Imagine

My new citadel is in many ways paradoxical.  It does not show up on any known mapping program, yet packages still make their way here.  It is not in Lynchburg, but it is said to be so.  Sometimes the GPS on my phone tells me I am in Lynchburg.  Sometimes, Rustburg.  Note that both these measurements are taken from my desk, which apart from standard cosmic forces, is stationary.

Lynchburg has an odd feel to it, an odd rhythm.  It is a fiercely independent city that is home to a less-than-welcome invader, upon Candlers Mountain.  Liberty University, the house that Falwell built, has a bad reputation among many of the locals I’ve found.  They had an identity, they were proud southerners.  Lynchburg was the only major confederate city never to fall to the Union Army during the Civil War.  While I, personally, find that honor dubious at best, I respect cultural identity.  When Falwell rose to prominence, Lynchburg’s identity was subverted by a megalomaniac whose views could charitably be described as “hateful” and is one of the few human beings, along with Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, who I am truly glad is dead.    I know a good man never celebrates death, but I’m not a good man.  I am an honest man, and I hope all three are being hatefucked in the soul in their hells of choice.

The Libertards tend not to stray very far from their enclaves upon Candlers Mountain.  I’ll see a few here and there in the shopping centers directly adjacent, and one thing identifies them above all else: immaturity.  They’re loud, obnoxious, silly children.  The students of nearby Central Virginia Community College and Lynchburg College are infinitely more restrained in public, despite the reputation of the latter as a “Party School”.  I’m beginning to understand and appreciate the country in ways I didn’t back in D.C.  Not the south, mind you, the Country.  All the out-of-the-way places, north, south, middle, west.  Generally speaking the places where it is not uncommon, if you drive down a back road, to see cattle grazing, corn stalks growing, and above all else, trees.  Nature, unmolested by man’s presence.  I’ve seen more forest, field, and sky in my one month in this town than in all my twenty-four years in D.C.

Today, after looking around Craigslist for a while I found an absolute gem of a turntable, perfect for the little den we’ve set up here on Minas Macil.  My father called up the owner, and we went on a bit of an adventure trying to find his house among what can only be described as the backwoods.  It was not five minutes away, but so dramatic was the atmosphere that I could have sworn I’d traveled hundreds of miles into the heartland.  We live only in the foothills of the Appalachians, but the rolling forests upon mountains of increasing grandeur tend to impress even the most technological man.

When we met the owner of the turntable, he was many things I expected of a typical, proud southern man.  He was accented and loud, though not in a rude way.  He was working out in the shed, plenty of tools and timber were strewn about the place.  And, I’ll be damned, he was a nice guy.  Hospitable and surprising in many ways.  Yes, he had guns.  Proper guns, hunting rifles, mind you.  Safely kept.  In his self-described “man cave” he had a poster of John Lennon, as well as one of Dale Earnhardt and a Confederate flag bearing the slogan “The South Will Rise Again”.  As I helped my dad look through the various electronics he was trying to fix up and sell, I found myself and my father in a conversation with a man who was genuinely nice.  He was an individual, his record collection was formidable and tasteful.  This was no beer-swilling ignoramus, this was a man with tastes that were broader than I would have imagined.

It strikes me now that I was the most prejudiced man in that particular man-cave.  D.C. is even more poisonous than I thought.  Picking a side, picking an ideology, picking a “team” counts for everything there.  You look at a map and you see the colors of your team and the colors of the opposing team, and you think, “Wow, there are a bunch of fucking idiots in those places that have a different color”.  The entire time we were there, we talked about electronics, old records, old speakers, beautifully-kept vintage stereo stuff, and I know I’ll be going back at some point to help repair some of the more esoteric pieces.  It never occurred to me that someone could revere John Lennon and Dale Earnhardt, play the banjo and listen to Bach.

I know more today than I did yesterday.  I no longer feel like the stranger in a strange land, the civilized man among the apes.  That was plain wrong of me.  I realized I don’t have to talk about politics with someone, or know their political views, to get along with them.  I know I can look at a flag that will always be a symbol of hatred to me, but know it stands for something different for some people.  I can see why he admired John Lennon.  He was ahead of the curve.  There’s nothing in “Imagine” about one ideology triumphing over another, or one party winning the next big election.  There’s just a hope for a future where we can all find some common ground.

