Zone of Truth

I’ve spent the better part of the past year coming to terms with the fact that, despite all I have slogged through in the name of finally becoming healthy again, I am disabled. It hasn’t been easy, let me tell you. Disability, especially one where your disability isn’t visual, isn’t chock-a-block with benefits. Life isn’t all motorized scooters and closer parking. There is the baker’s dozen of pills I take each day to normalize and prolong my good spells. There’s the medical procedures that I have to do in order to stabilize my condition. And, if all that fails…there is the pain. Pain from which there is no escape, no relief. It is a pain akin to being a crucible in which steel is smelted; a white hot and volatile pain that is unceasing. But,despite how horrendous that sounds, that’s not the worst part. The worst part…is time. When you’re disabled (especially if you’re depressed), you have a lot of time. Time that others would spend working or playing or pursuing hobbies or love. When you’re disabled, all of those things collapse into a minuscule singularity that leaves time wide open for thought. For toxic contemplation. The thing that hurts the most is the time spent staring into the middle distance wondering what could have been, what should have been, and what could you have done differently. In the obsidian hours of the morning, a million lives play out on the silver screen of your skull, all of them where you’re healthy and capable and functional.

So, you try to fill your days. While away hours doing nothing but drowning out the “what ifs” and “could haves” that ricochet off your brain pan.  And, eventually, you work through it. Therapy helps. A lot, honestly. Drugs help, too. Meditation is good if you can still your mind long enough to do it. Breathing exercises, yoga, anything that can allow your mind to both be simultaneously occupied on a basic level while also being free enough to process the roll of the bones that is your life.

As I’ve previously discussed, my method of meditation comes from video games. I play a game that doesn’t require much mental investment (MMOs are good for that) and I listen to podcasts. Funny podcasts, preferably. It’s important to eke out as much joy as you can when you can. So I started listening to The Adventure Zone, a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast helmed by the McElroy family in all of their glorious splendor. And it has been a strange but hilarious adventure. Until…

Until one episode hit upon the very nerve I had been, frankly, trying to avoid.


Chapter Eight of The Eleventh Hour arc, from what I gathered from social media, hit everyone especially hard. I won’t, and can’t, explain the entire premise to you here so, if you haven’t listened to it, listen to it. But the gist of the arc is that the boys Magnus (Travis McElroy), Taako (Justin McElroy), and Merle (Clint “Big Pappa” McElroy) are tasked with retrieving a Grand Relic (a very powerful artifact with the capability to significantly alter the world) called the Temporal Chalice. The Temporal Chalice allows the user to alter time upon whim, with some stipulations. At this point in the arc, the Tres Horny Boys are faced with overcoming the thrall of the relic, which has claimed and consumed so many before it and has caused untold chaos, destruction, and death. Chapter Eight goes through the individual back-stories of the characters, vivisecting their lives to find their failures and hoping to convince them to take up the reigns of the Relic from it’s current host, six year old June.

It is heartbreaking to not just hear the tragic stories as they unfold but to hear Clint, Justin, and Travis react to the stories. They are nigh physically wounded by the revisitations and the revelations that come to light. Loss, grief, jealousy, and hubris are just some of the fates they met before their cooperative adventure. It is painful, gut-wrenching storytelling. But…

They resist.

After each has been tempted by the Chalice, they meet once again to discuss their course of actions and what their characters want to do. Their decisions are as follows:

…my offer, the ability to go back and change that thing, it was everything I’ve wanted for a really long time. And it would mean that, like, I wouldn’t be there to help people who really needed help and save many, many, many lives…and I don’t care. Because it’s what I want. But it’s not what Julia would want. So I’m going to have to pass.Magnus

I’m not a big one for regrets. I figure you make your best choices with the information at hand and you live with the consequences. That’s kinda a Merle Pearl to throw out to everybody. So I’m gonna say ‘thanks, but no thanks’ strange little girl with a chalice.Merle

Here’s the thing for me; here’s where I’m at: the vision revealed to me was chill as hell. Here’s how it shook out for Taako and we can get into this a bit more if you guys want but as it turns out remember the thing the thing I’ve spent so long feeling kinda bad about? Not super bad  but like pretty darn bad? Get this: not my fault! Like I have nothing to change. I didn’t do anything wrong. It was a very chill vision for me. I’m feeling, like, amazing. And I feel no obligation to go back and change anything.Taako

They are offered the ability to warp time and space to right the wrongs of their past, a gift so precious and unimaginable…and they decline it. They decline the opportunity that, for the longest time, I would have given so much to obtain myself. Granted, it’s taking place in a fantasy setting to people that only exist on paper…but still…why would they give up that chance? It astounded me.

At this point, June shows them yet ANOTHER instance in which their errors caused untold pain to themselves and the wholesale slaughter of an entire city. Once again, they are presented with the opportunity to fix things.

They decline again. In their words:

Yeah, but at the same time…can you show us Rockport if we didn’t stop the train? Can you show us the world if we didn’t stop the pink tourmaline from taking over? Can you show us all of that? – Magnus

This is the only offer I can make to you. – Julie

Yeah, but, like, you’re showing us the one thing we can change and not the stuff we did change.Magnus

Y’know fellas, I know this is big and there’s been a lot of death and destruction and other crap but…y’know, we’ve had some laughs. We’ve had some good times. Crashing trains, getting arms chopped off, poisoning a lot of folks…and…I’d hate to lose the good times we had. I’m still not tempted. I’m still happy with the Merle life. – Merle

And then, Travis McElroy, that beautiful bearded baby boy, says something that, after holding out for an entire hour…made me cry:

“I spent a lot of time living my life living in regret and I don’t do that anymore. We gotta keep moving forwards towards good; not looking back at the bad.” – Magnus

It is hard to let go of the past. To categorically say to yourself “yes, those things happened and they do not affect me anymore.” A tumultuous, traumatic past is like a wound that won’t heal. It is infected with malice and weeps rivulets of anguish. I’ve been in therapy for almost ten years, off and on, and I still have trouble dealing with it. And with the recent disability diagnosis, those wounds had been opened once more. But, after listening to this episode, I strangely felt…hopeful. To hear those words is a balm, an ointment to help heal. To rid oneself of the shackles that garrote and pin you to what once happened. To stop thinking about what you would change in the past to what you can change for the future.

