Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Doki Doki Literature Club–Not Your Typical Japanese Dating Sim

When it comes to gaming, I am a bit of a weirdo. I don’t like any one genre, though I do dislike several. In the later category, anime, dating sims, visual novels, and JRPGs. I have several reasons for this, which I’ll save for another post, but then Ian told me about a game called Doki Doki Literature Club by Team Salvato, which at first glance looks exactly the opposite of up my alley. I mean:

which are you gonna choose?

It looks like everything I hate in a game. Sexualized schoolgirls, romancing said schoolgirls, it’s all very PUA-like. Say the right thing to get the right girl to like you. It’s all creepy and gross, and normally, I wouldn’t even look twice at it. Plus, it’s all froo-froo pink and fluffy. Bleah.

I gave Ian the side-eye, but he reassured me that there was more to it than met the eye, and it wasn’t really a creepy dating sim, even though it’s marketed as such. I trust Ian, and it’s free on Steam, and I’m in between games (though I just bought Night in the Woods, and I’m really excited to try it), so I downloaded it and fired it up. I will say the fact that it has a disclaimer and makes you sign it before it actually starts is my first indication that this game hopefully is deeper than it appears.

The first hour is pure agony, I will confess to you, dear reader. It follows down the dating sim path introducing you (the main character) to four girls. One is your perky, upbeat neighbor, Sayori, who you’ve known forever (girl with red bow), but have grown apart because she has trouble meeting you in time to walk to (high) school together*. She tricks you into joining her club which is the Literature Club, of course, and the other three members are also cute girls. Monika, the club leader, and the most popular girl in school (long brown-haired girl). Yuri, the goth of the group (dark-haired girl), and Natsuki, the annoying brat who’s covering up the softness inside.

You don’t want to join the club, but once you realize there are four cute girls with very distinct personalities, well, of course you join. What else is there to do, especially in a video game? What follows is an endless amount of talking and me mashing the button to get through the dialogue as quickly as possible. I read really fast, but still. You have to write poems for this club, and supposedly, the words you pick to write the poems will fit one of the girls better than the others. Or something.

Warning–spoilers to follow. I’m going to try to keep them as light as possible, but it’s hard to talk about the games without spoiling it somewhat. If you have any interest in playing this game, quit reading now and play it. It really is best played with minimal knowledge. For those of you still with me, the rest of this article will be below the cut.

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The Real Winners and Losers of the Super Bowl

So the round-shaped vessel of the pointy-ball happened last weekend, and I watched it because I’m a casual sports fan, but I was really there for the commercials (as was most of the people watching, I assume). The commercials have gotten increasingly bad over the years, but for whatever reason, I remain hopeful that there will be good commercials. There were a few, but by far the vast majority were bland and boring. There were a few terrible ones, too, but really, most were just forgettable. Here’s my list of winners and losers.

Winners

Patriots haters. Like me. The game itself was actually exciting for once, and having the Eagles pull it out at the last moment was the best! Watching Tom Brady get sacked instead of throwing a last-second touchdown pass was a thing of beauty.

Commercial-wise, my favorite commercial was the Peter Dinklage & Busta Rhyme/Morgan Freeman & Missy Elliott Doritos/Mountain Dew mash-up. It was funny; it was fresh; and Missy Elliott is QUEEN. I like the concept, and I love the way it was shot. Also, I would not kick Peter Dinklage out of bed for eating Doritos.

I’ve watched it and the other videos with the foursome several times, and I think they are the best.

However, Doritos had to erase all that goodwill by talking about how ladies don’t like crunching loudly in public and are too delicate to like Doritos dust off their fingers in front of other people, so they were considering ‘Lady Doritos’. The CEO of PepsiCo was saying this ish, and it’s a woman, y’all. They frantically walked it back, saying it was never being considered, but the quote from the CEO was still out there. She actually said they were planning a low-crunch, less sticky version of some unnamed product, but come on. We all know it’s Doritos. We’re not fucking stupid.

Look. I wasn’t going to buy Doritos because of the ad, anyway, but this certainly makes me less likely to buy any Pepsi product. The crunching loudly is the best goddamn part of eating chips, and I’m going to do it regardless of if I’m in public or not.

