The Blatherings of Brian

Phantom Angie

Angela Renee AKA Phantom Angie. At the end of this post, tap where it says “Add A Comment”. Leave me your name, including the your maiden last name. (Don’t want to give your maiden last name here so that there aren’t any random ding dongs out there who can try to trick me into believing that they’re you.) Leave me your email address so I can reach you. Leave me a comment if you’d like. It would be awesome if we could reconnect. I don’t have to leave the comment up on the site if you don’t want it there for some reason, so just ask me to delete it if you want. Thanks!

Isn’t your birthday at some point this month? Happy early or belated birthday – whichever is the case. 🙂

B

Advice to the grad from me. (Well, advice for anyone, really…..)

I have a cousin who is graduating high school this weekend. Her Mom sent out invitations for it in a large package that included several bits of paper on which the words, “Advice for the grad from…,” are written. The idea is that everyone gives her daughter a bit of life advice that will hopefully help her on the path of her own life. Words of wisdom, if you will. I’ve decided that I am going to share my words of “wisdom” here as well, mainly because there aren’t enough scraps of paper for me to write on, so here they are.

Here are my ten steps for a fulfilling life.

1. Find a church, if you don’t already have one, and attend it at least once a week. There isn’t anything else in this world that I’ve found that will keep you as grounded as humbling yourself to God and being sermoned to periodically. You will learn a lot about yourself, life in general, and other people. If you don’t have a church nearby, or generally don’t like being in crowds of people like I don’t, then find a church that broadcasts its services online. www.northpoint.live is one, as is buckheadchurch.org/live. They are both a part of the NorthPoint family of churches in the Atlanta, GA area. I highly recommend them.

2. Do not allow money to master you. If you live paycheck to paycheck, spending nearly everything you make, then you are a slave to money. If you start while you’re young, you have the best shot at being the master of your money rather than being mastered by it. If you’re not so young, then it’s never too late to start breaking your chains. How do you accomplish this? I suggest you do the following with each and every paycheck:

A. Stop assuming that every penny you earn is yours to spend. Pick a percentage of each paycheck you earn and give that amount of money away. Even if it’s one percent. It can be to the aforementioned church of your choice. (I learned these money mastering steps from a sermon at my church.) It can be to a charity (I like to periodically give to cancer research [Cancer Research Institute of New York, N.Y.]). It can be to someone you know who needs it. It can be to a stranger on the street. But pick a percentage, whatever that percentage is, and give it away.

B. Take at least the same percentage of the money you gave away and save it. Put it in an interest-bearing savings account. Put it in a CD. Put it in an IRA (it’s NEVER too early to start saving for your retirement). Save in a different account with each paycheck even – you will never regret having an emergency fund saved away, that is 110% for sure. Save whatever way to save that you want, but put it somewhere that you’ll actually save it and not spend it unless there is an emergency.

C. After you’ve done A and B, whatever amount of money you have left is what you have to live on, to pay your bills, and enjoy yourself. If you can’t do A and B and still live your life, then you are living above your means. You either need to take steps to find a better paying job (whether that means seeking higher education first or whatever you need to do), or you need to adjust your lifestyle.

I promise you this, though, that following these three A, B, and C steps will free you from being a slave to money. YOU will be in charge, and your life, as well as the lives of others, will be better for it.

3. Go to college. Stay in college. Graduate from college. I only did one of these things and I regret it all the time. Do not be like me in this respect. It takes a lot of luck and hard work to get through life sometimes, so don’t stand in your own way on the path to your future. Okay?

4. Try to avoid as many permanent life choices as you can until you’re at least 25 years old. The decision-making part of your brain isn’t fully developed until about then, so you’re going to be better off if you try to avoid major decisions until around then. Sometimes you won’t be able to avoid a huge choice. Sometimes life forces life-altering choices on you as well. In those times, if you can, seek counsel from someone older than 25 that you trust. Seek counsel from many others if that is something you can do. Heck, that’s not bad advice even after you’re 25. In any event, if you can do this, you will likely make fewer choices that you will regret the rest of your life.

