August 6

Crown City Cooking | Bootleg Lettuce Wraps

Screw P.F. Chang’s! Here’s a simple recipe for making these delicious appetizers at home!

 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pound ground beef

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

8 ounces of chopped white button mushrooms

3 minced cloves of garlic

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

2 heads of Bibb lettuce

 

Instructions

  1. Make some wrap sauce. Whisk three tablespoons of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside for later.

  2. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it is fully cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once finished, the beef can be set aside in a large bowl for later.

  3. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan you just cooked the beef in. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally. This should take about five minutes or until the garlic begins to brown.

  4. Combine the vegetables and beef and put back in the pan. Add the scallions and the sauce and cook for another two to three minutes.

  5. Break off your wraps from the head of lettuce and serve. You can add a myriad of extra toppings such as cracked black pepper, hot sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese or even packets of duck sauce if you have any laying around from your last carry-out order. The possible add-ons are limitless!

 

Unfortunately, mine didn’t turn out as pretty as P.F. Chang’s so I wont be sharing any photos this time around. Try it out yourself and don’t forget to post your photos in the comments section!

CCC

 

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July 20

Winners and Losers: Drake’s Scorpion

Arguably the most anticipated rap album since who knows how long released not so long ago. Shattering records and failing to meet others. This album had the biggest hype train as well as one a very huge on-wax beef with Pusha-T that made waves everywhere. Easily this felt like one of the moments Jay Z capture when releasing an album so how did Drake fare here? Well, let’s just say a lot of parties carry weight here some of the biggest influencers of this album help pave the way for a very uneven experience.

Winners:

Clarity

We finally got answers here and responses (not anything worth mentioning about Pusha T though). The Puff incident and Meek beef were addressed in the 1st song. Took more shots at Kanye (who has yet to fully explain his bullshit antics/actions as of late). He goes in length about how the internet criticism is weighing on him and brags about his lifestyle to say the criticism is not affecting his success but it is. Drake is very miserable on this album and it shows through most songs on here. Most importantly, the rumors of his son are true and he provides context about the situation on March 14th. Drake did something more and more rappers have trouble doing: reveal.

Drake fans (Unaware of Pusha T)

Talk about being in the dark. Learning about Drake son through his music is EXACTLY the way Drake wanted this to be done. This album was a treat to them and maybe the easiest winner of them good for you folks to avoid the internet when it’s convenient for you.

40 and Ty Dolla $ign

MAKE AN ALBUM ASAP

J Prince

DO NOT MESS WITH THIS MAN’S MONEY JUST STOP HE’S NOT TO BE MESSED WITH

Seriously it’s great to have friends like him.

Women

Seriously the number of bangers for women on this album are countless. The amount of sample from Women artist ranging from Mariah Carey to Lauryn Hill to a freestyle of Nicki Minaj. Women played a major role in every Drake album (KiKi!!!!!), there’s nothing different. However, ONE lady gets the biggest praise and no it’s not KiKi:

Sophie Brussaux

Easily one of the biggest winners out of all this. From the being shamed as just another woman who tried trap a rapper, she got all the acknowledgment in the world and most importantly a big I TOLD YOU to the rest of the world. Kudos to you.

Pusha T

If we’re being honest side A was changed you can tell hell Drake admitted to doing so on 8 out of 10. No direct shots to Pusha and most importantly he took money out of his pocket. March 14th would’ve been huge if you never heard anything about this beer. Pusha won big here.

Drake

Still shattering records as of this writing. Most importantly still the talk of the hour

Losers:

Drake

Sorry, you still hid your son and most importantly you admitted to changing your album.

Kanye

Man did Kanye come off like the asshole of the year on this album. After the mediocre Wyoming projects, this album did him no favors in the public eye, in fact, it’s pretty damning to see how bad Kanye has fallen. I seriously recommend LISTENING to the lyrics and you’ll hear what I’m hearing here.

The Women in Drake’s life

Drake sounds upset more disappointed in women. He wishes to mold the potential in them and change their habits. Well, more than one woman spoke out on it. He embraced full heel on side B good for him.

