In which I don’t like things

Geek-WallpapersWARNING:  Higher geek content than normal.  Prepare yourself as you see fit.

As I said the other day, one of my oldest friends is in town.  She’s been with us for Thanksgiving so many times that it’s basically assumed she’s going to be here by now.   She is not remotely the geek that I am, but we still spend a fair amount of time when we’re together playing video games.  The PS3 (which arrived this morning, and I had time to take out of the Amazon box but not actually hook up) was entirely her fault half her fault at least a quarter her fault slightly her fault, and she bought Lego Marvel Heroes (or whatever it’s called) for me, both of us believing that since it was co-op it ought to be a fun thing for the two of us to do for a while.


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (that’s it) has a fun game hiding in there somewhere, I swear it does.  It combines LEGO and superheroes, for shit’s sake; I like both of those things, and the combination all by itself ought to be enjoyably goofy enough that it carries the game.  It does not.  There’s too much bullshit in there getting in the way of your fun:

  • The camera.  Sucks.  Suuuuuuucks.  There are two different kinds of split-screen:  static horizontal split, where each of you get half of the screen and you can’t see anything because your field of view is shit, and dynamic, where the border between your screen and your partner’s screen shifts and slides around and sometimes you’re on the same screen together and holy Jesus is it completely impossible to ever figure out where you are or what’s going on.  Even in the static mode you seem to inexplicably shift sides of the screen every now and again, and combining that with the fact that you can shift characters just makes keeping track of your character on screen a pain.
  • In addition, you’re frequently just out of view.  The camera’s almost completely not user-controllable, and there’s all sorts of stuff hidden behind game geometry or walls or just random junk that you can’t manipulate the camera to let you see behind.  Combine that with the game’s penchant to stick you in hallways or small areas and the inherent problematic nature of 3rd person 3D gaming, and the result is garbage.
  • Related to the last point, most of the time there’s very little indication of what you’re actually supposed to be doing.  For example, there’s a battle with the Abomination early on where you’re supposed to shine lights on him to stun him so that the Hulk can beat him up (because, uh, that’s how he works, I guess…).  Now, I’ve been a gamer since I was tiny; I speak Video Game with a fluency that my friend doesn’t, so between being trained by the game’s do-this-then-lather-rinse-repeat strategy of previous bosses and being familiar with the “weaken, then attack” trope because it’s so common in other games, I figured this out immediately from the game’s one comment that light bothered him.
  • Sub-gripe:  this is your second fight with the Abomination; the first one was outside in full daylight.  And light isn’t a weakness for the Abomination.  This is dumb.
  • Anyway, I was busy as the Hulk fighting off hordes of minions and occasionally fending off the bad guy, so it was left up to her to handle the light issues until the frustration just got to be too much and I took over.  I managed to get the second light shone on him and she beat him up, then ran over to where the third one was and… nothing.  No spotlight.  I managed to flash a light green and then had nothing to hit or break or anything.  I figured I’d forgotten to do something elsewhere on the stage, so I ran around looking for it.  For fifteen minutes.  While she beat up minions and the Abomination’s smell-attack, which shoves you away and keeps you from doing anything, got more and more annoying.
  • This is the point where my wife looked over and said “Are you guys actually having any fun?  Because you’ve both sounded really unhappy for about half an hour.”
  • At this point I discovered what I’d missed:  a couple of bricks, invisible and hidden behind a wall, that I’d not managed to smash and which turned into something I needed to get the spotlight up.  At this point we quickly dispatched the beast and ended the level.  But it took twenty minutes to find an invisible brick.  This is not good game design, not at all.  And the game is stuffed full of things like this, plus lots of LEGO shorthand where you’re supposed to play a level through multiple times with multiple different characters so there will be bits blocked off… but if you don’t know that, you’re just frustrated, because there’s a big shiny thing right there and you can’t get it to do anything.
  • Fucking fetch quests.  Game developers who use fetch quests should be punched in the dick.  And if I’m playing as the fucking Hulk and someone asks me to help him wash a window, which actually fucking happened, I should get to respond by picking that person up and throwing him through said window.  You have got to be fucking kidding me, game.

So, yeah.  Shoulda been fun.  Isn’t.  And it’s not like I haven’t played the LEGO games before; it may just be the co-op that’s magnifying the game’s/genre’s issues, but right now I’m upset that my friend paid $50 so we could play this thing.  Blargh.

(You may have thought that was nerdrage.  It was not.  What follows is nerdrage.)

