How to Create an Effective ARG


As you may have noticed, I was recently involved in an ARG, or “Alternate Reality Game”, that I shall not name within this blog again.  And that brings me to the point that with ARGs, like mother in laws, some are good, some are terrible and some are just trolls.  If you’ve ever “played” an ARG you know how exciting it can be to work with people you’ve (probably) never met to discover new information, to receive random and mysterious emails from the people behind the game, sometimes even getting phone calls, and on occasion running around chasing actual physical clues in your city or town.  Using the real world to interact with a made up world is exciting and it puts you in the game like video games can’t.  YOU are a character in the game.

Now, some of you may even be wondering how you go about creating an ARG. First, lets give you a run down of some ARG terminology, a “glossary”, if you will:

  • Curtain: the magic curtain that Puppet Masters live behind.  Think The Wizard of Oz.
  • Guide: A run down of the game’s history for people who may be behind for some reason or another.
  • In-Game: Anything having to do with the game specifically
  • Meta: Specific things about the genre or a specific game itself that are not in-game.
  • Out of Game: Something presented that has noting to do with the game itself.
  • Puppet Master: A game designer. May have 1 or more of a few roles required to create the game.
  • Puzzle Trail: A series of puzzles where one puzzle leads to another puzzle that leads to another puzzle.  For instance, a website that has a puzzle that leads to a blog with a puzzle that leads to another website with a puzzle that leads to a video with a puzzle, etc.
  • Rabbit Hole: Events that lead into the game world such as a website, a blog, an email or media.  Also called the “Trail Head”.
  • Red Herring: A fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue.  Basically used to throw players off.
  • Trail: Sites, puzzles and characters used in a game.
  • Trout: A term used when information presented is irrelevant, usually because it has already been discussed at some point.

Now that you are up to speed on terminology, I’ll outline some tips here on how to create a truly effective ARG.  Read on.

  1. Get a group of people together and figure out mysterious and clever names for yourselves. They can’t be just any names either, because how seriously would you take a “Puppet Mater” name Jim, Chad, or Todd?  No, you have to choose shit like The Veil, or The Fear, or Mr. Steel Sack.  Something that really gets the mind going. You are now officially “Puppet Masters”.  Assign each member a role in the game i.e. someone to respond to questions, someone to research subject matter, a person to create the media such as videos and pictures, another to write all materials for the game, and someone to create those ridiculous puzzles that make it feel like potato bug crawled into your head through your ear and shit all over your brain.

    I'm in ur headz! Poopin' on ur brainz!!

  2. Now you have to come up with a name for your game. No more than 2 or 3 words. Or maybe name it using numbers. The number-as-a-name thing is pretty effective because the first thing people do when they see numbers is go bat shit crazy trying to figure it out.  You really want to fuck with people right off the bat because that is what draws them into your Rabbit Hole.  They’ll try to see if those numbers maybe add up to something that corresponds with some other shit like Ronald McDonald’s birthday or some random date in history when something happened like Julius Ceasar sharted in his toga or something.  OR, it could be a code that has to be cracked like a cipher. People will put numbers together in ways you wouldn’t fucking believe.  They become number magicians, creating equations it would take a theoretical physicist 2 years to solve.  But somehow they pull it off, and they won’t sleep for a week to do it.  People will waste an inordinate amount of time with numbers.  Oh, and if you do decide to use words in the name, make sure it’s 2 or 3 words and groupthemtogether like that.  Better yet, use words and letters and put them all together like CeasarShart19.

    "Et tu Brute" really translates to "How DARE thee shit thyself in the SENATE!!!"

  3. Come up with a plot for your game.  Something really mysterious and interesting like an alien invasion, a giant sea creature, a cult of some sort, or someone being kidnapped.  Basically, it should involve both danger and the unknown.  ARG’s usually almost ALWAYS have someone being kidnapped.  At some point they are found, but they are… different… some… how.  They do strange things they never did before like painting their face with lipstick and randomly going into trances and speaking in another language while abusing animals.
  4. Make a timeline to establish what media and puzzles will be released and when and approximately how long the game will last, as well as how it will end.  Don’t, and I repeat DON’T just wing it.  ARG players are really, REALLY good at what they do.  If you are making shit up as it goes they will know and your game will be shut the hell down.  On that note, if and when you register a website for your game, do so anonymously.  You don’t want someone doing a whois on your website address, getting your address and phone number and then calling you or showing up at your house.

    Stalking Kitteh gets ur address!!

  5. Utilize videos, photos and/or picture montages and it’s SUPER effective if you do it in the style of “The Ring”. Because those videos are fucking SCARY.  For example, your media could contain random shit that moves from one image to the next rapidly but also pertains to your “game” and provides clues.  Clues need to be vague so that your audience is forced to look at EVERY LITTLE THING and analyze it (even the source code for your home page).  Also, black and white, or sepia pics are usually all fucking spooky as hell. And pictures of children.  Couple that with crazy noises and sound effects to further mind fuck your audience.  A lot of ARG’s seem to be using “Number Stations” as their soundtracks because, well… Just listen to that shit.  It’s creepy sounding.  It’s effective at making you not want to listen to it late at night, so it will probably be just as effective at creeping out players late at night when they are up staring at the internet on their computer trying to make sense of  everything.  And in the spirit of puzzle trails, the clues you provide in your media should lead to more clues, which lead to more clues, which lead to EVEN MORE CLUES…

    Something just wasn't quite right about Alex after we found him.

  6. Social media is almost a MUST.  Use Facebook. Use Twitter.  Use Formspring. Use Myspace even.
  7. Be as mysterious as fuck. When answering questions from players, answer with non nonsensical shit that is ALSO A VAGUE CLUE.  And refer to “yourselves” as “we”, not “I”, when answering questions from players, and generally at all other times.  Puppet Masters are a “hive mind”.  Like the Borg from Star Trek.
  8. Keep feeding your audience things, but don’t do it at any sort of regular or noticeable interval.  You don’t want these people to a) expect anything, b) sleep whatsoever or, c) have anything that resembles sanity when the game is over.

    Oh, Insanity Wolf! You're so insane!!!

    Good, now you have successfully created your first ARG and you have your game rolling.  Congratulations.  Now sit back, revel in the fact that you are currently mind fucking (hopefully) a ton of people, and watch the madness!


