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Doctor Who - Series 8 Thoughts

Tonight I wanted to do something a little different, and actually talk about something rather than abstract stuff as I have frequently.

As fate would have it, the past week has given me some time to let the recent finale of Doctor Who's 8th (rebooted) season sink in.

The 13th Doctor

I came back to Doctor Who after a pretty lengthy absence. Somewhere in the midst of season 7's first half (in 2012), I'd lost interest and stopped keeping up with things - and by that point I was already forcing myself to sit through some of the episodes just to see Rory die again and again or Matt Smith's Doctor find a new way to reset everything again and again.

The premise of a new Doctor sounded like great news to me, and rekindled my interest. And, simultaneously as I started the new series, I decided to go back and watch all of those episodes I hadn't yet seen.

Funnily enough, these turned out to be some of the best damn episodes of Doctor Who I'd seen in years. Matt Smith made a complete switch for me, from being an okay Doctor to a very memorable and likable one. The stories got better, to the point that nearly every episode in season 7's second half was interesting to me.

It occurred to me that this is a trend with Doctor Who, with every new Doctor. It's true of David Tennant just as much as it is Matt Smith: Things get better in the later seasons.

I'm not sure why this is exactly, but it just is. Maybe it takes a while for each Doctor to really come into their own. Maybe it's the companions become more interesting later on - not saying I didn't like Rose or Amy, I did, but their characters and stories did become kind of repetitive after a short while. Or maybe, everything just gets more exciting when each Doctor has a few seasons of continuity under their belts which can be drawn from.

I kept this thought in mind, as I watched most of 13th Doctor Peter Capaldi's premiere season unfold.

1. Deep Breath

In my opinion, the season premiere was easily one of the best episodes of this season. Deep Breath was an elongated episode, and aside from introducing Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, it gave us the chance to see how confusing it can be for a companion when their warm and friendly Doctor suddenly dies and is reborn as a colder and more detached version of himself.

The episode saw the return of the Paternoster Gang, following up on the events of the last season finale and specials, and featured an alien menace that killed beings for individual body parts to build organic bodies for its people. There was also a dinosaur, just because.

The thing I thought was cool, was that the antagonist was the Clockworks, a Steven Moffat-created villain from back during David Tennant's run. Originally robots from the future, these more modern Clockworks have grown to become more human and less robotic. Even still, it couldn't prevent them from being evil monsters.

Deep Breath had many memorable scenes, and is one of the best introductory episodes of Doctor Who I've ever seen - right up there with Eccleston meeting Piper and yelling, "Run!", and Smith having fish sticks and custard with a young Amy Pond. It served as a nice opener to the series, and introduced a strange new character that could meet with people who crossed paths with the Doctor after they died.

2. Into the Dalek

...And this was actually probably my least-favorite episode of the season. Into the Dalek, it seems, was there just for the sake of giving us a new Dalek episode for a new Doctor. The Doctor meets up with some people who are trying to fix a broken Dalek, and to do so, they get hit by a shrink ray and go inside of the Dalek's body.

Some things about the episode were cool, such as the way the Daleks are shown to have a system of nano-antibodies that swarm through its body and kill intruders who draw attention to themselves. Or the way comparisons were drawn between the Doctor and the Daleks, with the Dalek in question telling the Doctor that he would make a good Dalek.

But I can't help but become annoyed by some of these military episodes of DW, where 'soldiers' are played by scrawny young men and women. I get that this is the future and all, and maybe any old person can be trained as a soldier... But there's no muscle, no intensity there... And it almost feels like the casting people pick any old person off of the street or go to fan conventions to select the folks for these roles.

Likewise, the episode just felt like filler. It didn't feel like the Dalek-introduction episode that Capaldi's Doctor deserved. But, I am almost certain there will be more chances for him to do battle with the show's most iconic villains. As it stands, certainly not the worst episode of DW ever, though.

3. Robots of Sherwood

I know I'm gonna catch some flak for this, but gosh-dernitt, I kind of liked this episode. I wouldn't say it was a stand-out episode of the season, but it wasn't bad. At least the actors they chose really looked the part - for Robin Hood, his Merry Men, and the Sheriff of Nottingham - and that's more than I can say for the people who were in the previous episode.

It was cheesy and weird, but I liked that about it. Watching an iconic character like Robin Hood match wits with the Doctor and seeing their different approaches to situations was comical. And I liked that the show took liberties with history by suggesting that maybe Robin Hood really did exist, but someone wrote the book about him.

Not true at all, but a novel idea nonetheless - this could open the door to making other fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real in the DW Universe. Do I smell a Sherlock-Doctor Who cross-over?

4. Listen

This was another really stand-out episode from the season, right up there with Deep Breath. Listen will likely see its events revisited later on since much in the episode was never completely addressed, as with many other episodes of this season, but I think this was one of the first episodes of the season that felt like it could really stand strong on its own without serving as part of an arc.

The episode began with The Doctor spending a lot of time alone in the TARDIS thinking, while Clara began dating her co-worker Danny. The Doctor comes to the conclusion that there is someone or something watching him whenever he is alone, and that he needs to listen for it and find out what it is.

The Doctor uses Clara's direct mental input to the TARDIS to lock-in on a memory and take the TARDIS to the time and place of the memory, resulting in them landing in the childhood of Danny instead of Clara since she was thinking about him. Another attempt takes them to the far future, where they meet a man who looks oddly similar to Danny and may be a descendant of his.

But the real kicker of the episode is when we get a glimpse into The Doctor's personal childhood, as a loner on Gallifrey. Clara is the first companion who the Doctor technically meets, hidden under his bed when a group of adults come to check up on him overnight. Clara reassures the Doctor, and helps contribute to shaping him into the man who he eventually becomes. The episode concludes that there never really was anything there when the Doctor was alone, except for maybe his childhood fears.

5. Time Heist

Time Heist was kind of a cool episode this season, one of the better ones. The way it was structured was different, and it made me feel like this was Doctor Who-meets-Ocean's Eleven.

The Doctor, Clara, and two other people wake up in a room with a briefcase, their memories erased - by the memory worms from the Snowmen special! They are given an objective - to break into a secure bank and steal something. But the bank is guarded by a powerful monster who can use psychic powers to liquify the brains of dishonest bank patrons.

