On The Parting of the Mists

So, Mists has been out for a while now. I’ve had time to evaluate the dungeons and get into the LFR system. And while I have had plenty of time, I’ve not actually done either of those things.

Why? I’ve been doing dailies.

Klaxxi dailies. Tillers dailies. Golden Lotus dailies. Son of a bitch, I haven’t even done my first set of Cloud Serpent dailies! And then there’s the Anglers, which I’ll eventually get to on my hunter.

This is my life, and it’s ending one daily at a time.

I was starting to think that this might be my favorite expansion, unseating Wrath from its throne in the cockles of my heart. Now, after endless rounds of blue exclamation marks, I ain’t so sure.

“Well, you don’t have to do all those dailies,” says Blizzard. “You could run dungeons if you wanted.”

Yes, but that’s not entirely true. When I’m in a dungeon, I’m not earning nearly a much as on dailies, where I get money, Valor points, and reputation which unlocks gear. In a random dungeon, all I get is somes Valors, the chance at gear, and a reaffirmation of my decision to consider everyone I meet in WoW to be socially retarded until I am pleasantly proven wrong:

[Asshatheals]: your welcome for being carried, btw
[Tankytwat]: Lolz at 20k deepz
[DoucheyMcDPS]: OMG gooooooooooooooo

I will be so very glad when the tourists and hardcores are tired of this expansion. Fuck all of you. Go play something else. Forget you own this game. Leave it to those sane, pleasant people who just want to enjoy themselves. Just fuck off and die. Oh, and your dad is tired of the Lunchables crumbs in his keyboard. Just FYI.

Where was I? Oh yes…

If I don’t do my dailies, I’m missing out. I’m not maximizing my potential. I’m not doing my best to prepare for raiding. I owe it to my raid to do my best, so hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to WoW I go. But dailies just aren’t fun. They’re as close to work as a video game can get without being a FPS where you’re a human resources manager who upgrades his stapler by doing eight quarterly reviews in under five minutes.

Dailies really don’t bring out the best in people. Competition in a very limited space for a few mobs and spawns always makes people go all helpful and smile-on-your-brothery, right? Blizz wanted to ratchet up the tension between the Horde and Alliance, but quite frankly I despise more Alliance players on my server right now than Hordies! The Golden Lotus dailies are a prime example of this.

Clustering sets of dailies in a small area is indeed convenient, but it also creates tremendous pressure on the resources in that area. Look at Skyrange and those damn antelopes or gazelles or whatever the fuck kind of ungulate they are. With ten people up there trying to get their steaks or anuses or whatever from them, it’s a very frustrating experience. Or the mushan in the Dread Wastes, same thing there.

Was putting on a tabard and running some dungeons so wrong? One of my guildies said, “Ahhh, that’s lame. It doesn’t show dedication.”

Now listen here: I did 30 or so dungeons with puggers like the ones above. I have demonstrated my dedication.

Do I have more to bitch about? Why yes I do; thank you for asking.

The weapon and armor models are much more lackluster than I thought they would be. Honestly, I don’t know what I expected, but everything looks like it was once on sale at Pier 1 Imports, and that is definitely not what I expected. Burning Crusade had the best models, hands down. Time and time again, I find myself being drawn to those items, farming end bosses of dungeons God knows how many times, just to get that sexy sword or pair of shoulders. So far, I don’t see myself going back to Shado-Pan Monastery at level 100 for anything.

Is it all gloom and grinding toil? Is there nothing good about this expansion? Certainly not.

I can say that this is probably the prettiest expansion, edging out BC for sheer spectacle. The Great Wall is breathtaking, and Kun-Lai Summit makes me feel like I’m on top of the world much more than Northrend ever did. The heroics are tuned to a puggable level, not like Cataclysm, which I can say unequivocally was my least favorite expansion. The stories in Mists are fun and compelling, if at times a bit grindy. The pandaren are delightfully expressive and well put-together, though I don’t have one of my own. But mainly their cute little animations piss me off as I look at my night elf male’s Thriller dance and pathetic flipper hands.

Yeah, I’m grousy about it all, but it’s early yet, and Blizzard is proving much more responsive about difficulties than in the olden days, so maybe some pleasant changes will come along. I’m going to try to stay positive and keep an open mind.

We’ll see how long that resolution lasts…

On the Topic of Television

I believe that there’s a lot that one can learn from looking at one’s taste in television.