5. Have as much fun as you can. Life is too short. It is way, way too short.

6. I moved 400+ miles away from my entire family and closest friends when I was 22. While I can’t honestly say I regret that because my time in Atlanta is still precious to me, I can say that I regret not spending more time with my Dad while he was still alive. Don’t be like me in this respect. Spend as much time with your family, and closest friends, as you possibly can, because they WILL be gone from this Earth one day.

7. Alcohol and drugs can master you in much more horrible ways than money can. Be very, very careful with what you allow in your body. Alcohol can turn the sweetest of people into monsters, and drugs have destroyed so many beautiful lives (River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, Layne Staley, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Petty, and Chris Cornell to name a few). So, please, be careful. Drug highs are short and fleeting. Death is forever, not only for you but also the family you leave behind.

8. This space intentionally left blank.

[Which is to say: One day I hope you will have your own “words of wisdom”. I don’t know everything, so I hope you will share them with me when you do. Never stop learning. Never stop seeking information. Never let yourself believe that any given person doesn’t have something of value to teach you.]

9. Have integrity so that you can be someone that others can rely on and trust. Be patient. Be kind. Be forgiving, even to those who don’t deserve it. Demand these qualities from those who say they love you and make sure they receive them from you. But always remember that it’s okay to forgive people for what they do to you and others, while also forgetting them and moving on with your life. Don’t give yourself away – once someone proves to you that they don’t deserve your time, don’t keep giving it to them. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Keep respecting and loving yourself even if that means you need to be alone for any given amount of time. You shouldn’t let money master you. You shouldn’t let drugs or alcohol master you. Do not let someone who claims to love you master you, either. Someone who loves you will make you feel free and special, not like a prisoner or a prize or a possession. Always remember: your life belongs to you!

10. There is no such thing as “fair”, especially where life is concerned. Your life will only get better if you make it better. That bears repeating because I’ve found it flies over the head of people far too often: YOUR LIFE WILL ONLY GET BETTER IF *YOU* MAKE IT BETTER! Again, your life belongs to you. Don’t seek “fair”. Don’t ask for “fair”. Anything that affects more than one person will most of the time be labeled as “unfair” by someone involved. Seek “better” instead. Seek to be a better version of yourself every day than you were the day before, in any way, even small ways, that you can. Help others around you to do the same. Demand it of those who say they love you and make sure they receive it from you. Yes, you can do this and remain humble and kind and generous. That’s why this one is last. Do 1 through 9, and do them well, and then this should be easy.

Well, that’s all I have. I hope this list is helpful to some, or at the very least entertaining. I wish I had spent my late teens, 20s, and 30s doing all of these things. I think “I wish” is the best endorsement of these things that I can give you. In any event, thank you for your time and take care.

And Happy Graduation, Savannah Banana!

P.S.: The New England Patriots ownership has obviously sold their souls to the devil. You should stop being their fan right away…………………………
Ok, I’m kidding.
…………………………………………..or am I?

B

Hello!

Just want to take a moment to say hello. Especially to the long-lost Phantom Angie. It’s an inside joke, so bear with me. The stats system here says that someone in Sparta, New Jersey occasionally comes to the blog, and I’m just assuming that it’s you. Still checking in on me after all these years? Well, I miss you too, just FYI.

I’ve been thinking about getting back into writing lately. A post regarding my disappointment in the direction of the Star Wars franchise is brewing in my head, and I intend to post it here soon. It all started because I run Fantasy Survivor and Fantasy Big Brother leagues where I write recaps of episodes after they are broadcast every week. One of the women in the league with us keeps telling me that I should write for a living. Maybe I should?

Anyway, she has challenged me to write an at least 50,000-word novel during the month of November via the https://nanowrimo.org/ website. November is apparently the National Novel Writing Month. I did not know that. I’m going to give it a go and see how it works out. Between now and then, I’m going to try to get back into writing stuff on here as well.

