Tag Archives: vote

FGC #419 Super Alfred Chicken

Here comes a chicken!Let’s talk about Alfred Chicken, and what he means to the current state of our democracy.

The Alfred Chicken franchise, on its own, is not much to write home about. It’s one of those “weird European platformers” that seemed to pop up since the creation of DOS and carried on into the 32-bit days. Alfred Chicken (damn, I’m going to have to pick up some chicken alfredo before this article is over) runs and jumps around a number of levels that were maybe assembled in seventeen seconds through randomly smoothing graphical assets together until, I don’t know, I guess this collection of alphabet blocks looks like something passable. Alfred’s moveset includes both jumping and pecking, as he must to retain his chicken status. Eventually, the game ends, or maybe it doesn’t, and, look, I bounce off European platformers like a quick boomerang off a leaf shield, okay? I’m too used to my Marios and Castlevanias to waste too much time on some damn game where poultry has to peck at balloons.

And, really, that’s just fine in this case, because America, land of the free (chicken nugget deal), only ever saw one Alfred Chicken title. On my corner of the Atlantic, Super Alfred Chicken was only ever available for the Super Nintendo. But in the fabulous land of lifts and roundabouts, Alfred Chicken dominated (loosely) the NES, Gameboy, Playstation, and whatever the hell an Amiga happens to be. Some platforms had different versions, some featured 3-D, but they all had Alfred Chicken to spare. Oh, and speaking of platforms, there was that whole Alfred Chicken political party, too.

Yes, if you lived in the Christchurch, Dorset constituency in 1993, you could have voted for Karl Fitzhugh of the Alfred Chicken Party.

Blah blah blahNow, before you go thinking that the Alfred Chicken Party had anything useful to contribute to political discourse at the time, consider that Karl Fitzhugh was absolutely just the marketing arm for Alfred Chicken’s Amiga (amigo? Were you trying to say amigo? How about amiibo?) debut. The Alfred Chicken Party was rightly pegged as a publicity stunt, and wound up placing second from last in the election (and, to be clear for my American readers, this is not a situation where “placed last” also means “won the popular vote”). In fact, the Alfred Chicken Party was such a flagrant and obvious publicity stunt, it rapidly inspired new legislation that would require a candidate to acquire many more signatures to actually appear on a ballot. Democracy works! Through Alfred Chicken!

And, 25 years later, it would be nice to believe we had learned a single blessed thing.

Alfred Chicken, in his time, was immediately identified as a spurious, frivolous candidate. This was just a random animal mascot character (arguably before they were cool) attempting to use general politics as a springboard to some free(ish) advertising. No one would legitimately elect a member of the Alfred Chicken Party, because you’d have to be some kind of moron to actually think there is anything more to that “political party” than a naked cash-grab.

But how many people reading this article would vote for a candidate from the Nintendo Party? Hell, how many people writing this article would vote for the party of Mario, Link, and Pikachu? The answer to that question is a firm “all of them”.

UglyIt has come up again and again in recent months, but people show a surprising amount of loyalty to faceless corporations that don’t care if the average consumer lives or dies. Toys Я Us recently went out of business, firing every last employee while its board of directors skipped town with giant bags adorned with dollar signs. But it’s been determined that “the brand” is still viable, so Geoffrey the Giraffe will be back in our faces soon enough. And a huge portion of the population is going to eat it up with a multicolored spoon! Toys Я Us? I love that place! That’s where toys come from! And videogames! Just like Gamestop! And who cares if one single company has been selling me $60 games for years, and then buying them back at 60¢, I’ve got brand loyalty! I’m a Powerup Rewards Member! Sometimes I earn a free pen! I will follow these companies straight into Hell, so please show me your viable political candidates! Who is the leader of the Think Geek Party? Does he need a donation!?

And, at first blush, this all sounds insane. After all, there is no Wal-Mart party, and, while we vote with our wallets every day, no company is brazen enough to actively run a candidate. Except… that’s completely wrong.

Okay, already uttered their name, let’s take Wal-Mart as an example. Right off the bat, apparently Wal-Mart has made $2,192,327 in political contributions in 2018. And, if you’re curious, about half of that money went to candidates, and the majority of the rest of that went to PACs or political parties. In addition to all of that, fifteen senators own Wal-Mart stock, so there might be a bit of an interest in our government keeping that poor company afloat. And if that wasn’t enough, in 2017, Wal-Mart spent $6,880,000 lobbying for various causes. And the kicker? Wal-Mart isn’t even in the top 50 for purchasing government support.

