Lucien’s Review: Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XVAfter ten years in development, the final product that is supposed to breathe new life into the franchise has been released.  Sorry this review took so long, but I was working to make it through as much content as I possibly could, in order to give the best review possible.  To that end, my initial verdict is that this game is many things.  Some of them very good, others pants-on-head retarded.  Was it worth the wait?  Did it live up to the hype?  There is a LOT to talk about with this game, so let’s get down to it.

This game begins with one of the problems.  It just throws you out into it.  There is NO lead-in to this game.  There is no world-building.  It expects you to have seen a lot of the extended content, which is a real shame, because I get the feeling that there is a lot of really interesting narrative to sink one’s teeth into.  Noctis and his three friends are sent out by King Regis to go meet with Lunafreya, in order to get married and cement an alliance that could help them save their country.  From there, the plot gets all kinds of ridiculously convoluted.

Originally, this game was said to be a fantasy based on reality.  I took that to heart.  I really did.  Back in the days when this was Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Tetsuya Nomura wanted this to be a game about a fantasy world that you could believe exists.  Part of me is DYING to see what the game that he envisioned would have been like.  The cruel reality is that the game that I saw in those old trailers looked 1000X better than what we got here.

Let me put it to you like this – I have the EXACT same opinion of this game as I do Metal Gear Solid V.  When you are playing, it is so much fun.  The elements of exploring the vast, open world and chilling with your buddies, going on the endless side-quests, that part of the game is more fun than I have had with an RPG in a long time.  However, there is this retarded story that keeps poking at me to do what it wants.  And you know what, I wish it didn’t exist.

This game was marketed as a road trip game with Noctis and his buddies going from place to place and getting into all kinds of crazy fantasy hijinks.  And you know what, when the game is doing that, I am in love.  Everything leading up to when you leave the country to basically go on a completely-linear second half is truly special.  Why couldn’t this game have stuck with the road trip?  I can’t help but think that Nomura’s original vision eschewed a lot of the grandiose bullshit, in favor of a game that is more of a story about fighting to reclaim the prince’s kingdom?  Like, have him going around, getting allies, making some pacts with summons and gaining allies by helping people in various places?  Then, the game wraps up with Noctis taking the fight to the Empire to reclaim his home.  Sure, it isn’t the most epic story, but since when does all fantasy have to be about saving the fucking world?

I suppose I should actually talk about elements of the game, but I needed to get all that out there for when I make my last point.  First thing to know – this game is beautiful.  There’s a reason that getting to wander the countryside is so fun.  The landscapes are nothing short of spectacular.  Getting to travel around in your car (which is mostly on rails) is a wonderfully immersive experience, just getting to take everything in and listen to your friends talk.  Then you get to camp out, and each time you do, it feels like a new experience, partly due to the unique animations you get to watch as you level up.

Then there is the combat system.  Here is where a lot of people’s mileage will vary.  I loved it.  This isn’t the kind of game where you just press attack and win.  There is a ton of real strategy that you have to use if you want to do well in this game, from knowing when to block, how to react quickly to parry strikes, and moving around enemies to get the perfect strike on their blind spot, which can sometimes be very difficult to hit.  The magic is a bit different from other games.  Instead of having magic powers you unlock, you craft magic in this game from elemental gems that you can charge up magical energy from.  When you combine magic with items, you can make casting spells also have curative powers.  The mixing and matching of magic to items feels a lot like alchemy, and it is very fun.

For those who saw the summons in the game’s trailer and thought that you will be getting to play around with them, don’t get your hopes up.  You don’t.  The only time that you are able to use summons is at VERY specific points in the story.  But they are still fucking epic, don’t get me wrong.

Which brings me to the characters.  The four main characters who the game is centered around are pretty awesome.  At least for the parts that you can travel around the countryside.  They play off each other brilliantly, and it feels like four friends out on a road trip.  Noctis is a bit broody, but not to the point that it’s annoying.  Ignis is my favorite of the bunch.  He’s kind of a Mother Hen for the group, and his dry sense of humor just makes my day, every time I hear it.  Gladiolous is something of a meat-head and is brash, but you enjoy his company like the lovable big brother.  Prompto is kind of the reverse.  He is the scrawny little brother, trying his best to be a good friend and fit in.  Those four are the driving force, and for that much the game is fantastic.  You even get these little bonding sessions with each character, and all of them are fun and shed light on how likeable they are.

And then there’s the villains.  They are the driest, must under-developed video game villains I think I’ve ever seen.  Their motivations are…well, you never really know.  They are all gone because plot reasons and you never see them again.  Hell, the entire empire that you’re fighting crumbles all the sudden and that’s it, all for a REALLY forced message about saving the world can happen.  It’s bad.  Really bad.  Like, the absolute worst.  Ties back in to what I was saying about some parts of this game being awesome, and others being bad.

