Category Archives: Random Wibble

Illusion, Delusion, and Disillusion

Or: “Ewwwww…”

Once in a while, you see a story in the news that makes you shake your head sadly and wonder what the writer was thinking — or smoking — when she wrote it. This is one such story.

Where have all the good men gone? These sassy, sophisticated, solvent women say they are struggling to find other halves that can measure up

The Daily Mail is no longer accepting commentary, I have decided to reprint the story in its entirety and add my commentary in-line. I wouldn’t normally do anything that extreme, but this article contains so many untruths, half-truths, and outright delusions that I felt it was necessary. As best I understand it, copying for the purpose of discussion and comment is legal, and is therefore not a copyright violation.

The title alone sets the tone. “measure up“? To whose standards? But on to the bye-lines:

  • Five single women share why they’ve struggled to find men worth dating

Correction: Five middle-aged single women share why they’ve struggled to find men they believe to be worth dating. There. Fixed that for you.

  • They ask if it is possible to find independent, attractive mid-life daters

Possible? Certainly. Probable? No. “Independent, attractive” men are rare beasts, and they are in astronomically high demand.

  • One dating coach says there are seven women for every man aged 40-55

Correction: seven desperate single women for every eligible man aged 40-55.

So much for the bylines, now on to the purple prose…

At 48, Jane Townsend is beautiful, independent — and single. She keeps fit, takes great care of her appearance and is looking for a man who is active, in good shape, articulate and emotionally open.

Given her good looks and vivacious nature, eligible suitors must surely be beating a path to her door.

“Good looks?” “Vivacious nature?” Let us gaze upon the wonderfulness of this pulchritudinous creature…

Jane Townsend, 48, was told by one relationship coach that women her age should go for men 15 years older, making her current dating goal a man aged 63 

Do you want to you have sex with this woman? Me neither.

Yet as Jane, from Sheffield, explains, it has been a struggle: ‘The men out there are delusional…

It’s Jane who is delusional. She is looking for a handsome, fit, charming man in his fifties – the mythical “Silver Fox”. trouble is, every woman her age is dreaming of bagging one of those, and there are plenty of younger ones who would love to bag him as well. As a result, any man over 50 who has a little money in his pockets and is in good physical shape can *easily* find a wife ten years younger, and probably fifteen — and if he is just interested in casual, commitment-free dating he can go all the way down to the early twenties. There are several websites out there for that. Looks to me like the poor dear has a bad case of DPS (Disney Princess Syndrome).

…I went out with a guy who lied about his age, saying he was 47 when he was 50…

Women lie about their ages all the time. But let a man do it and it’s suddenly a heinous crime. And why does that three years make such a difference? It’s not like he said he was thirty…

…who then had the gall to tell me he wanted a younger woman so he, as he put it, “could breed”.

What gall! How dare he! To be fair, that was a little crass, but at least he was up-front and direct about his requirements instead of lying, leading her on, or telling her what she wanted to hear…

‘After my divorce, I gave up my prime dating years to raise my two girls, expecting that when they left home, I’d have time left…

You made a choice; a noble, rational one. But choices have consequences. Didn’t anyone tell you that a woman’s attractiveness has a short shelf life? When they did, were you even listening?

…But there has been a shift and now the men aren’t there. Where I live it’s hard to find someone cultured unless they’re eating yoghurt, and the men my age all seem to be — well — more than a little overweight.’

Fair point; let’s take a look at the current crop of fifty-something men out there:

  • Some are happily married and off the market (they don’t want you).
  • Some are unhappily married and looking for a side piece (you don’t want them).
  • Some are divorced and ruined (you won’t want them).
  • Some are dating younger women (They won’t want you)
  • Some are doing the Sugar Daddy thing (they definitely won’t want you).
  • Some have given up entirely (you definitely won’t want them).
  • Widowers (and widows) are the best bet for marriage.. but they are in short supply and are snapped up very quickly.
  • Divorcees are a crap-shoot; nuggets of gold amid a whole lot of dross (good luck with that).

A divorced woman looking for a wealthy, in-shape, marriage-minded man in his fifties is like an overweight thirty-something-year-old plumber seriously expecting to hook up with a blonde, large-breasted cheerleader. Good luck with that.

Having been matchmaking single men and women for Femail’s Blind Date column for the past six months, I’d like to say Jane’s experiences are the exception…

If that is the exception, what is the rule?

…but what has struck me is just how many attractive women apply who seem to have so much going for them. They are in great physical shape, living full and interesting lives. Yet finding suitable men for them to date seems to be a heroic challenge.

