Archive for the ‘Video Games’ category

Tending the cobwebs

February 5, 2014

Wow. This place. I had almost forgotten it existed. I mean, I knew it was here, silently mocking me with goals I had set for myself and deliberately avoided for various reasons that only make sense to another lazy person. But yeah, this place…

Originally, I started this blog as a way to exercise my fat, lazy grey matter in an effort to motivate myself enough to write something serious. Now don’t get your feathers all in a soggy bunch, bloggers. What many of you do in your personal spaces far exceeds anything I could pump out if I had a team of non-lazy assistants constantly nagging me to get my fingers in gear and type something. You’re informed, you’re witty and you make me laugh and think.

When I say I wanted to motivate myself to write something serious, I meant any one of the numerous writing projects I start and then hide in a pile of old clothes that don’t fit me and hope that something seeps onto the pages I’ve abandoned from the wardrobe items I’ve abandoned. You know, misery loving company and all. Enter NaNoWriMo last year.

For those who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, where you sign up and have the entire month of November to procrastinate writing an entire book. Fifty thousand words is the goal, and for those who write every day, it’s an easily achievable goal. For me, it was a lesson in how motivated I can get in the first and last week of the contest. But the end result was the same as everyone else who “won” last year: I put at least 50k words down on digital paper, skating in on the deadline with about 4 hours to spare.

The experience taught me many things, not the least of which is I write better when I’ve got white noise pumped into my brain pan, and that I really can write effectively when I just sit down and do it. Interestingly enough, The Lazy just reminded me that I then spent the following two months “editing” my unfinished book. Editing in this case means pouring over the first few pages a dozen times, changing character names and correcting grammatical errors I happened to spot. It was a way to not complete the project in its entirety. I’m nothing if not lazily predictable.

After several weeks of goading by friends, Achebeyo and one of my writing buddies, I got back to it like a child to volunteer-housework. I knew that my characters were sitting in their places, rolling their eyes every time I sat down and started “editing” again. I also knew it wouldn’t be long before the entire thread of where I wanted to take my story would fray and snap and I’d be left with angry characters doing nothing but ranting about how bad everything in their lives sucked. You know, a reflection of my own fears and frustrations.

A few weeks ago, the house was empty, except for me and Princess Pukatronic (the cat). When I went upstairs to immerse myself in distractions, nothing worked. I tried logging into online games I love to play, but the idea of lighting some digital representation of a douchebag in his parents’ basement up with electricity from the fingertips of my favorite game-toon just wasn’t holding water like it usually does. The unfinished story was glaring at me with undisguised contempt. I caved to its baleful attentions.

In two days, and roughly 6-8 hours of solid writing, I did what all of my inner voices said I couldn’t do: I finished the story. Granted, there are elements that need to be revisited, and things that need to be shored up or shaved down, but I think the basic first draft has a good handle on what I want to do, not only with this book, but (gasp) future books. I know, I may want to see a doctor and find out what happened.

Right now, the project is in the capable hands of one of my mentors for proofreading and notes. She’s admitted that she’s taking it slowly, so I’m not certain when I’ll get it back. For the moment, I’m keeping myself occupied by imagining all the book signings I’ll be forced to endure, and what I’ll say to people who actually think my story resonates with them. I’m pretty sure it’ll go something like this:

Them: You know, this book really changed my life. I now know what I need to do with myself.

Me: When you figure that out, can you come back and tell me so I have an idea for what I need to do??

Thanks to anyone who stuck around to see if I’d ever toss letters into this space again. I honestly appreciate it…even if I don’t show up enough to remind you.



