This morning I had to stop myself from filling two bowls of cat food. Our Annie’s long life came to an end yesterday. Annie was, as near as we can guess, around 18 years old. Everybody tells me that’s wonderfully old for a cat, but my first cat (the one I had as a kid) reached that age too. I’ve been lucky. Annie came into our lives in December 1997, fully grown. The vet actually has her age down as 18 years 8 months and change, and I’m not sure how we arrived at that number. Annie had been wandering around a work friend’s church and shortly ended up in our arms just as we moved from an apartment (that did not allow pets) to a townhouse (where we made our own rules, dammit). We picked her up right when we moved in. New home, new life, new cat. She was never cuddly. She never slept in our bed. The only bed story we have with her was that, ONE TIME she jumped into the master bed, was startled by how she landed on the comforter, immediately jumped out and would never try that again. That’s a very cat reaction. Learn something once. But no, she was not the type of cat to come sit on your lap while you watched that season of “ER” when Dr. Carter struggled with painkiller addiction. But here was Annie’s secret: she was always there anyway. She was about as social a cat as you could expect. If there was a bunch of people in the room, she would position herself in the center. Once she figured out that we spent most of our stupid pointless human lives in the adequately named living room, she would select her choice seats from around the outer perimeter. Like most cats, her favorite spots went in phases. Years spent on the top leftmost couch cushion. Then top right. Then the floor corner by the entertainment center (Kids, that’s a dumb phrase we used to use to point out where we put the TV. I don’t think folks use that term much anymore, but maybe we’re just all more cynical these days about what constitutes entertainment.) Zoe, our second cat, vanishes for hours at a time, and Zoe certainly would not stop by the front hallway to see what stranger just walked in the door. Annie would. Annie was always around. Always there as we played card games and watched TV and opened Christmas presents and ate dinner and everything else. She was always there, in the background. And now she’s not. Her formerly-constant presence has outlined her loss for me. I see shadows of her everywhere, because when I was at home, she was always beside me. I think about how just a week ago, she would have parked herself on the floor by my right foot here at the computer desk (Kids, don’t ask.) This basement room’s floor is certainly not as comfortable as the living room, but if she noticed I was spending Significant Time at the Mac, she would come down and join me. She was a daddy’s girl, my wife would often remind me. She would be right over there. Then she would stand up and paw at my leg, because she would be hungry. And she would not rest until I did something about it. She was a very vocal cat, and her elderly feline voice had taken on a smoker’s rasp. She would yell at me in that sharp meow-snort when she decided she needed food, even if I was sleeping. Her being hungry ALL THE TIME was a symptom of her advanced age, I think. Even though she weighed 4 pounds or less by the end, it was like she needed to eat five times that in a day. Sometimes, she would bug me for food, I’d deliver, and then she would come after me again 15 minutes later. Hell, not sometimes, most times. All times. Often she would just lick off the gravy and then demand more. That little dance became a major stressor over the past two years, and of course I have already devoted plenty of mental energy being angry at myself for every time I snapped at her over begging, or tossed a pillow at her for waking me up. But you don’t see what’s coming, even though you know what’s coming. She would live forever, I told myself. I’d have years of feeding this cat ten times a day ahead of me. There’s a lot I’d give to feed her again. Some time late Saturday or early Sunday morning, something finally broke inside of her. I don’t know what. I have her on a motion camera image doing a very normal stroll to the litter box around 12:30am… but by the time we woke up, she could no longer walk. There had been other signs, too. She did not (could not?) eat cheese scraps on Saturday, when she would normally stampede across the house to scarf up cheese. She had been unusually silent as well. There is such a haunting sorrow in a cat’s eyes when they know it’s time to go. It’s a long-lived housecat’s final communication. Annie was tired. Annie was weak. We got a little water and broth into her, but there was no way she would ever again be able to do it on her own. I held her frail body steady while Rhonda lifted the water bowl closer to her mouth. When she was done, she collapsed in a slow-motion fall, coming to a resting position that any cat owner could tell you was not the normal way a cat curled up for a nice nap. This was how a cat finally gives in. Monday morning, I took her to the vet. I apparently will get her back in a tiny wooden box with a nameplate on it. It is a goddamn horror show to walk into a vet and
Before I recycle it, here’s a panoramic pic of the side of a Turnpike Man cup that probably dates from the early ’90s. Naturally, it’s from a turnpike rest stop of some sort. I do not recall if this was PA or NJ. Do other states even have turnpikes? Can you even recycle plastic this old? What’s great is that this trio already looks like most of the character designs I’ve encountered in DC Universe Online. Although if this was DCUO, their names would be junk like DARKQUALITYMAN, Deathpike6969, and ULTRA SEX. Dig those crazy vehicle armor bits on Turnpike Man! He’s conquering hunger and thirst with superior service! I have a vague memory of a comic that went along with this, like it was some kind of kids meal thing that children would enjoy while their parents bought maps and wiper blades. The real question is, if this is Turnpike Man II, what happened to the original?
