Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Musings

A Thousand Steps to One Foot

Still sick, though marginally better. Shadow has been a great help snuggling up to me and keeping me warm, but he has yet to make me a cup of tea. I’ve had to do that myself. I’m at the stage of recovery where I’m holding my breath, hoping I don’t do anything to set myself back. I don’t overextend myself at this point, but the problem is, when I start feeling exponentially better, such as 80%, I get reckless. I think I can go back to doing what I used to do. Now, granted, that’s much to begin with, but it’s enough to set me back.

I still have some remnants of my fundamental upbringing, and it shows up in nebulous ways. In this case, it’s my frustration in that I’m trying to be better about my health in general, and I’m still getting sick. I went five years bronchial/sinus-issues free, and now, I’m getting sick every year. What’s worse, it’s not just a few days or even a week. It’s one bout of two weeks, a few days to a week of being healthy, then a few more weeks of being sick. There’s no logical reason for me to expect that just because I’m doing better with my health, I should be sickness-free. Well, yes, there is a logical link between taking care of your health and not being sick, but it’s not a direct link. It’s not like, “Eat all the leafy greens, and you’ll never cough again,” but it’s hard not to be a little bitter that I’m working on trying to be healthier, and I’m still dealing with all this shit.

Anyway. here’s a video of Maru putting a bag with a hole in it on his head. It’s too ridiculously cute.

Not Down with the Sickness

I’m sick. Again. I feel like a broken record (do the kids even know what a record is these days?) because I’ve bees saying this every few months in the same resigned tone. This time, it started with a tickle in the back of my throat that turned into a coagulated mess blocking my throat. Every so often, I have to give a very concentrated (and loud) HUUUUUUUUAH to clear my throat, and it immediately becomes blocked again. Hm. Reminds me of Congress.

Anyhoo. I alternate between chilled and flushed, and I’m mostly huddling miserably under my blanket with only my cat, Shadow, to tend to me. He has many sterling qualities, but nursing is not one of them. He can’t make and bring me a cup of tea, for example. What he CAN do is snuggle with me (which he’s doing right now. Well, he’s snuggling next to me, which is close enough), and I do appreciate it. What I don’t appreciate is when he meows incessantly in the morning the second I’m awake until I get out of bed to feed him.

I’m drinking my tea, sucking on my cough drops, and trying to get enough rest while watching the old seasons of The Great British Bake Off. That’s about all I can do right now. Here’s a video of Alan Rickman making tea. Damn, I miss him. Still? Always.

Staring into the Abyss

The other day, I was talking with a classmate about depression. I was saying how the thing I fear most is when I get hit with depression (serious depression, rather than the low-key depression I normally suffer) is that I’ll be plunged back into the darkness and not be able to come out of it again. Intellectually, I know it’s just a temporary state, but because I lived in it for twenty-plus years, it’s easy to feel as if it’s back for good. It used to be my normal state, and it’s weird to feel it envelope me again like a well-worn coat. It’s shabby, and it has holes in the elbow, but it still fits. Not well, and it doesn’t block out the elements as it used to, but it’s still my old coat.

I’ve stretched that metaphor as far as it can go. The point is, it feels familiar, but still strange.  I can’t believe I used to feel this way all the time; I don’t know how I survived it. I think it’s because I didn’t know any differently at the time. I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember, and I assumed I would feel that way forever. When the fog started lifting, it was so incremental, I didn’t realize it until I was well out of the darkness. Going back to it, even briefly at ten times less the intensity, it shakes me.

It’s fucking horrible. I’ve tried to explain what it feels like before, and I’ve never come up with an adequate description. Everything flattens out so that when I’m looking at something, there’s a flat affect. Not that it loses color–that only happens when I have a migraine. It’s more like my brain refuses to register there’s color. I become detached from my body or rather, from my brain. There’s a slight wall between me and everything/everybody else, and I feel emotionally cold.

