The Gentle Giant

Perusing Facebook this morning, I came across a post by a friend, Tim Jordan, who wrote a story about his grandfather. The story was quite moving and I asked him if I could publish it here, of which he gave me permission. So for your consideration, here it is.

My grandfather was in WWI.

That’s a fact that still absolutely confounds me but my mom was the youngest of 7 children, the only girl, and there was a significant gap between her and her youngest brother. I remember a picture from the newspaper of him at the train station holding a sign that said GO TO HELL GERMANY and that also confused me as a child because my grandfather was the gentlest of men and I couldn’t even imagine him saying hell, which along with butt and guts I considered the worst of words at that age.

My grandparents lived in Olla, Louisiana, more accurately on the outskirts of Olla, in the middle of fucking nowhere; an ill kept state road farting away into nothingness just before making it to their home. A home my grandfather carved out of the landscape using stones and trees from the very land where the house stood. It was purely functional, a small 4 room shack with a porch and a cistern off to the side, long sealed away before I was born and the source of many warnings I ignored. How I never ended up as a literal Timmy in the well I’ll never know.

Over the last 20 years or so I became more and more interested in Grandpa John and in talking to my mother we both began to slowly realize a pattern of severe depression and possibly psychosis. He never held a job for long and spent lots of time at home rarely moving from his favorite chair except to hunt the occasional squirrel. There were lots of other signs too but I won’t go into them here because I really want to go back to WWI.

Grandpa wasn’t in France long, maybe about three weeks, before he was sent back home. He was uninjured physically but most definitely suffering from what we would now call PTSD. He was never quite the same, outwardly the gentle giant we all knew, but prone to bouts of psychosis where he didn’t know where he was, vomited profusely, cursed up a storm, railing against the horrors he saw in the war. I heard some of these stories as a child, listening in where I wasn’t supposed to, and I can remember climbing up in his lap as a child to comfort him even though I didn’t understand at all what was going on with him. I never saw him in any of those states though. He was always so kind and loving and willing to hold us kids for as long as he could, before we wiggled away to chase the cats in the yard or catch lizards that were cute until they bit you.

Grandpa eventually fell and broke his hip, spent a while in the hospital, then came home and required a hospital bed and after care. I can’t say what happened to his mind at that point, maybe it was dementia, which runs pretty rampantly on the other side of the family, but it wasn’t like dementia I’d ever seen before. He just seemed to give up and sadly languished there for a decade or more.

He was mostly silent but would occasionally shock everyone by talking and letting us all know how aware he was about what was going on around him. Maybe those were just random moments of lucidity. In the 80s, small town America, physical and mental rehab weren’t exactly the norm so nobody really knows what was going on with him. Occasionally my grandma would wake up in the middle of the night to find that he had climbed out of bed and was sitting in his favorite chair. These moments made me profoundly sad for him.

When he died, the first of my grandparents to pass away, I was glad that he was finally at peace but I felt like I hardly knew the man yet at the same time I felt like he was a kindred spirit. We don’t have much left of him anymore. We have some pictures and my mom has his favorite coffee cup, a little dainty piece of china decorated with pink flowers.

I can always remember the day he died because of what my grandmother said one time when were visiting his grave. “He died on the longest day of the year,” she said. “It was certainly the longest day for me.”

 

Mass Effect Andromeda – Everything I Dislike So Far (Part 3)

Another entry in my list of things I dislike about MEA. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m actually enjoying playing MEA a fair amount, but it’s still making me cringe quite often. Also since the last post it updated to 1.0.0.7 and then to 1.0.0.8, so this post will actually be two entries in one – the one I wrote for 0.7 and the one I wrote for 0.8. This post contains spoilers. Also videos for the first time.

Part 1   Part 2

Main Menu

  • Menu takes a long time to decide that a unit upgrade is available.
  • Mouse very, very rarely, ceases to work in menus at all. Game must be restarted