I liked the guest characters in the episode - Psi and Saibra. Psi is an expert hacker with a computer database built into his brain, and Saibra has the ability to transform to look like whomever she touches. They use their abilities to help the Doctor and Clara on their mission, so Psi can recover the memories he deleted and Saibra can get an antidote to do away with her powers and be able to touch people without changing.

It's kind of disappointing that Saibra lost her powers, since they could come in handy like they did during the episode. Both she and Psi would have made some interesting future companions for the Doctor.

The Doctor ultimately went to the bank to help the monster, whose mate is locked away within the bank. Another happy ending!

6. The Caretaker

I think by episode 6, halfway through the season, I had come to a realization: Peter Capaldi's Doctor was not really all that dark and mysterious as had been advertised. Cold, maybe. Unsure of himself, yes. But one thing he was for certain, was funny as hell.

The Caretaker was one of my less-favorite episodes of the season, but it still had its moments. I guess I would rate it somewhere alongside Robots of Sherwood. From a series arc perspective, the episode was important in showing the progression of Danny as a main character, and his interaction with the Doctor. It also had the Doctor doing some new things, more so than many of the other episodes of the season.

Most of the episode focused on the Doctor taking a job as a custodian at Clara and Danny's elementary school - primarily to use the opportunity to stop an alien living under the school, but also to be obnoxious and snoop in on Clara's personal life.

Something that was funny and at the same time reflective was the way in which the Doctor hoped and assumed Clara was interested in the scholarly man who looked somewhat like the 12th Doctor, and completely shrugged off someone different for her like Danny. In a way, it made me not so certain that the Doctor didn't want Clara to have feelings for him after all, though maybe he really did just want to make sure she found someone good for herself.

One thing I liked about this episode was that The Doctor used a lot of different kinds of tools and inventions that he'd never used before. He made several tracking devices and placed them around the school, he made a device for teleporting the monster somewhere else, and he whipped up a fancy James Bond-esque watch that lets him turn invisible. If nothing else, this episode certainly serves as a reference point for showing that this new Doctor is quite an engineer and likes using more gizmos than the usual sonic screwdriver and psychic paper.

Seeing the Doctor take on the role of a reluctant caretaker to rebellious children was also fun. While I look forward to seeing Capaldi's Doctor in more serious situations, these lighthearted encounters will be memorable ones.

7. Kill the Moon

I've read that a lot of people really didn't like this episode, with some calling it the worst of this season. I don't really agree. I don't think it's nearly as bad as Into the Dalek, and there were some things I really enjoyed about the episode. Mostly, that ending.

Okay, so the thing that really did bother me about the episode was the way the answer to everything was to do nothing. And the Doctor was going to leave an important decision in the hands of Clara, and ultimately she was about to make the wrong choice until he intervened. It was a good setup for showing that Clara is a bit of an uncertain person, and it gave her good reason to be mad at the Doctor for being so detached and thoughtless of her feelings.

I wasn't bothered by the show taking liberties with the moon being not really a moon at all, but an egg waiting to hatch into an awesome space-dragon. I thought that was the coolest part! Before the show actually confirmed this information, the thought had crossed my mind - so I guess I liked that the writers' heads were in the same place as mine. It also would be cool to see this creature again, sometime during Capaldi's run. It calls to mind the Star Whale, the creature who the 12th Doctor saved in episode 2 of his run.

The spiders being not spiders at all, but germ organisms was also cool. Seeing the girl kill one with disinfectant was kind of like seeing Mickey kill the Slitheen with salt. I don't think it was necessarily a stand-out title from the season, but it was a decent one.

8. Mummy on the Orient Express

This was a stand-out episode of the series, in my honest opinion. I really ended up liking Mummy on the Orient Express, it was a clever little episode. It felt kind of like a strong solo episode, and I didn't predict anything that was going on so it was kind of surprising. It also gets a thumbs-up for Clara lookin' mighty-fine!

So basically in this episode Clara is about to leave, but comes with the Doctor for one last hurrah. They go to the Orient Express for a relaxing final outing, on a train that travels through space. Of course, the train just so happens to have a monster aboard - a mummy that appears every couple of hours to kill someone, and can only be seen by the person who it is about to kill.

Several people die until it's realized that most of the passengers and boxcars on the train are computer simulations, and a computer program named Gus is challenging a group of the most intelligent people in the galaxy to figure out how to stop the mummy. The Doctor discovers that the mummy was a soldier, and stops it by surrendering to it, freeing the soldier from its endless mission and using its cloaking technology to teleport the passengers safely off of the train.

Clara can't get over the thrill of traveling with the Doctor and decides to stick around.

9. Flatline

So far a lot of cool new villains have been introduced this season. Dalek anti-bodies, the Doctor's fears, a monster that can turn your brains to soup, a space dragon and a soldier in futuristic gear that looks like a mummy. Flatline introduced another really strong contender with a creature that can bend the dimensions, turning fat, 2-dimensional objects into 3D ones, and vice-versa.

The monster does this by blending in with its surroundings, and creating murals and paintings, then swallowing up its victims and turning them into a background decoy to prevent suspicion. It saps the energy of the TARDIS to gain this power, in the process causing the TARDIS to become physically smaller on the outside, and draining its shields. In this episode we get to see the TARDIS in its basic form!

Clara takes on the role of the Doctor for most of the episode, while the Doctor acts as her guide and pocket companion. Seeing Capaldi's face peeking out of a tiny TARDIS doorway was comedy gold, and really gave us more insight into the technical details of the TARDIS and how it works. At the end of the episode little is learned about the new dimensional enemy, and the Doctor has no choice but to angrily banish them away with force, unable to communicate effectively with them.

Flatline was another really cool, kind of creepy episode from this season. I'd rank it up there with Mummy on the Orient Express and Time Heist, at least.

10. In the Forest of the Night

This was really one of my least-favorite episodes of the entire season. I didn't dislike it as much as Into the Dalek... Maybe I actually liked it about as much as Kill the Moon? I don't know. The thing is, it felt like this episode had some serious loose ends.

Things I did like about this episode... Okay, there were a few. Danny being very heroic was probably pretty high up there. I think by this point, I'd grown to really like his character. Tigers are no joke, and that seemed like a smart way of fending one off. Not an animal expert or anything, but still.

I liked that trees are shown to have many more important roles according to DW, as a powerful shield that can grow to massive heights and pump the atmosphere with oxygen, to protect it from destructive cosmic forces. It sounds crazy, but then there is much we don't know about life and the universe, so it's another embellishment I liked - maybe as much as the moon being an egg that a dragon hatches from.

