Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Top 10 Video Game Moments


That's right folks, I've decided to branch out this blog somewhat. Truth of the matter is, limiting this blog to JUST the context of cakes is rather..... limiting! So I'm branching out! From now on, I will be the context of this blog. That's right, me, and everything the makes me.... me! And I'm starting this new leaf with a top ten list!
For all of you nutbugs out there who actually know me, it goes without saying that I'm kind of a goon when it comes to video games. I've been playing them since I was a wee lad, and as of recently, I have been reminiscing on some of the biggest moments that stand out in my mind while toiling away at my various virtual adventures, so I decided to make this list as a homage to my devotion. Also, each entry will have a link to a youtube video of it so you can get a taste of each of them. So here it goes!!

 Child of Eden - Passion
As years have gone by in my life as a gamer, one of the coolest things I've seen happen in it's evolution, is the gradual marriage of art, music, and game. And when they all come together, it creates an ephemeral moment for me! Child of Eden, overall, is one of those games for me, especially this level as a whole. I was completely mesmerized by the entire experience.

Psychonauts - The Milkman Conspiracy
In my opinion, Psychonauts is one of the best games to come out on the original Xbox. It's also one of the craziest, funniest, and most original games I've ever played. For all of you who don't know the story, the game follows a young psychic boy named Raz, who sneaks away one summer to a camp for psychic children where they hone their skills in the minds of other people. As the game progresses, you eventually find yourself on a creepy island with an insane asylum on it, and finally find out what it actually would be like to go into the mind of a crazy person.
Boyd, the milkman, was that moment.

Pokemon Gold/Silver - Gym Leader Whitney
Scoff all you want, but to this day, the Pokemon games are some of the best RPGs ever made. And ultimately, this moment makes the list for an important reason. Games should be challenging. One of the biggest things video games bring are challenges to overcome and the reward of accomplishment when you complete a difficult virtual hurdle. This Gym battle was one such moment for me. Up until that point in my Pokemon experience, I had found the Pokemon Gyms to be challenging, but easy to prepare for. This battle changed all that. I must have been stuck on this for at least a month as a kid, and I think it may have caused my first 'rage quit' of a video game. BUT, that moment when I finally won, was such a moment of accomplishment for me, I cheered and w00ted, and was reminded of why I gamed in the first place.

Super Mario 64 - Opening
This was the moment, probably not just for me, but for a lot of gamers out there, as I was standing in Walmart, in the electronics section, playing the Nintendo 64 demo they had set up of this game, where my eyes opened just a little wider at the possibilities of where gaming could go. Before this,  gaming was most often, a left to right, two-dimensional experience. So when Nintendo brought that experience to a 3D level, I was blown away at what the future may hold....

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - After Helgen
Freedom. On a scale I have never experienced before in gaming. Not even in MMOs. The build up, and previews of this game, prior to release KIND OF prepared me for what this game would bring, but, honestly, I had no idea. The sandbox world of Skyrim was so big, and massive, that the moment after the introduction of the game, and I was released into the world to explore at my own pace, go wherever, do whatever...... it was almost too much to handle.

Red Dead Redemption - Entering Mexico
Another music, art, and game moment for me. Rockstar Games truly set the bar high for creating a game's atmosphere, letting gamers experience the closest we'll probably ever get of the Wild West at the turn of the century. Entering Mexico for the first time, in game, was one of the biggest highlights of the entire game for me, as I was treated to the game's haunting theme song "Far Away" by Jose Gonzales. As I rode my horse and listened to chilling lyrics, dread and ominous intrigue overcame me of how this story of a man's path towards self forgiveness and redemption could possibly end....

Super Mario Land - Ending
Every gamer has one..... the first game they EVER beat. This game was that for me. I walked a little prouder that day as an 8 year old. And looking back now, the ending theme music is one of the best ever made.

Bioshock Infinite - Hallelujah
Whoever said games could never be an art-form or a formidable way of storytelling, needs to play this game. Everything about this game was a level of gaming that rarely happens. And this moment, towards the beginning of my adventure into the world of the floating dystopian city of Columbia, made me realize, I was about to experience one HELL of a game. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Bioshock - "Would You Kindly...."
WARNING, SPOILERS!!!! Who doesn't love a good plot twist?? Especially when you don't see it coming. The story line of Bioshock was turned upside-down about two thirds of the way through the game. And everything I thought about what was to come changed completely.

Super Mario Brothers 2 - World 1-1
The game that started it all..... The very first game I can remember EVER playing as a child was this one. My older sister finally handed me the NES controller one day, and it all began for me...

Hope you all enjoyed my list!! Thanks for reading, and perhaps this will inspire you to create a list of your very own of something YOU enjoy! Until next time!

~ Your Caker Maker

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Since you asked......

