How The Next Generation is Going to Destroy Our Economy (and it isn’t their fault)

So, a story today in the news was how Congress, our lovely and completely incompetent legislative body, couldn’t make an agreement on student loan interest rates for subsidized Stafford loans.  So, the interest rate is going to double to almost 7%.  This means that for the average undergrad, their lives are going to get even harder.

I have already resigned myself to the fact that I am going to be living paycheck to paycheck when I am done with college.  I am a journalism major.  That market now is so low, given the down-sizing of the institution itself (aside from the corporate slave networks who pander to corporations, while calling themselves “news.”).  So, when this is all said and done, I have NO idea where I am going.  Given that I am coming up on the home stretch this coming academic year, this question is biting at me more and more as time goes by.  I honestly don’t know what to do.

This question is faced by a metric ton of students these days.  And this isn’t just the students who are getting degrees like Liberal Arts.  The common joke among my friends and I has always been that the Liberal Arts majors will be eating Top Ramen for the rest of their lives.  But the sad truth is that they aren’t the only ones.  I have a friend who graduated from MIT, in the top 20% of her class, and now is working in a run-down diner on the interstate in Nevada, because her field just doesn’t have any work that she can find.  Getting a degree simply isn’t enough anymore.  It has to be an amazing degree.  I am going to be graduating with a Bachelor’s, but I am aware that that won’t help me much.  A Master’s or higher gets you decent jobs.  And it can’t just be a Master’s.  It has to be a Master’s with some AMAZING grades and internships and a ton of other things to go along with it.

We have an interesting society.  There is a term that is making the rounds about America’s job market – degree inflation.  Every job now requires degrees.  Even jobs that should in no way need one.  Paralegals in big cities are now having to have pre-law or other such degrees, when their job entails making copies, answering the phone, keeping appointments.  They are called paralegals for a reason – they are glorified secretaries who do a lot of other random bits and bobs for the law firm they are employed by.  Are any of these people going to be in a court-room?  Are any of them going to be disarming a nuclear weapon?  No, they won’t.  But, every job that isn’t fast-food or being the night-stocker at Wal-Mart requires a degree.  And degrees cost money.  The worst part now is that they cost money, and the interest rates are going to be going up.

A point that was raised in the news story I linked above is that it is cheaper now to get a loan for your home than it is to be a student in this country.  That tells you something about what America values, doesn’t it?

Look, here is some cold truth – student loan debt in this country is out of control.  It is over $1 trillion and getting bigger every day.  With the job market becoming so tooth-and-claw, with most opportunities going overseas or just disappearing altogether, how are student expected to pay this back?  I can already hear several people going “well, if they can’t afford it, they shouldn’t have gotten the debt in the first place!”  Yeah, you clearly have NO idea what is going on in this world and should probably just remove yourself from society.  Or get informed.  Either way works for me.

This generation is being called lazy and narcissistic and entitled so often that you can practically making a fucking bumper-sticker out of it, couldn’t you?  Yet we are very soon going to be in an interesting position of being the people who can save or destroy this country’s economy.  But with no jobs and the cost of living sky-rocketing out of control, along with medical costs (the #1 way that people go into debt in this country), insurance costs and a thousand other costs, how are we supposed to do better?  We didn’t ask to be in this situation.  We were put here by ignorant people who don’t understand how the world works.  Who saw a way to make money for themselves and didn’t care about the rest of us.

Here is what I see is going to happen – the job market is going to get worse and worse.  I’m not the only person who sees this coming – student loans defaulting is going to be the next bubble that bursts.  Same as the housing bubble.  People couldn’t afford the unbelievably-rigged loans and so they defaulted.  That is going to happen again.  My money is on the next 10 or 20 years being when it does.  My generation is going to destroy America’s economy, and it isn’t our fault.  We are trying to make something good out of the lives were are given, but we are all given a bad hand.  Sure, luck plays a damn-big factor in it all, but there is no opportunity for us.

As I said in a previous post, my generation does have a lot of problems, and not one of them is our fault.  The ground-work for it was laid by you, parents and grand-parents.  I hope you are proud.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time…like tears in rain.”  -Roy Batty, Blade Runner

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Oblivious Men

So, here is a little story from work.  At first, it made me laugh at the idiot who was involved.  But the more I thought about it, I was kind of annoyed.

At my job, we check out study rooms to students who are looking to study or do online tests or what have you.  On today’s shift, I opened a study room for two people, and I very quickly got a clue to the situation.  See, the first person was a guy.  Typical, run-of-the-mill guy.  The other person was a young woman, and I got a bit of a clue about something from seeing her.  See, this girl was dressed in a VERY low-cut shirt, and it was clear that she was wearing no bra.  Her boobs were perking and I could see that this was intentional.

