Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | January 23, 2011

of childhood crushes.

I am a little disappointed to see that the kids I went to elementary school with—cute, small little rugrats—are now on facebook as overweight adults, somewhat unattractive and with a sling of kids in tow.  This is not everyone, since I spied a couple of them looking and maybe being some kind of awesome.  I think about befriending them–my curiosity doesn’t particularly discriminate between awesome and not awesome–but I know it would be just to obsessively look at their photos, exchange some polite pleasantries, and then block their comments whenever they pop up on my feed.

There is a thin line, I’m starting to realize, between emotional honesty and just kind of being a cunt.

I found Calvin on facebook recently.  He was the boy I was so madly in love with all throughout elementary school.  I realize it’s hard to describe how you can find a 12 year old kid “hot”–especially in hindsight as a 28-year-old adult–without sounding like a creepy and/or terrible human being.  But–let’s make it clear that this was back in 1994–I liked that he was smart (G.A.T.E, motherfuckers), precocious and effortlessly cool.  In many ways, he was the template for those I would eventually pursue in relationships later in my adult life.  I swore he was the one, or maybe he was the one because he was the only other Asian kid at our school besides the boy who would eventually go on to kill himself.

Calvin was always a little world-weary (in extreme hindsight, maybe I mistook that as “precociousness”), which I can only imagine comes with the territory of having two older brothers.  Clinton, who was friends with my brother growing up, knocked up a girl when he was 16.  Clarence–the oldest–ended up going to Harvey Mudd, and then working for the Mayo Clinic.  As the youngest and with two paths diverged so completely in front of him, Calvin could’ve really gone either way.

I honestly don’t know how the years have been to him, outside of a chance encounter with another one of my brother’s childhood friends several years ago.  In college, we had ended up both interning for the Getty program the same year, and after sifting through the usual polite banter, found out that we both grew up in the same city.  Immediately, I barraged him with questions about former classmates.   When I inevitably asked about Calvin, he paused, then shrugged.

I don’t know, I probably shouldn’t say too much.  Let’s just say that guy’s done too much drugs.

Facebook, however, is much more generous with the details, at least until he learns to lock his profile.  A peripheral glance tells me that he types in 13 year old speak, seems to have not gone beyond community college for someone who was ostensibly very intelligent, and strayed only as far as the neighboring city in which we grew up.  He’s had to do forced community service, which I assume means he’s had some run ins with the law.  All his pictures are of himself frowning into a mirror.  He seems obsessed with a 17 year old actress in a manchild kind of way, which is slightly or maybe wholly uncomfortable.  I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of this.  What happened to this person I used to think was my entire world?

The answer, I realized, was disappointing.  He’s right here.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | February 9, 2010

The Antlers – Wake

Here is a brief introduction to Hospice, as written in a recent email from Kush:

When you wrote “my musical taste has been a bit of a downer”, I thought of (what I consider) sad music: songs about heartbreak, drug addiction, and so forth. Here’s what I did NOT think of: an album called Hospice (!) about a depressed cancer patient at Sloan-Kettering! (Sloan-Kettering, huh? Now whos name-dropping, Karen?) However, while I can argue with you about such an album, I cant argue with Pitchfork, which according to the Wikipedia entry you linked, endorsed Hospice with their coveted Best New Music stamp. So I guess you win that one.

See, this is why I like Kush: he is fantastic at making me hipsters look ridiculous.  Although to be fair, what good is cancer for if not made into a concept album about sarcoma originating in the femur?

Exactly.

I am seeing the Antlers in concert, fittingly I suppose, the day before I fly back to Los Angeles for another PET scan.  I hate these scans, although in a physical sense, there’s not much to hate about them.  The Nuclear Med folks are sweet (except for that one guy) and I’m usually too drugged up on Ativan to make a fuss.  But I always feel like my life is perpetually running on a three-month lease, which is not only incredibly exhausting, but also keeping me from fully breaking even when comes to resuming life.  More often than not, I’m usually writing someone a panicked email the night before as I try to contain what basically amounts to pure hysteria.  From this exercise in emotional clusterfuckness, I have learned that there are about a million ways of saying the exact same thing, which is that I have so much to lose if it comes back positive.

