Non-Existent Hidden Meanings

(Above is an abstract representation of my brain.
The U.S. Surgeon General now mandates that I warn readers against looking directly at it --
"now" meaning after what happened to Howard Hughes.
The beams symbolize various energies, chief among them my increasingly liberated
creativity and my lust for beef jerky.)

Many NES webmasters furnish their sites with "antic" sections as an opportunity to discuss some of the more laughable things seen on the system and/or the NES web scene. They point out things such as mistranslations, periods of graphical breakup, and the like, usually accompanying the screen captures of those events with sarcastic commentary. Now, notwithstanding the accusatory tone of my narrative, I tend to find these sections entertaining. If nothing else, they prevent my sentiment from going beyond it's already dangerous level by reiterating that, while the impact of the system on the lives of its preservationists is not questioned, the product itself is far from perfect. In that spirit, I hit about a week ago upon the notion of adding such a section to my site.

I, however, am a pompous ass. I prefer lofty contemplation to pointing things out, and, as a pedant obsessed with originality within a lack of originality, I search perpetually for meanings where others might not look. As a result, an originally uninspired idea fell under the influence of my OCD-riddled contemplation. Instead of a section discussing the bizarre or reputation-blemishing occurrences found in NES games, an outlet for my Dr. Will Miller-esque over-interpretations started taking shape.

Perhaps it is a happy coincidence that this is happening now, for I am currently trying to shed some of the superfluous layers of my status as an "intellectual" (read: academician/analytical thinker) and cultivate the reputation of a different kind of intellectual (read: zanily creative person with a sense of humor about himself and an understanding that cognitive pursuits should, first and foremost, be fun.) Granted, that statement presupposes that I was ever the former, and I can't possibly make that assumption without tattooing the fearfully avoided stigma of "arrogance" on my forehead.

Oh, what the hell. I've already confessed to pomposity once on this page, so I should probably stop espousing this "make 'em laugh with you before they laugh at you" mentality and just accept that I am arrogant. Ay, there's the rum. The truth shall set me free.

Anyway, let's just say that I'm trying to combine my pretentiousness with a sort of creative freedom, in the hope that I'll accept more of the ideas fancy gives me -- in other words, be more Patch Adams and less John Adams.

So, dear reader, please brace yourself for a ludicrous practice of aesthetic

(note: This work is not created with the primary intent of mocking NES games, though statements suggestive of such conduct may be voiced. It is intended, rather, as a self-mockery.)

Zen the Intergalactic Ninja (left) will appear periodically as a reminder that what you read here is very weighty, philosophical, meditative stuff. Sure, I'm making light of myself, but one never knows from what recesses of the universe a star may shine forth. I might end up saying something meaningful. Just don't count on it.

  • Baseball --- The Other Side of Free Will

    I like to swear. I admit it. I think of belting out a few expletives at choice moments as throwing volatile chemicals into my creative brew, just to keep things astir. So I should, by way of association, like this game, right?

    Well, I don't. It's a release, I admit, to cuss at a bunch of nameless pixellated people, but every time I reach for my NES Advantage in the hope of furthering my acknowledgment of disgust by chucking it at the wall, I feel the icy hand of the demon "practicality" on my shoulder. It's not like there could be other joysticks, or anything, and it would break my bankroll to expend seven dollars for a replacement.

    But what drives me to that? I'll explain. First off, on the "Select Your Team" menu, the computer ALWAYS gets to choose first. It does not honestly matter to me so long as the machine does not opt for my beloved "D Team", and if that does take place, hitting reset is a small matter. But such a recourse is a waste of my precious time, and seems very much like I'm surrendering to a box.

    As if that weren't enough, I have to deal with obdurate players. Stubborn, spoiled tendencies may abound in the Major League, but this is neither that nor Baseball Stars, and still my players will not move where I direct them. Instead, they move at their own instigation, and all seem to have leg cramps, for they saunter lumberingly to the ball, taking five minutes to reach a point seven pixels away. Then they squat to pick up the ball, but it is not there. Apparently they are tired from the many brisk baby steps they have taken to reach their present positions, and are hoping they can make the ball teleport into their gloves by assuming a ballplayer-like pose. Thinking this to be a unionized slowdown, I cram about $100 in small bills into my NES. The players still do not respond, and in attempting to pull a wrinkled five-spot out of the deck I hear a distinct snap. The motherboard has cracked in two.

    When human beings stand up and expound on the beauties of free will, they seldom have in mind the freedom of anyone other than themselves. The guy in the balcony irritably tapping his chin sees the speaker's exercise of free will as an infringement on his own. So too do I see the fact that the CPU gets to pick first as a campaign against mine. So, you see, this game is really a reminder that free will is tied up in mutuality. If we want ours, we have to respect that of others, and cannot always have it "our way." THIS, not the game of baseball, was the primary concern of Nintendo's genius-of-subtlety programmers when they made the game this bad.

    "What the hell was that?! Just a bunch of hokie drivel. I'm supposed to be on your side?! That's not going to happen, asinine wolf boy."

