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Journal Journal: Hmmm

Apparently ground up beetles are a common food coloring. This is both fascinating and disgusting.

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Journal Journal: Luck finale

I've said previously that I don't much care for horse racing; as Luck would have it horse racing is just the backdrop against which a compelling drama takes place. This was truly beautiful television; I will miss it.

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Journal Journal: Mass Effect 3 (spoilers)

So I finally got around to completing Mass Effect 3 today.

Just a quick note on the multiplayer. I wanted 100% galactic readiness so I gave the multiplayer a shot. It is a similar concept to horde mode in Gears of War; you and up to 3 other people have to survive waves of enemies at increasing difficulties. It's more interesting that a straight up shooter like Gears of War since your character can have special powers in addition to the standard weapons. It's alright, but I'm probably not going to play it after getting the relevant achievements; then again I'm not really into multiplayer in general so take that for what it's worth.

The last couple of missions are pretty intense, leading up to your by-the-skin-of-your-teeth infiltration into the Citadel. You have a faceoff of sorts with The Illusive Man. I'm not really sure how different options and play styles affect this, but in my playthrough I was able to talk him down and he killed himself. Sadly Admiral Anderson died and Shepard was on the brink of death. Just when you think there's a nice little ending coming up you get hit by the Knowing effect. Knowing was a movie starring Nicolas Cage where some little girl predicted a lot of catastrophes, culminating in one final prediction where everyone dies. It was interesting throughout most of the movie, but at the end it takes a totally unexpected turn involving aliens saving a handful of children to populate a new civilization; it's just so fucking bizarre and jarring that it more-or-less ruins the movie. The ending in Mass Effect 3 is not quite that severe, but it's in the ballpark. Instead of ending with Anderson and Shepard dying while the battle rages on, Shepard is taken up a level on an elevator and talks to a manifestation of some being that explains the purpose of the Reapers. Essentially it boils down to the inevitable conflict between organics and synthetics. Organics will always create synthetics who in turn will always rebel against their makers. So in order to solve this problem, somebody created the Reapers to destroy all sufficiently advanced lifeforms in the galaxy in order to prevent the synthetics from killing all the organics. In other words, synthetics killing organics to prevent other synthetics from killing organics. I guess it is supposed to keep some kind of balance in the universe, but it seemed kind of odd. Ultimately you are given three choices: 1 - destroy the Reapers, 2 - control the Reapers, 3 - "evolve" all synthetics and organics into a common life form. You are given a little information on what each choice entails, but the final cutscenes for all of them are 100% identical save for the color of an energy beam. I wasn't upset with the ending as much as I was disappointed, though my feelings are not nearly as extreme as some of the stuff out there. I guess I would say I found it more lame than rage-inducing.

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Journal Journal: Walking Dead finale (spoilers)

I haven't read the comics, but I do read some stuff on reddit so some of it was spoiled for me. First of all, they are finally off the fucking farm; halleluiah! Jimmy driving the RV was the most pointless death ever. I literally laughed out loud at the stupidity. I'm not really sure what Lori was so fucking pissed at, though; she all but told Rick to kill Shane, and now that he did she recoils from him? What the fuck, cunt? I also thought it was funny when Carl cried about it; seemed somewhat out of character at that point, but whatever. I thought it was interesting how some of the characters wanted to take off on their own after the shit-storm on the farm, though I am a bit relieved they all went back to the group. I had already read about the "everyone's infected" thing so that revelation was not surprising. Even so I'm not sure why Rick felt it necessary to tell everyone; couldn't he have just lied about Shane's reanimation? I mean, does knowing that you're already infected really change anything? You're fighting for your life, not your after-life (or whatever you want to call it). Finally there's Rick's little speech at the end; apparently he's done taking shit from everyone. I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest; seems to me the only person who gave him any grief was Shane (who's dead) and Herschel (whose land they are now off of). So it seemed a bit pointless in that aspect. Then when you take into account the fact that Lori is the true source of most of the shit that he has to deal with, the mind boggles. Rick should just put a bullet in that cunt's face; that would solve a lot of problems for everyone. Even with all that I'm still into this show; hopefully season 3 won't have the same pacing problems.

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Journal Journal: Mass Effect 3

I'm not exactly sure how far I'm into the game, but based on the missions I've completed I'd wager I'm at about 80 to 85 percent complete. I'm doing all the side missions as well, so I've sunk about 23 hours or so into it so far; this is at a moderate pace on normal difficulty. I'm just going to go over some likes and dislikes in no particular order.

Likes:

  • Good amount of jokes about Garrus and his calibrations
  • Speaking of Garrus, he is still mah nigga; there is a great scene where you spend some down time with him on the Citadel.
  • The evolution of EDI
  • Pretty good job of incorporating most (if not all?) of the characters from the previous games, including DLC; some have more minor roles, but there's a lot of ground to cover and only so much time for everyone.

Dislikes:

  • Previously Reapers were only the huge machines; now the term is used in general to refer to any enemy acting on their behalf.
  • You do see actual Reapers in battle on occasion, but mostly they are part of the background; kind of takes away from the tension.
  • Like ME2, here most of the game is spent rallying your allies rather than actually fighting the enemy. Granted the ante is upped this go around, but it still feels like a lot of bitch work (especially since there is a lot of political maneuvering). It seems odd since the Reapers are in the process of destroying civilizations and I'm worried about making sure the Salarians and Krogans are on the same page. But hey, at least nobody thinks I'm making this shit up anymore.
  • More of a discrepancy than a dislike, but in the previous two games Shepard could only run for 10 feet before getting winded; now he can run, roll, and dive like a motherfucker a la Gears of War. I actually like the improved agility, but it seems out of place given the previous games.
  • Planet scanning is much improved, but it still seems rather pointless.

