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Tripping

The knight stood tall in his resplendent armour, his arms flexing under the chainmail and pauldrons, the plume on his helmet languidly dancing from side to side in time with his steadying feet. The six-foot cat person positioned next to him purred, lovingly cleaned her whiskers and then stared at his plume with fascination. Phillip was trying not to stare at her fur-covered breasts when he was shouldered aside by a werewolf that was licking his chops and making his way toward the cat person.
Phillip looked across from one concrete corner to another and took in a silver-lit fairy hovering just above the ground, a tuxedo’ed man with glowing red eyes and a cyborg’s arm whispering to a soldier in full tactical combat gear while gesturing suggestively at the fairy. She winked at Phillip and both men turned to look at him in jealous fascination. He looked down at his tall, well-built form, looking good in his casual uniform and then looked for a way out. He couldn’t help but think they’d all see he was unaffected and he needed out.
Backing cautiously away, Phillip’s head hit something hard. A bit late, he ducked under the oversized elbow of a red and gold armoured rippling hero straight from the pages of at least two comic books, blending iconic red-and-gold armour with a patriotic white star on his chest and shield and an “A” on his helmeted forehead. The man hadn’t paid Phillip any mind as he was talking animatedly to a pop star who was more interested in her phone’s interpretation of her eyeliner than the heroic tale.
Phillip turned slowly, scanning the drab concrete wall behind a thin cartoonish man with crazily-spiked hair and a grey trenchcoat, the handle of a samurai sword peeking out from the folds that flapped slowly in a breeze that should be impossible in this sealed bunker. A greying wizard with a long, wooden staff walked behind a squatted, scaly troll who was panting with its head in its clawed hands when Phillip finally spotted the viewport in the wall. He pushed past a football player in a blue and white uniform who was eyeing him coolly before flashing a wink and a smile.
The viewports were dark, as expected, but Phillip knew they were back there. He didn’t know how many, but they were definitely there.
**
“He seems unaffected, thus far,” Ishrat said, standing tall and squinting curiously at the small viewing window, “Everyone else in the room is most definitely into Stage 3.”
“Stage 3 already?” Meilani asked dubiously, the screen of her tablet lighting her round face, “You’re full of shit, Ish. How can you even tell?”
“Nearly all of them are in full pose-mode, Mei,” Ishrat smiled before raising his eyebrow at her, “And there’s one on the far end grooming herself.”
“Bah, could be a freak-out about flies or something,” she fired back, “Who’s unaffected now? I mean, not that I believe you as there’s no way you can tell.”
“Not a freak-out,” Ishrat said, the viewport drawing him back in, “Seriously, she’s about to crank her leg up like a cello and start licking her ass. And our straight man hasn’t done anything other than study the others on his way over here to try and stare me down. Check it.”
Ishrat stepped back from the little window while his partner leaned down to look through it. Phillip’s face filled the bottom-half of the window, his eyes squinted and roamed back and forth as if he was anxiously awaiting something, or someone. Meilani scrunched up her face in disbelief and turned to look down at Ishrat.
“He’s obviously still in Stage 2, Ish,” she said, tilting her head at him, “And yet it’s you who is imagining things.”
Ishrat’s already-wide smile broadened. “Just watch,” he prompted, “He’s lucid. And he’s looking for us.”
She shook her head as she turned back to look. “How’s he any different from early Stage 2?” she asked, “Half the time they all stare around in wonderment after the dose first smashes headlong into their neurons.”
“Check the time,” Ishrat said smugly, “He’s a full 20 minutes past neuron-smashing. That guy is chill and he’s not just looking for us, he’s looking at the others. Studying them. Watch him.”
**
All Phillip could see in the viewport was his own reflection as his chiselled good looks and swathe of sandy-blonde hair filled the view. He turned from the viewport and looked around the concrete room for the door, spotting it on the far wall looking like a viewport, but floor-to-ceiling. The grey wizard was talking to an pixie-like young woman with elf ears and when Phillip stepped around them he nearly stumbled over the reptilian troll crouched on the floor who was now making pained noises in time with its panting. The slender anime wasn’t directly looking at the troll, but was gripping his sword tightly, everything about him tense.
As Phillip tried to squeeze between the comic hero and the pop icon, Phillip patted the star on the man’s chest and gave him a thumbs up and a wink. Instead of giving way, the celebrity influencer raised an eyebrow at him, the phone at the end of her outstretched arm alternately capturing her image while giving her endless feedback in the form of tiny symbols. Phillip stepped up close to her, looked down her arm at her rectangular interface with the world, leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Your last album made it to Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Worst Ever.” She gave him a dark look and pulled away quickly. Phillip smiled and stepped past.
The still-hovering fairy smiled at his approach and excitedly flit from side to side. Cyborg Tuxedo and the Modern Warfare Soldier loomed behind, glowering. Phillip looked around her at the men, giving a short, sharp salute to the operator and a cock-sure smooth nod and finger-gun to the spy. He blew a kiss to the fairy and she squealed in delight as she spun on the spot, sparkledust cascading off of her and glittering across the floor.
The werewolf was sniffing around the giant cat, literally, and she didn’t appear too impressed, giving Phillip an imploring purr as he approached. The hulking monster had apparently gone a bit too far for the knight as he had stepped over and placed a gauntleted hand on the werewolf’s massive bicep, pulling at it with futility. Phillip moved around them and the cat woman gave him an appreciative nod when he made a show of stepping over her long tail, the very end flipping happily on the floor.
Phillip presented himself in front of the door, holding his arms out, palms up. He could hear the werewolf building a low snarl and the clinking of the plate armour as the knight flinched. It would be one hell of a fight and he wanted out, and he mouthed as such to the darkened door, then waited.
