The Ghost of Rosewood

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Photo of Rosewood Center by Dylan Greene

I mentioned in my article yesterday that you can travel up Rosewood Lane from Painters Mill. Should you do that, you make your way to the back of the Rosewood Center. Perhaps more appropriately, what’s left of it. However, this was not the best angle to get a photo. I decided to take a picture from the front, which meant walking down the road in an awkward fashion. There’s a shack nearby, clearly dilapidated and abandoned. There’s a huge hole in the roof, stuff is strewn everywhere, and the doors are stuck open.

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Ghost of Painters Mill

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Photo of the Old Lion Brothers Building, taken by Dylan Greene

Yesterday was occupied by visiting my grandparents and today was something of an oddity. Aside from Dungeons & Dragons, I took this opportunity to indulge in a guilty pleasure of mine: Taco Bell. If you go up Reisterstown Road long enough (my previous GPS mispronounced it so it sounded like “REESE-terstown”) from my house, you’ll come to a part of Owings Mills called “Painters Mill”. That part has gone under some significant redevelopment. Recently, a small block of stores has been demolished, guess nobody will miss the Cricket Wireless or the gnarly looking adult DVD store.

On the other side of the road is Foundry Row, a newly built shopping plaza that’s got a Mission BBQ, Zoe’s Kitchen, Bagby Pizza, Chipotle, and a Wegman’s. There’s a DSW planned as well, which Fits right in with Owings Mills’ affluent nature, though I must confess that slick facade does not appeal to me.

What did, however, was a fragment of my childhood that lay in stasis. Near the Pizza Hut across from the Taco Bell I ate at is the remains of an old embroidering manufacturer, known as Lion Brothers. In its heyday, it was the world’s largest manufacturer of embroidered emblems.

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An Ode to the Light Gun Shooter

For the most part, I am relatively okay with losing arcades. The arcade experience was something that I like out of nostalgia, but admittedly I also really dig the home gaming experience. There is, however, one thing I do definitely miss.

Remember light gun shooters? Oh man, now those were some good times.

I remember playing a copy of Time Crisis on my PSOne in the good old days of 1997, I still have a disc actually. I had played a handful of light gun shooters before, or at least saw them. But it was Time Crisis that actually got me into the genre.

I also played Virtua Cop and pretty much all of the House of the Dead games (except for 4). I still have to play Time Crisis 5, but that’s probably gonna be a permanent thing unless a port comes out. I haven’t played Razing Storm either, though I did play Crisis Zone.

But, as the arcade went, so too did light gun shooters. Pretty much the only two franchises that are still alive and kicking are Time Crisis and House of the Dead. Everything else has basically gone under.

One of the side benefits of the Nintendo Wii, despite its lack of graphical prowess, was the fact that the Wii Remote was well-suited to light gun games. Indeed, we got House of the Dead: Overkill and the Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles games.

This was important because until then, light guns worked off CRT (big-ass) monitor technology. You had to use a CRT monitor, and even at the time of the Wii they were on their way out.

But that ride had to end, too. All I’ve got left are fond memories. At this point, I’m going to wax nostalgically about both Time Crisis and House of the Dead. For the record, I saw both House of the Dead movies and they were pretty terrible.

Ok, so let’s start with Time Crisis. Time Crisis is, as I was told by an old friend, a “bad action movie simulator”. In terms of plots, they’re pretty terrible and pretty campy. Yet, I enjoy this camp factor, especially in Time Crisis 3 where we got banter from the VSSE agents.

And of course, we got Wild Dog. No matter what happens, he always seems to pull through. He loses his arm after the first game, but it is replaced with increasingly more ridiculous weapons.

In fact, I think the games got more and more campy as they went on. But still, in terms of intense shooting action, you can’t beat it.

But while taking down armies of mercenaries/terrorists/whatever action movie bad guy they’re using is certainly fun, others may want to hone their shooting skills on a less…living target.

Enter the House of the Dead series of games. House of the Dead is known for two things: Shooting zombies and the worst possible voice acting to grace video games. Watching the cutscenes alone is entertainment enough, especially if you’re watching House of the Dead 2’s cutscenes.

House of the Dead 1 and 2 had an emphasis on branching paths which could be triggered by saving hostages or destroying objects in the environment. This was neutered in the third game, where you were given more direct choices that had less of an impact.

I never got to play House of the Dead 4, but I have seen playthroughs. Outside of the numbered games, we have Overkill. That game was so much fun, with a humorous take on grindhouse cinema. Agent G is cast as a rookie teamed up with Isaac Washington, who constantly swears.

There was a Silent Hill rail shooter, but it wasn’t honestly that good. Still, it’s got classic monsters in it.

I must confess, I love the simplicity of the genre. If I have some time, I can just pick it up and play. But, it seems pretty clear that this will have to remain a relic of a forgotten age of games. I have heard of attempts to resuscitate the genre with VR, and if that’s the case, I’d be more than happy to pick that up. Until then, I guess I can watch playthroughs on YouTube.

A Series of Unfortunate Dates With Russian Women From My Spambox

 

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I received an invitation to find “hot Russian girls” and look at their private photo albums.

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The savvy user may believe that this is just a phishing attempt. These people are wrong. I found myself quickly entangled with several suspiciously attractive Russian women. So attractive that they defy photographs. You’re just going to have to imagine hot platinum blonde women with perfect complexion and those ushankas on. Ushankas are pretty sexy, I’d say.

I struck up a conversation with Alyona first, and we quickly found ourselves eating at a nearby steakhouse. I remember her little quirks, how she’d wiggle the fork just a little bit when she stabbed into the hunk of meat. Her accent was thin, just noticeable if you asked her to speak in Russian or if a loanword got dropped in.

As it turns out though, my conversational skills around Russian culture needed a lot of work. It probably didn’t help that I cribbed all of my conversation topics from “Talking to Russian Women For the Willfully Ignorant”.

I began with vodka. Can’t stand the stuff, personally. Gotta have it mixed with something else. But she seemed hesitant. I pulled out topics, Tetris, communism, the prevalence of the names “Vladimir” and “Sergei”.

The conversation really got going when we talked about Lenin’s tomb. She informed me, “No, Lenin’s still alive. I don’t get why everyone thought he died and is just being preserved. He makes a pretty good cup of coffee too.”

This led me to ask, if Lenin was still alive, what else did I not know? She enlightened me, “Political decisions are determined by playing Tetris.”

Tetris! It was genius! Why didn’t I think of that? What if Alexei Pajitnov just flew in by chopper to the Kremlin? He would bring with the gift of Tetris ports, except for the iPhone one because someone royally screwed that up. How do you screw up Tetris? Maybe he has plans for the producers at Threshold who are making a movie trilogy out of it.

At that point, I could feel the tension in the air. Foregoing our social graces, we started making out on top of the table while “Korobeiniki” played in the background. Sure, I had no idea what was going on but I wasn’t about to kill the mood.

We finished up at a nearby motel, but we decided it would be best to part ways for now. I will miss Alyona, but perhaps it’s for the best. Perhaps if I check my spambox, I’ll find the next love…

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Hmm, looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me….