Mass Review Time – Honeymoon Edition

Internet, I have a problem. I’m addicted to Fargo.

Maybe it’s not so bad as addiction, but the summer trip south to Fargo has become a tradition that I can surely not break free of. I need it. I need it so bad that I managed to convince my now-wife that it’s where we should spend our honeymoon. So maybe it is bordering on addiction. I’m not a psychiatrist, I don’t know these things. Surely there’s a better way I could have started this article.

As usual, the trip was mostly to get away, relax, and just be together for a few days. And from what I’m told, that’s mostly what a honeymoon is about too. So to that end the voyage was perfectly successful. Of course we also spent a buttload of money. Like, way more money than we were even allowed to spend while down there. By some random stroke of luck, the amount you’re allowed to spend when crossing the border increased on the day we came home, so we didn’t have to pay duty on what we spent over the previous limit. It’s the first time crossing the border was a truly pleasant experience.

To that end, I should note that this is by no means a complete list of things I bought in the States. I’ve obviously excluded anything The Wife bought, because this website is about me me me me me and God forbid I give anyone else more than a passing mention. I also spend a bit on a few little house things and some clothes that I don’t feel are nearly interesting enough to write about. On that note, let’s take a look at exactly what I judge to be “interesting.”

I heard that groan. You’re on the internet, why are you groaning at Star Wars?

Maybe it’s just because you know how stupidly expensive this book is (not that stupidly expensive). Honestly, it was not something I intended to buy at all. What happened is that The Wife is a huge bookworm, and she is absolutely in love with the Barnes & Noble in Fargo. There’s no one single store in Fargo or even the world that I get as excited about as she does Barnes & Noble. Which is a little weird, because it’s considerably smaller than the big Chapters at home, but whatever. It’s different and not somewhere she can just go anytime, so it’s special. And I totally get that.

On one day we probably spent at least three hours in that bookstore. I had browsed the stacks to my satisfaction within the first half hour, and resigned myself to chilling by the built-in Starbucks (with free Wi-Fi!), reading about video games on my phone. Of course, I happened to be parked right beside the Star Wars section. I knew better, but I couldn’t help but longingly glance at the huge selection of Star Wars novels and whatnot. They even had the second and third chapters of A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy, which I wanted so hard. I read the first one in my teens and not having the other two has always felt like a missing part of my soul. But I know Star Wars novels aren’t very good. I read a handful of them in my youth, but I don’t think I could take them as an adult.

But this baby… Oh man. It’s a little known fact that my favourite kind of books are reference books like this. I love reading little trivia bits and learning about all the tiny little things that truly build a fictional world. Yeah, it’s just fluff produced to win fan-dollars, but that’s the best way to get those fan-dollars as far as I’m concerned. Having a bunch of little Star Wars characters standing in a cabinet is far less fulfilling to me than being able to pore over all the tiny little details that went into making these films. Even the horrible prequels! While the movies aren’t good, there’s still a wealth of interesting characters, locales, and technology. That’s exactly why I love this book: so I can clean off the crummy acting and get to the stuff that really interests me. Also stuff about the original trilogy, which I still love dearly.

Only one image out and already at 700+ words. Looks like it’s gonna be a big one, kiddies.

Oh, if you don’t know what The Star Wars Complete Visual Dictionary is, it’s a big book full of pictures of everything in the universe of the movies. There are descriptions and details and cross-sections and trivia bits and more completely useless information than you could shake a gaffi stick at. It’s awesome.

This one is pretty much the exact same story as the last one, just replace Star Wars with Spider-Man. Obviously. The really nice thing about it is that it was less than half the price of the Star Wars book.

I really want to be more into the world of comic books, I do. I’ve been buying the TMNT Ultimate Collection books, but those are very rare instances of a series being scooped up into a proper collection. Sure, there are all those Omnibus and Essential collections, but they’re still a little too opaque for someone like me to even know where to start, especially when you get into a franchise with as much history as Spider-Man.

This is a great way for someone on the outside to really get a bead on a character they like. Of course, I know the basic Spider-Man story. It’s pretty well-known, but I’m interested in all the other stuff too. I just don’t have the money or patience to try to start collecting comics, especially since I’m more interested in the classic stuff than whatever they’re doing these days. This book, from what I’ve gotten out of it so far, should prove to be even more than the history lesson in Spider-Man that I yearn for.