July 22, 2013

*** My name is Brett.  One of Kevin’s high school friends.  He asked me to be a “guest writer” on this blog.***

*** First of all, I am not a writer.  Just because I struggle with writing I am not a struggling writer.  Secondly, through all of Kevin’s other posts, you are most likely familiar with his past work.  I would like to lay claim to some of his success as a comedy genius, but please don’t blame me. When approached by Kevin to write a story, recalling a memory of our oh-so-mature childhood days (because let’s face it, when boys are fourteen, fifteen, or forty they are cool know-it-alls) a few stories came to mind, but honestly, since I have not partaken of each blog post, I decided it behooving to stray from the stories of lizard lassos, snake whips, and pond drains for fear of boring readers with repetition, redundancy, or superfluousness.***

Being a middle school teacher, and parent, I feel I understand adolescence, primarily that of the twelve to fourteen year-old.  I have been instructing seventh and eighth grade students for somewhere around fifteen of my twenty-three years in education, the last six of which have been in Multimedia, a class which, in our district, focuses primarily on movie production (speaking of movies… although I have stayed in the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, I have yet to visit any mansion with said moniker resembling the likes of Versailles (other than Versailles)…and have been advised not to).  Now, having taught middle schoolers for so long, having two (currently) middle school daughters, and having been a middle schooler myself, I believe that upon finishing the application process and being hired, any and all middle-school teachers should be granted a knighthood, sainthood, riding hood, or any kind of hood available to those courageous (gullible) enough to voluntarily enter the position.  This philosophy is based mostly on the fact that I was a middle schooler myself and that my position as teacher now is not one of nobility, but one of karma (Karma= God’s “I told ya so.”)

As a middle-schooler, (and by the way, I am tired of my word processor’s red line indication that the word schooler is not in the dictionary.  It is.  If it isn’t a word, it should be.  Schooler: 1. an adjective describing a specific age of child, 2. a synonym for teacher) I was not as popular as I had hoped to be, but luckily, I was in middle school so I didn’t care. I entered seventh grade in Rapid City, SD, son of an Air Force Captain and entered the second half of eighth grade in Riverside, CA, son of an Air Force Major.  All of the moving, as any military brat can attest, leads to the development, honing, and perfection of certain adolescent survival skills; skills that most children do not learn until adulthood.  Among these skills are “if you don’t want people around you, don’t shower after gym class,” and “if you want people around you, be humorous.”  I learned to master both by the time ninth grade was over, and then spent the rest of my life trying unsuccessfully to practice more of the latter than the former.  This, combined with the fact that I had only been in California for five months, resulted in a lack of friends by the end of the school year.

The summer between eighth and ninth grade was boring, even for a newbie Californian.  That being said, and tying this together (finally) with the topic of middle-schoolers, adolescents are very easily influenced, as exampled by my trip to Universal Studios at the age of 13…I now am a walking filmography resource.  Generally speaking, adolescents do not have direction in the world yet, they don’t have a complete set of social graces, and they are gangly and clumsy; all the ingredients for what we call “goofy.”  This, not surprisingly, is the state in which Kevin and I began high school.

I met Kevin in 9th grade I believe, and our shared affinity of all things goofy, silly, stupid, ignorant, dumb, and dangerous was the magnet that brought our friendship together; well, that and English class.  Mrs. Polite (Saint Polite), our English teacher, “put up” with our shenanigans for an entire year, or possibly two.   How she ended each year with a full head of hair I’ll never know.

Riverside, California seemed to have a pool in every other back yard.  My next door neighbor had one, one of my friends down the street had one, and Kevin’s grandparents had one in their yard as well.

There was one particular night over the summer where Kevin invited me to spend the night at his grandparents’ house.  Not to belittle our friendship, but the selling point for me was the pool.  Even though I was not a good swimmer (to this day I pinch my nose when jumping in), I loved being in the water.  I accepted his invitation, even though I had never been to his grandparents’ house; nor had I ever met them.

As it turned out, Kevin’s grandparents had to go out for the evening.  I’m not sure I told my parents that they would not be present during our “sleepover.”  They might not have let me go had they known that we had access to a pool with no adult supervision.  Even so, it wasn’t the pool that would be the cause of fun for Kevin and I that night.  Instead, it was the food and the videogames.