“Attractive… so much going for them…” According to whom? Other women? It is written: “Ancient Egyptians worshiped cats. Cats have never forgotten this.” In the same way, women who have enjoyed incredible power in the dating market in their twenties are often the last to know when it that power is gone, never to return. The real problem is when they still think that they have the same sultry allure that drove men wild at ninteen, and have calibrated their expectations accordingly. Women in their fifties are at a considerable disadvantage.

This has left me wondering why a generation of single, sexy, solvent women just can’t find love.

Again with the gushy praise; enough already! To put it succinctly: men are attracted to youth and fertility. Always have been, always will be. Conversely, women are attracted to status and strength (physical/mental/emotional/financial). Always have been, always will be.

What immediately strikes female mid-life daters — of whom I am one — returning to the dating scene in later life after a marriage or long-term relationship, is the lack of single men.

What you actually mean is “The lack of single, handsome, healthy, wealthy, charming marriage-minded men”. Granny was right; young women have the pick of the men, older gals have to battle over the leavings. You should have listened to her.

According to Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist and dating coach, there are an estimated seven new women for every man on the dating scene in the 40-55 age group, so availability is clearly a big issue.

This statistic seems sketchy. If each break-up puts one man and one woman back on the dating market, the numbers should be roughly equal. I suspect that we are seeing the Pareto principle in action: 80% of women are chasing the top 20% of men and ignoring the rest. When 80% of the women are chasing 20% of the men, the result can hardly fail to be anything else but a bloodbath.

‘I’ve had clients coming to me wondering: “Am I asking too much to find an attractive, independent, solvent guy of my age?” ’ she says.

Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: “You should have thought of that when you were 24”

As she explains, part of the issue is that when divorce strikes, men and women react in different ways.

Men’s relationships frequently overlap; they won’t leave one partner until they find another, so they are never really single.

ABSOLUTE RUBBISH. Three-quarters of divorces are initiated by the woman. In most cases, the man has no clue until she serves him with papers, leaves with the kids, or worse, has him thrown out of their house. (See #9 here). And in almost every case, she had everything planned in advance and had a “spare” lined up. This is borne out by reality as well as anecdote. Observe how many women “break up with (i.e., leave) their husbands and just happen to find a wonderful boyfriend “a few weeks later”.

…By contrast, women take longer to recover from a break-up. They often step out of the dating ring completely, sometimes for many years, to rebuild their lives or to focus on bringing up children.

Wrong again. Men commit suicide at nearly 5x the rate of women – up from 2x in 1982. And a leading cause of suicide among men over 40 is divorce. But women are always the victims, because women say they are — and data be damned.

‘When they return to dating, it’s really hard for them,’ says Jo. ‘There aren’t as many men because they have a wider pool. Men realise quite quickly that there are far fewer of them than there are women of a similar age. They then date much younger women, creating a huge void in the market.

Young pretty women run the game through their twenties. Because They Can. But after 30, men start to realize their value, the balance of power starts to shift.  After 40, men have all the power, so they can afford to be picky. And if they find themselves healthy, wealthy and single in their fifties, they will date the youngest, hottest girl they can find. Because They Can.

‘Traditionally women go for men who are their age or slightly older, so they are left wondering where all the men have gone.’

Not entirely true. Women prefer older men when they are young. But older women prefer younger men. When 48-year-old Jane found out that her 47-year-old date was actually 50, she was disappointed. Why is that?

When Jo coaches women on dating, she tells them to accept the reality. ‘It’s just a fact that there is a lack of available decent men,’ she says.

Definition of “Decent”, please? I’m guessing it looks a lot like: “Attractive, slender, tall, healthy, wealthy… stupid enough to think that he can’t do better than me.”

‘It’s tough when you’re looking for love. You have to realise that it’s not about you, it’s just a numbers game.’

It was always a numbers game. It was a numbers game when you were 18 and irresistible. What changed is that now, the numbers are not in your favor. And they never will be again.

But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Men, indoctrinated over generations to pursue younger women, are instinctively reluctant to consider those of a similar age to their own, even ones who look youthful and attractive.

What utter crap. In every society that has ever existed, throughout all of known history, men have prized youth and fertility in women, while women have prized strength and wealth in men. It’s not “indoctrination”, it’s biology, you stupid cow. I think I just found the source of the problem.

It is something I regularly notice when I set up dates.

Men need to open their eyes to the amazing women in their own age bracket.

Amazing? Where? And why should they, if they can do better?

With the statistics against them, women are motivated to want to look after themselves and make the best of what they have…

What other choice do they have?

..while there is no incentive for the men to do the same.

There is plenty of incentive… to pursue younger, more attractive women. As a general rule, the amount of effort a man is willing to expend in the pursuit a woman is based on his perceived value of her. And younger women are perceived as being more valuable. That’s not “indoctrination”, it’s biology. But by the time most men reach their fifties, their libido is no longer in the driving seat, and many have come to the conclusion that the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. So they get fat and unfit because they just… don’t…. care.

