Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Every now and again, something comes into your life you're completely unprepared for.  A sudden twist of fate, a chance meeting, or just a case of "right place, right/wrong time."  Such was the case some years ago when my parents brought home two cats.   One was named Haiku, and the other we renamed to Yami (because the original name was rather dumb).

When they were picked up from the shelter, the cats were described to my parents this way:

"(Yami) is going to be very friendly, very social.  Haiku might be pretty aloof."

They were wrong on every count.  Haiku was the most "people" cat I ever saw, bringing toys to people in the middle of the night, curling up on any lap she could find her way on to, and refusing to be more than ten feet away from someone if she could help it.

Yami...spent most of his time hiding.

Or perched on things like a guy leaning on a table.
Perhaps it was because my family also had a dog.  Perhaps it was because, as we later figured out, Haiku was bullying him as the two got older.  Either way, Yami was primarily my sister's cat, because he liked to go upstairs and hide in her room or down in the basement.  Rarely did he ever socialize with anybody else.

We were convinced that Yami was essentially anti-social.

He also had a distinctive limp, which we could only figure must have happened when he was a tiny kitten.  The two were found near a road, so we suspected either an animal attack or he was struck (ever so slightly) by a car.

This came into effect one Christmas Eve when he managed to sneak outside and climb up a tree.  Because of his bad back leg, he wasn't able to climb back down, and the tree he climbed was essentially dead, too dangerous to climb up after.  However, it was near another, larger, healthier tree.  That night I scaled up the tree in the cold rain (did I mention it was raining?) with a long board and some food.  I placed the board on the branch I was on and set it firmly on the branch Yami was huddled on.  I tried to coax him over, but he didn't budge.  I placed the food on the board, and climbed back down.

The next morning, with a backpack and some rope, I scaled the tree again.  Yami had managed to walk across the board and was now huddled on the "good" side.  I loaded the shivering, soaked cat into the backpack, tied the rope around it, and lowered him down to the rest of the family.  They took him out and carried him inside, where he immediately struggled, broke free from their grasp, and took off for the cat box.

It sounds like a joke, but it's what happened.

However, as the years went on, we noticed a few other things about Yami as he got more used to the house.  He would chase shadows of things you held out to try to play with him.  If you simply wiggled your fingers so the shadows moved, he'd tackle them and chase them around.  He would sometimes come over to you if you had your hand lowered so you could scratch him.  He stopped running away the moment you entered the room.

When Haiku passed away this last February, there was almost a complete personality shift in Yami.

He would suddenly come into the room and meow for attention.  He would purr more often when you pet him.  He started chasing toys and bringing them back to you so you'd play with him.  He'd curl up on a bed to sleep against people.  As time went on, it more and more became my bed he would curl up on, and I'd wake up to find him either curled up between my shins or pressed against the side of my leg.  I used to hook one leg a little bit just to give him somewhere to curl up in.

When I moved to my current living place, it was decided that Yami would come with me.  The two of us had grown pretty attached to each other, and since my parents still had the dog, it would be good for him to have "his own" place that he would let me also live in.

And for a while, things were great.  We'd play with toys, he'd curl up on the bed with me, he'd come out for attention if I was sitting watching television.

Several weeks ago, my parents were out of town for a few weeks, and I was house sitting for them.  I brought Yami back and some other things to keep me busy.  Yami started to develop a runny nose, which wasn't terribly uncommon for him when he was younger.  He used to need antibiotics every now and again to treat sinus infections (his mother was notorious for constantly having sinus problems, being a Persian.)

He was also thinner, but still eating the same amount and using the cat box, so I didn't think too much about it, and arranged with my parents for us to take him to the vet after they got back.

That day, I received a phone call and a text message asking me to call my parents back.  Yami was very sick.  His right eye was bulged out slightly, and his nose was still running.  He had lost a significant amount of weight, and was severely dehydrated.  We were told there were two likely possibilities.

One was an abscessed tooth caused an infection that traveled up the sinus and was resting behind his eye.  The other was cancer causing a tumor that was applying pressure.

Needless to say, we were extremely concerned.  If it was something that could be treated to get him healthy again, that's great, but if it was cancer, we had to seriously start considering what his life was going to be like from that point on and if we should put him through that kind of experience.

We started a round of antibiotics.

Yami didn't improve.  He would walk around crying, seemingly lost.  He wouldn't jump up on furniture any more.  He started slipping while climbing up and down short broad steps between rooms of my parents house.  He would need to be lead in to eat, and then would just leave a short distance away and curl up.

