Hey nerds! How was your week last week? Mine was pretty much: work, PS4, snow, and Stick It To The Man. All you need to know about work is it blows and I want a new job soon. More importantly, my roommate bought a PS4! I connected my PS+ account to it so we've been playing a bunch of Resogun and Warframe. While the PS4 is a lot of fun I gotta say, I am glad I'm not getting a personal one for awhile.
We also have Contrast and Blacklight; it's kind of great having four free games for a new system right out of the box. We haven't even bought a physical game yet! The game we've played the most though is Netflix. We seriously watched half of season two of American Horror Story in one sitting last night.
Then there was the snow. I'm sure many of you saw some of that shit this week too. In fact it's snowing outside my window as I type this. Snow sure was a lot more fun when you were younger. Oh well, maybe if it snows some more I can get a group together to sled. Any of you enjoyed the snow yet or have you just been bitter like me?
More recently I've been playing through Stick It To The Man on my Vita for review. So far I'm really digging it. I know Ian recently gave it a pretty good score. I get a big Tim Schaffer vibe from the game and I love it. The humor has been a little hit and miss though. I look forward to completing it, look for the review on the next episode of Pocketoid!
That's right folks, I'm now covering Saturdays. Mondays have proven to be a horrifically busy day in my life. So now I will bestow upon you wondrous people my usual brand of offbeat promulgations.
Resogun is ruining my life. Its all I play. Its all I do. Its an obsession. Finally got the platinum trophy, which is actually my very first platinum in all my ages of having a PSN account. Getting the 15x multiplier proved to be a hell of a task.
I've never been into leaderboards before, mostly because I haven't ever been good enough to be anywhere near the top 500,000. However, in near everything I'm in the top few thousand to the top 100. Its a disease. I just keep playing.
It might just be tied for my own personal game o' the year with The Last of Us. I love it!
Hello everyone! I forgot to mention it last week, but one of my most anticipated games, Persona 5, was finally announced! It was announced alongside three other Persona-related games, including the sequel to Persona 4 Arena that we already knew about, a chibi Persona 3&4 crossover, and a very bizarre dancing game. I'm not sure how I feel about the dancing game (I would probably only play it out of morbid curiosity), but I'm very excited about the other three! Mostly Persona 5, though, of course. And the fighting game sequel, because the first was phenomenal.
Persona 3 and 4 are two of my favorite games of the PS2 generation (granted, I have a ton of favorite games that came out of that generation!), so I have very high hopes for Persona 5. I hope to see a brand new cast of relatable characters, interesting social links, excellent turn-based combat (hopefully closer to P4's than P3's), a wonderful soundtrack and beautiful environments. And of course, addictive persona collecting! I also hope that they fix the dungeon exploration, as it can get a bit tedious in the previous games (probably my only complaint about 4). Hopefully they can come up with some more varied dungeon layouts.
I'm very curious to see where they go with this game. Persona 4 was very different from Persona 3; they had completely different tones. Persona 3 was very gloomy and serious, while Persona 4 was way more upbeat and silly (especially for a game centered around a murder mystery). I wonder what direction they'll go with for Persona 5. Maybe it will be an angrier game this time around, judging by the red color scheme they've chosen (as opposed to 3's blue scheme and 4's yellow scheme).
Anyway, I can't wait for the game's release sometime next year! Winter 2014 seems like such a long wait!
Hey everyone! Guess who should be studying his ass off for competition law? That’s right, me! Guess who ISN’T studying his ass off right about now? Yup, me as well. So why would a total honorstudent like myself take a day off to procrastinate by writing a lengthy Dtoid post?
Because today is my favorite day of the year. Today is Sinterklaas day! And I love telling you all about it. I’ll start with the general story and mythology, and then I’ll explain how the Dutch celebrate this holiday. Strap in, this is going to be quite a ride.
For those of you who don’t know, which is to say all but like two of you, us here in the low countries of Europe aren’t very big on Christmas. We in the Netherlands do have a holiday on the 25th of December, but it’s very uncommon for people here to really do something with it other than maybe have dinner with the folks. There are no presents under the Christmas tree (if there is one in the first place), and Santa doesn’t visit us. No, after what I assume must’ve been a long and difficult legal battle, it was decided that the Netherlands would fall under Sinterklaas’ jurisdiction. So instead of going all out for Christmas, the Dutch celebrate their own holiday on or around December 5th, Sinterklaas’ birthday.
