Welcome to the Big City!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2, end of Chapter 3 and Chez Porter

Butch:

Ok! Chapter 4! St. Denis! (I just got there. Gotta take a look around.)

Before we begin here, a question: So Dutch keeps saying “We’ll stay here a few days.” That’s not that long. Is this timed or some shit? Can I take my time? There seems to be things to see.

We could talk about the line, as they are riding to kill Braithewaites, “We underestimated them.” “No, they underestimated us,” but I feel we did that yesterday.

We could talk about how they didn’t kill Mrs. Braithewaite cuz woman and of course but that, too, has been discussed (and will be again, but I got something else to say).

What stood out last night was something I mentioned in passing a while ago: Visual imagery. And then, when I thought about what stood out a while ago, visual imagery, I thought again: open world games kinda piss me off.

Here’s why:

So last night, here’s the progression I got: First, I had an image at the end of the chapter about the past, notably a plantation house in flames, as Braithewaite wailed. It was a hellish image, the burning of a past way of life. Then, at the start of the next chapter, the first image of St. Denis was a wide shot of smokestacks making the sky grey, a disgusting image of the future. Now, both of those images were striking. The glorious southern past turning into a hell, the future representing a grotesque, polluted dirty nightmare. Cool stuff. After Dutch talking about the eight wonder of the world, I expected a cheery, Mardi Gras New Orleans. Seeing it right away for what it really was was very well done. Great stuff.

But here’s why this leads to me being pissed about open world games: Had this game been the linear game it really, REALLY wanted to be, that is, the way I played it, then the images would have been the burning of the past followed closely by the smoke rising from the smokestacks of the future. MAN that was cool. It was a perfect visual transition. You could almost imagine that these smokestacks were pumping up the very smoke from the burnt out remains of the past. There’s no doubt that that’s what they were going for, that transition.

But you know who didn’t get that transition? You. Why? Cuz you’ve been to St. Denis.

And even if you did get that particular cutscene of the smokestacks, it didn’t hit you like it hit me, because you could say “Oh, yeah, St. Denis. Shit hole. Seen it.” It was my first view of the place, so it was really, really striking. You? Not so much.

You missed out on that because the stupid game is open world. The game let you beat the story there. Shit, the game plopped you on a train and chugged you right into the place, ahead of the story. The game could have said, SHOULD have said, “DAMN we have this great transition from Chapter 3 to Chapter 4, we can’t let people get to St. Denis before that, or, at least, we should make it very hard to get there.” Nope. That just sucks.

This game is SO DAMN GOOD when you play it straight up linear, when you put your head down and go from yellow to yellow. It KNOWS it’s good. But still, like so many games these days, it gives the player every single chance to undermine the story, or, in this case, undermines itself by putting a player who doesn’t even WANT to undermine the story on a train to undermine land.

This seems to be a trend in video games. It is not a trend I like. And it seems to be getting worse in every game we play.

Feminina:

I don’t think there’s a time limit. Having already been there several times I didn’t need to take as much time looking around as you probably will, but as far as I could tell, the time limit was “eventually you finish looking around and do the next yellow story mission.” Until then, putter as you will. Lots of strangers to meet. Bounties to collect. Vaudeville shows to take in.

Saint Denis, man! A marvel of civilization!

And here’s an interesting thing about having been here already…as you say, I already knew it was a seething cesspit, but I ALSO already knew it has some nice areas, and lively markets, and people going about their business. Vaudeville shows! Barber shops! Public executions! Well, maybe that last is not really a counterpoint to the seething cesspit image.

Anyway, while the visual juxtaposition of the smoke from the mansion and the smoke from the factories was indeed striking (because even though I’d been there before, I got the same ‘intro to Saint Denis’ that you mention), for me it was as much “wow, THIS is a grim view of a place that I already know is not completely grim” as it was “wow, this place is clearly an earthly hell.”

Because if you get to Saint Denis on the train, as I did, the first things you encounter are streetlights and a trolley car and carriages on tree-lined boulevards. Progress!–but in a more positive way. The smoke and the factories are still there, and as you wander around you get into the less-picturesque parts of town, but it obviously makes an entirely different first impression.

I’m curious what kind of difference it makes, to have the first impression be more or less positive, and that be tempered with the later introduction of ugly smokestacks and dirty poverty, compared to having the first impression be of an earthly hell, later tempered with…well, now I’ve probably spoiled it by even talking about the other stuff there.

But I’ve certainly gone on about the vaudeville shows often enough before. You know there’s vaudeville. And [scandalized whisper]…ladies showing their knickers. So you already know it’s not ALL bad.

Or, from a moral standpoint, you already know it’s far worse than you even imagined. KNICKERS! I don’t know what this world is coming to.

And on another note, have you been to ‘Chez Porter’? Up in the mountains? Because that’s what I did last night. It’s a random side thing, not even a mission just something I wandered into.

Butch:

Then putter I shall! Place looks interesting. I hear there are enticing kneecaps.

Oh that is interesting! Ok….maybe I forgive the game, some, in that case. To have two people playing the same game pretty much the same way and to get different impressions…good thing we blog together!

Because the first impression I got was unbashedly “earthly hell.” Smokestacks, grime, etc. I turned it off right after that cutscene, and there I am, on Roach, on a street so muddy it makes Valentine look nice, with a cannery on one side and a warehouse on the other the same color as the mud. Indeed, if we’re talking on visual imagery, it is without question the most monochrome image so far in the whole game. Even the snowy bits in the beginning have torchlight. Here, the whole damn screen is brown, from the street to the buildings to the sky. It’s striking. And totally negative.

Luckily, we blog together and we’ll find out what difference first impressions make!

Because right now my impression is “This. Place. Totally. Sucks.” I imagine you did not have that impression.

DUDE! YES! Chez Porter! Remember WAAAAAAAY back when when I was all “Hey, did you do that robbery with Charles? I wanna blog on it?” Chez Porter! Did you get the pump action shotgun? DID YOU? Cuz it’s there.

This should be interesting. I did that as a “robbery,” a “talk to dude in camp, do it together” thing. Here’s another “Wonder how it was different.”

How’d it go down for you?

Feminina:

Pump action shotgun? No! I must have missed it. Dude. Now I’m sad.

I was just riding along and saw that reddish tinge on the edge of the mini-map that means some hostile person is somewhere nearby. Checked the main map and saw red dots at this random location at the end of a path. Obviously that could not stand, so I rode on up to take a look.

It was…interesting. Like, they were a sort of murderous religious sect? Based on a single family? I didn’t get much conversation out of anyone, but the shouts of “get off our land!” and “we’ll send you back to hell sinner!” and “Pappy! No!” gave that impression.

And they all had that odd way of speaking, sort of old-fashioned and/or a family code, with all those weird semi-nonsense words. And there was some sinister conversation I overheard as I was approaching, something about keeping a girl in the woods…? They started shooting as soon as I sauntered up, so of course I murdered the lot of them.

Which is an interesting note to go with your observation that of course we didn’t kill Mrs. Braithwaite because woman…at the very end, there was one more person still shooting at me from up in the barn loft, and I went over and it was this woman (Mommy, presumably?), and she kept shooting at me so I shot her several times. Then looted her corpse for a gold ring and some salted venison. So occasionally, if she’s a member of a freaky family religious cult, you can kill a woman.

But she’s actually kind of an interesting counterpoint to Mrs. Braithwaite: the matriarch of a large possibly inbred family, right? United by their fundamental belief in their own superiority? Hm. And we killed one of them and left the other to kill herself by running into a burning mansion.

Although…they both ended up dead, and one could argue it was actually their own choice in both cases. Mrs. Braithwaite ran back into the burning mansion, and Mrs. Porter (I presume) kept shooting at me when she could have just run off. If Mrs. Braithwaite had climbed to the top of the burning mansion and started sniping at us with a rifle, we probably would have shot back at her, too.

Of course, from Mrs. Porter’s point of view I could have been planning to rape and torture her to death (I am after all a vile sinning outsider who DID just kill her entire family), so continuing to shoot at me isn’t an irrational choice, but it was still a choice she made to stay when she could have been escaping.

Anyway, I was totally using my own shotgun in that fight, and at one point I saw it offer me a shotgun but I thought “I already HAVE a shotgun, whatever.” I think it always throws me off a bit because it says “drop [weapon you have] for [new weapon],” and reading fast I always kind of think that the first line is the thing you’re being offered and tend to miss the second line.

In this case I saw “double-barreled shotgun” on the first line and subconsciously thought that was what it was saying I could pick up, and I knew I already had a double-barreled shotgun so I figured it was just an even switch. But probably it was actually saying “drop double-barreled shotgun for pump action shotgun.” Sigh. Speed reading failure. Maybe I’ll go back. I’m not too far away. Also, I meant to look around and see if I could find any girls tied up in the woods or anything (that half-overheard conversation haunts me), but I was really, really close to death, and had to get somewhere peaceful to camp and rest. I thought about just sleeping in the cabins there (even though, ew), but it wouldn’t let me.

I will also be interested to see how Saint Denis strikes you once you get around it a bit more. There are a few different story bits that take place there, so you’ll see different aspects of the city.

Butch:

No, one of the side buildings, upstairs. In a loft with a ladder. And you got the stash, right? WHOLE lotta money.

You missed the ladder. You’re losing your touch.

Whoa, WHAT? Girl in the woods??? I did not hear about a girl in the woods.

No, the way it went down for me was that Javier or Charles, I forget, was all “Hey, I heard about this place to rob.” He explains that it was, as you say, this weird family that doesn’t like outsiders and has their own way of speaking, and no one will care if he and Arthur go kill ’em all, take their stuff, etc. Which is, of course, just what we did.

But there was a lot of banter mocking them. Lots of “HA! What a bunch of weirdo losers. All alone in the woods, talking all funny….wackos.”

Of course, the parallels were intentional. Here’s a couple of dudes who live in the woods, alone, loyal only to each other, rolling their eyes and chuckling at people doing pretty much the same thing. It wasn’t a “rival gang” thing, either, it was “HA! Freaks.”

Which is an interesting take. And it was either Charles or Javier, one of the minority members of the gang.

Mrs. Braitwaite ran into the mansion? Missed that.

Ooo! Nice parallel! Yes, that was a woman up there in the loft, and yes, I did kill her. Come to think of it, that’s the only time I have killed a woman, and she was like Braithewaite!

Interesting.

We would have shot back at her, indeed. You’re sure she ran back into the mansion?

And yeah, the shotgun was in a chest. Kinda like the Lancaster repeater which was in that chest in that place you didn’t rob so you never saw that, either.

Helpful, me.

Maybe the next time you go back there….hey…..

What WERE you doing up there? Was that the magpie of all magpies? Cuz that’s the other side of the damn map from St. Denis. Does the game take you back up there? Does it finally involve the Indian reservation which is also up there?

Figured I might see things in the city. This game has not been superficial in its treatment of issues.

Feminina:

Oh, it was in a CHEST. Well, I missed that. Losing my touch, all right. It’s because I was freezing to death! I kept getting that snowflake on my health icon, and it kept dropping and dropping…I was thinking, hey, I’m running around here, shooting, engaged in mortal combat, I think that’s probably keeping me warm!–but apparently not. And of course I didn’t have a “winter gunslinger” outfit on my horse. It wasn’t the weird family that almost did me in, it was the weather!

And yeah, I’m kind of magpieing right now. Saw a random white question mark way up on the map there and figured I’d go check it out, then decided what the heck, on the way back towards Saint Denis I’ll take the scenic route through the mountains where I haven’t been yet. So the game brought me up here, but not the main story of the game.

That is interesting, that if you did it with company the banter was all “here’s a bunch of freaks, haha, what losers.” Because as you say…pot, kettle, etc.

I honestly could have felt somewhat sympathetic towards the freaks, if not for that conversation that I swear SEEMED like it was about keeping a girl in the woods that Pappy didn’t know about (though I could have misheard it, and I suppose even if I did hear correctly it’s POSSIBLE the girl in the woods was there out of her own free will). I mean, they’re just trying to live their lives the way they want to, not the way civilized society thinks they should–exactly the way the gang is.

No doubt a very intentional point there about how easy it is to fail to recognize when someone wants basically the same thing you want, if the fine details don’t match up exactly. Those were more or less kindred spirits!

And, I mean, even though that family seemed deeply weird and creepy to me, it’s possible that they weren’t actually doing anything wrong (other than opening fire on passing strangers without warning, I mean). We didn’t find a stack of corpses in their cellar or anything. (Unless I missed that too.) As far as we know for sure, they were just living in the woods being weird, minding their own business.

Which makes another point about how easy it is to judge based on the knee jerk reaction of “this is deeply weird,” without taking the time to think about whether or not weird necessarily means bad. Even when the person making the judgement is also widely considered to be deeply weird and wrong and bad! There’s no solidarity among these minorities who are equally scorned by polite society–there’s only similar scorn from the “right kind” of impolite society (i.e., the kind that’s MY group).

