Trenton, NJ 08619
My Fanzens (or, perhaps, my Franbase…if you have a preference, post!)…this is a sad, sad day in the annals of GameCola history.
You might’ve felt a little blue when we started dividing our issues into multiple pages. Maybe you downed the sad rock meds when we stopped changing the background every goddamn month. It’s even possible that you drowned in your own tears when Gina Holechko left us a few months back.
But…but…it’s just…oh God, I can’t do this. I just can’t. Take a look for yourselves, loyal fans:
It’s gone. One of our longest-running, most beloved…well, maybe “most beloved” is an overstatement…it almost always hit double-digits in hits, at least. And it’s always been there for us, for the past five years. Telling us what people had to say about the last issue. Posting their most hilarious comments. Showing us artwork from our most creative readers. Providing us with disturbing fanfiction about me and Matt.
Where will all that go now? Where will our videogame poetry be published? Will you ever find a home for that Eric Regan/Sprite Monkey epic you’ve been working on?
Hold on, hold on. Peep the end of this column if you really need that answer right now. Try to contain yourself if you can, though. Before we look forward, I’d like to take a look back at a few of my favorites from Submissions history. And it’s not only because my word count here is low. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I can easily go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about absolutely nothing for pages.
No, I’m not doing it for the word count. I’m doing it for the memories. I’m doing it to commemorate one of the best goddamn features we’ve ever had. I’m doing it…I’m doing it to show my appreciation for the section called Submissions.
Take a look:
I liked the new GC design so much, that I made a video for the site. In short, I made a video, kind of like a promo video ad that includes various images and stuff from the site. I have a techno-zelda song thing in the background playing. I think you’ll like it.
– Kevin Leacock
– Little Bloatie
the trees swayed.
the breezes played.
how warm the sun beat,
upon my feet.
and mario ran around my head.
– The Lizo
This is drew dahrty i am calling you out. You tell me a time and a place where i can beat your head in motherfucker. Its now or never shit mouth.
I hate you,
– Paul Franzen
To: Julie Kozarsky
WILL YOU HAVE SEX WITH ME AND THAN GET HIT BY A TRUCK?
Seeing your cute little (or maybe big) face here in this magazine makes me soooo proud. Way back 20 years ago I would never have imagined my son would become a great writer, even though Ms. DeNafo, your 2nd grade teacher told me you would!!! It just takes my breath away!
Congratulations on this employee of the month award. It is well deserved. Maybe I’ll even buy you a video game to celebrate. This surely proves that letting your kid play all the video games he wants to helps him to succeed in life!!!
Love, Yo Momma
Button Mashed Potato
Button Mashing Potato
– The Lizo
“And the answer is… “MR. MAGOO, that’s who!” Eric’s answer to the final Trivial Pursuit Unhinged question echoed through the silence in Ironforge for a moment, just before the final buzzer sounded. All of Ironforge burst into applause and jubilant cheers for their new reigning champion.
“How could this have happened? How could I have lost to… him??” Paul thought, hanging his head in humiliated shame. In the midst of all the chaos, no one seemed to notice as he slipped away, heading towards the Griffons, and a solitary location to plot his revenge…
Six months later….
Paul sits alone, unwashed, unshaven, eating his own hair and babbling incoherently in a dingy basement he discovered far below the surface of the Lion’s Pride Inn, in the small town of Goldshire, deep within the Elwynn Forest.
“Noonecanbeat… How could I have… I am the all knowing champion… REDRUM… Enrique must die… sqeeeeze his head like a puss-bloated blemish until it combusts all over the walls… brains and guts… I shall crush the brain that beat mine and squish it through my fingers… (Paul’s hands make two evil looking blue fists as he continues his rant.) REVENGE will be mine, and I will be Paul the UNHINGED forevermore!!! Muhahahahahahahaha…ha…ha…” *cough*.
With his resolve now very clear Paul proceeds to shave his ragged purple facial hair, which had grown so long over the reclusive months that it now dragged along the ground as he walked. When the transformation was finished he ascended from his dark haven and reentered life above ground. The residents of Goldshire had all heard rumors of the shamed night elf warrior who had taken refuge in the basement of their town’s inn, but had never actually been able to catch a glimpse of the mysterious recluse. But now here he was, among them, looking quite normal indeed… Curious onlookers gathered around all wondering what was to happen next.
