Winnie

Despite what you may have heard Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and I have never played bridge together. That is to say, I didn’t know her at all. Not even a little bit. Given this fact, I have, over the years, had to rely on the media to inform me about what sort of person she was, which is all sound bites and clips (taken out of context) and articles laced heavily with opinion and moralizing. I am obviously quite reticent to form an opinion about someone I have never met…

The first tweet I read about the demise of Winnie (having only recently returned to twitter) was ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’. Which I think is somewhat disingenuous of the author. I can’t remember off hand if the song refers to the Wicked Witch of the East or West…. BUT as far as I know Winnie Madikizela-Mandela never practiced magic. Nor was she killed by a falling house (was she?). I also think its safe to say she never kept any Munchkins in bondage or associated with any flying monkeys. So really, to quote the Wizard of Oz is to misrepresent the person.

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But maybe they are instead referencing the children’s book that I occasionally read to my daughter before bedtime.

Again I think this seems like a pretty tenuous connection. (in my opinion) But you know, people attempting wit occasionally do strange things. (I know I have)

On the flip side of the coin, there is the kooky almost fanatical hero worship that’s arisen that dips its toe into the same murky pond as people who love Che Guevara (Oh… you did NOT just go there*).

*yeah, unfortunately I did.

It might also just be me or is Winnie WAAAAAAAAAY more popular in death than she was in life? I really had no idea she has such a massive fan base. But then again I live on quite an isolated little planet (with a pinkish hue, where the circus music is stuck on repeat) I hope I’m popular when I die. Although maybe less divisive.

I do think you have to be a little more circumspect when we elevate any human being to the pedestal of paragon of the people. I mean that’s quite a lofty space to occupy, not just anyone should get that honor. After all if we just open the gates it cheapens the accolade.

I’m not suggesting where Winnie should fall on the ladder of human achievement. I am hardly qualified. Perhaps this is something that should be decided by, in the very least, a committee (where tea time includes those little tuna mayonnaise sandwiches with the crusts cut off). I jest, obviously. I do think that anyone that celebrates someone else’s demise needs to spelunk the inside of their brain for a bit and commit themselves to (at least) an hour of  introspection (assuming they find anything in there).

In the same way I feel people who can just varnish over any inconvenient truth and are hash-tagging as a form of identity politics need to have very careful look at the narrative that they are committing themselves to?

If you decide that putting a rubber tire over someones head and setting it alight is fair play and that collateral damage and necessary evils are justified in the pursuit of a greater good, that’s fine with me. But realize that there are people who are going to disagree with you. This does not make them any less worthy of respect, dignity or common courtesy.

In all honesty I don’t really know where I stand on breaking eggs to bake a cake. I hope I don’t ever have be put in a position where I have to decide on whether someone lives or dies. If I were disenfranchised and angry it is very likely I would have conceived of something very similar. Or worse even. (I found Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning absolutely terrifying)

I do however believe people change, and that the Winnie that was, is not the Winnie that… eh… was. Double past tense. What version of Winnie do you heap praise on and what version of Winnie gets the scorn. Or is it a law of averages? Positives and negatives added together equals… something… with pie.

Of course being carefully neutral is boring. If I were pressed to write an epitaph for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela what would it be?

Here lies Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Homo Sapiens. (so far I think we can agree) After that I’m not so sure. (Maybe I’ll think of something clever later)

When in doubt I like to fall back on Jordan B. Petersons 6th rule for life.

Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. My house is definitely not in order. So really who am I to criticize? I do think that maybe as a rule we shouldn’t elevate anyone to sainthood. Or hold anyone up as an exemplar.

Maybe we should just concentrate on the living.

The alternative to retirement

The problem with life is that it’s unsatisfactorily vague in terms of duration. You could die in utero (not the Nirvana album) or you could hang on by your grimy fingernails, clawing at the linoleum until the ripe old age of a hundred and eleventy. That’s quite a range. Sure, we could bell curve it…. but really statistics are for other people, we’re all planning on being the exception.