Jo says: ‘This generation of men don’t bother to make the effort to represent themselves in an attractive way, even online. Or they just list what they don’t want in a woman and say nothing about themselves — because they can.’

Because. They. Can.

And those men who do make an effort are in a position to be very choosy.

BINGO! Just like the girls were back in their twenties.

Online dating coach Suzie Parkus, of meetyourmatch.club, observes: ‘A man who has aged well, has a good outlook on life, a joie de vivre about him and who has seemingly done well for himself is very attractive to his peers. However, for the most part he is drawn to younger, sexier, more vibrant models.

BINGO! And such a man has literally hundreds of women pursuing him.

‘It has a lot to do with his self-perception in terms of being able to choose who and what he wants in a partner because he has the right to, given that he is in high demand.’

BINGO!

While good-looking men can pick and choose, attractive women such as Jane effectively become the victims of their drive to remain active and youthful.

“Youthful”? Compared to what?

Women in the over-45 bracket are the biggest buyers of beauty products, accounting for 58 per cent of the market. Last year, the 45 to 54 age group spent an average of £2,238 a year on beauty products, up 4.1 per cent on previous years.

Women in that age group should be playing with their grandchildren and not spending thousands of pounds a year on makeup and lingerie. But that’s just my opinion…

Jane says: ‘Women see the writing on the wall and take a grip on their health and beauty, staying active, keeping abreast of current affairs, studying, keeping beautiful.

Yes, I‘ve already seen your definition of “Beautiful”… and I’m not impressed.

‘I go to gym classes (made up mostly of women), whereas men my age just think they don’t have to make the effort because there are always dozens of younger women who will go out with them.’

BINGO!

A woman who looks great, feels good about herself and is solvent and independent-minded won’t be drawn to a man who has let himself go, or who may be interested in her but is far too old. So these magnificent midlife daters fall into a void.

There is no “void”, they’re just too damn picky. Your self-image is irrelevant. Your wealth is irrelevant. Your independence is irrelevant. Your magnificence is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated…

And it’s not just about looks — there is a difference in mindset between the sexes too.

As Jane will attest, middle-aged and 50-plus men tend to be set in their ways, less adventurous and less youthful in outlook. They want someone to look after them, while their female counterparts are looking for someone to explore the world and have fun with.

And all middle-aged women are sexy, svelte and stylish. Classic Apex Fallacy thinking. Let’s cut the crap, shall we?

By age 50, most men have either achieved their dreams or given up trying. Too many of them have had the moxie beaten out of them by the world, the culture or a rapacious spouse who spent money faster than they can earn it. More often than not, they have been mauled by a divorce and don’t want to go through that again. They want a quiet, predictable, happy life in a tranquil home with a pleasant, caring, respectful, attractive and sexually adventurous partner. This is a bad time for either side to try to re-live their twenties. I wonder why these “beautiful”, “amazing” “magnificent” women think they can… Perhaps it is because friends, family and poor-quality journalists keep inflating their egos by telling them how wonderful they are and how “any man would be lucky to have you”.

Jane was told by one relationship coach that women her age should go for men 15 years older, making her current dating goal a man aged 63. This is even less appealing, as it is effectively a different generation — and one with very different aspirations. ‘I’ve cared for children and my parents, and I don’t want to care for a man again,’ says Jane, summing up the attitude of many in her situation.

‘Older men are so set in their ways, you almost feel more like a carer than a girlfriend.’

Then feel free to grow old alone. Nobody is listening.

Lucy Verner, 46, is another frustrated midlife dater who has been single since splitting from her husband seven years ago.

‘I found internet dating absolutely awful,’ she says. ‘I live in East Kent and it’s such a small pool. There are exceptions, but on the whole I found the men who made contact were older — and certainly looked older — than me.

So move!

‘Men of my age target younger women and I don’t fancy the older men, so it’s a real problem. I’ve stopped looking. Having to get back in the dating market, I focused on getting myself fit again. But many men don’t seem to make the same effort.

Translation: “WAAAH! The top men don’t want me and I’m FAR too good for the average ones”

‘Online you see selfie pictures they have taken of themselves half-naked in bathrooms or slouching on sofas. Where is the effort in that?

‘Very few men are happy to be by themselves, too. They lurch from one relationship to another, whereas middle-aged women are a lot stronger and more self-assured than they were in the last generation.

If you’re so strong and self-assured… why do you need a man?

‘I have two children and a career to manage and I’m forthright. I think men find women like me intimidating.

No, we find you annoying and irritating. If you’ve got it all going on, you don’t need us.

‘I want a strong, independent man. Why is that so hard?’