6 Cartoons of Today That Suck HORRIBLY!!!


Cyborg Pirate Ninja Jesus crept up into this post to let you know that these cartoons suck. 

Here we go again.  More cartoon discussion.   However, this time it’s going to be a list of a few different cartoons that represent the extreme lack of awesome that cartoons today suffer from.  I’ve done a review of the cartoon Max and Ruby already so if you want to see what that was about click the handy URL disguised as regular words earlier in this sentence.  It sucked when I wrote that review and it still sucks today.  Feel free to imagine it somewhere in this list.  You can put it anywhere you want EXCEPT for the top spot because that is reserved for the WORST cartoon on TV today, and you will see which one that is by continuing to read.

6.  Team Umizoomi

“Yeah, we just made the suck list!”

Team Umizoomi is a cartoon series airing on Nick Jr., usually around 10 a.m. in my city, which is about the time I’m just waking up with my children.  And it absolutely SUCKS waking up to this.  Team Umizoomi live in a city conveniently called, what else, Umi City and is made up of three characters: Geo, Bot and Milli.

Milli – A 6 year old little girl, I… guess?  Her special abilities are related to math, more specifically patterns and measuring.  She can change her dress to match any pattern and then project that pattern by singing “Pattern Power”.  Her ponytails can also be used to measure things by singing “Milli-Measure”.  I don’t know of any 6 year old girls who are 6 inches tall and can do any of the things she does.

Geo – Milli’s 5 year old brother.  His abilities are also related to math, specifically shapes.  Geo wears a special belt that can create pretty much any-damn-thing he wants by pulling the necessary shapes off of his belt, assembling those shapes accordingly, and then singing “Super Shapes”.  He usually uses these shapes to make vehicles to assist the team in their quest i.e. submarines, airplanes, cars, etc. Probably the only thing remotely awesome about this show.  However, the fact he wears skates on his feet at all times kind of nulls the cool factor of the vehicle building ability.

Bot – Milli and Geo’s robot friend (whose voice you may recognize as Donovan Patton, the guy who played “Joe” on Blues Clues).  Being a robot, he has the ability to extend his arms and legs by saying “Arms Extendo” or “Legs Extendo”.  Kind of like Inspector Gadget but more lame.  He has a small satellite called the “Umi Alarm” on his head that kind of looks like a robot side pony tail and allows him to receive calls.  Calls are projected onto a screen on the front of his body called a “Belly Belly Belly Screen” that allows the team to view videos and pictures as well as have a video conference with someone who needs their help.   I’m assuming everyone in Umi City has some sort of video conferencing center that allows them to get in touch with Team Umi Zoomi because how the hell else would they do it?  They seem to be speaking into air when they are talking to the team.  He also has a storage compartment on the back of his body, called a “Bot-O-Mat”, which conveniently has whatever the team happens to need to complete their mission.

Now, I’m going to go ahead and post some of lyrics to the theme song where the characters introduce themselves:

Milli

“I’m Milli!
I can make any pattern with my dress!
Pattern of  – BUTTERFLIES!
PATTERN POWER!”

Geo

“Im Geo!
I can build anything with my shapes!
Triangle. Oval.
SUPER SHAPES!

(Note: Geo built a sail board with the triangle and the oval. Random.)

Bot

“I’m Bot!
I can show you anything on my belly belly belly screen.
Skyscraper.  Taxi.  TRAAAFFIC LIIIGHT!!” 

(Note: Of all the things he could have shown on his “belly belly belly screen”, he shows a skyscraper, a taxi… and a traffic light.  Why the hell?)

So, yeah.  It STARTS OFF BAD WITH THE THEME SONG.   And let’s get back to Bot for a minute.  What gave the writers the idea that any of the three things he shows on his “belly belly belly screen” interests children in the LEAST?   Was one of the writers thinking about wanting to go the hell home because he was over working on this stupid cartoon?  I can see maybe the skyscraper interesting a kid because it’s tall, but a taxi and a freakin’ traffic light?  And he gets this whole serious raspy thing going when he’s saying traffic light.  Traffic lights aren’t anywhere near interesting enough to warrant any level of seriousness when introducing it on your “belly belly belly screen”.  Also, he looks a lot like the Android logo.

To give the show a level of interactivity with it’s preschool audience, the viewer is included in the show as “Umifriend” to help solve problems presented in the episodes.  They introduce the viewer as “Umifriend” in every episode, instead of saying something like, you know, “Welcome back Umifriend!”.  If kids new any better they would be offended by this because the characters in the show don’t remember them even though they watch the show every damn day.  “But it’s just a show!” you say?  Well, so was “Friends” and half of the female population of Earth went out and got their hair did like Jennifer Aniston.  Kids take this show just as seriously.

5.  Johnny Test

Johnny, his dog Dukey, and his Ginger twin sisters. Further proof that Gingers don’t have souls.

First, let me say the the show’s name references another cartoon, namely Johnny QUEST, that is way to damn good to even be associated with this wad of shit.  This cartoon seriously annoys me.  Basically, the show is about  an 11 year old boy named Johnny Test, who lives up to his name by usually being the lab rat for his 13-year old genius/scientist/demented twin sisters, Susan and Mary, and their experiments.  He also has a talking dog named Dukey, who received his human like intellect and the ability to speak courtesy of an experiment conducted by the nazi scientist sisters.  And, yes, his dog is named after shit because what else do dogs do but eat, shit and sleep?  They couldn’t name him eat or sleep because that just doesn’t make sense.  Oh, and they live in a town called Porkbelly.  Given that the show is American/Canadian, it goes to show that North America fucking loves bacon.

Courage wolf knows about that BACON!

The series has two main antagonists for Johnny.  His original nemesis is a kid named Bling-Bling Boy.  He was born Eugene Hamilton, but he decided at some point “fuck, that name really sucks” so he changed it, which was a good call.   Bling-Bling Boy was a schoolmate of Johnny’s; However, he was expelled after an incident in which one of his teachers ended up with a metal claw for a hand. Keep an eye out because Cash Money Records will probably be giving Bling-Bling Boy a record deal at some point in the future.  In later seasons, a new villan by the name of Dark Vegan, lord of planet Vegandon, was introduced.  Vegandon sounds like the name of a lame herbivore dinosaur with no friends and being that he’s a Vegan, all you’d have to do to beat this guy is throw a fur coat over his head, beat him with a steak, and then kick him with your leather shoes when he’s down.  Problem solved.