I’m a little let down that they didn’t have one for the Hulk. I should do some research to see if such a thing even exists…

Umm… this one was kind of a history lesson in its own. So many things I like take inspiration from Lovecraft’s stories, and yet I’ve never read a single one of them. Oops. I’ve actually been intending to purchase this particular tome for a couple years now, and there was no better time than the present. Or, the past? I don’t think that phrase works quite as well when it’s not actually used in the present.

I have yet to dig into this beast, but that’s kind of the way books and I work. When they’re real books with words, I generally let them sit and age for a while, just like wine or cheese. Literature is one of those “finer things” like wine and cheese, so why not deal with them in the same way? Anyhow, judging by the size of this particular book, it’ll likely be around 2015 before it’s aged to perfection.

I’d maybe heard of the Shins at some point in the past. I don’t know how or when, but I can tell you this one thing for sure: I could not name a single song by them that does not feature on Port of Morrow. I don’t know if they qualify as an indie band, but they’re certainly got that sound and character to them. I’m not really into the indie scene in general, but there are always exceptions. Nerdcore is basically all indie, and… well, that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

The Shins though. I heard of them through Nintendo Video, of all things (a 3DS app, FYI). Sometimes Nintendo puts up 3D music videos on there, and I am totally head-over-heels crazy about “The Rifle’s Spiral.” Both the song and the video are super-cool, and you’d best not try to disagree with me on that, lest you be in the mood for a whuppin’.

The rest of the album is… almost as good as “The Rifle’s Spiral.” Actually, I might like “Simple Song” even more, but that’s the second song on the disc, so my favourite stuff is loaded up right there in the beginning. After those, Port of Morrow keeps a strange kind of on-off pattern of songs, with them alternating between peppy, upbeat tracks and moody, slower songs. It’s nice, and maintains a pretty good flow. The real thing that makes this stick out in my CD library is that not every song contains a guitar. Crazy, I know, but somehow it still manages to work. Good on you, The Shins. You’ve made me broaden my horizons just a little bit.

Here’s the really big shocker. You may remember that my initial viewing of Advent Children didn’t exactly leave a good taste in my mouth. I’m still not entirely sure why I bought it. It may have something to do with me having spent about a week reading about Final Fantasy VII on the Final Fantasy Wiki shortly before the wedding. Who knows? I like to tell myself that it was going to be the best thing to test out the abilities of my new gigantic HDTV. Whatever the reason, it was only $8. Not too shabby.

Oh, I know. I was going to try to use a movie to try to trick The Wife into caring about Final Fantasy. I realized what a terrible plan that was when we got home though, because you need to have played FFVII to really understand this movie, and even then it’s kind of a crapshoot. So I didn’t make her watch it. See, I do love my wife. (Although to be fair, she got home from work when the credits started to roll and was jealous that I watched a movie without her.)

Anyway, the movie itself is better than I remember it, but still pretty so-so on the whole. I just couldn’t get over the often stiff character movement and the way it looked like a big long video game cutscene. I really have no idea how to describe how it looks wrong to me, but you can just tell it was made by people who make video games and not movies. Also I watched it with the English dubbing because I didn’t want to have to read the whole time, and maaaaan is it bad. I don’t know if they just didn’t want to redo the lip syncing, but the dub ends up suffering from some terribly choppy dialogue. Between the acting and hammering English dialogue into the Japanese lip movements, it just comes off as cheap and a little embarrassing. I’m kinda glad I watched it alone.

But oh my land does it look GOOD on a big fat HDTV. Worth the price of admission alone.

What can I say? I adore classic monster movies. Drive-in campiness is just a bonus. And with titles like “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Swamp Women” who could possibly resist? Plus it was dirt-cheap, so I would have been stupid not to buy it.

The only film I’ve seen on this collection is Creature from the Haunted Sea. The monster hand holding a lady on the collection’s cover there is originally from that movie’s poster. And I’d say that it’s the second most well-known movie in this collection, next to The Little Shop of Horrors. It’s been ages since I’ve seen Creature though, and man oh man is it golden. It’s got an IMDb rating of 3.1, but that’s just because people don’t understand the wonder of terrible movies. Have you seen the monster from this movie? It is just… I hesitate to use a word so overused and abused, but it’s epic. You really have to go look it up; I don’t want to spoil the surprise. And take a gander at some of these lines. Maybe some will be less funny out of context, but cheeseball or not, you just don’t get writing like that any more.