I used to have nightmares all the time, some of them narrated. It was strange to watch myself do something in my dream and to hear a dispassionate male voice say, “She is now walking into the room” and the like as if it were a movie. It often felt as if I were watching a movie, and I was semi-conscious it was a dream, but not enough to lucidly dream. To me, it symbolized how unconnected I felt from myself, and it was a manifestation of my mind/body split.

When I was in college, I started having dissociative states in which I would disappear for up to an hour at a time. I don’t mean physically, but mentally. I’d be talking to someone, and then I’d ‘come to’ and realize I’d lost a chunk of time. Apparently, the other person never noticed, which makes me extremely nervous to remember. Then, it started happening during classes. I’d be ‘out’ for the whole hour, my notes would be filled with gibberish, but nobody seemed to notice. Those were both bad enough, but then I started doing it while I was driving. I’d be on the freeway, then I’d ‘wake up’ several minutes later not knowing how I got there.


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Reflection and Projection

One of the frustrating aspects of all this predatory men bullshit is how ardent and vigorous randos will defend a man they don’t know. It’s not just with the famous predators, either. It’s in real life, too. Many women have had the experience of trying to explain why they’ve uncomfortable around a man they know for maybe inchoate reasons, and the man they’re explaining it to gives a hundred reasons why the guy is acting the way he is. The reasons may make sense on the surface, but there’s a ‘yeah, but’ feeling inside the woman as she’s listening that she can’t squelch no matter how hard she tries.

I realized a long time ago that the reason some guys are quick to defend questionable behavior is because they can put themselves more easily in the shoes of the man than they can the shoes of the woman. It doesn’t matter if the woman is wearing pumps, flats, or heels, they’re still shoes the man has never worn. Even sneakers, as they’re smaller and tighter and–OK, I’ve taken this metaphor as far as I possible can. They hear about a man catcalling a woman on the street, and they think, “Hey, I’ve talked to a woman on the street before. I’m not a bad guy. Maybe that random guy isn’t a bad guy, either.”

There was a post at Ask A Manager by a woman who was pretty sure a coworker was hitting on her, but wasn’t sure how she should turn him down since he never actually issued an invitation. He didn’t work in the same division (if I remember correctly), but he was above her in rank. They were out of town at a conference, and they had gone out for drinks with coworkers once and another time with friends of her (it was her hometown, I think). The letter writer (LW) includes texts in which the coworker pushes to do things in private and she gives him ‘soft’ nos in various of ways. Reading the texts, it’s clear to me he’s hitting on her, and she’s politely declining.

Predictably, some people picked apart what the LW texted and did (going out to drinks with the coworker and her friends) without concentrating on how he escalated his requests despite her soft nos, even to the point of suggesting she change her flight to a later time so she could watch a game with him! She said no, she was going to stick to her plans, but it shouldn’t have had to come that far. There was far too much focus on what she should and shouldn’t have done, but thankfully, there were people also pushing back on it. They said it was a shame that women couldn’t be friendly to men without being taken as flirtatious.

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Let Me Out of This (David) Cage (Video Game)!: Part Three

This is post three on my David Cage screed, and we’re getting deep into it now. Here is part two so you can catch up. Heavy Rain is the game that pushed me from thinking David Cage is a creeper to feeling revulsion every time I see his name. He is lauded in some circles for being innovative and a creative thinker, and I firmly reject that on all levels. His story-telling makes no inherent sense, and his characters don’t act in a way that is logical. I’m not talking about logical in general because people often act in ways that look illogical to outsiders, but they don’t act logically for themselves. I said before it’s because David Cage is a raging narcissist who cannot empathize with how other people feel, so he just projects onto them and believes that’s how they would act. When we left the last point, I was going on a rant about ow David Cage is shit towards women, and I feel I have to at least note that he’s also shit towards men, but in a different way.

