Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cookout 2010 Stories: Vol 3

Most of our third day saw us descend from high atop Mt. Cranky to mingle among the commoners 2 hours away in Baltimore at Camden Yards. This day of the trip was pretty much the only thing we had pre-planned prior to actually getting together.


Before heading to Baltimore, we had some Einherjar business to take care of. As luck would have it, our Einherjar timing worked out so that we had an Odin to fight during our cookout for the second year in a row. It's always interesting doing an event like this with a group of people as opposed to the general solitude most of us play games like this in.

Since the level cap increase, we've done Odin twice. Both times have been ridiculously easy. We started utilizing Odin on Odin crime at the starts of the fights, so our team really only has 80ish% of his health to deal with. I tend to view this as a way to make up for time lost actually entering Valgrind, but that really didn't have anything to do with the level cap increase itself.

Both times we've fought him, we've been done in about 15 mins tops. He's pretty much a cakewalk now. Don't get me wrong, he can still cause a lot of havoc at times (looking at you 50% mark + valks or 30% mark + valks), but he's nowhere near the time nailbiter he used to be.

Drops yielded a long overdue E.Body and a pair of M.Legs Kreoss actually won the lot on, then inexplicably dropped his lamp before they distributed to him and Jess ended up getting them. Not that he cared much about them to begin with since it was a 3-way lot of 4 point bids on them, but that was still cause for some ridicule. Once done, the rest of us that hadn't showered yet got cleaned up and we loaded up the Vue and the Crankyvette to make our way to Baltimore.


Normally I drive a 4 door sedan, not a 4-door SUV. Driving along I-68 in the mountains was rather challenging for me. At one point, there's a curve that lasts for literally 2-3 minutes. The Gs presented on one's body on this curve in an SUV with an ABS system about as sensitive as a WoW'er that just got dumped by a man he thought was a girl actually got me to get Kay to call Suraph and tell him to slow down.

Y'see, I'm lead-footed by nature. That's the irony presented in this story. If I'm asking someone to slow down on the highway, it's akin to McDonald's running out of hamburgers AND fries in the same night. If it had just been me in the Vue, I probably wouldn't have asked, but since 3 others were with me, it had me a little concerned. Naturally, the only thing that was my saving grace was the fact that Kreoss was getting carsick and actually falling asleep with his mouth open.

That translates to an escape from ridicule. :)

Sports Talk Radio Makes Erimentha Go ZZZZZzzzzz

One other thing I discovered during this drive that was rather comical was the effect of Sports Talk Radio on Erimentha. Eri had just finished telling a story or having a conversation or something and I decided to try to catch up on what was happening in the sports world before we actually went to the sporting event...

I flipped the switch on the radio, found a station and, I shit you not, Eri was out cold in a matter of seconds.

So naturally, just for testing purposes, I turned the radio off.

She woke up.

I turned it back on.

She went to sleep.

Ok, probably not that exaggerated, but still funny nonetheless. :)

Toys R Us Hunting

Naturally, on any road trip, I'm going to stop off at Walmarts and Toys R Us'es to hunt for Transformers. Before we left, we mapped out that there were 3 of them along our way to Baltimore. We figured we'd get some lunch in the area around the first one.

This was also a great example of GPS fail. The GPS in BOTH vehicles got us to the vicinity, but pretty much made us drive an extra 10 miles through city backroads to get to it when it was actually sitting right off the interstate about 5 miles ahead of the exit the GPS told us to get off at. I forget the name of the first city we pulled off at (I want to say Hagerstown).

Anyway, after getting into the vicinity, I'm still following the Crankymaro. I spot the Toys R Us and then get led around the mall it's in. After about 3 minutes of this and getting further away from said Toys R Us, I remarked that Suraph is either screwing with me or he's lost. Turns out...he got lost.

In a mall parking lot.

With 2 GPSs.


