My Top Ten List of Video Games

commander keen

I am not much of a video game player. In fact, I am not much of a game player at all. The competitive, win-at-all-costs side of me, is not very pretty to see, so I tend to avoid playing games. I can’t just play to be playing. Dammit, I play to win, and whether it is Uno, Monopoly, or checkers, I have every intention of obliterating my opponents. This is why  it is so humbling when Bethany, my daughter with Down Syndrome, who does not understand one bit of UNO strategy, beats her strategizing, card-watching father. She just throws whatever card she wants, and more than a few times she has won the game, much to the dismay of all the adults at the table.

I tend to be the same way with video games. If I am going to play a video game then I want to WIN! Unlike my children, I am not very good at playing video games, so I rarely win. They laugh at my lack of hand-eye coordination, but I remind them that there was a day when I could hit a fastball and sink a 3 point shot with ease. (yes, dear children, I can see you rolling your eyes right now. Unlike God, I am e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.)

So, I have never been a very good video game player. I try, lose, and quit trying until I forget losing and then I try again. It is quite a self-defeating process than I am sure many people my age and older can relate to.

jungle pinball

I have been a computer user since 1992. Over the past 22 years, I have developed a short list of games I love. Here’s my Top Ten List of Video Games:

  1. Jungle Pinball (Starring Timon and Pumbaa)
  2. Cactus Bruce and the Corporate Monkeys
  3. Tetris
  4. Commander Keen (all episodes except Aliens Ate My Babysitter and Keen Dreams)
  5. Duke Nukem  (Not 3D)
  6. Lemmings
  7. Jazz Jackrabbit
  8. Wacky Wheels
  9. Mario Kart (Super Nintendo, played with emulator on PC)
  10. Motocross Madness

Just outside my Top Ten list are The Lost Vikings, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, and NASCAR Racing (first two versions)

As you can see, the games I love tend to be old arcade style games. While I have tried my hand at newer games like Need for Speed, I find them to complicated and frustrating. Give me Tetris any time.

cactus bruce

How about you? Are you a gamer? If you are an oldster like me, do you play video games? Do you wish they would update some of the old video games we used to play?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Published: March 28, 2014 | Comments: 15

My Love Affair with Music: Bruce’s Top 60 Music Groups

i love music

I love music. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t listen to some sort of music. Being the geek that I am, in the living room I have a bad ass AV receiver, complete with big speakers and a sub woofer. I use an Apple AirPort Express to wirelessly stream music to the AV receiver.  In the office I have a set of AudioEngine A2 powered speakers hooked up to my desktop computer and in the bedroom I have an Apple AirPort Express hooked up to a set of AudioEngine A5 powered speakers and a sub woofer.

I use Airfoil on the desktop computer to stream the same music to the office, bedroom, and living room. I also use my iPad Air (thanks Sis for the Christmas gift) to stream music to the Apple AirPort Express in either the bedroom or the living room. I also have a set of inexpensive powered speakers I use out in the shop when I am working. I can also listen to music on my iPad air with a set of wireless Bluetooth headphones.

Rdio is the primary music streaming service I use. I have a paid account. The one feature I love is that I can download music to my iPad Air and Polly can download music to her iPad or iPod. This way we can still listen to music even if we don’t have internet access. For 9.99 a month, Rdio gives me access to millions of songs and allows me to also play artist stations similar to what Pandora offers. I also use Spotify, iTunes Radio, and iHeart Radio. Needless to say, I haven’t popped a CD into a CD player in years.

What music I listen to depends on my mood. I am quite eclectic when it comes to music, so what I listen to can vary dramatically throughout the day. Here’s my favorite bands/musicians:

When I am feeling old, I listen to classic rock music:

  1. Journey
  2. Foreigner
  3. Rod Stewart
  4. U2
  5. Aerosmith
  6. Queen

When I am feeling old  and sentimental, I listen to:

  1. The Carpenters
  2. Simon and Garfunkel
  3. Captain and Tenille
  4. Ann Murray
  5. Over the Rhine

When I am in a pop/rock music mood, I listen to:

  1. Staind
  2. Matt Nathanson
  3. Shinedown
  4. Breaking Benjamin
  5. Collective Soul
  6. Seether
  7. Theory of a Deadman
  8. Better Than Ezra
  9. Toad the Wet Sprocket
  10. Third Eye Blind
  11. Linkin Park
  12. Paramore
  13. Matchbox 20
  14. Hinder
  15. Live
  16. Hoobastank
  17. Lifehouse
  18. James Blunt
  19. Natasha Bedingfield
  20. Kelly Clarkson
  21. 3 Doors Down
  22. Dido
  23. Three Days Grace
  24. Christina Perri
  25. Green Day
  26. Cage the Elephant
  27. Goo Goo Dolls
  28. Puddle of Mudd
  29. Sick Puppies
  30. Adele
  31. Ellie Goulding
  32. Avril Lavigne
  33. Sheryl Crow
  34. Alanis Morrisette
  35. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

