Jamison Trumpets

Words an English Teacher Should Know (But Doesn't)

May 27th, 2011 by DanielRGT

I have a friend who is a middle school English teacher. I’ve known him for several years now and there are things about him that never cease to amaze me about him. The one thing that amazes me the most, however, would have to be his keen and almost encyclopedic knowledge of Webster’s Dictionary of the English language, except that I would like to ask that you respectfully replace “Webster’s Dictionary of the English language” with a song entitled “Slaves Built the Pyramids.”

I don’t claim to be some sort of English savant that hangs out with English every Saturday to play poker or some shit, but I do consider myself at the very least above-average at the incredible craft that is English. When one encounters an English teacher, the natural reaction would be to most likely humble yourself in the English department of your life. The main thought that comes to mind is, “This guy’s an actual English teacher, if I try to flaunt my fancy-pants English around he may trump me with the use of intimidating words and these semicolons I hear so much about.”

Thanks to my friend the English teacher (who for the sake of anonymity we will call “Buddy” from now on), I have never encountered that situation. It wasn’t until after I had met and talked with Buddy that it was revealed that he was an English teacher, which admittedly confused me. Talking with someone you can usually get a good feeling about their understanding and grasp of the English language, and my immediate reaction when talking to Buddy is that he was kind of a “bro”. So when the information that he was a middle school English teacher was revealed to me, I was immediately suspect.

“There’s no way,” I thought to myself. Now, I wish that the end of this long story was me being proved wrong and he actually has a shrine to Mark Twain in his closet, but alas life is not like in the movies. Everyday I am only reaffirmed of my initial thought when dealing with Buddy. Don’t get me wrong, Buddy is a nice person and that’s all well and good, but Buddy chose a strange profession for one still attempting to excavate past the meaning of high school level vocabulary and writing.

As such, I felt it only right to present you (the reader) with some of my findings. I shall update this list weekly (or bi-weekly depending on if Buddy’s having a good vocabulary week) with words that I think a middle school English teacher should know but quite frankly does not. This isn’t meant to be a big list trying to make fun of Buddy, except that just kidding it totally is.

The List

  • Solace – As Buddy put it when he had to look it up when I used it in a text message to attempt to demean him in some way, solace means “something that gives comfort.” It’s a very basic word that I knew, when sending a text message using the word, Buddy would have no clue what it would mean. After spending many years being friends with Buddy, it’s almost guaranteed which parts of the dictionary will confuse him the most. The X session probably just looks like mayhem to him, or possibly an MS Escher painting. Actually, Buddy almost guaranteed has no clue who MC Escher is.

  • Parthenon – Admittedly, the Parthenon isn’t really a vocabulary word as much as it is a place. The reason it’s listed here, however, is that Buddy is much older than I am. I’m currently 21 and Buddy is about 26. Not everyone knows exactly what role the Parthenon played in history, but goddamnit if you’re a 26 year old middle school English teacher I would hope that you would know how to recognize and  pronounce the word. Buddy pronounced it “Parthemom”, which brings to mind the question what does Buddy think a parthemom is? It’s got the suffix -mom, which might imply maternal aspects to this building. This might be the club house for moms who like to…parthe…things? Maybe parthe has to do with partitions? It kinda sounds like part, as in to part like the Red Sea. Yes, this makes sense. This is what it is.

  • Intercourse – Get your mind out of the gutter sonny, I’m talking about the literal definition here. Admittedly, this may have less to do with Buddy’s grasp of the English language and more a result of the society we live in today. I would be more inclined to believe this statement if it weren’t for the fact that Buddy is an English teacher. Intercourse literally means “dealings or communication between individuals, groups, countries, etc.” When two people talk with each other, they are having intercourse. This is something I learned my freshman year of high school; this is something that Buddy never learned. This goes back to Buddy’s “brotastic” personality. Buddy’s world revolves around making inappropriate sex jokes and farting every 5 seconds, so it’s not odd that when he hears the word “intercourse” he immediately wants to start talking about his sexual escapades. Except that Buddy is a middle school English teacher. Welp.

Expect this list to grow exponentially (Buddy knows this word) as I find more words that Buddy should yet doesn’t know. It’ll be like a science experiment, except that my thesis has already been proven so I’m continuing it for the absolute shit of it.


Jamison Trumpets Abroad, International Edition: Aruba

June 7th, 2010 by DanielRGT

So last week, my cousin had a wedding in Aruba. I was super happy for my cousin, but unfortunately the wedding was to be held in the island known as Aruba. Of course, I had to deal with my arch-nemesis, the airport & airplane combo. It was devastating, no doubt.

