KURE KURE TAKORA = Madness

Years ago, I remember seeing some quote that there was a super fucked up Japanese show about an Octopus and a Peanut (it’s not a peanut, it’s a squash) who are in love with the same Walrus. I just happened on a youtube video by accident and BAM there it was in all it’s glory: Kure Kure Takora. While, completely in Japanese, without any translation available at all anywhere for 200+ of the 260 episodes, it’s still 80% understandable because it’s a kids show right? This proves the 70’s were a crazy time everywhere. We had Siggy the Seamonster and Kroft Supershow– Japan had this full bore insanity.

Kure Kure Takora not at all about a love story between a Walrus and an Octopus, it’s about two thieves, liars and hucksters running the jewels on everyone in their forest realm, robbing and tricking the strange inhabitants from the sole ‘police officer’ badger to a pack of sea cucumbers and a scary jellyfish.

I’m posting this here assuming you have never seen this at all, and have no idea what it is because you need to. This is an absolutely batshit show with near executions, gun battles, ritual suicide, characters running around deranged with katanas and two characters that steal anything not tied down or directly guarded and then usually suffer for it in some way. A few of the episodes were too messed up to even air during the show’s run from ’73-’74, but not very many.

Also note, this is a Kaiju show as in, grown people in rubber suits and all practical effects. Here are a few key episodes that I can generally understand what the hell is going on. Buckle up.

Episode 115

In this episode, Takora and Chonbo ambush Biragon (an iguana) and take his paper-recycling/toilet paper cart. Then they proceed to collect paper products from the forest denizens starting with Shiku (a sea cucumber) who brings a big stack of paper– only to receive a SINGLE SHEET of toilet paper, while giving Monro (the Walrus) more rolls than she can carry for a tiny pack of paper. When he complains, they beat his ass!

Episode 208

Another cart theft episode. This time it’s Shiku (again, a sea cucumber) who has a newspaper and banana cart. Takora and Chonbo knock him down with a club and proceed to take the cart and when he complains they take his bell and knock him out. No one will buy anything so Chonbo gives away the news papers and then they trade the newspapers for the bananas. None of this makes any sense.

Episode 212

This time Takora and Chonbo ambush Hera (one of the Cucumbers) who has a saw and garden shears and is dressed as a gardener (?). They go to Monro to trim her trees and they cut down everything and she beats them with coffee cups. They go through the forest cutting phone lines and hoses and then Chonbo gets the idea to cut off one of Takora’s arms, which they do and it doesn’t end well.

Episode 50

In their forest there is only one character worse than Takora and Chonbo, and that’s the Jellyfish To Ro Ro. Almost every time they mess with this guy they get clobbered or worse. In this episode, they try to steal To Ro Ro’s fan. I looked it up and he sprays vinegar out of the top of his head which is what octopi are prepared in to eat in Japan, making To Ro Ro Takora’s nemesis.

Episode 230

In this episode, the cucumbers are making ice cream and when Takora shows up, he is shoed away by the badger. Chonbo uses a magnifying glass on a pole to melt the ice block they are using in secret and then they show up with a new one to save the day. Chonbo and Takora make ice cream for the cucumbers but they poison all three of them and steal the ice cream maker and start making it for themselves until the badger catches them and they are tortured for the remainder of the episode!

There are a ton of episodes to watch on Youtube now after they were pulled for copyright violations years ago, so go watch them. This is a treasure trove of crazy 70’s goodness that I have gotten really addicted to watching and have no idea how I didn’t try to find this stuff before. I cannot imagine how hard the crew and actors laughed and laughed making this stuff.

Twitter nonsense

Almost a year ago, I posted a tweet in response to a question from a game designer I follow who asked about why a good percentage of doctors didn’t get vaccinated. Fair question and I answered in conjecture: 1) because they’ve already had covid and 2) since the emergency status of the vaccine removes all liability from the administrator/manufacturer, there’s no legal recourse if you are injured, which my friend found out about when he got severe bursitis in his shoulder after the technician fucked up his shot. My account was locked within an hour and to unlock it I had to give my cell phone number to get it back, for reasons you can imagine. I just ignored the platform and moved on.

