First Name Basis

Father’s Day is one that I throw over my shoulder. Instead, I keep the third Sunday in June as Opening Day, as it was for the eleven summers I spent growing up at camp.

In the run of all those summers, the routine for opening day changed little. The gates would open in the morning, cars that had lined up on Highway 306 would pull in, and they would be directed to the assigned cabin.

Six summers I was a camper, craning my head out the window to see where I would be spending the next four weeks and who would be joining me.

The other five summers I was a counselor, stationed somewhere around camp to make the day go smoothly.

After the initial rush, the day panned out as a series of meetings. Meeting the counselors. Meeting other campers. Meeting old friends. Then the last meeting of the day, dinner with the rest of camp in the Mess Hall.

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Part Four: Metagaming

The real thing is far more Escher-esque.

When you tell a story, you don’t have to explain why you’re telling it. We tell stories to tell stories. It’s part of living.

But when you are the subject of the story, you’re telling it for a reason. There is some nugget or morsel buried under all the dross and dressing that you’re trying to get to, and for whatever reason, you can’t just come out and say it.

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Part Two: Brothers

Super Smash Bros. 64 logoEvery summer, Las Vegas hosts the Evolution Championship Series, the world’s largest fighting game tournament. The 2013 edition of the tournament marked a special occasion. One of the headlining games was Super Smash Bros. Melee, a game that was twelve years old at the time and that had only been featured at EVO once before in 2007. More to the point, it’s one of my favorite video games.

Tuning into the livestream of the tournament, I saw people play the game in a way that I could barely comprehend. It didn’t look anything like the game as I have played it, not because there were any visual updates, but because they were using techniques and abilities that I had never come close to figuring out when I was younger. There were people talking about the game in real time, giving play-by-play analysis and color commentary. All of this was happening on the main stage at an event attended by thousands and watched by hundreds of thousands of people – record-breaking numbers.

I knew that there were people who played Smash on a professional level, but I didn’t know that the game had endured to this point. After the tournament ended I wanted to know where it had all come from. I wanted to know who these people were. I needed to know their story.

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Part One: De Facto

My old blog’s subheading reads: “That state of being trapped in a mood of varying unreality, such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet come to pass.”

That’s the definition I came up with for subjunctivitis, a word I didn’t make up but have adopted. If your last grammar lessons were a long time ago, the subjunctive mood deals with lots of words like “if,” “ought,” “would,” and “should,” words that lend themselves to uncertainty and thoughts presented in contrast to reality.

I’ve been thinking my definition was a bit too vague for a while now, so I’ve written a short series of posts hoping to expound on it.

If I’m going to talk about what subjunctivitis is, first I have to talk about two of the formative factors of my childhood. I have to talk about the band that I listened to and the game that I played.

Let’s start by facing the music.

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