**
“Alright, something’s funny,” Meilani said, “I’m not saying you’re right or anything, but something’s up.”
“You want to go around?” Ishrat asked her, his face eager, “See what he’s doing?”
Meilani shrugged and pursed her lips before nodding. “May as well,” she relented, “Make sure he doesn’t freak the others out.”
Ishrat fell in step with his partner, hurrying a little because her strides were significantly longer than his. “There’s not always a freak-out, apparently,” he said, “They say that sometimes, it’s super rare, but you get some sort of idealised version of yourself. Like your best self. I wish I’d had me some of that.”
Meilani grunted noncommittally as they rounded the corner of the dimly-lit hallway. “Rumours. It sure as hell can’t do that, Ish,” she scoffed, “That’s not what it’s designed for in any way at all. It’s just meant to get you over the hump, into the next step. You know that.”
“I don’t even remember mine other than I was kind of pissed when I woke up,” Ishrat said, hustling to catch up to her, “All I know is I passed and most didn’t, and here I am.”
Meilani grunted again as they came up to the large frame surrounding the room’s only door, her mass nearly filling the entire thing.
Ishrat looked around under her arm and stared in fascination through the door at Phillip’s pantomime just on the other side. “Wonder what it is he’s going through. You know, Mei…” he said, “All this time together and you’ve never talked about what it was like when you went through.”
“No,” Meilani answered shortly, “I haven’t.”
**
Phillip was working his mouth wide and exaggerated while so they could more easily make out his words while he gestured toward the door. He only wanted out and clearly wasn’t a danger. He was the only one not an entirely new form like the wackjobs they put him in there with. Whatever this was going on, he wasn’t in on it.
The werewolf’s growl got slowly louder behind him but the knight’s voice was surprisingly firm in response. Those two were going to get at it soon, and Phillip figured he’d do better do something different to get out of there before getting caught up in it. He couldn’t for the life of him remember why it was they’d stuck him in that room but when he looked at his reflection in the viewport’s glass and saw the orange t-shirt and grey jacket, he had a fleeting thought that everyone in there was wearing the same thing at one point.
Phillip studied his face in the glass and saw something a bit off. He wondered if it had a warp or minor imperfection as his chin looked impressively square, though he always thought of it as fairly non-existent. There was something about the lighting in the concrete room too that he totally appreciated, as he looked in the door’s glass and thought he’d never looked so good. Beefed-up too, as the grey jacket seemed to give him impressively-muscled shoulders.
He gave his head a small shake and regained his composure. Whatever weird lighting they had in there, and whatever weird D&D shit was going on with the others, he was ready to come out and he needed to let them know. If only they’d just adjust the tint on the door and he could see them, he could properly explain it.
**
“Whoa. Read his lips, Mei, he says we should let him out, ha!” Ishrat said before turning to her, “So… what was it like for you when you went through? You freak out or what?”
Meilani breathed a deep and heavy sigh. Phillip was talking conversationally didn’t seem agitated in any way. Two others behind him were sizing each other up aggressively, but that was common enough by this point. They were nearly done.
“I don’t like talking about it, Ish,” she said softly, “I definitely didn’t see my idealised self, that’s for sure.”
Ishrat’s voice lowered and he looked up at his partner, his eyes soft. “What happened, Mei?” he asked, “You can tell me, you know that.”
Meilani sighed again and pursed her lips. “It wasn’t even like it was a freak-out,” she said quietly, “I just saw my husband come in, all six-foot-five of him, and as he walked toward me he slowly changed into my father, all five-foot-six of him. So that was pretty weird.”
Ishrat blew out a breath. “Whoa, Mei,” he said softly, “That’s messed up. So that’s not a freak-out? Sounds pretty close.”
“Nah, messed up was that I stood there and calmly pissed my pants,” she turned to Ishrat snickering, and he joined her laughter, “Seriously! Full load! I filled my boots and it ran out on the floor. I think that’s when they knew I was done, and yet somehow two boots full of piss managed a pass!”
They were both caught in peals of laughter now. Ishrat gripped his partner’s shoulder to steady himself. “Oh Mei, that’s a real pisser!” he chuckled and sighed, “A far cry from the ideal you, I bet! Which was what again? Oh yes, that’s right. The tall gal from movies and comics and such, no? Bit cliched, isn’t it?”
“I was five when I saw the movies, Ish,” Meilani cut him off, giving him a mock stern look, “And yes, she was my personal hero for years, cliche or not. Besides, you’re one to talk about cliches and heroes, yours is like the biggest… wait, what’s he doing now?”
Phillip was gesturing the turning of a dial, still speaking calmly to the door.
“Now he’s asking us to turn off the door tint, I think,” Ishrat said, his voice curious, “We’re almost done, Mei. What do you think?”
“Yeah, why not?” Meilani shrugged casually, “We are almost done and the room is sealed otherwise, I don’t see the harm.”
Ishrat swiped down on his tablet and the door cleared. Phillip smiled and moved closer, looking between the two of them and still speaking conversationally. Meilani’s face dropped as she raised her arms slowly up to the glass. Ishrat poked his head under one arm and looked up at her with alarm.
“Mei, you alright?” he asked.
“Can you see what that scrawny ginger is saying?” Meilani asked her partner, “Did you catch that about a…”
Ishrat’s mouth worked as he watched Phillip’s mouth and interpreted his words, then his face dropped too.
“He says, ‘Get your magic lasso out and open the door.'” Ishrat said, shaking his head in disbelief, “‘You and Spidey are safe because the dose isn’t working on me.'”
“Can he hear us somehow?” Meilani’s voice was almost a low croak, “Is there a PA in there or something?”
“No, Mei, there’s no PA, you know that,” Ishrat answered, “He can’t hear us.”
“But I’ve never told anyone but my husband and you, Ishrat, ever,” she said, her voice rising.
“I… Mei…” Ishrat stammered, “I never told anyone but you. Ever.”