So who is Sinterklaas? Well, Sinterklaas is much like Santa. In fact, those of you with keen eyes may have spotted that “Sinterklaas” and “Santa Claus” are pretty similar. This is correct, as you totally nicked him from us (pun intended). Anyway, just like Santa, Sinterklaas is an old fellow with a special place in his heart for the children of the world (read: The Netherlands). And just like Santa, he drops by every year to give the children presents and has been doing so for hundreds of years.
There are a few key differences, though. As you can tell from the picture above, Sinterklaas is not morbidly obese like Santa. He’s also much more stately and not quite as jolly. Secondly, in some ways Sinterklaas is a little more grounded in “reality” than Santa is. For one, he doesn’t live on the north pole, but he lives in Spain. Yep, just Spain. He has a huge castle where he spends all of his days, but around half November he comes to the Netherlands. Not by magical sleigh, off course, but by steamboat. Again, yep, just by steamboat. Every year a different city gets to host a special televised arrival, which is always a huge event and is accompanied by a parade through the city and everything. Thirdly, unlike Santa who has his little elves make all the toys for the children, the story in the Netherlands is that Sinterklaas is just very very rich. Because we are the Dutch, after all.
Sinterklaas doesn’t come alone, though. I mean, how could he get all the presents to all of the children all at once? Magic? Come now, don’t be bloody ridiculous. Nope, while Sinterklaas doesn’t have his own private elves, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any helpers at all. It’s these helpers who do a lot of the work, checking up on which children have been naughty or nice, and delivering most of the presents. These are Sinterklaas’ “Zwarte Pieten” (plural: “Black Petes”).
Now, Zwarte Piet (singular) has been the subject of some controversy over the past few years. Why? Well, because Zwarte Piet looks like this:
Let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we?
These are people in blackface. And yes, they are Sinterklaas’ servants. I’m sure anyone would think this is totally racist. You wouldn’t be wrong. We in the Netherlands just kind of…don’t agree. Zwarte Piet is as much a part of our culture as Sinterklaas is, and the two just go together. I can’t imagine the December season without Zwarte Piet. On top of that, while these guys are Sinterklaas’ “servants”, that has become kind of a misnomer. They stay with him out of their own free will, and he’s as much a father to them as anything else. They are incredibly friendly and competent people, friends to all the children, who love doing what they do. Finally, the story goes that Piet is black from soot, having to climb down chimneys all the time. (Does that make it better or worse? I legit can’t tell.)
Anyway, it’s interesting to note that nowadays, the Zwarte Pieten work on Smurf logic, in that there’s a specific Piet for each job, and there’s tons of them. There’s one Piet devoted to writing poems, one who has mapped out all of the houses in the Netherlands, one who giftwraps all the presents, and so on. There’s even one whose sole job description is “being cool” and writing songs that are way catchier than they have any right to be.
- I can't begin to imagine how weird this video must be to you out of context.
This didn’t always used to be the case. Originally, Sinterklaas only had one helper, one Piet. So who do we have to thank for getting the Dutch hooked on a whole legion of Pieten? Well, the Canadians of course!
Some context: during the second World War the Netherlands were occupied by the Nazis. While most people nowadays credit the Americans and the Russians for defeating them, it is often forgotten that Canada had military presence in Europe too. In fact, they were largely responsible for the Dutch liberation, and you’ll find that many Dutch senior citizens are profoundly grateful to the Canadians more than anyone else. The story goes that come December 1945, after the liberation, the Canadian troops remaining in the Netherlands wanted to hold a big celebration for us lowly folk. In their infinite wisdom they figured that if the Dutch like one Black Pete, they would LOVE a whole army of them. It turns out they were right, and having a huge amount of Petes has remained a tradition until this day. Although I’m not sure Canadians would be too happy about this anymore, it is what it is.
Anyway, what does all of this mean for December 5th? For most people, the whole family gathers around sometime during the evening. If there aren’t any children involved (because Sinterklaas is a celebration for everyone) the presents will simply be deposited in the room or directly given to everyone. It’s also common to hold what I think you guys call “secret santa” sessions, in which everyone buys presents for someone else after drawing lots. Usually, these gifts will be accompanied by a short poem about the person receiving the gift. Often the poem will poke fun at his or her stranger habits, or wonders why he or she would possibly want such a weird gift.
