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[Let's Build] Attractions in a demon pleasure palace that aren't sexual
My players are going to be visiting the palace of a demon lord of pleasure who's more CN than CE. I want to show that despite his title, he represents all forms of pleasure and good feelings, not just sex. Also space in his realm doesn't work the same way as it does in the mortal plane. He essentially has an infinite amount of space to work with and can customize it as he pleases, so there are no size constraints.
A casino to feel the thrill of gambling.
A dining hall with an endless buffet that visitors are allowed to eat as much as they wish.
An idyllic beach with perfectly white sand to relax or play on.
An arena where gladiators brawl it out against each other. The point of it isn't to kill each other as much as make the battles look stunning to the audience.
A hotel with the most comfortable beds possible. Here anyone with enough money can enjoy a good rest after all the excitement.
A beautiful and well tended garden filled with aromatic flowers and sweet fruits.
A vineyard where exquisitely-aged wine can be produced just by pressing the grapes. (u/_SovietMudkip_)
An opulent concert hall where the best musicians of the realms perform (u/_SovietMudkip_)
A small, cozy looking wooden library, with a cushioned bay window where rain gently scatters against the glass and a cup of some hot liquid gently rising with steam. (u/QuietOracle)
An owl-bear hugging zoo. Go to sleep in the embrace of their soft down. (u/QuietOracle)
The room of sensory experiences. The room itself is fairly plain, with the main feature being long tables running the length of the room. On closer inspection there are fist-sized carved holes, each one holding a small round crystal... (u/QuietOracle)
A room with dozens of sacks filled with beans, lentils and grains where visitors can put their hands in and let the contents run through their fingers. (u/_WhiteCubeCat_)
A hag (or any other long nailed creature) giving visitors a scalp massage. (u/_WhiteCubeCat_)
A museum of little-known or long-forgotten art pieces, sculptures, and history. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A festival full of colors, music, and drinks. Everyone seems to love you, and you can’t stop laughing. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A hallway of endless doors. In each room is someone you know, complimenting you endlessly, sharing every positive, even begrudgingly jealous thought they ever had about you. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A hot spring/spa, with fluffy towels, those showers that are like rain with perfect water pressure, mud baths, and refreshing food and drink. (u/lionesslindsey)
A room full of people that constantly give you validation and laugh at all your jokes. (u/CountryJeff)
Never-ending line of gold chalices, crystal vases, silver artwork, and other valuables. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
People who are “better” than you are marched in a stripped of their superior qualities. Beautiful people are disfigured and turned ugly. Wealthy powerful people are ruined and made to beg you for pennies. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
Mass groups of people enter the room and tell you how they admire you and how wonderful you are. They stroke your ego and inflate your pride. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
Servants do everything for you. Feed you, give you drinks, wash you, wipe your arse, etc. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
You are given a wickedly barbed leather whip. A slave creature is bound to a post and you can whip this creature to inflict your wrath upon them as much as you desire. If the poor soul dies, another is brought in to replace them. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
'Knight for a day'. The full experience; lance, shiny outfit, a squire, a trusty stead, a dragon and a princess/prince to rescue. (u/mr_earthman)
A magical version of a movie theatre, allowing you to watch all manner of stories, true and legendary. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
A moderately large pool where small battleships with tiny animated crewmen can be deployed in teams to shell and board each other for the audience's amusement. Honored guests can put their strategic abilities to a test against other players by directly giving orders to their ships, and in certain hours guests may even swim in the pool to live out the power fantasy of being a sea monster. (u/VIixIXine)
A colorizer-device that transforms any clothes/armoweapons/other gear to any desired hue you wish (as long as it doesn’t affect the workings of the gear) (u/PaigeOrion)
A grand screen, showing a nearly infinite number of (screen)plays from all space and time, including the show with the disgraced human paladin delivering a green baby gnome back to his home land through incredible odds. (u/PaigeOrion)
A tiara that allows you to experience the sensory experience of a black cat as long as you wear it and close your eyes. (u/PaigeOrion)
A plethora of small, multicolored blocks that will magically interlock with one another to render almost any architectural structure imaginable. (But don’t step on them barefoot!) (u/PaigeOrion)
A band of musicians who are the perfect musical backup for any performances. Alone, they are more low key, but no less skilled, playing haunting melodies of unknown origin. (u/PaigeOrion)
A massive walk-in closet where you can try in any clothes in any fashion you like. (u/Tezla44)
A "schadenfreude" theatre, with shows that rely on slapstick and cringe comedy. (u/Martinus_XIV)
A room designed to give you closure. When you enter this room, someone you loved and lost is there, sitting in a couch. The room feels vaguely familiar, but you can't place why. If Detect Magic is used, the room is full of magic (divination, transmutation, illusion) but the person seems like a normal person. You can chat with them for as long as you like. They behave just as you remember them, with the good and the bad. (u/ohsurenerd)
A theatre performing the most magnificent tragedies. When you watch the performance, you find yourself completely enraptured: you cheer when things go right, scream when something terrifying happens, and moan and weep at the inevitable horrible ending. When you leave, it feels like removing a backpack full of lead that you'd been carrying for so long you'd forgotten it was there. (u/ohsurenerd)
A room where there's a button, there's someone outside and it explains that if you enter there's a 50/50 chance of you dying or not, the room won't actually kill you and it's there just to make you feel the pleasure of near death experience. (u/SupremeGodDictator)
A massage parlor with the universes best staff pampering your every need as you receive the most relaxing massage of your life whether it be scalp, back, foot, full body, etc. Has the worlds fluffiest towels and robes to luxuriate in while you wait or if you simply want to sit in a comfy chair and enjoy your ache free muscles. (u/Blue_Mando)
An arena where you and your opponents heal near instantly, and you can fight endlessly (u/ellen-the-educator)
A reenactment of your greatest failures in life, but this time they turn into your greatest achievements. (u/CountryJeff)
A room with the world's finest works of art.... and a myriad of implements you can use to destroy them. (u/redrosebeetle)
A torture chamber with mages on hand to create illusions of the people you wish to torture. Or increasingly realistic versions of them, depending on the level of magic you wish to implement. (u/redrosebeetle)
A room full of gold and jewels you can roll around in, ala Scrooge McDuck. But woe betide anyone who tries to take a souvenir.... (u/redrosebeetle)
As you're walking through the gardens, a person comes up to you. They introduce themselves as an adventurer who's also here on a quest. They seem to be the same class as you, and they're incredibly attractive-- almost exactly your type. You immediately click and end up spending the day together, talking about everything and anything. You tell them things you've never told anyone else before. They understand everything you tell them, almost innately, but they're still impressed by your feats and your stories. The two of you find an empty bedroom and close the door behind you. It's perfect in its imperfections. In the morning they're gone. No matter where you look, you can't find them. (u/ohsurenerd)
A room lined with shelves and shelves of bottles and vials containing a crimson liquid flowing slowly (like a syrup), all with small labels on them. As you inspect the labels, you realize they've all got names on them: famous adventurers, kings and queens, great sages. If you drink one, you experience a selection of their memories as they experienced them: battles won, discoveries made, historical alliances and friendships being forged or broken... (u/ohsurenerd)
A room that turns anyone that enters it into a child. It is full of every toy imaginable (u/arual_x)
A tour of a chocolate factory. Kobolds work there, and the owner, who gives the tour, is a Metallic Dragon in Humanoid form. (u/arual_x)
A fortune teller who has a Deck of Many Things with only the good cards. If you in any way offend them, they will sleight of hand vs perception check slip you a bad card instead. (u/arual_x)
An island theme park of reanimated dinosaurs. The owner is a level 20 Necromancer called Hamm Johnand. (u/arual_x)
A Virtual Reality style game that allows you to battle horrible monsters over and over again without risk of injury physical. But still allows you to gain XP... (u/arual_x)
A perfect expanse of thick snowy ground. There is constantly a snowball fight going on. (u/arual_x)
A giant room full of mattresses where everyone immediately gets a wonderful massage. (u/Revanclaw-and-memes)
A room full of gold and exquisite things, from beautiful furniture to magic weapons (u/Revanclaw-and-memes)
A seemingly endless room where adventurers can drink a potion to grow wings and flit about to their hearts' delight (u/iriedashur)
An ordinary classroom containing the adventurer's childhood friends, enemies, and their most hated teacher. Upon entering the room, the adventurer discovers that they are invisible, and free to pull pranks as they wish (u/iriedashur)
A brightly colored room piled high with wrapped gifts, large and small, for the adventurers to open endlessly (u/iriedashur)
A purple and black dragon named Ace who cooks you garlic bread and cake. (u/sanorace)
A magic pair of goggles/glasses that simulate any “What if” question you pose to them. (u/lewiscann)
A magical weather room where you can ask for any weather for your pleasure (I love listening to rain) (u/lewiscann)
A room full of lounges with a floating slow burning piece of wood that warms the whole area, the piece of wood is so large you can see the flame spread through this piece of wood forever (u/lewiscann)
A room where you can bite your fingernails and they grow back instantly ( so you can bite them some more )(u/razenastie)
A room with incredibly weakened versions of powerful monsters. (u/Your_InsideMan)
A heist simulator where you always get away with the big diamond, chest, etc (thrill of theft) (u/reallyenjoyscarbs)
A sauna room with a central pillar. Inside the pillar is a chamber containing a magic stone which can detect the exact temperature preferences of those inside, and making each person feel said preference. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
An oval-shaped room with countless glass lotion bottles, with each smelling better than the last. If you look for a specific scent (no matter how rare), you'll certainly find it with the help of a goblin near the back of the room. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
A room that consists of A bunch of mortals so utterly jaded from years of plesure seeking that they need the hardest of drugs and the wildest of sensations to feel anything,with lesser demons feeding on their pursuit of euphoria. Think the emperors children from warhammer 40k. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
A buffet of the lids of yogurt/pudding cups to lick. (u/Hunter37594)
An olfactory room that reads your memories and replicates smells that remind you of your most joyous moments. (u/lecorbusianus)
A wildlife reserve for Druids to find new and exotic wild shapes. (u/lecorbusianus)
A room with musical instruments that you're able to master immediately. (u/lecorbusianus)
A room with a creature in a dark robe sitting at a table covered in maps and dice. He helps you play a strange game where you and your party make up characters that go on adventures while the robed creature acts as all of the other characters and determines new events. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
Artist:Joji Album:Nectar Label: 88Rising Release Date: September 25, 2020 Listen: Spotify Apple Music YouTube Music Deezer Soundcloud Background Not many artists have had a come-up as interesting and eccentric as George Kusunoki Miller, a former YouTube comedian/edgelord turned moody R&B singer. George first got his taste of internet fame as FilthyFrank, a character he described as everything a person should not be, he played the notorious persona on YouTube for over 6 years and eventually had to retire it due to him losing passion for it and suffering from stress induced seizures, which playing the character often caused. Throughout his time as FilthyFrank however he began experimenting with music, mostly of the satirical kind at the start, his first tracks were under the FilthyFrank persona, the first one being Who's The Sucker, a dumb track where he somehow manages to rhyme "nicer" with "vagina", go figure. A few years later, alongside the satirical rap, Joji began to make what he would consider as serious music, and this is where the timeline gets a bit messy, as he put out multiple tracks under multiple different aliases and the lines got blurred pretty fast, so I won't focus on aliases too much, but rather on the music he put out, around this era he released the therapeutical Medicine, the slow and melancholy We Fall Again, and Dumplings, which was Joji's best attempt at a trap banger. In 2015, he birthed the Joji alias, released two singles on Soundcloud under that name, and announced a project called Chloe Burbank Vol. 1, the project was later scrapped and is probably sitting on Joji's hard drive, unfinished, however, the two singles he put out, thom and you suck charlie, were the tracks that put him in the spotlight, not to mention that to this day, there are some of his fans that believe these 2 tracks are his best and will not be topped, but that's a discussion for another day. Following the overwhelmingly positive reception, Joji began to put out more tracks and singles, both under the aforementioned alias and Pink Guy, which was a character that blossomed into a satirical rap project, but I won't be covering that too much, and will focus on what he did as Joji instead, most tracks Joji put out were met with positive reception, some of the tracks, such as worldstar money, ended up on his debut EP as well. Sometime