Thursday, August 11, 2011

Equality for All

The world spins slowly, burning. The fuel is the rage of a people, a thousand peoples, tens of thousands, millions...billions; nations large and small. The zealous feed them, lies in the morning, at noon, in the evening. Like cattle, like sheep, they are herded in, grazed, fed their quota, and sent out. The untruths are satisfying, the feeling of rightness, of fairness, of equality, bred into them.

The great group-think machines indoctrinate the mindless from a young age. And those who cannot be indoctrinated are drugged or ostracized. It is compelling. Many and more fall before and worship. Their knees are sundered, destroyed, flayed as they grovel, shuffling along with arms splayed, their hymns rising in crescendo. It beats against an ill wind, vying for attention, demanding it and more.

Entitled. The are given much are more, but their hunger, their thirst, cannot be sated. They cry out as though in pain, anguish. More, they cry. More! It is given, and still cannot be assuaged.

Burning, forever burning. Nations crumble. Buildings and infrastructure. Businesses and homes. More and more is set to the torch. The blame? The sheep do not take the blame, for they are mindless. It is the shepherd who must be at fault! The sheepdog! But never those who cause the problems, who incite and demonize. They are blameless, demons in angels clothing scrying the heavens for signs and wonders and meanings and spinning their webs and their tales.

They make clear to the zombies what must be done. And mankind consumes itself.

Only in death is every man equal.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


I am a proud member of the nation of Wakefulness, and like all persons of my nation, I gladly wage a war every evening. It need not necessarily be in the evening, either, but whenever the lethargy takes me. Those moments of tiredness awaken in me a bloodlust. With that, I begin my usual assault upon the nation of Sleep.

That foreign, disgusting country. I cannot remember its exact location, nor is it quite found on a map, but I know where it is. We all do.

My assaults begin with the same fervent passion, with vigor, demanding that the great country open its gates and allow me entrance, passage. However long these assaults take, I usually win out. But only ever for a few mere hours. Maybe not even that. They are cunning, these creatures that command the country of Sleep. Always I find myself back within the realms of Wakefulness. It disgusts me to be there, having lost once again.

Sleep, so overpowering... it always wins. Even in Wakefulness.

Now, Sweet Dreams... That place is impenetrable. None that I know have ever passed through its golden, gilded gates. What lies beyond is mystery. Any assault made there is doomed to failure before it begins. At least with the Country of Sleep, you may win out over it for a few hours.

Remember, my friends: be weary of Sleep. Always weary...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time Well Spent

It's dawning outside, a sun rising. I see only blackness and find myself nodding off intermittently. Wakefulness is fleeting, grasped barely and holding only the constant thrum of a diesel engine. The vehicle quakes slightly with each turn, each pothole, the rise and ebb of the inline-eight cylinder providing a lullaby.

Cool air sifts in through the sentry hatch while the orange fireballs of lit cigarettes explode into life before sullenly dying out.

Eventually, a lurch, a stop. The ramp drops and darkness still shrouds, save for the stars muffled by early morning clouds. They linger, grasping at a sky soon to banish them. I find myself left behind with a few others. Rotation, he says. I'll get my chance. Chance at what?

Sleep lulls me back. I fight for wakefulness. It's a battle I lose again and again until a slam on the hatch.

My first intake of breath is of the sight of a sun rising into the almost-crisp morning air. Mud walls rise all about. The road is hardpack, well worn from years of use and an unforgiving sun. But my first sight truly isn't the landscape. Before me lays the wreckage of another vehicle, flipped onto a side with fenders missing, tires incognito and a hole in the ground deep enough to have needed an excavator to make.

I'm told where to go. Cradling my rifle, I walk. Already, the heat is starting to become unbearable. It's not even seven in the morning. The locals are coming in force, too. I find myself cursing at them. It appears to be the only language they understand. "Get the fuck back", "Fuck off" -- they're my call words, my watch words, the only saving grace lent to me in a hostile nation. They work, but only when applied with conviction, with faith. My conviction, like my faith so early in my tour, is lacking.

It works, for a time at least.

But like the waves of an ocean, they are always pressing in only to ebb. Then they press on, trying to pass me. They make hand gestures, as though this would make me understand that they're on a tight time schedule and this is the only route they can take to get from A to B.

Hours pass by. Hours of sun, of heat, of locals staring at me. I am an animal in a zoo with no walls, an attraction. They have come to see the Canadian in tan, pretending to be a man. I stare back from behind tinted ballistic sunglasses, swearing, cursing, dehydrated...

