On the zone

YES, I’m still talking about this.

I’m most of the way through my third playthrough of Nioh 2, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that I’ve got close to 200 hours into the game by now. This has been, for the one or two of you who cares, a switchglaive-and-tonfas build, and last night I finally got to the mystic arts fight for the tonfas, leaving me with only one more Achievement needed to platinum the game.

Let me back up a bit: you have the option of using several different weapons in Nioh 2, and toward the end of the game, if you have used a weapon enough and built enough proficiency with it, a one-on-one fight opens up against another user of that same weapon. If you win that fight, you unlock “mystic arts,” which are basically top-tier abilities for that weapon. There’s an achievement associated with each of them, but that fight can be brutal.

And the tonfas are the fastest weapon in the game, and the mystic arts fight is against Hattori goddamned Hanzo, who is a brutal bastard regardless of the circumstances. This fight is made especially difficult by the fact that my playstyle for this character has been significantly less aggressive and more methodical than usual.

And here’s the deal with Nioh 2, and with a lot of the games that I’ve been enjoying lately: if you fuck up, you’re gonna pay for it. So you are fighting the fastest boss in the game, with the fastest weapon in the game, and if you screw up even once during the fight he’s gonna beat you to death on the spot. I fought this bastard for an hour last night, on a playthrough where I’ve been dispatching most bosses on the first try, and most of my fights were ending with me still having heals left, because you don’t have time to heal if dude hits you once and you die. I had half a dozen fights where I got him down to maybe a third of his health bar and then boom bap dead because of one tiny slip-up.

And then … click.

And all the damn sudden I could see the Matrix.

And I beat the bastard and he hit me one time, and only because I very slightly mistimed what ended up being the killing blow and he clipped me for a tiny bit of damage as I was taking him out. One. Fucking. Hit.

After a solid hour of him annihilating me, over and over again.

I love this damn game.

10:59 AM, Saturday May 16: 1,445,867 confirmed cases and 87,643 American deaths. The death rate really has been slowing down lately, but we should have an idea by mid-week whether states opening up prematurely was as bad an idea as I think it was.

In which I am a professional

1452582_10152056593939532_15674888_nHad an awesome couple of minutes as an educator this morning. I was up at the front of my classroom (which is at the opposite end of the room from the only door) teaching my kids during first hour when one of the 7/8 language arts teachers skipped (literally!) into the room and grandly waved a gift at me: a McDonald’s apple pie. I smiled and nodded and she left it on my desk and then skipped back out again without saying a word. I mentally filed “eat tasty treat” away on my List of Shit to Do and went on with my class.

Skip ahead forty minutes or so and my kids are (mostly) seated and (mostly) quiet and (mostly) working on their homework/end-of-class assignment and I decide that it would be a good time to eat my tasty snack treat, which was probably still warm and thus should be expected to be edible.

Allow me to pause here: as a reward for doing well on a test we took last week, one of the paraprofessionals in my classroom has agreed to bring Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to the kids in my room. He has produced said Cups this morning; the kids know they are on my desk and have been told that they will be distributed closer to the end of the period.

(If you are inclined to now begin a conversation about whether Rewards with Candy are appropriate for the middle school setting, be aware that I hear you, and that at the moment I don’t much care. This is the least of my various inappropriatenesses. Which is a perfectly cromulent word.)

I pick up my apple pie and slide it out of its cardboard box (all good food comes wrapped in cardboard) and take one single bite. A student sees me do this and asks me, rather loudly, why they don’t all get apple pies and why I get to eat in class.

I have my back to the door.

“Because I am better and more important than you, my dear,” I say. “It is my great specialness that entitles me to this tasty treat. Watch, while I eat it right in front of you.”

(Yes, I talk like that. Not always, but when the mood strikes me.)

And then I turn around.

And discover that the director of math instruction for my corporation has somehow ninjaed her way into my classroom, is standing right the hell behind me, and has a giant, shit-eating grin on her Ph.D-havin’ face.

My kids, by the way, have no idea who she is; they have about as much understanding of the higher echelons of our corporation as you did at that age. They just know an adult has busted me. Now, I’m not in trouble, mind you; I have a good relationship with this person and she wasn’t in the room to bust me or anything like that. But it was a lovely “Oh, you have got to be kidding me, November” moment to add to the tree that killed my fence and my mother-in-law’s stroke and my cat nearly dying. November fucking hates me, people, and getting fired for mocking my kids while eating preservative pastries woulda just been the icing on the cake.

She thought it was hilarious.

We talked for a few minutes about the various things she’d come to talk to me about, and then one of my kids interrupted us to ask when the hell he was getting his damn candy (okay, he didn’t swear, but it came across in the tone) and well that didn’t help either, now, did it? And since my Big Lord High Muckety-Muck Boss was in the room (as opposed to my regular boss, who I will happily threaten children in front of) I couldn’t really do anything about it.

Let me remind you that I am literally on a committee that helps retrain struggling teachers on how to do their jobs right, because I am a professional.

Oh, also I was wearing jeans. Which I do every day, but still.


(Later that day, during third hour, my assistant principal also managed to ninja her way into my room without me noticing. I had a better excuse this time, as I was crouching next to a kid helping her with something, and wasn’t doing anything embarrassing this time, but I seriously thought about hiring Sven again.)