That being said, Antlers are valiantly trying to take the title away from Leonard Cohen as the saddest fucking human beings ever.  Sort of.  Because Wake is something of an anomaly, which means it is both happy and terribly heartbreaking, which means it’s easier to take out of context, which inevitably means I’ve appropriated it for my own purposes.  On paper, it is explicit:  it is a song about caretakers and the toll illness takes on them.  It is about the guilt that can only amass with not being able to save someone.  It is about forgiveness.

But it is also about securing an unconditional faith in people, which is something I would’ve never considered before July 14, 2008.  There is such a capacity for love and compassion in people, especially when the chips are down and shit is so, so wrong.  It is about the kindness received despite the sharp abuse I was so eager to give out.  It certainly doesn’t negate the accumulated actions you think unfairly perpetrated on to you, but it does carry an alarming amount of weight.  Often times I wonder if this faith I have in you is the closest I will ever come to religion.

In the end, it is a song about letting people in.

In many ways, despite these three month leases I have on life or perhaps as a direct consequence of, I think I am one of the luckiest people I know.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | February 2, 2010

for jessica musselwhite.

First, I miss and love you.

You also seem to have a friend named Morgan Elizabeth Wu who is the cutest girl ever.  I know this because Facebook attests to as much.

I wish I had something compelling to write about–after all, cancer gets kind of old and if you’re not undergoing a transplant, no one really cares.   But by default, there is always NYC, which never fails to be some kind of ridiculous.  Somehow I’ve skyrocketed into the busiest unemployed person I know, which has been independently verified by several parties.  I even have an intern!  This is both good and bad: good in that I’m doing awesome things like writing urban planning grants,  going to a billion concerts and celebrating National Pie Day in the company of great friends.  Bad in that for what seemed like an eternity, I was subsisting entirely on eggo waffles and water.  I don’t know about you, but there is something remarkably depressing about the latter…although to be fair, it is also equally as hilarious.

I recently made my way to Queens, which I have always looked at as my Seventh Day.  Honestly, I don’t know what people do here but be awesome in Astoria or maybe eat at that amaaazing Thai restaurant in Woodside.   Or patronize the Golden Mall in Flushing.  The 7 train, however, does have the most talented buskers: no delusional freaks proselytizing (4/5/6), no homeless constituents telling dirty jokes (1/2/3) and certainly no hipster dudes in gas masks playing the theme to Back to the Future on accordion (F/V).   I’ve always adored Queens for it sincere temperament, its diversity, its everything Manhattan and Brooklyn never had an interest in.  And if anything, I notice I stop grinding my teeth here.  Maybe Queens is a little like George Michael Bluth: awkward, genuine and absurdly bad at dressing itself.  But just so goddamn likable nevertheless.

Anyway.  I hope you (and Megan.  And Corey.  And Mary.) make it out here from Chicago (er, Montana) some time soon.  I would love more than anything for us to not grind our teethes together, nor base our diets exclusively on enriched wheat flour and filtered tap water.

xoxo – Karen

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | January 14, 2010

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Rider Song

I can’t begin to say how many times I’ve listened to this song tonight.  And that all I can think about is how sad I am that it won’t be as compelling when I wake up and listen to it tomorrow.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | December 20, 2009

Talking Heads – (Nothing But) Flowers

American Psycho is one of my favorite novels: despite its meh plot, there is something very alluring to me about excess and Ellis is more than happy to indulge in the unapologetic.  The novel begins with an epigraph from (Nothing But) Flowers that I have always found to be a perfect encapsulation of being young, selfish and completely jacked up on an uninsightful kind of unhappiness–And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention.  The ensuing misogyny and perversion, I have always argued, are merely incidental.  “Don’t you get it?!  Those sluts were just collateral damage!”

Nope.  No one ever agrees.