around early 2016, Joji ended up signing with 88rising, a label focused on building the bridge between east and west, he explained in an interview that he was initially a consultant for the duo behind the record label, however, once the duo noticed his music and how well it was received, they asked him to jump on board and he instantly took the chance, getting signed alongside the likes of Rich Brian and Higher Brothers. The label immediately undertook Joji and began distributing his catalog on their YouTube channel and helped him release more music, which was a couple of singles in the earlier half of 2017, and his debut EP in the latter half, the EP, known as "In Tongues", was met with mixed reception from fans and critics alike, with some describing it as his most concise body of work so far that is oozing potential, and others describing it as a bleak project that fails to set Joji apart from the sea of artists on the same wavelength as himself. Following the release of the EP, Joji began working on his debut album, known as BALLADS 1, the album's first single, YEAH RIGHT, was released on the 8th of May, the track was first believed to be a standalone loosie as it was released 5 months before the album itself, however it ended up being on the album and was confirmed as the one of the singles alongside SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK, CAN'T GET OVER YOU, which features a production credit from non other than Clams Casino, and TEST DRIVE. The album was well received, and was praised for containing a wider variety of sounds than its predecessor, it felt like a natural progression for Joji's sound and was a step forward towards a more mainstream approach whilst not sacrificing any of the rawness that Joji's older stuff had, which seemed to be what most fans were expecting from him. Moving forward Joji stayed mostly silent throughout 2019, appearing on the second 88Rising collaboration album, which was negatively received due to it's lack of creativity and sub-par performances from most label signees, he also appeared on Rich Brian's sophomore album, The Sailor, and released which is now known to be as the first single from Nectar, Sanctuary, a synth based poppy track that previewed a vocally improved and more confident version of Joji. What was assumed to be a loosie turned out to be the beginning of an album rollout, as half a year later Joji released Run, setting a new standard for himself both instrumentally and vocally, and a couple of months later he released Gimme Love, a double sided track with a fun, catchy beginning and a melancholy ballad driven ending, the last single, Daylight, was released on the 8th of August, the instrumental was produced by Diplo and the track itself sounded like Joji's attempt to break into the mainstream. Without warning, he also released two tracks that he classified as "NOT SONG", the first being Pretty Boy, which actually ended up on the album with a Lil Yachty feature, and the second being FTC, which sadly did not end up on the album, both tracks had videos and it seemed to me at first that the purpose of both tracks was to serve the lore that Joji has built around the album, which I will be touching up on in this write-up. A day before the album's release, he put out Gimme Cum, an enigmatic track with a mysterious message. Nectar itself was pushed back from it's original July release date due to the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, the album however was released on the 25th of September. Album Lore If there's one thing George is no stranger to, it would definitely be worldbuilding, as he has proven time and time again that he has a knack for it, especially with his FilthyFrank YouTube channel, where he managed to create characters, locations, and an entire universe out of a few satirical characters, his lore was adored by many and even though visually he never wrapped up the story he did release a book that served as closure for the FilthyFrank lore. This album's lore is not as straight forward however, and there are multiple theories doing the rounds on the internet, personally I will go by what sounded most convincing to me in terms of timeline and storyline, however do feel free to expand on what I've said or correct me, George has left multiple things left open to interpretation therefore I would not be surprised if there were multiple different meanings to the same thing. Our story begins in the music video for Gimme Love, where we see a young Joji who appears to be a small time engineer that is eager to climb through the ranks of the company he is working for, as he rises however he appears to become more stressed out and agitated at all times, lashing out at his coworkers and breaking down consistently, throughout the music video we can see that the more he progresses, the more roadblocks he runs into, which causes his behavior to become more psychotic and manic, as the shots move forward we see him accept awards, lead his very own research team, run failed experiments on his coworkers that causes them to bleed, and eventually receive military covert status, which did not come without sacrifices, as we see him smile less and less throughout the video. In the second half of the video, we see Joji steal the rocket he helped build by locking out his crew members, and launch himself into space, disappointing everyone he worked with and stabbing them in the back he appears to be quite happy however, eventually his mood flips as he is faced with two choices, engage or eject, the following shot does not allow us to see which one he picked as we are facing his back, all we see is Joji making the choice and gearing up for what's to come. The lines get blurred around this spot and many people have different theories as to which video is the right one chronologically, personally I believe Daylight comes next, and my theory is Joji is having some sort of fever dream featuring his previous coworkers, most notably the older people who went through layers of plastic surgery, who appear in the music video for FTC, where they are seen wearing badges that features the same organization Joji worked for, throughout the video they are seen rummaging through the wreckage caused by Joji, clearly looking for something specific, which ends up being the award Joji won. Back to Daylight, Joji appears to be some sort of intern working for the director and the actors, towards the end of the music video we can see Joji waking up from the aforementioned fever dream, clearly in a daze, as the shot widens we see that he is alone, in a barren wasteland, with nothing around him except for a tent and what appears to be a device used for communication, he plants a few seeds in the soil and sits by the device, hoping for a sign of life. Next comes Run, where we are once again met with Joji having a nightmare, the entire video symbolizes being trapped in a place you don't want to be in, as Joji appears to be in a never ending limousine with people he has no interest in whatsoever, towards the end of the nightmare we actually see Joji running across a massive wasteland, the same wasteland we saw him in at the end of the Daylight music video, throughout the video, we see Joji become consumed by the soil itself, which I would assume is a representation of his fears back then, seeing as he was alone and had little to no hope of being saved whatsoever. Joji wakes up from this nightmare and appears to be in some kind of spaceship, if the videos were released chronologically, we would be completely lost at this point, lucky for us, we already know what the spaceship is, as we see a picture of the Sanctuary crew in the final shots of the Run music video, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the crew is the ones that saved him from death and picked him up from the mess that he placed himself in, hence the name Sanctuary, which means refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger The crew itself is seen in action in the music video for Sanctuary, where Joji appears to be fighting and defeating some sort of one-eyed alien supervillain at the start, however, once he is defeated, both Joji and the crew themselves become aimless, as they are living monotonously without a goal, thankfully(???), one of the crew members sees this and decides to take matters into his own hands, by surgically removing his own eye, which portrays his transformation into the new supervillain, and following this up by killing a crewmember and escaping on his own, once again giving the spaceship it's own purpose. Unfortunately the music videos that were put out after the release of the album appear to be too subtle for me to think they are connected in any way, shape or form, there are many theories of course but I can't help but feel like that most of them are a reach. The most plausible explanation for this lore that I can think of is that the whole escaping from earth on his own, landing in a barren wasteland, trying to plant seeds in it, and eventually being picked up by a group(88Rising, wink wink) is a metaphor for his transition from FilthyFrank to Joji, the barren wasteland stands for how hopeless he felt at the time and the seeds symbolize the loosies he was slowly dropping before ditching his channel to become an R&B superstar, which if true, solidifies the idea that George was done with FilthyFrank long before he actually left the channel itself. Regardless, I thought the lore was very enjoyable and it was nice to see Joji back in one of his elements at least, most fans would have been disappointed in me if I had not touched up on it a bit seeing as it was a huge part of the albums release and they are intertwined in some sort of way. Review
When it's lovely I believe in anything What does love mean When the end is rolling in
It is important for me to preface this review with the fact that this Joji album is not like anything we've ever heard from him before, this is not the one man army, garageband using, sample meshing Joji that we knew in the past, this is Joji with an entire team behind his artistic vision, a whole group of people working with him to help him push his sound to the next level, and unfortunately, while the quality of the music has clearly went up, when so many people have their own input on something eventually the lines get blurred and the album loses its artistic direction and cohesion, which is one of my only complaints with this album, and I'm glad I got it out of the way first. Artistic direction and cohesion aside, this album contains some of Joji's highest highs to date, especially the singles, that's not to say that there aren't some deep cuts on here that shine as well, but once you listen to the album in it's entirety you quickly understand why the singles were chosen as singles, especially when you consider how sonically different they are from the non-singles. Sanctuary, the album's first single, is a sweet, poppy and synthy track that features a high pitched and melodic Joji, some of the track's lyrics are somewhat abstract but they are quite visually descriptive and that's always a plus in my book, the instrumental itself is quite spacey and has a nice retro vibe to it, already a huge step forward from what we've already heard from George, the track's climax reaches towards the end and gives us a beautiful bridge,with Joji crooning about wanting to be held by a significant other.
I fell for your magic, I tasted your skin And though this is tragic, at least I found the end I witnessed your madness, you shed light on my sins And if we share in this sadness, then where have you been?
Run is one of the more cinematic cuts on this album, the track is truly a double edged sword because although it's one of Joji's best, it has set an extremely high standard for both Joji and the album, leaving fans such as myself worried about whether or not he will ever reach a similar high, the production is clean, Joji's vocal lines are as dynamic as ever, the guitar melody is infectious, the lyrics are better than anything Joji has ever written and he is putting his heart and soul into every word, the electric guitar solo at the end is also something worth mentioning, which sits perfectly right in front of Joji's distant and wide vocals, ending the track on a strong note.
Look into your heart and let me know Do things turn black and gray as they go? When I'm far too gone, can you show me love? Give me love
The lyrics above come from the album's third single, a 2 sided track that starts as a bouncy, percussive, fast paced, and catchy song, with Joji chanting and pleading to be given love, softly singing about being surrounded by apathetic people, after the second chorus the entire song comes to a halt in order to make room for a mellow guitar and Joji's harmonies, which are absolutely stunning if I may add, the track, much like many other tracks on here, ends on a cinematic strong note with a string section and a grandiose piano. The final single, Daylight, is no doubt unexplored territory for Joji, the instrumental, which was produced by Diplo, starts off slow and minimalistic, with a simple yet groovy bassline, and reaches its apex on the chorus, when it suddenly becomes extremely lush, heavy, and thick, the track is most definitely a solid attempt at modern day and mainstream pop music, clearly made with the intention of receiving radio play. All of the singles show up in the first leg of the album, which is absolutely phenomenal, the opener track, Ew, starts off light and easy, with a somber and distant arpeggiated piano backed with Joji's soft vocals, who's singing about heartbreak and the loss of many relationships, sounding as bitter as ever lyrically, the chorus includes a grand string section and a chord progression that is fully panned to the right and sitting all the way behind the mix, and surprise surprise, the track itself ends on a cinematic strong note, much like many of the other tracks on here.
I've got no aim, a million rounds, is nothing real? A hundred pounds of heavy steel, it feels so loud Tied to my chest, it feels so loud I'll take a peek to across the peaks This grass is neat and I'm quite unique But I'd like to be, but I'd like to be
Up next comes MODUS, a moody track that has an intro similar to the opener track but later on has Joji melodic rapping to a murky trap instrumental, with Joji of course sounding better than ever, lyrically speaking, many of the themes on this album are similar, Joji is mostly singing about relationships, heartbreak, and the need for a significant other, the lyrics themselves give the album a nocturnal, bitter, hopeless vibe, which is what we've come to expect from Joji's music nowadays. The third track, Tick Tock, is a plucky banger of an instrumental that has Joji rapping over it with pitched up vocals on the chorus which is something that's a little bit reminiscent of his older, more amateur work, the vocal layering on the verse is also something worth mentioning, really showcases Joji's dynamic range and how much he improved as a whole, the track is nothing groundbreaking in terms of what we've heard so far and remains lowkey for the most part but is without a doubt one of my favorites on this project.
