Being a target for hate…

This won’t exactly qualify as a rant, but hey, I did just say I needed to do something besides reviews all the time, right? Right. So today I was having a pretty good Sunday. I slept in, got a little housework done, walked the dog and cat, had a lovely lunch, and even got in a bit of time on the exercise bike to help cut down my increasingly jiggly ass. I’m less than six days from my 40th birthday, and in spite of a shit start to this year, I still feel like I have a lot to be grateful for, chief among them is my husband surviving his bout with this infection.

But in the middle of my day, a long-time friend sent me an article on Facebook in which a romance writer declared that if she found a trans woman in her gym locker room and still carried a gun, she’d kill them. Not if this person was threatening her, mind you. Simply being in the locker room and being “visibly trans” is enough to warrant a death by a firing squad of one.

I told this friend I kinda wished I hadn’t known that, and she said it was best to know my enemies. I replied back that with a list as large as I had, it was hard to keep track of who just hates me, and who really wants me dead.

And you know what? It’s something I can’t think on too much because it’s damned depressing. This isn’t like people who hate me because of something I wrote in a book, or something I said online. That’s easier to process, the idea that I offended someone and now they don’t like me anymore. I get that, and while it bums me out a little, I can handle being hated for my opinions. But this is a hate that stems from my very existence being offensive to someone else. How very abstract and unsettling, you know? Here’s this group of a few million people who would like to see people like me killed because we don’t conform to their expectations. Continue reading

Blogger writes words…you won’t believe what happens next!

Am I the only one who’s sick to death of these god-awful “you won’t believe what happens next” headlines? Like “Man starts playing guitar, but when the woman driving starts singing, you won’t believe what happens next!” Uh, I won’t believe that she sings well? Actually I do believe that, and I do believe this is one of the most irritating link baits I’ve ever seen. I do believe I’d like to find the guy who started this idea, and you won’t believe what I’ll do to him in revenge.

So…hubby is finally home. It’s been ten weeks since he first went away in an ambulance, and he was transferred through three hospitals since then. I’ve done more traveling in the last two months than I did in the last four years, carrying clean clothing and other supplies to hubby over those weeks. For any healthy person, this would be no big deal. But for me, having MS, it meant that many times I just wanted to collapse and stay down. But my husband has always supported me through sickness and health, and I was determined to honor my vows even all I wanted to do was hide under my covers.

Hubby is still not at 100%, and just a few short tasks can wipe him out. I think he wanted to hit the ground running and get back to helping with housework and cooking, but that’s still a ways off, and even working in the office is likely to drain him once he goes back. So for at least the next few weeks, I’ve still got to handle quite a few of the jobs he normally did himself. Continue reading

Game review: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for PS Vita

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles got on my radar after watching James and Mike Mondays play the original Japanese version, called Rondo of Blood, and I looked it up on PSN and found a Vita port of the PSP version. Castlevania used to be one of my favorite franchises, and I’ve played it on the NES, the Game Boy, and the SNES. After that I drifted out of console gaming and spent most of my free time playing PC games instead. But lately I’ve had the urge to play some good old-fashioned 2D platformers, and this seemed like a perfect game for me. And after playing it through, my verdict is a bit mixed. I don’t think it’s a bad game, it’s just…

Okay, first of all, I think my main issue is, Super Castlevania has spoiled me on the Belmont moveset. I loved being able to whip in any direction, or to drop my whip and let it kill enemies below me, or to flail my whip around and use it as an improvised shield against enemy fireballs. Coming into this installment, I was really hoping the game would have more than just whipping side to side and jumping. But no, this is sort of a graphically upgraded Castlevania with an updated story. Oh, and also, instead of Simon Belmont, it’s Richter. But for the most part, it’s pretty much the same game with better graphics and upgraded music. (Note: I can’t say better music. This is good music, but the original 8 bit version was so good that I still like listening to it. So it’s not better, just upgraded.)

The thing is, during the second level, you have the chance to unlock a second character, a twelve-year-old girl named Maria Renard. Maria has a double jump. She “shoots” magic birds that can hit enemies twice like the boomerang, and instead of the stock sub-weapons Richter gets, she has magic spells that summon various mystical animals. Maria can slide and dodge roll. Maria can unlock secret areas that Richter can’t get to.

Maria is fucking awesome. Continue reading

On making Spider-Man another race in the movie canon…

So lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of topics pop up about who should play Peter Parker in the next movie, and the biggest debate seems to be “why does Peter Parker even have to be a white guy at all? Why can’t we just change his color?” I have a different question. Since we already know the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is based off of the Ultimates comic lines, why does Spider-Man have to be Peter Parker? Why can’t we have Miles Morales be in the movies instead? Wouldn’t that be a great explanation for why old Peter wasn’t in the last Avengers movie? Because he was already dead? YEAH. And then we could do a story introducing Miles in a post Peter Parker production. Perfect! Then everyone can be happy. The people who want more diversity get a new Spider-Man they can identify with, the “respect canon” fanboys get a character who is well established in comics canon by now, and Marvel gets to smell like a rose for being creatively diverse.

