Friday, August 30, 2013

Serious, Just For a Moment.

     So, some of you may have heard that earlier this week in a little town north of Baton Rouge, an elderly woman was shot in the head by an 8-year-old. There's not going to be any snark or nostalgia or anything in this particular essay. I'm playing this one seriously. I hate it when this sort of thing happens, but this is reality and accidents happen in reality. The last time I went on one of these reflections it was when that unbalanced kid I won't name shot up a theater of people that were excited to see the premier of that last Batman film.

     It's an interesting synergy that being on this particular blog brings, having me commenting on it, as the major news websites reporting on this like Fox News and CNN all have plastered over their pages the gaming industry's biggest and most obvious target: Grand Theft Auto. Whenever there's a high-profile shooting these days, two groups are blamed. Gun owners and video games. To all the gunnies out there: I've got a dog in this race the same as you, and it sucks. I'm not a gunnie myself (yet, as Erin is fond of saying), but I understand and support the right to bear arms. Responsible gun ownership is sort of a hallmark of the American way of life, and I can't not respect that.

     They key word there being responsibility. I balked a little bit at first when I read "87 year old woman is the caretaker of the 8 year old child" but I've known some pretty spry octogenarians in my time. The second thing that hit me was that the kid had been playing on his "Play Station III" (it's a PlayStation 3, guys) the game Grand Theft Auto IV, which they claim "awards points to players for killing people." Points. Right. The game sends escalatingly larger groups of cops, swat, and Military at you until it manages to kill you if you open fire on civilians. Fox News had the good grace to mention the game was rated M for Mature, which means that the developers didn't intend the game to be played by people younger than 17, let alone an 8 year old. Responsibility.

     The second thing I noticed was that the kid came up behind the old woman and shot her in the back of the head while she was watching television. How, in the case of a responsible gun owner, did the kid have access to the gun? I know gun owners. If kids are anywhere around, those guns are usually unloaded and locked up. A safe, a cabinet, hell, even a locked door to another room. Something! Responsibility.

     One news source even said the shooting was intentional. I think that bothered me the most. I've been an 8 year old boy. Everything from a ruler to a coat-hanger was a gun upon picking it up until shortly after it was dropped and forgotten. I've fired off probably as many imaginary rounds at friends and family as I have in actual games. Now this kid gets to grow up even more messed up in the head than he otherwise would have been because he was playing a game he was too young to know better and somebody didn't lock up the sidearm. Responsibility.

     This was not a case of "those evil video games made this impressionable kid shoot his gran with that evil gun." This is a case of why the hell was this kid playing a game he was too young to play and who the hell left the gun where he could get it. And why the hell isn't the news bothering to ask those questions. This is the sort of intersectionality that makes your social justice warriors count their lucky stars, but it just makes me feel a little bit tired.

Author's note: I strongly considered postponing this one, given yesterday's events on the blog, but I feel strongly that this topic might be important to anyone here. That said: Erin's been a dear friend of mine for years now, and to me she is, and always has been, a true lady. She has supported me through some dark times in my life, and I will continue to stand by her. It warms my bitter, jaded heart to see such support for a good friend. You may now cease being gloomy and continue the festivities!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Let's play a thought game. 

Imagine you wake up in the morning after a rough, sleepless night. You stumble into the bathroom feeling like nothing more than deep-fried shit in a skillet, and you look in the mirror.  Now, what you see isn't likely to be pretty, but it's still recognizably you, isn't it? If you're a man, you have stubble. If you're a woman, you need makeup. Regardless of how messy you are, you still look like you.

Now let's try it again. 

You stumble into the bathroom, and you look in the mirror... and something alien is looking back at you. Maybe you changed race during the night. Maybe you switched genders. Maybe you are covered in blue fur.  Regardless, that thing you see in the mirror is not you... and yet, you're stuck inside of it. It moves in symmetry with your thoughts. It encases you, traps you, imprisons you.  How horrified would you be to see this thing? To be this thing?

Worse, how terrible would it be to see this thing, this prison of flesh, every time you looked in a reflective surface?  How awful to know that people who see you see it instead? How utterly discouraging to have well-meaning friends and relatives tell you "Honestly, sweetie, you look fine. I don't see anything bestial or reversed about you.  You just have low self-esteem."

How long before you start thinking of that body as just a mechanism of flesh that the real you -- the you stuck behind that thing's eyes -- operates? You don't go to the doctor, you go to the flesh mechanic.  You don't eat food, you consume fuel.

How long until this utterly warps your sense of self until you can't stand to be yourself any more?

This is my life. 

Weirdly, I was fine growing up. I had a mostly normal childhood, and while I can look at certain events and, with hindsight, see how they shaped the insecurities or neuroses I have today, none of them seem especially crippling. Besides, no one gets out of childhood unscathed.

Adolescence, though. Puberty. The change of life from child to adult, and along with the hormones that changed and twisted my body came the intense narcissism of paying close attention to those changes, along with the certainty that everyone else could see my multitudinous flaws as easily as I could. Couple that with typical teenage desires of wanting a lover, wanting to fit in, wanting to be socially accepted by a population that was not only equally self-absorbed, but also cruel in the way that only hierarchies based on social dominance can be...

Let's just say that I remember all too well looking at my naked body after a shower, and suddenly needing to vomit. I sickened myself because I wasn't myself... I was this thing. Worse, my body actually hadn't changed all that much, but still it was loathsome to me in a manner that I can't really describe. It looked like me -- sort of -- but I felt as detached from it, and sickened by it, as I would feel by looking at the carcass of a dead animal by the side of the road.

Corrupt meat. 

Who would you be if you never saw yourself? If the only way to judge your appearance was based on the reactions of others, and not your twisted sense of self judging your reflection in the mirror? I daresay it would be different from how you perceive yourself now. I say this, because for 10 years I have been trying to live my life this way.

God bless the Internet. Online, people judge you by the quality of your output, and not by appearance. They get to know your soul before they let the prejudices of the eyes and the flesh influence their judgement. It was on the internet that I finally found not just acceptance, but solace:  people liked me for me, and they weren't looking at me or judging me. I was safe. I had found my armor, my mask, my perfect little seashell, and I polished its interior until, shining like a mirror, I could fool myself into thinking my social prison was boundless and infinite.

A mirrored cage is still a cage. 

Thus I toiled, happy in my self-induced solitude, until I stumbled upon the world of the gunblogs. All it took was for me to say "Hey, I like shooting too!" and suddenly I was one of you. It didn't matter what I looked like or who I wanted to have sex with; I was part of the Tribe of the Gun. That I could write well only made me popular, but it didn't make me any more likable.

And that's when I noticed the walls of my cage were keeping me from meeting people who wanted to meet me, and that made me ache in ways I thought were no longer possible. I had rediscovered loneliness.

Slowly... very, very slowly... I started to come out of my shell. I decided to take a chance on people who seemed like good sorts, expecting that every time I made myself vulnerable that I would be hurt beyond my capacity to recover.

This never happened. I was accepted, with comforting arms, and told that I was still the person they knew me to be.

One by one, I was destroying my mirrors. 

Like any new experience, once I tried it and like it, I wanted more. Observing life from behind the safety of the keyboard seemed too limiting. I wanted to actively participate in life again. I started having dreams of meeting people, strangers, and having them applaud me just for being me.

