Your Micro-Transactions and YOU!!!

 

In my early twenties, I would frequent a casino down in South Florida, and let me tell you, that was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen. Hoards of Elder men and women slamming that bar, and gambling their lives away, watching as the casino sucks their money away like a soul devouring leech. Weathered eyes transfixed by spinning dials, as dreams of easy money slowly fade away into the ether.

It’s actually kind of funny.

Whenever you think about casinos, you think of whom?

James Bond.

pierce-brosnan-6

Pierce Brosnan is best girl.

You don’t think of Edna and Lawrence who are burning through their retirement like an addict through a mountain of crack. You think of Vegas and beautiful people. Not older men and women who are so far gone in their addiction, they rarely have the time, thought or money for anything or anyone else. It’s a problem.

But, that’s alright. They are adults and they can make their own decisions with how they want to waste their money, however stupid and foolish that decision may be. As long as children can’t go into Casinos, then that’s completely alright.

“Now, if only there were a way to somehow get the children, as well as the adults. You know, start young. Instead of having to wait until they are 21, what if there was a way to bring the casino straight to the children.”

I’m listening.” 

Well, the good news is its already happening. With games, and especially free to play mobile games.

Those little free apps you purchase for you kids to play? One’s that normally have some guys head and he’s yelling, or gritting his teeth.

clash of clans

This one?

Yeah, that one.

These games target those who have a addictive personalities, and children.  In almost all of these games the premise is, you play the game and build up in-game money, so you can upgrade you character, base, hair salon — it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, all of it is normally way overpriced, so you decide I’m gonna start building up money, but then you realize that takes days.

Well, that’s where the bait comes in.

earthworm jim

This is a terrible analogy.

You’ll get your first ruby or diamond free from the developers themselves. Now you’re thinking, “Aw, what a swell Dev.”

Well, you’re wrong. The only reason that trick is used so it can show you its other side.

The gamble of a better deal.

Once you open the store, you’ll realize just how much this one ruby can net you. It could easily save you days. So, naturally, free money is free money, so you spend it on in-game items, because you’d have to be crazy not to spend it. It’s not like you can cash it in for a gift card to Costco. You’re gonna spend that thing like its a burning lump of coal burning the palms of your hands.

That’s when the first rush hits you. Now you have so much shiny stuff, but now it’s back to raising the money the game intended. You feel a sense of victory. This game isn’t getting your hard-earned cash, and right now, you’re up. They gave you free money. Fucking idiots. You work hard in real life, be it school, work, life in general, how taxing would a little hard work in a Videogame be?

One week later, you’re watching a timer tick down until you’re finally able to do whatever it is for you to do, for you to waste a week of waiting, or grinding, or building, whatever it may be.

Then you remember that little ruby you spent that netted you all of this amazing gear. How entertaining that was, when you were finally able to upgrade quickly.

So, you head back into that ancient Chinese antique shop, and you debate the deal. For five dollars you can buy ten of those rubies!

So, what’s five dollars?

And they got you.

fishing pole

Still with the fishing analogy. This guy is the worst.

Now, if you’re an adult, and you get tricked into this, then I’m sorry. I really am. But, you’re a grown person person capable of making your own decisions. Much like the elderly with slots, you can at any time walk away.

Once again, my issue is with the children. Now, unlike casinos, children can play these games all they want. They normally have an ESRB rating of E, which is odd that a child can’t be allowed into a casino, unless they are 21, but with a video-game they are allowed to do all the gambling they want. There are no systems in place to keep your children from getting wrapped into these types of addictions. And, let’s not confuse it. It is addicting. It’s gambling, just through a different means.

When a game like Battlefront 2 can take on the Star Wars universe, and lock the best characters behind either an insurmountable task of unlocking, or giving them thousands of extra dollars, for the hope of getting Darth Vader as a playable character, then something has to be done. It shouldn’t be on a child or their parent to keep them away from the con you have sucked them into. Its on the developers and the publishers.

Hell, now with loot boxes you don’t even know what you’re buying. It’s just a mystery box that may or may have nice in-game items. You aren’t even guaranteed if the money you spend will even net you the prize you want. Even that concept has its own addictive traits. The chance to bet your own money in hopes that you can cash out. What would be better than that?

Unfortunately, in this case, its only in-game items. Not even real or tangible items. Maybe just a gun or outfit, and they are making an absolute killing. As a market, Micro-transactions such as these are gold mines. You only have to build half a game, and lock the best parts behind pay walls, and you can still charge them full price? Where do I sign up?

If you give a con-man your wallet, don’t be surprised when he hands it back to you empty.

High-horse

This freakin’ guy.

We are reaching a point where companies are trying to exploit children for extra profit, but in doing so they are exposing them to a highly addictive part of life, at far too young of an age. Now, I’m no saint. I’ve done just about every awful, against the law thing one can do, short of murder. But, I do see a dangerous precedent here, and unless something is done about these developers and their predatory mindset when it comes to using gambling or micro-transactions to breed future addicts.

Because, if we don’t, I’m afraid it wont be long until we see a much younger generation,  dead-eyed and locked to their Phones, Televisions, Tablets, or Computers, spinning the wheel of luck incessantly, in hopes to achieve that high of victory through gambling. That Endorphin Rush, coursing through them, brightening their day, only for the crash to hit shortly afterwards, as the creeping realization sinks in that the only way they can possibly achieve that same sense of euphoria is if they go even deeper.