We went to Kevin’s grandparents’ house, and immediately got into the pool.  (I believe it was after dinner-time as I don’t remember eating a meal there).  While swimming we played the usual games (all with snorkeling masks on) like Marco Polo, and one of our favorites, Spiderman; a game in which you can observe each other underwater clinging to the side of the pool as Spiderman would to the side of a building, then watch each other launch from one side of the pool, glide through the water, then land on the other side of the pool, clinging to that “building.”  Over the next year or two we would play this game again many times, especially at Club Mud, Palm Springs.

After swimming to the point of raisin toes, we decided to treat ourselves to a well-deserved snack.  I distinctly remember Kevin opening and closing the kitchen cabinets and the fridge and freezer pulling out items to include in our teenage smorgasbord.   Included in these were the staple of ice-cream (I want to say it was chocolate of some sort with marshmallow), chocolate covered cookies, whipped cream, cherries, assorted chips or crackers, maybe some licorice, and so on.  We piled all of our food onto large bowls filled with mountains of ice-cream and headed to the TV room.

Apparently, Kevin’s grandparents had everything that a growing teenage boy could dream of as there was a video game system hooked up to the television in the sun room.  I believe it was an Atari.  After a while of playing Space Invaders and PacMan and eating ice-cream and cookies to the point of misery, Kevin had a new game that he wanted me to play called SNAFU.    I had not heard of this term before and had certainly not heard of any such video game.   Time, being the greatest teacher of all, taught me what the acronym SNAFU means, and to this day I still don’t understand what it had to do with the actual video game that we played, which, if memory serves, was a basic “snake” game wherein the objective is to trap the opponents snake within the trails of the tails; very Tron-esque, light bike game.

The conversation was simple and went as follows:

Kevin said, “I have a new game that you need to play.  It’s kinda cool.”

“Sure. What is it?” I asked.



Now, it may not sound like much now, nor may it even make you smile or smirk, but back then, at the age of 13, on the tallest sugar-high ever imagined by two water-exhausted, pruny, goofy ninth graders, “Gesundheit” was the funniest comment in the history of comments that anyone could have made at that particular moment.  We must have laughed for over an hour.  It was the worst (best) case of the giggles that anyone has ever witnessed.  As a matter of fact, if Guinness was there, it would not have been recorded as the longest, funniest case of the giggles because the record keeper would have lost track of time due to his own excessive giggling.

When we were finally capable of collecting ourselves, we had tears of laughter streaming down our faces and the worst stomach aches any teenage boy could ever deserve.  So, we ate more ice-cream.  Honestly, other than playing that video game, I don’t remember anything else that happened after that.

It was one of the greatest times of my goofy childhood that I’ll never forget.

Thank you Kevin.

Brain bursts

July 15, 2013

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel, but with the same enthusiasm as my 3 year old niece being told it’s nap time. I love the idea of writing something more involved and comprehensive, but then The Lazy starts broadcasting everything else I could be doing, and how difficult all of the research would be, and my resolve crumbles like cheap drywall to the wrecking ball of  my easily distracted attention. Plus, there’s screaming and crying for no apparent reason. I don’t simply have issues, I have whole subscriptions.

Several key ideas about how my brain works have presented themselves in various, and ridiculous, ways lately, and I’m struggling to determine if I’m amused or irritated with what I’ve found. Here’s a partial list of thoughts I snagged on their ninja stealth-rampage through my brain-box:

1 – If lightning strikes this house while I’m peeing, will it travel up the contact my fluids are making with the toilet water and fry my nethers?

2 – I wonder if my cat thinks I’m an idiot for trying to speak her language… mrrrrow.

3 – Do you think Darth Vader ever used The Force to choke himself? For practice? Or, you know, David Carradine style naughtiness?

4 – If the news media are owned by big corporations, and big corporations have a financial stake in what news makes it to the public, isn’t it safe to assume they care more about sensationalism, hype and money than true journalism?

5 – I want to crop dust the ISS. Farts probably  permeate an area faster in zero gravity, and I won’t be able to sleep until I know for sure.

Those are only a few of the random bits of flotsam bumping around in my personal mental pond. I’m not entirely sure how much background noise they would provide if I tried to make myself write an entire novel, but my guess is “some”.

