Monthly Archives: January 2007

Zwei Zeichentrickfilmen

During WWII both Warner Brothers and Disney produced animated cartoons featuring prominent Nazi figures. In Warner Brother’s “Herr meets Hare” a lost Bugs Bunny finds himself confronted by a gun-toting Hermann Göring. In Disney’s “Education for Death” a young boy is indoctrinated from birth until death in the Nazi Gleichschaltung. It is a shame that these types of cartoons are no longer shown on networks. They have serious historical merit not found in current sugary-sweet entertainment options for children.

Die Flagge von Operation Übertaco


Attention all Operation Übertaco operatives:

The official flag for Ü-day operations has been announced. The Germans will greet us as liberators when flying the pink taco flag. For reference for non-german speakers: “Einigkeit durch mexikanisches Essen” means “Unity through mexican food.”

Your questionably-sane leader,
High Commander Ken

Shining Force III

The great eBay purge of my storage closet continues on and with it goes on of my prized possessions. Shining Force III for Sega Saturn, one of the system’s rarest games, is available for auction now. Though I am sad to depart with this gem I am even more depressed at what it reminds me of.

The death knell was pretty much sealed in 1995 with the release of the Sony Playstation. By late 1997 the Sega Saturn was sputtering, but Sega didn’t let their system go without a fight. Three of the system’s greatest games were final releases. Burning Rangers, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Shining Force III. There I stood in the videogame aisle of Toys R Us with $20 dollars in my pocket on that cold December day. Panzer Dragoon Saga in my left hand and Shining Force III in the other. I knew that both titles were extremely rare, but had no conception of how rare. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon I and II, but for some reason I chose Shining Force III.

It was only later that I found out the horrible truth about both of those titles. Panzer Dragoon Saga had only 2000 copies released stateside while Shining Force III was only chapter one of a trilogy. The latter two chapters would only be released in Japan. Now Panzer Dragoon Saga sells on eBay for $150-200. I had it in my hand and if I had purchased it, I would have never EVER sold it. Shining Force III was an amazing RPG, but every single time I think about it Panzer Dragoon Saga comes to mind. I cry a little bit knowing that I held perhaps the most sought after RPG by collectors in my naïve hands.

Monitor For Sale

IBM Monitor

One G70 IBM CRT monitor plus power cord for sale. No screen burn-in. Max resolution is 1600×1200. Great monitor for web design work or extra desktop space. CRTs offer better color results than flat panels. I used this as a secondary monitor to my iMac. I never ran out of desktop real estate with this thing. Will sell and maybe deliver to you (Oshkosh only) for the going rate of BEST OFFER. Get it now before I put it up at Craigslist.

Operation Übertaco Map


Operatives are required to memorize the map above (click to enlarge) for referance purposes. Ü-day will be hectic and soldiers lost along the way will have to fend for themselves among the Germans.
High Commander Ken

Wierdest. NES Clone. Ever.

Today I came across the most peculiar videogame console at a local thrift store. I knew immediately what it was when I spotted it, but the thing that prompted me to plunk down $5 for it was its sheer design lunacy. I just could not resist.

Super Joy Voyager

The Super Joy Voyager is a Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom clone unit. Because the original NES (Famicom in asian markets) had such widespread popularity, many black market vendors created their own version. These units have ranged in design styles to varying degrees of success. In fact I already own a Famicom clone that looks identical to the original Famicom with the exception of the faceplate. Some of these clones are cased in mock PlayStation cases, or even stranger N64 controller housings. The Super Joy Voyager is a bit of an oddity among this style of clones in that it is housed in a GameBoy casing. The outer casing features the following.:

  • Control pad
  • Four face buttons
  • Select, reset, and start buttons
  • Audio speaker
  • Joystick port similar to Genesis or Atari
  • AC input
  • Battery compartment (4 AAA)
  • LCD/TV/Off switch
  • RCA Video/Audio output
  • Cartridge slot