(Annoyingly) none of us know how long we’ve got left… exactly. It would make planning this whole ‘life experience’ thing such a more manageable process. I would like to posit a solution. Instead of retiring at sixty five, I think we should instead all just… kill ourselves.

comicwannaseesomething1.pngI know, this idea may seem a little fringe, at first, but allow me a brief moment to convince you of its merit.

Sixty five is a pretty good innings. And things from that point onwards are just hankering to go downhill anyway…. By this stage you’ve racked up a metric fuck tonne of carcinogens, all of whom are getting rowdy in your soft tissue and are just itching for the opportunity to go all Fukushima. You’ve got dementia waiting in the wings. It was supposed to be waiting for you in the passage… but you know. And that grinding noise in your knee…. that’s the anatomical equivalent of waking up at 3am because you thought you heard breaking glass. (unlikely to be a good thing)

How would your life change if you knew that on your sixty fifth birthday you had to take a self inflicted dirt nap? Chances are you wouldn’t be wasting your life in some job that you hate. You sure as hell wouldn’t be saving for retirement…

As soon as we put a deadline (pun only loosely intended) into play we suddenly become A LOT more motivated to get busy living. We appreciate that we don’t have much time left and get busy doing all those things we’ve always wanted to do. (theoretically)

Let’s take things a bit further though. By killing yourself at sixty five you’re actually being incredibly altruistic. Some might even argue this is the ultimate form of altruism. (and lets be honest, likely to be the only truly charitable thing you will ever do for humanity) After all, old people are pretty insufferable. Driving slowly, and wobbling unsteadily from left to right through the supermarket aisle. Always telling you about how things were better, back in the day.

Think about it! We could single handedly end Bingo nights, lawn bowls and retirement villages. Health insurance would become affordable and universal. Its those old fucks with their blackened lungs and cirrhotic livers that are the ones making it expensive for the rest of us.

If you’ve only got until sixty five are you really going to work up until your last day? Hell no. Youth unemployment solved, thank you very much. Also the world is going to become a lot more egalitarian. With that sixty fifth birthday as your cut off date, you’re going to make damn sure you spend every last penny. No more inter-generational wealth. Plus with all those old people kicking off we can finally churn some of those properties closer to work. I think we can all appreciate less time spent commuting. (assuming anyone will actually want to bother with a mortgage anymore)

Obviously all those people hovering around or nearing D-Day will be somewhat reticent to get on the cart… so to speak. I think we need to engage with our elderly and convince them that this is, in fact, the right thing to do.

Sure we’ll miss your musty smell and your long winded stories. But (always) look on the bright side (of death), you died with your boots on. As opposed to alone in some sterile palliative care facility. That’s gotta count for something right? And think of all the good your cold dead corpse will do.

Seriously. Move along. You’re holding back the species.

Ready Player One (Movie)

You know in season one of Californication, (the only season they should have made) when Hank Moody has had his guts ripped out because his beloved book has been turned into an abhorrent abortion of a movie? I wonder if Ernest Cline feels that way about the Ready Player One movie? Only he can’t say anything because he’s contractually obligated to just take it up the rectum. (there’s no time for lubricant*)

*I’m channeling a lot of David Duchovny here.

In Californication, in an act of revenge, Hank has sex with the director’s wife. I don’t think that’s going to work out for Ernest Cline though… especially when the director that murdered your book is Steven Spielberg.

To be completely fair I’ve hated pretty much every movie ever made since 2003, so really, that I despise this iteration of a book I love should be of no surprise to me.

Only I really love this book! And perhaps more specifically I REALLY love the Audiobook read by Wil Wheaton. (Reviewed here) They’re both great, so it upsets me when you get a thick slice of Kobe beef and can’t think of anything better to do with it other than turn it into mince meat.

Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One improves immensely on the book. – The Verge.

‘With all due respect… What the fuck… are you talking about?’ – John Malkovich, Burn after reading.

Seriously. Have I slipped into an alternate dimension or something? Did they watch the same movie as me? I know to criticize the almighty Steven Spielberg is to question the divine… but he butchered this one. And then dragged it off into a cornfield and left it to die.