Recently at work, I vehemently denied it when a co-worker said I was OCD…then I proceeded to move everything he touched on my desk back into geometrically pleasing parallels with the edges of my desk. Touché, douché. The funny thing is, I’m not that way with everything around me all of the time. Just my desk at work. And sometimes other people’s desks. And any table I’m sitting at in a restaurant. And my kitchen counters/table at home. And magazine tables in businesses I visit. I need help.

I’m itching to travel again. We usually take at least one trip to a familiar location for a 3-4 day weekend, but our schedules have been a bit chaotic lately, so that’s been a factor, along with my 20% pay cut from furloughs. I had been looking forward to one of Achebeyo’s teaching gigs that would take her back to my home town so I could tag along and hang out with friends while she slogged it out in the educational trenches, but it was canceled, leaving me a lazy, pouting mess. We’ve got plans to go to Europe’s thigh-high boot later this year, and then, if I’m really lucky, Boracay for some of the best SCUBA diving of my life…I hope. As long as I don’t piss Achebeyo off between now and then, it should become a part of my traveling history.

Until my life gets more interesting and blog-worthy, I’m going to hook the video game IV back up and swing a digital laser sword at digital “bad” guys for social validation and geek prestige. Try to restrain your rampant jealousy.

What? The Funk

July 13, 2013

I wish I could say that this title means that I’ve reconnected with my P-Funk loving self. While I’m one of a limited number of bald white guys who can get down with Bootsy and George, this is another boring tirade on why I haven’t written. Hang on to your adult diapers everyone, it’s going to be a Matlock kind of ride today.

The word “surly” is fairly prevalent in my daily life lately. Between a government that wants ME to take a pay cut to save the country money, but won’t lead by example, and increasing pressure from my brain to be a lazy sack of protoplasm, I haven’t had much to say that wouldn’t spark immediate, ridiculous, conflict. And that’s not what this place is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about self aggrandizement and fun.

For those of you paying attention all these…months, I have a mentor, someone who keeps track of my writing and lets me know when I’m being a slack-ass.

Her: Hey, did you give up, giver-upper?

Me: No, I’m on an extended procrastination break, my master.

It’s tough being an apprentice to a blogging Sith.

She’s got a point, though: why am I not writing? My well thought out answer? Because.

I’ve been wrapped up in any number of inane activities that mean I have no time for writing. At least, that’s what The Lazy whispers in my ears when I feel guilty. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been focused on more than a few other endeavors lately. Since you’re reading this now, I’ll assume you want to know what has kept me enraptured like a 12-yr-old girl listening to talentless teens.

Neil Gaiman has written many books that I’ve devoured like fried goods at a southern buffet, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is by far my favorite. I’ve read American Gods, Neverwhere, and Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, but Ocean left me feeling like all of the childhood fantasies I created in my own back yard were true. It’s the kind of tale that leads you as an adult to the mystical door you created as a child, but denied once you started paying rent…or mortgage. I never wanted it to end, but at least it gives you hope.

The next piece of distraction I’ve buried myself in is from one of my favorite authors, Max Barry. My first introduction to his work was a loaned copy of Syrup, which I thought would be a sappy love story for girlie-girls. Turns out, it transcended bullshit gender roles and took me for a nut-slapping ride through Marketing 101 and Douchebaggery 201. I liked it so much, I not only bought that one, but proceeded to purchase Jennifer Government, which is a lovely tale of a dystopian future where corporations own everything…including you, if you have a job. Not too far from the mark now, huh?

His next offering, Lexicon, took me by the DNA and essentially imprinted itself on my soul. This is one of the few books I can honestly say I was sad to see end. Most books, the story is told, the battles are won and the characters you identify most with (if you’re not a sociopath) get the girl/guy/gold. With Lexicon, Max weaves so much of modern society and current events into it, that you don’t even have to look for parallels in today’s concerns: they’re slathered like butter on southern biscuits. This is the kind of book that will make you feel vindicated when you say, “I KNEW the media was lying to us.” While it is technically science fiction, the premise is more sciencey than fictiony. And it’s spooky. All I’m saying is, if you don’t read this book, you’re more lazy and frightened of success than I am.