Dialogue

  • You meet new allies, the Angarans. Instead of telling you what they’ve been calling the Kett the whole time, they call them the Kett too. How about telling me what they’re really called?
  • “I need to change your entire planet’s climate so my people can live here, lol” ‘oh OK, but do this task first’
  • Jaal threatens to kill me in my sleep. Hilarious.
  • Sohkaa and Ryder treat each other like fucking idiots
  • “Are all humans so quick with words?” after I went afk and left the screen paused on dialogue for 5 minutes (not really a complaint, but still)
  • “They put every credit they made into my education” how very Americocentric of the writers to assume capitalism would be universal.
  • “niche” said like NITCH
  • “download some movies for me lol, I like bad movies, I’m literally a walking meme” – Liam
  • “just be yourself and the flirts will flow” holy fuck I just lost brain matter
  • “Damn politicians”
  • Using the question-mark option in some conversations throws out a total non-sequitur, making it sound awkward when you put the conversation back on track
  • “tell me more about fighting Kett” needs to be selected constantly, never greys out even when you’ve exhausted all options.
  • “Want us to get out and push?” ‘Veeeerrry funny Ryder’ No.
  • “by who?” “by whom.” fuck off SAM you cunt.
  • “you took out the kett crown jewel” seconds later “we want to hit the crown jewel of the kett” so did I take it out yet, or do I still need to take it out?
  • “what the actual hell” fuck off with your tumblr meme shit
  • What sort of rude fucking bastard ends a conversation with “I’m good for now”?
  • SAM SHUT THE FUCK UP I KNOW IT’S COLD

Game

  • Dumb fucking escort mission in the Angaran settlement when you first land (Hidden City)
  • The Angarans draw a bead on me the second I take out my scanner
  • What the fuck accent do these things have? Is it African, English, Australian? All three? Why do they have EARTH ACCENTS?
  • Ryder is told the Angaran people get kidnapped. Looks bored as fuck, like he’s about to fall asleep standing.
  • Avela seems excessively enamoured where 5 minutes earlier she didn’t give a single fuck
  • Background plants behind Avela shimmer terribly
  • These aliens I just met are WAY too trusting.
  • I don’t remember picking up a universal translator?
  • Peebee’s writer is a stupid fucking cunt. She is the most fucking irritating piece of shit in the game.
  • The entire crew is unmotivated to do the fucking jobs they’re supposed to be, instead opting to make dumb wisecracks and say other stupid shit.
  • Not even on my second planet and I have a full roster of crew. There are no more companions to collect.
  • Whoever wrote Suvi is a fuckwit. Her dialogue is pure shit.
  • Right-click doesn’t skip dialogue.
  • AWWW DRACK IS ACTUALLY A SOFTIE. Most boring fucking trope ever.
  • Being biotic is literally an oppressed state, like being Black or Asian
  • Talking to Cora again immediately after ending the automatic cutscene changes her mood, her stance, everything entirely.
  • You can call an Andromeda Galaxy alien a BIGOT for calling YOU an alien. IDPOL HAS GONE TOO FAR
  • Cutscenes starting with you standing 30cm behind your chat target like you wanna fuck them
  • Every time Peebee talks I want to shoot myself, or better, her in the fucking head.
  • And her flirting is just absolute fucking trash
  • Not only is she annoying, she’s a thief, a liar, and a menace and should be in a fucking jail cell.
  • SJWs literally wrote appropriation into the script
  • Suvi talks about the least interesting thing about her (not that there is much interesting about her) too much – her stupid fucking faith.
  • SHE BECAME RELIGIOUS IN HER TEENS. HER PARENTS AREN’T RELIGIOUS. SUVI IS DUMBER THAN SHIT.
  • Aliens have weirdly human personality traits.
  • A protester with red hair has hair that looks like it was put on over the top of another hairdo
  • The protesters are ridiculous as fuck.
  • Reporter quest ripped directly from Mass Effect 2/3
  • At least Addison looks less stupid as of 1.0.0.6
  • With the amount of load screens, this game would be irritating as fuck to play on a non-PC
  • Game continually sends me back to the Nexus. That’d be fine if it didn’t take 5 minutes of cutscenes each time.
  • WHY DON’T YOU JUST TAKE A FUCKING NAP MID SENTENCE RYDER, YOU SLEEPY LOOKING FUCKING CUNT
  • Ryder tells Spender he’s onto him well before he has any evidence or even reasonably doubt to be able to have him arrested, making sure Spender can clean up any mess he needs to or disappear.
  • You can leave Voeld in the middle of nowhere which causes a 2 minute fucking leave-the-planet cutscene.
  • After this line is from 1.0.0.8 
  • After rescuing Nillj, his companion speaks to you but is not in range at all, so only her subtitles show up but her audio isn’t heard. She doesn’t seem to come closer either.
  • If you don’t have a weapon drawn, you cannot use melee.
  • Using the remnant elevator causes the game to undraw the AI companions, and then redraw them again at the top.
  • The AI companions act like they contribute to kills during combat. Without mods, they do zero damage and are nothing more than a liability.
  • An item disappears and reappears when using the omintool. Item can be clipped through when omnitool not used. I made a video of it, here or embedded at the bottom of the post.
  • NPC walks around me several times, then walks off. Video of it Here or embedded at the bottom of the post.
  • Addison is probably the most inept, useless, and fucking stupid character in the entire game.
  • You can’t talk to NPCs without them facing you, which gets irritating.
  • Nostril holes look stupid as fuck
  • The whole “sibling in a coma for the entire duration of the game” is pretty fucking stupid
  • There are 5 videocom consoles and you can only use one of them. In about 30 hours of playing, I’ve only used them once, what’s the point?
  • SAM things it can boost the Angaran’s computer power despite not having actually interacted with an Angaran computer before, and not knowing how much processing power they do or do not possess.
  • A graphics glitch made it look like Ryder had a mouthful of metal, like Jaws in 007
  • Some quests marked as complete remain in the menu, and don’t elaborate what else needs to be done to ACTUALLY complete them.
  • Jaal’s clothes blow around like there’s wind when there isn’t
  • Ryder asks Jaal about biology. Jaal fobs him off completely leading me to believe that the writers never bothered actually fleshing out the Angara. Lazy as fuck.
  • WHY DOES A HOLOGRAM HAVE EYELASHES