If there are young children involved, the room will start out empty, until one of the adults goes to the “bathroom”. Soon after, a loud knock on the door is heard, and upon arrival the kids will find that “Sinterklaas” has just delivered their presents to them. After that, handing out the presents to their respective recipients goes about as you’d expect.
During all of this, we fucking ENGORGE ourselves with candy. I’m not sure if you have this for Christmas, but the Dutch have some very specific Sinterklaas candy, that you can only get around November/December. First, and most importantly, are “pepernoten” (literally “pepper nuts” but also commonly called “kruidnoten”; “spice nuts”). These are basically tiny top-rounded cookies, which we eat by the truckload. They’re delicious, not to mention totally addicting. For comparison, we eat them much like you would potato chips, which is to say put a bag or a bowl on the table and eat them by the handful.
- A bowl of pepernoten I just got for myself
- The same bowl, about five minutes later.
Secondly, there are chocolate letters. These are exactly what they sound like. They’re letters made out of chocolate. It is very common in the Netherlands during Sinterklaas-time to gift someone the first letter of their name made out of chocolate, although in families with young children an “M” for “mommy” and similar substitutes also work. These letters come in all shapes and sizes, although obviously not every store will stock a sufficient quantity for each letter. People named Quincy or Xander are often shit outta luck.
- Fortunately for me, there are usually plenty of P’s to be found.
Finally, there’s marzipan, which I positively adore. This is the only of the three which you can get all year round, but it’s still only commonly eaten at Sinterklaas. They’ll mold the marzipan into all sorts of different shapes, usually including Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet themselves; over the years I’ve gotten cakes, French fries, bread, a frog, a duck, potatoes, and lots of other things I can’t even remember anymore.
And people wonder why they gain several pounds each December.
Well, I think that just about covers all of it. Instead of celebrating Christmas each December 5th the Dutch come together to give each other lots of presents with silly poems attached, while eating all of the delicious sweets they can find. And all in the name of a rich old Spaniard’s birthday, and his vaguely racist army of helpers.
I fucking love Sinterklaas day.
Weekly Pokemon update: I've been diving into Battle Spot, which is essentially unranked matches. 6 versus 6 is the way to go and this is why I hate Battle Spot and its 3 v 3 rule set. 6 v 6 at least ensures you have back up plans in case something you can't immediately counter pops up (like a Prankster Sableye or a sudden Mega Blaziken). 3 v 3 essentially means if you can't counter what's happening with something quickly, it'll all go downhill from there. For example a fully boosted Mega Mawile or an unbreakable wall set up with +3 Bulk Ups. The rule set is more tailored to test you ability to construct cores: small pairs or groups of Pokemon who can switch with each other when they hit a check or counter. For example, II have my Tangrowth/Slowking Regenerator core (I'm Grump, Not So Grump) with Greninja usually scouting up front.
What I'm trying to say if you run into something that takes the cornerstone out of your plan, you're screwed since you don't have anything to replace that stone. I had trouble focusing on caps tonight as I was trying to squeeze out one last battle. I just trained a Jumpluff recently and I have got to say, Jumpluff is one of the superior sun setting leads one can pick.
Set the sun, then immediately Memento to cripple your opponent so your next sun-oriented Pokemon can set up in relative safety. I swept 2-0 using only +2 Nasty Plot Mega Houndoom without ever needing to bring out my third 'Mon. I'm talking OHKO Dark Pulse on Zygarde. I'm talking OHKO Fire Blast on Mega Blaziken. I know he's not exactly the bulkiest but still, he resisted Fire Blast and I OHKO'ed him. +2 Mega Houndoom with Solar Power under sun is crazy math.
I also watched Frozen this past week with my girlfriend. Which is supposed to be the overall takeaway from these ISMS thank you very much.
Naturally, working at Disney puts me in close proximity to a lot of hype. When Wreck-It Ralph came out, I snapped up exactly one blind box of pins and got exactly what I was looking for on the first try, Fix-It Felix Jr. and Ralph. A feat of luck that infuriated my would-be purchaser co-workers to no end (who the hell would want Candlehead?).
California Adventure's mainstay night time event is the World of Color, a water/light show combination with all the classic music of a Disney film has to offer (here's looking at you, Up's piano melody). But for the holiday season, it's been updated for a more Christmasy feel and one of the flagship songs is Let it go. I immediately loved the song. The lyrics feel very teen angsty at first but once it gets going to the part where, you know, Elsa lets it go, the energy of the song is infectious.