Time spent in the LAV in air conditioning guzzling water is well spent but short lived. By three in the afternoon, we finally leave. Nothing happens beyond the IED site. It has barely been a week, but already my hate for a country I know little about is growing...

Friday, May 06, 2011

A Toast

Two people have stood by me for a long time. The first I realized as a friend long ago and have built up a lasting friendship with him over the decade-plus that I've known him. The second I've known longer, and although I call him friend now, the realization of that moment came much later, but is still no less poignant.

There have been ups and downs, moments of gratitude and indignation, arguments and debates, kind words and curse words. Through all this, I would like to think that it's all been for something and that I'm closer to these two people despite my own inadequacies and failings. This is for them:

KJ & KS.

Inspiration, conscience, better half, friend.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dominion - Good Mourning

The screaming mewl of life cuts the air as the last breath falls on ears that can't hear.

Isn't he beautiful.

Fur the color of his fathers.

But he isn't looking at the child crowing away. No. His eyes are dying as the body of a creature he has known, truly known, falls into an abyss. Lips pulled back in a partial snarl of pain, of joy, of glory. A son! But the heart monitors, they are telling. She is taxed...perhaps too much?

The nurse is ignoring.

And then the rush of silence and noise and pain.

Her hand is in his and the nurse now sees. Sees his tears and empty anguish and misbegotten rage. The son is crying, demanding. Doctors move in, many, and he finds himself whisked away from the room. He leaves his son, his wife, his purpose.

And then, and then he looks down in his arms at this small thing, this thing that they say has his color fur and his eyes that is yelling and screaming and he is outside the room and silent. How he wishes to yell and scream. To throw this child, this thing, away from himself.

You have stolen from me that which is most precious.

Anger and resolve replace his heart and his purpose. He has lost his faith and his way.

Amarouk feels the life of his wife slip away. His beloved, his Kristav, and this thing...that is now his that has stolen from him. He will name it. Katan. The knife. The dagger that was plunged into his heart.

He dies.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Gauntlet Intro - Enter Kajil

A series of rings flow forward, each smaller than the last in the shape of a cone. The edges enflamed green. The center is like a pool of water, focused onto a point small and black. Looking into it, the eyes follow the edges, but the feeling of the soul being pulled inward, ripped away and thrown...


Head snaps to the left. A figure walks somewhat behind, a halo of light escaping from him. Floating displays, talking heads, coursing data. He is it and it isn't him.

"Yes, doctor."

"You'll be traveling to the Orutaelas System in the Caetura Universe. Your orders will be unlocked upon arrival. Good luck."

An arm flung forward, a half flap like a bird or the paddle of a boat, whichever, and he spins in direction, flowing on a new breeze. Unspoken, she is told to walk the plank.

A step...and her body is jerked forward.

Broken and battered and full of vigor, she hobbles and walks proudly through the expanse of crushing gravity while floating. A bridge extends and collapses. The light is so bright as to be darkness complete. Lively dead eyes cast about while inflexible hands grasp for the edges of infinity that crack from her years of indolent un-use. And...

And reality bends as the latticework of truth becomes a lie. It ripples. From it, this pool in the air that wavers like heat rising, yet dropping down into an infinitely black dot steps the creature. Before and behind is blue sky and shuddering clouds unfolding like arms swimming through the sea. An estate stands proud before, a boulevard lined with soldiers. Follow the yellow brick road, she is told silently.

Data packages begin to unfold as the Baajin takes her first step on foreign soil. Artificially enhanced mental functions combined with field scans pull in information as sharp, slitted eyes drink in everything.

Another step on a hock-jointed foot with a hooked dewclaw clicking against the stones. Baggy kapries with side pockets, sleeveless shirt covered in a specialized ceramic-metaloid armor covered in molle attachments. An SMG styled gun on the back of the waist with a large knife-like implement below it. Another on the left breast with the handle of a knife poking out from the left shoulder. The left thigh has long pouches strapped to it while the right thigh has circular diskettes about hand-sized coupled into the very fabric. Fingerless gloves topped with silver points with forearm braces and hardened elbows.