For someone who hates her body, applause for just showing up is a hell of a drug, even if that applause is purely imaginary.

I knew I wanted to leave my shell behind, but I didn't know how until Squeaky's fundraiser failed to raise enough money. I was furious at my inability to make a difference until I realized that the mystery of my face was something that I could sell. Not only would it help her financially, but it would be the push I needed to finally break out of the rest of my shell -- my sense of honor, of duty, of obligation would not allow me to back out after making such a bold public proclamation.

"Do it?"

As you may have guessed, this post is the one where I reveal my face. Many of you are wondering when I'm going to put up my picture.

Well, to answer that question...'ve already seen my face. I posted it yesterday.

I'm now going to pause to let you process that.

You have questions. I have answers. 

Many of you are no doubt baffled, shocked, horrified. I will attempt to explain as best I can. If your question isn't answered, please leave a comment below, and I will address your concern as soon as I can.

"What are you?"
I honestly don't know. This is what makes it so damnably hard to get a date -- if I open up immediately, I am put into the "weird sicko" category and shunned, and if I wait for someone to get to know me, I am accused of "keeping secrets" and "springing it on them".  Online dating isn't any easier, because I cannot figure out what to put on the profile -- am I a gay woman with a penis, or a straight man who wishes he could be Eddie Izzard?

"No, I meant what's the term for this condition?"
Well, a while back I mentioned I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In my case it manifests as "My thoughts and emotions are female, but I have a male body."   This is not quite the same thing as being transgender, in that those folks are Gender Dysphoric.  The pithy term for what I am is "genderqueer."

"I don't get it."
TL;DR:  Boy parts, girl brain.  I'm not fully transgender because, even though I hate my body, I don't hate it so much that I want to cut it to pieces or kill myself. Besides, my sexual orientation does match my plumbing, so it seems a waste to remove it, and I'm not at all fond of the notion of having a procedure done that would completely sterilize me.  Also, the ability to pee anywhere is nice.

That said, if I could have a fully-functioning female body, I would take it. It's the choppy-uppy that bothers me, not the thought of having a vagina.

"How did you realize you are what you are?"
Hoo boy. That is a long answer to a simple question, and this is already a big-ass post. I'll address it later, if you don't mind.

"What's your real name?"
Now that's an interesting question. As far as I'm concerned, Erin is my real name, because I've been answering to it online for about 10 years now. Most of my friends call me Erin, my readers know me as Erin... the name on my birth certificate belongs to the meat mech that I drive, and has as much meaning as knowing the Jaeger in Pacific Rim is named "Gipsy Danger".

"Why the beard?"
Three reasons:
  1. I hate looking at my face in the mirror. The beard covers most of the awful with hair. Trust me, I look so much worse clean-shaven. I mean, even my parents agree I look better this way. 
  2. Shaving sucks. I think both men and women can agree on this. 
  3. It's camouflage and a mask. "Why no, I am not a fucking faggot, and you have no reason to kick my ass in a drunken rage in order to prove your manhood. I am a normal human being. Please drive through."

"Whose voice sang the songs for Tier 1?"
That's all me, baby. I don't use any software for it -- people just think I'm female on the phone. I have a naturally high voice (I sing tenor) and maybe one in a hundred think I'm male when they listen to me.  What's funny, though, is that if you meet me in person and THEN talk to me on the phone, you'll swear I have a male voice and cannot understand why anyone would think otherwise.  Isn't that weird?  Humans are such visual creatures that what they see influences their other perceptions.

"Do you do X, Y, or Z?"
Probably. I'd prefer to keep the more salacious bits of my life off the internet. I will say that everything I do is legal. As to questions of morality, that's between me and my God. He gets to judge me; you don't. 

"So you've been lying to us all this time?"
Nope. I said from the very beginning of this blog that I had my reasons for not showing my face, and never once did I ever say "When I was a little girl" or anything like that.  I just picked a female name, presented myself as such, and everyone accepted that as truth... because it is true, in every sense except biological. And if you're hung up on my biology, I think that's your problem and not mine. 

"How dare you lead us on, making us think you're a woman blah blah woof woof wharrgarbl?"
Excuse me, but are we dating?  No?  Then it's no business of yours what's in my pants, and I don't need to tell you. 

"You disgust me."
That's nice. I'm glad you have an opinion. 

"I'm gonna..."
No, you aren't, because 1) I am a concealed carrier, and 2) there are lots of people in the gunblog community to whom I've already come out (notably Oleg), and they support me 100%. You'll see their posts about me popping up after this. Go on, start some shit, I dare you. 

"I have a question that hasn't been answered. May I ask it?"
Of course!  I encourage questions. Just keep in mind that I may decide not to answer them for personal reasons, but that doesn't mean I think any less of you for asking them.  Unless you're a jerk in how you ask. In that case, I am totally judging you. 

"So how should we treat you?"
The way you always have. Treat me like a female, because that's how I feel. I realize that this will be awkward if you ever meet me, and I accept that. I understand that it's difficult to think "girl" when your eyes are saying "boy."  I get that. You don't need to be perfect, you just need to try. Cool?

To conclude:

Aren't you glad Squeaky talked me out of the bikini/cheesecake pics?  I TOLD YOU that you wouldn't want to see that. I was right, wasn't I?

Also, I know lots of folks are going to reply with "You're very brave."  I'm going to try to accept this compliment as gracefully as I can, because I know you mean it. I don't feel very brave, though, as a brave person would have just announced what she was to the world.

Tell you what, though:  you can tell me how brave I am by donating to Squeaky's Surgical Fund. I'd really like for her to make it to $5,000 before the end of the month.

A big THANK YOU in advance to everyone who has supported me and made this possible. I owe you more than you realize. Special thanks in particular to those who have made posts of support on their own blogs:

Squeaky Wheel
Evyl Robot Michael
Shelby (A Girl and Her Gun)
Sean Sorrentino
The Jack
Roberta X
Kevin Baker
Claire  (Newly added to each other's blogroll!)
Gay Cynic
American Mercenary
Garand Gal
MSgt B
Da Tinman

Erin Palette

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Missile Missive

So, a funny thing happened on the way to the space battle...

I was writing down the stats for various missiles (with them spread between the Core Book, High Guard, and Trillion Credit Squadron, I needed them all in one place) when I noticed a curious and troubling fact on p. 147:

Yes yes, I am aware that High Guard changed default missile thrust to 10 G.They also changed the chart. Roll with me a moment. 

Huh. "Can be tracked as additional craft in the battle."  That's interesting, considering this chart from earlier in the section on space combat...

Take a look at that "thrust to change" column. Interesting.  And now, people's exhibit three:

So... if I'm tracking missiles like ships... and missiles move at Thrust 5... and I'm shooting at a distant target... then according to the rules.... wait. Go back to that example. Why does it cost 5 thrust to go both 1 kilometer AND 8750 km from Medium range? Shouldn't it cost more thrust to, y'know, go a further distance?

OK, so let's ignore this range band nonsense, because otherwise you'd never use the 50 in the Distant category... unless you were closing in combat, or returning fire... in which case whoever got pegged as the "Distant Party" would be at a significant disadvantage, having to pay (50+25+10+5+2+1+1=) 93 thrust, whereas the "Adjacent Party" would only have to pay (1+1+2+5+10+25=) 44 thrust.  That's half price for exactly the same distance.  Woo, home team advantage!

