Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drabble: Cat Fight.


Mrs. Whitworth was disgusted by the lack of discipline, organization, and preparedness of the priest. She filed her claws on the ribcage of a plump vole. This resulted in the logical outcome of the vole’s death and well-groomed paws. Just as she wanted. But this priest! Mrs. W was itching for a fight—a real one. Not the one-sided blood-lettings of rodents versus felines. A fight she could sink her teeth into and of course ultimately win. That girl moved much too slow for her tastes. “Stupid moony girls! Let’s go! The air is chilled and the moon is full!”




October is one of my favorite months, in fact, may be my favorite: it runs a pretty tight race with August and about a day or two out of February. I swear, Mrs. Whitworth put the idea in my head that Zeptepi really needs to get in the game and start doing pet battles. That silly shaman has been sucking up what little oxygen I have for play time, and the 'trying to stay calm, level, and gear for raiding' panic already set in after only a few days. I had a very dear friend talk me down from the ledge yesterday. To be fair, it was only one story off the ground, and if I had jumped, probably would have only twisted an ankle. 

But yes...of all the pets who want to get in the ring and scratch a few eyeballs...Mrs. W is all hopped up on catnip and has been practicing her tail-lashings and kitty-litter toss. Now if I can only find time for Zep to figure all this out.

Mother Nature's Daughter, all the same...

Well, Luperci did not bring home the trophy for September's Neri Approves transmog contest.

The Blood Elf did.

/shrug

Moving on - still really like what Luperci put together. But more importantly, I like to bring awareness to the Born That Way Foundation.  Though I had heard about it, I was prompted to donate by a tweet of Lodur's: http://wayofthetotem.com/2012/09/20/a-call-to-arms-with-incentive/

I am telling you truth: I know teenagers and adults who have been affected, and died, as a direct result of bullying and harrassment over who they fundamentally are. I am waiting for the day when it's a nonissue. We have other things to worry about than who someone chooses to love.





And Jill - for whatever reasons you chose almost thirty years ago, I wish you had stuck around to see how much things have changed, and how you could have helped. Maybe somehow you are.

Theme Song: Born This Way/Lady Gaga

Friday, September 28, 2012

Zen and the Art of Class

I have big plans again this Friday night, and unfortunately for Mataoka, they don't include leveling. However, I have to express this huge, fat SQUEEE - was talking to CDR who's leveling a Pandaren, and he told me of this very cool ability called Zen Pilgrimage.  Basically, it's a spell that takes you to the Peak of Serenity to hang out with other monks.

HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Whew. Not very chi of me. Sorry.

But that is exactly what I was wanting! And I pray that Blizzard doesn't stop with monks. I think every class should have its own place, it's own club, VIP lounge if you will, where there are other trainers, and it feels very much a part of the culture of the class.

For example, hunters could fly to a Hunter's Lodge, where the wood fires are always full of crackling meats and the mugs of ale always frothy and cold, and the trainining dummies are equipped with feedback on how one is doing. The Paladins could have a holy place to reflect and train; Shamans a rotating meeting grounds of elemental goodness - fire, water, earth, and air places; Druids would converse in special groves (they do have Moonglade, but the trick is to teleport back out). And therein lies the issue - the monks can go right back to their places. Though Druids and Death Knights have their special zones, they are stuck there once there, and there is no special training. Rogues could be transported to the Ravenholdt Manor; and Warlocks? Are you joking?! How amazing would their place be?! Priests could meet on the dark side of the moon; Mages can meet in an inn with delicious food (they are the jet-setters, after all); Warriors could meet in mock battles in an armory; and of course Death Knights in Ebon Hold.

This is just the start of an idea -- come on Blizzard! You've already made my expansion dreams come true, and I hope you don't stop there!

Poke it with a stick, by way of rebuttal.


 The first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club. Oh wait. Wrong. The first rule of art club is you critique the work, not the artist.

This repeating voice in my head (no, not the one that keeps telling me to get air put in the tires or check on the dryer), no, that other one that kept asking why I printed Xak’s essay, and all I kept, and keep, coming back to is public service announcement. 

Yes, admittedly, perhaps I wanted to know what it was like to stir up trouble, discussion, throw some paint on the wall, etc. It's true. But from what I have seen in recent blogging/Twitter scuffles, it is when someone criticizes the creator personally, and not their work or deeds, that halts any responsible conversation. This is a conversation, not an “I know the answers” moment, because I do not.

What do I really want? I want young women to go in to any situation with eyes wide open.

I want them to know the Xaks are out there.

And I want them to know I'm out there, too.

Recently I sat through training on Digital Citizenship. One of the minor points that was not explored thoroughly enough or explained enough was the concept that as adolescents, many find on-line social communities/games a place to try on ‘new identities.’ They're trying things on, roles or gender identities they cannot explore in the real world.

I was thinking back to the critical importance of early childhood play. Many educational trends are leaning toward, and have started, doing standardized testing in kindergarten. Yes, little Timmy, if you can’t tie your shoes or say your alphabet you have to go back to…um. The hours of just ‘playing’ have been diminished in schools. There are no longer dress-up boxes, or play kitchens, and the time to build forts has been banished from early childhood education. (I can’t make this stuff up.) Okay, so let’s say that kids still can find a cardboard box and some spoons and a pot to bang them on, and old discarded prom dresses (one of my personal favorites), and still get to play dress-up. The pre-digital, usual coming-of-age journey allowed all the same awkwardness, bullying, humiliation, and growth, but with one key difference of this generation: we didn’t have a virtual world to experience all these same sublime and terrifying judgments and harassment of others. One of Xak’s points is about anonymity—and this is where we have lost our way. 

Our Azeorthian lives are all about dress-up, role playing, and make-believe. And it's damn fun. I would suggest that, however, our levels of mental and emotional health provide with sturdy springboards by which to jump into our virtual worlds, and back out again. When we can't find our way back out, out of the virtual worlds, is when we are in critical danger. I am concerned that there is a generation who may not know how to get back out. And while I'm busy carving a ladder in the sinkhole, there are some dangerous characters down in Wonderland. And no, the on-line predators and creeps are horrible, but most folks are getting pretty savvy about them. What we're not so savvy about are the folks who continue to push with powerful bullying tools. Bullies know the weak spots. They know girls are sensitive about weight. They know guys are sensitive about their virility. They know the political hot-buttons to push in troll chat. They were the kids who were pushing down the Lego castles and dumping out the finger paints while you and I were playing tag or house.

