News and discussions relating to George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels, his Westeros-based short stories, "Game of Thrones" and all things ASOIAF - but with particular emphasis on the written series.
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News and discussions relating to George R. R. Martin's "WILD CARDS" novels, his Wild Cards-based short stories, "Wild Cards the Upcoming TV Show" and all things WILD CARDS - but with particular emphasis on the written series.
The story I'm about to tell you is true. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this story is that every single person reading this post - every single one of you - was alive when this story became news in 2004. That fact is intriguing because everyone reading this post has either never heard this story, or forgot about it (I'm betting on the first one, because it is truly unforgettable). Furthermore, once you hear this story in its entirety, I can promise it will be seared into your memory forever. Our main character is a man named Marc Dutroux. He was born in Belgium in 1956. He was twice convicted of kidnapping and raping underage children. The first time was in 1989. The second time occurred in 1996. That was not a typo - you read that correctly. He was convicted and served a (much too brief) sentence in 1998. He served only 3 and a half years of his 13 year sentence because he was released for good behavior. Less than 10 years later, he was arrested again on the same charges (different victims). In the second round of charges, he was convicted of kidnapping, torturing and abusing victims, some of them to the point of death. What I am about to tell you comes from the statements made by his surviving victims (called the X Files), Marc Dutreox himself, and evidence from law enforcement. I've also added references/citations at the very end of this post. Here we go. Marc confessed to kidnapping, raping, drugging, torturing and filming children for many years. He also claimed he was doing it at the behest of a political elite who financed his career as a professional trafficker. Not only did this political elite finance his efforts - they made specific requests of him. Sometimes they requested specific types of children (they were called "party favors" and he was asked to deliver kids of certain age, sex, race). Sometimes they requested specific means of torturing the children to fulfill their desires (orgies, satanic rituals involving sacrifices, torture games). And sometimes they requested he film certain influential people engaged in these acts, for later use as blackmail. He claimed many of his customers and financiers were world leaders. This was not a stretch of the imagination because he lived in Belgium, where the EU and NATO headquarters were located. This statement was also corroborated by victims who were able to identify specific politicians. Anneke Lucas was one of his victims who testified against him. She claimed she was 6 years old when the cleaning lady hired by her mother sold her to the pedophile network in 1969. Her claims were extraordinary: -She was raped over seventeen hundred hours before turning 12 years old. -She was 6 years old when she was forced to participate in her first orgy, which included wearing an iron dog collar and eating human excrement. -She would actually be delivered back to her parents from time to time. However, her parents themselves were complicit in the crimes and always sent her back to her abusers. -Torture included being strapped to a butchers block used to execute other children. Other victims were forced to torture her for hours as part of their initiation. -She was considered attractive and that made her preferred by her abusers. She claimed that she tried to use that to her survival advantage to the best of her ability, but by the age of eleven, she had become so broken that she was slated to be executed and disposed of. -She said she was saved when one of her abusers negotiated for her freedom. That abuser would later sit as a defendant in the trial. Other witnesses and victims would soon come forward, describing such things as “Black Masses,” with child and adult sacrifices taking place in front of observers and participants, which included prominent politicians and figures. This would be corroborated by a note found by police at the house belonging to Bernard Weinstein—a man who previously worked with Dutroux, but whom Dutroux had murdered. The letter contained very specific requests for certain types of victims for satanic sacrifices. The letter was signed by a man who called himself 'Anubis'. It turned out 'Anubis' was the high priest of a satanic cult called 'Abrasax' whose real name was Francis Desmet. Police obtained a warrant and seized computers, documents, mail, actual human skulls, jars of blood, and all sorts of Satanic items - but none of this was enough to make an arrest. As the Dutroux trial went public, other victims stepped forward and confirmed the testimony, offering up descriptions of sexual abuse and human sacrifice. They also described “hunting parties” where elites would release naked children into the woods to hide, so that the elites themselves could hunt them down and slaughter them. Many of the stories from victims contained so many similarities, they were impossible to deny. For example, the hunting parties were often held at castles, where victims could not escape and were hidden from the public eye. Those not killed in the hunt were usually chased down and mauled/killed by Dobermans. All of these victims echoed the testimonies of other, older survivors of ritual Satanic abuse from around the world. It is also notable that Dutroux owned 10 homes valued at 6 million dollars. It is also notable that Dutroux was not employed. It is also notable that Dutroux received $1,200 per month in public assistance. It is also notable that documents released by Wikileaks show large sums of money in various currencies were deposited into his wife's bank account. It is also notable that those deposits coincided with reported kidnappings and missing children reports. It is also notable that before his removal, judge Jean-Marc Connerotte was on the verge of publicly disclosing the names of high level government officials who had been recognized on video-tapes of sexual torture that took place in Dutroux's dungeon. It is also notable that 20 potential witnesses for this case have died without explanation. Does any of this sound familiar? Are there any headlines today that sound like history is repeating itself? Guys, not one single thing in this post is theory. It's all proven and on record. You see the pictures attached to this post? Those are images of hunting games. They're paintings that people like Tony Podesta buy, and hang in his home, and invite others over to enjoy. We all know Epstein was a sick sob who had friends in high places - the same friends that hang out with Tony Podesta. You think Epstein was the only one? That he's somehow unique? Or was he the low level one they were willing to sacrifice to protect everyone else involved at a higher level? Do you realize now that when it comes to trafficking, satanism, pedophilia, human sacrifices, organ harvesting, adrenachrome - that it is art imitating life? That these people who are so obsessed with the art that glorifes these things might actually, themselves, be engaged in these things? Do you think normal, non-pedo, non-cannibal, average Joes would hang that garbage up in their homes? Suddenly the claims that world leaders and governments being involved in this satanic horror show isn't so far fetched after all. Suddenly its not so crazy to say that world agencies who claim to stop these crimes (WHO, UN) are actually facades that cover up the real work of procuring and enabling - yes, even participating - in these crimes. Suddenly the whole house of cards comes crashing down. With this one case, all the unbelievers are silenced. For crying out loud, this trial was in 2004! Did you remember it? If not, do you wonder why it was not front page news across the world? And if you're asking yourself HOW DO THESE PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH THIS - have you not yet figured out that the very people who are supposed to end it, are doing it? Most everyone has watched an Epstein documentary on Netflix - I think there's been maybe 3 or 4 made since his death. And the one thing I heard people say over and over and over again was this: "Where is Epstein's girlfriend and why hasn't she been arrested yet?" Did anyone asking that question even try to find the answer? Or did you just shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, it is what it is and there's nothing I can do about it" and go on with your life? Let me help you out. Did you hear the news story from two weeks ago that President Trump fired federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman? He was the prosecutor in charge of the Epstein case. AG Barr requested Berman step down, and Berman refused. So Trump fired him and Berman was replaced with prosecutor Audrey Strauss. And then suddenly BAM! Maxwell is in custody. You now get a front row seat for the horror show that is about to come out. You will not believe who is involved and how deep it goes. And you will not believe the lengths they'll go to in order to protect their secrets. https://cwasu.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Confronting-An-Atrocity.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1iFppDKV9fKTovmv9zLfWBQduNSavsSNA4_4fuavxF6Y5u0n8tB7JfI60 http://archive.is/SFRGD http://archive.is/jxiLV#selection-3715.53-3715.70 https://www.euronews.com/amp/2019/10/27/explainer-paedophile-marc-dutroux-and-the-horror-case-that-united-a-divided-belgium Podesta like paintings Edit: I am not the OP. I found is somewhere else on the internet and thought you guys would enjoy it. I’m pretty surprised I haven’t heard of it myself. Edit: Anneke Lucas testimony This is a pretty valuable testimony from the former child who helped expose Dutroux.
General Election Polling Discussion Thread (June 2020)
Welcome to the /politics polling discussion thread for the general election. As the election nears, polling of both the national presidential popular vote and important swing states is ramping up, and with both parties effectively deciding on nominees, pollsters can get in the field to start assessing the state of the presidential race. Please use this thread to discuss polling and the general state of the presidential or congressional election. Below, you'll find some of the most recent polls, but this is by no means exhaustive, as well as some links to prognosticators sharing election models. As always though, polls don't vote, people do. Regardless of whether your candidate is doing well or poorly, democracy only works when people vote, and there are always at least a couple polling misses every cycle, some of which are pretty high profile. If you haven't yet done so, please take some time to register to vote or check your registration status.
Below is a collection of recent polling of the US Presidential election. This is likely incomplete and also omits the generic congressional ballot as well as Senate/House/Gubernatorial numbers that may accompany these polls. Please use the discussion space below to discuss any additional polls not covered. Additionally, not all polls are created equal. If this is your first time looking at polls, the FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings page is a helpful tool to assess historic partisan lean in certain pollsters, as well as their past performance.
Prognosticators are folks who make projected electoral maps, often on the strength of educated guesses as well as inside information in some cases from campaigns sharing internals with the teams involved. Below are a few of these prognosticators and their assessment of the state of the race:
Cook Political Reports - Charlie Cook's race ratings are well regarded in the political field, and he's been in the business for a while. Cook is known to incorporate both public and nonpublic (ie. internal polling) information in his projections. Also covers (and is perhaps better known for) Senate and House races.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball - Larry Sabato has also been in the political prediction business for a while now, and the team at the UVA Center for Politics has been fairly successful in past cycles. Towards the end of the election cycle, Sabato has a policy of making a call in each state, refusing to leave any race in the tossup category. Also covers Senate and House races.