No doubt there’ll be a part 4 soon, but I’ve already catalogued a lot of the shit that pisses me off, and I’m finding it harder to find new things that aren’t completely dialogue based. Also there are mods now, so I can remove a lot of annoying things. EOF

Mass Effect Andromeda – Everything I Dislike So Far (Part 2)

Since I wrote part 1, the game has updated once again to 1.0.0.6, and some of my critique is out of date, but most of it still applies. Here’s part two. Possible spoilers ahead.

Part 1

Main Menu

  • Still can’t use enter key to select anything from the game’s opening menu

Dialogue

  • “have a Dirty Squirrel” the bar has dumb as fuck names for drinks. Because they couldn’t possibly just use existing names.
  • “Fine, you can be a regular” said to Scott Ryder by the bartender.
  • “Be careful, the snark is strong with this one”
  • DUTCH HAS THE MOST WANKY SHIT DIALOGUE SO FAR.
  • “You can’t deploy and omelette without deploying eggs. And eggs won’t get you steak” WHO FUCKING WROTE THIS SHIT
  • “They’re scanning us!” ‘WELL SCAN THEM BACK’ genius dialogue. 10/10.
  • Ryder snorts in his dialogue, subtitle says he “exhales”

Game

  • NPC bumped through a crate, NPC was then difficult to interact/talk to. Once dialogue was initiated, NPC proceeded to walk BEHIND the player character.
  • NPC fucking asks me to talk to it a second time to start the quest it has.
  • Game breaks 4th wall. Example – an NPC has a quest icon above his head, instead of asking him how he’s going, and then him responding that he has some trouble and could you look into it, your dialogue starts immediately with “is something wrong?” despite no indication that anything is wrong in the first place.
  • Seems almost everyone who isn’t a random filler NPC has a dull, monotonous and very mundane quest for you to do.
  • Pathfinder gets paid for completing tasks.
  • Pathfinder also needs to pay for items and equipment, as if he’s not the most fucking important thing in the entire goddamn galaxy at that point.
  • A quest involves finding ingredients for “new cocktails”
  • Junk, filler quests everywhere. I cannot state this enough.
  • The Nilken Case. The options are black and white. You cannot choose for him to go into community service (although one of the options makes that happen anyway) or serve 3 months in a cell, you can only choose to release him or exile him.
  • Addison randomly talks to herself. Possibly the worst design choice ever, to include this fucking batshit insane character.
  • Brecka’s accent sounds fake as fuck
  • The drop pod/AVP is similar to the Inquisition Powers in DAI (this isn’t a complaint, just an observation)
  • Default load screen times are excessive.
  • Ryder’s face lags and changes in an instant.
  • Kett aliens seem to speak in alternating accents
  • Somehow the aliens damaged their ship without actually attacking it at all.
  • Ryder makes first contact with the Angara by being an arrogant fucking prick. Very American.
  • Aliens speak to each other in English, after starting dialogue in their own language.
  • “Hidden City” not actually hidden at all.

This concludes part 2, part 3 should arrive in the next couple of weeks, since there’s so goddamn much wrong with this title.

