Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Pop Culture, Emphasis on Pop

don't try this at home.
Let me entertain you!

In the past week, I’ve been sucked into the talent show videos rabbit hole. It started–oh, hell. I don’t know how it started, but I began compulsively watching the best and worst auditions of Britain’s Got Talent, then it widened out to America’s Got Talent, X Factor, and whatever else I felt like watching. There’s something compelling about the best and the worst, duh, for respectively, the spine-chilling, ‘holy shit!’ factor and the, ‘I cannot believe what I’m seeing/hearing right now. This is a train wreck’ impulse.

I’ve learned a few things watching these audition shows (and followup clips when I really like an act). One, there are a lot of deluded people out there. I’m not talking about the people who are decent at what they do, but don’t quite have the ‘it’ thing, but people who have no talent whatsoever. There were a few I was convinced were doing it as a joke, but many were so sincere.

Side note: I started watching Season 8 of American Idol, and any time they would take a closer look at a contestant, I knew the person was either going to be terrific or terrible, usually the latter. Any time a singer said, “I know I’m going to win,” I knew they’d be awful, but I rarely was ready for how terrible they would be. Then, most of them would be shocked that they weren’t given a golden ticket, and some of them explosively so. I couldn’t help thinking, “Where are your friends? Your family? Isn’t there anyone to give you some tough love?” I know some of them probably just ignored their family (one guy explicitly said his mother told him he couldn’t sing) and friends, but others had family and friends with them that told them they were the best and shouldn’t give up! I understand wanting to support your loved one, but it’s cruel to give hope where there is none. It’s like telling me I could be a WNBA star if I just really tried hard enough. Or I’m going to be president. It’s. Not. Going. To. Happen, and my friends would be doing me a disservice if they encouraged me to pursue either of these activities.

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In Goop–And Gwyneth–We Trust

I became aware of something that for someone in my business* is like the Super Bowl, PBO’s inauguration day (COME BACK, BARACK!), and a wet sloppy kiss from Jason Momoa all rolled up into one: Goop’s first ever wellness summit, called In Goop Health. Which makes no fucking sense to me. Is it supposed to be a riff off in good health? It vaguely reminds me of In God We Trust, but I don’t think that’s supposed to be it. I think it’s the former, but it’s still enough to make me go, ‘Huh?’ The summit was this past Saturday in Culver City, CA, and it would have been my dream to go all Samantha Bee at the Republican convention up in this bitch.  One of my all-time favorite skits is when she tried to get Republicans to say the word ‘choice’ in reference to Bristol Palin’s decision to have her baby, and the lengths to which they refuse to do so until the very end is laughable. I love how Sam doesn’t give the word to them, she just makes them finally have to say it.

I think I’d take a slightly different tack, though. I’d go incognito as one of them! Granted, I’d have to buy a pair of Sweaty Betty Haven Yoga Pants, but they’re only available in black. While this is my favorite color, it’s not really acceptable for the Goop crowd. I don’t want to be stereotypical, but I may have to turn to lululemon for my white yoga pants needs. This may surprise you, but I haven’t looked at yoga pants in–well, ever, really. What I’m discovering is that the traditional yoga pants, as it were, has been replaced by the semi-transparent leggings, and I am not having ANY of that. I did manage to find Dance Studio Pants III (Regular) in white that will work, and the name is almost as long as the pants are expensive. It would be worth it, though, if it meant I could flit amongst the Goopies–Goopites?–undetected. Add to that a Balenciaga Classic Hip Bag for the low, low price of $850, and I’m good to go!

The base fee for the day was $500. That was the no-frills ticket, and you had to pony up $1,500 if you wanted the privilege of supping and drinking with Gwyneth and her pals. I can’t imagine anything I’d want to do more than watch Gwyneth sprinkle Moon Juice Brain Dust in her morning smoothie which includes ingredients such as maca, ashwagandha, ho shou wu, and cordyceps. The recipe suggests different Dusts for different times, and this is straight text, “Sex Dust, for, you know”. Seriously? We’re (presumably) grown-ass adults. We can say we’re fucking, can’t we?

