Teaching Kids Proper Use of the Death Scream

I’m not a parent yet, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to fare better than most people when it comes to not screwing up my future offspring. This prediction stems from the fact that I’ve seen tons of douche bags make parenting look hard, and that’s usually a clear sign that an activity is actually fairly straightforward (ex: dating, pet ownership, driving). Once I get over my irrational fear of babies dropping babies, I’m confident that I’ll be a parenting prodigy.

So, take it from the World’s #1 Dad™: it’s important to teach your young children the difference between the “A stranger is murdering me!” scream and the “I’m a stupid kid who likes to make noise!1!!1″ scream. In decades past the sound of a child screaming at the top of his or her lungs would compel most adults to investigate and render assistance. Nowadays, however, the sound of a child screaming in abject terror is likely just a sign that some idiot 5 year old is having fun. Consequentially (and as tends to be the case with many things in life), the morons have ruined the usefulness of the emergency scream for the rest of society.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about children squealing. As obnoxious as it is, I realize that squeals and loud yelling are par for the course with young kids. I’m talking about the type of scream that instinctively puts human senses on high alert, the type of scream that 30,000 years ago would have indicated that a tiger was in the process of eating the toddler in the hut across the way.

In the path of an oncoming semi: good time to scream.

Coach killed by possessed vending machine: good time to scream.

It has reached the point where if I’m walking down the street and hear a child’s blood-curdling cries for help nearby, they’ll be lucky if I even turn my head. For all I know there are children just being raped and murdered around me left and right on a regular basis, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to run to the “scene of the crime” even one more time just to encounter some little girl enjoying her tire swing. Just recently I actually heard a kid desperately screaming something to the effect of “HELP!! HELP ME!!! STOP!!!”, which made me break with my usual policy of indifference and pop my head outside to see what was up. Much to my disappointment, the boy was not in fact being abducted; his shitty parents just neglected to teach him the subtle differences between the perils of Stranger Danger and the displeasure of having your older brother shoot you with a Super Soaker.

If your kid is a screamer then you need to correct that shit pronto. Ground them, beat them, emotionally abuse them – whatever it takes to drive the message home. You’ll be a better parent for it, and by the time your grandchildren are born they might actually have the chance to live in a world where legitimate cries for help aren’t inadvertently ignored.


Cheese Graters Suck

I think that I’ve always been afraid of  cheese graters. Frankly, any rational person should be. A cheese grater’s potential for inflicting fucked up amounts of damage to human flesh far outweighs its utility in the kitchen.

Granted, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably missing something when it comes to cheese grater technique. Taking a new block of cheddar and shredding it with a grater is pretty straightforward, but when I get down to the last quarter of the block, shit gets a little too real. Every downward swipe becomes exponentially more frightening, yet I feel compelled to keep at it due to the voice in my head telling me that I shouldn’t waste a perfectly good ounce of cheese. Swap the voice in my head with that of Tobin Bell and you’ve got yourself a scene right out of a Saw film.

“The key to your shackles is hidden inside that block of cheese.”

Needless to say I now purchase my cheese pre-shredded. It’s well worth the inflated price so that I can sleep at night without having nightmares about losing chunks of my finger tips the next time that I want tacos for dinner. That rule also applies to anything else that one could imagine using a cheese grater for, because no matter what I do  it always turns into some kind of shit show. I tried making hash browns from scratch the other day by grating whole potatoes, but by the time I finished the job the potato shreds had turned purple. Purple.

It occurs to me that if I ever find myself in captivity being tortured for information by some nefarious government, they’re likely going to Google this blog post and whip out the grater. It goes without saying that I’ll sing like a bird, so anyone thinking about sharing the nuclear launch codes with me should consider themselves warned. On the bright side, there would be little need for cheese graters after a nuclear holocaust.


How My Hobby Became My Job

Buckle up everyone, this ride’s about to get a bit nerdy.