I've read that there is sort of a controversy over the ending, though I've done my absolute best to avoid any spoilers. I'll hold my judgement until I've played it for myself. There was also some controversy over the day-one DLC. In the grand scheme of things it is somewhat silly, but the character is so well woven into the story that I now have my doubts that it was developed independently. Maybe they just did an excellent job, but their DLC integration in the previous games was nowhere near this level; leads me to believe they withheld it from the full game, but I'm not going to go crazy like a lot of people. Sadly that's just the direction the industry is headed; nothing can be done about it.

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Journal Journal: Too bad

The numbers were quite low (even for premium cable) so I was surprised to learn that Luck had been renewed early on for a second season. To be honest the subject matter is not particularly interesting, but I find the character development and interaction to be enthralling. Anyway, they are shutting it down after their third horse death; probably the right call. In one of the early episodes (perhaps even the first) there was a race where a horse broke its leg. I know that happens not infrequently in actual races, but it caught me off-guard and I found it a bit disturbing.

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Journal Journal: Walking Dead (spoilers) 1

So last week Dale died. I sort of didn't like him at first, but he grew on me; his beef with Shane wasn't sustainable, though. Then this week Shane died. Looking back on the season of course it was inevitable that Rick and Shane were going to have a confrontation. To be honest I felt bad for Shane. He thought he could take better care of everyone and, let's be honest, he was right. I still believe Rick doesn't quite have the stomach to do what is necessary; granted he took down Shane, but everything he does is a long, drawn out ordeal. And Lori and Carl are so fucking bad; I almost view them as the antagonists of the series. Lori is a cunt. I don't see many tears being shed for Shane, though it will be interesting to see Andrea's reaction; everyone else will probably be relieved. Kind of sucks that they're going to make him out to be the bad guy, but that's the way it goes.

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Journal Journal: 50/50

This was a really good movie until the end when it went all Hollywood on us. *** SPOILERS *** The guy lives and goes on a date with his therapist. Ugh. Why is it so hard to end on a downer?

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Journal Journal: Drive

There is a good story here, but I found this movie to be extremely frustrating to watch. I think it tries to be a little too "artsy" (for lack of a better word) in certain spots, particularly with the soundtrack; but that was more of a slight annoyance than anything else. The real problem is that there are too many pauses, too much dead time, and too many shots are held too long. It is sort of like taking an extreme William Shatner stance with the pacing of the movie. The overall pacing is fine, but individual scenes are just excruciating; it's almost a test of endurance to keep watching. I literally yelled at my TV to "come on already!" or "something happen!" more times than I care to admit. I am not exaggerating when I say that there is probably 20 minutes of dead time that could be cut from this movie. I don't mind films trying to be "artsy", but when they affect the fundamental viewing experience I have a problem.

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Journal Journal: Windows 8

I tried the Developer Preview a couple months ago and now the Consumer Preview. My takeaway is that Metro is probably ok for a phone or tablet if you get all your apps from the store, but for the desktop it is FUCKING RETARDED. Vista was widely panned, but that was mostly due to the initial release running like a dog (SP1 makes it usable) and overbearing UAC prompts (also since fixed). Windows 7 was a slight evolution, essentially what Vista should have been in the first place. I liked XP a lot; I was hesitant with Windows 7, but after using it for a while it grew on me. To this day I'm still not crazy about moving everything in the direction of search (in terms of using the start menu), but I can see the utility in it and still have the ability to use the old method. I hate Metro (on the desktop) with a passion because it is forcing a new paradigm that is totally and completely inappropriate. Maybe it's ok for people who are not particularly computer literate and want to treat their desktops as glorified smart phones, but for "power users" it makes things quite difficult. I could live with it if I all I had to deal with was Metro on startup, but even in the "classic" desktop there is no start menu; you have to jump back out to the start screen to launch programs in the ridiculous tile interface (search is still available, thank God). The "workaround" for this is to pin your most used programs to the taskbar, but there is only so much space. I use a lot of applications and tools during the course of my working day and if I were forced to use Windows 8 in its current incarnation I would go batshit insane. Vista was not well received, but it wasn't really a bomb, either. Windows 8 is a radical change and Microsoft seems to be putting a lot of its eggs in this basket. They usually come out on top in the end, but this time I'm not so sure. I generally don't root for people to fail, but this paradigm shift is such a radical step in the wrong direction.

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Journal Journal: Random Game of Thrones thoughts

The woman who marries the horseback warrior is quite possibly the most beautiful woman I've ever seen; not quite sold on her acting ability, though.
The midget is by far the best actor in the series; I also love the eunuch's scenes.
The scenes with the sword trainer were entertaining.
The little kid who wants to make the small man fly annoys the living fuck out of me; I just want to jump through my TV and choke him to death.
Also the kid who is now king; I can't stand the sight of him.
I was somewhat disappointed when Ned was killed, though in hindsight it probably makes for a better story.
Just thinking about the name Lannister makes my blood boil.
The horseback warrior's death kind of let a bit of the air out of the balloon in terms of 3 different armies meeting on the battlefield.
I'm not even sure there's going to be a battle; doesn't seem to be in the show's style.
I'm betting some kind of "peaceful" resolution will be found before it comes to that.
Honestly I'm still not entirely sold on the show, but the second half of the first season certainly grew on me.

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Journal Journal: Is it just me or is Rush Limbaugh a total creep?

It's not what he says that bothers me; at least part of that is just to get a rise out of people. What bothers me is that there are people out there who genuinely hold those beliefs. People who vote. Sigh. I mourn for this nation.

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