it's gonna be a fun 4 years
Right now I am approaching two months of having worked in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, which is pretty far from home. It's a job for an Austrian company, which looks like it will last around half a year. I'll occasionally fly back home to London for holidays and stuff, but for the most part I'll be living here, which has been pretty interesting. It's nice to have an opportunity to see a bit more of the world, I suppose. The job is nice, though at 6 days a week it doesn't leave me with too much free time, but I'm not complaining. The time zone change does make it a bit tricky to keep up with friends from around the world, but I've been managing.
So that's one big thing, but then I have also been dealing with some... gender idendity stuff? However you want to phrase it. Won't go into much detail here, but if you follow me on Tumblr you've seen my numerous posts there. So yeah, that has made it... an interesting time, I guess. We'll see where that ends up going.
Well, without going into some other stuff, that is mainly what's been going on with me lately. A whole lot of self-discovery.
A while back, an Iowa state representative by the name of John Kooiker gave me a book after church. He was an old friend of mine, an elder I looked up to and regularly talked with after services had convened. I meant to read it right away.
Around ten years later, I finally got around to it. It's a shame that it took me this long. I should be far more eager to complete a book when someone gives it to me. It's the polite thing to do. And anyway, I didn't read it because I remembered John Kooiker. I read it because my father read it in my stead when I first took it home. All these years, my old man has been asking me if I've gotten around to reading that book. He really wanted me to read it, because he loved it, which is no surprise. The book is about a Dutchman who did amazing things during World War II. My father's a Dutchman, so the story was relevant to him.
Like the judge giving in to the persistent widow, I listened to him after a while. A decade later, I finally picked the book up and put my nose to it from start to finish.
Overall, it was an interesting account. It's the true story of Jakobus "Jack" van der Geest, who was a teenager when the Germans first invaded the Netherlands. That much I knew from what John Kooiker had told me when he handed me the book. The first few chapters is about how he fought in the Dutch underground, got reported on by his neighbor named Reita, ended up being shipped to Buchenwald, was mistaken for a doctor and forced to help the Nazi doctors with their experiments, became so thin that eventually he got away with faking death, being thrown into a pile of dead bodies, and eventually crawled out at night and killed the Nazi officer patrolling the pile, at which point he took the officer's clothes and sneaked out of the concentration camp.
This is non-fiction, so I don't think that it's a big deal to give away spoilers. However, I'm not going to write up a summary of Jack van der Geest's story in this review. I very well could. After all, I knew most of the things that were going to happen in this book because my father told me about several of Jack's stories. However, perhaps you want to read this for yourself instead of just getting a brief description of his adventures from me. I don't want to take away your reason for going out and buying this book.
What I will say is that Carol Ordemann, who transcribed the story for Jack, didn't necessarily do the best job. I noticed several typos, among other things, which is an objective flaw in its writing. A published book shouldn't have any typos. It's extremely unprofessional to have them. That's the other complaint that I have about Ordemann's writing, that it isn't very professional. The story is in the first person, which makes me wish that van der Geest didn't seek out someone else to write the book for him. I'm not expecting him to have the writing ability of Elie Wiesel, but I still would imagine that he'd have enough of a knack for storytelling to write this book himself. As it stands, Ordemann's first-person writing doesn't feel very personal and doesn't put me in his skin. It feels emotionally distanced. Also egregiously, there are times then Carol writes a person as having said something "while smiling" or some other expression, and it's really frustrating because it sounded to my ear like she was creatively filling in the blanks of various scenes in order to make them feel more like first-person recollections and not like they were actual memories of van der Geest. This book could have felt a lot more reliable, but I didn't trust the illustrator when actual scenes were being illustrated. Did I trust the overall story and the events therein? Yes, but not the details of the conversations, which in the meantime were flat.
Another problem that this book has is the title. van der Geest briefly implores if God is on vatation while in Buchenwald, but but he then figures that God is on his side when he escapes, and the subject isn't explored again. Once more, I bring up Elie Wiesel, author of Night and God On Trial, who brought up the death of one's faith beautifully, poignantly, and personally in his memoirs, and does a good job of making the reader feel very invested in the question of God's goodness. Was God On Vacation? doesn't explore this question and give a lot of insight into just what van der Geest was going through spiritually, or if he thought that much about his spirituality at all. There are brief mentions of God throughout the book, but they aren't brought up with a lot of conviction, or a sense of urgency that says that says that the Divine is an important subject for conversation. It isn't thematic of the book. It's just a small detail, which makes me think that it doesn't belong in the title, especially when Jack van der Geest only struggles with the question in one of the early chapters.
It's frustrating, because the story truly is a good one. However, I think I'd rather retell it myself in my own way, as a folk tale, to my children. It's a story that's better told than read.