Inside Elections - Inside Elections, run by Nathan Gonzales, is the successor to Stu Rothenberg's Rothenberg Political Reports, which used to be a part of Roll Call. This prognosticator did fairly well in 2018, though Rothenberg himself boldly (along with some other pundits) predicted in 2016 that Donald Trump's path to the presidency was nonexistent. Also covers Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
Daily Kos Elections - Daily Kos Elections is the direct successor to the Swing State Project website, which merged with Daily Kos in 2010. Despite the liberal lean of the site as a whole, the Daily Kos Elections predictions tend to be fairly even-handed, if not even slightly bearish for Democrats. Presidential numbers aren't up yet but they have Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
RRH Elections - Red Racing Horses Elections is a site founded by former conservative-leaning members of the Swing State Project community. Despite the conservative nature of the commentary, like DKE, the race predictions tend to be fairly neutral, if slightly bearish for Republicans. Like the Crystal Ball, RRH will call all races before the election so that none are left in the tossup category. The presidential rankings have not been published but they do cover Senate, House, Gubernatorial and Row Officer (statewide elected officials, such as state Attorney General, Secretary of State etc.) races.
Polling models are similar to prognosticators (and often the model authors will act like pundits as well), but tend to be about making "educated guesses" on the state of the election. Generally, the models are structured to take in data such as polls and electoral fundamentals, and make a guess based on research on prior elections as to the state of the race in each state. Below are a few of the more prominent models that are online or expected to be online soon:
FiveThirtyEight - this model isn't active yet, but it's the original model from Nate Silver that debuted in 2008 and really kicked off this genre of race prognostication. For now, here's the polling aggregates that they've set up in lieu of a now-cast (which is likely not returning to the model this year). Will likely also include Senate and House projections like in past years.
Princeton Election Consortium - this is the model run by Dr. Sam Wang, a neuroscience professor at Princeton University. This model has run in the past two cycles as well, though Sam Wang famously said he'd eat a bug if Donald Trump won the election because his model predicted no path to victory for the eventual winner of the 2016 election. Also includes projections for Senate and House.
JHK Forecasts - the earliest model on the scene this cycle. Jack Kersting's model is one of the newer ones this year and also includes projections for Senate and House.
The Economist - this is the model run by G. Elliott Morris, who previously had a midterm election model under The Crosstab.
Niskanen Center - Rachel Bitecofer's projection, which only seems to update a couple times a cycle. Part of this has to do with Bitecofer's central argument that there are generally no swing voters, and electoral fundamentals drive the outcome of the election. This was put to the test in the 2018 midterms, where Bitecofer very early on predicted a Democratic pickup of 40-45 seats in the House, which fell about where the election ended up.
Lean Tossup - a foreign model from Canada. This model did relatively well in the 2019 Canadian election, but this appears to be the first time they've tried forecasting the US Presidential election. Also includes Senate and House projections.
Prediction markets are betting markets where people put money on the line to estimate the likelihood of one party winning a seat or state. Most of these markets will also tend to move depending on polling and other socioeconomic factors in the same way that prognosticators and models will work. Predictit and Election Betting Odds are prominent in this space, although RealClearPolitics has an aggregate of other betting sites as well.
Aeroflot Flight 6502: In 1986 a pilot made a bet with his co-pilot that he could land a plane with the cockpit windows covered. He then crashed the plane, killing 70 out of the 94 people onboard. (x-post from reddit.com)
https://preview.redd.it/b1v30yvtkn651.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=04f75a5416546b59550b162abe5940c65f12ce5d I started this exercise of choosing second- and third-year players in the NFL I expect to take the next step in their development, based on being in a better situation due schematic changes, the respective team not re-signing certain veterans and allowing their young guys to play a bigger role or just my evaluation of them coming out of college. Once again, my criteria was – they were not allowed to have a Pro Bowl so far, reached a major statistical milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at their position already. I didn’t include guys that made my list already last year (Kemoko Turay, Justin Reid, etc.) or haven’t seen the field at all yet (Jonah Williams, Hakeem Butler, etc.). Across my two articles on these breakout players, you will only find one top ten pick, since I believe those are obvious choices anyway, if those guys just haven’t been healthy or whatever it may be. In this version, we are looking at eight more defensive players ready to break out in 2020 after talking about offense last week already: https://preview.redd.it/uiunf81mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=6446a7cc2e40ba090abe9cc9e047103831cef1e1
When I did these write-ups, I actually realized later on that Odenigbo was originally drafted in 2017 in the seventh round by the Vikings, but he only made the practice squad that year and was later claimed and waived by the Cardinals and Browns respectively. So since he finally made an active roster in 2018 and that’s when he finally saw the field, I thought he still qualifies. With all those guys Minnesota has had on the D-line in recent years, it was a challenge for Odenigbo to get their coaches to believe in him, having only played in one game for Arizona before last season. However, he was on the field more and more towards the end of this past year and with little investment in the draft into the front, the Vikings are betting on him to continue to develop, similar to what happened with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter. Odenigbo recorded seven sacks and tackles for loss respectively, while adding another 18 pressures to the mix. He also forced a fumble and returned another one for a long touchdown against the Chargers, while he was actually called down on another scoop-and-score, where he originally got the trifecta (strip sack, fumble recovery and return TD). That is much more impressive putting it into context, as he played just a third of the defensive snaps. Now with Everson Griffen off the roster (unless he somehow decides to re-sign with the Vikes, Odenigbo is almost a shoe-in for that second defensive end spot in the starting lineup. Number 95 was mostly used in passing situations, especially early on, as three quarters of the snaps he played came on pass-rushing downs, and Mike Zimmer used his inside-out flexibility on different sub-packages. Odenigbo was asked to line up anywhere from pretty much 2i in sort of a track stance pointed inside to a wide nine alignment. His favorite (and best) move at this point is the dip and rip, but he also flashes a nice up-and-under combined with a high swim move. However, he also has a lot of power behind those pads, as he set up one of his teammates as the initial slanter versus Detroit and just flattened a guy I talked about in my offensive edition of this breakdown last week already in Frank Ragnow. In addition to that, I think the Vikings DE already shows good timing and execution on twists, freeing himself up by using teammates appropriately. As he seems to be transitioning to a starting role, the biggest question now is – How much improvement can he show as a run-defender? He displays very good pursuit coming unblocked from the backside, but at the point of attack he has some issues holding his ground at times, due to not always playing half the man and getting drawn in and allowing cutback lanes. In the pass game, Odenigbo needs to work on being more successful on secondary maneuvers and not give away opportunities if that initial rush stalls. https://preview.redd.it/pq74mx0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=8182390c28e3747fbb0ed0e9ea04426d25cfaf2f
Leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, Bradley Chubb was considered the clear-cut number one edge rusher coming out of N.C. State and after him most people said there was a huge drop-off. The Saints however shocked everybody by trading up to the 14th overall pick – not for a quarterback, but rather an outside linebacker from UTSA. While there isn’t a lot of buzz around Davenport entering year three of his pro career, I can promise that New Orleans did not spend their 2018 and ’19 first-round picks on a player they didn’t believe in. I was very surprised at the time of selection, because I thought they were looking for a more immediate-impact type of player with Drew Brees arriving in his 40s and the team coming off a 13-3 record, but there was never any question about the talent this kid presented. Davenport has missed three games in each of his first two years in the league and “only” put up 10.5 sacks, but he went from 28 QB pressures as a rookie to 50 last season. He might have been even better against the run, helping the Saints finish as the fourth-best rush defense at 91.3 yards allowed per game. So this is kind of a case for the improvement he has already made and I think the coaches in New Orleans already looked at 2019 as his breakout season, but among more casual fans, I believe Davenport will move his name into more of the conversation as one of the better young edge rushers this year. I personally had the young phenom as my 13th overall prospect coming out of San Antonio. When you put on his tape in college, that combination of explosiveness, power and closing burst really stood out. He already flashed the ability to string his hand together to dominate as a pass-rusher, but he needed to do it more consistently, and he showed the shock in his hands to own the point of attack, if he played with better extension. Those to me were certainly coachable areas and with the situation he was in, I thought he could produce in year two or three. Well, we have arrived at his third season and I believe he is ready to roll. I don’t think there’s much to critique as a run-defender about Davenport. He may still be a tick late recognizing some schemes, but when he extends those arms and drops the anchor, you won’t see much movement and he just owns tight-ends. In the pass game, I do believe he needs to broaden his repertoire a little and rush under a little more control, but he has clearly shown signs of becoming a difference-maker in that area as well. He has burst to win around the edge if he times his swipes up correctly, but also the immense power to bull-rush big offensive tackles back right into the quarterback’s lap. If he just learns to convert speed to power a little better and works on finishing that under-and-under he flashes with a follow-through chop, he could be scary. With third-round pick Zack Baun probably rushing outside on sub-packages, it will enable the Saints to move this guy and Cam Jordan more inside and create mismatches that way. https://preview.redd.it/lfbciv0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=da4072897c2bdf3e5d48946f7a1ddc2c24292f42
