Monday, December 21, 2009

the not-so-serene republic

At one point in Assassin’s Creed 2, you receive an item that essentially turns Florence and Tuscany into Grand Theft Auto: La Serenissima Repubblica. So long as you mostly restrict your killing to guards and pickpockets, and can outrun anyone you can’t kill (and if you can’t do that, there’s no way you made it this far into the game), you can pretty much rob and murder your way through the birthplace of the Renaissance. As long as you escape the sight of the guards chasing you, and don’t kill too many civilians in a row, you’re in the clear until you commit your next crime. You can even get on a horse and start running people down in the (beautifully-rendered) Tuscan countryside.

I recently spent about an hour just wandering around Florence, killing guards. After sneaking up on rooftop archers and essentially meat-hooking them to their deaths below got old, I started hiring gaggles of prostitutes to distract groups of street level guards before walking around behind them and stabbing them. I could usually pick off one or two before the others in the group saw me coming for them, too, and I would either have to inelegantly fight them off with a scimitar or run away. Then I upped my civic effrontery when I realized that I could get away with killing just one or two of the guards and then just skulk off quietly into the streets, with the remaining guards still wandering off in the direction of the aforementioned prostitutes. Imagine being so enamored of a lady of easy virtue that you not only abandon your post but also leave your like-minded coworker to die in the street. Apparently Renaissance courtesans really did have it going on.

After a while I got to wondering where all these guards were coming from. I would perform my murder ballet on three guys guarding a house, and the next time I circled back around, there were three more guards already in place...whom I would then murder. Seriously, though, where were all these replacement guards coming from? It was when I listened to (not just heard, but really listened to) one of the heralds’ announcements, calling on all of the city’s “ragazzi” (boys, essentially) to apply for jobs with the city guard! These heralds were luring children into the city’s service, promising them easy lives of stable employment and civic virtue, when really all that was in store for them was getting knifed in the back by some jerk in a red cape procrastinating on his mission of vengeance. Don't I feel like the asshole now....Sigh, back to collecting statues....

Friday, December 11, 2009

war games

American Military Operation, or Dungeons and Dragons Feat?

Acid Gambit
Avenging Surge
Cobra's Anger
Desert Strike
Eagle Claw
Earnest Will
Enduring Freedom
Frequent Wind
Morning Light
Nimble Archer
Steel Tiger
Urgent Fury


[They are all American military operations, except "Avenging Surge."]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

on game theory

In case we needed any more proof that I don't know anything about soccer:

PM: i added a new super-star midfielder to my [FIFA World Cup video game] soccer party last night!
PM: it was the equivalent of recruiting a wizard several levels above the party to join you on a tough quest
mikaydee: hahaha
PM: he's playing a defensive midfield position, so he's sorta like my wizard controller who uses buff spells to make my attackers better, and can cast defensive spells if i need him to
mikaydee: i love that this is how you have to explain soccer to me
mikaydee: what I want to know is, who is the warlock in this scenario?
PM: oh, i did just pick up one of them
PM: another midfielder that has the ability to score from distance
PM: i have no idea what my goalie is... he's the other best player on the team... i guess he's kinda like my cleric
PM: especially since he's saved my ass a few times by only the grace of god

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

inspired by a true story

I recently went into serious someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet mode; what follows is a loosely-inspired dramatization:

Provocative Poster [PP]: You and people like you are oversensitive to the point of being childish.
mikaydee: No, actually I am not oversensitive. What you are perceiving as oversensitivity may actually be well within the normal range of adult sensitivity. Here is some evidence and an argument in support of why that might be so.
PP: Only childishly oversensitive people present evidence and an argument in support of the premise that they are not oversensitive.
mikaydee: Couldn't it just be the case that you were incorrect and that I and people like me are not actually oversensitive?
PP: No, the fact that you would even attempt to contradict my assertion is proof of its truth. LALALALALA.
mikaydee: So, you could conceivably call anyone oversensitive, and if they tried to contradict you, you could use that as evidence that they were oversensitive?
PP: Yes, naturally.
mikaydee: Well, what would stop you from calling everyone in the world oversensitive? No one could ever prove you wrong.
PP: Exactly! I would be master of the universe!
mikaydee: But how can everyone in the world be irrefutably oversensitive? Doesn't 'oversensitive' imply a baseline, regular level of sensitivity that one must deviate from in order to be considered oversensitive?
: No! Words mean what I decide they mean, and have no empirical correllary!
mikaydee: Then how do you communicate your ideas to other people, if you're sitting there arbitrarily assigning meaning to words and phrases with no objective reference to share with the rest of us?
PP: I don't! I just put random sounds and noises together and demand that others comprehend me. That way I can never be wrong or contradicted!
mikaydee: You mean, like an infant?
PP: Tortiseshell!
mikaydee: Huh?
PP: Manganese peroxide!
mikaydee: Okay well, that could be a thing, but I'm not sure.
PP: Dornfleiebernektsung.
mikaydee: Okay, I'm pretty sure that just sounds German.