Over the years, I have worn my copy thin; it was my go-to salve both the year I spent writing my graduate thesis and those months in China when my research was a stalled clusterfuck.  That is, it gets me through those days when I think I have nothing compelling to say, which is kind of a concern when the majority of the public already sees art as a luxury good that merely takes away funding from cancer research.  Eventually, I wrote the same Talking Heads epigraph on a post-it note and put it on my mirror in Shanghai.  I found an obscure kind of comfort in looking at it everyday.  At the very least, as things fell apart, there was me there to document it on a daily basis.  When I had to leave China abruptly–packing one year of living in four days into two bags–I left the post-it on my mirror for the friend subletting my apartment.  I have no doubt that he saw it, but he never mentioned it to me.  In hindsight, I have no idea what he could’ve really said to me, but I often wonder if it tainted his impression of me as that art-girl-in-Fulbright-but-otherwise-functional human being.  I don’t know, but Kelly later told me that he thought I was “pretty hilarious.”

There are also happier associations.

In the early days of Harbin, I made an off-handed comment to Reed that Clerks 2 was a mediocre film not particularly worth watching, but I enjoyed the opening sequence as I liked the song Kevin Smith decided to play over it.  He casually identified it as (Nothing But) Flowers, then I can only imagine ordered the same shoddy Chinese food he is always apt to ordering (perhaps 鱼箱茄子for the billionth time).  Turns out his dad had raised him on Talking Heads and he could recite their entire catalog raisonne, and it also turns out Reed is best friends with the infamous Freddie Wong and likes to make spud guns only to shoot out kleenex tissues.  Well Jesus Christ.  At that moment I decided that we were going to be friends whether he liked it or not.

There were also many days when I sat there blissed out listening to the lyrics, which conveniently did absolutely nothing but further my obsession with post-apocalyptic scenarios.  I’m starting to realize that not everyone likes to discuss the end of the world with the same fervor as I do.  It is not so much that they find it depressing or far-fetched, but more so because I get annoyingly specific about what happens if we assume you are to survive the initial fallout: what is the first thing you would do?  How would you purify your water?  Do you know how to properly skin and clean an animal?  How long do you think you would last before you kill someone over the last canned goods–do you think you’d be an outlier?  Who would you contact for support?  No cheating, they have to be within the same geographical area as you!!  And so on and so forth.  This line of earnest questioning, I assure you, will annoy the shit out of almost everyone you know.  And the grilling only gets more epic the more alcohol I consume.

Yet somehow I managed to have a longish conversation about this with Jason one night in Beijing.  He took it seriously enough to explain to me the intricacies of Mad Max, then took out his cell phone to scroll down his list of contacts in Beijing whom he thought could legitimately up his chances for survival.  He eventually came up with John and maybe Stuart.  I told John this the other day, almost two years after the initial conversation.   He frowned at me and shook his head.

Stuart???  That guy?  Nah.

I’ve been asked countless times how was my experience abroad–the subject was a fairly sensitive one until recently and my answers have never graduated beyond a jumble of emotionally stunted stammers and platitudes.  Many times over, I wish I could just send them (Nothing But) Flowers as a valid response.  I don’t mean it as a summary of my time in China; never one for the big picture, I’m already starting to forget what it’s like to be there and why I was there in the first place.  But once in awhile the details shine through in a way I could never articulate–the way I felt staring at the epigraph and then seeing myself staring back in the mirror, the nights happily spent in the company of Kelly and Reed in some abhorrent Harbin eatery, the maze of Beijing hutongs that eventually led to the best bars and best conversations.

But as always my answers have never deviated.

China was fine.  How about you?  What have you been up to?

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | November 11, 2009

regarding late nights with Holden McNeil.

Just so you know, the best shows on television come on around 1 am thereabouts.   For instance, I just watched a documentary on the exploding whale of Tainan on National Geographic.  SyFy has X-Files reruns.  And AMC eventually stops showing Goodfellas and (holy shit, again?) Constantine in order to usher in the occasional horror movie from the eighties.

