About averagejosh

I write. I eat pizza. I drink Fresca. I sleep. I also do other things.

Nicktoons THE MOVIE


So news is coming out today that Nickelodeon has plans to do movie that’s a giant mishmash of all its classic cartoons, and it’s to be written and directed by Jared and Jerusha Hess, of whom I am a rather large fan.

For all you plebs out there, that’s the husband-wife tandem responsible for Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, among other things.

Although Nickelodeon hasn’t been specific, cramming together the worlds of Rocko’s Modern Life, Ren and Stimpy, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and others seems pretty great. Just imagine, POWDERED TOAST MAN vs REALLY REALLY BIG MAN! I think SpongeBob would be a nice addition, too, but I’m not sure how well Rugrats really fits in.

I don’t know if Jim Jinkins (or perhaps Jumbo Pictures) technically owns the rights to Doug, or if he actually sold ownership to Disney, but that’s one classic Nicktoon I really wouldn’t want thrown in with the rest. Doug has always been a very special and personal show for me, and the fact that it’s grounded in the day-to-day minutia just doesn’t loan itself to the bizarre zaniness of the other classic Nicktoons. Unless they just decide to make the whole thing a really wonky daydream of Doug’s, but even then… I dunno. Doug is sacred to me and crossover just feels wrong.

I know Nick’s also working on a new Hey Arnold! movie, which could potentially be something special, but I admit I do feel a bit apprehensive about the idea of just resurrecting all these classic shows some twenty-ish years later.

If you’re Nickelodeon, I think you really run the risk of tarnishing the good will you’ve been building with ‘millenials’ (ugh, I hate that word) over the past couple of years if any of this turns out to be less-than-ideal.

I mean, do you go back and get all the creators and original writers in an attempt to make everything feel right? That’s great if you can, but if you can’t, how well can you pull it off??

Craig Bartlett, John Kricfalusi, Joe Murray, all those guys – are they going to come back and give some input? It’d be nice.

And then the voice actors – if you can’t get the original cast, then your new folks better sound identical. Sadly, Christine Cavanaugh, the voice of Chuckie Finster, passed away a little over a year ago. So if Rugrats are included, I know they’ll have to find a replacement. And Ernest Borgnine (Mermaid Man) passed away three or four years ago, too.

This is a big idea, and I like the premise, but there’s a huge risk in attempting something like this.

Old-School Cool

This is something I wrote a couple of weeks ago in the days leading up to Christmas.


I don’t usually work closing shifts, but that’s where I found myself this evening.

Considering kids are out of school on break, Christmas shopping is at its peak, Star Wars opens this weekend (and the theater is just two blocks away) and it’s a Friday night to boot, things were pretty hectic. I spent a good portion of my night grumbling under my breath about the stupid things the hordes of teens and (ugh) “PRE-teens” were doing in the store.

At one point, a pack of 12-year-old girls could be heard cackling, tee-heeing and saying things like, “OH-EM-GEE, like, I am SO obsessed with Star Wars!” and, “I love Harpoon-D2!” (HARPOON-D2?!?!?!) with the thickest of “Valley Girl” accents.

Later, three “skaters” were meandering through the aisles with their skateboards and acting like they were a bunch of rebels who were just way too cool for school. Yup, nothing says “edgy” like spending your Friday night in a bookstore while waiting for your parents to pick you up. Whoa. Watch out. These are some bad dudes.

Anyway, the highlight of my night (and I mean that sincerely) was when I rang up an older gentleman who told me he was about to turn 83. He spoke with an accent that almost sounded Eastern European, like Polish or something, and said he and his wife were from Connecticut, but moved down about three years ago and that she’d just beaten cancer.

He said he used drive a van for his church, taking elderly people to their doctors’ appointments and such, but he and his wife had decided to move to be closer to their children and TWENTY TWO GRANDCHILDREN.

He wore a short, trim, well-kept Johnny Unitas-style flattop; a tan/khaki, half-zipped Members Only jacket; thin, black-rim glasses (the opposite of Harry Caray’s) and a behind-the-ear hearing aid in his left ear. In his shirt pocket he kept a mechanical pencil and a click pen, and he asked to have the receipt (instead of sticking in the bag) so he could record it in his ledger at home in order to track their finances.

