Bear-ly a Notion: Survivor Lad

It was an early August Saturday morning when myself, CherrySue and a number of other (mainly movie) writers/bloggers were sat on a bus on the way to the wonderful Kippure Estate, when we realised  – we’re probably going to die.

We were on our way to a survival crash course after watching Captain Fantastic (Review HERE) and how his family lived ‘off the grid’. The entire trip down to Wicklow was beautiful – hills and mountains covered in trees coming to a clearing of just a river and old stacked-stone walls – it was just a shame the drive was our first challenge. With speeds quicker than a jet fighter and getting the same amount of air we arrived – shaken and stirred.

TASK 1: ABSEILING + ROCK CLIMBING

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So our first lesson was abseiling – now I’ve done rock abseiling before and had a great time, but this was a slow walking down an 11 metre flat wall. This totally freaked me out, I’m used to jumping off to get down but we were specifically told walk, so I couldn’t do it and legged it back down. One person who didn’t was the wonderful PR Roisin, who did it like it was nothing.

The rock climbing was next, another 11 metre wall but I jumped at this, only to be stopped just above halfway because the holds were too narrow to put my boots toe onto. But of course our leader for the day nailed it AGAIN! (Sensing a pattern here?)

TASK 2: PURIFYING WATER + (TWISTED) FIRE STARTING (NOW WITH LESS EXCUSES!!)

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Our next lesson was how to purify water – now this was to be done with literally nothing but a plastic bottle and whatever we could find.

We started off by tossing moss in the bottle, then rocks/sand, then charcoal from a burned out fire, then more moss – this made our very crude filter. We were then to let the water drip through the filter and into a container, before boiling it in a fire.

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To start a fire we were given a block of magnesium and a steel blade to spark onto a cotton ball. Lucky for team DiehardCherry we got the knackered one, resulting in me destroying my knuckles and their table before we FINALLY got them to light; then we had to do it for real.

After grouping up with a number of other bloggers we were tasked with getting a fire pit going and to cook lunch over it – my specialty. After the team dispersed to collect firewood and kindling I was left to start the fire, cursing under my breath and sighing until I got it going.

TASK 3: COOKING AND BUILDING  A SHELTER

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After eventually getting the fire good and ready, we moved on to collecting the food – which the DASTARDLY team 2 had already ransacked. We settled on chicken, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes in chili tomato sauce sided with sweet potato chips.

While the lads were off getting wood in the forest (perverts), CherrySue was preparing the food and myself and Super PR Roisin were trying to cook the food in between the constant gassing by the fire. Say what you will about our methods, but the food was PERFECT and tasted great.

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Continuing in the trend of things with AWFUL pictures I needed to be in, we were tasked with building our own lean-to shelter.  Team DiehardCherry grouped up with Team Minnie Melange and we set about throwing whatever the hell stood together. After a good 20 minutes of lifting and arranging huge branches and tossing giant leaves over the back, we were told to tear it down and start again.

Obviously distraught (read – lazy), we tore everything down and rebuilt, this time with a lot more leaves to cover the half-arsedness. I must admit, the second time around we did it much better AND we could fit inside it! It was decided that our shelter looked best and we took the header photo for this post in front of it (SUCK IT TEAM 2!!).

TASK 4 – BUTCHERING A RABBIT AND ARCHERY

Our last real lesson was how to skin and butcher a rabbit. I didn’t get any pictures (probably for the best), but the method was basically remove the head and ‘de-glove’ the rabbit. Unfortunately the rabbit had been hit with a shotgun so we couldn’t eat the meat, but it was cooked to show how easy it is to put all of these skills together and sort a meal out.

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After a quick taste of our filtered water (it was yellow and tasted a tiny bit smokey, but otherwise it was perfectly fine), we were brought to our surprise reward – archery!