Your past defines you, true…but it ISN’T you. You aren’t a summary of what has happened to you up until this moment, you are a work in progress. A scarf isn’t finished until the last stitch is in place. You may look back at the fabric of time and see things that you marred: a yarn-over hole, a discoloration, a too tight weave. You can’t go back and fix it without undoing all the work you have done. So you must shift the problem from the irreparable physical to the repairable mental. You can’t physically go back and fix things but you can learn not just to keep your faults from affecting you, nor even to just accept them…but to appreciate and learn from them.

It will, however, take time. Which I have in spades.

Harg Hittin’

My first exposure to Brad Neely was freshman year of college during my Chemical Engineering bachelor’s.

I ended up living (well, it was mandatory so it wasn’t exactly a choice) in an all guy’s hall. At University of Rochester, we had the equivalent of two RA’s. One was an actual RA, who was charged with keeping about eighteen guys confined to small, overpacked rooms from killing themselves or each other. The other was the D’Lion (short for dandelion), who was basically the morale officer. They’d plan events, keep spirits high (so we wouldn’t murder ourselves with alcohol and bong hits), and generally be a positive person.

My D’Lion was, by definition, the fucking worst at his job…but the best person. He didn’t schedule events, he didn’t maintain a “professional” attitude. He smoked a lot of weed, played a lot of loud electronic music, had a flatscreen and blacklights in his room, and generally just let us get away with everything shy of homicide…all in the name of fun. He’d often yell out to the hall at 1:30 AM on a Saturday, drunk and stoned out of his mind, for us to assemble in his room to watch, a decidedly new thing, videos on the internet. And it was he that showed me Brad Neely’s “Washington”, far before Brad Neely was “Brad Neely, champion of Adult Swim.”

When I first watched it, I thought it was dumb. The next morning, I woke up humming the song to myself. I hummed it all day. That night, I drank a lot of bourbon with friends and we screamed it into the inky abyss at midnight in the fraternity quad. It grew on me and I began to follow Brad’s work.

After this I discovered the mp3 files for Wizard People, Dear Reader. Wizard People, Dear Reader is a project Brad did that is essentially a re-dubbing of the original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone movie. You synced the DVD with the audio track, killed the movie msound, and let Brad lull you into a world of magic, mystery, and surrealist shit. I think that Wizard People, Dear Readers has had the biggest impact on my sense of humor and style of writing out of everything. I would listen to it like a podcast during trips, use it as background music while I studied. It became everything I was for a short time.

As Brad worked with SuperDeluxe and, eventually, began releasing his stuff on Youtube, I followed along with it. Baby Cakes, Professor Brothers, America, Now… all comic staples. I have a tradition where I listen to Neely’s “Prisoner Christmas” every year on the 22nd of December as a tribute to when I fell asleep listening to it on the train ride home for the holidays one year. I had a kidney infection that started showing symptoms on the train and I spent the entire time feverish, sweating, and enshrouded by all that was Neely. That sounds like a fucking nightmare on paper but in reality it was almost akin to a life-transforming peyote trip.

And then came China, IL. It was the first work Neely had done to be aired on Adult Swim. It was a combination of the Professor Brothers and Baby Cakes themes Brad had been doing and the precursor to the identically titled show on Adult Swim. It was the perfect amalgamation of everything Neely did. It was glorious. And when Adult Swim commissioned three seasons of China, IL, I was ecstatic. Giving Brad the money and resources to grow and nurture his children created some of the FINEST animated television this decade has seen.

I was crushed when I heard that China, IL was to end on the third season. I didn’t hear about it until about six months after it had been announced and all my “fatted calf”-esque dreams of a fourth season withered and died. It was, however, bolstered upon hearing that Brad was making a new show, along the lines of the Tim and Eric Show: short skits, musical numbers, guest stars. It wasn’t China, IL…but it was Brad Neely and that was okay. Finally, the first episode came and I consumed it like some sort of Neely alcoholic.

And I didn’t like it.

I kept trying. “For Knowles”, “For Aretha”, and “For Blanchett”…I watched them with the highest hopes…and then despaired.

I didn’t “not like it.”


Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio lacked everything that I loved about Brad. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long time. I rewatched them again and again, trying to find the mojo in them that I so dearly craved…but it wasn’t there. After watching it again today and talking about it on Twitter, I figured out what it is that it lacked that all his other works provided.

Brad Neely’s style, for the most part (now), fits into the category of comedy that I define as “experienced.” Experienced comedy is taking things that you’ve lived, warping how you look at it or how it appears, and deriving comedy from that. It’s not juxtaposition comedy (using irony or coincidental comparison for humor), shock comedy (looking at you Eric Andre), or observational comedy that gives Brad’s work the punch I like. It is the fact that the vast majority of his work has hard, unalienable truths buried deep in its core that are coated in surrealist comedy like some sort of fucked up Kinder Egg. You eat the Kinder Egg not for the chocolate, but the prize you wrest from inside. For most of Neely’s work, it’s the same. Take for example this Baby Cakes video:

“And there is always some poor kid who has a sucky life. But then he’s visited by someone from a hidden world of awesomeness who explains to the kid that the kid is the chosen kid and everyone is waiting for him. To fight…and to win…and to accept treasure..and to accept love. And to rule the hidden world of awesomeness like the handsome little asshole that he is.

Happens all the time, right?

I guess every one of us is just hopin’ to turn out to be one of those forgotten chosen ones…right?” – Brad Neely, Baby Cakes – Coffee Line

You can laugh all you want at “ditch wizards” and “honky muffs” and “hand to foot spell”…but if you don’t find a small nugget of soul-crushing realism in that, then you may be either blissfully ignorant or already dead inside. Neely’s capability to show the audience those tiny truths through the distorted eyes of his characters is what endears me so much to his work.

“I was perfect. I was important, and funny, and seemingly rich, and I had the body of a heavy lifter. It was like the part in the movies where the hero shows up in the end to get his hard-earned medal and all his enemies in the crowd start to shrug off their grudges as they crack slow smiles, clapping their asses off for him. But right then…a fat hippy broke into a blistering James Taylor cover…and I felt, down in my brain’s heart, that evening was about to shift into shittiness.” – Brad Neely, The Professor Brothers – Fliff Night Part 1

The relationships between characters, their views on the world, and their all too real thoughts filtered through Neely’s weird world view and humor is what makes Neely’s work great. But HNSP doesn’t have that. It peeks out frightfully during certain sections of the show but quickly recedes in the face of absurdist humor. It is all of the potatoes of Brad’s style but none of the meat.