Most importantly, I liked how this episode showed Clara and Danny in a different light. Clara was shown to be more irresponsible and thoughtless, while Danny was shown to be very protective of the kids and mature in his relationship with Clara. By the end of the episode, I think I was convinced that Danny is capable of being a good man for Clara. I was also convinced that there is more going on with Clara than meets the eye.

I didn't like how, for the second time this season, the answer to the problems was just to do nothing. Cutting the trees down was the problem, do nothing and let the planet handle it. Destroying the moon isn't the answer, let it hatch first to see that the shell will harmlessly break apart and the dragon will fly away withing ravaging the planet. I think it is in mankind's nature to do something, to be part of our lives and our fate. One episode where nothing was the answer was okay, but two so closely together? It just seems like too much of the same idea all at once.

What I liked least was, ironically, the thing I liked most about Kill the Moon. That ending. The episode has a little girl with problems seeing and interacting with strange forest faeries, and at the end of it all, her long-lost sister turns up inside of a bush. I'm all for happy endings, but I felt like there was no real rhyme or reason there. Hopefully there is more to that, but if there isn't, I'm okay with just moving along and forgetting that part of the episode... Much in the same way humanity will probably forget about those trees ever magically sprouting.

11. Dark Water

The first part of the series finale. Okay, the finale was pretty good, actually there were things I liked about both parts of the final episode. I don't think either episode was really the best that the season had to offer, however. But as far as dark and sad, I think these were two of the darker, sadder episodes of the season.

Dark Water begins with something rather unexpected. Clara calls Danny, Clara finally professes her love for Danny, Danny crosses the street, Danny is struck and killed by a motor vehicle. Ouch. Clara yet again experiences a drastic change in personality this season.

This leads into an epic scene of betrayl - Clara blackmails the Doctor into throwing away all of his TARDIS keys if he won't take her to the afterlife to bring Danny back from the dead. This turns out to be a test of the Doctor's, a hologram he created to see how Clara would react, and she failed. It was a bit disappointing, but you've gotta admit - throwing away TARDIS keys can't keep the Doctor out of his TARDIS - especially when he can open the door with the snap of his fingers!

The Doctor agrees to go to the afterlife to get Danny back, however, forgiving Clara for her outburst. The Clara-Doctor friendship rekindled, the two travel to the site of Danny's afterlife using the TARDIS memory link from Listen. There they find the deceased relaxing underwater in the seated position, and the mysterious Missy character from throughout the season introduces herself as a robot guide for the afterlife... Only to confirm it's a ruse shortly afterward.

An afterlife worker explains that the deceased are placed in something called dark water, through which only organic material appears. A short while later, it's revealed that the bodies of the deceased are actually turned into Cybermen, and the dark water is used to hide that little piece of information. Honestly, that was a freaky part of the episode - didn't expect the dead people to be Cybermen!

Missy shows up and kills one of her assistants on the spot, and then releases the Cybermen outside of the building. When the Doctor and Missy step outside, he finds himself in London. Missy then reveals that she is his old nemesis, The Master. How? What? I don't know. Last time we saw the Master, he died. Then he was brought back to life by a cult, and then became a power-hungry zombie that needed to kill people and absorb their energy to continue living. And then, he sacrificed himself to save the Doctor from Rassilon. And was apparently trapped with Gallifrey in time-lock.

12. Death in Heaven

The final episode of the season. It was, again, a pretty good episode, though probably not the best episode of the season. It was really a mixed bag - a lot happened, much of it which we have yet to see explained.

The episode begins with a wild and, to some extent, not fully-clarified opening wherein Clara announces that she is the Doctor, and Clara Oswald never existed. Though she later writes this off as a lie, many other oddities surrounding Clara have yet to be cleared up - I'll come back to that in a few moments.

Meanwhile the Mistress causes rainstorms to appear over graveyards and mortuaries, causing the dead who come in contact with it to turn into Cybermen. An army of Cybermen begin to overtake Earth, outnumbering the living.

Danny ultimately became a cyberman, regardless of whatever decision he made to be cremated or not, though a part of him hasn't been activated yet which stops him from feeling anything. Danny rescues Clara from other Cybermen and tasks her with activating the switch and putting him out of his misery.

The episode marked the return of UNIT, taking both the Doctor and the Mistress into custody. The Doctor is informed that he is now the President of Earth, a title created specially for him when the world is faced with dire circumstances. The Mistress taunts the Doctor by telling him she knows where Gallifrey is, but won't tell him. She eventually frees herself and kills most of the crew members by summoning Cybermen to blast holes in the plane.

Clara convinces the Doctor to help her turn Danny into a full Cyberman. The Mistress then gives the Doctor a bracelet to have control over the Cybermen, so he can have his own army. The Doctor, reflecting on the type of man he is, determines that he isn't a good man or a bad man, but an idiot with a box. He decides to give the bracelet to Danny, since he is keeping his promise to protect Clara even in death, and Danny leads the Cybermen to fly into the atmosphere and self-destruct.

The Mistress gives the Doctor the coordinates to Gallifrey, telling him it's in the original place it had been. After this, she is abruptly killed by a lone Cyberman. The head of UNIT, who is found alive, recognizes the Cyberman as her father, the deceased Brigadier-General from the original series of Doctor Who. He, too, heads off to self-destruct.

The episode ends with Danny getting a chance to come back to life, but using the opportunity to revive the young civilian boy he killed in the war. Clara hides her unhappiness and lies to the Doctor, telling him Danny is alive and they are well. The Doctor lies and says he found Gallifrey, when in actuality the Mistress seems to have lied yet again about the coordinates. The Doctor and Clara part ways, and the Doctor is abruptly stopped by Santa Claus (played by Nick Frost), who confronts the Doctor and realizes that he and Clara aren't truly happy.

Other Thoughts on Season 8...

Peter Capaldi's first tenure as The Doctor was a very different kind of trip. While there were similarities to previous seasons, it felt wholly less warm and fuzzy than the Tennant and Smith years. And yet, at the same time, perhaps the Doctor doesn't seem nearly as different as I had thought he would be. He isn't a completely stern and rude Doctor. And despite his insistence that he is not in a relationship with Clara, he still seems to hint at the idea of wanting one from time to time. There is much to like about the 13th Doctor, and yet, it feels like we've barely scratched the surface of this man's range as the Doctor. Let's not forget, this was only his first tenure - if history has proven anything, it's that season 9, 10, and beyond will likely be even better.

