Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Bonus Post

There is No Happy Ending

I’m not a brave woman.

I am rabidly conflict-avoidant, and I’m always fearful. So, to see all the protests and people talking about resistance is very gratifying to me, but it also makes me feel ashamed.

I am always afraid. It’s a matter of extent, and it’s faded in time, but there’s always a nugget of fear in the back of my mind. I have to know the closest exit at all times, I will freak the fuck out if you touch me unexpectedly, and any time I’m in a tense situation, my PTSD kicks in.

I’ve heard more than one survivor of sexual assault talking about flashbacks and trigger warnings. Not about anything they read or see, but about the result of the election.

We talk about rape culture, and many people pooh-pooh that it exists. This is the clearest example that many people just don’t give a shit about sexual assault. Trump can be caught on tape saying he can grab any pussy he wants because he’s a star, and after the initial outrage, a collective yawn. “It’s just locker talk.” “He didn’t really mean it.” “All guys talk like that.”
Continue Reading

I Beat Dark Souls III: A Fitting Goodbye

I. Win.

I beat Dark Souls III today.

That could be a post in and of itself, but of course, it isn’t going to be. Pardon me if I’m a bit more incoherent than usual because I still have adrenaline coursing through my veins from beating the Soul of Cinder, the last boss of the game, and a fitting end to the series. Oh, I know there will be DLC with tough bosses aplenty, but this was the end of the main game of the final installment* of the trilogy** that is Dark Souls. Once I killed the final boss, I just stood for a minute, savoring the feeling. It was mostly jubilation, but it was mingled with relief and sadness. Relief because I had finally done it and sadness because my journey through Lordran, Drangleic, and Lothtric is over. It’s bittersweet, and I’m not quite able to process it yet. I’ve poured so much time into these games; it’s hard for me to believe that there will not be another one. I’ll play this game again at some point because I’ve finished each game twice and because I accidentally chose the ‘dark’ ending (the non-main ending, in other words), but it may not be before the first DLC. Which, by the way, is slated to come out October 25th, 2016. There’s leaked gameplay footage, which means I have to studiously avoid spoilers again. I saw the trailer which made me squeal like a little kid, and the announcement of ice spells made me deliriously happy. I love ice, and the idea of alternating ice and fire spells makes me smile in gleeful anticipation.

I haven’t started NG+ because I’m hoping that I can play the DLC with my current character. One thing I don’t like about the Souls series is that the DLC is hidden in the main game and accessing it is always a chore. It’s one time when I have no guilt in using the wikis because I would never discover that shit on myself. At least with the first two games, there were wikis for it. If I want to do that with this game, then I have to wait a few weeks after release to play it. At least in this game, I wasn’t automatically sent to NG+ as I was in DS I and as you are in Bloodborne. That way, if the DLC is accessible somewhere in the game, I don’t have to start another character to find it. Yes, I’ll probably play this game again, but I don’t want to feel like I *have* to do it in order to play the DLC for which I paid. Rather, for which my friend, Ian, paid and gifted to me (along with the base game). It’s a pretty common complaint in the community–just let me play the goddamn DLC I paid for, but FromSoft continues to do it, not giving a damn about their fans’ feelings about it. Seriously, Google how to access the DLC from the first two games and tell me you would have figured it out yourself.

Continue Reading

Dark Souls III: I Got Gud, Part Two

Ed. Note: This is the second of two posts about how I got good at Dark Souls III*, beating three bosses in one session. The first post is here. All the videos in this post of are players who are better than I am, but I tried to find the fights that were the closest to mine. 

