Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

A little bit of this, a whole lotta that

Feeling much better, but still exhausted. Arm a bit swollen and sore, but not hot. Was a bit burny earlier this morn (had a wee relapse last night), but that’s gone now. I am ready for a nap, however, and I’ve only been awake for a few hours. Last evening, I had an irresistible urge to sleep and ‘napped’ for four or so hours when I normally would be awake. Still pared down my taiji weapons routine this morning. Still not feeling up to anything but the basics.

Anyhoo! Still playing the hell out of Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. I’ll get to that in a second. I tried out the Resident Evil Village demo, which surprised the fuck out of me because I normally DGAF about Resi games. I know it’s heresy to say, but I don’t find them scary and having come to gaming late, the tank controls are just too damn frustrating. I did try Resi 4 and gave up after an hour or so. It just wasn’t my jam. However. The aesthetics of Resi VIII are right up my alley. Moody, goth, hot vampire ladies? Yes, please. By the way, I find it amusing that Lady D has taken the internet by storm. Yeah, she’s hot and all that, but the over-the-top thirst is, well, outre. I do like that she’s a middle-aged woman who’s not stereotypically hot, but I don’t get the rampant lust over her and her daughters.

I only played ten minutes or so of the demo and five of those minutes were me interacting with the Duke (shopkeeper). Why? Because while I can watch other people play if they’re not whipping the camera around too quickly, the first-person bobbing got to me immediately. I hate it! I really wish I didn’t have these issues with first-person perspective, but there you go. I do like that both Andy (Oxbox) and Aoife (Eurogamer) uploaded reviews and they were diametrically opposing. Andy loved it and the story, thought it was a spiritual successor to Resi 4, and super spooky. Aoife thought the lore was rushed, not scary, and a disappointment to Resi fans who wanted more. Oh, and Andy liked Ethan (main protag) more this game whereas Aoife still found him bland and boring. They both are huge Resi fans. I would love to see them have at it with their opinions.

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Nearly a week of feeling like shit (get vaxxed)

Nearly a week since my second jab and…it’s not going well. I wrote about the first few days in this post and I want to expand on that in this post. Sunday sucked. Was really bad. Woke up Monday (yesterday) feeling as if I had been hit by a pickup truck which was better than being hit by a semi. Still was exhausted and taking it easy, but I was cautiously optimistic that I was on the mend. Then, last night (evening) hit me hard in the face. I was smacked with a “I have to shut my eyes now” exhaustion that I have not felt in a long time. Woke up around ten or so feeling wiped out and moped about for a bit before falling back asleep. Woke  up today completely wrecked.

It didn’t help that I ate a big heaping of asparagus last night and paid the price this morning. To be blunt, diarrhea every ten minutes for an hour. That’s what happens when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me, but it usually happens immediately after–not the next morning.

The heat in my arm had lessened greatly then came back with a vengeance last evening as well. Now, it has lessened again but it’s still got slight heat. Also swollen and sore. I’m not a happy camper. This is all not fun at all. Still worth it, obviously, but I wanted to be frank about my experience because people have been pooh-poohing the possibility of a bad reaction.

Knocked out by the second jab (get vaxxed, tho)

Got the second Pfizer jab on Thursday (it’s Sunday as I’m writing this) and it’s been a trial. The first shot was like this. Day of shot, no reaction until around 11 p.m. Then, the injection site swelled up and my arm started aching. Next day, pure exhaustion plus the arm issues. Third day, less exhaustion, but still some and the arm stuff. Exhaustion lessened as did arm stuff each day. Still, my arm still had the bump and was sore to the touch by the time I went to get my second jab, three weeks and one day later. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting and except for the two days of exhaustion, more an inconvenience than anything else. Yes, the jab site was sore, but not enough to hinder me from my day-to-day activities. A week after the shot, it was only sore when I poked it (which was once every few days to see if it was still sore).