The problem is that David Cage thinks in stereotypes. People aren’t real to him, and it’s exceedingly clear in his games. His main characters if they’re male are ciphers with tics. In Omikron: The Nomad Soul, the protagonist literally has no body. Your soul jumps from NPC to NPC, which is interesting in concept, but not well-utilized in the game (a recurring theme with David Cage). There’s nothing to know about the main protagonist because of this conceit, so David Cage gets away with this shortcoming in this game. In Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit), the main male protagonist is Ethan M–er, Lucas Kane, is a mopey, slim, depressed man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend. That’s the extent of what we learn about his personality. David Cage seems to think the fact that he’s a good-looking dude (with dark hair because David Cage only likes dark hair. I mentioned it with the women in the game, but it’s the same with the dudes. Most of the important male dudes have short dark brown hair. They are brooding intellects with mental health issues. One of the times David Cage broke his self-imposed rule, the result was Tyler, a cringe-inducing stereotype of a black dude with swagger, so maybe it’s best he sticks to what he knows) is enough to make women drop their panties for him. There are no queer relationships in David Cage games, which, quite frankly, is for the best. I shudder to think what he’d do with it.

In Heavy Rain, two of the male protagonists, Ethan Mars and Norman Jayden, are basically the same person in two different roles. They look the same, and they both have psychological issues. Scott Shelby is different with a graying buzz-cut, a florid face (he’s an alcoholic) and being overweight–and older. Oh my god. I just realized that David Cage’s type–slim, white, short dark brown hair, dark eyes, gaunt face–holds for everyone of importance in his games. The fact that Scott Shelby was radically different looks-wise should have been a big red flag that he was the killer. Side note: I really like the idea that any of the main characters can die, including Scott Shelby, except he can only die at the end. I know at least Norman and Madison can die during the game, and I know Ethan and Scott can die at the end. Again, it’s a fascinating concept, but it’s not really well-executed in the game. In fact, Woolie had Norman die in his game, and that’s when he was done with the game. The controls for keeping him alive is way too fucking complicated, and Woolie was infuriated by it. Not to mention, in that scene, the guy who kills Norman is the epitome of black gangster thug. David Cage has never met a stereotype he won’t gleefully embrace.


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Let Me Out of This (David) Cage (Video Game)!: Part Two

I wrote a post detailing some of my issues with the self-impressed video game auteur, David Cage. I have so many thoughts on him because I’ve watched Let’s Plays of all his video games, and his thinking, while grandiose, is sadly common in the video game industry (which is still heavily male-dominated), so here is part two. Hopefully, we won’t need a part three, but I have a feeling we will. You can read part one here. Lessee. Where were we? Oh, yes. David Cage’s inability to imitate real human emotions, which is a theme throughout all the damn games. It’s especially egregious with women, but he does no favors to men, either. He also doesn’t do nuance, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit). One thing I should point out is that while David  Cage prides  himsel on his plots, they’re shite. Look, I’m down for convoluted and complex. I like labyrinth-like plots with twists, turns, and time jumps. I like multiple viewpoints and multiple protagonists. I like psychologically-driven media, and so, I can see why on first blink my ex-friend thought Heavy Rain would be a good fit for me. On paper, his games check all the boxes. In reality, however, it’s all skin deep and poorly-done. Side rant: Video games are great at a lot of things. Telling stories isn’t one of them. I’ve seen video game  reviewers trip all over themselves for how great the story is in a game, and all I can think is, “I read better stories on this same subject when I was in grade school.” Granted, I read The Scarlet Letter and tried to read War and Peace in grade school (on my own, both of them), but that’s not  the point. It’s difficult to convey a complex and intricate story in a video game because you also have to have good  gameplay (if you’re going to do a traditional video game). Even if you’re not, you still have to use visuals rather than text unless you’re doing a visual novel, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

David Cage confuses esoteric, confusing, and implausible with complex. He seems to think if you just make everything about the occult/supernatural forces, then anything goes. He doesn’t realize that even with outlandish ideas, you still have to have internal consistency. Trying to explain the plots of his video games is pointless, and let’s not even mention motivation. No, wait. Let’s DO talk about motivation. David Cage doesn’t realize what makes people act. Or rather, he doesn’t care. One of the guys (in the Let’s Plays) said something about how David Cage has certain moments he wants in the game, and then he writes the plot around them. It’s true that he does everything back-asswards. In Indigo Prophecy, there’s a scene in which the black cop, Tyler, challenges his white coworker to a basketball contest in order to not pay the money he (Tyler) owes him (the other guy). It’s clear that David Cage had the scene of the white guy practicing hoops while the black guy saunters in with rap music playing in his head, and he was going to have it in the game no matter what!