But you know what doesn’t sound so good? Race swapping an established character. Allow me to put it in a way that most of us have seen most frequently. Did you like it when the Avatar movie whitewashed most of the cast? Does it annoy you when a character who is clearly described as dark-skinned in your favorite book shows up as a white person in the movie? Hell yeah, you do, and that reaction is completely understandable. But it’s also the same reaction some of you are ridiculing when it happens to an established white character. Like, “oh relax, it’s just fiction. These people can be whatever race they want.”

No, they really can’t, and I’m not just talking about some fanboy hysteria, either. Peter Parker’s whole story would have to be rewritten to take another race into account. This is not entirely impossible given how often the comics companies pull a “cosmic event” that reshuffles all their alternate Earths and decided on a new reboot for everyone. There could very possibly be an alternate universe reboot where Peter Parker can be any other race. Except, if he were say, Middle Eastern, doesn’t the name Peter Parker itself feel a bit…odd? The same goes if he was Native American, or Chinese, or Latino. As a real world example, the Japanese Spider-Man is named Takuya Yamashiro. He has a completely different origin and history, and yet his character is now accepted Marvel canon these days. He’s still Spider-Man, just a different alternate universe version. Continue reading

Game review: Castle In the Darkness for PC

Castle In the Darkness was one of the games Steam recommended to me, probably because I played other indie platformers like Shovel Knight and Battleblock Theater. Steam doesn’t really care if I liked a game or not, so their recommendations are something of a mixed bag. I can’t improve the system’s choices for me by telling Steam “I loved Shovel Knight, but I wasn’t so hot on some parts of Battleblock Theater.” What this means is that when they offer me a new game, there’s a 50/50 chance I’m going to hate it. Castle In the Darkness falls firmly into the hate category for all the worst indie reasons.

The game is pitched as a tribute to the NES days, but what that really means is the designers blatantly ripped off character designs from a whole bunch of better games. You can almost feel the designer sitting beside you, elbowing you in the ribs with every new sprite introduced while saying, “Get it? Get it? Ha! Nostalgia, amIright?” Look, it’s Link making a corny joke. Look, Sonic is an enemy. Here’s an annoying fairy saying “hey!” to cause damage. This is the indie style of tribute humor, where simply referencing an older character is supposed to be funny. Only it never is, and the game suffers from a lack of an identity to call its own because it spends so much time doing the hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink wink routine.

The plot of the game is pretty simplistic. Monsters show up and invade the castle, killing all the guards except for your one lonesome knight, and now it’s up to you to kill all the bad guys and save the day.

I will give the story a little credit because the princess in the game is not one needing to be rescued, and rather she runs off to try and save the day by herself, briefly seen in a few cut scenes along the course of the game. But even this can be frustrating because the princess is able to one-hit-kill an enemy that you will need to stab about five to ten times to eliminate. And yet at the end of the game, she’s begging you to go take on the final boss because “he’s just too strong for me.” Yuh-huh. Continue reading

Book review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye has been one of those books that I often thought about reading, but then put it off. I suppose maybe I had to find the right time for when I was in the mood to try it.

I think it was about five or maybe six years ago that someone said, “You shouldn’t read The Catcher in the Rye after you’re out of high school.” Well I hadn’t been in high school for more than a few months before I’d quit, and I supposed I was too old for whatever secrets this book held that was meant only for teenagers of a certain age to understand. So I thought about the book, but I never really thought about reading it.

High school for me was a scary place. Part of it had to do with how I’d always gotten through my previous grades. I never did homework, and I was always flunking and having teachers give me speeches about not applying myself. Then when the year end exam came, I’d ace that damn test and prove that even if I didn’t play along with all the homework, I did read the damn books, and yes, I grasped what I was supposed to get out of them.

I didn’t skip out of homework because I was lazy, either. I had hand pains from normal writing, and despite telling everyone about this, no one ever believed me. It later turned out this was a very early symptom of MS, and had anyone believed me, I might have been diagnosed a lot earlier. But just to get to a doctor back then, I had to practically break a bone. I even took a hammer to the head, fell off the clubhouse we were building, and bled like a stuck pig out of my eyebrow, and all I got was a band aid. Continue reading

Book review: Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Vampire Diaries: The Awakening had a hard time clicking for me. I wouldn’t say it’s atrocious, but it’s got a problem getting started or building sympathy for the main characters until well past the two-thirds mark of the book. I felt zero emotional impact from the romance, but unlike previous YA couples like the Hush, Hush series, the problem here isn’t with the male lead. No, it’s all on Elena. She’s introduced as the most popular girl in her school, a pretty pretty princess who instantly dumps her boyfriend Matt the instant she sees the new guy Stefan, and who compares boys to puppies. When he turns her down, she hatches a plot to make him jealous by inventing a fake older lover. This is really all you need to know about her because she’s lacking a personality to go along with her looks. She’s as shallow as a driveway puddle and only half as reflective.