The reality is that this is NOT the return to form that Square Enix was hoping for.  Wrapped up inside a very bad plot is a very good game that is a ton of fun to play, up until you have to leave Lucis and the whole thing devolves into bullshit.  It’s such a shame that such a fantastic concept and some truly amazing gameplay is wasted on a story that I was rolling my eyes at the whole time.  Again, it’s just like Metal Gear Solid V in that regard.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: Zuko Alone vs. Korra Alone

Let’s talk about something that I guarantee you almost none of you have thought about in a long time.  I had a conversation with someone tonight where I laid out what my issues were with Legend of Korra.  That was a series that had two absolutely-superb seasons (1 and 3), one mediocre season (4), and one downright awful season (2).  It was a series that had something of an identity crisis, but when it finally figured out what it wanted to be for long enough, it gave us one of the most mature kid’s series ever made.  If only it didn’t have such a crash and burn at the finish line, it might have been more memorable.  There is one example of the series identity crisis that truly shows off why Legend of Korra didn’t work for two seasons – the episode “Korra Alone.”

A riff on the episode from the original series, “Zuko Alone,” this episode tried to recapture the magic that that episode had, all the while not remembering what made that episode so good.  I thought I would do a compare and contrast to show where Korra went wrong and how it could have been done so much better.  Let’s talk about the original first.

Zuko Alone

In this episode, we see our favorite villain by himself.  He left Iroh because he now felt that there is nothing left for him.  He struck out on his own and trying to figure out who he is.  Now that he knows for a fact that his father is trying to kill him, the prince feels very lost and alone.  While there is stuff that happens in this episode and it has a complete arc, it isn’t so much about the plot as what is happening in the mind of Zuko.

Between the instances of things happening to him, we see flashbacks to his earlier life, when he was living with his family in the Fire Nation capital.  We get to see his mother, who we find out that he was incredibly close to.  We also get to see his crush on May, and his tumultuous relationship with his sister, who was very open about not liking him.  Life was good, and we also get to see messages from his uncle Iroh talking about the siege of Ba Sing Se that eventually took the life of his son.

Meanwhile, in the present, he comes across a run down village in the Earth Kingdom.  He’s just trying to pass through, when he runs afoul of a kid being accosted by some Earth Kingdom soldiers who are using their power over the people in that village.  Beating them down with ease, Zuko is invited by the kid he rescued to stay with his family as a reward for helping him.  While he is wary about doing so, he takes the kid up on his offer.  There, he meets the kind family and trades helping them with being fed and given provisions.  There is a scene where he bonds with the child he saved after the kid steals his dual-swords.  You can see that, as lost as Zuko is, he is finding ways to bond with people who he felt no kinship with up to this point.

As things are getting settled in the real world, the flashbacks show Zuko angering the Fire Lord when his display of firebending is unimpressive and he has to get comforted by his mother.  The Firelord is displeased, and it is clear that something bad is happening.  Meanwhile, he also finds out that Iroh’s son died in the siege, which has ended in failure.  Azula hints to Zuko that the Firelord is going to do something bad to him, but he covers that by saying that Azula always lies.

The soldiers come to the farm that Zuko has been hiding out at and the leader tells the father that their son’s unit was captured, and he is likely dead or going to be put out on the front lines as a way to protect the Fire Nation troops from Earth Kingdom attack.  The father, desperate, says that he will go and find his son and bring him him home.  Zuko, feeling somewhat responsible for what happened, is distraught.  Just as he is about to leave, the mother approaches him and says that the troops have taken their youngest child and are going to send him to fight unless Zuko faces them.  He agrees to help, heading in to town.

This is where all the mental anguish that Zuko is feeling comes to a head.  As he faces down the troops, he takes out the bulk of them with ease.  Then there is the commander, who has some earthbending talent.  Since he is trying to hide who he is, he doesn’t use firebending.  All he has is his swords, and that alone isn’t enough to stop the commander.  A smash to the skull sends him down, which leads him to remember his mother waking him in the middle of the night, telling him that he must never forget who he is.  In that moment, emboldened, he uses firebending and drops the enemy commander in seconds.  He sheathes his blades, letting the people in that village know who he is, because he has made peace with it.  The episode ends with him leaving, still alone, but at peace with what he has become and who he is.

The entirety of this episode was about Zuko’s mental state.  It was perfectly paced, showing the progression of his mental state, from being walled off and in denial, to gaining strength from remembering who he is and coming to peace with who he has become.  Simple, clean, and got the job done perfectly.  If only the other series didn’t have that problem.