Bad Line

I’m not with the ra-ra/I am a Dada

UGGGGHHHHHHH

BEEF

The biggest takeaway is Pusha and Drake beef is officially dead and we’re onto sub shots between Ye and Drake for good now. Sad the beef ended the way it did but it might be better it did end before it got worse but we’ll never forget the ‘you’re hiding your son’ line.

 

Overall a fun project that is growing still In My Feelings might be the song of the summer unintentionally as well.  An album that may not live to the hype by most but an album that will talk about for a while. Back to my rabbit hole I go.

 

Just Greg

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July 15

Crown City Cooking | Fish in a Pouch

This recipe is virtually idiot proof… just make sure you don’t touch the stove!

 

Ingredients:

  1. Chunk of fish (dealer’s choice. I prefer skinless Alaskan salmon)
  2. Vegetables (dealer’s choice)
  3. Olive oil
  4. Salt and Pepper
  5. Aluminum Foil

 

Directions:

  1. Take a large enough piece of aluminum foil and curl it together to make a pouch.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil in the foil to help keep the fish from sticking.
  3. Place the chunk of fish inside the foil. If there is skin on one side of your fish, place the chunk skin side down. Optionally, you could marinate your fish in a variety of sauces for an hour prior to cooking.
  4. Scatter the vegetables in the pouch followed by a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Close the pouch making sure there are no openings.
  6. Put the pouch in a frying pan and cook on medium heat for ten minutes.
  7. Carefully open and remove the food from the pouch, avoiding any plumes of steam.

 

Teriyaki Salmon w/ mushrooms

 

With the various combinations you could create using this recipe, I thought it would be fun to share with you what I ended up making. This is skinless Alaskan salmon that I marinated for several minutes in teriyaki sauce with sliced mushrooms. It held a little of the marinade’s flavor but not much since I only let it sit for a few minutes, fortunately the mushrooms soaked up what ran off the cooking fish. Flaky and delicious in 10 minutes! Get creative when trying this dish at home and post your results in the comments!

Enjoy!

-CCC

 

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June 22

Geek Stuff | Fortnite

Come on, you know you wanna try it.

 

Fortnite, Fork Knife, the greatest game ever created, the bane of our collected existence. These are just some of the names given to the world’s most heavily played video game at the moment. Fortnite’s origin may have started in the tower defense genre but after witnessing the rise of the Battle Royale phenomenon known as Player Unknown’s Battleground, Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) decided to copy PUBG’s entire model, leaving out minimal features. The only discernable difference between PUBG and Fortnite are the material collecting/building,  vehicles and the obvious cartoon/arcade style that Fortnite utilizes. Originally, I was a diehard PUBG player, especially now that it’s on mobile. But the times they are a changing and after a week spent nestled in the crevasses of Dusty Divot, Flush Factory and Tomato Town, it’s safe to say I am absolutely crazy for Fortnite!

 

Of course, this wasn’t the case a few months ago. Fortnite was an obvious clone of PUBG, just less realistic and almost impossible to get a kill in. I was sniped left and right the first time I tried playing which ultimately led me to give up the game completely until the beginning of season 4. A few of my coworkers with kids were discussing playing the game and all the random nonsense that was happening around them. From tree snipers to random dance parties, all of their stories made me laugh with curiosity. They didn’t seem angry or bitter about constantly getting murdered before they even had a chance to find a weapon, they just couldn’t get over how funny it was having an open dance party in the middle of a corn field. So I bought the $10 battle pass (because what’s the point of leveling with zero rewards?) and kept my fingers crossed I wouldn’t regret it by the end of the night.