This show does not present a good example for children either.  Johnny is disrespectful towards his parents.  He apparently has ADHD.  He openly hates school and does not work hard at all or apply himself in any manner.  As a matter of fact, he does everything he can to AVOID doing work.  He likes to dick around and mess with his sisters’ inventions, causing all sorts of shit and mayhem.  He also has a knack for getting what he wants through deceit, blackmail and manipulation, qualities every child needs to learn from a very young age.

Thankfully, my kids don’t watch this show all that often because they know about my serious dislike for it.  THEY are the real geniuses.

4. Oobi

So, Oobi is a hand puppet with eyes. Yes, a hand puppet with eyes.  And, the first time I saw this show, I was literally like “The.. fuck?!?”  I said that.  For the first 5 minutes straight.  This show was probably created by some guys who got together, got really high one night, started making hand puppets at each other and decided it was so funny.   Sooooo, logically, let’s made a show out of it!  It had to be for kids though because no adult in their right mind could take a show about hand puppets seriously.  It’s not NEARLY as funny as it would be if you were high off your ass.  Look at that thing. It’s actually pretty fucking creepy.  ANYONE could have created this show and it actually frustrates me that this shit is on TV.  In what UNIVERSE would this show be entertaining? Are they really hurting for children’s shows that badly that they said “fuck it, we’ll air a show about hand puppets”?

The way this whole hand puppets thing works is thumbs are used to represent the character’s mouth movements, as well as doubling as hands.  I’m assuming the from the wrist down is 1 big fucking leg because it just bounces along.  The fingers clench, twitch and make other movements to indicate emotion and the hands are pretty much used like regular hands.  They do things such as holding objects, grabbing things, and turning doorknobs.  I wonder if they would get drunk off of hand sanitizer…

Anyway, the characters in the show are Oobi, Uma,who is Oobi’s sister, Kako, Oobi’s best friend, and Grampu, who is quite obviously Oobie’s grandfather and also whose name sounds like it would be the Japanese word for Grandpa.  There’s like a million and a half sub characters that I won’t even begin to list here, and EVERY character speaks like they have severe head injury.  Even the adults in the show.  For example, if Oobi was going to tell Kaku he had to go take a piss, instead of “Hey, Kaku, I have to go take a piss.  I’ll be right back”, it would be more like “Kaku, Oobi, Piss, Back, Soon”.  Now how in Hades is that supposed to teach kids ANYTHING?  A hand puppet that speaks in broken English… CLEARLY points to the people who created it being high.  And the fact that it’s only shown at 12:00am and 12:30am indicates they never really had any intention of kids learning from it in the first place.  WHAT KID IS UP AT THAT TIME?!?!

I really question Nickelodeons decision to run this show.

3. Fanboy and Chum Chum

Fuck. This. Show.

First, let me direct you to the user reviews for this show on the IMDB website.  Go ahead and click that.  Read the reviews.

Back? Good. Okay, that will tell you just how bad this show is.  This show is so stupid your IQ will fall 5 points with every episode you watch.  The theme song?  FUCK THIS THEME SONG.  In an alternate universe, this theme song destroyed The Mae Shi’s career and they were banished from fucking EARTH.  Everything about this show is an abomination of TV.  I considered putting this show in the #1 spot, but I decided that it’s not good enough to make #1 EVEN ON A WORST SHOWS LIST.  It doesn’t even warrant a full on review.  That’s all i’m saying about this show.

2. Go, Diego, Go!

How they’ve gotten away with this for this long, I have no idea.

So, now we’ve reached # 2.  Numero dos.  And, boy, is it a doozy.  Go, Diego, Go! is a spin-off of Dora the Explorer that airs on Nickelodeon.  He is Dora’s younger cousin and his main focus is to help animals in danger, mainly in the Amazon Rainforest.  Hmm, let’s see… a kid of about 6 or 7 running around the Amazon assisting animals, sometimes very dangerous animals, BY HIMSELF.   He’s pudgy looking as hell and sort of has a messy jungle fro thing going He also has a pet jaguar creatively named “Baby Jaguar” that can talk.  Well, on his show it can talk, but on Dora’s show it can’t.  HA! I mean come on, you can’t have a talking purple monkey who wears shiny red boots AND a talking baby jaguar on the same show!  That’s just not plausible.  Well, thinking about it, NOTHING about his show is plausible .

He has a camera named “Click” that is voiced by Rosey Perez with probably the most annoying fucking character voice over AND theme song (just listen to that crap) in the entire history of cartoons and a backpack called “Rescue Pack” that can magically transform into any Goddamn thing he wants it to with a fucking Salsa theme song.  Need a mountain bike?  Rescue Pack will first transform into a single prop airplane, then a pogo stick and finally a mountain bike, and then ask you which one you need, even though you’ve asked for a mountain bike in the first place.  Mountain bike you say? Again? Then it decides it will transform into a fucking mountain bike.  And it will do it to a Salsa soundtrack.  Need a raft?  Throw Rescue Pack into the Goddamn river and it will transform into a parachute, a grappling hook and THEN magically transform into a raft WITH oars while you almost drown.  Bullshit.  Come on.  Some kid is going to throw their backpack on the ground at some point and start screaming “RESCUE PACK, COME TO THE RESCUE! I NEED AN ATV!” and then they get eaten by a fuckin Grizzly Bear while they pretend it’s turning into 5 different things BEFORE turning into the ATV that they asked for.  No. Just no.

Diego also has an older sister named Alicia who helps him on his adventures.  She’s also sort of a caretaker for the animals that come into their rescue center for help, kind of like an animal rehab.  And though she is described to be around 10 years old, she is often seen performing tasks (like driving a fucking car) that could only be done by someone that is older.  I don’t know what the legal driving age is where they live in the Amazon, but I’m calling bullshit on this whole thing.

