I started reading War & Peace this week. I figured you're supposed to read the damn thing at least once before you die, right? I'm usually game for a challenge, and I've never let a book's size or prestige throw me off the scent before. I figured it would tie in nicely with a week of Mega Man 9 and Bionic Commando: Rearmed on Super Hard. You know, a week of honest to God hard work. I rolled up my sleeves to get down to business.
I had high expectations for War & Peace. Tolstoy's a vegetarian and an anarchist, a nasty pair of romantic outdated ideologies that I also happen to subscribe to. Let's go! Break it down for me Tolstoy!
Hmmm, the first 20 pages were slow going. About 15 different characters are introduced, all with mouthfuls of consonants in their names, and no noticeable differences in their personalities. There's the prince of this and the princess of that, who has a son named Raskadhokalovich who married the count's sister Andadonia who had a falling out with the Duchess Anna, who died in childbirth. Not really, but you get the idea. And they're all at this grand party and they're all jockeying for prestigious positions and favors from one another. They wax intellectual about the war and Napoleon. They drop French phrases like they're hot to flaunt their aristocratic credentials. Kind of reminded me of a bunch of videogame journalists descending like a pack of vultures on a press conference from a noted designer. Everyone's gotta puff out their chests and act important in the hopes of scoring a contact, interview, or phone call.
Wasn't really feeling any of this. I kept flipping to the back of the book to note the page length. How long was this again? 1000 pages? 1200 pages? Holy shit. It's 1436 pages. If all those pages rattle on about debutante balls, I don't think I'm gonna be able to stick with it. I didn't like it, but I also didn't like myself for not liking it. What are you, Tristero? Some kind of philistine? It's War & Fucking Peace. Just read the damn thing. I took a break and downloaded Mega Man 9.
Everyone here but Dexter has probably fallen in love with the game by now. Like most of you, I found the first 30 minutes a peculiar kind of torture. After the initial adrenaline rush from hearing those adorable tunes chirping away, all the new bosses doing their chest thumping dances, the hot shit opening story with the Swiss Bank jokes and retro sarcasm ... after all this dust settles, you begin to realize: oh, I'm gonna actually have to play this thing and it's actually gonna to require genuine work on my part. This ain't the power of love. You ARE going to need a credit card to ride this train.
After huffing and puffing and climbing my way up through Wily's prestigious ivory tower (he's such an elitist, isn't he?), I finally blew his ass back down on his knees where he belongs, begging for my robo mercy. HUGE SPOILERS And you know what? I wasn't just rewarded for beating this particular Mega Man game. I was rewarded for beating all of the Mega Man games. A project that's sprawled over the last decade and a half for me. I roughed it threw every damn one of those fuckers and I'm so glad I did, because there was a huge reward waiting at the end. DJ Mega Man cuts Mixmaster Wily down to size. Dr. Wily's sobbing for forgiveness and Mega Man lays it all out on the table for him. Remember the first time you screwed up, Wily? And then this time? And this time? All of those hard earned finale shots from over the years cascaded across the screen. I was there for each of them. I was in the shit. And Capcom patted me on the back for it. While it's an ending almost anyone can appreciate, if you've stayed with the series over the years, you're gonna get an extra tingle in your pants from bitch-slapping Wily with some serious sass. END SPOILERS
How does this tie in with War & Peace? Motivation, my friends. Sometimes the really precious moments in life take hard work to appreciate. Thelonius Monk said, "It's always night, or we wouldn't need light." I'm feeling him on that. Sometimes you have to struggle against odds to get the ultimate prize. You've gotta pierce the heavens with your spiral drill, even if Rossiu's being a huge dick.
War & Peace sucks for the first couple of dozen pages. So what? Maybe you've gotta earn the good stuff. After the nicotine high from thrashing the latest Mega Man, I dove back in to Tolstoy's send-up of European politics and hubris. And you know what? It got good. These dudes got drunk after a party and made a crazy bet. They were both going to sit out of a window on the third story of this house and drink a whole bottle of rum. The catch was, they weren't allowed to touch anything with their hands except the bottle of rum. No grabbing onto the window ledge to save them from impending doom. That's a goddamn bar bet! They both survive and go out for a night of carousing, but they've got these bears that they stole from the circus and they go hunting down famous actresses to scare them with the bears. And then the police come and the drunk dudes, get this, they tie the fucking police man to the back of the bear! And they send the bear down a river with the helpless police man just stuck on its back, splashing around. That's quality literature.
Next time you're faced with something insurmountable, hang in there until you see the pressure-guage start to fall. Strap on your dust goggles and fire up your blow torches. Then fly towards grace.