Review: Gil Hibben Large GenX Pro Throwers (GH5029)

So, here we go, my first knife review! As a novice, am I qualified to review a knife competently? Good question. Is anyone on the Internet really qualified to do anything?…Other than him. Okay, other than her. Look, just shut up and read…

Hibbens have always fascinated me; they seem to be the Nikes and Rolexes of throwing knives, so I really wanted to see what their knives are about after owning a Hibben axe. The first Hibbens I bought were these 8.5 inch, 5 ounce throwers.

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To be honest, I don’t like them. They have decent weight, but the length makes it hard to distance them for reliable sticking, neither at the short nor long distance-marks for the throwers I already owned. I needed a knife that was about the same length as my faves, which led me to the more expensive but comparably-lengthed GenX series. There are three designs in this line: tanto, dagger, and…well, these.

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Bowie? Kukri? Whatever it is, it’s cool.

These knives are big. No, you don’t understand–they are big. At 11 inches and 11.8 ounces, you will feel it after an hour of tossing them.

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This is one seriously massive piece of metal.

One nice thing about these knives is that, unlike every other thrower I’ve bought, these shipped to me quite dull, which makes them a very nice candidate for blade throwing right out of the box, with no need to neuter the knife with a file.

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You can see that the design and weight give it plenty of power. Notice how wide the mark is, almost like an axe blade.

Take a look at the tip. It’s more of a wedge than a point, which means I pretty much have to hit the target straight-on to get a stick. I also have to throw these beasts with a good deal more muscle than I have to use with any of my other blades. But when they hit, it sounds like the Hibben axe, and the target shakes like I walked up and punched it.

I suppose that the knives are designed to be thrown using the Hibben technique, which may be why they sometimes tumble en route to the target. I really should read his book…at some point.

I do like the scalloping on the handle, both because it lightens this quite massive blade and also for the comfort the scoops provide.

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For being so heavy, it’s really a comfortable knife to throw.

All in all, I would buy these again. The weight takes some getting used to, but it’s very satisfying to sink these big boys three in a row, and I’m pleased to have found a Hibben knife that I like. Take a look at the GenX series; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The House of Flying Daggers

When we last spoke, I had just set up my target and was ready to start putting holes in it. First, I wrapped the knife handles with the green tape, as I had many a tense half hour in my youth searching for a knife that I had cast into leaf litter. Remind me to move to red tape for summer.

Through trial and error, I found a distance from which I could stick the majority of my throws and began to work from there. I throw from the handle; I know that many more people are blade throwers, but when one’s knives show up sharp enough to remove a finger, it just makes more sense to use the handle. This also allows me to throw any knife, dull or sharp, without the action feeling strange.

When I first started throwing, I had a table set up near the target so that I could array the knives and keep them off the ground. Then it occurred to me that my system was rather inefficient. Why didn’t I just use the sheaths they came with, you ask? They are nice leather, and in the case of the Bökers, the fit is very tight, and I didn’t want to muck them up with mud and leaf litter.

I needed something sturdy enough to stand up to the blades and loose enough to allow me to draw and store them easily. To my mind, that required a trip to Home Depot to get a toolbelt. After perusing the leather models and finding myself unable to justify the price, I settled on this $7.00 Husky utility pouch and a nylon belt.

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I am now offically certified ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.

As you can see, the pouch rides quite low on my hip, like a gunslinger’s holster, which naturally means that I find myself, instead of drawing back and carefully taking aim, throwing knife after knife as quickly as I can let them fly, savoring the Hollywood sound of ringing metal. Now I throw both for accuracy, and to see how fast I can put a dagger into the heart of that oncoming zombie 😉

Enough backstory–Let’s meet the family, shall we?

Boker Bo-kri

Böker Mini Bo-kri

I got these because they were big knives, had a cool shape, and best of all were only about 20 bucks. I’m not even going to grace the site I bought them from with a mention. Terrible people. Incidentally, these are the knives that Glimmer uses in the movie version of The Hunger Games, probably because the design makes them look extra wicked. Or was that Clove? Cute girls held knives–that’s all I remember for sure. Anyway, when these guys stick, you know they hit. When I get back from the target, they sound much like my axe, sinking with a solid, satisfying thunk that I’m sure the neighbors can hear.