(Here is where you insert a paragraph on humans being metaphorically blind in this hypothetical world where humans have tiny televisions in their eyes)
While I liked the first Logan trailer a little more than this one, I still think this is a good one too. I think the biggest reveal in it is that the girl is Laura Kinney aka X-23. It was speculated that she was this character when the first trailer was revealed, but this one all but confirms it.
I'm interested in seeing what her origin story is, and how much influence it will take from the comics. Because in said comics, she is a 'clone-daughter' of Logan. I wonder if she will have the same backstory here, or if she'll just be a Mutant similar to Logan and that they just put adamantium on her bones. We'll just have to wait for the film to come out and see.
The other thing that really caught my attention was the fact that the X-Men comics exist in this universe. I'm not sure how I feel about them existing in these movies. But if people with powers actually did exist in the real world, someone probably would make a comic book based on them. So I guess it could make sense for these to be a thing in the X-Men movies. Again, we'll just have to wait and see what Logan does with this plot point.
And as with the first trailer, there is a red band version of this trailer out there too. While the violence in it is the same as in the green band, it does have some adult language, which is why I won't link it here. But you can find it on YouTube if you want to see it.
Overall, this trailer has made me even more excited to see this. Like I said, I thought the first one was better. But this is still a good trailer on its own. March 3rd can't get here soon enough.
What do you all think of this trailer? Will you be seeing Logan when it comes out?
Amadeus Kurisu is an AI based on the memories of someone who (during the plot of 0) is dead.
MegaMan.EXE is an AI who (somehow) incorporates the DNA of a deceased person.
Basically they’re one and the same and I propose we refer to Amadeus Kurisu as MegaMakise.EXE from now on.
I've always been a fan of the books and I liked the movie, so I was really excited for the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you've never read the books, it's about three recently-orphaned children who are pursued by a villainous actor who wants nothing more than their family fortune told through a strange blend of mystery and black comedy with a lot of witty narration by the titular author Lemony Snicket. The show itself does a great job of capturing the tone of the books, with Patrick Warburton as the perfect Snicket and Neil Patrick Harris as a funny yet despicable Count Olaf. While it doesn't follow the books perfectly, most of the changes are additions to serve the ongoing mystery (which is understandable, the mystery in the books didn't start until around 5 and the show goes through the first 4). The show isn't for everyone, but if you have Netflix I would highly recommend checking it out. It's a very fresh debut for the new series.
If you saw it, what did you think?
In other news, I was gonna mail out some prizes the other day... then the region I live in got hit with the worst snow storm in 30 years. Sooooo... yeah, maybe later.
There are a couple of other jobs I've applied to as well. It would mean I'd move out of my parent's house (Thank freaking Smooze) and I'd be living with an awesome friend of mine (which would be a much welcome change of pace). Ideally I would be working at a bakery (which are the jobs I've applied to) and everything in that area is walkable so I wouldn't have to worry about not having a car.
Honestly I'm hoping for the latter of two scenarios to play out.
Honestly I've been stressing out a lot about the future as of late, and I think my seasonal depression is kicking in which is just lovely (and by lovely I actually mean it is terrible and I hate having to live with it). Still, there hasn't been anything alarming as far as my depression goes since the start of the year, so it's manageable at least.
Still, the worst case scenario right now is that I take a summer job instead of something full time, so life could totally be worse right now.
CH 1 Labor
CH 2 Deadline
CH 3 Last
CH 4 Embrace
CH 5 All Wrong
CH 6 Ages
CH 7 Invert (New)
So here's the basic concept of Dishonored 2: the empress has been deposed. You play as either said deposed empress (Emily) or her royal protector (Corvo) and carve a path of revenge against the usurper and her cabal of those who dishonored you (hence the title). Along the way you meet the Outsider who gives you a bunch of magical powers, ranging from teleporting and stopping time to linking enemies together (so if you kill one you kill 'em all!) to straight up stopping time.
Now, there are many ways to play Dishonored 2, something that's hyped up both in the promotional materials and the game itself. You can sneak through each mission, unseen by anyone, or run in obvious as a strobe light. You can assassinate each target or find another way to eliminate them. You can kill every enemy you come across or choke them into unconsciousness.
Like I said: options! So many ways to play the game!
Which is where the game's narrative gets in the way. Dishonored 2 has this thing called Chaos which is determined by how you dispatch targets and how many people you kill. Chaos determines your ending, and the way to get the good (or at least better) ending is through low Chaos. Essentially, the narrative encourages you to eschew violence (and some of those nifty powers). It makes sense, if you want the ending where Emily is a fair and just empress, wanton slaughter isn't becoming. It's this odd sort of ludonarrative dissonance where the game gives you these wonderful gameplay options the narrative then discourages you from using. Now, it does give replayability a boost which, given that I just finished my fourth playthrough(no powers, no stealth, high bodycount), does work.