 

What followed can only be described as overly amusing antics. I stuck to my squad like glue those first few matches. I had managed to find a way to stay alive for longer than two minutes but my problems still rested with finding a weapon quickly. After ten matches I decided to stay in squads but break off from the rest of the group because, well, kids and young adults suck at life and communication. It was on one of these solo squad runs that I decided to start hiding in random places, dancing the entire time until someone found and killed me. I started referring to myself as “The Hide n’ Seeker”, a person whose sole existence is to hide and dance until someone finds me. The ridiculous thing about all of this though, half the time the opponents who found me ended up hanging out with me, dancing until someone else came along and killed us both. I’ve yet to find more than two people willing to party down with me in-game, but it gives me hope for the future. I in no way take this game seriously, unlike all the rage fueled children currently playing the game, and that’s exactly what YOU should do. Regardless of your age, Fortnite has something to offer everyone in its own absurd way. You just need to take more than ten minutes to find your niche and I guarantee you’ll never say “Fuck Fortnite!” again.

-DD

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June 8

Crown City Cooking | Roast and Potatoes

The perfect family dinner. The hardest part will be peeling the potatoes.

 

The set-up at the CCC Compound

 

Ingredients:

Chuck Roast

Yukon Gold or Rustic Potatoes (skinned and quartered)

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. You could marinate the chuck roast in the fridge for an hour to 24 hours but results are still delicious if you are making this meal same day and have no time for marinades.
  2. Wash the potatoes under a cold tap, dry and peel.
  3. Slice the potatoes diagonally into thick disks. Slice two more times until you’re left with four smaller pieces.
  4. Pour a small amount of water into a baking pan, just enough to cover the surface of the pan. Line the pan with the quartered potatoes and finally set your roast in the center of the pan.
  5. Cover the meat with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350-375 degrees. Technically speaking, it’s 20 minutes per pound but if you buy your groceries like the everyday person, this will usually work out to cooking for an hour to 80 minutes.
  6. At the 30 minute mark, remove the foil and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes. The roast should come out medium rare with a light pink color. If you enjoy a well-done roast, cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  7. There you have it Roast and Potatoes. Enjoy!

    Finished product

-CCC

 

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June 4

Geek Stuff | FLCL Progressive

This past weekend saw the resurrection of one of Anime’s weirdest, most beloved series, FLCL.

Pronounced Fooly Cooly, FLCL originally aired in Japan back in 2000 with an American dub later on in 2003. I’ve tried in the past to sit thru these six episodes to no avail. Fortunately, with Adult Swim re-airing the first season every Saturday night I was able to manage a half hour a week for what is no doubt one of Japan’s harder to comprehend animes. And trust me, it isn’t the easiest thing to follow. In short, the plot revolves around a boy who gets hit by an alien with a guitar and then proceeds to try to be normal despite the robots that keep growing from his head no thanks to the alien with a guitar. There’s heavy sexual overtones, weird references to things I’m not totally sure exist, violence and the overall sense that this is supposed to be a coming of age story for the main character, Naota. All of those things are great but they hit you at a sprinter’s pace until the episode ends and you’re left scratching your head like Krusty the Clown declaring “What the hell was that?!”

FLCL: Progressive is the long-awaited second season to all the aforementioned above. And while it had a more focused feel to the storyline, one thing was for certain: this is still a very weird and sexually charged world.

The episode opens with a mysterious girl walking thru a tattered landscape. Everything is in black and white with the exception of a sharp horn growing from the girl’s forehead. She somehow finds herself in front of a giant red eyeball before waking up. Thru the course of her day, we learn that her name is Hidomi and she spends the bulk of her time ignoring the waking world whenever possible. Her neon blue cat ear headphones (which are always affixed to her head) represent her refusal to acknowledge anyone before they have a chance to get to know and subsequently reject her for whatever reason. We meet a few of her classmates, who are obviously part of the sexual overtone of the show, her mom and a brand new guitar wielding alien who rides in the back of a self-driving low rider instead of a bright yellow Vespa. Like Naota in the first series, Hidomi gets struck by the self-driving car and before the end of episode one, finds herself in the exact area where her dream took place.

Before the new alien with a guitar parts ways with Hidomi, she remarks “It looks good on you.” referring to the bright red horn growing from Hidomi’s forehead. The next day in school, Hidomi is left reflecting out the window as it’s revealed that her teacher is actually the original alien with a guitar from the first series. The class cheers, Hidomi looks hesitant and I feel a lot less confused by this FLCL than the one that came out over a decade ago.