The other day, I had the pleasure of catching Ben Affleck’s mug on tv late at night.  He was just about to give his impassioned soliloquy to an increasingly-pissed Joey Lauren Adams, and I stopped to watch.  Chasing Amy is one of those films I enjoy more and more the older I get, which is a little alarming because I don’t particularly care for Kevin Smith and his, uh, alleged whip-smart wit.  But I like the film because it follows a bunch of comic book enthusiasts, and I’ve also grown fond of Affleck’s Holden McNeil over the years.  Brendon tells me Affleck himself is an underrated actor, but I feel compelled to point out that Brendon has also never seen Daredevil.  Nevertheless, he carries the film well: naive, believably stubborn and set in his ways, and ultimately unable to transcend his insecurities when he finally nabs Alyssa.  Heroic flaws, I suppose, are incredibly attractive if only because they remind you of how reassuringly acceptable your own faults are.  For a number of years, I insisted I would name something of mine (cat, child, etc.) Holden as some sort of teenage tribute to this self-awareness.  I let people believe it’s because Catcher in the Rye resonated with me (it didn’t) when in reality, the truth that I am naming something after a character Ben Affleck personified is mildly to severely embarrassing.

So I watch Holden confess his love to Alyssa at two in the morning.  I have to admit, that Holden is one sincere motherfucker.  But then anything is sincere and absurdly profound at two in the morning.

Having tea with Cynthia the other day, she pointed out to me that there is a discrepancy between loving someone and loving the way they make you feel.  One professes a kind of selflessness while the other an unabashed pursuit of self-interest.  Chasing Amy interweaves the two, insisting there is a kind of personal maturation that can only occur from fully loving and interacting with another human being.  I don’t think I ever fully embraced that idea–at least not in recent adulthood–which probably correlates to my fistful of short and baffling relationships with people who were completely mismatched.  I’ve always insisted that I never regretted any of my relationships or those charading as such because at the very least they’ve allowed me to indulge in a certain high: I like the obsessed way they make me feel, the anticipation of communication, the way I feel when I see their faces appear from around the corner.  The equation becomes much simplified when you put their existence second to your own emotional whims, or don’t factor in their existence at all.  For what seems like an eternity, I don’t think I have ever considered it could be any other way.  Sometimes, I can be a terrible person.

Anyway, now I’m huddled in the dark and staring at Alyssa respond to Holden’s confession, which more or less amounts to several high-pitched squeaks and expletives.  I don’t ever wonder if I’ve got it all wrong these past few years, but more so if I am simply missing out by not trying at all to negotiate between selflessness and pure selfishness.  Surely there would be more emotional trauma, which is alluring if only because my zeniths would be just as aggressive as my nadirs.  But I wonder if that would turn me into the trainwreck of a Holden, who despite all his depth and earnestness, still boils down to having his emotional integrity portrayed by an actor no more compelling than Ben Affleck.

Things, I’m starting to realize, are a lot more simple and meaningless when I am awake in the daytime.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | October 14, 2009

and it keeps coming till the day it stops.

A mix cd I received last year:

1. Ulrich Schnauss – Monday Paracetamol
2. Manitoba – Every Time She Turns Round It’s Her Birthday
3. Chris Clark – Holiday As Brutality
4. Autechre – Eutow
5. B. Fleischmann – As If
6. Apparat – Birds
7. Future 3 – Frisk
8. Tosca – Gimmi Gimmi
9. Peace Orchestra – The Man (Gotan Project El Hombre de la Pampa Mix)
10. Thievery Corporation – Shaolin Satellite
11. Dabrye – The Lish
12. Boards Of Canada – 1969
13. Múm – Awake On A Train
14. DJ Frane – Toad

I suppose there is no real reason why this IDM jizz explosion of an album resurfaced after over a year of languishing on my hard drive.  For instance Lukas tells me one of my most annoying traits–next to my lack of any strategic boardgame skills (what kind of diss is that?)–is that I don’t actually listen to anything anyone gives me until maybe months or years after the fact.  I argue that it’s because I want to give music a fair shot by being in the “right mindset” when listening to it.  He politely disagrees and tells me I’m “fucking lazy.”

Lukas ended up giving me the album on the unfortunate date of 07/20/08, the day before I died in surgery.  Even more unfortunate, he wrote on the bottom tomorrow is another day, buddy.

Well…there is a certain falsity to that statement that you can’t ignore.  Things kind of sucked for awhile.  Honestly, the album never had a chance.