I went into the second shot cautiously optimistic. I was expecting a reaction, but based on the first shot, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be too bad. The shot itself was no thing, much like the first one. I barely felt the needle go in (I have a high pain tolerance, though) and no immediate reaction. Well, a bit of sweating, but that could just be because I was hot. I get overheated easily and the temps have risen considerably in the last week. I waited my fifteen minutes then left, feeling as fit as a fiddle. Except the damn sweating.

Went through the day feeling fine. Then, at 11:30 p.m., just like last time, bam! My arm swelled up like a ballon and the jab site was hot to the touch. Very hot. My arm started aching and it was much more noticeable than the first time. Still, it wasn’t terrible. The next morning, I woke up not feeling great. I emailed my taiji teacher saying I was skipping class, but I was able to do my daily routine, more or less. I was dragging, to be sure, but that’s my normal life, anyway, and this was only a bit worse. I was optimistic that it wouldn’t be terrible.

Then, I crashed. Hard. Around five-ish at night, I was hit with pure exhaustion and fell asleep. I woke up around ten, chills coursing through my body. I don’t get cold so that was an indication that something was wrong. My arm was sore as fuck and I just wanted to sleep. I fell back asleep around two, then woke up at four. Fell back asleep around five and got up at eight-thirty in the morning. That really sucked, by the way. I hate stop-and-start sleep, which used to happen to me all the time. When I got up for good, I felt as if a semi truck had hit me, ran over me, and reversed before running over me again.

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Still tootling around in Cozy Grove

medium-length hair and rectangle frames is so me.
Always be thinking about fishing.

I’m still stuck in and on the game, Cozy Grove, by Spry Fox. It’s something like Day 16 and things have really opened up. I finally bit the bullet and scraped up the 400,000 coins needed to upgrade Mr. Kit’s shop for a second time and have upgraded my tent (storage space) twice as well. Before I get into that, however, let me remind you that I ended the last post with a question of sorts. I had noted that I had just opened access to haircuts and didn’t know quite how it worked. I have a closet of clothes and I can switch them out whenever I want by visiting Flamey, my bonfire. Er, campfire. Would I be able to store my hair and change it at will like wigs? That’s what I thought it might be, but I also had the sinking suspicion that I might just lose my hair completely. I didn’t want that to happen because I really liked my black twisty braids, but I felt like I should try the new content. There was a cute ‘goth’ hairstyle of curls loosely tied at the nape of the neck. It seemed more Victorian or some such to me, but whatever. It was white hair and I bought it.

Me being me, the first thing I tried to do was figure out how I could change it back. I checked my closet. Nope. Storage? Nope. Mr. Kit–maybe I had to buy it back? Nope. I even tried buying the same hairstyle again, thinking it would give me my old hairstyle back. Nope. By the way, I don’t get that–why can I infinitely buy the same hairstyle? I hopped onto the Discord to ask if there was a way to get my old hairstyle back. There wasn’t. I had to hope that it would be offered on sale at the store.

This is how compulsive my brain gets sometimes. When I was told that I couldn’t get my hair back, I actually thought about restarting the game because it bothered me so much. I didn’t do it, but I did think about it off and off for the rest of the day. Then at some point it didn’t bother me any longer, but I did check out the hairstyles first things first the next day. My original haircut wasn’t there, but  there was a black hair that was long and wavy. I bought it and felt much better. The picture above is medium straight black, which is close to my real hair. Not quite as long, but it’ll do for now. I still miss the black twisty braids, but I can live with this for now.

I have to say that looking at hair/clothes every day is one of my favorite things to do in the game. It’s funny because I have no interest in that kind of thing in real life, but I’m all about it in games. Back when I played Saints Row IV by Deep Silver, I changed up my looks on the regs. I loved adding tats and making my character look as much like me as possible. As long as she was wearing sunglasses, she looked remarkably like me.

Me all busty and tatted and curvy. And a big gun.
She’s a brick…HOUSE. (She’s mighty mighty!)

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Competing needs: which will win?