About a month ago, I could not find where I bought a TITAN t-shirt from and remembered I followed an account that sold them on Twitter, tried to log in, still couldn’t: even to see a list of who I followed! Since it took a couple clicks, I put in an appeal and got a response to remove the offensive tweet. What is it? Give phone number? Remove the tweet? I just ignored it until I got this today:

It’s possible this is just standard procedure for naughty “people” like me that talk about the vaccines in any way but rah rah yay and get caught by an algorithm: ban them until they give a phone number/appeal. Or it could be that they are changing because Musk may buy the company (it’s not final and may not even go through). Both scenarios are possible, but I would like to think that it’s this lawsuit from an ex NYT reporter that was banned from the platform for stating what is now completely obvious— the mRNA vaccines have a very short lifespan of efficacy compared to what we have come to expect from say, the measles, mumps, etc. and should be considered a therapeutic. I think this lawsuit is going to pop open exactly what the algorithms are doing and what the staff have been up to this whole time but most importantly, who is funding it.

From the very beginning, Twitter struggled with finding a solid revenue stream. I remember when the founders basically said ‘we have all these people, but haven’t found a way to make revenue yet.” Fair enough, but what that does is open one up for taking money in bad faith from very bad people just to keep the lights on and stockholders (Blackrock and Vanguard mostly) happy. When the financial opportunities to get big checks from Pfizer (like the rest of the media did) came to Twitter, I think they took it hook line and sinker and were obliged to modify their algorithms to fit what that funding source wanted most: no negative talk about the vax no matter what it did to the integrity of the platform or the reputation of it’s degenerate staff. This isn’t a right or left wing thing, this is a corporate shell game where a company pays to have platforms help them pass the dirty information down the road, they can rape mass profits NOW and worry about the heat later. Seeing as it’s come out now via Pfizer’s forced data dump that massive amounts of the vaccine trial data collection methods and participants were not just botched, but actively fraudulent.

When those two vaccine approval guys quit the FDA in disgust, that was the alarm bell that shit was totally fucked and it should have been all over the place, but did you see it? How is that possible if you didn’t?

I loath to post stuff like this, but it illustrates one thing about the advantage of the blogisphere compared to any corporatized social media (including Substack): bloggers can post anything we want about any topic we want.

WW1

I had been procrastinating watching it for a long time, but got through 1917 last night and wow, what a film. There’s something to be said for movies with very simple plots, Dredd, The Raid, Mad Max, The Northman, the Lighthouse, that just open up tons of possibilities for world building and character development that cannot occur when the plot is dominating screen time.

While the constant non-breaking scenes in 1917 are astounding to watch, the best part of the film for me was the changing landscape and how abruptly the characters go from pastoral grasslands to claustrophobia of the trenches, to the devastation of no-man’s land, within less than mile or so in most cases. The landscape becomes one of the characters in the film.

The film got me thinking about WW1 quite a bit as well, and it’s a grim reminder that no one in the first few weeks knew just how the war was going to play out, there were hints, for sure, especially during the American Civil War where Napoleonic tactics were annihilated by rifles that could shoot 3X as far with accuracy and near the end of the war, repeating rifles (see Hoover’s Gap). Yet no one could have guessed the massive trenchlines, mega fortresses and dominance of artillery. It was the end of the days where armies on the march feared nothing until the battle itself. More than that, WW1 represents the biggest fundamental shift in the paradigm of Western thought since the Enlightenment.

“The whole world really blew up about world war 1 and we still don’t know why. Before then, men thought that utopia was in sight. There was peace and prosperity. Then everything blew up, we’ve been in a suspended animation ever since” -Dr. Walker Percy


“The last complete normal year in history was 1913. Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914” -Konrad Adenauer


“World War 1 was more devastating to civility and civilization than the physically far more destructive world war 2: the earlier conflict destroyed an idea. I cannot erase the thought of those pre-World War 1 years, when the future of mankind appeared unencumbered and without limit.” -The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan


“Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in… Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end” -Harold Macmillan


“Historic events are often said to have changed everything. In the case of the Great War this is, for once, true. The war really did change everything: not just borders, not just governments and the fate of nations but the way people have seen the world and themselves ever since. It became a king of hole in time, leaving the postwar world permanently disconnected from everything that had come before” -G. J. Meyer

Cosmic Odyssey!!!