After realizing he wasn't getting anywhere, he pulls over into a remote section of the parking lot and lets me take the lead. After about half a dozen nearly-hit pedestrians (GTFO OFF MY ASPHALT OLD PEOPLE! TOYS R US OR BUST), 1 dozen zigs and 2 dozen zags through one of the dumbest parking lots I've ever seen, we arrived! And I promptly corrupted someone else's kid by cussing the minute I got out of the car. Even to the point Suraph was embarassed to be seen with me cussing in the presence of a 3 year old I didn't know was there. :)

And all of that turned out to be for naught. Nothing new there. So we piled back in and headed up the parking lot a ways for lunch...

Olive Garden

Since we knew we were going to have one more Toys R Us stop along the way, we figured we'd rearrange passengers based on the following criteria:

"I give a shit about Toys R Us"


"I don't give a shit about Toys R Us"

The first group would pile into the Vue. The second would pile into the Crankilac. In my car wound up Drakus, Kreoss, Kay (there cause of me and not cause of Toys R Us...) and myself. In the Crankybaru, Kaelis, Eri and Cranky.

This is the sort of stuff that happens on a road trip when you have a 15-20 minute wait to seat a group of 7 at Olive Garden.

Lunch was rather uneventful outside of that. Lots of conversation about a wide variety of topics along with Kreoss' introduction to Touchdown Jesus and what's left of him after getting smote by lightning. Anyone else familiar with the region also knows that lightning bolt was probably aimed for porn shop, but in typical Ohio fashion, somehow managed to even cause that to fail in a football-related manner.

Lunch done, piling back into the vehicles we go.

Toys R Us #2 - Frederick, MD

We pretty much agreed we'd just meet up in Baltimore from that point as trying to stay together on the highway is far more of a pain than it needs to be. About 30-40 miles later, we come up on our next Toys R Us exit. Yet again, both GPS's failed. Apparently, the highway the exit lands us on actually ENDS in the middle of a Toys R Us.

Nevermind the fact that said highway actually goes on for miles afterwards and the Toys R Us itself is actually a right turn off said highway. Again my keen Toys R Us senses saved us some time and I spotted the sign for it before anyone else did. This trip proved fruitful however. We picked Drakus up the newly redone Seaspray figure and I picked up the core combiners 5-pack called Bombshock. This excursion actually didn't cost us much time as it relates to the Crankibu since they had to stop off for some meds or something I can't remember...

Unfortunately, time was a little short and we weren't going to be able to make it to the third Toys R Us that was actually in Baltimore. So we just headed straight for the game.

Parking Disaster

I've been in enough big cities to know that during a huge sporting event, Downtown Anything = Long Waits in Traffic. Baltimore was easily the worst in this regard. We literally spent about 45 minutes trying to drive about a mile to a parking structure off the interstate. There's pretty much 3 things in this world that make me insta-tantrum:

1. Dishonesty.
2. Stealing.
3. Idiotic Traffic Congestion

Anyway, we finally found a place to park and walked up to where Suraph, Kaelis and Eri were all waiting for us.

For the record, I went asshole on the parking structure and parked my big ass SUV in a "Compact Cars Only" spot.

We're here!

Camden Yards has always been ranked rather high on the list of "Best Ballparks". I became somewhat enamored with it after watching the 1993 All-Star Game when I watched Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse during the home run derby. It wasn't some out-of-the-park-and-bounced-to-the-warehouse dinger. The guy hit the warehouse wall on the fly. Seeing that warehouse brought back a lot of the memories I had as a kid watching baseball. Not that I really liked my memories of Jr. roughing up my favorite pitcher (Steve Avery, at the time) the following night in the All-Star Game, but yeah, that's why I wanted to see a game here.

View of the warehouse from our seats.

So after the huge parking struggle, we get up to the gate and find...a long ass line. Starting to think it would have been a better idea to pre-order the tix. BUT! That didn't sway us. Stand in that line we did. Sweat and Stand. Walk 2 steps. Sweat and stand. Walk 2 steps.

Are we there yet?



Only 4 more cattle herd rows to go! (That's no one we know in that pic...she just got in the way of me trying to get a picture of the stadium section picture on the wall).

Section 58, Row 15 x7 Please!

Turns out the Orioles number their sections funny. I found what I thought to be section 58 only to discover the numbers hanging from the rails were deceiving. Normally, I'd think the section was identified on the outside, but nope...designated on the inside. So we had to move once we got seated the first time. Was rather odd (or just a sign of how much the Orioles suck..) that we found the same 7 empty seats (seats 4-10, row 15) in section 60 that we did in Section 58 (seats 4-10, row 15...).