Simmons was the 19th overall pick for Tennessee last year. In his debut game he had three pressures on eleven pass-rushing snaps. The rest of the season wasn’t as promising, but considering I didn’t expect him to suit up at all in 2019 after tearing his ACL in pre-draft workouts, the fact he did collect valuable on-field experience, playing less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps just once from that point on, only helps him more. Purely based off his tape, I had Simmons as my IDL3, behind only Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver (both top five prospects for me) and ahead of the two Clemson standouts (Christian Wilkins and Dexter Williams). I even said without the injury he would have been at least around the top ten when I put out my big board a few days ahead of last year’s draft. In limited playing time as a rookie, he recorded 32 tackles, four of them for loss and two sacks. Simmons was an immovable object at Mississippi State and looked to be the same among grown men. I went back and watched the Raiders game in week 14, who have some maulers in the run game and you saw guys almost bounce off the rookie as if he was a brick wall. More importantly, they doubled him on pretty much every single snap he was on the field, probably because of what they had already seen on tape. This guy has some shock in his hands, the ability to look through the blocker on zone-runs and then get back to the gap behind him as the running back decides to cut up into it. He didn’t look as mobile working his way down the line laterally as I thought he did in college and he will have to do a better job working across the face of some blockers, rather than allowing them to wall him off at times. You see him just be a split-second late of actually stopping the ball-carrier rather than allowing him to stumble forward or barely miss altogether. If he gets back to his collegiate form, he can be an elite run-stopper. Having him out there will allow the Titans to run primarily sub-packages with Harold Landry and now Vic Beasley on the edges. The area he still needs to prove himself at is getting after the quarterback. Simmons is very straight-forward as a pass-rusher and didn’t show a lot of finesse to win in that area, getting stuck with stalemates for the most part if he couldn’t drive his guy backwards initially. He flashed a few quick wins on reps with the arm-over, but he has to get off the ball with more of a plan. I believe his ability to shoot upfield, the unbelievable power and just that disruptive style of play will show up big time in his first year at full strength. https://preview.redd.it/7paequ0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c2f4c31d5e75928dfdc684c30a956b575544062
This young man was my fourth overall prospect in last year’s draft behind only Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen (the edge rusher). Oliver was an uber-talented, explosive athlete coming out Houston, who I think is still learning the game to some degree. He came in as a freshman with the Cougars and immediately dominated, recording 22 tackles for loss and being named First Team All-American – an honor he would repeat his two other years there as well. While it was obviously a transition from the AAC, where he was just so superior to everybody else physically, compared to lining up against professionals every single week, I thought he started flashing more and more as his rookie season progressed. And while Jordan Phillips just put up double-digit sacks for Buffalo and got a big deal from the Cardinals in the process, I thought Oliver was already the Bills’ best interior pass rusher in December. Overall he recorded five sacks and TFLs each to go with 31 pressures on 374 pass-rushing snaps. That ratio may not be up there with some of the league’s best, but he definitely showed sparks on winning in that area and he finished up playing 53.7 percent of the snaps on defense overall, as part of a deep rotation. Coming out of Houston a year ago, it was clear Oliver needed some time to adjust to the NFL, after he was playing at the nose mostly in college and not having to stay true to his run fits all the time. While there are still moments where his pad-level gets too high and I feel like he is a tick late recognizing the run scheme, at 287 pounds his anchor is excellent and he has the ability to chase down plays laterally. In the pass game his natural power and quickness present problems for the opposition. What really stands out as well is he flexibility he possesses, as can be knocked from the side and somehow regain his balance to keep going and even if he ends up outside his pass-rush lane, he just continues to work. Something Oliver does really well already, which will give him a couple of “easy” sacks in 2020 is set up his loops to the outside on a twist, staying tight and aiming at the outside shoulder of the guard before pivoting outside suddenly. As a rookie, he had his issues going up against the better-schooled guards in the league, especially trying to beat the Steelers’ Ramon Foster and David DeCastro, who landed their hands inside his chest early and Oliver couldn’t gain an advantage. If he can work on being a little more pro-active and rushes the passer with more of a plan overall, I think he could be a Pro Bowler in year two. https://preview.redd.it/z1xft71mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=58865bb25882e11cf324d4541eb9fd75ea088307
A four-year starter at Wisconsin, Edwards recorded 366 tackles over the course of his career and made several impact plays for the Badgers. Unfortunately he could not participate in any on-field drills at the 2019 NFL combine due to a banged up ankle and if you can trust his pro day results, his athleticism is still below-average. Labelled as a classic college linebacker with limitations to translate his game to the next level, Edwards ultimately went undrafted and signed with the Eagles. As a rookie, he mostly made an impact on special teams, with nine combined tackles on punt and kickoff coverage. He only played 11 percent of the defensive snaps, but when he was on the field, he earned close to an elite grade by Pro Football Focus and got involved on another 21 tackles. When you divide those 122 snaps by the amount of tackles he recorded, that actually gives him the highest tackle rate of any player at the position with at least 100 snaps played. In his first year under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he was mainly utilized on early downs to stop the run, as he was on the field for 89 run downs compared to only 33 pass plays. That is somewhat understandable, since you just have to love his oldschool mind-set in the frame of a well-built, strong guy. Edwards aggressively shoots downhill on inside runs and drops the shoulder on lead-blockers trying to move him out of there, actually stonewalling some of those guys and creating traffic jams that way. At the same time, he shows enough patience with combo-blocks in front of him to not just give away free cutback lanes by overrunning plays, keeping bouncy feet as he deciphers what he sees in the backfield. He offers a sturdy base to absorb the contact by offensive linemen climbing up to him and keeps them at extension, while also showing the mobility to mirror pullers and beat them to the spot. Then he really brings some thump at initial contact on tackles to stop the forward momentum and missed only one attempt on the year (on special teams). It is kind of funny how Edwards was labelled a pure run-stopper because of some athletic limitations, when he actually intercepted ten passes and broke up another 15, while adding eight sacks throughout his career at Wisconsin. He may never be a candidate to shadow more dynamic backs or tight-ends one-on-one, but his feel in zone and ability to get involved as a blitzer should keep him on the field for third downs more. Edwards is also quick to recognize play-action and turn his head for potential crossers behind him before swiveling back towards the quarterback. I believe Edwards will be an excellent replacement for Zach Brown at MIKE, who left in free agency. There are some questions about linebacker trio with Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown or Davion Taylor, but Edwards should be a fixture in the middle on first and second down at least. https://preview.redd.it/lgoeh60mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=38e707ed0ad52312a4c01fc5f2f16153b2c83245
Murphy was my number one corner heading into the 2019 draft ahead of guys like Greedy Williams and DeAndre Baker and he was the first pick in round two. While he started all 16 games for Arizona and missed less than 30 snaps the entire season, I think barely anybody really knows about or watched this guy play for the Cardinals as rookie. There were definitely some learning experiences early on and if you look at the total yards and touchdowns allowed, it’s not a beautiful sight and 78 total tackles for any corner aren’t a great sign either. However, a lot of that had to do with the 105 targets coming his way (fourth-most by any player in the league) due to lining up on the opposite side of Patrick Peterson and the fact he was part of the 31st-ranked pass defense. I thought he improved every single week and he actually put up better marks in coverage than his running mate Peterson, despite being targeted at a much higher rate – 7.7 compared to 9.3 yards allowed per target. Murphy also intercepted one pass and broke up another ten. What I loved about Murphy coming out of Washington last year was his innate feel in zone coverage with an outstanding ability to click-and-close and be a play-maker. He can flip his hips with ease and has that gliding speed to stay on top of routes, rarely allowing opponents to detach from him late. In the run game, Murphy does not shy away from getting involved as a tackler, arriving low and up-ending bigger ball-carriers routinely. You see him fill the D-gap or squeeze plays from the outside on several occasions. He also won’t allow bigger receivers to bully him as blockers, keeping them away from his frame and leveraging the ball accordingly. The rookie mostly played in the slot versus 11 personnel once Patrick Peterson returned in week seven last season and he was utilized as a blitzer off the edge a few times, where he chased running backs down from behind or got into the face of the opposing quarterback. He was heavily exhausted when he was moved in the slot and had to follow receivers back-and-forth across the formation on motions at times. The one thing Murphy really struggled with as a rookie was playing with his back towards the quarterback on slot fades and such as, where receivers could use subtle push-offs and win with their frame, as he almost purely face-guarded them and didn’t even try to snap his head around. The Cardinals have added a super-rangy player is Isaiah Simmons and beef up front to stop the run on early downs, in order to set up third-and-long situations. Allowing the now second-year player to focus more on his coverage and now with veteran Robert Alford being brought in as another outside corner, I see Murphy taking the next step in his developing. By the way, re-watching those Cardinals tapes – Budda Baker is just a freaking baller. https://preview.redd.it/znok171mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=18e3a805075eebfb64e6cea9726c1ceaaa2bd921
At the start of last year’s draft process, Ya-Sin wasn’t a huge name since he had only played one year at the FBS level for Temple. However, after he and now-49ers receiver Deebo Samuel went back and forth at the Senior Bowl, I started falling love with this guy and so did the scouting community. As a rookie with the Colts, wearing number 34 as the spot he was selected at, he started 13 of 15 games and played at least 93 percent of the snaps in ten of them. Ya-Sin was targeted on 15.2 percent of pass plays and he had some struggles, but he also improved a lot from the first to the second half of his debut campaign. There was one really rough showing versus one of the NFL’s young star receivers in Courtland Sutton, when he was penalized five times and was responsible for 75 receiving yards. However, the rest of the season he was called for defensive holding three times and for pass interference just once (40 total yards). That’s not too bad for a rookie who likes to get into the face of receivers and whose play-style out of college could be described as “grabby”. Over the final eight weeks, Ya-Sin held opposing QBs to a passer rating of just 75.8 and didn’t allow any touchdowns (after being responsible for two up to that point), while coming up with his first career pick. Ya-Sin can be described is a very sticky, quick-footed corner. As a rookie, he primarily played outside and faced some tough matchups, while even being asked to travel with some of the game’s elite, such as Michael Thomas. While I’m not saying that always went great, his competitiveness is off the charts and I think he has all the tools to develop into an excellent cover-corner. Ya-Sin was rarely just caught out of position. It was more about struggling to find the ball down the field and panicking a little when he did overcommit initially. The more experience he had, the more comfortable he felt turning his head and making a play on the ball. I still love his competitiveness, rapid feet at the line, ability to read the hips of the receiver and use his length to get his hands on the ball. He had a few textbook reps, staying in phase with the receiver from press alignmenz on hitch or curl routes and knocking the pass down coming out of the break. I thought playing in year one, he was also a pretty good edge-setter in the run game and he didn’t just wait for the ball-carrier to cut back inside to stay clean. You saw him fight off blocks and try to cut down the guy with the ball. Now with Pierre Desir gone in free agency, I expect Ya-Sin to step into the spotlight as Indy’s true CB1. The Colts also brought in veteran Xavier Rhoades, who I thought looked broken down last season, but will help this kid grow mentally as well. https://preview.redd.it/7m1nru0mug651.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0dea575bc086e12e446f31656bfcbab75acacb0