Mass Effect Andromeda – Everything I Dislike So Far (Part 1)

I bought Mass Effect Andromeda about 2 weeks after it first came out, and I’ve played through as much of the first planet as it would let me (which wasn’t all that much). As I’ve played the game, I’ve wrote down what has annoyed me. Here I will detail what has annoyed me about the game so far. POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

Main Menu

  • mouse highlights wrong item on hover (fixed – sorta) after update 1.05
  • Game loads for a significant amount of time after exiting character creator back into the main menu

Dialogue

  • Almost all the dialogue listed here will be goofy. As a general rule, if the dialogue isn’t goofy, it’s flat fucking boring.
  • “I feel like a 600 year old popsicle” after coming out of stasis.
  • “since when do rocks float” ‘just go with it’ when flying above the first planet you come to, to complete the tutorial level, Liam and Ryder have this exchange.
  • “it’s like they didn’t finish building it” after it was stated that the Nexus wasn’t built.
  • “can you tell me where the welcome party is hiding” after boarding the Nexus and seeing no one around
  • “you’re a BRAVE PIONEER” don’t blow smoke up my arse, NPCs.
  • Liam continually mentions the Nexus is vacant
  • “Unknown Error” spoken like VI has never spoken either word before
  • MEMES LOL
  • “14 months and you start stooping to poetry”
  • “ugh goddamn poetry”
  • Tann’s voice actor seems to be playing a “character” and is doing it badly.
  • Scott uses “uh” to answer questions
  • Suvi sounds fucking stupid
  • LIAM SPEAKS IN MEMES
  • “oh you know things? good for you, I know things too” Wow, Peebee you sure showed them
  • “We nearly died!” “YEAH BUT IT WAS TOTALLY COOL” – definite seizure probability.

Game

  • textures shimmer
  • blank, non-moving faced weird fucking NPCs (noted as fixed with update 1.05, but not actually fixed)
  • Ryder’s hand passes through an item he is grabbing hold of in a cutscene
  • too easy to cut off dialogue/dialogue doesn’t complete often
  • clunky movement at times (but combat is very satisfying)
  • Rocks. Are. Floating.
  • animation of shooting at corpse doesn’t contact
  • dopey, clueless expressions POST 1.05 update
  • Scott Ryder seems overly happy immediately after his dad’s death
  • Foster Addison is excessively stupid. Holy fuck.
  • Female Krogan – goofiest fucking Krogan in the galaxy
  • Numpad keys are totally randomised
  • Not much difference between selection colours – already chosen dialogue very slightly different hue from unused dialogue. Gets really fucking confusing during times where you revisit a character.
  • Animations do not match voices
  • Textures popping in and out during interviews
  • Weird model tooth overlap
  • Vetra is an atypical turian
  • Two audio files from the same NPC can play simultaneously, creating some weird fucking shit
  • only 2 squadmates compared to 3 in Dragon Age Inquisition (minor annoyance)
  • 3 different NPCs talking over each other…
  • Peebee is an annoying fucking Mary Sue who speaks in Tumblr memes.
  • Pretty sure they won’t be calling it “3D printing” so far in the future
  • Quests with no clear objective
  • After selecting to land on a planet, the decision CANNOT be cancelled.
  • Weapons loadout cannot be changed at the ship without leaving the planet.
  • Pee(nis)b(reath)ee walks like she’s shat in her fucking pants
  • No choice of whether to recruit or abandon new team mates, they are automatically added.
  • Ore remains behind after being picked up, instead of disappearing.
  • Game flickers yellow in certain areas, due to the ingame filter having a certain boundry the camera crosses
  • Group dialogue reads/plays out like a fucking terrible sitcom, without a pathetic laugh track
  • Game arbitrarily forces you to leave Eos. No real reason at all, just so you don’t exhaust all the content on that planet straight up.
  • BORED ALREADY WITH NO DESIRE TO PLAY ANY FURTHER.

Hopefully I’ll end up playing more, so I can make a part 2, but until then, this is all. EOF

Remembrance Day

Today, the 11th of November is Remembrance Day. The day we remember our fallen soldiers who fought and died for our way of life. Soldiers who were drafted or volunteered, to make the planet a better place. To fight oppression, and for us to live free.

In the Great War, our planet’s first war where countries all over the globe participated, we fought against German Nationalism. Germany sought to absorb the countries around it, relentlessly bulldozing their way through Europe. Further south, the fascist Ottoman Empire was doing the same thing. Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, The United States, and several countries of Europe and the Middle East fought against these war machines, pushing them back. Forcing Germany to surrender, and leading to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. We fought against fascism and nationalism, and we were victorious.

After the First World War, Australia (and other nations) took in refugees fleeing from their countries. Their homes were destroyed, their families killed, their possessions forgotten. They came from Europe, they came from the Middle East. Many of them did not even know that English was a language and had never heard it spoken before. Yet they came. They integrated, and they made our countries better for it.