 

Love,

Uncle Sam

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2017 Game of the Year!!

2017 was a great year for gaming. Not just that it had excellent additions into tried and true formulas, but you saw companies literally tear down the walls of their success, and rebuild with a new formula. Whether it was Guerrilla Games saying, “Screw Space Nazis, (or whatever the hell those guys from Hellzone were) we want Robot Dinosaurs,” or Nintendo saying “You know how every Zelda we’ve ever done has been formulaic? Yeah let’s not do that.” It was a year that developers took leaps. And, dammit are we thankful for it.

Now admittedly, I didn’t play every game that came out this year, so my list will be a tad bit biased, but hell, everyone is biased. So, you’ll have to get over it.

*********************

 

5: Horizon Zero Dawn

horizon-zero-dawn-impact-poster-ps4-us-07feb17

Littlefoot has come a long way.

 

Horizon Zero Dawn is something to be awed. From it’s beautiful scenery, to it’s intricate plot details, to it’s needlessly dismissive main character. — Seriously, why is she so rude?

The tale takes place thousands of years in the future, after civilization has collapsed and for whatever reason, reverted back into 2000 B.C. The land is plagued with Robot Dinosaurs, because scientist once again, never stopped to question if they should. You take the stage as young Aloy, whose name was revealed while being raised above pride rock, placating to our obsession with Lion King. Shortly after the beginning of the game where you fall down a hole and find a nifty doodad that helps you see things that aren’t there, you leave you adoptive home to become a member of a tribe that has been outright dickish to you your entire life.

After whooping ass in a trial for young Nora tribe members, the village is attacked and Aloy must help defend the village, and much like all heroes and heroines, she naturally saves the day. From here, she is finally allowed to leave the tutorial nest. Even though, there is no reason she shouldn’t have been able to leave before, considering she was an outcast, because she was abandoned? 

Seriously, the Nora are the worst.

Anyways, the game is good, and worth everybody’s attention. It is one of, if not the most visually stunning game on console. From snow-capped peaks with a giant snake robot wrapped around it, to flowing creaks and riverbeds. It is a game that doesn’t just use it’s scenery as a backdrop, but beckons you to explore it. Though, it isn’t the next coming of Christ as so many would like to believe. The story is shaky at times, and the main character just isn’t that interesting. I found myself caring more about the overarching plot than I did the person I witnessed it as.

***********************

 

4: Resident Evil 7

 

resident-evil

Louisiana Art is weird.

 

In the words of my lovely sister, “Sam, can we please play something else? This game makes me want to throw up.”

Now, it’s not because of the gross imagery within the game, (there’s a lot of it.), but she just can’t really do first person games.

I, on the other hand, played through it, and dammit if this game didn’t get me jumping at every little bump in the night. The audio team did an astounding job of adding in little thumps, every time you felt like the coast was clear. Even alone in the safe room, you would hear bangs, making you feel no place was truly safe.

Somehow, through a complete abandonment of what got them their, Capcom managed to make the first true Resident Evil since Resident Evil 3. (You know, STAAARRRSS!) And, what a welcome change it was. Gone are the run and gun systems of Five and Six, and back are the feelings of heart-racing anxiety of realizing you don’t have enough bullets to clear that hall-way.

***********************

 

3: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Senua

I hear you. I also hear you. Oh, you’re here too? I hear you as well.

Let me start this off by saying Melina Jeurgens deserves the world for her performance in this game. Without her, the game just wouldn’t work. For her to come on and voice one of the greatest performances in gaming history with only a background in Video Editing and Photography is not something to be scoffed at. So, hats off to her. 

Now, to the game.

Hellblade begins with our protagonist Senua traveling on a log, on her way to Hell to recover the soul of her fallen husband. Simple enough premise. But, the catch is, the entire time, Senua is suffering from a rather advanced form of psychosis, that is audibly (and sometimes visually) doubting you the entire time. From there, Senua must pass through certain puzzles, and hellish fights to get closer to the gates of hell, which, as anybody knows whose followed Norse Mythology, is ruled by Loki’s half Daughter Half God daughter, Hel.

Hellblade does a wonderful job interweaving Norse Myths as Senua gets closer and closer to her goal, while also giving you a look into her own touching relationship with her deceased husband and her upbringing. By the end of the game, I wanted to give the world, the seas, and the moon to Senua. My heart broke for her.

That poor girl. 

***********************

 

2. Persona 5

p5_cast

SQUAD UP!

Persona 5 is cool.

Like, really cool.

Also, it’s super fucking weird. But, dammit it’s so cool.

So, there’s this cat right, he teaches you how to steal treasure to change peoples hearts. Then as the game progresses, you get more and more people in your crew, “The Phantom Thieves” You guys go around stealing hearts of bad guys. And, yeah that’s pretty much the premise.

Honestly, typing it out sounds so fucking dumb, but trust me. This game is worth your time. From the classic JRPG combat style with it’s own twist, to the Confidant system that allows you to delve deeper into your own teammate’s and other NPCs lives that give you additional options for battle, to the downright, awesome music. This game is worth it.

That being said, I completely understand if this isn’t your type of game. Hell, I honestly didn’t think I would like it as much as I do. But, I do.

Gettum, Joker!

**********************

 

And, without any further ado,

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Zelda-and-Link

“AND THEN HE SAID I WAS STUPID!”