Everyone kind of wants the same thing, but there are huge disagreements about the best way to get it.

Oh, and the Red Dead Fandom Wiki says “Catherine Braithwaite is a major character and supporting antagonist … As the gang starts to leave, she runs back into the burning mansion where she dies.” So yeah, she’s gone. Clinging to past glory, even as it kills her.

Butch:

Dude, you almost froze even inside? Brutal.

Never leave home without the winter gunslinger ensemble. And pomade.

A question mark? Like a stranger quest? What was the question mark?

The legendary wolf is up there! And a treasure! Ahem.

Man, I didn’t hear that about a girl at all, and I did kinda feel for the weirdos. They weren’t sympathetic exactly, but robbing dudes who are just hanging out being different wasn’t very nice. I feel better about it if they really were evil.

Of course, the gang is evil…..

I found no corpses. It was established that the reason they had a stash of money that got Javier’s or Charles’ or whoever’s attention was that they were coach robbers and all that shit, so they weren’t just chilling making money growing ginseng, but still. Pot, kettle, right?

And even when there aren’t disagreements there’s conflict! Or enough to go around!

Because here, we have the family and the gang trying to get the same thing (a life of being left alone and free) the same way (robbing shit). Nor are they competing over territory or whatever. There seem to be plenty of coaches to rob. There was no insinuation that the Porters were taking all the good scores or anything. That said, it’s, again, people who are doing the same thing, the same way, for the same reasons, who are getting screwed by the same Man, killing each other.

Dude I totally missed that at the burning mansion.

Interesting they ended this chapter with so much suicide. One other powerful image was that guy in the mansion who talks about surviving the war and the Yankees and everything, who then shoots himself. When Arthur has to throw the body into the swamp, having the last thing we see regarding this chapter and Lemoyne be his body just slowly drifting away, put into the swamp by Arthur himself, was well done.

It’s unclear, though, if the game is saying “clinging to the past kills you” or “the future’s gonna kill you no matter what you’ve survived” or both.

Feminina:

I wasn’t actually still freezing inside the house, but my health core was basically entirely gone and I couldn’t ‘rest’ in there and food wasn’t cutting it so I was getting all paranoid and figured I just had to get the hell out of there to somewhere lower in elevation where I wasn’t freezing and could set up camp.

Then two minutes after I woke up fully rested and healed, some bounty hunters came after me and knocked me halfway back down, OF COURSE, but hey. Them’s the breaks. At least when I’m not freezing the tasty game I prepared will fill me up.

It’s an interesting point…if the past doesn’t kill you, the future will? I mean, it’s not wrong. Sooner or later, we’re all going to end up dead. Do you want to go out clinging the (largely mythical) glories of the past, or embracing the (largely imaginary) glories of the future?

Maybe the game is saying that’s your call, and maybe, too, that’s really your ONLY call that matters. Here’s your life, leading inevitably toward your death: how are you going to approach it?

And speaking of the family being evil, here’s a bit someone else reported about that conversation I heard (possible minor spoilers for another location nearby that I didn’t find). So it sounds like they were pretty evil?

Let’s not feel bad about killing them all.

Butch:

Them’s the breaks. At least you didn’t get killed by a falling horse.

Except, the game, rather pessimistically, might be saying it’s not even a call. Remember the slave catcher? Here was a guy who really did try to adapt. He got other jobs, tried to move forward in his way. He only sent us to get reminders of the past. He wasn’t trying to preserve the past, or pretend the past wasn’t, well, past. He knew things were over and different and he STILL wound up broken and forgotten. The future came and eradicated all these people from the past whether they fought it, denied it or tried to adapt.

Cheery.

I didn’t feel bad anyway. They had a cool shotgun.

Man, you’d LOVE this shotgun.

Feminina:

I’m so going back for the shotgun. I’m sure there’s something else I can wander into up there anyway.

I found legendary moose and fish territory, but couldn’t be bothered to go after them. My Arthur is just not about the hunting. He has other things to do. Like fail to loot properly because he’s freezing half to death.

I was not killed by a falling horse, but I WAS ambling peaceably through the wilderness, admiring the scenery and what-not, when out of nowhere there was a sudden WHUMP and I fell over. Then a deer jumped up and ran off. I don’t know if it actually fell from the sky on top of me, or if it was just running along and collided with me, but it was definitely startling.

At least it didn’t kill me. I had a can of beans and was OK. It’s been an odd few days for animal behavior, though.

Butch:

I got nothing against moose. I shall let the moose be.

I think there’s some nasty animals out there. In largas once, I saw this goat, and for no real reason it charged me and knocked me on my ass. I thought the hell… went shopping, was heading back to roach and it did it again. Evil bad ass bull goat. I didn’t want to shoot it cuz I was in the middle of town, but it was killing me so I got on roach and ran. It chased me! Luckily Roach can outrun evil goats.

Feminina:

Evil goat?! Damn.

I accidentally rode over a dog, and a whole town became cold towards me. Not, like, shooting at me, but all the stores closed and no one would talk to me. It was an accident! I would have given the dog a healing tonic if I could have! Sigh. I felt bad.

Butch:

You monster.

But dude, seriously. This goat wanted me DEAD. And I didn’t do shit to it! Hell, I killed a couple of gators outside of town! I made things safer for this ungrateful goat! It took out, like, half my health per butt!

It was right outside the bait store there. All the more reason not to fish.

Javier: Wanna come fishing?
Arthur: Nope.
Javier: Why? Cuz it’s a minigame?
Arthur: Naw, I ain’t got no problem with minigames in moderation.
Javier: Then what?
Arthur: Ain’t goin’ back to Largas. Can’t buy bait.
Javier: Bounty too big on you there?
Arthur: Naw. There’s a goat, see?
Javier: Is that some new slang for Pinkertons?
Arthur: Naw, Javier, an actual goat. Wants me dead.
Javier: *****long pause*****
Arthur: I ain’t lyin’, Javier!
Javier: Mrs. Grimshaw? Keep Arthur out of the whiskey wagon.

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Watch for Falling Horses

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some reasonably significant plot spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Feminina:

I played some. We’ll talk later. Just wanted to say, there was this point where some guys were all talking, on horseback, planning a job or whatever, and Arthur coughed, and I thought “damn, Butch called it.”

Because no one ever just has a cold in dramatic narratives. You and I, as parents of small children, know that in real life it is entirely possible to spend 50% of ones time coughing or wiping someone’s nose because of the common cold, but in drama? It is not common.

He coughed! He’s dooooooooooomed! It’s TB!

I still don’t know how that squares with the debt collection bits being white, optional missions…maybe not ALL the white missions are optional, only the bounties? But…I don’t know how we would ever have KNOWN that, unless we were trying to press on and ignore all the white missions and we did the yellow ones and nothing happened and finally we got frustrated waiting for something to happen and did the white ones. Which seems like a weird way to set things up. Not that I haven’t been frustrated by other things in this game, so maybe that’s one I just happily managed to avoid.

Alternatively, I suppose there are ways to get TB that don’t involve being coughed on by a guy you’re beating up for nonpayment of a debt. Maybe if we didn’t do that mission, he just caught it somewhere else. Maybe we wouldn’t even notice his doomed cough in that case.

Or, you know, maybe he just had a cold.

Except nobody ever just has a cold.

Butch:

Get. The. Fuck. Out.

No, no it is not just a cold. It’s gotta be that.

Jeez, we’ll talk. Later. But I’m taking a lot of credit cuz I swear I didn’t know. I’ve been studiously avoiding spoilers. I rule. Or I play too many video games and spend too much time tearing apart narrative. Or all of the above.

We must have misremembered about the missions. We must have. I DO remember that those differed from the other white missions (gunslingers, ignored nature guy) in that the debtor mission started with a yellow circle on Strauss. You HAD to talk to Strauss. The others started with a random white dot (at least the nature guy did), or, if I’m wrong, a big white question mark. They certainly didn’t start yellow. The coughing guy may well have been yellow, too. Just him.

Ah, we WERE wrong. I just googled. The first debtor, Wroble, is yellow. The next two are white. If you do them, Strauss goes yellow and sends you to the coughing guy, who is yellow. If you don’t do them, near the end of the chapter, Strauss turns yellow again and gives you coughing guy, who is yellow.

So it is a main story mission. There ya go. We were confused.

No one does ever just cough. No one without kids, anyway. We’ll talk. Later.

I, too, managed to play some! Did I mention I robbed the stage coach with Trelawy or whatever? Cuz I did. I should have known that an easy, relaxing, “That was it?” mission precedes a shit storm, as the last shit storm was preceded by peaceful sheep rustling.

As you may guess, I shot up Rhodes. While I certainly shared Arthur’s idea that that was a trap and we were being stupid, and, thus, the shootout that followed was not a surprise, I was pretty stunned that they actually killed Sean. That made me jump, and I did spend a good part of the shootout being all “Really?” That was cool. Having the player be under fire wondering on the fate of a friend, even starting to come to terms with the death of a friend, was very immersive and very cool. Plus, it played on the assumptions of people like us who have played a ton of video games. Sure, important characters sometimes die: see Mordin, Thane, Vesimir, your dad in FO3 (trust me), Sam in TLOU, etc. This is nothing new. However, when main characters do die in games, they do it in long, dramatic cutscenes where shit is DRAMATIC, followed by other cutscenes (or at least slow, ponderous gameplay segments) where you and the hero ponder and reflect and say DAMN man, that was DRAMATIC. They do not happen just BOOM and SHOOTOUT! Thus, while I knew I was walking into a trap, while I knew it was part of the narrative when someone might die, I didn’t expect it at that very moment, right before the shoot out, and for it to be so sudden. Mid sentence! Maybe he got shot during the shootout, lived long enough for a cutscene, etc. The timing was shocking and, thus, great.

The game certainly was saying something about the erroneous assumption that the Greys were just a bunch of dumb hicks. Grey even says “Did you think we were just dumb hicks?” Ok. That I get. What was interesting, though, was that Arthur, and ONLY Arthur, figured it out. On that walk, he’s the one saying “Wait, guys, this might be bad” and the others are still saying “What? Why are you worried? These are dumb hicks.” Moreover, it’s Bill who gets tricked, and Bill is, let’s face it, the dumb hick of camp.

The fact it’s Bill’s fuck up (and not really Arthur’s) makes me wonder: is the game saying “Ok, the Greys are dumb hicks. Arthur’s smarter than they are. But they’re slightly smarter than the Bill the dumb hick, so there’s gradations of dumb hick?” Or is the game saying “See? Just because you’re southern and drink some and seem like a dumb hick, you’re not?”

I’m not sure. It is interesting that they gave Arthur that moment of clarity before all hell broke loose.

Feminina:

Oh, thank god you’re there. I was afraid you were going to write back three days from now all “whhhaaaa? Sorry, I was playing Civ.”

Way to fight temptation!

Ah, so those WERE yellow missions. OK, sometimes we misremember. I can accept that. At least that makes sense. It seemed really weird that a key plot point would be thrown into a random skippable sidequest. But also, if those were mandatory quests, then he’s definitely dying of tuberculosis RIGHT NOW. There’s no way that’s NOT a key plot point if we had to do all those things.

Way to call it, dude. You’re full of win this morning!

I concur, the death of Sean was kind of a shock. And in a narratively/thematically appropriate way, because as you say, it kind of mirrored the way death CAN just come out of nowhere and feel like a shock and leave you thinking “OK, but is he REALLY dead?” while you’re in the middle of trying to hold off a small army in a gunfight.

You can be going about your business chatting and then all of a sudden someone’s dead. Life is dangerous, and not only for Kevin and randits.

As for the whole “what, you think we’re just dumb hicks?” bit…what I got out of it (which may or may not be what they meant it to mean) is that people are more complicated than you think and it’s not a good idea to stroll into someplace and assume you know all about the people there.

Because the game still doesn’t seem to be saying the Greys are criminal masterminds or anything–they just aren’t as dumb as Dutch (and to a large degree the rest of the gang) thought. They (and the Braithwaites) are perfectly capable of taking advantage of some gullible out-of-town adventurers who are willing to do their dirty work while hoping to get their hands on some mythical buried gold.

And we know the gang also aren’t a bunch of idiots–they’re perfectly capable of taking advantage of opportunities that come their way, planning and executing heists, etc. But that doesn’t mean they’re the smartest bunch around and magically able to size up every situation.

I think they let themselves get cocky because yeah, they assumed the people in Rhodes were a bunch of dumb hicks. But as a rule, no group of people are dumb hicks across the board, right? Most everybody’s good–or at least competent–at something, and the fact that this town is reasonably well kept and has tidy citizens who aren’t starving tells us that the system here functions well enough to keep things together. Therefore, the people managing the system are presumably competent at something (farming, building, whatever). And maybe their areas of competence include playing vicious, lethal tricks on the family with whom they’ve been feuding for 50 years, using whatever tools come to hand, even if those tools are a bunch of wandering Yankees with few moral scruples.