During the Second World War, Germany, this time a fascist nation, which grew from the seeds of discontent, again decided to usurp Europe for itself leaving nothing behind. It wanted Great Britain, Russia and even Africa to itself. Several countries – Italy, Hungary, Romania, etc – allied with Germany, out of fear, or because they thought there would be more to gain by allying with them. In the east the Japanese Imperial Army, another fascist, nationalist country, were attacking and absorbing territory from China, Korea, Indonesia, and the rest of South East Asia, attacking the United States in Hawaii, even coming as close as to bomb Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia. Their ambitions proved fruitless as again Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, The United States, Canada, and many other nations joined forces to push back the conquering aggressors and end the war. Once again, the victory went to the forces fighting for freedom, and against fascism.

Once again, refugees fled their former countries, in Europe, in Africa, in Asia. Australia accepted not only refugees but people who just wanted a better life than living in war-torn Europe. Even soldiers who fought for the Axis powers were allowed to immigrate to Australia, rebuilding their lives here. We welcomed them with open arms, they integrated with us within a generation and our culture learned and grew from their input.

The Korean war, and the Vietnam war were the next wars that these allied nations joined together for, fighting the aggressive expanding Communist Chinese in Korea, leading to the liberation of the southern part, which became the Republic of Korea. China supported the Vietnamese bid for independence from the French by providing arms and war equipment, as well as funds and soldiers. We fought this war to prevent the toxic nationalism of China from possibly spreading further through Asia and into the Pacific. Fears that communism and nationalistic policy would make its way throughout the world unless it was stopped fuelled the war that Australian, New Zealand, British and American soldiers (amongst others) died for. Communism and Nationalism was not compatible with our way of life, and we were not prepared to allow it to continue to flow out of China.

The Vietnam War created tens of thousands of refugees who fled in rickety boats from Vietnam. Many of their boats ended up in Australia, their occupants terrified and sick. We allowed them into our nation, we allowed them to integrate with our culture and become Australians. Our cultural backbone once again strengthened with their addition.

The Cold War lasted decades, from after the war until 1991. During this period there was only muted fighting. The Russians had supported the Chinese during the Korean and Vietnamese war. No actual fighting was done between the two great nations of the USA and Russia. However during this period, thousands upon thousands of people fled the Eastern Bloc into the west of Europe, over or under the Berlin Wall to West Germany. To the United States. To the UK, and to Australia. These people have also been important for our cultures.

Our allied powers once again fight against nationalism and fascism in the Middle East, against Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi, Assad and the Islamic State. We create refugees because we fight the terrifying ideals of their leaders. Their leaders who want to impose strict religious rule upon the rest of the world. To impose strict fascist laws upon every nation, and to control us with fear and threaten us with destruction. Their ideals that are not shared by a majority of their people, the people who flee towards freedom. The people who escape those countries in the most dangerous ways because it’s more safe to sit in the ocean on a boat barely holding together than stay under the rule of their oppressors for any longer.

We only strengthen our nation with the blood, sweat and tears of people who join our country to live free, who wish only to make their lives in a free country, to have their children in a free country, and for their children and their children’s children to grow up free.

Australia is a free country.

This is what our soldiers died for. Freedom. Against fascism, against nationalism, against war, and for the safety of the oppressed.

Lest We Forget.

Lest We Forget

Internet lies and how to fight them.

I’m not going to talk about Trump.

That’s not true. I’m going to talk about him. I’m going to talk about him a lot, I’m sure. But for my first post here, I’d like to focus on a more pervasive issue, one that I believe can be blamed for his rise, but which existed long before it, and will continue to be a problem after he is, god willing, gone. It causes far more problems than Trump supporting, including, but not limited to, vaccine denialism, climate change denialism, fear of genetically-modified food, and pretty much every conspiracy theory. That problem is the inability of the average person to critically evaluate sources and determine whether or not a website, meme, video, etc. contains accurate information.

I am now 26. When I was in school, we didn’t really cover this. We spent about an hour learning about what sources could and could not be cited for research papers. The class basically boiled down to “not Wikipedia.” No one taught us about hoaxes, or lies, or outdated information.

My upbringing taught me to mistrust sources, because my dad thought it was really funny to make things up and tell me about them as if they were true. So from an early age, I learned to double-check things – if Dad said something that sounded a little suspicious, I’d go ask Mom to confirm. But most people don’t have parents who lie to them for shits and giggles, I imagine, and so they miss out on what turned out to be one of the most important lessons I ever learned.

You can see this throughout the internet. People see a meme or link making an outrageous claim and they just share it, even become outraged over it, without checking the facts. Older people seem to be particularly susceptible, but young people are by no means immune. Many humorous examples can be found at http://literallyunbelievable.org/, which is dedicated solely to people who do not know that The Onion and ClickHole are satirical.

