Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

` a book cover

Playing



alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999


Kentucky Route Zero

Whenever I finish a game like Prey, one that I invested a lot of time on and in, there's always a cool down period afterwards. I'll cast about for another game, a different type of game, one that will help me release some of the tension.

I listen to the Gamers with Jobs podcast and every so often they'd mention Kentucky Route Zero a surrealistic adventure game set in Kentucky. It's been released episodically since 2013, four episodes so far and fans of the game are waiting for Act V, the last episode in the game. Steam was selling the four episodes as a bundle for $24.99 but the bundle was half price during the Steam sale so I picked it up and yesterday I started messing about with it.

It's an adventure game but there really aren't any puzzles, just dialogue between Conway, a truck driver trying to make a delivery to 5 Dogwood Drive, Shannon, who is trying to help him, and assorted other characters. It's strange and oddly soothing and it's just what I need after Prey.

July 16, 2017


TFW

You boot up Diablo 3 after half a year to chill, look at your character and think, "Oh yeah, I have a pet cow."

July 15, 2017


Post Game Show

In the Prey universe humanity came into contact with extraterrestrial life forms in 1958. By the time of the game, 2032, the TranStar Corporation has figured out who to use genetic material from the aliens, called Typhons, to augment human abilities. The mental architecture that makes a great piano player great can be scanned and transferred to another person via TranStar's neuromods. The recipient can now play the piano. There is a price though, if for any reason the neuromod procedure is reversed, the brain reverts back to its original state. So if the piano playing neuromod is removed after two years, you've lost two years of your life.

If it sounds a lot like something Phillip K. Dick would have written, you're right, Dick would have loved this game. As Morgan Yu you're trapped on the Talos I space station, the Typhons have broken containment and are rewriting the crew's DNA and you're clueless because your neuromods have been removed. You've no memories of what led to this clusterfuck. And that's enough to go on I think.

I've bitched about the difficulty of the game but I've played games like this before. Coming off of Mass Effect Andromeda left me ill prepared for Prey. If Prey has a lot of Dick's DNA, it also borrows from System Shock and Bioshock.

The game also has a moral core. Something you may blow off early in the game may come back to haunt you later. In that, Prey reminds me of Witcher 3.

The game isn't perfect, you'll be getting a chunk of important exposition from one character when your phone will ring and another character will just start blurting out her message. I'm not sure how that made its way into the final build but it did. And sometimes the pacing would be a little off but you know what? While I don't do alChandler's Game of the Year Awards, if I did Prey would probably be my game of the year for 2017.

Arcane is working on DLC for Prey so I'm not removing the game from Kosh just yet. Oh, one last thing, a lot of people were complaining about how terrifying these things were:

They'd disguise themselves as a coffee cup or a trash can then do a jump scare and attack you. People got terrified of these little bastards. I'm petrified during horror games but after the first couple of times encountering a mimic it was, "Christ, not these assholes again," and I'd batter it to death with my wrench.

July 15, 2017


Finished Prey

Two restarts and 95 hours later I finished Prey on my third try. I got what might be supposed to be the good ending and stayed through the credits to watch the after the credits scene that sets up a potential sequel. And if there is a sequel I hope it's several years away because I'm not ready for an experience like this anytime soon.

I picked up two games from the Steam sale but I'm going to take a little break and chill for a bit, I deserve it.

July 15, 2017


A Bit of Decompression

I'm at the home stretch in Prey. I could probably finish tonight but I'd be up until six in the morning and I don't think I could take that right now. But I'll be done in the next day or two.

And as far as I'm concerned, after spending two months on Talos I the System Shock remake can go duck itself.

July 15, 2017


Strutting

The proud walk of a man who has defeated every military bot in the place and has nothing more to fear.

July 15, 2017


More Blocks

It may not look it but that bot dispenser is blocked. It was my inability to stop the dispensers from creating military bots that led to my rage quit last month. I'd kill one and it would be instantly replaced.

And now all three dispensers in the shuttle bay are blocked. There are still a couple of military bots floating around in the shuttle bay but when I destroy them they won't be replaced, I'll be able to move freely. Life is good, I may finish this fucking game yet.

July 15, 2017


Movie Night

I'm using a larger version of this as wallpaper. For some reason I love that the crew of the ISS watched Gravity.

July 14, 2017


Prey

At this point in Prey my parents have sent a guy named Dahl to shut down Talos I, and to dispose of my character and my brother Alex. The Wu family doesn't play around. I've incapacitated Dahl but I still have to find Dahl's computer guy and that means entering the shuttle he came into the station on. The trouble is all the robot dispensers are now turning out military bots with orders to kill me. However if the dispenser is blocked it won't fabricate a bot. So by shoving that huge tape drive in front of the dispenser I've prevented the bots from respawning, at least in this part of the shuttle bay.

By the way, I'm now in the area of the game that caused me to quit last month.