He’d called ahead to have a book held (one he was buying for one of his grandchildren), and said that after driving 45 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, he realized he’d gone to the wrong Barnes & Noble, which did not have the book he was looking for. So he hopped back in his car and drove another 45 minutes across town in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to our store.

But he wasn’t upset or angry, and in fact, he shook my hand and kept thanking me for being so nice and for holding the book for him (all I did was grab it from the counter behind me, haha). Then he asked to speak to Patricia (or ‘Pah-tree-shah,’ as he said) who he spoke to on the phone so he could thank her, too.

You could tell this guy was truly from a different generation. He was appreciative, clean-cut, disciplined, orderly and responsible. In a lot of ways, he reminded me of my granddaddy, who’d be 86 this February.

At one point, he said that I didn’t have a Southern accent, but I explained that I’ve lived all 27 years of my life in Asheville (pronounced ‘Ashe-vull’ if you’re from here). He said I’d learned to “talk like a Yankee,” something very similar to what my granddaddy would say when giving me a hard time for “talkin’ like a Yankee” because of the way I’d pronounce words like “hawk” and “dog,” haha.

If you were to ask my granddaddy, who spent the majority of his life in North and South Carolina, both of those words have heavy “W” sounds (‘hAWk’ and ‘dAWg’).

The man this evening was more talkative than my granddady, and he spoke with a Northern accent rather than a Southern one, but he shared a number of the same qualities and characteristics – conscientious, friendly, courteous, kind and responsible while maintaining a real sense of humor. They even wore the same jacket and both carried a pencil and pen in their pocket.

My granddaddy, who was an electrical engineer with Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) for 38 years, volunteered at our church every week, went out of his way to help people, treated my grandmother like a queen (especially when she was going through cancer), and took care of and kept written records of all their finances.

You just don’t come across many people of that old-school style of discipline and responsibility anymore, and this gentleman just really made an impression on me because of how much he reminded me of my granddaddy.

There and Back Again


About four and a half years ago, the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were released together as a box set on Blu-ray. These are the longer, preferred versions Peter Jackson would rather you watch – the director’s cut – rather than the (slightly) abridged theatrical releases.

Each movie runs an average of 242 minutes, putting the total run time for all three films at just over 12 hours. That’s not including the few extra minutes between films for changing discs and loading.

So a few days after the box set was released, at around 12:30 PM on hot afternoon in early July, my friend Brian and I emptied our bladders, collected our snacks, cracked the tabs on our cans of energy drinks and got comfortable at opposite ends of the couch.

From that point on, I didn’t move from where I sat, except to change out the discs (at which point I’d use the bathroom as the movie loaded up). Sadly, Brian had to drop out after The Two Towers, but that means he still lasted eight hours.

I, however, soldiered on. And at about 12:45 AM in the morning, I completed my journey. Just as Frodo and Sam made it from Bag End to the mouth of Mount Doom, I, too had lasted the entirety of my odyssey.

I mention this only because the extended editions of The Hobbit trilogy are to be released in a box set on Blu-ray tomorrow. While some (rightly) criticize this trilogy for stretching out the story beyond its merit, it only runs around nine hours in total.

So, the next time I have two consecutive days off (time for watching, time for sleeping/recovery), I plan to marathon all six movies, from beginning to end, in one, single sitting. All added up, I’m looking at somewhere between 21-22 hours, give or take a little for disc changes and load times.

I’m not sure I have the constitution to last the entirety, but with your sword, bow and axe, you can be sure I’ll stand a fighting chance.

how to be me

how to be me:

-go to Chick-fil-A drive-through
-order a number one, no pickles, with a lemonade
-pull up to window
-pay for food
-take drink
-drive off without food because you’re an idiot
-drive back around while girl at the window gives you a weird look
-get out of car and smile because you’re an embarrassed idiot
-take the walk of shame over to drive-through window
-wave like an idiot to the person waiting in their car
-grab bag from girl at the window and apologize for being an idiot
-go back to car
-drive away as fast as possible
-park somewhere far away to eat your sandwich free of embarrassment

congratulations, you’re now me

Spotted some neat stuff in the background of an episode of Frasier

frasier earthbound snes virtual boy sharp

I was watching this 1995-episode of Frasier as I did my daily walk on the treadmill when I noticed some familiar items in the background of this toy store.