With it being 96F with 100% humidity, Drakus made a good call regarding getting tickets along the third base line. Why? No sun on us. Was still cramped seating and hot as fuck though, so this picture of this Diet Coke is to commemorate the one, and only time, I've ever been happy paying $5 for a Diet Coke. Not pictured is the empty canister that was housing the $4.50 ice cream I crushed.

Miguel Roidjada. One fan, after watching Tejada almost hit a homer declared:


The outfielder's last name in this picture is "Pie". Simple right? Fuck no. It's pronounced "Pee-a" Suraph just resorted to calling him "Cake". Much simpler and, probably not coincidentally, reflected the opinions of some fans.


Fan was right. Cake managed to go the whole game w/o so much as a smudge.

Pictured Lower Right to uh....Guy with Ballcap:

Suraph - Kreoss - Erimentha - Kaelis - Drakus.

This is a picture of the Baltimore sky line during the night. Just random picture. :)

Onto the game itself in quick-note style:

- Before we were even completely seated, the Toronto leadoff hitter knocked the very first pitch out into the bleachers. 1-0 Blue Jays.

- Whoever is employed as the "Other Games" scoreboard operator needs to be fired. That damn thing was barely updated the entire game.

- Baltimore took the lead a few innings later 2-1.

- Baltimore quickly lost the lead later. Down 3-2.

- Some guy a few rows up had an entertaining conversation with the Beer Guy. It ended with:


- Toronto ended up winning 3-2. The important thing to note here is that no one in the ball park seemed to care. At least the 7 of us didn't. I cared more about the 10-5 drubbing Drakus' Yankees got at the hands of Kreoss' Devil Rays.

- The only thing missing from this event was someone who's been MIA for a long while. We needed a Canuck there since the game was basically USA vs. Canada.

Random pictures from the game:

Down at field level after the game was over.

The Orioles' retired numbers.

The shop Kay just had to get hats out of before the game started. :)

I amused Drakus.

Group shot! Left to right: Erimentha, Kaelis, me, Kaylea, Suraph, Kreoss, and Drakus.

And with that, we left...getting out of downtown Baltimore after a 30,000ish people event wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. It really only took us about 20 minutes to get back to the interstate.

"If It's More Than Two Miles Off the Interstate, It Shouldn't Get a Sign"

The Crankyvenger had a decent head start on us though. We weren't exactly racing to get back, but we had agreed to meet up as we got closer to home so I could follow Suraph back up the mountain. At one point, Cranky had to pull off for gas, discovered the gas station mentioned on the road sign was about 7 miles off the highway, cussed a lot and got back onto the highway.

This waste of time caused him to mutter about the sub-title of this section for a good while. It also gave us a chance to catch up to him completely. I ended up actually passing him on the highway before he actually found a gas station.

State Trooper

As we got closer to home and back onto I-68, I happened to look in my rearview mirror and see the unmistakable headlights belonging to a Ford Crown Victoria. Anyone who's done any significant road travel understands that if a pair of these are tailgating you, you're probably about to get pulled over.

Well these were tailgating me and, trust me when I say, I've been pulled over enough to kind of get an idea of their habits. Yes I was speeding down that mountain highway to the tune of about 20mph over, but I was also in a huge crowd of cars all doing the same. I took the next opening in the right lane and merged into the traffic to try to force the trooper's hand. If he was going to pull me over, he'd follow me.

Fortunately, he didn't. However he got right up on the tail end of the Crankyolstice and proceeded to tailgate him for a good long while. Suraph didn't change lanes or even bother to slow down. Come to find out Suraph thought it was me the entire time. Eventually, the Trooper just decided to pass on the right and zip on down the highway at speeds easily exceeding 100mph (we were doing 85 when I saw him...).

The great part of this story is, Suraph apparently thought I was the one that was passing him and had his own special "WTF?!??!" moment as it relates to it. This was either due to him remembering that I didn't want to go too fast around those curves in an SUV or due to him forgetting about that and thinking I knew the way home myself...