Anyhoo, most of the write-ups about the ‘summit’ were straightforward, taking what the speakers said at face value, or even gushing about them. The one publication that actually took time to dismantle all the bullshit is, incredibly, The New York Post. The first paragraph reads as if it’s from The Onion:

Gwyneth Paltrow’s inaugural health-and-wellness summit on Saturday kicked off just as you’d expect: well-groomed women wearing yoga pants and expensive handbags hooking themselves up to IVs and oxygen tubes in a parking lot, experiences otherwise associated with the glamour of getting triaged at a disaster site.

In fact, I was pretty sure I was being pranked, but, sadly or gladly, that was just the tip of the Goopy icebearg! There was talk of ‘integral photosynthesis’ and of ‘the ontological experience called your life’. There was a presentation of a 10-minute face-lift that included local anesthesia and needles being poked in someone’s face. This procedure is apparently one of the simple things in life costing $3,500 and one of the side effects may be blindness. It’s better to look good than to be able to see, amirite ladies???

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Better a Bee in Your Bonnet than a Ground-up Wasp Nest in Your Vag

Ed. Note: We here at POOG* are constantly on the look out for all things vag-related. We call upon you, the POOG patrol to point out any and all atrocities you see that concern the crotch (peen, too, though there’s less of that) to our administration. Tweet me @asiangrrlMN  or email me at asiangrrl29@yahoo.com with all your fascinating/horrific hoo-ha articles, and we will address the ones that tickle our yoni, er, fancy. This week’s installment is not related to Gwyneth, astonishingly enough, but don’t worry. We’ll get back to her soon. 

As my faithful readers know, I’m very committed to making sure my vag is in the best shape it can possibly be. That means I wash it regularly, which is all it needs because it’s self-cleaning. However, there’s a new ‘vaginal therapy’ that is all the rage on Etsy.** It’s putting oak gall up your hoo-ha to tighten and dry your vag because we all know that loose lips don’t get any dick! The gall of having flapping labia! (Get it?? The gall? No appreciation for my wit.) Oak gall is when a wasp deposits its larva into an oak tree. The tree becomes irritated (wouldn’t you?) and secretes tannic and gallic acids around the larvae. This formation is essential the gall, or as I like to call it, the gall ball. Hey, ho, it’s a gall ball party in your vag! Doesn’t that sound appetizing? Oh, and the gall is astringent, which makes it doubly fun. I don’t know about you, but I love putting untested astringent wasp excreta in my pussy. I could do that shit every day! Who doesn’t like a little sting and burn in her private parts? I certainly do! That’s why I slather my cervix with Sriracha every night before I go to bed. Sure, it means that my vag feels like its engorged with flames when I wake up, but that’s just an added benefit!

Once again, it’s up to Dr. Gunter, my Gwyneth Paltrow whisperer, who I have just promoted to vagina whisperer to give the medical 411 on why you shouldn’t insert gall balls into your lady bits. She handles the science, I deal with the sarcasm and snark. In her blog post on the subject, she tells you exactly why it’s a bad idea to put an unknown astringent up your hoo-ha. You wouldn’t think a grown woman would have to be told this, but here we are. I am thankful for Dr. Gunter’s tireless devotion to debunking all this vag-related hokum.

I also really appreciate that the purveyors of this bullshit are calling it traditional medicine. They claim that women in Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia use it to snap their uteri back in shape after birthing some babies, and at least they went Southeast Asian this time for their mystical Orient bullshit rather than East Asian, but still. Stop using my global sisters to sell your shit, people! I know it gives your crap instant gravitas, but it’s racist as hell. “Peasant women in Malaysia are squatting in the rice fields, smearing their lady parts with ground up wasp nest to regain the pep in their puss!” It’s antiquated, outdated, and pretty foul to boot. It’s funny, really, how you never hear about a product being sold that was used by ancient Icelandic women or some shit. It’s always Asian women, and usually concubines/empresses. Otherwise, it’s tantric and yoni, which is also grotesque, albeit amusing in a dark way. Below is a satire video by Awkwafina and Margaret Cho (goddess!) skewering all the played-out and stale stereotypes about Asian women.