In October of 2008, I played Fallout 3 for the first time. I was new to the franchise, so I honestly had nothing to compare it to. But, I quickly fell in love with the post apocalyptic world. The destruction. The ruins of the old world. The story within the story. Of the last hopeless moments before destruction, that the game doesn’t tell you outright, but you have to figure out for yourself. I became obsessed. Scouring every inch of the wasteland, until I finally felt I had uncovered all of it’s secrets. The story wasn’t the what Todd Howard had to tell me, but my own story to create for myself as I launched myself into this world.

No game has made me feel that way since.

Until Breath of the Wild.

With choosing to take a minimalist approach to almost all aspects and focusing on just giving players the opportunity to experience true freedom within the game, Zelda changed the entire genre of open-world games. It’s climbing mechanic, allowing you to climb everything from the side of a wall, to the largest peaks gave me a feeling of accomplishment, as I kept my eye on my stamina meter trying to make it to the next ledge, all the way up until I conquered my beast, and I stood up upon high and gazed out across the land of Hyrule.

Speaking of Hyrule, God damn is it pretty. The decision to mix cell-shade cartoon style with realism, gives this game unimaginable beauty, leaving vista’s seeming as if you were sometimes playing within a painting. As you watch the sun rise through Faron woods, as it’s rays cut through the trees, one can’t help but stop and take notice of it’s beauty.

And, that’s what this game is truly all about.

Taking those little moments and appreciating them. It doesn’t nag you to keep moving. It doesn’t hold you hand, and guide you. It just tells you to pick a direction and go explore. Like a child wandering through the woods, thinking maybe some ancient civilization left some artifacts for you to find.

Just in Zelda’s case, they did.

The game is littered with little things to find: Shrines, weapons, tree turds, shields. Little tiny secrets lay all over, if you have the keen eye to find them. The smile that comes to my face when I find something, because I said to myself, “I wonder if something is up there.” The game is full of those moments.

Now, let’s talk about combat. I once put a boulder into stasis, beat the living hell out of it, then launched it at a moblin, killing him in one shot. So yeah, the combat is fun.

This actually brings me to my next point.

Physics.

BotW allows you to bend the game to your will. You aren’t just stuck with one form of travel or fighting. Hell, wanna fly across the map using rail cars and tricky work of magnesis? Go ahead. Want to make a boat fly by attaching octoballoons to it? Go ahead. Want to see how far you can launch yourself by making a make-shift see-saw? Go right ahead. Want to fly on a log like General Tao?

You get the idea.

The game doesn’t get in your way by being cumbersome. It in fact invites this type of thinking. The type of thinking that has you saying, “I wonder if this will work?” And sure enough, it most likely will. The game is just fun to play.

And that’s it’s most important trait.

Fun.

If a game isn’t fun, it better tell one hell of a story.

Which brings me to my final point.

The story.

The game begins with Link waking up from a 100 year nap after he fell in battle defending both Zelda and Hyrule from Ganon and his spider robots. The war was over, and Hyrule lost. Spread throughout Hyrule are the ruins of the Hyrule of old. Destruction taken to a cataclysmic scale. Yeah. Ganon is kind of a dick.

But, as it turns out, after Link fell, Zelda’s power of the goddess unleashed and she was able to contain him until Link could finally wake up and destroy Ganon once and for all. Let me put that in simpler terms. Zelda has been holding off Satan for over 100 years. She’s a bad bitch.

Throughout the game, the choice is the players if they want to uncover memories that detail Link and Zelda’s adventure from a century prior, and it is worth exploring. In fact, each diary is worth reading as well. Much like Bioshock, the majority of the story is told in this style, and a much larger picture can be seen once you have uncovered the whole tale.

I love this.

It allows you the player to have a more direct hand in uncovering the tale, unlike when a game forces you to hear its tale. While yes, that is important for most games, it is incredibly brave for a game to do without it, and even more impressive when pulled off properly.

BotW pulls it off.

Much like when I found myself scouring old computers in Fallout 3, I found myself trying to dig for more and more information. Piecing together where certain battles took place, by ruins and information given from random villagers. It gave me to choice to expand the world they built, or just run off and try and beat Ganon.

Without a doubt, Breath of the Wild is a monument to gaming, and games will once again be trying to emulate its style going forward, because they changed the game.

*****

 

Alright, that’s it for me.

Love,

Sam

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Mario Odyssey

What Remains of Edith Finch

Doki Doki Literature club.

 

10 Second Game Reviews!

Welcome one and all to “Ten Second Game Reviews!”

Now, I know what you all are thinking, “But Sam, how will I be able to deduce whether a game is good enough to earn my money, if I don’t have an in-depth review that covers all of the products features?”

To which my answer is, I’m not your mother, and you’re allowed to do a tad bit more research outside of these reviews. Not a lot, but I’ll allow a little.

Anyways, without any further ado, let’s begin!

 

Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

battlefront 2

“A sense of pride and accomplishment.”

This game is a MASTERPIECE!

Fuck you E.A. They are the Pearson’s Textbooks of gaming.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Parasail Simulator

Zelda-and-Link

“AND THEN HE SAID I HAD BAD VOICE-ACTING!”

Do you like going literally anywhere, unless it’s in the rain? Are you the adventurous hiker type that likes to slay camps of unsuspecting monsters while they sleep? You’re damned right you are.

 

Super Mario: Jurassic Park

T-rex Mario

Somebody tell this fucking dinosaur, November is over. The stache can go.