And the world will live as one.

Advertisements

Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a Quasi-Review

Note: some spoilitos for all three Deus Ex games lie within.  You have been warned.

When Deus Ex was released I was thirteen years old.  Now, maybe that’s not an appropriate age to play Deus Ex, some may think.  I don’t know many early-teens who could appreciate the freedom and breadth of storytelling that game provided.  It was the first game to ever truly blow me away.  It was the game I couldn’t shut up about.  Long before the cake was ever a lie, I was spouting “I wanted orange!  It gave me Lemon-Lime!” at my console gamer friends, to their utter bewilderment.

Deus Ex hit with the force of a revelation, seemingly from nowhere.  It has parallels to System Shock and Thief, understandably, but the storyline, steeped in conspiratorial lore and existential questions about the true nature of humanity.  There’s an old internet saying that every time someone mentions Deus Ex in a forum thread, someone will reinstall it and play through again.  I’ve lost count of how many times I gazed through the nano-augmented eyes of J.C. Denton, cutting through the labyrinthine schemes of the Majestic 12, the Illuminati, FEMA, even sentient computers with their own conflicting goals.  I have never played the game the same way twice, and I doubt I ever could.

When I first heard that a newly-formed studio, Eidos Montreal was to take the reins and make a sequel to a game that borders on the sacrosanct in the pantheon of development, I scoffed.  We all remember what happened when Warren Spector left the team and Invisible War was rushed out the door, the first installment in a hallowed PC franchise to truly, with no disrespect to my console-playing brethren, be “dumbed down for the console ‘tards”.  I knew they’d fuck it up, it would be akin to the Jonas Brothers trying to write a literal sequel to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Invisible War’s endings were all so dystopian and bleak that you not only wondered why the hell you played this mediocre sequel but why you didn’t take your character and go dancing in a minefield, instead of screwing the world up.

Against all odds, however, Deus Ex: Human Revolution manages to not only prove worthy of the name, but even takes steps toward redeeming Invisible War’s many faults.

For those who don’t know, DX:HR places you in the surprisingly stylish floral-print trenchcoat of Adam Jensen, a gravelly-voiced ex-SWAT leader now working corporate security for Sarif Industries, a leader in the science of biomechanical human augmentation.  In the years leading up to the game’s events in 2027 the world has seen some changes, perhaps none more significant than the semi-renaissance brought about by the radical advancement in prosthetic design, for the first time allowing people to replace their natural body parts with improved biomechanical versions.  The transhuman has arrived, and not everyone is thrilled at this.

The fundamental moral question that Human Revolution asks of Jensen, and of the player, is “What defines human to you?”  After nearly being killed at the hands of radically-augmented supersoldiers, Jensen himself is brought back from the brink of death with all the hardware that the bleeding edge of technology at Sarif Industries can muster.  Like previous Deus Ex protagonists J.C. Denton and Alex Denton, you didn’t have a choice in becoming more than human.  Unlike them, Adam was born a regular man.

The gameplay has been criticized by some for lacking the total immersion of the original, though realistically, the alterations to the formula that people complain most often about are simply the result of progress in the art of design.  A third-person cover system allows the stealthy player to remain more aware of their surroundings.  Takedown animations are just bloody cool, as are the deployments of the Typhoon and the Icarus Landing System.  The visual style of the latter two jaunts into the third person are especially evocative of The Matrix, slowing to bullet-time so you can see the augments fire in all their splendor, and who can blame them?  I defy you to drop from a ledge into a pack of enemies, your Icarus suite slowing your descent and violently throwing your enemies backward, seeing them stumble to their feet just in time for Jensen to drop down and fire an explosive hellstorm from his back, only for the camera to pull back in so you can view the results of your devastating assault and not feel like a transhuman badass that would shame the trenchcoatiest of the other trenchcoated cyberpunk badasses in the world.