Of course, this also means that the chart I listed at the beginning is wrong, because
  1. It doesn't factor in the "Home Team" advantage, and
  2. The numbers are wrong anyway. 
Think about it. According to the chart, a thrust 5 missile shooting at a distant target would hit that target in 10 turns, but if we tracked it according to the rules of the game regarding thrust, it would hit in either 5 or 10 turns, depending on position. 

The refrain of "WTF, Mongoose?" is often heard in my game. 

All right, so let's make things simpler and more logical. We will just assume that all distances coming and going are the same, and the best way to calculate needed thrust is to add up the thrust cost from the range you're at (which is always Adjacent, because your missiles always launch from your ship and you're always at adjacent range to yourself) to the range you're trying to hit. And, of course, we completely throw out that useless missile chart.

Here, then, is the master chart I constructed for each missile in Mongoose Traveller Canon. (High Guard people, rejoice!  The boost of missile thrust to 10 G per the rules has now been added in!)

So there you go. Now missiles in Mongoose Traveller make sense.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Excellent article about bullpup shotguns...

... over at, written by none other than our very own Oleg Volk.

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk

I've shot the KSG and loved it, but I haven't yet had the chance to shoot the UTS15.  I would dearly love the chance to try, as it just suggests "sci-fi spacegun" to me.

Pew pew pew. 

Monday Gunday: Blowback vs. Recoil

I have been lax in my Monday Gundays.  This is partly because I've been concentrating my energy on helping fellow gunnie Squeaky Wheel, and partly because ammo is still expensive, and partly because it's Florida in the summertime and the temperature & humidity are, approximately, equal to Venus.

But today I learned something new about guns!  And since about half my audience aren't gunnies, I figure this will be of interest to some of you.

Up until today, I just assumed that recoil and blowback were synonyms. It turns out I was wrong, at least as how it applies to firearms operation. Fortunately, the good folks on the Book of Faces were able to set me right with a video that explains it all, with visual examples.

(For those of you who don't have the patience to sit through it:  in blowback guns, the barrel is fixed in place; for recoil guns, the barrel moves.You're welcome.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Brief Word on Manning

I'm going to keep this short & sweet:
  • Manning is a traitor.  
  • Being transgender did not make Manning into a traitor. After all,
    • 90+% of all traitors are cisgender.
    • There are plenty of non-treasonous transgender folk with security clearances out there. 
    • Former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, for example. 
  • Manning is, however, pretty obviously unstable, as I'd like to think most folks wouldn't betray their country for attention. 
    • Pretty obviously, whomever investigated Manning for a security clearance did not dig nearly as deeply as was necessary. 
    • In Burospeak, "Mistakes were made."
  • I suppose it could be argued that this instability made Manning transgender. I admit this is possible. 
    • However, I do not accept the reverse -- that being transgender made Manning unstable. 
    • See, again, Kristin Beck. 
  • For all I know, this could be a ploy by Manning to get out of a harsh sentence. 
  • Regardless, I am in complete agreement with the Army that being transgender does not entitle him* to special treatment, because
    • Prisoners should't get special treatment, period;
    • Gender reassignment is an elective surgery, and you don't get those in prison; and
    • Fuck the fucking traitor right in his fucking treasonous ass. 
      • Roberta X has an interesting take on this subject, and I'm embarrassed that it never occurred to me. When I said "Fuck the fucking traitor right in his fucking treasonous ass,"  I meant it figuratively;  35 years in prison does not mean 35 years of rape. 
      • So okay, keep him in the "sexually different prisoner" wing. That's fine. 
      • But he still doesn't deserve surgery, which is where I think this is headed. 
      • He can pay for it on his own dime, when he gets out of prison. 
    • So can we just go back to loathing this traitor as a traitor and not bring the transgender issue into it?
      • It's about as relevant to his crime as his race, gender, or shoe size is. 
      • Before someone gets all uptight about "patriarchy" or "oppression", I'd like to tell them to check your respiratory privilege.  People died because of Manning. 
    • Thank you, and goodnight. 

    * I'm using this pronoun because he doesn't deserve my respect or courtesy. 

    Patience in Gaming, or Where Is My Mind?

         According to the NPD, some big high muckity-muck of statistics, the average age of a core gamer these days is 30 years old. I'm what you might call 'in the average age range' of a gamer. I've been gaming, in one form or another, for most of my life. There's an odd pattern of what *kind* of games, though, if you track from beginning to present day, and it tells a story that I'm not entirely sure what meaning I should take from it.
         A few times in my life, I've owned various consoles, and for a while I even LARPed, playing Vampire: The Masquerade with groups of friends. As I understand it, V:TM doesn't even exist anymore. I think I've done most kinds of gaming short of your regular table-top stuff. Which is really a shame, as most of my associates and close friends over the years have been into table-top RPGs from dungeon crawling to urban fantasy. Sometimes I felt a little left out, but I never really took an interest in it anyways.

         There's a pattern I've noticed since settling in on the PC gaming side of things. It was around the time that the Nintendo 64 was winding down and I was starting university. I'd spent a while playing games on PC before that, but aside from a love affair with Carmageddon, mainly I downloaded shareware titles and played until I got bored, only to start the game over next time and never actually finish it. I started Hexen more times than I can remember, but I'm not sure I ever finished it. Then I got my hands on a copy of Command & Conquer.

         C&C was one of the first great Real Time Strategy games, and probably the second-biggest name in RTS behind Starcraft. I remember sitting above the battlefield and directing troops to victory from start to finish. Then came Starcraft. Not only did I play the campaign missions start to finish, but I got into the multiplayer, as I got my copy around the time I had access to my first high-speed internet connection. Protoss, turrets and carrier ships. Hours and hours sunk into it.

         Within the last few years, though, I've noticed a shift in my tastes that I can't explain. As I've grown older, I've gotten into more and more action-oriented games. Whereas when I was in my early 20s I would have been happy to play match after match of strategy games, now I see more and more of my Steam friends list playing Civilization 5 and I just can't be bothered. My Steam profile tells me that I've spent 824 hours playing Borderlands. 648 hours on Borderlands 2. 604 on Killing Floor. 776 between the two Left 4 Dead games. I have Final Fantasy 7, considered by many to be one of the greatest RPGs of all times, on my Steam account. I've played 45 minutes of it. On the other hand, the more action-oriented Fallout New Vegas had be for 275 hours. I seem to be leaning, to a scary degree, towards games where I can just turn my brain off and react, and I'm not sure why that is.

         I fear, possibly, as I've grown older, I've grown less patient. Perhaps I should look for this characteristic in other parts of my life as well. Introspection, ho!

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    WNW: How to Uninstall Mcafee Antivirus

    This has been making the rounds.  It's mildly NSFW, so watch it at home.

    Traveller Tuesday: Odds & Sods

    Traveller Tuesday missed its engineer roll and so came out of jump a day late. It happens from time to time when ripping an artificial wormhole through spacetime. Have an assortment of notions that aren't enough to build separate posts from.

