Take a nap. Eat a pizza. Thoughts on 1-6-21

You know what I did when Trump won the election?

I bitched and moaned. I provided a shoulder for the wife to cry on (as a white middle-aged dude I had less to lose than my wife who is both, well, a woman and half-Latina). I think I ate a whole pizza (this was pre-type 2). I slept hard. We then hit the ground running – my wife volunteering for social and justice causes and the both of us donating where we could to groups like Remote Area Medical, IRC, RAICES, etc.

The thing that never came to my mind was to storm Congress…

If you had asked me years ago that a gross 4chan block would get banned, would become 8chan, spread wild rumors that Trump would stop the child molesters, that there is a deep state, and that there is one grand conspiracy against him I would have laughed my ass off.

Yet here we are – and Uncle Facebook, Aunt Twitter and Grandpa Instagram believed this nonsense and became lost and gone forever…

But in the end this is all one big grift.

They use conspiracy theories to fleece their constituents (Ted Cruz fundraising during the failed coup should disqualify him for life)…

They use the fragility of a broken, old man to break the rules that safeguard all freedoms and boost their status and pocketbook…

They promote law and order as a cover for government sponsored racism..

They promote what-about-ism to make the other side equally culpable when it’s like comparing a pair of Great Value sneakers against a $250 pair of Jordan’s (I don’t deny Dems do shitty things to because politics, but let’s see the forest for the trees here…)

They bark Blue Lives Matter and then re-enact shooting Jacob Blake 7 times and the murder of George Floyd on the Capitol steps…

Simply put – we’ve got a BAD problem with White Nationalism and perceived “privilege’s” and I don’t think there is an easy answer to remove it. Clearing the board for two years with the Dems in power is a good start. Putting civil rights focused individuals in the DOJ will help too. Banning accounts may help. (There are those that are going to promote the First Amendment that gives them the right to say what they want. Sure. That is absolutely correct. But doesn’t mention a lick about the consequences of those words. It also doesn’t protect you from the decisions of a business. Twitter/Facebook are indeed businesses..)

But nothing changes unless those that egged the actions on of the insurrectionists yesterday get punished. Nothing changes unless those that caused harm or incited danger get what they deserve – we respect each other and we respect the space we and others occupy. Period. Destruction of any kinds for any cause does nothing but amplify pain and sorrow.

I see the Republican Party as a cancer patient. As someone who voted Republican in a previous life I get it. Conservative values, American way, blah blah I get it. But something happened – and the actions of the party and its members reflect the feeling that a certain 44th president skipped the line and changed things too hard (when indeed he was trying to bring us to the modern times with various levels of success).

So the patient gets a little bump. Ignores it. Bump gets bigger. Patient goes to the doctor. This is a cancer. And now the cancer is growing limps, feet, hair, a face, and turning orange. And it has to be excised in order for it to survive.

If this party wants to breath the same oxygen as the rest of us, then it needs to remove the cancer. Heal from the procedure. Figure out how to become relevant again versus the lumbering tumor that now protrudes from it.

But maybe also before they figure out next steps take a nap. Eat a pizza…

Cult of Personality

This will not be about video games – you’ve been warned.

I poked in and out of the RNC this week. It was utterly macabre.

I don’t know much about cults. I’ve READ about cults. But from I gather, cults tend to feed off misinformation, exhaustion, gullibility and fear. If you fit into these categories, then you are probably easily duped, shammed, shamed and bullied into believing.

Here’s a shocker for you – I would consider myself a reformed Republican. I voted in the primary for Bush in 2000. But as I grew and educated myself I found that the party started to drift into the ocean. It started with baseless war mongering. It dived into racism cloaked in fiscal responsibility, And now it cloaks itself as a conservative Christian ideology that hides layers of fear, greed, power, casual misogyny, habitual lying, casual racism and White nationalism.

This is no longer the party of Reagan, Bush, McCain, Romney, Dole, Bush Sr, etc but a party of one Donald Trump.

He and his crew want you to believe we are moving forward.

The economy has recovered for stock brokers, not for those that are unemployed from the virus.

They want you to think that we had a plan for coronavirus and that it will go away but we are almost at 200K dead and pushing 300K after Election Day with no WORKING vaccine until early next year. Even then, early deployments will be spotty at best.

They want you to think the streets are burning and that everything is crumbling around you (Note: it’s not, shit only gets stirred up when minorities start dying for no reason. No one is coming to burn Abilene or Round Rock down anytime soon, so calm down.)

They want you to think anti-fascists are going to come take you in the middle of the night (lololololol).

They want to hit that protective center in your brain that things are going to be taken away from – from guns, religion, God (which I find hilarious), even hamburgers…

They want you to get your information from Facebook or Twitter because you are too tired to read the news or research it yourself so fringe sites fill the void from both political spectrums.