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Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe it’s just me, but if I were a man (and I am) and I was white (and I am) and I was interested in keeping my life as good and as full and as blessed by my chosen deity as possible, I might think about the best ways to do that.

If I get to do a whole lot of whatever I want, I’ve got to make sure I get to keep doing that, and I think the best way to do that is to make sure other people keep doing what they’re doing, which is letting me.

The world used to be structured in such a way where I, as a white dude, got to do ANYTHING I wanted, even if it meant to somebody else. No restrictions.

But some of the Somebody Else’s decided they didn’t like me doing anything I wanted to them. They started going on about their right to have a say in what I did to them. They started to restrict what I could do, and I didn’t like that. But more and more of the Somebody Else’s got together and decided they all agreed to restrict me.

I started getting to do a whole lot less of what I wanted, so I really needed to come up with a plan to make the Somebody Else’s believe they were getting what they wanted, while I still got what I wanted. It took a lot of planning and some really, really subtle ways to go about things.

It wasn’t easy. But I wasn’t just going to give up all the good things in my blessed life. But I couldn’t just openly fight back either, there are now far too many of the Somebody Else’s for me to outright aggress them. I have to convince them they’re getting what they want. Since I can’t change their minds about what I was doing to them, I have to change their minds about whether or not it was even me doing it.

Then, the idea came to me like a voice from the heavens.

I can take somebody that most of the Somebody Else’s trust but doesn’t ever speak on their own. I’ll take all the things that I want the Somebody Else’s to do for me and I’ll say that our mutually-believed-in deity said for them to do it.

Maybe it’s just me, but this sounds like an excellent plan.

It just gets better and better too. Because not only do I have a peripheral someone advocating for the stuff I want, but I can use all the deity’s associated documentation. Brilliant! The single most popular book in the world will back up what I’m saying, I just have to find ways to creatively quote it so that it says all the things I need it to.

This plan was perfect, and it’s working like a dream.

Until the Somebody Else’s go and get loud again. Which, for the most part, is manageable. It’s actually pretty easy, I just make sure I focus on what’s different about them, and I make sure that corresponds with whatever I want my deity to say through that most-popular of books. Simple.

If their language, culture, region or skin colour are different, I’m all set. The plan is working beautifully still, and I’ve got everyone convinced that it’s not me doing it, it’s just the will of our unseen deity.

The plan took some big hits though. The Somebody Else’s were suddenly everywhere. In my house, in my bathroom, in my kitchen, in my very bed. This was a real problem. It had been managed for time immemorial but this time the problem was unprecedented in scope. Because I had always had leverage, I’d always had the final say over them when it came to one very fundamental difference between us.

They were the ones responsible for growing and producing life.

I tried, but there was no way I could do it on my own. I needed them for this. And since there were so many of them, easily as many as there are of me, this was a real problem.

Maybe it’s just me, but if I was going to keep getting all the good things I really needed to call upon the words from the most-popular book. I really needed to make them sound like they were straight from the deity. I really needed to keep the Somebody Else’s from thinking too much about this on their own, so I distracted them with other parts of the most-popular book.

I hit them right in their virtues. I made the most-popular book all about being good. Not just regular good, there’s not enough inspiration and pressure and distraction behind that. No, I made it about being better than regular good. A level of good that was nearly unattainable. Something we all were striving for. I even convinced everyone that I was equal to them in this regard. I never believed it, but they did, and that’s all that matters.

And this plan was working. For the most part.

But then the Somebody Else’s really threw a spanner in the works of my plan. They didn’t believe me any more.

Not enough anyway. They tried to tell me that the words I was using from the most-popular book weren’t really about me getting to be the only one to have all the good things. They started reading the most-popular book in ways I had never foreseen, using my words in their surrounding context in the most-popular book instead of in their gloriously sound-bitey ways I’d worked out.

They even pointed out that my behaviour in my daily life didn’t match up with the unattainable good we were all supposedly striving for. All I was doing was just enjoying all the good things in the solitary manner I was accustomed, and the Somebody Else’s started using my words and interpretations against me.

