Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Fortress of Fangs.

I've been holding off on posting this for a while now because...well, because this is the perfect post. I look at the following photos, I reminisce about my childhood and I've realized that this is me. What you see before you in the next lump of convoluted paragraphs and immature gushing is everything I am as an individual, wrapped up in a single chunk of playtime plastic. What is it? Well, unless you've already scrolled down and peeked, you'll see. Oh, you'll sssseeee.

That was a snake joke. Ha.

Growing up, the toys that have always meant the most to me are the ones that have, in a bizarre way, scared me. There's something deeply troubling with that, but I'm not here to scale into dark voids of my mind, I'm here to scale The Fortress of Fangs.

I can't admit that what you're about to see is scary, or even at all intimidating. If you stand it up against the Ghostbusters Firehouse, you'd be full of shit. Because what you're about to see rules. Next to something like, say, Castle Greyskull, you'd be getting warmer. It's the only other play-set that can come close, and even that can be argued. Although Greyskull IS a giant, bad-ass skull, beneath the swamp green exterior and torture chambers within, it's still just a dumb ol' castle. WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT TO SEE takes Fun Time to a whole new level. What you're about to see can, and will, eat the Ewok Village.


So, what do you think?

Aside from knowing it was "Dungeons and Dragons" related, it took me forever to figure out what it was truly tied to. Mostly, I remember the miniature figurines you'd collect and paint, and those were sealed up, locked away in Jimmy's closet and off-fucking-limits.

Thanks to the Internet, I find out that, yes, this is definitely tied to "Dungeons and Dragons," and that's really fucking awesome. Because this was definitely not dozens of tiny, die-cast models that I wasn't allowed to touch.

I never got into the role playing aspect of it, the painstaking procedure of decorating your battalion of really expensive metal models, but anything that deals with such an array lineup of horrible and and repulsive characters is welcome with open arms.

And that is where they did things right and perfect and wonderful.

They made toys. Action figures. Legitimate shit to fight against The Thundercats.

Jimmy had a ton of these demon figurines and creepy monsters from the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" line, and to say I wasn't enamored with them all is an understatement. These things used to scare me. I'd have actual nightmares over these PVC mutants. It's so weird. I get so misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Frog-men with spears, goblins with swords, evil witches with bright blue faces, etc. And these were the ones that were made of immovable, heavy plastic. More so, the company would release evil warriors and masked sadists with decent points of articulation, furthering playtime imagination with more progressive beheadings and forest plunging.

I really don't know too much of the history of these toys, and when I tried to search-google-hunt, I didn't care. I'd much rather live in my own, already formed memories and, hell, looking at all the pictures of what I don't own is making me dumb jealous. Which is, sadly, a lot. And surprisingly expensive.

Spot me a cool grand for an eBay run?

Obviously, this all used to be Jimmy's -- one of the dozens of play-sets, action figures and artifacts from an era gone by. Through timely manipulation and outright thievery, I've officially inherited them and they've become mine and all mine.

Before, I've wondered why any smart man would give up such treasure so easily, but I'm well on my way to doing the same damn thing. I've yet to pull out a compass and start mapping my way to the nearest Goodwill, but I know, in my heart, a day like that will come. I don't want it to, but who can say whether or not I will tire of owning shelves full of stuff that makes me look like I've never talked to a human being before?


So let's do a virtual tour of this bad boy. In my youth, I've spent hours and re-enacting intergalactic wars and demonic picnics with such play-sets, because it was the only safe haven for Han Solos and Lockjaws. The tub was great for underwater exploration, and the backyard made for some great scenic backdrops, but I always ended up at...say, the Fortress of Fangs.

The only other effort I put into anything during this time was faking sick to stay home from school. It always blew up in my face when I couldn't play Super Nintendo and was stuck re-reading informational books on spiders and snakes. When you had "the flu," it wasn't wise to get caught hootin' and hollerin' over a wild game of Starfox.

And with that, let us pretend we're actually scaling these dark, green walls and losing our minds in bloody caves and hellish mazes. For old times sake, ya know?

Let's begin our journey!

First off, yikes. It's looking at you. The ugly sonnavabitch stares at you. It mocks from across your bedroom, it glares and snarls while you try to sleep. The Fortress of Fangs is a mean sonnavabitch.

Here we go, ladies and gents, the beginning of your expedition! Did you wear appropriate shoes? Wait, you wore flip-flops? You dumb.

There's no real entrance to the FOF, so I picked this specific spot because both other starting points are empty rooms with a blue crayon decorating the floor. As we travel along, you'll be presented with missing pieces, dents made from my teeth and the aforementioned Crayola graffiti throughout, proving that I just did not give a shit about my older siblings' stuff.

Let's get going, shall we?

First up: your average, every day, run of the mill passageway! Pay no attention to the fact that you're gonna be tightly squeezing by a red board loaded with spikes the size of street cones. If you're lucky, they're the size of ice cream cones (it's hard to accurately judge this). Unfortunately, in this situation, it does not matter at fucking all.

...because you're gonna die.

But hey, let's say you do get past this. Let's say you either jumped back in the nick of time, or did some super awesome tuck and roll past this death-device. Who's to say the trap was even tripped and went off? Feeling pretty good about that, right?