In 1998, $1.45 billion was being spent on lobbying. In 2018, that has become $2.59 billion. And how much is that? Well, to revisit Wal-Mart, that’s a company that makes $14.7 billion in profit a year.

So, to be clear, the US government can be purchased for a little under a fifth of one company’s total profits.

SliceyAnd the most unfortunate thing about all of this is that there is literally nothing you can do about it. You can vote for your favorite party, you can vote for the candidate that is going to save the world, and you can canvas your neighborhood and drum up support in every way you know how. But, end of the day, Wal-Mart is still going to make literally billions of dollars, and whoever is in charge of those billions of dollars is going to make just a smidge more of an impact on the political landscape than anything you could hope to achieve with a “grassroots” campaign. And do you think you’re ever going to compete with Wal-Mart? Fat chance, little voter.

Except…

I always look to Blockbuster Video in times of hardship.

When “video rental stores” (ask your parents) first became popular, there was one in every shopping center (ask your parents, again), and they were all local mom & pop shops with names like “Microplay” or “No Name Video”. Then Blockbuster Video hit the scene with inventories that would be completely impossible for any given neighborhood shop to ever procure, and, almost overnight, Blockbuster Video was literally the only game in town. And, by about the late 90’s/early 00’s, Blockbuster Video was the only way to rent anything. The chain had eliminated all competition, and there was no way to borrow a copy of Leprechaun 3 (that’s the one in Vegas) without your trusty Blockbuster membership card. Had overdue fees on your account? Sorry, you’re stuck in DVD-less purgatory for the rest of your days.

No, it is notBut a funny thing happened. Netflix came along, and, in a few short years, Blockbuster was dead in the ground. Netflix was cheaper, more convenient, and less overtly evil than Blockbuster, so people took their business elsewhere in droves. And it didn’t matter that many areas still have terrible internet connections. It didn’t matter that Netflix and its ilk could never support the historical selection of a well-stocked Blockbuster. It didn’t matter that streaming services would doom us forever to a fragmented system wherein you just kind of hoped your favorite new release would drop on a subscription you already own. No, none of that mattered, because Blockbuster simply could not compete with the new monolith that was streaming, and, in practically no time at all, Blockbuster was resigned to the same fate as the dinosaurs (mostly frozen in remote regions of Oregon). Blockbuster was once king of the hill, and now it is barely a footnote in history.

And if there’s any hope for the future, we could learn a thing or two about Blockbuster’s failure.

No company is too big to fall. Just within the last few decades, we’ve seen hundreds of once enormous companies fall to the inevitable march of the internet. Technology moves forward, and with it, new opportunities arise for those that will take risks (and get lucky). Fossil fuels are killing our planet as we speak, but they could become a thing of the past with cheap, effective alternatives. It sounds impossible, but if every new car with a new fuel system cost just a couple hundred less than the gas-guzzlers currently on the market, we’d have a healthier planet in no time. We just have to find the people willing to support these companies, and not those that foster the industries that should have died decades ago because God forbid Mickey Mouse fall into the public domain. We have to vote for people that are going to support forward progress. And not just in the voting booth! We need to be conscientious consumers, and support companies that in turn support good candidates and business practices. VroooomNo company is ever going to be perfect (they are, almost literally, money making machines. That has a tendency to step on a few ethical toes), but maybe you don’t need the latest make believe horsey game if it is also apparently responsible for 80% of all crunch misery in North America. Or maybe that company could just produce one god damn game with a female protagonist. That would be a step in the right direction…

My final thoughts on this subject are simple: absolutely vote on Election Day, but remember to vote every other day of the year, too. Support candidates that encourage progress, and support companies that do the same. It won’t happen all at once, and it might not even seem like it’s happening at all, but change is possible, and you can help it, every step of the way, every day.

And don’t vote for the Alfred Chicken Party.