Work at my job leads me to walk by the study rooms from time to time, and a couple of times I caught something about these two people – they both wanted VERY different things.  See, the girl kept on leaning over the table, and this guy’s book in ways that Helen Keller couldn’t miss.  For real, there were times that she was getting so forward about this that the boobs were practically falling out of the shirt.

But you wanna know that weird part – this guy did not notice!  For real, he was completely oblivious to this.  And it wasn’t in the trying-not-to-stare way.  You can spot that pretty easily.  No, this was in the “I am so happy studying!” way.  He seemed very content with his studying.  I can already hear some of the more romantic women in my audience going “well, maybe he has a girlfriend and is being loyal!  Awwww.”  Yeah, for all the men in my audience, we know better.  Knowing the male animal the way we do, we understand that if a woman is going that far out of their way to make themselves understood as being sexually available, it doesn’t matter how in love you are.  At the very least, you will take notice.  And my bidar (a sub-unit of gaydar) is a little rusty, it still is pretty good.  This dude is straight as an arrow.  Just totally oblivious.

A few hours later, they are headed out of the place, and it is clear that the dude NEVER took the hint.  Ah, hell, it wasn’t even a hint.  It was a fucking invitation.  As they left the front desk, the girl looked PISSED.  They got to the corridor and then she went one way, he went another.  The look on her face said it all – “I just wasted my Saturday here.”  She wasn’t there to study.  She was there to get this guy to have sex with her.  Presumably at another location.  This was just a convenient way to get him to understand her intentions.  Pretense, if you will.

When I first saw this, I thought it was funny.  I mean, how dumb is this guy?  How do you not see that she was clearly wanting to jump your dick?  This kind of obliviousness is kind of hilarious.  But as I was headed home, I felt myself getting annoyed at this guy.

The universal truth about this world is that any woman can get sex anytime, if she wants it.  There are so many horny guys in this world that women have their pick of the litter, except with the unbelievably shallow.  And that number is far smaller than you’d think.  But there are a ton of guys, like me, who cannot get sex no matter how hard they try.  So, when I see people like this guy, who is literally having a girl who was damn-good looking using blunt body language to give this guy a fucking clue that she wants sex, and he is totally oblivious to it, that just makes me realize that even the oblivious are more lucky than people like me.

I resigned myself to loneliness a long time ago, but it is days like today when I realize that decent guys will ALWAYS finish last, because even the oblivious are more wanted than us.  I know a ton of guys who are good people, maybe a little socially awkward, but they still are good people.  Then there is me, a titan, who has a natural look that is unpleasant and generally imposing, which, paired with my realist attitude, leaves me with no options.  I accept it, but damn if it isn’t hard some days to live with.

Until next time, a quote,

“I hate stupid people.  They should have to wear signs that say ‘I’m stupid.’  That way, you wouldn’t ask them nothing.  You’d come up to them and be like, ‘Can you help me – ah, I’m sorry.  I didn’t see your sign.'”  -Bill Engvall

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Sad Games

While lots of games that I have played are filled with frolicking adventure, sometimes you come across a game that is filled with some of the darker aspects of our emotions.  The places that hit you right in the feels.  There are lots of games that have tried this.  There are lots of games that have failed.  But I thought that I would focus on the games that stuck out to me the most.  The ones who made me feel all kinds of levels of sadness.  Some made me think.  Some made me reflect.  Some made me cry.  Here are my top 10.  Oh, I should mention that there are a lot of spoilers here, so if you haven’t played some of these games, then you may want to skip this list.

Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask10. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Now, on the surface, this may make you think – wait, what?  How can you call this a sad game?  Well, this didn’t occur to me until I got a little older and played the game again, but there is a LOT of really grim things associated with this game, if you read between the lines.  Think about this – you have the power to go back in time.  The moon crashing into the world is something that you can avoid.  But think about this – each time you do that, it is happening.  Over and over again, the people of that land are dying.  After all, your going back in time doesn’t stop what happens.  It just means that you aren’t there for when it does.  And since your activities are able to go through timelines, that means that you can’t argue this away.  Each change in the timeline is something that you help destroy.  This dark undertone is something that a lot of people missed, and it is another reason why this game is a surprising turn of events in a franchise that has been about good vs. evil, with not a lot of subterfuge.  While I love Ocarina of Time most, this game comes in a close second, after I got old enough to appreciate just how dark this story was.