And the misjudgment goes both ways, doesn’t it? Because where the Greys erred was in thinking the bunch of wandering Yankees were just a gang of greedy hired guns, rather than…well, rather than the player character and his band, but in story terms, rather than a tight-knit group that was a lot more effective in combat than they assumed. Because what the gang is really competent at is killing lots and lots of people.

Making money so they can retire, not so much.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that the general theme I got out of that whole bit was, be careful you’re not underestimating the complexity of a situation because you’re assuming you understand it. Everybody is potentially smarter (and stupider!–and more and less capable!) than you think.

I think Arthur’s misgivings as they went to the meeting were kind of hinting at this: he’s got a vague grasp of the possible complications here (possibly because he’s talked to the young lovers–having interacted with more of the families than their main representatives, he’s had a chance to see that there are other things going on), and it makes him wisely hesitant to rush ahead, but he’s not the boss, so he’s unable to change the outcome.

Sucks to be the non-boss who maybe understands things a little better than the boss. But then, I guess it also sucks to be the boss trying to find a big score for a band of hungry adventurers counting on you to lead them to the idealized freedom you promised them.

Hm.

Butch:

I had..managed to forget about Civ……….but now that you mention it…..

I am stunned as our WILD INTERNET SPECULATION is usually completely incorrect.

I’m sure I’m gonna have a metric ton of bloggage about this. We’ll talk. Later.

It was well done, Sean’s death. This game has done a pretty good job so far of taking things that are very predictable and yet making them surprising. You kinda have to do that in a predictable game. Let’s face it: TB or not, I’d be stunned if Arthur doesn’t die. Sure, they could pull the ultimate switcheroo and say he saw the light and went off to pick apples with Mary Beth, but odds are he isn’t around for the credits, right? And yet, they still have to make the story compelling, and they’re managing to do that both in the micro and macro level.

(Note: Even we see shit coming, and we didn’t play the first game, which comes AFTER this in time. There’s millions of people out there who have far more knowledge about how this game is going to end, as they played the first game. I have no idea what the first game was about, or who was in it, save for the fact that I know Marston was the protagonist so he lives. That said, we’re in the minority. Rockstar knows this, and, thus, has to craft a story that is a compelling prequel. I think they’re doing well.)

The gang is good at killing people, and it’s worth noting that for all the “You thought we were dumb hicks” taunting, the Greys are all very dead and the gang, save for Sean, aren’t. If you count bodies, Arthur won that round going away. It’s a hollow victory to say “Yeah, we’re all very dead, rotting in the street, but we sure did trick you into stealing those horses, suckers!”

So maybe another lesson is, as good as you are at manipulation, maybe, sometimes, keep that to yourself.

And, again, everyone being more complicated than you think is a rather timely metaphor. Let’s face it, we live in a world right now where half the country is saying “Those asshats in the red hats are a bunch of dumb hicks” and the other half is saying “those coastal elites are a bunch of commie queer sheep” and both sides are failing to see the complexities of the other side. This whole chapter was about that. It’s a fitting ending that no one really wins. The Greys are dead, the gang got nothing out of it (That I know of, I’m not in chapter four yet), the Braithewaites….well, they’re still doing pretty ok. I haven’t gotten to the end of the chapter yet.

Hmm.

But wait….Bill’s not the boss either, is he? Dutch didn’t tell Arthur to do this. Trewlawhatever told Arthur “Oh, by the way, Bill wanted to see you, go there.” This was a non boss trying to talk another non boss (one who isn’t as well respected by the boss as Arthur) that he’s being dumb and failing.

Hm indeed.

Feminina:

Oh, good point, Bill’s not the boss. And Dutch wasn’t actually there, was he? I was thinking he was, but now you mention it (with your much fresher memory)…I must have been thinking of a different shootout.

Spoiler: there’s another shootout!

OK then, I withdraw my musings about how it probably sucks to the be the boss trying to live up to your promises. I will replace them with musings about how it sucks to be another non-boss trying to do your part for the gang, but totally misreading the situation. Because in general, I feel Bill means well and is trying to be helpful to the group, but that he doesn’t get a lot of respect. And rightfully so, given what happens when he tries, but…you know…dude was trying.

And while Dutch wasn’t there, when you think about it, these guys are all pretty much following Dutch’s lead here. He did say the town was a backwater full of dumb hicks.

So maybe there’s also a timely bit in there about how the errors of the boss filter down until the whole organization is badly misjudging things in the same way. On both sides, as you say–because the Greys wind up with a lot of non-boss people dead, and the gang winds up with Sean dead and with no money and having to leave yet another comfy camp. Indeed, nobody wins.

And the few people who don’t quite buy into the misjudgments, like Arthur with his misgivings and the young lovers with their scorn for family feuds, just get swept along with the tide anyway. (Although–only slightly a spoiler–I actually STILL don’t know what happens to the young lovers. I didn’t kill either of them, as far as I know, but I didn’t see them go anywhere else, either. So…maybe they didn’t get swept up! Maybe they escaped and are living happily ever after in Ohio. Heh.)

Butch:

Nope, no Dutch there. Arthur, Bill, the departed Sean, and Micah, who always seems to be around things going badly. Hmm.

Bill was trying. He means well. It doesn’t seem he knew he was leading them into a trap. Maybe he was and he’s a traitor, but I doubt it.

I think we’ll find out. I certainly got the sense that isn’t over.

Though, and this is a problem with playing prequels without playing the original, sometimes things get set up where the “end” is in the first game. Could well be with this story line (and upteen bajillion story lines in prequels), people say “Oh, THAT’S how that began!” and then have the complete story arc. It’s like if you only see the first three episodes of star wars, you may well be all “Hey, what happened to that dude once they put him in the black suit? Who are Luke and Leia and why did Padme give birth to them? Why didn’t that story line end?” Of course, everyone else knows. Maybe these lovers play a big role in the first game.

We shall never know, as I ain’t playing it and I don’t care to google. Maybe there are storylines here that don’t end, and it’s just “Hey, sometimes you never know.” Maybe there are storylines that don’t end because of lazy writing. Maybe there are storylines that end in other games. Curse of playing a prequel in a vacuum.

Feminina:

Very true, very true. Maybe they do end up being significant “later” in the first game. We shall never know, because we cannot be bothered to look it up.

That’s fine. There are many things in life that I shall never know. I can deal with this one in this game.

It’s another useful lesson games can teach us: sometimes, you just don’t know, you CAN’T know, and you have to let it go and move on.

That could be right up there with Always Be Lootin’ and Never Don’t Save. (We have seen the tragic consequences of failing to heed that second rule.)

I’ll still keep an eye out for the lovers, because you never know, but I’m not going to spend too much time fretting about it if they’re never seen again. Sometimes people come into your life, play a role, do some stuff, and then go away again and you never know what became of them after your paths diverged. I’m feeling generous enough that I’ll give this game that if in fact we never hear of them again.

Wait. What happened? I’m being generous to this game?! THIS FREAKING GAME?!

Clearly, I’ve been remembering to save lately.

Butch:

Yup. It’s how sequels do. Shit, the game led with Marston getting his facial scar, right? As facial scars tend to be permanent, I’m sure he had it in the first game, so that was probably a “No. Way. THAT’S how he got it?” moment for people who cared. I’m sure we’ve missed a dozen “No. Way. THAT’S how/when [whatever]” things, but we shall never know.

Dude, I’m just on a roll with being right. I told you you’d come around. I told you many, many times. Cowboys and save points aside, you love a good story, and, you gotta admit, this one has a good story.

Feminina:

It gives good bloggage. I will grant it that.

Along with occasional weirdness–dude, over the weekend I was playing, puttering around in camp, and I ambled over towards where the horses are hitched and I guess the game suddenly realized there should have been one more than there was, because suddenly a horse just PLUMMETED FROM THE SKY, landed on the ground smack, and lay there unmoving. Not, perhaps, dead, because its head was lifted as if it were just having a little lie-down, but not moving, couldn’t interact with it, it was just there like a feature of the landscape. After plummeting from the sky.

Possibly the freakiest thing I’ve seen in this game, even including the dismembered body. I was practically screaming at Arthur “it’s a glitch in the Matrix!”

He seemed untroubled. Probably has other things to worry about, like his imminent death from tuberculosis.

Butch:

That is eight ways of awesome.

But really, things are looking up for you! A month ago, you’d’ve been all “Ok, time to save,” and the moment before you opened the menu the falling horse would’ve killed you dead.

I’ve had a couple of visual glitches, but nothing that humorous. Just shit like floating rocks.

Every game has oddities, you must admit. Remember the dude I got in Mafia who was just standing on stage, arms out, unmoving? It happens.

Feminina:

Ha!

That is so true. “Made it back to camp after a challenging bounty, haven’t saved yet but I will right now while I’m safe–”

FLUUUUUUMMMMMP.

Death by plummeting horse. A truly unexpected end to the long saga of this grizzled gunslinger.

Butch:

It’s so absurd that you might not have been pissed.

But I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.

Today’s parenting tip: Do not take your middle child to your youngest child’s doctor’s appointment.

Feminina:

That’s a good tip! I have tried strenuously to avoid that. I’ve taken them to the same flu shot appointment, because it’s only a shot, etc., but otherwise, I try to bring only the directly relevant child.

Sadly, I’m sure there are times it’s just not possible to avoid doubling up.

Butch:

Yeah. At least you avoided a middle child.

Wise.

Feminina:

I took your advice for once.

To the Treadmill!

Tags

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for plot points in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Oh I’m on a roll now! Or something.

Did Micah’s bit. Got set up. Got beat up. Got amused that the subtitles also subtitle writing on the screen like “A few weeks later….” Thanks subtitles, I might not have heard that.

I don’t trust Micah. Why does anyone trust Micah? Maybe the game is playing the ol’ switcheroo, the “Ha! We made you not trust this guy SO MUCH but turns out he’s nice and it’s, like, Mary Beth who’s evil” kind of twist, but even if they’re doing that it doesn’t make much sense that Dutch trusts him so much. But whatever.

Certainly the line that sets up the bloggage is the whole bit about maybe the American dream is nonsense, but it’s still worth pursuing. We’ve been talking about Dutch being foolish, that he’s chasing a dream that is futile, but it’s a cool twist to think that maybe he KNOWS he’s being foolish, that he knows he’s looking for something that he’s damn unlikely to find, but he’s gonna do it anyway. Of course, if that’s true, does it make him even more of a fool? Does it make him, at some level, more evil because he’s dragging all these other people along on a crazy, futile dream and he knows it? Or is it inspirational, at some level, a “chase your dream even if you know there’s only a bazillion to one chance you’ll get it?” A “inspiring others is good, no matter what?”

I’m not sure, and not sure is good storytelling.

But the rest of it, besides, what, showing Arthur’s vulnerable, lacked themes that I could see. It sure felt like the obligatory “And now we are at that point in the game where we make the hero weak and take away his stuff and make you play a level like that” bit that all games seem to have. Why do all games seem to have that? I mean, the first couple times I played games that did that, it was kinda cool, but now that it seems to be in every single fucking game, it has gone past a feeling of “Oh my god, oh my god, what do I do? This is so different and weird!” to a feeling of “Sigh, ok, this bit.” That’s not a knock on this game in particular, but on games as a whole. It’s become part of the formula. I’m not cool with that. These bits are supposed to be stressful, different, almost a twist. If they become formulaic, they lose all that. It’s just becomes “Sigh, ok, this bit.” No medium should have “sigh, ok, this bit” as part of its formula.

Look at that! I have not one but two jumping off points that don’t involve food, illness or stressed out misery! I’m so proud.

Feminina:

This was the set up with the O’Driscolls, right? Yeah, it was kind of a twist when it turned out to be a set up, but then the lacking all your gear and being weak stuff was…I mean, it was fine, I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t new or exciting as a plot development.

The new bit was that you didn’t have to kill everyone and get your gear back, you just escaped without killing everyone and left your gear! And then the gang kindly replaced every piece of it, which was nice of them and really took the sting out of it.

Butch:

Right, we’ve gotten to the point with these bits where we say “I mean, it was fine, I didn’t hate it….” Formula. It’s too bad, really, cuz those bits used to be far cooler.

Heh. I did kill a bunch of dudes. I’m just not used to not killing! Kinda got me into the idea of throwing knives. If I had remembered those, the tobacco field would’ve gone much smoother.

You thought it was a twist? I didn’t. I knew something would go wrong. I’ll grant you Arthur being kidnapped was a nice twist. Having the game make you look down with the binoculars, look down with the scope, admit it: you were tensing up just a little all “Ok, when am I gonna have to shoot?”

Dude, if they took all your gear permanently? White hot rage.

Feminina:

Oh, definitely the twist was Arthur getting grabbed, not something going wrong. Something was obviously going to go wrong. It would have been a surprising twist if it HADN’T.

I only killed the one guy! Then I crept off quietly and rode away. I was all weak, man, I didn’t want to get into fights.

All right, at a meeting. Must pay attention.