Because every other past-her-prime divorcee your age is chasing the same few men. And we all want to know the same thing: How/why did your marriage end?

Julia Van Der Wens is 54. She was just 19 years old when she got married, and was with her husband for more than 30 years before he left her 18 months ago.

Why did he leave her? Bring him on and let him tell his side of the story…

‘I was devastated, of course, but I made the decision to keep on living my life. I lost weight, started getting into sport and now I look and feel the best I’ve ever been.

Oh… so you got fat while you were married, and didn’t look your best for him? That might explain it.

‘The problem isn’t the men not liking me, but me not fancying them.

And there it is: the dictionary definition of “Entitlement”.

I want someone athletic, not pot-bellied. Most of the men I meet seem really unfit.

An athletic, single wealthy man in his fifties is probably dating college-age girls. And you are starting to sound like an entitled, nagging shrew.

‘I tried dating websites but two of the men I met were at least ten years older than their photo. Sometimes I think I’m never going to meet anyone.’

And women have never done anything as shallow as that! How many hours did you spend in makeover-land for the photo-shoot for this story?

Lesley Roberts, 52, was married in her 20s and divorced in her 30s. She did meet someone new, but they split up after a couple of years and she has now been single for two years.

“Split up”? If he left her, she would say so, because woman=victim. I’m going to assume that she left him. So she has a track record for breaking a sacred vow. Good to know.

‘Men my age are all up for a pipe and slippers life, and I’m not,’ she says. ‘When I got married my husband was six years older than me, but I wouldn’t take that age gap now because men aged 52 to 60 are boring. They just don’t have any oomph in them.

Nothing like a divorce to take the “oomph” out of a man. And you should know. Sounds like he dodged a bullet when you left him.

‘Once they get past 48 they seem to turn into Victor Meldrew, yet women are making an effort and looking great.

In whose opinion? Yours? Other women’s? Self-praise is no recommendation.

I just decided that I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I was going grey, so I went blonde.

Fake it till you make it. Good luck with that.

‘At this stage of my life I need someone who is independent. I’ve set the bar now and I don’t want someone who needs looking after —unless he shows he can look after me first.’

How high is the bar? If no suitable men are interested, either lower it or get some cats.

Should middle-aged women just forget men of their own age and date younger ones? Some argue that this is the way forward.

 HAHAHAHAHA! Good luck with that.

‘Younger men are drawn to older women as much as older men are drawn to younger women.

Nice try, but… nope! Older men are drawn to younger women because of biology. The reverse is unnatural and likely a result of feminist “indoctrination”.

And this is not a new phenomenon,’ says Suzie Parkus. ‘They are drawn to the confidence and life experience of older women, especially those who don’t look their age.

‘This is something I have experienced at first hand, as well as being told it by younger guys when I was matchmaking.’

Did those “younger guys” propose? Didn’t think so.

Laura Hall agrees. Tall, slim and gorgeous, the 42-year-old redhead has been single since her divorce in 2011.

Looks like we’re worn out “beautiful” and have moved up to “gorgeous”. If she was really was “gorgeous”, why is she still “single”? Having said that, she is easily the best looking of the bunch. By an amazing coincidence, she is also the youngest.

Smart and sassy, Laura has a doctorate in physics and works as an optical engineer, yet she finds the dating sites full of men her age and older who just seem lazy.

We’re not lazy. We just don’t care. Your PhD and fabulous career does not impress the kind of man you are looking for. And the rest presumably do not think that your fabulousness is worth the effort.

‘I prefer younger men now because they are fun, whereas the older ones are boring,’ she says. ‘It’s not even an aesthetic thing but a character thing. I can’t stand the fact that older men really don’t know how to support themselves.

SO WHY ARE YOU HERE????

‘I think women have been raised to believe they are winning an amazing prize to get a man, who then has a sense of entitlement — so he puts in no effort whatsoever and always thinks he can get better.’

No. Women are the ones with the entitlement. It’s written all over this article. Entitlement is wanting something that you cannot get. And if he can get better, why shouldn’t he?

Yet for many women, dating a much younger man still comes with too much baggage — and again, the playing field is not a level one.

Jane Townsend says she is often approached by men in their 20s.

Approached for what? For sex? For marriage? For practice?

‘The last date I went on he was 23 — and he was interesting and articulate and we had lots in common. But society says I shouldn’t be dating men like him.

Date him all you want! Good luck to you. Honestly. But don’t be surprised when you find out that he married someone else and was only using you for practice and entertainment until something better came along.

‘I’m called a cougar — which makes me out to be predatory — yet it’s perfectly acceptable for men to go out with Barbies half their age.’

Once again, arguing with Biology. Already asked and answered.

I know from my experience of talking to women who write in for a blind date how many want a younger man because men of their own age just don’t appeal any more.

