Told ya there’d be another one.
My only regret is that I really borked up the music. Not only did it record poorly, but also it’s hard to hear too often. Oh well. Lesson learned!
Told ya there’d be another one.
My only regret is that I really borked up the music. Not only did it record poorly, but also it’s hard to hear too often. Oh well. Lesson learned!
Throughout April, The Wife and I watched a show called The Killing on Netflix. It is an excellent crime drama with a fun twist: the entire two-season run focuses on a single case. My initial thought was that stretching one investigation over 20-something episodes would make the show too slow and repetitive, but I was so wrong. There were no filler episodes; each one offered something pertinent to either the case or character development. It wasn’t perfect but god damn if that thing did not have me absolutely hooked by the end. And the ending! Oh, that ending. Powerful, powerful stuff.
So after that, I was thirsting for something similar. I have never been big on the television crime drama, but The Killing left a very good taste in my mouth. So when Netflix started advertising for their upcoming exclusive series called Hemlock Grove, my interest was piqued. Here, take a look at the description pilfered directly from Netflix:
When the mangled corpse of a local teenager is discovered, rumor and suspicion spread like a plague through Hemlock Grove. As dark secrets bubble to the surface, everyone becomes a suspect in the hunt for a monster that may be hiding in plain sight.
Hey! That sounds exactly like what I’m looking for! Seriously, if you replace ‘Hemlock Grove’ with ‘Seatlle’ that could (very) loosely describe The Killing as well. If only I could go back to a couple weeks ago and tell my past self that no, oh sweet crepes no, it is not what you’re looking for.
Yeah, it didn’t turn out that way. I won’t spoil too much, but Hemlock Grove is kinda like what would happen if Twilight took off the kid gloves. So it’s an awful, stupid, confusing mess, but at least it’s an awful, stupid, confusing mess that shows boobs pretty often.
Basically what goes down is that this chick gets killed -disemboweled “snatch-first”- and two teenage loners decide that they want to investigate the murder. One (Roman) is a rich pretty boy who’s got a blood fetish and can do the Jedi mind trick. The other (Peter) is a Gypsy that just moved into town and people just assume that he’s a werewolf for no real reason. Apparently there is some sort of vague enmity between their families (this is only barely touched upon in the final episode) but they bond pretty quickly. Which becomes somewhat problematic for the viewer.
The chemistry between these two is one of the more aggravating parts of the show. Roman has his way with all the ladies and Peter develops a pretty serious relationship with a girl throughout the series, but they are so impossibly gay for each other it hurts. I don’t know if maybe it was written that way on purpose or the actors just don’t understand body language, but they are constantly giving each other the look and spouting off gay innuendo but nothing ever comes of it. There is so much more unresolved crap in this show, but the sexual tension between these two is thick enough to bludgeon someone to death and if the two of them had just admitted their true feelings and gotten their queer on, I’d have been satisfied enough to not demand my thirteen hours back.
The very, very worst part is that the best, most sympathetic character, Roman’s sister Shelley, ends up just being a deus ex machina. It is infuriating and whyyyyyy do we not spend more time getting to know Shelley? All she is over the course of the series is the sheltered girl who’s pretty much Frankenstein’s monster less the neck bolts and sometimes she glows blue for no well-defined reason. I don’t really know about that last one, I fell asleep during the episode where I’m guessing that maybe they explained her backstory. But rather than have her slow growth towards independence mean anything, it just turns her into a big ol’ plot device out of nowhere. It is infuriating.
As for the other unresolved crap.. well, I guess the show answers the main questions, those being “who is eating all these vaginas?” and “why is someone eating all these vaginas?” but not a single one of the character arcs comes to a satisfying conclusion. Every member of Peter’s family has some sort of supernatural quirk about them, but not a one of them gets any real explanation. His mom sort of gets some backstory at the end, but even that isn’t enough to explain really anything at all outside of why she’s so damn frigid. It really confuses more than it enlightens. I guess the best way to explain it is that the show tries to frantically wrap up a handful of loose ends in the last episode rather than let the resolutions work themselves out naturally over the course of the series. It would make a much better payoff to have some sort of revelation during or at the end of each episode, rather than just adding a bunch more questions onto the pile. You know, like LOST. LOST was pretty great.