Ever since I was in college, I have been an Anglophile. I love British culture. For me, Cadbury has the whole chocolate thing locked down. Screw Budweiser and Coors: hand me that Newcastle Brown Ale. But I especially love British telly. I’ve watched so much lately, in fact, that my speech is starting to take on a rather sallow, council house hue and I don’t give a toss.

It all started one night, as many good things do, with PBS. Bored with the networks, I decided to see what the folks who brought me Sesame Street could offer my allegedly adult tastes. I came across a funny little show called Are You Being Served?, which looked like it had been shot on someone’s sodomy dungeon Super 8 camera. What the hell is this?

Then Mrs. Slocombe talked about the fireman who risked his life on a ledge, trying to grab hold of her pussy.

I literally fell off the couch in shock and laughter. I discovered that the Brits will go where we dare not, that for all our sex and violence, a woman with a pussy and a pink wig had beaten them all, and with style.

I was hooked. Other shows followed: Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder, Monty Python, Chef!, and The Thin Blue Line. Oh, and Red Dwarf! Dear God, it’s the cheapest made shit by American standards, but the acting is so there that the crap effects and middle-school-art-class models become endearing instead of infuriating. I also learned from Dave Lister how to do a somewhat convincing scouse accent.

Then Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu brought me A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, Peep Show, Mitchell and Webb, Downton Abbey, The IT Crowd, Black Books, QI, and my latest show, The Tudors.

Little Britain? Yeah, I’ve watched most of the episodes, but it’s really not that British; it’s got a far more American sitcom feel to me than any of the others, albeit with a tad more nudity and swearing, so it doesn’t hold my attention like the others. If I go out for Chinese, I had better taste some garlic, ginger and rice, not a hot dog with sweet and sour sauce, and that’s what I get from Little Britain: my culture overlaid with thin Brit caricatures.

The latest delight I’ve discovered is Charlie Brooker. He’s essentially a Lewis Black for the Brits. Here he is taking a big bite out of Berlusconi in a dated but hilarious monologue from Ten o’Clock Live.

He’s a cynical, misanthropic, sneering dick. But my GOD, is he good at it. Assholery like this can be forgiven if it’s funny enough. Charlie loves taking the piss out of any and all of life’s stupidities, but his favorite topic is the very medium that brings him to you: television. But, props to Charlie, when something is good or wrongfully ignored, he’ll stand up for it, like his favorite children’s show, The Clangers.

Also, as I was watching Brooker, I noticed the TV voiceover at the end of the show was describing the next program. They still have show announcers! Isn’t that darling!? I haven’t seen that in the US since I was two! Yep, the Brits have it on lock. Not to say that America slouches, with gems like Lost, The Big Bang Theory, and Gray’s Anatomy back when it was about doctors humping and not death and pain like it is now.

We’ve had a nice chat so far, but now I’m going to intentionally make you a bit uncomfortable…

Everyone has a deep, dark secret in the TV closet. Don’t sit there and shake your head; you know the show I’m talking about. That show you adore, but would never let anyone at work know that you’ve ever seen it. Bully Beatdown? Dancing with the Stars? Occasionally people try to deflect someone poking around in the closet.

“You know what my guilty pleasure is? Downton Abbey. I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t stop watching, tee-hee!”

Bullshit. I proudly watch Downton, and I feel more cultured and educated when I watch it than any show on the freakin’ History Channel! It’s not a guilty pleasure if it’s on PBS; therefore, you suck at lying and should give it up for less mentally taxing pursuits. You’re trying to get me off track, and I won’t have it.

No, no. I want your deepest shame. And mine is Beavis and Butthead.

Yep, those two retards get me every time. Not many shows can make a depressed man laugh like a hyena on GHB, but they can do it. Part of their appeal is that they take me back to a simpler time in my life, when I was in a band in high school and lived a very straight-laced version of the headbanger lifestyle. From any other show I wouldn’t accept their humor, but let Beavis get grabbed in the crotch by a pit bull they planned to adopt, and then drug off by the aforementioned crotch, and I’ll be unable to breathe for several minutes. And they still have the chops, after all these years! Here they are tearing into those genetic throwbacks on Shore.

So, what shows do you proudly carry a banner for? Which ones are you desperate to keep in the closet?

On Writing & Introductions

So, here I am, starting another blog. What was I thinking.

That first post is always hard. It’s like when, at any small group function, someone inevitably suggests that we go round the room, saying who we are and what we do, telling our interests and other crap nobody really cares about. It feels obligatory and awkward, trapped in a dimension where it’s everyone’s first day at a new school. How horrible.

To my friends out there that I may be reading this, you know who and what I am. To anyone hapless enough to stumble onto this page, I’ll try to explain myself.