But! This is meant to be a fun, silly list, so let’s go to my second-favorite commercial (which is second by only a hair). Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. dancing to a song (you know the one) from Dirty Dancing during a Giants practice session with other members of the Giants getting in on the fun.

This made me completely revise my opinion of Eli Manning. The video is joyous and goofy, and it’s done with such passion by everyone involved. It makes me laugh in happiness every time I see it. Odell Beckham Jr. is such a cutie, too!

The reason I like it so much is that they’re all just having a blast, and there is absolutely no whiff of ‘no homo’ in the ad. Seeing all these big burly dudes getting their groove on is so refreshing.


Give me more of this and less of Peyton Manning shilling crappy pizza any day!

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Nioh V. Dark Souls: An Unfair Comparison

I recently tried out Nioh again after a long period off from it (because I was sick and did not want to sit at my desktop. It refuses to run on my laptop. At all) because I read about a Jutsu (magic spell) that supposedly trivialized bosses. I didn’t have it, but I ‘bought’ it and equipped it. I went through some old sub-missions, and I can’t say it made a noticeable difference. I encountered a ‘boss’ in one of the sub-missions, but she’s not the same as an actual boss, obviously. In fact, she becomes a common enemy in another mission.

I like to do old missions in order to farm and to brush up on my skills. I have to say going from Dark Souls III to Nioh (and back again) is not easy. I am so used to the DS controls (right bumper and trigger for weak attack and strong attack respectively, B for roll/run, A for interaction with items. X is for using the consumable item in the down position on the D-pad, and Y is to two-hand your weapon), that when I play Nioh, it takes a good half hour to adjust to the buttons. X and Y for weak attack and strong attack (like The Witcher 3 and apparently most games), A for dodge/run, B for interaction with items.

Both games have systems that are almost impregnable. I think the members of FromSoft (devs of Soulsborne games) pride themselves on their menus being counterintuitive and byzantine. They change their stats every goddamn game, and there’s always one stat that just doesn’t do jack or shit. One small example of needless obfuscation*–in every game, there is a consumable item (souls in the Souls games and coldblood in Bloodborne) that if you crush, you get a large quantity of souls/blood echoes. The thing is, they all have these weirdass names and refuse to tell you exactly how many souls you’ll get for crushing it. So you might pick up a Soul of an Intrepid Hero, a Large Soul of a Proud Paladin, and a Soul of a Great Champion (all names of consumable souls in DS III), but you probably wouldn’t know they give you 2500, 1000, and 50,000 souls respectively.

They decided that wasn’t opaque enough and went even weirder for Bloodborne with the consumable blood echoes. There are categories such as Coldblood Dew and Thick Coldblood, for example. Then, in most of the categories, they are numbered. Therefore, Coldblood Dew (1)  is 350 blood echoes, and Kin Coldblood (12) is 20,000. I’ve played Soulsborne games countless of times and still cannot tell you how much each consumable soul/coldblood is worth without Googling it.

Nioh is obviously influenced by Dark Souls, and I feel as if they took a look at DS’s menus and saw it as a challenge. “You think that’s obscure, mate? Take a look at this!” I don’t know why I made Team Ninja British when they and FromSoft are Japanese, but so be it.

Another reason it takes so long to reacclimate to Nioh’s control buttons is because there are so many things to do with the buttons.

*taking a deep breath*


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Dark Souls III: Bossing My Way Through NG Pluses

down to the wire with the dancer.
Tears of Denial saved my ass!

Hi, my name is Minna Hong, and I’m addicted to Dark Souls III. I have written before how it’s not the best Soulsborne game (Dark Souls. No question. But, man, is it so janky and has issues), but it’s the most replayable–at least for me. It’s also a game I can comfortably play on my laptop, so it’s my go-to when I’m in the mood to play something, but I can’t be stuffed to get up and go to my desktop. (Like when I was sick. I didn’t even want to get up and move the two feet to the recliner I use to play Bloodborne on my PS4.) I’ve also gotten back into Binding of Isaac: Rebirth to finish off the achievements, but that’s another post for another day.