Aside from those two offerings, my time has been filled with work, games and guilt.

Work is what it is: crap on a furloughed cracker served by a corrupt government to further their own greed.

As far as games go, all my free time has been spent in one of the popular MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) out there. Since I won’t advertise for free, let’s just say that it isn’t the one based on elves, dragons and trolls. It’s the one based on laser swords, bad guys with matching uniforms and giant slugs with slaves. I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted. If some Imperial sniper ganks you on a desert planet where those aren’t the droids you’re looking for, blow me a kiss.

When lethargy attacks!

February 27, 2013

Dear YOU,

I should be writing. I mean, I’m kind of writing now, but that’s not what I mean. I’ve got 99 problems, but creativity ain’t one. The blame lies solely in the hands of the universe. Responsibility, once effectively shirked, can be ignored like a pumpkin rotting on your neighbor’s porch. Plus, who can focus with all of the input?

First off, let me say that I admire you. If you made it this far in my blog without skimming for key, or inflammatory, words, it means you’re either heavily medicated, or able to channel your inner Jedi and pay attention to something not you. Not judging, both paths have merit.

You don’t look out at a vast sea of electronic input and think, Yes, thank you. And can I get that to go? Or do you? I guess I don’t really know you well enough to make that assumption. Do you start a compelling movie, game, book, blog or other fairly passive activity and then rapidly move on to the next bright, shiny object of your desire? Okay, so what if you do? I still respect you. Even if we’ve only known each other for a millisecond.

The thing is, there’s so much of my world designed to snag my attention away from anything else I happen to be doing at any given moment. For instance, I started playing Red Dead Redemption recently, and found it to be very compelling and fun. Since I got it after it was off the buy this now or you’re a scumbag list, it’s worthy of my new $20 Review category. Here’s the thing: before I could get spurs-deep in that game, one of my friends mentioned an online game that offers a 14-day trial to fly around the digital galaxies running errands for people to earn their respect. Who can say no to imaginary work for fun? Apparently not me. And so Red Dead takes an extended nap in my home next to its predecessor in abandonment, Mass Effect 3. Sleep well, inanimate princes.

At some point, once I’m distracted by something else relatively new and shiny, I’ll wonder why I thought mining ore to process into materials to sell at my space station was able to hold my attention for so long (long for me, mind you). At that point, I’ll think to write something else for you nearly as pointless as this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing these games or their creators for their inability to hold my hummingbird-like attention for more than a few days at a time. I’m bashing the grouping of atoms that is me for not making an effort to stick with one time-wasting endeavor until it’s completed. Like taking my writing more seriously. I’m pretty sure you deserve better.

Look, I’ve bared my flaky self to you, but that doesn’t mean we’re involved or obligated. I just wanted you to know why you’re getting my B-game. It’s because that’s what I left on my mental shelf for you when I moved on to my C, D and E games.


“$50 Says Achebeyo asks me who you are”

Quite the (Dis)honor

January 24, 2013
***I’ve been busy absorbing free radicals and raising my blood pressure at work, thereby fueling The Lazy nestled within me. Get through this review and I promise to post something self-aggrandizing or offensive soon.***

Have you ever wanted to sneak through a city populated by fascist whale killers and set right the wrongs that began when your beloved Empress was killed and you were framed for her murder? Too specific? Okay then, have you ever just wanted to play an exciting 1st person video game where you have many options for how to go about overthrowing the people that gave you the Imperial Shaft? Come along and share the guilty pleasure of being Dishonored with me.

When I asked for this game a while back, my only reason for having it on my list was that I saw a few seconds of a brief game play video in passing at a big chain store as I was shopping for other over priced items. I was smitten with what little I retained from that brief blip on my geekdar, but little did I know I was in for an eighty-hour sneakin’, sleeper-holdin’, rat-possessin’ ordeal.