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At Least I Know What I Don’t Like

it was made for my hands.
I love my Xbone controller so hard.

I’ve written before how since I’ve finished the Souls series* I’ve been struggling to find a game that I enjoy playing. I heard about this game called Unexplored, which has been described as a cross between Dark Souls and Binding of Isaac. I’ve played the shit out of both of these games/series, and I’ve always said I wanted to play a hybrid. It went on sale at Steam for nine bucks, so I snatched it up. It’s a really cute dungeon crawler in which you’re a one-eyed fluffy circle creature with a cape that has a weapon poking out in front and a side weapon you can throw. Before you enter the dungeon, you talk to this guy, and he gives you tips on the dungeons. You have to buy him beers (5 gold each), and the tips don’t seem that helpful yet.

It’s easy to see the Souls/Isaac influences from the very start. A little bit of Enter the Gungeon, too. The tutorial is straight out of Gungeon, but I didn’t even notice it was there until after I’d done a few failed runs. There will be many comparisons to Souls/Isaac because that’s what the game is clearly modeling itself after. Even with the tutorial, there isn’t much said before you jump into the game. I used keyboard/mouse, but there is gamepad support. However, according to the forums, it’s not intuitive, so I stuck to the keyboard/mouse with the typical WASD movement. I had to switch my keyboard from Dvorak to QWERTY, but I’m just glad I was able to do it. Some games consider this a problem. E is look, which is weird, and TAB is map. I’d prefer M for map, but that’s a little thing. I played on Normal, which was…weird. On the first floor in the first dungeon, I wandered around exploring everything. What I found was a lot of…nothing. I ran into maybe a half dozen enemies and a couple of puzzles, but that’s it. I went down to the next floor, and it was more of the same.

When I die, it’s a perma-death, and the next run is the heir of the first character. So, Mulan Rogue the first gives way to Mulan Rogue the second, etc. I don’t think you keep anything other than your gold for the next run. You start with different items, and I believe it’s procedurally-generated. You can right-click and see what they do, but true to rogues, some things need to be identified. Scrolls, potions, and rings are what I’ve found so far. Scrolls and potions are identified the second you use them (and, also true to rogues, some are positive and some are negative), but I had to wear the ring for five minutes before I knew what it did.

There are libraries with cryptic books, which you can take or copy to your journal. I chose to copy more often than not because there is a limited inventory, of which I am not fond. I hate limited inventories with a passion, and the one mod I used when I played Skyrim was the Convenient Horse mod, which allowed me to carry unlimited items. I do like finding the lore by reading books, which is similar to reading item descriptions in Souls games. I don’t mind finding things out in drips and drabs.

What I don’t like is persistent status effects with no antidote, pun intended. There was one level that had a gas atmosphere, and I couldn’t find a way to counter it. I had to go through it, but my health was dropping at an alarming rate. I lost all interest in the run. To make matters worse, when I was in the middle of a good run, the game started freezing on me, and I had to shut down the game. This happened again, and I lost any interest in playing it.

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I Don’t Need My A-game to Fuck With Gwyneth Paltrow

Attention POOG Patrol!* It has come to my attention that Gwyneth Paltrow is all up in her feels about people clapping back at her for her quackery ‘science’. She went all in, saying:

I’m interested in criticism based on facts, not projections….If you want to fuck with me, bring your A-game.

Italics are mine, but the quotes are pure Gwyneth. Look at how hard she’s trying to be by dropping an F-bomb when she’s all, “COME AT ME, BRO!”! Ride or die, Gwyneth. Ride or die! She’s squadding up, imagining that she’s the Wu-Tang Clan.