My criticism goes straight to where all the true criticism goes.  The boss fights.  I don’t mind having to kill, even in a game where you could potentially play without killing a single person other than a boss.  I know that sometimes a situation arises in which it truly is kill or be killed.  The problem arises in how these fights are executed.  Every single boss fight takes place in, and stop me if this sounds at all familiar, a square or circular arena with various pickups strewn around for your convenience, some  chest-high walls and other sporadic cover elements, against an antagonist you know next to nothing about.

It is the last part of this that really gets to me, because Deus Ex had boss fights of its own, as did Invisible War.  Sure, in Deus Ex you could run away, or win without firing a shot, simply by uttering the phrase “Laputan Machine”.  Those are things I miss and I’ll get to the technical faults with the boss fights next, but the biggest problem is that you are not fighting characters.  Gunther Hermann was a character, over-augmented and spiteful over the obsolescence that the nano-augments like Denton promise to bring.  He’s human.  He likes orange soda and thinks the maintenance guy has it in for him because he keeps getting lemon lime.  If you dig around enough you even find out that he’s right.  He genuinely cares for his partner, Anna Navarre, and he doesn’t attack you for betraying his organization, he attacks you for killing his partner.  He’s enraged, he’s tired, he’s a bad speller and goddamnit he wants a skull gun!

Likewise, Anna Navarre is a ruthless agent who genuinely believes that the ends justify the means, and that what she is doing is right, despite being horrifying.  She’ll applaud you for efficiency and lethality in the field, and lament your incompetence if you take your time and resort to non-lethal tactics.  She’s in your face and when the time comes to fight her or not to fight her, you have to make some pretty tough choices.  Walton Simons is a snake-like manipulating bastard from the very opening cutscene, as the game progresses you hate the guy more and more.  Bob Page is most complex of all, the prodigal mastermind whose humanity has all but entirely slipped away.  These are people, people who you feel something for.  Lets take a look at the bosses of Human Revolution.

First comes Final Fantasy VII reference, I mean Barrett.  Guess what his main weapon is.  This gun-armed good ol’ boy waits for you to walk into the Arena and have a good old fashioned fight to the death, with guns and grenades aplenty.  He is also the only boss in the game it is possible to beat without attacking directly, as you can, with patience, circle-strafe around his constant grenade throwing and let him kill himself with the splash damage.  We know nothing about him as a person, we have no reason to care who he is or what he knows other than the fact that he was part of the attack on Sarif HQ.

Yelena Federova, or as I should say, Mohawk Girl because the only reason I know the character’s name is I looked it up on the damn Deus Ex Wiki, is the second boss.  This is a woman you’ve seen kill innocents, and yeah, she probably has this coming.  Does she get any dialogue?  None that I can remember.  Her death is like the turning of a key that allows an altogether different character to provide you with assistance.  This is the only reason you fight her.

Namir, Creepy Muscle Guy, is the third and penultimate boss fight.  His character design may as well have been taken from BODIES – The Exhibition, which I have no doubt is the one and only place where his designers looked for inspiration.  I can at least give a minimal amount of praise to the atmosphere of the arena in which you fight Namir, as it does mimic his art design and aesthetics, even if Adam does come off a bit thick for not noticing the one muscle-sculpture with Murder-Augs all over him is posing directly over his right shoulder while he has a nice chat with Token Evil Bitch.  Namir has some interesting dialogue that could potentially humanize him, and create more conflict in Adam’s life, but all of this is immediately forgotten as soon as you loot any gear you want and leave the room.

The final boss is the only one with whom we have had any genuine interaction with over the course of the game.  Sadly, however, it is a bit of a rehash of the ultimate showdown in Deus Ex 1.  There isn’t any particular reason for it to be and there are some more missed narrative opportunities with the (insert sinister machine project name here).

I’m only giving them so much shit because they were outsourced from the main developer and there game is built entirely around systems that would allow you to potentially avoid Always Fighting On Their Terms.  Jensen never once has the tactical advantage or fights in a place of his choosing.  The first boss in particular is said to be moving around the entire level while you are progressing.  A stealthy player might be able to find a hidden perch from which to snipe his escorts, and even him, from a distance.  A hacker could lock down doors to direct him to a different confrontation room, one where that same hacker might be able to turn some sentry turrets against the boss and win the fight while hiding behind a desk.  All the bosses in the game have similarly simple ways that they could be outwitted.