Back Home

All of us were happy to get back after spending approximately 6 hours on the road and 3.5-4 hours outdoors, most of which were in sweltering conditions. After a short round of Castle Crashers and the obligatory checking of our AH items and whatnot, it was time to crash.

More Stories next week with (hopefully) a surprise video proving a long standing observation. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cookout 2010 Stories: Vol 2

The second day was relatively uneventful. We mostly just hung out and shot the shit. Between various video games we were playing and Drakus' obsession with Magian trials...we managed to squeeze in some quality outdoor time under the stars and we managed to watch Zombieland.

However, my day started off with...

Stripes the Cat

Stripes is one of Suraph's two cats (the other being Gracie). Stripes doesn't like people much. This shouldn't come as a surprise given who his owner is, but I digress. It takes a bit for Stripes to warm up to you. Combine that with the fact that Stripes had never been to this particular environment before and you have a recipe for one scared cat.

So Friday morning rolls around and I stumble into the bathroom after waking up to be greeted by this:

Yes, Stripes the Cat, despite my door being shut, had managed to come into the room and hide out in the bathroom sink.

Obviously, my presence didn't scare him off.

He even stayed in the sink long enough for me to go find my phone to take pictures of him.

This apparent "fraidy cat" isn't too scared of cameras.

As you can see, he likes to pose.

Suraph says this is Stripes' way of showing he's warming up to you. It was also a game he seemed to like to play called "Let's see if those idiots can find me now".

At one point a couple hours after finding him in the sink, Suraph went to look for him since he didn't come up for food. We couldn't find him anywhere and started thinking a door had been left open and Stripes got out. We gave up after a bit hoping he'd just turn up once it got a little more quiet around the house.

About an hour after the search, Eri comes up exclaiming she had found Stripes.

You see...Stripes apparently found a small opening in the mattress Eri was taking a nap on. Upon laying down on said mattress, Stripes started moving around giving Eri the feeling she had just somehow landed herself in a Japanese anime. After a short bit of searching, she discovered said opening and Stripes the Cat's head peeking out of it.

Throughout the rest of the trip, we found Stripes the Cat in places like:

Laundry Hamper.
Trash Can.
Inside various cabinets.
Drakus' Beard.

(Ok, I'm kidding about that one...)

My personal favorite...

This would be Stripes the Cat figuring out how to enter the TV stand from the backend. The last day Suraph, Drakus and I were up there, we're eating dinner and playing Southpark's Tower Defense game when we see Stripes' head peek up over the TV. Mind you, this is a 40"ish LCD TV, so he had to do some work to peek up over that thing. Before we knew it, he was down in the stand crawling around before coming to rest next to the satellite box and the DVD player.

Needless to say, Stripes the Cat stole the show on many occasions.

Japanese Steakhouse

Dinner Friday night was provided by a Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse that Suraph was fond of. This, in and of itself, is surprising given everything at this place had flavor in it, but that's beside the point.

During dinner, I kept trying to figure out how to convince our chef to tilt the onion volcano in Kreo's direction to burn off his goatee.

The primary things of note during the dinner though were:

This restaurant has disco balls that light up when they sing Happy Birthday to someone...

This restaurant also buries little flashing fake ice cubes in bowls of ice that sushi is served over. This cube fascinated me to the point I basically unburied it and wondered just how water-proof it was. One toss into Kay's water later and I concluded it was indeed completely waterproof.

Once finished, we retreated back to Chateau de Cranky and lazed around some more.

4-Player-Palooza and Late Night Castle Crashing

Just reading this title makes it sound like we filmed our own version of "Harold and Kumar". So I probably need to say, no, we did not make "Kaelis and Kreo Go To White Castle" (although we did try to make "Kreoss Does Mountain Critters"). This title refers to a rather fun game called Castle Crashers.

I had been told about this game by Inbred before. I didn't bother downloading it at the time cause I already had enough on my plate to play. He professed how great this game was time and time again. While we were on a 4-Player, button mashing game kick playing games like TMNT: Arcade and TMNT: Turtles In Time, Suraph suggested we give Castle Crashers a try and that he had it stored on his USB drive.