Then the worst thing happened. A whole bunch of the Somebody Else’s stopped believing in the deity with me. Well, they stopped believing enough, anyway. They started believing in their own ways, not in mine.

This was a disaster. Something needed to be done.

I’ve spent centuries making sure that the Somebody Else’s knew they weren’t as good as me, that they didn’t just get the good things that I got. That it was more than the issue of if there was enough for everyone. That I needed to be the only one having all the good things, that was the deal. That’s always been the deal, actually.

I told them in every way I could that still convinced them that it was them, not me. I subtly made laws, changed financial structures, changed entire societal structures. I still did whatever I wanted to the Somebody Else’s, I just had to hide it more. And it was working.

I thought of the most effective ways to get my message across and I was so good at it that after a while it was doing it all by itself. It became bigger than just me. It became a system. A big, beautiful self-sustaining system designed to make sure I get most of all the good things.

Still not perfect, but it was working. They were convinced and all my words and the most-popular book enforced it. But then it started to weaken. The fatal flaw in my plan of convincing the Somebody Else’s that they didn’t get all the good things because they weren’t being good enough was that they started to compare themselves to me.

This was one of the worst possible outcomes.

And I faltered. I was finally forced to irrevocably share some of the good things. Convincing all the Somebody Else’s to give only me the good things wasn’t working like it used to. I’ve been very good at convincing them they were getting some of the good things like I was, but then they all started sharing information every which way, and they stopped being as convinced. I had it all, and I was being forced to share.

The Somebody Else’s had exploited a loophole in my previously-perfect plan. They tried holding me to account.

This was not acceptable.

It was time for me and the other white dudes to really take control. To make a real display of power so that even if the Somebody Else’s got loud and fought back against it, I could just flex my muscle. I could remind them in a heartbeat that no matter how many of them there are, even if all the combined Somebody Else’s outnumbered all the me, I was still the one in control.

The Somebody Else’s needed to know that I still had all the power. I’ve always had it.

Sure, the plan wasn’t working anywhere near as well as it has for so long, but it was still working well-enough.

Plus, the plan was built around us having all the good things because we had all the power and vice versa. This self-sustaining system was built to always support that one very fundamental and important aspect: That I keep all the good things and all the power and it’s still up to me whether or not the Somebody Else’s get any of it at all. One part might fall off a bit, but the other part will prop it all back up.

And don’t let any of the Somebody Else’s fool you. I’ve still got all the power. I still get all the good things. That’s not changing.

Just watch and see what happens when there’s even a hint of threat. I’ll always have the plan. Because I’ll always want to be the only one getting all the good things and doing whatever I want, even if it’s to Somebody Else with no restriction. That’s not changing either.

**

So yeah. If I were like that, that’s how I’d go about doing things.

But maybe that’s just me.

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It’s okay for them to die because they’re old.

It’s one thing to throw the doors open and invite Rona into our previously COVID-free state, but it’s another entirely to simply drop nearly every Safety Precaution (AKA “restrictions”) and just let the shit run free.

And it IS.

17,033 new cases today. Another new record. Pretty sure we’re breaking the previous record every day now.

1 in 40 West Australians are in isolation because of COVID.

Since the start of 2022, there have been 161 deaths.

But nobody cares.

Nobody cares because nearly all of the people who have died are old. The average age is something like 75.

These people are dead, and no one cares.

A teenager dying made the headlines, as did a man in his 30’s. But they were small headlines, and always accompanied with the phrase “pre-existing conditions”.

Well holy fuck. If you pare it right down, there’s a heap of us that have pre-existing conditions.

Take me, for example, as I was pre-diabetic at one point. I am 47 years old. I am overweight. I am male.

Each of these PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS ups my chances of serious illness or DEATH as a result of catching COVID-19.

I’ll say it again, just in case there’s any confusion: I have an increased chance of DYING from catching COVID.

So naturally, I don’t want to catch it. I don’t want anyone I love to catch it. I don’t really want anyone to catch it other than Clive Palmer, and probably that fuckhead Paul Papalia.

But nobody else feels that way. Because nobody cares.

Where they would wear their masks underneath their noses, if at all, before, they now walk around free and unencumbered with forced accommodation for those of us that DON’T WANT TO DIE.

I honestly don’t even know why I’m writing this other than to document the fuckery.

This is completely fucked.

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Western Australians all getting COVID because of Federal Election.

Bear with me. Slap on the tinfoil hat if you must. But I believe that our Labor Premier, Mark McGowan, was strong-armed from multiple directions into not only opening WA’s borders, but in dropping nearly every COVID Safety Precaution (or “Restrictions” if you’re one of those).

We were COVID free, you see. Our borders were closed. You couldn’t even book a ticket unless you were double-vaxxed and you couldn’t leave isolation until you tested clean after 14 days. We were getting it done.

Then Delta hits Australia and everybody over east is getting COVID. Tens of thousands test positive, thousands are very sick, hundreds die. We’re still safe in WA because we don’t let anybody in.

Well, technically that’s not true. We let plenty of people in, you just had to have done the right checks and applied appropriately.

Naturally, the media pushed the message that WA doesn’t let anybody in.