I can’t blame him, honestly. I know it’s not for me and I’m sure there’s people out there that love it. I can’t begrudge him for swinging for the fences and hoping to land some hits into every part of the crowd. But I can’t watch Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin Sclopio Peepio, as much as it pains me to say it. I recommend that you watch it, or any other works of his, however. While my fires have been banked, I encourage you to stoke yours with the choicest of fuels Neely provides. The world is dark and full of fear…and we need as many bonfires lit to stave away the encroaching night.

Prompt Rebuttal

Depression-based writer’s block is a pain in the dick. I know that, in order to have any semblance of a life, I have to earn some sort of income. And, at the moment, that income hinges solely on my ability to come up with articles that I can pitch to magazine editors. The problem is…well…I got nothing. My head is basically a couple of rocks in a tin can rolling on a treadmill. There’s a whole lot of noise going on but it’s not really going anywhere.  Naturally, if I don’t have ideas, I don’t write. If I don’t write, I don’t progress. I will try to sit down and cobble together something but I quickly lose focus and drift off to other, better things. Like video games and Twitter. So I’ve come up with a plan.

Awhile ago, I wrote a letter to a friend asking for a prompt. Just a simple sentence or two that will serve as a lynchpin for creativity. If I have something to work with, I can write for hours. But the paradox of choice that comes with being free to write ANYTHING means that I’m going to play Oblivion for six hours. The letter came in the mail with the prompt and, after a bit of self-coercion, I wrote. I’ve decided that, in order to get the engine fueled and running, I will accept all prompts sent via email:email If you want, you can just send it to me on Twitter. Maybe this will help me get writing again. Maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s something to do!


I was walking home from the bar when I heard a rustle in the trees to my left. I wasn’t glad I was alone at that moment.

I was walking home from the bar when I heard a rustle in the trees to my left. I wasn’t glad I was alone at that moment. I was more relieved than anything.

My life has always been strange but you wouldn’t know it if you could watch the high-light reel of my upbringing. I was born to two normal parents: Violet and Carl Kemp. They named me June, after the month I arrived in this world. My parents loved and cared for me for all of my childhood. They spent most of their time doting over me in every aspect of my life. They called me “their little miracle”. My parents had trouble conceiving. They desperately wanted a biological child but the very thing they wanted to pass on to a new generation had other plans. Fertility treatments were useless on both my mother and father. No surrogate could be found. So they prayed. Every night, for two years, my parents would fall on bended knee and pray to God. He listened. After two years of the ecclesiastic sweat off their brow, the nausea and cravings came. A heartbeat signaled the tattoo of life.

I was born bright and inquisitive. I didn’t cry, my mother said. I just stared, absorbing all that I could with my newborn eyes. I was a star pupil the moment I entered elementary school. By middle school I was a straight A student and was beginning to delve into extracurricular activities. I was in Debate Club, Chess Club, Model UN, and the Improve troupe at my school. I excelled in everything I put my mind to and some that I didn’t. It didn’t take any effort on my part, either. Whatever I wanted to do, whatever I wanted to learn…it just came easily to me. Some were jealous, of course, but it was a hidden jealousy. It burned behind their eyes whenever they spoke to me. They dared not say it out loud; I was too diplomatic and genuinely well –liked by many of my classmates. But there were few that thought I had it too easy. And, as my life enriched itself without my interference, I began to believe them.

High school blew by like a hurricane wind. I took college level courses my sophomore year. By junior year, I was ready to graduate. I graduated valedictorian of a grade that never knew me. I was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools and eventually chose Harvard. College was where things became difficult. I became severely depressed my first year. My grades didn’t suffer but my mental state did. I became increasingly erratic and jumpy, followed by bouts of extreme lethargy. I was hungry all the time and began putting on weight rapidly. The “Freshman 15” became the “Freshman 50”. What few relationships I had with my hall-mates quickly deteriorated as I spent more and more time cloistered in my room. But the tipping point was the dreams. Horrid, gore-drenched nightmares spoke in thousands of tongues of ultimate disappointment. Every night I went to bed an academic success and awoke a catastrophic failure. They told me that I was failing in my mission, my purpose. The severed heads of my classmates and professors wailed at my lack of commitment. The carmine messages written on the walls of my brain were missives decrying my lackadaisical attitude. Junior year, despite stellar grades, I took a medical leave of absence and went home.

My parents understood. They welcomed me home as a prodigal daughter. They didn’t question why I came home or even seem to understand when I told them, with tears in my eyes, the dreams I had been having. My mother would cradle my head in her lap, brush my hair, and softly sing to me while my father read in his oversized faux leather chair. My once involved parents had forsaken me to my psychosis. I turned to books on dream interpretation to try to find an answer but none had chapters on “dismembered acquaintances yelling at you”. My depression worsened. Shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I took to drinking. I would buy a fifth of cheap vodka every morning and drink it throughout the day. It stilled my mind and, somehow, my appetite. Neither parent said a word as my mother dragged the clinking garbage bag of empty bottles and hope out to the recycling bin every week.

As summer came around, my former classmates began coming home from college. The social scene of rekindled friendships lost over time and distance began as people began throwing parties that served as both reunions and a chance to earn a bit of cash. I was invited to all of them but went to none, preferring instead to isolate myself in my house and catch up with old uncle Popov. It was then that my parents began to intervene.

“Go to one of the parties,” my mother said. “It will be good to reconnect with old friends over a drink or two.”

The sudden change of heart scared me but I couldn’t find fault in her argument. At least at a party I might be able to find other, more potent things to take my mind off the situation. So I went, a bottle of Popov in one hand and a forced smile in the other. Many didn’t recognize me due to what my heavy drinking and weight had done to my body. Those that did looked at me with either pity or disgust. But one of them looked at me with a look that I hadn’t seen in a very long time: jealousy. It ringed his eyes like they were trapped in the center of a forest fire. He came over and greeted me with fake pleasantries and false pretenses. He offered me a beer from his six pack, which I gladly took. We talked for a long time, hours maybe, about inane topics. The whole time, the jealousy was palpable in the air. Despite my appearance, he was still jealous of the hell I was living in. A primal urge burst forth from the depths of my brain. I needed him.

I steered the conversation towards relationships and found out that he was single. His parents were away on the west coast for a wedding. He subtly suggested that we go to his vacant house to continue talking. It wasn’t far and the walk would give us time to chat. We walked down the dirt road away from the party and onto the pavement of the main road. As we went, we talked and shared pulls from my bottle of Popov. I was beginning to lose my buzz so I doubled up on the liquor to quell the anxiety and yearning in my stomach. Twenty minutes into the walk, the vodka was gone and my nervousness was skyrocketing. He asked if I was okay and I said that I was just feeling a bit drunk. I mimed some mild stumbling and smiled sluggishly. Two can play the lying game.