Thankfully the rest of the game is a spectacular showcase of art design, characterization, tension, and concludes in an ending that is more brilliant than most will ever give it credit for.  Deus Ex is one of the first games to really embrace the “Multiple Ending” design.  the first game had three, Invisible War and Human Revolution both have four.  They all have one thing in common, you, the protagonist have sole power over what the entire outcome of the scenario that has just unfolded will be.  And this is the brilliance, its been here since Deus Ex 1 but it took Human Revolution’s gorgeously simple method of choosing the outcome to truly make me see it.

Heavier spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading

Good Friends (maringally NSFW)

A good friend will indulge your oddities. A great friend will give you new oddities. Thanks, Kara.

To see what fresh madness I have been gifted, hit the jump.

Continue reading

On Seriousness

Since I returned there haven’t really been many dick jokes.  I feel I should remedy this.  A while ago, during my absence, I was cleaning up the kitchen in my former apartment, when I discovered a little bamboo skewer, charred at one end.  I had used it the night before to light candles when the power was out.  Now, however, an unspeakable urge called to me.  I noticed the tip left a black mark on my finger, as a pencil might.  The malformed box of neurons and psychoactive substances called my brain shifted gears.

Now, with impulse control less potent than that of an ADHD-addled five-year-old I took skewer in hand, just as Shakespeare himself may have once put quill to parchment, stirring the souls of kings and peasants alike, or Van Gogh held his brush aloft and carved color and beauty out of paint and canvas so many years ago.

Purposefully I approached the cutting board.  This was the time for something great to happen, there could be no other time.  If I was to delay, I was to fail!

Deftly, purposefully, I wrote “PENIS” on the cutting board, but like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun!  I added an exclamation point to the end.  Too much!  Surely it was too much!  So I scrubbed it away.

“That almost went too far.” I thought to myself, as I proceeded to draw a cock and balls next to the word instead.  Then I felt it in my veins, “No!  The exclamation point must go back in!  Where would mankind be if men such as me did not dare to push the boundaries of the ethical, the possible!”

And so the exclamation point went back in.  I knew that work of such beauty could not last forever in its original state.  Its glory would only dim with the passage of time.  Yet, it would have to be remembered in some way.  I fetched a camera to take a picture of my masterpiece before I washed it all away.

No shit, wordpress has below this field "Alt text for the image, e.g. "The Mona Lisa"".  I think that is appropriate

No shit, wordpress has above this field "Alt text for the image, e.g. "The Mona Lisa"". I think that is appropriate

There.  It was done.  My work photographed, I could wash it away.  I reached for the detergent.  And then, sensing genius swelling within once more, I stopped.  I waited.  A vile thought entered me.  I would wash the cutting board.  Not before creating a neon green snail trail of soapspunk leading from the penis toward the sink.  I am not proud, I am merely stating the events as they occurred.  I am a vessel, nothing more, nothing less.

Radioactive Spunk would make a good band name.

It is long gone, now, like so many other great works of art.  All that remains are these images, and this accounting of the events of that fateful night.  After washing the board I noticed that sudsing the soap made it look more realistic, but alas, my wings of wax had melted, and I had no more burnt bamboo to draw with.

 

The Epic Legends: The Beautiful Game – Part Two

The next cycle saw great changes in the guild, the ancient ancestral ties to 1up and the Legendary Thread podcast were severed, I became pretty well liked.  I didn’t beg for officer status, well, not much.  Eventually I even got it, though the person who promoted me was drunk beyond reckoning at the time.  Drunk Vent Saturdays became a thing.  Raiding, endgame content, actually was within our grasp.  We had our bumps along the way, some people left the game, some people left for greener pastures in more hardcore raiding guilds.  CQY endured, though.