This game, unlike most of its 1st-person shooter siblings, let’s you decide how much carnage you want to create, and wraps that into the end story when you finally force steaming piles of justice down the throats of the “bad” guys. Every action you take can either increase the chaos of the overall situation, or decrease it, creating the end result that the new leadership will inherit. The paths are many.

You can opt to hang your man-bag outside your trousers and flat-out end anyone who gets in your way (including noisy maids who can’t simply see that they’d be better off shutting their yappers and sleeping it off in a closet someplace); you can develop your mystic powers of blink and time-slowage and sneak through all of your objectives leaving nobody but the ultimate targets of your endeavors the wiser (quite possibly the toughest way to play); you can sneak-n-grab your way through the game, choking out unsuspecting guards, lodging industrial strength knock-out juice syringes in anyone you can’t put in a combat sleeper-hold, then hide their bodies in trash cans where they won’t be found by either their compatriots or the exceedingly voracious rat population. Heck, you can play any twisted combination of these styles in each mission.

Before I actually knew how I wanted to play, or what the heck I was actually doing, I would set off alarms and take extended dips in flesh-eating fish spawning areas to evade capture (only to suck seaweed after being nibbled to death). There were many alarmed guards who would force me to take the most honorable route and restart from before I set off their spider-sense, and not a few encounters with rocket towers I neglected to power down. Once I started to get a real feel for how I wanted to play, I began sneaking everywhere and leaving piles of snoring bodies in the dumpsters and closets everywhere I went. I’m guessing the remaining “alert” guards had a snoring filter on their hearing. There were  a few times I had no other choice (or slipped on the controller buttons during a ninja move) and sent a target to the electronic afterlife, but I always felt guilty enough to go back to a previous save and see if I could simply get them busted for dereliction of duty.

There’s a twist about midway through the game, but one you can see coming if you have the eyesight and common sense that enables you to hold a console controller in the playing out of this story. I won’t spoil it, except to ask what you would do with a badass like you if you hired yourself to bring down the illegitimate bad-guy ruling class so you could take over. You’d likely cut yourself some slack because it’s you in all the roles in my example. In the game, it isn’t as confusing as I’ve tried my best to make it here: you’re you (the electronic magic man you) and everyone else is not you. Clear? Moving on.

With all of the special powers you can develop, like blinking from point A to point B without detection, slowing time, special vision modes that not only let you see through walls, but let you see the cone of your enemies’ vision, summoning rat swarms to overwhelm your opponents, the ability to possess a rat, person or fish to perform only the most basic tasks, windy bitch-slaps and so on, you’d think this game would be a piece of cake-pie. Not even close. For some reason, some of the guards happen to notice when you drop their buddy with a well-placed night-night dart right in front of them. Oh, and they take offense at that. Weird, huh? Plus there are many potential consequences for each action you take. Possess a rat to get through a crowded checkpoint, and the guards will decide that you are one vermin too many in their plague-infested world, passing this decision on to you in the form of a boot across your spine. Just like in real life: die while possessing a rat, die for real.

While I managed to finish the final missions by stacking more napping bodies behind a boiler than should be reasonably possible, and darting everyone else, I did occasionally play into the amazing physics of this game and accidentally kill a few guards when I choked them out over a rail and watched them slide like a sock puppet over the edge to their demise. Regardless, I managed to finish the game with a low chaos rating and watched as the final cutscene played out what a darn decent human being I was for leaving such a wonderful world for the new Empress to inherit. While I may go back and play it at maximum chaos just to see how that ending differs, I’m not a fan of knifing unsuspecting guards just because I can. But, you know, violent games make violent people and all.

I honestly tried to find something bad to say about this game, but about all I could come up with was the graphics are not PC-grandiose. Do I really need to highlight how spoiled that makes me sound?

If you’re looking for a game that lets you tailor the play to your acceptable level of mayhem, while giving you abilities you forgot to list on your if I could have superpowers list, give Dishonored a try. My guess is, you’ll avoid some area of responsibility in the act of completing this thoroughly enjoyable game.