And before I go on: Men aren’t so perfect, either. The other day on visual thesaurus was the word ‘philanderer.’  Nuff said.

Words like “racism, bigotry, misogyny, and sexism” are sometimes misused. In the case of Xak’s point-of-view, I am not qualified to analyze his own pathologies. He is a friend of mine, but as I am sure you would all agree, you don't want to be guilty by association with all thoughts and opinions of everyone you know. We all have the racist guildmate, the bossy one, or the clueless one. 

Let me explain: On Facebook and even Twitter, I have contacts with many people. Most of those on Twitter are in a professional, entertaining, or Azerothian context. I like to know what they have to say in 140 characters. I don't agree with everything everyone says, but it does lend itself to some interesting, concise conversations. Facebook is a whole ‘nother story. I have friends. I have some friends of friends. I have work colleagues. I have relatives. I have close family. I have really close family. The other day I posted a photo and tagged the faces. A perfectly normal thing to do, but one I hadn’t done on this scale. The unintended consequence was I got comments on this photo that reached to the outer regions of the Facebook sea. I am fairly sure some of those folks do not agree with me politically, socially, or ethically on many things. Their opinions don’t affect me. But what about my uncle, whom I really love? This is where another paradox of social interactions comes to play. My uncle, I suspect, is a racist. My cousin is one, too. I think that guy over there is a jerk. And that woman over there is just plain rude. But I am not going to “unfriend” them because I don’t believe in the same politics (however misguided they are). (Xak may be many things but he hates humanity with equal disdain --not labels warranted. And he is not a racist.) No, in fact, I want to know what they have to say. I think it’s far worse to shut down discourse. Cross-dressing rogue disagrees with me on this one, and like I said, I do not have the answers: because while I think it’s bad to shut down discourse, we do need, and get to, choose our friends in Azeroth, and we do need to choose carefully.

Which brings me to the heart of this issue: There are the “Xaks” out there. There is a culture, and it steers towards the toxic. But I believe one of the key points Xak makes is for (women) players to acknowledge when they are playing a role that may be construed as less than...ladylike? That is a horrible word choice. Perhaps he is asking for players to reflect on their own part in their gaming experience? Be a bit more in control? 

I was wondering if the sentiments expressed in Xak are no more than articulated trolling. I pondered about some of the groups of (young men) who are usually between 18-32 who might even be construed as the Kings of Trolls. They have extended their dress-up time from the playground and found a venue to continue their on-line role-playing observations and entertainment.

What I wish I could teach young men and women is that as in the real world, they don’t have to put up with that shit in the virtual one. I want to teach them to reflect on their self-esteem. I know what I am talking about. I know how awkward, painful, and distressing adolescence is. I am seeking a cultural shift.

Some quick responses:

Fat/weight: This is still one area that seems to be considered all right for people to make fun of. It is a fact that in the US there is an ‘obesity epidemic’ and Michelle Obama has done what she can to get school lunches to change. Jon Stewart’s take on this on the Daily Show last night was hilarious and perfect. But I know some chubby kids, and I struggle with weight now, too. Our personal relationships with food tie into our earliest memories of nourishment and love, or lack thereof.  Ladies: watch your body image. It’s yours. Don’t let a troll be in your own mirror.

Flirty girls: This one has admittedly driven me, and my friend Kaylyne, a bit bonkers. Yes, there are girls/women, and even men who pretend, to be females to “get what they want.” And the flip side is, there are men who will treat them accordingly. Again: Public Service Announcement: if you want to play the “I got boobs” game, fine. But know what you’re doing, know why you’re doing it, and go do it somewhere else.

Women players in general: Even one of my dear friends said something that in his experience, women tend not to be ‘as good’ as men. He immediately back-peddled and brought up on of his dearest friends in game, who is one of the top players he has ever encountered, and go figure, is a woman.
Here is what I want: I don’t want people to say any longer “XYZ is a great player, and she’s a woman!” Or, “She is one of the best women players I know.” But yes, we have a long damn way to go. In an effort of full disclosure, I was the woman who was feeling guilty for admitting I liked being on a raid team without other women. Because of the limitations of time and text, I did not have a chance to explain why. There are a few reasons: first, most of my player friends are males by demographic. It seems there are more men in my age group who play than women. Second, I have really good women friends in game and outside of the game. I do get along equally well with men and women. (See the Facebook comment.) But playing with a predominately male raiding team was just the opposite of the ‘attention,’  --the reason why I found it refreshing was because they weren’t paying attention to me. They tend to dominate the Mumble mic, and I wanted no one to ever notice a mistake or oops that will lead to that stereotype of ‘women can’t play.’ I don’t want them to notice me at all. Sometimes I find the judgmental tones of both male and females players a bit much to handle. 

Ultimately, and I am dashing these thoughts off before I bolt to work, just be aware of yourself and surroundings. That is the only way to stay safe, and even then, there are no guarantees. Just trying to put the odds in favor of those who may need protection, even from themselves. If I didn't get a chance to articulate all my thoughts, my apologies. Gotta get out there and fight the good fight. This has given me a lot to do in the real world, and help some real people. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The World According to Xak (WARNING)

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not read if you are still in the reverie and sheer nectar-colored joy that is Pandaria. You have been warned.

Editor's Note:
I am dead serious. I am posting this against my better judgment. In the name of fairness, however, I am the one who suggested the topic in passing conversation. I may lose you all as friends, or you may question my sanity, but in reading this treatise, he does make some interesting points. One cannot completely remove human interactions in this very human realm. We all know couples who have met and married, who have broken up, who have caused issues in one way or another because of their own gender reflections.

So--this is my first, and maybe my last--guest blogger, Xak. He is a smart, smart young man. And maybe I'll get some interesting searches like Tome does.