Online communities founded by those with “internet fame” have a curse, I’ve noticed.  The people who join them initially will all be there out of common purpose, which is mostly to slob the knobs of whoever created the thing.  As time goes by people get to know each other, and the founders lose interest, seeing as they usually are internet famous for a reason that doesn’t involve wrangling hundreds of nerds into behaving. They can flame out in a glorious dramabomb, tearing themselves apart until the adults in the room leave and all that remains for them is the strong notion that anonymity is priceless.  More often they simply slow down until nobody cares anymore.

CQY was different.  The spirit of our foundation, to be a support group, the anti-guild guild, endured long after Andrew Pfister, known as Okonoko in the guild, had left.  He himself never did take that character all the way to level 60.  What he created, though, changed my life.  Even saved it.

During that same drunken saturday chat on our vent server, the guild leader and his wife made plans to host a number of friends from the guild in New York City.  Given the blood alcohol level of that conversation I doubted it would ever happen but one day I logged on and, holy shit, they were all getting together in Brooklyn.  I’d risen in stature quite a bit.  So much so that one of the earliest members, Garu, was now my roommate.  He was working an internship near where I lived, and I had a spare room.  Another member of the old guard was going to be driving up from North Carolina and picking him up to go to New York for the weekend.  My first feelings were of slight bitterness, after all, I was a member too, and my apartment was a stop on the way, there was no reason for me not to be invited.

Well, except for all that bad behavior.

I took a chance, and I asked if, seeing as my roommate was going anyway, I could tag along.  I was permitted on two conditions: One, I bring extra pillows and towels.  Two, I bring liquor.  Happily obliging, I took a leap of faith.  It wasn’t without risk, I was very wary of how I would be received.  The hosts themselves, were in fact wary as well.  It had all the makings of a disaster.  The party-crashing guy who no one really liked would ruin a really good vacation for a lot of people he wished he was friends with.  The closer we got to New York the more that fear ate at me.

When we arrived, late at night, blasting “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” (though that might have just been me, in my mind) the drinking had already begun, for the second night in a row.  Garu, Button, and myself arrived after most, who had been there the day before.  I remember hauling pillows and a bag up the stairs, presenting some liquor (note: at the time I tended to go for quantity of alcohol not quality of drink) which was immediately ignored and put by the dog food.

“Oh shit” I began to think, “This is it, any second now the damn guild leader is going to take me aside, tell me I need to get a cab and go home”.  I felt disaster.

Nervously, I stepped onto the patio where everyone was gathered, shyly introduced myself, and began to be awkward.  And then a funny thing happened.  Nobody cared.  I knew that at least a few people were worried in the back of their minds, but I stood mostly off to the side at first, trying not to get in the way of the party.  As time went by I joined in the conversation more and more.  I found myself jumping at chances to joke with everyone.  I was even a bit smitten with the human incarnation of the Draenei Priestess I would often joke around with in game.

We learned that my roommate’s tolerance for alcohol was practically nonexistent.  We learned that our raid leader was similar, and his state of inebriation could be calculated entirely by how many shirt buttons had come undone.  Through the night he went from fully-clothed, to shirt open, to one arm out, to struggling to free his other arm, to wearing his shirt as a sash, scarf, a babushka, and even a hijab.

At the end of a very long, very drunken, very funny night in which many, many things were learned by all, I was given a hug by a tree druid.

“I’m glad you came.”

The next morning I would observe as our fearless raid leader woke up, slowly walked to a computer, updated his facebook status with “I am never drinking again.  a man was not meant to ever feel this kind of pain” and crawl back to sleep.  He would awaken again to a much larger audience, shouting out “Fuckin’ Yogg with One Keeper!”  Another moment etched into my mind in the Halls of Goofy Shit.

We would later discover in the pictures of that night, him licking the ear of my roommate.  It was a weekend I didn’t want to end.  In fact, it wouldn’t have if my roommate didn’t have a stupid job.  I still say Button and I should have put him on a bus back to Washington, pin a note to his jacket telling my father to pick him up, and drive back later, ourselves.

The guild transmuted into something more then, more than the ideal that I respected from its beginnings, rather an extended family.  We were marching down the streets of Brooklyn with people calling me Magic Sword King, it was bizarre.  My digital persona had collided with my actual humanity in spectacular fashion.