When I am in a folk/country mood, I listen to:

  1. Alison Krauss
  2. Eliza Gilkyson
  3. Kenny Chesney
  4. Darius Rucker
  5. Dirks Bentley
  6. Sugarland
  7. Dixie Chicks
  8. Florida Georgia Line
  9. Love and Theft
  10. Lady Antebellum
  11. Keith Urban
  12. The Band Perry
  13. Drive By Truckers

From time to time, I also listen to Southern Gospel music. The Bishops are the runaway favorite in this category.

Music wise, my favorite day of the week is Tuesday. On Tuesday new albums are released, so I go to the new music tab in Rdio and check out who has released a new album. Every week I find a couple of artists I have never heard of and they get added to Bruce’s latest greatest music groups list.

I fall in and out of love with certain groups and artists or I might love one of their albums but not the others. My music love and hate changes like my mood does. I am a finicky connoisseur of music and my tastes continue to change as I get older. (and the volume continues to get turned higher as I age)

How about you? Are you a music lover? Do you have eclectic tastes or do you tend to listen to a specific genre of music? Please share your thoughts about music in the comment section.

Published: March 21, 2014 | Comments: 34

The Unrealistic World of TV Programming

ryan and esposito

Last night, my oldest daughter and I watched a DVR recording of the ABC show Castle.  The show, episode 611, details Castle and Beckett’s search for a serial arsonist they think committed a murder. Two other detectives, Ryan and Esposito:

…check out a building that was part of McCann’s (the suspected serial arsonists files. They find a work area that suggests this place is the arsonist’s workshop. The detectives set off a booby trap that causes a massive explosion.

This massive explosion causes Ryan and Esposito to fall 20 feet into the building’s basement. They land on a cement floor and a huge steel beam falls on Ryan’s legs.  Esposito, using another steel beam and a pipe, finally frees Ryan’s legs, but the fire is sucking the oxygen out of the air and Ryan and Esposito pass out due to inhaling carbon monoxide.

But never fear, this is an American TV drama, and at the last moment:

 …the interior wall is broken down by a fire rescue team. Moments later, Ryan and Esposito emerge from the building. Both are alive..

In real life, Esposito and Ryan die in the blast, are severely injured/crippled from their fall, or die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Yes, people do survive falling 20 feet and hitting a cement floor, but the odds of that are small. Even more unlikely is Ryan having a steel beam free fall 20 feet on to his legs and him being able to walk away without any serious injury to his legs.  It is far more likely that his legs would be turned into mush or severely broken in multiple places. And Esposito’s herculean ability to move the steel beam? Not likely.

Due to the health problems I have I watch a lot of TV. On the many long, sleepless, painful nights, I am grateful droning sound and colored pixels of the TV. When the pain medications are under performing, the TV is a welcome distraction from the pain. So, I am not anti-TV, but I do find it amusing, and at times troubling, how unrealistic TV programs are. Even the best of them tend to present a distorted view of reality. (I am speaking primarily of true-to-life dramas)

In the TV version of reality, only bad people die, married people don’t have sex with their spouse, and everyone has sex standing up with the woman pinned against the wall. The man has an instant erection (and a John Holmes sized penis), the woman is able to quickly have an orgasm, and this is all done in five minutes or less. Just like sex in the real world, right?

Rarely is gun violence presented as it really is. The American love and obsession with firearms is on display in almost every show. What do we see? Guns that never run out of ammunition, cars sprayed with automatic weapons and no one dies, and policemen who are terrible shots.

I have no problem with TV being a mental diversion. Life can be hard, and trouble, pain, suffering, and death are never far from us. So the mental diversion TV provides can be appreciated by all of us. But, when it comes to our children, we need to make sure they KNOW that what happens on the TV (and movie) screen is NOT an accurate depiction of how life really is. Even adults need to be reminded that reality TV is anything but.

My youngest daughter is one of those “in the moment” TV watchers. She doesn’t care if the program accurately portrays reality. For her,  watching TV is an emotional experience and this is why she hates watching TV with me. I tend to pay attention to details and plot lines, things like, hey it is daylight but the actor’s watch says its 11:00 P.M. On more than one occasion, as I point out these inconsistencies, my youngest daughter will, with what I call her irritated voice, say, Dad can’t  you just WATCH the TV? Of course she already knows the answer to her question.

How about you? What kind of TV watcher are you?

Published: March 11, 2014 | Comments: 23