Okay. Calm down Joey, pour yourself a drink. Preferably a double. There must have been something in this movie that you liked?

I liked Art3mis. Well I liked her avatar. In a leery (impossible proportions) Jessica Rabbit kinda way.

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And I liked…

…yeah that’s all I got.

I guess what’s upsetting me the most is that this movie is making me violate my don’t be mean about other people’s stuff policy. I mean so much so that I have to come home and write an angry blog post about it. Not even The Last Jedi got me this worked up. And that was a pretty foamy apoplexy…

Ha ha.

Maybe all this highlights is that I’ve become a crotchety old man. Which isn’t really all that bad. For as long as I can remember (well since 2003) all I’ve ever really aspired to was to end up like Robert Duvall’s character in Second Hand Lions.

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Maybe I’m just well on my way…

Ignominious rescue

So… my grocery shop trip by bicycle (see previous post) was largely a disaster and I had to be rescued by my wife. But I did learn a couple of things. Mostly I now know why why people don’t transport goods in this manner.

Turns out the heavy crate changes your center of gravity completely. Now that I think about it, of course it would.

I had to cross a busy main road on my way back. Its has two lanes in each direction, seperated in the middle by a raised center island. While I bunny-hopped the island easily on my way there. Trying to do it with a crate filled with groceries on the way back, turned out to be my undoing.

I remember thinking that the one point of failure on my contraption might be the cable tie I had used to secure the crate to my seat and that maybe I should take a spare cable tie along… you know, just in case. I immediately forgot about my concern. (as one does) That cable tie turned out to be kinda vital. With the weight of my groceries combined with my attempt to mount the curb, the load on the cable tie was too much and it snapped. This lowered the already heavy crate onto my back tire.

Mid bunny-hop, suddenly my back tire seized, causing me to… well… I think I did quite well under the circumstances. If I had been cleated in I think I would face planted into the tar. I managed, somehow to recover, jump off and grab the bike before it completely tipped over. Amazingly I only spilled a couple of lemons and one of my plantains into the road and not a single egg broke despite my reactionary acrobatics and scrapping a fair amount of skin off my knee and shin.

My bike was now however, completely immobile. Flip… Was not not the word I used.

About a hundred meters down the road is a gas station with a coffee shop. I dragged my bike there and ordered a coffee. Then sat down and phoned my wife.

‘Please come and rescue me’.

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When she eventually stopped chortling, she came and rescued me.

IMG_8723.jpgWaiting for the recovery vehicle… at least I had coffee.

Once we’d transferred the crate into the car, to the sound of my daughter chiming in from the carseat ‘Rescuing daddy, rescuing daddy’, I was able to ride the bike home.

Mortifying. Turns out I’m really bad at this downsizing, eco-friendly thing…

 

After that we visited my parents. My dad has spent the last couple of days constructing a cart. I think he felt sorry for us because he saw us pulling my daughter around the garden in a cardboard box.

We decided (because we are responsible parents and because of my earlier shenanigans) that we should test it out on the Basset Hound first. To make it sure it was… eh… safe.

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And although he didn’t… exactly volunteer… I think he quite enjoyed himself.

The girl child however, even after seeing the proof of concept and noting that the basset hound had survived unscathed, was not particularly interested in being pulled around by a noisy lawn-mower. Can’t say I blame her.

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Much more content to swing.

The Frankenstein Faith.

I think, like most people, I have this ideal sense of self that I would one day like to achieve. That way I can use some high end nouns to bulk out my twitter bio and not feel like an imposter. I like to espouse the ideology that should get me to this exemplar state of being, but really, my life is largely mired in hypocrisy and procrastination.

I am not very original, so I like to borrow and steal from the -isms of others. I don’t ever adopt any of these wholesale, they are not me and I am not them. I don’t think you should ever brand yourself as someones disciple, if you can, you should always be your own brand, even if it’s just a patchwork coat of mismatched dogma.