Women of WoW Are Slutty Insecure Nymphos
Since a majority of this will be written from atop my high horse, I think it's important to begin with a bit of exposé to build a touch of credibility.  In life, I have a mix of positive and negative qualities.  I go to the gym enough to be in good shape, but not enough that I am in danger of having my abs put on billboards to sell underwear.  I have enough money to be secure but not enough to impress anyone.  I am smart but I have a hard time not being a condescending dick about it.  So on and so forth.  This leads to mixed results with regards to hitting on women.  Some of them look at the pros/cons and decide that their personal weighing of the various qualities leads them to saying "yes" to questions like "want to get a drink later?" while others say things like "no".  However, one of the things in the "pro" column is my voice, it's dead sexy.  When I get on vent, the only quality that women get to "see" is the sexy voice.  This leads to a considerably higher success rate with regards to getting positive attention from women.  I love this.  I know it happens, I exploit it to the fullest and I don't give a damn what it says about my character or lack thereof.

So... I get it, I'm not saying that I'm above it, or it solely affects women.  However, the circumstances that surround the average WoWite male and the average WoWite female are different and this particular heap of cerebral discharge is regarding the fairer sex.
After doing a pug raid recently, a friend asked me about a girl I had encountered during the raid, I replied, "she sounded like a textbook fatty."  He retorted with, "hey now, there's nothing wrong with being fat."  (In the interest of sidebars, this guy is something like 98 lbs soaking wet with a brick in each hand.)  I came back with, "no, there is nothing inherently wrong with being fat (assuming you don't mind assuming the health risks I suppose) but girls who are fat or even just fear that people might think she is fat, tend to exhibit similar pathologies, particularly where WoWites are concerned."  All he had for that one was, "good point." (For a bit of context, the friend is going to school to be a head doctor, so he knew what I was talking about without me having to do any in-depth explaining, since I assume a majority of people who read this will not be head doctors...)
An overwhelming majority (let's conservatively put it around 95%) of the women I have encountered in my WoW experiences have had very little confidence (funny enough, men seem to divide into "not confident" and "supremely confident for no good reason" but that's a completely different post.)  Maybe it is because they are fat.  Maybe it is because someone told them that they are fat.  Maybe they are uncomfortable with some other aspect of their body.  Maybe they have had terrible luck with asshat menfolk.  Maybe it was the classic "daddy doesn't love me enough."  (Because I cannot get enough of parenthetical statements, I am fairly confident that if a man locked his daughter into a room and stared directly at her for 18 years, some women would still feel they had received inadequate attention but I digress once again.)  The reasons are many and varied but the result is the same.  These women take their low-self image into WoWland and discover a type of male attention they have never before encountered.  Watching the results of this new attention is a fantastic spectator sport for me.*
Every woman reacts differently; that being said, by painting with a broad enough brush, I can more or less classify a majority of my encounters in 3.5 categories.
Internet Slut: These girls love the attention and go out of their way to act out fantasies that they would never had the stomach for in reality.  Being overtly sexual over VOIP, teasing, throwing their femininity around like a bull in a china shop, etc.  We've all seen them, if we haven't been in a guild that's been broken up by one, we've heard of someone who has.  I love joining a pug with one of these girls in it, they are grand fun in small doses.  I would never invite one into my real raid, they rapidly become tedious.
Recluse/Man Pretender:  Some women cannot handle the newfound attention.  Some are victims of creepy stalker assholes.  I am certain other causation exists but the result is that they either hide their femininity or pretend to be a man.  They are typical extremely reticent to talk over VOIP, often play male toons, shy away from discussions that even obliquely touch on sexuality, etc.
Guilty pleasure/Well adjusted: (Obviously, I have to start out with the admission that I put myself in the man version of this category.  So I think I am reasonably well adjusted, sue me.)  Some of these women attach a lot of shame to how much pleasure they get out of the male attention.  They feel guilty when they discover they like being the only woman in the raid, afraid that it displays unkind things regarding their character.  It is also worth noting, these women are often married and have a difficult time reconciling the enjoyment of male attention and the Hallmark notion that love shuts off biology.  Even unmarried women often struggle to reconcile the notion that male attention is good with the cultural assumption that any woman who gets a lot of male attention is a filthy harlot.  The reason I gave this 1.5 categories is because this can really cover a wide continuum between the shameful feelings and well adjusted enjoyment of the bonus attention; enough that I could imagine an argument for a separate category but not so much that I felt it warranted a solid fourth.
Which brings me to the real fun bit, what the hell is the point of all this blather anyway?  Well, firstly, a friend asked me to write this and it sounded like fun, so what the hell right?  But moreover, there is a public service announcement to be had here.  The obvious one is for the girls.  You do not need to be the biggest internet slut ever to enjoy these attentions, you will get a boost in the attention department in the short-run but you will shoot yourself in the foot in the long run.  You also do not need to veer to the other extreme, plenty of women enjoy the game without hiding their gender or fighting off creepo stalkers twenty-four/seven.  You do not even need to be ashamed of enjoying the attention, as long as you recognize it for what it is and enjoy it as such.
That is all well and good of course but it is also a bit of a red herring.  The real public service announcement is for men.  However, this one requires a bit of context to really fully appreciate it.  There was a time when I was younger that I could not imagine being insulted by being hit on.  I am a pretty open minded fellow in general, it never bothered me when women I found unattractive hit on me, to the contrary, I found it flattering.  I was even flattered when gay men hit on me.  I am as straight as they come but I was happy to take their approaches as flattery as well.  I could never understand it when women talked about being creeped out by a guy hitting on them.  Then I was in a porn store one night when a man approached me.  It is very hard to capture the exact feeling for someone who has not been there, but this man veritably oozed slimy.  He made some kind of crude pass at me and it was immediately crystal clear what women had been talking about all those years, this guy was (and I think I have showcased my vocabulary enough here that you can trust me when I say, there is simply no other way to adequately express this) fucking creepy as hell.
At the end of the day, the point is, "do not be that guy."  Have some empathy.  Understand that even if a woman is acting like the biggest internet hooker in the known universe, she is most likely struggling to explore how men react to her.  Even if she is pretending to be a man, she is (likely) not a transvestite, just afraid.  If you lack the life experience to empathize, make a female toon and pretend to be a chick for a week.  Take all the sleazy, creepy, unpleasant come-ons you get and build yourself a damn filter.
--Xak, Smarty-Pants Extraordinaire, Esq.