(no trolls were harmed in the making of this mockery)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

mean girls

Man, North Korea really is like China's embarassing friend from grade school, isn't it? North Korea shows up at the lunch table, does something off-putting and/or insane, and we all steal side glances over in China's direction, muttering "What are you gonna do about this? You guys used to be, like, best friends, right? Take care of it." And China sits there for a moment wondering if doing something about it will make him more or less popular with the cool kids; is it a welcome favor or a tacit admission of guilt by association? It's like an After-School Special, only with intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of football games.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

instant messages, the lazy man's blog post

mikaydee: I love this line in a recipe I just requested from my mom: "For more flavor, throw in a couple of ham hocks."
mikaydee: Not salt or pepper, but HAM HOCKS.
mikaydee: Just toss 'em in there.
MS: ha
MS: it's salt+
MS: NaCl!!!
MS: (!!!=ham)
mikaydee: If !!!=ham, then what=bacon?
MS: F'nNaCl

Monday, August 17, 2009

on emergent folkways

Think before you speak,

if for no other reason than that you might be speaking to a popular internet personality who will then post your message to his millions of readers, such that the top search hits for your hypocritically effeminate gamer handle will be all about how it's,...well,...hypocritically effeminate.

Shame: the last and greatest motivator.*

*If I were ever to write a self-help book, this would be the title. Or maybe it could be the foreword to RM's forthcoming self-help manifesto "You're Not a Dick."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

on tactical support

Stray thoughts on questionable choices in questionable films:

(1) Streetfighter: Legend of Chun Li
- Why would you punch someone and then shoot him? Why would you shoot an arrow at a kidnappee before sending in the ninjas to nab him? Why would you send your ninjas into a building and then blow it up with a bazooka? How does someone with the tactical skill of a baby duckling become an enforcer for a big-time crime boss?

(2) X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- If you had a single weapon that you believed could possibly kill your otherwise invincible enemy, why would you not give that weapon to any of the people you sent to kill him, including the guy whose superpower is preternatural skill with that very type of weapon?
- How does Deadpool bend his arms while those two-foot-long katanas are retracted?

(3) Couples Retreat
- Okay, so this movie isn't out yet, but the trailer looks extremely meh*. I also find it kind of creepy that Kristen Bell and Jason Bateman play a married couple, because I think of Kristen Bell as a teenager on Veronica Mars, and I think of Jason Bateman during the same period as the father of a teenager on Arrested Development, so all I can think of while watching them together is "Dude, Sheriff Enrico Colantoni is gonna shoot you in the face if he sees you with Veronica."


a psalm to mnemosyne

Evidence that I have some sort of degenerative neurological disorder continues to mount; this is me trying to tell someone which exit to take from the freeway to the airport:

"It's named after that guy, the industrialist, with the planes, and they made that movie about him, with that guy who was also in THE DEPARTED."

Let's examine this, shall we?