So we pop it in and holy shit is that a fun game. Personally, I can't imagine trying to play this game solo, but if you got some buddies over and you got 4 controllers, hook that sumbitch up and play it. The humor is right up a group of guy's alley for the most part. For example:

Rocket-Shit Deer.


We generally traded off who was playing. Before we knew it, the women had gone to bed and it was 3 AM...

Looking back on it, I'm half surprised we didn't wake them up laughing at the Owl that shit itself to death.

On top of that, the music for this game is goddamn outstanding. If I ever find the soundtrack for this game, I'm buying it. I'm probably buying a copy for random people too since it's that goddamn outstanding.

Main theme for example:

I mean, how does that not get you pumped up to kick some ass? That's seriously a piece of music you put on while driving down the interstate challenging a Hurricane to come try to knock you off the road.

Anyway, as stated before...nothing much happened the 2nd day we were there. Just a whole lot of lazing around. More to come soon. :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cookout 2010 Stories Vol. 1

Interrupting the TF: WFC reviews with something most will likely find far more entertaining. From July 14th-20th, our annual cookout took place. This year, it was in King Cranky's summertime abode high upon mountain tops in West Virginia/Maryland.

The Drive

The plan this year still involved driving. I originally contemplated flying into Baltimore and renting a car. However, after realizing the sheer amount of equipment that was going to be needed, I opted to get a new set of tires at Sears for Dad's SUV ($800...) and just haul myself up there. Besides, the drive itself is only about 8.5 hours w/o any stops. A far cry from the near 40 hours spent on the road from last year.

Anyway, my part of the plan was as follows:

- Drakus drives up to my house.
- Drakus and I drive back to Nashville to pick up Kreoss.
- The 3 of us drive to WV via I-40, I-81, I-70, and I-68.
- Stop at every Wal-Mart along the way to hunt for Transformers.

Suraph's part of the plan was:

- Pick up Kaylea at the Baltimore airport, which was about 2 hours away and along his way down from where he normally lives in New Hampshire.

Kaelis/Erimentha's part of the plan was:

- Drive from Ohio to WV, about 7ish hours according to mapquest.
- Bring Skyline chili.

The drive up took a little longer than expected due to my apparent inability to stay up all night anymore. Two 5-Hour Energy shots didn't even keep me from having to pull off and doze for a bit. Those 2 shots did give me a rather bad case of the jitters though.

Or it could have been those 2 shots + all the caffeinated Diet Coke I had been drinking...

Anyway, onto the stories!

The Meetings!

I've never met Drakus or Kreoss face to face. I've known Drakus a lot less time than Kreoss. Seems this time every year, Kreoss has something really dumb go wrong in his life that prevents him from coming to the cookout. In fact, it's such the case that it's become a bit of a running gag. We send him the invite, he starts bracing for the worst.

First year: Truck blew up.

Second year: Moving.

Third year: Divorced (long story, just know that it wasn't Kreoss' fault)

This year: Almost. He was apparently in the Philippines at some point the week before the cookout purchasing a number of items. In other words: someone got his CC information and cleaned his account out. Fortunately, this amounted to only a couple hundred bucks as it was middle of the month and he had paid all of his bills and had taken out the cash he was going to need for the trip. His flight also got delayed by about an hour.

Back to Drakus for a moment though. Drakus was driving up to meet me at my place from Memphis, TN. I was in the process of getting some last minute things together and heading for the front door. As I opened the door and got ready to go out, there was Drakus. Damn near ran into him.

For those of you that are wondering, I first thought that this was his "I hate BLM and I hate you for making me play it" face. Then I realized...this expression never changes. :)


Anyway, we loaded up, hung out with the folks for a bit and hit the road back to Nashville. The primary reason he was meeting me at my place instead of just say...leaving his car at the airport is that he was a little paranoid about leaving his car someplace he didn't know. Not that I blame him, but it's probably less likely something stupid was going to happen to his car at my house than it was at the airport.

Once back in Nashville, Drakus and I were hungry, so we stopped off at Jack-In-The-Box. Then killed a couple hours driving around Nashville waiting for Kreo's delayed flight to come in. Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, The Great Escape and a couple of video stores were visited. As it got closer to time, we headed to the airport where I was going to try to time it so I could get Kreo and get out of the airport w/o having to pay a parking fee.

