February 2004

End Boss Blues

In a glorious fit of completely non-productive weekend madness, I have gotten all the way through “Beyond Good and Evil” on the Xbox in two days. (This would be admittedly more impressive if it was a longer or more difficult game, but I’m a wuss, so I was pleased.)

But the final boss is killin’ me.

I am, by any measure, a cerebral gamer. Given the choice between an elaborate set of nested logic puzzles or timed jumping on crates, I’ll take the logic any time. I will do complex math for a game. (Actually, that’s the only time I’ll do complex math.) My favorite Xbox game of all time was, in fact, Oddworld 3 largely because A) it was easy enough for even me, and B) playing a fish in a wheelchair appealed to my sense of humor.

I have enjoyed Beyond Good and Evil. Anything where you’re partnered with a talking pig to save the world can’t be too bad. But they seem to have succumbed to one of the great Gaming Flaws–the belief that the gamer will feel cheated if the end boss is not capable of beating Cthulhu at arm-wrestling, so they skew the difficulty level halfway to hell and back on the last level, insuring that many of us will play to that point, shrug, and count it close enough to won to satisfy our inner demons.

When, annhilated repeatedly by said boss in seconds flat, I at last took refuge in the walkthrough, the description alone made me want to curl into fetal position–first you fight these guys, then these guys, then these guys, then it confuses your mind and reverses the controls and then you fight the same set of guys AGAIN with the reversed controls, and then God himself comes out and does a hula on the console for all I know. It’s a little crazy.

But I will prevail! Once I can feel my hands again, once more into the breach!

At some point last night, not asleep but not entirely awake, either, I got up and scribbled something in my notebook. This morning, I managed to decipher the writing, although the thumbnail sketch next to it required some squinting.

The snail and the mushroom were very happy together and had children that could make you hallucinate from across the room.

Alrighty then.

Having promised a photo of my latest insanity, and since this is mostly you guys’s fault for having commented on the long ago doodle that gave rise to it, I direct your attention to


Keep your Charismatic Vertebrate totems–Slug is my co-pilot!

Now I just gotta finish my uni-slug, and I think it’ll be out of my system…

Today I’m painting slugs. I seem to be on a slug kick. It’s the lovely slimy texture. I like painting slime. I can take it or leave it as a texture, mind you, but it’s fun to paint. Images to follow.

Also, I seem to be on this orkut thing. Anybody else there?

Annnnd…it’s snowing again. Through the night. Odds are good of a nice hard freeze, too, which would give the road the approximate consistency of snail snot, but we’ll have to wait and see. The pre-emptive closings filtering by on the bottom of the TV screen are impressive.

Dave, a local friend of mine, made an excellent point awhile back, that whenever a storm is announced, people rush out to buy bread, milk, and eggs, obviously in the hopes that the Storm Gods can be appeased by sacrifices of French toast. I have always hated French toast, so when I rush to the store, I get coffee cake, bacon, and steak. And sometimes a cheese log and triscuits if I’m feeling really festive. So we’re armed for the snow. James made Gaelic steak tonight, which involves a sauce of Irish whiskey, lit on fire, then smothered in cream. It’s even better than it sounds, which is saying something, and he still has both eyebrows.

When it was still light, I do have to say that it was lovely out back–white snow outlining all the trees, little birds flitting back and forth like they were posing for Hallmark, our local red-bellied woodpecker looking practically artifical with that fabulous red noggin against the washed out trees.

Nevertheless, it is snow, and even if every snowflake grew a tiny fairy body, joined hands, and performed a flawless rendition of the Nutcracker on the deck railing while singing carols of unearthly beauty in tiny tinkling silver voices–I’d still have to slog through that crap to get to the garbage cans.

I think living in Minnesota may have blunted some of my finer aesthetic sensabilities re: winter.

My father called today, having seen the Howling Blizzard Of Death warnings for the area, and mentioned in passing that the rat in “Nailing Down the Moon” looked a lot like the naked rats they used to get on the ranch. And I hadn’t thought of ’em for years, but he was quite right, and I wonder if that early exposure to naked rodentia accounts to my modern love of the naked mole rat.

The rats in question were a weird byproduct of Rex rats. See, my stepmother figured that since they were breeding rats anyway–to feed the snakes, and later on quite a large scale to sell to pet stores–they might as well do rat shows, and to that end bred some lovely show rats with the unusual markings and so forth. (Before you say anything, yes, I do know how weird this sounds.) And one of the types of interesting rats is the Rex rat, which like a Rex cat has tight, kinky fur. Fine and good so far. Problem is that the gene appears to be one of those weird recessives that double up poorly–carry one gene for sickle-cell anemia and you’re malaria resistant, carry two and you die young. In this case, one Rex parent gets you a Rex rat, two Rex parents get you a naked rat with fur on its head and in an extended mohawk down the spine, and bald pink skin everywhere else.

They were pretty funky lookin’ little rats. And the rat in my quick scribble does, indeed, somewhat resemble them in its bony weirdness. Obviously that particular image stuck somewhere in the art brain and was just waiting for a chance to re-emerge.


A speaker from the Christian Coalition just said, on NPR, that we were in danger of becoming a hedonistic, utilitarian nation.

I don’t see the catch. Sign me up!

Ursula Vs. Squirrels, con’t

So t’squirrels made off with another bird bar a few days ago, by the same method–got it whittled down until it was small enough to fit through the roof crack. Since it was obvious that they had that trick down pat, and that this was how it was gonna be, I took measures.

The bird feeder in question is a coated wire cage, hanging down from a little metal swinging roof. The squirrels needed only swing the roof up, stick most of their bodies into the feeder, get the thing in their teeth, and haul.

I figured a simple X of wire over the top of the cage would prevent this, since the squirrel wouldn’t be able to fit through the sides, and the bird bar certainly wouldn’t. And in this, it appears, I was quite correct.

Because this morning, as I was taking the recycling out, I looked up to discover that the clever little beasts, rather than attempt to haul the bird bar out, had simply eaten the hinges on the cage, (no mean feat, since they had to cling to the tree, stretch a foot into space, hold the roof up, and get their teeth through a fairly large plastic whatsit at a very bad angle) dropping the whole thing to the dirt. Presumably it then travelled hence to Squirrelville, since I found neither hide nor hair of it. All that remains is the little metal roof, swinging forlornly in the wind, creaking, a ghost feeder of the Old West (or rather recent south, anyhow.)


Had I an unlimited budget, I could go onto the next phases of this madness, purchasing astonishing squirrel flipping devices that promise to launch our rodent friends into low earth orbit for a mere 79.95. But I don’t think I will. The birds seem very happy with the hot pepper suet, and the one squirrel I’ve seen go for it then dedicated himself to licking the ice on the deck railing with great gusto. So I’ll stick to the suet for now.

But someday, my squirrely friends…there will be a reckoning…

Disturbing Animal Fact #638

The slime of some slugs is mildly anaesthetic, to dissuade predators. If Animal Planet is to be believed, this fact led to the treatment of toothaches, waaaay back in the day, by sucking on a slug.

I’ve had very painful toothaches, in recent memory, and I would’ve done some fairly dramatic things to be rid of them, but even in extremity…no.

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