Because they originate from the black market their quality is somewhat dubious. Even more questionable is the content provided with them. Often the clones include a number of illegally copied games. The Super Joy Voyager is no different as this unit features 84 games. Among the titles include the well known Galaga, Galaxian, 1942, Arkanoid, Dig Dug, Paperboy, Gradius, Spy vs. Spy, and Xevious. The rest of the titles are much lesser known or never released outside of asian markets. Piracy does not always go hand in hand as some Famicom clones sometimes include a cartridge slot to connect original games to. This clone has a cartridge slot, but oddly, it only fits the single cartridge ever made for the unit. Turning the Power Joy Voyager on without the cartridge labeled PJ-008 only yields a purple screen on the television. The decision to include a cartridge instead of hard wiring the ROMs to the unit seems very strange. I doubt I will ever come across another cartridge for this thing.


There are two controllers that connect simultaneously to the bottom of the unit. Both controllers are unique in their design. The first controller is your standard fair run of the mill buttons. The directional pad however is a stick that can best be likened to a cheap version of the NeoGeo Color’s superb “clicky” control stick. The other controller is simply an ugly abomination. You know how sometimes things go wrong in the womb for twins. One turns out fine and the other turns out “different.” This would be the a case of the latter. The second controller has your standard buttons, a normal directional pad, a trigger under the right handle, and a nozzle for a light gun wrapped around the upper edge. So far I have only been able to use it with “Clay Shooting” which is the third option from Nintendo’s Duck Hunt. Why they would go through the hassle and not include Duck Hunt is beyond me.

The coup de gras for the mediocrity of this unit lies in the monochromatic screen. You cannot play the Famicom games on this screen. Instead this feature is used for the “668-in-1” LCD block games. Some versions of the games are, like the ROMs, well known like Tetris or Breakout. The rest are completely irrational or unplayable. Spending more than a minute with them will most likely make your eyes bleed. I value my eyesight too much to review each of the questionable 668 games. I am willing to gather most are merely variations in difficulty on the same few titles. Oh, how did I fail to mention thep absolute worst feature? When turning the LCD on that this thing plays the same music on the loudest volume setting it can. I recognize the tune as a famous Christmas holiday song but have yet to identify it.


The one thing that this unit does have going in its favor is the sticker on the back which says “This device complies with part 15 of the FCC Rules [sic].” I secretly pray that it does.

Call of Duty Lawsuit

Three summers ago I received an e-mail from my uncle Scott Langteau. He wanted to know if I would fly to Los Angeles to do some alpha testing on his upcoming PS2 shooter Call of Duty. For two weeks I would sit with a PS2 development kit and play the unfinished game before it went to the official testers. Eventually the title was released for not only PS2, but also Xbox and Gamecube. For my efforts my name was sandwiched in the credits under Special Thanks right under fellow friend and family Vi Troung. Call of Duty went on to become a phenomenal hit.

With that popularity came great amounts of income. The publisher, Activision, was allegedly not very reputable in keeping their end of the contract up. Spark Unlimited, which developed CoD, filed suit against Activision for breech of contract on various terms. From what my uncle says the lawsuit is progressing in their favor. The presiding judge has recently released their contract to public record. If you are interested in what exactly goes into the development of a game it is an interesting read.

Ich bin Amerikaner

Everyone casually jokes about how when an American goes to Europe they should say “Ich komme aus Kanada.” Doing so may prevent a confrontation with a local who is upset with the oh… I don’t know… one or two things that the current US administration has done. I refuse to do this. Rather than say I am from Canada I have come up with some clever alternatives.

  • Ich komme aus dem Bauch meiner Mutti. – I come from my mommy’s tummy.
  • Ich komme aus einem Land hinunter, wo Bier fließen und Männer kotzen. Könnten Sie könnten Sie den Donner hören? Sie sollen rennen! Sie sollen Decke nehmen! – I come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder. Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover. : Men at Work – “Land Down Under”
  • Ich komme aus dem kalten Staat Alaska. Es ist wie Kanada. – I come from the cold state of Alaska. It is like Canada.

