Ho ho, you are no match for the mage-knight and her enchanted spellblade! Best accompanied by some fitting 8-bit music.
(*secretly hopes someone busts out RPG Maker and turns this into a real thing*)
(Funnily enough, little Niamh actually wanted a Gollum-themed party, but her mom was afraid of terrifying all the other kids. Ha! Good call, Nikki!)
The kids got to wear flip-flop Hobbit feet:
And they were given bubble wand "Sting" swords and bubble pipes to blow on:
The party was held in a back yard decorated with pennants, maps of Middle Earth, and hanging lanterns:
Check out the cake: Smaug sitting on a pile of gold!
Dinner was served in the Green Dragon, of course, where the kids drank (Ginger) Ale and (Root) Beer and feasted on a whole smorgasbord of Hobbit-themed treats - each carefully prepared and labeled by Nikki herself.
Then for activities, Nikki handed out kid-friendly replicas of Thror's map:
Each location had special "moon rune" instructions that only showed under a black light(!!):
In this case, it was "Defeat Smaug" - the pinata, that is!
The birthday girl wore a sweet rhinestone-edged Hobbit door on her birthday dress - also handcrafted by her mom Nikki:
Thanks so much for sharing the fun, Nikki! Oh, and be sure to let us know what you do for Niamh's FIFTH birthday, k? (May I suggest...The Fifth Element? PRETTY PLEASE?!)
What would happen to the Earth if the Sun suddenly switched off?
—Many, many readers
This is probably the single most popular question submitted to What If.
Part of why I haven’t answered it is that it's been answered already. A Google search for what if the Sun went out turns up a lot of excellent articles thoroughly analyzing the situation.
However, since my recent articles on sunsets, the rate of submission of this question has risen even further, so I’ve decided to do my best to answer it.
If the Sun went out ...
We won’t worry about exactly how it happens. We'll just assume we figured out a way to fast-forward the Sun through its evolution so that it becomes a cold, inert sphere. What would the consequences be for us here on Earth?
Let's look at a few:
Reduced risk of solar flares: In 1859, a massive solar flare and geomagnetic storm hit the Earth. Magnetic storms induce electric currents in wires. Unfortunately for us, by 1859 we had wrapped the Earth in telegraph wires. The storm caused powerful currents in those wires, knocking out communications and in some cases causing telegraph equipment to catch fire.
Since 1859, we've wrapped the Earth in a lot more wires. If the 1859 storm hit us today, the Department of Homeland Security estimates the economic damage to the US alone would be several trillion dollars—more than every hurricane which has ever hit the US combined. If the Sun went out, this threat would be eliminated.
Improved satellite service: When a communications satellite passes in front of the Sun, the Sun can drown out the satellite's radio signal, causing an interruption in service. Deactivating the Sun would solve this problem.
Better astronomy: Without the Sun, ground-based observatories would be able to operate around the clock. The cooler air would create less atmospheric noise, which would reduce the load on adaptive optics systems and allow for sharper images.
Stable dust: Without sunlight, there would be no Poynting–Robertson drag, which means we would finally be able to place dust into a stable orbit around the Sun without the orbits decaying. I’m not sure whether anyone wants to do that, but you never know.
Reduced infrastructure costs: The Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost $20 billion per year over the next 20 years to repair and maintain all US bridges. Most US bridges are over water; without the Sun, we could save money by simply driving on a strip of asphalt laid across the ice.
Cheaper trade: Time zones make trade more expensive; it's harder to do business with someone if their office hours don't overlap with yours. If the Sun went out, it would eliminate the need for time zones, allowing us to switch to UTC and give a boost to the global economy.
Safer Children: According to the North Dakota Department of Health, babies younger than six months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Without sunlight, our children would be safer.
Safer combat pilots: Many people sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight. The reasons for this reflex are unknown, and it may pose a danger to fighter pilots during flight. If the Sun went dark, it would mitigate this danger to our pilots.
Safer parsnip: Wild parsnip is a surprisingly nasty plant. Its leaves contain chemicals called furocoumarins, which can be absorbed by human skin without causing symptoms ... at first. However, when the skin is then exposed to sunlight (even days or weeks later), the furocoumarins cause a nasty chemical burn. This is called phytophotodermatitis. A darkened Sun would liberate us from the parsnip threat.
In conclusion, if the Sun went out, we would see a variety of benefits across many areas of our lives.
Are there any downsides to this scenario?
We would all freeze and die.
Just when you thought bakeries had FINALLY run out of those angsty Twilight photos:
"Hey girl, sorry my rippling pectorals are covered up by this Snuggie, but I want you to know that this lone wolf is educated now, and that means no more hunting chickens on the full moon, or shedding on the duvet, or turning in circles five times before I can take a nap. That's right, grrrrl; I'm a changed man! Look at this neckface: would I lie to you?"