On Nectar, one of the yet-to-be-announced tracks was produced when the artist was only sixteen years old. “I’m excited to see if it sticks out or not to the listeners.” he reveals.
Joji Interview with Schön! Magazine.
While not officially announced by Joji himself, it is safe to say that Upgrade is the aforementioned track, a small interlude that seats itself in the earlier part of the album, the track starts with a grandiose piano, which is quite unnecessary if you ask me, because once we have it out of the way all we get is a very obviously barebones instrumental made from a different time, the telltale sign being non other than the ukulele that we have seen in George's earlier work. It upsets me that Joji has not made this fact much more known because this track has been consistently the subject of criticism by critics and fans alike, but at the same time I understand, because at the end of the day George left that track in there for the die hard fans, not the critics. Up until this point there is no doubt that Joji has played it safe, sure the album is much more grand and cinematic than its predecessor, but there's no denying that the signature sound is still there, we still get the hazy and moody slow bangers, if Nectar was only the first half then Joji might have had a strong album in his catalog, maybe even a classic, but I understand him wanting to expand and experiment with other sounds in order to grow as an artist. The midsection gets a little bit tricky, as Joji begins to get out of his comfort zone and the album features start appearing, to me it sounds like Joji did not know how he could keep the listener interested in the second half of this album and decided to opt in for a bunch of features as a quick fix, some work out fine, some better than others.
Handsome young man, never pull up on time Lookin' in the mirror, lookin' good should be a crime, crime All this pain I'll never let show (No) My real thoughts, you'll never know (No)
Lil Yachty on Pretty Boy
I never really listened to Lil Yachty that much aside from the obvious hits he had over the course of his career, but he clearly shined on this track as the feature, for starters, the track is very light-hearted, definitely one of the more lofi tracks on this album, the highlight for me without a doubt is the bridge, which sounds like something straight out of Pink Season, George was clearly having genuine fun with it, some even speculate that most of the bridge was made using samples from his earlier work as Pink Guy. High Hopes, which features Omar Apollo, is one of the more lowkey cuts in here as well, the percussion on the instrumental and the detuned guitar on here remind me of some of Joji's stuff from BALLADS 1, unfortunately however the track doesn't stand out much, at least not as much as Afterthought with BENEE, another track where Joji's melodies and vocals shine through once again, and BENEE's feature definitely adds some character to the track, at least enough to the point where the feature made some sense On Normal People, Joji recruits childhood friend rei brown, in an attempt to capture lightning again after their first collaboration, Once In A While. Unfortunately lightning didn't strike twice here for me and the track felt quite lackluster and uninteresting, especially for such an anticipated track and when compared to their first song, many of the tracks and collaborations on the second part of the album really felt like Joji just trying to recapture the magic of his earlier work, and while some of those attempts did work at the end of the day it does feel like a cheap cop out.
Oh, understand, girl, I'm out of sight To the other side, I don't want no stripes Got my insides loud like motorcycles Girl, don't notice it, I don't notice it
Another example of Joji attempting to recapture magic is NITROUS, which marks Joji's second time collaborating with Clams Casino, the track is very reminiscent of their first track together, both Joji and Clams Casino however killed it, the track's instrumental is very murky and nocturnal, much alike most of the album, but that doesn't stop Joji's delivery, which is very fun-loving and upbeat.
By the way you move, I know you want me to Tell you all the rules, I know I'm searching too Give me all your clues and things to guide me through The end of the world, the end of the world
Produced by the one and only Kenneth Instrumentals, Mr. Hollywood is one of the more heartfelt and personal tracks on this album, Joji is singing about his evergrowing popularity and how it will never affect what is important for him, which in this case is the girl he's singing about, like many other tracks on this album, you will often hear something that will remind you of Joji's older work, in this case it is the ad-libs on the chorus, which are very reminiscent of his ad-libs on BESIDJU, regardless the song has at least a bit of substance which makes it one of the more commendable tracks. The final run of this album is where Joji flips the script here, there are a few tracks that have questionable artistic decisions, such as Reanimator, with non other than Yves Tumor, the track serves as an instrumental interlude before the final two tracks, however with a feature such as Yves Tumor I honestly expected much more than what we got, and what we got is basically a 3 minute track, with the first minute and a half being nothing than a drone-y, synthy instrumental, and the second half being quite a lackluster performance by Joji and his guest, much like some of the other tracks on the album, it seems like it received a similar treatment, where the track was initially unfinished and still half-baked, and rather than attempting to finish the track they opted for an easy way out, which in this case was making more than half of the track an instrumental and then calling it an interlude just to be safe.
"that weeknd synthpop track sure is doing huge numbers, maybe i should also make a synthpop track as well"
I would be down to argue that if Blinding Lights by The Weeknd had not existed, 777 wouldn't have existed either, Joji's constant attempts at breaking into the mainstream and commercializing his sound have always left a bad taste in my mouth as it felt like it came from a place where authenticity is lacking, nevertheless I find it bizarre to make a track that is very similar to one of the most successful tracks of the year and not attempt to push it at all, that's not to say that 777 on it's own is not a good track, however there's no denying that the sound selection on the instrumental, some of the flows, and the chorus itself hold blaring similarities to The Weeknd's track, I understand why he would make such a track however and find it admirable at the very least. Thankfully, the album ends on a strong note, the final two tracks are both beautiful even though they're worlds apart, Like You Do, is a quintessential love ballad from Joji, a stripped down instrumental with beautiful piano chords and a laid back vibe, Joji is singing about his current partner and how what they have might not work out, even though he feels like they're perfect for one another, the closing track, Your Man is a massive change in tempo, with an upbeat, electronic, deep house-esque instrumental, we hear a Joji that is optimistic, which is a nice change of pace, especially considering how bitter most of his albums and projects have been up to date.
Since I met you All the gloomy days just seem to shine a little more brightly Consider what we've got 'Cause I can never take you for granted
Like You Do
Conclusion There's no denying that some tracks on here sound like a bastardized version of Joji's signature sound. Joji is trying his best to commercialize his sound without sacrificing the rawer elements of it, which unfortunately results in a jumble of sounds. This album is not free of criticisms as there are many issues in here that need to be worked on, it's much less cohesive than its predecessor and at times sounds like a bunch of rough ideas put together in order to create the world's most average musical equivalent of a photo collage, but if we were to just set all of that aside and just look at this album for what it is, then there's definitely something in here for everyone. George might have not made a classic, and he certainly hasn't found his sound yet, but this album is an indicator that he's on to something, and once again I am already anxious to hear what he has in store next. Talking Points
What did you think of this album? Is it a good follow-up to BALLADS 1?
Do you think Joji works better alone or when he has a team behind him?
Do you think Joji will yet again set another high standard for himself next project?
What are your predictions for Joji's sound in the future?
Now that he's more keen on having features, who do you think would compliment Joji's sound the most?
I am going through a bit of nostalgia, back when I use to play I had a sweet account with so much furni and just all around awesome stuff after spending hundreds of dollars on the voucher cards lol. I use to play from the early 2000s up until my account was sadly hacked. I vaguely remember rooms made by people but, Does anyone remember or even have screenshots of a player who use to run A LOT of rooms? I remember his name was literally “A” he had a bunch of trade and casino rooms but he also had many different themed rooms, a daycare room as an example.
Since we are all throwing out new formats, how about a new Commander variant? Ante Up.
The rules are pretty simple, but they are easy enough to make sure you lose your friends. It's a variant of EDH, so a lot of the same rules apply:
Life total starts at 40
Color identity applies (except for ante cards)
Commander damage is 21, with one more rule that is different
Same banlist as the Rules Committee for EDH, except for the ante cards.
All the Ante cards are unbanned. You may choose to run any ante card in any deck, regardless of the color identity of your commander. You still have to pay the costs associated with that card however.
At the beginning of the game, everyone antes up the top card of their deck as they did in the old days. Winner of the 4-player pod gets all the cards.
If you kill someone with commander damage at exactly 21 damage and say, "Blackjack" as you do so, the person you killed gives you the possession of their ante'd card immediately, and that card does not end up going to the winner of the pod. If you end up losing, you can replace your own ante'd card with the blackjack card.
There is no commander tax. However, every time you cast your commander beyond the first time (think of it as the free buffet at the casino), you have to ante up another card. If you are playing with partner, only the first partner you cast is free. Beyond that? You have to raise the bet.
Also, I guess we add a "Know When to Fold'em" Clause. You can concede at sorcery speed to keep any card you ante'd up, as long as you ante up two more cards to replace the one you want to keep.
You have to play Kenny Rodgers as you play, or that sweet theme from Persona 5 where it's in the casino palace. That, or you can play the Casino Zone theme from Sonic.
Make sure to pay Ante Up with all your closest friends! If it's not clear, no, I do not want Ante Up to be a new format, just poking fun at the fact that there is a new format every other day. Anyways, keep posted, because I will be creating another much needed and much asked for format within the next month. It will be something that is going to be innovative. Truly. Remember folks, its time for you too, to post your own brand new formats!
I would say that I'm relatively new to Reddit and the one thing that surprised me is the number of people that still play on Bovada, Ignition, Betonline, MyBookie, etc. Don't get me wrong, great sites for sports betting and poker, but absolutely horrendous when it comes to slots and live casino games. Hitting 1,000x on a slot on Bovada is like a once in a lifetime achievement and the live dealer provider is... awful. Over the past month or so, I have seen this Reddit flooded with random users promoting a bunch of shitty no-name crypto casinos that have been around for like 3 days. So I figured it was my duty, as somebody who has no ownership interests in any of these online crypto casinos, to share my thoughts regarding the ones that I believe are trustworthy. All of which is based on first-hand experience and countless hours of research. First off, for those who aren't familiar with crypto casinos, the one thing that you need to know, as an American, is that you'll need to access these sites via a VPN. Personally, I use ExpressVPN and connect to Canada (or various other regions depending on which slot provider is available). The nice thing about ExpressVPN is that you can download the app and play on your phone. All of the casinos listed below allow VPN usage. Apparently NordVPN is pretty good too, but I cannot vouch for them personally. Second thing, KYC is not required. Honestly haven't looked into this too much, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that KYC is not required in order to register or withdraw funds. All you have to do is confirm your email address. Some people have said you get KYC'd if you try to withdraw more than $2k, but again, I can confirm that it's not true (specifically for the casinos listed below). Just make sure that you only deposit/withdraw via crypto and you'll be fine. If you think this is sketchy, then please, continue making your credit card deposits at Bovada to random shell companies based out of China. Also, DO NOT USE COINBASE TO TRANSFER TO AND FROM THE CASINO. They banned me. It hurt. Don't make the same mistake. I recommend using BRD as an intermediary between Coinbase and the casino. Since being banned from Coinbase, I have been using crypto.com to buy and sell crypto. Nothing but good things to say thus far. Finally, I have wagered roughly $3.5MM in total across the sites below and have spent countless hours researching them, so I'd like to think that I somewhat know what I'm talking about. In no way am I an expert and in no way am I a high roller or a whale. Just a regular guy that enjoys gambling. Now the common theme amongst the below casinos is that you have access to game providers such as Evolution (live games), Pragmatic, NetEnt, Thunderkick, Push, etc. that you'll never find on the casinos advertised as available to US players (such as Bovada). As I'm sure you know, Betsoft slots can get old after a while. Just a few of my personal favorite games that I recommend you check out... Live Games: Crazy Time, Monopoly, Evolution Blackjack and Evolution Speed Baccarat Slots: Dead or Alive 2, Money Train 2, Lil' Devil, Sweet Bonanza and The Dog House Site #1: Roobet.com (Best for casual gamblers) What I like: Instant withdrawals, huge selection of slots and live games, generous rakeback system, instant bitcoin deposits (they will credit your account before receiving any confirmations-- this is really nice), every so often they'll run a 24 hour promotion where if you hit 100x on slot betting at least $1 you'll be "King Roo" (basically King of the Hill) and accumulate ~$20 per minute until you're dethroned What I don't like: Rakeback system only allows you to collect every 24 hrs/1 week/1 month, no clarity surrounding VIP status (assuming you need to be a whale), there was one instance where I won $36k on a $40 bet playing Reactoonz and was told I can only withdraw $10k per day (this was 6 months ago and never had an issue withdrawing since), lack of sports betting My largest withdrawal (at once): $9.9k Deposit/Withdrawal Methods: BTC, ETH Referral link to enable rakeback system without having to wager a shitload: https://roobet.com/?ref=hkgambler13 (you can also use code "hkgambler13") Site #2: Stake.com (Best for medium-high rollers) What I like: Instant withdrawals, huge selection of slots and live games, incredible VIP and rakeback system (weekly/monthly bonuses, rakeback can be claimed whenever, daily/monthly challenges to earn extra cash), active and friendly chat community, multiple crytpo deposit options where your account is credited in that currency (meaning your balance equivalent in USD will swing with the market-- could be seen as a con), enjoyable "Stake Original" games that have a higher RTP than 3rd party slots, averages ~2k users online at any given time What I don't like: Can be overwhelming for first time players (Roobet is much more straight forward and easy to use) My largest withdrawal: $13.2k Deposit/Withdrawal Methods: BTC, ETH, LTC, DOGE, BCH, XRP (highly recommend-- cheap transfer fee, if any at all, and confirmed within seconds), TRX, EOS Referral link to instantly enable 10% rakeback: https://stake.com/?c=6c2f1c60 Site #3: Gamdom.com (Best for gamers) What I like: Instant withdrawals, huge selection of slots and live games, newly implemented rakeback system, constant "rains" in the chat (which is free money if you join in time), ability to instantly deposit and withdraw via Rust and TF2 items (could spend an hour talking about this-- generally caters to those who cannot get crypto or have to use a CC to buy crypto), averages ~1.5k users online at any given time What I don't like: Prior to the newly implemented rakeback system rains and level-up chests were the only "rakeback", your balance is denominated in coins (1500 coins = $1 USD), browsing through their slot selection can be a pain in the ass My largest withdrawal (at once): $7.4k Deposit/Withdrawal Methods: BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC Referral link to receive a free chest that could be worth up to ~$53: https://gamdom.com/chase (you can also use code "chase") Final parting words: PLEASE DO NOT GAMBLE WITH MONEY THAT YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE. Gambling is not a money making method and you will lose in the long run. The purpose of my post is to make those aware that other trustworthy online casinos are available for Americans that will (hopefully) make gambling online a bit more enjoyable!