Korra Alone

At the end of the previous episode, I was drooling, because I thought that this series was about to go to a whole new level of dark.  We see Korra in an underground arena unlike any we have seen.  Here, there is a bending match, but it isn’t like any we have seen.  Here, benders are fighting for real.  It’s an underground fighting pit, and Korra is getting the shit beaten out of her.  What an awesome way to get inside her head!  It’s perfect!  I can’t wait to see what happens next!  The rest of the gang has heard that she has been gone from the Water Tribe for months, so has she been in that place for that long?  Has she been living alone, fighting out her personal demons in a bending fighting arena?!  The possibilities for character growth are unlimited!

Oh, wait, she was only there for a day.  That’s right, the episode starts with seeing Korra leaving the Water Tribe, and going all over the world, trying to talk to various people and get some form of enlightenment from other cultures.  The end of the battle with Zaheer has scarred her, and she doesn’t have the drive that she did before.  She stared death in the face, become an vengeful beast, and then lost the use of her legs for months.  Alright, we got ourselves some good mental conflict.  Visiting other communities doesn’t work, so she decides to return to Republic City and find comfort in her friends.  She gets there, but doesn’t have the will to face them.  Instead, she goes into the city, and she finds out about a special bending competition there.

Which brings us to the part that was the biggest let-down of the entire series.  We see Korra indeed in that arena, trying to excise the demons inside of her by brute force.  All the narrative potential there is beyond words.  But, just as she is finishing her first and only match where she gets the shit kicked out of her, a plot device leads her away to find Toph for plot reasons.  Groj-dammit!

The entire episode then has plot shit, because this entire season has plot shit.  There isn’t a single drop of character development in the whole fucking thing!  I mean, who awesome would it have been if she had been in that pit for months?  Maybe show her body becoming more and more broken as the fights go on, with her viewing getting the shit kicked out of her as justified punishment for her own weakness.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?!  A physical indicator of her mental pain.  I get that they can’t do much blood in a kid’s series, but you can still show bruises and signs of her pain.  Have her in some run-down apartment, by herself, with only her demons to keep her company. Maybe having hallucinations of her enemies as Amon and Zaheer, the only two villains in the series to actually frighten her.

I even know how they could have perfectly ended the episode – by helping fix another plot-hole in the season.  This season is infamous for having a big plot change that has a lot of people all worked up, on both sides.  I hate it, but only because I don’t feel like it developed naturally.  It feels like it was just thrown in there because.  I am, of course, talking about the relationship between Korra and Asami.  An episode like the one I described could EASILY have laid the ground-work for the two of them getting close.  Like have Asami be given a tip by someone, maybe a person who cares for Korra and is tired of watching her nearly killing herself to excise her pain, that she is in the arena.  Then she drops by and sees Korra in the ring, barely able to keep going.  Have her take a particularly brutal blow, with Asami screaming out and jumping inside.  She runs in and goes over to the fallen Avatar, holding her brutalized body and crying.  Much like how Katara had held Aang at his worst.  In that moment, Korra realizes that she’s been trying to deal with all of this alone, when the thing she needed is right here.  It could be a beautiful bonding moment, either as a the pretext to romance or just as friends.  Either works.

Part of me thinks that that was the original idea for this episode, with the plot stuff coming later.  But Nickelodeon caught wind of it and put the kaboshes on it.  After all, how would that look, to have a female character getting the shit kicked out of her in a fighting pit?  Yeah, that’s some dark shit.  But that’s why I loved it so much!  This was a series that had gone WAY past what other kid’s shows had done!  It had someone’s head exploding!  In the previous season, one of the villains has her head trapped inside a metal space with an explosion.  That head is gone.  How can a show that blows someone’s head off suddenly back down from being willing to go to that length?  We will never know.

In the end, the episode has Korra dealing with inner pain for five minutes, before having to get back to the plot.  This was the problem with the previous season, which could easily have been remedied if they didn’t have to be 13 episodes long.  Frustrating.

In the end, both episodes have their merits, but in execution, one is flawless and the other is a disorganized mess.  That’s a good analogy for both series, one is flawless, the other is a disorganized mess with occasional moments of absolute brilliance.

Until next time, a quote,

“My name is Zuko!  Son of Ursa and Firelord Ozai!  Prince of the Fire Nation and heir to the throne!” – Zuko, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: The Last of Us: Part II Trailer

In 2013, there debuted a game that was not only my favorite game for the PS3, but also one of my favorite games of all time.  It starred a duo who I have not only loved as characters, but written Critical Examination posts about.  My contention is that both of them have given up something in order to survive in the world of this series.  The name of this series means the last part of yourself that you are willing to throw away in order to stay alive.  Joel describes himself as a survivor to justify the horrible things he has done and continues to do throughout the first game.  At the end, Ellie chose to make the sacrifice in order to continue living.  Will the next game keep that idea going?  From what I have seen so far, absolutely.  Let’s take a look at the trailer.