Now let’s talk about Man of Steel, which I watched most of last night.  I was initially really excited about this movie, but I didn’t manage to go see it during opening weekend and the reaction to it convinced me that it was a terrible idea.  And yes, yes it would have been a terrible idea, because this film gets every single thing about Superman wrong except for his powers.  I’m not seeing any more superhero movies attached to Christopher Nolan; his Batman films were terrible (well, the first one was; I refused to see the next two) and this movie sucks too; that’s enough strikes.  I’ve said several times that I might have liked Batman Begins had it been called Ninja Bat-Costume Dude, and Man of Steel would have been a decent movie had it been called Strong Laser-eyed Alien with a Coward for a Father who Lets him Die because, well, why not?  Crying builds character.  

Fuuuuuuuuck that movie.  I would have walked out of the theater at the point where Jonathan Kent– Jonathan fucking Kent, the man responsible for Superman’s fucking moral core, which is the single most important thing about the character– blithely suggests that letting a busload of children die would have been just fine because letting people know about Kal-El’s secret (and I’m calling him Kal-El; there’s no “Clark Kent” in this movie, and the fact that they invent Clark Kent at the end is ridiculous) would have been inconvenient.  And if I hadn’t left the theater then, I certainly would have been gone (and, in fact, did leave the room and go read for an hour) when Kal-El lets his father die in the stupidest way imaginable because he goes and runs off to save a dog.

Fuck this movie.  Fuck it, fuck it, fuck itand I haven’t even gotten to the part where Superman lets millions of people in Metropolis die at the end without any real remorse at all until the point where three more are suddenly important, and he breaks some moral code against killing that he doesn’t have any reason to have because no one in his life up until now has been a good person.  Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it.


Is that a plank in my eye?

20131129-104132.jpgSo here’s a novel way to have Thanksgiving: don’t have any turkey, because your oven betrays you again and the turkey doesn’t even come out of the goddamn oven until everything else is on the table and cooling, and then you find out (because you didn’t make the turkey, and you’ve never made a turkey, and you didn’t know this) that a turkey has to “rest” for half a goddamn hour after coming out of the oven and therefore everything else is going to be well and truly goddamned eaten before the turkey is even ready.

S’fun. You should do it. We call it Side Dish Thanksgiving. My mother did some sort of corn casserole thing that was basically just corn and sautéed onions and bloody cream cheese, of all things. It was delicious. We did Thug Kitchen’s stuffing recipe (needed a teensy bit more liquid, but otherwise great) and Albert Burneko’s mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, because we can’t cook a meal around here anymore without referencing either Thug Kitchen or Foodspin and really why would you even want to cook without using recipes from one of the two anyway. And green bean casserole and crescent rolls and a multitude of pies (which is the proper collective for pie) and two different kinds of deviled eggs, because have you ever made deviled eggs with sriracha? Holy God.

I am not going to be shopping today.

I’m getting more conflicted about holidays as I get older. I boycotted Christmas entirely last year; I made it clear to everyone that I wasn’t buying any presents for anyone and they were not to buy anything for me either; I really want to raise the boy in a way that he grows up substantially less materialistic than I am and one of the main ways to do that, I think, is to cut the emphasis on getting stuff around holidays.

Sounds great, right? All principled and shit, until I get to the part where I tell you that I ordered a PS3 (not a typo; 3) from Amazon yesterday so that I didn’t have to go stand in line at Gamestop at midnight to fight for one of the eight exactly-identically-ridiculous PS3 packages that they have in-store. A 250 GB PS3, which can’t be had for $199 by itself, plus two games, one of which is the entire reason I want a PS3, for $199, plus Saturday shipping for less than tax would have been. It’ll show up tomorrow sometime.

Which is as far as my “no materialism/no shopping on Thanksgiving/no shopping on Black Friday” thing gets me: I spent $200 on an electronic doohickey that I don’t actually need, on Thanksgiving, so that a low-wage Amazon employee can package it and mail it on Black Friday so that somebody else can scramble to get it to me on a Saturday by 8:00. Which should be about when I’m getting home from work. So, yeah, I’m all big and bad and principled and won’t go shopping on Black Friday… because I ordered my shit online on Thanksgiving.

Maybe I work on my own materialism before I try reprogramming the boy.

Deviled eggs should be breakfast every day

And today, they were.

First, this, and lemme make sure it’s clear: I did not write it. But it’s right enough and well-written enough that I feel stupid rewriting what are basically the exact same sentiments only with less poetry and more swearing. There will be an actual post from me a bit later, I think– possibly with swearing and definitely without poetic language– but first check Bax out:

Thanksgiving is one of those crossroads in my brain.

One path leads here:

The other is exemplified by my niece, the Fiend, who as a child loved the holiday so much the following week was spent wishing everyone who got near her “HAPPY NANXGIVING!” and asking why we couldn’t have it every day.