They want you to think that a man that has had multiple marriages, affairs, (now) human rights violations and other scandals is going to be the knight in shining armor protecting us from cannibals and child molesters. Even though this is a pure troll yet fringed and stupid people believe in it and the party has embraced it.

They use the word “socialism” as a boogie man for helping our fellow man and advancing the greater good. Always.

So color me scared when I see the RNC abandon a platform, even one I don’t believe in, to instead take a loyalty oath for Donald Trump and his crew. And then to hold a campaign event on the lawn of the White House with zero masks, zero distancing, no plan for the future, no recognition of the current, and no recognition of the pain and suffering everyone is experiencing in their wallets, in their health, in their job or just life in general (cancelled weddings, cancelled funerals, etc – we couldn’t even see my dad in the Hospital).

I understand Joe Biden is not everyone’s first or second choice. I get that. I understand that. Hell I wanted a Warren/Sanders combo with Harris as Attorney General… but I also know that we have some tough decisions to make and that in order to walk again, we have to crawl again.

We can’t turn a blind eye to a virus that has zero partisan objectives.

We can’t turn a blind eye to minorities dying in our streets and when they speak up we start parotting “All Lives Matter” or “Back the Police” or “LAW AND ORDER” or some kind of ra-ra horseshit.

We have to find a way to recover the economy for not just the 1% but everyone.

We cannot be split – cast parties aside, come together, make a new path. The one we are on is broken and is going to get us all killed or worse under an autocratic regime. I would expect nothing less from someone who writes letters to Putin and Kim-Jung Un and Edrogan . . .

I always joked when I see how people are flouting the disease and brushing it off – either from regular people or from the government. I joke “Die for Donald 2020” here on Facebook.

After this week’s shitshow, I think despite not having a platform during the RNC this week they finally figured one out.

Join the cult. Die for Donald 2020.

Fun With Death Cults

Image/A24

Well it certainly has been an interesting time. NBA is back…in August…which is weird…but like a warm blanket and a puppy dog snuggled against me I’ll take it. The bubble is holding and it looks like the NBA is holding up their end of the bargain (and keeping all wing trips to Magic City in check). NHL same thing. MLB is a hot flaming garbage wreck. I fail to see how the NFL and college sports are going to function without bubbles until we get things flattened and tamped down. Those that continue to flaunt rules, play games, stop giving a shit or have secret influencer parties are all apart of one giant death cult that I want nothing to do with.

Speaking of death cults, the missus and I finally got around to watching Midsommar. Its been sitting in our Vudu queue for months now. Digital movie sales are just as bad/impulsive as Steam sales but I will gladly try a movie out for $5. I have so much to tell you about your future media habits, past Jason…

Anyway – Midsommar. Man, I wished I had watched it sooner. Ari Aster’s sophomore effort is an incredibly deep folk-horror movie. A luscious mashup of hypnotic visuals, aural cues, and B-movie violence – Midsommar is a break-up movie of epic proportions. Also if you’re partner starts taking notes during it please kindly step your relationship game up a tad…

If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth your time. Now I need to go watch Hereditary.

Image: Koei/Tecmo

Ghost of Tsushima is installed and ready on my PS4 but it’s going to have to wait a moment as (speaking of Steam sales) I picked up Nioh for the PC and have been jamming on that with the settings cranked up.

While I admire the Souls games and others of the same ilk, I prefer AND get more enjoyment out of using mods and becoming a walking death machine while focusing on the combat, weapons, loot, etc. Kinda like Diablo 3. For me it allows me to cut down on the time spent due to busy work/life schedules, plus it’s not taking me days just to get to another part of the game because I have old-man hands/reflexes now.

Nioh and the like are very loot focused after defeating an enemy. I get that endorphin rush of picking up new equipment like lightning blades and spirit animals to try out. I’m having a ball. To me, it feels like the game Team Ninja (Ninja Gaiden creators) always wanted to make. But it’s seeped in Japanese history (the folks behind the INTIMIDATING Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunaga’s Ambition games filled in the historical blanks), folklore and tales of yokai. I mean just look-it…spirit animals!

Image: Koei/Tecmo

Other than that, still riding the quarantine wave – how you be?

Into the Backlog!

Image: Nintendo

Well since we had to do a Coronavirus retcon here in Texas I’ve had plenty of time to dig into my backlog. So let’s go on some adventures.

Games Are Too Long – An Editorial

Image: PlayStation Studios/Naughty Dog

I finished The Last of Us Part Two and Luigi’s Mansion 3. And while I finished both of them (add a FINALLY to Luigi’s Mansion 3) I have come to a small conclusion – games are too damn long.