Dancer was a tough boss for me because she was fairly fast and dual-wielded two wicked swords. She had a move in which she danced across the room in circles, looping her swords around her as she went. If she caught me with it, she stun-locked me and killed me rather handily. What I normally do the first few times I meet a boss is watch her as best I can, trying to observe her patterns. Of course, that’s not easy to do with the boss attacking me, but it’s helpful in the long run. I died several times to her, so I put down my soapstone sign and battled her with someone a few times. I know I’ve said this many times, but this is a part of the game I never thought I’d enjoy as much as I do. Since I’m playing the game fairly close to release, I’m usually able to be summoned when I put my sign down within a minute or two. My minor complaint about the system is that you only get half your potions as a phantom, but it makes sense. It would make the host ridiculously OP if his phantoms had full healing powers as well. Yes, the boss gets an increase in health, but adding an extra attacker or two really makes a difference.

I like Dancer, even though she was a pain in the ass to beat. Still. I never felt completely overwhelmed as I did with Aldrich. Him, I felt as if I would never beat him. With Dancer, I felt as if it were a matter of time. It’s hard to explain what makes the difference between a boss that feels unbeatable and one that I think is manageable. Quickness is difficult for me to counter because of my slow reflexes. Really hard-hitting foes who can two-shot me frustrate me because then I have to waste a health potion after one fucking hit. By the way, I really hate that the enemies are scaled such that they always have one hit point after you blast them with either a spell or a few whacks. It’s been that way in all the Souls games, and it frustrates me every time. Speaking of frustrating things, big shout out to me not being able to hit an enemy with my pyromancy/spells when that same fucking enemy can hit me with her spells/pyromancy. I am a big fan of this. BIG fan. While we’re at it, I LOVE inconsistent AI in an enemy. Look. I know Souls game are hard. I accept that. It’s part of the reason I play them. But one thing I depend on is that the enemies path correctly and stay within their tethers. If they suddenly break free from that, I get mad.

Continue Reading

Dark Souls III: I Got Gud, Part One

burn, baby, burn!
Meet Karla, my new pyromancy trainer.

I’m in the middle part of Dark Souls III, and I have to admit, I was starting to drag a little. This happened to me while playing the first two games, too, as the games are long, and I tend to gorge on them. The first time I played the original Dark Souls, I hated the game by the end of it. I just wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t be happier once I put it in the done folder. I thought I’d never touch it again, but I did, and now, it’s one of my favorite games ever, if not my most favorite game ever. Part of the problem is that I mainline these games, gulping down chunks of them at a time. It would probably be better if I parceled out the experience a bit more judiciously, but I can’t. When I sit down to play a Souls game, I don’t emerge until several hours later. Sometimes, I’m not even sure how much time I’ve been playing. The games really feed into my OCD traits, so it’s not really that surprising that I would experience fatigue while playing them.

A few days ago, I was saying to Ian that maybe I should take a break. Ever since I reached Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, I’ve felt under-leveled and not strong enough to take on the area. I felt all badass after easily dispensing of High Lord Wolnir, only to have my ass handed to me by the common  enemies of IotBV. I’ve complained more than once that I think FromSoft* hates casters, and it really felt that way during this section. It felt very Bloodborne-y (meaning faster action), which reinforced my belief that while I love watching other people play Bloodborne, I might not be as into playing it myself because my reactions are just too slow for that shit. I co-oped the boss of the area, though I hadn’t really meant to. I co-oped with someone else and helped them beat the boss, so I had my ember restored, which gave me almost twice as much HP. I decided to make a run at the boss so as to not waste the ember, and I summoned Anri of Astoria and a human phantom to help me out. I honestly didn’t think we’d beat the boss because the boss gets more HP in direct proportion to how many phantoms you summon. To my surprise, we beat the boss, much to my relief and slight disappointment because I like to beat bosses solo on my first playthrough. Relief because I was frustrated by how much I hated this section of the game. I went back recently just to see if I could kick some ass, and I could. That’s one of the best parts of Souls games–returning to a previous area that completely wrecked your shit and getting your revenge.

Continue Reading

7 Things About Me You May Not Know

whoa, oh, oh, I'm on fire
Rocking my lotus blossom on fire tattoo.

Today is my off-day for blogging, but I want to keep the momentum going. So, I thought I’d do something light today–a list of seven things you may not know about me in no particular order.

