The Great Pokémon GO Day

Pikachu PokemonGO

When the videogame Super Smash Bros. was all the rage with my group of friends, my pal Sarah quickly adopted Pikachu as her BFF regular character she played with.  She loved the little sucker!  Last night, then, it was an absolutely fantastic coincidence that as I drove to meet Sarah to hang out for the first time in far too long, one of my PokemonGO eggs hatched… and that little yellow mother-trucker pictured above popped out!  The fact that I actually randomly hatched him was great enough (not at all what I would have expected), but that it just so happened to occur within an hour of my meeting up with the person I most associate with Pikachu was extra fantastic.

Of course, then things got even better:).

Sarah and I met at the Irvine Spectrum, which should probably just change its name to PokémonGOLand at this point.  There were Pokéstops everywhere, hundreds of folks running around gotting to catch them all, and multiple stores had begun referencing the madness (Pikachu themed candy apple, a sign welcoming Pokémon hunters to the shop, etc.).  I introduced Sarah to the game, explaining the basic mechanics and letting her catch a Pidgey (or a Piggly, as she first called it), but then most of the evening was spent eating dinner and then just chatting about life on the patio of Wahoo’s.  When we finally decided to move again, a couple of hours later, we made our way towards See’s for a chocolate taster.  On the way I mentioned how fun it was that I’d hatched a Pikachu, but commented that my other friend still alluded me; I’d seen one particular Pokémon nearby several times since I started playing the game, but I was either driving by him or couldn’t find him at all when I got up and searched, and so he remained my white whale.  Without exaggeration, JUST as I was saying those words my phone vibrated and guess which Pokémon finally appeared right next to me?  My white whale.  I gasped, Sarah gasped, and then I lined up my shot…

It’s really nice to reacquaint with an old friend like Sarah (we counted that we’ve known each other for 17-18 years), the weather was warm but lovely out, and the Spectrum is really one of my favorite places — filled with dogs and families and great people-watching.  Sometimes, though, even all of that greatness can be overshadowed.  Sometimes, one finally finds something they’ve been hunting for and the search-conclusion is entirely satisfactory.  Sometimes I catch my white whale.

Jigglypuff, I choose you!:)

Jigglypuff PokemonGO

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Farewell, VCR

vhs tapes

Most people I know haven’t thought about using a VCR or VHS tapes as a way to watch movies in years.  Even the VHS’ replacement format, DVD, is an older technology and has declined a bit in light of HD discs, streaming content, and other digital media.  Granted, my mom still watches old VHS tapes, but I’d venture to guess that most of you reading this haven’t had use for the format in some time.  It may or not surprise you, then, to know that there is a company out there that still produces VCR’s.

At least, until the end of this month.

A Japanese company, Funai Electric, has finally come to a point at which creating the machines of this bygone technology is no longer profitable, and will cease production on new VCR’s in less than two weeks from the day of this post.  Actually, so far as I know, they may have pulled the plug on the ol’ gal already.  Fortune.com has a good article on this end-of-an-era event, covering a bit of the history of the technology of home video recording.  It’s a bit odd to think that VCR’s have lasted this long in production.  I remember when DVD’s first hit the shelves at the video store (which is saying that I also remember video stores), and they were allocated to just a few sparse rows — not necessarily for a lack of interest, but because the number of titles at first were so minimal.  I was lucky enough to work in a video store, good ol’ Blockbuster, during a time period which allowed me to witness the slow death of VHS firsthand: first the DVD’s pushed onto more and more shelves, then up crawled their way onto the New Release wall, until finally we only received one or two VHS copies of big movie releases… a pale comparison to the hundreds of DVD’s that filled the shelves.

Of course, I also returned to work at Blockbuster and witnessed the crumbling of the video store, itself, so to everything turn, turn, turn:).

Aside from the economic and historical experiences, a good chunk of my childhood memories revolve around VHS cassettes, as well.  My dad bought our first video camera when my sister was born, so 5-year-old Mark got his first taste of stardom way back in 1985.  I used that same camera to make my very first movie when I was 9 or 10, and then filled countless VHS tapes with the many, many horrible beginning movies that followed.  I was happy to move on to newer technologies as they arrived, recording my cinematic creations on smaller Hi-8 tapes and enjoying the heck out of the clarity and durability of DVD’s, but who knows where I’d be right now, creatively, without access to such an easy-to-record technology at my fingertips.