Back in high school I passed the time in my math classes by programming games in BASIC for my TI-83 graphing calculator, then distributing the games to my friends so that they too could appear to be “hard at work” on their calculators during class. By the end of high school I was creating multiplayer computer games and had started up my own little online gaming community. Although my career ambitions have always been solely focused on my film/video stuff, creating online games became a fun little side hobby.

Two years ago I started work on a game that is a throwback to the days of the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) called “NEStalgia”. For those of you who aren’t gamers I’ll sum it up this way: NEStalgia is essentially what World of Warcraft would have been if that game had been made in 1989. It’s a large open world that you explore alongside lots of other players, but the game’s art style and gameplay are incredibly retro. Although the concept is unique and the game is well made, I never really anticipated that it would have mass appeal.

I was wrong.

After two years of development (me laying on the couch in my pajamas coding on my laptop a couple nights a week) I finally decided to announced NEStalgia’s release to the world in February. Much to my surprise, half an hour after I emailed what were essentially my “warmup” press releases to a couple independent gaming sites, my servers started to get slammed with new players. Long story short, NEStalgia ended up getting featured on tons of main stream gaming sites, which led to tens of thousands of new logins in just the first few days alone. Game Informer, Kotaku, Destructoid, Joystiq, G4 TV etc. etc. etc… needless to say things got crazy. The game has also since been listed on Gamepro’s 37 Best Free PC Games and 1UP’s 101 Free Games of 2011.

Suddenly finding myself in the role of Lead Designer and Community Manager for a popular indie game, I dropped everything else that I was working on. The first month of managing NEStalgia was a blur of scrambling to get more servers online, responding to hundreds of emails, and posting constant bug fixes. Thankfully my 24/7 work schedule didn’t go unrewarded, as NEStalgia’s optional subscription system was raking in more than enough money to cover my costs and support me full time.

Almost four months later the dust has finally settled and I’ve laid out some pretty ambitious plans for future NEStalgia development and distribution. Exciting times, but I also have some mixed feelings over the whole thing. Although I enjoy working on NEStalgia, I also really miss writing and working on film stuff. While working on this game may have become my full time job for the short term, I really can’t wait to get back to focusing on my “real” job.  I suppose that there are a lot of people who struggle to find even one thing that they love doing, and I should be thankful to have two…

…Screw that though! If there were more hours in the day I’d probably have five more major hobbies. Seriously, how can so many people not know what they want to do with their lives? /rant

Anyway, that’s the story of my Spring 2011. It sure is a good thing that Macho Man Randy Savage prevented the Rapture, because I have a lot to look forward to this summer. If this nerdy tale has piqued your curiosity about NEStalgia, be sure to check out the website or the Facebook page for the game. My summer plans also include no longer neglecting this blog, so check back later for less nerdiness and more of whatever it is that I usually write about.

Week in Review: Feb 13th – Feb 19th 2011

My initial goal was to post at least two blog entries every week, but as you might have noticed I haven’t quite met my quota this month. Hopefully I’ll have a bit more time on my hands in the coming weeks to start getting into a better rhythm with all of this stuff. For now, another Week in Review:

The World’s Week:

The Wisconsin Union Issue

Every time that a hot button political issue like this pops up, conservatives and liberals all around the country begin a race to see who can make the most ignorant and outrageous accusations about each other. The particular issue of the day doesn’t matter; it’s “us vs. them” and they are always wrong (and evil!!!).

After 200,000 years of human progress the majority of people in our society still feel the urge to join tribes and chuck spears at each other. The only difference is that instead of spears, the unwashed masses in modern times attack using blog posts and tweets.

When I finish inventing my machine that enables people to literally stab each other in the face over the internet, I’m going to make a fortune.

Egypt etc.

Part of me feels like I ought to at least bring this issue up, but I’d rather not subject my readership to yet another blogger’s inane thoughts on the uprisings in the Middle East… especially when I could use the page space for this instead:

My Week:

Indoor Lacrosse

Perfect for bashing in heads!