The following conversation took place via texts while Kreo was at his layover in New Orleans:

Q: Any baggage other than carryons?
K: Yeah I got checked bags
Q: K, we'll meet you at your bag belt.
K: U got it.

(seeing "U" in place of "You" always gets me to make fun of people...)

Q: What r u wearing and do u feel like touching urself?
K: Black shirt and to the last part :p
Q: Could you possible be more vague...
K: Oh and my hair is back to it's natural dirty blonde. Not red or bleached like a lot of my facebook pics.

(for the record...there's exactly ONE picture of Kreoss on his FB page. The rest were of his cats and Disney characters)

K: plain black polo and black kangol hat with grey jeans...I guess i could have picked something that stands out more.
Q: K, we stand out. We won't be hard to find.

(I say this planning to be standing at the base of the escalators scratching my ass.)

Once he landed, he was easy to spot. Ponytail, Goatee and black hat. He actually caught Drakus and I both looking up at the Arrivals/Departures board. After a short wait for his bags, we got out and on the road.

And no, I didn't beat the parking clock. $2.00 please!


11PM Gas Stop + McDonald's Redneck Love

After a few hours, we're outside of Knoxville and I decide to pull off for gas and get some snacks. I found a combination Love's Travel Stop + McDonald's. After filling up, Drakus, Kreo and I decided to go get ourselves a late night snack. I got a huge Diet Coke and some snack wraps, Kreo got a couple cheeseburgers and Drakus got something fruity...

We go back to the Vue to eat and notice a "big-boned" McDonald's employee and her boyfriend out in the front. The boyfriend is the stereotypical redneck. Boots, dirty jeans, old T-Shirt. The girl I couldn't really tell about since she was in a McDonald's uniform, but she appeared to be Hispanic. Since we didn't really have anything else to watch while we were eating (and also cause the Vue was pointed directly at where they were standing), we just sort of kept our eyes on them.

...And then they started making out...

......and then we collectively wondered if she had touched our food since she had been the one, who just about 10 mins earlier, had taken our orders.

Sad thing is. They couldn't wait to make out apparently. Once they were done sucking face, they held hands and walked to their car...

...which was parked right next to mine.

This is going to be a great trip. :)

Knoxville Walmart Hunting, Magellan vs. Droid.

Aside from the Transformer hunting, the purpose for Walmart stops is to stretch and wake up a bit. Once we hit Knoxville a short bit after witnessing redneck love, we spent about 20 minutes searching for a Walmart we had seen from the side of the road. Drakus had brought his GPS with him (Magellan) and Kreoss brought his phone with the built in GPS (Droid). However both were being a little retarded in regards to their signals and we ended up looping through a neighborhood about midnight.

The primary thing to note here was:

I didn't bring directions to our final destination because I knew we'd have both of those devices. This wasn't a good sign. :)

Virginia Is One Fat State

One theme of the drive up was that it seemed like I had picked the longest routes possible in two states. I picked I-40 in TN, which basically equates to driving the entire length of the state. I picked I-81 in Virginia, which basically equated to driving through the state diagonally. There were slightly faster routes like I-79, but I've been through those mountains in West Virginia before and I didn't want any part of those again during the night.

Trust me, when you walk into a gas station at 2AM to pay for gas, run into 2 people making out only to discover that it's 2 dudes with 3 teeth between them making out, you tend to want to avoid nighttime travel through that region.

Anyway, the drive through Virigina seemed like it was a lot longer than it should have been. Might've been cause we were tired or that we had pulled off a couple times to try to catch a few winks of sleep, but it really just seemed like that stretch of 81 went on for-f***ing-ever.

The Arrival

We met up with Suraph and Kay at the Country Club Mall in Cumberland, MD. Suraph had sent me directions to get to the house from I-68, but they were directions like:

Turn left at the missle plant.
Turn right at the T intersection with O'Beery McLiquors (which actually exists btw...).
Turn left at the pile of dead deer and go straight up the mountain. We're at the very top.