I can imagine her saying to her bestie, “Hold my Urban Satchel Louis Vuitton Bag and my earrings by Tiffany, darling; I’m going in!” before sailing in on her Jimmy Choos and flailing her fists about. Then, when she breaks a nail at the first punch thrown, she scurries to her resident masseuse to relieve the tension.  She’s so adorable when she’s angry, and it’s hard to take her seriously, but I have a few things to say in response to her (because of course I do).

First of all, I don’t need my A-game to fuck with her.  I don’t need my mental taiji or anything other than Google and my Auntie Cherry Blossom to decimate Gwyneth and her ‘facts’. I can do it with one eye closed and one hand tied behind my back. Admittedly, it’d take much longer because I’d have to type one-handed, but I’m used to that on account of my cat, Shadow, sitting on my chest as I’m trying to type. Hunt and peck is infuriating when I type 100+ words a minute, but it’s doable. It just gives me more time to think of my zingers with my rapier-sharp wit. Gwyneth may have money, fame, and beauty on her side, but I have my wits and my words which I’ll pit against hers any time. I’m like Professor Elemental pulling on his fighting trousers, but she’s no Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer.

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It’s Just a Fantasy….

all aboard!
About to ride the dragon (wyvern)!

My fellow nerds, I have a confession to make.

::looks around nervously and clears throat::

I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi.

Whew! I feel so much better now that I’ve gotten that off my ample chest. I’ve been holding it in for far too long, pretending to be amped about the latest Star Trek/Wars movie…by the way, I *am* amped about the latest Star Trek TV show, but only because Michelle Yeoh is in it. More like Michelle YEAH, amirite? She is a badass, and she’s fucking hot. Also, Jason Isaacs. Yum.

But I digress.

Obviously, I’m being hyperbolic, but not by much. Sci-fi has become cool, and I just can’t get on that hype train. I’m not into robots (unless they’re Jaegers and they’re fighting the Kaiju), and as much as I like tech, I’m not interested in the inner workings of mechs.

You know what I do like? Dark fantasy. The term is to describe many different kinds of fantasy, but I use it to mean supernatural horrors in our world, replete with witches and goblins and werebeings, oh my! Some of my favorite mystery series have these aspects incorporated in them, and I’d much rather be immersed in a dark fantasy world than a sci-fi one.

As longtime readers know, I am a huge Dark Souls fan. It’s high fantasy, rather than dark fantasy, but it’s the fantasy part that entices me. Monstrous creatures saturates the worlds, but the most monstrous of all are the humanoids. In fact, the final boss in the final DLC of Dark Souls III *spoilers* is Slave Knight Gael, a character who was seeking out the dark soul of man for his niece so she could finish her painting. When he found it, he became corrupted by all the dark souls he consumed, so humans are literally the worst thing in the Dark Souls universe.

Now that I think of it, the same was true for the DLC of the original game. The final boss was *spoilers for a game that’s a bajillion years old* Manus, Father of the Abyss, and while there’s speculation as to his true identity, what’s agreed on is that he was once human until he ate so many souls he became totally corrupted. Even his name–Manus–can be broken down into man and us. We are man, and we are evil. That’s the prevailing theory, anyway.

You probably also know that one of my pet peeves about Dark Souls YouTubers/Twitchers* is that many of them denigrate being a caster in the games. They’re all male, and many of them have never played a caster, but by god, they know it’s the pussy way to play the game! “Oooh, you run around and snipe people from a far and don’t get hurt!” But you run out of spells and have to melee with a shit weapon, which is no fun, let me tell you. It’s annoying as hell, especially now that I’ve played as a tank character throughout each game. There’s also the, “You can’t beat the feeling of just smashing a guy into the ground” mentality, and I will say there’s more merit to that than to the former, but it’s still fucking satisfying to watch an enemy get engulfed in flames.

I maintain that playing as a melee character is far easier for the most part than playing as a caster, and you can fight me on that if you want. Come at me, bro!