Clara, too, has been a surprisingly pleasing companion in her second full season. I know not everyone would agree with me on that point, but it seems like there is a lot to her character. In fact, I feel like we still have a lot of mysteries to solve involving the 'Impossible Girl'. Firstly, she has been all over the Doctor's time-stream, and she has visited him in his childhood - right now she has had a greater impact on The Doctor's life than any other single companion. Secondly, we still don't know why River Song was able to communicate with Clara last season despite being dead. And, perhaps lastly, we still don't know entirely why The Mistress went to elaborate lengths to introduce The Doctor to Clara. There is more than meets the eye to Clara. Also, proclaiming she is the Doctor? That was still kind of weird. Definitely see the show needing more time with Clara, at some point or another.

A lot has to be explained about The Mistress, for example how he became a she, or how he is even still alive. Wouldn't Rassilon have dealt with him? A lot remains unclear there. And I think it goes without saying that we haven't seen the last of Missy. It almost feels like the Master will be part of a longer plot with Capaldi's Doctor, much in the same way the original Master bumped heads with Tom Baker's Doctor at key points in his run. So for now, maybe we shouldn't think too much about those gaping plot-holes, because they are likely this Doctor's 'cracks in the wall' which will take some time to explain.

Much of this season was also meant to reflect on older episodes, as I understand it. A lot of this stuff goes right over my head, mostly because I'm unfamiliar with the original series, and also because I try to just focus on the present. It's hard to tell what piece of information will come up again at some later point in this show.

I think looking forward, there is a lot to expect from season 9. New companions, new monsters, the return of more classic enemies, another seasonal arc, and hopefully some other surprises. Speaking of this season's arc, I guess a lot still remains to be explained about the place where souls were being stored in the afterlife. A lot will have to be addressed.

One thing's for sure, Series 8 went by way too fast. But at least we'll have the Christmas special to look forward to soon!

~ Ovirew

The Many Paths to Happiness

Sometimes my daily horoscopes surprise me with how accurate they seem to be. That's why I take the time to read up on them now and again, for that bit of insight that I can reflect upon when making choices. Today's forecast is yet another one that seems to be right on the money. It essentially said that there are many paths to finding happiness, and that I've got to choose my direction there... But I have to show that I can put my fears aside and take responsibility for my happiness first.

This past week or so has been kind of a rough one to manage. I think I'm over the worst part of my cold, though I'm still somewhat sick and I'm still having ear problems. I've had trouble understanding a lot of the things we've learned in school this semester, but lately I'm falling behind more. And a lot of my issues with happiness and uncertainty have been rising to the forefront.

When the year began, I had other things in mind. I never knew what would happen, but I never suspected I would further my education yet, and I never thought that my current job would become my longest-serving job thus far. I didn't think I'd still be working this same shift. Or maybe, I just expected that my life would move along and change in some other way. I'm not 100% certain. At any rate, I wasn't thinking specifically about New Year's 2015 during New Year's 2014 - I was thinking about 2014 and the year ahead, and the possibilities it could represent for me.

The year went by fast, and decisions were made much quicker than I'd imagined they would be. I decided to keep putting up with work even though my coworkers were less than ideal, because it was better than dealing with other things I used to deal with. I decided I didn't need anybody else's approval to take the plunge and get engaged. I decided to sign up for college because I didn't have any better plans. I decided to give up on Sony and Nintendo again because Microsoft was the only company making games that resonated with me. I made the decision to do and say the things I did this year - not unlike the decisions I made to love this particular woman and to move here and start a new life with her.

I don't know if I made the right decisions, and I don't know if I gave all of them enough thought or had enough information beforehand, but I made them.

I never knew exactly what to do with my life, and I still don't know if I do. What do I want? I don't know. Well, maybe I do - the problem is that I don't know how anything will turn out.

Ten years ago I wanted to move to Japan, and make video games, and have a Japanese wife. About 14 or 15 years ago, I still wanted to make cartoons, and I wanted a French wife. The thing I didn't know when I was a kid is that drawing is hard, and there are lots of different kinds of artists, and making it through art in high school is boring, and you will meet lots of different kinds of people who are more dedicated and more talented at drawing than you are. When I was in high school, I didn't realize how unrealistic my expectations of the real world were.

Those couple of years after I graduated, those depressing back-and-forth 3 or 4 years, I started to learn that I couldn't expect much of people at all. Of course I wouldn't realize that after all of those failed friendships in school, no, I had to keep hoping that this ideal world awaited me somewhere.

Last year I wanted a PS4. Last Holiday I wanted a 3DS. How could I ever predict that 6 months later I'd want an XBox One?

If my life here were to fall apart, I have no idea where I would go. I don't necessarily think my life would end, but I have no idea what new path of happiness I would seek in life. There's so many different places, so many different kinds of women, and a few different ways to start over.

I don't know if I can handle going through so much depression anymore. If this life doesn't work, I'm not so sure I will continue to live my life the way I have been. Maybe I get sick of feeling stuck in life, and I really just want to do what I want to do and the fuck with everyone else? There's lots of things I've wanted throughout my life, and maybe I can have a bunch of them, if I'm willing to sacrifice a lot of other things.

But I'm not so sure I want to think about that right now. I've put so much into this life, and there are a lot of good things despite some bad things. The problem is that when you make a decision, sometimes you lose out on those other options - permanently.

I have to make decisions, tough ones. I don't want to. But the result will determine what I can and can't do with the rest of my life. And I'm not sure I can handle that much pressure, that much restriction. I'm not sure if it is or isn't what I want. Maybe I feel disappointed that it can't be everything I want. Maybe I feel cheated and ripped off because of that, because there is no such thing as true happiness in this world.

For now, I guess there's a lot to think about. And I'm afraid that I could lose no matter what.

~ Ovirew

My Problems with Friendship

Imagine you're having a conversation with someone, someone you talk to often - an acquaintance. You start talking about how things have been, and catch up on all of your common interests and thoughts. Things go back and forth a little bit - sometimes you're talking and they're listening, sometimes you're listening and they're talking, exchanging thoughts. Things are going great, you're making jokes and instantaneously understanding what the other says one turn right after the other. You're feeling like, just maybe, this person could one day grow to be a good friend - someone you can hang out with!