The shock troop flicks a forked tongue into the air. It tastes revolting...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nothing But the Truth

As I sit hear, musing to myself with a rum and coke in hand, I'm thinking. The aforementioned asshole really wasn't blazing a brand new trail with me. No, all his behavior had already been initiated with someone else previous to my escapade with his shitpump-style fucktard antics. About two and a half months ago, I decided to contact my ex-roommates old roommate and ask some very pointed questions. I got answers, and the sad thing was that it didn't prove to be a surprise at all.

I guess trouble first started shortly after we got our internet hooked up. [He] started spending more and more time online, and we rarely saw him outside of his room. I know that he was late a handful of times for work in April, and called in sick once, But he was good for his rent and bills. As far as chores went, none of us were very regular about getting them done, but J. and I were the only ones doing them by this point. He also failed to pitch in for groceries, ever. More on that later.

Wow, I'm already seeing the pattern here. It took me about three-quarters of a month to get internet hooked up at my own place. While I do enjoy it, it never once was a major priority, like working and a job were. But the jerkwad always complained about the lack of internet, citing that it was I who was suffering withdrawal from it. Right... But wait, there's more!

In May he missed the phone bill, and that's when I started to suspect that he had been fired or quit his job at Boston Pizza's. Never did find out which it was, but [he] remained steadfast in his lie that he did have a job until I called the place pretending to be looking for him, then he changed his story to that he quit and was looking for work. (I realize that by now I should have realized that something was up, but that's another story.)

This happened a lot. In fact, I'm fairly certain he had something like ten jobs. Ten fucking jobs! He's had more jobs in an eight month span than I have in my entire working career (mine being at seven jobs total for my entire working career, starting at thirteen and going onto the present). So, you can utterly describe this shit-tard as one of those people you see and wonder how the fuck it is that they have a job, only you find out they've been fired later on. He's got zero work ethic. But I guess I should just follow up with the rest of what my ex-roommates own ex-roomie has to say on the subject, all of it in its glory:

Things really heated up in June when he missed that month's rent. I was gathering up the rent on the first as I knew our landlord would be by to pick it up, he told me that she had said she wouldn't be by until tomorrow to pick it up. When she showed up a few hours later, he said his wallet had been lost or stolen. When we questioned what the square thing in his pocket was, he told us it was a book. (Again, more red flags, in retrospect I was rather naive to not see all of this unfolding.) Our landlord allowed him to pay his rent with next month's rent.

Our Landlord was going on vacation at the end of the month, and instead of fussing around with all that, we offered to pay July's rent early. [He] was leaving for a trip [back home] shortly before the due date, so I pressed him to see if he'd taken care of the rent owing, "It's been dealt with," was his response, and trusting him, I left it at that. I found out on the collection day from [the landlord] that no, he hadn't paid a penny of the money owing. With him absent, there was little we could do about it, and [our landlord] decided to allow him yet another extension, with interest this time. He was to pay all money owing for rent on July 10th.

I questioned him on the tenth to see if he'd paid it, he tried to shrug it off by saying "it had been taken care of." As I was slowly smartening up, I pressed him further, to which he said he'd "left a cheque in the mailbox." I left it at that as it was late, and phoned to verify the next day. Big surprise, no he hadn't left a cheque, and the landlord's husband had been around twice and called several more times with no answer. (I know that [he] was the only one home that day and he almost certainly -was- home.)

That being the last straw, I told [him] if he wanted to stay, he had better pay up what he owed by the end of the month. His parents came and moved him one day a couple weeks later while I was at work. He moved back [home] and lived with his parents for a while. I attempted, through Emails, World of Warcraft, and phone calls to get a hold of him in order to try and get him to pay up. Eventually I just gave up.

Throughout this entire time, he only ever once pitched in for groceries once, he rarely helped out with any of the few chores we had around the house, and I rarely, very rarely, saw him outside of his room unless he heard us cooking dinner, then he might come out to grab a bite.

All in all, he left us pretty well screwed, much of the damage might have been avoided if I hadn't been in the mindset that "I've known him since high school, and while he's an ass, he wouldn't stab us in the back like this." I've given up on him and ever seeing that money he owes us, though I'd probably be interested in getting back in touch with him if I thought he would pay up.

So, yeah, he's done it again. Same bullshit shenanigans, lies and craptacular antics as befit a grown-man-baby. But I guess I should also note that about a month, maybe two months in, my sister and I were talking about getting a second cat. Well, we didn't, but he did. The end result was that this cat had to be taken to the SPCA because he didn't, and wouldn't, take care of it or put in the iota of effort necessary to train it. I found it under a laundry hamper with a blanket overtop and a kettle weight on top to hold the animal in place while he was out. This happened probably on a number of occasions. His excuse when I asked him about this? His cat needed a time out... A several fucking hour time out.