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Suggestions From a Filthy Casual

mad libs in effect.
I need to find a shoe, a hammer, and a cellphone!

Way before I ventured into the strange world of hardcore gaming, I was a dedicated practitioner of casual games. I’ve never given them up completely, and now while I’ve been sick for three months, sometimes, a casual game is all my brain can handle. Hidden Object Games (HOGs), Match-3, Solitaire, Time Management, I like ’em all. I have a much lower expectation of them than I do hardcore games because one, they’re churned out like processed meat at a rapid pace, and, two, they’re much less expensive than hardcore games. I am a member of BigFishGames.com, and a Standard Edition (SE) game is $6.99, whereas a Collector’s Edition (CE) is $13.99. In addition, the expectations are different when I play a casual game than when I play a hardcore one. I play casual games just to relax, so I’m not as critical about them as I am with hardcore games. That being said, there are several tropes in casual games that are way past their expiration date, and I would like to make some suggestions as to how to make them better. Most of my suggestions are for HOGs, but some of them apply across the board. I’ll indicate which games are the worst offenders for each trope I’m going to dissect.

Let’s start at the beginning. Literally. When I start up a HOG, I know I’m going to be greeted with a cutscene. Here’s a weird fact about when I play casual games–I play them with the sound off. It’s weird because I always play with the sound on with hardcore games, but I play with the sound muted for casual games. Why? First of all, the sound is jacked up in comparison to how loud it should be. Additionally, many of them have music that plays throughout the whole game, and I don’t want that in my ear the whole time I’m playing. Secondly, voice acting in casual games is usually atrocious, and I’d rather read the text than hear them speak. Anyway, the fact that I can’t fiddle with the settings before the cutscene starts is irritating to me. I would sit through the cutscene and read the text if that were an option, but because it isn’t, I simply skip the cutscene instead.

By the way, there are some things in casual games that will make it a no-go before I even get started. Oh! One of the best things about casual games and using a client service like BGF is that every game has a free demo. It used to be an hour, regardless, but now it’s more like a set amount of story/scenes that a developer wants you to see. I’m fine with that, but it seems as if more and more games are creating their games for that hour point and end on a cliff hanger, which is understandable, but somewhat irritating. Anyway, my top egregious sins are: One, not allowing for windowed mode. There is no excuse for this. None. Two, not being able to mute the music. Again, there’s no excuse for it. I have a hunch that the developers of casual games are not as experienced or knowledgeable as are hardcore developers, but it can’t be that difficult to code window mode or muting the sound. Not being able to skip cutscenes is also a non-starter for me. Basically, if I’m not in control of my gaming experience, I’ll tap out. I’m not as strict about resolution settings because that doesn’t matter as much to me, but sound and window? Yeah.

Here are some of my micro annoyances with casual games. One, making it so I have to continually press a button to mute the sound–especially if you have to do each aspect separately. I don’t even like sliders, but they’re better than having to repeatedly press a button. I wish more games had a ‘mute all’ button, but that doesn’t seem to be a thing. Another is once I’ve fixed all the settings to my liking, as the game continues, it ignores what I’ve done and reverts to previous settings. If a game does that (say with cutscenes and sound), I instantly stop playing. Another weird thing many HOGs do is that you can change the difficulty in the settings, but if you do it before they specifically ask you to select your difficulty, they’ll still ask you, even if you change the difficulty. In addition, some games will change your whole computer’s resolution when you choose window mode, and that’s another game stopper for me. Obviously.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Five

Ed. Note: This is part five of my endless review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. I don’t want it to end, just like I don’t want the series to end. Read part four here

i'm sure we'll meet again.
Thanks for the tip, Uncle Gael!