So we opted to just meet at the mall and follow him up. A short lunch at the Cafe Court and a brief supply run in Wal-Mart and Gamestop and we were headed up to the house.


This would be the view from the short walk up to the actual top of the mountain. This would also be the view of Suraph's house.

View from the deck.

Another angle from the deck.

Yet another angle from the deck.

Needless to say, this was a kick ass spot for a cookout.

Nerd Cave V2.0 Construction

Naturally, a cookout wouldn't be a cookout w/o building the Nerd Cave. The first 2 years, the Nerd Cave was pretty much prebuilt. Last year and this year, we had to put some effort into it.

This would be where Drakus, myself and Suraph spent most of our playing time. The respective stations are from top to bottom. Suraph stole his folks' computer monitor once he discovered it supported HDMI. He basically had his computer at his feet and his 360 by his side.

This table and the table behind the couch was where Kaelis and Erimentha typically had set up their netbooks. You'll also note Kay's notebook is there too an the red recliner was occupied by Kay for most of the trip. She wouldn't share. :)

Most of our gaming time was actually spent in front of this TV playing multiplayer games like TMNT, Castle Crashers, South Park, Mario Party 8, Mario Bros Wii and Super Smash Bros.

Speaking of Mario Party 8, there will be an insanely funny video from the cookout that I will post barring any interference from the 4 men filmed in it.

Anyway, that was pretty much it for Day 1. More stories soon to come. Some topics to look forward to:

Stripes the Cat
Orioles vs. Blue Jays
Late Night Castle Crashing

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It Starts...

Cookout 2010 is starting to {Gather together.} Gone for a week or so and will hopefully post up some pictures as shenanigans happen this year.

Hosting this year is: Suraph
Attending this year are: Kaylea, Kaelis, Erimentha, Kreoss, Drakus and yours truly.
Cooking/cleaning everything this year: Kaylea.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Transformers: War For Cybertron Review: Characters Part 2

Last post I made revolved around the Autobots. This post really needs no introduction, just time to talk about the Decepticons.


Like Prime, you can't have a Transformers story without Megatron being involved. Most of the time, he's the main villan. From time to time, he'll take a seat to the likes of bigger threats like Unicron, Bludgeon or some human that apparently figures out a way to destroy them easily. Unlike Prime though, Megatron has been butchered into many different forms and voices. Starting out as a Walther P38 (G1), then a tank, then a T-Rex, then some sort of a 10-mode hand/dragon thingy, back to a tank, then a spaceship, then the batmobile,then a spider, then a helicoptor, then back to a spaceship and finally back to a tank. From the fandom's standpoint, I don't think most really care WTF he is as long as he A) has a huge fkn cannon on his arm, B) a bucket head and C) insatiable lust for power. In TF:WFC, he meets all requirements, something that hasn't happened very frequently for him in general.


You can't have a story with Megatron without including Starscream in the picture. Habitually trying to overthrow Megatron's leadership and often times finding himself shot, beaten up or even killed as a result, Starscream pretty much just adds a facet to Megatron's personality that you can't really compare with. Starscream is always some sort of a jet or "Seeker". Much like the word "Prime", "Seeker" has really taken on a form of rank in some storylines. One aspect of TF:WFC that is being dealt with is how Megatron and Starscream meet. A number of storylines have referenced Starscream's history as a non-factioned scientist that was teamed with Jetfire, but have never really gone into detail how he was convinced to join the Decepticons. Like Megatron, the fandom really only cares about a few things as it relates to him. If you're going to use his character he A) Has to fly, B) Has to be a coward that gets his ass kicked and C) be an egomaniac. Also like Megatron, this game succeeds on all counts and it takes Starscream all of about 10 seconds to start trying to overthrow Megatron after he joins.