The antagonists of the show are usually two spider monkeys called the Bobo Brothers.  Diego can basically get the Bobo Brothers to cut their shit by getting the audience to help him yell “Freeze, Bobos!”  Apparently, the shows description says that they don’t purposely cause Diego trouble and they usually apologize after doing so.  It’s like someone robbing a bank, an innocent bystander yelling “stop, don’t rob that bank!” and the perp saying “oh yeah, I forgot.  I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry”.  And he just drops his gun and gives up.  It doesn’t work that way in real life.

The animals themselves are all mostly drawn in a semi realistic fashion, which is sort of ridiculous, because they talk.  It’s almost like watching a nature show on LSD.  I know.  It’s as ridiculous as it sounds.  And the artwork on these animals looks just as ridiculous sometimes.  Nothing about this show is legit, so they really should take some liberties with the animal design as IT’S A CARTOON!

And with that we come to #1…

1. Dora the Explorer

A purple monkey with a flamboyant haircut wearing shiny red boots. Can you say “FABULOUS!!”

So, here we are at #1 and if you had any sort of clue, you probably have guessed that Dora the Explorer was #1.  I don’t really have to give much of an explanation for the show because I’m sure pretty much everyone and the bacteria in their digestive system knows this cartoon.  You have a little Latina girl named Dora (whose head bears an uncanny resemblance to a penis and if you stare into her eyes for a minute or so you really notice how creepy looking they are) and her boot wearing sidekick of a monkey, Boots.  You have the antagonist of the cartoon, Swiper the Fox, who runs around trying to fuck up their game by stealing shit.  He doesn’t run with it though.  He usually just throws whatever he grabbed up into a tree or into some bushes or something and takes off.  Basically, he’s not really a thief, just a really big prick.  They are able to stop him 90% of the time by yelling “Swiper, no swiping!”,  to which he stops, snaps his fingers, says “OH MAN!” and bounds off to find some other shit to half steal.   She has a few friends, including a squirrel name Tico, who is able to operate vehicles of all kinds, Isa the Iguana, and Benny the Bull.  But there is a good chance you already knew all of this.  Moving on.

Now, on of my biggest issues with this cartoon (aside from everything) is the fact that  EVERY PLACE on freaking EARTH is accessible within a days time.  Seriously.  Dora has circumnavigated the globe all before night fall in a single episode.  The pyramids of Egypt are within sight of the Eiffel Tower according to this cartoon.  They are just over a hill.  Want to go to Machu Picchu?  Walk about 6 steps from the “Gooey Geyser”.  Or better yet, just jump on the pink splooge spewed up by the Gooey Geyser and let it launch you over there.  Because on Dora’s version of Earth you can.  You can also make it to the Great Wall of China from Mexico in three steps according to her “Map”.  You just have to go through the Butterfly Forest, cross the Troll Bridge and you are there.  By the way, “Map” lives in Dora’s backpack and can only be summoned by Dora yelling “MAP” with the help of the audience of course.  When he is summoned, he has a song where he repeats “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map” over and over again until your ears bleed.  Backpack is also a living entity and has his own “Backpack” song as well, which is worse than the Salsa number Diego’s Rescue Pack does, if that’s possible.  Apparently, Backpack was preloaded with shit Dora predicted she would need that day, along with shit she doesn’t need like a water gun, a cheese wheel, and a pencil sharpener.  Instead of changing into the aforementioned objects like Diego’s “Rescue Pack” before it gives her what she wants, it just juggles the items in a circle until the audience can figure out what Dora needs to complete whatever task she is working on.  Dora is bilingual, appears to be an experienced world traveler, knows Santa Claus, some mermaids and a gas pump named “Gassy”, but she needs help from children ages 2-5 figuring out that she needs an umbrella from her backpack to avoid rain.  It’s a wonder how she get’s by.  Anyway, this will not help children further down the line in their Geography classes because they will have learned from Dora that you can get from China to the Parthenon in Greece in about 5 minutes by bicycle.

Now, as if 1 Dora series wasn’t enough, we have a new series: Dora’s Explorer Girls.  Basically, this is about Dora as a Shakira loving pre-teen and her friends Naiya, Kate, Emma, and Alana who call themselves “The Explorer Girls”.  Apparently, a lot of moms were asking Nick and Mattel to create a way for young girls past the preschool age to continue to grow with Dora, since children lose interest in Dora once they are able to actually walk away from the TV.  At the behest of mom’s everywhere, a new, more mature Dora that preteen girls can relate to was developed.  AAAAAAND it almost backfired.  There was a ton of controversy over the new Dora; so much so, the Mattel and Nickelodeon released a joint statement on the issue. Whoops. Anyway, the new Dora lives in the city and is all “Nancy Drew” like, solving mysteries like “how to plant trees” or “how to clean up a beach” and doing things like “making a difference” in their community.  Yeah, this will capture the hearts and minds of preteen girls EVERYWHERE.  Forget lip gloss and style, girls these days want to go plant trees and pick up dirty hypodermic needles off of the beach.

Now that Dora is older and has new friends, I’m assuming Boots has been relegated to “Style Consultant”. FABULOUS!

I know you are probably saying to yourself “But, Sean, Dora is so popular! She is one of Nickelodeons biggest properties! She is beloved by children all over the world! She is on everything from clothing, to backpacks, to tooth brushes!”  You know what? Well fuck all, I don’t care.  That’s part of the reason WHY she made it to the top spot.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So, there you have it.  6 cartoons that I think absolutely suck.  Of course, it’s all a matter of opinion and this article happens to list a few of mine.  You may or may not like these cartoons.  I don’t.  I grew up watching shit that just wreaked of awesome: GI Joe, Thundercats, Transformers, M.A.S.K., He-Man, Johnny Quest, DINO RIDERS…

No witty caption needed. It speaks for itself.

These cartoons just took you on an adventure and didn’t really try to teach you anything.  They were fodder for the imagination.  They didn’t try to teach you Spanish or what a rhombus is, they made you know that you wanted the Sword of Omens something FIERCE, or you wanted a car that could transform into a jet or a giant robot friend, you wanted to ride on the back of a fucking T-Rex that had laser cannons and you wanted to be able to yell “I HAVE THE POWER!” into the air and have a fucking beam of power transform you into a hulking barbarian that could stop massive amounts of dicks.  THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT!  The cartoons today want to teach kids things, and if you read anything in the above paragraphs, you can see that it fails at it pretty badly.  I say, get back to cartoons that just feed the imagination.  Cartoons are supposed to be an escape from the world of learning and chores and responsibility.  Leave the learning to school.