Saffron was born in the summer of 1995. She passed away this week. 18 is a good long run for a housecat. Her “brother” Indy – we got both barn cats at the same time – died almost exactly three years ago. They were complete opposites, with Indy being all big and round and Saffie forever a skinny, tiny thing. Saffie was the kind of cat that would jump on your back if you were standing up and happened to lean over. She always seemed smart to me. A quiet smart, not a lofty smart. We’ll miss you, Saff.
I feel like the badge guy is way too hard to locate. I do not like that I have to wait to see him in order to get badges to display on my ID card. Clark was the first to discover that. If you dive for something and it turns out to be a scallop, Pascal will surface and offer to trade the scallop for a piece of rare furniture. I’d always go for the furniture, although I have not tried to sell a scallop to see what it’s worth. Hey, I earned the right to serve coffee at the Roost. Brewster pays you in bullshit, though… What am I supposed to do with these beans? He has also given me a coffeemaker, but I do not think it is an interactive object. There’s the kind of coffee Isabelle likes! The better you are at guessing/serving drinks that the animals like, the better your prize payout, I guess? I managed to finish off the Varia suit, which is 100% done out of fortune cookies… And here’s a not-at-all compromising picture of me at the US Nintendo Dream Village…
Let’s get you up to speed. There’s this weekly newspaper that is distributed to comic book shops and this week’s issue features the Reader Red K Awards, where the editors printed – without comment – some “awards” submitted by comics fans. I’m going to make fun of them. Yeah, not that there’s ANY OTHER FACTORS in this brilliant comparison. No, it’s just pure Stan-and-Jack magic! Gaw, if only Big Comics would just get back to basics (“basics” defined as the specific thing(s) I preferred when I was 12) then comics wouldn’t be the dying, unloved, disrespected media that it is today! Where does this guy live that every Marvel book includes a free digital copy? I agree, that’s how it should be done, but that ain’t how anybody is doing it. That’s not going to go over well with the comics punditry. I get that Moore is a weirdo crank, but a “fit of pique”? Like, he wrote some of the most amazing stuff for DC back in the day (NOT just Watchmen, of course) and because he’s a stubborn old goat he abandoned the characters he loved after DC screwed him over with legal wordplay. DC’s short-sighted lawyering robbed us of a leading light in comics. I also love when folks want to compliment something (“EXCEPTIONAL!”) but still feel the need to rattle off the faults so you don’t call them on them later. And those are pretty AMAZINGLY HUGE faults, by the way. Comics fans veer uncontrollably from “Give us something new and different already, maybe we can expand the audience if we expand the content!” to “Quit changing things for the sake of change, just do it the way they did it in 1963 forever!” Like DC ought to be strung up for maybe perhaps trying to tell a cool story where Lois Lane and Clark Kent find love after going through X, Y and Z first. Nope, it’s taking too long, says this fan. Reboot the books to exactly as I want them pls. Oh fuck you. If you at all ever for a second think that Peter Goddamn Parker is actually forever never coming back dead, you’re an idiot who has likely never read a single comic book ever. I don’t read Spider-Man, but from what I understand, Peter came back in the very next issue, for fuck’s sake. I hope this asshole feels like a character-assassinating jerk (and I mean the *real* kind) for jumping off the cliff after reading ONE BOOK. Hell, he probably didn’t even read it, just saw a headline fly across his Google Reader feed (too soon?) Nerds. After lambasting Hunger Games from top to bottom for being a Battle Royale rip-off (as if that means anything), they lovingly accept Marvel’s Avengers Arena series about super-powered teens dumped into a brutal, elimination-by-death Most Dangerous Game competition. And Marvel even goes so far as to completely steal Battle Royale’s circular logo design, plus they did ads with the characters arranged exactly like the b&w Battle Royale school photo! Unbelievable. But hey, Hunger Games showed up with a massive, eager female fan base, so it must be stupid and unoriginal and Twilighty. Not super cool and sweet like everything Marvel does!