Sharee N. tells me she found this in a bakery display window, so I guess that's one small step for recycling, and one giant leap backwards for those of us easily startled.
So... thanks a LOT, Sharee. [twitch]
Listen, I don't want to freak you out or anything, but I know everything you're about to say.
It's complicated. And kind of wibbly-wobbly.
Hey, you leave my mother out of this!
Now, look, we haven't got much time; the average internet-using adult's attention span lasts only... DUCK!!
Then he'd win the staring contest.
Like I was saying, we don't have much... AAAAH WEEPING ANGEL!
Anyway, guys, I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry. But it's up to you now.
So... what do you think of this cake?
I mean, it's clearly descending into a temporal rift. Or possibly the Swamps of Sadness. And I'm sure there's some kind of hidden meaning to "police = box." But more importantly: is it bigger on the inside, and if so, can I have a piece the size of a buffalo?
Or how about this one?
I've always thought the TARDIS could be a bit softer/squishier, so this groom's cake/ throw-rug is JUST the thing.
Brace yourself, for I sense there are dark times ahead for this next one.
Or maybe just for your bowels.
(You'd almost think the color of the photo was off, until you notice the top "light." Da heck?)
Anyway, like I said, it's up to YOU to rescue these cakes from a bunch of garden statuary playing Red Light Green Light. It's super easy, though. You just need some fish sticks, an extra bow tie, a Cthulhu mask with a Pokémon ball, a really, really long scarf, and ...
Thanks to Krista C., Rauha, Marielen, Valorie M., and Mairi R. for the time out. (And yes, that angel cake IS pretty dang awesome. And terrifying. But awesome. But terrifying.)
Love Letter falls into two unusual categories, the first of which is Games That You Are Convinced Won’t Work Until You Play Them. Often these are games that are so complicated that you can’t visualize how all the disparate systems could possibly come together into an organic whole, but sometimes you come across a game so simple that you can’t imagine how playing it would be any more intriguing than flipping a coin.
The second unusual class into which Love Letter falls is what I call Two-Minute Games — not because they can be played in two minutes, but because they feature such an economy of rules that they can be taught to others in that limited time frame. Love Letter is so simple, in fact, that I bet I can explain the core rules in 25 words or less. “Draw a card on your turn, then discard one from your hand. The discarded card takes effect. Have the highest ranked card at round’s end.” Done.
Were I actually teaching you the game, of course, I would open with the premise. Each of the 16 cards in the deck depicts a member of the royal household, which is composed of the Princess, the Countess, the King, two princes, two handmaidens, two barons, two priests, and five guards. In an attempt to woo the Princess, you have entrusted a love letter to one of these people, who has agreed to pass the missive along. Ideally your letter will be in the hands of the Princess herself by the end of the round; barring that, you just want your letter to be as “close” to the object of your affection as possible. Each member of the household has a rank from 8 (the Princess) to 1 (the guards), and you win by holding the highest ranked card at the end of the round.
Everyone receives a single, random card before play begins. On a turn, a player draws a second card and then discards one of the two from his hand. The discarded card has an effect, depending on the person shown. A Guard, for instance, allows you to name a player and a card; if the target holds the card you specified, he is out of the round. The Priest allows you to look at the held card of an opponent. And the Princess, the optimal card to own when a round ends, comes with a liability: you are eliminated if you discard her for any reason.
There are only eight abilities, one per role, and yet the interaction between them make for a tense game of bluff and deduction. Take the three roles described in the paragraph above, for instance. Discarding the Priest, a player could look at the hand of an opponent, and perhaps discover the Princess; if he holds (or draws) a Guard on his next turn, he could then single out the same player, “guess” the Princess, and force him to discard it (thus knocking him out of the round). But the other player will first have a turn to react, and may discard the Handmaid, thereby becoming immune to all attacks until his next turn, or the King, which would allow him to trade his hand with any other player, handing them the Princess (and possibly the victory) whilst weaseling out of the crosshairs.
Love Letter does not contain an abundance of game; play a round or two and you’ve pretty much seen the gamut. But that won’t prevent you playing compulsively, and enjoying every game. The design strikes a deft balance between subtlety and brainlessness, allowing you to play even while mentally fatigued from earlier, weightier games, or a bit hazy after that second margarita. Indeed, with its simple rules, compact size, and quick playing time, Love Letter is a near perfect bar game, so long as you don’t mind the stares of the other patrons as you howl with laughter at the reversals of fortune, and rage against the perfidy of your erstwhile “friends”.
Like a hapless suitor, pouring his heart into a billet doux, you will likely become quite enchanted with Love Letter. The infatuation may not endure, but you’ll be hopelessly smitten while it lasts.
