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Grumpy Old Man

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Recently, former Secretary of Education William Bennett posted an op-ed on CNN calling on men to “man up,” get off the video games and get married.

Rather than write a long rebuttal no one would read–I wrote the “Grumpy Old Man” script.  As an addendum to the comic here are a few of my thoughts…

Media has always been a convenient cultural boogieman.

It makes sense–it’s generationally, socially, and racially segregated.  Thus, talking heads can easily criticize it without threatening to alienate their core constituents, who, more than likely, are also wary of or hostile to new media. Further, complex social truths don’t lend themselves to easy analysis, particularly on a national or global scale. It’s far easier to place the blame for the social trends one finds distasteful on a media you don’t care for.

This is precisely what  Secretary Bennett did.

Poor employment opportunities, demographic changes in higher education , cracks in the glass ceiling, objectification of women, and falling church attendance are apparently due to a lack of “manliness” and the hobby of the unmanly–video games.

I have no doubt that thousands of sociologist, economists, deans, social scientists and theologians have written volumes on each of these complex issues.  Though I’m admittedly ignorant of the research on any one, and certainly all, of these issues I would be stunned if any reputable researcher found a causal link between gaming and any of these social truths.

Deep down, my objection with Bennett’s op-ed is the patently silly assumption that, “turning off the video games” would have some real impact on any of the social problems he identified.



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Dark Souls Diary Entry 4

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 4

Daily Deaths: 4
Total Deaths: 22
Bosses Beaten: 1
Current Level: 18
Sweet Loot: None… but I did kill my first Silver Salamander!

Yep, I killed me a boss!  Woo Wee!  The Taurus Demon to be precise, beware of impending bull puns…


Killing the Taurus Demon set the right moo-d for the rest of my play session.  Honestly, I was a little embarrassed after Diary Entry 3–I should have killed the Taurus Demon then, but I kept flubbing the controls or playing sloppily.  Dark Souls punishes the sloppy gamer, the rushed gamer… well all gamers really.  After beating the Taurus Demon I hoofed it through the white light and out onto a bridge where I was promptly made into brisket by a red dragon I had quite a lot of souls saved up to so dying here was an udder disaster.  The bridge and its layout was a dead ringer for a Demon’s Soul bridge–I can’t believe I’d been so gulli-bull!  Dark Souls never just makes a nice easy bridge with bad guys way off in the distance.

I’m such a nin-cow-poop.

Alright… I’m done with the puns.

I poked around a bit more in the Undead Berg before wandering back to the Firelight Shrine.  After all my undead killing my gear needed a bit of repair so I hit up the Blacksmith and actually wound up wandering into Blight Town, which was not the best idea I ever had.  The four huge warriors guarding the entrance gave my 250 souls each and I killed them by kiting them back to the entrance of the Blight Town tunnel… a bug causes them to get caught at the tunnel entrance so if you cross back over the bridge you can pick them off with ranged attacks.  The strength of these mobs–told me I should probably poke around in a different part of the world until I was a bit stronger.

So the logical next step would be to go fight a dragon–right?  Seriously, something about this game effects my judgment.

Granted, I did go after the injured bile spewing dragon nearby, but I should have been smarter.  Like I said, I was out of ranged attacks so I did my best Leroy Jenkins impersonation–like most of us, the dragon was clearly over the whole, Leroy Jenkins fad as he proceeded to smack the shit out of me.  Costing me the 1000 souls I’d so carefully farmed from the Blight Town mobs.

All in all though, it was a good night.

Check back Thursday for Unicorn Soup’s first Dark Souls webcomic!  It’s a good one!




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Dark Soul Diary Entry 3

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 3

Daily Deaths: 12
Total Deaths: 18
Bosses Beaten: 0
Current Level: 16
Sweet Loot: Soul Arrow Spell

After my second diary entry I was feeling pretty cocky.  The stats from Diary Entry 2 say it all–2 Deaths.

