Monday, December 29, 2008

Seriously, folks.....

So, this is my first post on this wonderful blog. That's right... it's Hubby. Hello to all those who faithfully read Wifey's blog. We miss you all and love you very much. Right about now you might be wondering what in the world could possibly get me to post on this great blog... Well, I'll tell you. Quick disclaimer though: the opinions presented in this post are mine, and in no way reflect those of the main author (I know it's Richard AND Gretchen, but let's face it.... This is really her blog). That being said, here we go:

Last week, we went to Gamestop in the mall by us to exchange a video game we got for Christmas (Fable 2, very good game so far btw). While we were standing in the HORRENDOUSLY long line, I noticed a little boy just ahead of us. He might have been 7 or 8, 9 at the oldest. I think the woman with him was actually his older sister, but it may very well have been his mother. The two of them were looking at the games he wanted to buy. The first was called Grand Theft Auto 4, and the second was a game called Manhunt.

You may have heard about the Grand Theft Auto game. It is very violent. You can solicit strippers and prostitutes for their services. You can carjack as you please, kill cops, innocent people, and otherwise wreak havoc on anything or anyone. Needless to say, it is pretty popular with the teenage crowd. Rated M for Mature.

Now, Manhunt you probably have not heard about. They recently made a sequel that was banned in several countries, and was given an Adults Only rating when it initially went to the ESRB. I guess they toned it down a little to just get it a Mature rating to actually try and sell some copies. Anyways the premise is this: you are captured and held against your will, and the object of the game is to kill the people who are holding you hostage. Or anyone else who gets in your way. The kicker is you use anything you can get your hands on; piano wire, broken glass, guns, knives, chainsaws, ice picks.... you get the picture. Think of it this way. The only way to make the sequel better than the first was to make it so violent they had to give it an Adults Only rating. (Do you understand how violent a game has to be to get an AO rating?!?!)

I'm all for freedom of speech. I play plenty of violent video games myself. So, why am I blogging about this? Let's jump back a paragraph or two. We were talking about an 8 year old. An 8 year old whose "guardian" bought these games for this kid. Are you frickin kidding me?!?! I even listened as he explained a little about the games. All I kept hearing was "cool" and "awesome." I thought about a previous experience a few months earlier when I saw an even younger kid throw a temper tantrum when his mother didn't want to buy him the new Grand Theft Auto game. She eventually caved and got it for him. I've seen other parents go in and buy the game for their kids without even asking a question. It's just a video game, right?

Here's the kicker: All you need is someone 18 or older to get the game for you. Friend, family or otherwise, there are no questions asked if the person is 18 or older. Another funny little fact is a 16 year old employee at Gamestop cannot sell an M rated game. They need someone 18 or older for that one too.

Can we get a little education here, folks? Would it hurt to tell a mother about the game she's going to buy her kid? Would it hurt to say " Ma'am (no one says Ma'am anymore), did you know that there is explicit, graphic violence in this game? It might be a little inappropriate for Junior there." She might even say "What kind of violence are we talking about?" Then the guy might say "Well, there is a gun in the game that has a chainsaw on it. Players can use it to cut their opponents in half. Blood splashes on the screen, and the imagery is very realistic."

What would be the worst thing that could happen? The mother might say "I had no idea. I don't think I want Junior to eviscerate his friends online with chainsaws. He's too young for that. That's INAPPROPRIATE for his age." (We don't really use that word to often anymore. In the Church we do. Not out in the world though). If Gamestop did inform parents about the games that they were buying for their kids, I would imagine they wouldn't buy the games. Some might. And of course, I am assuming its the parents who are buying the games for these kids.

So, therefore what? What is the point to all this ranting? Education. Education and Ignorance. Be educated. Don't be ignorant. Oh, and if I see you in line at Gamestop buying an M rated game for a kid that looks younger than 25, I'm gonna say something to you. I don't care if your kid throws a tantrum...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve

One of the Christmas Eve traditions in my family is for the kids to pick a cereal on Christmas Eve that we eat on Christmas morning. It's cool because when we were growing up, the Muum didn't buy cereal with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, so on Christmas Eve, we could get whatever sugary goodness that we wanted. The catch is that 5 kids have to agree on 1 box of cereal. There is always bargaining, fighting, and yelling, but we can't leave the store with more than 1 box of cereal. Rich & I went out on Christmas Eve to drop off some gifts and pick up our Christmas cereal. By the time we finished visiting our friends, the only store open was the convenience store (even WalMart and McDonald's were closed). We went in the store to see what cereal options they had and it was a pretty grim selection: Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Raisin Bran. We opted to pick up the cereal another day (we're going to have it for New Year's).

After the cereal debacle, we were hungry for some dinner so we looked for a place to eat. As previously mentioned, McDonald's and every other fast food place was closed. All of the restaurants looked like they had been shut down for hours. Our remaining choices were Chinese food or the Jamaican fried chicken place. We decided to go for the Chinese and it was delicious.

When we got home and finished eating our feast, I realized that I still hadn't made any cookies for Santa. And being a bit giddy we decided to give Santa our fortune cookies from the Chinese place. I don't think Santa minded too much; he still left us some nice presents.

We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and will have a safe and happy New Year's.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Rich and I bought our first full-sized real Christmas tree this year. We got a real tree our first Christmas together, but it was a potted tree that died (sad). We went out to the tree farm that Rich went to as a kid and we picked out a nice one. We named him Tany-B (like tannenbaum). Sadly, he will only be with our family about a month, but we will enjoy every moment. Especially those moments that we are vacuuming up his pine needles. We're excited to decorate him sometime this week.

Here we are with the tree loaded on the car:

Richard with the tree:

Gretchen hugging the tree: