Archive for May, 2011

Video Game of the Week

Posted in Video Game of the Week with tags , , , , on May 31, 2011 by Jackal

I like video games. I enjoy playing them by myself and with friends and (pretending this is Monday) every week I will be playing a new one. I have decided to announce which one I will be playing and then the next Monday, report on it.

Since this is the first one, I decided to get back to my roots and play Half-Life 2 from the Orange Box. The Orange Box is a compilation of 5 games: Half Life 2, HL2: episode 1+2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal (best game ever). And I’ve played the original Half Life 2 but I recently stole the Orange Box from a friend so I’ll probably be playing those games from it in the weeks to come.

He's pretty much the biggest badass ever...

But the game I just finished is Dragon Age 2, a fantasy epic with fewer dragons than the title implies. I’ve played Dragon Age: Origins, which I sort of liked better. The character development is better in 2 and there are more character quests and your relationship with them is more complicated. But you are also set in like one city, Kirkwall, and the surrounding area. It just gets really repetitive with the same dungeons over and over. Sometimes they use the exact same area and just change the name of it, which is very irritating.

Sorry Dragon Age 2, these are the same dungeon...

This complaint is double-edged cause I appreciate a bit of complexity in my storyline but some of the choices you get are a bit ridiculous with both choices causing mass chaos and a lot of killing. As a side note, I made myself a diplomatic character but I still seemed to solve almost all my problems by killing the person I disagreed with… Anyway, back to the storyline. Sometimes you find yourself in a bad situation that has a diplomatic solution but the game doesn’t offer it for you and even though I am loathe to looking up solutions that’s what I ended up doing. They informed me that in a lot of these situations there is no way to avoid mass murder…  You have to kill the poor mage driven to blood magic by the Templars. I should probably state that I sided with the mages and Fenris deserted me cause he’s a little bitch and I didn’t get his rivalry high enough (there is rivalry and friendship: doesn’t really matter which one you max just as long as you do) Fenris is an awesome character but it annoyed me that he didn’t really evolve as a person throughout the game. He goes through all these life-changing events and I took him with me during all my adventures and he still comes out hating mages like nobody’s business. The other characters change… maybe its cause I couldn’t bring myself to kill random mages but I’m still kind of a dick so he didn’t always disagree with me.

He's kind of fucking awesome

It was a good game but very long especially if you like completing quests cause there’s a fuck ton and I ended up just ignoring some by the end of the game. Also, word of advice, don’t ignore  Isabela. I pretty much never used her cause Varric was funnier and I was a dual weapon rouge and 3 rouges would’ve been ridiculous. Without spoiling the game, make friends with Isabela before the end of Act 2. Cause I didn’t do myself any favors by never talking or interacting with her.

I'm pretty sure you can romance her too...

The game also uses an interesting story telling device with Varric retelling the tale to this crazy woman trying to figure out how Kirkwall got so fucked up. It intersperses game-play with beautiful illustrations and the occasional lie from Varric that adds some humor.

Final grade: B+

Its a good game with intricate story telling and character development but suffers from repetitive dungeons and a lack of diplomacy.

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Weekly Update – 5/31/11

Posted in Weekly Update on May 31, 2011 by Jackal

Normally this would be on Sunday but I was in NYC for the whole weekend! And it was FLEET WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Lots of sailors around, cheap drinks and the Blue Angels were practicing their tricks.

I have friends from far away (calling them Sunshine friends) who wanted to go to NYC with me so my other friend (Lets call him Alcoholic) decided to meet them their. It was a crazy long trip but we finally got their and met them at this apartment we were renting. Its this thing where you rent someones apartment for a short period of time and they just go somewhere else. The site is http://www.airbnb.com/ is you’re interested but it was really cheap and the apartment was furnished and pretty sweet.

Anyway, we spent the first night going to a Broadway play cause that’s what you do in NYC and that’s what my Sunshine friends wanted to do. I really really wanted to see the South Park guys’ musical, The Book of Mormon, but it was completely sold out and the Sunshines weren’t willing to show some cleavage.

So we went to see Jerusalem, which is this crazy play that involves an alcoholic ex-dare devil who gives all the local kids alcohol in the woods but he’s being evicted and a girl is missing. Its basically ridiculously long and the main actor, Mark Rylance, is phenomenal. Its good in its own right but I’m not sure I recommend it… I’m not really a Broadway kind of person and the only thing I can say is that I’m glad its not a musical.

It was pretty much exactly what it looks like...

Then we ate out a lot and drank… a lot. Alcoholic was especially intent on the last part. I had to drag him home both nights and he is kind of a heavy dude probably his developing beer belly. I mostly stick to hard alcohol myself though it hasn’t always been conducive to good decisions or remembering anything the next day. Its how you have to roll when you’re young… not that I think everyone has to or should drink. Its everyone’s choice and its nice to have the DD friend anyway who drags my sorry ass home.

That’s pretty much what I did this weekend… ah and I just got back from a baseball game. Not gonna say who but the team I was rooting for lost and I’m kind of pissed. Not the best umping I’ve ever seen and I’m a little sick of shitty pitchers being replaced by even worse ones. We were doing so well too…

So I’ll write something else tomorrow. I’m not sure if I want to just start on a Tuesday and write what I’ve planned for those or write Monday’s topic. Lets see which one comes out more interesting!

Car Maintenance… by an Idiot

Posted in What I learned this week. with tags , , , , on May 27, 2011 by Jackal

So its the summer now and I have copious amounts of free time. Like a ton, mostly cause jobs are hard to find and partially cause I’m not the best at figuring this shit out. And when I have this much free time on my hands I generally attempt to do things that I haven’t done before. This week’s addition wasn’t really planned so it involves changing a car battery. My car is a beautiful, piece-of-shit, ’95 Subaru Legacy and her name is Ruby (Thanks to my brother… Oh and its red) Now Ruby isn’t all that old, only about 16 in human years or the equivalent of “I have no idea” in car years, but she is basically the car version of a hobo.

Same thing really...

And she has survived through horrific trials, including driving with absolutely no oil, overheating to the point of billowing smoke (several times) and about 3 collisions (thanks, brother). But she hasn’t had that much work done, just some bolts to keep the bumper on and the muffler cracked once and I had to get that repaired.

But the point is that one day Ruby wouldn’t start and I almost cried. So I tried over and over again and because I don’t know anything about cars, I tried again. Then I tried getting a jump….Ruby wasn’t feeling it and wouldn’t start. Finally after several inquiries to my car-savvy friend I deduced that the battery was dead. Not surprising because this was the 4+ year old battery that had taught three people how to drive. If that doesn’t sound impressive to you then I’ve forgotten to mention that Ruby is a standard  and teaching people how to drive on a standard is a long road of frustration, stalling and yelling. Especially since my teacher was the stress-equivalent of a fucking tiger in the car with me.

Yeah, this is what I was rolling with.

But anyway, I tore that stupid, dead battery out of there using a lot of WD-40 and elbow grease cause there was a lot of this weird white powder hardened around all the bolts. My friend here says it was battery acid and that I’m retarded but he probably shouldn’t have bolted on me if he wanted me to be safe! So with battery acid all over me, I got another friend (this one’s a girl!) over to some sort of auto parts store that presumably had car batteries.

They had it. I checked.

After a long and arduous process, which involved this man bringing up like 15 different batteries because I wasn’t exactly sure about Ruby’s engine or color (I assumed it mattered…) I bought the cheapest battery there. I think the salesperson looked relieved to get me out of there. I believe the other people in line had pitched tents and were sitting around a campfire. The friend with me was incredibly unhelpful and kept bringing me things that were pretty like apparently there are these new spark plugs that light up pretty colors when they need to be replaced. I can’t handle the complexities of spark plugs! I pretend they don’t exist!

Get home and the friend wants to help… lets call her Ridiculously Unhelpful Ditz to make identifying her easier. RUD tried to put the battery in the wrong place and I would have agreed with her placement if I hadn’t taken the old battery out myself. There was also a very large space that didn’t used to be empty. I gravitated towards that. Alright, battery’s in the car. Physically sitting in it and I have a wrench type thing. It actually looked like… er…

...This...this is what it looked like...