Secretly, I thought I was going to roll over Dark Souls.  Hubris my friends hubris.  Dark Souls does a lot well, including punish gamers who lack focus or humility.  My first death should have tipped me off that it was going to be a long night.  I fought my, way without dying, to the Taurus Demon.  I successfully lured him back to a tower where I had every intention of plunging sword first into his face… I did plunge sword first but for I missed his face.  In fact, I missed the battlement entirely and wound up gracefully flinging myself to my death.

On a brighter note I did purchase my glowing orange chalk, a tool players can use to leave messages for their fellow travelers.  One of my favorite hobbies in Demon’s Soul (the PS3 prequel to Dark Souls) was leaving misleading messages.  I’d find some appealing ledge overlooking a bottomless chasm and scrawl, “Treasure below” or “Jump!”

Yes, it’s a dick move, and yes, I fell for the trick myself a few times.  The funny thing is, each time I died in that way I felt more amused than angry.  Such is the interesting experience and world that FROM Software has created. Because the world is so dark, behavior that would feel like griefing in another game feels like proper role playing.

I also picked up my first spell toward the end of my play session.  Soul Arrow (basically Magic Missile) will give my knight some much needed range flexibility.  Tomorrow night I’ll make another run at that Taurus Demon.  I’m hoping to make it to the point where I can summon other players into my world soon so I can do some co-op with my brother or Jim.

I’ll enter my next Dark Souls session with more humility, hopefully that’ll keep my death count down as I’d love to beat the game without going over 150 deaths… though at this pace it seems unlikely.



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Operation Crappy Arcade Port

Operation Crappy Arcade Port published on No Comments on Operation Crappy Arcade Port

Some wounds don’t heal.  Let me tell you about a little boy, his Christmas money, and more than 25 years of resentment.


Once upon a time I got $50 for Christmas.  

I took it to Toys R Us and bought Rush N Attack.  

The game was horrible.

I should have bought Bionic Commando. 

My brother bought Metroid.  His game was awesome.  

He was smaller than me.  

He learned about sharing.

The End.

At least my story has a happy ending.



P.S.  I’m playing Dark Souls this week.  A quarter century later and I’m still a glutton for punishment.

I wonder if my brother bought Rage…

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 2

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 2

Daily Deaths: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Bosses Beaten: 0
Current Level: 12
Sweet Loot: Holy Sword and Dragon Shield

For most of the night I was hanging in there at one death. One totally worth while death. The Holy Sword (the specific name escapes me) is guarded by a bile spewing dragon. The dragon is so putrid though that it looks dead… turns out it was only mostly dead.

On the co-op front, Jim discovered that while the game forbids you from using party chat… you can use the old school private chat. Hopefully, Jim, my Bro and I can manage some co-op soon.

Though I’m only a few hours in, I’m really enjoying this title.

I love that Dark Souls makes you appreciate your discoveries, feel timid, and frightened. It’s not typical that games evoke much in the way of an emotional response, this title is unique in that it inspires some genuine dread… good dread.

It also inspires some genuine camaraderie.

Seeing bloodstained phantoms in their last moment or ghostly figures moving about their own game world is oddly inspiring. This game feels like a journey. Tonight Jim and I traded tips on magic use and how to interpret the rather arcane stat system. Rather than pulling me out of the RPG experience it actually puts me deeper in it… as the whole game takes on an air of mystery and discovery.



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Dark Souls Diary Entry 1

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Dark Souls Diary Entry 1

Number of Deaths: 4
Bosses Beaten: 1

Well I made it through the first area. Beat the first boss and did some exploring and I only died 4 times.

I played Demon’s Souls so I think that helps explain my low death count, the combat is really precise and excellent. When I died I really felt like it was my fault.

On another note, I love the Easter Eggs in this game. It takes me back to the old school games of my youth where thorough exploration and patience really pay off.

*Minor Spoilers Follow*

After defeating the first boss you’re flown to a new area. There you meet a cleric who offers to sell you Holy Spells, these spells require a Talisman to cast which cost 1,000 souls (the game’s currency used to level up your character and buy items). I held off on buying the talisman, as I didn’t have enough souls to buy a spell at the time. This paid off well as I found a spot just above there cleric where you can drop down onto a secret zone with three treasure chests. Inside the chests I found a morning star and a talisman! Huzzah!

