Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Buy Our Delicious Gnarly Crisp Apples

Howdy, stranger. Looks like you're in the mood for a delicious apple. I have just the thing. This here is what we call a "gnarly crisp."

You've heard of honey crisp? Well, lemme tell you, they're overrated. They taste like store-bought apple juice and bruise very easily. Their distinctive crunch is an illusion--they have large cells, the actual apple is very soft, really. If you really want a hard apple, give one of our gnarly crisp a try. A word of warning: do not eat if you have weak teeth. These babies are for folks with grade A chompers only. Children and the elderly need not apply.

Oh, does the appearance of the gnarly crisp put you off? That's call russeting, folks. Those hard barnacles covering the surface of your delicious gnarly crisp deter all manner of insects and pests from tasting its flesh. Don't let it deter you! You are not an insect, no matter what they say. You are perfectly capable of enjoying a fresh gnarly crisp.

I see you still have some doubts. Perhaps the off-putting aroma of the gnarly crisp prevents you from trying it. That harsh vinegar odor is a side-effect of the gnarly crisp's intense flavor. Most people like to grab a piece of fruit and shove it into their nostrils. Not so with the gnarly crisp! Although if you do so, you might get a little high. There are fights amongst the orchard folk regarding who gets to clean up beneath the gnarly crisp trees after a harvest. The lucky person who does is often not the same for days. They enter another universe, a celestial world where manual labor seems to ease all of one's worries while giving the worker a zen-like state of mind.

Here, would you like to have a small taste? I warn you, the flavor is very intense. Please do not eat more than one gnarly crisp apple every seven days unless you wish to be sitting on your toilet for the duration of a week. The gnarly crisp has a ridiculous amount of fiber, giving it the name "nature's laxative." What do you taste? Do you detect notes of pear, perhaps a dash of cinnamon, and maybe a trace of dead animal? It's best to hold one's nose while eating in order to minimize the after-taste. This is an old trick I learned from an ancient farmer, who coincidentally died after huffing gnarly crisp wine.

So I've persuaded you to purchase a peck of gnarly crisp. That's great! I hope you enjoy your apples. That'll be twenty dollars, please. No, I will not take a personal check, only cold, hard cash. You didn't get them from me, remember? The gnarly crisp will be our little secret. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided First Impressions

Look at all the perty graphics.

1) Right after launching a new game, I am given the option of watching a twelve minute video that recaps what has happened since the previous game in the series. Did anyone pick this option? I'll admit, Deus Ex games have never had the most comprehensible plots, but I'd much rather get down to playing and figure out what's going on as I go, instead of listening to bad video game rambling.

2) After skipping the option for a twelve minute recap, I am treated to a pretty long cutscene. The original Deus Ex didn't feature lengthy cutscenes; I believe this is a Square Enix innovation, considering how the Japanese love their immersion-breaking mini-movies. Cutscenes should be used sparingly, developers, perhaps as a reward after a boss fight. They shouldn't make the player want to skip them.

3) Getting into the first mission, this seems pretty similar to Human Revolution. The graphics have received a nice upgrade, and the UI is a little more intuitive. Similarly, Jensen's augmentations feel more like superpowers. Digging the aug that lets you see through walls. Power management feels better as well--I can actually use cloak for more than a couple seconds, provided I don't move too much. Reminds me of Crysis (the original), which isn't a bad thing.

4) Still have third person takedowns, which wouldn't be a problem if the game didn't make me watch a cutscene of Jensen punching a guy in the face.

5) Haven't tried out the shooting--went stealthy with a stun gun and focused on sneaking up behind guys and knocking them out. Playing on the hardest difficulty, and Jensen bites the dust pretty quickly if he's shot at.

6) Speaking of Jensen, he's a little more insufferable this time, at least early on. All gravelly-voiced and serious. You get the impression that he thinks humor is a waste of time.