Well, thankfully, he's gone. His cat is in a better place, but still -- thanks for the good times, the bad times and the really bad times. I don't think I could put it as succinctly or even better than A.Y., "I've known him since high school, and while he's an ass, he wouldn't stab us in the back like this."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dispassionately Displeased

When I was a teen, I babysat. Didn't do it a lot, but I did it. Sometimes it could be a fun experience if the kids were great, sometimes not. But at the end of the night when the folks come home, I'd get paid for my time and it wouldn't be so bad. Well, I just spent eight months babysitting a grown-man-baby who's idea of cleaning isn't cleaning, regardless of the task (dishes, vacuuming, moping, sweeping, etc) and that his idea of cooking isn't, well, cooking (putting item, usually a full package of bacon or an entire pound of ground beef into a pan, turning it on the highest setting and walking away for fifteen minutes then coming back to eat the entire thing). You see, I was inundated with a indolent, irresponsible, immature, lazy and otherwise useless human being who decided that shackling himself to his computer to play WoW on end was a better pursuit of his time than holding down a job for longer than a month and a half.

Oh, and there were the jobs. So many of them. In the first couple months, after he had transitioned through three jobs and I approached him on the subject, he said he was keeping his options open. Keeping his fucking options open about a job? You're supposed to hold it down, not fucking let it fly away. Nope, all his jobs just up and vanished like a grain of sand in the wind. And now? Now I'm getting his tax forms from those jobs, all mailed to my address since he's moved on and I'll get an inkling of just how many jobs he went through. My own rough estimate is ten, but hey, could be more.

So, not only was he useless in the house, but also useless in the workforce. His passion was World of Warcraft. I would become annoyed as I would wake up in the middle of the night hearing him talk to his "friends" and guildmates over his headset at two or three or four in the morning. He had no life. In the entire time he was here, he made no friends. Left the house when he worked (that is, when he actually had a job), but otherwise solicited no outside interference into his life and his WoW-time.

There is also the fact that his room smelled something awful. I remember elucidating to a friend that it smelled of a small child murdered and left to rot in his closet. He asked me how I would know what death smelled like. I think I know, having been overseas and seen and smelled it all firsthand. Rank. His room smelled disgusting. Even now, after a couple days of letting it air out, it still permeates like a musk, like some kind of feral animal marking territory in the most instinctual method.

As I remarked to my sister who had accompanied me on this escapade, it "isn't that he can't, but that he won't, and then that he can't," meaning that what he did do was so horribly done that it would have to be re-done anyway by someone else with an inkling of what was necessary. Apparently he never learned that you should do something right the first time unless you like to repeat tasks again and again until failure was met with success. Nope. Just lots and lots of failure. Rank, sad failure.

However, I'm neglecting to mention the times he shorted me for rent or bills. While I did get the money, it was an eventuality that should never have occurred. He paid for food once (out of three people), and put in another hundred and fifty. When we (my sister and I) began to pressure him for money to buy food, he posted on Facebook how he could survive on less than what we were asking of him on a bi-weekly basis. Fed up, I told him that evening he didn't owe money for food, but would be buying his own from that moment forward. I saw him eat three times in four weeks (when he deigned to leave his room).

But the man in question, the ex-roommate, and most assuredly an ex-friend (because honestly, if you find yourself lying to someone continuously, shorting him, owing him money, are you truly a friend or just a selfish child looking for handouts? I'm sorry, I'm not the nanny state giving handouts through welfare) has left. And when he did, he took the things that meant something to him: his cloths and his computer. He left behind a bed, a broken desk, a busted down computer chair (destroyed beneath the girth of his WoW addiction, and more) and a bunch of other things. Now, I could try and sells these, but I already know that he had tried to sell them because he was so strapped for cash. I, however much an asshole people thing I may be, will be sending these artifacts of a inhuman creature back to his mother. She can figure out what to do with them, because I don't want to handle them.

The expression that these past eight months have personified all of my hate would be an understatement. The initial bliss of moving was far overshadowed by the callous, uncaring and sadistic nature of a man who would go out of his way to stab someone in the back because he couldn't even begin to be bothered to care, as was wont of his selfish nature. But, he's gone. And all I'm left with is a thousand-dollar I.O.U. from him. Thanks for fucking nothing.