I LOVE archery – we all got a go of 4 arrows to shoot for a bit of fun (I got one of the best scores, obviously). That is, until our own Les Stroud survival master decided to make it interesting – the person who pops the balloon has the rest of the group buy their drinks back in town. The competition tightened up something fierce, with most people hitting an 8; until a movie writer by the name of Morgan walks up and NAILS it, directly down the bull, first shot.

I was RAGING.

Kippure Estate is a really gorgeous spot, and the drive down is beautiful (if you get a driver who doesn’t try to kill you). We had a really great time and their 1 day survival crash course was more than worth an early morning. I highly recommend checking it out – they do weddings, team building, – all that sort of thing.

Thank you to Super PR Roisin Furlong for inviting myself and CherrySue!!

L’Oréal Men Expert Shower Wash

After YEARS of using various different ‘women’s’ body washes, it was time for a change of pace with some men’s. After not using men’s specific body washes I totally forgot about the Men’s Bodywash Smell™ that EVERY ONE has, but these had twists on them. We got three of the range of 6 to try.

 

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First up is Hydra Power – a body, face and hair wash with Mountain Water. This is my least used one, I’m not the biggest fan of how it smells; which is like a mix of stereotypical Men’s Bodywash Smell™ and baby wipes. The smell is also strong, especially if you wash your face as it sticks with you, which is why it’s my least used.

I only used this on my body/face because I don’t like using things like body/hair washes on my hair because I’m an absolute Narcissus honestly.

 

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Next is Hydra Power – another body/face/hair wash but with Taurine this time. I’ve used this quite a bit more than the Hydra Power due to a more pleasant smell. The smell is, again, Men’s Bodywash Smell™ but with a much stronger smell of Orange on top, and is way more powerful than either of the other two. I never really felt the difference between the Taurine and Non-Taurine washes, but the better smell. This is my second most used.

Like before, I only used this on my body/face.

 

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Lastly is my favourite of the three, Total Clean- a body/face/hair wash as well as a shaving gel and moisturiser combined with Carbon. I much prefer the smell of this to the others, it’s AGAIN Men’s Bodywash Smell™ but mixed with a slight smell of whiskey (which explains a lot…). I much preferred using this to the previous because the smell isn’t as strong as the Hyrdro Power and nowhere near the Hydra Energetic, as well as preferring the smell.

I was a bit more curious about this one’s other uses than body/face wash (again, no hair) so I used it as a shaving gel – and I was pleasantly surprised. The razor didn’t catch like I thought it would, and there is much less foam, but it’s a lot greasier (for want of a better word) so if you don’t wet it all it will stay like gel on your face.

It would definitely do as a shaving gel in a pinch

 

All in all I got a good amount of use out of the 300ml bottles – I’ve been mainly using the Total Clean for the last couple of months at least 4 days a week and it still has over a quarter left. They all smell similar (Men’s Bodywash Smell™) with different twists, but Total Clean is by far my favourite. 

Available at Boots for €4.29 here in Ireland, or find your country on L’Oréal’s website (there’s no Ireland, of course..) and purchase it from their store.

Thank you to L’Oréal for sending my these three body washes to try!

 

L’Oréal Magic Retouch – Magic Is Right!

If you’ve ever spoken to me, you’ll know my story about being a natural blonde who dyes their hair; mainly because I tell EVERYONE. Now I’ve had my hair all sorts – neon blue, purple and black, (ACCIDENTALLY) ginger.. But the hardest colour to keep, which is my favourite, is Schwarzkopf’s Cosmic Blue.

 

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With my fast-growing hair roots were always a problem, but in steps L’Oréal’s Magic Retouch spray

The product itself is just shake and spray which is really handy, and the immediate difference is incredible. I went from John Constantine blonde roots to natural looking black, and it took less than a minute.

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Before and after, of course

I’ve never had any product walk into my everyday essentials list like this has. It really is one of the most handy things for taking care of my hair, up there with dry shampoo (dry shampoo is fantastic lads, seriously).

