Thursday, January 24, 2013

It is incredibly difficult to write blog posts when quite a lot of what is on my mind is inherently negative.  I don't like making negative posts or writing about negative topics.  I leave that to the media.  They've made a multi-billion dollar business out of it.  I don't want to talk about America's problems with guns and mental health, bigotry towards gays, debt, hatred by other countries, or broken immigration rules.  I don't want to talk about how my health benefits increased by 16% this year, yet my salary stayed the same, so therefore I actually got a pay decrease in addition to getting nothing for the increase of cost of living.  I don't want to talk about how John will be leaving in less than a month now, and I'm going to have to deal with being thousands of miles away from the one I love simply because the people of this country believe that a book written by men are the divine words of some Sky Bully.

The problem is, after I'm done not talking about all of those things, I really don't have much left to say.

It's quite easy to fall into a state of depression this time of year.  It's been coined the "Winter Blahs" by some people.  I think I read that in a Peanut's strip once.  As such, I find it important to focus on the small things that make me happy.  Otherwise, I'd be a basket case.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Over the weekend, I delved into the third DLC offering of Borderlands 2 entitled Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt.  I purchased the season pass for Borderlands 2 because I really like it, and I'm never going to say no to additional content for it.  Even so, I still worried that I would end up with content similar to The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.  That is...utter crap.  The only DLC that I enjoyed from the original Borderlands was the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.  

Fortunately, I've been enjoying all the BL2 DLC released thus far, though if I had to pick my least favorite it would most certainly be this one.  I love Sir Hammerlock as a character, but him as the star of this package doesn't quite save it from being a bit mediocre.  And slightly annoying.

So let's get these things out of the way first.  There are two things I didn't like about SHBGH.  First, I didn't like how isolated it was from the rest of the game.  I missed my slot machines, and the feeling of walking through a populated city like Sanctuary.  Or even just a ship full of pirates, or a town that is inhabited by a mad man pretending to be a dozen people.  Instead, it's just a lodge and only Sir Hammerlock, with another quest giver that you never actually meet.  It was a bit droll, really.

The other problem I have with this add-on is definitely the Witch Doctors.  I would like to meet the person who thought they would be a new addition to the game, and punch them in the head.  For a moment, let's ignore the fact that 75% of the new enemies in this DLC do not have a "head shot" spot.  What I mean is, a spot where you can shoot them so that you're guaranteed to crit.  For most enemies, this is the head.  Sometimes it's a special spot, though, like the new strider-like creatures in this add-on, where you have white bulbs on their body to shoot.  For me, this is how I like to play BL2. I aim for those weak spots, usually with a sniper rifle, and to me that's the fun in the game.  Having them either remove that (or move the spots so obtuse or hidden that you can't find them), well that just sort of kills the fun for me.  It makes me have to resort to high damage, explosive weaponry.  Now, I enjoy explosions just as much as the next guy, but when it comes to shooters I prefer the method that relies on accuracy.

Of course, with that being said, this is only one small slice of the game and I really can't expect it to cater to my needs 100% of the time.  However, with the Witch Doctors, I do feel they are just badly designed.  Hard to crit, tons of health, and a heal that is more HPS than most guns' DPS.  I'm sorry, but that's broken.  Every time I killed one, instead of being left with a feeling of satisfaction, I was left feeling that I had cheesed the system, because the only way to kill them was to throw every grenade in my inventory followed by several clips of ammo from a high damage explosive weapon, and hope it was enough to kill it before it healed every point of damage away.  It's so bad, that there are forum posts stating they are actually impossible to kill.  On a higher difficulty setting, I actually can believe that.  (I am playing on Normal.)

So with the bad out of the way, how about the good stuff?  The new weapons are cool and interesting.  I've expanded my arsenal a bit so that I now carry around a few extra versions of the same type of weapon.  In addition to carrying a normal pistol, I also have one that fires explosive rounds now, for when I really need to nuke something.  Same goes for the assault rifle and the shotgun.  I actually have a gun I really like for every slot, now, so that's cool.