Cigar City Jai Alai IPA. Winging Hops at Your Head at 188 mph!


Cigar City Jai Alai India Pale Ale

Cigar City Brewing

Tampa, Florida, United States

American IPA/7.5% ABV/107 IBU

If you have children in the room,  you may not want to read this review right now.  Go ahead.  Click on another link for this beer there in your Google results.  There are going to be more innuendos in this review then an 8th grade sex ed class.  If the words balls, flying, face, long, drive, and ball speed send your mind to the gutter in any fashion then you may want to read this after your kids go to bed.  Ahem.

A little bit of history behind Jai Alai: Basically, Jai Alai is a game played on a court called a “cancha” between eight teams of two players each or eight single players.  These players fling a ball called a “pelota” which consists of a core of solid rubber wrapped with metal strands tightly wound together and finally wrapped in goat skin.  The balls usually have to be replaced every 10 – 15 minutes during a game because they split from hitting the fronton wall at high speeds.  And with that I have to say that the words “balls” and “split” do not belong in the same sentence together ever, nor in any context.  Mine just crawled up into my stomach after I typed that.  Anyway, this little missile from hell (which has killed players on occasion) is thrown at around, oh, 188 mph from a wicker basket mitt, called a “Cesta”.   Jai Alai is native to the Basque region of Spain, once promoted by it’s government as “the fastest sport in the world because of the balls”, which have been called the “hardest balls of any sport”.  Well, then.  Yes.  I’m sure there’s plenty of disputes that could arise with that claim.  But we will be moving on to the review now.

These balls are harder, faster and more expensive than any you’ve ever played with.  Marinate on that, player.

Appearance : Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my tulip beer drinking vessel.  I got about a finger and a half to two fingers of cream colored head that dissipates EXTREMELY quickly.  After the head disappears there is enough lace to cover a Spanish monarch’s mesa de café.  The beer has a beautiful dark orange/copper hue to it.

Smell:  Hops.  Like a motherfucker.  This is an olfactory Jai Alai game.  As you see in the picture below, it’s like having hops fly at your face.  Floral and citrus.  Grapefruit and orange peel.  Apple, peach and mango.  This is DEFINITELY an aromatic beer.  Swirl the glass a bit and the aromas come up out of the glass and smash your olfactory receptor neurons like a Jai Alai “pelota” flung from Francisco Churruca.  And since your sense of smell is strongly tied to your memory, it reminds you of every other failure of a beer you’ve ever had.  And why the tulip AGAIN you ask? Because this is an aromatic beer and the tulip is the PERFECT bit of glassware to enjoy an aromatic brew such as this.  Sure, I have pint glasses, oversized wine glasses, stout glasses, snifters.  Basically any sort of drinking vessel you can name with your dirty mouth.  But, this being a borderline IPA and DIPA/IIPA  (India Pale Ale and Double India Pale Ale/Imperial India Pale Ale for you noobs) you are getting an aromatically, dramatically and tastetasically crafted craft beer.  However, I will say the beer smells and looks so good you will almost want to just drink this bitch right out of the bottle.  And I did drink 1 from the bottle.  Believe me, it’s just as good straight from the bottle as it is poured.  It’s that good.

This is what the beer smells like.

Sound:  Well, the head disappears pretty quickly and as such, the sound is a very faint and quick crackle an pop.  Not much snap.  I will say, however, that you do get a sort of a rushing air or whooshing sound from the glass.  Its as if the beer’s effervescence is moving out of the glass very quickly in the form of air, which works to dissipate the head of the beer quickly.  Coincidentally, the whooshing sound is what you would hear if a Jai Alai ball were to fly past your head at 188 mph.

Taste:  Well, it’s apparent that they use a variety of hops for this beer (they advertise that they use 6) and you can definitely get the Simcoe hops that are used in the dry hopping.   Grapefruit with tangerine and a bit of floral hops in the taste profile, as well.  Cigar City does do a fantastic job of balancing the beer out with caramel malt sweetness and an ever so slight breadiness to keep things interesting.  However, the hops definitely show their dominance.  It’s as if the hops are the “alcahuete” (Spanish for pimp) and the malts are the “prostituta” in this beer.  Hops definitely run the show.  And at 107 IBUs it’s definitely bitter.

“Malts my ass! I run this!”

Mouthfeel:  Well, here we have a beer with a lot of ball references and we are going to talk about mouthfeel.  Let’s dive right in!  Full bodied, a bit thick, moderate carbonation and a nice bitter back end.  The mouthfeel is fantastic!  (Cough, cough : that’s what she said : cough, cough)

Overall:  I’ve never played Jai Alai before or much less even seen a game played and the only experience I’ve had with Jai Alai prior to this beer is from the opening theme for Miami Vice.    Everything about this beer is great and it will definitely be a regular in my fridge for the foreseeable future.  If you want to read more about Jai Alai the game, The Art of Manliness has a great story on it.  If you want to know more about jai Alai the beer, pick some up and effing drink it.


“Hillstranded” Left Crypto Fans Stranded…


I’m going to start off by saying, I was completely disappointed by the episode of “Hillstranded” on the Discovery Channel.  Sure, it was fun to watch the Hillstrand brothers do their thing and kind of have free reign on their own show.  Those guys are definitely entertaining and in that aspect but I can get that sort of entertainment from any number of other shows on TV.   But I, just like anyone else with an interest in Cryptozoology, was watching to see the video that was ever so hyped over the last few months.  I tuned in to see something previously unknown to friggin’ science;  in particular the video shot by a Washington state fishing boat captain in 2009 showing around 15 or so dark colored creatures with serrated backs being chased by a pod of beluga whales.  Creatures resembling Cadborosaurus Willsi, or Caddy for short.  The video that was hyped on Cryptomundo over the last few months.  I was really hoping to see the part where the creature pokes it’s “camel” looking head up from the water to look in the direction of the camera, a head that resembled the head on the caddy carcass found in the stomach of a whale in October 1937.  It was not to be, however.  Instead, we were shown a video much like pretty much ever other video of a crytpid out there on the web;  very inconclusive, very vague, and with no definitive, conclusive idea as to what the hell we were looking at.  Fuck you very much Discovery Channel.  It was like an entertaining episode of Monster Hunter.  Instead of showing what sounded like one of the best videos of a cryptid ever shot, we get what was basically an hour of the Hillstrand brothers, who we can see on “The Deadliest Catch” anyway.