From jumping over stuff, to stealing the souls of living breathing beings, this game has what everybody never knew they wanted. An endless search for moons until the heat-death of the universe.

 

Wolfenstein: Nazi Hunters

Wolfenstein

Look at these GRAPHICS!!!!!!

As quoted by Abraham Lincoln, “The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi.” This game is action packed and deals a hell of a story that is in no way similar to “Man in the High Castle.”

 

Dear Esther

Dear Esther

Pro Tip: Don’t play while drunk.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I like games, but I would rather read a short story, and not do anything for an hour.” Well, this is that game!

 

Resident Evil 7: Louisiana

resident_evil_7_bakers

Guys, I think grandma’s dead.

This is the tale of a young man and his coming of age tale, which takes place deep in the heart of Louisiana. Now, believe you me, I’ve been to Louisiana and this game pretty much nails everything about it. From a half cooked crawfish boil, all the way up to the undying jelly monsters.

 

For Honor

For Honor

Well shit.

Turbulence

 

Fifty-Eight people dead. Over Four hundred wounded.

Let that sink in.

Fifty-Eight people dead. Over Four hundred wounded.

 

Now, I won’t go into details on the gunman, since apparently the news media wants to dissect his every waking moment, in turn making him seem like a hero to others who are just as sick as he. It’s actually quite sickening, but that’s not what I want to speak about. I’d like to address another topic.

Why is it, that instead of taking a day to allow all the facts to roll in, we have become prone to instantly try and blame it on either Right wings or Left wings between us in America? It’s become this notion that we would be better off without the other, so we attack and try to pin blame on one another, in hopes to either be rid of them or hopefully convert others to either side. That shouldn’t be what we’re doing. We’re allowing fear and hate to sway our decisions, and that has got to stop.

This idea that all of the other side wants you dead, has got to stop. This isn’t a war. No one is coming after you. You aren’t hiding under the floorboards in order to evade capture. You’re safe.

What happened in Las Vegas is a travesty. One that will hopefully not fall from the annuls of time, and hopefully one that lingers on the mind for some time. But, unless we learn from what happened in Las Vegas it will only happen again.

Now, I don’t know what the shooter’s M.O was. I don’t know if he was Far-Right or Far-Left. I don’t need to know that. That doesn’t matter. What I do know is that he was a terrorist. In the end of the day, that’s all I need to know. That, whatever his political or religious belief was, he wanted innocent people dead. Whether he felt he was an outcast to society, or killing in mass to appease his God, none of that matters to me. He was terrorist who killed innocent people. That’s all that matters. His motivations should be studied, yes. But, only for scientific reasons, so as we can look deep into what the underlying cause, and maybe make suitable changes to combat this type of domestic terrorism. But, if we don’t stop attacking one another in this finger pointing war, this will only keep happening.

We are Americans. Every single one of us. Whether you’re Liberal, Conservative, Straight, Gay, Transgender, White, Black, Asian, it doesn’t fucking matter. We’re Americans. And, we have got to do better. This idea of every man for himself isn’t working. Because, then you get lone wolf scenarios, who just want to leave a name. We’re all brothers and sisters, and we need to start looking out for one another. Be it through better mental health recognition and healthcare, or better education to help educate the masses. One thing, I do know is that the solution isn’t more guns.

We have enough.

I’m for the second amendment. I believe every American should have the right to self and home-defense. But, the current checks and balances are not good enough. While entirely tasteless and crass and far too soon, Hillary Clinton was right. The NRA is lying to you for their own profit. They profit directly off your fear and hysteria. There is no reason any home needs over ten fire-arms. You aren’t fighting an invading force. Even if you were, I assure you, it would be absolutely idiotic to believe ten different guns are going to help you. There has got to start being a limit on how many fire-arms you can have. Because, at the moment, there isn’t any. Now, I understand, for hunting purposes, a .223 is good for possums, where as it won’t bring down a buck, which is better guaranteed with a .308. I get that. But, in cities, there aren’t really a lot of situations where that comes in to play. But, then again, a 12 gauge or a 9 mm are both excellent and efficient weapon for protecting one’s home from an intruder. But, that’s four guns. So, maybe for a first step, we start limiting the amount of fire-arms we’re allowed to have. Hell, I’ll even throw you a bone. You want more than ten, you just get a collector’s permit. Which should come with a heavy mental evaluation. That’s just an idea of where we can all meet in the middle. It’s not perfect, but I’m not a politician or law-maker. (Thank God)

I’m absolutely not for taking people’s guns away. But, it doesn’t take a lawyer or Psychologist to realize something needs to be done. The water is pretty fucking murky at the moment, and it needs a little cleaning. Because, if we don’t clean it, it’s only going to get a lot worse.

This also goes for our Mental Health checks and balances, as well. There are far too many people slipping through the system and in the age of the internet, where there are radical viewpoints just a click away, that can be an incredibly dangerous thing. It also doesn’t help that Russia has paid trolls for both sides of every matter, trying to pit us against one another, but that’s a separate issue all together. We shouldn’t be at a point where Russia can turn us against one another through something as simple as memes, but I digress. Far too many of these shooters are found to have mental disorders of some sort that aren’t picked up on. With people around them saying things like, “He always seemed fine.” Well, clearly fucking not. Maybe if we weren’t so worried about ourselves and our own image, and more involved with one another, these things could be noticed.