July 14, 2017


Action Shot

I heard Newton playing with his ball and ring toy so I turned to take a picture. The idea was to show him playing and to make a comment like, "There are two gamers in this house." But whenever I try to take a picture he stops and acts like I just caught him masturbating.

July 13, 2017


Stress and Games

You know I really stress myself out over nothing and short of getting a prescription to Xanax that's not going to change. And given the fact that last year I too Ambien and jumped out a window I don't foresee Ambien in my future anytime soon.

Over the last few days I've been avoiding Prey. I wanted to play it but I was so close to the point where I gave up last month that every time I thought about playing I'd get a stomach ache, not unlike Charlie Brown truth be told. I don't know why, playing Prey isn't the fucking hunger games, it's a recreational activity. But anxiety is my middle name. So today I was going to buy beer and boot up the game.

But dammit, while I've nothing against midweek drinking I was not going to do it over Prey. Instead I drove through Burger King, ate my Whopper, booted up Prey and did the EVA mission to scan the coral nodes I needed. I'm now back inside the station and I saved the game in front of Alex's office. And now my stomach is calming down a bit and the Whopper is making me a bit sleepy.

It is, admittedly, a strange life but I don't think I'd change it.

July 12, 2017


Invitation

I don't know why this took me back a little, after all the state still has my address. And we still have business, the state and me. Every month they deposit 7s.5d. in my bank account and in these hard times that's a mercy I'll tell you. Besides, everyone I've ever done business with online follows me around the net. Ads for stuff I've looked at on Amazon will turn up as promoted content on Facebook.

I'm cool with that and the bowl of pottage I got out of the deal was delicious.

It's just that I'm used to thinking of the Casino Control Commission as a kind of forgotten agency, the government equivalent of Gormenghast Castle. To hear from it seven years after I put in my papers, and to see that the folks there are optimistic enough to celebrate was surprising.

The resiliency of the human spirit is remarkable.

July 10, 2017


Two Thoughts about Trump

The Republicans have yet to get any of their legislative initiatives passed six months into Trump's first year. I'm not sure of the site but I think I read on Vox that the Republicans expected Clinton to win and were gearing up for another few years of being the opposition party. When Trump won they hadn't prepared anything.

The second thing is this, normally if one party controls Congress and the White House, then the president is an enormous asset in getting legislation passed, especially when the majority is slim, like the 52 seats the Republicans have in the Senate. But Trump is at best a non factor and at worst a positive hindrance when it comes to getting legislation passed. Indeed it would be better for the Republicans if the office of president was inexplicably vacant.

By the way Vice President Pence has been doing a bunch of meet and greets with Republican donors, and I'm sure he's just raising money for the party. But I'm also sure that at the back of his mind he's thinking that Trump won't be the Republican nominee in 2020.

July 10, 2017


Waiting for the Weekend: Prey Edition

I often subject myself to needless stress, I can't help it. I'm not sure if I get it from Mom, Dad or if it's something all my own.

When I think of playing Prey and trying to get past the part that defeated me last play through, I get stressed. So I think the game is on hold until Friday when I'll have a couple of beers to calm me down. Unless I suddenly grow a pair between now and then.

July 10, 2017


Lewis Carroll: A Biography

Last week Morton N. Cohen died at the ripe old age of 96. In 1995 his biography of Carroll was published and it's still the one to beat.

This year I read Sylvie and Bruno and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded and while the books weren't great they weren't the horrifying slog they'd been made out to be. So I figure now would be a great time to reread Cohen's biography of Carroll.

By the way, while some people love the Disney version and others swear by Jonathan Miller's 1966 version I've yet to see an adaptation of the books that I like. But don't mind me, I'm cranky about a lot of things and the Alice books are one of them.

July 9, 2017


Put Up or Shut Up

I'm just about at the point where I quit Prey for the second time. We'll see if I have what it takes to finish this thing or if I walk away for good.

July 8, 2017


The End of a Busy Day

It's three in the morning and Morgan and I are calling it a night. But before I go, do you see that fire? The game expects you to figure out that there's a corpse in there. If you do figure it out you can use your GLOO gun to put the fire out and get the key card you need to get to the next section of the game. The first time I hit this area I did not figure it out and wasted a day wandering around the power plant trying to advance, then I went to the walkthrough.

July 7, 2017


Yu Family Portrait

Here's the story, the Talos I space station is owned by the Transtar Corporation and the station itself is run by Alex Yu with my character, Morgan Yu as his second in command. But Alex answers to his parents, Catherine and William Yu who run Transtar. I took a screenshot of a family portrait. The big guy is Alex and my character, Morgan, is next to him. And don't we look like a bunch of miserable, ruthless bastards.

July 7, 2017


Still Plugging

That's my cabin on the Talos I station, I never got to it in playthroughs one and two. I'm not an explorer by nature so I never thought to take the lift shaft in the crew quarters that led to the executive suites. Anyway, it's pretty nice.