Onlookers: (In hushed voices back and fourth) “What is he doing here?” … “That’s him, the one that lost the tournament…” …”What could he want…” …”Shhhh!! Everyone quiet! I think he’s about to say something…”
Paul: “My friends! My fellow warriors, as you know I was beaten by Eric in the Trivial Pursuit Unhinged tournament many months ago, and I was forced underground in shame. Now I am back, and ready to seek my REVENGE!! (He roars with bestial vigor and the crowd erupts into wild cheers for their new found hero.) Spread the word that I will be training with the elders in Darnassus, before making my way to Ironforge to formally challenge my nemesis to a rematch….to the death…”
(The crowd roars its approval clapping excitedly in anticipation of the duel.)
Meanwhile, in Ungoro Crater…
Eric the UNHINGED and his band of merry but merciless elves ride swiftly through the lush foliage striking down all life that opposed them.
Eric the UNHINGED: “Huzza! My lethal friends, now that I am the reigning champion of Trivial Pursuit Unhinged, the peons of Azeroth shall bow before us, tremble at the very mention of my great name, for I am unstoppable!” (Eric saps a passing Tyrant Devilsaur, leaving the huge reptile staggering and shrieking in anger, its piercing cries causing the surrounding creatures to flee from the giant’s vicinity in wild panic.)
Eric and his friends enjoy a hearty laugh over the trouble one stealthy move seemed to cause, but the lighthearted moment is quickly over when the group spies yet another comrade moving toward them, a troubled look in his glowing yellow eyes.
Eric the UNHINGED: “Matt, my friend, what brings you all the way to Ungoro? Last I heard you had taken permanent refuge in Ironforge…”
Matt: “That’s true; you know I had to seek refuge there after angering the stronger of the Horde one too many times… there’s quite a hefty price on my head these days.” (He scoffs bitterly at the thought of the Horde killing him… of all the night elves in the land… ha!)
Eric the UNHINGED: “How high is the price now, my long-eared brother? Perhaps we can hand you over for a few silver pieces?” (The others snicker softly at this, each afraid to bring about Matt’s haughty temper.)
Matt: (Giving the group a half smirk.) “Laugh now, but you won’t have that sense of humor when you hear the news I have come all the way out here to bring you… of course if you’d rather make jokes, I can always catch the next Griffon back to Ironforge…”
Eric the UNHINGED: (Trying to keep a straight face.) “No, no, that won’t be necessary my friend; what news do you have for me?”
Matt: “There is word that Paul has resurfaced, and is in Darnassus seeking training with the elders…”
Eric the UNHINGED: “Since when is that considered cause for alarm? It’s good that he’s honing his skills; it’s something we all need to do sometime.”
Matt: “Rumor has it he’s not just honing his skills… he’s training for a rematch against you in Ironforge… but more than that, he wants a fight… to the death…”
(The others look at each other in surprise and whisper amongst themselves.)
Eric the UNHINGED: (Frowning in thought.) “Hmmm… I had no idea he had taken losing to me that hard… Although I am unbeatable, and that’s bound to send any common elf over the edge…” (He smiles at this, feeling his confident nature rise once again.) “If it’s a fight he’s looking for, I suppose we should head for Ironforge; I wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone.”
The group heads for Ironforge, unaware that Paul was already there awaiting the arrival of his opponent…
Ironforge was buzzing with life as news of the pending match between Eric the UNHINGED, and his former Trivial Pursuit opponent who was hell-bent on getting his revenge. When the two duelers finally arrived there was barely room to stand. Eric and Paul entered on opposite sides of the giant complex, and made their way to the front entrance, the only place where dueling was permitted.
Eric spied Paul standing off to the side of the main path just outside the Ironforge gates; he seemed to be meditating in preparation for battle.
Hmm, Eric thought, If I can just stealth and deliver one Cheap Shot I should have the upper hand… at least for now… (He stealths quietly before anyone notices his presence and sneaks into position behind the warrior who is carefully sharpening his Arcanite Reaper.)