!!!!!!! (lots of exclamation points).

Fantasy Flight has done a wonderous job with Cosmic Encounter for the last decade+. The last expansion was superb and this one looks very interesting as it’s a CAMPAIGN version.

Interesting, are those moons? YES! is one made of cheese?

“This mode sees you and your fellow Cosmic Encounter-ers leading coalitions of aliens through a series of games across the cosmological “ages” while garnering prizes along the way. These prizes can be used in subsequent ages or saved for the final age. However, regardless of your win/loss record during the journey, every player that’s declared a winner in the Final Age Game is crowned a Campaign Winner.”

I’m super pumped. This is out in July so we don’t have too long to wait.

Here is the first article on the expansion.

Dark Souls on the Switch – it’s good*

Right after Elden Ring came out I had to take a trip and was away from my PC. I grabbed the Switch for my kids but remembered I had Dark Souls on it. The Switch, from many, many hours of whatever the fuck the kids play on there was messed up with a really bad drift-stick on one of the sticks that made DS nearly unplayable. Somewhere at some random Walmart in Indiana, I found a HORI Split Pad Pro and not only did that solve the drift-stick, it made Dark Souls a far better experience to play without the stock controllers. Very much recommended for everything unless you are worried about it fitting inside your little case (like if you have to shove it up your ass when you are sent to prison), otherwise the HORI sticks make everything play better.

Build

I was mulling over the build to use but when Pinwheel dropped the DAD mask (1/3rd chance), I knew what had to be done– Giant Dad with a fucking Chaos Zweihander. It’s a LOT of work to get all the pieces, and for new players of Dark Souls it is NOT worth it, just get the rest of the stuff and do a lightning Zweihander instead. Why? The Chaos Zwei scales off HUMANITY which means you have to run around with 5-10 humanity all the time. If you drop your souls and can’t get them back, you are farming fucking RATS in the depths for hours and hours to get what you need to hit hard enough to win.

Rings: Havel’s Ring, Wolf’s Ring

Armor: Giants + the Dad mask

Shield: Grass Crest

Weapon: Chaos Zwiehander, a bitch to create, and a bitch to use but hit’s so hard…

bastards!

Bosses

This is my second time all the way through the game so I was familiar with just about all the bosses I fought. Most of the bosses I thought were scary the first time were pushovers and some I thought were easy earlier were challenging.

Fatty Demon: Easy, but punishing later versions make me still hate this guy (like the Erdtrees)

Taurus Demon: Super easy.

Capra Demon: STILL a bitch to defeat, took me a lot of tries, not because of the Capra, but because of the dogs

Insideout Dragon : a tough fight, but the first real “boss” in the game so it better be. I lost a lot of souls during this battle for sure.

Bell Gargoyles: this was really easy, and I remember emotionally suffering in my initial playthrough.

Iron Giant: Not too bad but took me a lot of tries.

Queelag the topless: I used the summon because that one is so silly (a lady with a cleaver with a sack over her head) and she wasn’t too hard. Took me a few tries for sure and of course, that’s after Blighttown so you are always emotionally drained before fighting her, but at least there’s cleavage.

Ceaseless Discharge: this is a trick boss, so really doesn’t count. He’s easy if you know what to do and just a sad sack of fiery shit really.

Smough and Orenstein: Well… I summoned the Sunbro for help and followed the basics: Kill Orenstein first, don’t get hit by Smough and it worked out. This took me countless tries the first time through so I made sure I was good and ready for this battle, including walking in there with 10 Humanity so the Zwei was hitting hard. Big risk, big reward of the beautiful chest ahead.

Yeah, I look REAL good.

NITO: one of my favorite bosses in the end game because he’s pretty easy and also scary. Advice I got was to not go in the room to trigger the big skellingtons. Getting to NITO was terrible for me though…. ugh, Tomb of Giants was worse than Blightown this time.