While it is that good, it certainly isn’t without faults. The nozzle is one of THE WORST I’ve ever used, and it’s ESPECIALLY bad for a product like this; I think it’s meant to be thin for precision spraying but it comes out like a shotgun.

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While it does get close to your hairline and between strands – if you have it even a centimeter off your skin it’ll get all over you.

The good news is however that it wipes clean immediately from skin, but if you have hair down the sides of your face you’ll be in trouble, but even then the product is semi-permanent and washes out with water and shampoo.

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Again, just a quick rub with a wet cloth and it’s all gone from your skin – but not your hairline

The spray itself is fantastic and really covers up roots well, while not giving your hair a hairspray-like stiff hold until you to style it yourself. It doesn’t run in the rain and maintains colour for 2 days plus, making it perfect for going out or if you’re away from home.

The only downside (and it is a HUGE downside) is the terrible nozzle – PLEASE L’Oréal, redesign it to actually spray properly and not just blow out the end of it. Even with that out of the way I do recommend it if you dye your hair or have greys, and I’d love to see a permanent version – that’d change the hair dye game for me.

You can get it at Boots (You have to click them individually, which is annoying) for €12.99 here in Ireland, or just hit Buy Product on L’Oréal’s website.

A big thank you to L’Oréal for sending a bottle to me to review!

 

Call of Cthulu Teaser Quick Look! – E3 2016

While we don’t get much from the teaser, word is it’s adapted from the Call of Cthulu pen&paper RPG, and will feature an interesting insanity mechanism. The teaser gave me a  Dark Corners of the Earth vibe from the lead up to the mansion, and DCotE was terrifying at the beginning; with a great insanity and healing system paired with creepy fishpeople enemies you would rather avoid than attack. Despite it’s clunkyness and devolution into a generic shooter by the end, I think it’d be a great pre-game – well – game for this. I’d highly recommend giving it a go – if you can run it.

Steam Purchase Page For Dark Corners of the Earth

 

I have ALWAYS been hugely interested in Lovecraft and his Cthulu mythos, and while I was wary of the news of an At the Mountains of Madness film, the whole Cthulu thing has produced some great games.

No Steam page for the game itself, but Website (under development)

 

The Thing with Telltale And LucasArts

I know it’s been done to death, but seeing as the latest Humble Bundle is from Telltale themselves I thought it’d be the best time to give my view on it.

From playing nearly every ‘Telltale style’ game I’ve come to the conclusion that this style is the new ‘Lucasarts point-and-click’ , but not in the way that fans of old point-and-clicks want. Having recently played Grim Fandango and gone back to The Wolf Among Us, I got a similar feeling in gameplay but the atmosphere was totally different.

PSA: I LIKED THE WOLF AMONG US, BUT THIS IS THE GAME STYLE GOING AGAINST GRIM FANDANGO’S STYLE.

 

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LUCASARTS CLASSICS VS MODERN TELLTALE

 

Characters – Grim Fandango:

  • Playing through Grim Fandango I cared about Manny but more importantly I loved Glottis. Glottis for me seemed like the comic relief character in an already comedic game, but he was charming for the entire game and even though he was an idiot he wasn’t written to grate on my nerves.
  • Another big thing was Grim Fandango had memorable characters – the tattoo artist and the union head in Rubacava were hilarious and a couple of my favourites, despite being in the game for such a short time.

 

Characters – The Wolf Among Us:

  • Unfortunately I can’t extend the same care for anyone in The Wolf Among Us. I don’t know if it’s the gritty style of writing, but none of the characters actually had an appeal to me. I guess Mr. Toad was meant to be the comedic relief in this, but the game focuses on it’s dramatic dialogue style that just makes him sad and unconvincing when he’s supposed to be funny.
  • The worst part about the characters having the same down-and-out personality is that no one character is particularly memorable unless they’re in every scene like Bigby Wolf.