Heavy Rain9. Heavy Rain
For those of you who think that this game should rank higher, I would agree with you.  The problem is that while the story of this game was so unbelievably dark and sad, the gameplay mechanics of this game were awkward as hell in a lot of places.  And I can’t get past that.  But, with that said, this game and the darkness associated with it are simply amazing.  The perspective that sticks out most to me is the story of the father of the boy who was kidnapped.  The killer is forcing this man to mutilate himself, suffer to no end, for their own enjoyment.  Making this man brutalize himself, it involves the player in a spectacular way, because it makes you feel like you are doing this to him.  You are torturing this man.  It’s a grim mechanic to work with, and made this game all-the-more intense.  And depending on if you do well or not, there may be no catharsis to how it all ends.  It’s a grim game, and makes you stop and think about what you have done.  Lots of feels.

Shadow of the Colossus8. Shadow of the Colossus
This is a game that is another one that is subtle about how sad it really is.  It begins with a man going to a foreign land.  He is carrying the body of the girl he loves.  He lays her on an alter, and makes a deal with the deity force of the land to kill the Colossus, in order to bring her to life.  As you kill each Colossus, you see a black mark tear into this man, and it is clear that this is agonizingly painful for him.  He is suffering immeasurably in order to bring the woman he loves back.  And what is his reward for all that suffering?  Well, he is not only betrayed by the deity of that land, but he never gets to be with the woman he loves again.  Not only that, but in his mission to save her, he also watches his horse fall off a cliff.  It is clear that these two have a powerful bond, and the scene where the horse throws him off to save him before collapsing into the abyss is a tear-jerker.  It isn’t blatant with its sadness, but it is there all the same.

Bioshock Infinite7. Bioshock Infinite
Another game whose sadness is subtle.  The reasons that this game is miserably grim are not apparent and don’t just come right out.  You find out that Booker has been living a lie for a long time.  A mission that he undertook to wipe out his debt, it turns out, is a red herring.  Unbeknownst to him, he is battling his inner guilt in a memory he blocked out.  He not only sold his daughter to Comstock, but also is the reason that Comstock exists in the first place.  It is a miserably ugly experience when Booker realizes what he has become and what he will have to do.  Even his best efforts to save the girl who he comes to care about are all for naught.  No matter what he does, Comstock still wins.  In the end, the only way that he can beat Comstock is to kill himself, and therefore deny Comstock the ability to ever exist, since they are both the same person, connected by a decision he made ages ago to reject baptism.  The ending to this game is one of the few that has stuck with me and that I still think about.  The Bioshock brand has a pedigree of great games, but this one stood out among the rest.  While the story did seem rushed at points, it hit all the right notes when it needed to.

Final Fantasy X6. Final Fantasy X
Another game where you are asking – wait, what?  The story of this game was classic good vs. evil, right?  Wrong.  Dead wrong.  This game had a massive undertone of sadness throughout its entirety.  I think that Auron’s statement about the state of the world said it best – “Ah, the spiral of death.  Summoners challenge Sin, the bringer of death, and die doing so.  Guardians give their lives to protect their Summoner.  The Fayth are the souls of the dead.  Even the Maesters of Yevon are Unsent.  Spira is full of death.  Only Sin is reborn, and then, only to cause more death.  It is a cycle of death, spiraling endlessly.”  This game has a VERY dark tone.  Your character is thrown 1000 years out of his time, only to find out that he never existed at all.  His whole world is a dream of the Fayth.  The woman he loves is condemned to die.  Everything around him is death.  The darkness of this game is part of the reason I like it so much.  It is definitely heavy on atmosphere, taking the time out to look seriously at the ugliness of it all.  I like that a lot.

Silent Hill 25. Silent Hill 2
It was SO close between this game and its predecessor.  Both are incredibly dark games.  But for me, this game seems the darkest.  While the previous one had a dark look at the character, this game is totally invested in the main character, because everything in Silent Hill, the monsters he faces, are reflections of his own subconscious.  The lusty creatures are reflections of his cheating heart that was unfaithful to his late wife, even as she died.  Pyramid Head, one of the greatest icons of the series, reflects his inner desire to punish himself for what happened.  He also is paired with a woman who looks exactly like his wife, who he has to watch die, over and over and over again.  Then, the spirit of his wife tries to kill him, to make him suffer for what he did.  This game is so heavy on the dark, and not the action.  It is a journey into a man’s mind, and it is damn-near perfect.  I still get chills playing it today.