I was allowed to keep my drunkenly-granted officer status.  I had many new people I could legitimately call friends.  Some of them had a falling out, which I consider a great tragedy.  I visited New York again, though I was the only one.  My roommate is now the roommate of the woman I consider the big sister I never had, and he has since taken over leadership of the guild.  Hell, I’m his second in command, even holding the reigns briefly, myself.

Of the people in New York only my former roommate and I remain members in full of Cant Quit You.  The guild has shifted westward in vitality, with new faces rising to prominence, the old guard still remembers, though.  We still watch, sometimes we play.  The ideals that founded the guild transformed it into something better.  Even though we’re long past the support group stage of existence we all remember, and in our own ways remain.

Cant Quit You became more than a jokey name, it became truth.  People come and go, but those of us who really took to it remain close friends to this day, attending conventions together, helping each other professionally and personally.  Even the people who no longer play haven’t left.  Not really.  Because you can’t quit.  The bonds formed since 2007 have been there to strengthen me, guide me, and even save my family from homelessness.

In absence I will cheer those who are active.  In activity I will help those who wish my help.  In life, I will keep these friends as long as the ways of the world allow me to keep them.  It didn’t have to be World of Warcraft to have such an effect.  It did, however, have to be CQY.

The Epic Legends: The Beautiful Game – Part One

World of Warcraft.

I can say with certainty that nothing in the whole of media has affected my life as dramatically, as permanently, and as positively as World of Warcraft.  A game known for destroying lives. For turning intelligent, erudite individuals into annoying fuckwits who obsess over what numbers will interact in the best way to make their good numbers go up and their bad numbers go down.  For being, honestly, quite boring at times.

World of Warcraft is all of these things, and on its own I would never play it.

World of Warcraft is not on its own, however.  In January of 2007, a man named Andrew Pfister, then an editor for 1up.com, founded a guild.  The guild, Cant Quit You, began on the Baelgun server as the ultimate anti-guild.  The only rule, was that you were forbidden from joining if you’d ever reached level 60.  This was a support group, a group for quitters, people who never raided Molten Core with 39 other people, for people who didn’t know how to play, or always wanted to but for whom the social aspects never clicked to allow them to really enjoy themselves.  I was one of the earlier people to sign on.

I confess I’d always been a bit of an internet starfucker, hanging around IRC channels for webcomics I liked, with drama following me everywhere I went.  I wanted to rub elbows with an upper echelon that I aspired to join, and show them how awesome I was.  That changed with CQY.  It didn’t change all at once, though.  First, I met a living cautionary tale.  A man who has some degree of fame (or infamy) who was in a very overt way trying to do what I intended.  His name was Jonah Falcon, and he holds the odd distinction of having the biggest dick in the world.  This is something I learned on my first day with CQY.  At the time he was acting like a big dick, and trying to convince the founder to give him a job writing.  Somewhat appropriately I found out that the man with the biggest dick actually was the biggest dick.  I wasn’t established or around for his banishment, though.  It was rather elaborate, the entire guild faked a break-up just to fuck with him.  I decided they were my kind of people.

Over time I became more and more prominent, I solved some problems, created more, and spent the Burning Crusade expansion cycle being generally an asshole.  I was a whiny, needy, attention-whoring jackass, and extremely easily trolled.  This was always my greatest weakness, I would not abide the pricks and in defense of myself I’d take it to the rafters.  Later on I’d feel vindicated in knowing most of the people I called out for rampant shitfuckery would leave the guild or be thrown out once people reached the same conclusion.  I took my banishment with uncharacteristic grace and stayed away without scene.  A while later I’d revisit the forums, start participating again out of the game, and try to acknowledge the one thing about myself that I never really did before.

I’m kind of an asshole.  I’m not intolerable, and I have the capacity to be really nice, but I am still kind of an asshole.  So I’d become the guild’s asshole.  I’d turn my talents for stirring up shit into a force for good.  Using my advanced asshole sensor array (we can smell our own) I started to identify problematic people and slowly troll them out of the guild, or into behaving, whichever happened first.

