You Have to Burn the What?

Geeky Wednesday posts on this blog generally feature a song, picture, video or literary excerpt. Today’s post is a little different.

This particular Geeky Wednesday features a video game. Most games are far too long for this blog, but this one can be completed in a couple of minutes. If you don’t want to play it, that’s fine; I’ll explain in just a moment why this weird, wonderful little game is significant.

If you’ve ever played a video game, spare a few minutes of your life and give You Have to Burn the Rope a try. The game’s controls are up arrow key to jump, down arrow key to throw axes and left and right arrow keys to move left and right, respectively. (As with YouTube videos, a brief ad may play before the game begins.)

Go forth, brave reader, and burn the rope!

You Have to Burn the Rope is a joke, a critique of the video game industry or an exercise in postmodernism. I’m honestly not sure which it is.

Right from the start, the game gives the player the following facts:

  1. There’s a boss at the end of this tunnel
  2. You can’t hurt him with your weapons
  3. To kill him you have to burn the rope above

Thus the player proceeds along the tunnel and finds the game’s one and only boss, the Grinning Colossus. This towering enemy can’t be hurt by the player’s axes, leaving the player to snatch a torch from the wall and burn the rope above the boss. Burning the rope sends a chandelier crashing down upon the boss’s head… and that’s the game. You have burned the rope. The end.

As the credits roll, the player is rewarded extravagantly by this wonderful song.

“Congratulations!” exclaims the song. “You’re the hero we all wish we could be! You made it through the tunnel and grabbed that fire from the wall! You burned the rope and saved us all! Now you’re a hero! You managed to beat the whole damn game!”

The irony here is obvious. This short, easy game gives the player step-by-step instructions on how to overcome its only obstacle—heck, the game’s title gives away the only strategy needed to beat it—and then congratulates the player as though completing the game were an extreme challenge.

Since a friend of mine recommended You Have to Burn the Rope a long time ago, I’ve wondered what its developer is trying to say. Is the game an elaborate joke? Is it a protest of how modern video games are becoming too easy and rewarding players for negligible achievements? Is it a postmodern deconstruction of traditional video game design?

I don’t get it. All I know is that you have to burn the rope.

This post was originally published on March 12, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on April 20, 2015!

Haircuts Are Evil

Like taxes, haircuts are are a necessary evil.

Every few months, I glance in the mirror and despair, for my hair needs to be cut. It’s pretty easy for me to tell when I should hit the hair salon. When my hair starts to look like Justin Beiber’s iconic (and idiotic) hair helmet, I know it needs to be cut.

I’m sometimes tempted to ignore the Beiber resemblance and let my hair keep growing, but one thought pulls me back to safety from the brink of madness.

I will never, ever have a mullet.

My hair has generally been a mess. Once, in middle school, I tried styling it with gel: a mistake that shattered my fragile self-esteem into tiny, tiny pieces. Since then, I’ve occasionally attacked my hair with a comb and left it at that.

If you tell me I need a haircut, I will glare at you with cold, bitter fury. And then I'll go get a haircut.

If you tell me I need a haircut, I will glare at you with cold, bitter fury. And then I’ll probably go get a haircut.

The problem with haircuts is that they bring scissors, razors and other sharp objects very close to my eyes, ears and other things I’d rather not have cut off or gouged out. My fears are not baseless. At least one hair stylist has drawn blood—repeatedly—giving me good reason to fear anyone who brandishes bladed implements anywhere near my face.

Are haircuts evil? Yes. I will prove it. Let us turn to Scripture, brethren, for our answers.

Most of us know the story of Samson, who let his hair grow as a symbol of devotion to God. When his hair was cut, Samson lost his divinely-given strength. He was surrounded, powerless to resist. His tormentors blinded and enslaved him. In the end, Samson ended his own life. (This is all in Judges 16.) All of this happened because Samson got a haircut. A haircut killed him!

Don’t even get me started on Absalom. He was a really bad dude. He also had his hair cut regularly. An evil man who got haircuts? Coincidence? Coincidence?!

With this vast and comprehensive wealth of Scriptural evidence, I believe I’ve proved that haircuts are evil.

(No, I’m not being serious. Please put down your Bibles and/or heavy stones before someone gets hurt.)

In the past two years, I have found one consolation to make haircuts bearable. The Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who has some sweet, sweet sideburns. Although my paltry sideburns are not worth comparing to the good Doctor’s, they’ve definitely grown on me. (Pun intended. I’m so, so sorry.) Haircuts are awful, yet they keep my sideburns neatly trimmed. Neat sideburns put me ever so slightly closer to achieving the splendor of the Tenth Doctor’s hairstyle.

Saving the universe? Bah! A negligible accomplishment compared to having such awesome hair.


Maybe haircuts are worth it after all.

Then again… maybe they’re not.

This post was originally published on May 2, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on April 20, 2015!

346. Sandwiches

There comes a time in the life of every blogger when he must blog about sandwiches. That day has come. This, dear reader, is my destiny.