For example while not a Mustachian, I really like Mr. Money Mustache or Peter Adeney if you prefer. I also really like Bea Johnson. Who is to zero wasters what MMM is to Financial independence and early retirement aficionados. I also love Chris Kresser whose books have inspired me to really consider my food and what it is that I’m eating before I stuff it into my mouth.

Through the larceny of other peoples tenets I have created this Frankenstein faith for myself. But, like with any religion, talking the talk is easy. Walking it, is much harder. Unless your belief system is pizza, Red-bull and Playstation. (which seems to be my default setting)

One my new found core-tenets is this idea of paleo-esque eating (Chris Kresser) and for a while now our family has (mostly) given up on the large retail supermarket chains. We now buy seasonal fruit and vegetables and buy everything wholesale. We buy our milk from a dairy outlet that lets you fill up your own bottles and our meat comes from an old school butcher who stands behind the counter and knows exactly the provenance of the meat he’s selling.

Tacked onto this is trying to minimize our waste (Bea Johnson). We compost almost everything. We try to buy stuff without packaging and take our own bags when we go shopping. I even use a bamboo toothbrush now.

I know, it has this whole greenie beanie neo-hipster vibe. And I hate the way it sounds when I type it all out. But let’s be honest, all belief systems are stupid. In the end it’s about living in away that makes you less anxious and more in sync with your operating system.

I drive pretty much everywhere. I’ll occasionally walk to our local to get coffee which is about three hundred meters from our house. But otherwise its motor vehicular transport for Joey. Compare this to when I was a kid and rode absolutely everywhere on my bicycle. Those were good times. (Enter Peter Adeney)

In any event I’ve decided, if I can, I’m going to try and cycle more. So earlier today I went to the bike shop to see what they could offer me in terms of a rig that I could carry my groceries in. I couldn’t really find anything that was suitable for my needs. And what was available, was really expensive.

So when I got home I disappeared into the workshop with my bike for about an hour and jury-rigged a type of load carrying system out of a length of twelve diameter 304 stainless steel round bar and a plastic crate. A couple of 3/4” hose clamps secured the structure to the back of my bike. I’ve made it so I can easily mount and dismount the crate with minimum effort.

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Tada!

My wife arched her eyebrow skeptically when I proudly rolled out my new creation. ‘You’re going to transport our milk and eggs in that?’ ‘Sure, why not’, I replied. ‘Why don’t you rather get a little wicker basket on the front like Jessica Fletcher’. I glowered at her. Although that did take the wind out of my sails a bit.

Being good Friday the Fruit and vegetable wholesaler is closed today. But tomorrow morning I am going to try and make my first bicycle shopping run. It’s about a 6km round trip along the stream near my house. Hopefully my contraption will be able to take the weight…. it should.

(famous last words)

 

Tokaido

I love Tokaido. Its probably one of my favorite games of all time. Which is weird for me because, generally speaking, I am a hate filled MF’er who has zero qualms about nuking your home-world and leaving your meeple lying dead in a ditch somewhere while I load your resources into my sketchy van. (all done while executing the Morris dance of victory)

But I’ve fallen in love with the zen like merriness of Tokaido…

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The point of the game is to have a truly EPIC journey/holiday while you travel along the Tōkaidō road which (in a time before bullet trains) connected Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo). Much like our modern day equivalent the point of the game is to have a ‘better’ holiday than your peers (and then gloat about it on social media*)

*I think one-upmanship is one of the oldest human traits.

The premise is super simple, first you choose a period character…

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They all have a slightly different tactical advantage. For example, the monk gains an extra point every time he donates money at a roadside temple. (charity after all equals dopamine and dopamine equals victory)

There are various ways to get ‘experience’ points on your journey. For example, painting landscapes and bathing with monkeys in hot springs. And…

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buying souvenirs.

Being a gourmand and eating lots of food…

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also helps.

If you discount the Robot Restaurant and my morbid fascination with Pachinko I’ve basically just described my own trip to Japan. (Temples. Hello Kitty Fridge magnets and lots of amazing food)

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Beardy Joey taking selfies at the Imperial Palace.

