Archive for February, 2010

Valerie Hodgkins

Valerie Hodgkins sat cross legged in her sandbox in the backyard. An overcast sky darkened her tired, emotionless face. She stared straight ahead as wisps of her curly, brown hair were blown across her face by the breeze.

Her mother had laid out that morning a yellow jumper with sunflower buttons, rainbow socks, and ruby glass slippers for Valerie to wear that day. She and her mother had watched The Wizard of Oz a week before, while their father sat in the Other Room, the room with the stain on the carpet, looking out the window, waiting for the neighbor next door to do something stupid.

“Why the ruby glass slippers?” Valerie thought when she woke up that morning to find her mother’s wardrobe surprise. Her mother must have misread Valerie’s interest in the movie. Either that, or her mother is a nosy, forceful Glinda, making things happy when they shouldn’t be. Next time Valerie and her mother watch a movie, Valerie will make sure to laugh, jump up and down, and point at the things she wants; and when something she doesn’t want comes on, she’ll make sure to slap her mother.

Valerie stared at the ruby footwear. The bright morning sun hit the shoes, sending reflections on the walls. Valerie kept staring, unblinking. She was nauseous.

Now Valerie sat in the sandbox. She was wearing a rainbow sock on her left foot, and a diaper. Sand-dirt was smudged all over her body.

Sand. The feeling of sand. Sand sifting between her small, pudgy hands as she clenched it over and over again. She was anxiously waiting. She wanted it to rain soon. “There are clouds. It rains when there are clouds. Where’s the rain?” she questioned as sand emptied from her hand.

At Valerie’s feet lay a small town she spent building that entire morning. This town was full of Mommies, Daddies, Stupid Neighbors, and Ruby Slippers. This town was built at the bottom of the sand mountain, also built by Valerie. It was a most unfortunate place to live, the bottom of the mountain. It was dangerous because when the rains came, the town went.

“They’re so stupid,” Valerie smiled. “Why would you live here? You’re so stupid.”

The only ingredient left was water. She stared at the garden hose. It was tempting, but no, she would wait for nature to wash misery on her creation. “Funny,” she thought. “I created this town only to be destroyed.” She paused. “Who created me?”

Valerie was facing her house. She could see Mommy in the kitchen window, cleaning dishes. It looked like she was singing. “Of course,” Valerie thought.
In the Other Room’s window, she could see the curtains slightly parted. It was Daddy, but he wasn’t looking at her.

Suddenly, Valerie snapped her head to the right.

A crack of thunder.

Terrence Howard.

The wind picked up. Valerie’s little brown locks blew wildly.

Terrence Howard was staring through the picket fence, weeds collecting around it. Valerie could feel her head grow hot with anger. Her lips closed tighter. She just remembered there were Terrence Howards in her sand town.

They stared at each other; he through the pickets, she from her sandbox. Neither one of them made a sound or movement, just blank stares.

A crack of thunder.

Rain, hard-pouring.

Neither one of them moved.

“What are you doing here?” Valerie asked herself.

Crack of thunder. Valerie remembered her town. She turned. It was already destroyed. She had missed it. Her whole morning a waste. She screamed in rage, turning back to Terrence Howard.

He was gone.

Crack of thunder. She looked to her house. Her mother was gone from the window. The curtains were still partially parted in the Other Room.
Her rainbow sock was soaked. Her diaper was soaked. She was soaked.
She looked up to the sky as rain fell on her.

She could hear in the distance a voice. “Hold on. Hold on, Dorothy!”

It was her mother. Valerie continued to look at the sky.

The voice was getting closer. “A twister! A twister! Better get you inside, Dorothy!”

Valerie readied her hand for a slap.

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Playing With Your Health

The Game

I watched Gamer this week.

Don’t act like you don’t know that movie, the one with Ludacris and Michael C. Hall.

Dexter dancing to “I’ve got you under my skin“ in that movie was the best part of a pretty bad movie. But it did get me thinking about the violent nature of games. This thought came to me again while I was waiting in line to buy Bioshock 2 last night at midnight.

