So here's the story, when I first came across the corpse with the dog bowls and the metal crap laying around, I went on my way. I'm not big on crafting and I figured the stuff was scrap metal. Later on I learned it was armor for Dogmeat and by then I had forgotten the location of the corpse. It took some research but I finally found the cave and now Dogmeat has hiv very own set of armor.
And speaking of dogs, my go to weapon of choice is the legendary furious power fist that I looted from Swan when I first started walking the Freedom Trail. The best dog I ever knew was Donna's dog Babe, and since I can't rename Dogmeat, nor would I, the legendary furious power fist has officially been rechristened Babe via a work table. The real Babe lived 17 years and was the only dog I ever took care of (while Donna an the mysterious Mr. Silverman were on vacation). I think this is the very last bit of business from me until next week, this time for real.
November 24, 2015
Last night I finished binge watching Jessica Jones, the latest Marvel offering from Netflix. It was very, very good.
Jones is a detective in New York City and, in the parlance of the Marvel cinematic universe, she's special. She has super strength, she can take more punishment then a normal human and while she can't fly she can leap. Not Hulk leaps but pretty damn good. She was also held prisoner by a guy called Kilgrave.
Kilgrave's ability is mind control. Jones used to be a superhero with a costume and all until Kilgrave took control of her, raped her on a daily basis and finally forced her to murder a woman named Reva Connors. Jones did, but that broke Kilgrave's control over her. The enraged Kilgrave chased after Jones only to be hit by a bus. Jones assumed Kilgrave was dead, abandoned her role as a superhero and became a detective. Kilgrave turns up again.
The show is so dark it almost seems like it's not really part of Marvel's cinematic universe. But that's the thing, in Marvel's comic book universe, everybody seems to know everybody else. In the cinematic universe there's no reason why Tony Stark and Jessica Jones should have encountered each other. Stark is Iron Man, Jones is a detective in Hell's Kitchen and Luke Cage, the man with invulnerability, just wants to run his bar. As for the villain, he's not on the radar of the Avengers or SHIELD. He rapes and kills but that's pretty tame stuff compared to Loki or Ultron. Captain America doesn't give a shit.
Nor should he. Things operate on many different levels. I have a website, Google has a website, there the resemblance ends. The characters in Jessica Jones are aware that guys like the Hulk exist but it doesn't really affect them.
At this point I'm tempted to say that this is the show for people who hate superhero stuff, but I'm not. I remember when Vincent tried to get Jules to try bacon because it tasted good. Jules explained, "Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got sense enough to disregard its own feces." So I'm just going to keep my mouth shut and look forward to Marvel's next Netflix show, Luke Cage, coming out in 2016. They've done Daredevil, Jessica Jones and next year will bring us Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Eventually they'll team up as The Defenders.
And if I don't post again, have a good Thanksgiving and I'll see you next week.
November 24, 2015
Why I Love Dogmeat
In Skyrim Bethesda gave you a choice of companions you could take with you as you traveled the world. They were brave, loyal but kind of stupid. Four years after Skyrim the AI hasn't gotten that much better. That's why I've kept Dogmeat as my buddy in Fallout 4. Dogmeat is, after all, a dog, of course he'll do dumb shit and wander off from time to time. The behavior that's so unrealistic in a human is forgivable in Dogmeat.
By the way, I finally learned how to get Dogmeat to wear goggles. It makes me happy.
November 24, 2015
Normally for Thanksgiving I throw up the old turkey picture from Suck. I'm sort of not in the mood for that this year. I tend towards a certain ammount of pessimism. But, for the moment at least, I'm reasonably healthy for a guy pushing 60, the cat turned two last month, I have a wonderful game to obsess about and later on in the week I'll see my sister, then head up to see Mrs. Silverman.
So instead, I'm going to throw up this picture of the office AKA the room I spend 90% of my time fucking around in. Newton is asleep and the raiders, feral ghouls and super mutants are all home with their families and friends.
I'll post before Thursday but I thought I'd give into a rare feeling of sentiment. Now time to watch Jessica Jones and sink into a pit of despair.
November 22, 2015
In a game like Doom you start the off with all the skills you need to win. As the game goes on you may find better weapons and armor and the enemies will get tougher or have new attacks. But you don't have to worry about not being able to use a rocket launcher. If you find one just pick it up and shoot.
RPGs are different. There's generally a skill tree of sorts. You level up and as you level you can increase your abilities. Put points in melee weapons and you'll be a ninja but at a disadvantage if your enemy has distance attacks. Rogues have powerful attacks but are delicate, warriors do somewhat less damage but can take a lot of punishment. There are always trade offs.