I’ve played all the Soulsborne games more than once except Demon’s Souls, which I haven’t played because I don’t have a PS3, please god let it be remastered for the PS4, but I hadn’t done more than NG+ on any of them. I also hadn’t played a tank character up until I finished Dark Souls III and decided to give it a try. I’d heard all the griping in ‘the community’ about how easy magic/casting made the game, that it was babby mode, that only scrubs used magic, and I decided I had to give another build a try so I could make a comparison of my own. Before being a tank, I would still have argued that being a caster is more difficult because I had less health and stamina, had to wear lighter armor, and I didn’t have enough magicks/pyromancy/miracles to make my way through a whole area or boss fight. That meant I had to do some melee, usually with a starting/first area weapon (battle axe was my jam), which meant plinking away for potato damage until I reached a bonfire and replenished my spells.

One of my favorite changes to DS III was switching from a limited number of spells to mana (FP, focus points, but it’s mana) and having two Estus Flasks (Ashen Estus Flask to replenish the FP bar) which you can allocate any way you like. By the end of the game, I had fifteen gulps of my Estus Flasks, and I had a ten/five split between regular and Ashen.

Once I finished the game as a pyromancer, I decided to do another pyromancer run and a tank run (separately). I needed to know if my hunch that being a tank would be easier in the long run was right or wrong. Short answer–right. Having that fat health bar and endurance for days made such a difference. Being able to wield the Greataxe (what I used for my first tank run) or the Executioner’s Sword (another early fave) with ease meant dishing out massive damage. Being able to use more than a base shield meant blocking was viable, and if I wear the Wolf Ring +3, I don’t even flinch when I get hit.

When I started the first Dark Souls game, I chose pyromancer because I like fire, yes, but also because I thought being ranged would be better for an old, slow-reaction gal like me. After playing a lot of tank, however, I have to say that being a tank is better if you have slower reactions. Why? Because as a caster, I had to do a lot of dodging. A LOT. As a tank, I could trade blows and come out mostly intact. Right now, I’m rocking the Black Iron Set with the matching Black Iron Greatshield +10. If I wanted to truly cosplay as Black Iron Tarkus, er, Knight Slayer Tsorig, I’d use the Fume Ultra Greatsword, but I find it too unwieldy and, frankly, underwhelming. I switch up weapons during different playthroughs (and for different bosses), but my main is Lorian’s Greatsword, which is by far my favorite weapon in the game.

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How I Digest Popular Media

I just finished my umpteenth rewatch of Poirot (David Suchet. He is the only one in my mind), and I have a few thoughts on it and my popular media consumption in general. I wrote a post about the show specifically, so I’ll keep that part brief and move on to the broader issues in general in this post.

First of all, Curtain, the final episode (and final novel in the series. Fun fact: Agatha Christie wrote it in WWII in case she got killed, and it sat in a vault for thirty years before being published.) It’s interesting to think about the fact that she wrote it before she wrote roughly half of the later novels. I cried buckets watching Curtain–again. The last few series were darker than the originals in general, and the final episode was drenched in melancholy. I’ve written before how Curtain is the perfect episode. From the oppressive atmosphere to the exemplary acting across the board to the fact that for once in the later series, they stuck pretty close to the source material, it’s a solid ten.

I need to talk about Hugh Fraser in this episode. During the whole series, he’s our eyes and ears as the affable, hearty, naive, tenderhearted but thoroughly English Captain Hastings. He is our stand-in, and he grew into the role over the years. If David Suchet IS Poirot, Hugh Fraser is equally Captain Hastings. I’ve written before that the allies in the series haven’t gotten the credit they deserve, and the series really wasn’t the same without them. They brought back Hugh Fraser for Curtain, and from the first second we see Captain Hastings, it’s clear that the ravages of time have visited him. He’s still a fine figure of a man, but there’s grey in his hair, and there are lines on his face that previously weren’t there. There’s also a sadness in his eyes because of the death of his wife. The grief is heavy on his ramrod straight shoulders, and it’s not helped by the fact that his daughter is a more modern woman who doesn’t have time for useless emotions like grief.

The look on Captain Hastings’ face when he realizes that Poirot is dying/dead still haunts me. It’s the one still from the episode that stays with me long after I watch the episode (and makes me bawl my eyes out). As much as I adore David Suchet as Poirot, it’s Hugh Fraser’s Captain Hastings who carries this episode. Usually, he’s a bluff, hearty man who’s ready with a smile and a quick joke, but in this episode, he’s a shell of his former self.