Apparently some clods at Nintendo don’t really understand the meaning of fair use when it comes to Let’s Play videos, so this has kind of come up.
If you want to do an LP (or stream or any other sort of video recording) of one of my games—well, personally, I don’t really get the appeal, but—that is awesome and I would very strongly encourage you to go ahead! LPs are great for developers; they’re free publicity. In fact, if you’re a streamer with a large audience, you should absolutely contact me for review codes when Hate Plus comes out! I wanna make things easy for you.
I very, very strongly don’t agree with the idea that I or anyone else even has the legal right to grant anyone permission to make or monetize LPs of my games. So if you want to, please go right ahead. Anyone can. If Youtube is (wrongly) asking you for a permission slip from me saying that it’s okay, you can send them this way.
I’d super-hugely appreciate it if you included a link to buy the game with your video—it makes a huge difference in terms of sales for me—but I don’t have the legal right to stop you if you don’t, and anyone who claims otherwise is full of shit.
Just, you know, for the record.
"This was a fun review to read (and would love to see you write more), but are there any games this quality that aren't violent? Like, no killing involved at all? I have a pretty low threshold for this kind of thing in games that I play, and I just can't put myself through it just for the world-building/storyline. But I wish I could, because I feel like I'm stuck playing Lego games and this looks so much cooler."
There aren't many non-violent games out there not aimed at children, but there are some, and some of those are pretty darn amazing. I gave Zippy a few titles to try, and then started amassing a list of my own. I focused on relatively recent, story-driven console games not specifically aimed at kids - and I also left out anything sports-related, because blech. (In fact, you might recognize several of these from my last recommended games post; I'm not generally a fan of violent games, either.)
I realize there are many degrees of violence, but for my purposes here I'm defining any game that doesn't include/require killing other humanoid characters as "non-violent."
So, with those caveats, here's what I've got so far:
Games I've played:
Kingdom Hearts - (2002)(PS2) or Kingdom Hearts Remix (HD remastered collection for the PS3, releases this September, yay!)
A must-play for Dizgeeks with a fun, button-mashing fighting style. Great storyline, gorgeous graphics, and only mild cartoon violence. I love this game. (I also can't believe it's this old - yikes! Can't wait to get the HD remix version and play it again this Fall.)
Mini Ninjas (2009, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, and Mac) -
- Psychonauts (2005) (Xbox, PS2, PC, Mac)
This game is almost too old to include, but it's still brilliant. Crazy characters, funny dialogue, great art, and a totally unique concept/story line. As I recall there's some cartoon violence, but no killing. (Please correct me on that if I'm wrong, guys.)
I do have a love/hate relationship with Psychonauts, though, because I've never seen the ending; the last boss fight is just too dang hard. I threw my controller across the room more times than I can remember with this game, but if you're a more skilled player than I (which is likely), do give it a try.
Portal 2 (2011)(PS3, Xbox360, PC, Mac) -
Quantum Conundrum - (2012)(PS3, Xbox360, PC)
If you've already played both Portals and are yearning for a game with puzzles almost exactly like them, play this one. (It was directed by one of the Portal designers, which explains the puzzle similarities.) The story isn't as entertaining, but the colorful, cartoony style is fun - and may fool you into thinking this game is easy. IT'S NOT. (I made it about halfway before giving up in frustration.) No violence whatsoever, and as a bonus for my fellow Trekkers, John DeLancie (aka Q) is the main voice actor.
Machinarium (2009)(downloadable only, PC or Mac)[Correction: someone just told me you can download this on the PS3, too! Yay!]
It's been years since I played this, but Machinarium is still popular and enjoyable enough that I'm including it despite the fact it's not a console game. Adorable robots and puzzle-solving gameplay. Need I say more? (Hit the link up there to play the demo for free.)
(And if you've already played that one, Unmechanical is another puzzle-based adventure game featuring adorable robots. You can only play that one on a PC, iPhone, or iPad, though.)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) & Batman: Arkham City - (2011, Xbox 360, PS3, PC) -
While these games are definitely violent, Batman himself (who you play) never kills anyone. So if that distinction is enough for you, then give Asylum a try. Both titles won Game of the Year and have an "easy" level for not-so-great players like me. Again, these games are violent and gritty, though, so even though *you* won't be shooting people (you politely knock them unconscious instead), other people will be. Even so, the violence isn't nearly as graphic as BioShock:Infinite.
Games I haven't played:
Dishonored (2012)(PS3, Xbox 360, PC) -
Braid (2008)(Xbox 360, PC) -
This is a side-scrolling platform game that's won rave reviews and all kinds of awards for its unique puzzle-solving game-play. No violence that I know of.