Butch:

Dude, you taught me two things: Always be looting, and KNIVES FOR EVERYONE!!!!

Haven’t gotten to do that second one in far too long.

You and your meetings. Work is too much work. You should just stay home. It’s nothing but relaxing and resting and quiet and games and self delusion.

Feminina:

Yeah, I have shamefully neglected the throwing knives in this game. Not following my own closely-held principles! Ahhh, good times. KNIVES!!!! KNIVES FOR EVERYONE!!!!

Well, the looting principles I’m still clinging to. Even if it kills Sean!

It’s the self-delusion I mostly miss, not being at home in the peace and quiet with the bonbons.

As for your larger questions, I don’t know why anyone trusts Micah. It’s a good question. Or–since I’m not sure anyone really does except Dutch–why does DUTCH trust Micah?

Is Micah telling him what he wants to hear, in a way no one else will? Or we talked about how Micah and Arthur are both “children of Dutch,” so does Micah maybe represent the cherished ‘younger son,’ the spoiled one who is doted on despite his reckless ways? Does he maybe, with his youthful recklessness, make Dutch feel younger himself? Is Micah a way to recapture the energy and enthusiasm and endless optimism of the gang’s early days, when they were fill of big plans for big scores and the world was their oyster?

Is Dutch chasing not only an impossible dream of idealistic freedom, but the equally impossible dream of his own youth?

Butch:

I also keep forgetting about dynamite, which is as close as we get to area effect spells, and you know how I love those. The two times I have remembered to use it, it was spectacular. It just makes Kevin go away.

I’ve spent the whole morning doing nothing but sipping whiskey and reading my magazine, not the back issues, mind you, I finish these right away, what with all the quiet.

Hmm. Dream of youth. Maybe. It’s funny that Dutch’s words toward Arthur always bug me, and now I know why. He always says, and has said multiple times, “You’ve always been like a son to me, Arthur.” Now, that sounds nice, but it isn’t saying “You ARE like a son to me, Arthur.” It’s subtle, but it’s a difference. It could imply that “You WERE like a son to me, but, hey, out with the old, in with the Micah.”

But even if that’s so, there’s still the why. Arthur, as far as we know, hasn’t done much to alienate Dutch. That said, I get the sense that Blackwater was the first thing that made Arthur go “Uh…Dutch?” That in and of itself might be enough for Dutch to start wanting to move on.

Dutch does romanticize the past, that he does. That said, he did at least sound like he was apologizing to O’Driscoll, all “I really am sorry I killed your brother.” He was, if we take him at his word (which may well be something no one should do), willing to move on from that part of the past. Now, we didn’t get to see if Colm apologized for killing Annabelle, so we’ll never know if Dutch would have accepted that. Would’ve been interesting to see.

Ok, diversion time. Not derail. This is serious.

So Junior’s birthday is a week from tomorrow (thus ending birthday season. FINALLY). He asked for a game. A specific game. I figured he was old enough so I got it for him. So what’s the problem you say?

He asked for Civilization 6.

Again, you may be thinking “but that’s a good game, and perfectly appropriate for a twelve year old” and you would be correct. That you would.

But Femmy…..

I’ve played many, many games in my life. The one I spent the most hours on? Civilization 5. Second on the list? Civilization 4. I’m not kidding.

You think I had a gwent problem? HA!

I have a Civ problem. A bad one.

And I got off of it cuz only the ex could run it! It’s been so nice! I was free, Femmy, FREE! But they put out 6 (and all its expansions….its fascinating, game changing expansions…sorry, sorry, I gotta focus) on the switch. We have one of those.

And now Civ 6 is in the house.

Right over there. On the table in the kitchen. Just…sitting there….waiting to be played…..and played again and again and again and

YOU GOTTA HELP ME HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feminina:

Dude! Not Civ!

This is serious.

Dude. Think of the blog. Think of the time you must save for pondering narratives.

Think of the fact that I will never play Civilization, and thus you can never talk about it with me.

DO YOU WANT TO KILL THE BLOG, man?!

Butch:

I do not want to kill the blog! I also don’t want to kill my children, and if I get back into Civ I may well forget to feed them!!!!

Dude, you have no idea how addictive this is. It’s not just me, either. You know when you quit out of a game and it says “Are you sure? Yes/no?” Civ says “Are you sure?” and gives you two options: “Yes,” and “Just….One….More….Turn…..”

Seriously. They do that.

I want to save the blog! And my marriage! And things like basic personal hygiene!

And now it begins for Junior, too!

I’m a terrible parent.

Feminina:

Clearly, you must take it back to the store right now and get him a less damaging game. Maybe EverQuest. Or WoW.

At least you don’t have a personal history with those.

Butch:

Sorry….it was calling to me….my precious…………

Maybe just one game……….

Feminina:

FIGHT IT!!!!!!

Have some booze. You know you can’t play when you’re drunk.

Heh.

Butch:

No! I know.

Treadmill. I shall use the treadmill.

I know I’d be glad I had it one day.

Shit, if I have to use it fight this I may well run the marathon next year I’ll be so jacked.

Feminina:

YES! Do that. Good save.

Games: promoting fitness in unexpected ways.

And yes, it’s true that Dutch does often seem to use that rather half-hearted phrasing. Arthur HAS always been like a son to him, but is he NOW?

And Dutch is obviously a master of words and charm and charisma, that’s how he leads, so he undoubtedly knows what he’s saying. I’m sure it’s a quite intentional hint to Arthur to watch himself if he wants to remain “like a son” to Dutch: a note that he should consider where his loyalties lie and the extent to which he wants to question Dutch’s decisions.

Butch:

And they say games are bad for you.

It worked! I’m too tired, thirsty and sore to play!

Hooray. I think.

Feminina:

Let’s go with “hooray.”

Butch:

You say so.

I think that that’s also an aspect of the larger theme of nostalgia and all that. Sure, Dutch is pushing a version of nostalgia, and he is using it to keep people in line. “Stick with me, and we’ll get back to simpler times!” That’s a rallying cry of….certain Americans. Simple. Better. All apple pie. Of course, that’s a) bullshit and b) propaganda. Shit, it was propaganda then, too, in a sense. And here’s Arthur, buying it. At least, he’s bought it up until now. Now, it seems, cracks in the idea of a simpler time for simple people are sinking in.

It’s funny, because Arthur really isn’t surrounded by any trustworthy people. Well, no, I take that back. He’s not surrounded by any trustworthy white man. He can count on the women (we think), and Lenny and Charles (who are also the most educated. Did you find the note from Lenny’s dad?). The others? Either sketchy, stupid or both. Indeed, I got a bit of side dialog last night where Charles essentially tells Arthur to knock off the “I’m just a stupid meathead” act because he isn’t.

Not sure Dutch would like that, though.

And when you fit that into the overall metaphor….

Feminina:

I’ve also gotten dialogue where Dutch basically refers to Arthur as the family clown–a guy who makes jokes, amusing but not to be taken seriously.

Which on the one hand could be seen supportive and might be appreciated (Arthur DOES make a lot of dry jokes, and we all like to be recognized for our funny lines), but on the other hand is not-very-subtly dismissing Arthur’s ability to contribute to ‘grown-up’ discussions or to have any serious thoughts worth considering.

There’s going to be a confrontation here one of these days.

Butch:

One would imagine.

Because, despite all the gang “unity,” there’s fault lines everywhere. One that I’m very curious about is Molly. There was that mission that was set up as Molly, but right when she asked for help, Charles came in and it was all something else. She is NOT happy.

And did you catch her once saying that he must be looking at other girls, probably someone younger? Like he trades in the people he “cares” about.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Molly is definitely not happy (although I don’t know much more about it than you do so far), and Dutch has complained about Molly (being too needy, etc.) more than once. I think that union is not destined to celebrate a golden anniversary.

I mean, even assuming any of them live that long.

Butch:

No, no it will not.

I can see her selling him out, though. Or trying. I still wonder what she wanted help with. I have a feeling we’ll find out.

Feminina:

It does seem like the kind of plot element that will eventually be followed up.

And yeah, I could see someone deciding to try to take the Pinkertons up on that generous offer, and if she feels betrayed by Dutch (because he’s tiring of her or looking to trade her in or whatever), she may not mind betraying him in return.

And, honestly, i think we would have to have a serious discussion about whether she was even wrong to do it…he’s probably leading the whole gang to ruin, he has (perhaps) broken his own promises to her assuming he ever vowed to love and cherish her…so is it a bad thing to stop him?

I mean, obviously, honor among thieves, group loyalty, etc.–it’s a hideous betrayal and none of them would ever forgive her. You don’t turn on your family/gang, and that’s one of the most fundamental principles of human social interaction. But we’re not talking about people with a lot of moral ground to stand on, so would it really be, objectively, WRONG of her to turn on him?

Based purely on wild speculation (I don’t know anything about whether this actually happens or not) I’m inclined to say yes, it would be wrong, but more because it would hurt the rest of the gang (who, if they don’t turn him in themselves, all probably have their own warrants out) than because she owes Dutch any personal loyalty.

Hm. Again, wild speculation about something that may or may not actually happen.

Butch:

Well, you gotta think someone is going to take that offer at some point. We’ve already seen two people asked why they didn’t: Dutch asks Arthur, Arthur asks Charles after Charles saves Arthur in the corn fields. It’s got to be only a matter of time before someone goes “You know….”

Even if not Molly, someone.

Feminina:

“Hey, yeah…why DIDN’T I take that offer?”

Tell you one thing: it’s not going to be Kieran.

Butch:

I agree. Game’s saying something, there.

Feminina:

Is it ever.

Butch:

You must admit, your issues with this game aside, it is good on the bloggage.

Feminina:

Hotmail admitting it has no idea what we’re talking about:

“I can’t take it.”
“Thank you for the comments.”
“It’s a good one.”

I mean…I guess “it’s a good one” applies? Like, “yeah, you’re right, it’s a good one for bloggage.”

Don’t quit your day job, Hotmail.

I can’t take it.

Butch:

Rare that hotmail derails before we do.

Feminina:

We had an unusually focused day, it’s true. Except for…the thing that shall not be mentioned.

Butch:

I’ll reward myself with one game…..just one…..preciiiiiiousssssss…..

Feminina:

No! Fight it! Back on the treadmill!

Butch:

Sorry, sorry, sorry. You’re right. Phew. That was close.

Ironically, Meatball, who is doing his spelling game, just asked me to help him spell “madness.”

Feminina:

Nice work, Meatball. Wrap it all up for us.

Tea and Fast-Travel: The Basis of Friendship

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Ok, phew. Played.

TWO missions, no less! Rescued Trelawny (or whatever), and was annoyed in the cornfields. I still think that guy is someone we’d care about more if we had played the other games, but, as I haven’t played the other games, I still don’t know what to make of him. Then I set a whole mess of tobacco on fire, and I kinda liked that. The tension built by being in the wagon, the sneaking at night, the way the fire and smoke made things so hellish, nice stuff. Although, I confess, I had the stupidest “death” in all my game career. I could NOT figure out how to untie the horse from the coach, and Sean ran away, and I failed.

Now that’s stupid.

Still, good mission. Well, good mission if you overlook the lack of themes. I’m STILL not sure what to make of the two families.

The most themey thing I got last night didn’t have anything to do with a mission. Did you find the “gang camp” with a bunch of raiders shooting the shit about the Civil War? I won’t talk on it if you didn’t, cuz you likely will.

One oddity maybe you got: After I rescued Trelawny, he had a little yellow mission in camp. I didn’t go there, as I was close to Braithewaite manor so I figured I’d do that. So I did that. When I was finished, there was no T mission to be found. There’s a Micah mission, but that’s it. What gives?

Feminina:

I also enjoyed setting the tobacco on fire! Sneaking around dumping oil was fun. And then the flames and smoke was very atmospheric, though I also died stupidly a few times because I lost Sean. (In my case, it was because I attempted to stop and loot and he’d run off–I kept thinking “OK, just this one body this time, it’s right in front of me, I don’t even have to spend time walking out of my way!” and then he’d be dead or abandoned or something. Siiiiigh. I just wanted to LOOT, man!)

Trelawny…hm…did you rob a stagecoach with him? If not, that’s probably what it’s about. It will probably come back later.

I played a bit. Met a guy who wanted a ride somewhere, and I offered him one, and then he pulled me off my horse and tried to ride away! Obviously I shot him dead. You don’t ride off on my horse.

Butch:

That bastard!

Speaking of which, met the woman who needs the ride to Largas yet?

This game doesn’t always let you loot, does it? There have been many a time I had to beat a hasty retreat when there were plenty of corpses around. Such a waste. I didn’t get the “loot $250” trophy until last night. Last night!

Most games, I’d have that in three days.

No stagecoach robbery, not yet. This was just the “bounty hunters came, beat him up, that sort of thing” one where you had to find dudes in a cornfield, looking for birds to see where they were, etc. The one where Charles saves you and Arthur said “Should’ve taken the money.” Which is what Dutch said to Arthur way back when.

Hm.