The first image highlighted by the red rectangle on the left is a stack of Super NES systems. In the shot they’re only seen from from the side. I couldn’t find any good images of the box from its side, and I didn’t feel like digging out my old box, but if you look at the bottom of the lower image, you’ll see the side (at an angle), which matches up exactly to the box in the scene. It’s not a Super Set, which came bundled with Super Mario World, rather, it’s just the Control Set (no games included).

The second image is of the famously-large box for EarthBound (an expensive and hard-to-find SNES classic), which included a large player’s guide and some heinously stinky scratch-and-sniff cards (mine still smell). It’s turned slightly at an angle, showing its right side. You can see that it’s sitting atop another EarthBound box, which is lying face-down.

And lastly, the image on the right is the back of a Virtual Boy box. I’d recognize that hideous art anywhere, haha. That poor machine was only available at retail for seven months in the US before Nintendo pulled the plug. It’s kind of a weird system to collect games for, as only 22 were made between Japan and the US. Wario Land is actually a pretty fun game, though. It’s got a lot of dimensional depth and cool spritework. Had limitations (and other hindrances) not held it back, a full-color Wario Land would’ve been beautiful.

This episode of Frasier aired on December 19, just under a week before Christmas. EarthBound and the Virtual Boy had just been released that summer, so I imagine Nintendo was hoping for them to be big-ish sellers during the holiday season. Sadly, neither sold exceptionally well, although EarthBound was a sleeper hit at the time and wound up gaining a major cult following in the years that followed.

The Nintendo 64 was set to launch in September of ’96 in the US, so the SNES was very much at the end of its life cycle at this point. That explains much of EarthBound’s lack of initial success, but the Virtual Boy was a flop because it was just so poorly conceived in so many aspects, and its sales reflected that.

Anyway, I love spotting this kind of stuff in older television shows. 😀

anxious for pizza


Ordering a pizza to your house is kind of an interesting concept when you suffer from even a little social anxiety.

Thanks to the glory of the internet, you can bypass at least one obstacle just by ordering online. No more awkwardly-phrased, poorly-executed orders over the phone with someone who keeps incorrectly repeating your order back to you. So that’s out of the way.

But then you go into waiting, where you have to allow time for the pizza to be made, baked, boxed and slipped into the delivery guy’s big, insulated shoulder bag. And then there’s travel time, with bonus wait time added on for when the delivery guy can’t find your house and calls you for directions, but then just gets more lost when you give him vague, unhelpful guidance. “Uhh, yeah, I’m in the house that has the lights on, and umm… there’s a mailbox.”

Finally – FINALLY – you see the headlights from the delivery guy’s car through the windows as he pulls into your driveway. At this point, the mood is like a mix of the dread and urgency that comes when the president puts the military at DEFCON 2 in anticipation of a declaration of war, mixed with the bated excitement that comes with the impending arrival of Christmas, the Super Bowl, a new Star Wars movie and other religious holidays.

Everyone’s running through the house, flailing their arms about and yelping cries of joy. The pizza hysteria sets in and you go from doing an awkward white guy celebration dance, shouting, “YEAH! PIZZA’S HEEERRREEE, BOYEEE!!!” to panicking and yell-whispering, “Ohmygawd, where’s the money?!” “We paid online!” “How much do we tip the guy?!” “We already paid the tip online!” as if the delivery guy has supersensory hearing and will drive off with your pizzas if he hears you talking about the money.


And there it is. He’s here. With our pizzas. The delivery guy.

Maybe if we don’t move and stop talking, he’ll just leave the pizzas at the door and leave like UPS or something.

Nope, gotta be an adult.

So you casually open the door and act as if you’d forgotten all about that pizza you ordered until you heard the doorbell. So you say, “Oh, hey!” as if to imply, “You’re here already?”