By the time we hit his front lawn, I was shaking. I alternated between bouts of panic and nausea. As he unlocked the door, I blew past him and ran into the house. As I passed the threshold, a violent torrent of vomit shot out of my mouth, spattering the tile and walls. I apologized quickly but he didn’t seem to hear me, judging by his face. I turned to look at the social crime I had committed and gasped.

The vomit was black.

Nothing I had consumed had been black. I had studied biochemistry and knew that combining beer and cheap vodka doesn’t stain vomit the color of India ink. As I turned back to face him, my stomach lurched. Deep in its depths, the hunger and yearning reared. No, not hunger…more like famine, starvation. It was as if all the food I had ever eaten would pale in comparison to the meal before me. His jealousy and anger were perfect flaws. Without thinking, without knowing, my body began breaking. My ribs cracked and my spine buckled. My jaw unhinged and my mouth became a cavernous maw of serrated teeth. The pain was excruciating but the anguish of ignoring the flesh-feast in front of me was far greater. He screamed and drunkenly tried to stumble away but it was futile. My freakish grin clamped down on him and severed him in half. As my consciousness waned, my body was greedily gulping down chunks of sinew, bone, and muscle. My tongue was lapping up the blood that oozed out of him. As I ate…no…consumed him, the ever-present hunger vanished. When I finished, my soul felt whole, despite my body being far from it. I had done my duty; one step closer to finishing my mission. I blacked out.

The bushes and trees behind me rustled as a man stepped out. The street by the bar was desolate. I was not happy that I was alone, I was grateful. He was wearing a charcoal jacket and torn sweatpants. He was grimy and bedraggled. He ran up behind me and placed a small knife on my neck. His breath, thick with the smell of rot and chemicals, whispered into my ear to give him all of my money. As my jaw unhinged, I laughed, deep and guttural. I heard the knife clatter to the pavement as my tongue flopped uselessly in my widening mouth. The darkness poured from my body like an overflowing sink, causing the weeds growing among the cracks to wither and die. The mugger shrieked but it is cut short with a sickening crunch.

My parents prayed to God for a daughter.

Something else answered.

Zen and the Art of Farmstead Maintenance

For as long as I can recall (which is any time after 13 years old), I have been told to meditate as a way of coping with anxiety. Doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, Buddhist monks, and even random hippies have told me that a fantastic way of coping with anxiety and centering yourself is through meditation. I have tried it.

It sucks shit.

The concept of meditation is simple…in theory. Clear your mind of all thoughts and worries and simply exist in an empty space for a bit. In execution, well, not so much. “Clearing your mind of thoughts and worries”, when you have anxiety, is about as easy as clearing a minefield with a bullwhip made of snakes. If I could just turn it off for an hour I wouldn’t have three quarters of the problems I have. They have said that practice makes perfect and you will get better at it. I’ve tried that and it just ends up resulting in hour-long spiraling maelstroms of doubt and fear as my legs turn to jelly and my spinal fusion makes sounds like rivets popping out of the hull of an old WWII submarine. That being said, I haven’t abandoned the idea of meditation. In fact, I still practice it regularly but not in the traditional sense. And it seems I’m not alone in this particular practice, either. For me, video games help me meditate.

It’s an odd thing to consider but I’m not alone. I do actually talk to other people and a general consensus of people I’ve interfaced with find satisfaction, peace, and relaxation in menial, repetitive tasks within video games. From gathering materials, killing monsters, or even punching trees, there is something cathartic about it. Maybe it is a busy-work that occupies the lower functions of the brain that allow the rest of it to wander. Maybe it’s just a white noise that drowns out thoughts. Either way, it seems like a thing.

I’m sure, by now, you’re wondering what this has to do with the title of this post. I’m sure some of you see it coming; others might not. Recently I was gifted a game that has provided the perfect platform for meditation:

Stardew Valley.

A recent re-imagination of the old Harvest Moon series, you take on the role of a man who, after inheriting  his dying grandfather’s farm, leaves his corporate job and moves to the country to indulge in his green thumb.  On the surface it’s a simple, even tedious, game: grow crops, forage for materials, work a mine, fight monsters, and develop relationships with the townspeople; all as you try to earn enough money and experience to make your life easier. Digging deeper, however, it is the most peaceful and meditative game I have ever come across. The fact that it’s a lot of fun is almost a bonus on top of the calming qualities this game instills in me. I let out the biggest contented sighs I have in YEARS while playing this game. Why?

For one…you can’t die. Even if you lose all your health, you will be dragged back to your house by the local doctor / carpenter and wake up alive. Sure, you’ll lose money. You’ll lose some stuff. If you pass out in the mines, you’ll even lose progress. But you can’t die. There is also no real NEGATIVE effects to not doing something. If you pick up a quest (some of them are on a timed basis) and you don’t get it done, the person doesn’t hate you for it. If you don’t plant your crops in time, it doesn’t REALLY matter; you can earn enough money just by hitting trees and rocks to survive. You don’t NEED to eat or drink, it’s simply there to let you work longer if you want. You get plenty of chances to do things and, even if you screw them up, it’s not a huge deal. A whole season is about 5 hours of semi-casual game play and you can just try again next season. Or not!

This worry-free environment with limited stress, boundless opportunities, extremely few consequences, and simplistic goals means you’re not only free to indulge in the tedium and let your mind wander…it’s part of the game. Water your crops and think. Collect wood and think. Go fishing and think. It is a game perfect for in situ meditation. You can’t do wrong, you have no obligations, you have no immediate survival needs…you are free. I spent the entire month of winter fishing. 28 in-game days…fishing. Fishing and thinking. Fishing and listening to podcasts. Fishing and watching documentaries. Sure, I missed out on a few things but it doesn’t matter. I’ll just try again next season. It’s not far away.

For me, Stardew Valley is a game that’s entertaining in all the right ways. It has a soundtrack that is varied and lively but unobtrusive. It has enough game-play mechanics to keep me engaged but not demand undivided attention. It has a story-line that is solid (if a bit cliche) but doesn’t require me to explore it if I don’t feel like it. I don’t have to do anything for the sake of progression. I can engage in combat when I want, not when the game wants me to fight. I can name my farm, pet, and farm animals.

I can meditate.


