If Anderson Cooper were an Action Hero...

One of the disadvantages of being a brilliant creative ultra- prodigy is that brilliant creative ultra- prodigies don't often have time to produce their great works as fast as they can conceive them.  I unfortunately don't live in the year 5067, when there will be machines capable of producing fully realized novels complete with likeable characters and coherent motivations just by feeding its basic premise into the input slot.

No. I have to begrudgingly hammer away on physical keyboards, pushing my work upon my friends as if they were drugs (sorry about that), revising, re-revising, and telling myself that it will totally be done in six months even though it's absolutely and definitely been longer than five years since I first said that.

And so the term the back burner was coined for, or possibly by, creative types such as myself. There might be an infinite amount of ideas in the world, but only a finite amount of time with which to work on them. So we put our works on the "back burner," hoping that it's the sort of dish that will still be good after a long simmer instead of, say, a trip to the mental microwave.

One such projects is older even than Mister Mercury itself. The place of inspiration: Scottsdale, AZ. The time: 2006. The channel: CNN.

I had just recently moved into an apartment with my former boss at my formal job at a formal video game store (it's gone out of business, see). I had graduated from high school and had lost enough political arguments to understand that I should probably keep abreast of current events if I'm to survive the political battlefield. I was a pretty dumb liberal back then. These days, I'm a smart one.

Anyway, in came CNN. As far as news agencies go, it's far from perfect. Quite far, in fact. But at the time, I didn't know that. I needed information, and the constantly scrolling ticker, the handsome and enthusiastic journalists, and the serious sounding “news” segments like The Situaton Room were exactly what I was looking for. It tickled me pink that there existed a real person named Wolf Blitzer, though not so much that he had the voice of a middle school principal and the personality of a teleprompter.

But all this paled in comparison to one special someone who was and still is working CNN. I'm of course talking about the Silver Fox himself, Anderson Cooper.

His eyes are the color of your dreams.

I didn't quite know what to make of this guy. Handsome? Yes. Suave? Indubitably. Charming? Like a fox. But how was his journalism? As it turns out, better than all the other poor fools on that channel combined.

For a brief while I became an expert in all things Anderson Cooper. I combed the internet for mentions of him, reading up on his history, family, and public life. I read his book and was astonished to find out that the guy could write, too. But the real moment of inspiration came when a little old place called Lebanon started getting shelled by a little old place called Israel. Anderson Cooper, CNN's resident disaster-responder, was on the case! I was on the edge of my seat. Back in 2006, you see, this could’ve been the start of World War III for all we knew. And my man Anderson would be the first to cover it!

And then this happened: There Anderson was, traveling with his crew somewhere near Beirut, Lebanon, talking to and generally being suave at the camera. I remember that he was wearing his trademark green Polo shirt and jeans. Then CNN cut to a commercial break. Then Anderson was back, and he was tricked the fuck out in military gear. He had a bullet proof vest, combat helmet, and presumably combat boots. Israel, it seems, was about to pound the city with mortars, and air raid sirens were blaring in the background. This was the moment of revelation. I knew, of course, that Anderson was just wearing cautionary gear in case of errant debris. But still... the first thing I thought was: Anderson Cooper is going to go out there and kick some ass.

Armed with this notion, and still doing comics at the time, I conceived of this quite clever and unintentionally racist masterpiece of a webcomic:

Remember: UNINTENTIONALLY racist.

My comic never got that popular, but this comic still managed to make it onto a few Anderson Cooper fan sites, mostly run by women who quite reasonably wanted to jump his pale bones. Hell, so do I, sometimes.

But it didn't occur to me for a while that there was more to this comic than meets the eye. If there were such thing as an Anderson Cooper video game, would anybody play it? Of course they would. But how would such a game come into existence? Well... for that, I would have to make it myself.

So after six months of banging my head against keyboards and using all the wrong drawing programs, I cobbled together a playable basic version of my game using Game Maker. It was called Anderson Cooper: 360 Bullets, just like the comic. It was actually quite fun, and had some game mechanics that, while not original on their own, were quite well-suited for the game and came together seamlessly.

But it wasn't good enough. My coding skills hit a wall. I couldn't insert multiple levels, couldn't get my enemies to patrol, and of course my story wasn't unique or interesting enough. There was also the fact that Game Maker was strictly Windows only, so multiple platforms were completely out of the question. Lastly, if I were to make any money from this, I was going to seriously need to do some more creative legwork, because CNN would sue my trousers clean off if they found me using their Golden Boy as a video game character. So reluctantly, I put Anderson Cooper: 360 Bullets on the back burner.

But... things have changed. Game Maker, for starters, is starting to branch out. There's already HTML 5 support, which means anybody with a modern internet browser can play your game, Windows be damned. They're also avidly working on making it compatible with the language compatible with Xbox Live Arcade.

I've also finally come up with ideas to fill the creative gaps. I'm never ever going to get away with using Anderson Cooper himself, so I've made a few modifications. Anderson Cooper is now Action Anderson, Action Journalist:

Not as silver, just as foxy.

And instead of fighting legions Hezbollah members (it seemed insensitive to have a white upper-class man fighting legions of Arabic, mostly-poor victims of circumstance), he'll be fighting legions of these decidedly less racist foes:


Left to right: Brickbot, Steelbot, and Woodbot.

And he'll even be wielding the legendary Patriot Ray for the task:

So this post is officially announcing that the project formally known as Anderson Cooper: 360 Bullets, renamed Action Anderson: Action Journalist is back on the line. I've got somebody else doing the coding for it, and it's already looking better than the previous version of the game. He's better at coding than he thinks he is; he comes up with creative solutions to problems that I would never be able to arrive at myself.

So what goes on the back burner now? Inspecto, unfortunately. You know, the comic book idea I mentioned earlier. Your time will come, Inspecto. I promise. Just ask Action Anderson. Though not till he's done kicking a whole lot of robot ass.

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