Monday, March 14, 2005

Deadly Youth

"Hey mister, how come you always pick her?"

I wash my clothes at Fiesta Laundry now. Like I've said before, I enjoy being there because I never see any other college students. Young marrieds, sometimes, and some weird aging hipsters and Hispanic mothers who yell at their kids — but never any people who look like the typical UCSB student.

What really draws me to Fiesta Laundry — which, honestly, isn't as much of a party as the name might imply — in the arcade nook. It almost looks like an afterthought — this row of four arcade machines shoved in the back in the corner, presumably because Mr. and Mrs. Fiesta didn't order enough dryer units. However they got there, they're there and I feed them my spare quarters — likely at the expense of future laundry loads, I know, but that's the future and not the now and-it's-my-money-so-drop-it. I used to play video games a lot when I was younger. I still do — just not as often, mostly for the sake of getting my work done and not seeming like less of a dork. Video games, it turns out, are still a lot of fun.

So I play this one in particular: Marvel vs. Capcom 2, the one-on-one fighting game that proposes an answer to the question "What if all the characters from the Marvel universe — that being the one with the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, etc. — took on the characters from the Capcom universe — that being the one that gives us Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, etc. Granted, nobody probably ever asked that question before this game suggested an answer, but it exists nonetheless.

The game offers sixty selectable characters — I'll kindly explain to the uninitiated that that's a lot, especially considering the original Street Fighter only had eight. My favorite character is B.B. Hood, a little girl in a red dress with a picnic basket. Little B.B. hails from the Darkstalker series, a sort of re-envisioning of the Street Fighter with all the characters in movie monster drag. (Ryu's the vampire, Zangief is Frankenstein's monster and I could swear that Ken is cross-dressing as the succubus.)

B.B. Hood, of course, is a the Japanese fighting game designer's take on Little Red Riding Hood. Instead of running from the Big Bad Wolf, she wants to murder him. Instead of skipping to Granmda's, Grandma is dead. And instead of cookies in her basket, she keeps a stash of firearms, knives and grenades. (I love you, Japan.) She also has this little puppy with a red bow that follows her around and yaps. Though I have yet to make Puppy Goo Goo do anything cool, I'm sure a certain sequence of buttons will make him tear out the opponent's genitals or something.

Easily, however, the best part about playing as this character and spraying the likes of Chun-Li and Captain America with machine gun fire is that no matter how well I can do against the computer, there's always a little hispanic kid who comes in, plunks in a single quarter and makes short work of poor B.B.

"Um, you know what you could have done there? If you wanted to do better?" He then demonstates a series of button taps and joystick wags that I can't follow. "And that will do her combo reverse and you wouldn't have died so fast."

Thanks, kid. Thanks a fucking lot.

"And then, another thing you could do, you could pick somebody else."

I hate you, kid.

"Because she's not very good. She's one of the not very good characters."

Death and pain, child. Death and pain. I must walk away now, I figure.

"Hey mister, how come you always pick her?"

Because she's pretty. Because I'm twenty-two and if I want to play as a certain video game character on the basis of her being pretty, I can. Because I've been playing video games longer than you've been alive, I'd guess. Because I went to a geography bee in the seventh grade solely because Street Fighter gave taught me the location of world superpowers by showing a little plane that flies to each country and then announcing the name of said country.

And then I say happily, "Gotta go check my laundry!" And then I walk past my laundry because I know it's not done and sit on a bench and read the Independent. I figure I could start doing my laundry during school hours.

Video games, it turns out, are still a lot of fun.


  1. I care nothing for the Marvel or Capcom universes. If they really wanted to make a game that would grab my attention, they'd propose what would happen if the universe of ABC daytime soaps fought the Muppet universe. Now that's worth spending quarter's on.

  2. Uh, what if the world of My Little Pony took on the world of Tranformers?

    What if Adult Swim took on The TGIF line-up from 1992?

    What if Greek mythology took on your third grade class?

    What if my floor freshman year took on the Twelve Tribes of Israel?

    What if the characters from every SNL spin-off movie took on the four food groups?

    What if the "Creature from the San Andreas Fault" fought Mothra?

    What if Death itself fought that one time in when you were slow dancing in junior high and you got a boner and had to keep dancing with the girl pressed up against you until the boner subsided?