Alright, we start off seeing somebody who we don’t know tuning a guitar.  I love how detailed at all is.  They start to play, and a familiar voice can be heard.  The song is a miserable one about how she is no longer a good person, and to be seen as good is wrong.  While singing, we see somebody coming into the house.  We don’t see his face, as he walks through what looks to be a real bloodbath.  A lot of people died in there, recently.  The man is holding a gun, so maybe he will be the next one that our girl Ellie decides to waste.  Sucks to be him.

However, as he gets to the door where she’s playing, another familiar voice asks her a question – what are you doing, kiddo?  Joel’s back, and as the paternal figure he has always been, he’s with his young charge.  I’m curious to see how their father-daughter relationship has grown over the last few years.  Ellie has done some growing up, and since she’s covered in blood when we get a close-up of her, she clearly has gotten used to a violent life.  He then asks – are you really going to go through with this?  I think this question has significance.  If my theory is right, and The Last of Us represents the last part of yourself that you are willing to give up to survive, then his question is asking her if she is willing to make the sacrifice once-again.  Another instance has been put to her to make the sacrifice of her humanity to survive.  To which she responds – I’m going to kill every last one of them.  So, yeah.  She is willing to make the sacrifice.  Joel being her surrogate father has come full circle, and now his way of surviving has passed on to her.

There are a lot of things that I am curious about, though.  For instance – what happened to Tommy?  Why did they leave?  Did something bad happen?  There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I am so stoked to see what those are.  No release date, but I am a patient man when it comes to Naughty Dog.  They don’t release games half-done, so I got nothing but time.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Nobody Cares if You Say “Merry Christmas” (A response to Prager University)

Well, the month of December is upon us, and we have another conservative outlet who is telling us that Christmas is under attack and has to be defended by the stalwart “patriots” who are going to keep America strong.  By, you know, complaining about the biggest First World Problems ever.  For example – Christmas is under attack!  Did you not know that?!  Us EVIL left-leaning people are trying to destroy this beautiful symbol of Corporate America, with only the most insanely-devoted Christians legitimately giving a shit about the Jesus nonsense that has been proven not to be true.  The reality is that Christmas as we understand it is just the old Romans not wanting to give up the winter solstice celebration that had been part of culture for hundreds of years.  So the bullshit artists of religion decided to get together and say that their savior was born on that day, and make up two equally-convoluted stories to justify his birth on that day being a giant plot-hole from previous works of the Bible.

Yeah, that’s the narrative that the conservatards of Prager University have cooked up, in the latest retarded-ass video that they have graced us with, because they need to tell their echo chamber that their precious holiday is under attack.  I’ll have the video posted here, so no one can say that I’m taking anything out of context, then we’ll talk about it.

Butthurt conservatives first assertion is that it used to be totally cool to say Merry Christmas, but now all of us EVIL left-leaning people say happy holidays.  I’m going to debunk the majority of this entire video in two points that I’m going to make.

First, NO ONE cares if you say Merry Christmas.  I’m left-leaning as fuck, and I couldn’t possibly care less if you say “Merry Christmas” to me.  Hell, I’ll even say it back to you.  I work at the most thankless job in the world, and even the assholes who call in every day have started saying nice holiday greetings and I return them in kind.  There isn’t a single person out there who legitimately gives a fuck about the statement of “Merry Christmas.”  I am so fucking sick of this narrative that isn’t backed up by a single substantive piece of evidence.  This octogenarian fuck pulled it right out of his ass, just like every conservative pundit who wants to capitalize on how stupid their audience is.  And you have bumper stickers like (and I’m not shitting you.  I wish I had gotten a picture), “want to offend a liberal?  Say ‘Merry Christmas’ to them.”  Yeah, I’m really hurt by a greeting that is part of the cultural lexicon in EVERY fucking part of the country.

Where did this idea that us left-leaning people hate this statement come from?  I have looked back, and the first time I started really hearing about it was around the time Obama became President.  During the Bush years, nobody gave a shit.  I was a little young during the Clinton years, so if this was some big issue then, I didn’t see it.  If anyone remembers back that far, let me know.  It really gained steam during the Obama administration.  Before that, people used both terms interchangeably without anyone giving the remotest shit.