Halloo again!
Here comes another brand spankin' new entry to the Land of a Thousand Cakes! And, it's all about the questions I get asked regularly regarding my job! I've been considering doing this for some time now, as I'm sorry to say it gets rather old being asked the same questions over and over again. So, to save you all the breath and finger stamina to ask such questions, I'm gonna answer the most popular ones right now! So here goes!! :)
Question numero uno;
"Don't you get sick of all those sweets and pastries??"
Of course, this goes hand in hand with "Why aren't you like 500 pounds?" And the answer is yes, when you are around sweets for 40+ hours a week, stressing over perfection and taste, it does get old fast. So, for all of you out there who wanna kick your sweet tooth habit in the keester, join a bakery. I know, shocking right? But yeah, don't get me wrong, desserts are my passion, so I'll always hold a special place on my taste buds for them, but don't exactly expect a warm reception from me if you bring me a cake for my birthday.
Question number two;
"Do you watch Cake Boss?"
NO. I do not watch that show. I have seen it, and I must say, I'm not a fan. Honestly, as I've grown older and matured more in my career, I have found that I have become more and more turned off by celebrity chefs. I can appreciate the talent. I mean, they got famous for a reason, right? But, there just is a level of ego involved that doesn't really do it for me. Although, I AM a fan of Ace of Cakes. So, if you want a dessert show recommendation from me, there you go. :)
Question number three;
"Will you make my wedding/birthday/baby shower/anniversary/ going away cake?"
For heaven's sake, YES! For one, you are offering me work, so of course I'm gonna say yes. And two, most people who ask me this already know me, so what do you think I'm gonna say?? Absolutely not??? Please....
Question number four;
"What's the best cake you've ever made?"
Okay. That's like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. I love them all for different reasons. Plus, by this point, I've made so many, that I can't remember them all. Although, I DO remember the first cake I made to order professionally. And no one will ever be allowed to see it! We all need to start somewhere, and if I want, I can keep my humble beginnings to myself!
And finally, question number five;
"How terrifying are the brides?"
Everyone has ups and downs with their jobs, and levels of stress that get thrown into the mix at a moment's notice. I knew what I was getting myself into ever since I went to culinary school. Dealing with people, on one of their happiest days of their lives is just part of the job. It takes some finesse and a level of patience that has to be worth the effort, which it is for me. :) I always tell people, if you do good work, brides are angels. So if you always bring your A-game, and pour your heart into your work, there is nothing to ever be afraid of with wedding cakes. Besides, half the battle is just believing you can do it!
So there you have it kids, hopefully I've provided some education and perspective to you all. And if there's anything I missed, by all means, type away! But until next time, happy trails and bon appetite!
Your Caker Maker

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ahh, the power of cake....

Halloo out there!!
Yeah, I had another hiatus, sue me! I don't think that exactly makes me a criminal, and I came back so that's all that's important! Anyhoo, I come back to you all a little bit older, and a little bit more seasoned as your dear Caker Maker. And I'm gonna tell you something I don't often tell people;
Making Cakes is a stress inducing, labor intensive, white knuckle thrill ride!!
I speak the truth here! I want to clear up any inkling of an impression that you all have that my profession is in ANY way, easy, relaxing, or meditative! My job is NOT for the faint of heart.
A while back, as I was surfing the web, I came across an article someone wrote that gave me one of the biggest laughs ever. It was an article that gave a list of something like the 'Top Ten least stressful jobs in America"...........
And guess what was number 4?
That's right.
I believe anyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I have no right to judge someone else's life experience and influence my own experience on it, but if we were going off of MY experience, Cake Decorating wouldn't be anywhere near the top ten.
I want you all to be clear on one thing I've learned in my years making cake; NEVER doubt the power of cake! There truly is something mystical about it, and it never ceases to amaze me on the effects it can have on people. I've seen people laugh with joy, scream in anger, render themselves flabbergasted, moan orgasmically, and even get down on the knees and pray over it.
So, I ask all of you, with something THAT powerful, do you think handling it on a daily basis would be relaxing????
I think not.
Anyway, my career certainly has been a roller coaster of an education. And my learning in this art will probably never end, but I do look at myself now and can only marvel at how far I have come. My bakery is rapidly approaching wedding cake season, and this year, I seem to have become the one leading the charge in that area. If you would have told me that two years ago, I would be in the position I am now, I would have ran for the hills.
But there's a moment not only I, but any cake decorator out there lives for. A small moment mind you, but a big one nonetheless. It's that moment when they see it. That customer who came to you with a dream of something beautiful and delicious, and usually no comprehension of what goes into making that dream a reality, sees it in front of them, after all your toiling away on the cake turntable, mixing icing, piping flowers, airbrushing, stacking tiers, etc. And they react in any of those ways I described earlier..... It makes ALL of that stress worth it!
I have no idea what this year is going to bring for me in my cake making adventures, but I'm going forward with as much confidence as I can muster, because let's face it, it certainly wont be dull. And besides, I'm hopelessly addicted to this silly profession!
So fasten your seatbelts kids! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!
Your Caker Maker