I’ve seen too many tales of people who had decided that a specific day was going to be the day they were going to kill themselves, but all it took for them to change their mind was someone showing the smallest amount of interest in them. Now, I know that’s completely anecdotal, but what if (just hear me out) we just started trying to treat people better, and not like they are side characters in our own story? Maybe then, we’d be willing to extend the olive branch to those who are different from us. Because, a simple, “How are you today?” can sometimes save a life, and maybe many others as well.

I’ll be honest, we’re in a bad point. This country has problems, but they are solvable problems. We should be willing to hear one another out, and not be so quick to pin blame, lumping every single one of us into “The Other Team”. We are one team. It’s about fucking time we started acting like it, because I hate to break it to you, but not every conservative is a bible thumping lunatic that only wants money and to stomp on the poor, and not every liberal is a hippie socialist that wants to let in ISIS. We have to learn to sniff out that kind of rhetoric, because it’s turning us against one another. We must learn to work together, and see the good in one another’s ideas and actions, not just turn our nose up at one another because they don’t believe exactly what we believe. We need to learn to listen. Have rational debate, because these issues can’t be solved in 140 characters, whether our President believes that or not. All in all, we just have to do better, and I know we can, because we’re Americans and we are capable of great things. We’ve put men on the moon. Stopped full scale conflicts with diplomacy. Stood against tyranny and won.  We’ve done great things, and we will continue to do great things. But, we must recognize our faults and work to fix them, or else all of those things we have done will be for naught.

A plane needs both wings to fly, else it will crash and burn.

 

Side Note: Could we please stop with all the name calling? Snowflakes, Libtards, Republicunts etc. It’s fucking childish. Grow up.

Duty and Obligation

“The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country”

-George S. Patton

 

 

There’s a sense of pride one feels when serving in the Military. Be it Joan of Arc defending her France, T.E Lawrence routing the Ottoman Empire, or just some lowly E2 desperately searching for keys to a made up chest on a Cutter. Even the new kid getting fucked with should feel proud. Serving your country is one of the most respectful and honorable things a person can do. For many, it is a chance at a better life and said reasons for joining may vary; be it to give back to the Nation that has housed you, or just avoiding debtors prison. Whether you serve for four years and a degree, or make a career out of it, it’s a brave choice that’s made, and there is a badge of honor that is carried with it.

Military life isn’t easy. It’s tiresome, tedious, it’s either too hot or way too fucking cold; Never an in-between. You normally have a shitty boss, the hours suck, you might get shot at, you either meet great people or the absolute dregs of society, there’s way too much raping going on, and every cook is a suicidal alcoholic, so the food is shitty…

But, I digress.

Yes, it’s a hard life. It’s stressful, heartbreaking, depressing, enraging, sometimes downright awful, and anybody willing to work that life absolutely should, if only because it gives perspective, and empathy for others outside of one’s own sphere. Whether they’re a first generation American whose family made it to the states and get to see their son or daughter grow up an American and don the uniform of the country that took them in; or one of the very strange people that Ohio produces who will do everything in their power to escape Ohio any way they can, be it through vacations during the cold months or joining the military. It’s worth it. People from all walks of life with one thing in common. They also gave themselves to their country, and there is a innate form of respect in that.

The Military lives and breathes off the backs of hearts willing to give themselves to the country that housed them in payment. Some give all. Some lose brothers and sisters in arms. Some extinguish their own light themselves. It’s a difficult life that many can’t adapt to, and sadly it claims many of the souls that give and gave to it. And yet, it’s still worth it because, everybody deserves the right to be proud of themselves at least once in their lives, and knowing that someone, somewhere is proud of them and thankful of them. No matter their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Anybody who works the job, deserves that basic form of respect, because it’s a sacrifice, and the Military should never deny anybody that right. Be they Joan of Arc, T.E Lawrence, or a young man or woman who is scared because all they want to do is give to a country that allowed them to be brave enough to be who they truly are, and the Military is turning their backs on them.

Giving back to your country should be a basic right. Not a privilege. There should never be an eye of prejudice when allowing people to give their lives to their nation. If you are allowed to live in America lawfully, without question, you should be allowed to pledge service to the country that sheltered you.

“Be all that you can be.”

I feel this jingle needs an asterisk.

Lilacs in Bloom

 

Lilacs in Bloom

“I welcome summer heat

to bring a world that

scolds the touch.

 

Of Fall’s grace

I count the leaves that

leave me feeling gloom,

 

As Winter howls,

I shiver to thwart

the cold that brings me such,

 

But as Spring thaws,

and maidens dance,

picking Lilacs in bloom.

Bringing about

the very sight

that will lead us to our doom.”

-Unknown

 

 

It was the Spring of 1992.

The lilacs were fresh in bloom and I still remember them vividly, covering a small portion of the front yard, by the road. A blooming pale violet batch, symbolizing the change of a frigid winter and the hopes of a warm thawing spring. My mother always told us, when the Lilacs sprouted, that meant there was good fortune for us around the bend considering they only bloom for a few weeks while the temperature and climate is perfect, before dying off. So that being the case, she forbid me or any of my sisters from playing near nor picking them. She always said the good fortune would be broken if they were picked. That the person who picked them would be met with an blessed fate for a short period, but everybody else in the family would receive the opposite.

She always did believe in fairy tales.