    Online Trade Calculator
    I mentioned this last week, but it's so awesome it deserves repeating. The Traveller Highport is a wonderful online resource for the harried, lazy, or innumerate Traveller GM who for whatever reason doesn't want to do the calculations for determining what mail, freight, passengers and speculative cargo are available from Point A to Point B.  Recently added (as per my request to the site's developer) are the raw passenger and freight modifiers, so that if your tramp steamer of impoverished murderhobos wishes to busk for a better quality of patron (like lucrative High Passage), making adjustments on the fly is easy.

    Experience Points
    I was never a fan of the original Traveller "You have all the skills you're ever going to get" rule. Mongoose fixed that, but their solution was to have a skill earned by studying it for X weeks, where X is the level you're going to plus all the levels of all the skills you have. I don't like that either, because it unduly punishes people with actual useful skills (and my life experience has taught me that skilled people learn new skills faster than the unskilled), whereas someone with a bunch of Rank 0 skills can pick up more Rank 0 skills pretty much instantly.

    So I cobbled together a system that's reminiscent of MegaTraveller, but different:

    • Each time you roll a natural 12 on a skill, you get an Adventure Tally for that skill. 
    • Each time you study a skill for a week,  you get an Adventure Tally for that skill. 
    • Each Adventure Tally counts as a +1 for gaining a skill level. 
      • These are cumulative and only go away when you increase that skill. 
    • At the beginning of every game session, we roll for skill gain.
      • The roll is [2d6 + Intelligence OR Education + Adventure Tallies] - difficulty. 
        • If you roll an 8+, you increase that skill by one.
        • All ATs for that skill then reset to zero.
        • If you don't succeed, you keep the ATs. 
      • Difficulty is based on the level of skill you want:
        • 0-1 is a -6 to the roll. 
        • 2-3 is -7.
        • 4-5 is -8.
        • Level 6 is -9.
    My players like this system because they advance faster than the book says. I like this system because they only seem to advance about every 3 sessions or so. Therefore they are growing, but not ridiculously so, and the higher levels will take commensurately longer to achieve. 

    Some Useful Charts

    Mostly these are handy thrust + distance = time charts, but one of them is an easier to read version of the Dangerous/Safe Orbit table from this post.

    Happy Travelling!

    As promised, here's the update

    ... straight from the Wheel's squeaker. Be sure to Read The Whole Thing.


    Squeaky just sent me an email with the following missive:
    Erin: I see the poll has the Jabberwock in 1st, and 50 Shades in 2nd for the dramatic reading. Tell everyone I will do the second place finisher - if it's Jabberwock, I will do it in the proper Olde English, and if it's 50 Shades, I will do my "phone sex" voice, which is everyone else's "receptionist" voice (seriously, I got asked out too many times while working was creepy).

    You realize, of course, that having 50 Shades come in second place MUST HAPPEN.  That way you get the following:

    1. A happy Erin
    2. A sexy Squeaky
    3. Two readings for the price of one. 
    Chop chop, people!  :D

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    Update on Stretch Goals & Stuff

    All right, so here is more the bad news:  Last week, my car decided that it didn't like going in reverse any more. Combine that with the excessively rough shifting that my car has been doing for the past several years, and it's indicative of a transmission that's going to shit itself at any moment.

    This effects the photo shoot I had with Oleg, because the closest he can get to me until, say, October is Atlanta, GA. This is a good 6 hours away by interstate, and I'm not comfortable with driving that far in a car that may be in its death throes.

    So the upshot of all this is that come September 1, the glossy pictures you were expecting may not happen. However, this does not change my obligation to you, and if I have to post a shitty cell-phone selfie to my blog, I'll do that.

    In hopefully better news, let's try and get Stretch Goal #2 delivered. So far, here are the choices which have been nominated:

    • My original work "Batman, as written by Chuck Palahniuk."  It should be noted this is my personal choice. 
    • The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss. This is Squeaky's choice. 
    • The poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol. 
    • The Walrus and the Carpenter, also by Carrol. 
    • A Shakespearean monologue. I'm rather fond of Henry V, m'self. 
    • Something from 50 Shades of Gray. If you motherfuckers pick this, my revenge will be epic. 
    • Something from Pulp Fiction.
    I will make a poll of this tonight so you folks can start voting. 

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    SOS -- Save Our Squeaky!

    I just got a panicked email from Squeaky, which I am sharing with her permission.  She thinks it puts her in a bad light, like she's crazy and money-grubbing (I told her that "crazy and grubbing for money is MY job in all this, goddammit").  I think this is truly authentic fear and worry from someone with a life-threatening condition who has gotten shafted by bureaucratic incompetence.  Either way, please read:
    Okay, so here's the deal:

    My bowel surgeon's office was supposed to schedule my colonoscopy over a week ago. I called and reminded them, and they were like 'ZOMG I'M SO SORRY' (because they fucked up and my orders were attached to someone else's can't make this shit up) and today, scheduled a CONSULT with the colonoscopy doc for August 27th. They forgot to mention that there's a consult before the procedure.

    At THAT point, my colonoscopy will be scheduled.

    Then, once THAT is scheduled, and ONLY WHEN that's scheduled, my two surgeons will try to get together to schedule my surgery.

    This means we're looking at mid- to late-September for surgery - that's a full month from now, and despite the good response from donations, all of these extra procedures are going to cost, and in the meantime, I have to try to afford my current prescriptions so that I can actually be current on them for Lyme and everything else when I go into surgery...not to mention other incidentals, which just seem to keep popping up, STILL, from the last surgery.

    I'm going to try to make a blog post about it, but I'm so angry that all I can do right now is just rant about it, and ranty blog posts like this rarely get good responses.

    I have an out-of-pocket limit, which I'm going to call my insurance and find out how close I am to it, so that people maybe have a goal, but right now, my "for surgery" money isn't going toward surgery because everything keeps changing and getting worse, and in the meantime, I have to get my meds and pay for appointments and stuff. It's frustrating to have people donate and not be able to use that money for what it's being donated for...maybe it's just me. But anyway...I'll find out about the OoP limit and see how close I am, and maybe this won't be as bad?

    Until then, if you can think of something to let people know that shit just got more complicated, I'm trying to find a way to blog about it without being a total nightmare, and donations are still very much appreciated because of the complexity of the situation, I would appreciate it.

    As a matter of fact, the deadline for the donations needs to be moved back, since the surgery is being moved back. I'm going to change that on the donation site, at the very least, and if you guys can put the word out, I would very much appreciate it. I just have to find a way to word this on my blog without sounding as freaked-out and pissed off as I am.

    ...and the donation site has been updated.

    I know y'all are busy, but just a blurb on FB or even just a link to the fundraiser would help until I get a post made, and that won't happen until I'm able to calm down.

    thanks, sorry for the word vomit.

    Now based upon my conversation with her, I am certain that once she has calmed down and sorted out some of the details,  she will post a more streamlined version of this letter on her blog. I am certain of this because she made me promise to make a note that she is "going to make a comprehensive (and more calm) post as soon as I find out my out-of-pocket cost, then another when I meet with the colonoscopy folks."  But I felt it was important to get the word out now, because the situation has gone from "merely bad" to "urgent." In other words, shit done got REAL, sooner than we expected.