But there's one consistent thing, you start off the game at level 1, weak and at the mercy of almost everything. You'll die and run a lot.
That's why today was a good day in the Commonwealth. Today I encountered a boss named Swan. And while I had to use cover against him I won, and got a very potent weapon. I equipped the thing and then my dog "discovered an enemy" as the game put it. Dogmeat ran off, I followed and we ran into four raiders in a courtyard. I'm level 13 but even so four raiders are trouble. Then about 20 seconds later they were all dead.
Up until this point I would left the area for safer ground. But instead I entered a building at the end of the courtyard and discovered an especially sadistic gang. And I killed them, one by one, floor by floor until Dogmeat and I were alone in the place. Because in a RPG there's a moment where you realize you now have power over things that used to kill you with ease. It's a very heady feeling.
Early this year I played Dragon Age: Inquisition. The first dragon I encountered was Ferelden Frostback and she kicked my ass. Indeed I started to wonder if I could finish the game without killing any of the dragons. Eventually I killed my first one, Northern Hunter, and realized that they were mortal after all. The courtyard in the ruins of Boston was a similar moment. Now raiders and feral ghouls had better be scared of me.
The very first computer game I played was a RPG, Ultima II. Thirty two years later and I'm still playing them.
November 22, 2015
The Answer Is No
November 21, 2015
Broer's character, Mr. Morado
And mine, Alan Chandler
November 21, 2015
The big guy's name is Swan. He's pounding on Dogmeat because he can't fit down the alley I'm cowering in. Once in a while I'll pop my head out and shoot him, you know, pew, pew. He'll roar, then pound on Dogmeat some more.
No, I'm not proud but Swan is dead, Dogmeat got better and in the end, that's what matters. Well that and I got a wonderful weapon.
November 21, 2015
Friday never meant much to me when I was working. My days off went back by one every week so my Friday would be Wednesday this week, Tuesday next week. But today is Friday and Jessica Jones is on Netflix.
So, no Fallout 4 today. I played for ten hours straight yesterday. I believe I've given my due to the wasteland. But you know, I should probably post a movie or something before I go. Shouldn't take too long.
Well that was a pain in the ass. Not the battle, I'm a warrior of the wasteland and all that. But the latest patch for Windows 10 seemed to have bolloxed its support for the AVI format that Fraps uses. I was able to work around that because, in my limited way, I'm still a Jedi. But I had to sacrifice quality to get the damn thing up so quickly. I know that Fraps has been having a problem with Windows 10 but in my case this seems to have happened after the last big patch.
Microsoft has been making the patches mandatory with Windows 10. I know why they do that and I sympathize but sooner or later they'll push a patch that does some serious damage and it will come back to bite them in the ass. Meanwhile, I'm off to buy beer and you have the first film of Alan Chandler in action. Oh, and take my word for it, Fallout 4 looks so much better then the video I posted.
Update: I'm not sure this version is any better. Instead of Movie Maker I used a new program (new to me) called Handbrake to convert the .avi to .mp4 format. It might not be better but I've a feeling Windows Movie Maker won't be around much longer.
Yep, just compared the two versions. The second one looks a little better. So it looks like Windows Movie Maker will be cast aside and Handbrake will be used in the future.
November 20, 2015
A Fallout 4 Update
So, I formally joined the Brotherhood of Steel today. I did one mission that involved salvaging old tech and it went very well. The second mission was to find out what happened to a patrol that failed to check in. Eventually that led me to a base controlled by about eight super mutants. I spent two or three hours trying to clear it out, unsuccessfully I might add. So I put that quest aside and start trying to find my kidnapped son Shaun. That went much better. When I logged off I was level 11 and pretty close to 12. After I finish this particular business, I may level a bit by doing grunt work for a fellow named Nick Valentine, he's an android private detective who gave me a lead on Shaun. Then I'll give the super mutants a shot. It kills me to contemplate this but I may have to leave Dogmeat behind and take Piper or Nick with me when I make another run at the mutants.
November 20, 2015
Hasbro Companion Pets
If Newton lives a cat's average lifespan then I'll be 72 when he dies. Which means that he'll probably be my last pet and that's kind of sad, even though he's only two. But I also find this kind of sad, Hasbro's new line of companion pets.
I mean shit, I could always adopt an older animal. Cats and dogs 8 years and older stay in the shelter forever. Or I could join a book club or something but a robot cat? No way, unless the technology evolves to the point where I could get Aineko.