North Georgia was having a rather cold outing for springtime, so by mid April, we were still waking up to frost on the ground. Now, this wasn’t the most surprising thing in the world. It happens every few years or so. It was just morning frost in April, but the frigidness was something else. As if death was blowing upon the grass peddles itself, sending chills down your spine. Though, by mid day, it would be back to its normal warm springtime air. But that cold dark air, during our morning walks to the bus stop, would have everybody bundled up, bringing blankets and heavy coats, solely to ride the heatless bus to school. The weatherman would talk about it, but it wasn’t really anything he could explain very well, other than a cold snap. Who really cared about how cold it was at six in the morning in a small North Georgian town, when “the Comeback Kid”, Bill Clinton had just taken office, and everybody waited with bated breath for what his first few moves in officer were going to be? A strange cold snap in the mornings seemed like a minor problem.

I was fourteen, awaiting the last couple months of school to trudge along as if it were a trench and I, a French soldier, digging tunnels underneath the enemies barricades and on the other side lay summer. The season where I was free from any responsibility other than working with my dad down at the lumber yard. It was hard work, but it was simple and required very little studying, so I was happy to do it. Plus, it replaced my household chores and was only twenty four hours a week. Other than that, I would run a muck in a world that was outside of my school’s conformity, and social statuses. I could just be me. But, until then, I would go through the shitty life of a freshmen, and dodge question after question from my folks about why I never got on with anybody.

In truth, I had no one to get on with. I tried to meet people at first, but after some time, I fell out of it. I was the odd ball out, and found it difficult to say the least. I was mostly alone my entire stint of freshmen year, due to going to a separate school than most of my friends. While most of my childhood friends went to a high schools geared towards agriculture, I was sent to a school for the gifted.

I always hated calling it that.

Gifted.

                There was nothing gifted about anybody there, other than their own gifted sense of self-worth. But, despite my cries to go to school with my friends, my parents thought it best that I attend a school that may better suit my own future. Needless to say, I was having trouble adjusting.

                Every day, I went to school, spoke to nobody, ate alone, and rode the bus home. My father always worked and so did my mother. As a working class family, the effects of the economy didn’t matter so much to them as much as just being able to pay their mortgage on time. This meant we didn’t have much else. While other children in my school, came from money, which was much more of a status than it should have been, I did not. This meant most of the time, I would lie and tell people I owned things, I did not own, I had seen movies, I hadn’t seen, and I lived in a house that I didn’t live in. Though it didn’t matter, because they could tell by my clothes and worn out converse, that I was full of shit.

I was alone.

                That is, until Mallory Ann came to our school.

She was half a year younger than me, but was stuck in my class in the middle of March. When she introduced herself to the class, a few things popped out to me. She wore dark clothing, but was also absolutely beautiful. Her thin pale frame and dyed black hair went perfect with one another, as her stark green eyes offset her entire look, giving her an otherworldly appearance. Heavy eyeliner caked her eye lids, which gave her a sort of scary look that I wasn’t used to, as if she crawled out of the movie “The Lost Boys”, and I loved it. I had never met anybody that dressed like that, and thought it was only a thing they did in Hollywood. It was fascinating to me. In her introduction, she stated that she had moved from somewhere up north, I believe she said Wisconsin, and her father had just gotten a job as a foreman at the same lumber yard my father worked at.

Since nobody in class liked to speak with me, there was an open desk next to my own that she sat down in.

My body froze.

                I didn’t know what to say. I was in full panic mode. What do I say to a girl that is so beautiful and mysterious? Hell, she probably didn’t want to speak to me anyways. The next thing I knew, I had frozen up and not said anything at all to her.

For days.

                I was so embarrassed,  and the worst part was noticing that nobody else was speaking with her either. Just quiet murmurs in the class hurled in her direction accompanied by soft laughs. I began to feel bad for her. It wasn’t until a week after she had arrived that I was even able to speak to her, and that was only because she had missed a day, and asked me what assignments she may have missed. I was tired and it was early, so I wasn’t even able to allow my stunning awkwardness ruin our interaction.

I told her what she missed which turned into her asking who I was, and I responded, saying my name was Jack and giving her a small back story of my own. From that day on, we spoke almost every day, and slowly my fear and nervousness around her began to dissipate, but slowly much worse was beginning to grow within me. I was beginning to fall for her.

Mallory Ann was smart, witty, funny, loved sci-fi and all things Disney. I would say she was different from other girls, but to be honest, most girls didn’t want to speak to me, so I couldn’t necessarily make that judgment call. We began speaking incessantly, and became inseparable. Living only a few roads away from one another, we also began riding the bus home together, where I would watch as we drove by my house and keep my mouth shut, and eyes forward as to not tip off that it was my house. Then we would hang out, until I would walk back to my house on my own. I loved every moment we spent together, often sneaking out on weekend nights to go roam the small town, and lose ourselves in each other’s presence. Telling one another stories, tall-tales, and superstitions that often left her wide eyed. It was young love, and I was tangled in its web.

At least it was for me.

                I hadn’t actually confessed my feelings to her, so I wasn’t sure if she felt the same way, and truthfully, how could she? I was a poor kid whose father worked for hers. I hadn’t even told her where I lived, although we would drive by my house every day on the way home from school. I was ashamed of my background, and hated for anybody, let alone her, to know anything about my home-life. But, one day I would have to come clean with her, lay myself bare to her judgment, and the day I decided to was the day she pointed out my mother’s Lilacs, which were fresh in bloom, and commented on how beautiful they were.