    Dief: "Uhhh... you weren't supposed to have a personality. I was just going to use you as a focal point... you know... to bring the audience back to the true point of things....... Your name is 'Zen.'"
    "Do I look like a meditator? I don't have anything to do with Buddhist Zen. I just run around and blow things up. Why didn't you choose one of those wise people from Crystalis?"

    Dief: "STOP TALKING! Dammit, this was supposed to be original -- not another site with talking characters. How can you talk, anyway?"
    "I was possessed by the effervescent spirit in your intro -- you know, the spirit you failed to uphold in that little speel because you fell back into sappiness. Damn recidivist..."

    Dief: "Could you just... not talk anymore? Try to be a symbol as I originally intended. I mean, if I can't keep control of my own site..." (Trails off woefully.)
    "It's all about control with you, isn't it?"

    Dief: "What?"

  • Milon's Secret Castle --- Self-Elevation

    Contrary to popular belief, logic, and practically everything he says, the shopkeeper in Milon's Secret Castle is a sage and peaceful individual who quite obviously knows all the secrets of life. The following is characteristic of most of his business interchanges: As the seller sits placidly in his cupboard thing, antagonized by a bunch of indian red circles (of whose purposes I would probably be aware if I had ever played the game for more than fifteen minutes on an emulator and three days of rental in 1990), a disoriented young Milon enters to partake of his advice. By hitting his head against a wooden button, Milon sends a tiny metal ball through a hidden Rube Goldberg-ish alarm system. This concealed rigamarole is consummated when a bottle rocket flies up the salesman's mumu thing, signaling that one bit of advice or the other is due to be told (and I'm amazed none of his "Hints" read "Take off that damn hat.")

    It is hinted at by various trends that, when people achieve solidarity with the universe and an understanding of all life's nuances, two things usually happen to them. They begin to doubt the reliability of words, and thus start speaking in broken senteces, and they become quite content with a regular-guy way of life -- as was the case for Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. The latter has obviously happened to this wizened vendor -- man must be at peace to sit like a bird in a cage all day and wait for kids in Balki Bartokomous night caps to ask him for help. However, his reflection of the former trend is even more pronounced. He can dispense the meaning of existence in all of three words, and he shrouds his incredible wisdom by spouting off otherwise useless information in all cases but his illumination of that purpose. Okay, so "watch out for a phoney princess" is an epigram by which everyone should live (I've got my eye on you, Sophie Rhys-Jones), and the man is quite clearly saying that hero-worship can be harmful to one's stability and idealism because one can never be sure of anybody but oneself in this ol' world (it has nothing to do with the game. Don't fool yourself.) However, most of what he says is just pointless jabber designed to deflect attention away from universal truth -- as if to say that such epiphanies are very hard to come by ("Crystal has mysterious power" -- cheesy, man. It sounds like a television ad. I think he was supposed to say "Waterford crystal has mysterious power.")

    Anyway, the three words -- the simple command sentence by which this towering genius conveys the purpose of life. They are: "Find a saw." FIND A SAW! You probably thought it was a tool in the game, didn't you? No, no. If this hint were meant to aid game play, the man would likely have said something as to where the player should look for the saw, and why he/she needs it. Instead, he simply instructs the player to find a saw. It takes little intuitive reasoning to see that this saw is a self-created tool for elevating one's existence. The player must find his/her inner saw, and cut through whatever obstacles might be in his/her way. Through this action he/she may move onward in life. Thus, after the player has cleared a path through a sufficient number of these walls and impediments, he/she will be able to utilize the incredible tool of transcentalism to pass through the borders of reality and go beyond traditional human experience. The only way this can be done is with a constant variation of one's conduct and environment (remember The Truman Show?), which can only be achieved by cutting through all the behavioral "walls" before one (Cutting through real walls with a real saw will not aid in this pursuit. I don't want people to start committing violent acts because of this theory.) That act, extending the metaphor, requires a saw, and thus humankind must FIND A SAW in order to attain higher consciousness. Only when we FIND A SAW will we understand life on the level of this incomparable salesman -- the greatest "wise dude" introduced into visual entertainment since Yoda.

    Or maybe we're supposed to use this "saw" to cut through the space-time continuum of video game world. Then we'll be able to play a game that, if MSC operates as I remember it, makes sense.

    (Many of those who know "the way" believe that the shopkeeper is an incarnation of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, and that his store is the true form of the one Wilson ran in the early seventies (late sixties?). I, however, am what is known among Shopkeeperists as a "Stadlerite." That is, I believe the true identity of this god-among-men is golf professional Craig Stadler in beatnick-style mumu and love beads. Either way, I have been chosen by my fellow believers as one of four "Elect Scribes" who will compile my master's many teachings into the volume we have entitled "Sanctified How-To Guide for Finding A Saw and Other Cantos." Between us, I think the title needs to be shortened. "Koran" was so much more succinct, and all religions necessitate brevity if they are to spread effectively. Look at what happened to Zoroastrianism.)

    "If you're leaving, please take me with you. This guy really scares me. He and the other cultists keep chanting 'find... saw' at me. *Sniff* I just want to go back to my old life of blowing up chemical plants..."