In the last post, I wrote about my issues with the book series and a few with the TV episodes as well. I think it’s important to be aware of these issues, but it’s also inhibiting at times. I like to say that I don’t like movies, and while it’s not strictly true, I do find it an inferior medium to books (same with TV). I don’t like TV and movies in general because I find it difficult to believe what is happening on the screen is actually real. I rarely get lost in a movie or TV show the way I do novels, and I think it’s, ironically, because I’m being given too much detail whereas in novels, I have to imagine them myself. In fact, I don’t like books with too much description and just skim those sections.


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The Best Part of Waking Up Is NOT Folgers In My Ass

Ed. Note: Astute  POOG readers will realize that I haven’t tackled goop nonsense in quite some time. The reason is twofold. One is because I watched an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow (the things I do for POOG!), and she talked about how watching her father waste away from cancer started her on the path to all this woo-hoo business. It made me feel sympathetic for her (more like sorry), which makes it difficult to satirize her nonsense. The second is because of the Harvey Weinstein bullshit and the fact that she was one of his victims. You can probably imagine how I feel about that, so I laid off Gwyneth. However, three members of the POOG Patrol have sent me articles about the same issue through three different mediums (Julie in email, Kel on Facebook, and @infinitewords14 on Twitter), and once I read it, I knew I had to answer the bat (shit crazy) signal, so here we go! 

We’re a country who loves our coffee. Many of us couldn’t imagine getting through the day without a cup of joe or three. Starbucks is practically a national institution, and we worship at the altar of Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino Blended Coffee. Grande, Venti, or Trenta, it doesn’t matter. We just want to mainline it as quickly and painlessly as we can. We need that boost to get through the day, and what better way to ingest the coffee than to literally shove it up your ass as an enema?

You read that right. I can see your double-take in horror, much the same as mine when I read the article after Julie first sent it to me. Surely, it had to be The Onion. This had to be satire! I’d heard of coffee enemas before, but I’d always pooh-poohed them because who would be silly enough to squirt boiling hot coffee up their assholes? Sadly, in researching for this post, I learned that there are many people who earnestly believe that this is the ideal way to remove the toxins* from the body. It’s a very complicated formula, so follow along very carefully if you will.

  1. Inject a coffee enema
  2. ???
  3. PROFIT!!!

I hope you were able to follow along with my very scientific explanation, but in case not, here is a graph in which the X-Axis is coffee squirted up your ass and the Y-Axis is the time it takes for the coffee to kick into effect.

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Games that stuck with me in 2017

I started a list of different games in 2017 that meant something to me one way or another. You can read the first part of the list here. I didn’t finish the list because it was getting long, so here are the rest of the games that stood out for me in 2017.

The best game that I wasn’t good enough to finish

Hollow Knight

I loved everything about this game from the minute my little bug-like creature starting smiting people with her trusty rusted nail. She was a big-eyed, rabbit-eared silent protagonist who was weary with the world, but she had a mission, and she was going to do it, damn it. I loved the gentle oppressive gloom that surrounded her, and I loved the gorgeous environments. I played through the second boss, and I loved the game with all my heart. However, there were two things that stopped me from continuing, and while one of them was tweakable (by the devs), one was not.

I suck at platforming. I hate it in the Souls games where it’s really awful, but I also hate it in games in which the platforming is the focus. I can jump from platform to platform if I concentrate hard enough, but I can’t do the jumps AND fight at the same time. In the beginning of the game, the platforming was low-key and manageable. When they started ramping it up, I was quickly out of my depth, and it was no longer enjoyable for me.

The other thing is that the currency received/prices of items ratio was way out of whack. Like Souls games, the XP you get is also the currency.  If you die, you lose it on the spot. If you die again before you make it back to your soul, you lose the souls forever (for example). In this game, you have to fight a shadow version of yourself to get your souls back, which is an added wrinkle. In addition, the amount of souls you get for killing enemies is a pittance compared to how much you have to pay for items is ridiculous. I remember I wanted to buy a key, and it was something like 900 souls. In a Souls game, that would mean killing one or two enemies (that aren’t the standard hollows), but in this game, you get 2 or 3 monies for killing each of the standard enemies. That’s a lot of souls to bank, and it took me a really long time to get that much. Then, the key didn’t even open up the lock I thought it would. How disappointing.