I know, to say this is to espouse heresy on such a massive scale so as to risk stoning by polyhedrons. BUT… the IOS version of this game is also really, really good. In fact I’ll go so far to say its better than the board game original. Sure its not quite as social. But it makes up for it with nifty animations.

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And you can play it by yourself. Something of which I am quite a fan.

In my opinion its a flawless port to an electronic medium and I really can’t fault it in any way.

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Its fun, cheerful and unlikely to make you rage-quit and potentially Frisbee your iPad air across the room and into a wall. (LeHavre and Galaxy Trucker have both made me want to do this)

In fact other masturbation, Tokaido is (probably) the most fun you can have with yourself. I know, how many reviews pair meeples and beating the one eyed monster (or playing with the little man in the boat)? Probably not that many.

Unlike bashing the bishop, Tokaido is less likely to end in eternal damnation. And generally speaking it makes a lot less mess. Both solid wins imo.

Sunless Sea

I have a complicated love/hate relationship with Sunless Sea. I love the story, but I hate the way it makes me feel bad at games.

I am for the most part a completionist. Ie. I like to finish games. Watching the credits roll rewards me with a tiny hit of dopamine and for a while I feel like I’m not wasting my life. Herein lies the rub. I’ve been playing Sunless sea on and off… for… about two years… and I’m only… probably… about halfway through the game now.

The way this game works is that your captains are largely meant to die. They’re meant to pass their legacy on to a progeny or first mate. That way you incrementally improve with every captain. This is all very counter intuitive for me.

My current captain has seriously defied the odds and has lived… much longer than she should have. Which makes me very protective of her. Unfortunately she’s also completely mad (like a longer suffering Call of Cthulhu investigator), I can no longer go anywhere where I might be exposed to sunlight and I continually hanker after some delicious man flesh.

‘oh look, the Chapel of Lights, should we stop for a quick bite?’

Oooh mystery* stew, my favorite.

*its actually not so mysterious. Thirteen went ashore. Only eleven came back.

Most games emphasize style over substance. Sunless Sea is substance over style. For a long time I played this game wrong. My proclivity tends towards building trade routes and trying to max out my character and equipment while loosely following the main quest. While you can (try) play this game this way… it’s not particularly fun or particularly fulfilling and requires A LOT of grinding. Ergh.

This game also has a weird challenge rating. Initially combat is terrifying and you (need to) flee from everything. But once you’ve shipped a few casks of Mushroom wine and scraped a few coins together you can upgrade your ship to something with slightly better armor than wire mesh and overhaul your deck gun to something other than a rubber band accelerator. This combined with getting a sense for jamming your control-lever from all ahead full into reverse soon means even the scariest zee-beasties become largely an inconvenience. I would have preferred a smoother progression in difficulty.

A lifeberg. A lot like an iceberg, except less sedentary and more… angry. Phew! Phew!

The money dynamic is also… different/annoying. You basically hover just above destitute for most of the game. (maybe that’s just me though) I guess wondering where your next meal or gallon of gasoline is going to come from adds to the tension. The loopholes that existed in the past, like shipping Darkdrop coffee beans to the surface and importing sunlight back down below (in mirrorcatch boxes) have largely been nerfed. The coffee shop eventually burns down and warm glow of the sun makes you mad. (Or madder)

So why would I continue to play this game? Well… the storyline is truly epic. And the narrative is amazing. I know, playing a game for story value… how novel. Be warned this game actually involves a fair amount of reading. And not easy reading at that. (the weirdness takes some getting used to)

To me at least this games resembles a mashup of Star Control 2 (one of my all time favourite games)

And a noir steampunk version of those choose your own adventure books of yore (basically my entire childhood)

Which why I am loathed to just give it up. I really want to finish this game.

I know this means retiring my current captain to her zee-side mansion. Where she will spend the remainder of her days staring off into the darkness while absent mindedly spreading red honey on her toast.

But this feels like such an ignominious end, considering how far we’ve come together. Maybe I should watch the ending(s) on YouTube and be done with it?

Roundup.