My top-rated safety from a year ago, I thought Adderley was a perfect match with Derwin James on the Chargers, because he has that range for a true deep middle safety to allow Derwin to roam and play more around the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately he had hamstring issues before even being drafted, which forced him to miss mandatory minicamp and most of training camp. He only appeared in one preseason game and then played 10 defensive snaps across four regular season games, making two pretty meaningless tackles, before the Chargers placed him on injured reserve. So with that little experience, Adderley barely meets my criteria, but he was active for four games and I want to grab the opportunity to talk about one of my favorites in last year’s draft. Coming out of Delaware, he filled the alley in the run game with the mind-set of a linebacker, while also showing the ability to cover ground to bail out his team-mates on the back-end. When the ball is completed in front of him, he punishes receivers and when it gets into his hand, he shows off his background as a kick returner, where we had one of the sickest plays I have ever seen, running an opponent over, staring him down and proceeding to go the end-zone. Outside of some questions about the level of competition in the FCS and how much different he moved different than anybody else, I loved everything about his game. The one time we did actually see him play with pros – week four of the preseason – Adderley made one interception and deflected another three passes, while one of them should have been another pick, with a receiver knocking the ball out of his hands late, and he got both hands on another ball down the seams to deny a touchdown. You could see him show up outside the numbers against go-routes and cut in front of deep in-breaking routes, which led to the one INT he actually made. In addition to that, you saw him try to go underneath offensive linemen and be willing to take on some contact on screen plays, instead of staying back and avoiding collisions, getting involved late on scrums or jumping on the back of a receiver trying to catch the ball at the sideline. Now with Chris Harris added to the mix, Casey Hayward on the opposite side and Desmond King in the slot, with the guys they have up front to get after the passer, plus Derwin possibly being sent as a blitzer with his stupid closing burst, Adderley has the ability to gamble and make plays. Plus he gives them somebody who plays with an attitude, which I really appreciated going back to my evaluations coming out of college. Before he can become an impact player, he first needs to beat out Rayshawn Jenkins, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t on the field for the majority of snaps.
How to not get ruined with Options - Part 3a of 4 - Simple Strategies
Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges) --- Ok. So I lied. This post was getting way too long, so I had to split in two (3a and 3b) In the previous posts 1 and 2, I explained how to buy and sell options, and how their price is calculated and evolves over time depending on the share price, volatility, and days to expiration. In this post 3a (and the next 3b), I am going to explain in more detail how and when you can use multiple contracts together to create more profitable trades in various market conditions. Just a reminder of the building blocks: You expect that, by expiration, the stock price will … ... go up more than the premium you paid → Buy a call … go down more than the premium you paid → Buy a put ... not go up more than the premium you got paid → Sell a call ... not go down more than the premium you got paid → Sell a put Buying Straight Calls: But why would you buy calls to begin with? Why not just buy the underlying shares? Conversely, why would you buy puts? Why not just short the underlying shares? Let’s take long shares and long calls as an example, but this applies with puts as well. If you were to buy 100 shares of the company ABC currently trading at $20. You would have to spend $2000. Now imagine that the share price goes up to $25, you would now have $2500 worth of shares. Or a 25% profit. If you were convinced that the price would go up, you could instead buy call options ATM or OTM. For example, an ATM call with a strike of $20 might be worth $2 per share, so $200 per contract. You buy 10 contracts for $2000, so the same cost as buying 100 shares. Except that this time, if the share price hits $25 at expiration, each contract is now worth $500, and you now have $5000, for a $3000 gain, or a 150% profit. You could even have bought an OTM call with a strike of $22.50 for a lower premium and an even higher profit. But it is fairly obvious that this method of buying calls is a good way to lose money quickly. When you own shares, the price goes up and down, but as long as the company does not get bankrupt or never recovers, you will always have your shares. Sometimes you just have to be very patient for the shares to come back (buying an index ETF increases your chances there). But by buying $2000 worth of calls, if you are wrong on the direction, the amplitude, or the time, those options become worthless, and it’s a 100% loss, which rarely happens when you buy shares. Now, you could buy only one contract for $200. Except for the premium that you paid, you would have a similar profit curve as buying the shares outright. You have the advantage though that if the stock price dropped to $15, instead of losing $500 by owning the shares, you would only lose the $200 you paid for the premium. However, if you lose these $200 the first month, what about the next month? Are you going to bet $200 again, and again… You can see that buying calls outright is not scalable long term. You need a very strong conviction over a specific period of time. How to buy cheaper shares? Sell Cash Covered Put. Let’s continue on the example above with the company ABC trading at $20. You may think that it is a bit expensive, and you consider that $18 is a more acceptable price for you to own that company. You could sell a put ATM with a $20 strike, for $2. Your break-even point would be $18, i.e. you would start losing money if the share price dropped below $18. But also remember that if you did buy the shares outright, you would have lost more money in case of a price drop, because you did not get a premium to offset that loss. If the price stays above $20, your return for the month will be 11% ($200 / $1800). Note that in this example, we picked the ATM strike of $20, but you could have picked a lower strike for your short put, like an OTM strike of $17.50. Sure, the premium would be lower, maybe $1 per share, but your break-even point would drop from $18 to $16.50 (only 6% return then per month, not too shabby). The option trade will usually be written like this: SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 17.5 PUT @ 1.00 This means we sold 1 PUT on ABC, 100 shares per contract, the expiration date is July 17, 2020, and the strike is $17.5, and we sold it for $1 per share (so $100 credit minus fees). With your $20 short put, you will get assigned the shares if the price drops below $20 and you keep it until expiration, however, you will have paid them the equivalent of $18 each (we’ll actually talk more about the assignment later). If your short put expires worthless, you keep the premium, and you may decide to redo the same trade again. The share price may have gone up so much that the new ATM strike does not make you comfortable, and that’s fine as you were not willing to spend more than $18 per share, to begin with, anyway. You will have to wait for some better conditions. This strategy is called a cash covered put. In a taxable account, depending on your broker, you can have it on margin with no cash needed (you will need to have some other positions to provide the buying power). Beware that if you don’t have the cash to cover the shares, it is adding some leverage to your overall position. Make sure you account for all your potential risks at all times. The nice thing about this position is that as long as you are not assigned, you don’t actually need to borrow some money, it won’t cost you anything. In an IRA account, you will need to have the cash available for the assignment (remember in this example, you only need $1800, plus trading fees). Let’s roll! Now one month later, the share price is between $18 and $22, there are few days of expiration left, and you don’t want to be assigned, but you want to continue the same process for next month. You could close the current position, and reopen a new short put, or you could in one single transaction buy back your current short put, and sell another put for next month. Doing one trade instead of two is usually cheaper because you reduce the slippage cost. The closing of the old position and re-opening of a new short position for the next expiration is called rolling the short option (from month to month, but you can also do this with weekly options). The croll can be done a week or even a few days before expiration. Remember to avoid expiration days, and be careful being short an option on ex-dividend dates. When you roll month to month with the same strike, for most cases, you will get some money out of it. However, the farther your strike is from the current share price, the less additional premium you will get (due to the lower extrinsic value on the new option), and it can end up being close to $0. At that point, given the risk incurred, you may prefer to close the trade altogether or just be assigned. During the roll, depending on if the share price moved a bit, you can adjust the roll up or down. For example, you buy back your short put at $18, and you sell a new short put at $17 or $19, or whatever value makes the most sense. Assignment Now, let’s say that the share price finally dropped below $20, and you decided not to roll, or it dropped so much that the roll would not make sense. You ended up getting your shares assigned at a strike price of $18 per share. Note that the assigned share may have a current price much lower than $18 though. If that’s the case, remember that you earned more money than if you bought the shares outright at $20 (at least, you got to keep the $2 premium). And if you rolled multiple times, every premium that you got is additional money in your account. Want to sell at a premium? Sell Covered Calls. You could decide to hold onto the shares that you got at a discount, or you may decide that the stock price is going to go sideways, and you are fine collecting more theta. For example, you could sell a call at a strike of $20, for example for $1 (as it is OTM now given the stock price dropped). SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20 CALL @ 1.00 When close to the expiration time, you can either roll your calls again, the same way that you rolled your puts, as much as you can, or just get assigned if the share price went up. As you get assigned, your shares are called away, and you receive $2000 from the 100 shares at $20 each. Except that you accumulated more money due to all the premiums you got along the way. This sequence of the short put, roll, roll, roll, assignment, the short call, roll, roll, roll, is called the wheel. It is a great strategy to use when the market is trading sideways and volatility is high (like currently). It is a low-risk trade provided that the share you pick is not a risky one (pick a market ETF to start) perfect to get create some income with options. There are two drawbacks though:
If the share dropped too much, you are stuck with it.