Unless men change their attitude to dating women of a similar age to them, and make more effort with their personal care (and most women accept this is unlikely), it is hard to see how the situation can change for these gorgeous women.

There’s that “gorgeous” again. Self-praise, and all that. If men are getting what they want, why should they change?

But Jo Hemmings says we can still take heart. Her advice is to go online frequently, make the approach, don’t rule out meeting people in real life and be as socially active as you can.

‘Knowledge is power, so get the determination to take charge,’ she says.

‘You’ve got to make the choice to be that one woman in seven. It’s tough but possible.’

So you’re betting your future happiness on seven-to-one odds? Good luck.

So… what can I say to help women over fifty? Here are a few rules of thumb:

  1. Don’t divorce. A woman over 40 will find it very hard to find a husband. A divorced woman will find it twice as hard, as divorcees are statistically a bad bet for marriage. If you divorce, do so with the assumption that you will spend the rest of your life alone.
  2. If a man does not want to have sex with you, he’s not going to approach you, let alone marry you.
  3. You’re not eighteen anymore. From 18 to 30, women rule the dating world. They have youth and beauty. But what mother Nature giveth, Father Time taketh away… and they are usually the last ones to realize it.
  4. Neither is he. While all this is going on, quality men have been banking wealth, building character, and gaining experience… all of which are incredibly attractive to women of all ages.
  5. Stop choosing men who aren’t interested in you. Draw a Venn diagram with the men who are interested in you in one circle, the men you like in another. Choose from the intersection. If there is no intersection, raise your standards and lower your expectations.
Venn Diagram.jpg

Or get cats. Your choice

 To save you some pain, let me sum up the entire article in one sentence.
 “WAAAAH!! Middle-aged women complain bitterly that the men they want don’t want them”

Actually, that would have made for a far better and more accurate headline… but it wouldn’t have sold well to the ladies who will pay good money to be told what they desperately want to hear.

Thank you and goodnight

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No Moore

Roger Moore died today.

When I was growing up, he was James Bond. Sean Connery may have been “Bond as I envisaged him“, according to Ian Fleming, but Roger Moore’s portrayal was… well, fun. His laconic demeanor and deadpan delivery informed my own sense of humour.

You know that you are getting old when the icons of your youth are dropping like flies. Freddie, Michael, Whitney, Madonna*, Prince, George… and now Roger.

 

 

 

*She’s still around? Guess there is no justice in the Universe.

If men *really* ruled the world

With tongue only partly in cheek…

  • Most of the world’s shopping malls would go out of business.
  • Hallmark wouldn’t exist.
  • Every girl between sixteen and twenty-two would be required to wear miniskirts in public.
  • From twenty-two to twenty-eight, they would be required to wear dresses.
  • Throw pillows and cushions would be made illegal.
  • Cats would be an endangered species.
  • Dogs would be doubly tax-deductible, since they are both home Security devices and dependents.
  • As a public health measure, overweight women would not be allowed in restaurants unless they worked there.
  • They would also be banned from wearing yoga pants.
  • She won’t stop talking” would be grounds for divorce.
  • So would a fractious mother-in-law.
  • The 14th of February would be just another day.
  • Superbowl Sunday and the 14th of March would be national holidays.
  • Nagging would be considered as a form of domestic violence.
  • No laundry hamper would ever have a lid.

The Farce A-weakens

I finally got around to seeing the latest episode of the Star Wars saga, Episode VII, The Force Awakens. Frankly, I  left feeling disappointed and underwhelmed.

To start with, the plot. Let me explain:

Kid from backwater desert world meets cute little droid containing secret plans, teams up with older man, and together they go looking for adventure, pursued by bad guy wearing a black mask (who betrayed his master and murdered the Jedi), who is obsessed with capturing said plans. Kid becomes aware of the Force, and inherits a lightsabre. Meanwhile, bad guys have completed a super-weapon capable of destroying a planet, and demonstrate it in action doing exactly that. Good guys attack said super-weapon with X-Wings, damage its weak point – some thermal wossname – and blow it to smithereens. The End.

Sound familiar? It should – it’s a straight ripoff of Episode IV!

The thing that bothered me most was Rey’s sudden mastery at all things: She was able to pick up the knack of flying the Millennium Falcon in just a few moments. To put this into perspective, Lando Calrissian, who had owned the Falcon before Han Solo, required a support crew during the attack on the second Death Star in Episode 6. Yes, Anakin Skywalker had superhuman reflexes and was the only human to podrace – but let us not forget that he *built* his podracer (along with C3PO), so one can safely assume that he was familiar with the mechanics of flying one – and even he made some massive screw-ups in Episode I that almost cost him the race.