The design of the place is also excellent.  It's the same Borderlands style, with different themes.  Have a look for yourself.

All in all, the add-on is quite worth it, and the ending made me laugh quite hard.  I was not disappointed at the end of it, not by a long shot.  Though, if you were picking your DLC and not getting them all, I would recommend either of the other DLC packs first before picking up this one.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Supermarket Story

So it's been quite a while since I've last made a Supermarket Story post.  I'm sure you've missed them.

The other night, I stopped for groceries on my way home from work.  Among the things I needed was cat litter.  When I need to get that, I usually avoid the self-checkout lane.  With the weight of the litter, I always have problems and end up needing a cashier anyway.  So I just go through a normal check-out lane when I have a big, heavy box of litter.

This particular night, my cashier was this early-20-something dork with thick glasses.  Now, I'm not one to judge -- I was a dork with thick glasses up until I was 18.  But, sadly, this guy totally realized the stereotype that I had etched out in my mind.  As he's scanning my items, he gets to my bottle of fabric softener.  It's then that he says, "Oh, fabric softener.  I have never used that.  I don't even know what it does."  I'm pretty sure that I was able to hide my look.  You know the look.  It's the one that basically says, "Wow, you're a fucking idiot."  I'm very good at speaking without words.  But, I hid that look, and simply replied, "It softens your fabric."  I said this without any sarcasm.  I swear!

To this, he replied, "Oh, my jeans get pretty soft after I wear them for a month."

I said nothing to this, because I'm an intelligent human being who knows when to keep his mouth shut in order to avoid receiving any more useless and unwanted information.  Unfortunately, the woman behind me in line was not this type of person, and replied, "Ew, what does that smell like?"

And, naturally, the Cashier-el-Dorko replied, "It smells manly!"

I'm pretty sure this was the fastest I have ever said the words, "Noneedtobagthemilkorfabricsoftenerthankyougoodbye."  

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm Still Undecided on whether Cotton Malone is a Cool Name

I finished reading The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King two nights ago, and immediately delved into The Templar Legacy.  It's a rather recent novel that was published in 2006 by author Steve Berry, who I hadn't heard of before I found the book.  It is the first in an on-going series of books centered around the character Cotton Malone.  As the title of my post suggests, I'm still trying to decide whether or not that is a good name for an adventure hero.  I'm leaning towards yes, because Malone is a badass last name.  I can ignore the first name.

Anyway, the book has drawn me in rather quickly, so I suspect that I'm going to enjoy it.  It's sort of a mixture of genres, mixing spy novel, adventure, and mystery.  Malone is an early-retired spook (he worked for the U.S. Justice Department) who is now a bookseller, and he gets caught up in an intriguing mystery.  Judging from the short synopsis of the book, there's also some historical fiction thrown in as well, which really caught my attention.

This was just the kind of story I was looking for.  I was pretty full up on fantasy after reading LOTR, and definitely wanted to read something set in a contemporary period of time.  I considered reading the Jason Bourne series of books by Robert Ludlum, but balked at that because I've seen the movies and therefore knew almost all of the plot of the books already.  I also considered reading some Ian Fleming, but again, movies.  Before I found Steve Berry, I considered delving back into Tom Clancy novels.  His newest books have actually delved away from Jack Ryan and are focusing more on his son, Jack Jr., and I thought that would be a good place to restart reading him.  But sadly, I read that the very first Jack Jr. book wasn't very good at all.  I didn't particularly want to have to read a bad book just so I could get to ones that were better.

And then I found Steve Berry, who, like I said, I hadn't heard of until now.  The first book appealed to me, especially with the historical fiction bit.  (I love that Indiana Jones-type stuff.)  And, the books have been written recently, as well, which is also what I wanted.  So I made my choice and purchased the first Cotton Malone story.  It's the first of seven, with an eight due to be published this year.  So, if I really like it, I'll have quite a bit of reading to do!


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...