I am an overgrown child in his late thirties, married to an absolutely wonderful woman. Adjectives fail to capture her essence, so let’s leave it at “wonderful woman” for now. We have a three-year-old son who is basically a good kid but who rides my nerves like a cheap whore, an attitude which causes me a certain level of guilt. I am an English teacher at a 2-year institution of higher learning, where I spend my days teaching classes, grading papers and tests, and watching TV in my office while eating or grading, all the time feeling slightly like a time-wasting fraud. Why the hell my students need to know who Dante is or where a semicolon goes I have no clue, but I am indeed happy to be paid for the opportunity to tell them.

In my spare time, I hike and watch some TV, but mainly I play World of Warcraft. No, I haven’t played other MMO’s, tabletop games, or any of the other gateway drugs that lead to WoW. I was a tourist who liked the climate and culture of Azeroth so much that I bought a timeshare sometime after Burning Crusade but before Sunwell was released, and my wife came along soon after. It’s been our thing ever since. We’ve raided Kara and ZA as GM’s of our own guild, and after hooking up with our current one, we’ve gone through all the normal-mode content in Wrath and Cataclysm. Now we’re merrily leveling though Pandaria, gawping at all the architecture and cool storylines while most of our guild rocketed past us to 90, apparently in a great hurry to be bored with the expansion sooner than anyone else.

The blog I used to have was not a good one. I think I was trying too hard, too influenced by all the other bloggers out there that I was reading at the time. I abused my freedoms, and I got abused in return for doing so. Maybe this is a reboot, a fresh start that something good may come from. Yes, I know I’m an English teacher who just ended a sentence with a preposition. No, I don’t give a damn. I spend all day pointing out people’s writing flaws, and I’m tired of being the bad guy, even to myself, to whom I never seem to tire of being a twat. I hope to keep what I write free of truly grievous errors, but some stuff I’m just too unconcerned and jaded to give a good solid shit about.

See, writing as a former English major is a tricky business. We like what we write. We spend most of our lives writing things to please others, to get a grade. We spend a long time primping, preening, and fussing over it like some stage mother. Then we shove our curly-haired little moppet onto the stage and wait with hunched shoulders as she does her little dance….

And as the last tap rings out, all we hear is crickets. Or worse, jeering. And then we fold up in the floor, devastated.

So, I’m going to try not to get so attached to what I write. Just write it. Don’t like it? I well and truly don’t care. Feel like leaving a snide comment? You might get one back in return, or I might dismiss you as the troll you aspire to be if only you were wittier and watched more Lewis Black and less Jersey Shore, and simply block you. Do you like my half-assed opinions and dim observations on a small collection of topics? Then by all means say nice things, or lie because you pity me. I’ll take whatever positive reinforcement I can get.

Why am I trying this again? Good question. What thing of consequence can I write? English majors also prefer their writing to do something, accomplish some goal. What do I have to say of any consequence about WoW? There are a hundred blogs out there, full of people who don’t wretch at the sight of a spreadsheet, who are doing a damn sight better than I ever could. Am I actually contributing, or just vomiting in a crowded room?

I suppose the real point of this is that it satisfies an innate need that English majors have: to write. We spend our whole lives reading ambrosia from the gods, but most of us don’t have the balls to chuck the 9-to-5 and write the Next Great Novel. So, we blog, or write fan fiction, or some other simpler and less risky thing to satisfy that creative urge.

What will I write about? Warcraft, certainly, as the URL suggests. Parenting? Perhaps. Marriage? Maybe, but most likely not. It seems déclassé to talk about one’s married life to the whole world. One of my in-laws had a messy divorce and made it much messier by splattering it all over Facebook, and it would feel much like that if I were to air out even slightly dirty linen here.

I also want to write about depression. I suffer from, in the words of my shrink, “severe depression, moderate level.” I will most likely be on meds for it for the rest of my life. One thing I would like to help do, even in a small way, is bring mental illness out of the dark in American culture. There is still a stigma to it, and people react with either a superstitious warding off or a snorting dismissal. That stigma has to die, and it can’t die soon enough for either me or the millions who suffer from depression of all levels–and they do suffer, make no mistake, in ways that make my diagnosis look positively euphoric by comparison.

In writing this awkward little intro, I believe I’ve discovered another thing I want to do with this blog: to make people think. To think about why and how they play WoW. To think about their lives, beliefs, and attitudes. I suppose that one simple wish is at the heart of all decent, honest writing, and that’s just what I want to be here: honest.