So. Now that I’m done with the DLC, how do I feel about it overall? It’s hard to say. I played it one more time on my laptop* with the character I started while I was visiting Ian. She’s a strength/faith build because there’s a weapon, Morne’s Great Hammer, that takes 50/30 strength/faith to use, and I want to try it out. Unfortunately, it’ll take at least through the second playthrough to get the stats to use it, and then I may not have enough vitality to use it effectively. Right now, she has 29/40 and 13 vitality. The reason she has 40 faith is because I want to be able to use a lightning spell that takes 45 faith, which I can do with the Priestess Ring (adds ?5 faith). The problem is, though, I’m not going to be able to add 21 strength (or 16. I can wear the Knight’s Ring to add +5 to strength) plus whatever vitality I need in order to wear decent armor and heft the MGH. What I might do is respect just so I can play around with it, then respec again to a saner build once I’ve had my fill of the MGH.

I decided to take her through the DLC before writing this review so I could see if I still felt the same way I did when I first played it. This playthrough, I didn’t care at all about soloing the bosses, which made it so much easier, and, frankly, much more enjoyable. I ran through The Dreg Heap with little problem. It’s sounds silly to say, but knowing the way to go cuts out so much of the game’s difficulty. Not all of it, but a healthy portion of it. In addition, the patch that allowed Hidden Body to work was a godsend. The Laser Angels of Death (Technical name, Angels, but that’s my pet name for them) were incidental. They couldn’t harm me if they couldn’t see me, and I liberally used the Hidden Body spell to make sure they couldn’t see me.

Side note: I am not a stealth game player at all, but I love being able to stealth my way through the Souls games. I started another game (yeah, yeah, I know), another tank with a hint of dex, and I’m grumpy because I don’t have my Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo yet. I forget how much I rely on being able to sneak around and ignoring enemies that I don’t want to deal with. One of the reasons I use a 10/5 Estus Flask/Ashen Estus Flask split is so that I can Hidden Body my way around the game to my heart’s content. That’s another thing with being in the beginning part of the game–having to actually monitor my mana** use. By the end of the game, I rarely have to keep an eye on it unless I’m doing a specific mana-only fight, such as trying to kill the second wyvern in Archdragon Peak after first taking care of the Rock Lizards. Who, by the way, are probably the most adorable enemies in the game, even though they are so damn aggravating. They’re hardy little fucks, but I love the way they roll. Anyway, being able to run around an enemy unnoticed in order to backstab them is the best. There are a few enemies that are immune to the Hidden Body spell, which is infuriating. Is using the Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo (plus the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring to extend the length of Hidden Body) cheating? Hell no! It’s in the game.

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Get Your Vag in (Kung Fu) Fightin’ Form!

Hey, ladies. Don’t you hate it when you’ve done your Kegels and you’ve stuffed jade eggs up your hoo-ha, and, yet, you feel as if your vag isn’t as strong as it should be? Well, then do I have the answer for you! It’s Vaginal Kung Fu, and it apparently has been all the rage for the past few years. I saw a mention of it on my Twitter by my Gwyneth Paltrow whisperer, Dr. Jen Gunter*, and I had to read her article because of my morbid curiosity. And because I needed a topic for this week’s POOG post, but that’s definitely secondary! She had me at Vaginal Kung Fu, yo! How could I not be drawn to the ancient art of my people as proposed by an American TV doctor (actual doctor with a talk show) with a 2 star rating on Yelp!? And, with all the anti-choice bills the Republicans are pushing and passing, my vag needs to be in tiptop shape to fight!

I wanna be Vaginal Kung-Fu fightin’!
My uterus will kick as fast as lightning!
I can feel my pelvic muscles tightening!
This is gonna be so enlightening!

The article that Dr. Gunter is dissecting appeared in Allure magazine, and I read it with increasing horror and amazement. There’s an update to the article warning of the risks–they didn’t think to include that in the actual article, mind you–and they quote Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, “Kegels are great! Everyone should do them. But some women can’t figure out which muscle to contract.” She adds, “The vaginal weights make that easy and more fun.” I think the good doctor and I need to have a chat about her idea of fun. Also, if a woman doesn’t know how to do Kegels properly, she can ask her doctor. What? No, Minna, get out! What a revolutionary idea! Now why would I want to do that when I can simply shove weights into my vag in the privacy of my own home? Never mind that I might not know how heavy the weights should be and that you still have to contract the muscles around the weight, I should just do it! Oh, wait. I should ask my doctor about it first? Then why the fuck wouldn’t I just ask how to do Kegels properly? (Read Dr. Gunter’s article linked above for tips on how to do exactly that. Yes, I know I footnoted it, but it’s important enough to mention again.)