You will have to be patient for the share to go back up, but often you can end up with many shares at a loss if the market has been tanking. As a rule of thumb, if I get assigned, I never ever sell a call below my assignment strike minus the premium. In case the market jumps back up, I can get back to my original position, with an additional premium on the way. Market and shares can drop like a stone and bounce back up very quickly (you remember this March and April?), and you really don’t want to lock a loss. Here is a very quick example of something to not do: Assigned at $18, current price is $15, sell a call at $16 for $1, share goes back up to $22. I get assigned at $16. In summary, I bought a share at $18, and sold it at $17 ($16 + $1 premium), I lost $1 between the two assignments. That’s bad.
If the share goes up too fast, you missed some opportunity for gain, potentially big gains.
You will have to find some other companies to do the wheel on. If it softens the blow a bit, your retirement account may be purely long, so you’ll not have totally missed the upside anyway. A short put is a bullish position. A short call is a bearish position. Alternating between the two gives you a strategy looking for a reversion to the mean. Both of these positions are positive theta, and negative vega (see part 2). Now that I explained the advantage of the long calls and puts, and how to use short calls and puts, we can explore a combination of both. Verticals Most option beginners are going to use long calls (or even puts). They are going to gain some money here and there, but for most parts, they will lose money. It is worse if they profited a bit at the beginning, they became confident, bet a bigger amount, and ended up losing a lot. They either buy too much (50% of my account on this call trade that can’t fail), too high of a volatility (got to buy those NKLA calls or puts), or too short / too long of an expiration (I don’t want to lose theta, or I overspent on theta). As we discussed earlier, a straight long call or put is one of the worst positions to be in. You are significantly negative theta and positive vega. But if you take a step back, you will realize that not accounting for the premium, buying a call gives you the upside of stock up to the infinity (and buying a put gives you the upside of the stock going to $0). But in reality, you rarely are betting that the stock will go to infinity (or to $0). You are often just betting that the stock will go up (or down) by X%. Although the stock could go up (or down) by more than X%, you intuitively understand that there is a smaller chance for this to happen. Options are giving you leverage already, you don’t need to target even more gain. More importantly, you probably should not pay for a profit/risk profile that you don’t think is going to happen. Enter verticals. It is a combination of long and short calls (or puts). Say, the company ABC trades at $20, you want to take a bullish position, and the ATM call is $2. You probably would be happy if the stock reaches $25, and you don’t think that it will go much higher than that. You can buy a $20 call for $2, and sell a $25 call for $0.65. You will get the upside from $20 to $25, and you let someone else take the $25 to infinity range (highly improbable). The cost is $1.35 per share ($2.00 - $0.65). BUY +1 VERTICAL ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20/25 CALL @ 1.35 This position is interesting for multiple reasons. First, you still get the most probable range for profitability ($20 to $25). Your cost is $1.35 so 33% cheaper than the long call, and your max profit is $5 - $1.35 = $3.65. So your max gain is 270% of the risked amount, and this is for only a 25% increase in the stock price. This is really good already. You reduced your dependency on theta and vega, because the short side of the vertical is reducing your long side’s. You let someone else pay for it. Another advantage is that it limits your max profit, and it is not a bad thing. Why is it a good thing? Because it is too easy to be greedy and always wanting and hoping for more profit. The share reached $25. What about $30? It reached $30, what about $35? Dang it dropped back to $20, I should have sold everything at the top, now my call expires worthless. But with a vertical, you know the max gain, and you paid a premium for an exact profit/risk profile. As soon as you enter the vertical, you could enter a close order at 90% of the max value (buy at $1.35, sell at $4.50), good till to cancel, and you hope that the trade will eventually be executed. It can only hit 100% profit at expiration, so you have to target a bit less to get out as soon as you can once you have a good enough profit. This way you lock your profit, and you have no risk anymore in case the market drops afterwards. These verticals (also called spreads) can be bullish or bearish and constructed as debit (you pay some money) or credit (you get paid some money). The debit or credit versions are equivalent, the credit version has a bit of a higher chance to get assigned sooner, but as long as you check the extrinsic value, ex-dividend date, and are not too deep ITM you will be fine. I personally prefer getting paid some money, I like having a bigger balance and never have to pay for margin. :) Here are the 4 trades for a $20 share price: CALL BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 OTM - Bullish spread - Debit CALL BUY 25 OTM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Credit PUT BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 ITM - Bullish spread - Credit PUT BUY 25 ITM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Debit Because both bullish trades are equivalent, you will notice that they both have the same profit/risk profile (despite having different debit and credit prices due to the OTM/ITM differences). Same for the bearish trades. Remember that the cost of an ITM option is greater than ATM, which in turn is greater than an OTM. And that relationship is what makes a vertical a credit or a debit. I understand that it can be a lot to take in. Let’s take a step back here. I picked a $20/$25 vertical, but with the share price at $20, I could have a similar $5 spread with $15/$20 (with the same 4 constructs). Or instead of 1 vertical $20/$25, I could have bought 5 verticals $20/$21. This is a $5 range as well, except that it has a higher probability for the share to be above $21. However, it also means that the spread will be more expensive (you’ll have to play with your broker tool to understand this better), and it also increases the trading fees and potentially overall slippage, as you have 5 times more contracts. Or you could even decide to pick OTM $25/$30, which would be even cheaper. In this case, you don’t need the share to reach $30 to get a lot of profit. The contracts will be much cheaper (for example, like $0.40 per share), and if the share price goes up to $25 quickly long before expiration, the vertical could be worth $1.00, and you would have 150% of profit without the share having to reach $30. If you decide to trade these verticals the first few times, look a lot at the numbers before you trade to make sure you are not making a mistake. With a debit vertical, the most you can lose per contract is the premium you paid. With a credit vertical, the most you can lose is the difference between your strikes, minus the premium you received. One last but important note about verticals: If your short side is too deep ITM, you may be assigned. It happens. If you bought some vertical with a high strike value, for example: SELL +20 VERTICAL SPY 100 17 JUL 20 350/351 PUT @ 0.95 Here, not accounting for trading fees and slippage, you paid $0.95 per share for 20 contracts that will be worth $1 per share if SPY is less than $350 by mid-July, which is pretty certain. That’s a 5% return in 4 weeks (in reality, the trading fees are going to reduce most of that). Your actual risk on this trade is $1900 (20 contracts * 100 shares * $0.95) plus trading fees. That’s a small trade, however the underlying instrument you are controlling is much more than that. Let’s see this in more detail: You enter the trade with a $1900 potential max loss, and you get assigned on the short put side (strike of $350) after a few weeks. Someone paid expensive puts and exercised 20 puts with a strike of $350 on their existing SPY shares (2000 of them, 20 contracts * 100 shares). You will suddenly receive 2000 shares on your account, that you paid $350 each. Thus your balance is going to show -$700,000 (you have 2000 shares to balance that). If that happens to you: DON’T PANIC. BREATHE. YOU ARE FINE. You owe $700k to your broker, but you have roughly the same amount in shares anyway. You are STILL protected by your long $351 puts. If the share price goes up by $1, you gain $2000 from the shares, but your long $351 put will lose $2000. Nothing changed. If the share price goes down by $1, you lose $2000 from the shares, but your long $350 put will gain $2000. Nothing changed. Just close your position nicely by selling your shares first, and just after selling your puts. Some brokers can do that in one single trade (put based covered stock). Don’t let the panic set in. Remember that you are hedged. Don’t forget about the slippage, don’t let the market makers take advantage of your panic. Worst case scenario, if you use a quality broker with good customer service, call them, and they will close your position for you, especially if this happens in an IRA. The reason I am insisting so much on this is because of last week’s event. Yes, the RH platform may have shown incorrect numbers for a while, but before you trade options you need to understand the various edge cases. Again if this happens to you, don’t panic, breathe, and please be safe. This concludes my post 3a. We talked about the trade-offs between buying shares, buying calls instead, selling puts to get some premium to buy some shares at a cheaper price, rolling your short puts, getting your puts assigned, selling calls to get some additional money in sideways markets, rolling your short calls, having your calls assigned too. We talked about the wheel, being this whole sequence spanning multiple months. After that, we discussed the concept of verticals, with bullish and bearish spreads that can be either built as a debit or a credit. And if there is one thing you need to learn from this, avoid buying straight calls or puts but use verticals instead, especially if the volatility is very high. And do not ever sell naked calls, again use verticals. The next post will explain more advanced and interesting option strategies. --- Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
I've a 100 Euro bet on with my friend that he won't complete this game in 3 days. >>>Day 3<<<