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Let Me Out of This (David) Cage (Video Game)!: Part One

Backstory: Many moons ago before I was into video games, I had a friend (emphasis on had. He was a hot mess, and I haven’t talked to him in years) who prided himself on finding the prefect game for every person (read, woman. It was one of his pickup techniques). He listened to what I liked in other media, and he pronounced that the best game for me was Heavy Rain by David Cage. I didn’t have a PS3 so it wasn’t an option, but I watched the beginning of a Let’s Play, and, let’s just say I wasn’t impressed. It was slow and plodding, and the *spoiler for a seven-year-old game* death of Ethan’s son felt cheap and unearned. I know it was meant to have the player bond with the protagonist, but because I knew little to nothing about the either of them or the rest of the family, plus it was set up so ludicrously, I just felt annoyed. I’ll get to that later when I discuss the game itself. I dismissed the game from my mind and moved on with my life.

Fast-forward to a few months ago. I decided to watch The Super Best Friends play Omikron: The Nomad Soul, the first and worst* of the Cage games. I don’t remember why I decided to watch it, but watch it I did. A quick primer on the Best Friends: they started out as Two Best Friends (Matt and Pat) for Machinima, and they’re huge. They’ve expanded to Super Best Friends which included Liam and Woolie, but is now just Woolie after Liam decided he needed a break from Let’s Playing. They’re Canadian, and Woolie’s family is from Grenada. This is important because there are very few black Let’s Players. I didn’t like Woolie when he first stared joining Matt & Pat because he didn’t really seem to add anything to the gang, but he’s really blossomed, and his and Pat’s Let’s Play of Dark Souls II really sold me on him being added to the team.

The guys are rude, crude, and often juvenile. They have some questionable material, but they are also really fucking hilarious. It’s usually best when it’s just two of them because of my Theory of Guys**, but sometimes, the three of them can be pure gold. I think Pat mentioned the Omikron Let’s Play in another playthrough, and I was immediately intrigued. I’ve tried to play Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit), widely-praised as an innovative game (Cage’s second game), but after an hour or so, I got frustrated by how stupid it was and gave up. It starts with–you know what? We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, we’re talking Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

When I started the Let’s Play, I was anticipating the game would be terrible and the banter funny. I love Let’s Plays of awful games. For example. I was obsessed with Quick Looks/Let’s Look Ats of Ride to Hell: Retribution, which is widely regarded as one of the worst games of all time. It was so bad, it was yanked from Steam, and you can no longer buy the PC version. I watched all the videos on it I could find, and I was seriously tempted to buy it to play it, but I waited too long, damn it. Anyway, I thought it’d be more of the same with the guys and Omikron. Another note: this is the last of the David Cage games that the guys played, even though it was the first chronologically. That means the guys knew all of Cage’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, which they made fun of relentlessly.

Matt*** joked that all the women would be short-haired, white, slim brunettes because that’s what ALL the women in all David Cage games are. Seriously. Most of the women who speak in David Cage games are slim but busty, have angular faces, and have short or shoulder-length dark brown hair. In fact, I’m pretty sure David Cage (and yes, he’s David Cage. Not David and not Cage. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know) wanted Ellen Page for Beyond Two Souls because she’s the physical manifestation of his MPG**** fantasies. It’s creepy how obsessed he is with this type of women, and I’ll talk more later about his even creepier ideas of how women think/behave later on.