All this being said, I DO have some tips if you decide to play it and want to make things easy. I’ve put in 34 hours so I have a decent grasp of things and what you should and shouldn’t do. So if you want to know, here we go. And yes, I wear a sailor’s cap. I WON THAT FISHING CONTEST AND I’M FUCKIN’ PROUD.

  • When you first start the game, hit escape and go to the little controller.options
    Under General, turn this on:toolhit
    This makes the game highlight the ground your tool will interact with. When energy conservation is critical, this helps a lot from blindly swinging a hoe at a rock over and over again.
  • When you first get to your farm, don’t clear anything but logs and rocks. You can cut grass that looks like this:grass1
    But leave these alone:grass2
    Reasoning why is next.
  • The first building you build shouldn’t be a chicken coop, as the game suggests. Build a silo first. The chicken coop is expensive, both in terms of raw materials and money. The chickens themselves are expensive in upfront costs (800 monies per chicken) but what ends up getting you is the feeding costs. Chickens can free-roam about your farm eating that second kind of grass but…after the summer…you kinda run out. You then have to start feeding them hay. Hay costs money (50 a piece). Eggs from the chickens sell for 25 a piece. So you lose money until you can turn them into mayonnaise. If you build a SILO first, every time you cut that second type of grass with a scythe, you HARVEST hay and it’s automatically put into the silo. Not only that but a silo is pretty damn cheap in terms of both materials and money. So only clear out that grass when you have the silo. Then go for chickens.
  • Foraging is your friend when you start out. Each season has a few things that you can gather to supplement income, like so:

    They will come in a variety of qualities (denoted by a silver/gold star).forage3

    Those you want to sell. The non-star quality ones you want to keep because a) a towns-person will eventually want one and b) as you level foraging you can CRAFT THEM INTO SEASONAL SEED PACKS. When you plant them it’s RANDOM but when you don’t have much cash it’s an easy way to get money from the ground.

  • If you till an area that you don’t want tilled, hit it with a pickaxe to revert it back to normal ground.
  • Fishing is hard at first but the more you do it the better you get at it. This should be common sense but it’s not always apparent in games. As you upgrade your fishing rod, your fishing bar will become bigger and your fishing skill will make fish easier to reel
    Once you get the Carbon Fiber rod, you can apply bait to reduce bite time. Once you get the Iridium rod, you can slap on lures, too. Also, how FAR you cast will determine what kind of fish you get (close to shore means less rare fish) and the quality of the fish you get (further out means a higher chance at a gold quality fish) so it’s a trade-off between energy use and income. If you think you can catch the fish, Kobe that shit into the atmosphere. You can also use the WASD keys (once you’ve started casting) to slightly move where your bobber lands. This is helpful for when you cast into bubbling pools (which act like bait and speed up bite time).
  • Don’t neglect the community center. You can pay money to have it turn into a Joja Warehouse but then everything you want to upgrade costs cold, hard currency. It’s easier when you’re just starting to unlock things the old fashioned way because you won’t be making decent amounts of money for awhile.
  • The little dancing worms mean good things. These are the worms/sprouts:worms
    If you till it, something will pop out. Clay, ores, gems, books for the library, artifacts. It’s easiest to do in the Winter because they’re all over (one of the foraged items for Winter can only come from them) and they’re also much easier to see.
  • Clay comes from tilling. Just till the crap out of the ground until you get enough for a silo. You can’t farm it, trust me.
  • Linus is the best and I will fight you if you say otherwise.

Thirty For Knowledge

“Knowledge, may it be said, is higher than magic and is more to be sought. It is quite possible to see what is happening and yet not know what is forward, for while seeing is believing, it does not follow that either seeing or believing is knowing.” – James Stephens

I like to shit-talk myself. A lot, actually. Self deprecating humor is how I function. Maybe it’s Dunning-Kruger effect, maybe I am actually just terrible. But one thing I cannot bluff my way through is just how much of a scientist I am.  My body may be a heap of corpulent junk but my brain…my brain is voracious. It craves knowledge, feeds on it. It rends fleshy, sinewy fact from the corpse of fiction to fuel it’s ever-burning fire of curiosity. It hates naivety. It is predatory and vicious in it’s quest to fill in the gaps and chasms that halt its progress forward and on to other questions. It is beautiful and terrifying at the same time.  And it’s ALWAYS been like this. When I was younger, I was that kid in school. Pudgy, awkward, and buried in a book. In elementary school, I would finish with my work a half hour before other kids. Not content to sit and dawdle, I would fidget around until my teacher would let me go read in the hallway. Scholastic Book Fairs were like a bi-monthly Christmas for me. Summers were spent raiding the local library’s book sale and going through a pallet of thirty books in a summer.  Now? Now I don’t read as much. I SHOULD, but I don’t. Because I have the internet. When I’m in pain, or stressed, or need some sort of distraction, I turn to the loving embrace of Wikipedia. I’ll watch “How It’s Made” clips on Youtube, browse Google Books for old Sherman tank repair manuals, and read blogs on how to build a forge.

I am, roughly, a week away from my 30th surgery and that means I spend a lot of time alternating between panic attacks and thinking a lot. One thing that I have been thinking about is why I crave knowledge so much. Why it entertains me, why it sustains me, why I do it. And, after much thought (and plenty of cigarettes and gallons of coffee), I think I have figured it out.

I have spent my whole life NOT knowing

My physical conditions are rare, to say the least. What I was born with has only been seen in, perhaps, a few handfuls of people since medicine has been rigorously documented. It is still poorly understood why it happened and how to fix it successfully/without complications. A lot of my surgeries were based on the need for more information about the situation and condition because there wasn’t any literature to go on. And it continues to get stranger, become more esoteric, and venture into less documented medical territory. At this point, they’re not even sure what’s causing the pain and discomfort I’m feeling. This surgery is partly exploratory, to see what’s going on, as so many have been. My mental problems also stem from not knowing. After years and years of surprise surgery, infection, hospitalizations, and procedures, my mind craves control. It needs to KNOW what is going to happen. My brain, as science has taught it, seeks to eliminate independent variables and control the experiment so that it may better interpolate the results.  Knowledge of procedures, medicines, and conditions is soothing. It’s predictable. One less variable in the experiment of life.

As Hobbes wrote in Leviathan, Scientia potentia est. As G.I. Joe has so eloquently taught us, knowing is half the battle.  Knowledge not only stokes the furnace of curiosity but also settles the mind’s doubts and uncertainties. While knowledge and fact may be found false or biased in time, it is still an anchor for the brain, preventing it from being adrift on a sea of “what could be”. It builds a strong foundation to stem erosion of the unknown. It steadies and guides when it seems there is nothing reliable and no direction. It is power. It is strength.