Kit Rae Black Jets

Kit Rae Black Jet Dagger

When I saw these, my jaw dropped and the 12-year-old boy in me squealed at the top of his lungs. I would say that these are what really launched my knife throwing renaissance. They are simply gorgeous, and if I had gotten them as a kid, I would have kept them in a box and only brought them out to polish them and call them my preciouses. I’ve always been partial to daggers, I suppose because of their design unabashedly screams their use: Single-blade knives can pass as respectable, but daggers are only for dark and nefarious purposes, and they don’t care who knows it. Very much like rogues, now that I think of it…

The etching on the blade gives them a real fantasy feel. While they may look delicate, they are actually large knives and quite tough, for all the abuse I’ve put them through. They stick very well and feel great to throw, but they do have a couple of downsides. The finger choil areas have very sharp edges and can easily cut if I grab the knife carelessly. They make the knives look epically cool, so I can forgive the occasional scratch. Second, they arrived very sharp, like the Bokers, but they soon dulled to a safe level. All in all, I think I’d buy more Kit Rae items again.

Gil Hibben Axe

Gil Hibben Throwing Axe

I bought this one off of a friend who was moving away. I imagine at the time he paid quite a chunk of cash, as Gil Hibben had just started to take off as a reputable name then, but all I had with me was twelve bucks. Still, home it went, for he was a desperate man who needed some quick cash. I would feel bad about fleecing him, but when I look at the axe my morality suddenly becomes rather slippery. It’s been under my side of the bed for years now, but when I built the target, I remembered it and streaked to the bedroom to gleefully unsheath it and hurl it at some pine.

One thing I will say about axes: they will tear the crap out of a target. The Hibben is a heavy piece of steel, and when it hits, stick or not, the force is enough to knock the boards loose from their nails. And if the same area of the board gets hit, the chunks start flying, and this can be the result:

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Ouch…sorry tree.

So there’s my new hobby. I hope to indulge in it more as the weather warms up. Next time, I may write a review of one or two of my recent acquisitions.

On My Newest Hobby

Everybody is all abuzz about 5.2, but to be honest, there isn’t that much that pulls me. I haven’t been excited about dinosaurs since Sesame Street was a can’t-miss-it show for me. Another daily hub in a no-fly zone. Been there, done that, and gotten a lot of t-shirts.

You know what? No thanks. I’ve had enough. Come to think of it, maybe it’s just my time played that’s affecting my perception of dailies. I took two toons through Quel’Danas, five all the way though the Argent Tournament, and three through the Molten Front. Maybe someone who came along in Cataclysm or who only took a main through all of that might not feel the same way.

Granted, the changes in rep have helped, and I’m sure the new championing system, limited though it is to one dungeon a day, will make a difference as well. Using the farm to gain rep is a good idea, but after just two toons to exalted with the Tillers, I’m done with farming. I haven’t planted anything in weeks. It just feels like I am in a real field behind a real plow, for all the fun I’m having with it.

But this post isn’t about WoW. It’s supposed to be about my new hobby…

I was perusing YouTube about a month ago when a video titled “How to Throw a Knife” popped up on my screen. I had thrown knives as a kid, but they were never true throwers designed for the task, and if I stuck one, it was pure luck. I never stumbled across anybody that could give me any real instruction on the art. I watched the video, and the simplicity of the technique was encouraging. It was then that I realized that I have a little money and a big backyard. What was there to stop me from taking up the hobby properly?

First, I needed a target. As a kid I threw at the tree not far from the porch, and the Druid in me flinches at the memory. While trees make tempting and romantic targets, it’s not good for the tree or one’s self-image. More than ever, this definitely isn’t environmentally friendly behavior. Also, it’s just bad physics. There’s a reason Roman shields were shaped differently from the barbarian bucklers: curved surfaces deflect incoming force. After viewing a few videos on target construction, I headed out to Home Depot to procure the mats. After grabbing some fluorescent green tape, some spiral nails, and some cheap drawer pulls, I made my way over to the lumber section.

Now, before we go further down this road together, there’s something you should know.