Fez (2012)(Xbox, PC) -
(The PC version just came out this month!) Like Braid, this is an indie game that's garnered lots of praise, awards, and attention. It looks like a standard side-scroller, but you can rotate the world to turn corners and access all the different sides of each structure. Nifty!
[Btw, if you have Netflix Streaming check out Indie Game: The Movie. It's a documentary that features both Braid and Fez, among others.]
Katamari Forever (2009) (PS3) -
Mirror's Edge (2007) (PS3, Xbox, PC) -
You'll note I've neglected to add any of the Mario series games, Lego, Rayman and the like, although those are all fantastic, fun games. I omitted them because they're primarily made for kids, and because I prefer games that are more story-driven. I also left out some titles like Myst, Ico, and Siberia because they're just too old; I tried to go back and play Siberia a few years back and the point-and-click playing style just didn't hold up well. (It's a gorgeous steampunky game, though!)
So, what did I miss, guys? Share your favorite non-violent games in the comments! Bonus points if they're not too old, not too kiddy, and somewhat story-driven (as opposed to arcade-style games.)
5/15 UPDATE: Wow, lots of great suggestions coming in! Keep 'em coming, guys! Here are some of the titles you've mentioned the most so far:
- The Professor Layton games (Nintendo DS only, which is why I didn't include it in my original list - but so many of you are raving about it that now I think I need a DS!)
- Ni No Kuni (Also for the DS, or the PS3, released in 2010)
- Okami (Re-released for the PS3 in 2011 [Supports the Move controller, but not required], also available on the Wii)
- World of Goo (PC, Mac, & Wii) - Physics-based puzzle game
- Stacking (Xbox 360 & PS3) I enjoyed the demo of this, but was afraid it'd be too kiddie to recommend. After talking to some of you in the comments, tho, I believe the puzzles get more challenging as the game progresses - so check it out! It's by DoubleFine, the company behind Psychonauts, and the art is fantastic.
- Ico and Shadow of the Colossus - I mentioned that Ico was too old, but someone pointed out it was re-released in 2011, so you can play it and its companion game on PS3! Sweet!
Be sure to check the comments for lots more; plenty of non-console games being mentioned, and also older titles. (You've all convinced me to finally try Zelda, too. Most of those are pretty old, though, so I just have to figure out where to start!)
BROSIE Goes Viral
I recently received an email from an anonymous fan sharing how she pulled a Hawkeye Initiative themed prank on her CEO to illustrate a problem with some artwork.
My personal compliments to her and her accomplice on a mission well done; they perfectly took the concept of The Hawkeye Initiative one step farther, and effected actual change. I hope this gives you as much of a laugh as it did me (the artwork is currently my desktop), and inspires you to be unafraid to stand up and take action in your own awesome way.
Now, excuse me while I go play my new favorite mech game. :)
I work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.
I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.
For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job. This
Our CEO loves this picture. It is to all appearances his favorite piece of comic art for the game. He had it blown up poster-sized, framed, and displayed on the out-facing wall of his office. There, it looms over the front room like a ship’s figurehead. It is the first thing workers and visitors see when they enter the building and the last thing they see when they leave. This little lady’s undermeats have been the open- and close- parens to my work world for the last six months.
I loathe this picture.
Why do I loathe it? How, you ask, can I stay mad at a sweet young belle who has so obviously taken a break from her important welding to offer me a piping hot cup of coffee and/or a vigorous hand job? (And probably, given her apparent safety consciousness, simultaneously?) If you don’t already know the answer, you might want to check out things like #1ReasonWhy, and the Bechdel Test, and also this, and this, and this and this, and all these other things. (And while we’re talking you should check out this other bullshit right here.)
So at our office holiday party, while our CEO was having everyone in the company sign it, I stand there grinding my teeth into tiny shards. Until, suddenly, it came to me: a vision.
And so it came to be that I approached Sam Kirk, a wickedly funny co-worker who shared my sentiment. Sam, turns out, is a very talented artist who can be bribed-slash-inspired using a medley of feminist indignation, hysterical giggling, and two $90 bottles of añejo tequila.
A month-and-a-half later, our vision was a reality. I give you:
Bro-sie The Riveter.
I want to make it completely clear that everything in this prank that required actual talent was done by Sam. Find this, and more of Sam’s art, at TheRealSamKirk.com.
We blew (ahem) Brosie up poster sized. We framed him. And then, at 7:30 on Monday, April 1st, we snuck into our CEO’s office and switched them.
I stood in the entryway, dizzy with joy. It was glorious. There Brosie stood, proud, nipples testing the air like young gophers in springtime, the post-apocalyptic breeze gently swaying his banana hammock. Brosie said, loud and proud: “Get ready, world! I am here to lubricate your joints and tighten your socket.”
I basically spend the next few hours having a joy-induced neurological episode.
