Tag Archives: mario kart


I keep trying to get the perfect photograph, a picture of a bolt of lightning as it’s happening in real time. I know it’s possible, because you can just go onto Google and type in “lighting” and you’ll get tons of pictures of actual bolts. But I don’t want any of those pictures. I want my own lightning bolt. Besides, if you type in “lightning” on Google, you don’t just get photos of lightning bolts. Sometimes you get lightning graphics. Or sometimes you’ll get pictures of hockey players for the Tampa Bay Lighting franchise.

Sometimes you’ll get a screenshot of somebody playing Mario Kart, in last place, but holding a lightning bolt in reserve, just waiting to unleash its lightning shrink powers on everybody else, maybe on the final lap, with just enough time to race into first place and steal the lead. The only problem with that strategy is, chances are, the longer you hold onto your lightning bolt, the sooner one or more of the other racers is going to be given a ghost, and obviously they’ll steal your lightning. Nobody ever says steal your lightning. It’s always steal your thunder. But not in Mario Kart. There’s no thunder at all in Mario Kart. It’s one of the only representations of lightning that I can think of on the spot where there is no accompanying thunder, no mention whatsoever. Also, if somebody has a star, well, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that if they use that star while you use your lightning, it won’t have any effect at all, not on them. And while that’s a really tough trick to pull off in a head to head match, when you’re playing Grand Prix? Versus six or seven computer players? Everybody knows what I’m talking about. It’s almost guaranteed that it’s going to happen.

What I’m getting at here is, lighting comes in a lot of forms, and I just want one of them, one picture of one bolt of lighting. It would be my lightning, my bolt. That would be the closest I’d come to owning that particular shock of static electricity, or, at least, nobody else could claim any more ownership of that specific lightning than I could. One time I was at home during a thunderstorm. After way too much deliberation, I found my camera and put it on video recording mode and just took a video of the sky for a couple of minutes. I got a few lighting bolts in there. My plan was I’d then upload that video onto my computer, fast forward to where the lightning bolts appeared, and then I’d just make a little freeze frame, have my own lighting bolt picture, finally. But for a number of reasons, which I’ll get into, in detail, I never followed through.

First of all, what inspired me to think of this plan, this video recording plan, was that I was looking out the window and seeing all of these amazing bolts of lighting, in real time. And after two or three of them I thought, man I should have gotten my camera, this is about as good a time as any to try to get that lightning photo. But I thought, nah, I’ve already seen two or three great bolts of lighting. What are my chances of seeing any more? So I didn’t get my camera just yet, even though it was waiting, right there in the next room in one of my desk drawers. So I was still sitting there looking outside the window and the lighting just kept getting bigger and better. Five, six, ten, twelve bolts of lighting.

And that’s when I was like, all right, I should really get the camera. So I went for it, and then I went upstairs, to the upstairs bathroom, because it has a higher vantage point, and I turned on the camera and clicked it to video mode. And a minute passed by, and then two and then three and no lighting. I really should have tried it, like I already said, after bolts number two or three. But then finally, some lightning. Crack. But it was like, looking at it through this tiny screen wasn’t even close to just looking at it through my window with my eyes.

First of all, and I keep saying first of all without getting to a second of all, but think of this as a separate first of all, or a continuation, but when I look out the window I see everything. When I look at my camera looking out the window, the majority of the screen is taken up by sky. Everything else looks so much disproportionately smaller. Is it the lens? I have no idea, this camera only cost like two hundred bucks. I think my iPhone takes better pictures to be perfectly honest. And whereas when you look at lighting out the window, you can see the bolts like actually travelling through the sky, cutting these paths that almost appear preordained, but when you look at the video, it’s kind of just like, flash, lighting bolt, flash, no big deal, flash, how long am I really going to stand here in my bathtub (the window is on the side of the tub, that’s why I was standing in it) pointing a camera at the sky taking a video of mostly nothing, intermittent lightning, totally lackluster when compared to the real thing.

That’s the first of all of why I didn’t get around to then doing the freeze frame stuff I was talking about. The second of all isn’t as introspective, isn’t anything cool about looking at life through a screen versus through your own eyes. It’s all about me saying I’ll do something, planning to do something, but then never following through. What am I going to have to find the USB cord for my camera? Hook it up to the computer? Try to ignore all of that lousy built-in photo and video editing software that always comes with cheap cameras? Figure out how to get my photo into some editor that I’m, well, slightly more comfortable with than the built-in stuff, still not really knowing how to use? And then searching through minutes of sky, just to find the lightning? In theory, I could do this. I could zoom, enhance, zoom, enhance. I guess a real photographer could do something with it.