I’m a Southern male by birth, but not really by culture, so while Home Depot makes me feel like a real John Wayne testosterone factory sort of dude…the reality is different. I’d rather go to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens than a Braves game. Hand me the household finances, and disaster will ensue. Gimme the laundry detergent, and I’m a fucking rockstar. Ever read that book, Ferdinand the Bull? The one about the little bull calf who watches his friends snort, charge, and dream of going to the bullring, while he sits under the tree and smells the flowers? Yeah, I’m Ferdinand. I, like so many of my WoW brethren, was “that weird kid”, probably because I grew up without a father, which is a double-edged sword. I had no male models growing up, which means that I’m a bit of a stranger in a strange land, but by the same token I am free to make my own way without feeling as though I need to conform to a template.

Thus, the anti-Bubba goes a-buying him some lumber for the manly art of knife throwin’…

I head on over to the 2×4’s and begin standing them up, measuring by eye, looking like I want to build the most economical Stonehenge possible. I flag down the most non-threatening associate I can, one who doesn’t look like she’ll confiscate my testicles when I inevitably blow my cover. She cheerfully helps me, telling me that her brother used to throw, and directing me to the 2×6’s. As I’m sorting thought the best pieces, she calls over the man doing the actual cuttin’: plaid shirt, carpenter’s apron, and a look that says “not one of us.” He asks me for the length, and I point to a conveniently-placed knothole and say, “‘Bout thar” in my most Bubbaly voice, but it’s too late. I’ve been sniffed out. Don’t get me wrong; everyone was nice, but they knew I wasn’t in the know, for I displayed the markers of someone who is a greenhorn at being male.

It didn’t help matters, I suppose, that I briskly wheeled out the lumber cart, mission accomplished, to my SUV…the one with all the shit in the back. /facepalm

I knew I forgot something.

Ten minutes later, all of the lumber was miraculously wedged into the vehicle, intricately woven around child seats and storage bins. The 2×6’s were leaned precariously on the passenger-side front seat; all that was between me and a smack on the head was a bungee cord connected to the passenger-side seat belt. God alone knows what would have happened had I been in just a fender-bender, let alone an actual wreck. Yep, when my man card comes up for review this year, it may not get renewed, but my redneck engineering card should get a commendation sticker. Anyway, homeward!

The missus is off with her folks, so the garage now becomes my workshop.

I crank up the music on my phone, pretend I’m working on a job site, and begin laying out the 2×6’s so that there is minimum gappage between the boards. There is some warping, and the fit isn’t This Old House perfect, but it works. I then use an actual tape measure to measure the 2×4’s to length. My high school carpentry teacher would be disbelieving, but eventually proud.

Hmm, no sawhorse. Then I spot the side table on my propane gas grill.

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My high school carpentry teacher’s modest amount of pride evaporates as I grab that mighty redneck multitasker, the hacksaw, and cut the 2×4’s to length. I then space them out horizontally on the boards, using the highly mathematical precept of “well, that looks ’bout right.” After merrily smacking away with the hammer for about 15 minutes, I was nearly done, only killing 5 nails in the process /flex.

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After standing the surprisingly heavy target onto its side, I then installed the drawer pulls, to give me some way to move it easily.

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Next week, off to the backyard to test this baby out!

The First Rule of PvP Is…

Wow. It’s been almost exactly a month since my last post. I was helping for so much more from myself, but just like the few journals I kept in my youth, life got in the way. To misquote Lennon, life is what happens while you are too busy to blog about it.

On the second of January, I had my first surgical procedure since I was in my teens: all four wisdom teeth are now lost in the Twisting Nether. I’m still recovering, but my doctor was quite happy with the resulting head holes and how they are healing. Before that I was lost in the Nirvana that is the space between semesters. I grew quite accustomed to the lifestyle of the fictional pampered suburban housewife, filling my days with light housekeeping, TV, and leveling my rogue.

If you’ll remember back, I rolled a rogue for my experiment with PvP. This was back when the spec with the most PvP toys was Subtlety, so I went that route.

My first foray into PvP made me feel a bit tentative and uneasy, so I named my rogue after the most tentative, uneasy, weird character I have ever encountered: Mark Corrigan from Peep Show. This also gave me a chance to see the Worgen starting experience, which I must say was quite fun. I got a lot of good lore, and I also learned that Sylvanas be crazy, yo.