As the morning progressed, Brosie (ahem) revealed himself to our co-workers. The air resounded with startled, suppressed gargles of mingled joy and horror. Some take pictures. Some instantly turn and flee. Several men blush and grin in vindicated solidarity. Several women ask us for prints. At this point I am in total rapture. This is the moment I have been dreaming about for six months.
Yet somehow everyone in the office manages to keep quiet about it. Until, finally, our CEO arrives.
We hear a loud: “What the hell is this?!” And then all goes quiet. Ten minutes pass. We panic.
We are both suddenly and painfully aware that we have, in fact, just punked the CEO of our company. He is by all accounts an awesome dude. He is also a late-50s ex-army guy who happens to determine our employment futures in an at-will state. Meep.
Twenty more minutes pass. And then our CEO comes up to my desk, taps me on the shoulder, and says this:
“That was a brilliant prank. You called me on exactly the bullshit I need to be called on. I put up pictures of half-naked girls around the office all the time and I never think about it. I’m taking you and Sam to lunch. And after that, we’re going to hang both prints, side by side.”
Ruby Underboob and Brosie the Riveter, together at last
Yeah. That happened.
This wonderful experience has taught me two things that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and in gaming. It taught me this:
Lots of men (like Sam) are already sympathetic to the stupid, constant crap women put up with in gaming/STEM, and they are ready and willing to call that crap onto the carpet.
And, most importantly, many of the guys who are behind that stupid, constant crap are totally decent, open-minded human beings who just don’t realize they’re doing it. You know how sometimes you don’t realize how much you and your girlfriend are talking about shoes or menstruation until some dude walks into the room? Well sometimes guys don’t realize how much they’re talking about titties.
We just haven’t been around enough for them to notice.
There is only one solution to that, ladies. Bust out your baby-Gap tee and your protective welding goggles, and let’s turn this damn industry into the environment we want it to be. It’s hard work, and yes, there are a couple genuine assholes along the way. But if Ruby Underboob can brave the occasional droplet of molten metal, so can we.
Speaking from experience, it’s worth it.
About our CEO, Mark Long:
Mark has a long and storied history with, among other things, research, games and comic art. He’s a partner in the RoqlaRue gallery in Seattle, representing “chick art.” Mark considers himself a feminist activist. He is proud to have created a graphic novel trilogy with Nick Sagan (Carl’s son) that features a female hero so strong, Hillary Swank is attached to star as her.
Mark and I are now in an open dialogue about gender in comics and gaming.
In a recent exchange I saw on facebook, one man was trying to explain why it’s appropriate for the church to have way more stringent modesty standards for women and girls than for men and boys. Many of the old, tired arguments came out, and when they were thoughtfully shot down one by one, he fell back on a statement that, by itself, will be hopefully quite shocking to most people these days.
“Well obviously some women have been unable to govern themselves appropriately. Thus the standards are given and more clearly defined for people who can’t dress modestly.”
Those women, flaunting all that bare skin.
Yeah. Bad, right? But underneath all the nice cloaking of our rhetoric about modesty, or women, or sexuality, this is one of the inevitable conclusions. Women are just bad, and they need to be controlled, and so we have to have all these rules to control them. Otherwise, they’ll wreak their terrible powers of seduction on the innocent, upright men and boys around them. Seductive Jezebels.
After all, aren’t they all descendants of that rebellious Eve?
These days, we don’t often hear this perspective of women taught outright anymore, though it was certainly common at another time, and still is common in some parts of the world.
The train of thought most modern Mormons hear now pins the evil and blame on men instead of women. Men are dangerous. Men are sex-crazed. They can’t control themselves. Their sexual urges are constant and everywhere and aroused all the time, and they can’t be held responsible for what they do when it happens. So to be safe, the (righteous, good, noble, wonderful, spiritual, asexual) women need to cover themselves, accommodate this weakness in men, and just accept that they need to be limited for their own safety. Because those terrible men just can’t be stopped or controlled.
Problem is (or rather, one of the million problems with that theory), this train of thought reduces down to the same old pin-the-blame on women narrative. It’s just as deeply misogynist as what that guy said on facebook.
In a Cracked article I recently read entitled “5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women,” the author does a reasonably good job at bumbling his way through explaining some important feminist concepts like objectification and rape culture. And then he completely nosedives when he tries to explain why all these problems exist.
It’s not the institutional silencing of women’s voices, or gendered power structures, or anything like that. It’s that damn male sex drive. Men are just the worst. They want sex so bad, all the time, anywhere they can get it, that it drives them to do all sorts of crazy and bad things. He pretty much claims that men’s lust for women’s bodies can explain all of world history:
Do you see what I’m getting at? Go look outside. See those cars driving by? Every car being driven by a man was designed and built and bought and sold with you in mind. The only reason why small, fuel-efficient or electric cars don’t dominate the roads is because we want to look cool in our cars, to impress you.