Today I received a text message asking me to call my mother.  She had carried Yami to his food several times already today, and then watched him go into the family room, circle the room while crying, and then move to the middle of the room and use it like a bathroom.  He hasn't used his cat box since Sunday.  Something is obviously very wrong with my cat.

"I don't know what you think I'm up to, but I promise you I'm not."
I'm heading out to the vet now.  We've decided that leaving Yami in the state he's in, when we aren't able to afford the extensive amount of medical care it would take just to keep him as he currently is (which, obviously, is pretty miserable), would just be cruel.  I'm going to say goodbye to my cat.  I know he won't understand me if I manage to say it, but he was so much more than we expected, and we felt so bad that he wasn't able to be the cat he could've been until so much later in life.

However, that cat he was before and what he became were pretty amazing, and I'll never regret having had him in my life.  He was instrumental in my feeling like I was settled in to my apartment.  My apartment is going to be so empty without him.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Remember Me

I almost just put "Remember Me" there as the title, but then realized that if people didn't know straight off that this was a review, I might get a lot of really worried people clicking the title wondering if I was okay.

By all rights, this should be one of my favorite games this year.  It might make its way onto my top ten just because I think it deserves more attention than it has received.  It has multiple moments where I'm left going "wow," it has an interesting and engaging world that I want to know more about, characters who, while perhaps a bit flat, have some things about them that are truly unique, and there are ideas tossed everywhere that engage my somewhat underutilized sense of awe these days.

But...it's not.  There's a good chance it won't make my top ten list, and if I had to break it down as to why, it'd be...I don't know why.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: LEGO Marvel

I've stated before that, for the most part, the LEGO series of games are extremely fun little time-wasters, filled with humor without being too childish, and managing to stay true to the source material and digging deep into the minutiae without completely alienating everybody who isn't a die-hard fan.

That being said, LEGO Marvel is both the most fun I've had with a LEGO game and the most infuriating time I've spent with a LEGO game.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Alton Brown's Edible Inevitable Tour

How do you judge something done by one of your all-time heroes?

Do you just gush and crow about how (undeniably) awesome he is and simply repeat the stories and describe the activities you saw, thus denying anybody else the enjoyment of seeing it all for the first time?

Do you have to point an extra-critical eye to it, determined to pick it apart so you don't simply come across as too much of a fan that you can't keep a fair, balanced look at something?

Do you read five hundred other reviews and then simply parrot the primary points each one seems to make?

I was torn between all of these, but instead I think I'll break it down to the things I'm happy I saw/took part in and the things I was disappointed I didn't see/take part in.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: The LEGO Movie

For nearly the past 24 hours I've had the song "Everything is awesome" stuck in my head.

I'm just prefacing with that because it somehow seems relevant to everything I'm about to say.

I've been a pretty big fan of the LEGO video games that come out every couple of years.  From Star Wars to Indiana Jones to superheroes from various companies, they're all purely enjoyable games that don't require too much thought, too much effort, or too much stress to be able to enjoy.

Save one, but that's for later.

So when the LEGO movie came out and I saw the ads, I had the same thought.  "Oh, it'll be a cute campy commercial for toy sets, like Transformers only more obvious and without as many scenes that made me wonder if the projector fell on its side but kept playing."

I was right.  The whole movie is essentially one big toy commercial.  But there's a key difference.

For something like Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or even (god help it) Battleship, the commercial is always the same.  "These things are awesome.  Therefore, the toys are awesome.  If you play with them, you will be awesome."

Speaking as someone who had a lot of the early TMNT action figures way back in the day, I can state that this is both true and completely false.  For a few bright shining moments I was awesome to my classmates for having a complete set of martial arts reptiles.  Then ten seconds went by, and I was that kid playing with toys during recess.

LEGO doesn't do a lot of that.  Well, okay, they do, but it isn't rubbed in your face.  Sure, they advertise multiple existing and (at time of "filming") "yet to be out" LEGO sets, but that's not where the message lies.  The message is this:

"You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary pers-"

Wait, hold on, that's not right.

The message for the commercial part of the movie is "your imagination can design and build whatever it wants to, LEGOs are just a great tool to use to express it."  By leading with the "you are awesome" and then going to "and that can make our toy awesome," LEGO's movie (aka "The LEGO Movie") manages to keep an optimism and lightness missing from a lot of the movies I've seen in theaters lately.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let's Talk: "I Ate Your Halloween Candy"

So I recently watched the video being passed around the Internet that's a supercut of parents taking all of their kids' Halloween candy while they're asleep, hiding it, and then telling the kids the next day "we were hungry, so we ate it all."