I leveled pretty much exclusively through BGs. Skill after skill, battle after battle, I began to understand more. Paladins are cockroaches; you stomp and stomp, and they just will not die. Frost mages are incredibly slippery. Shadow priests are not to be underestimated, for Mind Control is a nasty surprise.

At around level 40, Blackbear joined me in the BGs with his kittyheals druid, and along with our buddy Azque, we had tons of fun. We were determined to go into PvP just for kicks, never to be serious about ratings or having perfect coordination. Raiding is the serious crap; PvP for us is pure amusement and relaxation, hence the First Rule of PvP as outlined above by The Shins.

I learned that just like raids, people have yay and boo BGs as well. My fave would have to be AV. I just love the epic, sweeping feeling when that gate opens and 39 other people come riding down that snowy hill. A close second would be EotS. Such good memories–one time I actually Distracted a mounted Hordie right off a bridge as he rode by! I felt like a god for about five minutes.

My most hated BGs? Top of the list would be Strand. I’ve only been in one or two that weren’t a complete clusterfuck from the get-go, and I think one of those I zoned in on while it was in progress. Must’ve been a DC; I can’t imagine any Alliance leaving a winning Strand. Next are the two CTFs, Twin Peaks and WSG. Although I must admit, it is quite gratifying to get together in Vent and lock down the flag room. In one WSG, I had 8 flag returns, which did fill me with a great deal of pride, I must confess.

Reflexes began to develop, to the point that I had to stop myself from automatically jumping flagged Hordies out in the PvE world. Pretty soon I found that I have a real taste for Hordeflesh. But I must say that one of the best parts of PvP is the nerdragers.

The quality of nerdrage in BGs is simply superb. It’s like someone took all of the worst racists, adolescents and dickheads from Trade chat, put them in a jar, shook it to really piss them off, and then poured them into an arena with four flags to control. Hilarity doth ensue. To make things more fun, assholery is like bacon-flavored cotton candy to BB and me; we simply cannot pass it up. We do everything in our power to call out, bait, provoke, and beat the trolls at their own game. Our goal is for one of them to have a seizure and die at the keyboard. It’s important to give back to the online community, and controlling the nerdrager population is a noble calling.

I like the PvP world because it places emphasis on skills largely ignored in PvE play, and it redefines what it is to play one’s character well. For instance, raiding as a DPS, there is only one concern: looking at Recount or Skada and seeing your name at or near the top. All other concerns are secondary. When people post damage meters in BGs, it makes me laugh. How many healers did you CC? Did you provide cover for the guy trying to recapture the graveyard? Did you AoE the flag when the Horde attacked? Did you protect your healer?

Yeah, you’re top of the meters, but we still lost. I don’t think you were part of the solution…

That’s another nice thing about PvP: nobody can win or lose a BG alone. All it takes is one person moving the wrong way on Thaddeus or missing a click on Ultraxion, and it’s game over. BGs are a true team effort; if we lost, it’s everyone’s fault. I find this a particularly comforting thing, especially since raiding in Mogushan Vaults is so tank reliant. Stone Guard almost made me hang up my paws, and Elegon is proving to be quite a challenge, but that’s another post.

The final very cool thing about PvP is how quickly gear comes in. My rogue is my first toon in the expansion to have his 4-piece bonus, while my druid doesn’t even have LFR tier yet. That’s my fault for not doing LFR, but after a few weekends of it, especially as a tank, the luster fades fast.

So, I’m enjoying PvP a lot sooner in this expansion than I expected, but the familiar battleground maps and camaraderie with my guildmates is a welcome change from dailies, Sunsong Ranch, and raiding. I hope to see you out there in AV.

Unless you’re Horde. If I see you first, it’s far too late 😉

On PvP

You hear the whispers?

The ones telling you to go for the sweet spot? Just to the left of the spine, fourth lumbar down: the abdominal aorta. It’s a metallic taste, human blood. Copperish. But if you cut it with peppermint schnapps that goes away quick.

–John Riddick, Pitch Black

Near the end of Cataclysm I found myself quite bored. There’s nothing quite as bad as the doldrums right before the next expansion. We had begun raiding on our alts, my Horde character was all mogged up, and I was pretty much done. Level another toon? Why? I was sick of Cata leveling, and besides, what would I level? Healing was no longer faceroll, so I didn’t want to subject innocent PuGs to my fail shammy fumbling. My warrior? Yawn…I already have a melee plate. I began casting about, looking for something to capture my imagination.