Go look at a city skyline. All those skyscrapers? We built those to impress you, too. All those sports you see on TV? All of those guys learned to play purely because in school, playing sports gets you laid. All the music you hear on the radio? All of those guys learned to sing and play guitar because as a teenager, they figured out that absolutely nothing gets women out of their pants faster. It’s the same reason all of the actors got into acting.
All those wars we fight? Sure, at the upper levels, in the halls of political power, they have some complicated reasons for wanting some piece of land or access to some resource. But on the ground? Well, let me ask you this — historically, when an army takes over a city, what happens to the women there?
It’s all about you. All of it. All of civilization.
So where you see a world in which males dominate the boards of the Fortune 500, and own Congress, and sit at the head of all but a handful of the world’s nations, men see themselves as utterly helpless. Because all of those powerful people only became powerful because they heard that women like power.
This is really the heart of it, right here. This is why no amount of male domination will ever be enough, why no level of control or privilege or female submission will ever satisfy us. We can put you under a burqa, we can force you out of the workplace — it won’t matter. You’re still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.
Ah. So women are the ones being repressed, objectified, raped, murdered, trafficked, controlled, disenfranchised, etc., because they have so much….. power.
The problem with this theory–of uncontrollable male sexuality confronting inherent, inborn female purity–is that it comes right back down to the same story line as the more openly sexist statement I quoted earlier.
It’s women’s fault.
That war that happened? That was because of how sexy you are. The economic oppression that results from our system of global system of capitalist exploitation? You were just so irresistible that we were completely unable to help ourselves before your powerful feminine charms. We needed you so bad, baby. That’s why we had to send off those bombs. That’s why we had to buy that car. That’s why we had to conquer that city.
So we could finally get the chance to rape you.
We simply couldn’t help ourselves, because YOU are just so powerfully seductive.
Seductive enough, in fact, that you got the first man ever to give up paradise and follow your tail into mortality.
So it doesn’t really matter, you see, if you think women are naturally evil and rebellious and over-sexual (like guy #1), or if you think that they are pure and righteous and victims of men’s insatiable lust (like guy #2). It doesn’t matter if you blame women’s innate carnal natures, or men’s eternal lust for women.
In the final analysis, it’s still, all of it, our fault.
I didn't understand why it was fun for me, it just was.
But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren't the same.
I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse's Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled. I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience.
Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.
At first, though, the invulnerability that accompanied the detachment was exhilarating. At least as exhilarating as something can be without involving real emotions.
The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief. I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn't have to feel them anymore.
But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there's a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don't feel very different.
Which leads to horrible, soul-decaying boredom.
I tried to get out more, but most fun activities just left me existentially confused or frustrated with my inability to enjoy them.
Months oozed by, and I gradually came to accept that maybe enjoyment was not a thing I got to feel anymore. I didn't want anyone to know, though. I was still sort of uncomfortable about how bored and detached I felt around other people, and I was still holding out hope that the whole thing would spontaneously work itself out. As long as I could manage to not alienate anyone, everything might be okay!
However, I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.
It's weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it's frustrating for them when that doesn't happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you've simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are...
At first, I'd try to explain that it's not really negativity or sadness anymore, it's more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can't feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you're horribly bored and lonely, but since you've lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you're stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.
But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they'll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you're having this weird argument where you're trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they'll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.
And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.
It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.
The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren't necessarily looking for solutions. You're maybe just looking for someone to say "sorry about how dead your fish are" or "wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though."
I started spending more time alone.
Perhaps it was because I lacked the emotional depth necessary to panic, or maybe my predicament didn't feel dramatic enough to make me suspicious, but I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn't feel obligated to keep existing.
It's a strange moment when you realize that you don't want to be alive anymore. If I had feelings, I'm sure I would have felt surprised. I have spent the vast majority of my life actively attempting to survive. Ever since my most distant single-celled ancestor squiggled into existence, there has been an unbroken chain of things that wanted to stick around.
Yet there I was, casually wishing that I could stop existing in the same way you'd want to leave an empty room or mute an unbearably repetitive noise.
That wasn't the worst part, though. The worst part was deciding to keep going.
When I say that deciding to not kill myself was the worst part, I should clarify that I don't mean it in a retrospective sense. From where I am now, it seems like a solid enough decision. But at the time, it felt like I had been dragging myself through the most miserable, endless wasteland, and — far in the distance — I had seen the promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland. And for just a moment, I thought maybe I'd be able to stop and rest. But as soon as I arrived at the border of the less miserable wasteland, I found out that I'd have to turn around and walk back the other way.