I also did the cook's quest. He's in the kitchen in the cafeteria and he asks you to go to his cabin and get some kind of cooking award for him. If you do it he'll let you into the kitchen and ask you to replace the water regulator. You also have the option of fixing the broken regulator. I never encountered the cook in the first playthrough and in the second playthrough I didn't have the two spare parts to fix the thing, so I had to go to the arboretum for a new one. But there was a telepath in there and I abandoned the whole questline.

On this playthrough I didn't have any spare parts either but I figured that if I explored everywhere in the crew quarters I'd find some. I was right, I repaired the regulator and the cook tried to kill me. So that's where I'm at in Prey. I've one more task in the crew quarters, then I can leave the area.

July 5, 2017


The Doctors

The first actor to play the Doctor was William Hartnell in 1963. Unfortunately Hartnell had arteriosclerosis and by 1966 was unable to continue in the role. The producers decided that since the Doctor was an alien he can regenerate into a new form with a new personality. So this guy:

Regenerates into this guy, the second Doctor:

That's Patrick Troughton and his Doctor had a completely different personality from Hartnell's Doctor.

Currently we're following the adventures of the 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. Saturday was the last episode of the season and the Doctor, who was severely injured by exposure to the vacuum of space a few episodes back, started to regenerate. That's what happens to Time Lords. The thing is Doctor 12 isn't too enthusiastic about getting a new personality and is trying to hold back the regeneration. It's not the first time it's happened, Doctor 10 seemed to liken the process to death and tried to hold it back as long as he could. Doctor 12 has been doing the same thing for several episodes now and after damping the process down yet again his TARDIS took him to an ice planet where he met the first Doctor:

Playing Doctor number 1 is David Bradley, who played William Hartnell in An Adventure In Space And Time.

And there is something a little horrifying about regeneration, waking up to a new body and a new personality. The twelfth Doctor has many regenerations under his belt but the first Doctor has never regenerated. Unfortunately I'll have to wait until the Christmas special to find out how they interact.

And with that in mind, here's a clip of their meeting, the sound quality is bad but one takes what one can get.

July 5, 2017


The Story of my Birth

I think that picture is from first or second grade. I had a bad overbite that was corrected by several years of braces. Back in the days of the picture I would drool almost constantly. I got into the habit of swallowing every so often and stopped noticing it, except when I was in church. I was always bored shitless during Sunday mass and I started noticing how often I had to swallow my saliva.

At a certain point my Dad put up a basketball hoop on the garage, the idea being to work on the old hand eye coordination thing. I gave it my best shot, so to speak, but I never made a basket. Later on my parents sent me to Seashore Day Camp in Long Branch. I went there for three summers and never really liked the place. Mom and Dad went on like it was some kind of treat. Besides, if I didn't go to camp I would have just sat around the house reading and we couldn't have that. So I went and after three years my swimming advanced to the point where I could do a half assed dog paddle and not drown.

One day when I was in my teens my Dad took me aside and told me that when I was born he was told by the doctor that I would have coordination problems but by God I proved the doctor wrong. My first thought was that I was not proving the the doctor wrong. My second thought was that if I had known there was some kind of medical reason for my clumsiness, it would have made me feel a little better about myself. Until then I just assumed the reason I couldn't catch a ball, make a basket or hit a softball was because I was some kind of asshole.

As an adult the single greatest feat of hand eye coordination was mastering mouse look. I played first person shooters and in 1996 id Software. To really play Quake well you needed to use both hands. Your left hand moves around using the WSAD keys. Your right hand could look around in 360. It took me a year to master that, doing separate actions with each hand did not come easy to me. I suppose that if I had put the same effort into basketball I might have been able to make a basket. But Quake was fun, basketball was not.

Last year I visited my Aunt Ann with my sister and brother in law. My cousin Mary Kay was there and she told me the story of my birth. It seems that I wasn't coming out and the doctor wanted to do a c-section, an uncommon procedure in 1956. Mom vetoed the idea and since I was kinda about to die, the doctor had to use forceps to pull me out by the head. They didn't want to use forceps because of the risk of damage but they had no choice. Thus my overbite and my lack of coordination.

I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had I been a regular kid. I suspect I would have been an asshole. At any rate I like the way I ended up. I also suspect you'll be hearing this story in one form or another again, I know I talked about it here before. I always figured my lack of coordination was genetic and I had just drawn a few bad cards. The idea that Mom had made a remarkably poor decision back in 1956 kind of threw me for a loop. So you'll have to put up with a retelling now and then.

July 4, 2017


Facebook

I spent the weekend at Donna's. While I was there, Caty asked to see my Facebook feed. Caty follows a bunch of news sites via Facebook and she had me follow things like Bloomberg, Le Monde and Foreign Policy. Also, I discovered that Bean likes pesto.

Speaking of Bean, she was the runt of the litter and her fur coat is very thin. When the temperature drops below 80 she starts shivering but she refuses to wear a sweater. So one of the things she loves in life is to lay on the Jacuzzi cover and soak up the sun. She goes out several times a day to recharge.

July 4, 2017