Postscript: I'm too tired for a rebuttal tonight, but rest assured, there will be one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Worth fighting for.

I had--truly--an amazing day at work yesterday. It had nothing to do with bosses, or meetings, or or data. It had everything to do with why I do what I do. And if I hadn't had been there, if I hadn't added my own viewpoint on the events of yesterday, I would not have worked with some amazing colleagues who bring so much to the table, and I would have missed out on my own gifts, too. We may have even saved a life.

When I finally did get home and got to continue my time in Pandaria, it felt truly good. I want to go on record right here, right now, because I know there will be glitches, obstacles, and negativity, but seize this moment, that I think the land of Pandaria is Blizzard's masterpiece. This is not to say the other lands are not exquisite and amazing - in fact, if not for those building up to this, I am certain we players would not have the appreciation that many of us do. Well, I speak for myself: my breath is taken away.

I may never catch-up with others. In fact, I know I won't. Others have different schedules and demands, and that is their journey, not mine. Yes, I will do my best to choose wisely and spend my time leveling those characters I want to take raiding, and hope those opportunities are there. But if they never come again, it's okay. I know my time in the real world matters, and I want my time spent in this virtual world to be refreshing and bright. I felt like when I was in there, I was living Chihiro's adventure from Spirited Away. I felt like I was strong again. I felt - well, dare I say it? Balanced.

No guildmates were available to run a new dungeon when I could play, which was fine. I went in with a cracker-jack group from my own realm, and confessed I had not played the Beta, and they hadn't either. It was a blast. And this is a confession of character vanity: I loved watching how Mataoka looks when she's fighting from an front-view perspective. She is amazing. Yes, third-person is completely appropriate here. She was my first character, and still is firmly ensconced as my favorite.

What is worth fighting for? What the Pandaren said. And I will try not to forget it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Discipline.

Ah, sometimes early-waking insomnia pays off; rather, it's probably the devil at the front-loading part of 'getting his due.' In other words, sometime around 2PM today it will take all I got not to pass out at work. And to be honest, my tummy actually does kind of hurt right now. No joke. I feel sick. But I must go in. My new boss LOVES meetings, and meetings that start on the dot at 7:35AM. But--as the Pandarians say, "Discipline." Oh, I got me some of that! I can get my tail to work and RL activites.

But here are first impressions of our new land:
1. I'm glad I didn't play the Beta.
2. I will feel "left behind" as friends and guildmates level up quickly today
3. I cannot wait to see a Draenei do a barrel roll with hooves.

*Matty Out.*

PS Checklists rule!
http://www.worldofmatticus.com/my-frantic-preparations-for-mists/

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dear Matty: A Little Bird Told Me Edition

*I have no idea why I used this image for this post: I find it terrifying and alluring. Maybe just like gossip.
Dear Matty,
Can we talk? I need some honest answers about gossip in Azeroth. Recently I was chatting with a Real ID friend, and the stream of blue was both reassuring and safe. Well, damn if the next thing I knew I said something kind of sassy, and it wasn't my original Real ID thread but another one from a Battletag! As fast as I could type MT, I did it again! I have grown too accustomed to seeing blue for Real IDs, pinks for other whispers, and so on. I try not to gossip or talk smack about anyone, but sometimes a girl's just gotta vent! What I was saying could have been so embarrassing if anyone ever heard me. I'm sure there's been plenty of MTs along the way, and I can only imagine what goes on on RP servers...but with my growing list of wonderful friends and large guild population, and the widening circle from cross-realm play, I can see how I could put my big foot in my dimuniutive mouth. The thing is, some friends know more about me than others, and I am feeling more and more exposed all the time.  How do you juggle your Azerothian friendships?

Signed,
Boca Grande Belf

Dear Boca Belf:
Whew, girl, I totally get it! The layers of conversation in Azeroth that can occur are fascinating! It's like playing three-dimensional chess! You got one conversation going on in Vent or Mumble, another one from a cross-realm buddy, one from a guildmate, one going on in guildchat, and then others you just want hidden from prying eyes. Many players even have family members or spouses looking over their shoulders, seeing what's being said or not said. That'll really cramp your style in Moonguard, let me tell you! *cough* I think of it like walking around with a cartoon thought bubble all the time, that only certain people can read. The word you used is spot-on: exposed.

Rule of thumb: don't ever type anything in a chat thread you wouldn't want said out loud. Now, that is far easier said than done. Gossip does have its place--without any gossip at all, no one would really know anything. The nuances and human interactions would lose all flavor, and you might as well spend your time with a good book, or talking to your cat. The other day a group of co-workers were discussing the habits of another, and since he was not there to defend himself I felt I had to. Sometimes gossip is just that: mean spirited yakking. Heck, that even gives yaks a bad name. Never known a yak to write something on the bathroom wall.

Bottom line: none of us are perfect. If you do need to rant and rave about something, or tattle, or gossip, or talk trash, whatever--understand who the audience is, and for God's sake, make sure you read your reply to first. But most of all, make sure you understand what your motivation is--what do you want? Are you trying to change behavior? Justify something for yourself? Or just be a beeeotch? No matter what anyone says, humans all need some level of drama, even it's a tiny grit or dirt. Otherwise we'd all be playing checkers with our cats. (At least until the cat started winning.)

Shutting up now,
--Matty

Oh, this is going to be awesome!
Hide-Out Option:
Invisible! Now you see me, now you don't (Manalicious)
Oh, and Vidyala at Manalicious also put out the Mage's Wardrobe for Pandaria list
Theme songs:
Whispering Grass (oh my --what the hell is this?!)
Dave Edmunds/Girls Talk
Marvin Gaye/Heard It Through the Grapevine

Ceniza's Tears

This is not intended for any other purpose other than to show my mage friend a glimpse of post-Garrosh Theramore. The friend in the clip is another good mage friend of mine, Krashfire, seen as he tries to console me.

This is raw footage only.



video

What you don't see is an Orc mage who tries to taunt Ceniza and Krashfire. Ceniza, in her grief over the loss of Lt. Aden, spits on the Orc, and then laughs in his face.

There is an old wives' tale that when it rains while the sun is shining the devil is beating his wife.

Doesn't seem very superstitious at the moment.

