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.
I love my city. It took me in and gave me everything it has to offer. It is not perfect, by any means, but it has cultivated a close-knit community of artists, musicians, scientists, activists, public servants, and families. I may not know the name of every person walking down the street, but I know where I have seen them before.
I could have chosen to live in any one of our suburbs. Some of them may cost less. Some of them may be quieter. They may claim to be Rochester, but they are not. Fairport was not where Susan B. Anthony was arrested for illegally voting. Greece was not where Frederick Douglass published The North Star. Henrietta is not where the digital camera was invented, and then ignored.
From within the warehouse of the Genesee Brewery, the oldest in the state of New York, with the sweet smell of hops lingering in the air, Mayor Lovely Warren made her second State of the City address. She spoke of our city’s storied past, its struggle, through examples in Kodak and the brewery where we sat, and its growth and positive future.
While she took credit where she deserved it, she frequently praised other government leaders, prominent members of the community, and the residents of Rochester for their work in ushering in a new era for Rochester while respecting its past. Warren is a city mayor. She grew up in Rochester and talked of its struggles from experience, not from records. While her term as mayor started off with interesting events, only her harshest critics remain.
The only guarantee then is that doing nothing will solve nothing.
Mayor Warren’s proposals will not be popular for everyone. The residents of this city, and those of the neighboring towns, seem to have an attitude of “if it might not work, we shouldn’t try.” Rochester’s violent crime has been reduced, but not eliminated. Rochester remains the worst in the nation for child poverty. But efforts by the government, by the community, should not be stopped in a committee because there is no guarantee that they will work. The only guarantee then is that doing nothing will solve nothing.
A string of others, including former mayor Bob Duffy, Kris Sirchio, CEO of North American Breweries, and Pastor David Valle of River City Church, spoke before Mayor Warren. They each spoke of the progress we have made and of all that is left to do. It was a much smaller statement that spoke to me, however.
“Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to support this great city.”
Deputy Mayor Leonard E. Redon did not intend to make a profound statement when he thanked the audience for attending, but his words should be felt by any resident of the Flower City. We should not just accept his thanks, but accept it as a call to action to do what each of us can to make Rochester the city it should be.
For the first time in my lifetime, New York’s primary actually matters, and all eyes are on us. Just over a week before the election, my favorite city (or its suburbs, anyway) is hosting four of the five major candidates. Hillary Clinton visited Monroe Community College on Friday, John Kasich in Greece on Saturday, and Donald Trump in Gates on Sunday. With a Bernie Sanders appearance Tuesday morning at the Bill Gray’s Iceplex and an as-yet-unscheduled appearance from Ted Cruz in the coming days, it is an exciting time to be a Rochesterian with an interest in politics, or a guy who wants to sell t-shirts and scream horribly sexist things into a crowd.
I am no stranger to big events. From the streets of Manhattan to the Anaheim convention center, I’ve spent dozens of hours waiting in line. Usually that line has a Star Wars actor or a famous TV couch at the end of it, but I guess a political candidate in one of various stages of desperation is line-worthy. The weekend’s brisk spring, with delightful winds to keep the crowd from overheating in the harsh 35-degree temperatures, did little to discourage the crowd. Clinton attracted several thousand people to MCC’s gymnasium. Monroe County Republican Party chair Bill Reilich brought John Kasich to the Greece Community and Senior Center, conveniently attached to the town hall, where Reilich serves as town supervisor. Donald Trump appeared at JetSmart Aviation, next to the Greater Rochester International Airport, likely so he could get in and out before the area’s rural residents try to adopt him.
The events themselves aren’t that different. Clinton and Kasich both delivered broad speeches that were hard to disagree with, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall on. Kasich’s strength or weakness, depending on whether you are a supporter or not, was in the question and answer session. It is far easier to compare these two “traditional” politicians than it is to compare them to Trump.