  1. I have four tattoos. I’ve been fascinated with tattoos for over twenty years. I thought hard about getting one when I was in my early twenties, then rushed out to get one at midnight with my best friend. Big mistake. The only place open was being manned by the nephew of the owner–who was still in the training process. In addition, I’m keloid, which means I scar twice as badly as most people do. Needless to say, the result was terrible, and I spent a year or two being ashamed of my scarred, puffy, faded yin-yang in a sun tattoo. It was on my left breast, so it wasn’t always easy to hide. The next time I got the urged to get inked, I did my research and ended up with a fantastic tattooist–Ben. He did a small tattoo of Kali (a representation of her, made of flames) right above my belly, and it made me happy every time I saw it. I returned to him to see if he could cover up the mistake on my boob. I wanted a woman in the tree of life, and he drew it, but said it wouldn’t really work. We talked it out, and came up with a lotus blossom  engulfed in fire. My first tattoo was a tattoo; this was a piece. It took four hours for him to do, and I was ecstatic once he was done. I had my third tattoo done by someone else while I was living in the East Bay, and it’s a bracelet of flames on my left forearm. My fourth tattoo was done by Ben, and it’s a ring of waves/flames on my upper right arm with a yin-yang pendant in the middle of it. I got all these done before tattoos became a thing,* and I had more than one person asking me if I wasn’t worried that I’d regret them when I got older. It’s been a decade and a half since I got my last one, and I don’t regret it one bit.
  2. I love ’80s hair metal bands, especially their power ballads. Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Winger, Europe, White Lion, Warrant, Poison, etc., that was my fucking jam. I joke that this is my guilty pleasure, but I don’t feel that guilty about it. I know I have terrible taste in music, and it’s something I long ago decided to embrace. I saw Bon Jovi and Cinderella in concert, which was fucking amazing, and I’d go see them again in a heartbeat if they toured together again.

Continue Reading

Dark Souls III: A Souls Game, For Better AND Worse, Part Two

Ed. Note: This is part two of my current feelings about Dark Souls III. You can read the first post here. The first post was about things I don’t like about DS III or am neutral about. This post is going to be a love letter to Hidetaka Miyazaki (the creator of the series) and the game. Now, keep in mind that even if you love something, you can criticize it, so there might be some vinegar with the honey. But, it’s mostly going to be sweet, I promise you. A warning, there will be spoilers. 

set it all on fire
Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, me, and my Pyromancy Glove.

I know my previous post makes it seem like I hate Dark Souls III, but nothing could be further from the truth. All of my criticisms are precisely because I love the Souls series so much. I cannot call the games fun, per se, so if that’s the reason you play video games, you’ll want to pass these games by. I can say they are engrossing, engaging, and give me an enormous sense of satisfaction when I conquer an enemy/area/boss who I’ve previously considered unbeatable. In fact, my shining moment in my brief, but intense gaming history is when I finally beat Ornstein & Smough on the last attempt before I was going to give up the original game for good. My sense of accomplishment was ridiculous, and you couldn’t tell me shit for several minutes after*. In my next playthrough, I handled them fairly handily, and they weren’t that much harder on NG+. It really underscores the point that once you learn a boss’s pattern, that boss is no longer much of a threat. Plus, summoning helps, too. Also. Still, the first time I faced them, I felt as if I would never beat them. That is the brilliance of Souls games. They have very steep learning curves, but once you learn them, you never forget.

I know, I know. They’re just video games. Who cares? I do. I am a perfectionist, and if I’m not immediately good at something, I give up. I’m old and my reflexes are crap, so Dark Souls should have tested my patience to the point of breaking. In fact, it has on several occasions, but the other thing I am is stubborn, and I was NOT going to let this enemy, this area, this boss, this fucking game beat me. So, pardon me if I give myself a little pat on the back for hanging in there with these games. Part of the reason is I’m stubborn, yes, but the bigger part is because of the games. Let’s get on with what I like in Dark Souls III.

Continue Reading