Remember Theramore!

And Senor: We found your cat.

"We got a bug, Zed."



I am not trying to be a jerk. I am not trying to misuse customer service. I am just reporting a problem.

Here and there are players reporting on the problems that cross-realm nonsense is causing. It is a disaster, worse than a mana bomb, worse than poor lore delivery, worse than a bad mog. This is the issue of both cross-realm crap and losing Have Group Will Travel.

Thanks, Blizz. Thanks a hell of a lot.

Tried to do something with my cub. Nope. Not gonna happen. Tried to do something with JD. Nada. DENIED ACCESS.

Told my woes to Cross Dressing Rogue, who used to dabble in game design and is still heavily involved in UX design. His advice? If the issue is ruining game play experience, it's a bug. 

Simple as that.

So, my fellow Azerothians, I am putting out the call to arms: if you experience any dimenishment in play enjoyment because of the cross realm crap (or CRAP, which stands for Cross-Realm Annoyed Populace) or the loss of social interaction because of the loss of Have Group Will Travel, please report it as a bug to your local chapter of This Is Pissing Me Off. JD and I legitimately did get error messages, and that, my dear friends, equates BUGGERY.


Time to squash some bugs.

Matty's Night Out

Warning: This may take a turn into a mucky ditch, but I will wrench it out.

One of my own personal 'reboots' is to get a life. A real life. This should be a no-brainer, and I think sometimes easy for someone in my demographic. I have a job I love, and it's mostly, for the time being, managed, I have friends and family, and this includes my Azerothian Rolodex of contacts and friends. But I must admit, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my Azerothian life with my real one. When immersing oneself in a second life world, though, there must be a natural progression to ennui.

Oh, wait --dammit! I didn't mean to start scraping out my brain cells about game play, etc. My post is about what I did Friday night!

I actually got out of the house!

There were tickets pre-purchased, there was a drive in the car late at night, to a show at a little dive in Ballard, Washington (a neighborhood in Seattle) called the Tractor Tavern, to see one of my favorite bands, Los Straightjackets. 



video

Here they are playing in a backyard:

Cross-Dressing Rogue had told me several months ago about one of the band members, Danny Amis, and his fight with cancer. Fights with cancer suck. They are very one-sided and cancer don't care. CDR purchased some items to help his fight. NPR did a story, too. Sad to report, Danny Amis was sorely missed at the show on Friday. He is recovering, but lessened his show schedule appearances. CDR has seen them before, and explained Danny brings something else to the mix, that although the other band members had in terms of technical musicianship, he brings charisma and mojo.

Now, what does this little surf band, getting out of the house, and Azeroth have to do with one another? Not much I suppose. I was commenting to CDR that in contrast to all the over-produced, pre-packaged pop music out there, Los Straightjackets is the real deal: a truly hard-working band, which plays a grueling concert schedule, and their abilities are outstanding. That fast-paced chicken-picking guitar work in traditional SoCal surf music is physically demanding and requires a level of expertise few guitarist can master. This is no autotune bullshit. And of course, being who we are, and being who CDR is, and what he goes through, went on a small rant about the lack of health insurance in our nation, the lack of care, and that those hard-working musicians who truly do it out of love, and bring so much to table, really have no safety net. Speaking as one who does it 'for love of the work,' love only goes so far.

Now, what kind of stunk was I couldn't drink, being the DD (designated driver). This was a small inconvenience - there is a long, dark drive back to the Matty-shack. This lack of a cocktail or two suppressed my free-spirited urge to dance, along with my honking huge purse. I was thinking that back in the day I would have put three things in my jean's pocket: lipgloss, small amount of case, a debit card, and license. Purse?! Hell no. But there I was like a dork with a huge bag, checking my cell phone on the whereabouts of my own little cubs, and wishing I could have a Pabst or two. The crowd itself didn't dance much either. But that's okay - it's not like I don't have a living room and some speakers, and plenty of cocktails when I need to cut loose and dance around to tunes like Casbah or Space Mosquito.

And I was also inspired by the opening act: Miss Mamie Lavona the Exotic Mulatta and her White Boy Band. They were amazing! She wore a cute little white dress that looked like a Chinese take-out box, and let's just say her bosom was as impressive as her rich voice. The band is bawdy and all kinds of fun. That Dixieland jazz stuff isn't my cup of cafe au lait necessarily, but it is highly entertaining in the right setting. And a fat man in a fez playing a ukulele always works.

So--how am I going to pull this out of the muck? Well......

Step One: Tell Azerothian friends about awesome music.
Step Two: Share love of both Azeroth life and Real life
Step Three: Turn it up to 11.

Love you guys - now go dance.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Three Things

Somewhere there is a lighthouse keeper, still keeping watch...


Waking up to this morning's blogroll was like Christmas in September.

First, there were Tome and Navi who answered a question I had forgotten I asked back in August:

This has probably already been a Blogazeroth question, in one form or another, but I was thinking with all the new things we're excited about, what are three things that you will not "leave behind," no matter what, in the brave new world? Think of the farming you've been doing, the achievements and mounts you've been trying to get, the planning and preparation, whether you've played the Beta or not: but of all those things, there are things you have that are dear to you--what are they? Think of three things. Just three. This is definitely related to the things you keep in your bags/bank question, or the big "meta" about enjoyment of game, but here is the twist: I want a story, please, even if a short one. Let me know what souvenirs and toothbrushes you have along your journey.


Not only did they answer the call, but in their wonderful ways:

http://tomeoftheancient.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/shared-topic-three-must-haves/

http://frostwolves.blogspot.com/2012/09/three-must-haves-blog-azeroth-shared.html

Addendum: Cymre added hers - gorgeous - http://www.bubblesofmischief.com/2012/09/23/three-must-haves/

Second, Erinys crafted a carefully constructed "how it should have been" response to Theramore that I feel fully gives it its gravitas, emotion, and the thoughtfulness we lovers of lore and stories felt it deserved:

http://harpysnest.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/the-destruction-of-theramore-how-i-would-have-designed-it/

I want to note this suggestion, as it too brought tears to my eyes:


Rewards:
Alliance:
  • A wand which is usable by everyone which conjures the smokey golden image of little giggling Gnome girl. At night if you’re by any street lamps which aren’t currently lit, as she floats past, they would automatically light. A permanent version of the one mentioned in the book which made me cry so much.