The nostalgic in me would kind of like to pick up one of these final VCR’s, as the format has played such a substantial role in my life — from the first movie I made to my first job slinging video rentals — but I’m a little more practical than that.  I think, instead, I’ll simply write a little blog post in honor of the VCR, and always remember that era, for better and worse, with a fond smile:).

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Out Of The Box – 294

Out of the Box weekly stick figure web comic 294 We'll Make Our Dreams Come True... For Me And You

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Retro-rific Women’s Swimwear

retro women swimsuit beach wear

The other day I was chatting with a gal-pal about women’s swimsuits, and I expressed my affinity for the classic styles of the 40’s and 50’s.  Victorian-era swimwear was basically just another thick dress, while today’s styles skew towards the absolute minimum, leaving all but nothing to the imagination and placing many a woman in self-conscious waters by being so exposed.  Even today’s one-piece swimsuits are often still cut in such a way as to reveal as much skin as possible, and even if they are more modest, they’re generally not as flattering to the female form as is another option…

retro halter swimsuit with buttons

I mean, look at that!  Classy, sexy, functional, and I dare say a lot more comfortable than a tiny top that constantly needs readjusting or a bottom that is intended to wedge up between the butt-cheeks.  Of course, I can’t say this from direct experience, but I’ve spent enough waterside time with women to know that these issues are pretty prevalent — not to mention how dangerous waves or pool-dives are to the integrity of an article of clothing held to the body by nothing more than a thin string tied together😉.  The classic, halter-top style pictured above, however, doesn’t suffer from these problems.  It’s still practical, in that it’s light enough to swim comfortably in (again, only expressing second-hand information here), the way it’s designed allows for a stronger connection up top, and the shorts-style underneath should keep the suit from riding up much.

Of course, they’re also just so darn cute:).

Women are the fairer of our species, which I think is why they tend to be the most adorned… jewelry, make-up, accessorized fashion (yes, even in eras when men’s style was more fabulous, women were still generally more-so decorated).  These suits are just fantastic to look at, though.  The bikini is fairly simple in its design, only really allowing for different patterns or the occasional fringe to differentiate its appearance, but this retro style offers more opportunity.  I mean, they can even have buttons for Pete’s sake!

While I personally appreciate the modesty that is inherent in this classic swimwear, I also enjoy the classic take on the two-piece swimsuit from the same era:

classic retro high waist polka dot swimsuit

Still classy, still appealing on a fashionable level, but a bit more revealing.  Many fellas might balk at the visual of high-waisted clothing, but I believe that most of this disinterest is based on two reasons.  Firstly, they simply want to see more skin, which should nullify their input as valid right then and there, but secondly, it reminds them of older times — and, very likely, older relatives.  I can’t argue against that last part, but in terms of “old” being less sexy, I’ll offer a non-swimwear example:

retro 40's style dresses

Yeah… if a guy thinks THAT is unsexy, then I just can’t help him😉.

Back to swimsuits, even simply taking cues from this style and blending the old with the more modern offers a very tasteful and appealing style:

classic modern polka dot bikini

Wear what you want to wear, ladies, but if you need a vote of encouragement to wear water-time attire that is a little more modest, while still being entirely functional (even more so, I argue) AND is totes adorbs, I’m here to let ya know that I’m all for it!  In my eyes, every gal in this post is pretty darn hot.  If you’re sexy or beautiful, it’s because of you — and more importantly, who you are as a person — not how little clothing you wear.  It’s not my job to tell women how to enjoy their femininity, though, so I just wanted to express exactly how much I enjoy this classic style… and if that means I get to see it a little bit more of it out there on the beach or poolside, then I’m all the happier for that!

retro classic 40's swimsuit

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Uh-Oh, Don’t Let Trump See This

Uline American Mexican flag options

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Out Of The Box – 293

Out of the Box 293 I Choose You 290chu

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The Wonderful Madness Of Pokémon GO

Pokemon Go

As you may or may not have heard, a new Pokémon game was just released, and it’s driving the kids wild.  Except, it’s not just the kids… it’s everyone.