November 18, 2015
Creation is a novel by Gore Vidal. The first thing I read by Vidal was Burr about Aaron Burr. The second novel I read was Julian about Julian the Apostate, the fourth century Roman emperor who tried to reverse the tide of Christianity. I've read both books several times. Creation I only read once but it's not the book's fault. In 1986, when I bought it, I was either working midnights or days. Neither shift was to my taste and my concentration wasn't all it should have been.
In Creation Cyrus Spitama, grandson of the great Zoroaster, is the Persian ambassador to Greece, well Athens anyway. Spitama's grandson asks his well traveled grandfather to dictate the story of his journeys that took him to India and China. There he met the Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tsu, and Confucius, among others. After such travels spending his old age in Athens, among uncultured barbarians, is quite a comedown, but those are the breaks.
I don't remember too much from my first reading, the book has patiently waited 29 years for me to give it another shot.
November 15, 2015
The Menorah Bong
It will be the bestest Hanukkah ever!
November 13, 2015
I have money, but until now I was far out in the wilderness, far from merchants who could actually sell me shit. I told Danse I'd join up with the Brotherhood of Steel but I do want to see the world before I actually sign the papers. So I've been trying to get strong enough to make it to Diamond City, located in Fenway Park.
I made it but unfortunately managed to antagonize invading super mutants and Diamond City security. After the mutants were dead, they turned on me and while I'm not a demigod there were a lot of dead security people after it was all over. Not the best way to enter the area's largest settlement although it says something for my skills, not to mention Dogmeat's.
One loaded save later I let security take care of the mutants, looted the mutant's bodies, found the sign that lead to the entrance and took a picture. Now all I have to do is explore the city and find some merchants. When I left the game I was very close to level 8. Life is good.
And I know I've mentioned this before over the years, but yes, I really do keep my screen this dark.
Heh, level 8. I'd like to see that deathclaw try to fuck with me now.
November 13, 2015
The BBC has an article reminding us how innovative Walt Disney was back in the day. And Fantasia was my first hint that this Bach guy was kinda good.
November 12, 2015
I'm more then ten hours into the game and I've reached a bit of a turning point, there are two factions that want me to join them. The first is the Minutemen. There's only one Minuteman at the moment, Preston Garvey. The Minutemen dissolved in a rather ignominious way so Garvey's offer to make me the head of a reconstituted faction does not impress. Then there's the big dude, he's Paladin Danse and I've just helped him out. He's with the Brotherhood of Steel and I joined them in Fallout 3. The BoS has all the best toys and I quit Fallout New Vegas rather then betray them so I do have a certain history with them. I'm not sure I want to commit to a faction this early but hell, ten hours into a game isn't exactly early, is it?
So I'll call it a night for now but I'm probably going to join the Brotherhood. I enjoy stealth but I don't play Bethesda RPGs as stealth games anyway. Besides, it's impossible to play stealthy with Dogmeat around. So I'll make the final commitment tomorrow.
November 11, 2015
Those miserable looking plants cost me time I can never get back. I've been playing Fallout 4 for about eight hours. Three of them were spent trying to figure out how to grow plants to feed my idiot followers. This is crafting, Minecraft style and I hate crafting. Still, after three hours they have food, a supply of fresh water and beds, all courtesy of Alan Chandler. Next the idiots require a self defense system. I've been in cryogenic stasis for the last 200 years, you'd think they would have worked that out for themselves.
By the way, the dog is cool. In Fallout 3 Dogmeat could be killed. That meant a lot of players never took him as a companion. So they made him immortal in this game. He will get knocked out of combat from time to time but he always gets better and he never dies. That almost makes up for trying to find gourds to plant for the settlers.
November 10, 2015
Been going through that for a good chunk of my life. From xkcd.
November 9, 2015
SPQR stands for The Senate and People of Rome. It's also a new book by Mary Beard that will download to my Kindle tomorrow. It's a history of the city from its founding to 212. Now 212 struck me as an odd year to end a history, so I looked up 212 on Wikipedia and found this: The edict of emperor Caracalla (Constitutio Antoniniana) extends Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire with the exception of a limited group that may include Egyptians. The Jewish people are among those who receive citizenship.
And that's why Professor Beard ended her history there. And now allow me to feel a tad smug about my knowledge of history.
November 8, 2015
No Kill Shelters
That's one of my favorite pictures of Newton. I only had him for a month and he was always falling off stuff. In this picture he had been sleeping on my legs, fell off and looked up at me like a little drunkard.
But it's also kind of sad. Newton is two and he still has a residual clumsiness that will never leave him. I can't let him out on my balcony and even getting on and off the window sill of my office window is an operation fraught with peril for him. He spent a good portion of his kittenhood in a small cage at the Atlantic County Animal Shelter and it will mark him for life.