    So here's the deal:  She needs more money than projected. I've run out of stretch goals to offer because I can't think of anything I can give other than degrading myself or selling my guns, which is something that neither of us wants (and if I did either, she'd find me and hurt me).

    But I need ways to bring in more funds. I've already started hitting up people for another fundraiser, but I don't know when that will happen. This is further complicated by the fact that September is Kilted to Kick Cancer month, and the last thing we need is dueling fundraisers.

    What it boils down to, then, is this:  HELP.   This endeavor has become far larger than I can manage on my own. I need help with advertising it, I need help with goodies for the raffle, I just need help in general because I can't carry this by myself any more.

    Please. Help me to help Squeaky.


    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    Dickanus, the Asshole God

    Name: Dickanus (pronounced Dick Aynuss, although the more sophisticated Dick In Uss is also permitted)

    Symbol:  A man with a penis coming out of his anus

    Alignment:  Chaotic Neutral

    Dickanus is neither a trickster god, nor a god of humor. Both of these concepts are too subtle for him. He is the petty god of all things puerile [don't you mean penile?], juvenile, and base; of things which would make adolescents snigger, but cause adults to sigh wearily and roll their eyes in frustration.

    Dickanus is the god of toilet humor [poop!] and of gratuitous nudity [poop comes from buttholes!]. He is the peeping tom who drills holes in walls [glory holes wooo!] and who steals underwear. He is the inspiration for anatomically improbable graffiti, the source of disgusting noises made when someone bends over or sits down, and the king of tea bagging [balls on your chin]. He is the god of thinking getting kicked in the crotch is a fount of boundless mirth. He is the eternal virgin who endlessly masturbates [leaving crusty pillows in his wake]. And he will never, under any circumstances, allow anyone to be serious [dickhead says what?].

    He is, essentially, the patron deity of prepubescent boys and what they think is funny. He would be a force to be reckoned with were it not for the fact that most (though not all) of his believers outgrow such things by adulthood. Those who are still so inclined usually move on to worshiping greater gods, such as those of love or procreation (or in extreme cases, gods of pain and violence and death).

    Relations with Other Gods [heh heh heh, "relations"]
    While most deities just ignore the Asshole God, he has a special relationship with gods of love and fertility. To whit: he is a creeping creeper who creeps on them, and in return they loathe him, sometimes violently. (For inspiration, see any PG-13 movie involving social outcasts getting back at snobby cheerleaders.)

    Dickanus is frequently seen in the company of Manidono, as their worshipers often have significant overlap. Unlike Manidono, however, Dickanus has an active clergy and congregation.

    Let's be honest here: if you worship a god named Dickanus, you're pretty much an asshole by definition.

    That said, there are two distinct parts of a Dickanal congregation.The first group consists of overly-hormonal juveniles who think that anything rude and disgusting is hilarious, who will do anything to catch a glimpse of a bare breast, and for whom "That's what she said" and "Your mother" are practically liturgical responses. They are the ones who perform the basic rituals which give Dickanus his power:
    • Spying on women in bathhouses
    • Giving wedgies (bonus if it results in skidmarks)
    • Knocking on doors and disappearing
    • Leaving sacks of flaming dung burning on doorsteps
    • Making fart noises whenever someone bends over
    • Generally being assholes to all and sundry
    They perform these rituals to pass the time, and hopefully earn enough favor with the god that they are rewarded with masturbatory material [like your mom]. They usually drift away from the church about the time they realize that their rituals are actively preventing them from getting anywhere with females who might actually be interested in them. While female Dickanusites are possible, they are rare [pink on the inside, like their crotch], and are usually even more disgusting than their male counterparts (a trait that keeps them from being harassed by the rest of the congregants). 

    The second, smaller group of Dickanus worshipers are angry, bitter outcasts who have no social skills and seek revenge upon the world in general. They are not the broken-hearted, for those may still seek succor with love goddesses; no, these are the angry "permanent virgins" who are ugly in spirit, if not in flesh, and who blame the world and everyone in it for their loneliness and social ineptitude [and let’s face it, you would be bitter, too, if you were a small dickanus]. It is this latter group which goes on to become Dickanal priests, and they are rewarded by becoming excellent creepers, voyeurs, and assholes. [Want to know the three most offensive words in Common? 'God's Bleeding Cunt.']

    Dickanal priests must walk a fine line of annoyance. Too much (or too twisted) and they risk being run out of the community by townfolk sick of their antics; not enough and they lose favor with their god. They must be just enough of an asshole to be irritating [like your crotch rash!], but not so much that it becomes worth the time and effort to deal with them.

    Dickanus has only one prohibition for his worshipers:  Do no permanent harm (except to enemies of the faith, or in self-defense), for a dead victim is someone who cannot be irritated or creeped upon again. [Jizz stains on their clothes are permanent enough.]  Too often, a Dickanal priest has taken things too far and has descended to the depths of molestation or rape, and it is in those moments when the torch and pitchfork wielding mob catches up to them that Dickanus shows his displeasure by stripping all powers from his former priests [total dick move, bro].

    Invocation and abilities
    Dickanus cannot be invoked; he is far too much of a asshole to actually show up [probably too busy polishing his knob]. He will, however, often give his worshipers a special ability and then watch the proceedings using his divine powers of clairvoyance. Anyone being viewed by Dickanus is automatically aware that they are being creeped upon, but also knows that they are powerless to stop it [shake it baby, unf unf unf].

    His most common blessing is giving the invoker the ability to make an opponent literally soil themselves at an inopportune moment.  Other blessings include:
    • Clairvoyance (typically to spy on people who are bathing or disrobing)
    • Ventriloquism (to embarrass someone, usually an authority figure, with rude or disgusting noises while in public; but making it seem they are swearing or insulting others is also a popular choice)
    • A Curse upon anyone who rejects them (this power is available only to priests of the Dickanal order)
    Any recipient of Dickanus' blessings gains a mild affliction for twice as long as the blessing lasts:  a disgusting case of acne, poorly timed and uncontrollable wet farts, and awkward erections are all common [all your erections are awkward!].

    Appearance and reaction
    Dickanus is rarely encountered, but if he manifests he appears as a sleazy male of indeterminate age -- he is a dirty old man, a hormonal adolescent, and a chortling prepubescent all at once. While he is technically a high-level thief, all his skills are geared towards skulking, creeping and stealing; he will run away instead of fighting (preferably after annoying the PCs).