Holiday Brain-Fog

December 26, 2012

I’m not going to lie, if you don’t see me posting for a while and I’m not bragging about some upcoming trip I want to rub your face in, it’s likely because I’ve fallen prey to a near crippling case of The Lazy. Oh, I could paint any number of viable-seeming excuses over it, but it boils down to me selfishly hoarding my free time for the things that require the least amount of barely-warmed synapses firing. Since nobody is paying me to do this, I figure I’m fairly safe.

The holiday was a nice break from work…mostly. If you don’t count nearly electrocuting myself while rewiring a GFCI outlet in the kitchen. For the uninitiated (read: unzapped), a GFCI outlet is supposed to reduce the chance of electrocution and house fires…just not when you’re installing them with the wrong circuit breaker tripped. Hey, I’m not the one who labeled the breakers and gave two of them the same name. I’m simply the guy who would rather light up the kitchen with a massive fireball than turn two breakers off at once. On top of that, my vacuum cleaner decided it was time to fill the house with the warm and welcoming smell of burned rubber (the belt) before taking its own life. Apparently it respected us enough to not take us along for the ride to the electronic afterlife. With these two wins under my belt, the (holiday) world was my oyster.

Typically around this time of year, I’ll haul out the old (looking) frying lagoon and risk becoming a greasy statistic to prepare a potentially delicious dead bird in a metal bucket full of napalm. Seeing as how my brother here on the east coast has a young child (and now a newborn as well), I figured it was time to pass the list-fuse dynamite on to him and switch to a cooker that doesn’t require a tanker truck to fill and empty the heating chamber. Never fear, it requires propane, so there’s still some inherent risk of making the local news.

While this new “fryer” doesn’t require the aforementioned lake of oil, it still manages to cook a turkey to juicy perfection…just not in 45 minutes like the oil fryer. It’s been a figurative eon since I’ve been in the near vicinity of an oven-cooked bird, so I’m not sure what the cooking times are for that scenario. I’m told I can Google it. I’m guessing (The Lazy) it’s more than 2.5 hours, the amount of time it took to cook a 14lbs bird in my new propane-powered hair dryer. And with the exception of a drip pan nearly overflowing with turkey goo of some kind, it was fairly easy to clean.

Apart from a late Christmas day call from work (I didn’t realize “you’re in charge” meant “you’re on call”) that didn’t require me to leave the house, everything was fairly quiet and reserved. Achebeyo and I had our seasonal argument about when to open presents: my stance being the moment we get bored, regardless of the date, and hers being two weeks after Christmas to make the holiday last longer. As usual, we settled on Christmas morning…as long as I cooked everything the day before. I got up early and arranged the gifts and stockings in such a manner as to suggest no other options for that morning, then set off to lure Achebeyo out of bed with promises of tea and snacks. Between that plan and our feline facilitator (I swear our cat has a pro-wrestling background with the way she assaults the door if we’re not up before 5am), everything went off without any hiccups.

Achebeyo surprised me this year by taking my very short list of wants to mean you’ve known me long enough now, surprise me! And she did. While I got the stuff I asked for (mainly games, toys and accessories for existing toys), she also dug into the short list of other stuff I like and wowed me with a few simple additions. I would have returned the favor, but the few times I’ve gone off her pre-filed flight plan for gift-buying, it’s been a disaster of epic pouting (me) proportions. She likes what she likes at the exact moment she likes it, and if I try to go off my memories of what she once liked, I’m left stacking stuff in closets to re-gift to other family members later. Regardless, she did get one gift she was only half-expecting: a certificate to get her body mauled and scraped at her favorite day spa. I say half-expecting because I typically get her one every year, but I cleverly disguised this year’s gift in an odd box.

You got me a home bunion kit?

She was pleasantly almost-surprised.

When we weren’t vegging out to streaming shows or Blu-ray movies, I was enjoying one of my newly gifted video games (which I’ll drag you through a review of later). We also managed to make some calls to family members around the States…once we emerged from the food comas we self-induced. While I missed spending time with my family in various locations, it was kind of nice to stay at home with no obligations except to keep from blowing up the house and not falling into the final sleep of the over-fed.

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