But 15 months pass and I’m back to my old self and more importantly back in New York.  And NYC, it turns out, is a beautiful and fucked creature.  I imagine this is probably heightened by leaving Los Angeles just as it was being consumed by brush fires, floating ash, and another well-meaning but failed relationship.  There is a certain confusion here that you can only feel with not having any of your shit together (read: unemployment), but it certainly keeps boredom at bay in an amusing and sometimes insightful kind of way.  Despite the comfort of friends, I spend the majority of my time alone, usually wandering the city for hours.  What is so seductive and ultimately dangerous about New York is that it can really consume you and push you to see just how alone you really are as you shuffle pass crowds and crowds of strangers on a Friday night.

And somehow this all comes together: this past week I found myself listening to the cd for the first time.  Eventually I wrote Lukas a nice email thanking him for the album over a year after the fact, and told him I enjoyed it.  I don’t tell him that I set the album on loop and stayed up all night.  I might have wept; actually I’m fairly certain I did.  Lukas likes to tell me that the reason why electronic music is compelling to him is because it’s malleable enough to form your own emotions and narratives.  I don’t tell him that it resonates with me because it is a jumble of emotions and narratives that I know are there, but I just can’t transcend beyond feeling incredibly isolated.   In many ways it is the most accurate reflection of my time so far in New York.

But tomorrow, I suppose, is another day.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | September 3, 2009

I want to crack cancer in the face.

My penchant for cuntdom, it turns out, does not extend to those I do not get along with yet managed through some misfortune or another to be diagnosed with cancer.

My dad falls neatly into this category.

He was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, interestingly (creepily)  on the one year anniversary of my own diagnosis.   After about a month of arm-twisting with his HMO, he finally had surgery to remove 15 cm of his colon.  I imagine this hurts a lot.  I also imagine his scars are a lot more badass than mine.  I then wondered how hospitals dispose of diseased and completely unusable body parts such as, say, cancerous strips of colon.   His surgery went well, yet it is a humbling experience nevertheless to see someone usually snarling at you instead tucked into bed half-lucid from copious amounts of morphine.  We tried speaking to him post-op and he muttered back incoherently.   Always startled by the lack of routine, I felt incredibly uncomfortable because he was in no shape to snap or yell at me.   He later told my mom and me that he had no recollection that we spoke at all.

Since Monday, my mom and I have spent every day at the hospital for hours on end.  For whatever bizarre reason, I enjoy these long hours a lot more than I probably should.  Most of it is spent helping my mom help my dad and avoiding  seeing him naked as much as possible.  There is also free air conditioning and wifi.  I spend a good chunk of time watching ESPN with my dad and discussing the fate of Rich Rodriguez.  I also casually flirt with the nurses and doctor because they think I am sixteen and therefore cute, harmless and full of bubbly medical questions.  Overall there is something very calming to me about hospitals–despite whatever trauma endured by the patients that landed them there in the first place, I’ve always equated hospitals as the friendly places that patched me back together when I was one big bald medical mess.

This of course does not extend to all patients and I was aptly reminded of this by Michael.  Michael had been labeled “that non-compliant patient on the surgery ward” and my dad had the luxury of being his roommate for a day.  He was an older fella; my mom pointed out he had nice tattoos on his arms and suggested that I take a look.  I peaked over and instead noticed that both his legs were amputated.  When not intermittently drugged up with anti-agitation drugs, he was apparently a wide-awake nightmare for the nurses and staff.  On Tuesday, I found out what happens when you give “that non-compliant patient on the surgery ward” his three-hour dialysis treatment.

Michael had been scratching his arm so intensely that he bled; because he was on coumadin he ran the risk of bleeding to death.  The nurse panicked and restrained his arm in fear that he would interfere with his treatment.

Nurse: Michael, do you know why I’ve tied your arm down?

Michael: Because you’re an evil bitch!

[Pause]

Nurse: Well, I can accept that.

And so for the next three hours, in between sobs for water,  he called her variations of bitch and detailed the many ways he wanted to kill her.  It was certainly the first time I heard someone say to a complete stranger that he wanted to “crack you in the face and strangle you until you can’t breathe no more.”  To alleviate the tension, the nurse casually tried to initiate small talk.  It led to conversations where he admitted he used to abuse heroin and had a daughter with “a girl who sold her ass to everyone, just like you.”  I sat there bemused.  My parents kind of just frowned a lot.