(1) I couldn't remember the name of an exit that I have taken upwards of twenty times.
(2) I couldn't remember the name of Howard Hughes, one of the richest people in history.
(3) I couldn't remember the name of Leonardo DiCaprio, a veritable fixture of my adolescence.
(4) I couldn't come up with a more Leonardo-DiCaprio-specific movie than THE DEPARTED, a film with a gaggle of hugely famous actors in it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

in which our heroine packs up the discourse and ships it to abu dhabi

I recently fell under the spell of Friday Night Lights, A.K.A. the best show on television, to the point that I borrowed the non-fiction book that inspired the show from the library. Apparently someone was working on a very weird term paper about this book, because whoever had it last has used bright orange post-its to flag every page with the word "ni--er" on it, in some strange, quantitative analysis of the text. There's even a little note on one as to whether "ni--ertown" qualifies. Note to the unseen scholar: it does.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

in search of perspective

Mon Dieu! Our democratically elected leader likes Dijon mustard! Where did I put my pitchfork?....

Oh wait, I almost forgot, it's not 1988 anymore. Seriously, I don't think Dijon mustard has been elitist for a solid decade or so. You can buy it at Safeway.

In fact, here are some helpful guidelines for pundits who are confused about what year it is, how much things cost, and life in general:

Things that are elitist:
  • family compounds
  • Ivy League legacies
  • being a Head of State

Things that are not elitist:
  • anything that is available free of charge and in unlimited quantities at a baseball game

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

in praise of multiple revenue streams

So, Fox is planning on doing a Deadpool spinoff...?

Maybe it will be directed by Darren Aronofsky and take place entirely in Deadpool's fractured and quickly fading consciousness during the ten seconds it takes for his severed head to hit the bottom of that collapsing nuclear reactor thing.

....I would totally see that movie.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

on beauty and truth

In celebration of free comic book day (and not at all because I'm lazy), here are some pretty pictures:

~ Most compelling reason to join Twitter.

~ Least encouraging use of my tax dollars.

~ Very similar to an actual conversation I have had.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

in which our heroine fishes around for a side quest

NPC: Hello, welcome to the Bastard Sword. My name is Gabe Lacksmith; how may I help you?

mikaydee: Um, what did you say your name was?

NPC: Gabe Lacksmith.

mikaydee: And what do you do?

NPC: I’m a blacksmith….

mikaydee: …Is that all?

NPC: What do you mean, “Is that all?” I’m a person, aren’t I? I live a multifaceted life which includes more than just my work! Yes, I do have some personal issues, which, excuse me, are just that: PERSONAL! So do you want me to repair your scimitar or not, you nether-fucking druid harpy?!?

mikaydee: I…I’m a half-elf….


Sunday, April 5, 2009

mutatis mutandis

Changing Times: a Chronicle of Procrastination:
  • - 1991 - Today, mikaydee played video games instead of practicing the piano.
  • - 1998 - Today, mikaydee played video games instead of doing her algebra homework.
  • - 2002 - Today, mikaydee played video games instead of writing her Western Civ paper.
  • - 2007 - Today, mikaydee played video games instead of studying for the bar exam.
  • - 2009 - Today, mikaydee played video games instead of doing her taxes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

in which our heroine never asked to be born

People usually defend the Battlestar Galactica finale by talking about "character," and insisting that a myopic focus on gaping plot holes misses the point of this character-driven show, and the real point of the finale is all the bittersweet emotional character moments. But the worst plot holes were character driven, story points that made no sense at all given what we have come to know about these people over the past several years. A few examples:

(1) BILL ADAMA LOVES HIS it's completely inexplicable as to why he's apparently "never coming back." I understand that your girlfriend is dying and you want to spend that time with her and give her a loving burial, but after that, why wouldn't you go back to the only family you have left in the universe? Why did you spend years repairing a strained relationship with your son only to abandon him once you reached the goal you were both desperately pursuing? And speaking of that goal....

(2) LEE ADAMA IS NOT A MORON....and as an unabashed civics nerd, he should probably know that remembering our history is the way we avoid repeating it, not dismantling and incinerating it. As someone who, from the beginning, has believed passionately in the value of his civilization's institutions, whence came this sudden pastoral love affair with the nobility of the savage? After all this time defending his people's democracy, with both pen and sword (or more accurately, wireless and gun) sometimes against his own father, sometimes against the president herself, he suddenly wants to go back to a state of nature? Which brings me to my last point....