FGC #419 Super Alfred Chicken

  • System: Super Nintendo. I understand the other versions/ports of Alfred Chicken are pretty similar to this version, but there is no way I am going to confirm this in any way.
  • Number of players: Start and options? Yep, looks like this is one of those single player platformers.
  • Chicken or the Egg: So the plot of this title is that eggs are being kidnapped, and Alfred Chicken has to venture forth to save the widdle eggies. Except… Alfred Chicken appears to hatch from an egg at the start of every stage… so why are eggs seen driving cars and being their own, autonomous creatures? Are eggs just, like, the unevolved forms of chickens in this universe? Is this U.S. Acres fanfic?
  • What is even happening?Other Questions: And Alfred collects eggs as one-ups, and hatches from a new egg after every death. Is there more than one Alfred Chicken? Does each collected egg start the cycle of life anew for our hero? The theological implications of this game alone…
  • So, did you beat it? No. Come on, this game gets repetitive by approximately the third level. And there are at least fifteen? No thank you.
  • Favorite… uh… Stuff: This is a very generic platformer. Alfred… barely does anything. He jumps! He pecks! He has some sort of weird power-up ball thing that doesn’t work quite right! There is barely anything that distinguishes this game from any other… so… uh… The colors are nice?
  • Did you know? The Alfred Chicken Party came in second-to-last in its election. The biggest loser was, apparently, the Rainbow Party. There is no force on Earth that would allow me to effectively google “The Rainbow Party” in 2018.
  • Would I play again: Nope! This chicken doesn’t have any meat on it.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy for the Nintendo Switch! The prophecy has come to pass! Please look forward to it!

Happy Flower

Vote 2016 Part 1: Naive Optimism

LoserMuch though I loathe to admit it, this is a blog, I am a blogger, and, God help me, I’m pretty sure it’s required by law (BLOGGER LAW!) that I talk about the election. Strap in, my lovelies, it’s time to talk politics. We covered religion last time.

Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ve had a post like this in mind since last year when I started this damn site. In my head, I’ve always seen myself as a gentle, loving creature, floating around the world wearing flowing robes and softly imparting my patience and wisdom upon all who would hear it. This magnanimous version of Goggle Bob would take the day before the election, and post one simple statement, “I don’t care who you vote for, simply vote.” And thus, my blogger duty fulfilled, I would retire to the atrium to feed orphaned baby bunnies. Perhaps later I would smoke a pipe while reading the New Yorker.

Suffice it to say, this election has changed my plans.

In a way, I feel like it always had to be this way. My first real “remembered” election was Clinton vs. Dole, which, from a child’s perspective (well, technically teenager) was basically “old man vs. young man”. Clinton was freewheeling and loveable, Dole was an old fuddy-duddy. I didn’t understand policy or economics or even really “liberal vs. conservative”, simply that Bill Clinton came off as a 21st Century Man, and Bob Dole repeated his name a lot. … Yes, I’m basically admitting that my political views came entirely from shallow Saturday Night Live sketches. I was an informed little non-voter.

LoserAh, but the 2000 election, Al Gore vs. George W. Bush, now that’s something I’ll always remember. While I was personally a Gore supporter, I tried to maintain that earlier mentioned benevolent neutrality, so I was something of a political Switzerland to anyone that happened to ask me about my views. And that happened surprisingly often! I remember with perfect clarity a pair of classmates asking who had my vote, and, upon hearing my “I try to stay out of that stuff,” I received a retort of, “You have to care about this election! Don’t you care if a woman can get an abortion!?” To be perfectly honest? I didn’t. I figured I had about as much political sway as a housecat, so what’s the point in worrying about such a thing? Not like it particularly impacted me at the time, anyway. I’m pretty sure that, thanks to public high school sex education, I was going to be wearing six condoms if a woman so much as came within seventeen yards of my jeans. Abortion, war, economics? I understood all these concepts, but they seemed to impact me about as much as my toothpaste choice. Mint or plain? Whatever.

Then the 2000 Election actually happened. I was for Gore, but Bush won in the highly contested final hour. Say what you will about elections being stolen or what have you, but, one way or another, it didn’t instill a lot of trust in our newly elected president. Shortly thereafter, I had a front row seat to 9/11 (I can still close my eyes and see that black cloud that hung over NYC for a week… I’m not speaking metaphorically), and the war that followed. That war… did not make me happy.

LoserLook, on one side of my family, I’m descended from Quakers. On the other side of my family, I had a very vocal grandmother that described World War II and Vietnam and “all our good boys that died” as practically the worst thing that ever happened to our country (twice). I’m basically genetically disinclined toward war, and the idea of a “warmonger” president riles up my conscientious objector blood. It also doesn’t help that I was draft age when this was going on, so, even though I am a tremendous coward, there was that looming threat of maybe getting shipped off into a warzone for no good reason. If only for his promoting “the War on Terror”, I was going to vote for Bush’s opponent in 2004 if the Democrats ran an actual elephant. And, what’s more, I made my opinion known to anyone that would listen. I didn’t seek out conflict, but if someone asked, I’d list the issues. Searching for WMDs? Slamming our National Debt back into the negatives? There was probably a third thing! I don’t care! Get that damn New England born wannabe Texan out of the White House! Jon Stewart agrees with me!

And it didn’t take. We got another four years of Bush.