Time goes on, and maybe you're having another conversation with this person. You're anxious to talk to them, you enjoy their company, and you have been thinking of telling some joke or discussing something with this person for a while now. You start talking to them, but the conversation goes other places. You're not finding that window of opportunity to casually drive the discussion towards whatever you wanted to say. The other person, in fact, seems eager to talk about something else entirely - maybe something you don't have a whole lot of interest in, but you listen anyway out of friendliness. Finally, you say what you have to say. ...But maybe the response you get is less than what you had expected. Maybe the other person doesn't fully grasp what you've said, maybe your joke didn't make sense like it did in your head. Maybe the person is disinterested in that thing! And maybe they immediately change the subject once more.

A few months pass. This person just wants to talk about what they want to talk about, you just want to talk about what you want to talk about. You find yourself frequently going round and round with the same thoughts whenever you discuss anything the two of you have common ground on. It's becoming kind of old, and disappointing. Sometimes you find yourself screaming, "Hurry up and finish talking so I can say what I have to say!" Maybe your conversations dwindle down to simple "Hi"'s and "See you around."'s In fact, maybe by now, you're actually thinking, "Oh no, there's that person again. Quick! Gotta get away from them, gotta make up some excuse!" Or maybe you're the other person, confused because this person you tried to open yourself up to is rejecting you, and avoiding you.

We've all been there, and after a chance experience at work tonight, I feel like addressing the topic a little more. Friendship. Why is it so hard to find it? And why does it never seem to last when you do think you've found it? Is there such a thing as a true friend? I won't spend all night on this, but I do think it's something that I need to give a closer look to, since I've had a lifelong struggle with friendship. I want to look at some cases of my struggles with friendship from throughout my life.

Lifelong Loner

First, some background. So friendship is really this thing I've struggled to find throughout my life. I suppose part of it comes from my inability to trust people, and also my already negative feelings towards people and humanity in general. And some of it comes from my tendency to be reclusive and not want to reach out or get to know people. But I think I've made adequate effort to open up to people over the years, and I still didn't have much luck with finding a friend. And that's been over 26 years worth of subconscious searching.

It's hard to say who my first 'friend' was, or the first person who I considered to be a major friend, anyway. I remember when I was a kid my aunt would sometimes watch a friend's boy who was around my age. We got along okay, but I seem to remember after one of my birthdays we didn't really talk as much. Maybe we had an argument, maybe even a fight. For one thing, I seem to remember I was kind of rude to him. His nose was always runny, and it was disgusting to me, and perhaps I put myself above him a little bit because of it. I also had a lot of trouble connecting with a lot of boys my age since I was never into toy trucks, army stuff or wrestling, and maybe I had difficulty finding common interests with him because of that. When he got a mohawk he thought he looked cool. I thought it looked kind of stupid. Perhaps my snootiness got in the way of that friendship.

Sometime later, I believe, I remember hanging out with this girl that my next door neighbors would sometimes babysit. She was around my age, but I think a bit older than me. I don't remember her name. But I think she was one of my first crushes. We would hang out together and play, just the two of us, and it was great. And then one day I went to see her, like usual. ...But this time it wasn't just us - there were also a bunch of other boys there. Older boys, around her age. Nobody there seemed particularly mean, or rude towards me, but I couldn't help feeling that the magical friendship this girl and I shared was not exclusive to us. I felt like I couldn't compete for her friendship among all of these other boys, and I felt shy and out of place. We were all walking towards the woods behind our houses, and I remember I started crying. Everyone else was still walking ahead, but I just turned, and ran back home. I don't think they noticed I was gone right away, but maybe I did hear her calling out to me, asking where or why I was going. I never looked back, and I never saw that girl again. Sometimes I think maybe she was this other girl, but then I don't think so - could I really have remembered one girl as two different people? I'll never know. My shyness and closeness prevented me from following her.

Skipping over many cases, several years later - around 3rd grade or so, I met the person who I kind of consider to be my first textbook 'friend'. I decided to join a sport that year, based primarily on my interest in a video game version of that sport that I owned. My dad thought it would be a good opportunity for me to make friends, and also spend some time with me, so he signed up to become our assistant coach. I remember that first day, looking around and feeling like none of the other kids there were anything like me, and I felt like I'd made a mistake. But then a late arrival showed up, and right off of the bat he began joking around. I started telling jokes, too, and by the end of the day I'd made a new friend. For a few years we were friends, and we would have sleep-overs at each others' houses on weekends. We both liked drawing and would play games and watch cartoons together. We would also hang out with his little sister, and admittedly that was a lot of fun when the three of us were hanging out. But then sometimes me and him would get into serious arguments, and one time I remember I had to pin him to the ground when he was throwing a fit of anger. I was disappointed when I realized he was stealing some stuff from me, usually nothing major, but it still bothered me. We still continued to visit each other for a while, but at some point it all just stopped. We would occasionally say hi in school, but we largely stopped talking. Regardless that he was a year ahead of me, we just drifted apart and our personalities changed.

I could go on and mention more cases, but I think this is enough for now.

As the years went on, it seemed as though people became more suspicious and I had to play everything close to the vest when approaching people and trying to get to know them. Friendship was no longer a major priority for me, it was just something I hoped to find. Romance is always something that was more important to me than friendship. Romance was before family and friendship. Women and love have always been a major lifetime value of mine. Unfortunately, my experiences with friendship turned into me making more enemies.

Latest Friend Problem

It occurs to me that I have my fair share of problems, but I think I've turned into a pretty fair person. In my workplace, friendship wasn't the primary thing I was looking for. But, perhaps it is one of the major things that has kept me hanging around there. I look forward to the days when two or three particular coworkers are there so I can talk to them and absorb their personalities, and I look much less forward to the days when few or none of them are there.

One such coworker, the person who got me thinking about this topic, has been at my workplace since sometime in the Summer. Ever since the beginning, I liked working with the guy. He seemed nice, and tried his best to keep working, and that was enough for me. Other people in my department were not as necessarily welcoming. They were annoyed by how he acted, and felt like he expected everyone else to find his jokes hilarious. In a way, I feel like my assertions that he was a good worker and a nice guy helped improve the way he was viewed, along with the passage of time.