That was my opening.

                There was the Spring Ho-Down coming at the end of April. It was a dance for everybody else who wasn’t able to attend prom on account that at my school, you had to be either a Junior or Senior, or have been invited by a Junior or Senior to go to prom. I was neither of those, and I had hoped Mallory Ann hadn’t been invited for my own selfish reasons. When I asked her, quite coyly I might add, if she had been invited, she smiled and said yes, but she had declined them because there was someone else that she liked. Which was followed with a playful pinch on my arm. This sent my heart racing.

In the early morning on a Sunday, I decided to sneak out and see if she was still awake and willing to sneak out with me. I was going to confess my feelings to her and as lame as it sounded, invite her to the Spring Ho-Down.

It was dark outside and the cold was biting. I crept over to my mother’s lilacs, and picked a handful of them. I honestly doubted my mom would have been able to tell any were missing, anyhow. Quietly, I picked what I needed and hastily made my way down the road. When I made it to Mallory’s house, I saw that her upstairs bedroom light was on. I found the nearest pebble to me, and lobbed it up against her window pane. A sense of joy filled me when I saw her body fill the window to her room. The shock, then smile in her recognition of my face still makes me smile to this day. I motioned her to come down and surprisingly enough, she did.

As soon as she came out, we kept quiet until we were out of the neighborhood and near a secluded wood that a playground sat. We both sat on the swings speaking back and forth about nothing, and gazing at the stars. It was a clear night out, and through the canopy of the trees, the moonlight showered upon Mallory Ann, giving her a sense omnipotent beauty. It was over thirty minutes until I finally worked up the nerve to speak with her about why I came out to see her. The first thing I did was bring out the lilacs, and hand them to her. Her face brightened in the sparkle of the moon as my heart began to race. I confessed my feelings for her, and how I wanted to take her to the Ho-down. She said how she felt the same way about me, and that she had never been to a “Ho-Down,” but she would love to go.

Mallory Ann took a single lilac and weaved it through her hair, which ornamented her magnificently. Then she leaned in to kiss me, which took me by surprise, but I rebounded quickly and we shared a long passionate kiss. The sounds of cicadas weeping into the night for a mate and the wind carrying the scent of freshly picked lilacs to ours noses. Her body wrapped in tight to mine, we looked into each other’s eyes as I shared my first ever kiss with her.

I was happy.

                We held hands as I walked her home, and I kissed her once more before watching her sneak back in through her window, and she turned and blew me a kiss goodnight. My body was jittery from the excitement, as I basically skipped my way back to my home.

The first thing I noticed that was off was my front door. It was still slightly a jarred. I recalled specifically that I had closed it, so panic began to set it. That meant Mom and Dad were awake, and I was pretty much screwed. Approaching the front door cautiously, I slowly eased it open. Maybe I had just left it open by accident, and they hadn’t noticed. I crept back into the home, and slowly closed the door behind me, expecting to hear a voice or light turn on behind me. But, it was nothing.

I had merely left the door open like an idiot.

I crept into my room, and laid in my bed. Thinking of Mallory Ann, I drifted off to sleep.

Hours later, after sun-up, I awoke on my own, which wasn’t a normal situation. It was Sunday after all and we had church. Though, I hated church, but we still went every Sunday. I made my way into the kitchen, and noticed nobody else was awake. So, I poured myself a bowl of cereal, played the maze game on the back of the box, and ate.

It wasn’t until thirty minutes after I was awake, that I began to fear something was up. It was already passed ten, which was cutting it close for the 11 A.M service. So, I decided to sneak a peek into my sister’s room.

As I approached the door, a sudden chill fell over me leaving all of the hairs on my arms standing. I shook it off and eased the door open slowly. What I saw next made me jump slightly. All three of my sisters were knelt down by the side of the bed, praying with the lights off. I softly called to them, but got no response. So, I moved in closer, but now my nerves were running rampant. I tapped my oldest sister Lucille on the shoulder, and still nothing. It wasn’t till I saw her face, that I began to register what was happening.

Lucille’s eyes were gone, as was her tongue. In their place, crammed to the brim were the pale violent lilacs. Panic began to fall over me, as I looked over to Gretchen and Grace, and saw they were the same as Lucille. Lilacs spilling out of their eye sockets and mouths.  I stumbled back in a panic, and fell hard into a dresser. The disruption caused all three of my sisters to collapse onto their sides, faces pointing directly at me, as lilacs began to spill out of them and out onto the soft carpet. I was hardly able to move, till my stomach turned on me, as I vomited tiny Irish themed marsh mellows and cereal all over the room. I tried screaming out, but I could hardly breath. Finally I managed to escape the room, and I began to cry as I screamed out for my father and mother. But, there was no reply. Fear began to course through me.

Who had done this?

                What had done this?

I made my way slowly to my parents room, where the door was open. As I nudged it open slowly, the first thing I noticed was my mother, kneeling down in prayer. I began to weep heavily as I ran to her crying out her name, afraid to turn her face and see what I was already expecting, but knowing I had to. My mother was the same as my sisters. Her mouth agape with lilacs, and where her eyes once were, were the flowers that signified spring. I began crying uncontrollably. What had happened? Who had…

Then I remembered my father. He wasn’t in the room with me, and just as this thought passed through my head, I heard his deep gravelly voice speak.