I fell asleep in front of the television watching Ricky Gervais on my laptop. (My daughter has secreted away the Apple Tv remote) I vaguely remember some Caitlyn Jenner jokes… and then nothing… I woke up about twenty minutes later, discombobulated, Humanity still in full swing. Closing my laptop I rampaged off to bed with the stealth like poise of a baby rhinoceros, navigating by iPhone light (so I wouldn’t fall over an errant German Shepherd sprawled out in the passage like some sort of dinner for one-esque rug). After that I tried (unsuccessfully) to unfurl the blanket that my wife had (with advanced mathematics) somehow established herself in. (you know, so I could get a tiny corner of warmth) After ten minutes (okay, maybe more like thirty seconds) of furtive probing I gave up and the did married couples version of when someone tries to pull the tablecloth out from under all the crockery.

After a slew of cuss words that would make a B-Block inmate blush and the hijinks of  navigating through the domestic version of the Tough Mudder… I wasn’t sleepy anymore. And so here I am, back where I started. Albeit in my pajamas now. With my teeth brushed and sparkling clean.

We have an excess of office furniture at work at the moment. It’s not really serving a purpose, other than taking up space, so I decided to appropriate a filing… shelf, cupboard thingy. I had the minions drag it down the stairs and then delivered it to my house this afternoon. (flagrant abuse of managerial powers entrusted unto me… by… well… me)

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Tada! The girl progeny has a new bookshelf (from which to dispense and distribute her books to every conceivable corner of the house). Some of these books she inherited from me and are not currently age appropriate (HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Chuck Palahniuk*) But I figure she’ll grow into them eventually

*I’m kidding. There’s no Chuck Palahniuk in there.

Did I mention it was the progenies birthday party this weekend? I can’t remember. After a quick brainstorm we decided that the thought of having a gazillion people in our house, with a plethora of snotty, little people in tow, rummaging through our vinyl collection and poking at my lego (and that’s just the adults) filled us with dread and loathing… Plus we’d have to lock the dogs away, and since that’s not really something we would even consider, we decided to have her party at the park instead.

My wife made a Peppa Pig cake…

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… and much fun and merriment was had by all. Except the girl child, who absolutely hated all the attention and tried to remove herself from any and all social activity. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

IMG_8636.JPG She also refused to take off her hat. And spent the morning looking mostly pensive. Although sometimes she would mix it up with a bit of a scowl. (REALLY awesome photos) I’m sure the talk will be of my strangely mute child who has clearly fallen off the development ladder.

Speaking of which, we had our first teacher-parent meeting at the Kindergarten she attends this week. They made us sit on the little wooden stools in the classroom, while her teacher and the principal took opposing tiny chairs. I must be honest, I felt a little uncomfortable… like I was in trouble…. old habits die hard I guess. Or maybe its a guilty conscious. Either way I did my best not to squirm. Or flee.

Turns out she’s the best in her class. Even in the long, illustrious history of the school they have rarely seen such raw magical ability (is what I imagined they were saying) It’s all very impressive for a mudblood (her mother’s a muggle). We smile politely. ‘Do we have any questions?’ ‘Not really’, we both mumble.

In other news I ordered books today. And then clicked same day delivery. (this is how I roll… sometimes) Two hours later I had received…

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…I know. It’s a university textbook. On potentially the driest subject imaginable. I go through weird phases. I’ve already devoured two chapters and so far I’m really intrigued.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to reveal my strange proclivity. In any event, twenty  minutes of killing stuff on playstation and then bedtime for Joey. Sweet dreams. Joey out.

Far Cry 5

I was up at 3am. I’ve been waking up at stupid times and been struggling to go back to sleep. I say stupid times but my alarm goes off at 03:59 anyway. I pulled my iPad off my side table with intention of reading, but then remembered… Today is Far Cry 5 day.

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I armed myself with fuzzy slippers (not pictured) and Old Glory socks (as one does) and trundled off to go and kill some white supremacists with a compound bow (that was my first mistake).

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No real spoilers.