    Upon meeting the Asshole God, roll 2d6 for reaction:
    • Result of 2-4:  All male PCs grow breasts and all female PCs grow penises. (Gender-neutral PCs grow both.) This feels highly weird and makes their armor incredibly uncomfortable, giving them a -2 to all rolls until either the curse is removed or 1d6 days pass. 
    • Result of 5-6:  All the PCs are highly skeeved out and have an immediate compulsion (as per a geas) to take a hot bath as soon as possible in order to wash the creep off of them. Any females or elves of any gender [elves give me the weirdest boners] so affected will be unable to shake the notion that they are being watched while they bathe. Anyone who does not bathe temporarily loses 1d6 points of Charisma. 
    • Result of 7: Unbeknownst to the PCs, they are each granted a wish, but it will interpreted in the most perverted and assholish way possible. When their wish is granted, they will know who it's from and why. 
    • Result of 8-10:  
      • All fighter types:  Weapons become limp and flaccid, unless they're already flaccid, like whips or flails, in which case they become startlingly erect. Damage does not change, but all weapons are -1 to hit
      • All magic types: Rude graffiti covers scrolls, grimoires and prayer books. All spells take twice as long to memorize. 
      • All religious or charismatic types:  They reek of body odor, make farting sounds when bending or reaching, and cannot talk without having their speech peppered with profanity. 
      • All sneaky types: Gain a +2 bonus to all rolls that would be relevant in a panty raid. In addition, all underwear within a 20' radius appears in their possession (bags/ backpacks/ pockets.)
      • All of these effects are removed after 48 hours or Remove Curse.
    • Result of 11: Everyone within 100' of Dickanus defecates themselves in the noisest, wettest, most explosive manner possible. -2 to all rolls due to itching and -1d6 points of Charisma until they can clean themselves. 
    • Result of 12:  Everyone feels like they've been kicked in a very sensitive and intimate area and suffer 2d6 damage. If this reduces them to 0 hit points, they are not dead; they merely wish they were, as they writhe on the ground in agony. Anyone seeing this thinks it's hilarious and loses 1d6 turns from hysterical laughter. 

    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    In The Not Too Distant Future..

         So this November is the 50th anniversary of a grand tradition in Science Fiction, one that many of you are probably familiar with, and I know our dear Erin is (don't mention Matt Smith), but we're not here to talk about that one today.

         This November it will be 25 years since another institution, probably as near and dear to my heart as Doctor Who if not a little nearer and dearer, premiered in the wilds of a tiny independent station in Minnesota. November 24, 1988 was the premier of the first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Twenty-five years ago Joel Robinson was launched into space by a couple of mad scientists, and staved off insanity by cannibalizing parts of his ship to build robots that helped him ridicule bad films. The worst of the worst of films.

         Eleven years later, nearly 200 episodes, and a feature film later, the show called it quits, with Mike Nelson (replacing Joel) finally escaping to Earth with the bots Tom Servo and Crow T Robot, where they passed their time... watching bad movies. The influence of the show can still be felt today, with many semi-famous internet critics making a decent living off of web shows inspired by the antics on the Satellite of Love. Not everyone was a fan, though. The star of Mitchell, Joe Don Baker actually threatened the creators of MST3k, and various other directors/actors involved have expressed butthurt at being ridiculed by them.

         The show resonates the most with me, though, due to my complete inability to take anything seriously. I cannot sit through anything without cracking a joke. I've stood before judges and barely dodged contempt charges because I couldn't shut my mouth. I've almost been removed from training classes because I couldn't stop asking blatantly humorous questions and derailing the class.

         Why am I bringing this up today? Well, I just got back from seeing Rifftrax Live. Rifftrax is Mike Nelson, Tom Servo, and Crow T Robot from the later years of the show (aka Michael J Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett). They riffed Starship Troopers tonight, live in theaters via a satellite feed from Nashville. I had my fingers crossed for them, what with Starship Troopers being a *bit* tongue-in-cheek already, but these guys have successfully riffed Casablanca, and that's quite possibly the greatest movie ever made. I've been to every live show they've had, and each one has been a riot. They're still releasing PSA shorts and riffed films, as well as MP3 commentaries for big-budget films over at in riffing The other part of the crew, led by Joel Robinson (aka Joel Hodgson) are running Cinematic Titanic, which I'm sad to say I haven't seen because their live shows aren't satellite-broadcast.

         Before I go, if you're a fan of the show, there's one question on your mind. Joel or Mike? I'll happily answer. I'm a Mike fan. No disrespect to Joel, but Mike's always sounded like he's having more fun.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Catching Up

    It is with wry amusement that I note that I haven't done any of my regular posts yet, despite having posted every day this week.  I suppose I could fix that by making multiple posts, but.... eh, fuckit. I'm lazy, and besides I find it amusing to mash these together.

    Monday Gunday

    This is a video that I found via Failure to Fire and had kept for a rainy day. If you're at all interested in the difference between size, appearance, and performance of various handgun calibers (Miakoda, I'm looking at you), this will be both entertaining and informative.  Gunnies will probably just find it mildly amusing.

    Traveller Tuesday

    This website is a dandy app for people running a merchant campaign but, like me, don't like doing math on the fly. It calculates passengers, freight, and speculative cargo as well as the possibility of carrying mail. It has some quirks, but I'm talking to the fellow who wrote it and improvements are being made.

    Wednesday Night Wackiness

    All right, so this video isn't especially wacky. It's still an impressive because it successfully mashes classical and dubstep into one heck of an earworm. Enjoy!

    There. All caught up!


    Yes, you really need to imagine that title being said by Shang Tsung.

    (As an aside, I really do adore the Mortal Kombat movie, cheese and all. As far as I'm concerned, it's the 90s version of Enter the Dragon.)

    Anyway, I wanted to let y'all know that the initial barrage of gifts for Operation: Lymeparty has found its target:
    I cannot tell you how unspeakably pleased I am that one of the first gifts to Squeaky was that parasol she wanted -- but she can, so let her tell you herself.

    All right, now let's talk about Stretch Goals.  First off, I want to thank everyone who, through a combination of love, rhetoric, and violent screaming (much love to ya, Squeaky ;) told me in no uncertain terms that I was  off the hook for any and all pictures that made me uncomfortable. Sadly, this kind of cuts the knees off of Tiers 5 and 6, and I really don't know how to fix that. If anyone else wants to make suggestion, please go ahead.

    Tier 1:  Fulfilled.

    Tier 2:  There doesn't seem to be a consensus about what I should dramatically read. May I suggest my epic "Batman, as written by Chuck Palahniuk"?  I know I'm no Kevin Conroy, but on a really bad allergy day I'm sure I can be at least as scratchy as Christian Bale.

    Tier 3:  Jennifer has taken over for Squeaky in lieu of S.W.'s bad health, but we are still having a heck of a time coming up with a good duet. I don't much want to be cast as "the guy," but that's what 90% of duets are. Blargh.

    Tier 4:  "Gunnie Cosplay."  Right now, I've only heard three ideas that might be feasible:  Annie Oakley; some kind of "My Little Mosin,"  probably involving an ushanka and a greatcoat;  and a re-enactment of the profile picture I had before I replaced it with a pony version:

    The middle one is probably the easiest to do, as I'm certain Oleg can get an ushanka and greatcoat.  Don't know about the costuming for Annie Oakley, and while we might get the costumes for Nerd Huntress, I worry (as is my nature) that my features will result in a VERY unappealing photograph.

    Tier 5 has been removed from the table per Squeaky Wheel's request. I still feel bad about not fulfilling this. How about we wait until my big reveal September 1, and then you folks can make requests on this and Tier 6 after having seen my real face?

    And that's about all I have right now...  please comment below, as I crave feedback.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Ain't no party like a Squeaky Wheel party

    ... 'cause a Squeaky Lymeparty don't stop!

    I now have a mailing address of a gentleman near Memphis  (Mr. Rickn8tor, please take a bow)  who has graciously agreed to to be a central clearinghouse & delivery boy for the Lymeparty Care Package!  So if you have a physical goodie that cannot be delivered via Amazon, please contact me and I will send you the physical address of Lymeparty central.