I haven’t watched any of the others, but I’m really hoping that they’re as “good” as Creature from the Haunted Sea. Swamp Women has a 2.7 rating, but that’s still not even close to IMDb’s bottom 100, so who knows?

It’s also very very important that I mention that on the movies select menus, the disc producers popped in some old promo videos that encouraged drive-in patrons to go buy some delicious refreshments. This is amazing because I live and die by nostalgia, and those little ads were one of my favourite parts of going to the drive-in as a kid (even though these ones are considerably older). I don’t know if each disc has unique ads, but I’m really hoping that at least one of them has dancing popcorn.

This here, this Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, this is pretty fantastic find. Ever since I bought a PS2 I’ve been combing used game stores for a copy of the PS2 edition to no avail. Turns out that it had a rather limited run and now it’s extremely hard to get your hands on. I haven’t looked on eBay at all because I have a good idea the general price these kind of things run.

So I was pretty pumped that I found the Xbox version for $9.

And then I learned that it’s not compatible with the 360. That’s $9 I’ll never see again. Guess I’m going to have to buy the MGS HD Collection after all.

Luckily, I know I can play these games. I haven’t moved on to a PS3 from the PS2 yet (and probably won’t at this point), and I still have my PS1 because it’s modded so I can play pirated games.

Just kidding! I don’t pirate software. That’s bad.

You may be wondering what’s with all the Final Fantasy mania around here lately. I know I described this in some earlier post, but I went from roughly 2004-2010 hating on RPGs. Then somewhere between Dragon Quest IX and Final Fantasy XIII I pulled the stick out of my ass and embraced the fact that I actually do quite enjoy them. Right now, I’m mostly just making up for lost time and working on conquering a long-running franchise that I’ve unjustly ignored.

That said, I racked up all three of these beauties in one trip, and now I own some form of every numbered Final Fantasy. With the exception of Final Fantasy III DS because the copy at the used games store I was shopping at didn’t come in the proper case, and Final Fantasy XI and XIV because I don’t play MMOs. The really sad part is that FFX and X-2 cost less combined than FF Anthology. People I know who’ve played them seem to like them though; the eldest of my brothers in particular spent the whole summer of aught-four obsessed with X-2. But the dirt-cheapness at which I purchased them doesn’t bode well with me.

These are also all the FF games I haven’t truly played (again, excluding III, XI, and XIV). Simply put, I haven’t touched X or X-2 ever. Aside from the characters I have no idea what to expect from them. I started playing FFVI on Virtual Console roughly forever ago, but got distracted from it right after the point where somebody poisoned the watering hole. It may seem silly that I bought it again, but the Anthology was the best deal on FFV. Plus I like to have physical copies. Now once I find FF3 with a real case I can line them all up and take a picture. It will be beautiful.

Now, finally, we come to the absolute most bestestist thing that I’ve ever bought while in the USA…

That’s right, a legitimate Goddamn copy of MegaMan Legends 2. It doesn’t have the case, but the disc is in immaculate condition. I will never tell another human being how much I paid for it, but I finally have it. While it did cost too much, I did pay significantly less than the eBay average (about $150, the most expensive copy I’ve seen was $500), so I considered it a bargain. It doesn’t go for quite as much as the average copy of Earthbound (roughly $300), but it’s still pretty high up there.  Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to play it. I mostly just want to stick it in a glass case and treasure it as one of the rarest games I own. Although I really would like to make another run through it, having recently finished the first game again and all…

Now it’s just a matter of tracking down the semi-sequel The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, and then I can stick all three of them in that glass case and repurpose it to hold the rarest complete series of games that I own. I’ve never even stopped to look for Tron though. Probably because I know it’s even rarer and more expensive. Upon a quick search, I’m right: the cheapest copy on eBay as of this writing is $150. I really can’t justify spending that much money on a single video game.

And almost 3000 words later, that is the end of that. For completion’s sake, it should also be noted that I brought back three cases of Pepsi Throwback with me. Curse it’s sugary goodness and my inability to resist it! The Wife’s tastes were a little broader; she purchased one case each of Mountain Dew Throwback, Cherry Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper Cherry. Of course I also brought with me the requisite boxes of Fruity Pebbles and Crunch Berries, cereals which are tragically absent from any store less than two hours away from me. I had bought a box of this new cereal, Krave, but it didn’t make it back across the border. Good stuff, that Krave. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it makes its way across the border to Canadia. 3007.

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