The hallmark of this series is the music. The Pillows are the original J-rock band who composed an entire album just for FLCL 1 and it’s safe to say that they have done it again! One of my favorite parts of this show is the song “Little Busters”, a song that when it starts playing, signals to the audience that the episode is almost over. Every other track is brand new just for FLCL: Progressive and it feels like The Pillows never fell out of love with the series (Although I really wish “Ride on Shooting Star” was still the ending credits theme). Hopefully as the show goes on there will be more to enjoy, but for now, I am sated, mainly because we have new The Pillows to look forward to but partly because I know exactly what the hell is going on this time around.

-DD

 

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May 22

Robservations | The Clapback Culture

Hey man, Rob Lee here and I have something on my mind – the clapback. I’m convinced that we’re living in a ‘clapback culture’ – we’re obsessed. Allow me to take a step back, explain and then compare. I habitually question the status quo. I’m your contrarian Aquarian – while I may like something or do a particular thing but it doesn’t mean it’s not beyond my criticism or review.

So here goes, as of 2017, noted tastemaker, Merriam-Webster defines clapback as ‘responding to criticism with a withering comeback.” The clapback is very popular – often I look forward to the #ThanksgivingClapback and #Clapbackseason on Twitter. I get it the clapback is protective in nature but I think it goes too far.

Personally, a clapback is fine and can be hilarious. I think people go for it too much. We aim to be loved despite what many cynics contend. So a good clapback is how one gets attention and gets love. That pursuit runs counter to this faux-sanitized, contrived golden-rule culture we say we’re living in. It’s like being of two minds. We’re hyper-sensitive to criticism so we respond with a scathing clapback while saying don’t bully people. That shit is weird to me. Also, wrapped in that is the prevalent odyssey to be offended. There are offensive things – macroaggressions, microaggressions and so on that, if left unchecked, are dangerous. That said, there’s a case for clap-back being needed. My observation is that we’re quick to use a sledgehammer on an anthill criticism. It’s weaponized.

Back in the late 90’s Major League Baseball MLB, had a campaign for “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” and that connects to this clapback craze. The long ball means home run – I love baseball and who doesn’t like dingers. The pursuit for home runs lead to the steroids era – think Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa and increased strikeouts. This pursuit for love and money impacted the lives of players and the game as a whole.  Now instead of getting of how to play the game – bunting, situational hitting, etc – kids are going for the home run – there’s always been home run hitters and there’s always been great hitters. I would take a Tony Gwynn over a Barry Bonds. This idea carries over into the fundamentals on how to navigate through criticism and life we aim for the clapback. Use the #ThanksgivingClapback for instance, the criticism is coming from a relative – there’s intimacy there so instead of telling the relative that what they’re saying is inappropriate because it hurts one’s feelings, they clapback and a specific, premeditated way. The relative may not even consider what they’ve said to be offensive – it may not be coming from an offensive place but the clapback is. Chasing the home run failed baseball – it made hitters one dimensional – that one dimension is wanted until it’s unwanted. It’s not sustainable, like the clap back.

In summation, be weary of the clapback. It’s not sustainable, it’s lightweight trolling and can impact relationships, friendships and your own growth. Acknowledge being sensitive and take a step back before you clapback. If you feel the need, let it rip but think about how you appear. It’s all funny, catty or what have you until it’s not.

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April 25

KOD won’t change your opinion on J Cole, but it is the album that will define him

If we’re honest, J. Cole has been a mixed bag for me.