But as soon as that horrific experience was over, I was ready to have some fun out and about in Aruba. I was raring to see something I’d never seen before, after all I was out of the country, I was out of my state. What would it be this time? I remember thinking to myself while I was in France, “GODDAMN I AM COLD RIGHT NOW.” While in Spain, I thought to myself, “GODDAMN I CAN’T UNDERSTAND THESE PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.” While I was in Argentina I thought, “GODDAMN I AM A 2 YEAR-OLD CHILD RIGHT NOW.”

So what exclamation of god-damning would I be doing this time? How would this differ from my home. Let’s see, maybe I can make a list of the differences that I personally saw.

MIAMI

– Warm Tropical Climate
– Beaches (Of Unsatisfactory Condition)
– People (Mostly Ugly) in bikinis and swim trunks.
– Reasonably priced items
– A variety of stores in which to choose from
– Can often find restaurants that give out free-refills

ARUBA

– Warm Tropical Climate
– Beaches (Of Mostly Unsatisfactory Condition)
– People (Mostly Ugly) in bikinis and swim trunks.
– Absurdly overpriced items
– Absolutely no variety in stores in which to choose from.
– Filled with locals who thrive on tourism and very clearly want your money
– Would be hard-pressed to find the crazy son-of-a-bitch restaurant willing to give out free refills.
So far there is pretty much one key difference between my home of Miami and the island of Aruba, and it is the fact that I was thinking, “GODDAMN EVERYTHING IS EXPENSIVE RIGHT NOW.”

There’s nothing that isn’t overpriced. You’ll see how I mentioned free-refills, because that’s something people usually take for granted. Reasonably priced drinks are also something taken for granted. When you order a beverage at a normal restaurant, you’d expect it to run in the range of maybe 1 or 2 bucks, but you get the benefit of free-refills. In Aruba, your delicious beverage will cost $4.00 per drink, and of course they serve you the smallest glass they have filled with expanding ice that sucks out most of your beverage using ancient Aruban technology.

Then while you walk around Aruba, you go searching for some stores that you could possibly by something touristy in. There’s plenty of those around, except they are literally all the same store. Every single tourist shop you enter will sell the exact same tourist things that last one sold, and the only difference is how they are priced ($100 for a gift card or $101 for a gift card). They all sell the same shitty marble turtles, they sell the same shirts that say shit like, “ARUBA: THIS IS ONE HAPPY ISLAND (Until you see the prices).”

I’m only kidding about the paranthetical, I probably would’ve bought the shirt if it had actually said that. No, the shirts simply boast about how they are the happiest freakin’ island ever goddamn they are the happiest people please for the love of God give us some money we have so many families to feed.

The next type of stores you will find in Aruba are jewelry stores. That’s it, there are 2 variations of stores in Aruba: tourist stores and jewelry stores. The odd part is that you will find upwards of 4 or 5 jewelry stores next to each other. You’ll see a jewelry store, something like “GOLDMAN’S JEWELRY: 70% MARKUP (NOW 50% OFF)”. Right after that store you’ll see a second one, “DIAMAN’S JEWELRY STORE: WE ACCEPT SOULS AS PAYMENT!” Right after that one, you’ll see the third jewelry store (“SHAMELESSLY EXPENSIVE JEWELS: WE DON’T BEAt AROUND THE BUSH.”). After that, there’ll be a fourth and a fifth one right next to each other without anything in between them. It’s baffling to be perfectly honest, how could those stores possibly survive with so much competition.

Overall, Aruba was pretty bad. I don’t see much of a reason to go there (unless you really don’t  like money, then it’s pretty awesome actually). We spent a whole week there for something that should’ve been 3 or 4 days, so overall Jamison Trumpets was not pleased with his vacation.

WeB^U Comics

May 20th, 2010 by DanielRGT

There’s a lot of things I’ve learned these past few years. First, it’s that shoeboxes do not make ample shoes. In fact, despite their name, they are quite uncomfortable and difficult to wear.

Second, I’ve learned that making webcomics is a hard business to be in. When it comes to video game webcomics, there’s a certain art of being able to portray a punchline and some sort of message about the video game in question in about 3 or 4 panels. There are some sites that, with a very high percentage of success, complete this in a way that is truly spectacular (e.g. Penny Arcade). Then there are other sites, with one in particular having a negative percentage of success, that fall flat on their face and, if there really is a merciful God, those sites fall under.