That being said, my dad’s run after surgery is the first time I have stepped foot in a hospital as a non-patient.  Despite all my self-righteous grumbling about my suffering as a patient, being outside looking in seems infinitely more difficult.  It is one thing to vomit, bleed, pass out, and sob uncontrollably as I have so gracefully perfected in the span of one day;  it is another to sit there helplessly and watch it happen to others.

So the point is, take care of yourselves.  Or I will have to crack you in the face.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | August 7, 2009

…or else it gets the hose again.

In one particular scene of Silence of the Lambs–a film I’ve watched an absurd amount of times– a victim of Buffalo Bill’s is found naked and mutilated.  During autopsy, they eventually extract a moth pupa from her mouth.  At the moment of removal, with nothing left obstructing her throat, the corpse releases one last breath.

This startled the fuck out of me.

I never caught this nuance the first 546893 times that I watched the movie (which really only places it a close second behind my healthy obsession with Die Hard).  And perhaps Jonathan Demme took some liberties in the medical reality of this, but I found it to be one of the more heartbreaking things I have seen in film if only because it left so much to the imagination.   I began to wonder what a homicide victim endures in the last moments of her life.  What exactly do you think of when you know you are an animal already dying?  How do you make logic out of your circumstance: do you accept your doomed fate, or do you still hold on to the increasingly distant idea of survival?  How do you respond to your horrific situation?  And how does your terror manifest accordingly?

I imagine what one endures psychologically in the moments leading up to death not only matches, but can also surpass the physical pain of dying.   Demme is terse about her suffering: from a broken nail found in the well and obtuse camera shots of her decaying body, we see that her passing is gruesome but are not given a clear understanding of what exactly happened.  It becomes easy to elaborate on what we think could have occurred, at least from the point of view of the victim.  For instance, I would like to think she fought back at one point, any point–as I believe all who are killed against their will are apt to do–which really only leads to me wonder what went through her mind the moment she realized she was not going to win.  Was she alive long enough to fully understand that a pupa was being shoved into her throat?  Would anyone really know the true extent of her efforts as  she exited this world?  Would it make her life any more significant?  Or would she just end up another body on the slab, another name under a Missing Persons report?

Demme, it turns out, went out of his way to record a voice actor breathing into a mic and then dubbed it over the moment the pupa is removed from the corpse’s mouth.   Meaning it was a calculated effort to include this detail in, which I admittedly find kind of incredible.  In her last exhale, we see the accumulation of the victim’s struggle only far removed after the fact.  We catch the moment of how something that used to be so alive is now finally gone.

Posted by: noneuclideanbabies | July 29, 2009

hey anyone need a port to Dal?

For my birthday this year, Hsiang gave me his old computer and a subscription to World of Warcraft.  This baffled the shit out of me:  I never graduated beyond two-button consoles, never showed any interest in fantasy or lore, and certainly never found the need to improve my questionable motor skills.  On the most part I was quite content reading about post-structuralism and the occasional Economist article, and maybe digging up Scott Walker songs from the internet.    But as it were, I was recovering from cancer treatment and had a ridiculous amount of time on my hands.  I decided to give it a try.

I spent a whopping five minutes deciding a character, settling on a Draenei Mage because 1) I’m a pussy and he could do long-ranged DPS and 2) the Draenei race is an exiled race and therefore similar to the immigrant artists I wrote about in my graduate thesis (go with me here) and 3) he was a pleasant shade of blue.  I affectionately named him Noneuclidean.   I would later learn mages have virtually no hit points and died within a couple blows if someone were inclined enough to gank you.  I also learned that contrary to all my hopes,  I cannot actually ride my conjured pet Water Elemental.

Man, Hsiang told Lukas, after watching me run into hills, fall off bridges and flail in a general kind of way.  Karen plays like she’s a retarded person.

Pause.

She just asked me how to look “up”.