(3) THE FLEET IS COMPOSED OF RATIONAL, SELF-INTERESTED HUMAN BEINGS....who for some reason acquiesed to giving up their already scant material possessions and creature comforts for new and exciting lives as hunter gatherers. There was a mutiny and nearly a civil war when they started smearing cylon goo on the walls, but everyone is really going to go along with this idea of becoming cave people? These are people who lived through the privations of New Caprica, which seemed like a relatively stark existence even before the cylons invaded. (Squirrel barbeque!) And that was with all of their technology, and with everyone still together in one place. What happens when you break your leg or your kid spikes a fever, and all of the x-rays and antibiotics have been sent into the sun, and the only medical personnel are a continent away?

Kara's undead-god-machine-ness aside (maddening all on its own), my major problem with the finale was summed up pretty succintly by AB: "Why is everyone foresaking their relationships?" I have always been impressed with running theme of BSG that there is nothing more human than having a love/hate relationship with your creator, be it God or your parents or the person who downloaded you into your body. And until now, I thought that BSG's answer to the problem was "relationships." Bill and Lee rebuild their father-son bond; Sharon and Helo make a freak-baby; Caprica Six realizes that genocide is bad when she falls in love; Kara posthumously (for both of them, it turns out) forgives her father for being a dick. But the finale's answer turns out to be "solitude," "aloneness." Dismantle your community. Scatter, wander, live alone or in pairs. Avoid building anything, like a city, that lasts, that imposes your values on generations to come. Make nothing in your own image by giving up the tools to do so. Avoid playing god by remaining a babe in the wilderness. Forget the past. Forget where you came from. Be like Cavil. Deny your history. Deny your ancestors. Deny your god. Avoid becoming your running away from home.

Monday, March 9, 2009

notes on media

I consumed a lot of geeky media this weekend (I say as though it somehow distinguishes this from other weekends).

Two thoughts:

- This week on Battlestar Galactica, we got to see just how angry Sharon was that her husband Helo had sex with another person, who, in Helo's defense, is an exact physical copy of Sharon. (Answer: very. Very very.) I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that if your workplace, which is also your home, is crawling with dozens of perfect physical replicas of your wife, you should be extra, extra careful when attempting to surprise her with semi-public the point of maybe just not trying at all.

- I also saw Watchmen this weekend. Since so much has already been written about this movie, I will confine my analysis to this: I repeatedly found myself suffering from what I like to call "Schindler's List Syndrome," which occurs when a movie's villain is too attractive, such that I find it difficult to focus on his many terrible atrocities. Mmm, Ozymandias.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

on corporate policy

Today at Starbucks an odd thing happened to me for a second time, and per my statistics professor's apocryphal admonition that "you can't tell anything from one data point," I now feel free to comment on it. The scenario was the same both times, even though it happened at two different Starbucks franchises (which I think says something both about Starbucks and about me). I ordered a tall chai. Due to a handwriting mishap that predictably results from writing on a curved surface with a slippery pen, the barista misread the notation and made me a tall caramel macchiato. It's an understandable error, so without ire I asked them to make me a chai instead. And both times, what appeared on the coffee bar was that veritable tower of caffeine known as the venti. I let it sit on the bar on the assumption that it wasn't mine, and had to be prompted by the unnecessarily contrite barista. When I finally picked it up in that gingerly way that is the usual manner of the politely unsure, I was given the same explanation both times, "I upgraded you!"


I feel like Starbucks fundamentally misunderstands my motives in ordering the second smallest size. I ordered a tall instead of a venti, not because I lacked the resources or wherewithal to do so, but because I just didn't want that much to drink. I still don't, in fact. And because I am an Asian female, and therefore pathologically unable to throw away food, I am now stuck carrying around this pail of lukewarm chai all day, like some demented boho milkmaid.

So...would anyone like any chai?

Friday, January 2, 2009

auld lang syne

Going through some old law school stuff on my external hard drive yesterday, I discovered this series of haiku I must have written during some particularly boring classes (on the blatantly orientalist theory that this would render the experience more serene):

I have stolen the
Weak internet connection
From Jim; he hates me.

Secured Transactions:
Punishing people hit by
Cars; protecting banks.

Middle-aged Asian
Without an accent; they don't
Exist where I'm from.

Solitaire game in
Front of me going well; she
Plays with all four suits!

So cold in Room 1
I warm my hands upon my
Laptop computer.