So I went into Frozen with my girlfriend knowing to watch out for this song in particular. But the thing I liked most about Frozen is that it balances using classic Disney princess themes while not feeling too contrived or cliche. Yes there are damsels in distress but they're also not sitting around remaining in distress. They struggle right alongside all the other characters. It's made abundantly clear that Anna is the energetic go-getter who gets things done while Elsa is the girl struggling to control her mutant powers over ice. While I'm kidding partly, this movie is basically 30% X-Men. And while seeing Olaf act around in the World of Color seemed like a disturbing warning of what he's like in the movie, in context with a frozen apocalypse falling around your heads, he's actually quite endearing.
It says right on the back of the boxes to the dolls and merchandise that only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart. It's stuff like that that's very familiar to someone who's watched Disney movies before. But how it turns out getting applied is twisted in a way that it doesn't feel so been there, done that. And there's the fact that I've neglected to say that this is a movie about sisters more than anything else. There are a couple of guys who are involved and who bond but this movie is about two sisters trying to reconnect after having been aloof together for so long. Again, uncontrollable mutant ice powers. I'm sure Bobby Drake could've taught Elsa a thing or two about ice powers.
The ratings paint Frozen in a great light. Rotten Tomatoes puts it at an 86%. If its been a while since your last Disney movie, you should give it a shot. From the merchandising, its obvious Disney wants it to be the next Rapunzel because you should see how popular that is (I'm sorry. Tangled) with young girls.
Hopefully all this talk about ice and coldness remains positive though. We're already in the throes of the Christmas season and I'll likely see droves of mad shoppers descend on the park alongside crazy Disney magic seekers. My hours will get a little crazy with shifts letting me off at 2am, my sister will come to visit where we'll have our annual shop-til-you-want-to-strangle-someone then decompress with our usual winter movie binge, then of course is my winter anniversary with my longtime girlfriend of 6 years. If you're reading this babe, this sad sack of human failure will get somewhere, I promise!
I think the perfect kind of gift is something that speaks to the person receiving the gift, but says something about the person giving it at the same time. A combination of tastes.
This year I got my mother a giant wooden Nutcracker done up to look like Uncle Drosselmeyer from The Nutcracker, one of her favourite specials of the Christmas season. In the play, Uncle Drosselmeyer is the crazed toymaker who delights the children of his extended family every year with elaborate clockwork marvels of engineering
He's stands over a foot tall in his crimson cloak. His one good eye is wide and manic, the other obscured by a patch. An oversized pocket watch dangles from his waistcoat and his hand clutches another, smaller, nutcracker. His beard is huge and wild and his teeth are bright.
I think he is going to look great on the mantel.
Speaking of recent gifts, my girlfriend and I attended a baby shower last weekend.
Part of the shower was an announcement of the child's gender, which was great for providing an exciting sense of anticipation for the shower. Less great when it came to buying a gift for him or her.
I decided to go around the issue by providing a gift with a gender positive message good for boys, girls, and anything else. A copy of The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch with an accompanying plush Dragon wrapped in a paper bag. A fun little package so mom and dad can act out the bits of the story with their little guy (it turned out) when he gets a little older.
My girlfriend wrote a classy inscription in the book "Wishing you a lifetime of adventure and imagination." Very nice.
I wanted to go with the much more practical life advice of "DRAGONS ARE REAL", but I suppose that really is something a child's parents should tell them anyway.
Cragstan Mr. Atomic
There are no evil robots. These mechanical helpers of humanity are merely programmed to carry out the pre-determined actions of their creators. Any burden of morality falls to those who bent the steel and programmed the humming capacitors and cathodes of the robot's logic processor. No robot could ever be considered evil, they lack the capacity to even comprehend the difference between good or bad.
With one exception.
The Cragstan Mr. Atomic.
Just look at it. Look into its faceless visage, its hate filled circuits. How many children did it atomize that sad Christmas in 1961? What madman conceived of its design? Who equipped it with a working nuclear reactor and access to the emergency broadcasting signal where it would spew its vile message of hate for humanity?
And who burned down the factory and all records of its design on Christmas Eve? Was it an act of corporate malfeasance? A desperate attempt to shield the company from culpability, allowing them to shuffle the guilt away from the board of executives and onto a team of junior engineers, served up as sacrificial lambs? Or, perhaps more distressingly, did Mr. Atomic's rampage begin a day earlier than official reports insist? When exactly did it gain sentience, and malice?
And the most pressing question of all – where is Mr. Atomic now and will he return?