I love this game still. I just wish I could actually play it.

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My Weird-ass Game Awards

So, most end-of-the-year game award posts/videos are about the top ten games of the year, which is fine, but not that interesting. Sure, there is slight variability, but it’s mostly the same games over and  over again. In addition, I’ve probably played little more than ten games this year, and not all of them were great. Or new. So, I’m going to do my own twist and just give out the game awards that tickle my fancy in no particular order. Ready? OK! Oh, and, this way be spoilers.

The Best Game I’ve Been Replaying Obsessively Despite My Previously Being Done With It Months Ago

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

I’ve put countless hours into this game back when it was Rebirth, and several into Afterbirth, then lost complete interest when Afterbirth+ came out. I’ve already complained about the expansions and how they’re for the hardcore players, which I’m not (and I have Real Platinum God!). Hardcore meaning those who did all The Lost shit without the Holy Mantle (I did it with), which means not getting hit the entire run (barring the use of certain items). Since I’ve been sick, I mostly game on my laptop, and BOI: R runs easily on it. I reinstalled it and fired it, and I rediscovered the joy I originally had playing it. There’s been a ‘booster pack’ added since I last played, which means more items, trinkets, and cards. I stick mainly to Isaac, Eden, and Azazel, but I’m also trying to finish The Keeper’s Post-It Note. I only have MegaSatan and Delirium to finish off, but, man, it is no fun at all.

Still. A run can take up to and over an hour depending, and I like to do the rerun of the run immediately following. If I’m playing Eden, I can usually win the run without much problem IF I start with more than one heart, decent speed, and decent damage. By the way, speed makes such a difference in this game. Anything under the base of 1 makes it really difficult for me and my slow-ass reactions. It’s funny because I watched Pat and Woolie (of Super Best Friends) play the game for the first time, and it was both hilarious and frustrating as hell. I actually yelled at my monitor when Woolie (on the sticks) or Pat (giving commentary) did or said something stupid. It was especially funny when Pat would declare something confidently, and he was 100% wrong. He does that a lot, especially in the Souls series. He’s not so much factually wrong there as he’s taking his own personal feelings about something to be universal.

Anyway, BOI: R is my version of comfort food, and I’m enjoying it once again. It’s a way to turn my mind off and give it a break, and I am thankful for that.

The Most Anticipated Sequel That I Had Given Up Hope Would Ever Happen

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!

I loved the original game, and when the sequel was announced soon after, I was hyped! Then, a year came and went with no sequel and nary a mention of it. Then, the sequel was announced, and I was hyped again! Then, it was postponed, and I feared it would never happen. The roller coaster of emotions! The ups! The downs! When the release date was announced again, I held my breathe. When it released, I was overjoyed. I dived in and was immediately transported back to my frenetic pounding on the keyboard days of CSD, the original.

The sequel is better in so many ways. The chores are more streamlined and no longer feel as intrusive. The food is gorgeous, and it makes me want to eat every time I play the game. I like the info on all the food, and playing is as intuitive as always. The menus are better than in the original, and I love the ability to design my own restaurants. It’s a wonderful sequel, and I’ve played the shit out of it. There are constant updates, and I’m glad the emails are back. The sequel was definitely worth the wait!


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Resting My Little Grey Cells With Hercule Poirot

People who know me might or might not know something rather strange about me–I am a rabid Hercule Poirot fan. I say it’s strange because my tastes run more towards the contemporary and what some would call noir or ‘gritty’. Poirot is none of those things, though later in the TV series, they tried their damnedest to make it so. I want to make it clear that I read the stories voraciously when I was a teenager, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I’ve read each at least three or five times, and some up to dozens of times. My two favorites are The Big Four and Curtain, and I’m trying my own hand at writing a Poirot story. It’s dashed hard, though, to write in someone else’s voice and not make it sound like parody. There is someone who has written two new ‘Poirot’ novels with the blessing of the Christie estate (money already running dry?), and I tried to read the first one. It wasn’t Poirot at all, and I didn’t make it past the first few pages. I didn’t even try to read the second one. Anyway, writing a Poirot story has been a good exercise, but I don’t know if I’ll finish it.