Mark McGollum and his Hermit Kingdom was pushed rather hard. The yobs here pissed and moaned about it, everybody over east pissed and moaned about it. Nobody pointed out that just about anybody could get in, they just needed to test clean, be vaxxed and quarantine.

They just didn’t fucking want to. They just wanted to fly in and get off the plane.

So then Omicron sneaks through with some French backpacker. Do we lock down? Do we get crazy and seal up? Nope. We carry on with all of our relaxed ways, but Mighty Mac is pressured, left, right and centre, to open the borders. The loudmouths and their protests here, the jealous shitstains over there, it’s coming from all sides.

So we do. We make a plan to get everybody vaxxed, then set a date. And Omicron blows up. So we move the date.

And you’d have thought he’d shot the fucking Queen.

Now it’s coming from everywhere, WA media especially, even Auntie ABC is shitting on McGowan whenever they can, calling his decision to postpone the date a “backflip”. Fuck me, it got stupid.

Then Mighty Mac throws the gates open and we buckle down. He’s weathered all the shit thrown at him for all the vaccine mandates (and some of those, yes, were a bit poorly-handled) and reckons we’re ready to get hit right in the face with the Viddy.

But that wasn’t enough. Because now the pressure, in my opinion, was internal. The Federal Labor Party.

See, a Federal Election was sure to be called soon. And Labor needs to win this one. We can’t have a MAJOR Labor Leader be seen as some asshole in the west that doesn’t let even his own Party in!

“Oh, and when we get there, we can’t have a bunch of press conferences and photo ops with us in fucking masks.

NO MORE MASKS, PLEASE.”

And the next thing you know, WA is hitting a COVID peak like nothing we’d ever seen.

**

So just in case I get Assange-inated. I’m writing this shit down.

I hope the families of the 131 people in WA that have died in 2022 of COVID personally write to the new PM (please be Albo, please) and remind him that when he wins the fuck out of WA, he’s done it with blood.

End Stage

The large piece of black sushi from the header graphic above is a stylised caricature of our sweet cat, Seven.

He had gone skinny for a brief bit, so we were feeding him more.  We always said that his heart was where his brain should be, so we’d kind of assumed he’d just forgotten to eat for a while.  He always liked it outside in the Cat Run more than the other two, so we figured he might have stayed out there so long he missed feedings.  He would often come in after a rainstorm, soaked through.  He was not smart.

And he was eating, lots.  Feeding him separate was working, we thought.  Then he just crashed.  A cat that never let anyone pick him up was suddenly falling over and quite cuddly when scooped up.  I made an emergency appointment and Wifeage loved on him on our way out, but stayed home with our smallest while I had our middle kid with me.  We kind of knew.  When we parted, that is.  We kind of knew.

He was in end-stage organ failure.  All the numbers were very bad.  I had to take the doctor aside to level with her and force her to level with me.  I told her that despite our poverty, money wasn’t an issue.  I’d sell the car, a kidney, drugs, my body.  Money wasn’t going to be what factored in a decision for our beautiful boy’s life.  She hemmed and hawed in the way that doctors are supposed to do.  They can’t sway you in your decisions, it’s like, a part of their oath or some bullshit.

But when I asked for chances, even IF it could be fought and we were willing to put him through that sort of treatment.  This sweet, stupid, lovely, semi-feral boy, being held down and tubed and blooded and caged for days.  If we DO this, what chances might he have?

She frowned.  Said, “I haven’t seen it, in all my years.”

At first I scoffed, because she looked barely older than the 14-yo I’d left in the waiting area with our sweet boy.  Then I realised that she was probably doing this when she was 14, and probably had plenty of years.  Enough to warrant that reaction.  She gains nothing from suggesting to me that he’d be better off being slept out.

It was straightforward and the constant communication Wifeage and I were having had no doubts involved.  I held him, for a long time, and he purred smoothly and nuzzled into my chest.  This gorgeous idiot that was so feral when we first fostered him that he’d panic run from any room I entered.  It was 6 months before I got to even pet him, yet here he was having the best Dad Loves of his life on my chest.

He barely flinched when he got his final shot, and he had the best nap of his life in my arms.  Then he was gone.

**

Now I’m told via emails from my mother, that my brother has end-stage liver failure.  She’s got a Master’s in Nursing but I still don’t really understand what she’s saying.  To me it sounds like, “His alcoholism finally caught up to him.”

My father, the doctor, hasn’t replied to my emails.  It’s my own damn fault, ultimately.  I trained them all that email was best for me and I hated phone calls and that it was okay for us to go a couple of months without contact sometimes.  Now my phone is silent and I’m not sure I wanted that.

But then again, it’s standard for me to hear about a death with an email from my mother that simply has that person’s name as the subject, usually weeks after the event so I have little to no time to be a part of anything.  This can be particularly troublesome when she sends me an email subject name of some young and healthy person who has recently proposed to their true love.  Because when I go to open it, I think they’re dead, only to find them blissfully happy.  So name in the subject line doesn’t always mean dead?  Got it.  Sort of.

My father is famous for telling me that my grandmother died by responding to a question about another event that he might not make it because he was still in California for his mother’s funeral.  That she was my Grammy and I might’ve liked to be told she’d died was lost on him.  I don’t expect he’s considered I would want to hear about my brother now.  He’d probably tell me afterward, I think.  No guarantees though.