But Rey’s expertise didn’t just end with flying; oh no…she was also able to master using a lightsabre in a matter of minutes, a task that took Luke Skywalker three whole movies – and the loss of his hand. But Rey not only fought like a dervish, but just the mention of the Force suddenly and mysteriously gave her the upper hand in the final climactic battle. I have read some accounts that there was a hidden feminist message here; that excellence takes diligence, discipline, duty and devotion – but only if you are a guy. If you are a girl, all you have to do is show up and be awesome. At the time, I was skeptical of this claim – I don’t like conspiracy theories – but now I’m not so sure…

And so to the actors:

  • To her credit, Daisy Ridley was excellent as Rey, but the victim of poor scripting and directing.
  • The black dude, however, was seriously unconvincing as the cowardly lion… er… stormtrooper, and it didn’t help that his nostrils reminded me of the wheel arches of a ’78 Trans Am.
  • The Bad Guy General/Admiral looked like a kid trying on Daddy’s Uniform, and his “Hitler moment” (you’ll know it when you see it) is eye-rollingly pathetic.
  • Han Solo stole the show, but the chain of coincidences that the screenwriters used to bring him into it was too bizarre to be believable.
  • Leia did not look like Leia; Carrie Fisher has not aged well at all: her voice was an octave lower than it needed to be, and she reminded me more of Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway than General Leia Organa Solo.
  • Kylo Ren was unconvincing. when he took off the mask, his voice went up an octave, and I almost laughed out loud at that ridiculous hair (was I the only one who thought he was Severus Snape’s younger brother?).

The Plot simply does not makes sense, and raises more questions than it answers. At the very beginning, we are told that Luke Skywalker has vanished. Why would he need to do that? Why would he hide from his own sister? And having done all that, why the heck would he then leave behind a map? And why are Jedi masters always running away? Both Yoda and Obi-Wan did it in earlier episodes, now Luke is doing it as well. It is beginning to look like some kind of Jedi tradition…

Why would his protege who turned to the Dark Side revere Darth Vader, when Luke – and therefore, presumably, the protege – must have known for a fact that he turned back to the Good side before he died. If Luke was supposed to bring balance to the force, why is the Dark Side still so tempting and terrifying? And if he was familiar with both sides of the force, why would his protege’s defection cause him to run away?

Why did Kylo Ren need to change his name – and if so, why not Darth Something? The need for a name change never really made sense. And while we’re on the subject of names, what fool came up with a stupid name like “Supreme Leader Snoke”? Sounds like a teddy-bear or an Ewok princeling than the most evil creature in the universe. And when did X-Wings acquire Hyperspace capability? I always thought that they were supposed to be “short-range snub fighters”.

The Force Awakens

Yes, the special effects were awesome, Yes, the scenery was stunning. Yes, the space/air battles were heart-stopping. Yes, the aliens were convincing – particularly those tentacled man-eating horrors that get loose aboard Han’s ship. And yes, there were a good few “AHA!” moments. But for sheer nonsensicality, this one ranks down there with Attack of the Clones. After seeing that one in the theater, I said “that was the best film that I have ever seen”, to which my wife sagely replied “No it wasn’t”. And she was right; my mind had been so thoroughly blown by the last thirty minutes that I had forgotten the glacial pace of the first half of the movie. And this one made me want to see Episode 2 again, cos it was better.

Finally, like “The Phantom Menace”, “The Force Awakens” is an exceptionally poor title. Here are some of my suggestions.

  • The Force Hits Snooze
  • Luke Skywalker Runs Away for No Adequately Explored Reason
  • Oh No Another Bad Guy in a Black Mask
  • Disney Does It Again
  • J. J Abrams Has Fallen Over and Can’t Get Up.

Coming up in mid -2017: Star Wars VIII: The Quest For More Dollars.

Goodbye Old Friend

One of our favorite German restaurants is closing today.

20150328_142759

We happened to stop in today for lunch, only to find that the place was bare, and the menu was limited, but the food was good.

According to our waitress, the removal of troops from Fort Knox was a blow from which they could not recover.

Goodbye Caroline’s Alpine Haus, you will be missed.

I’m back!

I haven’t posted in over a month. This is because I have been working on my first book.

The book is entitled “Assassin’s Creed: Pirates – Game Guide”, and is a distillation of everything that I have learned from playing this game for several months. There is a free version and a paid version ($4.99, but discounted to $1.99 for a limited time). You can find more information about it here.

Tell your friends!

More weird stuff coming soon.

Fat of the Land

Earlier this week, I walked over to a nearby eatery to get some breakfast. As I reached the door of the establishment, I noticed a couple of women coming up behind me. Being the chivalrous fellow that I am, I held the door open for them and let them go before me.

Big mistake. They made a beeline for the counter, then stopped and started chatting with each other about something inconsequential. Then they checked their phones while the sole cashier looked apologetically at me.