This clears EVERYTHING up.

I’m going to go ahead and throw my own theory out there based on what we DID see:  I think cadborosaurus is a new species of whale.  If you look at the parts of the video that they did show (which was basically nothing), you definitely see some very whale like blowhole action, it’s movement was up and down like an whale or dolphin rather than side to side like a fish, it seemed to have a very pinniped or cetacean like tail, all indicators of an aquatic mammal.

If you can tell me what this is based on this picture, you, sir, are a Goddamn magician.

Another factor to take into account is the humps that are reported with Cadborosaur sightings.  These COULD very well be dorsal humps.  The beluga whale has a very prominent dorsal hump, as do right whales.  Another characteristic of a cetacean like animal.  It wouldn’t surprise me if caddy was a new species of whale.  As a matter of fact, there have been a few species of whale that were only recently discovered, including 3 distinct species of Bryde’s whale.   Bryde’s whales have a very elongated shape, much like the description of cadborosaurus.  Caddy also seems to be predatory and carnivorous, much like many of the whale species in the Arctic including orca, beluga, harbor porpoises, and the narwhal.

The defining characteristic of caddy, however, seems to be it’s face.  It’s supposed to look like a camel or a horse.  Now, there isn’t a whale or pinniped on Earth that has a face that looks anything like what the caddy’s face is reported to look like.  But adaptation can produce some dramatic results.  Take the hippopotamus. Yes, the hippo-emeffing-potamus, whose name in Greek means “water horse”.  They are the closest living relatives to whales today and by looking at them you would never know.  And the narwhal, with it’s long helical tusk protruding from it’s face (in rare cases some have two).  CRAZY evolution.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Caddy developed a long camel like face for snapping up fish and other prey.

There was a point toward the end of the special where Johnathan Hillstrand seemed to have something on the end of his line.  According to Andy Hillstrand “We saw a big, long white thing moving in the water. We chased it for about 20 minutes.  Spray came out of its head,” he continued. “It was definitely not a shark. A giant eel may be possible, but eels don’t have humps that all move in unison. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”  The Hillstrands, like pretty much every other fisherman who has reported seeing caddy over the years, including some Native Inuits, are experienced fishermen who know the local marine life very well.   I don’t think this is a case of wrongful identification.

There  is rumor that the Hillstrands are going to take another crack at catching Caddy.  In all honesty, I would rather Discovery just show the whole damn video FIRST, so we could see what all the hype was about, THEN have the brothers Hillstrand go for round 2.


My Brain is Fried. Thank You August 3rd.


I know I said I was going to post those beers reviews and I will.  I’ll get to them.  Right now I’ve got something more pertinent to talk about.  I’m a HUGE fan of viral marketing.  I had an unhealthy obsession with the whole Cloverfield viral marketing and the “Slusho” theme song never left my head.  WELL, the other day I was scouring the internetz looking for something new and exciting and I came across this:

8-3-11.info

Go ahead and click on that.  And then say goodbye to your life until August 3rd, 2011 because this will be your new crack.  The first thing you’ll notice is a rather creepy picture of a little girl as well as a rather creepy soundtrack.  The sounds you are hearing are part of what’s called a “Number Station”.  There’s a shit ton of these things and rumor is they are used by various countries to communicate with their spies over short wave radio.  Now, go ahead and inspect the picture a bit closer and you’ll see that the left half of her face is photoshopped and is actually a whole other face.

This girls face will haunt your dreams.

According to a member of the group that runs the site, who goes by the handle -•-175,000, the right half of the girl represents her at age 6 and the other half as an adult woman.   This girl is named Belle, she’s still alive (she’s currently 83) and is apparently the “symbol” of this whole thing.

Now, the members of the group have numerical code names.  They are:

~18,000 – The leader.  The one and only tier 1.  Whatever the hell that means.

••21,000 –  Not much is known about this member other than he/she is at tier 2.

–36,000 – This is a woman. She is currently at tier 2 level. Oldest member of the group.

-68,000 – Encodes messages into the secret language that the group created, which vaguely resembles runes. It is not human and may be named Sam.  Or not.  It depends.  Figure it out.

-•-175,000 – The PR Man.  The guy who responds to questions.  Mysterious as fuck.

You’ll also notice some handy links (with their own creepy numbers station soundtracks) that aren’t actually handy at all and further work to gangbang your brain.   One link in particular titled “Ask Anonymously” brings you to a Formspring page where -•-175,000 answers the masses (sometimes extremely fucking stupid) questions about this whole box of mindfuck fun with extremely detailed answers such as yes, no, maybe, and I can’t give too much away yet.  Mr. 175k did indicate all the clues are already there to figure it out, people are just not putting the pieces together effectively.  There are people who have already figured it out and those people have been recruited for the the cause and those people can also kiss my ass.  You can actually apply to join them via the “Get Involved” link, but you have to catch them at the right time as the application process opens and closes randomly.

The Sightings page has pictures from all over the world where Belle’s face has been plastered on telephone poles, power boxes, bulletin boards, the sides of buildings, etc.   On the Formspring forum, One Hundred Seventy Five Thousand was asked if the pictures are the “key” to this whole thing.  He indicated that the pictures weren’t important in any respect because “no key was necessary”.  However, he was recent asked if the new pictures were important at all and his answer: “They are key”.  So apparently they are important now.  They weren’t at first, but now they are.

Speaking of pictures these were “leaked”:

Wha... What the hell?? I dont even know...

Ok. We've got a crash test dummy saying something with some land mines buried in the ground and the Triforce in the lower right corner and.... ah fuck it. I give up.

