Red Dead Redemption/Skyrim

One thing that made it really hard not only to finish my essays, but to want to finish them; that thing would be Skyrim. Kieran recently took pity on me and the fact that I’ve never upgraded past a PS2 and let me borrow his Xbox, complete with all his Xbox games:

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I was amazed.

I love all the nostalgic childhood games I had on my PS2 like ‘Ratchet and Clank’ and ‘Spyro’ (loved Spyro) but I’d never encountered games like this before. The first one I tried was ‘Red Dead Redemption’ and it was immediately my new favourite game. And not just because I love horses and it was awesome the amount of detail they included for them: not only did they actually look like horses instead of the weird square box animals masquerading as horses that PS2 usually produced, there were different varieties with different attributes that you could level up during the game. Plus, the detail in this game was crazy; in older games, if you tried to make a quick getaway on a horse in the middle of a fight and made the character sprint madly up to the horse, when you pressed the command button to get him on the thing, he would very calmly stop to put away his weapon before slowly mounting in the correct fashion. Not so in Red Dead- not only did he jump on straightaway but there were actually different ways that he did it. I realise how easily impressed (and simple) that makes me sound, but I thought it was great. Anyways, that wasn’t the only reason it was my favourite; the plot line was awesome and the game itself was beautiful, I couldn’t get over the graphics- Kieran came in after ten minutes and found me staring in awe at a cactus.

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And then came Skyrim.

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I’d thought Red Dead was more complex; I’d never played a game where there was so much you could do, and where you could wander off the path. That was a concept I’d never comprehended before- all the games I’d ever played had an invisible wall along the path which meant you couldn’t walk off it. Like in Ikea, where you stick to the path if you know what’s good for you and wandering off could mean you never found the way back.

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However, I had some slight issues with the sudden introduction to newer games.

First of all, I couldn’t get used to the controls/how quickly the camera/the character/everything moved. Yes I know that makes me sound like an old person, and Yes I know you can adjust those kind of things on the settings, but I refused to be beaten by the Xbox. Which created quite a few problems. Red Dead starts you off quite slow; not slow enough for me. Minutes after the first shooting event and I couldn’t figure out how to look up, let alone aim where I was shooting; John Marston was spinning around on the spot and staring at his feet. The same thing happened on Skyrim- all I had to do was follow some dude up the stairs. But they were spiral stairs. I didn’t stand a chance. It took me half an hour to aim the character’s viewpoint up and straight and to get him up the stairs, and even then I fell off halfway up.

When Kieran taught me how to look around, I still had no idea how to aim on Red Dead (“why is the aim spot so tiny” “why is everything moving so quickly” “why can’t he stand still for me to shoot him”)- and that was another thing. Enemies on the Xbox games weren’t kind enough to stand still for you to aim. And they shot back fast. Cut to me trying to make John hide behind a rock and being unable to figure out how to crouch and being shot repeatedly. Something that hadn’t even occured to me was that other characters might react to a weapon being drawn and pointed at their faces- in PS2 games, you have all the time in the world to get the gun out, stand steady, aim it at the right place, and shoot, and the enemies don’t react until they’re hit. Apparently this isn’t the case in Red Dead (“why is everyone screaming and shooting at me what do I do HELP ME”). The fact that they react immediately means you have to shoot pretty quick, and this wasn’t helpful when I still couldn’t figure out the camera; not only could I not get out my gun and aim it, I couldn’t understand why everyone was firing at me, and couldn’t even aim the camera up to see who it might be. I had the same problem in Skyrim- I was still trying to figure out how to use my weapons, and decided in the first village I came to that a chicken would be a worthy opponent to test my skills on. I killed it in one shot and was feeling pretty pleased with myself, until all the guards set upon me again (“why are they attacking me” “it’s just a chicken” “did they really see that?!”), and then it was back to get shot at, panic, die. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the other characters can interact with you.

This was again a problem in Red Dead, where I struggled big time with the horses. First of all I couldn’t figure out how to get on- the instructions are telling you to “mount your horse and follow that dude” and 20 minutes later he’d ridden off into the sunset and I was still getting on the horse, pressing the wrong button, and immediately getting off again. Plus, when I finally managed it, I couldn’t control the damn thing- it was veering all over the place and this led to Problem With Horses No.2: if you ride the horse over someone, they will react. On PS2 games, the other characters are so rigidly unable to interact with you that if you happen to bump into them, they just sort of glitch out of the way. But not so in Red Dead- you guessed it: get shot at, panic, die.