And so for the last few months we've gotten along pretty well. We've had lunch together a few times, and I offer him rides home frequently. I thought things were going well. I almost consider asking him to hang out outside of work sometime. ...But then something stops me. Today it really hit me that this guy is getting annoying. He acts like anything he likes is great, and everything he doesn't like sucks. Including video games. And actors. And viewpoints. And he talks like a broken record, which is funny because he insulted another coworker and said the same thing about him. I'm actually wondering if he is starting to get passive-aggressive about things.

Case in point, earlier he is talking about World of Warcraft, and how he thinks it sucks though he has never played it. He goes on to say that he liked the original Warcraft game from the 90's. I respond by saying that I did kind of like WOW and played it for a while, and tried to explain what it was that I liked about the game. He concluded that it just sucked and moved on.

Later, in the break room, I struck up a conversation with him about the Simpsons, which I don't even watch, since he watches it. I went to sit down beside him and start talking, and he turned up the volume on the television. Presumably he really wanted to watch his TV show. Maybe he didn't turn it up so much to ignore me, but so he could hear the show and talk to me at the same time. Regardless, I felt like it was rude. Why am I putting my energy into this potential friendship, when this guy cares more about watching a stupid cartoon?

The rest of the night went okay. Everything is on good terms, apparently. But I'm noticing those telltale signs of a friend who could one day be an enemy, or at the very least a person who I lose contact with. Little things like this make me question if I even want this guy to set foot in my house around my fiancee'. It makes me question how mature and serious he is, and likewise, myself. At the end of the day, I think this whole experience just makes me want to distance myself from this person a bit, and maybe look at this more as a friendly acquaintance than a friend.

Other Thoughts

I'm not sure what a true friend is like, though I'm aware that even a real friend probably isn't perfect. Maybe people just take what they can get, and accept these flaws even though their friend can be thoughtless or problematic. But it seems like you can't ever give enough for these people, and they always want things to go their way.

I get that the self is the most important thing for people. We are greedy by nature.

It's just frustrating that finding a friend can be so difficult. Especially when other kinds of relationships in my life have worked out well, and are similar to friendship.

My fiancee' is the most important person in the world to me. I can talk to her about anything. She is the best friend I've ever had. But maybe that's not a fair example, maybe a friendship just doesn't matter like love does. It's just hard to imagine that your significant other is the only other person who you can get along with long-term.

Then there's my pets, my cat's. In particular my cat that I've raised since we got him last year. I love that cat, he makes me happy. He depends on me for food and water and attention and closeness, and in a way it's almost like he is my child. At the same time he doesn't have to say a word or think any particular thing, and he is still one of the best friends I think I've ever had. He knows I care for him, I know he cares for me. I can see it in the way my cat comes to greet me and settle down beside me when I'm up and around, or comes along and rests beside me when I sleep. Maybe true friendship works best when there are no words or petty worldly opinions?

Whatever the case, I am grateful to have what I do have in my life. Myself, my lady, my pets, and of course my family - among other things. Friendship is a difficult quotient to find. Perhaps I only realize that because I give it so much thought?

~ Ovirew

Weekly Update - 11/7/14

The past few days I've been sick, but I'm just trying to keep things moving along until I get back to feeling normal.

Perhaps against my better judgment I'm going into work today, but I feel like I have to because there will probably be more work today, and there wasn't a lot of work on Wednesday. If I wasn't pretty sure that at least one or two other good workers would be there today, I probably would have called in. But I still expect to see the same thing I see a lot of lately - co-workers standing around talking and following each other like a bunch of girls who do everything and go everywhere together.

Plans for my wedding are moving ahead this weekend, since my fiancee's sister came to visit so they can begin picking out flowers. I guess I don't mind, but honestly I still maintain that the wedding would have turned out better if it were just her and me, and none of this pointless and costly build-up. Instead it becomes this thing where my fiancee has opinions about how she wants things, but then her family speaks into her ear and they decide to end up going in an entirely different direction.

I'm really excited for the release of the Master Chief Collection on Tuesday, but at the same time I'm in no real rush for the days to fly by. My second semester of college is almost over, I can't really believe it. I hope I'll have enough time to get caught up on all of my assignments by the end. I also really just want to have these days to start improving so that maybe I'll feel better by next week.

The weather has gotten colder, but it's mostly because it has been raining a lot. Next week, we might see our first snowfall of the year. Nothing is set in stone, but we might. I'm not really feeling ready for it, but at this point I don't think I'll ever be 'ready' for the snow. It would be nice to not be sick when the snow happens though, so that way I am well enough to go shovel, and not stuck with a fever or anything like that.

I actually just read that we might be getting a little bit of snow tonight. o.o;

Well.... I apologize if I seem too bitter in this blog entry. I blame it on being sick. Hopefully by the time I make my next blog, I'll be enjoying some Haloez!

~ Ovirew

Fun on a Bun

Last Tuesday I finally got Sunset Overdrive. And naturally, it has become my go-to video game the past week.

I really like the game. I'm not sure if it is more or less like I pictured it would be, but either way it's really enjoyable and there is a lot to do in it.

I keep wanting to compare the game to Dead Rising 3, because there are some similarities - mainly in that the populace is being transformed into monsters, and it's open-world. But both games are actually quite different. One big difference is that there aren't over 100 OD'd on screen at once like there are zombies, but at the same time, OD'd can climb walls and telephone poles and chase you around on rooftops and power lines. It's hard to see why the grinding/bouncing mechanic is so important at first, until you actually play the game and realize that you need to constantly keep moving in order to keep from being swarmed by OD'd.

The grinding and jumping also helps you unlock higher tiers of a temporary power boost, which grants you access to Amps - cool abilities that do everything from adding a tornado gust to your melee attack, to freezing enemies with your ammo, to making flames burst from stuff whenever you bounce on it. Amps are pretty neat, and it's worth it to want to perform more combos and grind around on rails just to give yourself an edge against some OD'd.

Even more impressive is the variety of weapons in this game. You start off with a flaming shotgun and a record-player launcher that bounces off of groups of enemies. Before you know it, you get turrets that spew acid, a harpoon gun, a charged shot weapon and a roman candle launcher, among other things. There is quite a supply of different weapons that you unlock and can purchase as you play the game. And all of them can be equipped with amps.

In addition to amps and weapons, you can also equip traps. Traps can be everything from springboards that launch OD'd that get to close to them, to whirling blades that chop up OD'd that get too close to them. And you gain access to Overdrives, which enhance your ammo capacity and increase the amount of points you get from doing different tricks...among other things. All of these different options combine, and really give you a chance to combine your different abilities to play however you want to play SO.