SPOILERS AHEAD

As I deep-dived into TLOU2 and came to love the adventure I went on with Elle and Abby, I was very happy with how they intertwined and how their story ended…then the game kept going…

There is going to be a SUPER unsettling two-three hour block at the end of the game that turned into just blood-soaked slog of a march just to get to ending number 2 – which was such a heart breaker. I won’t spoil too much of the last grind in the game (think what would happen if open-carry firearm dicks went into the slave trade and you’ve got it) but it took what was a fine game and simply dropped into death-march territory. I think mileage is going to vary on this game, for sure, and The Last of Us Part II is a phenomenal effort that breaks new boundaries in LGBTQ story telling (don’t ever tell me women leads can’t sell games – see Ubisoft). But it also makes me wonder when enough is enough. All in all a fantastic game that needed a deleted scenes section or a chop of the last three hours into a “Left Behind” DLC-type chapter. Dina, however, is one of my favorite characters of all time. Loved loved loved her.

Image: Nintendo

Speaking of enough is enough let’s talk about this asshole in Luigi’s Mansion 3. This is a fine effort of a game from Nintendo and the best Luigi’s Mansion to date (having just run the first game on the Gamecube this series has HUGELY evolved in its eighteen years on this planet). After my 14 hours with the game I had a great time and it never got boring, for sure. But the encounters with Polterkitty were the drizzling shits. You encounter him (her?) three times in the game and each time it’s insufferable. You have to time the beam just right to blind it and if you are too soon you have to start the process all over again. This added to extended downtime and needless padding. Very frustrating…and a tiny anchor on an otherwise top notch production. Left Field does really good work as a Nintendo second party developer and I hope we get another Mansion title from them at some point (or dare I dream another Punch-Out after their excellent run with it on the Wii).

Image: Sega

So after working through two big games I needed something a little more bite size so I decided to venture into my Switch library and played the Sega Ages version of Shinobi. I have been venturing into the Sega archives a lot recently and developer M2 has been cranking out arcade-board perfect versions of Sega games (their releases of Virtua Racing, Out Run and Space Harrier on Switch are TOP NOTCH and made me fans of these games for life now) or Genesis revisits like Thunder Force IV/Lightening Force and Sonic 2 with quality of life upgrades like save states, tweaks, soundtrack options, easy modes, etc. So as a fan of Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi III a venture through the original felt in order and it’s not bad. Definitely built to consume quarters in its time and not a bad ride at all. But that last boss can take a shove…

Image: Gaming Pastime

Also I have started picking up odds and ends for my collection via eBay and Yahoo! Auctions Japan and finally stumbled upon an affordable copy of Thunder Force III for the Genesis/Mega Drive. As a shump it’s a little on the easy side (especially after I got my ass handed to me in Gate of Thunder on the PC Engine Duo recently) but wow. The music, graphics, and gameplay are all top notch and your weapon choices are logical and strategic. On a system with a glut of shooters, the Thunder Force games stand out and are marvels in presentation – now if I can find an affordable copy of Thunder Force V and VI (and I guess an import PS2) we will be in business.

And that’s all. How are you?

Violent Delights

Image Credit: Sebmugi/ResetEra

Let’s take a moment to talk about a game that I would summarize as a reflective, violent and beautiful vengeance suite.

I’m (yikes) 11 hours into The Last of Us Part II. When I finished the first game I was staunchly against a sequel – I felt the story ended perfectly and the gameplay was so finely tuned that it just felt complete. So now that I am playing the sequel, those pangs are almost gone.

While gameplay wise it doesn’t do anything terribly new (hey a jump button) but man, it’s so finely balanced and smooth that it plays flawlessly. Think the jump from Halo to Halo 3 or Gears 1 to Gears 5 in controls – it becomes an extension of you. The sound design is gorgeous, the art design still spooks, and the graphics are just jaw dropping – I can’t wait to play this on a PS5 with hopefully bumped up specs like 60 frames per second.

But while I was spoiled on story beats by Reddit/ResetEra (grumble) the spoilers miss the finite details of the human interactions and emotions on display between characters – there is a flashback scene that left a punch in my gut that might be one of my favorite scenes in a video game ever.

I also think (could be wrong) that this is the first major company AAA published game with the focus on a LGBTQ character in the lead role without playing the angle for gross video game exploitation for kicks. There’s going to be arguments for and against this, but I think it’s a bold step in an evolving direction. It’s another touchstone that makes games more inclusive vs keeping barriers up (it’s 2020 – games should be for EVERYONE).

Also this is a VIOLENT game. Throats are slit, heads are bashed, noggins explode – maybe take some breaks between plays (see Shadow of Mordor). Ellie is a badass and I get the arguments for the rough nature of the stealth kills, but I get the context of it being in a post-virus world. Mileage is going to vary.

It’s weird playing a game about a death virus during a time of, well, a death virus…but if anything it gives the game a moment to reflect and understand the choices we make, like a tree, can grow limbs in unexpected or unwanted ways.