Lukas likes to tell me that I am not the worst player he’s seen.  Thoughtful guy, that Lukas.   I went through the first 60 levels without learning how to strafe correctly (a simple key binding fixed that),  died an accumulated 12 times from falling (and this is with the Slow Fall ability), and drowned twice when I got stuck looking for random shit in sunken boats.  For a long time, I refused to enter caves because I got hopelessly lost and had to hearthstone out.  I non-strafed around Darnassus looking at the buildings because the design was allegedly based on early 20th century Korean architecture and that excited the fuck out of me.  I enjoyed killing slimes because their pattern scheme suspiciously resembled expressionist paintings.   I  accidentally killed PVP guards and wondered why I was suddenly marked fair game for the Horde.  While all the 14 year old boys out there were squabbling over epic loot dropped off of raid bosses or calculating an attack on Booty Bay, I happily ran around Kalimdor picking herbs and grinding murlocs in Azshara just so I could hear their sound bites.

But then something happened: I became a passable player.  Adequate even, although anything outside the realm of mediocrity is a bit of a stretch.  It should be noted that I use “adequate” in the strictest sense of the word, which means I somehow leveled all the way to 80 and learned enough tricks of my toon to sufficiently solo group quests and kite around shit I couldn’t instantly kill.   I rebound all my keys and learned to macro a bunch others.  I dual spec’d into an arcane-frost mage, bought the appropriate glyphs, and learned my rotation (AB, AB ABarr/AB AB AMAB).  I downloaded various mods.  I started grinding Sons of Hodir dailies to gain enough faction for enchanted shoulders.  I became obsessed with obtaining achievements (where are the ewes??).  I became more obsessed with the goldfarming industry and researched it to death before I realized that a PhD candidate was already basing his dissertation on gold brokers and their effects on China’s economy and youth culture.

Of course, I received an appropriate amount of flack for gaming from friends, the main argument being that I am wasting my time with mindless spamming.  I retort back that I am not.

Take Thaddius, for example.

Recently Hsiang and his buddies took me on my first 10-man raid in Naxx, which amounted to 9 dudes and me on Vent for five hours coordinating how to beat the bosses.   Thaddius is a particular boss that made everyone uneasy because of the overwhelming odds that I would wipe the entire raid–repeatedly–due to incompetency inexperience, and then have nine dudes impossibly pissed at me:

Thaddius will become active a few seconds after the group reaches his platform, and should be tanked in the center of the platform where he is, but slightly forward so that there is room for the raid to see where to run on either side of him during the Polarity Shifts. Approximately 10 seconds after Thaddius becomes active, he will cast his first Polarity Shift on the raid. The raid will need to immediately stack up in two separate groups depending on their charge (+ or -). Raid leaders, make sure you clearly state what side the Negative group is on and what side Positive is on! Each group should clump up at maximum melee range. This allows members with the same charge to buff one another and allows melee DPS to engage Thaddius, all while avoiding shocking members of the opposite group. Stacking the charges is critical, as each charge provides a +10% damage buff (up to 12 stacks) that will be necessary to defeat Thaddius before the enrage timer. The tank should rotate around Thaddius to match the group that shares his charge.

When Thaddius switches polarities again, everyone that has to move should move to the appropriate side as fast as possible.  Note that not every Polarity Shift will change the charge on a raid member, so the raid members will need to monitor their debuffs each time Polarity Shift is cast.

Things that can go wrong

  • Your ranged DPS stand too far back and cannot run through the boss in time.
  • Someone in the group gets the polarity wrong and stands at the wrong side (usually wiping half the raid).
  • People who miss the platform jump on the first try enter into the fight without having an assigned polarity and shock everyone

……What the shit is this???  My short career in video games consists of reasonably easy conquests (River City Ransom, Contra, Doom on God Mode, Tekken against a drunk Carl, etc) that never required substantial motor skills, critical thinking, or team coordination.  I started to feel guilty for all the times I ever dismissed video games for being frivolous.  But as it were, we beat Thaddius on the first try, which made me cocky enough to believe I could take on the next boss.

I died in one hit, and then subsequently wiped half the raid when they tried to hide behind me.

Hilarious.

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