AboveTopSecret.com, a forum where I frequently lurk, has a 100+ page thread covering this and the theories are all over the place.   And it’s spreading like a wild fire on there.  Seriously, go to the VEEEERY last page of the thread.  Walk away and come back in 5 minutes.  There will be 3 more pages.  That quickly.  If you don’t want to read through all 1oo some odd plus pages of the thread (you should because it’s crazy addictive), a member by the name of Forevever took the time to post a nice detailed run down of everything that is known or been guessed at so far, as well as the four most popular theories .  Popular ARG forum Unfiction.com also has a thread dedicated to the cause with just over 75+ pages.  Part of the fun is sitting there and seeing how people gather and interpret information from practically nothing and work together toward a common cause.   And this is actually one of the theories about 8•3•11: it’s some sort of big Sociology experiment about “working together with your fellow man”, looking inside yourself to see what you are capable of, and basically learning YOU.  Very 2011-dirty-hippy-movement type stuff.

I have to say that personally, I REALLY hope that’s not what this whole thing comes down to.  If you want to look inside yourself and find out what you’re about, you go survive in the woods for a week or do some tai chi or at the very least do some deep meditation or something.  The only thing I learn about myself with these things is I develop an unhealthy addiction to them and I’ll probably learn at what age I develop a hunch back later on in life from being hunched over in front of the computer for hours on end.

On the flip side of that coin, it IS very exciting because no one but the people behind this KNOW what’s going to happen on August 3rd, 2011 and the whole process behind clue gathering and trying to figure out what’s going on is good fun.  The anticipation of what will go down on August 3rd is good fun (according to them it’s not violent, no one will get hurt, they will not gain any money from it, they aren’t endorsing any movie, video game, music, or anything like that).  I enjoy using my brain.  I enjoy learning new things doing hours of research online.  If anything, I’m getting a fantastic sense of nostalgia (the Cloverfield ARG) as well as some mental exercise, which can’t hurt.  I definitely look forward to more of these types of things in the future.

NOW for my theory:

I think the pictures with the dummy (puppet) and the rocks represents something figuratively.  Notice the “puppet” is in the middle. On either side there is rocks. Attached to those rocks is a string that goes through an underground pipe to the dummy. If one side picks up a rock, the dummy will be pulled and fall down in that direction (swayed to one side) and the stone will sail over to the other side. Think about it… one side (a specific COUNTRY)casting stones (stones have been called MISSILES in the past), the puppet (being the United States) and the other side literally being another country with their “missiles”. The whole biblical references “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. On the formspring thread he was asked what country will this take place in? His answer was YOUR COUNTRY. Which means ANY country.  I think it’s something involving a world war.  Or something. And Belle being the “symbol” for this whole thing and her supposed illness or skin disorder may indicate she was injured in her facial features in some sort of war or battle.  Thus, she is the symbol of the movement so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.  I don’t know.  Either way, my brain is definitely fried.

Everyone should… no… everyone NEEDS to take note: If you want to get your cause, your ideas, your beliefs out there, this is the way to do it.


Smuttynose IPA “Finest Kind” – A Dank Beer With A Dirty Name


Smuttynose IPA's got HEAD!

Smuttynose Brewing Company

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States

American IPA / 6.9% ABV /65 IBU

Alright, first things first.  I have to say that this beer has one of the most interesting names of any beer you can find.  It’s not gimmicky.  It’s the name of the brewery, a simple “IPA” and then “Finest Kind”.   But it’s the NAME of the brewery, “Smuttynose”, and the beers monicker “Finest Kind” that kind of make the mind wander.  Smuttynose comes from the Isles of Shoals, located just off the coast of New Hampshire (technically they are in the state of Maine).  At 25 acres, it is the third largest of the Shoal Islands.  The name comes from some (more than likely completely wasted and, being on a boat for a while, probably extremely randy) fishermen who, seeing the island at sea level, noticed how the seaweed at one end looked like the “smutty nose” of some vast sea animal.  Take that description and “Finest Kind” and I’ll let you think about that one on your own.

Apparently the "smutty nose" of a sea beast consists of a quaint fisherman's cottage and a nice shed. With a "mother in law" suite off to the FAR side (you can't see it in this pic but it's there). I would totally live on a sea monsters face.

I have to pay homage to the label as well;  it’s simple with two old men sitting on fold up chairs on their front lawn representing the beer.  The old guy on the left says “India Pale Ale”, and he guy on the right responds with “Finest Kind”. It works. Again, nothing gimmicky.  As a side note, my father-in-law REALLY digs the label in addition to the beer.  Dude makes some KILLER hot sauces and wants to devise a label similar to this one to slap on the front of his bottles of ass torch. Smart.  He recognizes quality.

There’s nothing gimmicky about the beer either:

Appearance – Poured from a 12oz bottle into my tulip drinking vessel.  Beautiful amber color with a lot of sediment, or “lees” floating around in this beer so you can tell it’s not filtered.  Super dope GE bright white 100 watt light bulb 2 finger head that sticks to the glass and leaves crazy lacing all over the place.  The head went crazy and just laced shit up like an alcohol graffiti artist.  Lately, I like to sit and stare at the lacing and try to figure out what shapes it is making.   In this particular glass I saw a hadrosaurus, a kangaroo and the Hawaiian islands.

Smell – In this order: Grapefruit, florals, more grapefruit, grass, and bread.  Yeah, as far as IPA’s go, it can’t get much better than the smell of this.  It’s definitely got a “dankness” about it.  This is “only” 65 IBU but you can smell the bitterness emanating from this.  This hits on all of my key IPA criteria: Grapefruit, dank, IBU and bitter.

Sound – That’s right I introduced a sound category to beer reviewing.  I’m innovating the beer review process. Remember Rice Crispies? Snap, Crackle and Pop.  Remember when you used to stick your damn ear up to your cereal bowl to listen to it crackling all over the place like pop rocks in your milk.  Well, I decided to stick my ear up to my beer and listen to the bubbles in the foam of the head and that was smart.  A beer’s head is considered a quality as it relates to the style so the SOUND of that head should be considered a factor, more specifically the liveliness of it.  The head on this beer SOUNDS lively as all get out and it’s all over the place with a fierceness.   Quality.

Taste – OK, this is bitter right off the bat.  INDEED.  It attacks your tongue and taste buds with a ferocity.  Crazy bitter grapefruit right up front and I’ll be damned if you don’t get  a bit of sea salt there as well.  I’ll be honest, I started eating spam at the same time I started drinking this and that was a HUUUUUGE mistake.  The saltiness of the spam and the bit of salt you get from this beer was like a sodium gang war on my tongue.  The spam ended up in the freakin’ garbage.  I like spam but I’ll be damned if I’m going to quit drinking a beer this good for it.

