I Played That! #10: Diablo (PC)

I first saw my friend Brady playing Diablo. It was a down time for me when it came out. I was back in school and money was tight. My computer wouldn’t be able to run it, due to an outdated graphics card. But man, I wanted to play it. I finally, impulsively and unwisely, bought a new video card and the game. I’d catch hell, but it was worth it to…catch Hell?

Diablo is an amazingly clever game. Ostensibly an RPG with a plot, it’s actually just a kill-anything-that-moves game. Kill, loot, level, upgrade, repeat. Absolutely simple and absolutely mesmerizing. It was so simple you could actually kind of turn your brain off and play it more or less on autopilot, a sort of meditative activity that included killing skeletons and selling loot over and over.

I can’t tell you much about the original Diablo. I know you were going in a church basement that turned into a dungeon that turned into caves that turned into Hell I guess. You had to get big and finally kill Diablo himself. You met the hilariously dopey-named Deckard Cain, who talked like your friend who does a really good Sean Connery. There’s some kind of backstory and mythology but no one who wasn’t an employee of Blizzard ever cared about it. The appeal was the brutal simplicity.

I couldn’t get enough of Diablo. For a while I bought a lot of things that looked like Diablo, usually with sad results. Ultimately the game that would be exactly what I was looking for in more Diablo would be Diablo 2. But that’s another story.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged ,

Let the Bums Count Their Blessings, While They Count the Money

Yesterday the United Kingdom decided to do the same thing we’ve been doing for some time over here: elect a bunch of nationalistic, greedy, ignorant, hateful racists into power. No, UKIP didn’t win, but the Conservatives did, and let’s face it, UKIP is just the helpfully transparent version of the general right-wing anyway. They’re the UK version of the Tea Party.

Without missing a beat, UK papers have begun asking if it’s time to consider dismantling the National Health Service, since the people have spoken and what they apparently want is austerity, privatization, and corporatism. The reality, of course, is that British voters fell for the same line of bullshit that American voters have. Billionaires have been telling them that immigrants, poors, and darkies are threatening to take what they have, so they’d better look out. Meanwhile the same billionaires fund these messages with the money they paid themselves for not crashing the economy worse than they did in 2008 when they looted pension funds and health plans.

It’s astonishing enough that we made it through the 2008 meltdown without throwing a single Wall Street asshole behind bars, or even inconveniencing a few of them. But to take a financial crisis that was solely the result of a bunch of rich people deciding they were still not quite rich enough and blame it on poor people who got home loans they shouldn’t have is just mind-bending. And yet, this is an accepted narrative.

“[A] lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law,” said President Obama at the time, explaining why we can’t just send anyone to jail for wholesale destruction of the US and global economy. However, one of the nice things about an oligarchy is that you get to decide what is and isn’t against the law. This explains why nothing has been done to close any of the “loopholes” that were exploited by Wall Street in 2008, yet right now Wisconsin is fixing, legislatively, the problem that sometimes poor people’s food is too tasty.

Yes, the “small government” party has taken time out from being angry that poor people sometimes have one or two nice things to wonder if perhaps their food could be a little more gruel-like. Which is why the Wisconsin state legislature, a Koch testing site and birthplace of idiotic Republican ideas, is trying to make it so that food stamps can only be used in a completely onerous way to purchase food that isn’t dangerously good to eat, such as the forbidden hedonistic luxury of spaghetti sauce.

What can possibly be the justification for this? It’s not money; the program would actually cost millions to implement and enforce. As with drug testing welfare recipients, the procedure comes with a high price tag and results in no appreciable benefits other than making poor people suffer even more, lose even more dignity, and have to work even harder to maintain their current level of poverty. It’s sheer hatred, just a mean-spirited circus that has people with some paying people with most (the money for these expensive programs goes in someone’s pocket) to further harass people with little.

Meanwhile, the richest man in a Congress full of millionaires talks about how great America’s poor have it.

Here’s a little story about America (and the UK, its 51st state): A friend of a friend on Facebook posted an image recently making fun of a proposed raise of the minimum wage to $15/hour. This person is an EMS worker and his image ridiculed the idea that a person who flips burgers should get $15/hour when EMTs get $11/hour. Burger flippers shouldn’t get more than EMT workers, so no raise for the fast foodies, period. End of discussion. That’s a little story about America, where the greatest gift you can give someone is an Other beneath them that they can look down on in disgust.