Character customization is also pretty good. While I do wish there were more character creation options, I was easily able to make a character I was happy with. As you play the game, you unlock and purchase new clothes and accessories, and can really make your character your own.

One thing I did discover is that doing story missions unlocks a lot of features, so it's a good idea to make some progress and then go back and work on getting achievements and finding every last fizzie balloon and pair of old sneakers. I'm not terribly far into the game, but far enough that I would not want to lose my game progress now. This morning I was introduced to the 'troopers' and their hilarious leader.

SO is another great addition to my XBO collection. It's right up there with DR3. And I expect to get a lot of mileage out of it. But of course, I have a second big game coming out next week, so I can't rest for too long.

Next Tuesday (Nov. 11th) is the release date of Halo: Master Chief Collection. It's four games, anamazing multiplayer, and tons of extras - not limited to the Halo Nightfall series and a wealth of achievements. The sheer amount of content in this game is impressive. And as a Halo fan, I'm really excited for it.

I still don't know what part I am most excited for. I never finished the Anniversary version of Halo CE, so that is a challenge I look forward to finally facing. I have never even played Halo 2 or 4, so that is brand new content awaiting me. And strangely, I really look forward to playing Halo 3 again - not just for its impressive technical improvements, though that it a major draw - mainly just because I already have such a connection to that game. It is essentially my first Halo game.

As an XBox and Halo fan, heck as a gamer, I'm gonn have my hands full between MCC and SO. And school. And work. And homework. It's hard to say how much time I'll have for each of these things, but I am damn sure I will make time for Halo!

SO and MCC may need to be two of my last major purchases for 2014. Sure, I'm excited about Costume Quest 2, and the new Spartan Assault game (which I forget the name of), and even Dragon Age Inquisition! ...But I only have so much time and so much money - these things will probably have to wait. I will not rule out the possibility of buying more LIVE time before year's end - I am almost certain I will want it for Halo.

In the meantime, there's lots to finish up before the end of my second college semester. It's coming up sooner than I'd originally thought...

~ Ovirew

Sunset Overdrive - Tomorrow!

Really excited, looking forward to picking up my long-awaited copy of Sunset Overdrive tomorrow morning!

I actually thought a few times now about checking to see if there is a midnight release... But my tiredness and my unwillingness to be standing around and waiting with a bunch of 'gamers' *cringes* (let alone, people) makes the decision to just wait and do it tomorrow an easy one. And I don't think there is a midnight release, anyway.

I'm beyond sick of Sony fanboys bashing it. These same Sony fanboys would be loving on SO if it were a PS4 exclusive. But instead they'll keep wishing for it to be mediocre and passable when quite obviously, it isn't either of those things.

I am sick of any comparison between Infamous Second Son and this game. And even good review scores do little to dissuade the naysayers. I just hope I play it and enjoy it, and that I enjoy it a lot more than I did Second Son. I hope I enjoy it more like I did Crackdown and Dead Rising 3.

The XBO actually got a temporary price cut for the holidays, so that's cool. Hopefully we get more people on our side and things become more even again. I know I probably sound really biased, and I probably am - I am convinced I will fall into bias for the rest of my life. However, I think it's sad that people get this "Ours is better" mentality, and look at things like some 'war' rather than a 'competition'.

I'll probably pick up the PS4 controller again when a really good game comes out for it that really grabs my attention. Until there is a new Fat Princess, Drakengard, Dark Cloud, or something of that nature, then the PS4 will continue to just sit there. In the meantime, my fiancee is getting Dragon Age Inquisition for it, so the PS4 will get some use soon. I guess we'll see how Bloodborne turns out, but I don't feel in the mood for it so far.

I should mention that I decided to sell Plants VS Zombies: Garden Warfare today. I didn't get nearly enough money from the transaction, but it had to be done since my stupid excessive spending on Saturday put me in the hole. I thought about holding onto PVZGW, but I had been debating getting rid of it anyway since it is online only (and currently worthless to me) and I'll have Halo in two weeks and there will be no need for PVZ multiplayer.

Well anyway... I wonder how much I'll actually get to play SO tomorrow? I guess we'll see. I'll probably dive headlong into the game, lol.

~ Ovirew

Finding the Future in the Past...

I couldn't stand it any longer. This morning I pre-ordered Halo: The Master Chief Collection in preparation for its 11/11 release date. Just 2 1/2 weeks from now I'll be able to add it to my collection, and relive a lot of memories - and discover several new ones for the first time.

It's gonna be an awesome next couple of weeks...

~ Ovirew

Upcoming Releases! Am I right?

Feeling a lot better than I was in my last post for the time being, so I'd like to take a moment to talk a bit about some more upbeat stuff.

So yesterday I managed to beat Dead Rising 3! The ending was kind of a pain in the ass, and I had to attempt it a few times over the past week until I finally got it down, but once I managed it, it felt pretty rewarding. There was a twist to the ending, of course. And there's still plenty to do in the game - another play through, nightmare mode, and super hyper arcade edition ex-whatever. I'm not sure what I want to do next.

In one week from today, Sunset Overdrive hits store shelves! I'm pretty excited about it - I'm hoping I'll be able to play it for a while in the morning that day. The only thing that sucks is it comes out on a Tuesday, and Tuesdays are usually the days when I go into work an hour earlier and have to get to sleep once I get home from work so I'm prepared for college the next day. So, not an ideal situation for playing the game I've been looking forward to since May... But, I should still be able to get a couple hours with the game, if everything goes according to plan.

My fiancee has suggested that she might get Halo: The Master Chief Collection for me as a Christmas present. It comes out a mere two weeks after Sunset Overdrive!

And Costume Quest 2 is expected to land on consoles Halloween Day - October 31st! So in ten day I'll have another game to look forward to, even before the ultimate Halo compilation comes out!

For owning the XBox One for nearly half a year, I've had some good experiences already with games on the system. And now with all of these heavy-hitters coming out, it looks like I'm gonna have lots to play for a while.

~ Ovirew

Tired and Lonesome

Lately, my feelings have been messy. I spend most of my time thinking about things, but even after 26 years I still don't know what it is that I want from my life.

