Random Friday: On companions, collusion, and exploding heads

From Assassin’s Creed: Origins using photo mode

Now that the first bout of assassin madness has (mostly) passed, let’s start random Friday with… more assassin stuff. The photo mode in Origins can turn out some spectacular pictures if you spend a little time with it. I’ve taken quite a few, but the one above is my favorite. It also nearly caused my head to explode. More on that in a bit.

Let the people speak!

Before AC: Origins landed last week, I’d started playing KOTOR on Xbox One. Yes, the graphics are seriously dated, but it’s also still very much worth playing.

One thing I had forgotten since the last time (which was years ago) was how the game will tell you when one of your companions looks like they might want to talk to you…  and how you can stop right there, wherever you are, and talk to them. It made me realize how much I miss that.

In the first bit of SWTOR (basically, from the beginning through to the end of your class story quest), you get an indicator that tells you a companion wants to talk to you. To do so, you have to go to your ship, or a stronghold, or a cantina. Gone are the days when you can just pull him/her aside and have a conversation on the side of the road, and I think that’s too bad. Having to trek to your ship or find the nearest pub breaks the mood. People don’t always give a rat’s ass where you happen to be at the time–when they want to talk, they talk.

It also eliminates the option of having a companion tell you that they want to talk, but this time, they want to wait until you’re someplace private to have a chat. When most of your conversations happen wherever and whenever, a request to talk in private makes you sit up and pay attention. Sets up some anticipation. Gets you a little more involved. Sometimes in SWTOR, they’ll specify that they want to talk on your ship rather than in some smelly old cantina, but when you spend tons of time going there to talk to them anyway (especially pre-strongholds), the significance of the request kinda loses its oomph.

I play games like KOTOR, SWTOR, Mass Effect, and Dragon’s Age for the story, but your companions are (or should be) a big part of that story. The more they feel like real people, the more immersive it is.

From SWTOR. I have a bit of a thing for Mandalorians.

This (past) week in television: stuff happened.

A few highlights (*mild spoilers ahead for the shows involved):

  • Dibny’s intro on The Flash was a little worrying, but overall, they nailed it. It was Joe who got all the funniest lines, though. His delivery on both the “I finally puked” line and his revelation to Barry in the helicopter were spot on. And I have to say it again: I love this Harry.
  • Over on Arrow, Oliver traded fighting bad guys for wrestling with math. Shudder. Welcome to the real world, where your kids ask for help with math, and you’re like sure! and then you’re like, holy crap, what are these strange symbols?! (And this is assuming that your kids actually do homework, or tell you when they have it.)
  • Legends of Tomorrow is still kind of a mess, but I’m kind of loving it. This Halloween-flavored episode was dorky, weird, and fun. Kid-Ray was adorable, and adult-Ray had his shiny-happy shaken up a bit. As usual, though, it was Rory who stole the show, reacting to the geeking out over Singing in the Rain by flatly declaring, “I like Fiddler on the Roof.
  • AHS: Cult this week was both disturbing and a bit predictable. Kai’s loving descriptions of fanatical cult leaders was seriously creepy, but both of the poison-related bits were obvious. I knew what was going to happen in both cases. Which, for some shows, would be disappointing. In this case, it’s left me convinced that they MEANT for it to be obvious, so that they can whack us over the head when we least expect it.
  • Supernatural: Squee! And yowza, was nothingness-dude creepy or what?

Wait, there’s a word for that. Hmm, let me think…

Monday was a fun day. I noticed that there were a lot of people who were far more subdued than usual, while others were downright ebullient. Maybe none of it had to do with the news that Manaford and Gates were indicted, or Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, but it amused me to think that it did.

But something from a Vanity Fair article was mentioned a couple of times as I read through the news coverage, and it’s been irritating me ever since. An unnamed “Bannon confidant” was describing Bannon’s alleged push to have Trump put roadblocks in front of Mueller, including ideas such as defunding or limiting the investigation. Elsewhere, people talked about appointing another special prosecutor to look into all this Uranium One nonsense, which would include looking into the FBI, which would thus include investigating Mueller himself, which would screw up his investigation. The “Bannon confidant” was quoted as saying, ““Mueller shouldn’t be allowed to be a clean shot on goal… He must be contested and checked. Right now he has unchecked power.” (Again, see the Vanity Fair article.)