The gaming industry is a huge one; the American people play an enormous amount of computer and video games and this from of entertainment does not come cheap (I dropped 60 bucks last night), in 2008 the video games industry posted sales at $21.2 billion.This figure up from last year’s, 20.3 billion, and is $11.2 billion more than the entire move industry took in 2008.

The movie Gamer took in 20 million in 2009.

I got it at Red Box for a $1.(I over paid)

While the majority of gamers are adults (like me), close to 40% of gamers are children, of that amount of children playing games, According to a survey of the National Institute on Media and the Family, 92% of children and adolescents age 2 – 17 play video games with 70% of children living in a home with at least one video game player, and 33% with one in their bedrooms.

While these numbers might not be surprising the amount of violence in video games and who is playing them might be; 59% of fourth grade girls and 73% of fourth grade boys say that the majority of their favorite video games are violent. (yikes!) Mature-rated games are now the fastest growing segment of the video game industry, According to the Federal Trade Commission About 40% of those who play Mature-rated games are under 18.

Children playing Mature-rated games may participate in simulated murder of women, police, minorities and innocent bystanders. Violent acts are graphically depicted and may include victims being beaten, shot, decapitated, burned alive and urinated upon, not to mention Tea bagging.

Also these games can be used as a tool to train children to be killers, as was the case in the movie Toys or with John Malvo, the teen Beltway sniper (remember that yo), who “was forced by his mentor to play the video game Halo to; suppress his hesitation to kill. (now.org)”

WHAT!! I love Halo and I have not shot any one ever.

Yeah, dude that’s what happened but there are some good things about video games. So hold on I’m getting to that

Oh and can I just say Wii Fit, so there.

Charles Schwab’s HR vice president Chip Luman says that ”The people who play games are into technology, can handle more information, can synthesize more complex data, solve operational design problems, lead change and bring organizations through change,”. In the book “Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever,” by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, beck explains that gamers are better risk-takers, show particular confidence in their abilities, place a high value on relationships and employee input and think in terms of “winning” when pursuing objectives.

He is not alone, Dr. James Rosser director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City says “I’m extremely interested in scientific validation of gaming for good,” Rosser, also the director of minimally invasive surgery, is a gamer who oversaw research indicating that surgeons adept at video games were less likely to make mistakes during certain forms of operations and suturing. The study, which used games that included sniper shooting (“Silent Scope”) and futuristic racing (“Star Wars Racer Revenge”), generated major publicity for games as possible teaching tools.

See, that’s good right, a sniper game makes doctors better at surgery, so after you get shot by someone trained to kill on a video game you can get patched up by someone who plays the same game.

But Josh, I hear you saying, I just had a stroke is there any hope for me?

Hells yea!

When stroke victims played virtual reality games in which they imagined they were diving with dolphins or snowboarding down a narrow slope, their ability to walk eventually improved, researchers reported the five patients who played the games improved in walking, standing and climbing steps, researchers said. Also, brain imaging done before and after the experiment indicated a reorganization of brain function after the therapy, said lead author, Sung H. You, assistant professor of physical therapy at Hampton University in Hampton , VA.

Last December, AP reported on research indicating that playing with a Game Boy machine before surgery could relax children more than tranquilizers.

The game was more effective than drugs, people, Drugs!

And the professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University , Bryan Raudenbush tells us that “Certain video games produce a dramatic level of pain distraction than others, which has implications for the medical profession as an adjunct to pain management. [My] research shows pain tolerance was greatest for the sports and fighting games. These gaming distractions may be most helpful in children and young adults undergoing painful procedures or suffering from chronic pain.” So that’s good right?

What I am saying is, in a perfect world the children who get shot by other children influenced by video games, would preform there own surgery through a video game so intense and violent that they would be too distracted to feel the pain, and later would rehab themselves on the same game. Think about it.

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