Soon afterward, I discovered that there's no tactful or comfortable way to inform other people that you might be suicidal. And there's definitely no way to ask for help casually.
I didn't want it to be a big deal. However, it's an alarming subject. Trying to be nonchalant about it just makes it weird for everyone.
I was also extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people. The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren't necessarily comforting for others.
The next few weeks were a haze of talking to relentlessly hopeful people about my feelings that didn't exist so I could be prescribed medication that might help me have them again.
And every direction was bullshit for a really long time, especially up. The absurdity of working so hard to continue doing something you don't like can be overwhelming. And the longer it takes to feel different, the more it starts to seem like everything might actually be hopeless bullshit.
My feelings did start to return eventually. But not all of them came back, and they didn't arrive symmetrically.
I had not been able to care for a very long time, and when I finally started being able to care about things again, I HATED them. But hatred is technically a feeling, and my brain latched onto it like a child learning a new word.
Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.
Thankfully, I rediscovered crying just before I got sick of hating things. I call this emotion "crying" and not "sadness" because that's all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer.
At some point during this phase, I was crying on the kitchen floor for no reason. As was common practice during bouts of floor-crying, I was staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and feeling sort of weird about myself. Then, through the film of tears and nothingness, I spotted a tiny, shriveled piece of corn under the refrigerator.
I don't claim to know why this happened, but when I saw the piece of corn, something snapped. And then that thing twisted through a few permutations of logic that I don't understand, and produced the most confusing bout of uncontrollable, debilitating laughter that I have ever experienced.
I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
My brain had apparently been storing every unfelt scrap of happiness from the last nineteen months, and it had impulsively decided to unleash all of it at once in what would appear to be an act of vengeance.
That piece of corn is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I cannot explain to anyone why it's funny. I don't even know why. If someone ever asks me "what was the exact moment where things started to feel slightly less shitty?" instead of telling a nice, heartwarming story about the support of the people who loved and believed in me, I'm going to have to tell them about the piece of corn. And then I'm going to have to try to explain that no, really, it was funny. Because, see, the way the corn was sitting on the floor... it was so alone... and it was just sitting there! And no matter how I explain it, I'll get the same, confused look. So maybe I'll try to show them the piece of corn - to see if they get it. They won't. Things will get even weirder.
Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit, I'll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it's going to be okay, but — and I don't know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there's a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed. And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it's just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.
Hah, technology is so rad.
Here are some examples I grabbed off their site. The virtual designs are on the right, and the final printed 'bots are on the left:
Cool, right? To be honest, before this I didn't know it was even possible to do 3D printing in multiple colors, much less intricate patterns!
Get ready to lose at least an hour or two on this, because the options for robot-building are almost endless. It's actually kind of dizzying. The virtual designer is free to play with, so there's no obligation to buy anything; you could just grab a screen shot as a souvenir. If you DO want to order your finished robot, though, prices start at around $18 for the two-inch size, which isn't too bad for such a highly customized figure. (It gets pretty expensive after the 3-inch size, though.) In fact, I could see this being a fantastic gift for kids.
[My Robot Nation stresses that these are NOT toys, though, so if you do order one treat it like a collectible - and try not to drop it. Heh.]
Of course, there's no way I could recommend such a service without testing it myself, right? Right. So, as a supreme act of sacrifice, [smirk] I decided to design and order a 'bot of my own.
I should probably mention here that I am in no way affiliated with My Robot Nation, and they most certainly aren't paying me. More's the pity.
So, a couple of hours later (PRODUCTIVITY!!), I'd constructed Firey here:
His horned helmet reminds me of the goblin armor from Labyrinth, and I went with orange because, well, c'mon. As you can see, I went a little nuts with the rust and bullet holes, painstakingly covering his entire body with them. (I couldn't find many examples of that texture on the website, so I was curious to see how it would translate in real life.)
[Also notice how I put his horns on crooked. OOPS. How did I miss that?]
I ordered the 2-inch size just over three weeks ago, which was long enough for me to be completely surprised when I opened up the box that arrived today:
I immediately took him outside to take some detail shots for you guys:
He's a tiny bit heavier than I expected, so he has a decent heft for plastic. His surface texture feels a bit gritty, like sandstone. He's a fixed statue, of course, and not pose-able, but in the design phase you can choose any pose you like, with every point of articulation you can think of.
Have fun building your own, guys, and be sure to share screen-grabs of 'em over on the Epbot Facebook page, so I can see!
What's that you say? You want a Sunday Sweets post based on the greatest movies of all time? Or at least, the greatest movies of the '80s?
By Miso Bakes
As you wish.
That's right, buttercup, get ready for some eighties movie madness, starting with these sweets based on The Princess Bride - although I hope you've already figured that out by now.