Your ratty Simpsons t-shirt with the spaghetti sauce stain that won’t come out, and the “lived-in” look of your sweatpants really add to the casual, nonchalant attitude you’re trying to convey. It’s as if you just got out of bed, but hey, maybe you did. You can tell the pizza dude is impressed.

Then you make short, awkward conversation as he hands you a pen and a receipt, which you sign and then exchange for the pizza as if this is a hostage negotiation. Just hand me the pies and no one gets hurt!

Once you’ve made the hand-off and the pizza dude is walking back to his car, the last bit of paranoia sets in as you hope he knows you’re not stiffing him on a tip.

But now the door is shut and locked, and at last, you’re reunited with the love of your life.

Pondering Nintendo ‘NX’ and backwards compatibility


Backwards compatibility.

PlayStation 4 doesn’t have it.

Xbox One barely has it. As in, only recently, a select few “Xbox Preview members” were granted access, and only about 20 titles are currently supported.

Wii U is the only current-gen system that’s fully backwards compatible with all games in its predecessor’s library. But as with all backward compatible platforms, Wii U doesn’t run last-gen titles natively. You have to boot into an “emulation mode” that functions exactly like the old console. So when a Wii U boots into Wii mode, it operates like a Wii in every way, meaning you have no Wii U functionality. This means you can’t check your friends list, view the eShop, see current downloads, etc. That could change with NX.

Before Iwata’s untimely passing, he stated, “We do not intend [NX] to become a simple ‘replacement’ for Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.” A month later, Reggie said, “We’ve said publicly that we are already hard at work on our next home console.”

For these reasons, and contrary to popular thought, I do not believe NX will be a handheld/home console hybrid. Reggie’s emphatic statement about a home console and Iwata’s comment regarding 3DS lead me to believe that NX is a home console, and only a home console. But Iwata also stated NX would not be Wii U replacement, either. And that’s where my thoughts on backwards compatibility come in.

In a 2014 investors meeting, Iwata stated, “It will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture. It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems.”

Now, I don’t know squat about hardware or programming or any of that stuff, but to me, that sounds as though NX could natively play Wii U games. There wouldn’t be a “Wii U mode” where you play outside the NX’s regular environment. Wii U games would be treated as regular games, played right there in the same interface/environment as NX games. All your menus, screens and functionality would be accessible without having to jump in and out of a clunky emulator mode. This way, instead of abandoning the platform once the new console is out, Nintendo can continue to fully support Wii U titles.

Think of it this way. You can upgrade or build a new computer with better parts. You can even upgrade your Windows OS, but essentially, at its core, it’s running on the same foundation. In turn, that means all the stuff you were able to run and play before still functions the same, but you’re also able to do new, better things that weren’t previously possible with your old hardware/software.

Considering Iwata’s comments regarding Nintendo’s hardware being “brothers” in an ecosystem, and the discussion of a new, cross-platform account system, it seems quite feasible that if you purchased digital versions of Wii U games, you could potentially download and play them again, free of charge, on your NX, based upon the fact that your account purchased them already. If NX plays Wii U games natively right out of the box, then there’s already a solid library of great games to play, in addition to NX launch titles and the promise of more to come.

But if that’s the case, you’ll need a Wii U GamePad, right? It’s possible Nintendo might sell GamePads separately, something they don’t do now, for people who didn’t buy into Wii U. Or, going a step further, it might be possible to use a 3DS for GamePad functionality. This is something Nintendo already has experience with, as it’s possible to use a 3DS as a controller for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

With all of that said, I don’t believe the GamePad or any type of tablet-based controller will be what we see as the main, front-and-center controller for NX. I just believe the console will fully support that functionality for people who want to take advantage.

Beyond that, I wonder if Nintendo’s next handheld could potentially play Wii U titles. The 3DS is getting a little long in the tooth, and the New 3DS is nothing more than a stopgap (a stopgap I’m proud to own, thank you very much). While Nintendo won’t want to conflate talk of a new handheld with talk of NX, I have to imagine we’ll be hearing about new handheld hardware sooner rather than later.

Considering Wii U’s relative lack of power compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that a new handheld device could be just as powerful as Wii U. And with that new, cross-platform architecture and account system, and the fact I can’t see Nintendo abandoning the two-screen functionality in its handhelds, it really doesn’t seem that far-fetched to think you could play Wii U games on the go.