Here is a quick update. I live in Charlotte now, which is much closer to where my brother and his family lives (they live close to Lake Norman in Denver, NC), as well as most of my family. I thought I would miss Atlanta, but I haven’t missed it for a moment. The older I got, the harder it was to be away from family all the time since I have no family in Georgia at all. When Turner Broadcasting outsourced my department to a company in Romania in early 2015, my severance package paid me through the end of July of 2015. Therefore, I took that time to move to Charlotte to be closer to everyone and I haven’t looked back.

I’m working at Microsoft now as they have a campus here in Charlotte. I enjoy my job as it involves a lot of writing, but it would be awesome to be able to write entertainment for a living. Be my own boss and all that jazz. We’ll see how it works out.

Anyway, it’s getting late and it’s about time for bed. A new work week is looming! I’m going to try to post more stuff here starting now. Keep your eyes peeled, everyone, especially you, Phantom Angie!

Ang: Leave me a comment here so we can catch up. We can send each other an email or something. Take care!

Until next time, have a great week!

Why the original Mass Effect 3 endings are rancid

I saw a tweet today where someone couldn’t understand why so many think the end of Mass Effect 3 is bad, and they asked for someone to explain it to them. This is my acceptance of that challenge.

Imagine a world where the only Star Wars movies that ever came out were the original trilogy. In this world, there’s no such thing as the Empire or the Emperor. The primary adversary is Darth Vader, who commands the entire fleet, Death Stars, everything. He’s the driving force behind the enemy (Reapers for instance), and Luke is our hero (Shep for instance). This is the story through 2 and a half movies.

Then, suddenly, about halfway through Return of the Jedi they start dropping hints that Darth Vader isn’t in charge. But these hints are so subtle, and few, that they don’t really drive the narrative. Then, in the last 15 minutes of Return of the Jedi, suddenly we find out that Vader is just a puppet. Here’s the Emperor, and he’s untouchable. Our hero can’t fight him. All Luke can do is either:

1) Become the new Darth Vader, and perhaps attempt to use that power for good? Maybe? If he doesn’t end up being controlled by the Emperor in the end? Who knows? Do you really believe the Emperor (Starchild) is honest and trustworthy?;

2) Force every creature in the galaxy to become half Luke and half Darth Vader, without their consent or knowledge or desire (DNA rape in other words);

or 3) Destroy the Death Star and Imperial Fleet, but it ends up destroying some of the Rebel fleet and all their droids as well.

There’s not much of a sense of triumph at the end. No sense of: YES! Everything we’ve been driving towards for two and half games gets thrown out the window, in favor of a completely different narrative that comes mostly out of left field. And WHY?! WHY was this done?! We had a great driving narrative set up already! We are here to chew bubble gum, and kick Reaper ass, and we’re all out of bubble gum! We didn’t need this Starchild pseudo-intellectual bullshit “ending”!

So, yeah, everything we’ve spent so many hours driving towards ends up with…… this?! So the Illusive Man was right all along, and we should control the Reapers? Or we should rape the entire galaxy’s DNA?! Or we should allow EDI and The Geth to die, even if we’re best friends with them?! And we’re supposed to be okay with the fact that the Normandy crash lands on some unknown planet, with perhaps no way of repairing the ship and escaping – plus we don’t know if everyone survived the crash. Why is this awesome? Why is this heroic?

I have absolutely no idea why anyone considers the end of ME3 to be fun, inspiring, or in any other way satisfying. I’m dumbfounded at people who enjoy it, or in any way defend it. It’s the biggest pile of shit of all time. It completely ruins the entire trilogy for me. It’s clear to me that without Drew Karpyshyn’s influence, Mac Walters and Casey Hudson had very little sense of proper narrative design, and cared more about forcing themselves and their philosophies into the narrative instead of allowing the story to tell itself. Would we still be talking about Star Wars, in any positive light, if this is how the original trilogy came to an end?