Just kidding though, because bad webcomic websites never fall under. The creator has some disillusioned fans who, for whatever reason, have stopped taking their meds and found the awful webcomic as a source of…something. It can’t really be identified as entertainment because by definition, entertainment is meant to be entertaining.

Certain webcomics (and I don’t intend to name any here, but I will tell you the one I’m talking about rhymes with Patrol, Palt, Pelete) have been going on for a long time with no rays of light, no tunnels of hope, no possible chance to become, at any point, an interesting or humorous webcomic. On the contrary, their stubborn attitude towards their critique digs them farther into the ground of awful writing, awful drawing, and 4 panels filled with nothing but nonsensical text (Sometimes you can see smidgeons of what could possibly be art, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet).

I don’t claim to be an expert in webcomics, but I do know a funny and interesting webcomic when I see one. First off, we should go over some of the basics of what makes a webcomic interesting. Webcomics, much like you’re regular run-of-the-mill comics, involve the use of art and text to portray a funny joke, an interesting tidbit, or artsy-schmartsy something-or-other. That’s right, webcomics don’t necessarily need to be funny to be in anyway a good webcomic. If it’s interesting to a particular group of people, and one can see how one might feel that way, then overall it’s probably an ok webcomic.

The most well received webcomics tend to be the ones that are funny, because often times when one thinks of comics they think of the “funny pages” in the newspaper. This means that these webcomics follow a general formula. Generally there are 3 or 4 panels, and the first 2 (or 3) will be used as some sort of set-up or lead-in into what is eventually going to be a great punchline. Sometimes, punchlines can appear in the middle panels, and the last panel can be a sort of resolution or funny comment on it. Penny Arcade does this a lot.

Like I said, I’m not expert in webcomics so I’m being fairly (very) vague here. But even the common idiot can understand what I am trying to say. Namely, I’m trying to say that humor webcomics are meant to be in, some form or another, humorous. There is many a recommendation to do this, and here are just a few:

1. KEEP TEXT TO A MINIMUM

This is not to say that you shouldn’t use text in your webcomics, but really try and make every word count for something. There are so many comics that just have bubbles of useless text that really need not exist. There’s one in particular that if it removed it’s 4 panels of War & Peace sized text, it would improve significantly (mostly because your brain would not be melting because of the awful quality of writing).

Text is a good thing, just not in excess. If you have a lot of text, there better be a damn good reason for it.

2. BE FUNNY

It goes without saying that if you are trying to make people laugh, odds are you should try and be funny. Jokes have things called punchlines, which is usually the part where the person laughs. If you’re writing a comic and you’re not able to pinpoint the punchline of your comic, you are doing something wrong.

Also, when someone asks you where your punchline is and you respond with, “Every panel is a punchline!” You are most certainly an idiot and an awful webcomic creator and should probably find a new profession immediately (such as politician).

3. DO NOT NAME CHARACTERS ETHAN

That name really sucks, you know?

4. CHARACTERS (SURPRISE!) NEED TO HAVE CHARACTER

Characters (as their name implies) have character. What this means is that they have a personality, they have strengths and weaknesses. A character who is just some wacky, brainless, can’t-do-everyday-things is not a character, he’s a mentally challenged person that requires medical help.

This is not to say that I look down on mentally challenged people, but it’s never in good taste to poke fun at them. They can’t really help it, you know? To base a series off of an idiotic character who is completely incapable of doing anything right, much less string together a coherent punchline, is just in poor taste.

Also, to write this character as someone so stupid that, much like an amazing game of Tetris, all the blocks fall into place for them to receive countless royalties, treasures, and what pirates call “booty.”

These are but some of the things to keep in mind when making a webcomic. You might notice that, without mentioning any names, I have singled out a particular awful webcomic in this post. A webcomic so horrible, so evil, that words appearing on syndicated television could not describe it (though blaring profanities could!). A webcomic so awful, that it’s mere mention makes people see nothing but flashes of pure white rage before their eyes. A webcomic so dumb, that only the dumbest and lowest of human beings could appreciate it for what it truly is. A webcomic so poorly written, that Stephenie Meyer constantly dines with its creator on weekends to discuss awful writing, and all awful writing related materials. A webcomic so poorly drawn, that my artists rendition of a falcon (as in the bird) dressed up as a clown (as in the circus) is far beyond what this webcomic’s creator could ever produce. A webcomic so disillusioned that the creator has created a fantasy world in which he is great, wonderful, and awesome and all the others who critique his webcomic as horrible have no idea what they speak of. “They’re simply jealous of my genius,” is probably something he says frequently.