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As of today, I will have handed in my last assignments for the second year of uni. It’s been a massive pain in the ass, especially because I’ve actually loved all the stuff we’ve studied and have had loads of stuff I could say about the subject, but the way the essay questions are phrased have all just made me feel a bit:

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It’s also been a pain in the ass because it’s been getting closer and closer to deadlines, people have been posting in the English student page that they’ve already finished all 3 essays and how good it feels, and meanwhile I’ve got to the stage of tiredness where everything is hilarious and words don’t make sense anymore.

Long story short, I’ve managed to produce and submit some halfway decent work, but I’m pretty sure I spelt my own name wrong at the top.

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Pandora

I got a late birthday present…FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender 4

I hadn’t actually heard much about the Pandora bracelets but I already can’t get over how shiny they are:FullSizeRender 3

I like the idea that they last for life, and you add a charm for each big event in your life until it’s full of memories. This is the first charm I got with the bracelet:FullSizeRender 8

which is beautiful, and my starter charm, and makes me feel kinda:

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A Day in the Libary

3 essays due in about a week and I have nothing in my brain. I went to the library with Kieran today, and spent the day sitting next to him tapping industriously away on his laptop, all:

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Whilst my day went kinda:

12:oopm: Stare at laptop

12:10pm: Stare at wall

12:22pm: Poke Kieran to show him something funny I saw on the internet

12:25pm: Poke Kieran to show him another funny picture

12:28pm: Poke him extra hard because this one really is funny

12:29pm: Sulk about not being able to show Kieran pictures anymore because he’s moved his chair and is “working”

1:30pm: Give myself a break from the stress of doing nothing and go get lunch

1:44pm: Get lost on the way back and interrupt other people’s study instead

1:50pm: Realise how little time I actually have to do the work, panic and stare even more intensely at laptop

1:50pm-2:20pm: panic

2:40pm: Don’t really like English anymore

3:00pm: I just won’t give them my essay. They’ve had plenty of essays from me, they can go without another, why should they get it anyway?

3:20pm: Start having a mini-meltdown at Kieran because ‘I can’t do this essay, I can’t do English, and I can’t do words anymore

3:25pm: Kieran frantically tries to calm me down, shooting nervous sideways glances at the people in library who are staring at the blubbering wreck he’s sat next to

3:26pm: meltdown averted, still can’t figure out what this question means, what do you write about contradictions

3:28pm: Convince myself ‘contradiction’ isn’t a word

3:29pm: Wonder if I can stretch my legs all the way under the table and rest them on the opposite chair

3:30pm: Accidentally kick the stranger opposite

3:31pm: Have now irritated everybody in my immediate vicinity, and quite a few others as well

3:50pm: Wonder if I can make a fringe work

3:52pm: Google fringes

4:10: CONTRADICTION IS A WORD

4:12pm: BREAKTHROUGH

4:15:pm: I CAN do this essay!

4:15pm-8pm: Get actual work done, bother nobody, everybody in library sighs with relief.

Kieran’s day:

12:00pm-8pm: Listen to ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ on repeat

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The Big Bang Theory

I’ve been a fan of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for ages but it seems to be going a bit downhill. Not because of the acting (Jim Parson as Sheldon just keeps getting better)

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but because of the message it’s giving lately. One of the things I really liked about it when it started was that it celebrated intelligence, and, along with the trend of ’embracing weirdness’ that’s been popping up lately, it also did a really good job of promoting quirky personalities and interests that aren’t always considered ‘cool’.

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It seemed to be trying to eliminate the whole ‘quirky=nerd/dork’ idea and was promoting a love of sci-fi, gaming, and fandoms like LOTR and Star Wars. It was also doing a really good job of showing that people who might have been bullied at school for liking that kind of thing, for not being popular or being more interested in science than sports, could escape that whole clique-y nightmare and go on to be celebrated for being good at what they love- Raj, Howard, Sheldon and Leonard were all making huge progress in their fields and enjoying it. And then. I haven’t seen Kaley Cuoco in anything else so I can’t say for definite that I don’t think she’s a good actress, but I’m not a huge fan of her in TBBT, or of the message her character gives. I realise that the reason they include the relationship between someone like Penny, who doesn’t know anything about science, and Leonard, who’s incredibly clever at that subject, is for comedic effect, and the jokes about how they work as a couple despite having nothing in common are hilarious. But then, again, it seemed to go downhill. Lately the show’s been more centred around Penny trying to change Leonard & his friends into the type of ‘cool’ people she normally hangs out with. The whole show has started to kind of belittle those interests it previously celebrated- the message seems to be that for Leonard to ever have a hope of being with someone like Penny, he basically has to stop doing all the things he loves. And, by presenting Penny as, literally, this:

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it’s once again sending the message that intelligence doesn’t matter as much as popularity and prettiness, which is a big:

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One aspect of her character that I do really like, and that the whole show does really well, is how patiently she handles Sheldon. I really like the way they handle a character like Sheldon with traits of OCD and/or aspurges; instead of ostricising him for his difficulty in social interactions the characters have more and more been encouraging him to talk about his issues, helping him to resolve them, and working with him to help him adapt to the social situations that he finds difficult. I really like that in a society which glosses over mental health issues entirely, this show consistently reminds people not to get frustrated with characters like Sheldon, instead remembering that he genuinely has trouble understanding social cues. The other characters continually address his issues from the love and respect they have for him, and when big changes in his life distress and scare him, they provide a comforting environment in which he can learn to conquer those feelings.

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Another thing they do so well is presenting women as successful, intelligent professionals, which is just:

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Plus, I love that Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler) is actually a neuroscientist in real life, and completely sassed a reporter with this fact:

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GO MAYIM. There are so many movies/tv roles in which women are either sex objects, or, if they are shown in a professional environment, are ‘work bitches’ as a result, in the kind of ‘if a man’s pushy it’s good business, if a woman is she’s a bitch’ thinking. Amy and Bernadette however are shown as clever, capable women who are where they are in their fields because of their intelligence. Again, the character of Penny kind of confuses this message, but the overall impression is good:

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to sum up this general rant, TBBT is good, I just hope they go back to promoting quirkiness

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and stop with the whole ‘if what you like doing isn’t cool then you should stop doing it’ thing they’ve got going on at the moment. Plus, some of the awesome guest stars they’ve had:

And again, GO AMY. Ok, rant over!

 

English Student Problems

It’s coming to the end of my second year now-I’m still doing essays but we’re done with the reading and seminars and lectures and stuff. This year has definitely been my favourite. Everything I’ve studied has been so interesting- I want to do some separate blogs on some of the books I’ve read because they’ve been so fascinating, but for now, behold, the completed, back-breaking and (mostly) read pile of books for this year:

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(Kieran’s legs for scale)

Complete with this bruiser of a book that is responsible for the almost-certainly-permanent hunchback thing I’ve got going on:

It’s been a really good year, and I guess studying nothing but English Literature still hasn’t stopped me loving books since Kieran says I still, after finishing a more boring book, put said boring book down, announce that I can now relax from work reading, and immediately pick up one of my ‘for fun’ books.

Tally for the year:

Number of times tea has been slopped on books: 5

Number of teas slopped on everything else I own: 4

Number of burns acquired whilst trying to save tea and avoid slops: 3

Number of books that have caused a mini existential crisis after finishing: 3

Number of times I’ve cared more about fictional events than real: Incalculable

Number of books dropped on self: 2

Number of books dropped on Kieran: 2 and a half (he says)

Number of seminars where no one has read the book and we’ve managed to have an intellectual debate based off of the summary on wikipedia: surprisingly many

People are still telling me “so all you do is read? Your course must be so easy” which, although it gives me an eye twitch, is partly true, since I do spend most of the year sort of:

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This is along with all the other stuff an English student usually hears:

“Oh you’re doing English, so you must want to be a teacher?”

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“So how does that work, what else can you do with an English degree?”

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“So, you are probably going to end up being a teacher then?”

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“An English student? So you must really love Shakespeare”

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This year has, apart from giving me a new appreciation for ‘Winnie the Pooh’, mostly turned me into some crazed library crone. When people keep trying to drag me into the real world, and ask me what I want to do after uni’s finished, it does make me feel kinda:

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When people ask about what I’m reading:

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When I buy a book and it’s all shiny and smooth and new:

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When a known-book-mistreater wants to lay hands on one said precious books:youmaynot-1429202582.gif

Finally, when people ask why I’m down:

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I rifled through some more old school things and found…what I think is meant to be art work. There’s no age on it, no explanation for why I’d made it, but clearly I had been committed to whatever it was- it had been bordered and everything.

It begins with an orange blob labelled “playdoh”; like so:

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It then leads to a drawing of me holding the now obliterated “playdoh” as if I were weightlifting it, and a drawing of my own face, looking slightly murderous, with the ominous caption “I squashed it”. Behold:

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I also seem to have given myself lopsided bunches parted by a bald spot.

The trio is rounded up with a depiction of a sad little orange lump, imprinted with the shape of my fist, with the statement “it looked like this”.

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Not entirely sure why it had made such an impression on me that I’d felt the need to lay it out, bordered magnificently on a background the same colour as the departed mush as if foretelling some kind of play dough prophecy, but little me had obviously taken it very seriously- I’d used joined-up writing and everything.