The Walking Dead4. The Walking Dead
This 5-part adventure game was a tear-jerker if I have ever seen one.  A game that follows much in the same vein as Heavy Rain, this game forces you, the player, to make a lot of choices.  And all of those choices have lives riding on them.  The hardest part of the game was when Clementine dies.  I felt my heart being pulled out during that scene.  The personal angle of this game, along with the amazing character development makes this game an amazing experience that I still have with me.  What makes it all the harder is that there is no way to save everyone.  Me and all my friends tried and tried to save everyone, but it was all for naught.  We were destined to be helpless to watch characters we came to care about die, often in horrifically cruel ways.  The kind of story-telling that we could stand to see more of, if you ask me.

Batman Arkham City3. Batman: Arkham City
Another game where the sadness of it isn’t apparent, but if you read between the lines, this game is miserably depressing.  For starters, you have Batman being faced with his own mortality in a very serious way.  Yet he seems pretty okay with that.  One of the best parts of the game is when the Joker hears him say that he is okay with dying, and he is intrigued.  What’s more, Batman loses so much.  He is faced with a choice between protecting the woman he loves or saving the scum of Gotham, and when he tries to abandon them, he is forced to do the right thing, by his butler.  The rage in his voice when Alfred tells him that he won’t let him neglect his duty is amazing.  Then, the only woman who will ever love him is shot and killed in front of him, by a monster who he needs.  And when the Joker dies, it is him that Batman carries out of the theater.  Not the body of the woman he loves, but the body of a monster who he should hate.  This game’s bittersweet ending left me with a lot of complicated emotions.  And it confirmed something I have always believed – Batman needs the Joker.  He is a thug, as bad as those he puts away.  And now, he has to own up to that.  It was an amazing conclusion to an awesome game.

Journey2. Journey
Man, this is a game that did something I didn’t think was possible – it let me get emotionally invested in a character that I never get to know, in any way.  I never get to know what the wanderer of the sand’s story is.  You never hear this creature speak.  You don’t know what gender it is.  You know nothing about it.  Yet, seeing the cruelty of the journey that it has to take, to a goal that has clearly killed so many before it, is hard to watch.  The most emotionally gripping point was the trek up the slop of the mountain.  You get out into the open.  There is nothing to hide you from the brutally cold wind.  You see this character getting beaten around by it, destroyed by it.  Finally, the blizzard is going to overtake it, but it does not stop.  The creature keeps going, limping along, until it collapses into the snow.  Oh my god, I still feel my heart getting pulled when I see that.  But the real tear-jerker is after that.  Risen from the dead, you are given a way to go to the summit, and to go to your final destination.  To rest.  When you make the summit trek with another player, who you never know and never get to talk to, it is so emotionally compelling.  This game hit emotional levels that most games haven’t been able to, and it is sad but beautiful at the same time.

And the game that gave me the most feels is…

The Last of Us1. The Last of Us
This game is a work of art.  The emotional levels in this game are unbelievable.  Taking little moments to give us a human look at the two main characters, Joel and Ellie, it then brutalizes you with some unbelievably sad moments.  For real, right from the start, it is sad.  The death of Joel’s daughter, seeing it destroy him inside.  There is just emotionally impacting moment after moment.  The final act of this game is the absolute pinnacle of this.  Seeing Joel reject what his conscious tells him to do, and to go fight to get the only person he matters back, not caring what happens to the rest of humanity, is incredibly.  Naughty Dog has done something truly amazing.  I have already gushed about this game in another post, so I will keep it at this – this game will make you cry.  If not, then you are missing a part of the human condition.  And that is all I have to say about that.

So, what games have hit you in the feels spot?  Feel free to comment them below.  Add a link to a trailer if you like, so we can see it, if we don’t already know what it is.

Until next time, a quote,

“Joel, I want you to promise me that everything you told me is true.”  -Ellie, The Last of Us 

Peace out,

Maverick

Why the F*ck Do We Care About Paula Deen?

Alright, I am about to do something that the internet doesn’t like – I am about to defend someone the internet doesn’t like.  I am about to defend Paula Deen.  Apparently, Paula Deen is in trouble for a comment she made where she used the word “nigger.”  Several bits of her word usage and the things she has done have come to light.  She apologized, but it didn’t matter.  The Food Network has gotten rid of her as fast as they possibly could, not wanting to be there when the shit hits the fan.  They didn’t want to have to get covered in the internet’s wrath.  And the Internet has definitely had wrath.

Look, I am not going to say that Paula Deen isn’t racist.  She is.  I won’t argue that for a second.  But here’s the thing – she is an old woman who was born and raised in the south.  This is something that we need to keep in mind, but don’t, here in America.  If you go back to the time when she was a kid and see how people in the south were raised back then, you will understand that her kind of racism is not active hatred, but merely a product of her environment.  The racism she displayed isn’t hateful, but merely her being old and not getting how the world has changed since the days of her childhood.  She said what she did in ignorance.