Last year I postulated what Nintendo’s next handheld might be like. Some of what I talked about doesn’t seem likely or relevant anymore, but some of it still seems just as pertinent. I could be talking out of my butt, although we won’t know for a while, but it all seems worth considering.

Tempering Expectations

I don’t know the origin of the idiom, “Never meet your heroes,” but it seems to be as relevant as ever.

And now, because of the ever-present role of technology and social media in our lives, we don’t even necessarily need to meet our heroes for them to personally disappoint us. A careless remark to someone in a private conversation can turn into a full-blown national scandal.

It’s not that you shouldn’t have heroes – I certainly have plenty of my own – it’s just that we shouldn’t be consumed by infatuation for them. I think it’s healthy to have people to look up to, people who inspire us. And that can, of course, include friends and family members. But we often look outside our social circles for inspiration, and we tend to forget that even the most well-regarded individuals are just as fallible as we are.

People are flawed and they make mistakes. Some get caught up in the heat of the moment – or react to something offhandedly, not necessarily meaning anything by it – and say or do things they instantly regret. Others do deplorable things intentionally, hoping no one will ever find out, and either show no remorse, or give insincere apologies in an attempt to save face when it all comes to light. There are a million ways people can, have and will step in it. The point is, because we have expectations, at some point or another, we’ll be let down.

And whether we personally deem a person’s actions worthy of national, front-and-center, in-the-spotlight attention, is irrelevant. Once it’s news, it’s all many people will focus on. It’s not up to me to tell you how to feel, and it’s not my place to dictate whether a person’s actions necessitate forgiveness on your part. That’s not my prerogative. That’s up to each one of us, individually.

But when we’re let down by our heroes in any field, I think it’s sometimes at least partially our fault for putting them up on a pedestal. That’s not excusing their actions, nor is it absolving them of responsibility, but for a plethora of reasons, we tend to hold prominent people to higher standards.

But some of those people can’t even meet the basic standard of, what I’d call, being a decent human being. And I guess that might mean different things to different people, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect each other to be capable of respecting, and not purposely violating, one another’s personal, physical, emotional and mental well-being.

There are figures in society whose identities we hold up as moral beacons. And when they (almost inevitably) stumble and fall, it hurts more than when some stranger does the same thing. We may not know the full story behind any of the circumstances, but when we begin to see a basic picture of who they are outside the spotlight, it can entirely change our feelings towards them.

I don’t know what I’m really trying to say, other than maybe we should temper our expectations of the people we look up to, because they’re often not who we imagine or want them to be.

Remembering Iwata


At this time last week, I was – along with the rest of the gaming world – still reeling from the news that broke Sunday evening. Satoru Iwata had passed away.

Just as I was about to hop off the computer for the night, I checked my Twitter feed and saw the first bit of news trickling out. I had to reread the the headline three times just to make sure I’d seen it correctly. Upon clicking a couple of links, my heart sank as the news was repeatedly confirmed.

And then I cried.

I was heartbroken, and I think I always will be. Continue reading

Thoughts on Charleston, the Confederate flag, and gun violence


Hey guys, I posted this on Facebook last night. After some thought, I decided to share it here, too.

In wake of the horrific attack on the church in Charleston last week, I’ve been sitting on a number of thoughts, trying to wrap my brain around them, and trying to mold them into articulate ideas. I didn’t want to react in a knee-jerk fashion, and I didn’t want my words to get lost in the cacophony of social commentary coming from every direction.

But now I’m going to speak.

I don’t claim to have all the insight, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but hopefully I can adequately provide my perspective, however limited it may be.

First, I want to address South Carolina’s decision to remove what is commonly referred to as the Confederate flag. It was most certainly, and unquestionably, the right move. That’s what I firmly believe. But I also want to expand upon that.

To anyone making the argument that it’s a symbol of “heritage, not hate,” I understand where you’re coming from. As a born-and-raised Southerner, I get that. For a long time, growing up, that was also my view and understanding. But over the years, and especially more recently, my opinion has changed. Continue reading