But then again, I was looking through a window, and on the other side of the window was the screen, so there’s that to deal with, the reflection on the glass and then the little wire shapes from the screen. So even if I were to do something cool with it, it would be “artsy” at best, nothing like what I’m really going for, a fucking huge fucking monster shot of some lighting, like totally bad ass lighting, something you’d see on the cover of National Geographic magazine, just that shot, and then the caption: “Lightning.” Because you wouldn’t need much more of a title. The shot would say it all. And inside there would be even cooler shots, and then really cool articles about how lighting strikes and why and all about science, and little side articles about getting struck by lightning and surviving. I’d buy that issue. I wouldn’t subscribe to the monthly because, let’s be honest, who has time to commit to National Geographic every month? But I would read the shit out of that lightning issue.

Mario Kart: Q & A

I found this link online of a little animation. It’s from Mario Kart. Specifically, it’s of a Koopa Trooper about to get hit by a blue shell, but right at the last second he uses a mushroom and barely escapes the detonation. I kept watching it over and over again. Which was actually easy, because it’s a gif, and it was only like five seconds long, so it just plays over and over and over again.

Q: What’s a blue shell?

A: Blue shells are really rare weapons in Mario Kart. They look like a blue turtle shell with spikes and wings coming out of it.

Q: What’s Mario Kart?

A: Mario Kart is a series of Nintendo games. All of the Nintendo characters drive around in cars and you … you know, you race and stuff. But it’s not just a racing game. I mean, it is, because the whole goal is to cross the finish line first. But there are little floating question mark boxes all around the courses that, when you crash into them, you get items, like shells or …

Q: You crash into the floating question marks? Isn’t crashing bad in racing games?

A: Yeah, but the boxes are translucent. And floating. So maybe crash wasn’t the best word. Or maybe it was. When you drive through one, the box crashes open. Well, it dissolves really, and then …

Q: So you can get these blue shells just by crashing into them? I thought you said they were really rare.

A: Well, you can get any shell really, blue, red, green. When you drive through a question mark box, a little box pops up on the screen and all of the items start blinking. After a second or two you are given an item somewhat randomly.

Q: I’m confused. Is this new box the same box as the question mark box that, how did you describe it, dissolved?

A: No, that was an actual box, like part of the course. These boxes that pop up aren’t part of anything, they’re just for the viewer to see, like to see what item you get. There are a lot of things on the screen that aren’t part of the course. There’s a speedometer. There’s a map, like a little map with little characters that show where you are on the …

Q: What’s the difference between a green shell and a blue shell?

A: The question should really be, “What’s the difference between a green shell and a red shell,” because, like I was trying to say, the blue shells are super rare. Well, they used to be even rarer when Mario Kart 64 came out sixteen years ago. Some of the newer games just give out blue shells to whoever happens to be in last place. Basically, a green shell fires in a linear direction, either straight ahead or behind. A red shell is more like a homing missile, knocking out whoever happens to be closest.

Q: Maybe I should play the game. You’re not doing a great job of describing it.

A: First of all, who hasn’t played Mario Kart? What are you Amish? Secondly, that was a perfectly descriptive description. Green shells, straight. Red shells, homing missiles.

Q: Yeah but you started off talking about blue shells, you still haven’t told me what they do, and I’m watching that little graphic and I don’t get why you think you’d write a whole blog post based off of a weird little video game joke.

A: All right, listen, when I allowed some Q & A, I expected maybe some actual questions. That wasn’t a question, it was just you stating that you don’t get it, and then making a very thinly veiled criticism about my whole writing process.

Q: Thinly veiled? What was thin about it? I think it was a bad decision for you to base a whole essay based on a blue shell.

A: It’s not just about the blue shell, I was trying to explain …

Q: How about a question? Why are you spending so much time on the Internet looking at stupid little video game cartoons? Shouldn’t you be writing more?

A: Yeah, well, I am writing, I was just blowing off some steam and I …

Q: And what are all of these open tabs on your browser? What’s a Super Mario wiki?

A: Listen, you know how the Internet is. One click leads to another. The Super Mario wiki is like Wikipedia but only dedicated to Mario. It’s like …

Q: You see what I mean? What’s this tab here? Who’s Tatanga?

A: Tatanga. He’s the bad guy from the Super Mario Land, you remember, that original Game Boy game?

Q: You know what? You lost me. I’m done.