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I’m All Over You–Eclectic Blue

I have weird tastes. I know it, and I don’t mind saying it. In all pop culture, it’s hard to say what I’ll like and what I won’t. Let me amend that. It’s pretty easy to know some basic things I WON’T like. In novels, I don’t like endless descriptions. If I see paragraphs and paragraphs of descriptions, my eyes glaze over, and I skip to dialogue or action. When I write, I have a hard time remembering that descriptions even exist. I’ll give a thumbnail sketch of the characters, but I rarely talk about environment. The reason is because I have a very lively imagination, and I’d rather conjure up my own pictures of the characters and the environments than read about them.

I read a lot of mysteries, and I don’t like any where the main character is a sociopath/psychopath/raging narcissist. I tried to read the Dexter series, well, the first book, anyway, and I couldn’t get into it. I’ve dealt with enough of them and really intimately in my real life that I don’t want to follow one around in a book. In addition, I find them boring, especially psychopaths. They’re mostly born that way, and there’s no known cure. When I read mysteries, I care about why people are doing things; I’m mostly in it for the psychology. If there is no there there, then I’m out.

I don’t like unearned happy endings, whether it’s in novels, movies or TV shows. Americans are obsessed with happy endings, which is one reason I prefer foreign films. Of my three favorite movies of all time, only one is American (The Station Agent), and it’s an indie movie that definitely does not have a happy ending. I can’t stand most Hollywood movies because they’re so fakey to me, especially as we demand exceedingly good-looking people in our movies. In foreign films, you see people who actually look like real people. Not in America, though. No uggos allowed! Most American movies are MOVIES to me, and I can’t lose myself in them. Actually, this is a problem I have with movies in general. When I’m reading, I can get lost in the world, but with a movie? Not so much.

While we’re talking about movies, I HATE rom-coms. Hate them like:

They reinforce every negative stereotype about men/women/heterosexual relationships that are so harmful to our society in general. A hapless, creepy dude likes a girl, maybe one he’s never even talked to, so he pursues her. She says no, so he persists. She keeps saying no, so he keeps persisting. He makes a Grand Public Gesture, and she’s won over. She realizes he’s the perfect guy for her. The end. This, my friend, is stalking. It’s not cool. It’s not romantic. It’s not fucking sexy. Cracked has written several times about how rom-coms are fucked up. You can read about it here, here, and here.

I’ve ranted several times about Love, Actually, which many women inexplicably love and watch every Christmas. I watched it because Alan Rickman (sniff, sniff) is in it and it’s British, so it has to be great, right? Wrong! It’s one of the most misogynistic piece of shit movies I’ve ever seen (the Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson storyline is the best part of it, but still contrived. It’s only saved by their terrific acting), and the fact that it’s so beloved by many women earns a massive side-eye from me.

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Getting My Freak On

I’ve mentioned my love for my stories over at Captain Awkward and Ask A Manager. One reason I’m addicted is because I don’t interact with the world at large very much, and it’s a way to gauge how weird I am against two communities that are more similar than not to my personal leanings. CA is way more left-leaning than is AAM, but both are more progressive than the country in general. In addition, both are filled with passionate, thoughtful commenters (and have strict commenting rules), and even when I don’t agree with someone, I can usually come away with something to think about.

What do I mean about the weirdness? I’ll give you an example. There was a letter at AAM from someone who played a ‘prank’ of locking her (AAM uses the generic she/her unless otherwise noted in the letter) coworker on a balcony right before an important meeting in which the coworker was presenting something. He was let out (phrasing hers. It appears she didn’t let him out), and he waited until after the meeting to go ballistic on her, pulling her away from a client and telling her he would kill her if she ever did that again. The OP (original poster/letter writer) took great pains to say that they had a jokey relationship before this, and asked what she should do now.