Side note: There is also a cubic buttload of fantasy terminology that is used but never even given context, nevermind outright explained. So if the words Upir and Vargulf and Ouroboros don’t mean anything to you (and they probably don’t unless you’re some kinda goth douche), you might want to keep your smartphone next to you while watching. You know, so you can Google some of the wacky fantasy garbage. Actually, Ouroboros is friggin everywhere in the show, but isn’t really all that meaningful in the context of the show. It sort of represents one character’s major development (at the very end), and is also the name for a big science project that we never learn a damn thing about. HEMLOCK GROOOOVE!! *fist shaking*
I suppose the “silver lining” here is that Hemlock Grove is based on a book, which is the first in a trilogy. So maybe some day its insanity will all work itself out, but really, that’s not the point. The point is that this first season of the Hemlock Grove TV show is deeply disappointing outside of some pretty gnarly gore effects. I guess two or three of the characters could have been pretty likeable too if they had gotten anything resembling real character development but oh well. Mostly every character who isn’t Roman or Peter or Shelley is a straight-up douchebag or a babbling idiot (sometimes both!), so why should I even care?
It’s been a while since I uploaded any Let’s Play videos, and there are good reasons for that, but they’re not happy things so let’s skip to the point. During my hiatus, I decided to start up a new format. It’s not terribly original, but I’m going to do entire runs of smaller games in one video, and I’ve titled the project OHKO because it’s the most topical thing I could come up with that’s even sort of clever.
The first game in this series is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan, which is embedded below. So if you’ve got half an hour to kill and want to see me crawl my way to the end of the most pathetic Turtles game, it’s there for you. I’m really hoping the sequel is at least a little better.
Yesterday I spent a short amount of time picking around the internet in search of somewhere I could buy me a Dick Turtle suprise bag. You know, because I updated that one article and it got me excited about the prospect of finding another one. Unfortunately, my usual sources came up dry, and even a rather thorough Googling session left me with no avenues through which to get my hands on one. But! I did track down the company that produces them. I spent a little while exploring the Mr Sweets website, and still came up with no real answers to the many, many Dick Turtle questions that I have. My hopes were a bit dashed that it was a UK-based company, and that their online store barely makes mention of surprise bags at all, Dick Turtle or otherwise.
So I did the only thing that was left to do: I sent an e-mail to Mr Sweets to see what the deal was with Dick Turtle. Imagine my surprise when I checked my inbox this morning and there was a reply! I don’t know much about the Mr Sweets company, but I can tell you that their customer service is fast and personal. No auto-replies here, no sir. And for that, I salute you, Mr Sweets.
The bad news is that Dick Turtle is as good as dead to me. He does live on, but here’s the bulk of the response I got to my “do you still make Dick Turtle surprise bags?” e-mail:
Yes we do, its changed a bit as we had a Lucky bag Comic here in the Uk and Dick Turtle gained many friends. We don’t do anything now in Canada, the original Mr Lucky Bags company became a victim of the recession, our largest customer Woolworth went bust (along with many others) owing us over 1 million, we couldn’t survive that and ceased trading in 2009. So we are much smaller and now are Mr Sweets.
Welp, that’s about it then. A more assertive man would follow up with a request for them to ship me some of these newfangled Dick Turtle lucky bags, but even if they accepted the request, it would probably be prohibitively expensive. I just can’t afford to drop more than like $1.75 on a surprise bag, you know? Not even for Dick Turtle. Maybe I’ll make a Kickstarter to fund getting me a Dick Turtle surprise bag. I don’t know what I could possibly offer as backer incentives though.
‘Tis truly a sad day. I don’t want to say that this is the end for me and Dick Turtle, but I feel like there’s not much hope left for us. I know that I said some nasty things about his surprise bag, but I can assure you that I only said them out of love. The Dick Turtle surprise bags were quite possibly the best ones I’ve ever reviewed, though that could just be the nostalgia talking. I hope that some day, many years from now (or sooner, whatevs), Dick Turtle and I will meet again. But for now all I can do is take solace in the knowledge that he’s alive and well, and that he has a whole bunch of new friends.
So long, Dick Turtle. We’ll always have Lac du Bonnet.
Currently I’m working on two articles. One, I’ve already spoiled on the Articles page, is what I’m tentatively calling the 2013 Surprise Bag Article. Will it actually be the only one this year? Who knows? 2014 Ryan knows. Anyway I’ve been working on that one since February, so who even knows if it’ll go live before 2013 is over. The second is a thing about a game I’m playing. It’s sort of a review, but not really. I don’t know the best way to describe it. It’s a thing. And it’s happening. I’ve just gotta stick some pictures in thurr.