Everyone.

I never played the old (or new) Pokémon games… they either came out for systems I didn’t own (Game Boy) or during a time when I’d stopped playing games.  In all fairness, Pokémon never really piqued my interest much, anyways.  I never felt the insatiable need to catch ’em all, as the tagline went.  Through Super Smash Bros. and general awareness of pop culture, however, I am certainly not unfamiliar with the game concept or its characters.  So, flash forward from my disinterested youth to today and the question arises as to why I’m now bothering to suddenly write about a Pokémon game.

Well, because I’m part of the aforementioned “everyone” who is hooked on Pokémon GO!

Pokemon Go GPS game map

I began hearing about this game pretty immediately at the tail end of last week, after its July 6th release, and by Friday afternoon I decided to check it out.  The unique concept is really what snagged my attention.  The Pokémon games revolve around a simple premise: catch monsters out in the wild, grow them into bigger monsters, and train them to battle one another.  Pokémon GO works in the same way — the  fantastic difference being that this time the player has to run around in the real world to catch the little beasties!  That’s right.  Using your phone’s GPS location, the game uses the real world map of buildings and roads to draw the in-game map the player’s character runs around in — and that character doesn’t move unless the player’s phone does.  The game actually forces the player to move around, and outside of their house, to play… and that’s pretty novel.  There’s more to it, of course, in terms of gameplay specifics, but I’m not here to review the game.

I’m here to talk about how darn fun the madcap collective experience has been!

I started the game up just at the tail-end of my workday on Friday, and captured my starter Pokémon right next to my car as I left to start my weekend:

Pokemon GO starter charmander

I drove straight to the Irvine Spectrum to meet a friend for dinner, and while he and I sat at our table in Ruby’s outdoor patio, I noticed two guys (with an extra, excited onlooker) holding their phones up towards us.  At first I made a joke that they must really like how my friend and I looked, then I realized… they were hunting the Pokémon!  I knowingly nodded at one of the guys and said, “Pokémon?” to which he returned a sheepish nod of acknowledgement.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that this group consisted of two guys in their mid-20’s wearing athletic gear and a 50-year-old Middle Eastern man?

Like I said… it’s everyone!

All over the Spectrum that night I saw young folks dashing around, eyeing their phones for rogue Pokémon that might pop up.  I didn’t join in the madness then, and Saturday I was busy enjoying real life with Great Company (the ice-skating pro!), so it wasn’t until last night that I finally started playing for reals.  My pal KB came by, after a Sunday  down in San Diego, and I ended up joining her for an impromptu Pokémon hunt around town.  We headed down to the beach, and it was absolutely hilarious to see so many others out and about doing the same thing we were.  That’s what this game is doing… creating this mass interest in joining together, outdoors and usually on foot, for a common purpose.  Old, young, every skin-color and background — folks are all in on this together, and it’s really entertaining to see.  I laughed, several times, at the absurdity of it all, that there were so many of us running around trying to attain these digital creatures, but the entire experience is also quite endearing.  And that’s it, that’s the perfect word for it.  Endearing.  Seeing a young teenage couple steal a sweet kiss and a share a tender moment before traipsing off to hunt for their next Pokémon, watching a jogger moving quickly along the beach-side walkway with the phone in his bobbing hand revealing what was on the screen, shouts of victory from random pedestrians who just “took a picture” (but we really know what they were doing)… all of it is simply very endearing.  There is a camaraderie in our madness, and it’s fun to be a part of it:).  On top of that, you just might discover a new, beautiful spot in your town that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about, or see a gorgeous sunset that you might’ve missed if you hadn’t been forced outside to play this game.

You’ll likely be hearing about Pokémon GO on Facebook, the news, and from folks you know in real life.  Some may be obsessed, others might be against it all because they’re too cool, but even if Pokémon or video games aren’t really your thing, I suggest you give the game a whirl.  Even if you don’t love the lore or the actual gameplay, you might be able to enjoy being a part of something that a LOT of other people are a part of.  Something that’s fun, positive, and encourages you to explore the world around you.

…even if it’s just to hunt Pokémon:).

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