Last weekend I  went to an indoor Lacrosse game with the Mallahan clan (my aunts/uncles/cousins). Having never seen a game before I was skeptical about the sport, but someone told me that Hipsters hate Lacrosse so I naturally decided to give it a chance.

Picture hockey only more brutal; half of the game consists of the players intentionally wacking each other in the face with their stick things as they run up and down the field. I’m not typically a huge sports fan, but I was sucked in by the fast paced nature of the game and I had a lot of fun.

The bad news is that on the night we went to the game Washington lost to a Canadian team. The good news is that they’re all still Canadian, and we’re not.

Seven Mile Walk

Wanting to take advantage of the fact that we’re no longer living in the 10th Circle of Hell, my wife and I have decided to start exploring the large variety of beautiful walking trails that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Last weekend we had the bright idea to start our adventures by taking seven mile walk with a friend of ours. After you’ve been couped up indoors all winter long, walking seven miles is essentially a hate crime against the lower half of your body. If someone had been there at mile six to arrest me and carry me away, I certainly wouldn’t have objected.

For as much pain as I was in after the walk, I felt surprisingly good the next day. I’m apparently in better shape than I expected – I now have an excuse to eat more cake.

Posted in Week in Review

The girl who had my cell phone number before me

A couple years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles I changed my cell phone over to a local number. Long story short, I apparently wasn’t the first person to have owned that number. Meet Asha:

This is a composite sketch that I’ve drawn with MS Paint based upon everything that I’ve learned about her in the past two years. That’s right, after two years I’m still getting calls for this girl.

Let’s go over the facts:

  • Asha is some sort of model (or told people that she was).
  • She drives a BMW that she decided to never make the payments on
  • She likes credit cards as well, but decided not to pay for those either.
  • Asha is lonely (hence the tears). She apparently neglected to tell any of her friends that she changed her cell phone number two years ago.
  • About her friends: When they call, they’re stupid enough to leave a message for her even after hearing my “You’ve reached Ben Mallahan” voicemail blurb.

But why is she naked in the above composite sketch, you ask? Because with all of the “booty call” voicemails and text messages I’ve received for this girl over the years, I doubt that she ever gets much of a chance to wear clothing. You haven’t lived until as a 20-something male you’re woken up at 1:42 AM by a text message that reads “hey grl wat u doin 2nite?”.

I’ve always wanted to respond to those text messages with something like this:

Either reply would suffice

As annoying as the occasional phone calls are, Asha serves as a nice reminder of one of the many reasons why I got the heck out of Los Angeles. A slutty girl who says that she’s a model and drives an expensive car that she can’t afford is one of about 5 different horrible types of people who inhabit that city. Not having to share the same crowded streets or breathe the same smog filled air as they do anymore is a miracle.

My Pancake Problem

A few months ago my wife Becca and I renewed our Costco membership and went on a shopping spree. When you’re at Costco you lose not only your sense of scale, but your sense of right and wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that a 10 pound bag of Krusteaz pancake mix really has no business existing in the first place… but we bought one anyway. Enter the monstrosity you see pictured here to the right.

Flash forward three weeks later and Becca suddenly declares that she hates Krusteaz pancakes. We hadn’t gone and gorged ourselves on pancakes, so it wasn’t like she was just temporarily sick of them. Oh no, it was much worse than that – she just up and decided that she could no longer eat pancakes made using Krusteaz mix ever again.

To put this madness in perspective: I’ve been buying the small boxes of Krusteaz mix from the grocery store since before Becca and I even met. She’s been eating these pancakes for the past seven years – AMPLE TIME to decide that she didn’t like them before we bought a bag of the mix large enough to feed a small African village for a month. It was already ludicrous to buy that bag to feed just two people, and I don’t think that I can fly this mission solo.

I’m scared.

I could try to give some of the pancake mix away, but I don’t think that dropping off ziplock bags full of white powder at my local food bank is going to go over too well. Instead, my current plan is to dump half the bag on Becca while she’s taking a shower (the beauty of this mix is that you only have to add water), and then to slowly consume the other half by myself over the course of the next 19 months.