  3. amazing choices drew.
    i want to play too:
    what about if your recurring childhood nightmare took on your recurring teenage fantasy? i know you can picture exactly that.

    ...or my recurring teenage fantasy? or the precocious young hispanic kid's future recurring teenage fantasy?

    what about if all the back to the futures rumbled? there'd be like 45 different michael j. foxes and lea thompsons to choose from.

    or ... what if the periodic table of elements battled the periodic table of sex poster that they sell in bong stores?

    or ... all the fancy little dogs in paris vs. our editing seminar last year? i picture them all pouring through the windows and door in their little t-shirts, devouring all the strange girls.

    do more.

    love, kristen

  4. answers to kristen

    1) if that happened, i'd be having sex on a train with a mermaid and i'd be drowning and the train would be going out of control. i think. weird video game.

    2) i could not picture your recurring teenage fantasy because you did not know me in high school and therefore your life must have been too boring to have real fantasies.


    it would involve a mermaid and me and some weird re-creation of the greenhouse scene from "sound of music." no wait -- that already happened.


    precocious hispanic child would team up with wolverine and they'd both be wearing wedding dresses and they'd have to fight me and a mermaid, both wearing suits. not the best game for children, but it has potential.

    3) the mind boggles trying to think about how many michael j. foxes and lea thompsons would be selectable. i think the character selection screen would be confusing and repetitive. however, we could call it "back to the future: mcfly melee," and that makes me happy.

    4) what? stay out of bong stores.

    5) i think this is your best bet. i think the yappy dogs, led by linda ronsdstadt II and alphonso van floof, would be fairly evenly matched against the girls from our writing class, led by that airhead girl who wore earmuffs and that sassy girl who i liked but who i suspect did not like me.

    tourney, of course, would be the boss and his weapon would be the red pen of permanent omission.

    and what? the dogs had t-shirts?

    how about this: all the STDs in your body grow to the size of elephants and you have to fight them with mops, brooms and three castmembers from "kids incorporated"?

  5. what if the staypuft marshmallow man fought new york?


  6. 1) mermaids are super hot.

    2) they probably were mostly wearing little sweaters and the occasional dogberet but i just really love little dogs in little t-shirts.

    3) i gotta dig deep for the next round.


  7. This is the greatest thing I've ever read...

    What if that one person you really REALLY wished you hadn't hooked up with took on a flock of your friends who have inexplicably turned into kindergarteners?... Under-water?

    What if David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust took on David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth?

    What if my weirdest sex dream (this is Bri, by the by) took on Drew in a suit and the precocious young Hispanic kid in a wedding dress? [I know now that the background would consist of bleachers with Wolverine in a wedding dress--knitting--sitting with a suit-wearing mermaid filing her nails on one side and the Mad Hatter sipping tea with Brandon the wonder dog who is smoking a phallic cigar on the other side.)

  8. What if a giant asteroid was going to crash into earth and a ragtag band had to fly to it and blow it up?


  9. ok, so Mr. Belvedere, Dr. Ruth, Chef Boyardee, and lovable tough guy Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump round out a killer tag team equipped with Nerf sports gear where every Nerf ball is soaked in people-disintegrating chemical compounds and studded with pitbull teeth.


    all the skeletons in your parents' closets have emerged, donned St. Pepper's-reminiscent psychedelic marching band gear and initiated a parade of shame and doom, shaming and dooming all in their path!

    speaking of Chef Boyardee,

    how about the stale smell of Spaghetti-Os that permeated my pre-school goes head to head with the person i become when i black out drinking?


    your underwear has to beat a snakecharmer at tetherball.

    and up-down-left-right-select gives you the ability to fart the top 20 Cingular Wireless ringtones.


  10. what if the extra half an hour i am gonna have to spend staying late at work, because i've been reading this blog, to come up with kiss ass tag lines to write in a letter i should have written this morning inciting a certain pissed off donor to still love project angel food...fought all of the creative intelligence in this blog dialogue...

    if they tied blogalogue and my undercompensated guilt trip would each be worth $6.50.

  11. i will suggest one more...

    "I know you are but what am I."


    "I'm rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you"