 

Comedy vs. Drama:

  • To be fair to Telltale in relation to characters, most of their games are dramas and not all the characters are meant to have an appeal, but that doesn’t mean it excuses the straight up boring atmosphere. While I do know Telltale does great comedy games (I’m currently playing Sam and Max: Devil’s Playhouse) they seem to be few and far in between.
  • In an aim to be gritty/dramatic, it seems that The Wolf Among Us and to a lesser extent The Walking Dead is just a bunch of people complaining, and this isn’t how you make a character memorable. Even though the tattoo artist in Grim Fandango WAS SO FRUSTRATING, he still made random humorous comments that made him likable, and offset some of the frustration. I’m not saying that characters in dramatic Telltale games should be constantly spouting one liners, but something to break the monotony of bitching and moaning every once in a while would really help.

Locations:

  • I chose Grim Fandango as my Lucasarts example because it’s not all smiley sunshiney locations – there’s entire sections of the game that take place in a night and under the dark sea; but it still had more atmosphere than nearly all locations in The Wolf Among Us.
  • When I think of the Wolf Among Us all I can remember is dark alley, dark room, dark room of magical items; while in Grim Fandango it goes from sunny alley, nighttime casino and dock, well lit ship control room.
  • Now The Wolf Among Us did have a few different locations, but there was no life in them apart from maybe the room of magical items. One of the first locations of Grim Fandango had a parade in the back, you could only really interact with one clown but there was life in the background – while even when surrounded by characters in The Wolf Among Us they were either fighting or silent.

 

At the end of the day Telltale have made fantastic games in their own right (including Wolf Among Us), but the gritty dramatic style gets tiresome after multiple iterations of similar games despite being different series. Again, the Telltale Humble Bundle has some great games even at the $1 tier including the games I talked about here, so I highly recommend giving it a look in.

 

 

 

 

Kendrick x Reebok Classic Leather Preview!

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Being a relapsed sneakerhead since our trip to New York after YEARS of wearing just Cons, I’ve been stuck on the Step Up movie style hightops; but I think these will be the shoes to drag me into the future. Now I’ve always been a fan of the Reebok style (be it on ice skates or sneakers) and I’m a fan of Kendrick Lamar himself, so when I heard of these I was immediately interested.

 

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I love the cross design on the shoes, but I think the grey brings out the red/blue stitching and inner soles without making them too jarring like a standard white would. I also really like the lace design – the grey and subtle red/blue loops are something different and go great with the grey sneaker itself.

 

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The only thing I don’t really like with these sneakers is the outer sole. The white wedge seems to be jammed between the grey of the shoe and the toffee orange/brown sole which creates an awkward cross toecap. I also get an old vibe from that orange/brown; my Grandad had a pair of sneakers with that colour sole and they were too old for him at 60+.

 

The new Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather drop on the 16th January 2016, and will be €95 on Reebok.ie.  I also recommend checking out the (superior in my opinion) Kendrick x Reebok Ventilators from last year – currently €55 (usually €110) also  at Reebok.ie

 

 

Clinique Face Scrubber Review!

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Officially called the Clinique For Men™ Sonic System Deep Cleansing Brush (which is an absolute mouthful, hence “face scrubber”), this deep exfoliating brush is recommended to be used alongside the Charcoal Face Wash from Clinique – but even with no face wash at all it’s a shower mainstay for me. 

I’ve never been one for moisturising and all that, but it was much easier to get into the routine of using this every time I shower, which I definitely found is the best time to use it. From the day the lovely people at Clinique gave me one,not only did I notice it got rid of the rough feeling scrubbing your face with a facecloth doesn’t; but I was also getting compliments on how clear my skin looked.

 

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THE GOOD

  • THE BATTERY: The battery in this thing lasts FOREVER. I’ve been using it for months at this point nearly every day and I haven’t needed to charge it’s dock ONCE.