The combined onslaught of work, college, an impending marriage is getting a bit harder for me to handle as the months pass. I already have such a difficult time functioning in society, but dealing with all of these stressors at once is causing me to produce sloppier results than even usual.

The addition of cold and nasty weather only serves to make me more moody about things.

One good thing about recently, is maybe I have made a few friends at work throughout all of this time. I don't know, I guess it's hard to say for certain. Maybe it's just the season that tricks me into thinking that way. But at the very least I've been opening myself up a bit more to talking to people at work.

My one coworker who has been around for a few months now, mentioned that he could relate to my dilemma with feeling burnt out from school and work. I think that made me feel a little better, like my situation is a reasonable one. He said when he was in high school he had trouble with a boss wanting him to stay at work until late at night - even when he had to be to school at 6 AM. That's gotta be kinda rough. I'm not sure if my situation is the same sort of deal, but still, I'll take it.

I spent quite a few hours at work being in a bad mood, but by the time I came back from lunch I was starting to feel better. Maybe the food helped some, but talking with my fiancee did more so. This morning her mother treated us to a trip to the apple farm, it was pretty nice. But it still couldn't change the fact that I've spent a few too many days waking up early and getting to bed late, and it turned me into an irritable person as the day dredged on.

I feel kind of like a bad person,the way I think about things sometimes. But then, I can't really help the way I feel about things. I should be happier with what I have. At the same time, maybe I haven't been looking for the right things in life? I have no clue. I missed out on a lot of things in life, and I guess that really sort of hurts sometimes.

All I know is, right now, I still want some damn ice cream. I wanted ice cream when I stopped at the convenience store, but for whatever reason, I went with pizza. And, I still want to get plenty of sleep, and not have to worry about waking up at any time in particular to do something. I want to go off into my own, peaceful world for a while, away from everyone else, and be at peace for a while. Therefore, it seems like now is a good time to end this blog entry, so I can get a shower and get some much-needed shut-eye for my weary brain-parts.

~ Ovirew

DR3 Rocks, New Charger

I've been really satisfied with Dead Rising 3 since I bought it. In the last month or two, I think Dead Rising 3 really accomplished the act of becoming everything I hoped the original Dead Rising game would have been back on the 360, when I bought that console primarily for that game. Now I have this feeling like maybe I should have given more attention to DR, and given the sequel a try as well. Oh well, water under the bridge. But still, I am glad I decided to take the plunge. If I'd known I'd be enjoying the game this much, then I probably would have made it my first One game.

As far as I can tell, I am almost ready to complete my first play-through of the game. They kept finding errands to have me run to keep us from taking off in that friggin plane, but I showed them! Presumably working on the final 'chapter' of the game now. There's still blueprints to get, stats to increase, people to save on subsequent save files. And I am pretty damn certain this is a game I will be playing again after I beat it. You can get a lot of mileage out of this game. I might tempt fate and give nightmare mode a shot sometime. And, there's even this whole DLC pack of epic proportions to consider buying one day after I've done all there is to do in the main game.

There are many good things to say about DR3. Though I do have some minor qualms. Firstly, can the game even manage to wrap up its story with so much going on in this final chapter? Gonna spoil some things but... We've got blondie taken away by the feds, haven't seen her, the 'rebel' group or the mob guy in a while... Got Diego functioning strangely, got a big government plot, and then there's the whole thing where the zombie in the hero museum had tattoos just like Nick and Diego. It's quite a bit to wrap up in one 'day', before the town goes kaboom.

Secondly, the psycho missions have been a real nice addition to the game from the get-go, but recently it seems as though the quality of the later psychos dropped as the developers raced to complete the game. Bisexual deviant with a giant penis gun that shoots colorful sparks? Crazy hilarious. Weightlifting musclebound woman who throws weights at you? ...Okay, I'll take it, had its moments. But a slob who just sends a few toy helicopters after you, and then just dies for no apparent reason in a puddle of his own feces? ...It seemed like a push-over mission. Just saying. Here's to hoping for one or two more really good psycho missions before the game's end.

And lastly, why is it that Nick wants blondie anyway? I mean, doesn't she seem... Really young? Like 15, 16? She isn't bad-looking or anything, but I mean... Come on Nick, you every man's Diner Dream hangin' out back at that plane, and you left her with hornball trucker Dick. Idk, I can't be the only one who thinks Nick and Rhonda would make a better couple, right? Well at any rate, who knows what is going to happen throughout the rest of the story. Guess I should just wait and see.

Over the past month or so I also became somewhat interested in Divinity: Original Sin, thanks in no small part to the positive reviews of the game by Gamespot and other gaming review sites. It is hailed as a pretty acclaimed modern take on old-school CRPGs, and it sounds like a lot of things I would like in a game.

Unfortunately, after checking into things, I really don't think the game would run on my PC. It's my processor, it's simply too slow. That's the thing about PC gaming, you have to have a really up-to-date system with cards and chips that are above-standard.

I'd be lying if I said I'm completely over the idea of playing this game, but to be honest it is probably actually a good thing that I can't play Divinity OS right now, with so many other games coming out that I already want, and me being in school and all. Maybe one day I can revisit the idea, but for now I'll stop thinking about it.

I did make a game-related purchase yesterday - I finally decided to give in and get a charge & play kit for my XBO controller. Being able to use batteries is nice, but it costs a lot in the long run, and besides, charge kits were my friend on the 360.

What I especially like about the One's charge kits are that you don't have to take off your battery cover and put it in a drawer somewhere in order to use the charge battery - it actually fits inside of the battery case where the batteries would go, and then you put the cover back on.

The charge cable, I guess I was hoping it would be a little thicker, a little better protected against the teeth of unpredictable cats. But it is still thicker than an Apple cable, and the light is a nice addition. So for the most part, happy with the kit.

Recently XBox posted a hillarious and awesome 'live action trailer' video to promote Sunset Overdrive. I watched it yesterday, loved it. I guess the game also officially went Gold yesterday, so it is ready and raring to go - now it just has to get produced and shipped. Methinks.

Still, as great as gaming is going right now, it's too bad I don't feel more enthusiastic about school and work. At work things always change but somehow stay the same. At school I worry that I won't walk away with enough knowledge from classes alone to help me begin my career. That is, if I can even manage to pass all of my classes.

It's a busy time of year. Four big days - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. In between all of that is crunch time. Maybe once we get back into 'normal' territory, I'll be able to focus on school better again, like I was able to before.

~ Ovirew