Third, Tzufit provides her readers with something I love, love love: a list!

http://treehealsgowoosh.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/mists-of-pandaria-consumables/


Thank you so much all - everything fits and are all in my favorite colors!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Neri Approves: Mother Nature's Daughter



This month's Neri Approves is a theme of natural beauty.  Please vote for your favorite paladin, Luperci.


There is something Neri wrote that is not quite accurate, at least for Luperci. I do have a Druid, a very beautiful one, Momokawa, but in choosing who would best represent the true call of nature, Luperci was the clear choice. (No offense, Druids, but that's kind of low-hanging fruit from your own treant form....) No, I joke--really.

But Luperci--Luperci's story:

Luperci is a Paladin, a Protection Paladin. She has been increasingly dissatisfied with her work in the cities and harsh, choking dangers in dungeons. She never felt so worthy, so valued, as she did when she was working with Tauren, Night Elves, and her ancestors, in Zangermarsh. She earned her exalted reputation with the Cenarion Expedition in order to earn the blacksmithing skills to make her own Wildguard legguards and chest, which she wears proudly. The Guardians are grateful for her strength and kindness, and know she is truly meant to be a protector of the earth, water, and air, and will walk with the Earth Mother till the end of her days. She is seen speaking with her comrade and dear friend, a Cenarion Warden. 

Helm: N/A
Mace: Gurubashi Punisher
Shield: Her pride and joy, a gift from a beloved friend in Darnassus, who fell during the cataclysm: Emerald Shield
Gloves: Fel Iron Gloves
Waist: Rickety Belt
Leg: Wildguard Legguards
Chest: Wildguard Chest
Feet: Emerald Sabatons

And, in Luperci's narrative, she is a bisexual, and her character is modeled after a very dear friend of mine, who is one of the most honest, brave, and 'champions of the underdogs" I have been honored to know. I am planning on some sort of donation for this, but am only saying that NOT to get your votes - I truly want Luperci to win on her own merits. Besides, I have probably insulted all of Elune's children with my tiny jab up there, so -- like a politician on a bad, unintended YouTube video, I am sorry. Regardless, I saw this on Twitter, and this is a cause that is very important to me: (click image for link)

So, please go vote. Vote for Luperci. And do something good today.

Postcript: Since I seem to be on a roll for offending elves, consider the beauty found in a few curves.

Theme song: Mother Nature's Son/The Beatles

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Drabble: Sick


The mage was sick. His minion caught the bug somewhere over Tanaris, and promptly passed it on, a terrible gift. Mataoka was not a caregiver, but she worried about her friend. She only knew one cure for the Tanarian Flu: her mother’s talbuk and goldclover stew. She wished it was an ancient Draeneic recipe, but alas, it was completely new world. A herbalist sent her the goldclover, and she ordered the fresh talbuk, let it steep for three days under a crescent to waning moon, and served it with a cup of strong, sweet honeymint tea.

The mage looked skeptical.


Señor: I hope you feel better soon. If the stew doesn't work, I'm sending Darkmoon doughnuts.

And this is when I go insane, Part II

There is something broken in my head, and I'm really trying to figure out how to fix it. Even though, or maybe because of, facing a full day ahead, (every day) and raiding tonight, or all the other demons pulling at me, I cannot sleep a full seven hours. Eight? Are you joking? I can't remember the last time I slept a full eight hours. This morning's nonsense was thinking about something my new boss decided, and that is we, the staff, can't work on weekends. She has her reasons. I wanted to explain that because of visiting my sick mom, and other responsibilities, I couldn't get my usual tasks done this past August, because I needed/need to be physically there at my job. I cannot do what I need to do virtually--some things require physical presence. I have to pick up things. I have to sort, file, move, catalog, label, and organize. And I can't do it all on a computer. All of these tasks are outside the realm of my control -- in other words, wait....let me think about this: There are a set of parameters of things I need to do to feel more in control, and there is a set of parameters of things that conspire to get the contents of Subgroup A out of control. Chaos Theory? String Theory? Or more like String Cheese Theory? The point is, I do not deal well when others put unnecessary obstacles in my way. And, so, I wake up with insomnia at 3:30AM, and then am even further incapable of doing what I need to do.

Damn.

I wanted to do a fun post on Pirate Day. I love Pirate Day. I've been celebrating it long before I ever even heard of Azeroth. 

Wait -- maybe that's it!  I need to tap into my inner pirate! Captain Jack Sparrow wouldn't let a little thing like a BOSS stop him, would he!? HELL NO.

So, I went to a name generator and gave myself a new name. From henceforth, on this day of our Lord September 19, ye shall refer to me as  Cap'n Angie Pinkbeard.

Oh, wait, I don't like that - how about Bubonic Romana Drake?! Yes! That's better. Aye.

So, time to get me pirate on, and if anyone asks me why I'm getting all scallywag up in your grill, there is only one answer: "Pirate."

PS I had to explain to a 20-something that "swag" did not come from rap songs. 

Sigh.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

RTMT: The Emperor is not wearing any exposition...

Pained
Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Emperor's New Clothes--it's a simple tale of vanity, deception, and  truth-seeking, and more importantly, truth-telling. This morning, I am feeling somewhat gypped. An alternative title should be "My Parents Went to Theramore and All I Got Was This Lousy Tabard."

Please do not read if you are afraid of accidentally clicking on spoilers. Please do not read any further if you think I have nothing valid to say. I may not. I just know there was something I was really looking forward to, allowed myself to get swept up in the moment, and then, like seeing Cinderella smoking behind the castle's bleachers or Mickey yelling at Minnie, I feel there is a bit of a let-down here. Many players put the Blizzard writers on pedestals, and let's just say I think they phoned this one in.

Tzufit took the words right out of my own mouth with her post on the Theramore scenario:

http://treehealsgowoosh.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/the-theramore-disaster/

To quote:

Pure and simple, the story of this scenario makes absolutely no sense without having read Tides of War.  Blizzard is no stranger to forcing us to go outside of the game for the full story about most major lore developments, but we usually have enough pieces of the puzzle given to us in-game that we can get a decent clue as to what’s going on. --Theramore Disaster

The events in Theramore were only satisfying at all because I brushed up a bit on my lore, read Vidyala's post, went and took screenshots, and wrote MY OWN DAMN STORY. 