So, what has been the cultural response?  Well, we have shamed her, turned her into a pariah, stripped her of her lifestyle and made her the subject of everyone in PC culture’s hate.  You know what’s funny?  I remember reading about how the oppressed minorities who were actively hated up were treated back in the day.  There are a LOT of similarities between how they acted then and how we act now.  And don’t come back at me with the lynch mobs.  That’s extremism.  Horrible, true, but those cases were not the norm.  The cultures of those time periods were just as big into shaming and stripping someone of their ability to live.  I guarantee you that someone who was outed as being gay back in the day would be in a very similar situation.

But there is one aspect that needs to be looked at and isn’t – who the fuck cares?  Why are we making a big deal out of this.  TJ Kirk, my favorite YouTube vlogger, recently made a video about this very issue, where he talked about how Orson Scott Card, a great sci-fi novelist, is having probably his most well-known books, Ender’s Game, made into a movie.  Orson Scott Card is a great author, but something people should know is that he is also an avid and blatant homophobe.  He hates gay people.  This man has made NO secret of this.  His malicious bigotry is something that those of us who pay attention understand.  So, how many people are throwing his name into the fire and saying “fuck you!” to his movie?  I doubt any.  And if any are, I am amazed.

I don’t think that there is a great artist who exists who doesn’t have some form of prejudice to their name.  Stanley Kubrick, one of the greatest filmmakers who has ever lived, was absolutely horrible to the women in his movies.  His sexism was the stuff of legends.  His mistreatment of Shelley Duvall in the filming of The Shining is a film legend.  He had every single person on the set brutalize this woman.  She was constantly afraid, all the time.  Made filming her fear that much more believable.  Yet this is regarded as one of his best films.  He is a great filmmaker.

Gandhi was a racist.  Some of his writings from his time in Africa were amazing, talking about how stupid and inferior the natives were, needing his people, who were far more enlightened.  This is a man who I challenge you to find a person who has one bad thing to say about him.  If we are going to lose our fucking minds over one relatively-innocent comment that an old woman who is from the deep south, raised in a time when racism was the norm, then why are we giving all these people a pass?

The reality is that nobody should care about this.  Nobody.  Let the old racist back on her show and have her life back.  I mean, we let Martha Stewart off the hook, and it has been shown how bat-shit crazy that woman is.

It is my belief that we are all a little racist or sexist in some way.  It is often not malicious.  There are just some groups of people we like and some we don’t.  And it is almost-always a product of the home we grew up in or the place we live.  I have a friend from California who doesn’t actively have a problem at all with Hispanic people, but she just doesn’t like them.  She doesn’t go out of her way to be rude or make an issue of it.  She just has issues that she keeps to herself.  I think that everyone has that in some form.  If we are going to combat racism, we need to do it in the form that has been shown to work – open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.  That is how it has been declining so far, and how it will continue to decline.  Public shaming and turning people into a pariah and stripping them of their whole lives will just breed resentment.

But hey, maybe I am just too mature to fit in with PC culture.  After all, like racism, when you look at how crazy people get over it, it is all very childish.

Until next time, a quote,

“Good weed = no stress.”  -Stoner Quotes

Peace out,

Maverick

The NSA and Obama Apologists

I have been taking a few days to gather my thoughts on this issue before I gave my two-cents.  The reveal of the massive invasion of privacy that has been spear-headed by the NSA, under the name “Prism,” is not only a violation of constitutional rights, but it also reflects a dark vision of what America thinks of its people.

The rule in this country is supposed to be that when a person is charged with a crime, they are innocent until proven guilty.  Anyone who pays any attention at all knows that that isn’t how the world is.  The public and the internet are quick to socially convict anyone that they don’t like.  And thanks to websites that publicly put out the names of convicts and their offenses, it never ends.  You do your time, you are shamed by society forever, even if you did change for the better.  And now, with Prism, we have a program where the government has decided that every single person in this country is guilty before being proven innocent, too.

Back in 2008, when presidential nominee Barack Obama was campaigning, he swore that he was going to get rid of the authoritarian policies that Bush Jr. put in place following 9/11.  Anyone who looks at those policies can see how disgusting they are.  The abandonment of Habeaus Corpus, the throwing away of the 1st and 4th Amendments, these are all disgusting and should not be tolerated by the American people.  Now, over 11 years later, we are learning of a man who swore that he was against this kind of action expanding them.  Obama has expanded what Bush laid the ground work for in unimaginable ways.  Corporate America has played ball (of course) so that they don’t have to stand up for anything.