I’ve been experimenting with drinking caffeine again because it’s good for my migraines (but not too much) and it’s might be good for whatever is ailing my left thumb. Heh. I first wrote thump. Left thump. That’s funny. Anyway, It’s been a few months and the results have been mixed. I’ve been mostly migraine symptoms free, so yay! Thumb is slowly and painfully getting better. Not fast enough for my liking and I don’t know if caffeine has anything to do with it. I’ve been stretching and massaging it daily, which is probably the real reason it’s doing better.

It’s fucking my sleep really badly, though. at least, that’s what I think is the problem. I don’t think it’s caffeine in general, but either how much I’m drinking or when I’m drinking it. Or rather, not how much I’m drinking, but how strong I’m making the coffee. Either way, I’m falling asleep anywhere from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and getting up…well, there’s no set time any longer. On the one hand, it doesn’t matter because I rarely have to be anywhere in the morning. On the other hand, it’s really fucking with me not to have any kind of schedule.

When I was going to bed at 7-8 a.m. and getting up around 1 p.m., that was a schedule. It wasn’t a great schedule, but it was a schedule, nonetheless.

Ok. Because of said schedule, I’m tired. Done for the day.

WWDTAOL: I don’t forgive or forget

I hate the word forgive. Or rather, I hate the way it is commonly used in America–as a bludgeon to beat about the head of victims while firmly keeping the systems of abuse in place. Oh, and it’s deeply rooted in the Christian background of our young country. I am reminded of this every time there’s a discussion about forgiveness and I’ve been gratified to see over the years more and more people willing to vocalize feelings similar to mine.

Let’s start with the first problem–the loose definition of the word forgive. Now, it’s true that most words mean different things to different people. It’s both the beauty and the frustration of language. So when we talk about the word forgive, we have to first tackle what we actually mean when we say forgive.

First up is, sigh, what seems to be the current Christian definition. Fair warning, this is interpreted by me, someone who has a complicated history with Christianity. I was raised evangelical Christian. Through many years of therapy, I came to realize that the particular brand of Christianity I imbibed was fundamentalist in nature, which gives me extra reason to be pissy about Christianity in general. I never truly believed the tenets of Christianity while I was a kid/teenager, for which I felt terribly guilty. I’ve told this story many times before, but it was when I first had sex that I completely lost my faith. I was told repeatedly that sex was a big sin, perhaps the biggest of all. It was evil and terrible, until you got married and then it was beautiful and holy with angels descending from heaven to sing as you orgasmed.

When I first had sex, I actually thought, “This is what’s sending me to hell? This?” Once the scales fell from my eyes it was impossible for me to trust anything else my church had told me. Let’s face it. When the floorboards are rotten, the whole house collapses. For several years after this moment, I was furious with Christianity for being a big, fat lie. It was at this same time that my mother was at her most religious. Not spiritual. Not thoughtful about her region. Just flat-out strident. There was the ‘can we lay hands on you as we pray at you in tongues’, but I don’t want to get into that right now. Oh, and my mom kicked me out of the car when I said I didn’t care about her fucking god after she would not shut up.*

Then, sometime in my thirties, I just…didn’t care any longer. Most of my rage had mellowed out and I could see the benefits to Christianity for people. I didn’t want anything to do with it, but I didn’t feel the need to fight everyone about it, either. I still have to remind my mom from time to time that I don’t pray, but I can live with that.

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Getting cozy with Cozy Grove

me in a peaky blinders black hat, purple mask, chilling with the mayor
Looking peak Peaky Blinders while socially distancing.

Since I finished the DS II (SotFS) plat, I’ve been mainlining a game that, well, isn’t meant to be mainlined. I mentioned it in my last post (the one about the plat) and it’s called Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. It’s Animal Crossing with a sprinkling of Spiritfarer and it’s been the perfect antidote to the plat. Speaking of which, Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games had an update with some new ‘gameplay’. I put that in quotes because it was not gameplay, exactly. It was Stella’s (main character) sister, Lily, showing up to flesh out Stella’s character and backstory.


Stella is a nurse who takes care of end-of-life patients and then gets cancer herself. The whole game is an allegory for what’s happening in her life. None of this comes through in the game and while there are hints now and again, I didn’t know about this until a newsletter from Thunder Lotus after I finished the game. I did know that Stella was dying because she’s the last person you take to the Everdoor, but I didn’t know the details about her death.