SEATH: This one was tough, but I just stayed near his leg and kept circling and took him down. I had forgotten the whole prison thing so that was again a surprise!

FOUR KINGS: Super easy. I remember having a ton of trouble with these guys the first play through. Just hit them again and again.

hey I’m one of the good guys right? right? …

Demon Firesage: what an asshole. I kept getting the RNG on his AOE and it just killed me over and over and over. This boss I didn’t like too much because it felt ALMOST unfair.

Fire Centipeed: I lost 10 humanity the first time fighting this jerk, but summoned Sunbro again and we took her down.

BED OF CHAOS: this is my least favorite fight in Dark Souls. Just being constantly pushed off a cliff is not great fun. You can’t do anything but just suffer through this one and get it over with.

SIF: funny doggy. Not a tough fight. Maybe he’s the only good guy among all these bosses and you’re the bad guy.

Gwyn Lord of Cinder: For the final boss, he seems intimidating at first even for my second play through the game, but after playing Bloodborne where you MUST parry as part of normal play, this was a very easy fight that took only two tries! I just parried him over and over and had enough health to tank the shots I missed on… and the chaos zwei with 10 Humanity.

Come at me CHIZZLE CHEST!

Final verdict

The Switch version of Dark Souls is excellent, plays great, performance is fantastic. It’s all there and right in the palm of your hand and really good if you get the Hori controllers. If they work well with DS, they will work well with Breath of the Wild and everything else.

Spine of Night is out on Shudder

A while back I posted about a short film called Exordium which is quite an amazing bit of work for a mere 7 minutes of rotoscoped goodness. Now the entire film is complete and on Shudder!

https://www.shudder.com/play/46e286e8efcda9f8

Short Review:

I don’t want to spoil anything but this is about the closest film to Heavy Metal that I’ve seen. It’s a series of connected vignettes with connected characters. Most of them are quite good with just one that fell flat for me as it added nothing to the overall narrative and the characters weren’t in other parts of the movie.

The character designs are very interesting and if you have seen Exordium, that part is NOT in the film but fits in perfectly almost as a prelude. You get to find out more about the skull and the bloom in Spine of Night if you are curious.

As a criticism, some of the rotoscoped side/minor characters aren’t costumed up all that well. There was one dude that looked like he was just in a tshirt and jeans.

Of note, Lucy Lawless’s character is stark naked the entire film. While there’s not much in the way of sex-scenes, this may be enough to keep the younger kids away. I’d say 13+ on this one. The violence is nothing worse that a regular Rick and Morty or Metalocalypse episode.

If you love the Rotoscope, this has some amazing stuff. It’s not as artistically breathtaking as Fire and Ice, but it’s excellent to see a movie like this made and I want more!

Velocicoaster FTW

Silly name, and I had to wait for over an hour to get on (including 15 minutes of technical difficulties) once but holy shit, this was the craziest fucking rollercoaster I have ever been even near, let alone on. Afterward, I was still in a daze for 10 or so minutes. I followed the directions and pressed my head against the headrest during turns so didn’t have a sore neck.

While the first part of the ride is incredible, the money shot is near the end where you slow down to about 40 MPH and hit a tunnel that accelerates you in about 2 seconds to 70 MPH while on the flat then it shoots you up into a loop that inverts at the top (so you go up it upside-down and go down the outside right-side up), then flips you over for an extended hang and after a couple of turns, fires you into a spiral over water. Highly recommended.

Elden Ring – a golden shower of FROM hits

I’m 17+ hours in and I’ve seen a few things and suffered some bad beatings, had my first character’s save file corrupted and had to start over from scratch. I’m going to comment on a couple reasons why people may not like this game even though reviewers have given it 10/10 almost across the board. Do you like Dark Souls? This is absolutely a 10/10. Fan of Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter? This is probably 7/10 for you. Lukewarm or couldn’t get through Dark Souls? This may not be your thing, and that’s OK!