Feminina:

There are many, many times where I have had to beat a hasty retreat without looting. It always pains me, although I can’t really fault the game for it, in that it is realistic.

If you’re going to be going around committing a lot of crimes, undoubtedly there will be a lot of times when you can’t just linger picking over the bodies if you want to get away before the cops arrive. It’s just common sense, Arthur! Move it!

And yet I yearn to loot. As I always say, I didn’t get rich by not looting a bunch of corpses.

I have not met a woman who needed a ride, just that jerk.

Jerk. Nobody runs off with my horse.

Ironically, although I shot him, he had already spurred my horse into a gallop, so the horse dragged his body off into the trees. I whistled and she came back, but the body was gone. So I didn’t get to loot him.

Siiiiiigh.

Butch:

It must pain you like nothing else to not loot.

Weird that you haven’t met that lady. I’ve met her twice, in very different places. The first time I went to talk to her and just barely bumped into her with Roach and she was all “You have the DEVIL in you” and off she went. I thought that was that, but no, she popped up again.

You’ll meet her eventually. Maybe.

Sometimes, when you really need a ride, you’ll use the devil as your Uber.

Feminina:

Well, better the devil you know, right? And by then, since she’d seen you before and not wound up dead, you were practically old friends.

But no, I have not seen her. Neither of those encounters rings a bell at all. Of course, maybe I did see her but didn’t bump into her, and so she didn’t talk about the devil. Hm.

Maybe we had a lengthy conversation. Maybe we ARE the best of friends! Oh, hey, I bet she’s that lady that I drop in on anytime I need a quick cup of tea and some healing for my horse! And she lets you fast travel from her house! You didn’t get that? Man, she must have been mad about being bumped.

Just kidding. I don’t know her, and she never gives me tea or horse-medicine or fast travel.

Butch:

Nah, you’d know. It’s a longish conversation full of themes. Good themes.

I do like the idea of tea and fast travel.

Lose Weight, Feel…Uh…Something…

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

Finally. FINALLY the house is empty.

Sigh. Maybe I can find contentment this day. At the very least, I can find a nap. Mrs. McP ha to get up at five to be at work at 730, had to take Junior to school for a school thing, had to come back to put Meaty on the bus…I feel like I should be making dinner already.

If you’re going to have a long day, make it a quiet one.

But I got nothing on the game front because weekends. Games don’t really fit.

Maybe I’ll play today just cuz I can.

Feminina:

You should! You should play today, just because you can!

Because I can’t.

No particular reason, except I’m at work and it’s just been super busy with one thing after another so I only just remembered at 2pm that I hadn’t checked my email yet today. Yeah. Like that busy.

Because I ALWAYS remember to check my email.

Butch:

I know! Ergo my worry. You know I worry. I have become convinced my jinx has a blast radius. Pretty much everyone I know is getting their ass kicked by life. I blame myself.

Or the weather or something. Or hormones.

I did not play. I fell asleep. I also cleaned out the pantry which was something I’ve been meaning to do for several years to give myself a sense of accomplishment. I haven’t done it in so long that I was throwing away things like cream of tarter (I love to cook and even I don’t know what the fuck to do with that), which is not a cream at all but a weird white powder (what’s with that?) that said “best by 8/2004.” 2004. Given that that shit looks like it has something of a shelf life, it was likely very, very old. That means I haven’t cleaned the shelves and floor and whatnot of the pantry since….well, ever, as I moved here well after 2004. (It also means I moved that shit at least from my old house, if not from my tiny apartment in 2002.) Other things that went included some juniper berries (I think) that had turned purple (they’re not supposed to be purple) and a bottle of corn syrup that was dusty as hell, had some syrup at the bottom that didn’t move (like, at all) when I turned the bottle upside down and wouldn’t even dissolve in water when I tired to clean it out to recycle it.

So, you know, if you’re not gonna play, at least make the place you store your food slightly cleaner than a superfund site.

And I sense of accomplishment. It’s so organized! Now I just have to make that organization last for some reasonable amount of time. I’ll be surprised if that amount of time is, like, past making dinner tonight.

I’ll play tonight. I’ll have more time, as making dinner will be quicker now that I know where shit is in the pantry.

Feminina:

I am suitably impressed by an organized pantry. We don’t have a pantry as such, but we have a sort of spice cabinet, and it could probably use some organization.

Cream of Tarter is good for…uh…I think I’ve seen recipes that called for it. Like…sometimes you use both it and baking soda? Because of a chemical reaction? Or something? I could easily look it up, but it’s kind of more fun to explore the limits of my own vague recollections. Anyway, we have some, and it is probably about as old as yours was.

Now watch, though, you got rid of it and tomorrow you’ll be making a recipe that will call for it. Because that’s how it goes.

Butch:

Well, if I do, I should probably go buy more. It was, after all, 15 years past its sell by date.

Jesus, just found out I forgot to pay my water bill last month. Me. I have never, EVER, forgotten a bill.

You aren’t checking email, I’m forgetting bills….this isn’t good. I need to get my head back on.

Feminina:

You’re right, this is not good. We need to pull ourselves together! For the good of the blog!

And for us not getting our utilities cut off. I don’t think I have any outstanding bills, but now you’re making me wonder.

Butch:

I even got angry at it. “Those morons! They lost my check! Now I have to call. I’ll go dig out my bank statement, get the cancelled check, I’ll show them……shit.”

How’d life get like this?

Feminina:

I hate it when I’m all righteously angry and then it turns out I’m the one who was wrong.

DAMN THIS FREAKING GAME! Oh, my bad, I didn’t actually save that time.

I maintain that I’m not wrong to be peeved about it not allowing saves in the middle of annoying bounties, though–that’s a decision the game made that I can be annoyed about.

Butch:

Yeah! That time!

I dunno. I think fitness is starting to bite me. Lost some weight (good thing!) which might have messed up the levels of my medication (which, apparently, has to do with weight).

Telling you man, fix one problem, another shows up.

Feminina:

Ooh, yeah, that makes sense and is a huge pain.

Lose weight for your health! And now there’s not quite as much of you, so you don’t need quite as much of your medication, so your dose is wrong for your health.

Health is a rich and complex tapestry. With much less satisfying narrative coherence than your average video game.

Butch:

Yeah. It is. Stupid doctors.

Cuz I do feel rather foggy, which is what happens. Forgetfulness.

And yet, I can remember the subtle details of video games.

At least I keep what’s important in my head.

Feminina:

Priorities!

Butch:

Every once in a great while, my brain gets it right.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Mmm…Horses…

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for minor story elements in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Stole horses last night. Felt kinda bad about that poor ranch hand. I think there was a way to not kill him, as the mission brief at the end had a check next to “Kill the ranch hand,” so I felt bad. But steal horses I did. The interesting take away was that the gang, everyone in the gang at some point, think they have life figured out, but, really, they’re not even very good at being outlaws. They got duped. Arthur even narrates afterwards that they were made to look like idiots.

It’s not the first time, either. Dutch sure spends a lot of time denying he fucked up, and promises things will be better in the future (which sounds like some leader or other in modern times). Here, we have a gang, and its leader, striving towards a great (intentional word choice) ideal, and yet they’re not even very good at being outlaws who eat bad stew.

I still don’t know what the game is going for with the families, metaphorwise.

Oh, and last night, interesting camp aside. Did you hear Pearson talking about how his life plan was to be a whale hunter? It was an interesting, themey speech. But very missable.

Feminina:

I thought that was a pretty interesting twist there, with the gang getting totally scammed. Makes you think of Dutch’s confidence when they got to Rhodes: “A backwater so backward even we look like geniuses,” eh? How’s that working out for you, Dutch?

It’s interesting that, while the game certainly isn’t holding up these people as admirable, and still seems to be saying their feud is stupid, it IS saying that they themselves are not completely stupid. They are, perhaps, fairly cleverly taking advantage of the gang’s assumption that they’re all stupid, and playing them for fools.

A little pushback against the stereotype of the dumb southern hick, maybe. (Which I’m all for. Stereotypes are lazy, we should be wary of them.)

And since they’re not personally stupid, but are obsessed with a stupid feud, maybe this is part of a larger point about how your average reasonable, intelligent person (like the members of the gang! or, you know, pretty much any person, ever, throughout time) can get caught in habits or ideals or grand sweeping plans that don’t make any sense.

Hm.

Oh, and can I just say how relieved I was that we didn’t have to kill and butcher those horses? The quest title “horse meat for dinner” made me VERY nervous that they were going to end up dead.

And while I, too, felt bad about killing the ranch hand who was just doing his job and even trying to be helpful, I would somehow have felt even worse about having to kill a bunch of horses and sell them for meat.

Because…innocent animals and all, I guess.

Butch:

Dude, that didn’t even occur to me. You and your weirdo vegetarian ideals.

But yeah, it’s another bit of foolish Dutch. It’s an interesting take on the game trope of the wise elder. Usually, game protagonists learn learned things from their mentors. Here…less so.

Stereotypes are very lazy. That they are. And, when one falls into them, one thinks one can rob them both without getting, like, killed and stuff.

This ain’t gonna end well, is it?

Feminina:

Dude, what does “horsemeat for dinner” make YOU think of, if not eating horses?

To be fair, I have actually eaten horse in the past, and I don’t particularly object to eating horse in principle, any more than I object to eating other animals. I just didn’t want to steal a bunch of fine, high-spirited animals, murdering an unoffending man in the process, only to send them all to the butcher shop.

Butch:

You….you MONSTER!

Even I have never dined on horse, and I’m getting rabbit and venison in the mail tomorrow.

Fair point on the quest name.

And lassoing that horse was so annoying he deserved to be dinner.

Feminina:

Lassoing is always annoying.

And hey, this horse we ate had jumped over a fence while tied up and choked itself to death. The real monster was the person who tied him up carelessly so that could happen, and the other real monstrousness would have been letting the body just rot when people could use food.

Speaking of which, that’s another thing that bugs me, Arthur just skins things and leaves this naked animal corpse lying on the ground to rot. So wasteful! I know he also gets a few cuts of meat in the process, so I like to try to imagine that he used most of it, but in the case of something like a bear or an elk, you know that’s ridiculous.

Don’t waste that animal’s death, man! You KNOW Charles doesn’t like that.

Butch:

What? You choked a horse????

YOU MONSTER!!!!

Dude, I keep getting, every time I skin anything, “There isn’t enough room in your satchel for all the resources” thing, and it never tells me what I’m missing. I HATE that! And I’m sure, so sure, that the things I’m missing are what I need to upgrade my satchel.

Game: You got some stringy meat and left the rest cuz your satchel.
Me: Well, what did I leave?
Game: A deer hide.
Me: What do I need to upgrade my satchel?
Game: A deer hide.
Me: So……can I leave the stringy meat and take the deer hide?
Game: No.
Me: Why?
Game: Hey man, fuck you.

Feminina:

Yeah, I think that pretty much sums up the game’s response to all complaints.

Good lord no, I didn’t choke the horse myself. I would probably have died of guilt and we would never have been able to have this conversation. Someone completely not me was responsible for tying it up with the wrong knot. I was like eight years old, and even though it was the (south) west, I was not put in charge of tying up horses at that age.

Sadly, in real life, unlike in the game, horses do not usually stay obligingly near where you left them and then come running if you whistle.

Butch:

Wait…..WAAAAAIIIIIITTTTT……

We’re talking about a REAL HORSE? Not a GAME horse? You……

WHAT??????

Feminina:

Dude, no, I didn’t eat a horse in the game. I really ate a real horse. Arthur is less of a monster than me! I mean, except for all the murdering and robbery.

Sorry, I guess there wasn’t really a clear dividing line there in those topics.

Butch:

Yeah, that kinda blurred. Glad I didn’t have to eat a horse, but I did eat a horse, yeah, lassoing sucked in the game, that horse choked on a fence (I think it was that transition there that got me).

I do know some places eat horse. Some of the places we went to in Belgium had horse on the menu. True, it was unlikely they did because Uncle Gaston tied it up all wrong….

Dammit, I played yesterday. How’d we end up here?

Feminina:

Never underestimate our ability to derail.

Butch:

I never do.

I’m just tired. Easily confused.

Hazy Memories and Vivid Hatreds

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers and wild speculation about Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Hey! Played!

Robbed a bank (That was fun) and then had that rather odd cutscene with the debtor family where I didn’t do anything but watch it. The game obviously wanted me to see that. I remember that that dude, who is now dead, coughed on Arthur when he was collecting the debt. I sense a plot point. You think….?

Anyway, that HAS to be a plot point, as it had no other point.

And then I did the bit with Hosea and the Braithewaites and booze and being Fenton the idiot bartender (I kinda loved that bit), and all that.

I’m not sure how the Braithewaites and the Greys fit metaphorically. The game sure seems to want to be saying something here. It’s a civil war in the state that smacks of civil war imagery. Shit, one of the families is even called the Greys. If you’re gonna do that, might as well call the other family the Unions. That said, what all that is really standing for, and how we can read that the gang wants to rob them BOTH…there’s a metaphor here, but I’m still grasping for it.