And then it hit me: BB and his buddies were having a lot of fun in Arenas and Battlegrounds.

“PvP! That might get me out of this funk! But I hate PvP, don’t I? I hate dueling, true. And I’ll need all that resilience gear. I don’t know the first thing about the maps, the objectives, other people’s abilities, etc. Sounds rough. But why do I hate PvP? Maybe I’m not taking the right toon…”

I asked myself, “What is the most annoying class in BGs? Which one pisses me off the most? Which is the class everyone flocks to when being as OP as possible is the goal? What class is made for this environment?”

Hmmmmm….

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People say that you always become the thing you hate. They neglect to tell you, though, that it’s a lot of fun once you give up your scruples and fall to the shadows, hehe…/stealth

More later.

On Patch 5.1

So, it’s here.

And I find myself at a loss to say anything meaningful about the patch, other than to parrot my wife’s remark that Varian Wrynn makes a great pet, and that I’m happy those damned Lesser Charms are out of my bags and on a currency tab…

New gear, yeah. More dailies, fan-fucking-tastic. I’m really getting tired of the daily thing. I can see this being SOP for the rest of the expansion and beyond. Faction after faction, each one a new monster to feed, a new green bar to fill to get the next level of shinies. Although I do find the new Commendations to be a welcome change. My hunter should be up there with the Tillers and the Golden Lotus fairly quick-like.

Seriously, though, yay for soloable raids! Nerfed bosses and no group to get in, hallelujah! The hardest part is deciding where I want to go first, and on which toon. Could my 85 solo ICC? Could my 80 take down Nightbane for the cool shield? It’s going to be fun finding out.

To me, the most important part of any patch is class changes, and Bears got a doozy, a huge change to how we use Maul.

Notice I said Bears, not Guardians. I would prefer to use the term Feral, for that is what we are–feral. I was and am just as feral as any cat druid. “Guardian” makes me sound like I should be signing someone’s permission form before raid, just in case there’s an accident and Azuremyst Middle School doesn’t want to get sued because a gnome got eaten on the school trip to Gruul’s Lair.

It’s at this point that I’d like to point out that I in no way put myself up as an authority, a theorycrafter, or anyone who gets sexually aroused by a spreadsheet. There are many fine blogs out there that cater to those needs, and I’m happy to use them, just as you do. My “data” is observational and anecdotal. I’m a word person, which means numbers and I have a hate/hate relationship.

Some of you may remember that Maul used to be a nice filler attack, back when rage flowed like wine. I had it macroed to just about every attack on my bars. With the talent overhaul, Maul got pushed to the background. Suddenly, I had to use rage to stay alive with Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration. This meant that when I had generated a certain amount of rage, I had three choices about how to use it: more threat, SD, or FR.

I have to admit that I’ve only recently been making use of FR on a regular basis. I’m still in the mode that it is part of my oh-shit macro, only to be employed in the direst of situations. But it’s getting better. And it still makes me angry that bears have no way to significantly mitigate magic damage other than Barkskin and Survival Instincts, both of which have long enough cooldowns that bringing them into the rotation makes me worried. What if I need to time those for big damage later on? Will they be ready? Look at the abilities, and you’ll see that our bread-and-butter short cooldowns are mostly centered around physical damage, making swings miss or count for less damage. You’d be surprised, however, at how few raid bosses just hit the tank because they don’t know any magic.

Anyway, Maul costs 30 rage, which before 5.1 I would much rather have spent on a defensive cooldown, especially after it lost its threat bonus. After all, I can do much better with Swipe and Mangle. Post patch, a fourth option has been given to us. Using rage has become a minute-by-minute multiple choice exam…

Question 1: A raid boss boards a train in Honolulu and is bound for San Diego. He is moving at 88 MPH, and travels into the future to meet your raid 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, when everyone will actually show up. When the raid boss collides with you and you generate sufficient rage to use a defensive skill, you should _______________.

A. Spend a hefty 60 rage on FR to get back the health lost from that big hit
B. Spend 30 on Maul to make his next autoattack hit for less
C. Spend 60 on SD to get your dodge up
D. Use Barkskin/SI and hold off on the others until you “need them”.

You have .05 seconds to finish the exam.