We like the idea of shelters that don't kill animals, it makes us feel good, it makes me feel good. But it's a sad fact that most of the animals that go into a shelter aren't coming out again. Newton was lucky, at six months he was already out of the cute stage of kittenhood and into the weirdly proportioned adolescent stage. He was still in a cage by the door because he was friendly, active and too naive to understand that with every passing week his chances of adoption were shrinking. He would have soon been booted to a cage in the second or third row and spent the rest of his life in it.
And that's the thing, we don't want shelters to kill animals but we don't want to spend taxpayer money on making their lives marginally bearable. And really, can you legitimately ask the casino dealer whose hours have been cut to part time to pony up a bit more in county taxes so that a seven year old shelter dog can romp for a bit in a yard? Probably not.
Damned if I know what the solution is. If there had been a two week and euthanize policy at the shelter I never would have gotten Newton. On the other hand if I hadn't taken him home he probably would have spent his life there. But I did take him home, he seems fairly content, at the moment he's sleeping on his (yes it's his now) IKEA ottoman and in the end things worked out for him.
November 8, 2015
There are two versions of John Watson. Nigel Bruce embodies the stupid version of Doctor Watson, a version that Laurie R. King has embraced in her books about a semiretired Holmes and his new partner Mary Russell.
Then there are the competent versions of Watson. Watson is intelligent, more so then the rest of us, but just not in Holmes' league. Alas, few of us are. David Burke and Edward Hardwicke from the extraordinary 1984 television series come to mind.Jeremy Brett was Holmes and if you haven't seen it yet you should remedy the situation.
Then there's Martin Freeman's Watson, intelligent and a badass. You don't want to fuck with him. You really don't want to fuck with him.
November 7, 2015
Poor Planning on Somebody's Part
November 6, 2015
The Latter Day Saints and Homosexuality
The Mormons have decided to get serious about homosexuality. This is from the NT Times:
Children of same-sex couples will not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership as part of a new policy adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In addition, Mormons in same-sex marriages will be considered apostates and subject to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past.
Whatever Jesus was trying to accomplish 2,000 years ago, the various religions founded in his name have done far more harm then good over the last two millenniums. That's why the spectacle of the Mormon hierarchy working so hard to make themselves irrelevant gives me a certain satisfaction. I'm not proud of it but we all have our flaws.
But I do know what some Mormons must be going though right now. My dad's cousin Kathleen was in love with a guy named Lester Moore. Moore himself was not very religious but Kathleen was and before she would marry him he had to get his first marriage annulled by the Catholic church. It took forever and by the time the church annulled the marriage, Moore was an old man and they only had a few years together.
And the church had no power to stop them from getting married in a civil ceremony. The church didn't matter to Lester but it did to Kathleen so he put up with years of bullshit to get the annulment. And it was sad.
But now, as the church struggles with how to deal with divorced Catholics, divorced Catholics are ignoring the rules on annulments and receiving communion and fuck the hierarchy. One hopes that will be the response of followers of the Church of Latter Day Saints as well.
November 6, 2015
So, a bit about Area X. The first expedition to Area X from the Southern Reach Agency ended up in disaster. Of the thirty people who entered Area X, only one survived. Part of the problem was that Area X didn't understand that the humans were sentient, much less trying to communicate. The controlling force behind the region was reacting to the tech the expedition carried in, recognizing them as something akin to itself, albeit on a primitive level. Sort of like how we'd react to primitive life on Europa.
Indeed, Area X can't comprehend our attempts at communication. Area X communicates via biology. And yet, at one point a survivor from an expedition comes out with a cell phone from the first expedition thirty years ago. It starts to understand that the expeditions are an attempt at contact and tries to do the best it can to reciprocate.
At one point, a character remarks that we have so little understanding of communications from non human life right here,so how could the Southern Reach attempt to successfully communicate with Area X.
You know we have radio telescopes looking for communications from another civilization. Could messages be bombarding our planet all the time?
November 5, 2015
Earlier this year I read Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. It was good but the three books read one after the other are kind of overwhelming. Two years ago I read 2312 set in the same universe as Mars but a bit further down the road. From a stylistic point of view, it was better then Mars, although the trilogy was more ambitious, incredibly so.
And having just reread the Southern Reach Trilogy, I'm in the mood for something a bit more optimistic. So 2312 it is.
Say, did you read that China plans to send a rover to Mars is 2020? The discovery that liquid water flows on Mars from time to time really piqued their interest.
November 5, 2015
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Logo courtesy of Mrs. Silverman.