First off, this is fundamentally a FROM game, but open world. It takes a lot of things from previous FROM games, mixes them up, improves them and throws you into this gigantic area to try to deal with all of it at once. There are wandering giants, mud men that rip their chests open and shoot their insides out, gigantic fighting trees, parades of low-lifes, mount and blade style mounted warriors, harpies, sirens, and just so much more. The game feels like a best-hit collection from the previous games, yet due to the new context, without being repetitive or redundant.

FUUCKED!!!!!!

Mechanically, the game is closest to Dark Souls compared to Bloodborne or Sekiro. I think there is a ton to learn and the nature of the game forces you to deal with aspects of the mechanics that you may not have bothered with in the previous Souls games, such as the magic system, summons, mass healing, AOE attacks, and so on. At the root of this is the incredibly varied nature of the enemies you will face. The Tank and Spank style that I went with in the original Dark Souls works, but there are mobs and bosses that will really cause problems for this style and will force players to add other aspects (like summons) to their repertoire. I went through the entirety of Bloodborne using the Kirkhammer to smash things with no thought to any other mechanics, but there’s no way I will make it through Elden Ring with such basic tactics that I can see. Add to this that many battles will be fought on horse-back and you have a totally new dimension to the game. And speaking of horse stuff….

The Mount and Blade Parts

Mount and Blade is an awesome series with excellent mass combat mechanics and really groundbreaking horseback combat. Elden Ring borrows from this extensively and creates many of the same type of feels with it’s horse-based combat. I am addicted to running around and challenging other dudes on horses to fight. The best part is dragging your weapon along the ground and just mowing through dismounted enemies. This is very similar to the feeling of smashing into a formation of foot soldiers in Mount and Blade and hacking them down with a giant sword or scythe. If you dig Mount and Blade, you will feel instantly comfortable with the horse-based combat of Elden Ring.

Classes

There are a lot of classes in the game and they all give you a basis for a playstyle that you may or may not follow through the game. It’s fundamentally if you want to go Strength, Dexterity or some sort of magic. Class doesn’t matter that much and if you are stressed about it, just take the wretch and let what you find in the game define what you become– it almost always works out that way anyway.

That said, I really like the prisoner for the silly helmet and the Samurai who starts with a longbow and katana (this would be a dexterity build). I started with the bandit for a dex/arcane build, but my second character was, of course, a wretch. While lots of builds are effective, not all of them are easy and you could be setting yourself up for HARD MODE if you go down the magic path (at least at first) without ever playing the game. Basically there are a lot of foundations to choose from, but they don’t matter all that much and even out as you gain even 10-15 levels.

a wretch, doing what wretches do which is being naked and afraid.

Weapons

Weapons will feel very familiar to Souls players, in fact, many are nearly the same but with one critical exception: weapons have special abilities called Ashes of War that allow one of the heavy attack buttons to invoke a special move– some of which are pretty mundane (like Determination that gives you extra damage) and others that are spectacular like Glintsword Arch which turns your weapon into a massive one for a single strike, or super useful such as a special dodge. What’s more, you can change these special powers out, which also can change your ability affinities with each weapon (for example, some Ashes will change a STR affinity from D to B, etc.). These use you characters spell points (FP) to use, so most of them you can’t use all day. Great addition to the game so far that you may miss early in your play.

Magic

I have never run a balls out magic user, just added a bit of Faith to my STR builds to heal on the fly. I’ve seen some magic during multiplayer and it is NUTS in this game. This is an area of Elden Ring I can’t wait to explore more, as soon as I get more confidence that I can survive!

a couple of Wretch and Turtle Friend

In addition to the normal spell builds available (pyro, sorcery, faith), all players can use SUMMONS. These are NPC’s that join you in a fight /period of time and range from sorcerers to wolves, undead and many other things I haven’t seen before. This helps a ton with bosses and you can tell that they made bosses more difficult assuming that all players would use summons.

Multiplayer

I ran all of Dark Souls 1 and 2 without using multiplayer the first time, and boy I missed out. Multiplayer is one of the best parts of the game despite the fact that it is obtuse to try to get going at first, and currently prone to drops on the PC fairly frequently.

The beauty of multiplayer is the fact that it can ease up the difficulty vs mobs and bosses and allow non-standard and sub-optimal builds as well as allowing more experienced players to carry newer folks through some of the really rough spots so they can progress.