Let’s play a game. I’ll post a few images and you decide whether or not each one is trustworthy and accurate. These are images I have created. I have chosen apolitical subjects for these memes (at least, as of 10/27/2016 – I do not pretend to know whether these poor animals will someday become politicized through some strange turn of fate).

firegoosememe

This one can be discounted immediately. It is unbelievable and cites no sources. If you want to be particularly skeptical, you can look it up online anyway.

 

wolfpackmeme
This one is believable and cites credible sources. If you go to those citations, you will see that the information is backed up.

 

hummingbirdmeme

This one is a little surprising, but again, the citations back up the information.

This one seems kind of odd, right? Even if you study birds, you’ve probably never heard this. But wait — there are citations. But they are very small citations, and I didn’t do you the courtesy of putting them into TinyURL first this time. What happens if you type either of those URLs in (which no one will really bother to do)? SPOILER ALERT: the claim actually doesn’t appear anywhere in the cited work. I made it up, then linked to related pages on credible sites so that on the off-chance that someone DOES go to the links, but doesn’t read them, they’ll think I must be telling the truth.

A common method for disseminating incorrect information is to link to a source that agrees with the statement, but which is biased and/or a complete hoax. If you can’t find a certain claim from a real mainstream news site or a scientific journal, you can assume that it is not true. Of course, this is rather difficult to get people to believe now that we have certain candidates openly saying that “the media” (actually an incredibly vast group of people consisting of news networks, newspapers, radio stations, and websites) is always lying. That’s an issue I’ll address in another blog post, however.

How can we stop people from falling for hoaxes on the internet? Through education. Every single time you see someone fall for a hoax, point it out. This is easier said than done, especially if it’s a family member, but it’s very important. They may not like you for it. They may not even believe you. But you have a chance to convince not just them, but the people around them (including people silently watching an internet discussion), if you bring facts. Children in schools are now being taught how to tell a good source from a bad source — reach out to your local school district and ask if they teach this skill. They probably do. The people left behind are people in their mid-twenties and older, and they need to be called out when they perpetuate misinformation. We can change the culture of the internet if we stop letting these things stand unchallenged.

Hope, Dark Souls, and “Seriously, it’s not that bad.”

Yes, I am saying that the grim and often grueling adventure series… isn’t not hard, and that it’s a terrifically positive game. No, I’m not claiming to be “that good”.

For the unaware, there is a series of video games, the “Souls series” that is lauded as being the epitome of difficult, punishing, hardcore gameplay. Each entry follows a single undead protagonist through beautifully sprawling ruins and varieties of opponents and giant foes, acquiring magical weapons and armor and spells, meeting interesting characters to help and hinder their journey… and ultimately, possibly saving the world… by some definition, for a moment more.

To me, it’s got a lot in common with Zelda games. You know Ganondorf is going to rise again in the next Zelda game. But nobody claims those games are grim. They’re about courage triumphing over evil power. And hookshot acrobatics. And treating each boss as a puzzle until you figure out how to actually damage it without getting stomped into dust.

Failure in Zelda means… you have to walk back from the start of the dungeon… but you’ve already opened the doors, and solved the puzzles. Then you start the fight over again and try not to lose again.

Dark Souls, you’d lose your rupees in a wee sack in the boss room. So you’d run back and usually manage to retrieve it. Once in a while, you might get killed first, and you’ve lost them all, and have to collect more at some point.

But in Zelda, if you lost all of your rupees… that was not a big deal, was it? You spend most of the game either saving up for one or two big upgrades… or running around with a purse so full you can’t fit anything more into it… because there wasn’t anything to spend it on.

Dark Souls games… you can buy better stats, improved weapons, spells, equipment… and that way, losing the currency does have a sting to it. But… you don’t lose things… only currency is at risk.

And like Zelda, if what you’re doing when fighting a boss isn’t working… you should probably try something else. Try out that magic wand you got a while back, load it up with something dangerous, and give that a fling. Or maybe keep the foul beast at spear’s length… or get a big shield… or dance so close to the devil, he thinks you’re his own bad knee, and fears to step on you.

Many games have those bad moments though. Those frustrating times when you can’t quite tell when to move where to not die… or something you didn’t expect trips you up and you’ve got to try again for the 47th go around… now, in Zelda, or Mario… you have extremely limited options. You don’t get to head off to another castle to save up and buy double fire flowers. You can’t make the fireballs a little bigger. You can’t change into lighter boots and jump away farther. I can do that in Dark Souls. I can make the things I’m doing more effective even while I develop the skill to use them better. Or to try something else that doesn’t involve trying to circumcise a dragon from between his toes.

