number one game at, with an overall rating of 8.31 out of 10. With a price tag of $25-30, depending on where you look online, it is most definitely worth looking at and picking up.

There is also a website set up to let you run the game online, against other humans or computer opponents. It is helpful to see how the game works, but be forewarned: if you play against computers, the game moves rather fast and it is sometimes hard to see what their moves were when you are just learning the rules. Also, nothing can recreate the experience of sitting around a table with some friends actually playing a physical game, so if you think you might enjoy Puerto Rico after looking at this online game, I would highly recommend buying it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fun With Categories

Here at Hobson's Buffet, we take pride in offering you a variety of eats, if you will. However, I must admit that during our initial meetings, I disagreed with my cobloggists on a very essential part of the blogging process: categories.

The day I discovered the function of categories was a day filled with cyber-jubilation that I cannot describe to you. For the mildly obsessive bloggist like myself, it was simply glorious--finally, an efficient and overly-organized system of classification. I often imagined myself years from now clicking on various categories with delight, knowing that my scattered entries were brought happily together under one categorical roof. How sublime. And unlikely. Honestly, I rarely utilize the categories function of blogs.

But I love it. Deeply.

I say all of this to respectfully disagree with my fellow authors concerning categories. In order to acquire more traffic, it was decided that our categories would be multiple and very specific as opposed to general categories, which was my preference. Therefore, in order to poke good-natured fun at my fellow chefs here at the Buffet, I will categorize this entry in as many wasy possible based upon the following two sentences:

"One man's trash is another man's treasure. However, metal detectors have not yet been built to detect trash."

Obviously, the first sentence is a well-known axiom, so let's begin by posting under "proverbs", as well as "wisdom" and "adages." Seeing as "adages" and "proverbs" are essentially the same, this could easily be posted under "synonyms" and "redundancy." While we're at it, let's post this under "redundancy."

The conversion of trash into treasure reflects "ideology," "economics," and "treasure," which inevitably leads to "pirates." Let's be honest--you were thinkin' it.

I shouldn't be so hasty, though. Let us not forget that there are two sentences, so we should probably post under "sentences" and "two". [You never know when one of us authors will write a long blog entry on the number two.]

Did I mention that those two sentences are in "English"? Can't be forgetting about our good ol' language, now can we? Ooo! Those were both "questions"--better throw that category in the mix.

The trash and treasure both belong(ed) to "men," so let's also post this under "chauvinism." Interestingly enough, trash and treasure both begin with similar sounds, so I think it's only fitting to post under "alliteration," which is a "literary device."

Speaking of devices, we haven't even touched the metal detector, metaphorically speaking. [Guess we should post under "metaphors," just to be safe.] Metal detectors are a glorious piece of "technology," though if they can't detect trash they are quite prone to "criticism," I should say.

Can't use a metal detector without a beach, right? Can't get to the beach without traveling: "travel." That's the third time I've used a colon in this entry, so I suppose it's only fair to post under "punctuation" and "colons." Now that I think of it, colons are also a part of a vital organ, so let's also go with "anatomy." As a side note I hated A&P in "high school," mainly because I was never good at "science." I did, however, enjoy dissecting "fetal pigs."

Meanwhile, back on the beach, we haven't found any treasure yet! There are many reasons why, such as a malfunctioning metal detector, but I think we all know the true reason. That's right, you guessed it: "Nazis." Those quintessential "enemies" of "Indiana Jones" have undoubtedly impeded with our treasure hunting operation. However, more importantly, we have just violated "Godwin's Law," which arose from the "Internet" subculture in the "1990s."

I think that's as good a place to sop as any. [Honestly, we probably should've stopped with "fetal pigs."] No offense was intended, Jeremy/Drew/Michael. I will concede and use your multifarious categories system, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to make "ridiculous statements" first.

[I attempted to post this entry under all of the aforementioned labels, but I exceeded the allowed number of characters.]

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Retro Sabotage

An introductory note: I know that this is my second post in a row concerning video games, but you'll have to excuse me because they are a fascination of mine, and the content of this post will be very different from the content of the previous one. Now, on with the show!

Most everyone has played some of the more classic video games: Pong, Breakout, Adventure, Pac Man, Space Invaders, Defender, Asteroids, Tetris, etc. These things have been around since the '70s and '80s and their gameplay is a very pure experience, usually undiluted by things like narrative and control scheme and other such trappings which usually turn people off to the modern samplings of the medium.

In a way they've become archetypal of the conventions we see in modern games. Pong was not only the first video game for a home console, it was also the first game of the sports genre, being a crude approximation of Tennis. Text adventure games such as Zork had been around a while, but Adventure was among the first graphical representations of the genre with which it shares its name.

Tetris was one of the first games of the puzzle genre which has lately spawned sensations in the casual market like Snood and Bejeweled. Space Invaders (along with its relatives Asteroids and Defender) was one of the first of a genre known as shooters which eventually split into several other genres including: top-down (Space Invaders, Asteroids, Galaga), side-scrolling (Defender, Gradius), first-person (Doom, Halo), third-person (Grand Theft Auto) and some other minor genres. Each was based on both the player's perspective of the one doing the shooting, and the freedom of the shooting individual.

Whew, after a little history lesson there, we get to the meat: Retro Sabotage. This site does riffs on classic arcade games and explores some of the symbolism employed in each by presenting the classic games with a twist. For example, a version of Space Invaders, named simply Invasion, questions the futility of the mission of the last defender of Earth. A version of Pac Man, which they cleverly title The Morning After, explores the various psychedelic effects of the Power Pills which Pac Man eats that allow him to go after the ghosts that normally chase him. The version of Tetris they have up, called Compromise, allows the player to experience playing two games of Tetris simultaneously using only one controller. Each screen is given different pieces, and the player has to decide where and how to place them on both screens.

They have several others uploaded right now, and the site promises weekly updates on every Thursday. I am adding them to my bookmarks in the hope that I will soon see a version of the Super Mario Brothers in which each of the mushrooms Mario eats makes him hallucinate and think that he is seeing oversized pipes everywhere and that small brown mushrooms are skulking about, trying to kill him.

- Via Neatorama.