Invasions are a bit odd in Elden Ring– you can only invade players that are already using summons of other players, so you are walking into a 1v 2 situation at least every time as an invader. If your goal is to hunt and kill people, that’s great, but if you want to duel, this is very different from Bloodborne /Dark Souls.

There are invasion arena areas where you can get duels in designated areas, but it’s definitely not the same as the old games– seems like it’s a bit friendlier for new players who don’t have to worry about getting invaded while alone.

Onward!

Elden Ring is awesome and absolutely deserves the hype it got before release and is getting post release, confusing (by design) and very difficult to try to solo. I have a long, long way to go in the game and will probably do a real review in about a year– likely when Elden Ring wins GOTY for 2022.

Ancient DOTA 2 Highlight Reels

Back in 2012 and 2013 I played a lot of DOTA with the gang. Great game, but man the last hit farming click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click before you get to the good stuff was just super annoying. Eventually the clicking started to bother my shoulder area something fierce and I threw in the towel on the game. No doubt, this is almost a better game than the game that spawned it (Warcraft 3), note I said ALMOST.

Anyway, if you have the patience, you might see yourself in the following. I was not a good video creator at this time with sound levels, etc, but stuff for the archives. Though I uploaded all of these to youtube, I was too embarrassed to actually share them.

2021 – Video Game of the Year: Virtua Fighter Ultimate Showdown

Why on earth would I pick the GOTY for 2021 to be a remake of a game that came out 10 years ago? Because this game is still the best fighting game there is and we played the shit out of it regular since it came out last summer.

Any time my kid’s friends are over and they feel like playing a fighter, they always select Virtua Fighter, and, until this summer, we had to lug out the XBOX360 in order to play it. What’s more, these kids couldn’t go home and play/practice the game so the only time they could play was at our house. No longer! With the release of VF Ultimate Showdown, modern consoles get this absolute gem ad infinitum.

When it first came out, I was skeptical– especially after the Warcraft 3 debacle by the now collapsed and sold Blizzard Activision, and I was confused why they didn’t just port it direct instead the overhauling of the graphics. As a test, I played the 360 one for a couple hours, then switched to the new one, then switched back and it’s just as responsive and plays exactly the same.

Graphics wise, it’s an update that definitely modernizes the characters and stages, but in some cases not for the better. First off, a lot of the male characters look great with the exception of Akira who does not look quite right at all to me. However, ALL of the female characters look much worse than their 2010 versions in the face region. I do not like the way Vanessa, Eilene or Pai look at all, Sarah is the only one that turned out sort of OK. I think they need to keep working on the faces for all the characters.

Bling wise, there’s a fraction of the character customization in the game compared to 2012’s version– no longer can I bust out Vanessa barefoot in a wedding dress or customize her to look just like Sarah so it’s hard to tell who the other person is actually fighting (haha!). There is a 10$ Yakuza costume pack that adds some new threads, but overall a minor disappointment.

That said, they created/recreated blocky Virtua Fighter 1 style character models for all the characters (including the new characters added from VF2 onward) and that’s fantastic, I can play with the VF2 version of my old main, Lion, but with his full moveset from VF5. Baller!

While the access to this game on modern consoles is the core reason why this was selected as GOTY, the second main reason is really critical– since this game sold so well SEGA is now thinking hard about a Virtua Fighter 6, which should be the end goal of all humans in the coming years.

Online play works great and I’ve had ZERO lag issues, my losses are my own fault and not like I yelled at the TV at the time, ping based. My online play is limited because I have access to local, albeit short and small bean, players.

Recent interest in the game has picked up, and while this new version is definitely not Virtua Fighter 6, I’ve just been super pumped to be able to play this online and locally since it’s release. It looks great, with the exception of some facialisms, and plays, as always, fan-fuckn-tastic. If you have never played a Virtua Fighter game, it is not hyperbole in the slightest when I say it is the best fighting game ever made. It’s three buttons, it’s easy for beginners to pick up and play (together) and have fun and shockingly deep for intermediate and expert players. Below is an example of me fighting against two 11 year old kids that switched off using the controller.