Friday, July 21, 2017

Orcs..Orcs..Orcs... I beat Shadow of Mordor!


Finally, a game where I get to murder my way through Mordor with a side story about the time between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings!  While not super dense in terms of story, the atmosphere of this game deserves definite praise.  The combat system borrows from the latest batman game with added gory finishing moves and its lots of sneaking, listening to orc banter, poisoning their beer supply, freeing prisoners, getting chased by monsters, and seeking out orc leadership to slay.

But what really shines about this game is the nemesis system.  Essentially you can play orcs off against each other to fuck with the orc boss hierarchy and get the orcs that are cowed by you into the higher chain of command.  You can have them challenge each other in duels and raids, raise your squeeky orc nobody into a body guard of an orc chieftain only to betray him.  And burn and destroy stuff until the hand of sauron begins to notice your existance.  The end is pretty epic, if a tiny bit anti-climactic... but gets me excited for the sequal which Im sure will be even better.



Every time you get defeated/killed, the random orc who kills you gets promoted to an orc leader and if its an orc captain who does it, they increase in power and renown. 
Its a tiny bit weird being a wraith, but if you think about it like you are kinda the good version of a ring wraith, its pretty cool. You get all sorts of wraith powers which turn you into a an elf/ninja hybrid of orc slaying.  The game is a bit simple, but the system it created has real possibility.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"The Masque of Anarchy"

"‘What is Freedom?—ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well—
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.

‘’Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants’ use to dwell,

‘So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.

‘’Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak,—
They are dying whilst I speak.

‘’Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye ;

‘’Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More than e’er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.

‘Paper coin—that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something from the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.

‘’Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.

‘And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
’Tis to see the Tyrant’s crew
Ride over your wives and you—
Blood is on the grass like dew."

"The Masque of Anarchy" - Percy Shelley, English Romantic Poet, in the Aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre (1819), an army attack on 70,000 people protesting starvation caused by a callous tax on grain, horrendous working conditions, and a lack of universal suffrage.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Explosions

Wrote in the aftermath of July 4th:

Piercing lights, booms, cheers
a cacophony of flags and voices
dripping with national fervor
.. a fever
pitilous to foreign towns
ripped to shreds by ordinance
white phosphorous melting and caramelizing bodies
faces in a horrible rictus
and people clap
as the marching band plays on
lights and smoke
a show
a facade
...like america
dripping with blood
as a people wink out of existence
like an extinguished firework
falling to the ground
all joy lost
as the world moves on to more explosions.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Despair I and II

Despair

Waking dreams of a future unfinished
potential unrealized
drowning in decay and cynicism
rabid and selfish
holding back the curtain of progress
...promises
what promises?
a past that haunts the living?
a world murdered by its children?
loveless
thoughtless
damaged
betrayed
the beating heart ripped from its chest
unseeing eyes
And the repeated calling of the abyss welcoming you home...

Despair II

You ever try walking across a rainbow?
  --try doing it without feet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Poetry and Anarchism

"knocked over by the storm
we die in the cages of hatred
the weak throw themselves
on those who are even weaker
and close our mouth with mocking filth

my voice is strangledand the hands of the enemies 
tear my thinking tongue apart.
Pursuers take the resounding present
and living world from me.
where will I feel the flow into airless silence.
I am starving in a decayed placeless mind
cut to pieces earthless.
forced into nothing
drains me
turned to ice
empties from the mouth
into world growing pain."
--Carl Einstein, German Anarchist and distant relation to Physicist Albert Einstein. Participant in the soldier and worker councils following the German defeat of WW1 and the Spartacist uprising (where he gave euology at Rosa Luxembourg's funeral). Wounded fighting in the Durruti Column with the CNT-FAI in Spain and later fled following the victory of the fascists. Trapped in southern France following Nazi Germany's defeat of the French Third Republic, Einstein took his own life by jumping from a bridge on 5 July 1940.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review: Resurrection

Resurrection Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was utterly amazing. In my opinion, one of the finest pieces of Russian fiction I have ever read and definitely my favorite Tolstoy story I have read so far. It depicts a Russian noble's attempt at redemption and is indictment of the state, prison system, the police, the Russian Church, land ownership, and capitalism.

"Having captured hundreds who were evidently guiltless and who could not be dangerous, the Government kept them in prison for years, where they became consumptive, went out of their minds, or committed suicide; keeping them only because the officials had no inducement to set them free, but thought that safe in prison they might possibly be of use to elucidate some question at a judicial inquiry"


Im not even sure how Tolstoy was able to get this book past the tsar's censors, because its brutal attacks on state institutions barely holds any punches (except maybe against the tsar personally, but even then is pretty openly hostile to the state and authority).


The other main character in the story is a sex worker who becomes politicized in prison by revolutionaries. Maslova's relationship with the political prisoners opens the door to some amazing conversations and depictions of the different viewpoints of anarchists and socialists at the time as to the reorganization of life, while also being a view into the utter degradation of prison life.
The book doesn't have a perfect view of sex work, but what it does is preserve the humanity of the sex worker in a way that most 2nd wave feminists cannot even manage.

"And what seemed most surprising was that all this was not being done accidentally, nor by mistake, nor only once, but had been done continuously for centuries, with only this difference, that at first people's nostrils used to be slit and their ears cropped; then a time came when they were branded and fastened to iron bars; and now they were manacled, and transported by steam instead of on carts
The arguments brought forward by those in Government service who said that the things which aroused his indignation were simply due to the imperfect arrangements of the places of confinement, and that they would all be put to rights if prisons of a modern type were built did not satisfy Nekhlyudov, because he knew that what revolted him was not a consequence of a better or worse arrangement of prisons. He had read of model prisons with electric bells, of executions by electricity as recommended by Tarde, and this refined violence revolted him yet more"

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 4, 2017

I Just Beat Knights of the Old Republic II



I know its a little late to be playing this... like a decade late. But I saw it for $3.50 on steam and figured why not. So here is my review. I really liked this game. The graphics are obviously a bit dated, but it has such a cool atmosphere and story that its easy to overlook.  Where this game shines is in your ability to make decisions that either are associated with light side, dark side, or skirt both.

A number of characters fit basic star wars tropes but have a lot more depth to them.  My favorite character in this story by far is the mysterious Kreia.  She is beautifully voice acted and her actions and motivations keep you guessing through the very end.  She reminds me of the Bene Gesserit from Dune (the original Jedi) and this is an utterly perfect representation of the much more fluid essence of the force than a yin yang (dark/light).

What I also appreciate about KOTOR is that it is so much darker than many of the movies (empire strikes back and Rogue 1 being in a similar vein.)  The temptations of the dark side are strong as taking ruthless action sometimes seems the best choice in a perilous situation, but can have long term consequences.  I definitely recommend it.  Still quite fun!

Spoilers:




My favorite scenes for those who have played it include the battle on Dantooine,  the "OH SHIT! A FUCKING JEDI!" moment when you make mince meat out of hundreds of bounty hunters in a cantina, the feeling of finally growing into force powers/light saber and feeling a sense of newfound power compared to your enemies.