The crafty rogue strikes Paul from behind with both Blackvenom Blades, instantly realizing this was not a wise move. The sound of steel against steel rips through the cold winter-like air, as the blades shatter into a million unrecognizable pieces. Paul gives a surprised yell and lurches forward from the impact.
In one powerful movement he recovers, and swings his newly sharpened blade around clean through the attacker’s neck, before letting it come to rest on the ground.
Eric’s severed head seemed to fall to the ground in slow motion. It took Paul a moment to fully realize what had happened as the crowd went deathly silent, thoroughly shocked and chilled to the bone by what they had just witnessed. Paul looked down at the now blood-covered head of his enemy as reality began to sink in.
I WON, he thought.
Paul the UNHINGED: (Picking up Enrique’s head by the hair and raising it high above his own for all to see.) “BEHOLD!!” he yelled. “VICTORY IS MINE; YOU ARE ALL WITNESS TO MY VINDICATION!!!”
The spectators roared their approval, applauding the victorious warrior. It may have been a short battle, but it was something everyone would be chattering about for a long time to come.
Paul the UNHINGED was suddenly struck with the desire to dispose of the trophy head he now held in his hand. Without giving it a second thought he moved toward the entrance to Ironforge, the crowd parting and saluting respectfully as he made his way inside. He made his way through the complex and into The Great Forge; stopping at the metal railing that protected the massive lava pit below. He peered down into the pit for a moment, marveling at the great sea of fire before launching Enrique’s head into the flames and watching it disintegrate instantly.
Paul stood for a moment before turning to head back to The Commons area of Ironforge. I wonder if anyone’s up for a game of Trivial Pursuit Unhinged… he thought, chuckling softly to himself as he set off to find his next challenge.
– Stacey Roberts
Paul was drowsing quietly at the desk in front of his computer. The screen set off a soft glow that made his face a pale blue color, and his eyes were mere slivers between his soft eyelashes. It was far past midnight.
From beyond his door, he could vaguely hear the sounds of drunken partying in the hallway. Clearly, Friday nights were not meant to be quiet nights at College Park. Paul sighed. All he wanted to do was finish what he was working on and get to sleep.
“Gosh darnit. Why can’t people frickin’ GO TO SLEEP OUT THERE. GameCola isn’t going to get itself up!” he muttered to himself.
It was the night of the GameCola deadline. Paul had everything all ready, but he wasn’t about to give in and go to sleep before it was up and online. He knew he’d get hell tomorrow from his faithful readers if the shiny new issue of GameCola wasn’t there waiting for them when they woke up at 5:00 on Saturday morning.
Paul scrolled idly through the articles he had yet to finalize. Yup, there was Stu’s review. And Eric’s Super thumb thing. And all of Matt’s stuff…
“Oh ****,” said Paul.
“Where the **** is Gates of Life?”
Paul was dismayed! How had he not noticed earlier that this crucial bit of GameCola was missing from his good buddy Matt’s submission?!
Paul threw a stapler across the room in a sudden burst of anger. It was 2:58 AM! Two minutes before his self-appointed deadline, and he was frickin’ missing his favorite part of all!
There was only one thing to do.
Paul pushed his chair back and got to his feet, stretching broadly as he did so, sending the muscles across his back rippling powerfully.
Paul knew what he had to do. He was going to get his Gates of Life if he had to walk up to Matt and force it out of him.
Fortunately for him, Matt lived a mere two yards from his door. Convenient how things like that work, them being friends and living in the same apartment and all.
Paul felt a strange tingling in his stomach as he thought of those living arrangements, as usual, but he put that down to plain nerves. It wasn’t easy, even for the Supreme Ruler and Ultimate Head of GameCola, to face down Matt Gardner and come away again unscathed.
But his mind was set.
Paul opened his bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway of their four-person flat. There were various beer cans and other remnants of the others scattered around their living area. Paul and Matt stayed in their rooms mostly, coming out every once in a while to play video games. The two Normal College Boys who co-existed with them were rarely seen, but the evidence of their residence was clear as Paul crossed the living area and headed straight for his best friend’s room.