    ". . . ."

  • Metal Gear --- Literal Apotheosis

    So begins the mission of Solid Snake -- with orders demanding that he infiltrate an enemy base which -- coincidentally, one might think -- bears the name Christianity ascribes to ultimate salvation. Then the camouflaged special agent begins his trek through screens upon screens worth of dirt paths/jungle. And even though his training has prepared him for any foreseeable military crisis, he soon finds that he has been thrust in to a situation no government could have anticipated.

    Sleep, according to Webster's, is "a natural, regularly recurring condition of rest for the body and mind, during which the eyes are usually closed and there is little or no conscious thought, but there is intermittent dreaming." So, unless this guard is somniloquent, which wouldn't explain his coherency, we must assume that he is capable of offering a lucid observation of what he is feeling without being completely awake. This means that his has the ability to be conscious and unconscious at the same time -- a skill sorely lacking in three-dimensional life. One could reasonably intuit that this is a grammatical error, and thus that the statement to the right is uttered after, not as, the guard wakes up -- to convey his displeasure at having fallen, not felt, asleep. I would be willing to embrace this belief -- trust me, it would put out of my mind all the terror I feel at the thought of this game's horde of man-gods -- but given mess of thematically consistent bits of text which, at first glance, seem like translator oversight, I just can't. Something is not right here. Not right at all.

    I'm going to repeat myself contextually here, so please bear with me. "Have", as we know, is a plural verb. It never refers to anything singular. So, when a single truck is referred to as though it were many, I'm put immediately in mind of the infinity of the fourth-dimension (see my EarthBound interpretation for further groundless crap on this subject.) Only when that plane of existence is perceived by a three-dimensional being can one thing also be several (there appears, to the naked eye, one solid object replicated infinitely, but the facsimiles are not sentient), and Snake's recognition of the "trails" unseen by the player suggests that he is becoming one of whatever it is that predominates in "Outer Heaven" -- those who can acknowledge the fact that they "feel asleep" even though, in that state, they shouldn't have any capacity for conscious thought. But Solid not only becomes one of these people, he is able to murder them. This acquisition of and embattlement against superhuman prowess probably also explains why touching an enemy soldier is nearly as painful to Snake as being hit by a bullet.

    THESE PEOPLE ARE TURNING THEMSELVES INTO GODS -- and whatever menacy they've been conducting to make themselves so has been going on for a decade! Their trucks can be plural and singular at the same time, and their soldiers can communicate physical sensations to the outside world without fulfilling the human prerequisite of being awake. The creative minds at Konami couldn't have come up with stuff this whacked-out on their own. No, this must be founded somehow on reality. So, decent men and women of the world, I'll tell you what we have to do. We have to take up arms in the forms of controllers, go to this jungle, and by following Snake's example, beat these perverts at their own trans-planar game. That is, we have to stay alive in their company for long enough to see things the way they do, as did Snake, and then we have to overthrow them. After all, if they already have control of "Outer Heaven", can the inner one be far away?

    Solid cannot do this alone. A knife and cigarettes aren't sufficient defense, especially considering that his communication device blares his location to the hearing world every time his c.o. wants to give him one of his useful bits of authoritarian advice. Granted, our hero probably wouldn't think of "be careful" without walkie-talkie man's help, but by not biting his tongue the commander is inviting deified soldiers to rip his man apart with their thought waves. It may sound desperate, but we cannot let them do that. Anyone who has read Frankenstein knows of what I speak. Uncle Sam wants YOU!

    "Well thanks a lot. First you suck, then you hypnotize, and now you tell everybody to fight an army of lazy people and dogs that can't walk without losing their footing. You know, I could use the sane world's help too. Don't you want clean air?"

    Dief: "That sounds vaguely political. I don't care about politics, and I shun anything that sounds practical. My physician once blamed my nose bleeds on my disinterest in the practical realm. Actually, his exact words were that I 'go up to heights' -- in my pompous musings, that is -- and then I 'have a nose bleed.' I spentt the remainder of my time there mentally itemizing the practical things I do, just to disprove his theory. Then, still mulling over that subject, I walked out without taking my prescription."
    "What does that have to do with what I was talking about?"

    Dief: "Truth be told, I don't remember what you were talking about."
    "You're taking people's attention off my cause. I'm trying to make the world a better place for air particles. Do you want your children to live in a clean world or not?"

    Dief: "Well, I've always kind of assumed that I'm sterile, so that argument doesn't really work with me."
    "I NEED THE WORLD'S HELP TOO! Stop selling your crackpot conspiracy theories... PLEASE!"

    Dief: "Hm? I... ah... wasn't paying attention."
    "That's it. I'm outta here. In the time I've spent listening to you, there's probably been some oil spill I should amend by beating the hell out of every monoped robot and flying thing on the tanker."

    Dief: (Singing while bobbing his fingertips just above his right ear.) "'Ooh, we got the mony, mo- mo- mony. Ooh, we got the mony, mo- mo- mony. Oh, we got the mony, mo- mo- mony...'"

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