And… I’m pretty sure the positive side is on the right side but this one was on the left and after some googling we figured out that cars are different and the attachment for the positive one sort of looked like the one on the left. My car friend had carefully explained that one of the ends (positive or negative) was just a ground so when taking the battery out, we had to take that one off second. So this meant we had to put it on first. And I have no idea which one was the ground. More googling! It was the positive and so we wrenched things in or whatever. Lots of swearing and hitting, its an old car… Ok so battery is connected to the car. That’s good! RUD called it a day and took off but it didn’t look quite right.

It wasn’t secured in the car with anything but the actual wires. The metal thing that braced it to the car was missing! Like not on the ground or in the engine or anywhere that my poor locating skills could find. I called RUD. “Is there a metal thing in your backseat?” “Hold on. Let me check!” I hear some fumbling and honking. “Are you driving?” “It was a red light!! And there are lots of metal things in my back seat.” I sighed “Just come back here” RUD gets back and we rummage around in her backseat, sifting through the admittedly large number of metal objects till I spotted the holy grail!

Honestly, I was getting a little delirious at this point.

The rusted piece of crap brace thing! So fumbling around and! It doesn’t fit. Well it does but its kind of short and we broke it or something. So we take the battery out again and put this funky little plastic thing they give you in case it doesn’t fit, under it. Attempt to reattach it and…. the wires don’t reach, at all. Lots of pulling and stretching later, RUD mentions that she didn’t think it was a good idea to pull so hard on electrical stuff. I conceded and we took it all out again and removed the plastic thing. Fuck this, lets just get a new bracey clampy thing. To the store we go and I swear the salesman cringed when we came in. I asked for a new bracey clampy thing and after several blank stares I managed to pantomime what I needed. Back to the CAR!

Fumbling and swearing again, RUD and I secured the battery into the car. The new, shiny bracey clampy thing stood out harshly against the dirty, rusted engine…. I reached over, took some dirt and rubbed it on the shiny. There, perfect.

Google image "rusty". This is, no joke, the first thing that comes up.

That fucking car… if it breaks down again I’m riding a bike.

The 7 Books You Should Never Read

Posted in Jackal's Lists with tags , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by Jackal

I think I’m going to have every day have a certain topic so every Thursday will have a post with some sort of list. Sunday will probably be a recap of my week or an update on my life so it doesn’t clutter the rest of the posts. It is unlikely that I will post everyday but I’ll try and skip on days that I don’t have anything interesting to say anyway. Who knows what Friday will bring… seriously though I haven’t figured it out yet.

I have taken several literature or English classes over my high school and college career and the only thing that any of them has taught me is that there are books out there that suck more dick than Justin Bieber. But people will insist that they are classics or are absolutely essential to your life as you know it. And they’re not just talking about classics. However, THEY ARE WRONG. And I like to read. I even like the boring stuff; I’m a bit of a history buff. But the books listed below are truly awful. So here they are! Read for you, by me, so you don’t have to.

7. Haroun and the Sea of Stories

by Salman Rushdie

I’m leaving this one at number 7 because its technically a children’s book and really can’t help its awfulness.

Saying that, its terrible. Like stab yourself in the eye terrible except add like 30 more characters and 7 with the same name and you have yourself Haroun and the Sea of Stories. There are seriously like 5 characters with the name, Butt, although one adds an “e” at the end to help differentiate (Thanks Rushdie). The whole story is horribly convoluted and insanely confusing with light sides and dark sides used in ways infinitely less awesome than Star Wars. Proof of this is that they are called Chup and Gup and I’ m honestly not sure which one is which. Only that one wants to destroy all stories and the other one has a genie that turned off his imagination faucet.

So thats what they call them these days...

Thankfully, its pretty short but its soooo confusing and convoluted like the author was purposefully trying to write a book for kids to hate. Wikipedia says he wrote it for his son but I can’t help but think that his kid punched him the nuts afterwards for payback.

6. A Separate Peace

by John Knowles

I read this in my 9th grade English class and part of my hatred of it comes from my teacher’s insatiable desire for homoeroticism. And I got nothing against the gays out there, they party hard and are denied their rights even harder.

This is what all gay people look like, right?