When he’s on his high points, he’s incredible, but his low points are cringe-worthy. The same artist that can deliver powerful tracks like Be Free and False Prophets (his mixtapes are still unbelievable) is the same guy who made goofy downright stupid tracks like Folding Clothes and Wet Dreams (Workout too ugh). Ever since his verse on Jay-Z’s A Star is Born track, the world has been enamored with Jermaine Cole. However, his body of work regarding LPs has brought a divisive response. One side will consider him one of the best in this current generation the other side find him as a lifeless act in the rap scene that has received undeserved praise.  This disconnect has caused a massive question to many regarding Cole’s place in the best current act of rappers. A question Cole himself has no say because he refused to want to be placed in such superlatives. (Seriously Cole the person is way more fascinating than the Cole the rapper). Thus, bringing us to his new album KOD. After middling critical and fan reception 4 Your Eyez Only (I hated this album), this was the album a lot of skeptics (myself included) were waiting to hear to see if he would be able to bounce.  KOD in short for three phrases (Kids on drugs, king overdosed, and kill our demons) was released on 4/20 (great marketing tactic) covers the topic of addiction and what seems to cover the issue what plagues the new crop of artists and kids today (social media, drugs, and influence).

This is not the 1st time Cole has brought up addiction in his music. 2011’s song Breakdown, Cole details the addiction his Mother had to overcome and the absence of his father, but in a spiteful deposition, he attacks society and the dominant influence it had around that time as well as the culture that promotes drug use today like it is a way of living. 4 Your Eyez Only he tackled drugs in the eyes of his Childhood friend who was a drug dealer. He was murdered, and Cole tells the stories to the daughter he left behind. Where attack this issue in more seemingly direct response to the climate then, he takes a very satirical approach to the topic on this album before closing in on the problems similar to the way he did Breakdown. Based on the 1st 4-5 songs on the album everyone, will be able to gather some thought on this album. Each song Cole uses flow and cadence out of his norm and sound eerily similar to the new and popular wave of ‘Mumble” Rappers. Even the beats resemble their beat selection as well. The self-titled KOD plays into such a persona as brags about his skills as a dealer critiques the criticism surrounding him and bring up his introduction into the world of drugs. Photograph cover the impact/addiction social media have towards social interaction amongst the world.  The most radio-friendly on the album ATM discusses the more dilemma of chasing money and fame and the consequences of seeking such.

This 1st of half of this album covers the narrative in his eyes. I’m personally not sure he’s playing the kid in this current and hence why the songs sound as they do, but I found them brilliant in concept but lacking elsewhere. The track The Cut Off is one of the most cringe-worthy tracks on the album. Granted the message is strong regarding eliminating folks in his life due to his lack of trust and felt he was taken advantage of; with his alter ego (I’ll get to that later) telling him to deal with such problems based on the issues presented as Cole whole premise is against drugs. It’s a great idea, but man this song sounded horrible. The middle of this album from Motiv8 to Brackets (The first verse that is) is absolutely skippable.  I will say the second verse in Brackets is one of the best set of lyrics he has ever written and it is worth listening to the track just for that verse alone.

The album picks up at Once an Addict Interlude, a song discussing his mother’s addictions again this time discussing her mom’s drinking problems after her an affair by his step-father which led to a child being birthed. Cole brought up his time in College and believed he escaped her problems, but she eventually calls him at 1 am drunk, and he realized he wished he intervened in her problems more than run away. This was Cole’s most personal track and what I wanted the album to explore further in. More than often rappers bring up problems without specifying about their reason for being so against other than common knowledge. Once an Addict provided the layers most of this album lacked, and I hate the fact I have to treat this as an interlude.  Friends felt like a step backward based on how incredible Once an Addict was. Kill Edward returns but not as annoying as the previous track and the song just lacked for me. Now the two songs which are the best two on the album came at the end of the record with Window Pain (horrible title for a track) and 1985.

Window Pain provides an excellent story begins with a girl seeing her cousin get shot, and Cole begins to reflect on the all the actions and problems he presented in the 1st half of the album. Cole attempts to bring home a very up and down beginning and a middle that is mediocre. 1985 which led to rumors of a second album coming. Was initially seen as a diss to mumble rappers, but funny enough this wasn’t a critique more Cole is advising this new crop of Rappers to stop caving into these influences as well as take control of their lives before they are on Love & Hip-Hop in 5 years.