Ok It's Time for my...Annual *Pre-Burning Man Rant and Predictions!!
Ok It's Time for my . . . Annual Pre-Burning Man Rant and Predictions!!! After 22+ years of attendance, I have watched this festival go from what was described by Wired Magazine in 1997 as, "what the internet would be like if it was happening in reality" to 2020 where, "What? In reality, this festival is happening on the internet" ?!? What a serious head fuck . . . So strap in or strap on and get ready for disappointment . . . like virtually everything in this virtual world right now. Here goes this year's Virtual Rant! PREDICTIONS The Virtual Burn is going the be everything you think it could be . . . an underwhelming and depressing reminder that you are not going the real Burning Man this year. While it is still better than nothing, nothing is an extremely low bar. Get ready for a clusterfuck of 8 separately-produced interpretive video game dreamscapes, made by skilled teams of programmers eager to prove that their world-building technology will be able to make future financial investors a shitload of money. Burning Man 2021 is a 50/50 chance at best. 2022 is not looking that great either. Between The Org burning cash on side projects, the FEDs wanting to crack down hard and the Bureau of Land Management clearly pretty fucking stoked that they did not have to deal with the whole shitshow this year, it's going to be an uphill battle for the festival to return. Huge changes will need to be made. Those few gluttons for punishment who do decide to go to the playa this week will be treated to Burning Man without the Burning Man Experience. It will take all the hard work, organization and preparation for survival in the middle of a harsh desert environment for a week of Burning Man . . . just without the Burning Man. If there is one silver lining of the event not happening this year, it's the fact that I don't have to pack up my dust covered Burning Man bullshit from last year, drive 19 hours, then have to smuggle drugs inside my ass to make it past the BLM rangers just go camping in one of the most fucking miserable and inhospitable places on earth. Without Shirtcockers, Megaphones and Massive Thumping Soundsystems, it's just a bogus camping trip in bad weather with a shitload of cops. This year we will NOT be seeing the usual post-Burn MASSSIVE FLOOD of social media posts from Burners who lost their nice $60 water bottle/container somewhere on the playa, often accompanied by a story of why this particular water container was of importance because it has a strap on it, followed by a brief description of unique camps stickers on it and a photo of said missing water bottle/container. In fact, while we are starting to think about cutting costs -- How about lost and found stops giving a fuck about your overpriced water bottle. You lost it, Becky . . . let it go. You spent 20 times More Money on Cocaine for the week than the price of your fucking stoopid-Smart-Bottle-container. THE VIRTUAL BURN This year’s Virtual Burn brings about more questions than it does answers. How will Shirtcockers express their hatred of pants without a Burning Man? In a virtual world, they become no different than unsolicited dick pics. How will Artcar Owners be able to swing their metaphorical dicks around without their Artcars booming Deep House music to show the world their girth. Sure, you can build one in the Minecraft world for this years Burn . . .But lets face it: No one is gonna be like "Who did that 3D CAD drawing, I totally wanna fuck them!" What will all the Assholes with Megaphones do without Burners to heckle? Without handheld amplified audio devices and wide-open spaces, they become no different than Internet Trolls. How will Hippies on a Vision Quest be able find their spirit animal online? Without a guided shamanic ritual and Temple to burn, they become no different than someone playing Animal Crossing. If there is no moop or trash to clean up in a virtual Burning Man how can Moop-shamers be able to prove to campmates and others that they are better at "doing Burning Man " than everyone else? In a virtual world they become no different than a Sarah McLaughlin Green Peace commercial. How will Dooshbonnets and Dooshbags be able to gain followers on Instagram without the giant Robot Heart to climb? How can they show the world that they not only have braved the pool of Piranhas chomping for position for line, negotiated past the all-seeing and all-knowing doorgirl with a clipboard, proving that they have climbed both the social and physical ladder to reach the top of the Robot Heart, so that they may look down upon the lowly dancefloor with both spite and pity for the unwashed masses who where not able achieve such greatness. Without this accomplishment, they become no different than average Twitter users vying for Celebrity attention. How will Burning Man DJs be able to disappoint us with poorly executed timing and bullshit Michael Jackson remixes? Without huge Soundsystems to bang out the worst in modern electronic music, DJs just become . . . The SAME TERRIBLE DJs just now on Twitch! #playatech #Djstreaming #Djsofburningman Although each Virtual World must have been an amazing feat of programming in its scope and size, it kinda feels like a huge project that was done in a short amount of time. None of the Eight Worlds, in any way, reflect the typical Burning Man experience. However, there are a few non-official super realistic Burning Man simulators out there. By far the most realistic experience has to be the "Getting Out More This Year" Simulator. The player is welcomed to a rich and tangible 3D World of Chris's DopeAss 70s RV, which is camped way out on 4:30 and H, where your avatar can spend all day and all night doing fun things like Ketamine, or other colorful interactive game play such as snorting Ketamine, and even interact with the virtual Chris’s chat box and watch his avatar do Ketamine. Other game play options include doing Ketamine, talking about doing Ketamine and also doing Ketamine. The more days and nights spent doing Ketamine, the higher the score! If you want to experience what a typical Burner really does the whole week, than this one is for you!! Then we have: "Let's Go Party" . . . the online multi-player game where the objective is to get your group of more than 6 Burners to try and leave camp, and all go out to party together. I did not have much fun playing. I was never able to leave the front of camp. 14 hours of game play later, Brenda still needs to go back for chapstick and Ricky can’t find his bag of blow. Then once Brenda arrives ready, Kaleporia is cold and needs a scarf. Darkwad David is going back to get some blinky lights for the 3rd time. Now Timmy can't find his cigarettes . . . Fuck. “ManBun Boyfriend”. In this first person POV game, you (the ManBun) has little to no control within the game, with only a single "Ok, Sure" button to navigate within the world. The game play opens as the player is dragged out of bed at 6 AM by the onscreen girlfriend who takes you (the ManBun) on an treacherous journey of sunrise yoga classes, self help lectures, think and grow rich seminars, yoga, positive affirmation workshops, mindful guided mediations, yoga, healing arts ceremonies, wellness and well-being talks, yoga, vegan lifestyle in the new age conferences, yoga, mindful-and-wellness-group-chat and also yoga. Extra points if you can score a selfie in front of the Giant BELIEVE letters!! After 8 grueling hours of game play, it simply flashes a screen where girlfriend says "I'm Tired", and the “ManBun Boyfriend” simulator then restarts game play to opening sequence. “DJs Girlfriend”. This simulation offers a similar experience to “ManBun Boyfriend”. However, in this first person POV game, you (the DJs Girlfriend) is invited to Follow "Dj GlockTrigger" on a dubstep-and-monster-energy-drink-filled adventure as you (the DJs Girlfriend) is rushed from empty dancefloor to empty dancefloor, while picking up extra points if you can find him a "line of blow". After 12 hours of game play the screen flashes "Hey babe I'm gonna go drink with the boyies" and game play is reset. THE RANT I am not that great at finance. Obviously. I’ve been to Burning Man 22 times. That should tell you enough about my poor financial / life choices. But even this burnout Burner can do the math and see that the Burning Man Org is in financial trouble. Burning Man may need to sell out to save itself. It would not be the first time.. Burning Man "sold out" to the PsyTrance community in 1997. To help ticket sales, the Bay Area was flooded with seriously lame underproduced Rave flyers. Or maybe Dr. Dre can toss in a few million to keep The Org afloat once again. Or hey why don't we start tickling Elon Musk's balls again, and see if we can start choking on his shaft in return for some sweet corporate demon semen sponsorship. The Org has already gone pinky finger deep with him. Like when Tesla brought out a full-on Electric Car Expo. That's right, in 2007, at Burning Man, right at fucking Esplanade & 9:00, they had what can only be described as an “anonymous car dealership” from “the green future”, complete with lengthy-worded displays filled with lofty promises of clean energy, infused with subtle corporate propaganda. In the center of the exhibit sat a life-size solid black plastic model Tesla car. As well as someone on guard 24/7 to make sure no one tagged or fucked with the stoopid thing. I personally got chased out for drawing a dick in the DUST on the window! All I know is they should have burnt it down or blew it up by the end of the week, but that lame ass mother fucker was still there on Sunday when I journeyed back to draw a dick on it again -- this time with a PAINT PEN. After executing a perfect fat-sacked-choad-headed-donger on the hood, I was once again chased out by rangers, this time with pitchforks screaming bloody murder for my head!! Fuck you, Ranger Doug! You will never be able to prove that was Me!!! So Look, it's not the first time The Org spread its asscheeks for a little bit of corporate dick on the side. They also bent over back in 2013 and let Mark Fucking Zuckerberg bring a Giant Golden 'LIKE' sculpture out there. I just hope they did the right thing by the end of week and it was killed with fire. SO we know The Org is corporateBiCurious. Time to snuggle up, get out of the corporate cocksucking closet and cash in on the fact that this place sold out a long time ago. Start flirting with attractive corporate entities like Mark Z, the Google Boys, Elon, Tommy Boy from Myspace, or maybe even P-Diddy to toss in some cash to get this fucking party started again! Yo, Elon! How can we have Burning Man on Mars in 2050 as planned, if we can’t keep it going on Earth for the next 30 years? At this point, The Org can spread their legs in the backseat of that Tesla and change next years theme to Space-X. I could give a FUCK!!!!! As long as we can keep Old Naked Dudes On Bikes rolling free. Let some of these cocksucking limpdick corporations like Doritos -- who have already profited