The thing that really shocks me is just how fiercely the Obama administration is defending this.  He used the EXACT same reasoning that Bush used when he was talking about this garbage.  Stuff like “we have to choose between privacy and security.”  Or there is the always classic, “those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.”  Yeah, the public has the same mentality.  It is like the reality of this is lost on them.

And that is what really irks me about this.  There are SO many liberals who I was friends with who were outraged to no end with what Bush did following 9/11.  The Patriot Act is an egregious document that spits in the face of this nation and the people who it claims to defend.  Rights are being thrown away as fast as they can be.  People should have been outraged.  But, these same people who were mad then are defending Obama now.  What the fuck?!  You can’t call yourself someone who stands up for the rights of the people and then defend a policy that blatantly throws them away.  You simply cannot do that.

Obama apologists are the most annoying people currently in the zeitgeist.  There was a very profound article written in a magazine call The New Statesman called “On wiretaps and drone strikes, it’s time for liberals to accept that Obama is worse than Bush.”  This article is spot-on accurate.  Obama has done things that Bush didn’t dare.  He has legalized the murder of American citizens without trial or charge.  He has drones spying on his own people every single day.  He gives tax breaks to the rich that Bush didn’t dare try.  But the worst part is that the Obama administration is wiring the offices of the Associated Press, controlling his media coverage and now has a backdoor into every single Americans’ lives.  How can you possibly defend this?  How can you rationally say that you are a progressive or a liberal when you are choosing to allow this sort of action to happen unopposed?  Where are the riots in the street?  Where are the protests?  Where is any reaction at all?!  No-fucking-where, that’s where.

For years, Obama apologists have been defending all the horrible things he has done.  At the beginning, their go-to line was “the Republicans are blocking him at every turn!”  Yeah, that made sense up until we saw clear places that he could have stood his ground.  Like the health care reform bill.  He didn’t even try there.  Or the countless times he capitulated to the GOP about the budget when he clearly had the upper hand.  Or maybe we can talk about him saying that he is going to downsize Social Security, essentially robbing blind from the poor of this country.  The same kind of austerity that is destroying the EU.  How can you possibly defend this?  The line now is that Obama is better than Bush.  But that simply isn’t true, and it is time for the left in this country to accept that.

Edward Snowden is a hero, in my books.  He threw away a gorgeous girlfriend, an amazing job that would have left him financially safe for the rest of his life and everything in his life in order to bring the truth to us.  He could have just leaked this stuff and disappeared, but he instead came out in public and said openly that he is in danger of being taken in or killed by American intelligence groups.

What this administration is doing is wrong.  Obama is a traitor to the people he is supposed to serve.  This treacherous son of a bitch should be impeached.  His reputation should be shamed forever and he should be recognized for what he is – the greatest con artist in American history.  He got an entire demographic to believe he was a liberal when he has more in common with Fox News than he gives himself credit for.  Perhaps it is serendipity that Fox News is now totally on his side in respect to this intelligence leak.  For once, Obama and Fox News are on the same page.

There is a line that I read on my favorite YouTube vlogger’s Tumblr page, and I am going to end this sharing it with you.

Until next time, a quote,

“Anyone who was mad about the NSA spying under Bush but defends it under Obama is a moron that you should not respect on any level.
Anyone who was not mad about the NSA spying under Bush but is furious about it under Obama is a moron that you should not respect on any level.”  -TJ Kirk

Peace out,

Maverick

Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdlove: The Last of Us’ Plot

*Warning!  There are going to be metric ton of spoilers!  If you have not played this game, don’t read further!*

I love this game.  Having finally gotten all the way through the single-player campaign, I have seen what this game was trying to be, and I love it.  The plot of this game and how it is used is something that I think is going to be talked about for years to come.  This is a trend-setting game.  This is a game that is going to set the standard for great stories of this kind.  While I am saying that, let me point out that not all games should follow this format.  Some games, like the Mass Effect Series, don’t follow this kind of format of very centralized plot at all.  And for the better.  Free range of choice and learning about a world is a good thing.  But for this kind of game (survival-horror or action adventure, of which this game is a merger of both), this level of emotional commitment and emotional climax that leaves the player feeling so many things at once by the end should be taken to heart.

The thing that truly makes this story is that it isn’t large.  For real, for as heavy as some of the subject matter can be, it is never, ever large.  It isn’t about the world and this infection.  It isn’t about the fact that Ellie has the cure for it inside of her and what it can do for the human race.  It isn’t about the time that Joel has spent becoming part of the life he leads.  It is about the Joel and Ellie’s journey.  But the destination isn’t the point of this journey.  In fact, the destination is almost superfluous.  Truly, it is about the personal journey that these two characters take when they are heading toward a future unknown.