Second – the statement of “Happy Holidays” didn’t come up at some snub for Christmas.  For those who are capable of paying attention, it is said because it includes all kinds of holidays.  Not just Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa (nobody celebrates Kwanzaa.  Nobody), but also Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s.  It is an easy, all-encompassing statement for the holiday season.  Since the reality is that Christmas exists as a corporate holiday, Corporate America needed a simple phrase that is easy to put on posters around the store and in advertisements.  Boom, they got it.  That’s it.  This Prager fuck doesn’t pay attention to ANYTHING approaching history.  He’s a conservative, though.  Aside from the positions that suck America off (so much of this country is one giant circle-jerk), their knowledge of history is dismal at best.

Now that we’ve cleared up the bulk of the points in his video, let’s tackle one of my favorite bits of conspiracy theory that I’ve seen in some time.  The guy makes the contention that us atheists are secretly trying to enforce some secular government.  Here’s where I get to surprise some people – yeah, actually, I would love to see a secular government.  But this guy actually thinks that us atheists are trying to do that through the usage of a this phrase.  That’s the level of stupid we’re working with here.  This guy is too wealthy to actually believe his own bullshit, so I figure this is just to keep the money flowing in from the people who are easily-manipulated.  The secular government that I am envisioning is coming to pass simply because more and more people are leaving behind the antiquated bullshit that makes up religion.  It’s a bygone belief structure that was started by a bunch of people who were just looking for a way to control people.

Religion is outdated in an age where we can take all the knowledge of the human race and put it in their hand.  We don’t need to wonder about the nature of the world anymore.  Science has shown us that nothing about the world’s existence requires some magical man in the sky who seems to have an awful lot of human characteristics, such as anger, vengeance, and genocidal rage, to name a few.  If this man actually believes that me and mine are trying to upend the religious section of society with this stupid statement, then these idiots clearly aren’t paying attention.

The guy concludes by urging his dim-witted audience to keep saying “Merry Christmas.”  Yeah, because us lefties are going to be totally destroyed by it!  The horror!  Or I’ll just say it back and not care.  You know, like a normal person.

Until next time, a quote,

“Stupid is a condition. Ignorance is a choice.” -Wiley Miller

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Death Stranding – Teaser Trailer

Rather unceremoniously, we see another preview for Hideo Kojima’s latest game that will be exclusive for the PS4 and PS4 Pro.  And just like last time, there isn’t a single ounce of gameplay in the entire thing, and I can’t help but be hopelessly engrossed.  Only Kojima can make a trailer that pretty much shows nothing about the game, yet none-the-less gets everyone totally hooked.  This man has shown to take a lot of inspiration from Hollywood, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this trailer.  Sony was SO smart in getting him to come on-board with their company.  I can only imagine what that conversation was like.  I figure it involved them throwing huge piles of money at the man.  It worked, and now we have a new game that if I could hope for it to come out next year, it would be right at the top of my list.  Let’s take a look at this new trailer that just dropped without a lot of pomp and circumstance.

Well, what have we here?  Another trailer showing off this game having some serious star power.  The last trailer showed that Kojima and Norman Reedus are still tight.  Now we see that Mads Mikkelsen is in this game.  Let’s talk about this trailer.  There is a lot to unpack.

We start out seeing a short, stocky, clearly chubby guy trying to sneak his way into a dark tunnel.  He’s carrying something, but we don’t see what.  As he gets to the tunnel, there seems to be some kind of battle raging overhead.  With whom?  We don’t know.  We see some WWII-era fighter jets flying around.  That’s pretty cool.  The guy seems nervous about the fighting, but clearly has somewhere that he needs to go.  Just as he is about to enter the tunnel, he stops.  Above him, we see a tank moving.  But something is very wrong with this tank.  It has disgusting tendrils coming out of it.  Makes me think back to the infested bases in Starcraft.  Trailing behind are some soldiers.  Are they infested too?

Our protagonist looks very nervous, but then looks down at what he is carrying.  It appears to be some sort of machine.  He plugs in something to it, and we see a baby being suspended inside.  Is that the baby we saw from the original trailer with Norman Reedus?  Who can say.  Dude seems to be feeling a lot more sure of himself, though, and starts heading into the dark tunnel.  However, just as he is, we zoom down the tunnel.  All the way down, to where a bunch of soldiers are approaching.  They appear to be hooked up to some guy.  Who is this guy?  Why are these soldiers hooked to him with tendrils?  That’s ominous.  Then, in a spectacular reveal, we see that it’s Mads Mikkelsen!  And he is looking all badass and messed up, because the tendrils are coming out of him.  What is his story?  Is he possessed by something?  Is he the one doing the possessing?  Impossible to say, but I can’t wait to find out.