My immediate reaction was that it was a malicious thing to do, especially before a presentation, and that she should take her blaming tone and shove it. She was framing the letter as if she had done this silly little thing and look at how he overreacted!!!!! Now, him grabbing her and threatening her is not cool. At all. I am saying that upfront. However, what she called a prank is not cool, either. She locked him on the balcony, not knowing if he might have issues with being out in the open for a long period of times, heights, or not having an escape. Two, she did it right before an important meeting in which he had a presentation. He might have been thinking he would miss the meeting, and that would have been an unpleasant feeling as well. Three, apparently, she wasn’t the one who let him in.

I was really disturbed by how she minimized her own behavior only to focus on his. There were plenty of people on my side, but there were also plenty of people saying the prank was probably innocent, and the coworker really overreacted. I’m not defending his behavior because there is no place for grabbing/threatening, but I can at least see where that behavior is coming from. I have much less sympathy for the OP because who the hell pulls a childish ‘prank’ like that? Apparently, many people, according to the comments.

An interesting difference between the two commentariats is that there are several ‘out’ polyamorous people at CA, and it definitely puts a different spin on relationship-related woes. The commentariat at AAM is very harsh against people who have affairs–both the partner who is married and the other person. Over at CA, the common belief is that it’s the person who’s married who has the contract with their partner, and they are responsible for keeping it. The other person isn’t obligated to honor the marriage and as people are not possessions, should not be the target of anger/ire. At AAM, there is a sizable portion of the commentariat who believe that if you help someone cheat on their partner, you are a terrible person, period. They liken it to being the driver of a getaway car for a bank robber–yeah, you didn’t rob the bank, but you’re helping the person who did.


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Girls on Film

Today’s post is supposed to be on fun (following my self-set schedule), but it’s not going to be on something fun so much on…well, let me just explain in my own, sweet, meandering time. I want to start vlogging because it’s what all the hip, happening kids do these days. Even though I’m an old, aching crankster who wants you to get off her lawn, I want to give it a whirl. Why? There are several reasons. One, many people don’t want to read longform posts these days. I understand because people are busy, not as interested in reading, blah, blah, blah. It makes me sad, but I acknowledge the reality. Personally, I don’t want to watch a video of someone talking about something and would rather just read it, but I think I’m in the dwindling minority these days. Two, I used to be a performer back in the day. I was with Theater Mu, and then I started doing solo performance pieces. It was hard work, but it was so damn rewarding. I would feel as if I was going to throw up ahead of time, but then I’d be riding high afterwards (followed by a crash, damn it). The several minutes after a performance was exhilarating, and the applause was just the icing on the cake.

I am a writer. I have said before that it’s in my blood, but I’d give it up in a heartbeat if I could be on stage. I wouldn’t want to give it up, obviously, but if I had to make the choice between writing and performing, it would be the latter every time.* I loved being in front of a crowd, and I fed off the energy of a live performance. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing, obviously, and I can do it copiously day after day (though I will admit that some days, it’s hard to crank  1000+ words a day), but the interactivity of it is limited. I write my posts, then I publish them and send them off into the ethers. I may get a response; I may not, but there’s no immediate reaction to it. On the other hand, when I perform, the stakes are so much higher. I’ve forgotten my lines while performing, and it’s the worst feeling in the world. I’ve delivered flawless performances and have received standing ovations, and it’s the ultimate high. Seriously. Noting has felt as good as the applause I’ve gotten for my performances. Not sex. Not getting good grades in school. Not finishing the Sword Form (though, to be fair, that’s more a subdued and sustained feeling of bonhomie). Not eating a whole pint of peanut butter fudge ice cream (back in the days when I ate dairy).

I remember one performance in a workshop where I received the best reward when I finished my monologue–silence. Oh, I know everyone’s about the standing O, but there’s nothing like that moment of stunned silence at the end of a performance which indicates that your audience is so absorbed with what they’re experiencing, it takes them several seconds to transition back into reality. I remember another for a dyke event in which I stripped down to my panties and received a thundering standing ovation at the end of the piece. I remember another that gave me so much trouble as I was writing it–it was a performance from my heritage culture (Taiwanese) for children, and the kids loved it. It was worth every gut-wrenching moment of writing it just to have that experience.


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