Let me clarify.  This game opens with Joel coming home from work.  His daughter is on the couch, up past her bedtime to give her dad a present for his birthday.  Where is the mother?  Who knows.  What is their relationship?  They don’t clarify.  You get the feeling that the two are close and get along.  Joel is doing his best to make a good life for the two of them, but it doesn’t go beyond that.  It just shows these two have a night together.  Very quickly, things go horribly wrong.  After his daughter is killed, the game jumps ahead 20 years.  What happened in that time?  While you are given bits and pieces of what happened, the total story is never given to you.  There is not a single point in this game where it goes into a broad exposition-dump.  Again, that isn’t what this game is about.

The reason that they don’t force these unnatural conversations is because the goal of this game was simple – making it feel organic.  I mean, who just talks about where their mother is if they don’t live with them anymore on a given night?  Almost nobody.  Who talks about what they have been doing for the last 20 years with a person they just met?  You see that Joel tells Ellie more and more as time goes by, but since these conversations would naturally happen at random times and wouldn’t be often, it is only natural that the player wouldn’t be privy to when they talk about all of this.  Again, it feels organic.

That is one thing that I absolutely love.  But the other thing is the emotional levels that they go to in this game, and they do it by not letting the game’s grim tone get lost.  Not for a second.  My personal favorite parts in the game were when Ellie gets kidnapped.  Alone, she doesn’t flinch.  She fights until she has nothing left, because she doesn’t want to die, and she doesn’t want to leave Joel, the only friend she truly has.  He is also something of a father-figure by that point as well.  The final scene in the restaurant when you kill the bandit leader, and you see how destroyed Ellie is by the fact that she is fighting for her life against a monster that wanted to kill and cut her up into parts to be eaten by the bandit group.  All of the ugliness of her situation, along with her inner desperation at what she faces, comes to a head at that point.  She keeps on striking and striking the man with a machete, crying the whole time.  When Joel pulls her off him, she sobs in his arms.  That scene was beyond powerful.  It was downright heart-breaking to watch.

The second scene that has stuck with me the most is (for real, if you haven’t finished the campaign, stop reading, right now.  Don’t let me spoil this.  You have to see this for yourself) when Joel and Ellie finally reach their destination.  Joel is confronted with the fact that the cure that Ellie has in her body can’t be made into a cure in a large-scale without killing her.  Now, Ellie has become the thing that makes his life worth living.  You have seen how broken and alone Joel has become since the death of his daughter.  You see him being given his reason to live back, and now he is faced with it being taken away and there is nothing he can do about it.  That is, if he wants a cure for humanity.  Without even a second thought, Joel kills the guard who is leading him out, then goes on a rampage, killing all the rest of the guards, to get the only person on Earth who matters to him back.  Now, I don’t know if you could have just taken Ellie when you got to the surgical wing, but I didn’t tempt fate.  I killed all the surgeons in there.  Blew away the first one with El Diablo.  Took out my small semi-automatic pistol and blew away the second.  The third is crying on the floor, but you get so caught up in how desperate Joel is, I killed her too.  She is on the ground, saying you are a monster when I shot her the first time.  I finished her off.  No reason to make her suffer.

But the thing that has stuck with me is after that.  Joel picks up the tiny body of his young companion on the operating table, hauling her out as fast as he can.  He gets to the base of the elevator and is greeted by the woman who paired them up.  She gave him this job.  She tells him that this is how it has to be.  She can save so many.  And what future is there for her if she doesn’t?  The future is vile, ugly and filled with pain.  What kind of life can this little girl expect?  She puts that to Joel, and you can see that he is wrestling with it.  But, in the end, he decides to kill the woman and take Ellie back to where his brother lives.

As they are are arriving, Joel is confronted by Ellie.  He told her a massive lie to get her to not question going back.  She is a smart kid.  She confronts this man who means everything to her about the fact that life has been nothing but death and pain, leaving her to wonder when her turn is coming.  Then she tells you to do something.

“Swear to me that everything you told me is true.”  Without missing a beat, Joel says that he swears.  He made his peace with what is happening.  Then, comes the single-greatest moment in the game.  You can see on her face that she knows he’s lying.  But, in the end, it is easier for her to be with the person she cares about and accept ignorance than to fight against it.  If that doesn’t make you think, especially about what you would do in her or his place, then there is something wrong with you.

I am not against Joel’s decision to take her away.  After all, humanity is already dead.  He chooses to fight for the friendships and the love he has, rather than embrace a hope that means nothing at this point, because without her, he has nothing.  They have taken care of each other.  They are all each other has, and it has made his life worth living.  The dedication it takes to fight and kill people you called allies in order to save the life of someone you love must be respected.  Similarly, I see where Ellie is coming from.