Coming someone who is diagnosed with depression, I can appreciate the effort here, but the results came off mixed. Cole needs features badly. I believe some of these songs would be better if he had someone who can you know sing do the hooks. Kill Edward was very corny I understand it is Cole’s opposition in his head (hi, I go through this every day), but it didn’t work for me. Cole brings about a very polarizing group of hip-hop fans, one side loves him to death, and on the other hand is bored to death by him. Both sides bring up valid points as disconnect on Cole’s placement in this current landscape of Hip-hop still grows massive. The problem with Cole will be replay value when it comes to an album. Will I return to this album two, three months from now? Probably not and that’s the problem with Cole. The lyrics and concept are excellent, but Cole’s way of creating songs have severely lacked for so long, and some of these songs would be better if he had help. You can make songs that ‘Bangers’ and have important messages in them Kendrick has proved this constantly. This album is a MASSIVE upgrade over 4 Your Eyez Only. But the album is mixed for me. His best songs are incredible, but the rest is inconsistent. I don’t like reviewing things after one watch or listen because overreactions are bound to happen which is why I wait after the 1st few days to talk about it.  If I honestly have to give this a score out of 5, it would be a very strong 3. This album was his most easy to listen to the album, and I would argue his best album to date. The issue here is some of the songs have no replay value outside of his core fan base that will treat this as gospel. Cole usually places in the top 3 in this current landscape. Drake’s popularity/impact is off the charts, and Kendrick’s critical acclaim and awards got him in the all-time arguments now, Cole is here which isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s needed for this generation. This album made me interested in what is next for him, and that’s good in my book.

 

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April 23

Robservations | The Birth of a Nation

Hey man, Rob Lee here and I have something on my mind: The Birth of a Nation. For those who don’t remember, The Birth of a Nation is a 2016 film depicting Nat Turner’s uprising in the antebellum south. The film had Oscar buzz which was later derailed but allegations that Nate Parker, the film’s star, director and producer, sexually assaulted a classmate in college in 1999. The following is a bit of a review on The Birth of a Nation.

Background

The film shares its title with D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation also called The Klansman which was released as a Klansman recruiting film over a hundred years prior to this film. Griffith’s film made between $50 and $100 million compared to Parker’s $16 million. Also, with about 3000 more review’s Griffith’s film is rated higher than Parker’s on Imdb. A Klan recruiting video outgrossed a film about a black uprising but America’s post racial. Parker’s film has that distinction of sexual assault allegations but it would be irresponsible to ignore that this country has a rich history of racism. Griffith’s film – The Klansman was shown at the White House by Woodrow Wilson.  That racism I feel is reinforced in the respective box office and dollars spent.

My take

Let’s get right into it, Birth of a Nation is an OK movie. It’s not groundbreaking but it’s well done. The first half of the movie is a bit slow for me but the latter half takes off. The film is very effective in showing how shitty slavery is. The film is similar to Braveheart to me – minus the war paint.

The film succeeded in eliciting emotions from me. For instance, the scene when Cherry is “delivered” to Elizabeth Turner was reminiscent to someone getting a new toy. Elizabeth was gleeful to get a new thing. Black people were only a thing, dehumanized. He even the scene at Joseph Randall’s plantation and the little white girl has the black girl on a leash.

Samuel Turner reminded me of how people in a position of power – white people in this film – are supportive of you until you infringe on their interest. For instance, after Cherry was brutally raped Samuel gave written permission to Nat to go tend to her. Written-fucking-permission and he reminded Nat that most owners wouldn’t allow that. Samuel, although in a position of power, was like a lower level white person – hanging and seeking love from his blacks but once the slight inkling that he would be welcomed into “whitelandia” he switched up. He didn’t switch up did he? He reverted to his factory settings.

The battle scene could have been a bit longer but the buildup was slow but solid enough to make it effective. The fall out is similar to what has happened historically. If white people are uncomfortable, then someone else has to pay, examples have to be made. Just today black, still second class citizens, have been replaced by Muslims and Mexicans.

Nat Turner’s hanging was something I nearly turned away from. Like I don’t like the visual of hanging overall – especially when it’s viscerally shot. The walk out to the lynching was interesting. We have all seen the shitty, racist and dumbass white men during the film. As this point, we see how rabid the white women were. It wasn’t a mistake to show numerous instances of white women acting like mad dogs at a public execution. White people only act like this – albeit in film – to public murder. That hanging looked like the set-up for a fourth of July festival. Also, not a mistake. The murder of black men is as American as independence. Are all men created equally?

