Digitally drawn for print. Completed with production artwork background.
A selection of work created for the 2020 New York State Assembly primary and general elections.
2017 has been a dark year, but today, on a cloudy spring day in Rochester, NY, there is a spot of brightness. Donkey Kong has finally been recognized, joining classics from Nintendo and other video game publishers in the World Video Game Hall of Fame at The Strong National Museum of Play.
Donkey Kong, of course, was instrumental in Nintendo’s early success in America when it was released to arcades in 1981. The great ape stood atop the beams of an unfinished building, holding a woman named Pauline captive. Unlike King Kong, the film which would inspire a lawsuit between Universal Pictures and Nintendo, there were no airplanes dispatched to rescue the damsel in distress; there was a carpenter in red, her boyfriend known only as “Jumpman.”
Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong’s designer and, over thirty years later, a living legend in the industry, had intended Jumpman to star in many of his games. While his name and occupation changed, Jumpman lives on as a plumber named Mario (Super Mario Bros., Mario’s breakout role from 1985, was inducted in 2015). Donkey Kong spawned two sequels, Donkey Kong Junior (which feature Mario as the villain) and Donkey Kong 3, as well as the educational Donkey Kong Junior Math, before taking a leave from the spotlight as Nintendo moved into the home console market.
Donkey Kong and the titular arcade game returned to Nintendo’s Game Boy in 1994, followed by the Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Land series developed for Nintendo by Rare. In the two decades since, Donkey Kong has appeared in many more titles as the hero, a sports icon, and a musician. The Kong family has grown to include dozens of primates of all species.
The 2017 class of the World Video Game Hall of Fame also includes Pokémon Red and Green for Game Boy (the original versions released in Japan in 1996), 1991’s Street Fighter II arcade game, and Halo, released on Xbox in 2001.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame was established in 2015 and is part of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at The Strong in Rochester, NY.
In Rochester, NY, where every day is a day for play, today is a little bit bigger. The Strong, home to the National Toy Hall of Fame and International Center for for the History of Electronic Game, among others, announced the third class of nominees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Some titles return from previous nominations, as well as some new additions, though it may be a stretch to call 1981’s Donkey Kong “new”. Nominations were open through February 28.
2017 World Video Game Hall of Fame Nominees:
- Solitaire – Microsoft Windows
- Myst – PC
- Mortal Kombat – arcade
- Donkey Kong – arcade
- Halo –Microsoft Xbox
- Resident Evil – Sony PlayStation
- Portal – PC
- Final Fantasy VII – Sony PlayStation
- Pokémon Red and Green – Nintendo Game Boy (previously nominated in 2015 and 2016)
- Street Fighter II – Super NES (previously nominated in 2016)
- Wii Sports – Nintendo Wii
- Tomb Raider – PC (previously nominated in 2016)
Six games will be inducted after a public voting period and revealed early this summer. Visitors to the museum can view the current inductees and play a wide range of arcade classics today.
For my regular reader, please indulge this stream of personal feelings in response to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, the attacks on police officers in Dallas, and locally, the apparently-unrelated murders and subsequent burning of two people.
I’d like to promise it won’t happen again.
This week has me down. I have a compulsion to make jokes, but today, it feels inappropriate. When David Letterman left TV, I wrote a little story. It was rambling; it was personal; it was not terribly dissimilar from what I’m writing now. The theater is represented by the masks of comedy and tragedy. From the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, Dave was an example, to me, that it is okay to “turn off” and not be funny. He did it when he returned from his heart surgery, to thank his medical team. He did it when he went public with a blackmail attempt and revealed his own affair. He did it on September 17, 2001, when The Late Show was the first late-night show to return to air after the terrorist attacks the previous week.
We, as human beings, deserve better than what we are given, and what we are giving to others.
That night, he expressed a frustration very much like I feel today. The Late Show, and Late Night before it, mocked New York, just as I mock Rochester, the city that I love. Dave was speaking about one specific set of tragedies, but in the fifteen years since, then, his message can apply to any one of the horrible events that have happened. His call for us to be courageous should not limited to the times when we face the unknown evils that lay before us, as the city of New York, the United States, and the world were in September 2001, but in the face of a known evil that we face every day. We, as human beings, deserve better than what we are given, and what we are giving to others.
This isn’t the worst photo I’ve ever taken, but it’s certainly the worst I’ve ever shared on this site.
