Friday, January 12, 2007

Better coping through 4-bit gaming, plus robots

I know I used this picture already.Oftentimes I am asked by my fellow citizens of the Kingdom of Macrocrania-"Evil King Macrocranios, how can I do what you have done-how can I become the mexican Luke Skywalker?" Well it's not easy. First you have to learn to look beyond your current state of abject failure and mind numbing mediocrity to see the tangled mess of emotional baggage you have become. Then you have to take all your negativity and self loathing and rip it from the hopelessly scrambled Rubik's Cube of your mind and you gotta solve that cube-you gotta get all those feelings in the right places and align them like multicolored Rubik squares. You gotta solve your brain. Only then can you begin living your life the way Luke Skywalker wants you to.

In 1993 the owner's manual to my brain was published by Defiant comics in the guise of a comic book called Dark Dominion. In it, the fears that plague men's minds were given form, and those forms were ugly leech looking monsters that only the character Michael Alexander could see. Michael could see the self destructive thoughts that each person had as if they were demons consuming people as they went along with their lives. Since this was a sci-fi fantasy superhero story, Michael's power was that he could rid each person of their demons and I envied the characters freed from the tortures of their own personal hells. Reading the book gave me a new perspective on my own self doubts and fears. Seeing emotional negativity literally eat away at men's souls helped me understand an important lesson about life-that Dark Dominion was a damn good comic book.

But you don't have to read old comics from 1993 to get a grip on your life. You can pull the essential weapons in your war against self loathing out of all sorts of places. Once I understood how to look at video games and cartoons as more than just diversions from a life I wanted to escape, they became powerful coping mechanisms that helped me battle the very problems that made me want to run away. People who consider video games and other pop culture entertainment nothing more than mindless distractions are not seeing the power of those mediums to change the lives of mentally unstable persons like myself. I do not use Tetris to run from my problems, I use Tetris to confront them. I turn my problems into Donkey Kong and then I beat Donkey Kong's ass.

No one video game is more responsible for my transformation to weather observer stud wonderboy than Tetris is. Tetris is the game where you get points for arranging little falling blocks that henceforth I will refer to as "tetrads" because I read the manual. One thing they don't tell you in the manual is that Tetris is not at all about falling blocks-it's about each man's battle to come to terms with their horrible shameful past.

Each falling tetrad in my interpretation represents a shame, regret, or anxiety. One tetrad could be the argument you had with your boss that made her cry. One could be the shame you felt over being attracted to your hot cousin and your frequent masturbation sessions where you visualize hot cousin sex. Or worse, a tetrad could represent regret over not being an early adopter of high definition television technologies. The falling tetrads are whatever bizarre mental fetish dramas you want them to represent. When you place the tetrads in such a way that they form rows and dissapear, that represents the mental resolution of particular anxieties. The lesson being that if you don't come to terms with each little emotionaly embarrasing thing, then your brain will lock up like a solid wall of bricks. So I don't call it "Tetris", I call it "Peace of Mind Head War".

You can only play Tetris for so long and then you have to watch robot cartoons. When one of the opposing forces in a cartoon battle resembles a large sphere, I instinctually gravitate towards the side with the ball shape because big round things remind me of my head. So it's my head personified by the big round thing against the other armies attacking it, which represent my anxieties. In the case of The Transformers: The Movie from 1986, the big battle at the end has a giant satanic looking robot named Unicron trying to eat the entire planet of Cybertron. Cybertron was very nice and round like my head. The movie includes fantastic imagery of this big Unicron robot punching and clawing the planet Cybertron with his enormous robot hands as he tries to devour it. Ultimately he is defeated when one of the citizens of Cybertron named Rodimus Rod opens up a little box called the Matrix, which is like crystal meth to Unicron and then he blows up.

To me Unicron represents the one huge mind fuckingly horrible event in a person's life that eats away at them daily, threatening their sanity and very existence. It could be the death of the friend who got you into Iron Maiden, the car accident where you ran over the fire hydrant, getting inappropriately touched by penguins or not getting Playstation on the day it came out. Whatever it is, that's your Unicron. You gotta open up the matrix on its ass or else it will consume you. (On a related note, in high school I lettered in gymnastics. Specifically, the pommel horse. I did not do the floor dance because that was a little too effeminate for me. When I would finish my routine on the manly pommel horse I would do a gay little motion that emulated Rodiumus Rod opening up the matrix. Most people confused my little nerdy display for me imitating Hulk Hogan ripping off his shirt. But whatever, in my mind it was an awesome victory celebration. I stayed virginal all throughout high school.)

Thanks to the uplifting inspirations I have gained from comics and various electronic entertainments I decided not to kill myself as a teenager, but later on when I am 50. It's a success story, I know. Perhaps no other Megadeth song lyric resonated with me more than when Dave Mustaine sang "The only way out of pain is to run through it, man." While not quite as eloquently put as Dave Mustaine, podcaster Mick Aloha said "I can't promise it'll get better, but it'll get better". This is what I have learned from 32 years of digital entertainment. You gotta solve your Rubik's cubes, you gotta beat Donkey Kong's ass and you gotta open the matrix on all your problems. Your homework now as a citizen of the Kingdom of Macrocrania, dear reader, is to play Game Boy Tetris, buy all of Megadeth's albums, and listen to the Moon Masters podcast. Not because I said so, but because Luke Skywalker wants you to.

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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.