Turns out they’re not white supremacists. I haven’t really been following any of the hype about Far Cry 5. I wanted to go in virginal, unbiased and untainted. ‘Hey, wait a minute, isn’t that a black guy?’ Turns out I’m conflating white supremacy and christian fundamentalism. Sorry! (My bad) Turns out they might not even be Christian Fundamentalists. I think its implied, but never… Oh, the official line is Doomsday cult. (they’re pretty inclusive) Well there you go. I take it all back.

In any event it was very satisfying shooting a broad-head into the cranium of some guy standing in a forestry watch tower. Turns out, he was NOT a baddie. The game admonished me with a warning and the words ‘DO NOT KILL CIVILIANS’ flashed across my screen. Oops. (Good start there Joey)

In my defense all these hick white folk look the same to me.

Anyways. I haven’t gotten very far yet. I’ve played through the intro and cleared the island. While I quite liked the intro, it does require you suspend your disbelief. Clearly these guys haven’t watched WACO (or even read the Wikipedia entry). Also, apparently EVERYONE in Montana still has an old school answering machine. Which I find quite cute.

Check out my incredibly boring avatar.

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I just couldn’t bring myself to pick out a mullet, camouflage cargo pants and a wife beater. And while I realize in FPS you never see yourself… I just can’t. I have standards. Pretty low standards, but standards nonetheless.

Also my aim is shocking. I haven’t played a FPS in a while. You know that trope that says people hone their firearm skills playing violent video games… actually I’m not sure where I’m going with this because my aim in real life is also pretty bad. Except in real life I manage to bounce hot shells off inanimate objects which then lodge themselves in unexpected places (like into the tiny gap between my fat head and my shooting glasses). Problems a gamer doesn’t have.

In all honesty I’m generally not into games like this. In fact this is the first game in the Far Cry series I’ve played. If I’m going to play a ‘shooter’ I prefer something like, Ghost Recon (which I really liked), first person isn’t really my thing. But there’s been a serious dearth of decent titles lately for the PS4. I’m really looking forward to Red Dead. But that’s still ages away… but until then I need something to tide me over. Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

Road not taken

I like tend to gravitate towards pretty, whimsical games in my in my old age (with a strategic element). Games you can play wedged into your economy class seat between the window and the human Kaiju that is spilling over into your personal space.

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It’s at times like these that you need to get your mind out of its claustrophobic surroundings and into some mind-bendingly difficult puzzle solving (it also helps to distract you from the vibrating bulkhead and the strange change in engine pitch)

Enter…

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Don’t let its cutesy facade fool you. This is a fiendishly difficult game, whose challenge rating goes from mild to cripplingly difficult in less time than it takes to get to cruising altitude.

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The game is based loosely on Robert Frosts poem of the same name. You play a ranger whose job it is to find missing children (who get lost in a blizzard) Weirdly this happens every year… for fourteen years. You would think they would have had a town meeting about this by now!

339B1B7D-F080-4509-BAAE-3B4C308866FD.jpegAdditionally these bumpkins settled their town in a swirling ever changing labyrinth of puzzle terrain and angry spirits. Which makes your life that much more difficult.

Its not ‘Monkey Island’ left field (use the monkey to turn off  the waterfall) but the interactions between certain types of terrain isn’t necessarily logical, so your first couple of games are spent experimenting with what does what.

Things you figure out like…

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…smashing three flame spirits together equals an ax, are logged in your diary for easy reference.

It’s a little tough in the beginning to remember what does what, so I found myself having to consult my journal quite often. I also have a mind like sieve which doesn’t help.

Damn you, Baba Yaga! (I’ve been battling this nemesis since Quest for glory I)

‘Hut of brown, now sit down’. (Can’t remember my wife’s cellphone number, but I can remember how to make a cabin on chicken legs descend to ground level)

Road not taken is very pretty. If I have one criticism is that it is really, really difficult. If you are easily frustrated or just want a game you can mindlessly grind through this game is not for you. I also find it’s not the easiest game to come back to after a long absence because you have to relearn all the various interactions again. Still, I do find myself coming back and in a world of ‘done, done on to the next one’ (Foo fighters), that’s got to count for something.