EDIT: The bastard in question is known as Tier Bladesinger from Veterans.

Friday, February 11, 2011

In Memory

Talking with a friend of mine, he made the comment that I intentionally block out a number of various memories. That my memory, as it stands, isn't the greatest, and I'll admit, at times it isn't. But for the things I choose to remember, it can be fairly sharp. But, as he was saying, I should stop blocking out specific parts of my life because I don't like them. He may be right, may be wrong. But his prodding of me to utilize my memory fully and not indulge in the action of blocking or repressing things that have happened brought about a very painful moment in my life, one that erupted to the surface rather blatantly, and for the past couple weeks, I've been unable to push back beneath the surface. So, with that...


I'm running. We're all running. I'm energetic, watchful. My head snaps this way and that, looking, scanning. The packed dirt walls towering on either side cast shadows in the sun. Alleys that were full of children are empty as the scattered shots of weapons ring out. My mind is drawn to the fact that at a distance, it sounds like popcorn going off. Past a gap in the wall and then a second. I take up a position along it, looking into the field. Shadows flirt in the treeline and I fire. Suppressive fire, shooting at the points where muzzle flash breaks the darkness of their hideout.

I don't hear the call I'm so enamored of what it is that I'm doing. Aiming, firing, reloading, watching. Then I hear it, my name, being called. They want me because I have the combat stretcher. I ask where, get told, and begin to run. Back through the gaps, the heat of the sun and the peppering of dust flickering into the air as rounds lash against my bootheels. But I'm not thinking about that.

There he is, lying face up. The captain.

I begin to take the stretcher off. My sergeant is there, yelling at me. I'm numb. He's been shot around the neck, but not much blood. But he's unconscious. My rifle, my sergeant asks, where is it? I look at another man, also there. He has it, had taken it off me when he handed me his machine gun because he was a back-up medic. I shrug, tell my sergeant what's up, and pick up the captains rifle.

Life his body onto the stretcher. Radio in for the truck to come pick us up at the intersection. Have to move. Lift and carry. Back through the gaps, a body on a combat stretcher while dust is scattered up all about me as I run with three others to safety from bullets erupting all around me. Now I'm afraid as I raise my captains rifle one armed to shoot back into the field. I don't care where I'm aiming, because I can't aim. I just want them to keep their heads down, because if someone is going to take a bullet, it'll be me on the outside.

And through the second gap, still walking at a quick clip. My adrenaline is fading, being replaced by the empty pit in my stomach. His body gets loaded and I turn to a wall, pumping rounds down range. Anger is surging. Finally, I get tapped -- time to move. Time to run. I begin to run. It's not too far back to the COP. Two hundred meters and I'm home. Home. But there are figures on rooftops, firing. I'm firing, blindly. They're dropping, dead or for cover, I don't know. I don't care. I'm still shooting and reloading. My life depends on it. Others lives depend on it. I'm near the back of the first section moving in.

And I'm gasping for air like I can't breath when I finally return to the outpost, gulping at air like I'm drowning.

Swimming in a world of oxygen unable to breath, hyperventilating, listening to the medics as they attempt to keep him alive, listening to the gunfire receding in the distance as we mortar the fuck out of the enemy. And my arms go slack and I can't even hold my gun, and my legs are screaming, and my eyes are watering, and I can't breath. I'm gulping, but I can't breath. And I look over, and there's blood. Everywhere, there's blood. Soaking into the sand, the stretcher. It's everywhere and I can't look away, but I have to.

Sand I'll be digging up with a shovel and putting into a garbage bag.

And the choppers won't be here for fifteen minutes. Meanwhile I'm on the wall, lungs screaming for air they can't have, body aching for rest it won't see for months, and a yearning for a silence that won't happen. And I'm aiming down the sight of a weapon that isn't mine looking for enemies I can no longer see as they retreat. And I look down at my watch and it's only past nine in the morning. We'd been fighting for hours. Since seven. And everything feels like a there's a finality to...something. An eventuality that I will see but wish I wouldn't. He's dead...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WPCA - Erumid

"Captain on the bridge!"

"At ease. Status report, Commander."

"Everything is clear and in the green, Captain. A number of new ships have exited slipspace and are making for the planet. They've already signed in with Erumid Planetary Control and transponders all flagged green."


The captain took his chair for the last time.