That’s right, the “use by” date printed on the bag is September 2012. Becca and I could theoretically conceive a child, give birth to it, and teach it to say the word “pancake” in the time it will take for this mix to expire. If I have to eat all of these pancakes alone, however, I’ll be expiring long before then.

I don’t give a #@%! about Charlie Sheen

Granted, he was awesome in Major League

No seriously. I can’t turn on the news and get information on something that actually freaking matters because our society is obsessed with constant stories about this douchebag’s latest drug-induced crime spree.


What really gets me about the unwashed masses and their obsession with Charlie Sheen is that he’s really only famous right now for starring in the shittiest sitcom ever made. If someone told me that Two and a Half Men was a secret Nazi weapon that archaeologists discovered and accidentally activated in 2003, I would believe them. The Zombie Apocalypse has almost certainly begun if there are actually enough brain dead people in the country to make it the #1 sitcom on TV.

For my part, if I’m ever faced with having to save a stranger’s life by pulling them out of a burning building or jumping in a river after them, I’m first going to ask them if they watch Two and a Half Men. If the answer is “yes” then I will walk away ignoring their tortured cries for help and SLEEP LIKE A BABY that night.

The fact that Charlie Sheen tries to self destruct and escape into a haze of cocaine and porn stars is actually a good thing. If the guy didn’t hate himself, then that might actually be newsworthy.

Related story: The Tannenbaum Company was one of the groups that I pitched Gamers to several years ago. Eric Tannenbaum is one of Two and a Half Men’s executive producers, and when I looked deep into his beady little eyes there was absolutely nothing looking back at me. No soul, no intelligence, no sign of human life. I’m pretty sure that he was an evil robot… not to mention the fact that he was a giant ass hat.

Posted in Rants

Week in Review: Jan 23rd – 29th 2011

The World’s Week:

State of the Unzzzzzzzzzzzz…

They'll be sharing their teddy bears in no time...

Watching the people we’ve elected to be the leaders of the free world actually pat themselves on the back for GASP OMG SITTING TOGETHER sure made me feel confident. If Congress were a preschool classroom, they’d be about half way through September now. Good job guys.

As far as Obama’s speech goes – tl;dw

Xbox Live discriminates against Autism?

The gaming world expressed outrage when an 11 year old autistic kid was stripped of his “Gamerscore” and labeled a cheater on Xbox Live for what appeared to be score boosting; a feat that the interwebs naturally assumed was due to his autism-fueled gaming super powers. How dare they give the poor innocent kid what amounts to an Xbox Scarlet Letter?!?!!

…As it turned out, my devious little hero actually did cheat. Now I’m not advocating cheating – I hate cheaters in games. But using your disability as a cover? Brilliant.

My Week:

Computer Delivery

Last Sunday I drove a couple hours north to give my dad an extra PC that I had lying around. His old computer was completely fried. It sounded like a dying cat when I tried to boot it up — so much so that I immediately popped open the case to make sure that he hadn’t stashed a cat in there.  He’s a dog person.

My dad has an awesome tendency to use electronics right up until (and sometimes after) they die on him. A couple years ago he was using an old CRT monitor that was becoming really blurry. He refused to acknowledge that the monitor had gone fuzzy — he just thought that he was going blind or something. We eventually convinced him to get a new LCD monitor to “fix” his eyesight.

Ménage à Trois

There’s a (new?) wine at my local grocery store called Ménage à Trois.

When I first saw this stuff on the shelf I guffawed at the name. It was a nice marketing ploy that would pretty much ensure me never buying it. I’m one of those people who won’t purchase something if I’m afraid that it will make the cashier think less of me.

Just a few days after I first saw this wine, my wife and I went to a small wine social. Lo and behold someone had swallowed their dignity and actually purchased a bottle of Ménage à Trois, and much dismay it actually tasted really freaking good.

I purchased my second bottle this week. I try to wear a hat and avoid looking the cashier in the eyes. Don’t judge me.

Posted in Week in Review