PS: Did you know that in the local Umgängsprache (colloquial dialect) for Berlin, President JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” quote meant that he said he was a jelly doughnut. “Ich bin Berliner” would have been the appropriate translation, but the locals all knew what he meant.

The Cost of Education

For those of you who don’t know I went to a private parochial school until 8th grade. St. Paul Lutheran’s graduating class of 1998 had only nine people. Two years of preschool, one year of kindergarten, and eight years of private education gave me a significant leg up in public high school. It was painfully obvious among my peers that I had not gone to public school. Those 11 years of private education set me apart and I’m sure my parents are more than happy with their investment. Private education does not come cheap, but its gains are exponential. It came as a bit of a shock when I began to achieve in the 3.4 – 4.0 GPA range in college when all during high school I had a persistent 2.3 GPA. I now appreciate the sacrifices made by my parents as I am preparing to become a public school teacher. But education is not all about reading, writing, and arithmetic as an essential portion comes from interacting with the world around you. It is time for me to put my German education into practice this coming March until August.

In Germany I plan to absorb as much of the country, its people, and its culture as possible. It is my intention to update my site as often as I can. I want to chronicle my experiences along the way. I assure you that many will involve my adjusting to German customs and embarrassing situations I got into. Along the way I plan on taking hundreds of photos and posting them to my account. But in order for these experiences to occur I require funding. Thusly it is with reservation that I request a small donation from you.

My current financial situation is as follows. I have paid for tuition and have money set aside for airfare housing, food, and insurance. The $1000 grant from the Wisconsin government has been allotted to the payment of these things. My parents have set aside an account to help pay for other items I will need. I have been working 3rd shift at Festival Foods in Oshkosh to try to scrounge up funding for my trip. Currently I am scheduled for only 24 hours/week, but Festival has been cutting my hours. The week of January 15 – 21 I am only scheduled for 16 hours and those shifts are guaranteed to be cut short. Rent alone for February will be approximately $400, not to mention food and other costs. Any additional savings earned for my trip will not last very long.

The cost of an education is not just tuition. It includes all of the minor payments along the way. What does a small donation afford? It gives me the chance to eat a government-subsidized meal in “Mensa” with other German students. I can send a letter to my girlfriend that contains a German chocolate bar to help stem her feelings of being alone, even if only for a minute. I can travel via the Intercontinental Express to Berlin, Vienna, and Frankfurt to absorb all of the museums. I can grab my backpack and venture to the Dachau concentration camp and pay homage to the fallen. I can purchase daily necessities such as razors, shampoo, and most importantly, soap. I can venture to the Eckkneipe and order an Oktoberfest Spaten Bier with my German friends. It gives me enough scratch to purchase coffee at 3am as I translate a load of homework as a full-time student. In going about all of these activities I will experience firsthand what some textbooks only describe. I will learn the language necessary to function and in doing so improve my future prospects of being a German teacher.

Your small donation can be received directly through PayPal. PayPal is the internet’s most secure method of sending money. I have been using it to handle all of my eBay buying and selling transactions. In the five years of using it I have never had a problem where the security of my credit card or checking account has been compromised. All you need to do is click the PayPal link below to begin. Once you make a donation an e-mail notification will be sent to me. You don’t even have to sign up for PayPal. It is just that easy… and thank you.

Der friedliche Eingriff der deutschen Nation

The invasion of Germany (Operation Übertaco) date has been set. American Airlines Flight 944 departs from O’Hare on March 1, 2007. Until then the staff is aquiring massive amounts of supplies from the local Taco Bell. Please note the following.:

  1. From here on March 1 is to be referred to as “Ü-day.”
  2. Subsequent days will follow the nomenclature as used during WWII after D-Day. For example March 2 will be “Ü-day+1.”
  3. If umlauts are unavailable on your electronic internet typewriter you will need to fill out requisition form #U-3419D. In the meantime use the “Ue-Day+#” format.
  4. For clarity sake the “Ü-day+#” format is always in English and never the German “Ü-Tag+#.”