What does that have to do with anything? Well, working on new articles always makes me think about how there are so many old articles that have yet to be worked into the WordPress machine, so I fixed up a few and stuck ‘em in the ol’ bloggin’ software. You can now read the WP versions of:
Note to noobs: These are all of a 2004/05 vintage. Meaning they’re crappy, but at least they’re from a time where I was trying to be funny, rather than the thing I do these days where it’s just me trying to sound smart about vidja games.
There are possibly more on the way soon, provided I can’t find anything better to do with my free time than dredge up old things I wrote that I’m kind of embarrassed of.
There was a time, not too long ago, when Easter was a big deal here at TE. Actually, it wasn’t even called TE back then. So I guess maybe it was a long time ago. Yup, this is the worst introductory paragraph ever.
There was a time, long ago, when Easter was a big deal here. Not only was it exciting because I’d wake up to a buttload of free candy and maybe an awesome gift or two, but also because it was fun to write about. Well, the candy was fun to write about. I don’t know why, there’s just something that really clicks for me when it comes to Easter candy. More so than candy themed for any other holiday, even Halloween.
Alas, those days are naught but a memory, and while my mom does still put together a little something for me, I’m long since officially too old for Easter as I’ve always known it. Now it’s all about Jesus and brunch buffets instead of chocolate and jellybeans. I certainly don’t like the transition, but it’s not like I really have a choice, now do I?
Because of the wonderful power of maternal sympathy, the wife and I received a nice little package of goodies from my parents this year, and these Peeps are the most interesting thing that was found within. It also contained some mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, Cadbury Mini Eggs, a box of K-cups, and more chocolate footballs than I could count.
While at first it seems like it would be incredibly difficult to choose one thing to be the most interesting from that lineup, the Peeps have a serious edge that I didn’t even notice until I put the first one in my mouth Notice that they are, in fact, Party Cake Peeps. I didn’t notice this because I wrote off the festive box as just an Easter theme without actually inspecting it first.
So what defines the Party Cake Peeps? What makes them so much more interesting than their standard-issue brethren? Not a lot, I’ll be honest. It’s a stretch to call them interesting, even with that fancy-pants wrapper.
A Peep, normally, is just a chick-shaped marshmallow slathered in sugar. So, sugar wrapped in more sugar, if you want to be pessimistic. The Party Cake Peeps, on the other hand, are flavoured. I’ve never eaten -or even seen- flavoured Peeps before, so this was a major revelation for me. I didn’t know that the technology existed to endow the humble Peep with such a wondrous gift. The future truly is now.
Anyway, while the PCPeeps do bear a smell reminiscent of cake, the flavour isn’t nearly as strong as the scent, They mostly still taste like marshmallows, but with a little hint of vanilla? I’m not sure what the flavour is, I’m actually really bad at that. I know that there is a flavouring, but I am completely unable to identify it. It doesn’t help and disappoints me greatly that the package doesn’t actually tell me what it is, not even in the ingredient list. For all I know, these Peeps are party-flavoured, because that’s what the blurb on the back says. I wasn’t aware that “party” was a flavour.
The PCPeeps are also an irradiated shade of green, unlike the cool blue Peep pictured on the packaging. The little sprinkles are a nice touch. I like sprinkles because mentally I’m about six years old.
So, there’s not really much else to say about these little guys. Fact is that even flavoured, sprinkled Peeps aren’t nearly interesting enough to write about at length. I know; I just tried! Hell, thanks to this piece I might be the world’s most dedicated Party Cake Peeps fan by default. I doubt anyone else has or would even be able to put down more words about them than I have here, and I’m already padding this thing to high Hell. I dunno, I guess you could write a song or something about them. “World’s Most Dedicated Party Cake Peeps Fan” isn’t exactly a honour that I want to put on my resume.
Oh, and I suppose that if you absolutely need something to take away from this, yes, the Party Cake Peeps are yummy. A++ would eat again.
It’s been almost a month now since I posted anything here. What’s been up? The short answer is Monster Hunter. For those who don’t follow, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate came out on Wii U and 3DS last month, and thats pretty much all I’ve been doing. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that when I get into Monster Hunter, I get in deep. I’ll write about it at length another time, but for now I leave you with this small musing:
I believe that it’s for the best when games aren’t drowned in pop culture references, unless that’s one of the bullet points on the back of the box. Even then it’s like, can’t you write your own material? Still, I can’t help but love that Capcom’s translators snuck a Foreigner reference in there. It’s easy to miss too, because the optimal way to approach dialogue in any MonHan game is to ignore it entirely and skip through it as fast as you can. Apparently at some point a character sings a song from Rent as well, but I didn’t pick up on that one because I stopped watching Rent after approximately two minutes. At this point I’m just waiting for some NPC to claim that they need to see the soul doctor.