A couple of minutes went by while these two women – who happened to be white and somewhat large – yattered on about something-or-other and tried to make up their minds about what they wanted to eat. I knew what I wanted. The cashier smiled at me, I nodded back.

Finally I could bear it no longer. I turned on my heel and left. No fuss, no bother, I just walked out, thinking to myself that these women had no business being in a restaurant unless they worked there, given the extra poundage that they were carrying.

In entirely unrelated news, I just realized that this week was Fat Shaming Week. Who knew?

Arrrr!

Assassin’s Creed: Pirates reviewed

I never intended to buy this game. At $4.99, it was more than I am normally prepared to pay for a phone/tablet game. Funny how that works: we spend huge sums of money on hardware and phone data plans, then balk at spending a few bucks on a game. This seems particularly odd given that PC and Xbox games generally cost $20 to $60, while the vast majority of Android/iPhone games cost less than $5.

I remember when in bygone years game publishers used to bleat about how piracy was the reason that games were so expensive. That was before they abandoned the PC as a gaming platform, switched to Consoles, and piracy pretty much disappeared — and the prices stayed high. But I digress; that is another story for another time.

Fast-forward to the present, and at the other end of the playing field, the bottom has dropped out of the phone/tablet gaming market. My guess is that with the staggering number of free and freemium titles on offer, the idea of paying up front for a phone/tablet game seemed ridiculous.

This point was apparently not lost on UbiSoft, publishers of Assassin’s Creed: Pirates (ASP). Recently, they decided to lower the cost of entry from $4.99 to just ten cents. Naturally, I decided to give it a try. The experiment must have been a success, as they eventually made it now free-to-play; it is available in the Android Play Store or the Apple App Store.

The initial download is 7MB, but then it downloads a gigabyte or so of data before the game begins, so make sure that you are connected to wi-fi if you have to pay for bandwidth. This may seem like a lot, but it is worth it if you have the space, as you will find out later.

You play the part of one Alonzo Batilla, who starts the game as a prisoner tied up in the hold of a trading ship. He is unexpectedly liberated by a pirate named La Buse (“The Buzzard”) and promptly starts down the well-worn path towards piracy, plunder etc.

Now the first thing that any wannabe pirate needs is… a ship. La Buse gives him one — a pathetic little gunship with a few miserable peashooters for guns. Before long, however, he gets to upgrade to a bigger ship: a schooner named “The Wanderer”. There are bigger, more powerful ships available, from the aforementioned gunships and schooners to brigs, frigates, to the mighty Man O’ War. But those are expensive and at the start you don’t have the money.

Some ships — such as the schooner HMS Drake — are unlocked by completing a mission. Others like a brig with red sails called “The Dragon” can be acquired as part of an in-app-purchase. But most of them require the expenditure of good old-fashioned gold coins.

Big-ass Ship Ahoy!

Ah, Gold… beloved of dwarves, dragons and pirates. Gold can be earned by completing missions, sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of vanquished enemies, or just sailing around and picking up objects bobbing around in the water.

Even the best ship in a pirate fleet is nothing without a crew of scalawags, ruffians, ne’er-do-wells and other dregs of the sea. They can be found in the Tavern end pressed into service in return for then requisite number of gold coins, and range in skills — and price levels — from the humble ship’s boy (what’s his job, I wonder? Don’t ask…) to the First Mate. Each bring with them special abilities called “Perks”, which may be normal, rare, epic or legendary. The perks may then be equipped to various parts of your ship, and provide useful features like extra speed, repair, instant reload of all weapons, and advantageous changes in various game parameters, such as number/power/width of shots, area of influence, cooldowns and timers. Most perks can be upgraded in return for more of your hard-earned cash

A minor irritation: before you can play the game you have to navigate (geddit?) no less than three separate loading screens. When you start the program, you are presented with a video that can be skipped (but cannot be disabled), then on to the “Home” screen.

You then click on a “Play” button, which takes you to a map screen. Then you select the location, and finally board your ship to shiver your timbers and swash your buckle. The entire process takes a minimum of X seconds on my Nexus 7.

The first thing that I have to say about this game is that it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The screenshots do not begin to capture the fluid elegance of your ship gliding across the water; the lush tropical scenery; the reflection of the land in the water; the water-running-down-the-screen-when-it’s-raining effect; your scurvy crew walking about on the ship… it really does feel like you are in a movie. Different types of weather are faithfully and lovingly recreated; from the mirror-like seas on a calm day to rough seas, storms and lightning in the middle of the night. Kudos to the programmers for doing such a beautiful job. How they managed to fit it all into about a gigabyte of data storage is beyond me.