It is hope.

“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” – James Stephens

Cult of Personality

When I was in college (undergrad), I took several courses on sociology. I remember coming across the class listing for Microsociology in freshman year. As a freshly minted Chemical Engineer, I didn’t have a whole lot of leeway in terms of course selection. I had to take a Humanities class and a Social Science class…but the rest of it was just math and science for four years. The Microsociology class seemed to be a good way to meet people, learn something, and fulfill a requirement.  I didn’t do fantastic in it. Granted, I was, unbeknownst to me, suffering from major depression after going back to college from spending a winter break home. That aside, I still didn’t do well. I was young, naive, and stupid. I think I got a C+ in the class and then promptly put it behind me. Senior year I had a Social Science requirement that needed to be filled and the professor had opened up a 205 version of the course. I decided to rectify my transgressions of three years earlier. While I was still naive and stupid, I was older. I had also gotten a lot better at being in groups. The professor not only instilled in me a love of group dynamics and interaction…but also a good taste in scotch. If there were two things that man lived for they were ties and scotch. I got an A+.

Group dynamics have always interested me. Partially thanks to Professor Smith, partially because I have always seen watched people. When you spend as much time in hospitals as I have, watching people interact is all you have sometimes. And, in hospitals, people are either always at their best or their worst. Never really a middle ground when life sometimes is very much on the line.  On the internet, things usually aren’t so dire…although some may make it out to be that way.  And in this, social interactions on the internet get a bad rap. The most vocal and most extreme are usually the example given for a group solely because they’re loud, visible, and so radically different from common thought and parlance that it’s easy to differentiate and display. On Twitter, these representations are often found in figureheads of opinion and discourse. Well…”discourse” being used in a very loose and rough way. It’s not really a lot of discourse so much as it’s 140 characters of lambasting and shouting from the mountaintops.  So you see the extremes of sociology, the all-or-nothings, as representation of EVERYTHING going on online.

As should be obvious, this isn’t actually what’s happening in every social interaction.

Lately, I’ve been chatting with a lot of people on Twitter. I find no shame in admitting that I enjoy the satirical work of BroTeamPill. He’s crude, and insensitive, and non-PC…and a beautiful example of internet culture and sociology. At least in my eyes. And I don’t have a degree in sociology or psychology. So, a community based on the personality of a man with game videos solely comprised of a guy laughing and a Ukrainian guy making fun of everyone while playing a terrible MMO surely would bring in the scourge of society…right?


The community surrounding BroTeam, I’ve found, is one of the NICEST, COOLEST, MOST UNDERSTANDING groups online I have ever seen. Sure, it may look harsh on the exterior. But it is a group of people who have positive interactions encased in the most delicious coating of satire and self-deprecating humor.  Some examples:

Moral discussion
                                                  Moral discussion


        Discussing our problems


                    Being supportive


The internet, and everything related to it, is pretty weird. A lot of people I’ve talked to don’t consider talking to ANYONE on the internet a form of social interaction. Even VoIP isn’t considered a social interaction by many, let alone “talking” to people on Twitter. And when you do say that you’re actively engaging others on the internet…people always assume it’s combative, derogatory, or hurtful. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The internet, for many, is a place of acceptance….even if it may not seem like it. You are judged and accepted not by how you look or sound…but rather by who you are as a person and your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. This is such a liberating thing for people with problems, either physical or mental. It is a freedom that comes with anonymity and being able to have all the traditional social deciding factors be put aside; to be who you mentally, not physically.  And to be able to connect with others that know what you’re going through and support each other. Like an online support group.

And boy…do I like studying groups.

Single Player Only

Ever since I received the letter from the SSD (Social Security Department, not Solid State Drive) in regards to the date of my disability appeal hearing, I’ve been retrospective. I don’t enjoy looking back on my past but, since I’ve had to document everything for the court, it’s kinda been a necessity. Going back to doctors to talk about my prognosis, getting old records from hospitals, all sorts of tests and poking and prodding…it’s not my idea of a fun time. To be truthful with you, I wish I didn’t have to go on disability. Unfortunately, I need some sort of stop-gap to pay for my loans/health insurance/protein powder consumption while I try to figure out exactly what I can (and can’t) do with my life. It’s hard to figure these things out when you owe $900 a month, plus various bills, and a dwindling bank account’s breathy murmurs echoing in your ear. But I’ve been thinking on why I don’t want to have to ask for disability and, I think, I’ve found the answer.

For a man that plays a lot of MMO’s…I really don’t like multiplayer.  I much prefer single player games. Granted, I can’t talk with the majority of my friends while doing so but it’s a small price to pay. Single player games are easier on my anxiety because there’s less….unpredictability when everything is scripted. I don’t have to worry about someone messing things up or going too fast or what have you. When you have anxiety as bad as mine, one of the things you seek at all times is control. The less independent variables, the less likely it is you start to sweat bullets and throw up in a trashcan.. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy online interactions. Multiplayer FPS (hello, 1000 hours in TF2), RTS (sometimes), and MMOs (Final Fantasy XIV)…but at the crux of things, I dislike multiplayer. My anxiety can’t take being depended on to react in situations where I don’t have control. But…it’s more than that.

I don’t like asking for help.

I like doing things alone because I HATE asking for help. Maybe I’m stubborn, maybe I’m stupid, maybe it’s both or some combination of things but I just don’t like having to ask for help. Small things I’m okay with, like having a free company friend craft me an item in Final Fantasy XIV…but I don’t like depending on others. It’s partially, I think, from the anxiety: it’s yet another uncontrollable variable I have to deal with. But it’s mostly from the fact that…well…I don’t have much pride but I have it. There are so, SO many things in real life that I can’t do. Much of my medical history has prevented me from pursuing the jobs and hobbies that I REALLY WANT TO DO (like blacksmithing). So when I find something that I think I might be able to do…I will burn myself out trying to do it.  Unfortunately, this is what has happened in trying to make a life for myself. I have burned the candle not just at both ends but I have somehow managed to cut out a chunk of the middle and light that on fire as well. I can’t tell if it’s the perfect storm of pre-existing problems that have been quiet up until now but just got worse or if it’s things that have come about. On top of having to apply for/appeal for disability, it is also looking like I will be going into a partial hospitalization program for my anxiety. The rational side of me knows that this is a good idea. I’m sure they can teach me far better coping skills than my default of “video games and cigarettes.” But the other side of me is too prideful, too stubborn, too desperate for some sort of personal victory to just let go and say “asking for help is okay.” And having these two warring camps constantly battling inside me has meant that I am now taking Pepcid AC like a six year old with a strip of candy dots. Only there isn’t any paper stuck to the Pepcid AC so that’s a plus.