7) The whole augmented versus normal conflict feels forced. The game keeps telling me that augmented people are oppressed and I should feel sorry for them, but the end of the first game showed me that augmented people can be dangerous. Seems like only rich people would be able to get augs in the first place. Attempts to compare the plot to current events are kind of gross. Missing the whole conspiracy theory mess of the first Deus Ex game instead of this transhumanism stuff.

8) Still, fun so far. Gameplay is similar to previous games. You have a number of solutions to problems--combat, hacking, stealth. Art style has a broader palette compared to the yellow-gold theme of Human Revolution. Liking the more detailed environments. Will have a review up when I finish.

Don't scan me with your magic blue light, robot!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Theories on Stranger Things

Netflicks' Stranger Things is a glorious mishmash of prime Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, set in everyone's favorite decade, the eighties. Because you probably binged all eight episodes in a two day period, you might be feeling a little withdrawal. To help combat this, Pointless Venture is offering plausible theories to what will happen during Season Two. Let the guessing begin!

1) Barb returns from the dead. Even though we last saw her in a decomposing state with a slug crawling out of her mouth, everyone's favorite eighties' cliche is guaranteed to come back for Season Two, because the internet loves her so. I'm guessing she'll be the monster this time around, though.

2) The toothless kid gets some front teeth. That chunky kid who slurred his way into our hearts (I guess his name is Dustin) will grow an adorable pair of buck teeth that'll come in handy while fighting the Demogorgan.

3) Hopper is a clone of Jack Nicholson. Dude looks like Jack from The Shining. Will we get an official confirmation? I want to see Hopper chop down a door with an ax while doing his best Johnny Carson impression.

4) Eleven will reappear with a full head of hair. With no evil government organization to shave her head, El will certainly have luscious blonde locks when she returns from whatever netherworld she disappeared to.

5) The Demogorgan will admit to being a knock off of Alien's Xenomorph. I'm expecting the Demogorgan to shamefully reappear with its faceless head hung low and a copy of H.R. Giger's Necronomicon clutched in its claws to issue an apology in the Predator's language.

6) We will get another sweet techno soundtrack. Was season one's music from the eighties? I don't know: it sounded more like the background to a pulpy Sci-Fi flick to me.

7) Season Two will not be as good as Season One. This is a given. Either Hopper will turn out to be a secret agent, or Upside Down will be revealed to have taken place in El's head, or some other crackpot theory will actually be true and the weight of the show's mythology will lead to a self-collapse a la The X-Files. You don't have to answer certain questions: we don't need to know the true nature of the Demogorgan or the alternate universe. Leaving a little mystery is good. We all want another season, but oftentimes, we don't know what is good for us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Weightlifting: A Sensible Warm-Up

Sure, pull-aparts are nice, but they're not the panacea that Defranco claims.

When I first starting lifting, I usually just warmed-up by doing light sets before getting down to work. Now that I'm an old-ass 31 years of age, I need a little bit more. I came up with this warm-up routine and I think that it works very well. Should only take about five minutes.
1) Band pull-aparts. Popularized by trainer Joe Defranco, the pull-apart is pretty self-explanatory. Buy some cheap exercise bands and pull them apart in front of your face. This will warm up your upper back and shoulders. Do 20 reps.

2) Band curls and pull-downs. Elbow tendenosis is a problem for many lifters. Get blood flowing to that region by doing some simple arm work. 15 reps of each exercise per arm.

3) Lat stretches. Grab a hold of your power rack and stretch. Hold for at least 20 seconds.

4) Plank. Lie down on your elbows and tippy-toes. Hold for 60 seconds. Warms up your torso, which is important for any compound lift.

5) Quad stretch. Grab your foot and pull it to your ass. Hold for 20 seconds.

6) Hamstring stretch. Keeping your legs straight, bend down and touch your toes. Hold for 20.

7) Leg swings. Swing your leg out side-ways while keeping it straight. This really warms up your hip flexors, which will keep you from pulling them while you're squatting. Do 20 reps (I like the number 20).

8) Glute stretch. Lie down on a bench and pull your knee to your torso. This stretches your glutes and your hips.