But it’s still kind of beautiful. A tiny orange dot on the display of my camera, too small to see through the viewfinder, is an entire planet. It’s over 40 million miles away, but we’ve sent things there – multiple times. Someday, not that long from now, we’re going to send a human being, willing to sacrifice their own life on a one-way trip to an orange desert.
Standing in the middle of South Union Street in Rochester, NY, a tiny red dot made me feel small.
(For photography nerds, I used a 500mm lens with a 2x converter. For space nerds, please don’t tell me I actually shot the top of a water tower or something.)
After his breakthrough performance in “The Force Awakens,” a documentary crew follows Kylo Ren as he prepares to fulfill his destiny and receive the Chancellor’s Award.
I submitted this short for the 2016 Star Wars Fan Film Awards. Sound effects and music were provided by Lucasfilm (per contest rules), with the exception of the Force effect, which I created by slowing and down-pitching a purring cat, the same technique as the sound designer for The Force Awakens.
A match-up between Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz has seen little discussion this primary season. With neither being their party’s frontrunner, the odds of these two facing off in the general election are slim. It is my pleasure, then, to pit these two candidates against each other.
Following last weekend’s onslaught of campaigning from Clinton, Kasich, and Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont visited the Bill Gray’s Iceplex at Monroe Community College Tuesday morning. Scheduled to begin at 10am, I was met with thousands of people patiently waiting to enter the arena when I arrived around 6:15. When doors opened around 7:00, the arena floor and bleachers quickly filled. After a short two-hour wait, local musician Teagan Ward performed, her assignment being to “warm up” a crowd that was already quite warm. After short speeches from local organizer Tim Ellis (who those in the rave scene will better know as DJ Dynamic) and former Texas Department of Agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower, the main event began.
Until last Tuesday, the loudest experience of my life was witnessing the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a room with 2000 Star Wars fans. Bernie Sanders topped that, easily. Not because the senator has been known to speak loudly, but because of the screams from 6800 Sanders supporters the moment he appeared on stage. His speech was standard. At this point, the campaigns are finely-tuned machines, navigating over speed bumps and potholes, making their points and speeding on to the next stop.
After four high-energy rallies, it was nice to have a little break on Wednesday and Thursday. That break was only slightly interrupted by the Ted Cruz rally on Friday. I stood in line, where people were more interested in mocking the religious conspiracy theory newsletter being passed out than anything else. We filed inside, with no security check, and took our seats. This may have been the only campaign event actually called a “rally,” but almost every one of the 1500 people admitted was sitting.
A few years ago, I attended a panel with Adam West and Burt Ward, stars of the classic Batman TV series. Scheduled to begin at 3:00, our heroes arrived around 3:20. After fighting crime and questions for less than half an hour, the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder quickly departed once again. Ted Cruz, apparently, is Batman. The event was scheduled to begin at 7:30. At 7:49, local media reported on Twitter than Cruz was arriving at MCC (the event was held in the same location as Hillary Clinton’s, one week earlier). A few minute before 8:00, a highlight reel of Cruz’s primary performances was introduced by two students. Finally, Senator Cruz made his grand entrance, embracing the two young presenters in awkward hugs. His speech was surprisingly compelling. He made jokes and was met with laughter. He criticized Trump, he criticized the radical socialist running in the Democratic race, he even criticized Bernie Sanders, in a twist straight out of late-night television.
Cruz’s message was punctuated by religious imagery. His policies seem to be guided by what God wants, and his final statement was a pledge to return this country to “Judeo-Christian values.” His crowd, likely conditioned by regular church attendance, was very willing to frequently stand to applaud, and then sit back down. Though his religious message may alienate those who are not members of his particular faith, it was apparently welcome news to his supporters.
There was a stark contrast between these two events. The crowd at the Sanders event was passionate, overwhelmingly in favor of a Bernie Sanders presidency. Three days a a few thousand feet later, the crowd for Ted Cruz was… present. Standing in line, many people were there just for an evening of entertainment. Some were drawn to Cruz for his religious message, others because he “isn’t Trump.” Though I’m sure Sanders has drawn some supporters for the similar reason of not being Hillary Clinton, police turned more people away from his weekday morning event than Cruz drew to his Friday night rally.
After five rallies from five candidates, the voters of the Rochester area should be itching to vote on Tuesday. Unlike most years, we have a real opportunity to shape the direction of the candidate selection. If nothing else, it will mean these candidates can leave us alone and pretend that New York’s northern border is Yonkers, as we like it.