Have the creatives and developers at Blizzard became too lazy when it comes to delivering on lore promises? Do they depend too much on their loyal followers to fill in the gaps? Or maybe, and this is giving them a boatload of credit, perhaps they just want us to read a damn book once in awhile? I have often commented that novels-to-movies are always more satisfying, nay, solely satisfying, if one has read the book first. Good movies from novels enhance the novel, but each medium does have its limitations. I just think Blizzard went a bit too far with this one. It could have been shokewl.

Lucky for me I still have my inner sense of storytelling, and although I couldn't save Theramore, or Lt. Aden, or anyone else, I can save the enjoyment of the game. Furthermore, I remind myself of my own creative beliefs: We craft the world we choose, or choose the worlds we craft.

Erinys recently posted something she crafted, a Darkmoon Dolly (it looks kind of deliciously-evil poppet to me):

The reasons I enjoy playing was never about the lore, and while I may be feeling a bit like I want my money back on this one, I'll get back to what I do enjoy - crafting my own world.

PS Of course, none of this will stop me from repeatedly queueing for the ride. /smirk


Monday, September 17, 2012

Morning news...

Shaman Update:
After getting cleaned up, pouring myself that first cup of black coffee, I open up email, and see, "Soul here." What!? Damn! Did I lose that thing again? Is it sending me a message from a sunny beachside, letting me know it's run away with an imp and going to set up permanent residence in Bora Bora? Whew...no. It was a guildmate who goes by the handle/nickname Soul, sending me some research on shamans. This is the kind of quest I can get behind: a quest for knowledge! Sorry, it's early. Anyway, here are the links he sent me:

http://www.mmomeltingpot.com/2012/08/wow-patch-5-0-enhancement-shaman-quick-start-guide-stats-talents-and-spec-glyphs-rotation-reforging-and-gems-and-ability-priorities/

and

http://www.mmomeltingpot.com/2012/08/wow-patch-5-0-restoration-resto-shaman-quick-start-guide-stats-talents-and-spec-glyphs-rotation-reforging-and-gems-priorities-and-healing-strategies/

Good ol' Hugh and MMO! When I have time to study your comprehensive guides, I will!

Two Warlocks and a Priest walk into a dungeon...

Kellda.
Dungeon.
Tank and DPS leave.
It's Kellda, another Demonology warlock and a Discipline priest.

The three of us cleared that dungeon: amazingly satisfying, if I do say so.

One screenshot from the rubble...
I always wondered about that:

Ironyca debunks one urban myth I also heard: http://ironyca.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/myths-and-urban-legends-in-wow-dont-talk-to-the-students/

So--feeling a certain calm before the storm, or maybe it's the clam before the storm? /shrug.

Think I need more coffee.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Story Time: The Blood of Our Ancestors


The shaman wiped the mixture of rusted dust and sweat from her brow. She filled her healing totem from the filthy, swampy river, choked with flesh and weapons. Bodies of dragonkin and Onyxia’s children were already infested with joyous maggots: the living cleaning up the dead, wasting no time, wasting no flesh. The water tasted metallic and sharp, reminding her of the bitter raspberry-colored water around Bloodmyst Isle, infused with bad magic and salts. But it would have to do. The small fissure in her totem leaked almost more water than it held, and stained the infused-light surface with misleading pink streaks: its festive appearance was macabre.

When the first explosions shredded Theramore, Mataoka was on the wrong side of the lines. She was near Dustwallow, near the Orc and Tauren encampments, helping her cousin gather herbs. Why her cousin was there in that too-small naval town was obvious, although incredibly reckless: love for the lieutenant kept her there, against her nature and better sense. Mataoka lost Ceniza, the sounds of the shrapnel and bombs singing a hell’s choir in her head. The ground between them had been ripped, Ceniza on the Alliance lines, and Mataoka on the Horde.

It was not as if Mataoka didn’t know a storm was coming, but lately, her inner instrumentation had been off by huge margins. She had all the instincts but none of the logical guidance to defend herself. The beauty of Theramore was deceiving as well. One could not have asked for a more beautiful morning than this morning.

The fighting drifted closer to Theramore’s port. She was disoriented from the explosions, but heard the distinct sound of canon fire from the ships, and deceptive sounds: some voices that were miles away, carried by the odd acoustics of the sea, went right to her ears, while other sounds closer to her were faint. She barely heard the groan of the young Orc male, but she caught a whiff of his pungent blood.

Filthy, dirty things, Orcs. He smelled. He had soiled himself, and there was another smell, too. His blood reeked like the fel-fields of Outland: sharp, sulfurous, and bitter. Some of the ancient eredar had this smell, too. It was pervasive in the Black Temple. It overpowered the musty grassy smell of Dustwallow, it overpowered the smell of gunpowder and foul breath of screams. It overpowered all, and forever would be in the front of her memories.
He wore a stolen Alliance uniform, though it must not have fooled the humans or Draenei long with his green skin, which was covered in black-red blood soon enough. In Outland, we are all taller. We are all stronger. We are survivors. But in this human place, we are weak. We break. She was not aware of these thoughts; they became a subconscious rhythm, like breathing. We are weak. We break. The human world was always a brittle one at best.
He was crying. His shame was palatable. He knew he was dying, and he was not ready. No one is.

Her robes, woven with the tendons and tiny bones of protective spirit animals, were streaked with shit-brown bloodstains from her own wounds and fear, and it was as if the animals’ blood had found a voice from the grave. “So this is what it’s like to go insane?” she thought to herself, “This is when I don’t come back.”

She did not belong here. She did not belong here. She wanted to go home. She—blood seeping through bandages—she belonged to--the emerald green grass and lavender haze through Azuremyst bachelor pines, so named because the female species’ seeds were always leagues away. The pines were fertilized by the efforts of birds and animal spoor: it had taken generations after the devastation of her ancestors for these trees to grow again in the strange lands. They were just as invasive and unwelcome as her people were, but had found a home in Azuremyst.