But I do not want to hear about how Gene and Finny got in on all over their school and how Gene liked to admire Finny’s “rippling chest muscles” (possible quote) Maybe they were gay for each other, maybe not. That’s like a one class discussion! Not a 3 week discussion. There are other things to comment on in the book.

And moving on from that tangent. The reason why this book sucks is mostly because of the plot and the polarization of the two main characters. For a brief summary so *SPOILER*: Gene and Finny are best friends but Finny is perfect and Gene is nerdy. Jumping off a tree into a river and Gene maybe pushes Finny off so he fucks up his leg. Oops but its fine cause Finny doesn’t blame him, etc. Later when Gene is accused by this random, also possibly gay, asshole Finny runs away and breaks his leg again. They apologize, hug, make love, whatever but Finny’s bone surgery kills him.

BAM! Finny dies. What the hell is with the bad luck??? Regardless of whether or not Gene pushed Finny off the first thing, he just plain fell down the second. Also, the book is bad cause one character is, no joke, perfect and the other is a conniving bastard who tries to kill his best friend! That’s just bad character development.

I was going to get a picture of kittens for you to make you feel better but this is infinitely better!

5. Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

This one is a classic and that’s why I read it back in like 7th grade. It was a little intense for me at that point but what struck me was that it was an absolute soap opera! Everyone dies at the exact right moment for maximum drama and nothing works out until its the worst possible time.

Look at the seriousness on her face! SHE IS AN ACTRESS!

There are also a ridiculous amount of characters, not helped by the women popping out babies every 5 minutes. And its kind of long book and its stretches over like 30 years so its a lot of time for drama to unfold. There’s like an original family that adopts a gypsy kid who falls in love with the girl but is hated by the boy. The boy takes over the house, screws with the gypsy kid. Girl becomes a lady, ends up with random noble. BABY! Death girl and some more random kids… it just goes on and on. And, honestly, its kind of boring. Its exactly like a soap opera; there’s dramatic music and lots of things are happening but you still don’t really want to watch it.

This is what happens when you Google Wuthering Heights.

And since I really don’t feel like explaining the complexity of this book anymore, we’re moving on!

4. Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

This is another one of those books with ridiculous plots that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing over the extremely long time it took you to read it. The main character, Pip, starts out poor and goes on this long journey funded *Spoiler* by the convict he freed. His greatest dream was to be high-class and rich because he wanted the snobby rich-girl next door to love him. He ends up finding out the girl is a bitch and falls in love with this random other girl who… wait for it… marries his sister’s (who has brain injury now for some reason) ex-husband. And he ends up alone but apparently with some sort of moral.

The bad part of this book is that Charles Dickens describes everything. And not just things that are going to be used later or are important to the story. I mean like a door that is never opened or a button on a passerby’s coat! He spends pages describing in, admittedly, fantastic detail but it doesn’t even matter so its just makes the book longer. This was another 9th grade book for me and I fucking hated every second of it. It was also a summer reading book so it was being read when there was sun outside and freedom was pulling at my heartstrings. That certainly didn’t help its case.

The plot also sucks. We talked about it. It sucks. Pretty much end of story.

3. The Harry Potter Series

by J.K. Rowling

I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this but its sort of true. I read them when I was a kid and I loved them, well except when Harry got emo and Rowling started killing every character except for the important ones. They’re probably good for kids as long as they are read at age appropriate times (no 5 year old wants to see Hedwig die… wait till they’re like 15. They’ll be ready then). But Rowling sucks at writing… its completely true and her books are not for adults no matter what her last couple say.

This is like the 4th picture that comes up...

I grew up with these books, my brother and I waited patiently for our letter to Hogwarts for like 5 years, but once you’re an adult please don’t read them. I have no idea why people think they’re so good or how they’ve sold more copies than the fucking Bible. And I’m not going to even go into how I think Harry should’ve fucking died or how she color coded her villains or the fucking TIME TURNER.

Everyone is so stereotypical, all Slytherins are evil and all Gryffindors and good. Who gives a shit about anybody in the other houses, they’re just pussies. Oh, and every time Harry had to defeat something he learned its secret like the day before in class. I don’t know about you but I have never learned anything in school that immediately paid off. Its usually never or I only need it after I forget it. For some reason that just annoyed me.