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Four

Ed. Note: This is part four (and hopefully, last) of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. Spoilers ahead, so don’t  read if you want to play the game fresh. Part three here

if only i could save Gael.
Uncle Gael is not looking so hot.

Once I finished everything with the DLC* with my two casters, there was only one thing left to do–confront Slave Knight Gael with my tank in NG++. At this point, I was rocking most of Havel’s armor set, the Black Iron Greatshield (BIG), and my beloved Quakestone Hammer +5 (found in the first DLC, and at its highest upgrade). I knew even with my tank, this was going to be a long and arduous journey for me, but I wanted to end the series on a high. Astute readers will note that I have not beat Darkeater Midir with my tank, and it’s because I don’t want to put the effort in to beat him solo, but there are way less summons in NG++ than in NG. Will I do it at some point? Maybe. But it’s not a pressing concern.

I can’t tell you how many times Uncle Gael wrecked my shit. I’m sure I lost to him in the first phase alone at least twenty times. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m old, and my reflexes aren’t great, so I’m not going to be able to roll out of the way in time if I don’t know the patterns. I heard a Dark Souls enthusiast disavow that the games are about rote memorization, but for someone like me, memorization of patterns is extremely important. I can’t just react to Gael’s movements because by the time I process that it’s happening, he’s already hit me. Once I can recognize his tells, however, then I have a chance of reacting properly.

You want to feel as if you’re making progress with each death, but I didn’t feel that way for a long time. At some point, I started experimenting with my armor, shield, and weapon. I knew he was weak to poison and frost because of my runs with my caster, and I decided to do something I don’t do much of in Souls games–infuse a weapon with a poison gem. The problem was, my Quakestone Hammer cannot be infused, so I had to choose another weapon. I mained the Greataxe +10 for most of the vanilla game, but the main drawback of it is that it has short reach. Gael’s weapon is really long, and his cape is even longer. I wanted a weapon with reach, so I bypassed my beloved Greataxe. The other problem was that I would want a fully upgraded weapon, of course, and I didn’t have very many of those. I did have a Greatsword that was either fully upgraded or nearly so, and I decided to go with that. I took it up to +10** and had Andre infuse it with poison. Then, I took it back to Filianore’s Rest to face Gael once again. Because it weighed more than my Quakestone Hammer, I had to lighten up my armor. I can’t tell you how much I fiddled with my loadout during this fight.

Side Note: One of the things Dark Souls does best is take you out of your comfort zone. I don’t always like it because I tend to glom on to one weapon, get comfortable with it, and take it through the game. I marvel at people who can switch weapons on the fly, but I’m not one of them. Part of my skill is knowing a particular weapon’s moveset well, and it takes me some time to adapt to a new one. However, when I’m able to pull it off, I feel like a god. For example, the infamous Ornstein & Smough fight. That fight almost broke me, and I nearly quit the game for good during the depths of my despair. I tried everything I could think of, but I could not beat that damn duo. In desperation, I did something I had never done before and would never do again: I put the Lightning Spear in my left hand and Quelaag’s Furysword in my right. I was maining the Furysword at this point, but I never used the Lightning Spear, and I never dual wield. Anyway, I took care of Small with my pyromancy, then girded my loins to take on Supercharged Biggie. I pulled out the Lightning Spear and the Furysword, and I swiped swiped left right when I had my chance. That’s how I beat Super Biggie, and it made me proud that I had adapted my playstyle to beat him. Them. Whatever. Granted, I never used that playstyle again, but still.

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