So I’m not new to any of this, but I sure as fuck don’t like it.

I didn’t like what happened with Seven, either.  But at least everybody involved knew what was up.  It was hard, there were explosions of tears, there were sentences that were incredibly difficult to finish.  But I’d so much rather it that way than this.  This feeling that I’m forgotten.  Not important enough to keep involved.  While my only brother lays dying.

I don’t like this at all.

And what’s to come doesn’t promise to be any better.

Gel Blasters in WA

I came in with love for the sport and passion for the community.

Straightaway saw Kiron being a cunt and Gilbert Grant being a crazy cunt.  I too, wondered what Nhat did.  It would be nearly a year before he told me the story, start to finish.  All up, he did nothing to GG, nothing at all.

Bounced along happily, banning the crazy cunts, but Zach was always hard to control.

Then it all blew up.  He’s crazy, and after all we did for him.  He’s an actual sociopath.  Just like Gilbert.

Now this ban.  The Ausgel Podcast was the last straw.  Putting some wankstain like Tyler Lynch on there like he’s important.  Dan, Peter, Chris, these Titans of Industry, all talking about how they’re going to initiate legalities against the ban.

We’ve never heard from ANY of them.  NONE of them have ever engaged me in conversation, social media or otherwise, though I’ve reached out to each and every one of them.

This industry, this community, deserves what it gets.

Me, Nhat… Dan.  My wife.  We’ve all put in WAY MORE than we’ve ever gotten out.  What we’ve gotten out instead is abused.  Slandered.  Shit on.  Dan’s gotten it less because he’s been around less, but he’s gotten way more abuse than he’s ever deserved.

I’m sick of it.  Sick of it all.  After all I’ve done, the good energy that I’ve brought and the good I tried to do.

This “community” can go fuck itself.

Maybe this’ll be different.

I had sent word to my dad to let him know when I’d be coming home for a visit after one of my earlier years of college, and I hadn’t heard back from him for several days. While never one for prompt correspondence, it was slightly unusual. But unlike other times when he’d explain his absence with a two-part summation involving an activity and location like “ice climbing” and “Mount Rainier” or “kayaking” and “Bighorn River” this time he simply said that he was sorry he hadn’t gotten back to me because he’d been “out of town for Sibyl’s funeral.”

That was how he told me my grandmother, his mother, was dead.

The years showed that this was neither out of the norm of the level I was involved nor the worst way he could deliver news, so it’s actually a perfect example.

Now I’m actually reeling, completely unprepared emotionally for what I’m feeling, in reading actual messages from the former family. I’m so out of the loop I had to ask my son who this person was with the cool name only to find out it’s my wife’s youngest brother, my boy’s own uncle. It sounds for all the world, for the first time, that someone out there that shares her blood is willing to set aside any and all of the ridiculous bullshit that’s kept them apart, for the sake of coming together.

And I don’t know how to feel about that.

That’s not actually true. I know how I feel about that. I’m elated. Overjoyed. Buoyed. Hopeful.

But those are all incredibly dangerous emotions when you’re already weakened, beaten down. Vulnerable.

Her grandmother passed on Sunday. How we found out is too pitarded and inane to let only these words at, so I’m foregoing that part. We found out and it wasn’t directed towards us, ’nuff said.

Now Uncle CoolName tells my son that my wife’s auntie, long-estranged for reasons no doubt as stupid as ours, died the Thursday before. Cancer.

And I had one of those instant thoughts, the kind that make you anxious that they’re inappropriate or weird or wrong. My first thought was, “Did Nan know? Somehow, through her dementia, did it make it in that her youngest daughter was dead? Did that cause a ripple effect that eventually moved her on as well?”

Suffice to say that anytime in your late 90’s is a perfect acceptable, needs no explanation, time to pass on. But still. The thought was there.

And in this, the time afterward, where we’re floating and stuck and forgotten and neither she nor I nor our children have ANY FUCKING IDEA what it was that we did that was so awful, so despicable, so unforgivable, that we were simply excised from the entire family. In this time, I wonder to myself, what comes next?

Where do we go from here?

The truth is probably that people that have been shitty are still going to be shitty, and people that were neutral or ineffectual or fence-sitting are probably going to still be like that too. No one has really changed, nor will they. They were what they were and they are what they are, and maybe it’s our foolish egos that keep wondering what it is about US that makes these people be this way.

I mean, there’s nothing in any way to suggest in my life that I wouldn’t want to know about my Grammy passing on, yet my father simply didn’t think of that. Maybe it’s something similar with people that have never considered even the smallest of things, like the fact that everyone in the entire family knew who Nan’s miniatures were meant to go to rightfully.

Maybe all these things just never occur to them. And here we are wondering what it is about us that’s gotten us here. Maybe the truth is: Nothing. This is just who they are. This is just who we are.

Maybe if we’re all better at accepting that, moving forward into this, the time after The Great Nonsense, we’ll do better at doing it together.

Fear.

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.
– Elbert Hubbard

This.

This is me.