The blinking, black eye of near darkness of slipspace opened and snapped shut, and from it, an object emerged shaped like a small-scale spire. Having exited slipspace nearly on top of the the planetary gravity well, the resulting gravitonic shockwave rippled outward playing havoc with sensors all about the system.

The Erumid Defense frigate Natalissi crumpled inward, folding in on itself from the force of the impact as the object ripped through the unshielded mass. At the point of impact, matter became ions, and supersonic droplets of molten hull metal sleeted through from the top down, arriving before the vibrations of the impact could, and shredding all persons within before their nervous systems had time to register anything amiss. Behind came the shockwave of superheated air expanding with such fury that blast shields bent and warped, searing everything in its path.

The resulting fireball erupted into space like, moments before a secondary explosion caused by a magazine misfire as the ordinance detonated. Bodies and metal flaked off into space as the object continued on unabated, the Natalissi folding in on itself in silence like a toy before the two ends wrung itself apart as the engines continued to fire, sheering off the fore in an almost comic fashion.


Warning icons flashed amber in the holo-displays of his HUD. Giant, glaring red exclamation points punctuated by information. It could be summarized by a single phrase: shit hit the fan - hard.

He looked down and nearly threw up, forgetting how the inside of a Needler was an all-encasing holographic nexus of information, turning the inside of the deployment vehicle into a vertigo enticing entourage. It was like he was falling feet first toward a planet and the burning, ionized atmosphere was slashing super-heated claws lunging up the sides of his legs as the dark of space turned to the blue of sky.

He did puke, the regurgitated mass escaping from his mouth and floating there, nauseating him further. Gravity was a swell thing when traveling to at a T-norm speed of 9.8 meters per second squared. Although in this case, Erumid was something a little higher with a rate of 9.913 meters a second, and even with that information supplied by the TACNAV telling him terminal velocity had come and gone like a gentleman caller in the night left his stomach falling while his bile rose.

The capital of Erudimaz crawled into tangible existence, the circular city with wide-ranging wall to fend off the tropical forest that beset it on all sides and tall towers that spun like lazy minarets into the skyline. Plazas and parks were plentiful, and Paradise Canyon, a winding river, slashed through the whitewashed center of the ovoid mass.


It streaks down on a coil of flame and fury, sonic booms reverberating in the sky. People point, awestruck. People die...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tigers in My Pants

I've been telling this tale a lot lately to co-workers, but I don't think I've intimated this tale to any of my readership (if I have one), so here it is.

It starts in the year 2006 when I was doing my Basic Training, well on my way to being an actual military member. I was in my cubicle (we lived in these 9 by 9 foot boxes strung along a circular (kinda) corridor similar in design to a prison) minding my own business when a guy comes along and says to me, "Hey, Carey, you wanna put some Tiger Balm on your nuts?"

I look up at him.

"Do I look stupid to you?"


"No. Are you going around asking everyone that?"

He just shrugs, walks over to the next cubicle and says, "Hey, Cloutier, want to put Tiger Balm on your nuts?"

"Fuck off!"

So, he continues on down the line. Eventually, as I sit polishing my boots, I begin to hear this high pitched screaming. He found a guy. The screaming gets louder as the guy in question rounds the corner wearing his boxes, holding his balls and screaming. Felix. Not the brightest guy and now he's hurting for that lack of intelligence.

I hear someone yell, "Hey, Felix, put water on it! It'll cool it down!"

All I can think is "Oh no. Oh fuck no."

You see, if you know any form of chemistry, often times water acts as a catalyst, speeds up the reaction. So, Felix, taking this ill-intended advice, runs into the washroom. And the screaming rising an octave or so. I could not believe it. He comes whipping out of the bathroom, face red, eyes watering, balls being crushed in a vice-grip with wet boxers and then a loud shout pierces the halls: "GROUP!"

When an NCO comes onto the floor, the first person to see the NCO must come to attention and yell group alerting all persons that the NCO is present and that they too must come to attention. So, the NCO comes around the corner and sees Felix standing there, fidgeting at attention, jerking up and down like he's having a seizure while standing up.

"What the fuck is your fucking problem, troop?"

"I- I- I- h-have T-t-t-tiger B-balm on m-muh-my nuts, S-s-uh-sergeant."

At that point all of us begin to snicker, holding in laughter. The NCO looks around, eyes scanning above the cubicle walls at everyone standing at attention. I can only imagine what was going through his mind as Felix stood there fidgeting with Tiger Balm on his balls, but he said after a short pause, "Carry on" before leaving the floor.