I’ll keep track of my daily stats and adventures in the comments section of my new Weekly Dark Souls Diary Article. Look for a weekly round up of Dark Soul Diaries on Sundays.

All in all. Not a bad start.



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Dark Souls Diary

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Will there be "Hope" inside this Pandora's Collectible Tin?
Dark Souls Collector's Edition

Welcome to my public humiliation.  Over the next several weeks I’ll be putting my inept gaming on display in the form of a Dark Souls game-log.  Each time I play, I’ll track the number of times I die, any particularly humiliating ends I may suffer, any interesting loot I may come across, and of course my rare triumphs over this devilishly cruel game.

Basically, all the private struggles a gamer would curse and cry his way through–I’ll make public.  Now please like me.

CE Unboxed
Moving Clockwise: Dark Souls Art Book, Collectible Tin, Game, Musical Score DLC

Check the comments later this evening for Dark Soul Diary Part 1.



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“Fire the Javis Ray!”

“Fire the Javis Ray!” published on No Comments on “Fire the Javis Ray!”

Our buddy Javis over at Legacy-Control has a chance to get his comic on Kotaku’s Sunday Comics Page.

Javis does a great strip, this week’s is particularly good.  Seriously, it’s about time Princess Peach started packing heat.  Check out his new strip here.

With nearly 100,000 people who “Like” the Sunday Comics this would be a huge boon to Javis and his strip so head on over to the Sunday Comics Poll and vote for our buddy.

On a side note… how bad-ass is the name “Javis Ray?”  Sounds like something Data would tell Captain Picard to use.  If you really want to go above and beyond, copy the Soup Fans for Javis meme into the Kotaku comments:



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Writer’s Block

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Jim and I started Unicorn Soup at almost the same time Baby Indy was born. This posed a problem, I needed to produce scripts but had no time.

The only free time I had were those few precious minutes I’d sneak away for my shower, and most of that time would be eaten up doing my best Kevin Spacey impersonation.  Thanks be to whatever forces crafted the brain that, “Eureka!” moments occur.

There’s some magical power in the mind–not to get too college dorm on you, but I do often wonder what’s rumbling away in our subconscious.  What innovations, discoveries, and art is bubbling away just out of the reach of our waking brains?

Oh and, “What if the color I see as blue is really what you see as red?”  Blah, blah, blah.

Back to the comic.

During those first few months I produced a lot of scripts, virtually all of them like Archimedes before me.  I would tap the “Eureka!” script out at my laptop still dripping wet. Okay, so not just like Archimedes but you get the idea.

On top of that, I had a cat to contend with.  I don’t recall anything about a cat in the Archimedes legend.  As anyone with a cat knows, cats love keyboards yet loathe their productive use.

So there I’d be wet, fending off my cat, and praying the baby wouldn’t wake up before I’d gotten my idea down. My wife found me this way a few times, but never really said anything. Either she’s incredibly tolerant of aberrant behavior or, given the sleep debt we were running at the time, too exhausted to give a shit what her idiot husband was up to.

I’m banking on the latter.

The things we do for our art.



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There’s an App for US!

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We’re now App Accessible!  4.5/5 star App Accessible!  Oh and it’s TOTALLY FREE!

So we’re pretty much a big deal now, better get your fan letters in now while we still answer them.

You can find Unicorn Soup right alongside Penny Arcade, Order of the Stick, and all the other webcomics that you like almost as much as US.  You can even follow Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts if your heart desires.

On your iPhone/iPod/iTunes.  Search the App store for:

“Web Comic du Jour”

There are two versions of the Web Comic du Jour.  The free version allows you to follow up to 8 of your favorite comics at a time, but honestly adding and deleting comics is a snap so in reality you can follow as many as you want at no cost.

The $1.99 version of the app allows you to follow as many comics as you want without adding or deleting any comics from your “Selected Comics” list.  If you want to kick these guys $1.99 then go for it, they were really great to work with–but I’m currently reading all the comics I want for a very reasonable $0.00.

May you spend all day tomorrow reading comics rather than working.



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