Death Count: 242 Iudex Gundyr - Defeated Vordt of the Boreal Valley - Defeated Curse-rotted Greatwood - Defeated Crystal Sage - Defeated Deacons of the Deep - Defeated Abyss Watchers - Defeated High Lord Wolnir - Defeated Old Demon King - Defeated Pontiff Sulyvahn - Defeated Yhorm the Giant - Defeated Aldrich, Devourer of Gods - Defeated Dancer of the Boreal Valley - Defeated Oceiros, the Consumed King - Defeated Champion Gundyr - Defeated Ancient Wyvern - Defeated Dragonslayer Armour - Defeated Lorian & Lothric Soul of Cinder ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() Welcome back, Unkindled Ones, for the grand finale. I will be updating the key highlights as we proceed throughout the game over these next few and final hours, as well as the death count. To make things easier to follow, I will have (updated) to the left of the most recent text below. The times I update may not be 100% accurate, but fairly close. For anyone who doesn't know what this is all about, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/heepr2/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share For anyone who missed the events of Day 1, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hg43r5/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share For anyone who missed the events of Day 2, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hgqdbm/ive_a_100_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() 11:00 - Once again, I must apologize for the two day break in between. Here in Ireland, 364 days of the year are cold and wet, even when it's dry, so I sure as hell wasn't missing out on an opportunity to make the most of that one day that contained a sweltering 8°C (46.4°F for our American friends) heat wave. The deadline will be @ 1:00am as we started an hour later than originally planned. Weapon update: Lothric Knight Sword & Shield. Let's get into this. 11:10 - She bangs, she bangs, oh baby. When she moves, she moves, I go crazy. 'Cause she looks like a Hungarian belly dancer but she slices you up like a chicken in a rotisserie. Like every Outrider Knight in history. 11:44 - She prances elegantly across the room with the natural grace of the Ballerina that she is, executing a faultless arabesque and flowing like water over a smooth river stone, leaving her onlooker mesmerized and in awe, wondering who this pulchritudinous Dancer is. Their eyes meet for the first time. His heart begins to beat faster and faster, reaching dangerously high levels, on the verge of exploding in his chest. He gasps, almost forgetting to breath. It feels like he's being consumed by the gaping mouth of a great ocean. She advances toward him, one foot in front of the other. Controlled movements, never withdrawing her eyes from his. She's a hair's breadth from him now. He's never witnessed such magnificence. His lips part, words ready to escape to ask this enchantress her name. She slowly lifts her elongated fingers to his mouth, as if ready to hush his eager lips. Then she stabs him in his face and he dies. 12:29 - It could be the rustiness after taking a two day break or it could just be the encounter itself. He's struggling with this one, a lot. Her movements are off-putting and he's finding it difficult to understand her attack patterns. 13:05 - We're at a standstill here folks. Although progress is being made, it's not being made quick enough. Every death is costly minutes lost and the clock is ticking. 15-0 Dancer. 13:58 - And that's all she wrote. This Dancer was clearly not made for the stage. She suspends her head in shame as she is jeered off the platform after failing to impress the judges after 20 attempts. 14:05 - He's swung a sharp left and has decided to make his way to the Consumed Kings Garden in hope of defeating two bosses consecutively in quick succession. Time is his greatest enemy right now. To stand a chance of making it through Lothric Castle and the Archives, he'll need to do this with haste. 14:39 - The Pus of Men are misunderstood lovable abominations that only desire love and affection. With their mahoosize claw like appendages reaching out for a friendly handshake, they find themselves being set ablaze yet again by another terror-stricken, mismatched armour wearing dingbat. 15:04- The lift shortcut has been activated. It's time to meet Ocerios and baby Ocelotte, wherever he is. 15:54 - "Ahh, you ignorant slaves. Finally taken notice, have you? Of the power of my beloved Ocelotte, child of The Joy and The Sorrow." There's more than meets the eye(or lack of them), with this scaleless, clammy, staff weilding naked Wyvern-man. After consuming copius amounts of cocaine in phase 2, which would explain his dillusions, he begins bouncing off the walls on all fours like the absolute mad man that he is. Unleashing a plethora of swipes, bites and tail whips, he's establishing just why he has King in his name. He's certainly no push over so far and it shows. 16:33- The Consumed King has been dethroned. The key to this encounter was using his shield to absorb the barrage of blows in phase two. He's ready to make his way to the Untended Graves to face Gundyr for round two. I have shown him the secret passage as he'd have no knowledge of how to get there otherwise. But first we're going to take a short break. Be back soon. 17:12 - After spending months training away in a Muay Thai camp in southern Thailand, the Tin-Man has returned with seething vengance on his mind. Displaying a whole new moveset of quick dodges, open handed bitch slaps and a roundhouse kick that would give Chuck Norris a run for his money, this herculean trash can is here to pick up todays garbage. 17:47 - When his eyes glow red, he means business. These newly learned attacks are proving to be more than a handful right now. He's barely been able to secure one successful hit during Gundyr's second phase onslaught. He's in trouble with this one. Will his first boss encounter with Gundyr also be his last? 18:50 - Round 13: With a quick left jab to the midsection, followed by a right uppercut to the big man's chin, Gundyr finds himself face down eating dirt. He'll have to hang up his gloves after this one. 18:55 - With four bosses remaining, he's decided to go on a Wyvern hunt in Archdragon peak. He wants to get this one out of the way so that he can soley focus on the remaining two areas. Seeing as he has absolutely no idea how to get here, I'll show him the way...of the Dragon. 19:16 - He traverses across the grey expanse of stoney peaks, breathing in lungfuls of crisp frigid air. Step by step, he meticulously picks out his footing placement amongst the coarse, uneven, rocky terrain. He sees a white marbled mausoleum in the distance, it's a welcomed sight indeed. The conception of a place to rest his beaten and broken body gives him purpose to push on. He forces his weary legs to take another step. Almost there. Suddenly his body is met with an icey chill as a great shadow looms above. A low hiss resonates, causing the ground around him to tremble. Enter: Ancient Wyvern. 19:40 - After quickly learning that his sword attacks only tickled the serpentines scaley hide, he navigated his way around the rafters and delivered a deadly plunging attack to the Wyvern's cranium, casuing instant death. Back to the Bonfire. 19:45 - My personal favourite area of the game that also happens to have my personal favourite boss encounter. Lothric Castle can be a fairly time consuming place for new players to navigate their way around, and time is something he is very short on right now. With little room for error and three difficult encounters remaining, this might come down to the wire. 20:30- Subsequent to being toasted like a marshmallow outside of the castle, he made his way to the right sided entrance where he fought his way through an ambush of Hollow Assasins and proceeded to free the corrupted parasitic Wyvern from eternal torment. 21:23 - His second meeting with the Boreal Outrider Knight went scantly better than the first. Much emphasis on the word scantly. He traded blows with charged up super Knights within the castle walls and found himself passage toward the Archives, only to be stopped in his tracks by a formidable foe. 21:35 - The sky shone bright with a brilliant ember red glow. The Pilgrim Butterflies glided amidst the clouds, as if swimming upstream like Salmon in the fall. The beauty of it all was short lived when pulsing waves began to emanate from their frail wings in the direction of a heaped metallic pile of dismantled armour below. One by one, the pieces began to build upon themselves, until there stood a ten foot hollow behemoth weilding a lightning infused Greataxe and a mammoth sized shield, almost as tall and wide as the hulking brute iself. It found itself at the mercy of its new masters. Obeying. Under submission. Ready to kill. 22:27 - 8 shield bashes to the face later, he got the upper hand and melted down that armour into a brand new teapot. With the clock against him, he's heading into the final area of the game. 22:39 - Thousands upon thousands of old paper creations, stacked upon one another. I doubt you could even imagine it. He stands in awe, marvelling at the vast repository of books surrounding him. So much wonder, and knowledge, and secrets... oh the secrets, hidden away between their covers, like two forbidden lovers. In the far off distance, he hears echoing, an old familiar cackling, resounding in his ears. It can't be. It can't... Two ice cold frostbolts to the side of his head quickly remind him that the Witch Bitch is still very much alive and kicking. Welcome to the Grand Archives, my man. 23:25 - After turning himself into a human candle, he proceeded to make his way through the Archives whilst being groped by Cursed Claws, pounced on by more Hollow Slaves, and impaled by lumbering Gargoyles. Harry, Ron and Hermione won't make his final hurdle towards the Twins an easy one. 23:47 - Incest is best. A motto held dearly by these two edgy teens. A brotherly love like no other, the Twin Princes. These guys gave me absolute hell on my first playthrough and I expect they will do the same here. While it is possible to take down two more bosses within this time 01:00am time frame, it's highly unlikely. 00:00 - One hour remaining. 00:10 - 7 deaths in quick succession has given him insight as to what to expect from this encounter. The unpredictability of Lorians instant teleportation and double horizontal slashes is proving difficult to read, with a follow up combo catching him off guard every so often, resulting in a quick death. 00:30 - "This spot marks our grave. You may rest here, too, if you like." He may have no choice but to take Lothric up on his kind invitation. 30 minutes to go with phase 2 only being reached once. He's accepted defeat at this point but is still giving his all for the remaining time left. (Updated) 1:00 -And that brings us to the end of our journey, Unkindled ones. Sadly, the Princes could not be taken down but I'm sure with a few more attempts, that'll change. Although he's failed to meet the requirements for this bet, he can hold his head up high because that was a damn good valiant effort. He's experienced his first taste of Dark Souls and he isn't leaving dissapointed. ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() To those who are wondering if he actually enjoyed playing the game or was doing it for the money? The cash was a big incentive in the beginning, there's no question about that, but he thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. He does plan on completing the rest of it within the next day or so, as well as attempting the Nameless King. He will then do a second playthrough, playing at his own pace. He may have lost the bet but the world of Dark Souls has won him over. As for the 100 Euro, well, I didn't accept it and I never planned on doing so, and I know he would have done the same thing. A pint will suffice when we're out some night. I just wanted to introduce my friend to this phenomenonal game and for him to experience how amazing it is, and I've done that. That's enough for me. To you guys and girls, thank you for joining us on this journey these last few days. I hope that you enjoyed reading my commentary as much as I did writing it. It's been a blast. Being new to the Dark Souls community myself and Reddit in general, I've gotta say that I'm loving the highly entertaining posts and the community itself. I'm not sure if I'll do something to this extent again, as it's left me mentally broken, but I will stay active. So keep it up everyone, and most importantly, stay safe.