The visuals in this are in a league of their own, but it’s more the feel of this.  I am in love with the style of this game.  I said in the post I did about the first trailer at this year’s E3 that it is Lovecraftian as fuck, and I still mean that.  We have another ocean, with weird, fish-like creatures taking control of the people in this world.  Yeah, that’s straight out of Lovecraft’s works.  I am so stoked for this game.  I cannot WAIT to see what the gameplay is like.  If Kojima takes the lessons he learned from Metal Gear Solid V and applies them here, then we are almost-guaranteed to have an incredible game that rocks everyone’s world.

Sony made a damn good investment with Kojima.  Whatever he ends up putting out, I know for a fact that it will blow away all expectations.  Hopefully you all are as excited as me.  Granted, I am getting more antsy to see gameplay, but I am almost positive that that will be the final hit that Sony has at next year’s E3.  Hopefully it will also include a release date.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

A Hard Question

Another long day comes to an end.  I put Ellie to bed and now was settling in to watch some news before going to bed.  My days of being a journalism student in college still catch up to me.  The urge to keep informed about what is happening in the world.  Another Presidential election over.  The infotainment that is cable news has to find some new thing to milk into the ground with the fact-free reporting that they do.  The modern Fourth Estate is a joke.  I truly do believe in what it was supposed to represent, but now it is just a shadow of what the great journalists fought for.  When Edward R. Murrow took on Joseph McCarthy, when Walter Cronkite took on the government over the Vietnam War, when Ted Koppel took on the government over the Iran hostage crisis, they fought for what the news was supposed to mean.  But they were gone.  Sorry if I preached, but I still think about things like that, even now.
They said that becoming a dad would totally change me.  Sure, it changed my routine and how I look at the choices I make, but it didn’t magically turn me into a curmudgeon who is uber-conservative and believes that liberals are stupid.  I still believe the things that I believed then.  Only difference is that now I get to try and be the best dad that I can be while believing what I do.  I have taken a hard stance that I want to impart my values in a way where I give all sides their due.  I wasn’t going to teach my little girl what to think, but rather how to think, and let her come to her own conclusions.  Sure, it meant that for a while there, she believed that her deity was Santa Claus, but now she is at the top of her class and is the smartest child I have ever met.  Makes me wish she could see her.  I look at the pics on the wall, and my mind goes back.

I met her when I was in college.  The two of us immediately clicked.  Our weirdness meshed so well, and we were fast friends.  For a few years, life was good.  We would go out, have dinner, go to movies, see random things that happened in town that got both of our attention.  Was even dragged to a couple cultural festivals by the girl.  I was always a little apprehensive about going to things like that.  So different and random.  Really was my father’s son.  He hated new things, and would complain up to the point that he actually was there.  After that, once he was in the middle of whatever it was, he was enjoying himself.  Made for vacations where my mother would have to put up with him complaining all the way there, but I could tell that she knew that it would be worth it once he was there, just as excited as the rest of us.
One night, at a Japanese culture festival, the two of us were sitting and eating some noodles.  It was fantastic.  There was music playing and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  That’s when I look over, wanting to say something to her, but she is already looking at me.  A look in her eyes, telling me that she had been looking at me for a while.  We just look into one-another’s eyes, and I don’t need to say anything else.  Her hand goes to my cheek, and I move in closer.  Each movement brings new rounds of butterflies inside that are driving me crazy, but I don’t stop.  Then our faces are so close.  When did this person who was nothing but a friend to me become something more?  I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.  Everything about this moment felt right.  Our lips met, in a soft embrace that I never wanted to end.  It was the first night that I felt like I was living since high school, where my last relationship ended.
It’s five years later.  We’re at the church that she grew up in.  I’m not a religious person, but she is.  I can put aside how I feel about it all, because this makes her and her family happy.  I’m saying “I do,” and tears are going down her face.  We embrace again, and everything is wonderful.
Two more years later, and we are pregnant.  She is so excited.  I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared out of my wits.  We both have good jobs.  Money isn’t something to be afraid of.  We made sure that we were ready before taking this step.  But even with all of that, I’m still scared to death.  What does it mean to be a dad?  Both of my parents have advice for me.  Hell, everyone has advice for me.  The entire fucking world is suddenly an expert on having children.  Not helping.  Not one bit.
We are sitting in a room, listening to a doctor.  She is telling us that my wife has cancer.  Due to the pregnancy, it is making her immune system weakened.  It just happened to come in at the right time.  My wife is scared for the baby, but the doctor said that it hasn’t gone to her reproductive system.  Facing her own mortality, the first thing she thinks about is the baby.  Admirable.  I wonder why.  I just want to save her.  The options we have are limited.  We can’t do chemo with the baby in there.  We’d kill it.  By the time the baby is done, it might be too late for more radical treatments.  It’s already in the second stage.  My wife is crying.  I think I am too.  Hard to tell.  My whole body feels numb.
It’s just after dawn when she goes into labor.  I get her to the car and drive like a bat out of hell to the hospital.  It’s not close.  She looks terrible.  The treatments for cancer that are safe, along with the progression are making her so sick.  So scared that delivering the baby will be dangerous.  Told her to do a c-section.  It’s safe, easy, and then it’s over.  She says no.  Wants to deliver this thing the normal way.  Stubborn woman.  Stupidly stubborn.  What’s the point of doing things that way if it’s an unnecessary risk?!
Being right never feels like a victory, for me.  I am watching as my baby is being wheeled away, while they get the crash cart.  Over and over, they attempt to restart her heart.  It doesn’t work.  Holding my newborn daughter in my arms, I watch my wife die.  What should be the most wonderful night of my life is when my heart is breaking.  I have so much that I have to do, only difference is that now I have to do it all on my own.  Never have I felt more alone.