Every time I fail in Dark Souls (when I’m not falling off a cliff or something) I get back to what I dropped and I’m in the same place… with a few more souls saved up. Or I get a sharp lesson to go a bit slower, prepare a bit more carefully. But I can get through. Eventually, I am going to win. I can wear down the mountain.

Now, whenever I get killed in any Mario game? I could be back at the start of the level, with nothing. If I came in with a powerup, that’s gone now. I’m in worse shape, and facing the same obstacle. That’s brutal. Anybody remember getting thrown off the mountain in Mario 64? Having to not only climb back up, but having that boss at full health again? And knowing, no matter what, it wasn’t ever going to get easier?

Dark Souls isn’t half that bad. At least when it puts a dragon in turtle shell armor, it doesn’t ask you to do it barehanded.

Bachelor Recipes – “Stuffed” Potatoes

I love potatoes. They’re the best vegetable there is. And I’m gonna show you how to make awesome “stuffed” potatoes. The “stuffed” is in quotes because stuffing them implies removing potato to make room for filling. We’re not doing that here. That’s a waste of potato. Instead we’re gonna layer everything on top and microwave the shit out of it (or bake it if you’re pedantic)

Ingredients:
6 medium potatoes
Cheddar cheese
2-3 rashers of bacon
a tomato
steak seasoning (optional)

About 6 medium-size potatoes
6 medium-size potatoes

Wash your potatoes and place them into a microwave safe dish

Put the potatoes in a microwave dish and seal the lid
don’t forget to seal them in tight.

Put them in the microwave for around 12 minutes. I’ve never had a potato explode, but if you have, prick them first. I don’t usually

cut up 2-3 rashers of bacon, and 12 slices of cheese (two per potato), and dice your tomato
stuff you’ll be layering onto your potatoes

Cut up your ingredients: dice the bacon and tomato, and cut about two slices of cheese per potato

once the potatoes are cooked, cut each one in half
cut each one in half

Once your potatoes are ready, slice them in half like so

place them on a plate like so
place them on a plate like so

Plate them up, add optional steak seasoning to them if you like

layer the bacon onto them. You can also put steak seasoning on the potato halves first before you put bacon on them if you like
layer the bacon onto them.

Layer bacon onto them.

layer the tomato on top
layer the tomato on top

Now layer the tomato on top of that

you want about 1 slice per half a potato
you want about 1 slice per half a potato

Start to layer the cheese over each potato, you’ll probably have leftover cheese after you cover everything

layer the remaining cheese on top
layer the remaining cheese on top

Just layer the rest of the cheese over what you’ve put down already

microwave for around 6 minutes
microwave for around 6 minutes

Microwave at high power in a 1000w microwave oven for about 6 minutes. You can probably bake or grill them too, and they should be as good if not better. This is the easy way, I like easy.

voila!
voila!

Plate and serve. These are super full of fat and salt, so they’ll probably give you a heart attack.

Enjoy

Song Rundown – China Girl, by Iggy Pop/David Bowie

This is my first article in some time, and it comes in the days after David Bowie’s untimely and very unfortunate death from terminal cancer. As I have been oversaturating myself with David Bowie music, I’ve been taking particular notice of the lyrics to the song China Girl.

When I first heard this song several years ago, I just assumed he had met a nice Chinese girl on one of his tours and formed a relationship with her. Only after looking into it more did I realise it was actually an Iggy Pop cover (of which David Bowie makes shine). It was also around this time I had a lung collapse and was given a tonne of IV morphine while they reinflated my lung. I’ve also been on prescription painkillers for a good deal of years. Now the song started making sense. The lyrics to the song are very clearly speaking about heroin.

Let’s start with the first two verses:

I could escape this feeling, with my China Girl
I feel a wreck without, my little China Girl
I hear her heart beating loud as thunder
When I look at my China Girl.

I’m a mess without my little China girl
Wake up in the morning, where’s my little China girl?
I hear her heart’s beating loud as thunder
Saw these stars crashing down

Heroin, also known as China White is an addictive substance that once stopped constant intake of, causes withdrawal symptoms. He is feeling a wreck, and in the second verse, a mess, without his little China girl. Heroin addiction can cause a rush of anticipation when a user knows they’re about to take another hit. Heroin addiction can also cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate, or palpitations when in withdrawal, hearing her heartbeat could be his heart not beating in proper rhythm.