Another problem I have with it is that it’s not actually an ending. The story doesn’t end; it just stops. There’s a difference to me. There are too many loose ends that are apparently never going to be cleared up. What is the ultimate fate of the Normandy? What about the crew that we don’t see walk out after the crash? What happens to the galaxy now that the relays are destroyed? WTF is the “one last story” about Shep? What is the point of the one breath we hear at the end of the destruction “ending”? Why does this “ending” SATISFY ANYONE who actually takes more than half a second to THINK ABOUT IT?

I hate it when “writers” stop their stories rather than ending them. A story needs a proper epilogue, and ME3 does not provide it at all. If ME4 was supposed to continue this story, then I could forgive most of my issues with ME3, except the Starchild. However, ME1 and 2 were complete stories in and of themselves while ME3 is NOT a complete story. It just isn’t. There are people out there who like to tie up loose ends in their own minds, and there are writers who like that as well. I get it. But that is not a proper story. It shouldn’t be on the audience’s shoulders to decide how a story ends. The story should be allowed to end itself, and the writer is supposed to be the conduit for that. “Endings” like this violate the point of storytelling in my opinion. What is the point of taking someone on a journey that you know doesn’t actually end? It’s just offensive to me as it feels like a purposeful wasting of my time.

Thankfully modders came to the rescue. Because of the following mods, I can play an ME3 that doesn’t suck complete moosecock, although I don’t think that any mod out there can totally heal the damage to the ME narrative structure that ME3 provided. (Actually the damage began with the “Arrival” DLC for ME2, which was complete garbage narrative wise, many “thanks” to Mac Walters for that, although I admit that I did enjoy playing it.) “Backoff”, “Citadel Epilogue Mod”, “ME3 Recalibrated”, “MEHEM”, “Shorter Dreams”, and “Extended Final Anderson Conversation” are the mods I’m referring to.

I wholeheartedly recommend replaying ME3 with them installed. If, after that, you still think the original ME3 is better, then – well all I can say is to each their own. You can live your life, and I will live mine, and never the twain shall meet….

True Love?

Wow it’s been so long since I posted anything here. I guess I don’t get inspired to write nearly as often I used to. Well, anyway, here it goes.

I play a game called Miitomo, Google it if you want to know more about it. In short, it’s a game that asks you questions about yourself, or your philosophies, so that other people can get to know you via social media in a way that might take years of hanging out in real life – or at least months. At least, that’s what it seems like to me. Anyway – today it asked me this question, and I felt that 180 characters wasn’t enough to appropriately answer it.

“If true love exists, where do you find it?” This is my response.

Romantic love is a binary state of existence. In other words, it isn’t a singularity. It isn’t enough for you to love someone; they have to love you back as well, and with a general consistency in the way that you love them. Love doesn’t perpetuate itself. It requires both people to fully commit and engage for it to work. If only one person works at it, then it’s more about selfishness on one side and obsession on the other. If neither person works at it, then WTF are you doing? See below where I talk about wasting time.

Too many people waste months / years of their life on someone who hurts them (cheaters, liars, abusers – either physically or emotionally or both, or people who just don’t put effort into the relationship) in the name of “love”. You can feel whatever you want to for someone, but if they don’t treat you the same way consistently (no one is perfect, but you know what I mean) then that isn’t love – no matter what you say or think or feel. That’s you being obsessed with what you want the situation to be, rather than recognizing reality, and them taking advantage of you and being selfish, or perhaps them not really caring either way. You can feel free to not appreciate reality, but reality is still reality whether you appreciate it or not.

To find true love, you have to find it in yourself first and foremost. You have to be willing and ready to value someone else more than you value yourself. Only then will it even matter if you’re lucky enough to find someone who is willing and ready to do the same for you. If you ever find that, then you have to treasure that more than gold.

Society is all about “what have you done for me lately”, rather than, “What can I do to make you happy?” True love should be two people who always (or as often as possible – again no one is perfect) ask themselves what they can do to make the person they love happy. That way, both of you are happy as often as possible.