After Bone came out: “Who? Oh, that was a cute comic.” After Sam & Max was announced: “ZOMG!!! NO WAY!! NEW SAM & MAX! PC IS NOT DEADZORS!!!!” After Strong Bad and Monkey Island came out: “YEAH THESE GUYS ARE THE BEST THEY SO TOTALLY GET ME” After Puzzle Agent came out: “Looks indie. Cool!” After, like, the hundred Sam & Max game came out: “Jesus, this again.” After Poker Night at the Inventory was announced: “Neat, maybe this game will have online play and DLC characters!” (It didn’t and it didn’t.) After Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Law & Order came out: “It’s over. Lame mainstream media cash-grabs. Too many trips to the same well. The magic is gone.” After Walking Dead came out: “GAME OF THE YEEEEEEEAEAAARAEAEEAEAEARRRRRRRRRRR!” We have wonderfully short memories in gaming.
So here’s what did not quite make my cut for Games of the Year, but still seemed decent enough that I thought you all should know about them. Here’s ten. They get smaller graphics than my top four. ZombiU (Wii U) This is the Wii U’s killer app. It is intense and detailed, without falling into the gimmicky tech trap that most of the Wii launch games suffered. Outwitters (iOS) It’s no Hero Academy, but I still continue to make time for it. It’s built for the larger screen of the iPad, where it looks Retina-fantastic, but the lack of a move-undo hurts it. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3DS) They have never made a bad Professor Layton game. Never. Pokemon Conquest (DS) It is such a shame that this DS release looks like such ass, because the notion of Pokemon done up in shades of Advance Wars/Fire Emblem/Hero Academy is damn powerful. I hope they do a 3DS sequel that looks less like shit. LittleBigPlanet Vita (Vita) This was the first time I played a Vita game and thought I was genuinely looking at a PS3 title. It looks that good. Sleeping Dogs (PS3) Grand Theft Auto in Hong Kong. Very well done, except that the Arkham-lite combat sucks. PlayStation All-Stars (PS3) Although it has been burned by finger-pointing gamers (ITZ JUST SMASH BROTHERS) and by Sony’s abandoned winter promotion, I can’t not have fun with this one. Sony is one of the few non-Nintendo houses that could pull this off, and they did. Retro City Rampage (PS3, Vita) I usually hate retro de-makes, and ’80s culture gags make me cringe, but this is just a super-fun teeny-tiny Grand Theft Auto. The Unfinished Swan (PSN) Although the game seems a bit unfinished (short, and constantly changing gimmicks), what sealed it in my memory is when you head into the final portion and have to play through the initial credit roll. Beautiful. Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii) Another one that is just plain silly fun. This would be my first pick for a Wii U eShop line of $10 downloadable remastered Wii games. Extravagantly overlooked.