from using our Artcars and culture in a their fabricated commercials -- actually fucking pay us money and we will let them shoot a real commercial out there. Have fun pixelating the nipples out of the background actors. I COULD GIVE A FUCK as long as Shirtcockers have a natural habitat to dongslap and roam free. Let Brazzers.com build the Temple! I sincerely really don't care what they do . . . as long as Assholes with Megaphones have wide open spaces to heckle Burners in the Black Rock Desert like GOD intended. BACK TO BASICS : THE FESTIVAL WILL NEED TO RESEST Maybe The Org will stop fisting themselves in the burnhole with all the Cultural-Direction-Bullshit and get down to brass tax here. They have spent years trying to market the festival as a family-friendly-non-offensive-all-inclusive-experience for the suburban upperclass while still catering to the super elite. We need The Org to provide the DPW and Tickets . . . Not for Cultural Direction, or Large Scale Art Funding Circle Jerks, Abstract Charity Causes, International Involvement, or any of the Meaningless Feel-Good Propaganda tools they use to control the image of the festival! The number one focus from here on out needs to be the festival itself taking place once again in Black Rock City! This defacto-defunding of The Org is a blessing. Look, when it comes down to it, it's not about the lame fucking themes each year. It's about the Burners who come and contribute to the festival that makes it special. It’s not about overpriced art grants, or Rich-Dick Theme Camp placement priorities. It about the shitty unofficial un-themed camp at 7:00 and J blaring Discotrance music on a distorted soundsystem while giving away room temperature margaritas! I could give a fuck about all of the elaborate expensive blinking bullshit! Cuts cost! Make the Burning Man effigy from toothpicks for all I give a fuck. None of that shit really matters. The spirit of Burning Man is in the person giving away ice cream from a cooler out in deep playa on a hot afternoon. The soul of the festival is in Old Naked Dudes on a Bikes rolling free across the desert! The heart of the festival is the Nightmare Hippy Chick on Acid rolling around in the dust, screaming about her spirit vegetable. Believe me if The Org had its way, Burning Man would be nothing but Transformational Mediation Seminars, Yoga Classes, Ultra Overpriced Sculptures, and TED talks about how to get rich quick selling a new type of investment portfolio. I am perfectly happy with the crappy bars and half-assed theme camps that are there just to have a good time. We don't need The Org's unique brand of new age capital-elitism bullshit. They have clearly dropped the ball on the Cultural Direction for years, and the less they steer the ship, the better, cuz we have already washed up on the rocks. BULLSHIT CLICKBAIT “Top 10 Burning Man Pictures You Must See To Believe!” And once clicked, sure enough it’s nothing but a bunch of super basic-ass photos of some super-hot-Coachella-swinger-couple at sunset in front of the most gentrified “OMG I need to get a selfie in front that to show my followers on Instagram” artwork on the playa. You already know exactly where these fucksticks took the stoopid photo is front of, OF fucking course it's in front of the BELIEVE letters. It’s Basically the "live, laugh, love" of playa art. Really, I won't believe this ?! What I won't believe is that their relationship is going to last beyond next week . . . cuz there’s a 90% chance they are gonna join the wrong gangbang at the Orgy Dome and suddenly someone is not happy about the amount of buttfucking the other one received. Thanks Business Insider Magazine for exposing the public to the wild and crazy world that is Burning Man. Now every fucking Chad and Becky from Wall Street is trying to come here to get laid. "Bro if I was there I would bang so many Hot Chicks on top of those letters" . . . "OMG I LOVE those Letters!! We are SOOO going to Burning Man to meet our future husbands <3." How about 10 REAL photos you won’t believe? Too bad the cameras weren’t there to snap a picture of the guy who took a shower with a fat chick and midget porn star! It’s a shame no one from the Daily Mail UK was there to catch video of the guy who was tripping his nuts off and could not figure out how to unlock the door of the porta-potty -- escaping only by busting through the plastic roof and climbing out the top several hours later. Or how about that chick at the meditation camp that was able to summon a higher power of consciousness and transcended the spacetime continuum for a short/infinite amount of time! Where the fuck was BoredPanda.com to catch a photo of the person who was hit with a rubber dildo when it was carelessly thrown from the top of the Space Pirate ship into the Mayan Warrior crowd. Now That’s some real stuff that happens out there that I would be happy to clickbait on! THERE WILL BE SOME CHANGES MADE The Large Scale Art: Instead of funding massive installations that end up being resold to casinos on the Las Vegas strip, why not treat them like large Rich-Dick Theme Camps -- give the Installation Artists 200 DGS Tickets, and in return, these assholes will be happy to spend shitloads of money on blinky light towers or whatever, just so they can lock in those sweet sweet reserved tickets for themselves and their friends. The Tone: The Utopian Blinkylight Dreamscape has been cool for the past 16 years . . . Buuuut . . . it has gradually fallen out of touch with the world around us. For far too long, The Org has ignored camps or underfunded art that could be perceived as dark or controversial in any way, shape or form. Yet again, another example of their Cultural Direction Tactics to market Burning Man as a blinky-light-mickey-mouse-Epcot-Center for wealthy-business-insiders-and-celebrities featuring a safespace-family-oriented-wholesome-body-wellness-green-living-environment for social-media-influencer-photo-shoots. Burning Man has NEVER been a Safe place! In 1998, I witnessed a beheading by guillotine at the Opera Performance that was so realistic I spent the next 5 hours (still frying balls on acid!) convinced that Billy Graham was right about this place being a Satanic death cult that would bring about the end of the world. IT WAS DISTURBING! If the Barbie Death Camp incident at last years’ Burn taught us anything, it is that there clearly need to be risky and controversial works of art at the festival. We can't be having pussy-footed Australians throwing temper tantrums like little punk bitches CUZ they don't like the way someone put Barbie Dolls inside an oven! Why did that do-good-koala-humping-limpdick-ASS-licker think it was OK? Well . . .The Org has shoved the narrative that Burning Man is strictly "good vibes only" down our fucking throats so deep that we finally gagged from it. Why the fuck was that guy even there? Well, he clicked on the Business Insiders’ “Top Ten Burning Man Photos You Must See To BELIEVE” and thought it was gonna be nothing but butterfly sculptures and Instagram Models in front of giant letters. No Kids: Yep. Sorry Minecraft Burners, but you are gonna have to wait until you are 21 to come to this party! Renegotiating the insurance policy as an over-21 festival will save The Org millions and millions of dollars. Out of 80,000 people, less than .05% are under 21 . . .yet we have to check IDs at every fucking bar !? Every year the gate gets closed down and no one can filter in or out because someone asshole can't find their kid. This should be a HUGE red flag ! Law Enforcement uses the fact that minors are allowed at the event as justification to engage in predatory conduct such as undercover stings, camp raids and random tickets for unsuspecting bartenders who forget to check IDs. Also I am not comfortable with the legal grey area the Shirtcocking and Titbouncing in the presence of minors creates. And if it ever comes down to nudity versus allowing kids, I am sorry but we can't sacrifice the heart of this festival on account of the fact that you don't want to get a fucking babysitter for the week. Your kids could give a flying-donald-duck-fuck about Burning Man! You and I both know goddamn well that given the opportunity they would rather play video games for the week at grandma's house then have to listen to Mom and Dad fight at Burning Man all week about who got buttfucked by whom at the Orgy Dome. . . LEAVE THEM AT HOME!!!!!! So the rest of us can be free to fuck, drink, smoke and wave our goddamn dicks and clits around whereever we see fit!!! The Temple: In the early days of the David Best Temples, they were constructed from the leftover hollows of wooden dinosaur jigsaw puzzle pieces. It was low cost, recycled and pretty fucking cool! Last year’s Temple was overdesigned, structurally unsound, and made from rare rustic-oak hardwood and redwood trees imported from China. Let’s cut costs and just do what those guys from Belgium did in 2005. It's a Very Simple Plan. We get a shitload of old 2x4 boards and fucking Wing It! The Belgium Waffle House would have made a perfectly good Temple. Garbage Dumpsters: Yep, that's right. In the future we will have dumpsters at Burning Man! All the Survivalist and Moop-shaming Burners say it will destroy the festival. Guess what, Burn Nut? It's already common practice for larger theme camps to rent dumpsters that are emptied at the end of the week!! It's been going on for YEARS! So what? Theme Camps will now have to pay a dumpster fee and there will be strict rules around any public dumpsters. Believe me The Org will provide the minimum amount possible to accommodate the BLM. It won't be nearly enough dumpsters for everyone to just toss all their trash, recycling and extra bikes into. Don't worry, Radical Self-Reliant Survivalist Burnertypes, other people will still have to suffer packing up and dealing with their own trash on the ride home. Moop-shamers rejoice! You will definitely still be able to shame people for mooping and not cleaning up, if not even more so now. I don't see why we can't be Radically Self-Reliant by having dumpsters on site. We will still Leave No Trace, while leaving one less thing for surrounding communities to bitch about. Build the Wall !!! Ya fuck it! Build the Wall. So what? Honestly, it will be more aesthetically pleasing than that fucking orange fence. And if that is what the Feds want, that's cool with me -- as long as The Org gets to choose who does Security! Thank fucking god we are not doing Burning Man this year. With the world on fire all around us, it seems a bit tone-def to hold a giant rave utopia party! I, for one, will be enjoying the week indoors under air-conditioning and rolling around in the heaps of cash I am saving by not going. I’m not attending a single workshop to expand my consciousness, not giving a single gift to anyone, and not being radical or self-reliant in any way. Fuck your Virtual Burn. I am Zapper Jones. I will see you in the Dust again . . . Sometime Somewhere in the Future!
A return to gaming in 2020: catching up on a missed decade.