Taking a deep breath and pausing for a moment to allow the sudden inexplicable butterflies in his stomach to settle, Paul knocked on Matt’s door.
There was no answer for a moment, and Paul was about ready to knock again when he heard a voice.
“Yeah? Who’s there?”
It was Matt.
Paul let out a sigh of relief. He’d been afraid the other boy/man would be asleep already. And then he’d never get what he came for.
Which, as we all know, was Gates of Life. Nothing more.
“It’s Paul,” Paul said to the cold, hard door.
After another moment of tense waiting (Paul tried in vain to loosen his tensed muscles, and he couldn’t help thinking that at least he would be looking buff and masculine [he hoped]) the door opened.
`”Hey Paul, what’s up?” It was Matt. His eyes were slightly red from lack of sleep, and the familiar sounds of World of Warcraft were emanating from the background.
“Hey man,” Paul was crazy impressed with how normal his voice sounded. “I was just wondering, what ever happened to Gates of Life? It wasn’t in the batch of stuff you gave me earlier today.”
Matt furrowed his brow. “That’s weird. I totally put it in there. Well, come on in, and I’ll just get it ready again.”
Paul took a step into the room. “Wouldn’t it be easier for you to just send it to me? I’m online, you know.” He saw Matt go over to his computer and minimize WoW as well as a few other screens that Paul couldn’t quite catch.
“Naw, it’ll only take a minute.”
It was then that Paul noticed somethign very strange.
Matt was behaving very… oddly.
He wasn’t joking, or laughing, or making remarks about how Paul was only getting to all this now when he’s always the one harping at Matt to get things in way ahead of time.
Paul was slightly worried by this, and at first just put it down to the fact that it was now 3:01 AM (by his watch) and Matt was clearly absorbed in whatever was going on in WoW right now.
But when Matt turned back to Paul to say, “Do you want this in Word, or what?” Paul realized with a sudden shock that what he had taken to be exhaustion in Matt’s red-rimmed eyes, was in fact… tears.
Paul nearly fell over in disbelief.
His mind was immediately full of conflicting ideas for what to do next! He wanted to leave the room and give him some privacy, to ask what was wrong, to cross the room and hug him, to do other things to take Matt’s mind off of whatever was making him upset—Paul hurriedly buried this last thought. It would get him nowhere, he knew, for he’d traveled that road many times before, and he feared that soon he’d be the one with tears in his eyes.
Paul shook his head a little, and blushed.
“Haha, sorry man,” he said. “Yeah, Word would be great.”
Matt turned back to his computer screen, and with a few clicks of his mouse, had The Gates of Life file up and ready. He transferred it with the ease of many years of practice onto a floppy disk. (Mmm, Paul thought, old methods of file transfer sure do make my blood boil.)
The boy/man got up from his chair again and turned to Paul, handing him the disk with the promised feature on it.
For a brief moment, their fingers made contact, and Paul’s breath caught in his throat.
But then it was over, and Matt was turning back to his computer, and saying, “Well, good luck, man. Tell me if you need anything else.”
Paul turned to leave, feeling slightly disheartened, until his eyes happened to fall on his friend’s computer screen.
As Matt was shuffling things around, opening and closing windows, Paul saw the briefest flash of a title containing his name. And then another one.
And a picture of him—of Paul, standing next to Matt in a place he didn’t recognize. Both of them were smiling broadly, and Paul thought he saw their hands clasped together tightly.
But then it was all over.
Paul left the room, walked back across the hall, and entered his abode.
He flopped onto his bed, all thoughts of GameCola and Gates of Life chased away for a moment.
He lay there for a few minutes, staring up blankly, a smile flitting across his face.
And a question in his mind.
He whispered it to the darkness, with hope in his husky voice:
“Could it be?”
– The Lizo
“Why does he always do this to me?” Paul wondered aloud. It was 11:50 p.m., ten minutes before the deadline, and of course, Matt didn’t have his stuff in yet.
Paul drummed his fingers against his computer desk in agitation. All he asked was that his staff write some articles for him and get them to him by midnight. Was that unreasonable? Was it too much to expect?