This game's sleazy monetization is trying to toy with your brain. Don't fall prey to it.
I get the game is F2P, and I understand they have to make money. At first, I was pretty disappointed about bundle prices because I believed (and still do) that they were too high. I get their tactic here, it's to target the wealthy, and hopefully, down the line, small fries like the major player base will get a fair deal. It isn't only the bundles which target the wealthy, however. To preface this, I will say also that no western, successful F2P game has pay-to-win. This game has the sleaziest monetization of any F2P I've ever played. I thought it would get better over time, but my hope has dwindled after Joe Lee's (RiotSWAGGERNAU7) statement regarding the battle-pass in Ask VALORANT #1. I would also like to say that managing monetization is this man's job. If you're going to get mad at anyone, get mad at the greedy guys at the top, not at him or the revenue team. No VP in the battle-pass. Interesting strategy. Here is what he had to say.
Our goal is that when you buy a battle pass, you buy it for the total value of it rather than buying it as a way of getting enough currency to buy the next one. We want the battle pass to be the highest value product we offer as well as a compelling experience...
This statement seems pretty genuine, but when you actually view the battle-pass beyond its face value, what they have done is pretty manipulative, and such manipulation is further demonstrated in the second half of his statement (which I'll cover after). Here is an image of VP and RP prices (I am in Australia, so prices will be different and the VP in each may be different, but the manipulation is a constant). Radianite points (RP) is the second of two paid currencies, I'll call it semi-premium because of their absolutely insulting prices, but I would also like to say you can earn a considerable amount in-game (that however, does not detract from its egregiousness). You have to buy VP first, and of course, they made it so you can't buy exact amounts, you've gotta use the packs. They also put these little "-x%" next to each tier of RP because oh boy, if it wasn't a steal already it's gotta be a steal now. /s It is insulting. 10 RP goes from around $10AUD to $15AUD, so you're pretty much best case scenario paying 10 bucks for an upgrade for a skin you've already bought (the upgradeable skins on their own btw, are $30AUD). Explained succinctly and pretty much perfectly by u/schemeKC, "Radianite is priced astronomically high to artificially inflate its perceived value". That's where Mr. Lee's statement comes in. Mr. Lee wants you to buy the battle-pass for "its total value". And jeez, the battle-pass must be good because of all that juicy Radianite which boosts its perceived value a fuckton. So after you finish the BP, you've got a nice amount of skins (none of which can be upgraded with RP). You've got this pile of RP leftover and it is just staring at you. The only way to use that RP though, is to spend even more money. Other F2P games give you premium currency for BPs months on end for free, and this game strips that away so you could be spending $10 every act, then coerces you to spend even more because of the RP you've been given. The way this statement was delivered to try and convince you that you were getting a good deal, now shows that this isn't something under the rug (to be felt not seen), it has been said by a real person. Any goodwill has been thrown out the window, and the player's intellect has been insulted. I hope that wasn't his intention, but that is exactly how it came across imo. VP can only be bought in really inconveniencing amounts, a tactic mostly used in mobile games but hey, it's 2020. Small indie dev needs to survive right? /s It is annoying for every player, and these tiers are worse than any F2P game I've ever played. If I wanted to buy 20 RP, I'd need to buy the 2175 VP pack and that would roughly equate to $15AUD per 10 RP. You can only use RP on paid skins (there are barely any free skins anyway). But let's say I want to buy the big boy 80 RP pack, ooh what value and it's 40% off! I would need to buy the 5800 VP pack for $80AUD and that would be around $10AUD per 10 RP if I were only buying RP. I need to buy another bundle to get an upgradeable skin, that sucks! I'll get the 1025 VP pack for $15 so I can buy a prime classic. That's $95AUD you've paid to get and upgrade a single skin (I'm not counting the RP you get for free for the purposes of demonstrating the confusion they have imbued within this model). This is a small demonstration of obfuscation. The system is designed to make you pay more and more and more until... oh. I still have some VP left, and I can get another skin! Let me pay just this little bit more. I think my bank balance might be negative. A single prime skin without any of its variants is at least $30AUD unless you buy the big boy bundles, but then you've obviously spent more than 30 bucks. It is designed to confuse the player into purchasing the highest value pack so they don't have to think, and if I'm being honest I haven't seen mobile games this cunning. This is malicious, and kind of impressive in a super fucked up way. The second half of his statement talks about the future of Radianite, and again, further attempts to display that "it's a great deal!" The revenue team wants RP to be "the evolving currency of VALORANT". They want this overpriced, huge pile of inflated pixels to be the next big thing. The RP you got for free can't be used for free, and honestly with the way this monetization is panning out I don't expect it ever to be used as such (despite what's said in the next few sentences, we've seen in the past a number of popular suggestions being thrown to the wind). An auto-renewable battle-pass in any game is designed to respect the player's time. If I see a game I love with an auto-renewable pass, actively rewarding me for spending time with the game after a one time purchase, you'd better bet your top dollar I will spend more. This system does not respect your time, it constantly probes you to spend more and more. Riot obviously didn't design this system with morals in mind, and there are certainly way more subtle additions that I didn't catch. So pretty much, this package has overpriced bundles and skins, psychologically manipulative RP, layers of obfuscation for all monetization - but hey, it's F2P! People who pay, they're suckers. Let their wealth be sapped for trying to support the devs. obligatory /s For a developer that has such strong ties to its community, these sort of manipulative business practices sour our perception. Even EA, after the Battlefront 2 fiasco completely removed loot-boxes and to a further extent, even microtransactions from everything but their sports games and AL. They tried to improve their reputation by investing in more indie devs and actually supporting them. Riot has done nothing. I know this post won't make them change their system. We have seen that they closed the door to the battle-pass changing after huge community outcry, and haven't at all changed the scummy Radianite, in fact, they've stated they are going to double down. But if we double down on our critique of the system we can be sure they will at least discuss it down the line. Your voice matters, probably not as much as your wallet though haha. Safeguard that shit from exploitation. If and when you decide to purchase something here, a good question would probably be whether this company actually respects your purchasing decision. As it stands, my feet are firmly glued to the "no" side of the fence. tl;dr - the game uses shady microtransaction design to confuse and fool players, then asks them to spend more money after stripping away common features of an established battle-pass model, completely failing to respect/reward their consumers' money/time.