But she was a fighter, and she was a healer. What others would consider high treason, she considered her duty. He needed comfort and reassurance. Her healing instincts and sound judgments won out over her fears. She brought him water. She tried to stop the bleeding as best she could. She washed his face, and cradled his head in her lap, all the while him mumbling in Orcish: she managed to understand a few words. Like most dying soldiers, it’s always the same song: Tell her I love her. Tell her I died a hero. Tell her I am sorry. Tell her I will see her on the other side. She didn’t have to speak Orc to know.

His light was nearly extinguished. Mataoka turned when she heard a thundering Tauren triumvirate headed towards them: in the lead was a female Tauren, a druid by her markings and trappings: the two males, warriors, grabbed Mataoka by her arms, dragging her away from the Orc, her hooves finding no purchase in the spongy ground, while the Tauren druid knelt by the Orc to try to save him with green leafy-infused winds and prayers. One warrior held a dagger to her throat, and the other twisted her arms back. They could kill her in a heartbeat, and would be within their rights. War breeds death.

The Orc passed. The Tauren looked at Mataoka, and Mataoka saw her rich, emerald green eyes. Green eyes the color of Azuremyst hills. Green eyes the color of life. With a gentle nod of her head, the warriors released Mataoka, pointing the way back to medics near the Alliance lines in Theramore. But she did not run the instant she was released: she bowed deeply and in humility and respect to the Tauren. The Tauren bowed in return. They knew the language of mothers, of healers, and would care for each other's wounded, the sons and daughters of all. They bowed to one another as shaman and druid, not Tauren and Draenei. 

They each walked back to their sides of the rift.


Dustwallow Marsh


Let the Drummer Kick/Citizen Cope


Writer's Note: This vignette has been kicking around in my head for some time. I had promised Navi a story, and was inspired by her generosity of spirit months ago. I am so honored to know her. I admit that I find it somewhat superficial that 'in game,' we have to take sides. It's not in my nature, nor do I think it's inherently in her nature either. We are real humans navigating a real world, and its dangers and disasters. I believe, as much as I trust anything, that my friendship with Navi supersedes all barriers--I mean think about it!? How cool do I get to have a virtual pen-pal a world away, and still feel connected and befriended? 

But--it is a game of war after all. And in war, there are sides. But I know the healers in the world are the ones who mend up the rends, and steer us back to peace and life. 

As far as Bear's challenge of being able to self-critic my writing, I think some of the parts that can either be edited, revised, or embellished may include the mention of why Mataoka is there in the first place: seems like a bit of a thin premise to be helping Ceniza. Ceniza was just lonely, the lieutenant being otherwise preoccupied with deserting soldiers and protecting Jaina. Ceniza has her own story to tell, but this was not hers. 

And my own litmus test when I'm writing: if I make myself laugh or in this case, cry, I know it's done.

Dear Azeroth: Why We Hate to Tank

It's more fun to play warlocks anyway: be careful what you wish for, Azeroth.
Nine times out of ten when I hit the Dungeon Finder the goody bag is up for tanks. Sometimes healers too, but not nearly as often. That bag sure is pretty. It's like a big blue embersilk bag, made of the finest materials, pregnant with the promise of gold, gems, and maybe, a puppy! I have received a mulgore hatchling and a hyacinth parrot while playing Zeptepi healing, but usually just gold and an unnecessary flask for Luperci Who Is Not a Fail Tank. But, like a lottery ticket, it sure does have potential, and since the odds are if Luperci looks, sure enough, the bag is offered.

I put Luperci to the side a while ago. My goal is to have 4000JP for each of my favorite characters by the time Mists hits. Mataoka is there, and so is Luperci: Zeptepi isn't far behind, the trailers being Ceniza and Momokawa. Momo is still stubbornly refusing to go into LFR after umpteen thousand failed final platforms. I was looking around at some items for Luperci, and spent some of her JP on HP things, and to make up the deficit, saw sure enough, goody bag meets time - off we go.

The new protection paladin set up is still a bit of a mystery to me, but only because I haven't spent any time studying it, and it seemed unnecessarily confusing before, and more simple now. In other words, at first glance, the changes of simplification seem good. And, like a good little paladin, if I see a druid in the group, I hit Blessings of Might.

I am quickly told that because there is a shaman in the group, my blessing is superfluous due to shaman mastery.* Not the word he used, but you get the idea. I asked why, to no answer. In fact, any question I asked this little warrior, or the group, was met with stony silence. They were having a grand conversation with the mage about his combustion. So imagine walking into a car show and everyone is talking hemis and carburetors, and you just want to know about tires.

The rogue fight, and the smoke, and the slow movement out, etc. Little warrior jumps right in and pulls the boss the second she drops to the ground, and though I was ready and pulled her too, he dies a few seconds later, and then of course, it's my fault, can't hold aggro, can't do anything right, etc. Tanks suck, blah blah blah, and then another player pipes in and says "Well he's better than the other 14 I've had today."

I am wondering: at what point does a player perhaps look in the mirror and stop blaming others? Oh, you wacky generation of no accountability and it's someone else's fault: I blame your parents. (See what I did there?) They told you it was the coach's fault for benching you. Or the teacher's fault for your F. Or your mother's fault. Or your father's fault. But maybe, just maybe, if you were the tank and pulled the boss, little warrior, you would have been okay? And maybe, just maybe, little warrior, if you weren't the tank and pulled the boss with your mighty aggro and died, it just might be your fault? Ain't gonna bubble azzhats, sorry.

And--why is it ALWAYS WARRIORS?!?!

Sigh.

Well, it's his repair bill, not mine. I got 74 gold out of the goody bag, and an inferno ruby.

BUT--that tale of griping leads me back to my original question: what is it about shamans and mastery now? How have the totem changes affected shamans? Anyone want to weigh in and give me their thoughts on this? I'm seriously considering going more full-time restoration on Mataoka, and would love to know your thoughts:

*Resto Shaman Mastery, Pandarian Style: http://lifeingroup5.com/?p=2965

Theme Song: See It No Other Way/Slighty Stoopid
Theme Song II: Handlebars/Flobots

Postscript: Maybe I'll start kicking warriors out of hand in Portuguese. Going to make my macro now:

Parar de puxar o chefe, ou eu vou chutar.