That election probably colored my political beliefs more than anything before or since. I was convinced that people weren’t that stupid. It had to be a trick. It had to be wealthy kingmakers manipulating our democracy. No, I didn’t believe it was the Illuminati or some vast conspiracy that traced back to lizard people (incidentally, why are people always so afraid of lizard people running our government? I think lizard people might be a fair ruling class), but I did believe that the Republican Machine had grown too powerful, too “good at it” to ever lose an election again. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing? Evil was greasing the gears and keeping the tank rolling, good was being polite and… neutral. Geez, was my own general detachment from politics hurting my own interests? By this point, I had friends and family members actually serving in this war. Could my own complacency lead to their deaths? My God, the Democrats need to take back the White House.

LoserWhich brings us to Obama. Full disclosure: I supported Hilary Clinton in the 2008 primaries. It wasn’t because I agreed with her policies, gender, or that I loved that our presidential line could go Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton (okay, maybe that last thing was a factor); No, I supported Clinton because I felt like she was the only way we could battle the Republican machine. Clinton was mean, she “worked” like a Republican, and she fought and bit Obama every step of the way. Obama was… polite. Obama came off as smart and reserved, two traits I admire, but terrible when fighting a political war. And he was also black, and his name rhymed with “Osama”. To be absolutely clear, I had no problem with these factors (name rhyme rarely impacts my voting), but I figured there was absolutely no way our clearly racist country would ever elect such a man. We had barely (barely!) gotten over the phrase “Muslim terrorist”, how was the nation going to vote for a secret Kenyan?

(Completely unrelated to anything, but anyone remember how there were cries of “secret Muslim” and that Obama’s (Christian) pastor said a mean thing one time? People are weird.)

But, somehow, against all odds, Obama won. It may have had something to do with the economy being in a death spiral, but an actual, honest-to-God democrat was back in the White House for the first time since I was in high school. Those eight years had seemed… very long.

Obama was a wonderful president, from not only a presidential perspective, but also as a human being. Obviously, I’ve never met the man, but he seemed to be consistently thoughtful and obliging. He was not the graduated frat boy we saw helming the Bush administration, nor the playboy that was Slick Willy. Both of those previous presidents seemed to only want the position for the power it bestowed; Obama was president seemingly to make the country Loser(and world) a better place. In a way, it feels like Obama was the ideal “philosopher king” of yore: a wise and just ruler that solved problems through diplomacy and empathy. And maybe a few drones. Pobody’s nerfect.

And then we have today.

It’s… hard to be okay with anything that is happening in this election.

First of all, to be clear, I like Clinton. Like, actually like her, not just like her for the presidency. I like her policies, I like that those policies have actually evolved over the course of the campaign, and I still like that she’s a pitbull that is likely to go for the Republican jugular. This is not a woman that, at any point in her career, rolled over and said “hey, you guys do what you want, I’m cool with whatever.” This is a woman that has the potential to get things done as a president.

But she’s following the least politic-y politician in my entire lifetime, so it’s hard to get excited. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of Bernie Sanders, but I envy his supporters and the fervor they still seem to possess. That man was a truly different candidate, and, love him or hate him, he at least knew how to get his base excited. It didn’t… uh… help. But good hustle!

LoserBut on the other side of the aisle. Whoa, boy. I could write an entire article about Trump and what he has exposed about the American people. Racism is over? Nope. Misogyny is a thing of the past? Don’t think so. It’s “just the anonymity of the internet” that makes people assholes? No, my Facebook feed says otherwise. I can see you there, with your name in bold, blue letters, posting a meme about Beyoncé wearing yoga pants being exactly the same as Trump committing sexual assault. Trump has somehow managed to bring out the absolute worst in people, and the really scary thing is that people revel in it.

So, even putting aside literally everything about the Republican platform (like, say, women’s rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, or the whole damn healthcare thing), there was never any way I could vote for Trump in good conscious. When you have a candidate that, again, brings out the absolute worst in the population of the country he’s supposed to lead? No, no you can’t let that kind of thing continue. I know that a Trump loss isn’t going to simply make all these disenfranchised people disappear (they’ll just disappear from the news’ radar), but the idea of people that are so okay with… hate… being empowered by “their” president…. I’ll be honest, it downright scares me. In a way, I’m just as fearful of the future as they are, but for completely different reasons.

So, yes, this is my blog post telling every American reading this post to vote Clinton. I’m with her and all that riot. I’m not excited about her, because I want a metaphorical Obama Jr., but she’s the only real choice in this election. America is already pretty great, vote for the woman that is going to keep it that way.