BioShock is held up as a treatise exploring the relationship between player and game (rightfully so). The ending of the game you receive, however, is based on what you do about the Little Sisters. These creepy looking girls can be either saved or absorbed for ADAM, a resource you can use to improve your abilities. Now, saving the Little Sisters gets you some ADAM too, just at a different rate from absorption. When I played BioShock, I saved the first Little Sister, then, wanting to know what would happen and how much ADAM I'd receive, absorbed the next, then chose to save the rest. Upon finishing the game, my ending was noticeably downbeat - which confused me: I'd saved all those Little Sisters! Some research (googling) turned up that to get that good ending you had to save all of them, and absorbing even just one earned you a pretty harsh one (absorbing all garners you one more sorrowful). I was kinda annoyed, I'd only absorbed one! But then, I had still chosen to absorb one, so I suppose that does still make me a bit of a villain. So it makes sense.
Still harsh, though.
At the least, Dishonored 2 and BioShock don't punish you gameplay-wise for your moral choices. Knights of The Old Republic allows you to make light side and dark side choices throughout the game because it’s Star Wars so Jedi and all that. In the late game there are armor and such that you can equip if you lean far enough in either direction. If you've been making decisions in both directions, though, tough. In the second KOTOR also has a whole section you can only access as a light or dark sider. Playing a more nuanced game gets you nothing. Which I suppose works in the Star Wars context, but, playing as an amnesiac former Sith Lord (oh, spoiler) and a Jedi exiled from the Order, I figure a level of permissiveness ought to color the KOTOR games.
Mass Effect 2 (also done by Bioware, who did the first KOTOR) had a similar issue, where not leaning too strongly in a Paragon (saves the day nicely) or Renegade (saves the day meanly) fashion prevents you from taking certain dialogue options and getting certain outcomes later on. It discourages you from mixing up how you respond (also, taking too many Paragon actions makes your dope scars disappear, boo). Mass Effect 3 rectifies it somewhat by letting the player accumulate Reputation from taking Paragon and/or Renegade options rather than a more lukewarm approach. So instead the game rewards you for taking a strong stance either way.
Perhaps the problem with video game morality is its binary nature. You, for the most part, are either good or bad and the narrative typically plays out accordingly – sometimes rendering judgment. I find that open ended narratives work better as in Mass Effect, where the decisions of your actions aren’t always so black and white: choosing to destroy the data earned by illegal vivisection means you won’t be able to save a character later down the line. Morality in video games – and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ endings – is an interesting and still developing facet of gaming that’s arguably limited by tech and designers’ patience. I’m undoubtedly curious to see how video games handle this going forward – especially Bioware’s upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. The virtuality of gaming makes for a fun space to try things and see what happens, consequences are great, limiting gameplay less so.
Or maybe Dishonored 2 could use just a few more non-lethal power options.
The lack of anything F-Zero once again makes me salty as the ocean, new Xenoblade and Bomberman is great to see, but paid online and a lack of general interest for BoTW or anything else really hasn't sold me on the console yet.
Now, the people who played Bionifight Infinite/Landfall alongside me will know all too well that I went a bit overboard with creating characters, having made well over a dozen profiles over the course of the game. However, due to the way Bionifight was set up, the vast majority of those characters were impossible to use in other games, and since I suck at writing fanfics, I was forced to abandon many of the characters I used in Bionifight.
With the anniversary of Bionifight's end coming up soon, I saw an opportunity to indulge in writing as some of those characters again. However, when I actually began the writing process, what was intended to be a series of short stories briefly exploring the lives of some of my characters after the tournament, began to grow and evolve into a much bigger and more complex epic.
So, without further ado, let me present Bionifight Remembrance.
The basic premise is that the survivors of Infinite/Landfall have found themselves abducted and thrust into a new tournament, one that's been organised by surviving villainous characters from the game. The problem is, I don't have nearly enough characters of my own left to populate a story this big. And that, is where you come in.
I'm looking for players from Bionifight Infinite who'd be interested in offering up characters and creativity to help this project come to fruition. And of course, Voltex, as the creator of Bionifight, I would greatly appreciate your blessing in this endeavour, without which I wouldn't dare actually posting the story on BZP.
Anyone who's interested, leave a comment below, or send me a PM, and I'll get around to throwing together a group PM or Skype chat sometime in the near future to discuss what I've gotten written so far, and where the story can go from there.
I maintain that this is not a "message from the universe". A better conspiracy theory: AT&T has plans to launch their own competing Bionicle fansite and wants to leave the competition in disarray.
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