  • BRUSH HEAD: The brush head itself has two parts – one larger and softer for your cheeks, and one smaller and rougher for you forehead/nose, it’s a noticeable improvement over  a facecloth.

  • WATERPROOF: It’s waterproof so it can be used in the shower, which is almost necessary with the cleaning needed.

 

THE UGLY

  • CLEANING: Cleaning the brush head if you’re using face wash with it is a NIGHTMARE, especially if you’re not in the shower which it then can take up to 3 minutes to properly clean.

  • THE PRICE: At €89.00 for the brush ALONE on the Boots website ($89.50 on Clinique’s own site) it’s extremely expensive – not only to add on €25 for 200ml of the paired face cleanser and €22 for a head you should replace once every three months (again, both prices from the Boots Ireland website) – it’s more than a bit much for a face brush.

 

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OVERALL

While the brush itself is fantastic and a joy to use, the price is WAYYYY too much for it. If you’re looking for an expensive gift for a male friend or have the money to spend, I highly recommend it and say go for it! But other than that, for a combined €114 for just the brush and cleanser, I’d say give it a miss because that is crazy money.

IP Protection – What’s the Point?

Whether you’re a v/b-logger, game creator, or singer you know the importance of protection of your IP or Intellectual Property. You IP is your baby no matter what form it came in, you spent the time and effort creating this thing that you want to share with the world, so why wouldn’t you protect it?

 

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Images: Man and Baby and IP. Edited together by myself (Graphic Design pays off!)

  • Your IP is Your Legacy

I dunno about you, but growing up in school I was asked what was the effect I wanted to have on the world, what did I want to leave behind when I was gone and buried but the world kept spinning? Harsh question to ask a 6 year old, but the answer was usually children.

‘I want to have children that can have their own children’ – but what if you don’t want kids? What if you’re in love with music and pour your heart and soul into a piece, only to have it taken and used by someone who goes against everything the piece is about? Similarly, those with kids, what if the faceless slimy conman twists your child to their own means – it’s devastating.

A parent will worry about their baby no matter the age, why should you leave the content you built from a love of the craft to the wolves?

 

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Images: Trump and Stones. Editing done, again, by me.

 

  • Rolling Stones v.s. Donald Trump

Now, being from/living in Ireland, American politics have no real effect on me day to day so I don’t give them much thought; but a recent famous case of IP protection was the Rolling Stones telling Donald Trump to stop using their music at his rallies.

Whatever side of the American Presidential race you’re on doesn’t matter – The Stones weren’t on Trump’s and when his spokesperson said that the campaign had not asked permission to play their music at his rallies, The Stones spokesperson said “The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately,”.

That’s a great example of protecting your IP on the grounds of your own ethics. The Rolling Stones weren’t fans of Donald Trump’s ideals so they asked him to stop, problem licked.

 

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Image: Copyright Strike Screen

  • YouTube Copyright Strikes or: How Not To Protect IPs

The YouTube copyright system is an absolute disaster. It’s the perfect example of why an automated police force like Robocop wouldn’t work – everything is black and white, right or wrong. Remember back in the day when you could find trash trance songs with lyrics on some random channel?  Well under YouTube’s Copyright policy they are toootally fine, but parodies are not.

Yeno, the things protected by the US fair use law (example from Stanford University Libraries quoting Richard Stim’s Getting Permission)? The same law system that YouTube’s parent company Google falls under, YouTube itself totally ignores and bans any use of any similar sound to a song for example. Unless of course it’s the whole thing unmonitised, or, the ‘owners’  like it (Examples 1, 2, 3).

 

Listen, IP protection is important. But if you’re like a Sony claiming a Taylor Swift song or a Blizzard killing vanilla servers, protect your baby. DON’T. KILL. CREATIVITY. It’ll hurt you as much as us.

 

 

FALLOUT 4: A WEEK IN THE COMMONWEALTH (NO SPOILERS!)