    My Life With Depression

    I won't presume to speak for everyone who suffers from depression, but I can share what it feels like for me in the hopes that maybe others will understand. You have my permission to share this, if you think that is deserves to be shared.

    I've read that "Depression is anger turned inward" and I agree with that 100%, because so much of my misery is caused by me being angry at myself for being angry at stupid things.

    Erin is sitting in a chair and it's not comfortable. Normal Erin would think "This chair isn't comfortable. I should move!" and then she would move and get on with her day.

    Depressed Erin thinks "Why does this chair hate me so much? Am I such an awful person that it has to go out of its way and make me uncomfortable just to spite me? Stupid chair! Well, I hate it too! I wish it were dead!"  at which point Erin's Rational Mind says "Um, Erin?  You know you are being totally irrational about this chair thing, right?  It's an inanimate object! It can't possibly hate you."

    And Depressed Erin thinks "Of course I know this!  But I FEEL like the chair hates me. No amount of logic will change how I feel right now, because EMOTIONS RAWR." And then Depressed Erin feels really stupid because it's just been pointed out that she's mad at a thing for no good reason whatsoever.

    She then thinks "What the heck is wrong with me that I am losing it over a chair? I must be really stupid to let my emotions override my good sense like this."  And then she begins to hate herself for being so stupidly emotional, and this puts her in a worse mood.

    Because she's in a worse mood, everything else that goes wrong seems that much worse and that much more personal, which becomes a feedback loops. "It's too bright! The light hates me! Stupid light!  No, wait, stupid Erin."  "Argh, I'm too hot! Stupid thermostat... no, stupid Erin again..."

    Eventually, Depressed Erin just gives up and goes back to her room, which is hopefully the most comfortable room in the house for her, and she hides back there because it's the only place where she has 100% control of the environment and hopefully she will not be disturbed by all the things in the world that hate her and make her feel like she's dumb for overreacting. And if she does overreact, she's in her safe place where no one will judge her for screaming at a lightbulb or crying because her clothes hurt.

    And this is why Depressed Erin hides in her room and doesn't talk to people. She has to wait until she feels like things don't hate her just because she exists before she feels safe enough to risk coming out of her protective den.

    This is how it is for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary, as I am not you.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    I'm so happy I could vomit.


    So, last night Squeaky posted that between the YouCaring site and private donations to her PayPal account, we've broken the $3000 mark.  Hooray!

    This also means that you've unlocked what is, essentially, the Cheesecake Photograph Tier.  Quoting from my post about Stretch Goals:
    $3000:  I might be persuaded to do a bikini pic. I warn you, however, that this isn't nearly as titillating as you might think. But if you want something fun, flirty, pin-up, etc, this is your goal. You poor bastards.
    Now before you jump to conclusions, I want you all to know that I'm not going to weasel out of this at all. Squeaky has given me all sorts of escape valves here -- "Have you ever considered the fact that you don't have to wear ONLY a bikini?" -- but I have a sense of honor about keeping my word.  I'm not going to let the fact that I am so freaked out about showing more than my face that, when I heard the news, I threw up a couple times stop me from fulfilling my obligations.

    Because I might be an asshole, but I'm an honest asshole, dammit.

    Even though I honestly thought you folks would never donate that much, and I was never in any danger of having to see it through, and I included that tier only to entice folks to donate more, I will keep the promises I made.

    But I am going to beg you guys -- please don't ask me to pose in a bikini. Please. You think you want to see this, but you do not.   I cannot stress this with enough force. I will find character references, if necessary, to back up how nasty my body is.

    You will be horribly disappointed if you think you will get a sexy, titillating shot.   I'm talking seriously angry disappointed. "Demanding your money back" disappointed. I beg you again. Do not ask this of me.

    That said... I made a promise, and I'm going to keep it. If that is what you folks really, really want... on your own heads be it. We will all suffer a disaster beyond your imagination.

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Moar Poniez

    Sunday has basically become my day to post cute/awesome/funny pony pics on this blog.  I wonder if I should just give in and make a "Sunday Pony Sunday" tag.

    And now, videos!

    First up, from the creators of (and as a sequel to) Epic Wub Time, we have Sunrise Surprise:

    Next up is Project Thundercloud, which honestly feels a bit unfinished -- like it might be an extra-long trailer for a movie or something. Sadly, I think it is finished, and this video won't be expanded upon. That's a shame, because it gives a lovely look at the origin and history of Derpy Hooves, and is voiced Bald Dumbo Rat, aka "That girl who YouTube has decided sounds most like how Derpy should sound."

    And finally we have Button's Adventures, which is hopefully the first in a series.  I adore this video because it shows a child character acting  like a child. It just rings true to me. And it's funny as well!

    Goodnight everyone! Have a nice work week, and if your Monday starts off badly, I hope these cheer you up!

    Friday, August 9, 2013

    Squeaky Update

    Today, Squeaky Wheel turns 30. Please head on over and wish her a happy birthday.  She needs it, because yesterday she was told that she needs yet another procedure done while they have her opened up on the table, and this procedure will last "as long as it takes"  and she will be unable to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for three months.

    Hell of a birthday present, right?

    Here's how you can help:

    1. Donate money to her surgical fund. Between needing a wheelchair and this new procedure, and then whatever expenses come after, she's going to need all the help she can get. Please donate what you can.
    2. Buy her a gift for Operation: Lymeparty.  Let's lift her spirits so she can get through this difficult period of fear and worry!
    3. If you live in/near Memphis, TN and are willing to act as a clearinghouse for physical gifts, please let me know!
    4. Spread the word on your blog.  The more coverage this gets, the more help she gets. 
    5. If you know anyone within the medical supply field, contact me directly. Squeaky needs things to make her wheelchair more comfortable

    And now, on to the Stretch Goals:
    1. The first stretch goal -- me singing a silly song -- has been performed here.  Included at no extra charge is me singing an additional song and lots of (hopefully amusing) rambling. 
    2. I am ready to record a dramatic reading of whatever you folks like, but there has been a lack of decision as to what this reading will be. Some folks have expressed an interest in having me read a Dr. Seuss tale, and others want me to read a selection from 50 Shades of Gray. I'm going to start accepting nominations for what I read in the comments below, and then folks will vote on the choices. 
    3. I'm letting Squeaky choose the duet, so this will happen at her convenience and not mine. 
    4. This goal has just been reached. Like #2, above, I want nominations for what kind of "gunnie cosplay" you want.  I believe Annie Oakley is a popular choice on Facebook, but other than that I don't know. Again, please make your preferences known and I'll have it taken when I meet with Oleg for my regular shoot. 
    5. Stretch Goal #5 has not yet been funded, as the donations seem to have stalled at around $2,018. If you make it this far I will do a video of pretty much anything you want, so long as it isn't porn, illegal, or impossible. 
    Also, if anyone else wants to offer their own stretch goals for this, please do!  This is not about me, this is about raising money for Squeaky. 

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Zombies Everywhere! or Does Resident Evil Need to be Scary Anymore?