Obviously, waking up in the morning after being high the night before, in the starting throes of withdrawal will have you searching for your drugs.

The stars crashing is the feeling of IV opiates making their way to the brain. Vision goes black and you “see stars” as it returns. In this instance however, he has not yet taken a dose. This feeling could allude to a sense of dread or depression at sobering up.

The third verse:

I feel tragic like I’m Marlon Brando
When I look at my China girl
I could pretend that nothing really meant too much
When I look at my China girl

Feeling like Marlon Brando could mean he’s either feeling sorry for himself, or perhaps guilty. He is in the grip of an addiction, and isn’t sure how to pull himself away, he has drugs, he’s not going to just throw them away. He doesn’t care about anything else except getting his high. Nothing else means anything at that point. He must quench his ‘thirst’.

I stumble into town just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head
Plans for everyone
It’s in the white of my eyes

We will assume he took his heroin for this verse, everything is brighter, everything feels better, all is good.  Here I believe he feels bulletproof, he’s high and he’s king of the world. Some users inject into the whites of their eyes, but here I believe he’s in such ecstasy that his eyes have rolled back into his head. He’s probably lying on the floor off his face.

My little China girl you shouldn’t mess with me
I’ll ruin everything you are
You know I’ll give you television, I’ll give you eyes of blue
I’ll give you a man who wants to rule the world

This verse seems to talk about his constant use of the drug. The drug is addicting him, and he’s going to ruin the fantastic, fun, feel-good high by being addicted fully to it. To a constant user, shooting up is more like relief rather than feeling a high, causing frequent users to continually “chase the dragon” or up their doses looking for that “first rush” again. This often leads to an overdose.

And when I get excited
My little China girl says
“Oh baby, just you shut your mouth”
She says, “Shh.”

He’s in bliss and stupefied. Any higher and he’ll be dead. His heart rate has slowed, he can’t talk, just feel great. This could be after a second dose, or he could have overdosed.

If anyone has other ideas, feel free to drop a comment.

Tiger! Tiger! Burning Bright.

(Which ho will you fuck tonight?) – courtesy of my sister

Welcome to another trip on the Public Shame Glory Train. Today’s stop: Woods, which connects to at least 4 other stations and possibly quite a few more.

There’s not a whole lot to be said about Tiger Woods that hasn’t already been said so far.  He’s been examined through and through on Twitter: “Wondering if my Tiger skills will transfer over to basketball? They seem to get all the quiet hoes” by @EVILTIGERWOODS, lalate seems to have dozens of articles on him and while I was typing this just updated with another, and of course piles of news and sports sites, webmagazines, and blogs. I can’t even imagine what the tabloid rack at the grocery store must look like. I bet it’s incredible.

I’m not here to take a good man down. Whether Tiger Woods is a good man, nobody can say except maybe the supposedly twenty-nine women he’s banged. We know he’s cheap and doesn’t tip, he apparently has naked photos and possibly a love child, and had women in his house when his wife was out of town. I’d link some links but frankly I’m tired of going through the huge pile of articles. I did, however, find a couple of very clever videos from Taiwan that explain a bit how he managed to lay more pipe than Mario and Luigi and their clones, combined.

I’m disappointed. I’m just a few months older than Tiger and when he first came onto the scene I had a huge crush on him. I like golf okay (not to watch but playing it can be fun as long as I don’t pass out under a shade tree on the 18th hole) and he was young and enthusiastic and interesting. As we got older I enjoyed hearing about his big wins and how he was sweeping the golf world by storm and even though I had some fangirl jealousy, I was happy to hear that he had married, and a not-famous one at that! She was probably happy too. I doubt she is happy now.

Tiger himself is not so much the issue here, because there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing or who would like to. I’ve read about a million comments from people stating sentiments from “He’s only human” to “Let the man and his family have their privacy” to “Everyone does it and what’s the big deal?” What is the big deal indeed? Is there a big deal?

I tend to think so. Here is the problem. Marriage is a legally binding contract and most vows include the phrase “forsaking all others” included with loving and cherishing and better and worse. Why did Tiger Woods get married? What was he hoping to get from it? Why does anyone get married if they know they have appetites their spouse cannot meet? This is something which confuses me to no end. Okay let me rephrase that. Why did Tiger Woods get married to a woman who wasn’t okay with him seeing other women? It seems prudent to find this sort of thing out before marrying.

It’s not just Tiger, either. Jamie Junger says she doesn’t need to apologize to his wife. These women sure know who Tiger Woods is and never once looked online to find information about him? Never looked up to see if he is married? I’m talking to you Jaimee Grubbs.