That's about it. In between sets, I'll do a few of these exercises to keep blood flowing. Warming-up ensures that you'll be loose and frisky for your heavy sets.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Would You Like to Feel My Peaches?

Hello. Pleased to meet you. It's nice that you at least made eye contact before attempting to feel my peaches. You don't know how rare it is that someone looks me in the eyes. I know my peaches have a certain allure. Yet don't forget about the person behind the stand.

How do my peaches feel? Are they simply firm, or are they hard as rocks? Why do I bring them to the market that way? Well, you see, you can't bring soft peaches to the market. They just don't make the trip. Softening your peaches is an experience that I, the orchardist, do not want to deny you, the customer. Softening one's peaches should be a memorable, intimate experience. Take those peaches home. Place those peaches on the counter. If they are particularly hard, place them in a brown paper bag. Ripening fruit releases ethylene gas, which aids the softening process. I believe, however, that my peaches will ripen just fine without any help from anything other than your eyes.

Yet I sense some reluctance on your part. Years of purchasing grocery store peaches have biased you to peaches in general. You distrust me, the peach producer, when I say that my peaches will ripen. That's why you give my peaches a good squeeze and shake your head and walk away silently. You don't know how that behavior affects me, hypothetical person. Rejection hurts, even when it is undeserved. All I wish to do is educate you, the customer. All I wish is for you to share in the glory of my peaches.

Peach groupers and their kin, peach sniffers, are not bad people. They are just people who have made mistakes in life, like you and me. Perhaps they were raised differently. Perhaps they didn't get the education they should have. Sure, there are probably a few bad apples. But most just don't know what they do.

Maybe some day we'll live in a world where nobody will grope or sniff my peaches without asking first. Maybe some day people will realize that a fragrant piece of fruit is often rotting, and that a lack of smell probably means nothing. Perhaps some day I will receive a nickel for all of the peaches that have been groped without their permission. Sure, it doesn't take away the hurt, but it's something.

People, I have a dream.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Free Book

My supernatural horror novella, In the Depths of the Valley, is free on Amazon for 5 days. Click here.

In small town Hillsdale, Indiana, high school English teacher William Jameson has a dark secret: he has made a graveyard deal with an eater of the living and the dead. The object of his affection, fellow teacher Loretta Mendez, is marrying loutish cop Doug Hepburn, and meek and mild Will has no other recourse but to appeal to an amorphous evil that he does not understand. When Patrolman Hepburn kills an innocent man and goes missing, no one suspects Will but his student Dwight Howard, who must deal with his own supernatural encounter as well as a budding romance between him and his best friend's girl. What follows is a chronicle of infatuation, teenage love, and weird horror.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Things Mathew McConaughey Thinks While Driving His Lincoln

"I look goddamn good for a guy who never wears deodorant."

"When I look in the mirror, I can't imagine a more perfect human face."

"When people think of Mathew McConaughey, what do they think of? Fool's Gold? Reign of Fire? True Detective? Oh god, please don't let them think of Fool's Gold."

"Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me."

"If I could do it all over again, I'd be a naked bongo player in an art collective based out of Austin, Texas."

"What's the female equivalent of Mathew McConaughey? It would have to be someone who always has their shirt off and smells like Indian food. Lena Dunham? No, that can't be right."

"If my penis looked like my face, would I still get laid?"

"Jesus would drive a Lincoln. Not because they paid him to, but because he would like it."

"How many burritos is too many burritos?"

"Jedi is a religion, right? Because I'm either Jedi or Unitarian."

"Pants should be optional. What asshole invented pants? He was probably a Democrat."

"Sometimes when I watch my own movies, I want to knock my teeth out. Then I realize that's because I embody perfection in the physical arena. We hate the things that we don't understand, and I suppose that means that I don't comprehend myself."

"Queers and steers. Queers and steers. Queers and steers."

"If I have another child, I'm naming it 'Hindu Kush.'"

"I'm driving this goddamn boat because they paid me to drive it."

"I'm rich. Rich. Rich. Rich."