Conclusion

In summation, Nate Parker isn’t Nat Turner. I think the Oscar buzz was something to say that people in a position of power are “OK” with “revisiting the ugly past but by the way they’re also going to revisit the not so distant past.” The Birth of a Nation is a movie that people need to see – it as flaws like any movie but it made me think. It made me think of my job and intellect (i.e. being literate) got me inside the house, while brothers, hell my own biological brother, and is outside “tending to the field”. It makes me think about how nuanced racism is – racism was based in ignorance and has morphed, in my opinion, to classism. The film helped me revisit these thoughts and feelings that weren’t top of mind but deserve my attention. Birth of a Nation Deserves your attention.

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April 18

Geek Stuff | Gimme The Loot!

In the past year, the concept of loot boxes has risen and fallen only to rear itself once more. Some of us think they’re great while a larger portion of people think they’re the worst possible thing a game company can do to its customers. Before I get into my personal opinion, let’s start at the beginning. I’m sure by now you’ve asked yourself “What the hell is a loot box and why should I care? Is that like Loot Crate, the company that use to put together really cool mystery gift boxes?”

In a way, yes, but instead of getting randomly curated pop culture products, loot boxes are a form of micro transactions. Micro transactions, in the gaming world, are digital items that you pay real world money for. These items range widely depending on the game you are playing but what they all boil down to is paying real money for a randomized item that could be really great or really terrible (like you want an AK-47 for your solider in Call of Duty but you end up with a brown helmet instead). The upside is not all micro transactions cost money, you could grind away at whatever you are playing until you earn enough in-game money to buy a loot box and be done with it. The item you receive might be garbage but who cares cause you didn’t spend anything real. Unfortunately, not all people have the patience for level grinding and would rather pay outright for the chance at a gold level pick-axe. Like all of our societal problems, this one starts and ends with opinionated people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions.

Over the course of the last year, companies have come under fire from all walks of life calling loot boxes immoral, a money grab and dishonest among other nastier things. And while most of these people are cry babies who want to complain because they bought way too many loot boxes with real world money (check out the article Kotaku wrote about some dipshit kid who spend over 10K on loot boxes), companies have been bending over backwards to try and accommodate gamers who have problems with game companies making money past the initial 60 dollars you pay for the game. EA originally had micro transactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2 until enough people complained and they removed them all together. EA is bringing them back (thank god) but this time around you can only spend in-game money on their brand of loot box. The latest game to introduce loot boxes is Animal Crossing for iOS. Kotaku already had one of their flunkies write an article about how terrible this is, but honestly, is it? Is it wrong that game companies want to continue making money on a property that took them forever to produce and will take even longer to support? Nope! Is it immoral to offer people a hard way and a quick way of doing things? Not at all. Are these companies guilty of creating an addiction machine that is liable to ruin people with gambling problems? Naaaaah! All you have to do is not buy into it, that’s all. Every single game that has been outfitted with loot boxes has the option to buy them with earned in-game money, so stick to the plan and you’ll never go wrong.

If you’re one of the many people who wasted their money because they wanted to try and get ahead of everyone else, you have no one to blame but yourself. You’re well aware of the randomized chances of getting something good and even after getting crap box after crap box you still buy into it because you don’t want to spend honest time working towards that one item that will give you the edge on the competition. Like Verruca Salt, you want it now! And to the parents who think game companies are evil for this practice, how about you take 5 minutes to investigate the game you just bought Little Johnny Good Student because you know damn well they have no concept of money and will drain whatever bank account you thoughtlessly linked to their system.

So yeah, that’s my two cents. You have nobody to blame but yourself for getting caught up in loot box madness and I suggest instead of complaining about EA or Blizzard or Nintendo or Microsoft or Insomniac or Activision or Epic Games or Ubisoft, you take a hard look at yourself and remember, it’s called a grind for a reason.

-DD

 

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