And remember the bit of bread detected in the smell?  Well, the bready biscuit maltiness in the smell does a fine job of underlying the bitterness of the hops.  It’s there like a mediator for your tongue between the upfront bitter attack on your mouth muscle and the back end assault you get on the swallow.  Again, this is “only” 65 IBU but it’s definitely an assault on your mouth.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, leading on the thick side of things, balanced by a nice refreshing carbonation.  The beer definitely pimp slaps your taste buds on the way in and on the way out.  Your tongue becomes it’s bitch.

Overall, I’d have to say this is one of my favorite IPAs.  And it’s an East Coast IPA and it could destroy most IPA’s on BOTH coasts.  I’m lucky as hell to be able to get this at my local craft beer store down here in Florida City.  If (God forbid) Smuttynose decided to limit production and I wasn’t able to find residence on the nose of a smutty nosed sea monster on the Isle of Shoals, I would definitely look to take up residence somewhere close to brewery so I could enjoy this beer on the regular.



Time, Space, Invisibility, Cloaking… Chris Nolan Has A Plot For A New Movie.


I found two VERY interesting articles online today here and here and my eyes are just now uncrossing themselves.   They involve Time Cloaking and Illusion Cloaking, respectively.  Yes, you read that right.  They are now able to cloak time AND make one object look like another.

Let’s touch on the first article for a moment.  Basically, the first article is talking about TIME CLOAKING.  Yes, the ability to make a (very) brief moment in time appear as though it never even happened.   Essentially, in electromagnetic theory there is a duality between space and time:

“In particular, the diffraction of a beam of light in space is mathematically equivalent to the temporal propagation of light through a dispersive medium. In other words, diffraction and dispersion are symmetric in spacetime.”

So, in essence, if you can make a lense that focuses light via diffraction, you can use dispersion to make a lens that focuses TIME.  And that, my friends, is mind fucking.  What they are doing is using an electro-optic modulator to create a time lens.  They use two “time lenses” in series and shine a beam of light that has no idea what the hell is about to happen through them.  The first lens compresses the light while the second lens decompresses it.   This in effect creates a literal “hole in time”.  Anything that occurs in that “hole” is unrecorded in time itself, thereby “cloaking” time.   It’s done in such a fashion that to the observer, the light coming out of the second lens is undistorted and their is no idication that anything happened.

The period in which time is cloaked is extremely brief, lasting only nanoseconds; however, given the exponential rate at which science and technology progress today, in a few years people will probably be cloaking time all over the damn place. Mark my words, banks will be robbed in this manner at some point in the future.

Now, on to the second article.  This one is about illusion cloaks.  An illusion cloak pretty much makes one object look like another.  Here’s how:

Take an invisibilty cloak.  An invisibility cloak works by bending light around a particular bit of space thereby making any object inside that space effectivly invisible.  Everything that you can see in the world looks the way it does because of the way light reflects off of it.  In essence, light gives things their shape and color.  If there is no light reflecting off of a particular thing or surface, if the light is bending around the object, you can’t see it.  This is all accomplished with what are called metamaterials.  These newly created metamerials are artificially engineered to have properties not found in nature and can basically bend light in anyway imagineable.

These same metamaterials can be used to make one object in a space look like another.  From the article:

“The trick is to create a material in which the permittivity and permeability are complementary to the values in a nearby region of space containing the mouse we want to hide. ‘Complementary’ means that the material cancels out the effect that the mouse has on a plane lightwave passing through. So a plane wave would be bent by the mouse but then bent back into a plane as it passes through the complementary material, making the mouse disappear.

The second step is to then distort this plane wave in the way that an elephant would. This means creating transformational material that distorts a plane lightwave in the same way as an elephant. So anybody looking at this mouse would instead see an elephant.”

Making… a mouse… look like an… elephant.  And then there’s this:

“The researchers have even found a mind-boggling application. Their idea is to create the illusion that a wall has a hole in it, and then use the hole to look through the wall.”

Ok, so now basically they are creating one of these.   Every episode of Loony Tunes where Wile E. Coyote tries to use an hole in a bottle courtesy of Acme to try and catch the Road Runner is now becoming a reality.  Or Portal.  With Artificial Intelligence and machine self-awareness now looking like a reality, I’m sure GlaDOS is right around the corner and instead of playing laser tag, you’ll be able to play a real life game of Portal.

All of this is very, VERY cool.  Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for Chris Nolan to devise a movie where an insanely crazy, albeit successful, heist is conducted by some expert team (more than likely consisting of a reunited cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy in some respect) using illusion cloaking in conjunction with time cloaking, time travel/teleportation (because this whole invisiblity thing and time travel/teleportation go hand in hand a la the Philadelphia Experiment) and portal guns.  They are hired by a powerful corporation  to steal a rare alien substance from a remote, classified, extremely highly guarded government laboratory that can transmute living elements.

Immediately after this picture was taken, Levitt fell through a hole in the floor and became invisible. His current whereabouts are unknown except to him and Christopher Nolan.

In this heist a plain old invisibility cloak won’t work.  No.  This particular lab has thermal imaging cameras, so even if you are invisible they could still see you.  Of course, there would be a point where they were discovered and mayhem ensues.   What you don’t know is that before hand, they traveled forward in time, saw themselves get caught (but not far enough forward in time to see themselves escape, so they don’t know if they get away or not) and created carefully created portals on ceilings and floors with their portal guns so that when they were being chased, pursuing guards and scientists would fall through the hole in the floor and then end up coming out of the whole in the ceiling BACK THROUGH THE HOLE ON THE FLOOR, thus falling in an infinitely loop.  But in a typical Nolan mind fuck twist, the wasn’t the future for the dimension that they were currently in.  When they went forward in time it was in a PARALLEL DIMENSION and the whole process caused that dimension to “overlap” ours.  So when they try to steal the substance, their “future” selves have already taken it and set a trap that kills them to cover up the evidence.  See, you didn’t know that the overlap occured, thereby making the “future” team aware that the “past” team had seen them conducting the heist.  This is all ENTIRELY plausible.

Fuck Yeah.