I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)
Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle. After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children. One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so. My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt. Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down. The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues. Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all. The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome. The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess? Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is. I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure. As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate. Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing. I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event. The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close. In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?). Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled. Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think? Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it. This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here. Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out. After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled. Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic. The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex." In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison. That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends. This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know. In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking. Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person. We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth. The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining." -A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise. You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.' But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards. We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines. This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton. A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®. The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention. The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive. In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries. After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American." We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible. In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city." Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.' I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous. Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously. But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.' Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times. This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
[OC] We intend no harm - Chapter 20 (First Impression)
Hello again. Achtung! Attenzione! We, yes you and I, are jumping back through time and space, because there are things happening on the other side of terran space as well. First | Wiki | Previous | Next Zokosh Xem was furious. She had already lost a frigate and now the cruiser she sent to go looking for her was late on its scheduled report. Should she report to her superiors that she lost two ships in an insignificant system? She did not even know what caused it. She had fought hard to become the first female fleet admiral within the empire’s navy. If she played her hand wrong, she might lose the command over this sectors fleet. But if she kept quiet she might lose something more important, her head. Her predecessor in command would have just taken the flagship, the dreadnaught Houkan Ra, and a small support fleet to crush whoever he were to meet in this system. Zokosh was ... let’s say, less passionate. Her family was higher nobility within the empire. Such a brutish move would be unseemly right now. Of course she was quite capable of every brutish move necessary in the right time and the right place. Now was the time for more delicate action. Before she opened a com-channel, she adjusted her hair and her uniform. She took great care to look proper. Especially in front of the Duke. “Admiral Xem, it has been a long time since you reported to me in person. I assume something urgent came up to justify such a breach of protocol.” “Thank you for your time, Duke Xem. Your assumption is correct. Two ships were potentially lost in one of the systems in the neutral zone.” Zokosh was burning with anger, but she had been brought up well enough to hide it. “I see, you got that command for only two years and you already lost two ships, without being at war. And now you want me to cover up your inability to command? Why don’t you just take the rest of the fleet I entrusted you with and look for them yourself?” The Duke asked mockingly. “My father taught me, to be more cautious than this.” She replied as calm as she could. “To determine what caused that incident, I would like to request the assistance of the newly developed scout ship.” “Your father is a great man.” The Duke raised his chest, showing off his medals. You could assume, there was some kind of joking undertone, but he was extremely serious. Zokosh knew that spiel and snapped into a salute. “Yes your Grace. My father is a great man second only to his holiness the Emperor himself.” That was her tiny revenge. She knew her father did like to be praised. It would sting his pride calling him second, but he could not say anything against that. Well, without losing his head. Duke Xem tried his best to hide his annoyance, but his brat of a daughter had played her cards well. Except for his personal feelings there was nothing he could make up to deny her request. It took him a moment to realize something. “How do you even know about that ship? It’s a state secret!” He lost composure for a moment. “I am my mother's daughter after all. Right now I'm the only one who knows about your inability to keep a secret, Dad. I’ll be expecting the Cheshnak Ra at my base in eight days. All glory to the Emperor.” After saluting, she cut the channel. “You lost, old man.” Now she had to prepare for the arrival of the loaned ship. She did not really like being in the navy, but it was way better than getting married off to some geezer for political gain. Zokosh was the Duke’s first born, but she was a girl and also an illegitimate one. ++++++ The last few days Zokosh had studied the blueprints of the Cheshnak Ra into their last detail. She was going to assume direct control over this ship. Losing the Cheshnak Ra, would mean losing her head. With that reasoning she could as well be on board. Crews of long range scout ships were always of questionable character. No normal person would be able to live for half a year or longer in such a confined space. The uniform for the few females within the navy consisted of four pieces, all black with red accents and golden decorations: a cap, a jacket, a skirt and boots. The cap sat on top of the head and had two cutouts for the ears. From its brims it connected upwards to one edge running from the front to the back. A rank insignia was placed on the right forward facing side. The Jacket was short sleeved, with a neckline deep enough to give the men something to look at, but not deep enough to distract them. At least it covered the midriff, some earlier models did not. The skirt was impracticable short and tight. Some say that design should encourage women to walk gracefully. But Zokosh was sure it was made to annoy them by having to constantly pull the damn thing down while doing any more involved than walking on a catwalk. The boots. Well, they were a bit high going up to the knee (a thing, the skirt should do). But except for that, they were good boots. After Zokosh had seen the blueprints for the first time, she knew that she needed to get a different uniform. The Cheshnak Ra had not a single elevator nor had it stairs. She was so tiny that the designers used ladders to save space. Luckily she knew that the crew on such ships would not bother with proper uniforms. Being of questionable character had its good sides. The package arrived two days before Zokosh was expecting the Cheshnak Ra. After she picked it up, she hurried as fast as the damn skirt allowed back to her quarters. There she finally opened it happily. She knew her favourite tailor was good at making dresses, but she did not expect her to craft something so different so well. Zokosh quickly stripped herself of her uniform throwing it into a corner of her room. Then she stepped into the legs of her new jumpsuit, put her arms in its half-length sleeves and closed the zipper on the front. It fitted as well as the many evening dresses she owned, maybe even better. She looked at herself in the mirror and turned around happily like she did with every dress when she was younger. She had requested the the jumpsuit to be form-fitting on her chest and her midriff, which it was. When she turned a bit more a feeling she had was confirmed. The suit was also form-fitting on her butt. She pondered for a while if she should request changes. But then she remembered all the instances where she was thinking the same about some parts of dresses and that most of the women were wearing similar designs on the next ball. Maybe she should trust her tailor with this again. It was quite tight, but still less revealing, that that damned skirt had been on so many occasions. ‘Maybe I should throw the damn thing into the fire place.’ Thought Zokosh a moment before her room smelled like burning fabric and victory. Of course her new uniform had the same color scheme than the old one. She took her well earned medals from her Jacket and attached them to the jumpsuit. After that she put on her boots and the cap, the only part of her old uniform, she honestly liked. While she took another look in the mirror to make sure her hair was proper, the zipper caught her eye. Right now it was pulled up to her chin. She leaned a bit closer towards the mirror looking at it like she was going to seduce it. Then she pulled alluringly slow on the zipper, revealing more and more of her fair blue chest. With a surprising amount of speed and precision her other hand flew forward. An instant later, a sharp venomous spike had shot out of the underside of her forearm pointing at her mirror image’s neck. ‘That might work even better than with the normal uniform.’ She thought smiling bright enough to show her pointy teeth in the mirror. Those spikes Zokosh had in both of her forearms had been a ‘gift’ from her mother. She had been a member of the imperial’s Secret Order, a group of spies and assassins loyal only to the Emperor himself. Some of them had been given some bio-engineered weapons, that should not have been inheritable. When Zokosh’s mother noticed that her daughter somehow got them too, she told her to keep it a secret. There had been a few people who knew her secret, but they only knew it for a few seconds. After she had closed her zipper up to about 15 centimeters below her chin, she left her quarters. On the way to her office she noticed, that most people looked at her. She expected that much. She skillfully examined their reactions. Of course none of them dared to speak up to an admiral, especially one of noble birth. Some of the older senior officers looked like they wanted to admonish her, while some of the younger officers seemed to be ok with her new look. All of the few female crewmen she encountered looked like they would like to trade their uniform with her on the spot. If Zokosh would get a strategic position in the rear, she would advocate for a change of uniform for all female enlisted and officers. ++++++ A few hours before the Cheshnak Ra was supposed to arrive, Zokosh got a notification. The ship had docked at the station. After she had informed the crewman that she was on her way, she grabbed her bag and went to the station’s docking ring. Before she joined the navy, she could have never imagined traveling with only one seabag. After a short multi axis elevator ride, she reached the docking port, where the Cheshnak Ra had moored. When the elevator doors opened Zokosh could see the Captain and most of the bridge officers waiting for her. The moment she stepped through the doors, the crew saluted. Well, if they did a salute like that in front of an Imperial Navy Academy instructor, they would have faced 100 rounds around the academy or scrubbing all toilets on the campus, most likely both. Zokosh did not bother with judging them, it felt somewhat liberating. She snapped into a proper salute to respond to their greeting. “All glory to the Emperor. Thank you for greeting me, Captain Zork.” “It’s our pleasure, Admiral Xem.” The captain looked at her with his organic and his cybernetic eye. Trying to figure out, what kind of admiral he was talking to. “I see you are dressed to fit in.” The captain and the bridge crew behind him were all wearing jumpsuits. They looked worn out and less well made. They had no red accents or golden embellishments. You could assume they had been black a long time ago, but now they were grey and a bit saggy. “I figured, it would be impractical to move around on a tiny ship with clothes that don’t like to stay in place.” Zokosh replied in a friendly tone. “That makes sense. Some of the crew might still be … disheartened that even a decorated Admiral doesn’t conform to the Empire Navy’s dress code.” Explained the captain. The Admiral’s smile revealed her beautifully white teeth. “Well my dear Captain, I expect your crew to fulfill their duties to perfection. Even if I don't wear the traditional uniform. But I’m not the kind of person to tell them to stop having fun in their free time.” She looked at the bridge crew, especially the young helmsman and the weapons officer. They looked like friends from the academy or even before. Both of them had that free spirited vibe, that would have caused them detention in the brigg on a normal imperial ship. “Helmsman.” She addressed him directly, causing him to flinch. “I read a few things about the customs on board of long range scout vessels. Gambling seems to be quite popular. Scout crews are allegedly betting on almost everything. So please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong: You and the weapons officer had betted, If I would be wearing the official uniform or not.” Except for the captain and his first officer, the bridge crew looked surprised that their secret had been exposed so quickly. “Looks like I was right. Sooo … Who of you betted that I would not wear that uniform?” Zokosh asked. The Helmsman raised his hand a bit intimidated, causing her to smirk victoriously. “Well, since I won that bet for you, you owe me half of the pot.” That was not, what the crew had expected from an nobleborn Admiral. Zokosh enjoyed herself. The first impression was important after all. After he had overcome this shock, the Weapons Officer put his hand on the Helmsman's shoulder and said in an cheeky tone. “To bad for you, Sogogh.” “I wasn’t finished, WO. Since you obviously would have preferred having me climb the ladders of that ship in a tight skirt, you get the chance to get close and personal with me.” She flicked one of her catlike ears flirtingly at him and took a fighting stance. The WO looked at his friend and than at the captain. Of course they sparred in their free time on board the Cheshnak Ra, but fighting an admiral in the docking ring could turn into a unfavourable situation. While he was pondering if he should accept the challenge, the third friend of the trio pushed him forward. “If you don’t hurry, you might not get a chance to get close to a woman for months.” The following laughter spurred him on. Both Hynians were circling each other slowly, like their ancestors would stalk prey. Their eyes were fixated on the other. Whenever Tokol was trying to make a move on her, she prepared a counter. It was immediately obvious, that she was well trained in close combat. After a while it felt more like she was toying with the larger and stronger male, much to the enjoyment of those who did not have to fight her. Zokosh herself never tried to attack, all she did was counter Tokol’s moves, so that he did not get a real hold on her. Getting toyed with like a welp was frustrating Tokol, so he tried harder but more sloppy. Instead of evading Zokosh lowered herself. She grabbed the males arm as a lever and easily threw him over her shoulder, causing him to land on his back. “Looks like, you just lost your chance to get close to a woman for a while.” She smirked at him. Tokol needed a moment to realize what had happened, while he was looking up at Zokosh. When they started the fight, he had planned to grapple her. Pinning a noble girl down with his body would have made for a great story. But all he was able to do was touch her arms, everything else was always out of reach. Zokosh bend a bit forward to extend her hand. After she had helped him back on his feet, the bridge crew and the Admiral boarded the Cheshnak Ra. The Admiral smiled slightly, she had made the first impression she wanted to. Showing the crew that she was not some stick-in-the-mud, but also reminding them that she was to be respected. First | Wiki | Previous | Next Well … That’s that … I just thought that I have a lot of female characters. I guess, we need more guys? head scratching intensifies EDIT: This comment has been taken way more serious, than I had meant it. After writing the chapter, I noticed that I wrote another badass female. But don’t worry, I keep writing what comes to my mind and choose the characters according to what I want to do with them. :)
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