Am I exaggerating? A little bit, but who wants to read the unadulterated facts all the time? How incredibly boring that would be. And by the way, my raid is quite good about being there on time…for the most part. I’m looking at you, Mash. Working, earning money, improving your quality of life and all that bullshit. Seriously fucked-up priorities, right?

I did some initial testing on all of this in LFR, and it pretty much panned out like I thought it would. Once I got stuck into a boss fight, I had plenty of rage, sometimes enough for both SD and Maul. But on trash I’d often find myself a bit rage starved, having to use it for a defensive (since nobody CCs) and coming up a bit short for threat generation.

Speaking of threat, both I and my warrior tanking buddy Blackbear have seen aggro issues since the patch. A guest paladin in raid this weekend was working his Salv button like it was earning him cash, and that’s not quite right, especially several minutes into the fight, when both of us had a good grip on the mobs. Maybe it’ll get sorted out in a hotfix, but I swear there’s some shenanigans going on–evil shenanigans. Patches are odd things; their inner workings baffle me. I remember a Wrath patch that broke Scarlet Monastery. How? HOW?! How can tinkering with current content affect a lowbie dungeon? Is WoW like Dunkin Donuts, made fresh every patch? It just doesn’t make sense…

Anyway, what do you think of the new patch? What do you like or not like? What odd things have you seen?

On Politics

Warning: the following editorial is from someone who knows jack shit about the way the country runs or the backgrounds of the candidates, and understands politics about as well as a sheep understands a microwave. The author is simply giving a view “from his front porch” as it were, and as such should be ignored like a toddler amused by his own farts.

So much is being made of politics at the moment that I felt uncharacteristically compelled for some reason to write about it. Over the past few weeks I’ve ventured into the dark cul-de-sacs of modern politics, to try to make sense of it all.

The two candidates, which I will henceforth refer to as “Obamney” for the sake of expedience, are to me just two rich guys, both groomed for the position, politicians to the core, and so removed from the daily reality of Joe and Jane Blow that they might as well be living on Mars. So why only two guys, other than the massive funding the words “Democrat” and “Republican” can conjure? I guess because Americans like choice but not too many choices. Republican or Democrat. Coke or Pepsi. Beatles or Elvis. Georgia or Georgia Tech. “Always two there are,” Yoda said, and I think he’s right.

People wail, “Obamney will destroy this country!” No, he won’t. He won’t. He can’t. No one President has the power to destroy the country. The smart men who put this thing together designed it that way. No President will willingly march the U.S. off a cliff. Why? Because history will remember, and no matter what any politician says, he or she wants to be remembered in a positive way. Also, with a much background checking as is done today, does anyone actually think that someone hell-bent on the nation’s demise will make it to the White House? Really?

And thus I wander on, looking at all of this activity and angst, fascinated by just how much this gets people stirred up.

I think its funny that people exhibit the same behaviors at rallies and vote counts that they do when at sporting events, cheering for their favorite team. A friend of mine was at a pro-Bama bar the nights the tallies came in, and the local Democratic Party leader actually grabbed an Obama sign, ran down to the Romney headquarters just down the sidewalk, and did a little dance with it in front of the building.

For some, politics is just another spectator sport, so pick a team, wear the colors, and let your spirit show. Or possibly worse, support a candidate because one’s family does. You know, because blind, unthinking democracy sounds like a safe path to a happier tomorrow.

You know what I’ve concluded? It really doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

Ultimately, for most of us, it’s no different than when we were peasants in the Dark Ages. Someone comes riding through the village shouting, “King Fleabeard is dead, long live King Cyril the Flaccid!”

You stop hoeing, look up from your turnip row, and watch the crier ride by. Then, you look back down and go right back to digging up those fucking turnips. And why?

Because this change means nothing to the day-to-day workings of your life, and probably never will, outside of extraordinary crap happening.

I view a President as a boulder dropped into the far side of a lake filled with rocks and sand bars. Yes, it makes a huge splash, but by the time the ripples get to me, they’ve been mediated and slowed so much by the obstacles that only a little of that momentum remains. The House, Senate, the Supreme Court, state government–these are those obstacles. I care more about a new supervisor than who will be in the White House because that has immediate and lasting impact. It’s all just too far away in the castle for a simple peasant to give more than a passing shit about.