Talking Time regular Loki started up an Earthbound Let’s Play back in January. I was very excited about it because Earthbound (yes, that’s a reason), and because I couldn’t stand to wait the months between updates, I decided to take things into my own hands and just play the damn game myself.
It’s been some time since I last played Earthbound, and it’s one of those games that gets better every time I go back to it. This time around, it’s mostly because I’ve figured the game out. In all my previous runs, I always had a ton of trouble making any progress. It would always end with me grinding for levels because the enemies were too strong. Only now do I realize that it was only so hard because I was playing the wrong way; I never used to make good use of my character’s non-physical attacks.
The way I used to play, I would simply horde all my PP for bosses, which made the areas leading up to those bosses super-tough. The secret is apparently that if you just play through the game making liberal use of
magic psychic powers, you’ll pretty much always be at the level you need to be, and while it can still be tough, it’s so much easier than trying to get by with just the Bash/Shoot command. Buying bottle rockets and bombs for Jeff is also a great strategy, and a perfect use for all the extra money that will pile up when you’re not constantly staying at hotels to heal up.
There’s another thing that’s really struck me about Earthbound this time around though, and it something a lot more subtle: Ness’ homesickness. If you spend too much time in-game without returning to Ness’ house or calling his mom, he will contract an invisible status effect which will cause him to waste turns in battle. It’s not something that’s ever announced at all; there’s no message and Ness’ sprite doesn’t change. You won’t know until Ness starts spending his turns in battle reminiscing about home.
Now, this might sound like a horrible thing to put in a video game. And you know, there was a time when I might have agreed with you. But now I can truly understand that it’s another essential thread woven into the beautiful tapestry celebrating life, love, and humanity that is Earthbound. See, I’ve been a little down over the past month, and I’ve really had no idea why. Life has had its ups and downs, but I like to think that I’m a pretty well-adjusted person and I’ve long since learned how to cope with the hardships that life can throw your way. Growing up and moving out hasn’t been easy, but I’m managing and I’m happy to be starting my own life. So when I spend a whole weekend laying on the couch feeling down and not doing any of the things I like, I kinda start to wonder what’s getting to me.
When Ness gets homesick in Earthbound, the quick fix is to use a chick (the baby bird kind) on him. Now, a chick is not an item you’re likely to have in your inventory. It’s one of the few time-sensitive items in the game, and if you carry one around for too long it will grow up into a fairly useless chicken. The chick will only stave off homesickness for a while though; to fully cure the condition, Ness has to talk to his mom. Whether by calling her on the phone or traveling all the way back home, talking to Ness’ mom will remove the homesickness, or reset the counter if Ness hasn’t actually become homesick yet.
I’ll be the first one to stand up and say that I don’t talk to my parents enough. There have been stretches since I moved out where I haven’t even talked to them on the phone for roughly two weeks. My mom talks to her mother almost every single day. When I lived at home, I thought that was crazy, and I knew that wasn’t a thing I was going to do. But I kinda get it now. Because I have been homesick. I never thought a video game status condition could imitate real life so closely, but when I was in the darkest of my days, just calling my mom immediately made me feel better. Spending the day at my parents’ house was even more comforting.
Of course, in real life homesickness doesn’t just have an =false state, so it’s been an ongoing battle for a while now. I’d never been homesick before I moved out, so it wasn’t something I’d ever considered that I could be, mostly because it just seems like something made up to write songs about and simulate humanity in fictional characters. But it’s real, and it’s a lot more affecting than I ever would have thought. In Earthbound, if you talk to a doctor when Ness is homesick, he says “What a sad look in your eyes… you, the boy in a red cap. You must be homesick. That’s nothing you need to be ashamed of. Anybody who is on a long trip will miss home. In this case, the best thing to do is to call home and hear your mom’s voice.” It’s advice that I never thought much of when I was nine years old, but I find it especially poignant now.
In the end, I think it’s good that I’ve had this experience though. The most obvious benefit is that it has taught me to make sure to keep my family close. It’s also nice to know that Earthbound has helped me to learn a little bit about myself, and that I’ve been able to forge an even deeper connection with one of my favourite video games. Maybe that sounds weird, but Earthbound is more than just a game. It’s an experience. It’s a whirlwind of emotion and nostalgia. It’s a reminder that sometimes the most important thing in the world can be the sound of your mother’s voice.