Prior to this year, it’s no exaggeration to say that the only game I’d played in full since about 2010 was the original BioShock. Not really sure why I stepped away from gaming - probably just some usual combination of life getting in the way and dodgy prioritisation. Then, like many others, I became acquainted with a boatload of surplus indoor time this year, and chose to find my way back with an N3DS and a Switch. Turns out I really missed it. I’ve been slowly playing through a variety of titles I missed the first time around, as well as various others I’ve stumbled across along the way. In compiling this list, I have learned that my gameplay times are crushingly slow, people have extremely strong opinions about the Paper Mario series and actually it turns out a really poorly specced PC was holding me back from gaming all this time. Would love to hear what others thought of this selection of games, especially those who hold dissenting opinions about my DNF list (I expect plenty in support of Xenoblade, lol). Be warned this is all through the lens of someone who is plainly just thrilled to be back in the fold and has zero concerns spending way more time than necessary to complete games! I suspect I have more patience and rosier-tinted glasses as compared to the average weathered gamer, so would also be interested to hear how my experiences stack up in the wider gaming context. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between WorldsTotal play time: ~30 hours Zelda factored little in my adolescent years, and apart from renting OoT a handful of times for the 64 (and spamming bombs in SSB) this is pretty much the only Zelda experience I've had. It's kind of a blessing and a curse, from what I can tell: I have none of the hangups but equally none of the emotional connection that often seems to accompany the franchise. I really only played this because it had been given to me and came highly recommended. But this was about as good as introductions get - sure, it helped that this was essentially the first console game I'd played in its entirety in over a decade, but the game is clearly exceptional by all accounts. It seems I love a good gameplay mechanic where it doesn't tip into gimmickry, and the wall merge system I found novel, baffling and satisfying without ever being too frustrating. I obviously can't speak to the nostalgia aspect of it, but coming to it fresh was a charming experience. It's pretty hard not to be at least casually familiar with aspects of Zelda lore, and I liked that there weren't any lengthy cutscenes (looking at you, Ōkami) or tedious tutorials to slog through. The storytelling is a little naff but not distractingly so, and for me the pretty predictable ending was offset by the fun final boss battle. And you sure do feel good solving some of those puzzles. I'm not yet game to branch out into the open world of BotW, but I'm pretty glad my maiden Zelda foray was this one instead. More games ought to allow one to become a painting. Highlights: big bomb flower lols, boss battles that were satisfying / a great relief to complete Ōkami HDTotal play time: 50:57:29Completion %: 50/100 stray beads I remember seeing promo material for this game back when it was first released and thinking the brush mechanic was dope - a hype disproportionate to the amount of PS2 I owned (none). So regardless I was probably always going to be predisposed to like this game. This was the first game I finished on the Switch and I enjoyed it immensely. The art style is killer and helps it look great for a game of its age into the bargain, the brush mechanic and the puzzle element it introduces feels integrated rather than gimmicky, and the storytelling is rich and humorous. I know others have commented that the game is overly long, but I enjoyed being in the world enough that it never felt a slog. (This coming from someone who has played 100+ hours of Picross but…) I will agree that the combat system was pretty whatever, though. I am a pretty rubbish gamer by conventional skill standards and even I found this game wildly easy, but I think that also speaks to my enjoyment of the game as an all-round narrative experience rather than pure mechanics. An additional dishonorable mention for having to fight Orochi no less than three times?! Sure, going back in time was a pretty neat narrative arc and I could forgive repeating the fight in that context, but by the Ark I was sure they had to be taking the piss. Unlocking the additional skins gives this game some replay potential for me, especially the photorealistic wolf, laughable only in hindsight. The existence of about twice as many stray beads as I collected also means I may dip in and out in future, but mostly I have minimal desire to bring my dragon-head-whacking count up to 48. Nevertheless, a pretty inimitable experience, even if it took me a decade and a half to get there. Highlights: the dang art style, drawing an emoji face for my demon mask and seeing it show up again in Sei-an City Paper Mario: Sticker StarTotal play time: ~30 hours I can understand the criticism of this game: the combat system sucks and makes traversing through the world often not very fun, the characters are unmemorable, the necessity of having certain stickers to win certain fights is infuriating, the plot is generic, the lack of levelling up is nonsense. None of that stopped me from enjoying this game, though! Take that! As always, this was probably helped immensely by the nostalgia I carry for the original Paper Mario on the 64 and the fact I hadn’t really had any other Mario games to compare it to for a long time. The super vitriolic abuse it seems to cop online feels a bit disproportionate but. From poking around the series, it looks like one that people are particularly vocal about, with the only correct answer being “TTYD is the best game in the series and all other future titles will be held against this specific benchmark”. Honestly I’m just glad I played this game without the knowledge of what the gaming community thought of it, because I don’t think this is a genuinely bad game. Kirby: Planet RobobotTotal play time: ~20 hoursCompletion %: 81% Evidently I rather enjoy the cute-thing-in-a-mech-suit genre, between this game and Gato Roboto. But I have very fond memories of playing The Crystal Shards and am a Kirby main (lol) in SSB so I could probably be coerced into playing literally any Kirby game. I don’t have too much to say about this game; I think anyone familiar with the franchise will understand pretty much how it plays, but the mech suit mechanic is a heap of fun, with copy abilities possible both in and out of the suit. There were some little details that I thought were quite fun: the collection of stickers that you can use to decorate your mech was bonus entertainment, the variety of gameplay styles in the final boss battle, the remote control Kirby in the casino levels. It looks great, it’s charming, and as mentioned, I like an idiosyncratic feature that isn’t gimmicky, and I think the mech suit ticks that box. I picked up Extra Epic Yarn off the back of this, too - it just looks so dang sweet. What the Golf?Total play time: 08:24:56Completion %: 97%Total strokes: 11656Games I subsequently want to play: Superhot If there ever was a time for escapism, the middle of a pandemic seems to be a pretty good candidate, and I am certainly guilty of using this game as a bit of a feel-good salve. But what the golf, it was a grand old time, and I think we can all use the laughs it provides. I bought the game off the expectations set by the trailer and was happily not disappointed. This is a pretty straightforward game by all standards: simple overworld, three levels per stage, emphasis on silly in "silly physics". It feels like the schtick should get old pretty fast, but there's enough sly nods and references (and straight-up gameplay duplication) to keep it fresh and consistently funny. Caveat: pun disdainers avoid. It's the perfect game to dip in and out of - none of the stages are particularly long, and while some of the pacrown levels can be a bit frustrating, you're not at all forced to complete them in linear fashion. Nevertheless, I played this game in pretty lengthy stints, so the format isn't a barrier in that sense either. I know this is a fairly new game to the Switch, but it's been out on PC for a while it seems. I bought it only having seen it in the eShop, so if there was a hype train, it did not make a stop at my station. Highlights: the Superhot levels, WHAT?, the constant anticipation of what a button press would do in a new level Ori and the Blind ForestTotal play time: 14:44:46Completion %: 96%Total deaths: 488 It’s something of a classic, and evidently with good reason - I think I would have played this game for its art alone, but of course its reputation has since come to precede it. It runs really smoothly on the Switch, and the platforming is tight and enjoyable. Not sure how common it is in the wider world, but I really liked the save mechanic - as a chronic saver, I rather appreciated being responsible for setting my own save points, especially when it came to some of the more challenging sequences. I expected to struggle a lot with this one but I found the challenges fair, even the escape sequences, much as I may have wanted to burn down the Ginso Tree on the first few attempts. Feels like most people who’ve had an eye on it have played it by now, and there’s plenty of reviews out there for those on the fence to decide either way, but personally I’m very glad to have played and finished it. I’ve since been told that both the sequel and Hollow Knight eclipse this game, though I do have some idea of what to expect from both. Now if Will of the Wisps could just get a Switch port... MosaicTotal play time: ~3 hours I’d been wanting to pick this game up because a friend of mine had a hand in its creation, but I kind of could not have picked a worse time for it. Without spoiling anything, the premise of the game is being stuck in a very boring corporate dystopia, and a lot of the gameplay revolves around the repetition of your daily routines. Obviously this kind of experience can already be a little harrowing at the best of times, but in the middle of a global pandemic where time feels completely immaterial it was often a bit much. Certainly the gameplay won’t be for everyone; there is a lot of walking around in this game, and you can interact with various depressing billboards and your smartphone in ways you think might have some kind of a purpose but ultimately formally contribute nothing to your game - so in that sense, it’s kind of a bang on expression of its premise, though its messaging can be a little on the nose at times. If you’re into the visual style and can get down with the premise, this is a unique gaming experience which is both lovely and deeply unsettling at times. If you’re at all curious, the website gives a fairly clear mission statement of the game. Gato RobotoTotal play time: 05:23:28Completion %: 78% Short and sweet, this one, and looks and feels great. I’d never really picked myself as one for metroidvanias, but this game came onto my radar after Ori and I was looking for a shorter, punchy game in a similar style, and this delivered on expectations. As mentioned, I’m kind of crap at games, so the difficulty for this one felt about right for me. There were a handful of times the boss battles threatened to tip into frustration, but mostly it was just my timing being off (second stage of the mouse battle in the heater core comes to mind) as well as in the earlier parts of the game where I had just been lax in picking up healthkits. I’ve seen some complaints about it being too much of a Metroid clone, but you can’t get down with that criticism if you’ve never played Metroid *taps head*. Its short length seems to be another frequent comment, but if you’re going in with expectations suitably managed then I think there’s not too much to fault otherwise. But of course this is coming from someone who has played basically no metroidvanias in their life lol. And finally, my DNF list:
Katamari Damacy; abandoned after ~4 hours Heartbreaking for this to be on my list, but I am part of the small percentage that gets enormously motion sick from this game. A huge shame, because it’s one of those games I’ve wanted to play for literal decades now - I pushed through the first couple of levels but I just can’t make it work for me. The theme song has nevertheless taken up plenty of real estate in my brain.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D; abandoned after ~2 hours This is probably a contentious choice to have on a list like this, though I clearly haven’t really given this a fair shake either. I think it’s probably partly to do with the learning curve of its rather involved format? Thinking of swapping this version out for the Switch one instead in the hope that might make it a bit more accessible to me.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine; abandoned after ~2 hours The premise of this game is great, and I like its rather non-standard approach in defining what a game should look like, but it just plays so goddamn slow. I found travelling across the country extremely frustrating - none of the options were really any good - and it’s unfortunate because that makes up far and away the largest part of what you spend your time doing in this game. The voice acting is also great, but it never takes anywhere near as much time to scan the dialogue as it does to read it aloud, so most of the acting gets lost behind an A button mash anyway. I want to love this game, but I just never find myself wanting to reach for it.
Child of Light; abandoned after ~2 hours Call me petty, but I just could not manage to get past this game’s unbelievably naff rhyming dialogue. It made me want to skip through all the cutscenes and gave me no desire to attempt to follow the story. I thought the battle mechanic was quite interesting and enjoyable - not sure if this is common to other games in the genre, but it was new to me - but between the dialogue and an art style I didn’t really care for, this one’s been left by the wayside.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap; abandoned after 01:48 I played the original Wonder Boy on a Sega Master back in the day and figured a remake of another game in the series might be fun, but I couldn’t really get into this one. Felt like it was going to be a bit grindy for my tastes. I do think it looks great and switching between the art styles is cool, but I don’t think I’ll be doing much more than dipping in and out, if even that.