My eyes open, as I see a light at the top of the stairs.  Down the stairs she comes.  Sitting up, I see that the TV had turned itself off due to inactivity.
“Dad, you up?” a voice calls.
“Yeah, in the living room.”
In her flannel pjs, I see the girl coming over.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?”
The look on her face, it’s concern, but awkward.  “I heard a noise, from down here.  I think you were talking in your sleep.  Heard you calling out to mom.”
A feeling of shame.  “Oh.  Sorry if I woke you.”
She sits down in a chair across from me on the couch.
“It’s okay.”  There is something more there.  “Can I, ask you something?”
Parent moment – she’s just shy of middle school.  The talk is coming.  Anytime I hear that question, I know that the big one is coming.
“Sure, kiddo.”
Looks down at the floor, then back up at me.  “Do you blame me, for happened to mom?”
It hurts.  I am physically hurting because of that question.  Not because it offends me or something, but because I have to wonder how long she has been carrying that question around in her head.  The girl was always eager to please, her whole life.  Anytime that I wasn’t at work, she would be where I am, doing whatever I do.  To this day, she still is like that.  Part of me thought that it was just a kid bonding with their parent, but maybe it was her trying to atone for what she feels like is her fault.  Maybe this is a talk I should have had with her a long time ago.
“Never!  What happened to your mother was not your fault.  Cancer can happen to anyone, at anytime.  Lady Luck just didn’t shine on her, is all.  It happens to all of us.”  Was that the right way to say it?
Tears started flowing down her face.  “I hear you, but you kept calling out to her, over and over.  You said, ‘don’t leave me.’  How can I not think that you don’t at least blame me a little for what happened to her?”
I motioned for her to sit down next to me.  “Now, don’t you go thinking that way!”  She got over and I put my arm around her.  “You coming into my life was the greatest day of my life.  Your mom was willing to risk getting sicker just so she wouldn’t have to put you in danger.  She told me that if the worst should happen, to promise that I would take care of you.  And I did.  With all my heart, I said that I would be the best dad that I could possibly be.  Not a day has gone by that I regret it.  Not one.  It was the hardest few months of my life, adjusting to taking care of you without her with me.  I needed a lot of help from grandma and grandpa.  But you are the greatest thing to ever come into my life.”  A gripping at my heart.  “And with you here, in a way, it’s like she never left us.  She’s with us both, right now, because you survived and are still here.  Never have I blamed you for what happened to her.  Not one time.  I miss her every day, but it’s not your fault.  Okay?”
All she could do is cry and burrow into me.  I held her close for a long time.  Then, I picked her up and carried her like a big cat upstairs.  Thank Groj I am such a big guy and have worked to take care of my body.  Hefted the big kid like she was nothing.  Laid her down on the bed and pulled the covers over her.
“Good night, baby-girl.”
“I love you, daddy.”
“I love you too.”
I don’t think there is a harder question in the world I could have been asked.  Suddenly, that other talk seems a hell of a lot easier.

Until next time, a quote,

“Grief is like an ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing.  Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison

Peace out,

Maverick

Your Logic about Romantic Preferences is Retarded (A response to Riley J. Dennis)

Let’s dive into the maw of stupid SJWs and dredge up this trans person with a giant Adam’s Apple.  I have talked about this creature before, but never in a proper response like this.  This chick, guy, whatever has had some very stupid opinions before, but this one takes the cake.  He/she/it is about to state that unless you are openly sexually attracted to all groups of people equally, you are discriminating.  That’s right, by having one group of people that you find more attractive, you are deliberately attacking the groups of people that you do not.  That logic is so stupid that it hurts.  I’ll let you all see this ignorant diva’s video, then we’ll talk about it.