Anyway, the update is Lily’s spirit talking to you about family history and spells out the above paragraph in photos and memories. You can tell it’s Lily and their mother visiting Stella while Stella is in the hospital dying and Mom is asleep. Lily wants to take a walk down memory lane and in order to do so, you have to go to the different shrines across the world. The thing is, you can only do it at night and I just missed getting to the first shrine on the first night. I haven’t played this game in several months and had forgotten the mechanics to a certain extent. So I had to waste a whole day waiting for nighttime in order to access the new content.

After a few memories at this shrine, I had to go to another shrine to get more memories. I get why they did that, but I internally rolled my eyes as I set off. Then another shrine. Then, the fourth shrine. The one that almost made me quit the game the first time around because of how difficult it is to access–and this is at the very end of the game. There’s a bunch of platforming that is very fiddly and requires a combo of different moves. I had to look it up because I could not remember how to do it. Once I was reminded of the Dash, I was able to get to the shrine with fairly little effort. Still. Was it worth it?

Look. This was one of my two co-GOTY last year. I platted the game and cried several times while playing it. Gwen will stay with me forever and I loved almost everything about this game. This update, however, fell flat with me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve moved on from the game, but I didn’t really get much from this update. There was nothing bad about it, mind you (except having to go to several different shrines), but it just didn’t add much to the game experience for me. In addition, Lily is…I hate to say it…a bit of a brat. I get that the devs were trying to show a sister/sister relationship that was both loving as well as somewhat contentious, but it just felt off to me. I think it’s because we have no history with Lily so when she comes in and puts Stella down, it feels bullying. Especially as Stella can’t respond. I think it’s meant to show the enormous pain Lily is feeling, but, again, I don’t know her from Rose. I am very protective of Stella and it irritated me to hear Lily put her down.

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Taiji–what I love and what I hate about it

I love taiji weapons. I probably don’t have to say that by now, but I want to make it absolutely clear. If I had the stamina to do it all day long, I would. I’ve raved about how it’s helped me through the pandemic and how I’ve pushed ahead with it at a clip that has surprised me. In comparison, doing the Solo Form is like pulling teeth with me. Even the Medium Form, which I like well enough, is not something I would choose to do if I had other options–like weapons.

We need to talk about Master T. T. Liang’s Long Form because it has been my nemesis since day one. It’s roughly 20 minutes long and is split into three sections. The third section is nearly as long as both the other sections put together and the entire form is filled with repetition. In addition, Master Liang loved the performative aspect of taiji so he made every movement an even-number of counts so the whole thing could be set to music. That means there is filler, which is strange for a medium that is predicated on exerting the least amount of energy necessary in any given situation.

I have to get into the weeds a little to explain some of the differences between the Long Form and the Medium Form so my apologies in advance if some of this is a bit abstruse. Hah. I first typed obtruse–which is my mashup of obtuse and abstruse. Anyway! In the Long Form, the bow stances–oh dear. A bow stance is when one foot is forward and pointed straight ahead. The back foot is shoulder-width apart (and usually the toes are at a forty-five degree angle NE, if front foot in north). Usually, the feet are a foot/foot-and-a-half apart front to back, but that doesn’t matter as much as the shoulder-width apart side-to-side. There can be a forward bow stance and a back bow stance, but it’s usually forward–meaning the weight is forward.

In the Long Form, the weight is 2/3rds and 1/3rd, but it can be rounded up to 70% and 30%. In the Medium Form, the weight is 100% forward, and it’s 60/40 on the back stance. The benefit of the Long Form bow stance is that you’re not exerting extraneous energy and it’s good for health reasons. The benefit to the Medium Form bow stance is that prime for martial arts applications. At least, that’s my understanding of the differences. The Long Form is considered the beginner’s form and easier to learn. The Medium Form is the advanced form and more difficult. At least this is what my teacher has told me. Her teacher wants her to teach the Long Form to the beginning classes and the Medium Form for the advanced classes. In prep for this, she has been going over the Long Form in all Zoom classes.