I consider Soundwave to be the last of the "Big 3" in the Decepticon ranks from a continuity standpoint. His primary function is to disrupt communications and spy. Most of his incarnations have been that of something associated with emitting loud, obnoxious noises or jets. His most famous incarnation is his G1 form though. A tape deck that spit out the likes of Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble and Frenzy. Ravage and Laserbeak were typically used for spying while Rumble and Frenzy were typically used for fighting alongside Soundwave. In later seasons of G1, and in seeming defiance of CD technology, he picked up another 5 cassettes (Ratbat, Squawktalk, Overkill, Slugfest, and Beastbox). While the latter weren't overly important, he was typically identified in conjunction with Laserbeak and Ravage given his recon responsibilities to the team. His other primary characteristic was his boring and uncreative personality emphasized by his overly exaggerated computerish speech. Memorable phrases include "Soundwave: superior. Constructicons: Inferior." and silly names he spouts for his cassette operations like "Laserbeak. Eject. Operation: Infiltration." There's really only one appropriate person for this guy's voice and even though Issac Singleton Jr. did a great job in the game, he's not Frank Welker. One other huge point of contention: How in the blue hell do you have Laserbeak, Rumble and Frenzy, but not Ravage...


This guy has never had that much of a spotlight, but typically, when someone thinks of Starscream, they think of the 2 jets who are under his command in Thundercracker and Skywarp. They did a little bit of character development with this guy by classifying him as a scientist and having him act rather analytical in relation to his surroundings and missions. I found this to be a little refreshing given he's usually just a drone that makes a wisecrack at Starscream's expense from time to time and is always a repaint of Starscream's toy.


Typically portrayed as a mischievous teleporter, Skywarp has had a lot more character development over the years than the aforementioned Thundercracker. His presence, aside from completing the standard Seeker trio, actually kind of bothered me. Not completely sure why as his dialogue wasn't horribly bad and they didn't do anything so outlandish with his character it made me resent him. He just seemed a little out of place for the one mission you have the option of playing him in.


This guy's presence in the game actually irritated me a lot. Aside from his role in Bayformers 1, he's really had no significant history at all in the lore. He actually started out as a mini-bot in the G1 series. Thankfully, he only shows up for one mission and I suspect that was more to fill out the Decepticon ranks and he was available thanks to current trademarks Hasbro has.


Unlike Barricade, this guy does have a little bit of history. He was originally part of the Stunticons gestalt team. I'm not saying "Gestalt or GTFO", but this guy really seemed like Barricade in the sense they were just reaching for filler and Hasbro happened to have a trademark on the name. He's been depicted as a bit of a vain soldier throughout his career and has always been some form of a fast car.


This is another guy along the same lines as Barricade and Breakdown. He was originally a tank that was part of the Combaticons gestalt team. Usually portrayed as a very angry/pissed off character, they definitely did not go lightly on this trait in TF:WFC. Again, this isn't "Gestalt or GTFO", I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around guys like this as individual characters. It's not as bad as having Breakdown, who virtually has no recent history, though. Brawl and Barricade at least had semi-prominent parts in Bayformers and the toys to go with them. Unfortunately, none of the last 3 had enough history outside of being a footnote or part of a gestalt team that make me think they were relevant enough to justfy as having playable characters people could identify with.


Like Omega Supreme, this guy is last and certainly not least. They followed the whole marketing 101 path by including this guy's appearance in the original game trailer. During his G1 days, he seemed to mostly be a bit of a babbling, blundering idiot that served as the Decepticon's main base. This was always a bit of a turn off considering his counter-part, Metroplex, wasn't. In TF:WFC, he's a huge force to be reckoned with. As far as city-sized bases go, the Autobots had Omega Supreme, Metroplex and Fortress Maximus. The Decepticons had Trypticon.

Well, they had Scorponok too, but he doesn't really count as he really didn't utilize his city mode much and kind of went his own direction.

Anyway, Trypticon is generally depicted as some sort of a beast along the lines of a T-Rex or dragon. His original toy was a little innovative in the sense it was one of the few Transformers that actually walked (Omega Supreme being the first years earlier). They beefed Trypticon up quite a bit for TF:WFC, but pretty much all of the visual cues that make him instantly recognizable are there. Without giving too much away (slight spoiler), the boss fight with him is pretty much a great representation of what small bot vs. big bot should be.

Next post, I'll go over the other facets of the game. I'm hoping to have them all done by the end of the week as next week, I'll be out of town for our summer get together.

And we all know that's going to produce at least a couple weeks worth of blog entries.

Qtipus' Information

FFXI subscriber since NA release.