I meant to write a post reflecting on the year, but obviously that didn’t happen today. But I still wanted to get one final post in for 2014, so here it is. Have a very happy New Year, stay safe, and I’ll see you tomorrow.
In this case, it’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was released in November and I know that, had I purchased it then, my NaNoWriMo effort would have been torpedoed and sunk faster than the Lusitania. Fortunately, I had the foresight to delay my purchase of the game until December.
In 2013, I was pretty down about the idea of the next generation of consoles on the horizon. Of course, it didn’t help that the details for the Xbox One sounded uniformly terrible, even to someone who not only has all of the Xboxes but even owns a goddamn Windows Phone. I’m not saying I’m a loyalist but I like my devices to play nicely together and since my Xbox 360 was my favorite device, all my other devices had to build off that. At the time, I wasn’t excited in the slightest about the idea of buying a new console.
But now that the One has had a year to mature, I’ve come around. More importantly, I was able to scoop up a box for a deep discount, which I think made all the difference. I’m past the point in my life where I can spend $500 plus tax on a toy. $300 is a much more manageable chunk of money to justify. It also helps that I have a wonderful girlfriend. I won’t list all the reasons why that it true; I merely want it mentioned here for the permanent record. It is known, as the Dothraki might say.
I’m happy with my shiny box and I’m happy with the new Dragon Age. Dragon Age, of course, is one of the few series for which I am absolutely a huge, unapologetic fanboy. When I met David Gaider, one of the lead writers on the series a few years ago, I pretty much gushed and kept telling him how amazing he is for about ten minutes until he started looking around for a security guard to drag me away (that last part might be exaggerated just a bit).
Inquisition is like a love letter to the fans of the series. It’s deep, complex, full of lore and layers and things to do. It’s also the reason my blog has gone sadly neglected for the past few weeks and why my flood of Goodreads updates has slowed to a trickle.
It’s difficult to know what to write about; I consider a person talking about their personal video game character only marginally more interesting than a person discussing their favorite brand of bagel. That’s not to say that I don’t love video game characters (and weirdly, WoW is the one game where this rule doesn’t hold true) but generally speaking, I don’t want to talk about my character or other people’s characters in any deep way because it spoils the illusion that the Inquisitor is mine.
I don’t even really acknowledge all the different ways my own Inquisitor could be different based on my own choices. At this point, my Inquisitor is so fully realized in my own mind based on my actions that I simply can’t imagine that things could be any other way. It all just is. And it is because the game world shapes itself to my actions and allows me to maintain that illusion in a flawless manner.
It sounds like an insult to say that I don’t notice all the care and craft that the designers have woven into the game to create branching paths and different narrative experiences. In truth, it’s actually the highest compliment I can offer to a game of this sort.
Did you see this “Eaten Alive” stunt that aired on Discovery yesterday? It was pretty hard to miss, with all the promotion that was circulating around the Internet in the weeks leading up to the event. Basically, “naturalist” and “herpetologist” Paul Rosolie decided to raise awareness about habitat destruction by intentionally getting eaten by a green anaconda, because reasons. Scare quotes have been used liberally by yours truly because I was questioning the man’s credentials when the first promotion blast went out weeks ago.
So the plan is to make an indestructible suit and equip it with all kinds of safety features, get doused in pig’s blood, get swallowed by an anaconda, and then get regurgitated. Great plan. Shitty in terms of actual science but amazing spectacle, right?
And all of the hype! All the articles, the previews, it all made it sound like it had really happened. But it didn’t and it couldn’t. And anyone who has even the slightest understanding of actual herpetology could have told you that it was fucking impossible.
So Rosolie suits up in his snakeproof suit, gets wrapped up, the snake bites onto his head and . . . wait, it’s too much, stop, abort! And of course the Internet explodes with rage that “we were promised Eaten Alive, not constricted for a while and then it bit my head.”
But even if he hadn’t called it off, it still couldn’t have happened. It’s just flat-out fucking impossible.
I will state, categorically and unequivocally that it is impossible for an anaconda to completely swallow an adult human male. For the record, once again: it’s impossible to be eaten by an anaconda. It’s not a question of weight, because anacondas do eat animals that are as heavy or heavier than the average human adult. It’s a question of proportions and ours just don’t work for snakes.
Why? Look at any of the actual footage of the snake, in that show or any other. Sure, snake jaws have the ability to expand (they don’t actually unhinge, as a point of fact) but that ability isn’t infinite. Humans have a unique silhouette in the animal kingdom; our shoulders and bipedal build mean that from a head-on perspective, we’re comparatively wider than the animals that snakes eat. There’s no way the snake’s jaws are going to get around a human’s shoulders; honestly, even our relatively large heads are pretty tough to swallow.
That doesn’t mean that an anaconda can’t kill a human adult. They absolutely can do that, if you’re foolish or unwary enough to allow one to wrap around your chest or neck. They are massively strong animals and their coils can generate more than enough force to asphyxiate a person. Assuming one did constrict you to death, you can be certain you’re in for a rather horrific final few moments. But it’s not going to be able to eat you after you’re dead. But that’s only if it gets around you; you’ll notice there are countless images of people safely holding these terrifying monster snakes all over the place.
Could a child or an otherwise very small person get swallowed by an anaconda? Yes, potentially. Certainly it’s very, very unlikely and you’d most likely have to be grossly negligent as a parent for something like that to happen. But a small child would be vulnerable. An adult, however? No. Absolutely not.