I’m also not sure how Dutch’s “It’s payback for my daddy” shit plays in. First, I’m not entirely sure I buy that Dutch is all that upset about his daddy. If he is, I’m not sure I buy it narratively. He’s not the political type. Him harboring hatred for the south isn’t really his thing, is it? He is, however, the type to use that kind of thing (I shall avenge my daddy!) as a way to hype up himself and others, a storyline in his own half bullshit narrative.

So there’s metaphor there, too. Maybe I’ll be clearer on it when I get more towards the end of the story arc.

Feminina:

Yay for games!

Was that the bank where you’re trying to crack the safes while the other guys shout at you from the other room? Good times.

I agree, I don’t really buy that Dutch is especially motivated by any sentimental concerns about his daddy’s memory or whatever, but I could buy that he’s happy to use the IDEA of concern for his daddy’s memory to justify his actions (to himself and others).

And yeah, the Gray/Braithwaite feud is…honestly, I’m still a bit confused as well about what it was trying to say. Feuds are stupid, that was the main thing I got–these people are obsessing about each other/their shared bloody history rather than moving forward to accomplish anything today. They’re killing and dying for old grudges that don’t mean anything to anyone but themselves. Meanwhile, other people (in this case the gang) are coming through and taking advantage of their distraction to steal their stuff. And it’s pretty well stated that there’s considerable doubt whether there’s actually any buried family gold involved in this feud, but if we take ‘ancient gold’ as representing their general wealth in terms of land, social influence, etc., then it’s kind of saying “here you’re squandering everything you have fighting each other, and in a few years other people/the future will come and pick up the scraps for themselves and you’ll be completely forgotten.”

So, more of those contrasts between being stuck in the past and being part of progress/the future.

As for that debtor family…yeah. I kind of almost felt like that plot point was just about making us feel like Arthur’s kinda sorta trying to salvage something from this horrific event (which I felt bad about, and presumably Arthur might also feel some guilt over even if it’s only the kind of thing he’ll mutter about to Mary Beth later, next time he wants to apologize for being so angry or whatever) by telling the young guy not to waste his life looking for revenge. But it’s also true, he could have caught TB from that guy and that’s how his story will ignominiously end…that would be interesting.

Butch:

Games are the only thing keeping me even in the same time zone as sane, dude.

That’s the one. I still have no real idea as to how I cracked the safes. Something about sticks and the vibrating controllers. Did it, though! Fat cash!

Then the ominous cutscene.

Daddy’s memory: Right. It’s just another prop. Shit, we can’t even really be sure that his father was a veteran. Maybe that’s part of the bullshit, too.

Clinging to the past/moving to the future…I see that. Clinging to the bad parts of the past, or at least past anger, is counterproductive and yet so common.

Also, the more I ponder it, maybe it’s something about class, and how the “gangs” of the rich aren’t all that different than the gangs that sleep outside and eat stew. Here we have the braithewaites (now, I’m at the point where I have to investigate further…I’ve only met mama braithewaite once) who live in this fancy mansion with the trees leading up (nice touch, liked that) and their fancy clothes, and what are they doing? Running moonshine. That’s barely more respectable than robbing trains. They certainly aren’t investing in railroads or owning oil rigs or even banking. They’re, basically, low end criminals in fancier clothes.

And, as you say, there’s doubt as to whether there is “gold.” It would seem to me to be very unlikely, as why would people who truly are rich fuck around with moonshine? They’d be buying oil rigs. Dutch, however, seems too dense to get that. He sees the fancy house and thinks “Rich. Just like Cornwall.” But if you look at what they’re actually doing, I highly doubt these folks are rich just like Cornwall.

It’s yet more “people who the man is screwing screwing each other because they don’t know any better.”

And I dunno, man. That scene with the debtors was there to be SEEN. It was totally self contained. You didn’t even walk up tot he place, it was unavoidable. It was also meant to be seen THEN. There was no reason to put that there if all it was was a thing to mumble to Mary Beth later. Mumble later scenes can be anywhere. Why tack it onto that mission? Ok, maybe it’s just a thing like that, wrapping something up, but I dunno, man. Remember, it was pretty obvious that the dude coughed right in Arthur’s face when Arthur was collecting. Arthur made a face and wiped it off. Now, here’s the son who obviously can’t FIGHT Arthur, but still looking at him like “Oh, you’ll get yours.”

I dunno. It would be interesting.

I know nothing, though. This is WILD INTERNET SPECULATION. Do you know something?

Feminina:

I don’t know anything. Well, I don’t know anything about TB. I may know a little something about other aspects of the sad story of the Downes family, but not how it ends.

No argument, though, it was totally, totally there to be seen, at that specific time, so it’s making some kind of point in the larger story for sure.

Which makes one wonder…were those white quests actually optional? I’ve been assuming yellow were required and white were ones we could skip if we wanted, but the debt-collecting missions were white, right? And yet, this is apparently a significant angle in the main story, and it requires us to have completed the first missions related to this family.

So either the white missions are not actually optional, or the story is not actually THAT significant. (Meaning, him dying of TB can’t be the ending.) I’m not sure which.

Butch:

Hey yeah, that was white, wasn’t it? And yet, as you say, that sounds like a bigger part of the story, especially if they come back again. Maybe that bit after the bank robbery was tacked on, and would have been left out if we hadn’t done the debt stuff, but it didn’t feel that way.

I was going to say that maybe there’s a difference between little, easy to miss white quests (like the robberies or fishing) and the ones that show up all big on the map (debtors, gunslingers) but that nature dude who blinks in and out of existence is a big white blob with initials and that sure does feel missable, doesn’t it?

Hmm.

Well, wouldn’t be the first time we read too much into something, or thought something was more important than it turned out to be, but damn, this felt like it had some importance, and, you’re right. White quest.

Hmm.

Or, wait, shit, WAS it? Now that I think on it, THIS debtor might have been yellow where the other ones weren’t.

Or maybe I’m misremembering.

Shit.

Feminina:

I feel like they were all white quests. Surely we would have noticed if two debt collection missions had been white and one yellow, and I’m SURE they weren’t all yellow. Or maybe we wouldn’t have.

But you’re right, reading too much into things is certainly one of those things we sometimes do. No shame in it. It’s part of our process.

Of talking endlessly about whatever happens to cross our minds.

Butch:

And building our T SHIRT, brandy, lingerie, candle empire.

Don’t sell us short.

Apologies ‘Round the Campfire

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers, some discussion of character conversations in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Smell that? It’s white hot rage!

Nugget’s birthday went fine, so my white hot rage is selfish. It’s also similar to yours in that it’s game related, but it’s not the game’s fault. Or mine. It’s my family’s.

I was so tired last night. Kid home all day, finally got to relax cuz birthday was over, that sort of thing. I was too tired for booze. No, I just wanted to a) play my video game and b) watch the hockey game.

So I sat down to play, thinking that the kids always want mommy time and look, there’s mommy right there. But would they leave? No. Would they shut up? No. Would they sit the fuck down and stop walking in front of the television? No.

I did manage to fish with Javier who gave me crickets. He said some stuff about Dutch not really changing, despite what Arthur thinks, and being willing to die if it meant dying free. I think. People were talking.

Then I went back to camp and sat down, and Arthur started talking around a fire. He started saying he was sorry that he was so mad all the time, it was just that he cared so much and MAN it sounded like awesome bloggage and I HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT ENDED CUZ NO ONE SHUT UP AND I COULDN’T EVEN READ THE SUBTITLES CUZ PEOPLE KEPT WALKING IN FRONT OF THE TV and I rage quit.

The kicker? Mrs. McP said “What, nothing was happening. He was just sitting there.”

White. Hot. Rage.

And then no one shut up during the hockey game.

But anyway, what did he say? It seems he is entering another stage of grief, or something. We’ve seen Dutch in denial, we’ve seen Arthur have some fear and some anger, now, it seems, I THINK CUZ PEOPLE DISTRACTED ME that we’re seeing guilt.

Are we? I don’t know.

I can’t do a damn thing when people are here.

Feminina:

Oh, dude. I salute you for even attempting to play with that many people around. It is a testament to the intensity of the suffering of your broken, gameless soul, and the durability of hope in the face of terrible odds.

I hope you have time to play today. I hope you’re playing RIGHT NOW.

Alas, I can’t fill you in on Arthur’s musings by the campfire since I don’t remember details of that specific event. I mean, I know he’s mused before, but I don’t remember him apologizing for being mad because he cares so much. Hm. Maybe my Arthur hasn’t done that yet? Maybe my Arthur doesn’t care that much. Heh.

That would be an interesting game twist, if certain characteristics of the main character were sort of randomly generated, so even though everyone is playing Arthur Morgan, some people get an Arthur Morgan who cares so much, and some get one who doesn’t give a damn (although if he didn’t give a damn, the whole drama with the gang and Dutch wouldn’t even work–he only stays because he cares about them, obviously).

I suppose maybe I was just tuning it out when he talked, but even I have a hard time missing dialogue when there’s no chance I’m trying to shop or loot at the same time. Was it an automatic scene, or did you select ‘camp’?

Anyway, unless it was prompted by some critical buildup of in-game actions that I haven’t hit yet and I come across it later, I think we have to conclude that we know all we’re going to know about what he said.

So let’s work with that: he feels bad about being so angry, but he can’t help being angry because he cares so much. So, basically, he cares too much to just shrug things off, and therefore he’s mad about them all the time. It would be nice if we knew exactly what he’s saying he cares ABOUT, but perhaps the gang’s long-running interests in living free and not being hassled by an oppressive government? So the continuous trials of evading the Man just makes him angry?

So, so ironic: last night I went after a bounty and the guy I captured just kept complaining about how all he’d done was try to live free, this isn’t fair, “this ain’t America!”, etc. The gang is all about living free of the Man, but is completely happy to serve as the Man’s enforcer for a little cash. Mm, sweet sweet hypocrisy…

You should go play RIGHT NOW. Screw the laundry, shopping and chores.

This was a troubling mission in other ways as well, and honestly I feel kind of gross about Arthur/myself as a result. But we’ll talk more about that, later.

I have definitely not sat down and apologized to the gang at the fire. Hm. Maybe it’s something I just didn’t do. There are certainly conversation options one can miss.

Like, I never went fishing with Javier, either. Maybe there are time limits on some of the optional stuff and if you miss it, it’s just gone. I know there was a white quest marker for Javier once and I went and did one with Strauss or somebody instead, planning to come back to Javier later, and since then I haven’t seen it.

Interesting if I wound up choosing debt collection over fishing. Siiiiiigh.

Or maybe I’ll still get these things later. Only time will tell! It had better be kind of soon, though. I just hit 49%, and considering all the hunting and fishing and dinosaur bones and serial killers and ghosts and home robbery I’m going to be leaving entirely unexplored, that’s got to be getting towards the final act of the story. Especially if it ends in Chapter 5, which I have no reason to believe it does other than that it seems like a nice round number of chapters. But that’s a reason!

Butch:

Dude, you’re in chapter five? Dude. Slow up. I have a family here slowing me down.

This is unlike you. All I’ve been doing is meandering towards the nearest quest marker. I’m not seeking out shit. Like I said, poor, poor legendary coyote is now a trinket cuz I happened to stumble upon him, not because I was searching him out. I’ve done very, very little magpie here. Granted, you’re doing less than usual, but it’s still not like you to stroll by a quest marker.

Feminina:

I didn’t stroll by it! I had two of them, and picked one, and then the other had vanished next time I was in camp! I would have done it if I could.

I’m hitting all the quest markers I can, don’t you worry. Even the bounties. Even a couple of stagecoach robberies!

The things I’m ignoring are the things that don’t have any markers. Like dinosaur bones.

And no, I’m not in chapter 5, I’m still in 4–I was just speculating that if it ends in 5, I must be getting close.

Butch:

Dude, I haven’t done a bounty since Valentine (I haven’t seen a single one in Lemoyne), and I don’t even know what you’re talking about with stagecoach robberies.

I have no earthly idea what the dinosaur bones even look like. Can’t be bothered. And I only have cigarette cards that I stumble upon.

Actually, I think it goes as a good way this game is building a rather organic world, from missed dialog to doing different things, etc. We usually play games pretty much the same way, and, thus, we end up doing the same things and not doing the same things. Here, we’re also playing the game in a very similar fashion in terms of what we’re choosing to do and what we’re cheerfully ignoring, and yet we’re seeing and doing different stuff. That makes the whole thing feel less staged, and I think that’s a good thing.

Feminina:

Yeah, I don’t think there were any bounties in Lemoyne generally. I picked up a couple in Saint Denis. Stagecoach robberies…those will come. Don’t you worry.

It’s true, there does seem to be a certain fluidity to the way things happen or don’t happen…if you miss something at a certain time, it can maybe just not occur, in a way that doesn’t have any impact on the main story, but does perhaps change the way one person experiences the game compared to another. I don’t know if that’s substantially different from other games we’ve played, where one person can always purposefully ignore or accidentally miss out on something another person does, but something about the presentation of quest markers that can come and go does feel especially organic here.