Back to the books. I loved Poirot’s finickiness, his preciseness, his ego, and his little grey cells. I didn’t care how ludicrous his denouements were. In fact, the more ludicrous, the better. I love modern murder mysteries, but I do have to say the insistence on verisimilitude can get tedious. I love the internet, but it makes it far too easy to check up on the details. “There’s no such place as Shop and Cop in Boston!” Who cares, really? It’s funny, but it even happened in the days before the internet. Agatha Christie had a character in her later novels named Ariadne Oliver whose famous detective is a vegetarian Finn named Sven Hjerson. Ariadne is clearly a stand-in for Agatha Christie, and she’s always lamenting about how she shouldn’t have made him a Finn and that people in Finland have too much time to read. It’s hilarious, and I’m quite sure it was Dame Christie’s way of venting her frustration because it’s said she came to hate Poirot by the end of her career.

I started watching the Ustinov movies, but he never really was Poirot to me. Funny note: David Suchet played Chief Inspector Japp in one of the Ustinov movies, and, um, let’s just say it wasn’t the right role for him. He IS Hercule Poirot, and there shall be no other. Yes, I will watch the (ugh) Kenneth Branagh version of Murder on the Orient Express, but I won’t like it. The trailer is atrocious, Kenneth Branagh couldn’t be more wrong for the part, and everything about is wrong. Then again, all three of the prior versions of the movie are terrible, too (including, sadly, the David Suchet version which got all Catholique at the end), and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better as a novel. Interestingly enough, even though it’s one of the more famous novels, it’s not one of my favorite. It’s too convoluted, even for a Poirot novel, and there’s no way to cram it in an hour and a half to two hours. Anyway, I don’t think there should be any more Poirot portrayals unless it’s done by an actual Belgian. It’s time to let it go and let David Suchet remain the gold standard.

I know as I watch that there are problems with the series. One, the way they portray the working class, often making them appear thick, slow, and conniving. Another is using English actors for other nationalities. Speaking of which, Dame Christie had some pretty provincial ideas about other nationalities, which is one of my least favorite part of the books. In watching the series again, I’ve been wincing at some of the portrayals (both as how they are written and the English actors portraying them). The biggest strength is also the biggest problem, and I hate having to talk about it, but talk I must. It’s David Suchet as Poirot. Now, my admiration for Suchet as Poirot knows no bounds. I am currently watching the first episode, and how he grew into the part until he embodied the character is amazing. He is Poirot to me that any time I hear him speak in his regular voice, I am jarred. It is a performance of the lifetime, and I adore every aspect of it.


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Too Tired to Think–and Dark Souls III

I’m writing this on Christmas, and I’m feeling out of sorts. Not as bad as in past years, but there’s still a vague ‘I should be celebrating, but I’m not, and that makes me a bad person.” As I said, it’s much more subdued than it has been in past years, but it’s still there. I like to say I’m immune to advertising*, but there is still enough societal pressure that makes me low-key feel bad for not celebrating.

I still feel like shit with congestion and cotton in my brain. My ears are scabby and gross, and if I pick the scabs (I know, I know), pus oozes out. My lymph node is almost not-swollen any more, which is good, and it’s barely tender. I’m still going to go to the doc after the holidays, though, because I need to get a grip on this. I also need to get my thyroid meds checked, which may help with the sinus crap.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve cut out gluten and dairy, and I can honestly say I don’t miss it–except for cheese. God, I love cheese, but it doesn’t love me back. As Tim Minchin says, “I cannot Camembert any more.”

Why does cheese have to be so goddamn delicious???? And why is it so hard to duplicate? “I love cheese, but it’s plain to see, that cheese doesn’t love me. I am such a fool in love; I just cannot get enough, but it’s an unrequited love!” Sing it, Tim! The rest of it, though? Not. I’ve gone back to my Taiwanese roots and reacquainted myself with rice. Which, by the way, smells so delicious while cooking. And, PSA: rice cooker all the way for a perfect cook every time. Anyway, rice is way tastier than bread, and it’s way more versatile. I’ve also discovered non-gluten tortillas, bread, and bagels which are all nearly as good as the originals.

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