People who understand this concept actually understand love, at least the way I define it. Finding someone who actually understands love almost never happens – at least in my experience. If you find it then I suggest you never let it go, and always do everything you can to best live up to your end of the equation. Again, recognizing that no one is perfect. It’s okay to forgive, but, again, consistency is key here. Someone who loves you will not consistently hurt you, or fall short of treating you the way you treat them. Don’t cheat yourself and make excuses for someone who doesn’t work to treat you the way you treat them.

The movie “Wedding Crashers” has the best all time quote about what true love is: “True love is the soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another.” Wait until you find that, and you both treat each other with that kind of reverence, and then call that true love. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. Life’s too short to waste your time. Okay?

B

Random Thoughts 11/25

Aristotle wrote, “Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.” I just saw that quote tonight just as I was searching my soul, the Bible, and the web for encouragement for patience. I was praying about matters of the heart not long ago, and it was like God whispered to my heart, “Be patient….” Some days, most days really, I struggle with that. I was struggling with it tonight and that quote hit my twitter feed. It helped. God is good.

Random Thoughts for Thanksgiving

My Mom was texting with me the other day and commented how she knows how much I would like to get married again someday, but I shouldn’t because my “Dream World” life would vanish quickly. She was implying that women can, and often do, suck the life out of their men. Mom says it’s sad but true.

I have a good bachelor’s life. I have a job I love making good, not great but good, money. I have a wonderful, if small, condo in a brilliant neighborhood called Atlantic Station. It’s near the top (one floor down) of a high rise building in which I have a gorgeous view of Atlanta. I have no credit cards. No real debt. I don’t even own a car – I don’t really need one in day-to-day life. Atlantic Station has everything I absolutely need for the day-to-day. Google it. Life is good, and I am blessed. I realize this 100%. However, here is how I responded to her:

“Everything is give and take. I don’t consider my life a “dream world”. I am blessed, but I would trade it all in an instant for a regular house in a regular neighborhood if I were blessed with a great woman and some kids. It would have to be a great woman, though. I pray about it, but I guess we’ll see what God’s plan is for me. In the meantime, I am happy with my blessings right now. It’s just not my ultimate hope or dream.”

So I have many blessings, and I’m thankful for them. I am a lot more blessed than so many other people. But no one cuddles with me in my bed, or looks me in the eyes and says they love me. And I always thought there would be at least one person on the earth by now who would be calling me Dad. I’m going to be 44 in just 5 days. That doesn’t seem possible, but it is.

Anyway – I’m thankful for a lot today. But I’m also here alone, as I always am. God is with me, and I am comforted, but I wish my one were here, who ever she is, to smile at me and whisper that she loves me.

That is what I’m thinking about tonight, as I lay me down to sleep…..

Oh, and one more thing. My stats system is saying that someone in Russia is coming to the blog here everyday. Why would someone in Russia care what I have to say? Leave me a comment sometime and let me know, please.

B

Random Thoughts – 10/21/12

Technically it’s 10/22, but I haven’t gone to bed yet so it’s still Sunday night to me. Getting ready to do just that – go to bed that is. Starting a new trend for me tonight – Parting Thoughts. Here are my prevalent thoughts for tonight.

I wish life and love didn’t have to be so hurtful, elusive, frustrating, and sorrowful. Happiness is more alien to us than any “other worldly” being could ever be.

Goodnight, goodnight – parting is such sweet sorrow. That I will say goodnight until it be ‘morrow….

2011 Recap and 2012 Info

Well it’s almost the end of March now, and I’m finally getting to the point where I’m going to finally write this recap, and post my My Beautiful Women of 2011 list. I’ve been really busy. I spent the last part of 2011 playing the Star Wars The Old Republic beta, and then the game itself came out during the last part of December. I was really busy playing that for most of January and February – when I wasn’t working or building the new computer that I built. Then this month I’ve been busy playing Mass Effect 3. So it’s been a busy gaming time in my life lately.
Here’s a quick bullet list of events:

Well it’s almost the end of March now, and I’m finally getting to the point where I’m going to finally write this recap. I’ve been really busy. I spent the last part of 2011 playing the Star Wars The Old Republic beta, and then the game itself came out during the last part of December. I was really busy playing that for most of January and February – when I wasn’t working or building the new computer that I built. Then this month I’ve been busy playing Mass Effect 3. So it’s been a busy gaming time in my life lately.