Like, you’re just going along doing your thing, and the world is going on around you, and sometimes you connect with other people at certain points where something happens, and sometimes you don’t…

Butch:

It’s different in that missing shit in other games is often, as you say, accidental. We’ve blogged many a time along the lines of “Oh, shit! I totally didn’t see that person at the party!” We say that because, in game parties, NPCs stay there patiently waiting for you to find them and click on them so they can say what they want to say. If you miss what they have to say, it’s because you left before you remembered to click on them.

Here, the party (I’m just using this as one example) is happening, everyone’s talking at once, they’re not waiting for you to show up, they’re doing their thing, and what you hear or don’t depends entirely on where you wander. Shit, I think you could do that whole party without clicking on anything if you didn’t want to drink or sit or dance.

And you were GOING to miss something. You couldn’t be everywhere at once, and everyone was talking at once. There was no way to see and hear and even do everything. If you missed something, it wasn’t an accident like forgetting to say “Hey, good job there” to Zevran before leaving the feast. It was because you were just over somewhere else doing something else.

That’s…maybe not a substantial difference, but enough of a difference that it can mean that two players like ourselves who are playing the game in a very, very similar way get different shit no matter how hard they try to get the same shit.

Within reason. Story’s gonna story. But this does seem like a shift away from “world is there for the character/player” towards “world is there.”

I think much of it is technological. Must take a mountain of power to have a party scene like that with so many moving parts. They probably just plain couldn’t do that back in Dragon Age days.

It’ll be fascinating to see what they can do on a PS5.

Sigh. Games are so interesting. I sure hope to play one someday.

Feminina:

I think you’re right…stuff happens whether you do anything or not (and, in fact, at that party I drank one beer, listened idly to some conversation at the campfire, and then went to bed, so I missed a ton), which is different from people having something to say and saying it whenever you go talk to them. Which must indeed take a lot of power to run, so yeah…the PS5 is going to have AMAZING parties.

Maybe by then you’ll be able to play games.

Butch:

That cuts deep, Femmy. Deep.

But it’s why you’re gonna pre order a PS5. It’ll have the power to do both great parties and male nudity.

135. We got five extra minutes before derailment. Not too shabby.

Feminina:

That is actually pretty good! Yay us!

Butch:

I celebrated by buying meat.

Never food shop when you’re mad about games.

Feminina:

Gamey bird meat, I hope? I accidentally ran over a raven and two ducks last night. I don’t know what was the matter with birds on that particular day, but they apparently could not dodge a horse.

Gamey bird meat for all!

Butch:

Actually, did get some duck sausages! And some venison, some rabbit, some wild boar…

Cowboy food. Trail food.

(And, well, environmentally correct food, but that’s not as macho)

Feminina:

Definitely go with cowboy food. Rugged AND environmentally responsible!

Make sure you pick up a couple of cans of salted offal while you’re at it.

Butch:

Place does have buffalo tongue and rocky mountain oysters.

If that ain’t offal, what is?

Didn’t get those.

Feminina:

That sounds pretty close to offal. I mean, internal organs and noses and stuff are probably even closer, but those are close enough.

Butch:

Noses? I don’t want to know. I’ll stick to oatcakes.

Am trying to eat greener meat, though. Beef has a lot to answer for. Though now that you can’t really eat American deer cuz of zombie deer disease (seriously) you have to get your venison from New Zealand, which might negate the green benefits.

Sigh.

I’m still gonna get it cuz it’s yummy, and probably less bad for the earth than beef.

Can’t argue the greeness of bison and rabbit, though! And I’m getting Mrs. McP to come around on duck, which may be my favorite thing in all of things. Duck’s good.

Feminina:

Beef does have a lot to answer for. Though, as you say, bringing deer from New Zealand might limit the environmental benefits. On the other hand, eating zombie deer (gotta have a dramatic name to match ‘mad cow,’ I guess) is also bad, so, yeah. Good call there.

Prions, man. Creepy things. Avoid them.

Butch:

I try. I do.

But New Zealand deer still have far less of a carbon footprint than beef, even with the…uh…travel. Scary, huh?

Bison. Can’t go wrong there. Especially the legendary ones.

You know, to bring this full circle to things in this game we’re ignoring, the one legendary animal I’m very tempted to track down, just to say I did, is the legendary beaver. I want to see a beaver so fucking impressive it inspires legend. I want to know what on earth could make a beaver that special.

Maybe I’ll find it by accident.

Feminina:

Maybe it has glowing ruby eyes or something. I have to say, the legendary elk I shot to pieces looked…like an elk. And the legendary bear I went after with Hosea, and then fled from, looked pretty much like a bear. I mean, they were both large and impressive animals, I guess, but…enh. I’m probably missing all the cool details that a sport hunter would instantly notice.

Butch:

Yeah, the coyote was….a coyote.

I bet those fish are some impressive motherfuckers, though.

And that beaver is probably thirty feet tall.

Feminina:

With teeth like railroad spikes and a giant flat tail like…uh…[trying desperately to think of something big and flat that’s impressive]…a dining room table! With space to seat 12!

Yup. Nailed it.

Butch:

Space to seat…..twelve? Without adding a leaf????

Stuff of legend.

This day has gone in large loops, hasn’t it?

Feminina:

We have good moments and bad.

Butch:

Which you would think would even out, making us generically, boringly average, and yet, it seems to have the opposite effect.

Feminina:

Well, that’s because even our bad moments are not necessarily boring, they’re just really weird.

So brilliant, thought-provoking moments, mixed with bizarre, weirdo moments, equals…something, to be sure, but not something boring and average.

Butch:

Confused but awesome. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Parenting Tips and Ice Cream CAKE

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Not really any spoilers because we started talking about cake instead

Butch:

Played, but should’ve played more, what with Nugget’s bday today and all. Mrs. McP came home early, etc.

Found, purely by accident, a legendary coyote. I was magpieing up by an abandoned mill that looked cool, couldn’t figure out anything to do with it, there was nothing there, and then it was all “You’re in legendary animal territory” so I figured what the hell.

Went back, made two, count ’em, two talismen (gonna coin it!), one of which is actually kinda useful (it makes eagle eye or dead eye or whatever the fuck it’s called last five seconds longer). Looked for the trapper (the pelts can be used to get cool gear like this bandolier I have that gives me a higher ammo capacity) but he was over by Strawberry and fuck that.

Tried to ride back to camp, got jumped twice, took forever. Finally got there, Mrs. McP came home.

One of those sessions that isn’t frustratingly unproductive (two new perks!) but not a session that is all that blog worthy.

I sort of have this image of the guy who gave me the animal map feeling very misunderstood, like we’ll meet him again and he’ll be all “Dude….that was a TOURIST map. Why do you think it looked so touristy? You weren’t supposed to shoot them, dumbass.”

Poor coyote.

Feminina:

Yeah, seriously! He’s all, “wait, you KILLED all those animals? YOU MONSTER! They were the rarest specimens of their kind! I was going to retire after taking city slickers on safari to see them for a few years!”

Perks, eh? Still can’t be bothered. Plus, uh…don’t want to mess up that dude’s retirement plans…

Butch:

Older ones also had a random hour off school (why does that one hour in the morning feel like twelve?) and Meaty is home, which made Nugget melt down (“HOW COME HE GETS TO STAY HOME ON MY BIRTHDAY AND I DON’T?????”). Good times, good times.

I wouldn’t have been bothered had I not fallen ass backwards into it. I didn’t go looking for it, but, you know, once you’re there, might as well. It’s the magpie way.

Too bad about that robbery. It was interesting.

You still don’t have the pump action shotgun, do you? Cuz man, that made it all worthwhile.

Feminina:

He’s not wrong, it’s manifestly unfair that his brother gets to stay home on his birthday. That’s a valuable lesson about the cruelty of life, kid. Remember it.

Butch:

Dude should realize he’s lucky that he has a father that went to three stores in two towns to find him an ice cream cake, and that the LAST ONE at Bedford farms was the exact one he wanted.

Count your blessings, kid.

Feminina:

Ice cream cake is one of those blessings that should always be counted.

Now I want ice cream.

Butch:

I confess: I did….celebrate finding the cake….with a cup of cashew turtle ice cream. Ahem.

Though….let us muse on ice cream cake.

I am the type that likes the ice cream cakes with actual cake in them. Like, a layer of cake, layer of ice cream. I also think that actual cake is a necessity in anything called a cake. This item I have gotten for Nugget, at his request, is one of those ice cream “cakes” that have no cake, and are effectively solid ice cream. This one is a layer of vanilla ice cream, a layer of chocolate ice cream, fudge sauce in between, frosted with a whip cream kind of deal and chocolate sprinkles. Now, all that sounds yummy, I concede. It’ll take good, Nugget will love it, and, yes, it sure does LOOK like a cake.

But I say that is not a cake. That is an ice cream sundae in the shape of a cake.

And yet so many people call that an ice cream cake.

I protest.

Feminina:

I feel like I should also celebrate your finding that cake with some ice cream! Because friends celebrate each others’ triumphs!

As for cake…well…maybe it’s using cake not in the dessert sense, but in the form sense. Like a cake of soap.

And I agree, without an actual cake layer it IS more like a cake-shaped sundae, but I will still eat it. I personally don’t mind a cake layer, if it’s not too thick. I want MOSTLY ice cream in my ice cream ‘cake.’ I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Butch:

I’m with you. MOSTLY ice cream. But that cake layer does do something special.

I’m still gonna eat the cake shaped sundae. Bedford Farms is good, man.

Though there was a moment of panic: There’s this boutique ice cream shop in town (that’s really, REALLY good) and they make crazy good ice cream cakes (in the proper sense) and I go there yesterday to get one only to find “Closed for the next four days for renovations.”

Panic.

I mean, how can you not get your kid a birthday cake?

(Though as an aside….the last time I was at the boutique store, where they make everything there, from scratch, they had Doritos ice cream. Seriously. Ice cream with Doritos in it. I had a taste spoon just to say I tried it. I can now say I tried it. Just so you know, it’s not worth knowing that awful taste exists just so you can say you tried it.)

(Needless to say, got sea salt caramel pretzel instead.)

Feminina:

I have tried cayenne pepper ice cream–with a chocolate base, not bad–and Worcestershire sauce ice cream–not great, but possibly better than Doritos. Pieces of Doritos? In the ice cream? That’s just wrong. At least Worcestershire sauce is, you know, a sauce. It blends in, and if properly mixed with other flavors, one could even conceive of it being…OK, maybe.

Shudder.

Some things should just be left alone.

Also, when you talk about a cake layer, do you mean that layer of crunchy bits one often gets between two flavors of ice cream (I suspect sometimes they’re crumbled cookies or something), or are you referring to a no-foolin’ CAKE such as would normally be eaten in slices with frosting? Because I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever even had an ice cream cake with a genuine CAKE in it. Usually it’s just those crumbly bits.

Butch:

Agreed. But I couldn’t just leave it alone.

Such is the spirit of the magpie.

I do like pretzels in ice cream though.

Dude actual CAKE. I have no idea what those bits are, but they sure as shit ain’t CAKE.

Feminina:

Where do you even find it with actual CAKE? Now I am intrigued. I must have it.

Butch:

Dude. DUDE.

https://www.coldstonecreamery.com/cakes/signaturecakes/index.html

Where you BEEN man?

Feminina:

Cold Stone? Really? I was underwhelmed by their ice cream the couple of times I had it, so I never thought to try it in a cake. I suppose everyone’s great at something.

We usually get ice cream cakes from this place in Wakefield, or else the in-laws like to get Carvel, which I find unexceptional, but also unobjectionable. They both employ the ‘chocolate crunchies’ layer.

I mean, it is at least ice cream. You can’t go completely wrong.

As long as it doesn’t have Doritos.

Butch:

Dude, that was merely an exemplar. I agree Coldstone can be a tad mass produced. One can do better.

Hold on…..

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cranberry-pistachio-baked-alaska

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/peppermint-ice-cream-candyland-cake-240698

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/frozen-mocha-cake-with-chocolate-ganache-glaze-107946

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/malted-milk-ice-cream-cake-with-blackberry-topping-109721

I could go on.

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ice-cream-birthday-cake

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/peaches-and-cream-ice-cream-cake

Somebody stop me!

Feminina:

OK, yeah, I would eat all of those cakes.

And I do mean the entire cakes.

Butch:

What’d I tell you?

Jeez. Even implying that crunchies are CAKE.

Feminina:

I stand corrected. Although just to be sure I fully appreciate the difference, I will probably have to eat six or seven of those cakes.

Butch:

Here’s where I point out you guys don’t come over nearly enough, and you whole heartily agree.

Cuz those aren’t that hard to make….

Feminina:

They aren’t?

We’ll be over tomorrow.

But it’s true, we don’t! When was the last time, even? You came over to our house one time…I don’t know if we’ve been back since.