Paul was even more irked by the fact that everyone else seemed to have been able to meet with his requests—everyone except his best friend, Matt, who happened to share an apartment with him.
Remembering all the way back to last month’s due date, Paul realized that he would once again need to confront Matt and demand his just rewards if nothing came his way soon.
Paul found his fingers twitch faster as some remote part of his mind contemplated what those rewards might be.
Finally, with less than a minute left before midnight, Paul lurched upright and left his room to venture out into the wilds of his apartment..
Before he knew it, Paul found himself in front of Matt’s door, and he knocked twice.
The other boy opened the door from within, and the two pairs of eyes met briefly.
“Where’s your stuff, man?” Paul said in what he thought of as his harshest tone.
Matt looked at him blankly for a little while, and then said, “Wait…. The deadline’s tonight?”
Paul smacked himself in the head with his hand. He should have thought to put a post-it note on Matt’s door earlier!
“Yeah, it’s tonight. Do you think you could whip something up in the next few minutes or so?”
Matt sighed deeply, and Paul couldn’t help noticing the rise and fall of his well-formed shoulders.
Finally, Matt said, “Yeah, I guess I can do that. I’ve got ideas for my review and such, but I have no idea what to write for Of The Month. I guess I’ll just write about the first random thing I see like I usually do.”
Paul responded with, “Yeah I suppose that’ll be fine. Just let me know when you’ve got the stuff. I’ll be in my room.”
Paul turned to leave again, and was almost out of sight of the door and very nearly in control of his shaking hands again when he heard Matt call out to him. “Hey Paul, wait,” he said.
“How about this,” he continued when Paul turned around again, his breath catching slightly in his throat.
“What if I did a Mario themed Of The Month?”
“Um…. Sure,” Paul replied. “Do you have something Mario-ish to write about?
“Well…” Matt looked down briefly, almost as if he was shy—but Paul quickly discarded that thought. “Do you remember that Mario thing I gave you for Christmas last year?”
Paul thought for a minute. There was only one Mario-themed gift Matt had given him last year, but he mustn’t get his hopes up that Matt meant that gift.
He decided to go with a safe answer. “Wait, what?” he said, and gave himself a mental pat on the back for such quick thinking.
“Haha, you know man,” Matt went on. “The boxers.”
“Haha, oh yeah,” Paul replied nonchalantly. “That gift. Well, what did you want with them?”
“I just thought I could write about ’em is all,” Matt clarified. “Do you have them around? I’ll need a picture of them to go with the article.”
Paul felt himself blush a little.
“Well actually, um,” Paul paused before going on, “I’m sorta… wearing them.”
Matt’s eyebrows raised in surprise. And then Paul could almost swear he saw a smirk flit across the other boy’s face.
Then Matt said something Paul thought he’d never hear:
“That’s alright. Just drop your pants, man, and we’ll get a picture.”
Paul nearly fell over in surprise.
In a daze, his hands wandered towards his belt, but then Matt cried out, “Not in here! Jesus!”
Paul laughed in what he thought must be a mix between embarrassment and relief. Mostly relief, surely.
The two boys had a good hearty laugh over the misunderstanding.
Paul turned to leave for real this time, and Matt let him go.
When he returned to his room, GameCola’s editor-in-chief settled down on his bed and weighed his possibilities.
He pulled out his camera and looked at it, debating thoughtfully about what his next course of action should be.
Ten minutes later, Paul sat at his computer again, ready to send the resulting pictures to his buddy.
When Matt was ready, Paul sent him two pictures:
One of the famed boxers by themselves, lying on Paul’s bed.
And one of the boxers in the same position, but with a Paul in them.
He closed his eyes and waited to see what the other boy would do.
– The Lizo
Paul Franzen, working on the January issue.
– Eric Regan
CGI Imagery of Key GameCola Staff Writers
(Created using a demo version of FaceGen)
– Paul Franzen
Eric Versus the Old Man
By Father Time
Sweat was pouring off of the old mans back as he got clotheslined in the face by captain eric regan whos world heavyweight championship was on the line in this epic match. He hit the mat hard as the captain bounced off the ropes and dropped an elbow straight into his chest. He knew he was almost done for, nobody could beat eric, but he wasnt ready to give up. Not yet, not ever.