When I was younger, a boy growing up in rural Montana, I had little to no real joy.  I simply existed, in fear, from one day to the next.  I had little to look forward to and little to enjoy, particularly with anyone else.

I still live in fear.  Fear of not just making a mistake (or many) but also fear of the unknown and unforeseen Bad Luck.  It’s hit before and there’s no reason to think it won’t hit again.  Despite my inner belief that fear and anxiety draw negativities towards them with the same prevalence that joy and positivity attract good things, I sometimes can’t shake the worry, the fear.

I’ve never played to win, really, only playing Not To Lose.  It’s a shitty way to do this Life thing.

The first time I ever actually played to win, throwing myself completely into something, was hockey.  Hell, for a long time that was the only thing.

Then I met her.  And I didn’t just throw myself, I cascaded headlong into the abyss.  I rocketed towards her with everything I had and I’ve never looked back.

No.  Not once.  Not ever.

And it’s been hard.  And it’s been miserable at times.  It’s been a constant barrage of shit at times.

And I’ve never looked back.

Sure, there’s been fear.  But it’s the same silly fear that is simply nameless, faceless anxiety that sits in the back of your brain and says ridiculous things.  Like the ghost of Elvis in the bathroom mirror, taunting you while you rinse your face, it’s back there.

But it’s not present, front and centre, and she is.

And THEY are.  Four of ’em.

The fear is there with them especially, but the joy is louder.  The joy is there and even though there are times that I have to dig it out with a pickaxe, I can find it.

I frequently tell them that I know I’ve made mistakes and I’ll make many more.  So will they.  Living in fear of them is, in and of itself, a mistake.  Let’s just live.  Find some joy.

Without fear.

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue

ACRO_hero

Rating: 3 of 5 stars.  Don’t avoid it, but don’t kill your pets to get it.

3star

I’ll admit that I struggled to get through Assassin’s Creed III.  At first, that is.  Once the story really picked up and got rolling I was in love and I don’t give a shit what all the critics say, that was one brilliant game.

Because I never buy games new and will happily wait a few months to get them for 25% of the price pre-owned from EB Games I happened to get AC III and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag at around the same time, making me labour through both.

Then, by the time it even occurred to me that yet another Assassin’s Creed game had come out (Rogue) we were already trying to save up for a PS4 so I knew I couldn’t swing it.  But, fortune smiled upon us and a huge tax return meant we could not only afford a PS4 but I could get Assassin’s Creed: Rogue too.  Well, taxes, and the fact that we traded nearly every other PS3 game we had.

Setting – Really?  Colonial America AGAIN?

I won’t bore you with details that you can get anywhere else.  You’re Shay Cormac and an assassin and nearly everything about the game is identical to AC III and Black Flag, with some of the best bits from the two included (and dropped) and some of the worst bits dropped too (thank dog).

I LOVED Shay the hotheaded Irish boy, running about killing people and having his little witty repartee with that bitch of a Frenchman, Chevalier.  Liam is brilliant as the older brother/best friend/role model guy and Hope is a sexy love interest.  Achilles is a proper assassin now, mentor of the Colonial Assassin’s and your boss.  Weird seeing him younger and wearing Connor’s robes (which, of course, he’ll give Connor in about 20-30 years) but cool I suppose.

But then they all turn into cunts.

The Assassin’s are so hell-bent on getting to these precursor sites and fucking with the artifacts there that they’ll happily level Haiti and Lisbon in the process.  Shay gets rightfully pissed when he nearly flattens Lisbon and nearly gets killed in the process and Achilles doesn’t give a rat’s ass.  So Shay steals the manuscript that helps them figure out where this shit is and makes a run for it.  The Assassin Brotherhood try to kill him (naturally, because talking to him would be too reasonable) and end up shooting him in the side and off a cliff.

Shay wakes up, gets healed up by some weirdly helpful folks.  Seriously, they’re like serious Christians or something in how much help they offer and how readily they accept the wounded Irishman.  He gets swept up in killing more bad guys (mutual to the Templars and Assassins, of course) and then starts running errands for the British Army and assorted Men of Power.

Betrayed by his mentor, who was probably reeling from the sudden deaths of his wife and son (the original Connor, if you’ve ever checked out the graves at the Homestead) and his role model/best friend Liam, Shay’s clearly got some Daddy Issues and is ready to lapdog for whomever is around.

Well first it’s a colonel or some shit from the army and such and then it’s… ta-dah!  Haytham Kenway.

"I am no a cunt!" "I'll think you'll find you are."

“I am not a cunt!”
“I’ll think you’ll find you are.”

Ah Haytham.  I loved him, then I hated him, then I loved him, then I hated him again.  It fluctuated.  But I always, ALWAYS, feared him.

He’s fearsome and awesome and lends that unique cuntiness brutality to the Templars that probably should have made Shay at least say SOMETHING about their methods.  He’s still riddled with Daddy Issues though and only says something in the final scene.

Which, [spoiler alert], fucking rocked.  Pure Haytham at his best.

Best Bits

A familiar control scheme, landscape, setting and gameplay.  It was good to pretty much know what was up and how to do it all from the get-go.  Shay’s a pretty good character and it’s a colourful and interesting cast of characters and their interactions that make this good from the outset.