One: Mueller does not have “unchecked power”. He still has to abide by the law during his investigations. Can he torture people? Steal all their crap and threaten to burn it if they don’t cooperate? Put a gun to your kid’s head and blow his brains out if you don’t confess? Of course not. He’s a prosecutor, and no prosecutor has “unchecked power”. I suspect that “unchecked power” is either a badly phrased (or coded) way of referring back to the idea of limiting the investigation. It’s not unchecked power that Mueller has, it’s a broad mandate to investigate the Russian interference and any other criminal acts discovered along the way. So tell me: if a guy is being investigated for defrauding clients, and along the way prosecutors stumble across evidence that he also murdered somebody, should they ignore it? Of course not. The point, here, is that certain people want to prevent Mueller from digging up shit. Which is a pretty big clue that there’s shit to be dug.

Two: “He must be contested…”   Yep, and there’s a place for that. It’s called “court”.

Three: Deliberately doing things to “influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice” is called what?

So let me get this straight: Bannon (allegedly) thinks it’s a good idea to try to thwart the special prosecutor… who was appointed because Comey was fired, which gave the appearance of obstruction of justice… by doing things to obstruct justice?

Can we quit talking about banning innocent immigrants and start talking about banning the goddamned griefers? Sweet Jesus sitting on the curb eating a peanut butter sandwich!

Watch Dogs 2 Super-Resolution 2017.06.16 -
Whew. Let’s take a breath. You can do pretty pics in Watch Dogs 2, too. 

About that peanut butter sandwich…

I totally stole that curb-and-peanut-butter line from John Sandford’s latest, Deep FreezeI think I laughed for five minutes. I developed a minor obsession with various “Jesus H. Christ”-type utterances after someone looked at me like I’d grown an extra head when I ripped out, “Jesus H. Buttercup Christ!” one day. (I have no idea where I got that.) I’ve heard some creative ones before, but the peanut butter thing just killed me, for some reason. Seriously, listen for it. You hear some weird shit when you pay attention.

p.s. John Sandford’s Prey series and the spinoff Virgil Flowers books are two of my favorite series.

p.p.s. I hate peanut butter sandwiches. My mom always made them for me in grade school, and I always traded them with another kid for her baloney-and-mustard.

On perception.

Right, so, explody head. We got new Windows 10 computers at work recently (we were on Win7 before), so I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating what image to put on my lock screen. It’s work, so, yeah, must be work safe… but I’d rather have a blank screen than put up some generic stock pic. As a temporary measure, I threw up a pic of a Portal test chamber while I tried to come up with something else.  No one commented on that one. I decided the pic at the top of this post was perfect and threw it up there two days ago.

Now, there’s this guy. At work. A guy at work. I mentioned him before. Actually, I think I mentioned him a couple of times before. He’s the guy who’ll spend minutes on end explaining why the mistake he made wasn’t actually a mistake. He’s also the guy who’ll talk nonstop for five minutes about how much he doesn’t talk about fantasy football. Really, he’s just the guy who won’t shut the fuck up. Like, ever. He rambles, and everyone glazes over, because a) he never says anything even remotely interesting or relevant, and b) he repeats himself. A lot. People (not just me) have started openly making snarky comments about it (sometimes talking over him to do it), but he doesn’t get the hint. Ever.

Yesterday, he spotted my nice new pic on my screen as I was about to log in, and he just had to stop and gush about it. Which isn’t a bad thing normally. You know… when it’s other people. Except it wasn’t other people, it was him, and that’s always bad. He started going on and on about how much he loved how it symbolizes hope and happiness, because it’s so light and stuff. He repeated the same thing three times, while I sat there, staring at him and wondering if this, finally, would be the moment when my brain spontaneously shat itself out of my ears.

I don’t think we’re seeing the same picture. I see miles of barren desert, some rocky bits in the background, and the top of a dead tree. And you’ve got a shadowy black bird, blotting out the sun.

I considered pointing that out, but that would have prolonged the conversation, so I just nodded and smiled and waited until he went away.

Unbeknownst to me, another co-worker had been lurking next to my wall, listening to the whole conversation. When the asshat was a safe distance away, he came around the wall, trying so hard not to laugh that he was practically crying. He looked at the image for a moment, let out a choked-up bleat of laughter, and said, “What’s it from?”

I said, “Assassin’s Creed.” He lost it.

I suppose there’s a lesson in there. We don’t always see things the same way as the next asshole in line. One person looks at a pic and see hope and light and whatever, and I look at it and see a sand dune I’ll be crossing later to hunt some jerkoff despot down and kill him (fictionally). One person sees a leader, I see a moron. Trash, treasure. Blah blah blah. It’s worth thinking about, but when it comes down to it, the delivery can make all the difference. We’re more likely to pay attention to a message when it’s coming from someone we like or respect. When it comes from some asshat who never shuts up, rubs everybody the wrong way, and turns a simple meeting into a grueling endurance test, can you really blame me for losing the message in the method?

Maybe the real lesson is don’t listen to asshats.

Completely random pic from inFamous: Second Son.


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