Posted in Politics | Tagged

Throwback Thursday: Please Hire Me

Pal Kurt found this the other day and scanned it for me. For all I know, I have one or two of these hanging around somewhere. I got these made just before Becky and I moved to Champaign, in order to get a job. The Kinkos I asked to make them did a crappy job and they weren’t cut square and had ragged edges.

I was, at the time, indeed a Certified Netware Engineer, thanks to the State of Louisiana. When I got to Illinois and tried to take that show on the road, it didn’t quite work out. I wasn’t particularly good at it. The job this business card got me started in August and by November or so I was done with it and all of my network engineering. Sorry about that, State of Louisiana.

In fact, my name is the only thing on there that’s still valid.

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First Blade Runner and Now This?

Can you believe the audacity of this guy?

Someone needs to put a cork in Scott. This is getting ridiculous.

Posted in Movies | Tagged ,

I Played That! #9: Infocom Games (C64, PC)

As home computers in the early 80s fought over who had the best graphics and sound, one company took the opposite approach. Infocom’s games were all text adventures, and their ads proudly announced that. It didn’t hurt them; they became huge.

Infocom had text adventures for a variety of genres. Fantasy, of course (Zork series, Enchanter series), and science fiction (Planetfall, Suspended), but also murder mysteries (Witness, Deadline), Romance (Plundered Hearts), modern adventure (Infidel), horror (The Lurking Horror), and socio-political criticism (A Mind Forever Voyaging).

I pretty much pirated all the Infocom games, which means I often missed out on physical items included in the box that were needed to solve them. Hence, I didn’t finish many of them. I played Zork I and II, but Zork III was much harder and I didn’t get far in it. I really enjoyed Enchanter, and I think I played its sequel but I’m not sure. Pretty sure I finished Planetfall. Others I remember trying but not getting too far into were Infidel, Starcross, Deadline, and Suspended. (There was also another that we’ll get to later in the series.) Generally I didn’t have the patience (or, honestly, the skill) to solve most of these, and the ones I got furthest in were the easiest ones.

Sadly, as the 80s moved on and graphics and sound got better, it became harder to get by on text alone. Infocom eventually relented and got into more mainstream adventures, but still with a lot of depth and attention to plot. Mines of Titan was one such game, and I really enjoyed it.

At one point in my PC days I bought one of the Infocom collections, as I really wanted to dive into them more than I had, but I’m not sure I ever played any of them. Infocom games, for me, remained something I theoretically loved, but actually didn’t do much of. Every now and then I get the urge to try them again, but so far I’ve resisted.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged

Space Cabby by Dave Lartigue

So what do you think? Are the boots okay staying black, or should I try to paint them navy blue for extra versimilitude? What else might help?

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The Movies-to-Watch List: Five Deadly Venoms (1978)

The only kung fu movies I’ve ever seen are Jackie Chan ones, which I enjoyed. I’d always wanted to see some more, so when people suggested Five Deadly Venoms for the Movies To Watch list, I was all for it. It even helped that pal Eric already owned it on DVD and loaned it to me.

We watched 5DV in just about the perfect setting: sitting on the sofa on a Sunday morning. It’s very much a Sunday matinee movie (though we watched it subtitled; an optimal Sunday matinee movie would be poorly dubbed and interrupted by used car lot commercials.)

Five Deadly Venoms is great fun. The setup is a little complicated: dying master asks student to find previous students who he’s sure are up to no good, but also find master’s friend who has a treasure. The student and the Venoms (Centipede, Gecko, Toad, Snake, and Scorpion) all converge on an unfortunate town to find the treasure and each other (only some of them know who the others are). There’s intrigue, secrets, romance, betrayal, and plenty of kung fu action. There isn’t any actual romance, though; I lied about that. Unless you count…well, that gives too much away.

It was loads of fun and I am all set for more. Eric, just keep throwing DVDs at me until I say stop.

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Space Cabby by Jon Wolter

Jon Wolter is a Twitter pal who loves two things: seeing Hitler getting punched and roads, especially those of a holiday nature. You can see more of his interests on his Tumblr, where he’s been doing arts recently!

Jon’s Space Cabby is a truly heroic Space Cabby, firm of jaw and eyes to the horizon. He is an icon, a paragon, a force of righteousness in the 22nd century. Is there a more noble Space Cabby? I assure you: there is not. Many thanks, Jon!

Are YOU an artist who would like to draw Space Cabby for me? Please let me know!

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