Bloody Tears of Agony

by Calvin Patimeteeporn

 

Professor Hall:

Imagine you are playing the game Tetris. You’re playing along but you slowly begin to realize that the game is only giving you the awkward (and devastating) “Z” shaped blocks and you can never make a line. No matter how hard you try, the blocks fall down in unwanted patterns, creating tiny spaces that prevent you from your goal. Even though these “Z” blocks have the same number of blocks (4) as the other pieces you need, you are not able to win.

Now retain with this image but add bleeding tears of agony.

This, Professor Hall, is what reading Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is like:

bleeding

If you think this is bad, you should see me when I read Twilight.

Continuing with my Tetris metaphor, while the number of “blocks” of the “Z” shaped blocks are the same as the others, its the arrangement that throws you completely off. Spenser wrote this epic (epic in its actual definition, rather than the modern slang) in a time where spelling was just as set in stone and mature as Stephanie Meyers’s writing ability. Thus, words he used were spelled completely differently than that of today, resulting in eye-bleeding-worthy confusion. Misspellings and archaic diction both contribute to the verbal pandemonium that ensues when encountered with non-literature savvy people. Much like the scenario in the game above and with Spenser’s work, you can’t win.

 

As well as confusing words, the structure of Spenser’s writing brings grief and frustration as well. Last week in biology, I learned that only 3% of the billions of base pairs in our genome actually code for proteins. This is much like Faerie Queene where basically most of the words used are, for the lack of a better term, junk. There is a small percentage however that actually contribute to story. In Book III Cantos iii, Glauce, the nurse to warrior maiden Britomart, takes said maiden to Merlin to seek help, as Britomart has been struck and sickened by love. Merlin explains to her that she is falling for her destined husband, Arthegall. He could have done so in maybe a few stanzas. However, Spenser decides to switch the characteristics of the wizard Merlin out with that of the Twilight saga, boring and far too long.

Faerie Queene is filled with enough odd spellings to make anyone think they are as illiterate as R. Kelly, and enough unwanted material that Matthew McConnaughey would think he has competition for the next  new romantic comedy movie. So here I warn you Professor Hall, approach Faerie Queene with the caution you would use with a rabid bear. Now if you will excuse me, I feel like this eye bleeding problem has gone out of control.

Did..did he just decapitate someone?

-Calvin Patimeteeporn (Calvirth)

While walking through the Shire in LOTRO, Calvirth is quickly spotted by hostile toads and is immediately attacked. Calvirth grasped his great sword and began to run towards the charging creature. Letting out a battle cry, Calvirth launches himself into battle, only to have all of his actions taken over by the computer. Every attack, ranged and melee, are all automatic. The game takes over combat entirely, leaving the gamer only controlling when he/she wanted to use a special attack. The combat system of LOTRO is completely non-interactive and extremely, for a lack of a better term, boring. Each attack in the game is completely up to a secret formula within the system that calculates the winner and the loser. However, rather than broadcasting that result in an efficient manner, gamers are put through choppy and repetitive animation. When I roam Middle-Earth in LOTRO, I purposefully avoid engaging in battles. Not because I am of a low level (13!) but because I dread the inevitable mundane process that is to follow: you attack, the enemy attacks, you attack, the enemy attacks, someone dies.

What Happens When I Play LOTRO:
LOTRO
Not Pictured: Fun

However, Snow Crash has an entirely new structure. Hiro Protagonist slices and dices people from page to page and Neal Stephenson writes these battles in great detail. Each fight is dynamic and captivating. Though the media of a book is not able to demonstrate animation as well as a game, the power of prose perfectly portrays these events. When reading Snow Crash I found myself completely captivated by the fight scenes. Whether it was Hiro decapitating a greased up guy trying to get on a boat or Raven throwing bamboo spears through people, I was engrossed. Sure, there weren’t pictures or videos displaying these fights but the imagination can take these scenes beyond what artists are able to create (corny!). Imagining Hiro lashing out his blades and dismembering multiple enemies from page to page is certainly an amazing experience, if not horrifying.

Me Reading Snow Crash
SNOW
Not Pictured: A Healthy Childhood

Thus, while a video game has more opportunities to be more compelling than a book, Lord of the Rings Online fails to captivate gamers in combat while Snow Crash does.

Books: 1 Video Games: 0

Toads are Terrifying

by: Calvin Patimeteeporn (Calvirth)

While I would love to describe th intricacies of the Epic Book 1 and Prologue, I can’t because of my horrible LOTRO skills. My inadequate skills of gaming has severely hindered my advancement to higher levels in the game and I apologize for not being able to reach these quests. However, I have a great substitute topic:

Why is this game SO. CONFUSING?

Today, I realized I have more than one sack to place my items in. I also realized that I can eat a numerous amount of food to regain health (morale? I dont know what to call it). I realized that I can, in fact, change weapons and sell items. All of this happened either today or yesterday. Did I mention I’ve been playing for a month?

Yes. A month.

Within that month I’ve discovered the wide variety of objects that can harm or kill me. Bears, wolves, man-eating spiders, and toads. YES. TOADS. How something so small can withstand 20 blows from an ax completely astounds me but I guess Shire toads are extremely resilient. I’ve also been called “n00b” in this game, or even better, completely ignored by other gamers who approach me and then quickly run away when I say, “Hi”. This world confuses me so. A frog can hold up a fight against me but when I fall from a manageable height I am left limping. Or how other gamers interrupt my fight with beasts to land the final blow. Or how it is only when I have very little health left do I fall off a cliff and into a wolf den where I am basically ripped to shreds by “Snarling Wolf” and “Wolf Leader”.

Besides my own frustration with the game, the virtual world of LOTRO that I actually HAVE experienced is amazing. The feeling that I have the entirety of Middle Earth to explore is real and the game designers attention to detail is amazing. It gave me great pleasure to walk around the Farthings and visit famous pubs, or even recognizing characters from the first book.

However, I am fully determined to reach the appropriate levels to enter these quest. Otherwise I would let down my avatar, and Calvirth will not stand for this.

Hear this Toads of The Shire! YOU WILL FALL BEFORE MY AX! I SWEAR TO IT!