[Let's Build] d100 Stores in a Megamall in the PokeMon World
A list of stores one would find in a megamall in a Pokemon-themed campaign. 1) Salon Roquet - A Pokemon salon that specializes in dazzling up Pokemon with flashy fashion and make-up. Popular amongst trainers and Pokemon that want to really stand out. May or may not be a front for Team Rocket. 2) Cafe Eeveelution - An Eevee themed cafe where diners can enjoy Eevee themed food and drink in the company of the owner's Eevee and Eeveelutions. 3) The Evolution Solution - A store that specializes in items that assist in the evolution of Pokemon. From Rare Candy and EXP Candy to help Pokemon level-up, to evolution stones of all varieties, to a trading machine to help facilitate trade-only evolutions. 4) PokeMart - PokeMon League sponsored general store. Sells all the trainer essentials. 5) Galar Garbs - A clothing store specializing in fashions from the Galar region. Includes a section for Galar League uniforms. 6) Fiend and Demon Fitness Club - A gym (fitness, not Pokemon League) whose gimmick is using Fighting-type Pokemon as fitness trainers, mainly Hitmonlee (The Kicking Fiend) and Hitmonchan (The Punching Demon). Official sponsor of the P1 Grand Prix. 7) Sinnoh Sweets - a bakery also selling poffins for pokemons, Sinnoh-style. (now comes in several flavors: Galar Gourmet, Au Kroissant de Kalos, etc.) u/ConfusedAndFluffy 8) PokePumped! - a Gym allowing you to physically train alongside your team, also selling supplements (calcium, etc.) and sports-brand shirts. u/ConfusedAndFluffy 9) Official Leagues Shop - where you can find the latest news about Champions and Elite Fours - their strategies, their teams, but also gossip and stuff. There's now a kid subsidiary where you can buy brand toys, clothes and bags with their symbols. u/ConfusedAndFluffy 10) A library hosted by a rescue organization that employs Ghost-types as an effort to soften their perception by the public, from mischievous or scary to actually being helpful to shoppers. u/ConfusedAndFluffy 11) A Casino. Because, of course. Rockets never stop trying.u/ConfusedAndFluffy 12) Cleos Chiropractic Solutions - Uses Voltorb to help realign the spine of those who Have to haul heavy pokemon. Helps fix back pain in Pokemon as well. u/AegisAngel 13) Lily’s Lava Cookies - A bakery who specializes in Lava Cookies. Lily is from Lavaridge town and bakes with her Pokemon. u/AegisAngel 14) Club Kalos - A fashion boutique with styles from Kalos. u/AegisAngel 15) The Gormet Golduck - A well known and popular restaurant where you may eat free (once) if you have a Psyduck or Golduck. The chef loves the evolution line. u/AegisAngel 16) The V.B.A.- The Virtual Battle Area allows trainers to practice battle in hundreds of simulated environments made possible by several Castform and other weather and earth manipulation Pokémon. Price of admission is high as is demand. u/AegisAngel 17) The Haunted Nook - A book store that carries books on the occult. The owner is creepy and uses ghost types. u/AegisAngel 18) The Game Corner - Just a small gambling establishment that is not a Team Rocket base. FYI there is nothing behind the poster. u/AegisAngel 19) Aloha! - Clothing from the Aloha Region. Run by a laid back surfer and his Raichu. u/AegisAngel 20) Dexter's Disks - A place that sells musical CDs from around the world. u/AegisAngel 21) Max’s Mighty Masks - A former wrestler runs a clothing shop that sells smallish masks. They are quite effective as no one can recognize anyone wearing any form of camouflage. u/AegisAngel 22) Tank's Dranks - A Miltank Milk selling cafe with many lovely waitresses. (Tank is the name of their Miltank) u/AegisAngel 23) Jenni’s Ice Cream - The Vanillish line makes and serves ice cream in this real world transplant. (That ice cream item from black and white sold here) u/AegisAngel 24) Herb’s Herbs - Herb and his Shuckle sell herbs here. u/AegisAngel 25) The Doughnut Palace - A small store that sells onigiri. u/AegisAngel 26) The Sandwich Mansion - The Doughnut Palace's rival, a small store that sells onigiri. 27) The Onigiri Pagoda - The rival of The Doughnut Palace and The Sandwich Mansion, a small store that sells doughnuts and sandwiches. 28) Technical Solutions (for PokeMon Problems) - This store specializes in Technical Machines and Technical Records. Has a quarterly lottery with the grand prize being a Hidden Machine. Also has move tutor and move reminder services.
I held up my boarding pass and walked through the gate. My wife, Harper, was right ahead of me, and we both were so loaded with bags and suitcases that we could barely fit between the doorways. Our 10th anniversary was in a couple of days. We both had come into agreement that there was no better way to celebrate than to go on an all-expense-paid cruise to Hawaii. As we made it up to the deck, we marveled at all the entertainment. There was a band playing to greet us. Pools, water slides, mini-golf, a drive-in sized screen that was displaying boarding information, bars, and restaurants, and that was just what we could see while walking in! This was definitely the right choice for our anniversary vacation. I couldn’t wait to get these bags unloaded and start to enjoy ourselves. We went into the doors that led to the cabins. There was another beautiful bar down below us. There was a sports bar to the left showing the games on different screens and a small library to our right. Before we made it to the cabins, there was a coffee bar that served specialty coffees and desserts. If religion has it right, I hope that heaven is something like this. You couldn’t walk through a door anywhere without finding something exciting. Once we made it to our cabin, we dropped all our bags and looked at each other with stars in our eyes. I pulled my wife close for a kiss and then kept my arms around her. I asked eagerly about how we should begin. “Well, what should we do first? The casino? The arcade?” She smirked before replying. “Such a man, don’t forget about the fine dining at 6, followed by the show at the Theatre.” I drew back and acted faux offended. “Are you insinuating that I have no culture? I made our reservations before we even boarded, don’t worry. Dinner isn’t for a long time though, how about we go get some of those tacos and a coffee to get ourselves going.” “Now you’re speaking my language.” She replied with a grin. “Let’s unpack later. I am starving, and I think that coffee bar right there makes caramel macchiatos.” Her eyes lit up yet again as I grabbed her hand, and we rushed towards the door. The coffee bar did have macchiatos, which I got with an extra shot of espresso. She ordered a frozen drink that was more sweetness than coffee, and we made our way back onto the deck where the tacos awaited. The weather was beautiful. It was Fall time, and the sun was just warm enough to be inviting, accompanied by the blissful breeze that blew along the top of the deck. As we drew near to Tito’s Taco Shop, we heard the captain coming through the loudspeakers announcing takeoff. He reminded us about the mandatory safety meeting in a couple of hours and then wished us to have a great time aboard the ship. It was still strange to be in large groups of people without wearing a mask. The pandemic was finally eradicated once the vaccines were distributed. The cruise and tourism industries were hit hard, as were many others. It seemed that people were at last willing to come back out again, and there was no shortage of cruise-goers ready for a trip to the islands. I had my phone out and was looking up things to do in Honolulu for the days that we were in port. Scuba diving was a must. I had heard that sometimes you could see sharks or even hold an octopus on your hand if you got lucky enough. I wanted to do some hiking near the volcanoes if we had time. All the spam was going to be strange, but as much as they cook with it, I bet they were able to make it taste like a delicacy. They were in the process of building a new aquarium. It looked like it was going to be a huge one. Sadly, it did not look like it would be done in time for us to check it out. The black sands beach looked incredible, though. Instead of sand, it said that the whole beach was covered in smooth black lava rocks. We would definitely have to make a stop there. “Ethan! Do you want salsa on your tacos? Chicken or steak?” I put my phone away and looked at the meats before responding and did so to the guy who was making them as he finished up my wife’s two glorious looking tacos. “I’ll take one of both with some of that green salsa. Thank you!” All the free tacos that you could eat, why couldn’t life always be like that? “Let’s sit over there by the side, so we can watch the takeoff,” Harper said, before taking a big sip of her frozen coffee. We took a seat and took in the last sight of land that we would see for about 4 days. Once we arrived, we would tour the different islands, stopping at each port and having a day to explore. There were some people on land waving towards the ship. We joined many others who were near the side waving back. I couldn’t help but feel bad for all of those poor people stuck on the land. “Bon Voyage to us, I guess.” I held up my coffee for a cheers, and Harper returned the gesture. Her face was glowing. I couldn’t remember seeing her so happy since the day of our wedding. “This is really going to be a nice break from reality.” She said as she picked up her taco to take her first bite. “Yeah, it will. Nothing like this in the world.” We took our time, enjoying each bite as our view of the coastline became a thing of the past. When we were finished, we looked into each other’s eyes. I reached across the table to hold her hand. She sounded a bit anxious as she spoke. “It is a lot to take in, isn’t it? There is so much to do that I’m afraid of missing out on something. Where should we go first?” I squeezed her hand and spoke in a reassuring tone. “We have plenty of time to take it all in. Let’s just make sure to relax and do whatever makes us happy. It will all work itself out.” Once we had our fill of gazing into the ocean, we decided that we would head back to the room and get unpacked, while we waited for the safety orientation. The time flew by, and before we knew it, they were calling our section over the loudspeaker. We arrived with all the other passengers and waited for a moment until the crew member made it so we could begin. They gave us the spiel about the life jackets. They explained how the evacuation process works in case of a problem and let us hear a sample of the siren that would be played if there was an emergency. I was zoning out and staring out of the window. We were near the bottom of the ship, and you could see the water moving beside us. It put me in a bit of a trance, and I kind of lost myself in it for a moment. I was snapped out of it when I saw something I couldn’t quite comprehend. It happened pretty fast, and most of the people were looking at the crew member as he spoke. I could have been mistaking, but It looked like a giant tentacle had moved by the window and curled out of sight. I looked around to see if anyone else had seen what I thought I just saw. There was a teenaged boy who looked excited and shocked. He was tugging at his father’s sleeve and explaining something to him. He seemed to brush him off and looked frustrated at the interruption. Everyone else was paying attention to the speech and had apparently not seen a thing. Harper noticed how shaken I was and asked me quietly if everything was alright. I shook it off and said I would tell her about it later. We sat through the rest of the orientation. Nothing else went by the window, other than the waves being made by the ship. As we arrived back on the deck, we were grabbing a drink from the tiki-themed bar. Harper chose one of those blue drinks with the little umbrella on top. After what I had seen, I opted for a straight glass of their best scotch. I had explained my story to her, and she was busy trying to figure out what it could have been that I saw. “So, you’re sure it was all the way up by the window? Even at that lower level, that must be pretty high up from the water. Maybe it was something that crawled up the side, and it just seemed like it was larger because of forced-perspective?” I took a big sip of my scotch and shook my head in confusion. “Yeah, I mean, maybe. I really don’t know.” She looked as if a light bulb went off in her head, and she shot back a smart remark. “You’ve been reading a bunch of that H. P. Lovecraft stuff again, haven’t you? I’m sure it wasn’t Cthulhu if that’s what you are thinking.” I laughed and felt my tension release. “No, it’s not that. I just thought it was weird, that’s all. Enough about that, let’s figure out what we’re going to do until the formal dinner and play tonight.” She responded with a grin. “I seem to remember someone mentioning the arcade and the casino.” I must have looked like a kid on Christmas morning because she burst out laughing. We finished our drinks and made our way past the large screen that was now cycling through reminders of all the different events that you could attend. Night club, comedy club, it seemed like there was no end to the number of things you could do on this ship. We walked through the casino that was already bustling with cruise-goers. It looked like a good time. They even had versions of those toy cranes that were set up to pick up huge wads of cash. That might be the next stop, but I had my eyes set on the zombie shooter game with two green guns. The arcade was right past the casino and was full of all kinds of games to keep us entertained. Not as many people were eager to jump straight for the arcade apparently. Harper and I had the whole place to ourselves. I went to the coin machine to get out some tokens. There was a door that read “Staff Only” right by the machine. I heard a loud slamming noise that caught my attention, even over the music that was playing in the arcade. I leaned in a little and heard a heated conversation on the other side. “This is so fucked up. I can’t believe that they got loose. They need to tell all of the people!” “Can you imagine the chaos that would cause? I get where you are coming from, trust me. It’s better this way, though.” “Yeah, I guess you’re right… People would be going crazy.” The door opened, and I jumped as I was still leaning in to eavesdrop. This must have been apparent to the two kids who walked out because they looked a bit frightened and then hurried right past me. I grabbed the tokens out of the machine and walked over to the machine where my wife was waiting. “You look like you just saw a ghost or something. Don’t tell me some fish people are walking around on board now.” I couldn’t even fake a laugh or smile. I explained what I had just heard as I put the coins into the machine and started up the game. She did not seem concerned about the new development. “They could have been talking about a mechanical issue or something. Try not to worry too much. We deserve to have the time of our lives on this trip. I don’t want you to start to obsess on this and lose sight of why we are here.” I shrugged at this and answered in a resigned tone. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Worrying isn’t going to fix anything anyway. Could you please start taking out some of these zombies, though? I’m carrying the whole game over here. You have a power-up to use, hit the red button.” She smacked me with the gun for talking trash, but the mood felt much lighter after that. Before long, we grew tired of the arcade and decided to play a few games at the casino. I have never been the best card player, and she was no better than me. This being the case, we opted for the giant money claw machine. I swear that both of us grabbed a stack a handful of times each. The claw would never hold its grip, though. Feeling more than a little bit scammed, we decided to blow a bit of time at the slots until we had to go get ready for dinner. As soon as we sat down, the person who went on the money claw right behind us exclaimed loudly as the machine lit up and started to make a loud ringing noise. I looked over to Harper and gestured towards him. “That seems about right, huh? We pump fifty dollars into that thing, and he walks away with a jackpot after one.” “Such is life.” She responded as she pumped some tokens into the slot machine. I couldn’t help but hear two guys on some machines behind us, as they were beginning to get a bit rowdy with each other. “You tryin’ to say I don’t know what I saw man?” His friend responded quickly. “No, no, no, man. I’m not trying to say you’re seeing things or whatever else. I’m just saying that it’s crazy. There is no way it can be right!” After this, the first man shot up out of his seat, knocking over his stool as he did. This caused quite the scene, and many people were starting to gaze in the direction now. “Yeah, that’s alright. You think whatever the hell you want. I’m gonna go find someone to talk to about it right now!” He stormed off, leaving his friend looking a bit shell-shocked and embarrassed. Harper looked toward me, and as if reading her mind, I pushed my seat back away from the machine. “Yeah, let’s get out of here. We need to get ready for dinner.” She raised her eyebrows in surprise at what we had just witnessed and responded. “Sounds good to me. I haven’t won anything anyway. Let’s go.” I looked back towards the guy’s friend, who he left standing there. After considering it for a moment, I leaned in towards my wife. “You go ahead, I’ll catch up with you in just a second.” She looked a bit frustrated but did not fight it. “Hurry up, I want to make sure we get a good seat. It’s going to take us a while to get ready.” She kissed me on the cheek and took off towards the deck, which led over towards the cabins. I walked up towards the man who was about to walk off before I caught his attention. “Excuse me, sir? I overheard you and your friend. What was it that he thinks he saw?” He looked at me warily. It was clear that he really didn’t want to discuss the matter. “Look, he’s usually not like that, you know? I don’t know what’s gotten into him, honestly.” I shook my head. He obviously didn’t understand why I was asking. “No, I saw something strange as well. I’m not trying to say your friend is going crazy at all. I was just wondering what it is that he was saying he saw.” This seemed to unnerve him more than help calm his nerves. He looked around to make sure nobody was listening in. “Man, he was saying that he saw a giant fucking octopus, bro. Like, 30 feet long or so is how he was describing it. It’s ridiculous, there is no way they would allow something like that on one of these ships.” My heart dropped all the way to my feet. I covered my mouth, and I think he could tell by my reaction that what he said had rocked me to the core. I stammered and managed a weak reply as horror rushed through my body. “I..I… On the boat??” He nodded and looked at me with the same type of concern he had been showing to his friend. My face must have been as white as a sheet at this point. “Thanks.” I took off out of the door, in a huge rush to catch up with Harper. I was looking around in a panic, my heart racing and ready to beat right out of my chest. I was about to just take off to the room when I heard Harper’s voice. “Ethan! Over here, I grabbed some hot tea.” I saw her over by the edge of the deck, waving me over. I ran up to her and could hardly focus. “I thought you needed something to help you relax, and it looks like I was right. What are you freaking out about right now?” I tried to collect my thoughts and was going to respond when she pointed behind me and cut me off. “Hey, isn’t that the guy that was just going nuts in the casino?” I turned around, and the man was being dragged towards a door that was marked “Employees Only”. Two larger deckhands were pulling him that way, each with a tight grip on one of his arms. He was fighting hard to try and break their hold and calling out for help. As they made it through the door with the man, I grabbed Harper by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. “We have to go. Let’s get to the room, I don’t want to explain out here.” She nodded, and we made our way towards the cabins. Once we were in our own cabin, she put down the hot teas on our dresser and walked right up to me with an exasperated look on her face. “Babe, what in the heck is going on right now? This isn’t about the freaking tentacle that you saw out the window, is it?” I looked shiftily around the room and towards our view of the ocean. “Yes… I mean, no… Well, not really, anyway.” “You have got to calm down. Just take a deep breath and explain.” I did as she suggested and took a long deep breath to collect my thoughts. I told her about what the guy’s friend had said back at the casino. She made the connection between this and the man being dragged off the deck against his will. I also explained what I heard from the crew members when we were at the arcade. I could tell she was beginning to take what I was saying seriously. I looked off into a corner as I made a connection. It seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, but it was the only thing I could think of. I know that she wouldn’t judge me at this point if it sounded a bit outlandish. After thinking it over for a moment, I decided to tell her what I was thinking. “When I was looking for things to do in Honolulu earlier, there was an advertisement for a new aquarium that was coming soon. One of the main attractions was that they were going to have a bunch of Giant Pacific Octopi. I didn’t think about it until now, but what if that is what is on this ship? Let me google it really quick, I had never heard of that type of octopus, so I didn’t think much of it.” I got the search pulled up and nodded in a cold understanding before continuing. “This is exactly what that guy was describing. I don’t know why they would use a cruise ship to deliver something like that. It’s the only thing that makes any sense right now, though.” Harper was looking at the google search thoughtfully and responded. “I mean, I guess that these were two of the hardest-hit economies during the pandemic, tourism, and cruise ships. It makes some kind of twisted sense that they would come together to try and help each other out. Octopi are known to be very mischievous, even when they aren’t the size of a freaking semi-trailer.” She made a good point. Nothing had really made sense for a few years now with how crazy the world had been. This made as much sense as anything else when it was put into perspective. I just shook my head in amazement and looked towards her. “Well, what do we do from here?” “I know this is crazy, but I’m sure they will have a handle on those things. They would not have arranged to have them on board and not prepared for the possibility that they could escape. I say we get ready and go to dinner as we had planned. We don’t want to spend our whole 10th-anniversary cruise holed-up in the cabin. Even if all this crazy guesswork is correct, and that is what the guy from the casino saw, I’m sure that they have everything under control.” I pressed my fingers against my eyes and tried to wrap my mind around everything. I may have been scared out of my mind, but she was right. Our best bet was to hope that it was all under control and at least try to enjoy our time on the ship. This was not going to happen again anytime soon, if ever. “Yeah. Let’s do that, I agree. Let’s just get dressed and try to have a good time. I’m sure if it was too bad, everyone would be on lockdown or something.” She brightened up a bit with my saying this. We both went into our luggage and began to start the process of getting changed into our formal dining attire. Before long, I was tying the knot in my tie, and she was putting the final touches on her hair. I walked up behind her in the mirror and held her by the shoulders. “You look incredible. Let’s go and have the time of our lives.” She gave me a big smile, and I pulled her in for a kiss. I backed up and held out my arm towards her. As she grabbed onto it, we made our way for the door. The formal dining room was the most luxurious area on the ship by far. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling. There were large wine racks along many of the walls, and the entire dining room was walled in by the most beautiful windows that I had ever seen. There was an ornate window on the ceiling as well. It was just beginning to get dark, and I was sure that soon we would be able to see the stars all across the sky. The waiter walked up and asked what we would like to drink. He was dressed in a black vest with a bow tie and a white shirt. I told him that we would take a bottle of wine that he recommended. I also asked him to give me a recommendation for my meal. Once Harper heard his suggestion of parmesan encrusted lamb with asparagus, she decided that she would follow suit. He brought out some bread with olive oil as a complimentary appetizer to go with our wine. As he poured our first glasses and set the bottle down, I grabbed my glass of wine and held it up toward my beautiful wife. She looked every bit as lovely as the day of our wedding, and I was flooded with a flurry of emotions as I said my toast. “Here is to 10 amazing years. Every one of them has been an adventure, and I look forward to every year that I’ll be lucky enough to spend with you as we continue that adventure.” She smiled and blushed ever so slightly as she reached her glass to clink off of mine. We both took a sip, and she responded in a relieved manner. “That’s the spirit, it is starting to actually feel like a relaxing vacation.” “Hey, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? It’s so nice to have a break from work, housework, and all the monotony of the day-to-day. We make a pretty good team through all of that drudgery, though. Don’t you think?” Suddenly, I saw the smile get wiped from her face. The look that crept onto her face was one of sheer terror. Her glass of wine had been in her hand. When her face went from delight to horror, she tossed it on the ground with a crash. A scream came from deep within her, which was blood-curdling and intimated that absolute ruin was imminent. I turned toward the spot that she was staring at. I understood all at once the doom that awaited all of us in the dining room. A giant octopus came crashing through the windows near the entrance where we all had arrived, knocking over the many racks of wine as it came and turning the floor as red as blood. Seemingly at the same time, another came from the side closest to the ocean and blocked the only other way out of the dining room into the kitchen. I grabbed Harper’s arm, and we ran toward the corner as far from the beasts as we could manage. It was pandemonium as the whole dining room erupted into turmoil. I flipped a circle table up against the corner so that Harper and I could try to hide behind it for protection. I saw one man who ran as fast as he could towards a small opening next to the octopus, who was blocking the main entrance. The creature reached a giant tentacle out for him and pulled him into his beak. There were shrieking howls of pain, unlike anything I have ever heard as blood sprayed out from underneath. A couple of people were able to dart around as the octopus was distracted. Another unfortunate lady was grabbed by one of the spare tentacles, though. He squeezed her around the throat, and we had to watch as her face turned purple. Eventually, the life was squeezed right from her body. I held Harper tight as she was sobbing like mad and unable to stop her body from shaking. We saw an opening. The one by the front entrance went toward a group of people on the opposite side of the room. As soon as it did, we bolted for the door. As we drew near, another octopus came crashing through the window on the ceiling, crushing a few unfortunate souls as it joined in the massacre. We kept running until we were well onto the deck. The chaos did not stop in the dining room. People were running like mad all over the deck. I didn’t know where we would be safe, but I thought that maybe we could lock ourselves in our cabin until we could be rescued from this madness. It was a nice thought, but as we went for the doors, another one of those damn things came down to block our way. We ran for the area in front of the drive-in style screen where Re-Animator was playing. A man was gibbering to himself in a wild manner and hiding behind a chair. As we drew near, I noticed a tear in the screen as another one came through and snatched the man up as he yelled out for help. Our options for safety were becoming extremely limited. We ran for the bar where we jumped over the top and hid with a large group of people, peaking over to watch it all unfold. That was when we saw what I knew would be the end of us all. There was an army of them descending upon us. I held Harper tight as we waited on the inevitable. I watched as a family of three were huddling together in the middle of the deck. They were almost surrounded, but the father pushed the mother and child toward an opening so that they could make it to safety with the rest of us. He let out a guttural cry as they ripped him to shreds. His little girl cried in a high-pitched squeal reaching for him until the mother grabbed her and ran towards us. The mother was getting close when one of the monstrous creatures came hurtling behind her. As she noticed, she reached out with her daughter. I leaned out over the bar and grabbed onto her as the octopus reached the mother and held her tightly. I was pulling my hardest as the mother was holding on tight, and I hoped that they both might be saved. I was punching and pulling at the tentacles and doing my best to cause him to let the mother go. She released her daughter, and the others brought her down behind the bar. I wouldn’t let go of her mother’s arms as she cried out in distress. That was when I heard it. It was the deepest and most powerful sound that I have ever heard. It shook the ship violently. The bottles of liquor and glasses were falling all around us. It was hard to describe the immense strength and power that the sound exhibited all around us. When the sound came, though, something strange began to happen. The octopus that held the child’s mother released her, and we pulled her behind the bar with us quickly. She fell to her daughter and clutched her tightly as they wept in each other’s arms. All of the creatures began to release the people that they were attacking. They were moving in unison towards the edges of the ship. They crawled over the side, and one by one, they made their way into the ocean. Once all the monsters had left the ship, the people made their way slowly to the side to see what was happening. For some reason, they were all leaving. As quickly as they had descended upon us, they left us. It appeared to be almost in a synchronized manner. They all were swimming in the same direction, and we watched in disbelief. Nobody aboard this ship would ever be the same if they made it out alive, but many of us were saved by what could only be described as a call. A call that came from something massive, much larger than the creatures that had plagued us. It was a call that came from deep within the ocean and was more monstrous than anything that we could have ever imagined.
BUDGET FRIENDLY BEACH THEMED BIRTHDAY PARTY & BACKDROP ...