He tried to spring up to his feet but he felt a little wobbly, it had been along time since he had last been able to do that. He was not in the prime of his career. He had managed to pick up some fluke victories recently but not against people of eric’s caliber.
Eric kicked him again right in the face and the old man went down. This was it, he thought. And then he saw something. A sign in the crowd, held up by somebody who was in the crowd. The sign said “you can do it” and he thought to himself that he really could. This was his biggest mistake it was a truth that nobody ever beat eric. Especially not any old man.
He tried to get up but then eric picked him up and delivered a vicious powerbomb. The old man was out eric got the one two three. He had successfully defended his championship!!!!! The crowd went crazy but eric just brushed it off because he was to used to beating jabronies like this old man. He longed for real competition. And someday he eventually got it….
– Father Time
I was going through the archives and reread the Matt/Paul fanfiction that Lizo wrote. Those stories rocked, and I was inspired to write my own GameCola fanfiction.
– Devoted GameCola Fan
It was a normal day. Paul was wearing a bathrobe while lying on his bed and chowing down on some pre-Halloween candy. His roommate, Matt, was reading in a corner, a fact that made Paul happy. Paul didn’t know why, but, somehow, things just felt _better_ when Matt was nearby.
Matt put down his book and said, “So…I was thinking about going as Abraham Lincoln for Halloween.”
“But wouldn’t you have to grow a beard for that?” Paul asked.
“Yeah, but that’s no problem. I mean, you have a beard, right?” Matt shrugged.
Matt’s question brought out a burst of laughter from Paul.
“Don’t laugh,” Matt said, sounding a little offended.
“I’m not laughing at _you_,” Paul said. “I was laughing at what you said. After all, if you want to know if I have a beard, all you have to do is look at my face.”
Matt grinned. “Yeah, well, I know you have a beard.”
There was a brief silence.
“You know, I’ve always liked your beard,” Matt said.
A burst of pride swelled up in Paul’s heart. Matt liked his beard?
“I was just wondering…” Matt began. “If I…could I…touch it?”
Paul couldn’t believe his ears. “What?”
“Just to see what it feels like,” Matt shrugged.
Paul pretended to be indifferent, but the thought of Matt’s hand on his face secretly thrilled him. “Sure, whatever, man.”
Matt gulped and reached his hand towards Paul’s face. His fingers twitched, inches from Paul’s beard. Then…connection. Matt’s hand reached Paul’s cheek, and slowly began stroking Paul’s face.
“That feels good,” Matt said. “Really, really good.”
Paul blinked in surprise. He was going to say the same thing.
Matt withdrew his hand, leaving Paul with a slight empty feeling. “Thanks, man,” Matt said. “I think I _will_ grow a beard for Halloween.”
Paul gulped. He knew he shouldn’t do it, but…somehow, he couldn’t help himself.
“Did I tell you what I’m going to do for Halloween?” Paul blurted out.
“I’m going as a boxer.”
Silence for a moment. “Do you have the outfit ready?”
“What’s it look like?”
“You can decide for yourself,” Paul said, throwing off his robe, revealing his boxer shorts to his unsuspecting roommate.
Matt’s jaw dropped in disbelief. Paul smiled to himself. This was going to be a magical Halloween, he could tell.
Thanks for letting me share that with you, gamefans. Your thoughts and prayers through these trying times are truly appreciated.
I could, at this time, regale you with all the great stories of Submissions. Of it’s old logo (a riding crop! I think there’s a submission-based BSDM joke there), of it’s most recent logo (the figure-four: asubmission hold), of all the good it’s done (Submissions led to our banner logo, you know!), of all the bad it’s done (yeah, right, like that section every did anyone any bad). But I don’t want to hold you up any longer. I’ve said my part, and I’m sure you’ve thought yours.
It would be nice, though, to find out why this happened. Why this section was killed off. Why Submissions is no more.
To find out…you’re gonna have to tune in to Dear Readers next month.
editor in chief