A: Come on, you never played Game Boy? You don’t know what Mario Kart is? How did you get to this blog in the first place? Hello? Hello?

I’m the best at video games

I get on these kicks every once in a while where I get totally and completely addicted to a video game. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it always eventually passes, but when I’m in the grip of a game, it’s just takes me over so completely that I can’t think of or do anything else.

I remember being maybe two or three years old – I know this sounds like a bullshit story, but it’s true – and being over my grandparents’ house. My dad’s the second oldest of eleven kids, so when I was two or three, all of my uncles were in their teens and early twenties. And I remember one time being over there and everyone was huddled around a brand new Nintendo, the first console. They were taking turns playing Super Mario and Duck Hunt. I wanted to play so badly, but nothing sucks the fun out of something more than letting a little kid without any developed motor functions taking a turn and getting his snot-covered fingers all over the controller.

So I didn’t get to play, but I’d still pinpoint that memory as my first moment of video game addiction. Because I can remember it so clearly. And I was only two or three. I don’t have any other memories from that early in life, except for watching them play Mario I. A couple of years later, my dad came home from a business trip really late at night. At least, I thought it was pretty late at night. It could have been ten. I don’t know, I was a little kid and I was asleep and my dad came home with a Super Nintendo, set it up, woke us up out of bed, and sat us in front of the TV to play.

Little kids go to bed early and they stay asleep for like twelve hours. That’s how it must have been, because my exact memory of what went down had me waking up, regaining consciousness right in front of the television, holding the controller and playing Super Mario. I’ve never had a better waking up experience to this day. I beat that game so fast, I remember sending a photo of the end credits to Nintendo Power magazine, who asked readers to send in their photos, to determine who was the first person in the world to beat it. And it was me. I was the first person in the world to beat Super Mario World.

Then I remember reading Nintendo Power later on and seeing a whole article about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It showed all of the enemies you’d get to face, all of the items you’d get to collect and use along the way. Reading that article and looking at those pictures, I remember that I wanted that game more than I wanted anything else in the entire world. But I had to play it exactly right. I couldn’t just beg for it, because then I’d never get it. I had to casually mention that I wanted it, all while presenting little opportunities for my parents to buy it for me as a reward for something. So I’d pretend that an upcoming math test was really hard and that I’d be studying for it even more than I normally would. And I wouldn’t really be studying, I’d just be looking at that copy of Nintendo Power underneath the math textbook.

There were so many cool video games that came out when I was a kid that I didn’t really get a lot of time in between games to let the individual addictions die down. There was Zombies Ate my Neighbors. There was Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart. After Super Nintendo got old, the Nintendo 64 debuted, with Mario 64 eating up whole chunks of my seventh and eighth grade life. Then there were two great Zelda games for that console. There was Mario Kart 64. There was Super Smash Brothers.

Somehow this blog post has just turned into me listing titles of video games which, if you’re not too familiar with video games, you must find this incredibly boring. I was going to say so much more than just the titles, but all I’d be doing is describing the games. This is the problem with video games, for me, they absorb me so completely, so fully, that I don’t have any other room in my mind for anything else. I didn’t write as a little kid. I liked to draw, but I never really gave it the attention it deserved because I was too busy playing Goldeneye.

So that was the majority of my childhood, Nintendo. Now it’s gotten to the point where most of the time I never play video games, except for like one or two months every two years or so, when the video game bug bites hard and I can’t resist. It happened when Halo 2 came out for Xbox. I would play it for entire days while I should have been going to class and writing papers. It happened right after the Wii came out while I spent entire days trying to get a 300 in Wii Bowling while I should have been going to work. It happened when Doodle Jump came out for the iPhone. That was especially infuriating, because after just one day I really didn’t even like the game anymore. Playing it was more than just this compulsion, it was like I hated myself for wasting my time holding my phone in front of my face, moving it side to side, feeling it grow hotter and hotter in my hands. Most recently, it happened last year with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, where I spent a solid hundred hours playing Team Deathmatch on Xbox Live.

I’ve been good for a while. It comes and goes. It probably has to. If I didn’t let it happen, whatever it is that’s inside of me that compels me to play video games would bubble up inside of me and warp and grow twisted and, well, I don’t know what exactly. Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe I would spend more time doing other stuff. But at this point I can’t fight it. I can’t predict it either. I don’t know which game is going to lay claim to my soul next.

Whatever, they’re just video games. I guess if you have to be addicted to something, video games aren’t that bad. It’s much better than gambling. Or crystal meth. Right? You ever see pictures of long-term meth users? Gross.