I wish I could wrap this post up with a neat little bow but I can’t. Only time will tell how this works out. I will continue to keep on keeping on and plug away slowly at figuring my life out. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even play more multiplayer.

Review – Dragon Age: Origins

Steam sales bring out a terrible, terrible beast in me. A Doctor Jeckyll/Gamer Hyde, if you will. Games that have never piqued my interest become objects of adoration and unbridled lust if you slap a 75% off sticker on them. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a cheap bastard? Maybe it’s because I missed five years of gaming by going to school and being poor. But whatever it is, I ravenously consume game purchases and, more often than not, I have games that I never play.

I don’t know why I never played Dragon Age: Origins before. I’ve been trying to think of a reason why but I can’t summon one up. It came out in 2009, when I was in college and was busy, so that’s a possibility. It might have been that the intro price was too high for a game that I generally don’t automatically go for (3rd person RPG). It might have just been that my computer couldn’t run it when it came out. But, during the last Steam sale, when the Discount Diety laid it’s head to the bosom of Dragon Age: Origins…I picked it up. And I’m very glad I did.

The overarching story is simple: evil is rising once again and you have to stop it. You run away from your past life (because of a series of circumstances) and become a Warden, a superhero  group that is kinda like the Avengers Initiative only with more blood drinking. You do the intro, you’re given a few grand tasks to be completed, and you’re sent on your way. The rest is up to you.

Now, if you stop there and analyze the story…it’s pretty goddamn boring. And cliche. But that “the rest is up to you” part is what makes this game so much fun. To start, you have a choice of elf, dwarf, or human. I chose dwarf because dwarves are bad-ass. Then you have a choice of birth: high-born or low-born.  I chose low-born because I’m a low-brow man. Then you can choose your class: warrior, mage, or rogue. Elves can’t be warriors and dwarves can’t be mages, so I chose rogue (which is what I choose in everything ever that gives me the option). To better illustrate my point, here is my rogue. Stabbers. Yes, I’m not good at names.

Rollin deep!

So you think you’re done there, right? Nope.  You can pick your skills for each class, such as Persuasion, Trapmaking, Lockpicking, Herbalism, Poison-Making, etc. Each class has a few ways to handle combat, as well, based on how you allot ability points. Rogues can dual wield weapons or use bows. Warriors can go sword and shield, dual weapon, archery, or two-handed weapons, mages can unlock spell tracks such as Arcane, Primal, Creation, Spirit, and Entropy. AND, as you level up through combat, questing, stealing everything not bolted down, etc., you can choose Specifications once you get the points to allot to which give FURTHER ability tracks. Each class has at least three specifications (six with the  DLCs), that you have to either buy books on (i.e. A Bard’s Guide To Shootery and Vocalization) or have someone train you in…

…which brings me to my next point. You are given a few tasks and kicked in the proverbial ass out into the world of Ferelden. You can do whatever you want first. They teach you the basics and kick you out there. Which I love. And the choices you make along the way affect everything. Not like “you saved this guy and now you get more gold to buy things” affect. More like “this is what you said to this lady and it got back to this other lady and now you’re kinda in deep shit.” Everything you do, or say, or DON’T do or say, is a rock thrown into the lake of Dragon Age: Origins. The ripples emanate out and touch every shore, no matter how small the rock you throw is.  You can pick up companions to fill out your party based on these choices. Or not. And, let’s be honest, if a game gives you a few tasks (I think it was three), there’s gonna be complications.  And quests within quests. And quests within quests within quests. Questception.

At this point I’ve spent about 700 words talking about what I love about it. And I can keep going. But there was one bugbear of mine that hamstrung the game for me and it was the AI. You can have up to four people in your group at any one time but you can only control one of them at a time. You can freely switch between them during combat and use the Space bar to pause combat in order to issue orders. But by default, you had to choose how you wanted each class to act in combat (i.e. Warriors could be a Defender and Mages could be Healing). You could also customize their actions as well by changing parameters in their Tactics slots, which were basically slots that issued if/ then statements to the AI. But the problem was was that it just wasn’t good enough. In order to get more Tactics slots, you had to put points into a skill called Combat Tactics, which allowed you to stack more and more options to each character. It presented a problem, though. You got a skill point every two or three levels (depending on what class) and a free Tactics slot every 4~ish levels (3, 6, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30). So you could sink skill points, at the expense of more useful skills, just to customize what your friends do in combat, or you could just grin and bear it and try to micro-manage everything. And even then the AI was pretty dumb, due to the limits of the if/then statements given. It made combat feel clunky when you came up on things of difficulty and lead me to just tank everything on my rogue because everyone else was bad at their job (which, surprisingly, was effective).

With that small hiccup said and done, I really…really…REALLY loved this game. Immensely. I put in 80 hours in a week and a half. Yes, I lead a sad life but that should tell you how much I liked it. Despite it’s combat difficulties and its tendency to crash during combat (which may have been a dual-core hardware issue, Google it), it pulled me in to the narrative like no game has done since…like…Windwaker. And given how many choices you could make during the narrative, how many ways you could kit out your character, and how vastly different combat is with each class, it’s replay value is incredibly deep. I paid $7.50 for this game (yeah, 75% off) and, honestly, I feel bad for paying that little. I should have picked it up much, much earlier when the hype was real and I could talk to people about it without them wondering why I’m obsessing over a six year old game. To further entice you, here are some pictures of the story of Stabbers, the dust-town rogue and his good buddy Snuggles, the war mabari. Go buy it. And say “hi” to Morrigan again for me.



Oghren on point.
Stabbers and Snuggles. Best friends for life.
Somewhere on the edge of The Deep Roads the combat began to take hold.

Correlation Does Not Imply Casualation

Correlation does not imply causation is a…for lack of a better phrase…self-check mantra in the scientific community. It simply means that because two variables have a link together does NOT mean that they are intrinsically linked. The ever famous, widely bandied about graph of the “pirates vs. global temperature” is a perfect example of this. In short, it says that, as the number of pirates has gone down, the global temperature has gone up. This is directly inferring that a lack of pirates is responsible for global warming. Correlation does not imply causation, in this context, says that while they may be correlated together…it doesn’t mean that that’s WHY it’s happening. Unfortunately, I say the “scientific community”. It hasn’t branched out of there and it should. Especially into the gaming community.