So, first he/she/it asks if I would date a black person.  It isn’t a group I am predominately attracted to, but if a black girl got my attention and I found her attractive, absolutely.  A trans person?  Depends on how good the transition was.  Not you with your giant Adam’s Apple.  No joke, the biggest reason why I can’t decide what to describe you as is because that thing is fucking huge.  You’re like a dude in drag.  But if it were a trans woman like Blaire White, absolutely.  She’s hot as fuck.  A fat person?  That depends.  A few extra pounds, maybe even a little overweight?  Absolutely.  Obese?  Absolutely not.  I can’t be with a person who is destroying their body with their eating habits.  Sure, there are those who cannot help it, but the reality is that if a person is destroying their body because they can’t plug up the top hole, I don’t want that in my life.  The last girl I ran with was more than a few pounds overweight, but she was a fun girl.  I take people as they come.  Lastly, disabled.  Again, it depends.  I was REALLY into this girl who was so smoking hot with one leg in college.  She ran every day, and was in such good shape.  That woman was a goddess.  A one-legged goddess.  As for somebody with Down Syndrome, probably not.  I have my preferences, and so do you.

He/she/it then postulates that it’s a race thing (of course it is), and that if you don’t like every ethnicity, you’re racist.  By that logic, because I don’t find women with black hair as appealing as women with red hair, I hate black-haired women.  Do you hear how stupid that is?  Then comes what is CLEARLY projection on he/she/it’s part – if you don’t want to date a trans person, it’s discriminatory.  Well, Riley, I’m sorry, but no it’s not.  See, if I’m with a girl, and we’re getting intimate, and I see that there’s a dick there, then I’m immediately turned off.  I am bi, so I am open-minded, but if I am with a girl and I expect there to be a pussy down there, and there isn’t, then I am not attracted to her anymore.  If that hurts her feelings, I genuinely am sorry.  However, if she has seen fit to either not tell me or lie to me about her being in-transition (we’re not talking about the transtrenders like Milo Stewart, though if she wasn’t so annoying, I’d hit that.  I get the feeling that once she gets past all the sjw bullshit, she’ll be a fun girl to be around), then she didn’t trust me enough to tell me before taking the step of intimacy.  Can you not see why that would be insulting to me, Riley?

I hate that he/she/it is projecting this hard.  That’s what this entire video is.  Riley was into a guy, and then he saw that Adam’s Apple and was no longer attracted to him/her/it anymore.  That’s their choice, son/daughter.  They have every right to be attracted what they are attracted to.  Let me put it to you like this – do you like men with long hair?  You are clearly into boys, so let’s get into that.  Do you like men with long hair?  Do you like men who are balding?  I’m going bald, Riley.  It sucks, and doesn’t look good.  Would you be sexually attracted to my unsightly balding features?  What’s that?  You’re not?!  Well, that’s discriminatory against men who are balding because of an autoimmune condition!  I’m offended!  Oh, right, that’s stupid.  There are plenty of women who wouldn’t care about that, because I am just at the cusp of being seven feet tall, and I take care of my body enough to stay active.  So I can overcome certain things with others.

This entire fucking video is just Riley crying the blues about people not wanting to be with him/her/it and the belief that it says something about them and their “biases” (I fucking hate that term.  Just be honest about what you mean, you fucking hypocrite.  You want to say that they are prejudiced.  Just own that and be done with it) is just a dodge to pretend that you aren’t hurting about someone not being attracted to you.  I don’t like obese women because I am not attracted to someone who abuses their body with massive quantities of food.  I’m not attracted to women with a bobcut because I think that hair style looks good on NO ONE.  I’m not attracted to bleach-blonde hair because no one’s hair is naturally that color and it also looks good on NO ONE.  The girl I am into now is curvy as fuck, and has a few extra pounds on her.  She can’t do anything about the curvy hips, she was born with it.  An awesome person, though.

And I just KNOW that when he/she/it talks about people and their “biases,” they are talking about white people.  More specifically, white men.  I bet that if some black person came up to him/her/it and said that they find white people completely unattractive, they wouldn’t have some negative reaction.  It would probably be some statement about their empowerment or about how white people were oppressive or some dumb bullshit.  I don’t know.  These SJW critiques of how other people see things always comes back to the white devil.  Whitey is an awful fucker, isn’t he?  Us honkys are just the worst.  If only we were more like Riley, who I am certain is completely romantically and sexually open to all people.  Even though, by his/her/its logic, if they aren’t attracted to women, that means that they have “biases” against them.  Or if any gay man is only attracted to men with bushy beards, they are biased against men who can’t grow facial hair.  Or if a woman is only attracted to tall women, she is biased against short women.  There is no end to the combinations I could make with this bullshit argument.  It’s just that stupid.

Until next time, a quote,

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” – H.L. Mencken

Peace out,

Maverick