Yes you may have noticed I was singling this webcomic out. I have to respond, however, with a simple, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Video Game Reviewers: Ask Yourself This Question

May 19th, 2010 by DanielRGT

I read a fantastic article (and by fantastic I mean pile of dog shit) the other day written by a gentleman (idiot) over at IGN (Canada). The article, in layman’s terms, stated that sequels need to die out, and that if you like sequels you’re awful and don’t like games or support games for that matter. He then goes on to say how much he likes sequels, but just kidding they desperately need to die, seriously guys fuck sequels. (“Sequels killed my brother.”)

His big analogy to wrap up his fantastically written article goes something like this (Author’s Note: I am paraphrasing a great deal here, so this is not what he said word-for-word, but pretty damn close to it):

“I lived in some shithole when I was a kid. This place sucked, you know? Well, you don’t know so I’ll explain it. It sucked, it sucked forrealz. But I liked it, maybe because I was a stupid kid. It had this magical charm that places have when you’re a very unintelligent kid. I went back there years later to visit the place where I grew up, and I realized how awful it was. This has something to do with video games somehow.”

I’ll translate the above quote for you, just so you don’t have to go through all the painstaking work I ended up doing to decipher these hieroglyphics. He equates his shitty hometown to original versions that sequels are based off of (Example: Super Mario Bros.). He then proceeds to equate his “growing up and returning to his awful hometown” as how he, as a supposed “adult gamer”, didn’t quite feel the same spark he felt when he was a horrible child.

Now here are some reasons why this guy is an idiot (other than the fact that he’s blatantly one). First of all, his analogy (in case you didn’t notice) makes no sense. Not even a little really, in fact it’s not even related to what his article is about (which if you forgot, was about sequels to video games). His analogy really states this:

“Old games are great when you are a kid, but when you get older the old games are not as great.”

This would make sense if you were a crazy person, but it doesn’t translate well over here in sanity-land. Old games are great when you are a kid, and the majority of the time they retain their greatness into the future as well. Sequels, while containing similar characters, settings, and sometimes mechanics, are completely different games in their own right and (with the exception of how they relate to their prequel) should be treated as such. Super Mario 64 is astronomically different than Super Mario Bros., with the exception of the characters used.

Eventually, he brings fighting games into his argument bringing up the widely received game, “Street Fighter IV.” In his article, he reminisces of the days he spent playing Super Street Fighter II on his SNES (which if you think about it, falls under his veil of sequels that shouldn’t exist thanks to those Roman Numerals there) and how he had so much trouble doing his fireballs back in the day. Those quarter-circle forward motions were a doozy man, let me tell you.

Now with the newer addition, he says that he still has the same trouble doing those quarter-circle forward motions which, if you knew anything about Street Fighter IV, you would instantly recognize as bullshit because you can’t do much in that game without accidentally doing quarter-circle forward motions. This is one of the game’s actual downsides as it were, but either he has never played Street Fighter IV or he forgot that quarter-circle forward motions involve the joystick part of the controller, you know that stick that moves the character around.

I can easily get on board with what was probably going through his head when he wrote this article (other than the cocaine), and that is nowadays it’d be refreshing to see some original games. No doubt, original games are always exciting to see and they, if done right, bring something extraordinary to the table. The fact of the matter is, however, when an original game comes out the developers and publishers instantly recognize that a sequel would be received fairly well, and even if you put it up to a “poor choice” by that developer/publisher, a lot of the time it is what the fans want.

This stems from the fact that a lot of the time, severe originality is a “turn-off” as it were to gamers. Familiar mechanics, setting, and gameplay put the gamer at ease and create an environment that is easier to have fun in. Games such as Katamari Damacy (which if you haven’t played, is extremely wacky and Japanese) are so vastly original that some gamers may think, “I’m not sure what’s going on here. This is fucking insane.” They’d rather sit in the comfort zone of Mario or Link, knowing easily what to expect from the game: platforms and pigs.

This doesn’t mean sequels are bad though, in fact they’re healthy. Sequels, if done right, bring something new to that series and are either executed great (e.g. Kingdom Hearts 2) or executed poorly and end up falling flat (e.g. Every Sonic Game after Sonic Adventure). These slight alterations to the series open the doors to change and originality, which eventually create great original titles that may not have been able to be received as well earlier, but can now be received with open arms.