Stefan makes a favorable comparison to Louis from Interview with a Vampire, a reluctant creature of the night looking for somewhere to get away from his past. There’s comparisons to Twilight for the high school setting (although in my opinion Bella comes out looking much better for lacking Elena’s ego), and more comparisons to Interview when Damon shows up acting very much like Lestat. But as the story nears the end, Damon really comes across as the stereotypical Hollywood vampire, the creature hundreds of years old who never matures, killing indiscriminately and leaving a trail of bodies, and always obsessed with fang-banging the hot chicks. Like a four hundred year old teenager, Damon’s entire purpose in life is to pursue his brother, like, “Looook, I’m bigger than you! I’m meaner than you! Looooook, bro! I’m so strong!”

Actually, I take back that comparison to teens, since that’s kind of insulting to the teenagers I’ve known. Damon comes across as an eternal eight-year-old brat, and his antics are probably the least interesting part of the story. Even the chapters with Elena’s hysterics over not being able to have her man candy are less grating. Continue reading

Game review: Resogun for PS4 and PS Vita

After getting my PS4, Resogun was one of the games that was supposed to be at the top of my must-buy list. Being made by Housemarque, makers of the fantastic Vita launch title Super Stardust Delta, and having garnered favorable reviews from so many sites, it stayed in my mind as something I HAD to play. But once I had my PS4, a lot of other bigger games stole my attention. It wasn’t until the release of Resogun on the PS Vita that I decided to get it. Cross-buying an arcade shooter that I could play on the big screen or on the go? Yes, please!

So I played it, and I beat it on the first couple of difficulty levels, and…and now I have no desire to play it anymore. It’s not a bad game, but it doesn’t feel nearly as satisfying as Super Stardust Delta does to me. Keep in mind, now going on three years, and I’m still playing Super Stardust. I have the high scores over all my Vita friends in most modes by a wide margin of several million points, and I still get jazzed when I hit a new high score record.

Why didn’t Resogun hit the same high notes for me? Before I get to that, I want to talk about what it did right. It’s pretty, and the design of the levels on a cylinder is clever and visually appealing. I like how blowing up enemies causes parts of the buildings and the platforms to collapse in a shower of cubes. The music is good, the sound effects are great, and the controls are easy to grasp. That’s about it. Continue reading

What’s been going on…

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. and it may still be another week or two before I have any new reviews out. I’ve avoided posting here because I was hoping things would turn out better than they have, or at least get resolved faster. But…

Three weeks ago, hubby came home early on Friday complaining about feeling ill. He didn’t have a fever and said it wasn’t really a proper illness until he had a fever. The next night, he got the fever he wanted, and we couldn’t break it no matter how much aspirin or ibuprofen he took. By Sunday, he was complaining about pain in his ankle, and by Monday, he was mincing worse than me on my worst relapse day. I said he should go to the doctor then, but he said he “might be feeling better already.” Tuesday, he was worse, and when he got in the tub for a bath, it took both of us tugging and pulling for an hour to get him back out. I said that if he wasn’t better by four the next day, he would call an ambulance.

Well he was worse, and yet the damn dispatcher initially refused to send paramedics over for “just a fever” and hung up on hubby. So I got on the phone to call them back, and after making it clear that this was a high fever that had lasted four days combined with joint pain, weakness, and diarrhea I was told that this was most likely just a flu, but they would at least send a paramedic if he was too sick to walk to his regular doctor. I assured them he was too sick to make it to the bathroom without help, much less walk six blocks to his doctor, and the paramedics came and took him away. Continue reading

Book review: Into a Dark Land by Walter Shuler

Into a Dark Land picks up immediately after the events in Gods of Sand and Stone and follows Conn, Mur, and Aerlyn in their quest to find a way to destroy a mad god, Cernunnos. At the start of the story, I thought there might be the chance of a somewhat darker take on the classic four-person RPG party, but the sidhe warrior basically walks off after saying, “Sure, the gods might kills us, but they’ll kill you stupid humans first, and that won’t be so bad.” (I’m paraphrasing heavily.) So that leaves Conn’s party as a trio, who upon stepping out of the sidhe’s territory discover that they’ve lost two years in human time, and that things are going very badly for the locals.

While Conn and his friends stop in at a small town to get information, Cernunnos approaches a grieving king, Tigernmas, and seduces him with promises of power and a return to prosperity for his kingdom. The two sides amass armies destined to meet, and in the following weeks of training, Conn also learns the origins of his spear, the real reason why Cernunnos has become corrupted, and that there are many more gods involved in this war than he’d previously believed.

The book concludes with a massive battle between the two armies, though it would be hard to declare either the victor at this point. This sets the stage for book three, where I’m sure there will be more gods introduced, more bodies, and more revelations.

I’ll give Into a Dark Land 4 stars. It’s a short, fast-paced novel that should appeal to fans of dark fantasy, though I’d suggest reading the first book in The God Wars series before delving into this episode.