One final time: there was no way this Eaten Alive stunt could have worked. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for why Rosolie and Discovery are absolutely egregious pieces of shit for hyping this garbage. Here are a few more reasons:
I followed most of the promotion and prior to the airing of the special, everything Rosolie and his team said in interviews, not to mention Discovery’s own promotion, made it sound like it had already happened, which of course, it didn’t. They basically lied about the success of the stunt to drum up viewership.
Rosolie’s plan to survive was to have “regurgitation induced” but that’s completely ignorant of the fact that regurgitation is an extremely harmful thing for a snake. Snakes generally only regurgitate meals during periods of extreme stress, such as needing to evade a predator. A full snake might expel a meal to remove the bulky prey from its body so it can slither to safety. This is an extreme survival mechanism, however, and it’s only done in times of great stress, when the snake believes it is in mortal danger. The fact is that regurgitation can kill the snake because it can choke to death during the process.
There’s also the fact that, even if Rosolie had managed to be swallowed, that would have killed the snake anyway, because snakes can rupture themselves from consuming prey that’s too large. It’s rare, but it happens. There’s a picture of a Burmese python that ruptured after swallowing an alligator in the Everglades demonstrating exactly that.
So literally everything about this was tantamount to torture for the snake, no matter how it actually played out.
The worst part, however, is that this all perpetuates the demonization of snakes in the popular consciousness. Snakes are still monsters. It’s acceptable to torture them and kill them. People see snakes as villains and cheerleaders like Rosolie and Discovery just keep that narrative moving right along. There’s nothing in Rosolie’s “special” that talks about actual conservation efforts. There’s no effort to describe the actual biology or ecology of the green anaconda. It’s just hype, hype, hype, oh, we’re in so much danger, no wait, we’re not. And the majority of the Internet is pissed, not because of any of the offenses inflicted on the animal itself, but because Rosolie was a lying sack of shit and you can’t get swallowed by an anaconda.
Anacondas are fascinating, amazing creatures. It’s a shame we don’t get too much specials about any of the wonderful or interesting things there are to learn about them.
One final note: if Rosolie really wants to be eaten by a snake, he should look into cloning extinct reptiles. There’s a species called the Titanoboa that grew to a length of around 40 feet and would probably be large enough to do the job. Unfortunately for Rosolie and his nightmare fetishists, Titanoboa went extinct around 60 million years ago.
Another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. My winning streak is safe for another year. This year it seemed particularly difficult to keep my momentum going on the story, even though I ended up finishing two days early due to a nice sprint on the 28th. It’s possible that I say this every year; I haven’t looked back at any of my previous blog posts or Twitter updates to see how 2014 compared to 2013 or 2012. Regardless, the month is over and I have another 50,000 words of novel that I’ll now need to do something with. I have the next 11 months to sort it all out. Perhaps I’ll write another follow-up post about the experience, but right now, the idea of writing much of anything is just tiring. It’s time for a break.
It seems that quite a bit happened in November and perhaps you’ve been stopping by expecting my commentary. I apologize for letting you down. There’s certainly a lot of negative things in the world deserving of scorn and well-honed verbal barrages, but you know, I spent a lot of time thinking this past month, when I wasn’t writing and I’ve felt the urge to shy away from posting about the shitty stuff in the world. This blog started out as a way for me to vent my anger, which is really obvious if you look back at the first few months of posts. Well, actually, if I’m being honest, first this blog was just my squatting on my domain name, then I decided to write a blog to vent my anger.
It’s easier to be angry and pissed off and writing about it doesn’t it any better, at least for me. I stopped seeking out things that intentionally pissed me off just so I have fuel to write about. It probably doesn’t make the world any better but I also can’t imagine that it doesn’t make it any worse. And it certainly makes me feel better to not be as angry. So there’s that.
Movie trailers! The Jurassic World trailer and the Star Wars: Episode VII trailer were both released in the same month! 2015 looks like it will be a very good year for movies for my personal demographic (that demographic being “people who are me.” It’s an admittedly small niche) in a way that 2014 was very much a lackluster year. Did I actually go to the movies this year? I can’t recall. But 2015 has me excited. I don’t care what anyone else in the world says; a scene involving motorcycles and velociraptors fulfills one of my dreams. And yes, I do often daydream about riding my motorcycle alongside a pack of velociraptors, usually on my way to work. It’s just a thing that I want to do, because it’s awesome. The Episode VII trailer has me excited for Star Wars once again, although it’s still a cautious excitement; I remember how exciting the trailer was for Episode I. Trailers cannot always be trusted.
I’ve been learning to cook over the past few months and I’m getting pretty good at it. One of those little things about being a vegetarian means that most of your cooking efforts also involve chopping. And slicing. And dicing. And cutting. And whatever other words exist for cutting things in the culinary world. I bought a new knife a few months ago to begin this new journey into adulthood and it was getting really, really dull, so dull that I had trouble with a tomato. I’d learned how to sharpen knives on a whetstone when I was a kid and I was curious to see if I’d still remember how to do it, so I went out today and bought a whetstone and used my dull kitchen knife for practice.
There is nothing more pleasing than taking a practice cut with a newly sharpened knife. It’s liking taking a lightsaber to your vegetables. I promptly went crazy and sharpened all of our knives. I can’t wait to use them back into dullness so I can sharpen them again. I don’t know what this new feeling is; it’s either self-reliance, adulthood, or some combination thereof. I don’t have a word for it, but I think I like it.