We are all too damn busy.

Butch:

We have been. We so very much have.

We did see your house! It was still warm enough for shorts and margaritas, so it’s been too damn long.

We should fix that. After birthday season ends.

Feminina:

Deal.

And before our birthday season begins. Otherwise, it’s shorts and margaritas weather again. Not that there’s anything wrong with shorts and margaritas. Quite the contrary.

Butch:

Hey, at least your birthday season is easier, as you can just throw something with crunchies in it at your kids and move on. There’s none of this coordinating with other parents of ridiculously busy kids to find a time they can all go to a movie nonsense. The email string I have going with four other parents trying find a time when everyone can go out and grab pizza for Nugget’s birthday is practically a blog post, and that’s LOOOOONG man.

Plus, this knowing how to make great food thing is a double edged sword. My kids ask for cakes. Meatball asked for a cake that had a glaze and rum spiked creme anglais. When Nugget only wanted ice cream cake shaped sundae, the angels sang.

Half of my panic at the store being closed was “Oh no, my kid won’t get what he wants” and the other was “Oh no, I’ll have to make something!”

Enjoy these magical days when they’re satisfied with having a few kids over to wear paper hats while dining on Cookie Puss and Fudgie the Whale.

Feminina:

I will indeed cherish these days.

O’Jr. was totally psyched yesterday because he needed new underwear and I got the ones with Pokemon on them. I should have saved those for his birthday, while I still can.

Butch:

Dude, NEVER give them ANYTHING in the four to six weeks before their birthdays. Those underwear were pure gold!

Cuz yeah, man, you’re also in that golden era where necessities can be presents. “Hey! Look! A toothbrush! It has spongebob on it!” Total joy. You try to pull that shit when they hit, what, about seven and they see right through it.

Feminina:

Siiiiiiigh. Wasted opportunity.

But the Pokemon toothbrush, now…he doesn’t have that yet.

Butch:

Birthday’s a’coming!

Pair it with some pokemon toothpaste! He’ll think you’re the mother of the year!

Man, I miss those days.

Feminina:

Yes! That’s brilliant!

These are good days. Good, simple days, that must be seized to their full advantage.

Butch:

They must. That they must.

****sob****

Feminina:

But think of the trade offs! These simple days may be ending for you, but you are approaching the days of “hey you, watch your brothers, we’re going out”!

It will be a long time before I get there.

Butch:

Yeah! That’s only what…three years away?

****sob****

Feminina:

It’ll pass before you know it. At least it better–at this rate, that will be the next time we see each other.

I Vote for Young Love

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for side stories in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Ok, did the thing with the lovers. Women’s suffrage, huh? Wasn’t what I expected. But here, again, we have the past colliding with the future, and Arthur (or poor, doomed, present) stuck in between. Good metaphor.

Then we had an irony attack.

You know how Friday we were all “I’ll never find a serial killer thing or kill a legendary animal?”

Well, found the next serial killer thing and killed a legendary fox. Felt kinda bad about the fox.

I also ran into a white dot encounter that was a black woman wanting a ride back to Largas. Talked about finding a place to live that’s your own. You talk to her? Cuz I have things to say if you have.

But even if you haven’t…..

We’ve been talking about the gang being some distilled version of what “America!” means to some people. That said, I noticed last night that the gang is really not American at all. Sure, we know they’re being pursued by the government, but Arthur, last night, said “I’ve never voted.” I found that interesting, not so much in a literal sense (makes sense he’d never vote, being an outlaw and all) but a metaphorical one.

When people talk on nostalgia for a time when “things were better,” what they mean by that, whether they know it or not, is “a time when people like me/us were in charge.” Right? The people who look back on Norman Rockwell tend to look like the people in the pictures. While, sure, they might be nostalgic for the turkey dinners, what they really are nostalgic for is a time when people who looked like that elected people who looked like that to advance the values of people like that. When people like that were in charge, and didn’t have to worry about women of color voting or (gasp) being elected themselves.

And yet, here we have Arthur, our ultra American macho ideal, who has never really had any power over anything at all. He is blindly loyal to Dutch, he’s never taken part in formal government, he’s never really chosen anything about his life at all.

Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the game is saying to all the nostalgic people out there “Hey, look, those times back then? Before the women of color winning and all that? You weren’t in charge then, either. You were still blindly following someone who only said they care about you. Shit, people, you’re doing that NOW!” And ain’t that a fact?

And I can add to that thought if you met the woman from Largas.

I wonder what perk that fox will get me.

Feminina:

IRONY. More serial killer, eh?

That reminds me that actually I have also hunted one legendary animal (though not recently, so not irony, just bad memory). It was an elk. I followed it all over, absolutely failing to hit it, and finally ran it down when I was out of everything except shotgun ammo. So I blasted a fine legendary animal to bits with shotgun pellets and wound up with a poor quality hide I can’t do anything with. And I think some antlers I should turn into a talisman, but will probably never remember to.

I don’t need no stinkin’ perks, man! I can take care of myself just fine! Perks are for people who aren’t steely-eyed outlaws with nothing to prove!

I have not met a woman wanting a ride to Lagras. Although I met a man who said “help, I need medicine!” went to give him some medicine in a kindly fashion, hit the wrong button and punched him instead.

Siiiiiiiigh.

“I’ll give you medicine–a giant dose of fist right in the face!” He collapsed, probably dead, but in my MIND he was just unconscious (I mean, it’s not common for people to die from being punched, I’m sure he was OK) and I made up for it by pouring medicine down his throat and he woke up later and was fine. Because damn it, I didn’t mean to do that! Why is it so much easier to attack someone than do literally anything else with them?

Just like in Divinity, I’m more dangerous when I’m trying to help than I am when I actually WANT to hurt someone. Just ask that legendary elk that evaded me for 20 minutes.

So, yeah. Siiiiiigh. General incompetence is the rule of the day.

But as for your thoughtful discussion points, that is true. Arthur is not in a position of power. And indeed, most people throughout history have not been, and it’s easy to look back wistfully at some time when things were better in some way for someone and assume you would have been one of the people it was better for, even though statistically speaking the majority of people (even white men!) lived hard lives of thankless labor and bad pay and not being in power. There are always going to be a lot more peasants than lords of the manor.

And here we are today.

Butch:

Indeed. I found….ANOTHER PIECE OF THE KILLER’S MAP that is still very unhelpful.

And I stumbled upon it! The map is for someplace else. Likely where the guy actually is, which I’ll never find.

Ha your legendary animal!

Butcher: The hell is this?
You: It is the skin of a legendary elk.
Butcher: The fuck it is.
You: Really!
Butcher: This looks worse than those rabbits you ran over with your horse.
You: Dude, you know what I went through to get this?
Butcher: Enough so that we’re down a legendary elk but we’ve gained a legendary doofus.

Dude, the perk I got from killing the legendary wolf was “You can now drink more alcohol.”

Who DOESN’T need that?

Dude, that’s awful you punched the sick guy. I found that guy, too! Gave him medicine!

I did almost…ALMOST…shoot Roach last night, though. Buttons are tricky. I was trying to pet him! He was scared!

“There there boy PSYCH! GONNA SHOOT YOU! Aww…boy…just kidding…here have an oat cake and BOO! HAHAHAHA! Ah, c’mon boy, don’t run away….”

Here we are today, indeed. But then, this is nothing new, is it? Nostalgia has always been both a powerful source of human decision making and a delusion. As bad as things can get, or are, there have been worse times. Things kinda sorta suck right now, it’s true. But then, our parents were alive in a time where homosexuality was a crime, segregation was legal, people got polio, the life expectancy was far less than it is today, etc. Our grandparents were alive when the leading cause of death in the US was infectious diseases.

I think the nostalgia for the American ideal was that the people defining the American ideal of the 50s, say, were a very small slice of America. People aren’t looking back on an American ideal that had jack shit to do with the majority of Americans. People never look back on any kind of holistic past. If they did, they’d realize that things, on the whole, were kinda shitty back then, too.

Feminina:

They were! Things were hard back then! Even for people as obviously intended for greatness as are the many discerning and nostalgic people who yearn for those simpler, more brutally depressing times.

Sorry, guys. Statistically speaking, we’re all going to be peasants.

I’m glad you didn’t shoot your horse. And that you gave that guy medicine. Did he give you any useful information, or just some honor? (I shot the shackles off a second inmate! He gave me another tip about a house I could break into if I were ever in the mood to go looking for houses to rob. With lightning speed, I immediately failed to have the slightest interest in it.)

Butch:

Honor, but he said if he sees me again, he’ll remember my kindness or something. The last guy I saved from poison was that guy who set me up with the free gun, way back when, so hopefully he’ll turn up again and set me up with something.

The woman you give a ride to is interesting for bloggage, that it is. Especially given the topics of the week. She’ll turn up for you. Unless she’s just Chapter three.

Feminina:

I’ll keep an eye out, while riding about in the magnificent landscape, looking for sick people to punch. It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to do it.

I may not have any real power, but I can sure keep sick wanderers and shackled prison escapees in line! It’s all about being able to feel in control of something.

“Sure, my life sucks, but yours sucks worse. And just to make sure, I’ll punch you in your sad, helpless face.”

Man, I miss the good old days.

Butch:

Those were special days.

I shot the poor shackled guy again last night, too. You’d think he’d learn.

“Phew. Finally healed. Now I can ask…..oh no. Him again. Well, beggars can’t be choosers…”

Feminina:

“I mean, he COULD actually hit the shackles this time. Sooner or later it’s bound to happen just through random chance. And it’s not like anyone ELSE around here has a gun…”

Butch:

“And, yes, I’m in prison stripes and wearing shackles, but I’m sure the fact that he’s wearing a badge just means he wants to help EVERYONE.”

Feminina:

“He has such a kindly face! Like he wants to ease the suffering of every single one of God’s miserable creatures! Surely he’d never absentmindedly punch a sick man, or shoot someone by accident, or ride a horse over someone! I’m going to go talk to him.”

Butch:

It’s hard to be a video game protagonist. Every single dot either thinks you’re terrible and wants to shoot you on sight or they think you’re inexplicably awesome and want your help.

There is no apathy.

Sure, there’s people sitting around town! They either muse helpfully about things that are relevant to you, or muse about things that SOUND relevant to you and, thus, will waste your time as you charge around looking for the thing they were musing about.

There is no apathy.

Feminina:

True…even the people sitting around ignoring you in favor of their own discussions are talking about things you’re afraid you should know about just in case they turn out to be relevant to something.

Which is pretty much the opposite of how I feel about other peoples’ conversations in real life–those, I actively attempt to tune out.

I’ve probably missed out on a lot of plot hooks riding the T.

Butch:

Not to mention places to find treasure. You could be sitting there and someone’s all “Oh, I gotta go check my safe deposit box on the way home!” and you’d never know. You could be following him and finding cover….

Feminina:

So true! Man, I could be rich by now!

And/or Wanted Dead or Alive in Somerville.

Butch:

Somerville’s a bunch of hipsters anyway. Easy place to avoid.

Feminina:

Yeah, but the bounty hunters would always be looking for me on the train as I went through Assembly! Probably.

Butch:

Just shoot ’em. On the orange line, no one will notice.

This is getting out of hand. We started so well.

You haven’t played in a while, have you?

Feminina:

Alas no. It’s been just this and that.

Maybe tonight!

Butch:

Well, I’ll play some tonight (Abigail NEEDS me!) but I doubt that’ll get me to chapter four, where you are. And likely nada tomorrow, as it is Nugget’s birthday, and there’s that loving family getting in the way again.

You’ll stay nicely ahead of me. You’ll be fine.

Feminina:

[Sigh of relief. Heading home to read a book or something.]

Butch:

No, dammit! PLAY! Always take the time to play!

Books. Jeez.

Feminina:

Sorry, sorry! Don’t know what came over me there.

Butch:

If not for the blog, to let me live vicariously through you.

Friendship, man.

Oh, and did you ever do Javier’s robbery? It’s worth doing.

Feminina:

I don’t think so. It hasn’t come up! Javier hasn’t had anything to say to me! I might have missed it by now.

That was the one with the shotgun? It sounds like the kind of thing I’d like, all right. But no, I don’t think I have it. Although honestly, I have a hard time telling guns apart in this game. I’ve got my shotgun, little gun, and some kind of long gun, and that’s the best I can do in terms of differentiating. I might still be carrying Flacco’s revolver, for all I know.

Do I have any bullets for it? That’s basically the only thing that matters.

Butch:

I AM still carrying Flacco’s revolver.

It pays to check every once in a while. For a spell there, I was having a bitch of a time killing Kevin, and it turned out that, somewhere along the way, while looting, I accidentally switched out Flacco’s revolver for a “worn cattleman’s pistol” which wasn’t worth shit. No idea that I did it!

So yeah.

But I stick with Flacco, Lancaster repeater (cuz it has a name, you don’t have that either cuz you get it from robbing a side business) and the pump (which just makes Kevin go away).