I consider sandwiches the crowning achievement of humankind, surpassing such modest inventions as the printing press, the steam engine, and the Internet. The sandwich was bestowed upon the human race by John Montagu, an eighteenth-century British statesman. Montagu was the fourth Earl of Sandwich, and possibly the greatest man of his millennium.

I salute you, Lord Montagu. Long may your name be remembered and your namesake be relished!

I salute you, Lord Montagu. Long may your name be remembered and your namesake relished!

As the story goes, the Earl of Sandwich wanted to eat while working without making a mess. (A popular version of the story suggests Montagu didn’t want meals to divert him from playing cards.) He asked his servants to bring him meat between pieces of bread so that he could eat without using silverware or getting his hands dirty. Montagu’s culinary triumph was eventually named after him, and the rest is history—shining, glorious history.

I have had the privilege and pleasure of sampling many sandwiches in my twenty-something years. (Heck, I ate a sandwich just an hour or two ago.) The possibilities are endless. There are hundreds of varieties of bread, and thousands of ingredients to mix and match. Whether you prefer a simple turkey and Swiss on whole wheat, a sweet honey and butter on white, a robust blend of meats and vegetables on an Italian sub, or any other of the millions of combinations out there, there is a sandwich for you.

My personal favorite is the chivito.

As it is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone." I'm certain this ancient Scripture refers specifically to this sandwich.

It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” I’m pretty certain this ancient Scripture refers specifically to this sandwich.

The chivito is a sandwich popular in Uruguay, where my parents live and work. In Spanish, the literal meaning of chivito is small male goat, which is a misnomer in the case of the sandwich: the Uruguayan chivito contains beef, eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, and occasionally mayonnaise, bacon, onions, peppers, olives, or cheese.

Chivitos are the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted, and I spent three and a half years in college working part-time in a sandwich shop. I know sandwiches. The chivito is by far my favorite sandwich, and possibly my favorite food.

While visiting my parents in Montevideo, I dissected a chivito prior to eating it. For science.

While visiting my parents, I dissected this chivito prior to eating it. For science.

I haven’t tasted a chivito in years: my quiet corner of Indiana boasts no such exotic sandwiches. All the same, I continue to enjoy old favorites such as turkey and cheddar, peanut butter and jam, grilled cheese, and a variety of subs from local Subway restaurants.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a sandwich.

Shotgun Shrimp

I’ve heard of pistol shrimp, but this is ridiculous—and by ridiculous, I mean awesome. What better way is there to prepare fried shrimp than shooting it out of a cannon? That’s right: there is none. The shrimp shotgun wins.

This culinary triumph is part of a Japanese ad for high-speed Internet service or some such, but the specifics hardly matter. What matters is that shrimp is cooked with kitchen artillery, large machinery, and billowing flames.

(Yes, I know the video above was staged. Don’t ruin the moment.)

Criminal Penguins

When a globetrotting family friend recently shared tales of thieving penguins, it reminded me of something I had long forgotten. A few years ago, a college friend showed me this footage of penguin crimes. I hadn’t known penguins were so nefarious. They seemed so cute, fluffy, and innocent.

It’s worth noting that one of Batman’s greatest foes is known as the Penguin. Coincidence? Clearly not!

Be wary of penguins, dear reader. Watch your wallet and hold your children close! There’s no trusting the white-collar criminals known as penguins.

Walt Whitman on Blogging

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

~ Walt Whitman

I haven’t read many poems, but every now and then a line of poetry grabs me by the ears and gives me a good shake.

The line above, from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” pretty much nails why most bloggers blog. We take our stand, like wisdom in the Proverbs, in the most public places we can find. We gaze out upon the Internet, over the phantom roofs of this virtual city, and sound our own individual cries: “Hey everybody! I’m a person with ideas and views and dreams! Listen to what I have to say!”

Perhaps I should read more poetry. What might a blogger learn from Yeats or Wordsworth?

285. Out-of-Context Quotes Are the Best Quotes

My younger brother John Michael and I have strange conversations—at least, they seem strange to anyone who overhears them. My bro and I consider them eminently meaningful and entirely sensible.

John Michael and I are best friends, and in our many conversations over the years, we’ve developed an idiosyncratic set of words, phrases, inside jokes and figures of speech that make perfect sense to us and no sense to anyone else on Earth.

With my brother’s permission, I’ve decided to share a few of our odder exchanges. These statements, questions and dialogues are fairly common in our conversations. In order to deepen the mystery, I haven’t specified who says what, leaving our cryptic discussions an impenetrable mystery.

Here, then, are some of the things spoken regularly in the household of the Stück bros. I could provide explanations, but really, what fun would that be?

“I’m going to be eaten by ravens now.”


“I will slap you in the face.”

“We’ve managed to avoid drowning.”

“Good job!”

“That very well may have been the most humiliating moment of your life.”

“I’m awesome.”

“Buy some apples!”

“Set phasers to hug.”


Shut up.”

“You stay creepy.”

“You know I will.”

“We must never speak of this again.”