Felix slumped into a pile, shiver and shaking as he cried for his pain. So, remember, if someone asks if you want to put Tiger Balm, or Icy Hot (a later incident involved this to much the same development), just say no and save yourself the pain.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gran Turismo 5 -- Shoddy, But Maintained with Love

Originally posted Monday, January 17, 2011

When I read on Joystiq that Gran Turismo 5 was going to be released on the 24th of November, I was anxious, if not a bit excited. I wanted to believe that that release date would be true, but too many delays made me a bit cynical. However, my long wait would be over and I'd get to play the game from a series that got me into video games. Gran Turismo, the original from back in 1998 was the whole reason I got my first job -- to buy the original Playstation so I could get the game. And boy, did I play the fuck outta that game. Oh, there were bouts of anger and rage, to be sure, as I wadded my way through the horrendous license tests. But you know what? I endured them and got nothing but gold.

Fast forward to this year, in 2010, and I've been playing GT5 for more than a month, on and off. A few hours here, a few hours there. Suffice to say, my experience isn't what I hoped it'd be. While the game itself is a good racing game, it isn't a great racing game. There are far too many hiccups along the way that turn what could potentially be a great game into a mediocre simulation racer. And even then, in some parts, the simulation part is lacking.

My first experience with GT5 was finding out that there was a forty-five minute install to play the game. You of course have the option of not installing and playing right away, but installing lowers load times -- load times that are already thirty seconds to a minute in length when you've actually put the effort in to actually install the game onto the PS3s HDD. The second thing I note isn't just load times, but a menu system that detracts from the game.

An example would be this. I want to change cars. I enter my garage [1], select my car [2], cycle over to the 'change car' [3] -- and wait for the engine start up noise, which stops my ability to move the cursor, hit the cancel button [4], which takes me over to the 'exit' button -- or I can cycle over to the exit button -- which I then click to exit [5] the car screen which takes me back to the garage screen [6]. Hitting circle again [7] takes me to an exit button -- or I can again cycle over to it -- to click on it to leave the garage [8]. So, to change cars, I'm expected to make anywhere from six to eight button change cars. There is another option, though, and that's pressing triangle over the car you want to change into, which brings up a menu allowing you to select 'change car'. The end result is that the button presses end up being five instead of possibly six to eight. Barely faster.

And just changing cars, which is a trial, isn't the beginning. Races are split into A and B-Spec modes. Not like in GT4 where you could just B-Spec a race from that race, it is its own particular mode (and as an addendum, you cannot speed up B-Spec races like you could in GT4, so a grueling 24 hour race is still a grueling 24 hour race). Furthermore, to get to the races...well, you need to cycle over to either A or B-Spec mode, click that, cycle to the Beginner through Expert series you want, click that, cycle through the nine possible race serials they have, click that, and then depending on the race, click that. About four button clicks...if you're in the correct car. If not, back to the garage to get into the car you need. Luckily, they were kind enough to put a garage button at the race menu, but it still requires those five to eight possible clicks to get into that car. We haven't even started racing yet...

Racing is as you'd expect from a Gran Turismo game. The graphics are pretty and polished (even the standard cars, despite others complaining of 'horrible' graphics). The feeling of speed is excellent. The sensation of the car driving along the road is good. As a racing game, Gran Turismo 5 excels. But it is the hardships required to actually get into that race that detract.

The AI, though? Well, it's as bad as ever, following the stringent master racing line to the letter. It will not deviate. You can park your car front and center of that line and every computer controlled car will ram you because it must not stray, lest Kaz become angry. This works well in your favor, as the races are for the large part extremely easy if you know what you're doing. As for B-Spec, this changes things up, because your driver will be just as retarded as the rest of the AI to the fault that it is. If anything, B-Spec is the headache of the game for me, and merely for completionisms sake do I continue with it despite it manifesting all of my hate.

Probably one of my biggest gripes with the game is with the new-fangled, and I don't say this lightly, bullshit level up system. Why in the hell would I want RPG elements in a racing game? What possessed the Polyphony Digital team to put this there? I'm not allowed to buy a car or race in a race because I'm not the correct level yet? I never really needed to grind in any previous Gran Turismo game, merely going from race to race without care or worry, but now, now I must grind to earn, to unlock, that race and that car, and the money to buy the car. Now, I can understand unlocking stuff. That's standard. Gold this race, get this car. But ... earn this many points to increase this bar to gain this level to earn this race to be able to buy the car to race in that race to win the race to win a car that won't ever be used for anything else... And, I do mean that half the cars you win in the game are useless. They will never be used for anything. If anything, they will be sold. And you can only earn the prize car once, which means you must now grind for money. The license tests, which used to be the measure for which races you could enter, such as a "you must be this tall to ride," aren't even necessary. At best, they give you a car. At worst, bragging rights and a trophy/achievement.