Here’s a quick bullet list of events:

  • Playing a lot of Star Wars The Old Republic since December – on the server Whitebeam Run. I run a guild called “Darkening of the Light”.
  • I was in Princeton for the last week of December, and the first week of January. I spent a lot of time with Mom, as well as with Sheila (who I often refer to as Elisha). Sheila, Trey, and I watched a lot of Doctor Who together. It was a glorious time.
  • I got a great 1080 HD Canon camcorder for Christmas, along with a Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal Fathead and an almost 6 foot tall Tardis standee. Kick ass!
  • I got a bad case of food poisoning from McDonald’s while I was in Princeton. I haven’t had McDonald’s since, and I don’t believe I will be having it again any time soon.
  • During the Michigan / Virginia Tech game in January, the ESPN announcer said: “Well tomorrow Clemson plays another team from the state of Virginia – West Virgina!” Uh, no, idiot – I promise you that West Virginia and Virginia are *separate* states. He’s not alone in this mistake, though. So many people in Atlanta will say, “Hey, Brian, aren’t you from Virginia?” I’ll respond, “No – WEST Virginia.” Their response? “Ah, same thing!” NO! It’s NOT the same thing! Ugh!
  • Speaking of the WVU vs Clemson Orange Bowl game, where most everyone didn’t think the Mountaineers had even the slightest hope of winning, WVU completely crushed and embarassed Clemson to the tune of 70 to 33! Let’s Go! ………………….. Mountaineers!
  • One of my favorite bands, Van Halen, released a brand new album. Although I have always been more of a fan of the Sammy Hagar flavor of the band, I have to admit that I really like this new album. It’s called, “A Different Kind of Truth”, and I highly recommend it. The best songs on it, in my opinion are, “You and Your Blues”; “Big River”; “Tattoo”; “She’s the Woman”; “Blood and Fire”; and “The Trouble with Never”.
  • I started exercising again, but I’ve been sporatic with it at best. I will eventually lose these 50 or so pounds that I want to lose!
  • I built a brand new desktop computer that kicks all the ass in the universe – twice!  I put a solid state hard drive in it, and it’s so fast that after it POSTs it boots into Windows in about 7 seconds or so. Facebook pictures – click here!
  • The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl – again! LOL! Ah man I loved it! I’m definitely not a Giants fan, but I loathe the Patriots and love it every time they lose. 🙂
  • Mass Effect 3 came out in March, and while the game itself is, for the most part, one of the best games I’ve ever played, the way it was released involves some major flaws and just flat out craziness. I will go into more detail on it in my next post.

Well that’s about all that went on at the end of 2011, and all that’s been going on in 2012 so far. Outside of the daily routines of work and such of course. That’s about all I have to say for this post.

B

12/1/2011

Been busy lately – I will find the time to make a lengthy post to recap later, but I don’t have much time right now. Right now all I want to do is post these two incredible tidbits so that I will never forget them.

Today, two brilliant stars in the sky asked two brilliant questions.

Question #1:

Why is my black and white printer not printing in color?

I am not kidding. Someone actually didn’t understand why this was happening. She was perplexed even.

Answer:

There are two reasons. #1: They call it a black and white printer for a reason. #2: You’re fired.

Question #2:

Why can’t I record my voice on my computer without first plugging in the microphone?

To give this person the benefit of the doubt, we had to find out whether this was a laptop or not – as many laptops have built in microphones. But, alas, he was referring to his desktop. Are you Scotty in Star Trek 4 or something? “Computer…..ah…..computer? We must draw up the schematics for transparent aluminum. Computer?” I can imagine him grabbing the mouse and trying to use it as a walkie-talkie. “Computer? Why can’t you hear me? Computer?” I’m sorry, but you’re fired as well.

Back to Kindergarten with you!

B