As I’m hope you’re aware at this point…I like games. I like games a LOT. One could even consider me fairly hardcore about video games. I would not disagree. I put in about 600 DAYS (14400 hours) of play-time in the ten (eleven?) years of Final Fantasy XI I played before I left. I have about 1000 hours in Team Fortress 2 (before I reset my stats due to a score glitch that bugged me). I recently put in 73 hours on Dragon Age: Origins in the span of 10 days. I feel like I’m pretty hardcore about it. But if you were to ask what difficulty I play these games on, you would immediately disregard a lot of that and call me…a casual. And that bothers me.

In the gaming community now, there seems to be a weight, a gravitas placed on being a “hardcore gamer”. From doing endless endgame runs in World of Warcraft to playing games on Extreme Ludicrous Gibs Nightmare Insanity Permadeath mode…difficulty and struggle is giving a priority, a badge of courage if you will. And, frankly, as well it should. If you’re getting Platinum God on Binding of Isaac, bully to you. But on the flip side of the coin, there is a growing trend of “scrub” and “noob” being associated with doing things the “easy” way. Easy difficulty, the perceived dumbing down of MMOs and other games to appeal to wider audiences. This is wrong.

I play my games on easy or “casual” mode if I am given the chance. Almost always. The only time I don’t do it is if I want to unlock an achievement because I love achievements as much as I love pork buns and scotch and sodas. I play on easy mode for a variety of reasons. First off is my anxiety. Easy mode allows me to relax and play video games, instead of constantly being tense and worried about upcoming battles or what-have-you. It allows me a degree of freedom from my ever present anxiety which is part of the reason I play video games in the first place. But more importantly, I play on Easy because I want to enjoy the story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good challenge. But I have to be in the MOOD for a challenge. And it has to be in small bursts. Some may say that playing on easy mode (with “e-z mode” being borderline derogatory now) is a proverbial walk in the park and that no hardcore gamer would do this.

Have you ever taken a walk in the park? I don’t quite understand why this is a bad thing because walks in the park are AMAZING. Sure, it’s not a grueling race to the finish but you get to stop, see the sights, explore, take in the ambiance, get to know the park. I could choose hard mode which, I suppose, would be like a marathon over hot coals through the park. There is the sense of accomplishment of finishing the marathon, true…but do you really notice anything of your surroundings when you’re bolting through in a desperate attempt not to sear the flesh off your feet? Probably not.

I have played, at this time of writing, 75 hours of Fallout: New Vegas and I haven’t earned one damn achievement in it. Why? Because I play with god mode on. Sometimes I’ll give myself stuff. And I’d be seen as a casual because of this. But, dammit, I’m not there to cram Stimpacks into every orifice I have. I’m not there to inhale so much Jet I turn into a A10 Warthog. I just want to shoot the baddies, discover the absolute fuckton of hidden secrets tucked into every nook and cranny, and not have to worry about nearly crapping myself when a surprise Glowing Ghoul pops out from behind a door and doses me with enough Rads to cook whatever food I have in my inventory.

Just because I play on easy mode or with cheats or whatever doesn’t make me a casual. Correlation does not imply casualation. So, go ahead, call me casual. On some small level, I guess I do care (I’m writing this, after all) but that may just be something instilled in me by the community I’ve been a part of for nigh on 19 years now. But the vast majority of me knows how long I sat around camping Leaping Lizzy and realizes that you’re full of it.

Crutch Time


You may know me as Bacchus, the proprietor and inebriated voice of In With Bacchus, that beverage and tobacco website that never updates. Whoops! I bet, right now, you’re wondering why I started ANOTHER website (technically, a second blog) when I can’t even update the first one. Good question! Allow me to elucidate.

The past few years have not been kind to me. With the loss of my job and continued health problems, both physical and mental, I have been struggling to both make ends meet and also not to turn into Gary Busey. My health problems are not something I talk about readily on the main website because…well…it doesn’t fit. Also, employment. People don’t like hiring crazy people even if it’s against a few laws and such. To be truthful, I’m not actually “crazy”. I am, although not officiated by the state government of NY, disabled. With what? Well..

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Severe clinical depression
  • Spinal impairment / implementation (carbon fiber cage, two titanium rods, fourteen screws resulting in nine fused vertebrae) resulting from severe kyphosis (74 degree kyphotic bend)
  • One necrotic kidney
  • Other things that I’m not comfortable describing just yet

That last one is a big one but I’m not in any place to share exactly the minutiae. Suffice to say, it is incurable, potentially terminal depending on advancement, and causes a great deal of pain. The harm mitigating  daily treatments for it are not pleasant and that is putting it lightly. I am on a massive list of medicines with an average of twelve to fourteen pills a day. I don’t have it the worst of everyone but it’s still taking its toll on me.

So what does this have to do with video games? Well, for me, video games are an ever important crutch. I have been playing video games, in earnest, since my spinal surgery eleven years ago. Video games allow me, perhaps unhealthily, to escape from my physical pain and severe anxiety. I am currently working on coping mechanisms, as one should, but gaming has always been there and always will be to support me and help me. In video games, my anxiety slips away and the focus allows me to ignore the pain. I get to do things that I can’t do in real life and be things I can’t be in real life. I have also met some of my best friends playing video games, especially Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV. I have cultivated deep friendships because of video games. But most importantly, and I think the most telling, video games allow me to be me, sight unseen. People can appreciate me for what I do, what I say, and how I act, rather than what I look like and what various medical equipment is attached to me at any point in time. It allows me freedom from the things that have slowed me down.

So what is the point of this website? Well, I’d like to share my experiences with whoever is willing to listen. To share my love of video games, my opinions, my humor, and maybe a bit of my pain (see above). In this point in time, being a “gamer” brings up many connotations; some positive, some negative. I hope that with my humor, my writing, my videos, and my streaming, I can offer insight into yet another facet of those playing video games. I will be as open as I can with you and I encourage you to be as open as you wish with me. If you need an ear, please feel free to get in contact on Twitter or via email. I plan, as equipment and budget allows, to do videos (Let’s Plays, non-graded reviews), some streaming on Twitch, and, most importantly of all, doing charity work with some charities that are near and dear to me (namely Able Gamers, Take This, and the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center). I can’t promise much at this point because of my equipment (haven’t bought a new computer in 8 years) and my funds (I am unemployed, not on disability, and broke) so it might take some time. But I will do the best I can.

Thanks for reading and welcome to Bacchus Plays.