“Son, the lilacs are in bloom.”

I turned quickly, but as I did, I saw my Pa hold his Smith & Wesson to his temple and pull the trigger expelling his brains and fractured skull all over the dresser, wall and curtains within the room. Mixed in with the blood and gunk, sat perfectly clean, tiny peddles of lilac…

 

The police said they found me out in the Lilac patch later that day. I had blacked out immediately upon seeing my dad. They considered it a triple homicide/suicide, and I was sent to foster care and moved away.

I never saw Mallory Ann again after that morning. A lot of me hopes she had a nice life, and found someone else to go with her to that dance and all of the other dances that her world may entail. And, the one thing I pray for most is that wherever she may be now; she doesn’t pick the Lilacs.

She always did believe in fairy tales.

So, That Happened

So, it’s over.  Not the world, (Though, many are acting like it is) but the presidential election. With 306 Electoral votes, Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States of America.

Let that sink in.

Donald fucking Trump will be the next president of the United States.

There will be plenty of finger pointing as to how this could have happened. Why there weren’t more safe guards to keep such a candidate from rising to power, but for now, we have to look back on what a spectacularly shitty job the DNC did throughout this entire race. Whether it be colluding with one another to ensure another Democratic Candidate loss, so they could put in Clinton, because as many had said, it was her turn.

Let’s stop there. When it comes to being president, it is never any one person’s turn. When you begin to choose sides between those in your own party, that’s when you need to take a step back. When CNN is running smear campaigns against what was one of the most likable candidates to ever run in a Democratic Primary, it is time to take a step back and reevaluate what your stance is. The president is a person that speaks for all of the people. Not just a select few, and when a problem is brought up and spoken on, (Wall Street, Middle Class dying, Rich getting Richer) and you choose, as a party, to ignore something that most Americans agree is a huge issue, then you’re fucking up.

But, that was just the primaries, and we understand Clinton and the DNC had so much money tied into them from big banks, large corporations and such, so it’s understandable when the one percent choose a candidate, they’d rather it be one that goes with their best interest.

“I’m with her.”

The worst slogan for a campaign I’ve heard in recent years. Say what you will about Trump, but at least his slogan included the actual people of America. Albeit redundant and frankly idiotic, it tapped into nostalgia. A time when people were happy. Over the past 16 years, we’ve watched the middle class slowly erode. Where many job have been sent overseas for cheaper labor, we’ve watched governors give corporations huge tax cuts that have completely destroyed their economy (I’m looking at you Illinois) and we’ve watched both parties systematically screw over rural America. And, that’s a problem.

Yes, eighty percent of Americans live in or around big cities. But, those twenty percent make up a huge portion of the electoral college, and frankly that’s why we’ll be seeing Donald Trump as a president. He not only tapped into their fear, but he also showed up. He spoke to them, held huge rallies in mid western and rural states, and parts of the south where he knew times were hard for rural families. The man knew his demographic, and he knew, although he was some big wig from New York, Hillary Clinton was the epitome of what rural people despise and had actively been a part of the system that had been consistently screwing them over for over two decades. They finally had a chance for their voice to be heard, and they let it be heard loudly.

Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama. For the DNC to automatically assume that whomever voted for President Obama to turn around and vote for Clinton in the next election is just arrogance at its finest. You put one of the most corrupt individuals up against a man who literally spewed shit off the top of his head and just expected to win. You called his base deplorable, when many of them aren’t anything of the sort. They are just tired of establishment politics. Not gun toting racists, sexists, xenophobes and anti-semetics. While yes, many of those very same groups of people voted for him, they do not make up the core group.

To assume that the man who was just elected into power was only elected based on people’s racism, homophobia or sexism is woefully ignorant. This has more to do with the DNC pretending like anybody who was against them was against minorities or the LGBTQ, when that wasn’t the case at all. But, they kept pushing their “A vote for Trump is a vote for racism” while also pushing a aggressive progressive agenda, that showed many working class whites that America was leaving them behind.

Now let me say this. When the majority of the United States is made up of working class white men, it may be best to include them in your plan. I understand that the DNC was banking on the Black vote, the Hispanic Vote, the Muslim vote, the Gay vote and any of the other minorities. But, they also forgot about the majority. They played the wrong card and said that if you voted against them, you were voting against all minorities. Which was, and I’ll reiterate, the wrong card to play.

Instead of focusing on issues that affect the working class, they made a spectacle out of the election and used it as a divide. This backfired.

So to sum up, this election is no person’s fault, but the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s. They tried to force feed us a candidate that many of us didn’t want. They colluded against one of their own. They refused to listen to Bernie supporters and millennials, and expected them to fall in line, which didn’t happen. They were rife with scandal, and instead of owning up to anything that had come to light in the last few months, they just kept blaming the hacks on Russia. They refused to campaign at all in rural America, and expected to just take the election with the cities. They didn’t speak on problems that effect many working class citizens. They pretended like white male’s opinions don’t matter. (Massive fuck up.) And, they pushed a message of love not hate implying that all Trump supporters are full of hate, which is just offensively wrong.

Now, we have Donald Trump as our next president because the DNC wouldn’t get their heads out their own asses.

I don’t know, it’s all fucked.

DNC, you fucked up.

RNC, you fucked up.

America, we fucked up.

Here’s hoping nothing happens to Trump, because the last person on earth who needs to take office is Mike fucking Pence.