Did I vote? No, I did not. A vote is a powerful thing, like a gun. Like politics, I don’t know how to use a gun, so in my untrained hands, both could cause a lot of trouble.

On Getting Older

The wife is sleeping, and Andy is supposed to be sleeping, but I just finished warning him for the second time to stop playing and lie down. Daylight savings got the best of all of us, I think. it’s really one hour too early for his nap, but he’s been particularly difficult today and we are glad to be shed of him for a little while.

If that makes me sound like a terrible parent, I’ve come to grips with this notion and determined that I am in all likelihood a truly ghastly father. I love how childless people turn into absolute Pharisees about that sort of statement–until they have a bipolar, attention-gobbling little tyrant of their own.

Now I’m on the couch and the cat is pawing at my arm, looking for some attention. Seems like everybody needs something in this house. I think I’m swinging into a low; I’m feeling broody, especially touchy, and in general dissatisfied with pretty much every facet of my life. She’s pawing my arm again, but I just don’t have the energy or inclination to make her go away.

What brought this on? A lot of things, but I think today is all about visiting my old college campus yesterday.

I was in town, and I thought that I should swing by. I haven’t really seen the campus in a long time. I think it’s been two or three years since I was last there. It was a lovely fall day, and I always think campuses look their best in fall colors. There seems to be a general consensus that college campuses are at their most romantic in the autumn. Why is that? Most of us come to college not in the fall, but in the spring of our lives, and I was no exception. Maybe it is because we look back on college during our autumn years, and everything is suffused with the golden glow of a past we barely remember correctly, enabling us to feel all warm and gooey about it. The present is baffling, the future is threatening, but the past, ah, is comforting.

So why the long face? I was struck by how much had changed, both at the campus and in myself.

My foot was and is sore from a walk day before yesterday, so I hobbled around campus in my jeans and Blizzard t-shirt, looking somewhat the part of a student but definitely not feeling it. My back teeth have been giving me trouble, and the dentist mentioned a bridge, a term I didn’t think I’d be hearing until much later on in life. There I was: sore foot, rotten teeth, aching back, revisiting the place where my body reached its peak. I saw some familiar sights, such as the arbor where I read the Melville poetry that seemed so very important at the time. The library was pretty much the same, as were the buildings on the original quad.

But I saw more change than comforting familiarity. Whole 3-story dorms were simply gone, replaced by a single stark cinderblock wall, surrounded by raw red clay and screaming orange safety netting. The casual ability we have today to simply erase buildings has always disturbed me. One of the 100-year-old admin buildings on the front drive disappeared one spring day back when I was a student, and I remember being startled that all that was left to mark its existence was a single copper pipe standing rootlike above the level, hay-covered soil, the tree to which it was connected ripped away by some unseen giant.

If I could put one big sign over the whole campus, it would read, “Pardon Our Progress”.

Other buildings seemingly sprouted out of the ground, three or four of them where I remember a parking lot or a cool, soft stretch of grass before. Other buildings had strange growths on them; the geology building seemed to have an attractive tumor on its eastern facade, the brickwork not even bothering to match the venerable color of its host organism. Trees had gotten taller or been erased; the scruffy little rock garden between the social sciences building and the library had utterly vanished, replaced by a strange tortoise shell construct of rocks in the ground, scribbled on by students with sidewalk chalk and a progressively diminishing ability to spell.

It was about this point, as I limped onward of the familiar sights of the old quad, that I realized that I didn’t feel as though I belonged there. I was an interloper, even though I was an alumnus, and both Uncle Sam and I had shelled out quite a bit of money to this institution. Maybe that’s what set off my mood; all around me was proof that the college I knew was going away, demolished and replaced, building by building. And I certainly wasn’t the same person I used to be. Married, a child, a teacher—I am quite literally everything I thought I would never be at my age. Son of a bitch, I never even conceived of my thirties when I was a student there! Both within and without was undeniable evidence that I was old, and was only getting older. So I limped off back to the car, past the familiar and foreign sights, feeling the sudden need to get back to where I now belong. That’s probably why I’m in such a state. Facing the loss of one’s youth can be a sobering look across the ever-deepening chasm between who one was and who one is…

Or maybe I just forgot to take my meds today. Yep, I did. Shit.

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?