So, as the title of this post says, I really wish video game reviewers would ask themselves this particular question:

“What exactly is a game?”

Part of me really feels that video game reviewers end up having to play way too many video games to do their job, and as a result almost get desensitized by it all. They’ve lost touch on what a game really is; a form of entertainment in order to achieve the abstract concept known as “fun.” Nowadays, gamers get split up into two categories: Casual and Hardcore. To me, what type of gamer you are is irrelevant. A game either appeals to you or doesn’t, there’s no such thing to me as a game that is strictly casual or hardcore.

Sequels, while unoriginal, fall under the category of game. You can bring up all the questions you’d like on whether they should exist or not, but the fact of the matter is the only question that really matters is if those games are worth playing; if they are fun at all. If the answer is no, then maybe you could make the argument that the game shouldn’t have existed, or maybe it could have been executed a little better, but if the game is outright fun there is no reason to ever think that a particular brand of games should die out, even if they do seem unoriginal to you.

I understand that with reviewing gamers comes great difficulty, as well as timing issues. Reviewers are often playing lots of games in a short period of time, and this brings up whether or not they can fully appreciate the game or not. Sure, you can have a “first impression” as it were, but I don’t think you can fully enjoy the game outright having a deadline impending.

I don’t expect for this article to change much of anything (especially considering the audience for this blog being to people I know), but it’d be nice to see less articles proving how asinine video game reviewers can be, and more showing how they truly understand what a game really is.

Welcome to the REAL Miami

January 6th, 2010 by DanielRGT

Heat! Sand! Ocean! Scantily-Clad Women! These are the things that people think of when they think of living life in Miami. Well I’m here to tell you that there are still also people who think that the world is flat.

Miami isn’t anything like this. I don’t know who started this clearly flawed rumor, but I would like a refund on my purchase because my life could definitely use some more scantily-clad women. People probably get this misconception of Miami from a place called “South Beach.”

I’ve only ever been there once, but as the name implies there is a beach and it is somewhere in the southern part of someplace that can exist as the southern part of something. Re-read that sentence if you didn’t quite get it because it makes perfect sense.

As I was saying, South Beach is exactly what people want from Miami. There is a beach nearby which, one would assume, has sand and an (Information still waiting to be verified) ocean. As for scantily-clad women, this information is still false.

“It’s a beach though, aren’t women wearing their super hot bathing suits?” Well, you would be right except that they aren’t wearing their bathing suits. How does this make sense? Let me repeat that for you. They would be wearing their bathing suits but they aren’t.

That’s right, I’m talking about the luscious fruit that men so frantically desire. I’m talking of course about ponchos, because unfortunately for people’s now shattered dreams it rains a lot in Miami.

When it’s not raining though, it’s what you think. Scantily-clad women as far as the eye can see, except that you’ve now clamped them shut because the wrong women are very scantily-clad.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not being insensitive anything. I’m not saying, “Oh man that girl is ugly so I don’t want to see her in a bathing suit.” I’m talking about moms, moms in their late 40s. Moms who have had upwards of four to seven children within the past hour. These are not the type of women you want to be seeing while cruising for chicks, booze, or bags of fattening potato chips. These are the type of women you want to be seeing in parkas, layers upon layers of parkas. Even when they go to the hospital suffering from parka induced heat-stroke, you want to see at least a minimum of three parkas on her when she’s lying in her hospital bed.

But wait! I’m missing something aren’t I? That’s right, I mentioned something about heat at the beginning of this didn’t I? Well, that part about Miami is painstakingly true. It is hot in Miami, it is very hot. It is hot as fuck.

When it comes to Miami though, there’s one thing you can take comfort in. If you haven’t heard, people in Miami are dumb. When I say that, you are probably imagining a dumb person in your head. What I need you to do is imagine a person who is eight to ten times dumber than your idea of a dumb person, and then multiply that by eighty. That’s how dumb people in Miami are.

Most of this idiocy is transported directly into Miami’s driving skills. People are shitty drivers here, and it has everything to do without how dumb (and ignorantly arrogant) everyone is here. Stop signs mean a very specific thing (To stop). In Miami, the word “STOP” means a completely different thing. It means “put the pedal to the metal”, it means “GO, GO, GO”, it means do everything in the world except for the very action of stopping.

This is just a look into what Miami really is, and I wholeheartedly apologize for crushing your naive Miami-based dreams. However, if you were to donate some money you could be the one to put some parkas on those mothers.

Jamison Trumpets: The Blog of Daniel Rivera
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