I’m trying to keep an open mind, but I still do not like this form at all. It used to give me crippling back pains when we did it on the regular. They would start at the end of the first section and by the third section, my back was screaming in agony. I’ve had to stop more than once during the third section because my back had clenched up so badly. In addition, my knees…oh my poor knees. I was able to clear up the latter problem with the help of my teacher looking at my knees as I demonstrated a part of the Long Form to her. She deduced that I was collapsing my knees and counseled me to make sure that my knees were over my toes. That helped tremendously with the tendonitis in my knees, but the issue of my back pains still continued.

Fast-forward to now, roughly two years after my teacher’s teacher switched from the Long Form  to the Medium Form. I am now 100% back pain-free because of the stretches my teacher suggested I try. In starting the Long Form again, the pain has come back. Not nearly as intense or as often as before, but it’s there. I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s talk about the Medium Form instead. Yes, you still have to make sure your knees are over your toes, but it’s easier when 100% of your weight is on one foot.

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The best of SNL

I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live (SNL) on the regular in several years. I’ve been watching clips lately, though, and there are several really tight ones, mostly musical skits. One thing that has always been true about SNL is that the good skits are fire and the bad skits are garbage. That hasn’t changed, but what has changed is that the songs are mostly really solid. I want to mention some of my favorites and why I like them. First up is Friendos starring Donald Glover. It’s a rap that jokes about a popular rap group going to therapy together. The reason I like it is because it’s catchy–Donald Glover is for real–and because it touches on some true issues. In this case, how hard it is for African American men to let their emotions show and how therapy is still taboo is some African American cultures. I also like that the therapy is actually sound (though adapted for humor, of course), unlike how it’s often portrayed in pop culture.

Next up is Permission, another rap that features Future and Lil Wayne. Again, it’s actually a tight rap, but the real kick is the message–that there will be no booty grabbing without consent from the women involved. So it still has the notion of going after ass, but stopping when you hear no. Lil Wayne: “Love that booty tender, never get aggressive. That booty got insurance–that booty got Progressive.” There are many layers to that verse!

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A tale of two games–not-platting Dark Souls II and getting Cozy Grove

I finished the not-plat for SotFS/Dark Souls II and it wasn’t nearly as painful as the other two, especially DS III. I found out that the best way to farm for the Sunlight Medals (and I can say this because I platted the game) is to put on all your best item-finding gear, go to the first bonfire in the Brightstone Cove Tseldora area, and use your best magicks/biggest sword to mow down the seven Falconers in the area. I didn’t do this at first because it’s so annoying to have to draw out each one without getting swarmed. I could still get two-shot by these assholes, which was frustrating. Plus, with the extended length of the enemy range, it was too easy to proc more than one of them.

The problem was that the rate of getting the Sunlight Medals in the other areas was extremely low. In this area, once I got my routine down pat, I was able to get one medal almost every loop. The answer was to use Heavy Homing Soul Arrow to draw one enemy to me without alerting the others. I used Soul Spear to take care of two of the archers. For my sword, I used the Black Knight Ultra Greatsword which has the added bonus of setting things on fire. Here’s the last post and this is the continuation of that post. I was able to get the last ten or so Sunlight Medals in less than hour, which was amazing.

Once I was done with that, I made sure I had all the magicks I could get in NG+. It was a good thing I checked because I missed two–a sorcery and a hex. If I had had to go into the DLC in NG++, well, let’s just say I would NOT be happy about that at all. I was miffed as it was because I had to run through more than half the game again. Or did I? I looked up the fastest way to get to Drangleic Castle because there is an alternative to getting the four big souls and opening it that way. I knew about it from the first time I played, but I never thought about it because it seemed ridiculous. It’s getting a million souls and opening the door that way. Riiiiight. A million souls? Well. That was much more reasonable in NG++ with the boss souls I was carrying around with me. And all the other consumable souls, too. The most common way to get a great amount of souls as fast as possible was…

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