Let’s all admit that we embrace ignorance when it makes life better.  There isn’t a human relationship that doesn’t do this.  Romantic, family, you name it.  We all do it, and we all try and make it sound like it is noble.  It’s not noble, it is just better, for us.  I’m not hating on this, but I do recognize this.

This is a game that has stuck with me.  I am still thinking about it.  The scene when I walked in to the operating room and then saw all three surgeons look up in fear.  It literally was a reflex at that point.  I didn’t test and see if I didn’t have to kill them to take her.  I just blasted the first, then the second and finally the third.  Because this game connected with me.  I wanted to see Joel end up okay.  I wanted to see these two find some resolution.  And that is why this game is great.  That’s life.  We all want there to be some catharsis to it all.  We all want everything to mean something, because without that meaning, what do we have?  In a way, we are all Joel and Ellie, trying to get through life.

And that is my nerdlove for the weekend.  For all those who read this, I hope you enjoyed this game as much as I have.

Until next time, a quote,

“You’re gonna go in there?!” -Ellie
“I just wanna know what we’re gonna find.” -Joel
“You’re gonna find my body when I die from a heart attack.” -Ellie, The Last of Us

Peace out,

Maverick

Why Are You So Upset about This? (A Response to Salon Magazine)

Dammit, I didn’t want to do this.  I wanted to just get ready for bed and to go to sleep.  It has been a long day.  Tomorrow will be longer.  But no, you just had to put out an article that I find annoying.  This is the second article that I have written in a publication that I generally agree with that bugs me.  The article is entitled “Are straight actors in gay roles the new blackface?”  The idea behind this article is that by having straight people play gay roles, it is doing the same offensive thing that actors and actresses doing blackface did when that was something that a regular thing in cinema.

I will try and keep this short, but here is the big and small of it – why does this matter?  Apparently, in a lot of publications, actors who portray gay characters in films are often praised for taking some kind of courageous stand.  Now, I am partially with the article when I saw that piece of information.  I mean, really?  It is now a fact that the majority of American opinion is in favor of LGBT rights and their respective communities.  Somebody tells me that they’re gay, my only reaction is to wonder why they told me that if I didn’t ask.  While bigotry is something that will never truly be abolished, being openly hateful of the LGBT community is met with just as harsh of criticism by large parts of America as when a white man calls a black man a “nigger.” (now to see how many subscribers I lose because I said that word, instead of calling it “the n-word.”  Forgive me if I actually want to talk about something, instead of tip-toe around PC culture) We are offended by these things and stand against them.  So why are actors getting praised for playing gay roles if they are not gay?  That is a legitimate question, by the way.  If you have an answer, comment below.

But the article then goes on to say that we should have gay people telling gay stories.  I am all for that, but here is the thing – it all comes down to one simple question – are the stories being told good?  We can look back on blackface and mock it for the racist farce that it is, but think about this – how many black people were in cinema back then?  The reality is that while blackface is mocked now, we forget that there is a time period perspective that should be taken into account, and isn’t being.

Are the stories about gay people that are being acted by straight people bad?  If the answer is no, and it is not putting a prejudiced spin on the issue, then I ask you, writer of this article – why do you care?  The whole point of cinema is that we are seeing stories.  They are being told on screen for us, the audience, to judge.  So, are these stories good?  For me, that is the first, last and only question that I ask.  It is the reason that I am able to enjoy movies like “Eyes Wide Shut,” which has a blatantly sexist angle, if you think about it.  Movies are a product of their time period, and we can’t get past that.  We have straight actors playing gay roles because we have a lot of damn-good straight actors.  If the actors are doing their job well, and they make the story interesting, then why are you complaining?

From where I am sitting, it sounds more like they are just mad that their own group isn’t at the fore-front of these projects.  So, does that mean that we should have only Asian directors about stories involving Asian people?  What about having only women directing stories about women?  And before you go off on me, there have been excellent films about women directed by men.  And vice-versa.  Speaking of, should only men be in charge of stories about men?

I watch movies like Loving Annabelle and see games like Mass Effect 3, where a very straight man played a gay man who lost his husband, and I see good performances.  In the end, that is the only thing that matters.  So, I guess the point of this rambling response is – lighten the fuck up, man!  It’s a movie.  So long as it is a good movie that represents the community it is intended to, then what is your fucking problem?!

For real, think about it.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’ve got to let go.  For real, this time.  The refugees have put up a memorial wall.  They leave mementos of loved ones.  I was thinking, maybe.”  -Steve Cortez, Mass Effect 3

Peace out,

Maverick