In case anyone forgot Harry Potter fucked a horse.

2. Twilight Series,

by Stephenie Meyer

I’m on a roll with these modern series but Twilight definitely has to be my least favorite of the two. I liked Harry Potter at some point and as an adult I realized it kind of sucked. Twilight is awful no matter the age or perspective.

Am I honestly the only freaked out by this picture?

I read it before it was cool cause my artsy, in-the-clouds friend told me it was good. I was a bit past the pre-teen faze but I thought I’d give it a shot. It didn’t go well… I’m sure everyone knows the plot by now but its essentially a whiny girl in love with a whiny boy. Add the complete bastardization of vampires and you get the sparkliest piece of crap imaginable. Saying that, I was convinced to read the second one, which involved some intense bartering. This one was actually worse and I only got halfway before I threw the book out the window. So no one can fault me for not doing my homework! I suffered through it.

Twilight is bad because it is some girl’s day dream filled with romance and pining and all the sort of unrealistic shit that pre-teens think about. Only Stephenie Meyer isn’t 12, she’s like 35!  Bella, the main character apparently, spends like half of the second book crying and pining for Edward, shiny vampire. Its seriously like months! I’ve had breakups and I’ve heard of pretty bad ones but I don’t think anyone I know would pine that long. Its not even misogynistic so much as just an example of a pathetic woman. Stephenie literally thinks women should do this but only because they are just sooooo in love with this one guy. Grow a set and move the fuck on. There’s seriously a dude down the street who will bone you…

Why hello...

Also I’m pretty sure the series ends with a baby ripping its way out of Bella’s womb and ^that guy^ having sex with it…

1. Tess of the D’Urbervilles

by Thomas Harding

Back to the classics and this was another book I read for high school, English Lit I believe. This book is long… like really long and boring. Basically, Tess gets raped by her “cousin”, gets preggers, baby dies and a priest won’t bury it cause its a bastard. That sucks but wait, there’s more! So she marries this dude named Angel (I know…) but he finds out she was raped and leaves her for Brazil cause she’s not a virgin. She’s sad, goes to work on a dairy farm for some reason, everything’s alright until she goes to work in the north in fields for like 3 years. This makes her super ill and Angel, in Brazil still, in unable to return because he has like Typhoid or something but he really wants to. By the time he gets back, Tess is dead and he hooks up with her sister… maybe.

Well that's not too bad... She's kinda hot.

The book is actually misogynistic because she was raped and she still thinks its her fault. She blames herself for her douchebag of a husband leaving her and for her problems on the farm, everything! Harding makes her into a weak, simpering character when she should have been a strong role model. Its bad character development and its bad storytelling. Its also incredibly depressing. You spend the whole book feeling sorry for her and getting gradually closer to her happiness and then she fucking dies! Just like that.

It involves men in cloaks but this is what I imagine got her.

It follows Dickens’ example with crazy amounts of descriptions that don’t matter and pages and pages of scenery. Scenery that Tess passes by and never sees again. So its boring and misogynistic and depressing. Don’t read it.

And we’re done! Fuck this was long… Next time it’ll probably be shorter.

First Post

Posted in Uncategorized on May 25, 2011 by Jackal

Alright so bloggy blog blog.

I’ve obviously never done this before so I glanced at the advice section on wordpress and it said something about choosing a focus. Unfortunately I am not so good at focusing… and as a person am kind of all over the place. So I’ve decided to let the world know who I am and what I think! I’m assuming no one really cares so this works more as a cathartic relief than anything else.

Anyway I’m not really feeling like making this all about the minute details of my life so unfortunately no names and no places. Fortunately, I talk a crap-ton and like to share my feelings…. with everyone. Sorry.  Actually that might be an unfortunately but this isn’t about you, is it? Go write your own blog!

Feel free to come and go and read the things I write or not. I have some pictures up of some trips I’ve been on and I’d add more but Flickr is like “HELLLLLSSSS NOOOOO” cause apparently I’ve uploaded my fill for this month. I like photography so maybe there will be more artsy and less standard in the future. I haven’t really decided how to work this thing yet or what I’m actually going to write about. I like to do a lot of things, take a lot of trips, laze around on my couch in interesting ways. That’s just how I roll.