When I did return, one member threw a shit fit the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’d always pegged him for the angry type, and oh boy did he live up to my expectations.  He quit the guild, posted on forums at length about how I was pure evil and pure evil cannot be changed only fought.  I think he may have even compared me to Hitler.  I responded in a rather nice way, though.  Instead of calling him out, suggesting severe anger management classes, like every asshole bone in my body wanted to, I let him act a fool and acknowledged that yes, I am an asshole, but I’m the asshole on your side, and goddamn if I won’t try to make up for how much of a shithead I’d been in the past.

After my return, more would change than some perceptions of me.  My life would take a new path, one that nobody saw coming.

The Insanisphere

In the suburbs of Washington, D.C. no one is actually from the suburbs. This is something natives all know to be true, and in the internet age is even more true. No one wants to say they are from “Fairfax, Virginia” or “Silver Spring, Maryland”.  As Lewis Black pointed out, it makes you sound like a pussy. I have another theory as to why all the natives of the D.C. area identify as being from the city, specifically.

We are all afflicted with the same insanity.

There is a little known law in the District of Columbia that states no building may be more than two-thirds the height of the Washington Monument. It explains why Washington is such a low city, something many people are surprised by. Indeed, you will find taller buildings in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, the Dulles Corridor, and such.

I’ve jokingly theorized that the law regarding building height is not, in fact, to prevent skyscrapers from overpowering the monument to our first President, but rather to prevent buildings from blocking the potent psychosis-inducing transmitter that is housed at the top. There is a twisted logic to it, after all, how else can so many people whose job it is to work toward the common good be so fucking bad at it? Simply, they’re all being brain-bombed. It also might explain John Boehner’s inexplicable orange hue.

Sadly this sickness extends far beyond the city center, slowly driving the inhabitants of the entire metropolitan area batshit fucking loco. Many short buses proudly carry those who have been most addled to and from their indoctrination camps and holding pens. From my experience, you will find some rather insightful and hilarious conversation on these buses, which is why I firmly hold to the belief that short buses for the crazy kids should be wired for sound, and recorded. The broadcast rights from my old bus alone would solve the funding problems many school districts suffer from.

Mind you I’m not talking about exploiting the blind, or the physically disabled, or the deaf, or genuinely insane, mind you, just the kind of kid who might craft an elaborate wizard’s staff complete with LED-lit crystal top during arts class. Or scuttle around like Gollum and freak out the “regular” people. Or go into a Panda Express with a lightsaber and ask for a panda burger (They’re finger ling-ling good!). Or say, panhandle for lunch money in between classes for a laugh. Side note, this actually gets you a surprising amount of money.

Those of you who’ve only visited DC wouldn’t know how true the effects of the Insanisphere hold. It infects all aspects of life. If you think traffic is bad in New York City, try living in D.C. for a few years. You’ll beg to be honked at and called a motherfucker while your bones are rearranged by the pothole-strewn roads. You might even welcome a homeless dude masturbating in a subway car, as long as it isn’t a) crashing or b) 80 days late because of track maintenance.

And the news! Oh the news. Local news is fodder for some of the greatest youtube clibs ever. We all want to see people keep fuckin’ that chicken, and stand in a hurricane getting literally coated in a mixture of sea foam and raw sewage. Or laugh at the latest manufactured controversy, the Internet Hate Machine, or the PlayStation Pornable. You won’t see that in D.C. You know what you’ll see? The same political horseshit that you see everywhere else. There is no barrier, no filter, nothing between you and the Crazy Lands Beyond.

I no longer walk in those halls, however. A wholly different brand of psychosis best defines my current residence, one not unfamiliar as much as distant. Lots of people here want to try and “Pray the Gay Away”, if you get me. Though I will say, by and large the people are nice and dislike the Christian Soldiers of Liberty University as much as anyone who doesn’t subscribe to that brand of lunacy would.

I do know one thing, however. Even removed from Washington’s madness and drivel, it defines me as much as it defines itself. I imagine it would not be terribly different than growing up in, say, Mordor, where the Eye of Sauron watches all.

I don’t miss you, Washington, you magnificent slut of a town, but goddamn if you didn’t amuse me.