Loved changing outfits easily and that cold water now damages you so you have to swim and be more strategic in how you do things.  Loved the fighting dynamics, again, and the weapon upgrades weren’t bad either.

They dropped the underwater thing from Black Flag, which didn’t really break my heart, and kept some of the best boating bits including blasting icebergs and North Atlantic shit.

They dropped the lameass hunting bullshit from AC III/Black Flag too, I think.  Maybe I just didn’t play that part at all because I hated it.

Worst Bits

The story was good with the betrayal and all and Shay is a compelling character but I didn’t fall in love with him the way I do other assassins.  YES, even Connor.  Shay was a hot-headed idealist that was trying to save the world.  Sure, he stayed that way, but I didn’t like how easily he became the Templar lapdog.

They got rid of horses?!?  Fark.  They also have fuck all for Side Missions and the story aside from the betrayal and all was only vaguely interesting.  A little more revenge thrown in would’ve rocked and a whole bunch more rebelliousness for the Templars too (not just Assassins) instead of “Oh, I guess I’ll have to kill Adewale because Haytham said so… SIGH”.  That shit was fucking lame as hell and I’m heaps pissed they killed Ade.

Haytham hates his father?!?

Worse still was the dialoge between Haytham and Ade where Haytham acts as if his father was a total fuck.  If Ubisoft had gone ahead and read their own fucking books, like Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken, which is written as a journal of Haytham Kenway, then they’d know Haytham worshipped his father and spent his life seeking revenge for his death.

Re-used gameplay maybe, re-using a game’s location and time period? Meh.

K, I’m happy enough that they kept many well-liked features from AC: III and AC: Black Flag and ditched some of the bleah that folks didn’t like in those games.  Ubisoft proved with Ezio that they could learn from shit they got wrong.

But I believe they were totally mailing it in by giving us the American Colonial Times as a setting again.  Particularly when that history had been done and dusted.  They really should’ve given us either another time period or location and this feels like a complete cop-out.

Badly-handled but good characters.

Anyway, Shay had HEAPS of potential but ended up lukewarm overall.  A poorly-done story for the team-switching Mick.  The Assassins too-easily try to kill him and he too-easily goes back and DOES kill them.  Nobody seems interested, at all, in trying to do anything right, including our hero.

Awesome Surprise of Awesome

[Actual Spoiler Alert]

Shay is the one that kills Arno’s father.  Holy.  Shit.

Conveniently enough, I had actually picked up AC: Unity (from trading more games, heh) and had just started it, so the entire setting and all that shit worked in nearly perfectly.

I still don’t know what to think about that though.  I mean, damn.

Also, Fuck Abstergo

Know how earlier I mentioned how good Ubisoft is at fixing their mistakes.  They’ve steadily decreased the whole Immersion-Exploding bullshit of getting your first-person self in and out of the Animus, but it’s still there and it still sucks sweaty bilge balls.

If you’re listening Ubisoft, never subject me to gather fucking iPads or rebooting servers or Desmond or any of the horrible and fucking lame shit that you’ve put in over the years.  We no longer need to be set up for how we’re being a pirate or ninja or whatever, we just want to play the fucking game.  Drop that animus crap, like now.

 

Customs – Night Fox

A while back I got a screamin’ deal on a Ninja Combat Cruiser for $15.  I HATE the name and only call it that to be ironic.  It’s a truck and it’s cool and right now it’s the ride for my Slaughter’s Marauders (that I got on another screamin’ deal).

And for being all about ninjas and the Arashikage clan tattoos and all that other silly shit from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it came with an all-black mistake called, “Night Fox”.

THIS.  I mean, holy shit.

THIS. I mean, holy shit.

I don’t… I don’t even… He had a good vest (though it wouldn’t even let him fit in the fucking truck) and a passable head.

So just to be a cheeky bitch, and not because I have any great love of Night Fox, I decided to make a custom for him using leftover stuff I’ve had for ages and the original head.

Night Fox

Night Fox

Lookin' fo' a drive by foo'

Lookin’ fo’ a drive by foo’

Recipe:

Night Fox from back

Whu? Where’d he go?

Biggest Nail – I quite like how the drybrushing “desert camo” came out and I put a slight sheen across his goggles too.  Plus a touch-up on the grenades on his vest.  I’m totally happy with that stuff.

Night Fox - Front View

Night Fox from front

Biggest Fail – Some of his joints are pretty loose and one of his knees even scraped back to the basecoat when I was posing him.  As hard as it may sound, it really isn’t that easy to make a figure entirely black and have it stay.

Night Fox posed

Fully posable bitches!

As with all my customs these days, he’s fully playable and poseable too.  Because otherwise they’re not action figures, they’re statues, and I’ve never had much fun playing with statues.  Sure, I like lookin’ at ’em, but you can’t play with ’em.

Night Fox in Dune Buggy

Wait, there’s no “10” OR “2” dammit.

One of my first vehicle customs, this desert dune buggy was more of an accessorising kit-out instead of a proper custom, but my ASD 4-yo pulled it off the shelf and had a lot of fun with it.  The end result is actually kind of good in that now I have a good excuse to clean it up and redo it.

This time though, no sloppy enamels or mis-placed accessories.  I’m going to do it right with a good amount of gear and a proper BFG on the top.