While recording it.

I'd link the video, but honestly, I don't want to get it any more views.

Here's the part that bothers me:

The parents in these videos are, quite simply put, monsters.  Not the terrible monsters of people who abuse their kids, starve them, or do other things that leave kids in therapy for the rest of their lives...but seriously.  Who gets enjoyment from making their own children cry?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Impressions of Marvel's AXIS storyline so far

I had really high hopes for this story.  I mean, sure, Avengers vs. X-Men was a pretty big let-down in the storytelling department, Original Sin is something I'm still trying to figure out the purpose of, Age of Ultron was pointless, Infinity was just bad, Fear Itself was ... well, it was "okay," but...

My point is that massive crossover events have tended to be rather lackluster from Marvel over the past few years.  Thinking back, the last big "event" I actually really liked were the two Annihilation storylines.  

Here's my big problem with massive crossover stories: in order to have the story continue, at least one character needs to act like they're incapable of making any intelligent choices.

In Civil War, both Iron Man and Captain America made some pretty terrible decisions.  Iron Man unleashed an untested Thor clone that killed Bill Foster.  Cap somehow decided that a completely unlikeable woman chastising him for not knowing what "Myspace" is justified him losing a battle for peoples' rights.  In Siege, Norman Osborn (the man who has been given the keys to the biggest paramilitary force in the world and has an actual army of supervillains to back him up) decides that what he needs to do is invade Asgard.  Because how could that possibly go wrong?

And now we have AXIS.  Let's look at a few story points so far and decide if these are awesome or stupid.

Or awesomely stupid.

Or stupidly awesome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Super Smash Bros. (the 3DS one)

Here's a fun fact about video games: for a long time, whenever a huge title was going to come out to cash in on something (a movie, an event like the Olympics, a particularly popular pop culture character), you'd get a console release of a game starring them and you'd get a handheld video game system game put out as well.

The console game could be quite good sometimes.  Super Star Wars for the Super Nintendo was great.  Star Wars for the Game Boy...not so great.  (The Japanese game...well, we all remember that brief glimpse at "SCORPIAN VADER" right?

Most of the time the handheld game is, at best, a gutted version of the console game.  It only has a fragment of the memory and space for data, so you have to do what you can.

However, for ages I hadn't seen anything that looked like a quality fighting game on a handheld system.  This isn't anything new, this is my going alllllll the way back to some classic fighting games.

The only thing I took away from this game was that either Blanka was a woman
 the whole time or his mother looked like a prepubescent boy.

When I heard that Super Smash Bros. was coming to the 3DS...needless to say, I had my doubts that it would be good.  Maybe half the characters would show up, tops.  A dozen stages, tops.  No side games,  Cheaper voices, no story mode, it would be a cheap version of a great game.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Top Eleven: Enemies That Would Make A Great Rogues Gallery For Hawkeye

Hawkeye is, quite simply, the best.  There's no better superhero than the guy running around with thunder gods, advanced suits of armor, and super-soldier serums, and is not only able to keep up with them all, but has on multiple instances saved the world when they could not.

Women love him, men want to be him.  Green Arrow wishes he was that cool.

But man...the guy has no respectable villains to help him hold his own title.

There's his brother, there's the guy who trained him at the circus, there's a juggler, there's the ghost of a guy his then-wife let die back in the wild west, there's...erm...  he fought Taskmaster a couple of times, that's pretty good, but...yeah, there really isn't much else.  When most of your personal foes are circus performers, that's not a good sign.

Now, granted, that's not really a big deal in how his stories have been told lately.  Taking him out of the costume and showing how he deals with every day issues (and occasionally fights the sweatpant mafia and their overuse of the word "bro") is a great concept, and one that did pretty well.  I'm also looking forward to the upcoming series which, while different, seems still willing to stick with the "a day in the lift outside of being an Avenger."

So let's dig through Marvel's history and see if we can't rustle him up some characters to face that would make for a great rogue's gallery.  Now, I know what you're saying, "is it really his own rogues gallery if they're just characters poached from somewhere else?"

Sure it is.  The Kingpin used to be a Spider-Man villain before he became Daredevil's arch-nemesis.  Sabretooth fought Iron Fist before he met Wolverine, lots of characters started out in one book then moved to another to be truly effective.

So let's start digging.  Luckily, there's a lot of characters who never get any use that would be effective.