It's just that I was looking for the DVD at a store recently, and the clerk literally said, "Ummmmm, is that the one with Anne Hathaway?"
But speaking of kids, I was sure that Jen had put this Little Mermaid cake in here by mistake, because I totally remember when this movie came out! It can't be that old.
Holy crab legs, this movie is 24 years old.
How crazy to think that we're now living in Marty Mcfly's future. And look, here he is!
The baker really captured him perfectly. I'd recognize that puffy vest and wispy hair from a decade away.
Plus, how awesome are the little fondant flames behind the DeLorean?
Almost awesome enough for me to forget that I still don't have a hoverboard.
Hey, are you a Tom Cruise fan? A Val Kilmer fan? An edible sunglasses fan? If so, then I've got the cake for you:
Such military precision! I'd expect nothing less from a Top Gun cake.
But I have bad news: the Terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.
Until we eat it!
By Mike, aka Flickr user psychobean
Made with a Wilton skull pan and a metric ton of talent. So clever.
And speaking of cyborg assassins ...
By Clares Cakes
Ok, fine, so Inspector Gadget isn't exactly the same thing.
(And not technically a movie, unless you count the live-action film from 1999 - which you really, really shouldn't. - Jen)
But I can't believe we've come this far without mentioning the most quintessential '80s movie of all, Gremlins!
At least, that's what I've heard. This movie may have traumatized me as a child; I still haven't even seen the entire thing. Great cake, though! His ragged little ears are my favorite - they're so cute and non-murderous.
Other things I ain't afraid of: no ghosts!
Submitted by Carey-Anne, made by Very Unique Cakes
Not with the Ghostbusters around, at least! I love that this cake is for a five-year-old. Who needs Spongebob when you can have Slimer?
But here's something I need: a teensy tiny topiary floating over everyone's favorite Goblin King:
How amazing is this? It would be an impressive cake if it stopped with the globe, but there are so many other great details, from Jareth's sneer down to the tiny arrows on the stone path. So cool.
You know what?
That last cake reminded me of the babe.
By Cake Central member Kayla1505
Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A beauty in black and white! Whit-whoo! (That was me typing out the sound of a wolf-whistle. Not as easy as you'd think).
Now, I'm not sure if this stunner inspired by The Neverending Story is a wedding cake or not ...
By Art Cake
...but I can't think of a better way to start a new life together than with a luck-dragon on your cake! Can you? In fact, we should probably just start putting Falcors on all our cakes. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, Falker Satherhoods. All Falcor-worthy.
And finally, the '80s movie cake to end all '80s movie cakes (and especially appropriate since yesterday was Star Wars day!)
The Millenium Falcon!
I don't know what's more amazing, the insane amount of detail on this cake, the fact that it was made with modeling chocolate instead of fondant, or, I don't know, that it freaking GLOWS?
I hope it rocked your universe as much as it did mine!
Have a Sweet to nominate? Then send it to Sunday Sweets [at] Cake Wrecks [dot] com! And be sure to check our Sweet Directory to see all the pro bakers we've ever featured in your area!
I cannot love this enough.
I’ve tweeted about these a bunch already, but I am still basically completely blown away by how gorgeous these paintings of *Mute are. By Muju.
Hate Plus: ~Mute’s Golden Days~
I’ve talked a lot about Hate Plus, but I haven’t really formally announced it in detail yet… so here I am! (No, this is not a joke.)
Hate Plus is a sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story that continues directly from the end of that game, and explores, over the course of three days, the events leading up to year 0. If Analogue was the backstory of *Hyun-ae, then Hate Plus is the backstory of *Mute. It’ll continue from your Analogue save file, so each ending will have its own route with equal focus. It plays similarly to Analogue, but instead of your AI companion simply showing you files they’ve picked, you’ll have to investigate yourself, and discover what happened together!
It features new art and costumes, an all new soundtrack (plus theme song “It’s Not Ero!!”) from Isaac Schankler, a whole new and improved UI, and more writing than Analogue did. It’ll be out summer 2013.
Please look forward to your sharing your hateful days with *Hyun-ae and *Mute!
This is Caroline L.'s engagement present from her fiance, Mark, who made it from a vintage AT-AT toy and is CLEARLY a keeper. Just saying, Caroline. But I guess you already knew that. :)
Hey Caroline, any chance Mark will post a paint tutorial? Because I have a baby AT-AT here on my desk that's just BEGGING for a steampunk make-over now. :D
Watch Mark's Flickr page this week for more photos of the IMP. They're not up as of this writing, but Caroline assures me they'll be there soon. [Warning: there are mildly gory special-affects makeup pics on that stream, so don't click if you're squeamish.]
[UPDATE: Direct link to those photos here!]
Thanks for sharing the awesomeness, Caroline!
This is a test note.