It seems an appropriate holiday for America, celebrating the right of bigger, stronger, better armed folk to get away with whatever the hell they please, reaping a gluttonous bounty and then making up a self-serving story about it. It’s the time when wealthy famous people who spend the rest of their year ardently avoiding taxes hit the soup kitchens for a photo op demonstrating their filial love for the unfortunates.

Then, it’s also my niece, burning with the uncomplicated ecstasy of family in the midst of bounty, a day off to spend together with nothing more on the agenda than cooking and eating and love. Whatever its foundation, it’s evolved. As someone with a dire childhood can become a fine (if complicated) adult, Thanksgiving can be its own thing apart from the beautifully embroidered myth draped over all the skeletons.

Avoiding disaster requires acknowledging the skeletons, inviting the shadow to the feast lest it lash out like the witch at Sleeping Beauty’s christening. The bounty isn’t just the time with loved ones or the table groaning beneath the feast, the bounty is everything which was taken from someone else to make it possible.

As a nation we love the simple and obvious, we’re fond of leaving well enough alone, we mistrust turning over stones and investigating basements. And then we wonder at the shambling, dragging footsteps on the front porch, the eerie scratching at the door, and crank up the teevee to drown it out.

Me, I’ll be thanking the native Americans who we jacked for the land, and the Africans who we enslaved to spruce the joint up, and people being forced to work at big chain stores who spout NEIGHBORHOOD and FAMILY while exploiting their workers, and those homeless people hopefully getting a full meal for once, and my family, and the turkey, and everything else.

It isn’t simple, and I’m cool with that.

It begins

The good news:  It is 9:34 AM on Thanksgiving morning, and I am awake, dressed, showered, breakfasted, and ready to regulate.  One of my oldest friends is already here and we have six more people coming over later today.

The bad news:  my lovely wife, who is lovely and I love dearly, has only just now discovered that our roasting pan is insufficient for our turkey-roasting needs.  So I have to go get one.  And salt.

We somehow do not have salt.

I had the idea at one point that I was going to try to not spend money this weekend; I may as well go wait in line and buy a PS4 tonight.  Because this will not be the only thing.

Enjoy your holiday, y’all.  🙂

In which rage-eating is a thing

I had a gallbladder attack several years ago; it is an odd feeling to be able to pinpoint precisely the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your entire life. I did not behave well in front of the nurse; when asked to rank my pain from one to ten my response was something along the lines of “I’m at the emergency room for a stomachache, what the hell do you think?”

There may have been more swearing than that; my memory of the event is rather hazy. Because of the extreme pain, you see.

My gallbladder was no longer strictly “my” gallbladder anymore a couple of weeks later (I lost seventeen pounds during the weekend hospital stay, too) and since then I’ve been kinda weird about food. I don’t remember being a hunger asshole in my previous, gallbladdered life, but I do this weird thing now where I go from not hungry at all to HOLY FUCK GOD ALL OF YOU CAN DIE IF YOU DON’T PUT FOOD IN ME RIGHT NOW in no goddamn time at all and I develop rapid rage issues and shakiness if I continue to be denied food. The worst part is that the instinct to gorge myself continues even after I’ve technically eaten enough to satiate myself, because the shit hasn’t had time to get into my bloodstream yet.

This is all just to say that I am typing right now because it was the easiest available way to keep me from shoving an entire bag of Tostitos and salso con queso into my facehole. It occupies my hands while my dinner and my post-dinner chips and like three glasses of orange juice make their way into my system.

(For those of you who may be wondering: no, I’m not diabetic, and last I had it checked my blood sugar was normal. I’m fat, and I’m ungallbladdered, and this started immediately after the surgery. It’s not diabeetus.)

Speaking of food: it’s Thanksgiving weekend, obviously, so if you promise not to cry if I’m less robust with the updates than usual I promise to try my best not to cry when all of you find more important things to do than visit my blog ceaselessly over the weekend. Although it would be nice if you did that; it’s certainly better than shopping, even if I do kinda want to go to the local Gamespot at midnight tomorrow night. Which I am not doing. Because no. I’m actually cooking very little for Thanksgiving itself; I plan on making up for that with the next couple of days. My main goals are to get my comic books organized (four piles: Send to Friend A, Send to Friend B, Keep, and Sell to Dude from the Comic Book Post if He Still Wants Them) and to play computer games and to read. And to not think of my students at all for most of the weekend. It should be an attainable goal; we’ll see.

Enjoy your holiday, if I don’t see you before then. (VISIT MY BLOG CEASELESSLY, I ORDER YOU!)