Now, my intention when I started this article was to present the facts and not let my own beliefs color the narrative. The description of Clinton’s and Kasich’s rallies, and anything not dealing with Donald Trump, was mostly written at the counter of a diner while I ate a humungous cheeseburger (listed on the menu as a “slider”). Trump’s event looked like it was held in a hangar, but it felt like an alternate reality. While his supporters ate up every word of what he said, the rest, and there were many, exercised every ounce of self-control they possessed to stop themselves from shouting out. Some were not successful. By the third sentence, Trump had already removed one person from the audience.
I lost most of my phone’s battery to Twitter, dominated by local media providing almost line-by-line coverage. Trump’s constant attacks on the media were far from the events I saw unfold online. His claims that the media wouldn’t admit to the size of the crowd were punctuated by local media showing the size of the crowd and the people who couldn’t make it to the event. Trump’s campaign has been accused of playing on the fear of his supporters, but it appeared to me that he was afraid they would figure his game out. His hype man, Pastor Mark Burns, told the crowd that Trump would be landing his plane (a plane the audience seemed to be obsessed with) “any minute.” That minute, according to the Twitter feeds of every local news outlet, actually occurred fifteen minutes earlier, because Trump was sitting in a media room holding an interview at the time. Regardless of how anyone feels about Trump’s policies, his campaign events had more in common with a magic show than the events held earlier this weekend.
But let’s start at the beginning again. Bill Reilich was notably absent from this event, after introducing John Kasich the day before. Our first speaker was Carl Paladino, the Buffalo businessman and, to borrow a phrase from Trump, a loser. That is, after all, what happened when he ran against Andrew Cuomo to become governor of New York. He spewed attacks at the press. He went after Governor Cuomo. He accused “the government” of trying to stop Donald Trump from winning the nomination, overlooking the fact that it is the Republican party, if any group, that is working against Trump. Pastor Burns continued on a similar path, blaming the media and the establishment for any perceived roadblocks the Trump campaign is facing. That was a recurring theme in the speech given by Donald himself. The rules are unfair. The media is unfair. The fact that there are still other candidates running against him is unfair. Trump did compare his apparent struggle to Bernie Sanders, who he said is being treated by the Democrats and the media much the same way. The Trump campaign apparently only bought $15 worth of music for their pre-rally playlist, as it repeated many times. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (an example of good American jobs being outsourced to foreigners) was a staple, though if Trump has ever heard it, the message bounced off the top of his majestic hair.
Even the crowd at Trump’s event was very different than at the others. Supporters of Kasich and Clinton were friendly and polite. Trump’s crowd, complaining about how the current generaton “has no respect,” had no problem pushing people out of their way for a better view or turning to present a rude gesture to the news cameras. Evidently, “entitlement” is not limited only to social programs when talking about politics. I will give them a small amount of credit, however. When a man in an electric wheelchair tried to navigate through the crowd and one brave soul dressed as Marty McFly decided to make a stand to stop that injustice from happening, he was quickly turned against by Trump supporters and opponents alike.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (an example of good American jobs being outsourced to foreigners) was a staple, though if Trump has ever heard it, the message bounced off the top of his majestic hair.
Looking back on happier times, the Kasich and Clinton events were very positive. While their specific plans were different, each presented a vision for a better future in a great country. Kasich played big on his past in Congress and as Governor of Ohio, and spent a great deal of time talking about his family. Clinton herself skipped over much of her political past to talk about issues, and mentioned only once, at the end of her speech, her young granddaughter. Perhaps it is because the Clinton family has been in the national public eye for nearly 25 years, but it appeared as a stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic identities. Hillary Clinton appeared genuinely pleased to see Blake Moore, president of MCC’s student government, leading a group of students so interested in the system. John Kasich was sincerely grateful for the support he received, drawing attention to the call from his opponent to drop out.
In the end, did these events sway anyone to a new candidate? Likely not. They are designed to reinforce support among the people who are already in their camp. It provided the people of our community with an uncommon opportunity to feel as if these candidates are aware of a part of the state north of Westchester County, and a small army of officers from local, county, and state police agencies to earn a little overtime pay. It will be seen if these events repeat four years from now, or if Rochester crumbles into a post-apocalyptic hell-scape. Really, it wouldn’t be much different than how some candidates described it this weekend.