Now, before I wrap this up, there are also a couple tie-in elements. Rally, NASCAR and Top Gear. In my opinion, the only thing that should've been kept of it all was Rally, since it's been with the series since GT2. NASCAR felt like a bolt-on, and the Top Gear TV show tie in is just wasteful in my opinion. There are of course a few other quirks about the game that give me something to rage about, but I think I should leave off with this:

So, to finish, bad AI, unnecessary RPG elements, bad menu system, great graphics, good racing... The end result is that if you're a fan of the series, you like it. If you like racing in general, same thing. If you're new, I'd suggest passing it up for something else. Polyphony Digital needs to work on their product.


You know, when I was talking about GT5, I lapsed over two very glaring issues. The first being the license tests, and second behind the special events. Now, with the first (the license tests being absolutely unnecessary this time around except for getting a car and bragging rights), there are a number of tests that inspire my unfathomed hate. This being any of the tenth challenge to these tests, which usually involves some kind of over-take scenario where you start in last and must get to first, all within one lap. It sounds easy enough in theory, but the actual practice of it is mind-bogglingly retarded! Touch the walls? Disqualified. Touch another car, a special car? Disqualified. Touch an average car while braking? Disqualified. Touch a car while accelerating? Disqualified. Have the AI set to its rigid "perfect line" path ram you? That's right -- disqualified. The entire scenario plays out like an attempt to make it utterly impossible to win. You can win. I have. I've read on the forums of people winning against these odds in only a couple tries. My first attempts were met with much failure and a whole lotta rage.

Of course, with the special events, it's like license tests...only they're races, and yes, there are disqualifications. All the same ones listed above. But you can't just have normal styled races when they're called special events, so you have to make them interesting by forcing people to race in things like NASCAR or go-karts or specialty cars with less than fifty horsepower that drive slower than a grandma taking a nap going over a cliff. The only up-side is the rally events, which are difficult until you discover one minute detail: turning off traction control turns what could potentially be something difficult into something absurdly easy. As for the go-karting, I figured out the twitchy nature of the machine and began to enjoy it...somewhat. But that isn't saying a whole lot.

As a last aside, I absolutely hate the "new car" animation. Whenever purchasing a car or winning a car (after using a ticket in the new car delivery menu), you get this absolutely stupid animation of the car starting up, turning on its lights, and driving forward all of two feet. Upbeat music plays, and I swear I can hear some roid-raging body builder screaming like Joe off Family Guy, "YOU WON A NEW CAR!" And this happens, even if you win a stupid piece of shit vehicle with barely fifteen horsepower that could never be raced under any circumstance. Yeah...won a new car indeed. An example?

Wolf: A Cube X!?

Yeah, that happened.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Day Was Good

Lies and slander.

I started my morning pissed off the moment I walked in the door at work. I was told by the only other person in the store, who showed up about ten minutes before me (myself already ten minutes early) that the truck I was arriving before 5 AM to unload would be thirty to forty-five minutes late. The reality was that the truck was an hour late. This meant I had to find things to do before the truck showed up... But that wasn't hard when I soon discovered that the garbage compactor bin that was supposed to be re-delivered to the store last night at 4 PM hadn't shown up.

So, all the departments in the store, with all the common sense of a mole with its head bashed in by a mace, thought it'd be hilariously funny to dump their garbage at the farthest end of the store, the receiving bay, so as only stink up that area and effectively blocking off the area.

Well, now I've got to clean up the garbage from multiple departments and pile it onto pallets to get it out of the way for when the truck actually, FINALLY, shows up. My milk order showed up before my actual, true order shows up. So, I've at least got something to do at 5:30 other than paperwork after cleaning up the trash.

When I finally get the order offloaded, more than an hour behind schedule of where I actually should be at, I find out that I've been shorted a number of necessary items. So, not only is the truck late, the bin not there, a mess in my receiving bay -- I don't have all the items I had ordered to plug holes in shelves and there's a head office tour coming on Thursday.

My day was great. What about yours?