Sorry, you just just threw yourself down into a lake of fire.

Without any regard for your success, FOF has immediately killed you. Because you weren't already killed.

Assuming you escaped the painful descent into Hell, that is. Let's just assume you ran past the spikes and, miraculously, decided to take a leap of faith over the abyss. You're good to go!

Now, left or right?

If you go right, you're given the opportunity to once again slide down into the lake of fire you've so recently narrowly diverted. I guess it's for the people who had second thoughts on the matter. Off the top of my head, I can't name a single benefit of tumbling down into a liquid inferno, but I'm sure there's gotta be something radical to it.

So, you decide to go left -- you've made the right choice. Just, ya know, watch out for the dangerous, teetering axe looming over your head. Which, if you've yet to understand the point of this evil snake-dungeon, it is to no doubt fall down upon your skull and kill you. That's all this place is here for. This is all that you're here for -- to die.

You are going to die.


You have to go down. Like, you really, really have to. Unless you want to take a chance and double back through the barrage of spikes and pits and immediate death, your best option is to stay the course and see what lies beneath the madness. I know, I know, I told you that you're going to die, no way around it. Your stamina is weak, your morale is what's the point? You've eaten all the granola bars stuffed away in your backpack and you've stubbed your toe and it really hurts.

Fine, FINE.

You will be rewarded for your suffering and unbelievably good luck. After all, it IS a "fortress," and what good is a fortress if it isn't guarding something? I wanted to keep it a surprise, but if you're going to be a baby about it...alright, yeah. You're headed towards some cool shit.
Yes! A pile of gold coins and other treasures that are yellow!

You've done it, you've made it all the way down into the bowels of sin and evil! And now you're gonna be rich! Load up your Jansport with jewels, stuff your pockets with baubles and gems, do what you gotta do to make this nightmare a success!

Just, um, realize're stuck here. I KNOW I KNOW WHAT I SAID BEFORE. And it's true! You're compensated for everything you've been put through, but...

Again, sorry about this. If it makes you feel any better, the skeleton does look like it's smiling.

Hope you had fun!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Small Cup of Coffee at Dunkin' Donuts is Perfect.

I'm sure you're wondering, "Why a small? I thought you were a big boy and actually drank coffee?"

There's many reasons why I stick with a small cup at DD. We all have our bizarre habits, our confusing way of how we go about doing certain things. Call it a nervous tick, call it a low dose of obsessive compulsive behavior, but it is here, right now, where I'm going to pointlessly explain the perks (ha, coffee joke!) and benefits of a Small Cup of Coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.


1. Cute Factor

I don't think you can deny the precious dimensions of a small cup at Dunkin' Donuts. No where else can you order a small and actually get something that looks like it won't give you a heart attack.

There's no hiding the fact that sizes in everything have become increasingly larger over the past few decades, but a small at DD stays true to an actual fucking small. The price, in comparison to most chains, is right on, so you can't feel too ripped off when a small (er, a tall) at Starbucks is over two bucks.

The color, the shape, the way it somehow comes across as actually being "affectionate." Like it'll snuggle up next to you during movie time or bring you your slippers in the morning. No other inanimate object that holds liquid can be so adorable and cuddly.


2. Integral Part of Not Over Consuming Coffee

A smaller cup of coffee will allow a smaller amount of coffee to be consumed, duh.

If I'm not careful, I can chug coffee all through the day. If I were to buy anything larger than a small, I will drink it. There's no doubt about it. I have no control over myself. By keeping the level low, I allow myself room to breathe, room to enjoy and savor. Call me dedicated, but if I'm staring down the barrel of a large, hot cup of brew, I will do anything in my power to put it's hot power inside of me.

I immediately go into those sweaty, bizarre fits of hallucination from drinking too much, of course. So keeping it to a minimum, I avoid the crash and keep my face dry. I hate it when I get that "sweaty upper lip" thing. Hate it.

3. Perfect Amount of Coffee, Allowing Perfect Intake of Unnecessary Sugar and Cream

I like cream and sugar with my coffee. There. I said it. Most die-hards and connoisseurs of the game will gladly point out the failure in diluting the actual taste of coffee, but I can't help it. Well, let me be more specific: I can't help it at Dunkin' Donuts.

There's just something so right and pure with their coffee to cream to sugar ratio. I don't ever dabble in sugary coffees when it comes to anywhere else -- it's like not drinking booze for a while. You spend a few weeks getting wasted every night, the thrill of it eventually dissolves, and before you know it you're just a plain ol', dirty drunk. But when you space it out over time, nothing hits the spot like eight, big fat margaritas. So if you're pumping in sugar every day, all day, nonstop, where do you go from there to up the ante? Crushing Mike and Ikes into your cup of joe? Using a Butterfinger as a stirrer?

Usually, I stick with a small, just cream on weekdays. I feel a sense of accomplishment when the work week is over (strumming a guitar and watching movies can take a serious toll on a man) so I indulge in a bit of the sugar-sauce on the weekends.

This category covers a lot of things (taste, quantity, quality, price) leaving me with the worst time to come up with another reason number three.


Which I can't. So here's a picture of Tendril from the Inhumanoids.

Because it's so fucking cool.