The sound is also beautifully done. The creaking of the ship, the roar of the cannons. The symphonic soundtrack is nicely done, and reminds me of the music in a certain pirate movie franchise I would mention, but *ahem* won’t. Even when just sailing along, the crew are prone to break into song. This is quite pleasing at first, but after a few weeks of playing, it can get quite irritating.

The gameplay itself involves sailing around — either interactively or by dragging your ship in map view, completing various types of missions. Each region on the map has a “primary” mission, that forms part of the back-story. Completing the primary mission at one location unlocks one at the next. However, in addition, each map has a bunch of secondary missions, which include Assassination, Races, Fetch-the-Treasure, Survival, Supership and Search-and-Rescue.

In addition to those missions, you can go fishing, whale hunting, attacking slavers (they always escape, but they throw the slaves overboard, and you can pick them up to complete the mission) picking fights with Merchants or Naval Vessels, hunting for treasure, or just sailing around picking up flotsam and jetsam.

Stuff Ahoy!

Stuff Ahoy!

The combat model is turn-based, but very nicely done; enemy ships either fire cannons (which you must dodge) or lob explosives at you (which you must dispatch with a tap or a swipe).

Here Comes Trouble

Here Comes Trouble

Once it is your turn, you start with Round Shot, Swivel shot, and canister shot, and later upgrades and ships unlock the Mortar and Heavy Shot. The ships dance around in front of you, and when using the slower weapons such as Round Shot and Mortar it is important to remember to aim where the enemy ship is heading, not where it currently is.

This leads me to biggest criticism of the game — the lack of a cloud save feature. Given that the game encourages you to log in to FakesBook and Google Play, this is an egregious omission. Let me be clear: If your game supports In-App Purchases (IAPs), the ability to save your progress in the cloud is an absolute necessity.

For those of us who are geeks, this is not a problem: if you have a rooted device (all of mine are), Titanium backup can save the game and the data, thus safeguarding your investment of time, effort, and, possibly, cash.

A cloud-save feature also makes it possible to port your progress from one device to another; a highly desirable feature, as this game is something of a battery-killer, and can kill a typical smartphone or tablet battery in less than three hours.

A close second to the lack of a cloud-save feature is the support… or more specifically, the lack of it. UbiSoft has a dedicated support board for this game, but the extent of their participation seems to be limited to setting the board up; there is very little in the way of moderators answering technical or gameplay questions. Bloody useless in my opinion, and the sort of thing that large software houses are (in)famous for.

Another feature that I would like to see is the ability to get in the first shot is you engage an enemy first. The way things currently are, you get to open fire first when engaging a merchant ship, but Navy ships always attack first, regardless of who initiates the engagement.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • I would like to see a “Quickstart” option that will pick up the game at the last location instead of having to navigate all those loading screens.
  • Either add some extra sea shanties to relieve the monotony, or add an option to turn them off — as they soon become maddening — Independently of the musical soundtrack.
  • The first mate has a tendency to sing out “Stay out of their range Captain!” when there is nobody around. Will somebody please keel-haul him or make him walk the plank or something?
  • If you should get a pop-up (like when you enter a fishing area for which you do not have a hook, or pass into engagement range of a naval ship), you are interrupted and your ship stops dead. This is annoying enough, but on a drowning-sailor mission, If this happens, the delay means that the sailor almost invariably drowns before you can get to him, making the Drowning Sailor missions among the most frustrating and difficult to complete, even thought they are not that difficult.

Drowning Man

To conclude, a lovely game with a few irritating lack-of-features. But that said, I recently spent $7.99 on a pack (100,000 gold pieces, a Double-XP perk and a cute-but-almost-useless ship with cool-looking red sails). Even though I do not need any of those goodies, I like to support good coding, and therefore consider it money well spent. Seeing the same pack on sale for $1.99 a few weeks later was a little annoying though…

But this game is in dire need of a cloud-save feature. And some decent support (I am thinking of writing a hints and tips guide). And some additional configuration options.

Sailing into the Sunset

Sailing into the Sunset

Beard

From time to time I try to grow a beard.

This is what I am aiming for.

The Most Interesting Beard In The World

The Most Interesting Beard In The World

This is what I end up with:

The Ugliest Beard In The World

The Ugliest Beard In The World

I guess I’m going to go clean-shaven…

Resolute

It is the time of the year when most of us make New Year’s Resolutions, promises to improve ourselves in some way, way, whether it is to lose weight, eat right, work out, and generally do what we know to be right.

It doesn’t work. By the end of January, most resolutions will have been broken or quietly forgotten. By the end of February, almost all of them will have been consigned to the ash-heap of history.

So I am not doing any of this that this year. Instead, I am keeping it simple and implementing a two-word creed for this year.

Embrace Kindness

There is too much cynicism and not enough kindness in the world.