         So in the recent Summer Sale on Steam, I picked up Resident Evil 6 on the cheap, and just the other day PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations went on sale as well. Being a long-time PC gamer, my experience with the franchise is... limited. I never owned a Playstation and the Windows versions always seemed to escape my attention, it being in the dark days before digital distribution, so I may be a bit biased. I'd played the original trilogy in chunks on the consoles of friends, but since Resident Evil 4 the series has more or less been steadily on PC. I understand the appeal of the old games, as they could be quite distressing with jump scares and limited controls, fixed camera angles, and item scarcity making a difficult and worrisome experience that was quite enjoyable.

         As a quick recap, if you're unfamiliar, Resident Evil (or Biohazard as its known overseas, and possibly a more suitable title) initially involved a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City (to simplify things).

         Of course, with the march of technology came improved or changed mechanics. Resident Evil 4, starring Raccoon City survivor Leon Kennedy, had a fixed camera angle, with over-the-shoulder aiming, which made it much easier to keep an eye on enemies and hit them properly, but also took the focus away from sheer horror and traditional zombies, making for a more action-movie like experience. It wasn't really so much scary anymore as it was tense. Ammo was still scarce. The monsters were tougher than your run-of-the-mill zombie. There were those bastards with the chainsaws. The improved mechanics made the game a lot smoother and more enjoyable to play, and the seeds were sown of modern Resident Evil.

         Resident Evil 5, which I often like to use as a literary punching bag, took the series as far from horror as I've yet seen. Chris Redfield, another Raccoon City survivor and from here on out referred to as Punch Rockgroin, was the focus of RE5, a soldier investigating a possible bio-weapons outbreak in Africa. This entry in the series didn't even come close to horror, being an outright action film of a game with tentacle monsters and not a traditional zombie in sight. The mechanics in the game felt like a natural evolution, with excellent controls, tight aiming, weapons with great kick, and outstanding graphics and sound, but the inventory system was dire, the storyline unintelligible, and as I mentioned before, it was a big dumb action film. Where Punch Rockgroin literally punches a boulder at one point.

         A side-title came out between these called Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. It was a pure action game that starred two groups of special operations groups, one in the employ of the US Government, and one in the employ of pharmaceutical and terminally suicidal/genocidal corporation Umbrella (originally responsible for the Raccoon City outbreak). It was a run-and-gun co-op game, that revolved around the events of the first game, with cameos by the first game's characters.

         Resident Evil 6 kept the run-and-gun, being the first game in the main series that allowed you to shoot while moving, and introduced a much better inventory system than its predecessor, with 4 campaigns of decent length starring different characters. Leon Kennedy is back, with his campaign focusing on traditional zombies with a horror feel, Punch Rockgroin gets a campaign that's more big-dumb action verging on Call of Duty, Sherry Birkin (the child of an Umbrella scientist) gets an over-the-top crazy campaign, and super-spy Ada Wong gets a campaign where you get to be all-around awesome.

         The more games come out in the series, the more the fans cry about how they're not horror. On the other hand, the more games come out in the series, the more money they make, with each one turning a profit easily. The films, which are more or less unrelated to the games, get bigger and dumber and louder with each entry, and make progressively more and more money each time. I like to posit the idea that Resident Evil doesn't necessarily have to be scary anymore, as it hasn't for quite some time. Change is, sometimes, good, and the series has changed into extraordinary people being total badasses fighting crazy monsters. Leave horror to the Silent Hills and Amnesias. I'll probably get crucified amongst gamers for this, but I think I kind of like Resident Evil how it is now.

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    Operation: Lymeparty

    About a week ago I talked about making a care package for Squeaky for her to enjoy while she recovered from her hysterectomy and surgical disembowelment.  I decided to call this Operation: Lymeparty, which I find fucking hysterical and if you don't get the joke you're probably better off (and you should not, under any circumstance, Google the words "Lemon Party").

    So here's what I know:

    • Her surgery is tentatively scheduled for the end of August, so if funds are short and you want to wait until the first week in September, that is totally cool. 
    • She loves computer games. Her Steam wishlist is here. I don't quite know how someone can buy a game for another on Steam, but I'm told it's possible. 
    • She has an extensive Amazon Wishlist here. Note:  She really needs that parasol in the top listing, as her meds react badly with sunlight and she burns easily. 
    • If you don't want to go either of those routes, that's fine; Squeaky has said she's thrilled that people are willing to get her stuff to cheer her up, and just knowing that people are doing this for her cheers her up. So basically, if you can think of something fun or funny to do for her, go for it. 

    Here's what I don't know:
    • Since she's likely to be getting stuff from Amazon and Steam separately, I'm not sure if folks should just send their contribution piecemeal or if we should do like we did for Operation: Tamalanche and put it all in one big box for hand-delivery. 
    • If we are going the hand-delivery route, I need someone who lives close to her (Memphis, TN) who is willing to act as both central clearinghouse for the goodies and deliveryperson for the goodies when they're all in. 
    • If you're willing to do this job, please let me know. 
    • EDIT:  This position has been filled. If you have a physical product you wish to send her, please shoot me an email and I'll give you the mailing address for Lymeparty HQ. 
    OK, not quite what I was going for,
    but I don't have a lot to work with here...

    Just a thought

    Yesterday a loyal reader alerted me to a post wherein a curmudgeonly sort seemed irritated that people had the gall to like a TV show about magical cartoon ponies. (No, I'm not going to give a link back, because I don't believe in giving free press to haters.)   The comments were about what you'd expect, with both ends of the spectrum covered, from "Fans of MLP are a scourge upon humanity" to "Had this been me growing up, my Dad wold have kicked my ass for it and I'd have thanked him."

    No doubt some of you are thinking my objection to this are a defense of my fandom, and I will grant that you are partially correct. However, let's unpack this for discussion because there's more to this going on. 

    1. "Adult fans of the show need to have their asses kicked."
    So you're advocating, even in jest, the abuse of people who like something you do not like because you think is effeminate?  Why don't you just be forthright with your bigotry and say "I hates me some fags, and I sure do like stompin' on 'em. They need toughenin' up. Smear that queer!"  Because then at least you'd be honest about your motivations. 

    So that attitude of yours?  YOU are why I carry a gun. Think about that. 

    2. "You're all stupid and immature for liking this."
    Let me just pull out a few more phrases and let me see if any of them sound familiar to you. 
    • The more you talk about My Little Pony, the smaller I think your penis is. 
    • I’m not interested in My Little Pony I was blessed with a big dick. But I understand the impotent pantywaists who need them to play with.
    • Is there a way to substitute a different compensation item instead of My Little Pony for insecure young and middle-aged men?

    Seem familiar?  These phrases were taken from the first two "Markley's Law" pages of Joe Huffman's blog. I just substituted "My Little Pony" for "guns".  And yet, I've heard arguments against MLP that are nearly clones of these. 

    My point here is that the moment any of us label a hobby as immature/faggy/in need of a good asskicking, we are doing exactly what the Brady Bunch and Joyce Foundation and CGSV do to gun owners. They call us immature and prone to violence and dumb rednecks and, if you’re male, desperately trying to compensate for a tiny penis. Gunnies who hate people who like MLP... call us immature and faggots and prone to pedophilia and, if you're male, desperately trying to compensate for not having a vagina.

    Can you folks not see that you are doing to other people exactly the same crap as the antis are doing to us? You’re better than that. Stop it.

    In conclusion:

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