(I’m currently playing Fallout 4 on PC, as I did with Fallout 1, 3 and New Vegas (I also played 3 and NV on PS3) )

Nearly 6 years after the release of Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas, Bethesda finally released their next East Coast entry – Fallout 4 – set in The Commonwealth (Of Massachusetts). With around 700 hours playtime between the previous games, I find myself torn between loving the world and hating the “consolisation” (designing the game only around big selling consoles) of the series.

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THE GOOD

  • THE WORLD: I’ve never played a Bethesda game with as much depth as Fallout 4 – I’ve put (a small, but significant) 36 hours into the game in the past week and have only gotten to the second story mission. I’ve stopped by so many interesting locations while on short quests only to leave with 4 more – and I love it.
  • THE LOOT SYSTEM: One of my favourite new additions to the game is the looting system where you can just look at a body/container and get a list of the items – this saves on the dodgy freeze before the menu opens in 3 and New Vegas.
  • THE CHARACTERS: The characters are miles ahead of 3 and on par with (if not better than) New Vegas – interesting random events with NPCs, great visual design on some enemies and brilliant companion quests almost forgive the mess that was Matthew Perry’s Benny. The highlight for me is the new Mister Handy robots with personality, but they sadly made Super Mutants stupid monsters again which is definitely a low point.

 

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THE OKAY

  • THE “OPEN” WORLD: I know I mentioned the world in the good section, but it deserves a second mention here on account of the actual openness of it. Most buildings are now actually open and not gated by dodgy load screens, but this seems to have drastically lowered the amount to actually enter. Many are blocked off, but this gives me huge hopes for a DC Interiors type mod for Fallout 4.
  • THE RADIO: While most of the new songs are absolutely perfect for Fallout 4 (and in general),  there is still the fact that 12 out of 37 songs on Diamond City Radio are ripped straight from Galaxy News Radio of Fallout 3 – this feels more lazy than nostalgic to me.
  • CRAFTING/INVENTORY: Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the crafting system is bad; in fact I think it’s great mostly. BUT, the settlement building seems to be done so heavy handed – like Todd Howard and co. looked at the last 6 years in gaming and thought “Wow, this Minecraft thing is popular” and put in a half-baked build system that at times just feels like a gimmick. Also, THEY REMOVED REPAIRING, COME ON!!

 

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THE UGLY

  • THE DIALOGUE SYSTEM: Fallout has and will always be about the dialogue, but for some reason Bethesda decided to go Mass Effect on it and only give you 4 options to say – none of which you get to preview without a mod. Now Mass Effect is my joint favourite game series (with Fallout), but it’s dialogue system only lets you be good or a dick, not evil. This takes away the fun of playing Fallout as a monster because you just can’t and that hugely reduces replayability. This is probably the most obvious proof of “consolisation”.
  • THE LEVELING/PERKS SYSTEM: This has to be my biggest problem with the game bar none, it’s like they wanted to make the game a shooter not an RPG (like Bioware and Mass Effect 2). I’ve read that there’s no level cap which helps slightly, but with this change it’s no longer your character or story – your build is set in stone whether you like it or not – that’s not Fallout. Also, THEY REMOVED SKILL CHECKS FOR SOME STUPID REASON!!
  • FOLLOWER AI: PLEASE GOD BETHESDA FIX THIS! Follower AI in Beth games has always been janky at best, but I’ve never played anything this bad. Followers walk right into traps unless told to wait a good distance away, they alert EVERYTHING in a million mile radius immediately and just charge, usually resulting in your death. Dogmeat is by far the worst for this, even worse than he was in Fallout 3 and it’s caused me to dump him even though I actually like him.

 

I could talk for HOURS about the changes made in Fallout 4 and through the entire series, but those are my main impressions from a week hands on with my most anticipated game ever. Agree? Disagree? Tell me! I really do love discussing this type of thing, ESPECIALLY for Fallout.

DAY 4: THE TREEHOUSE OF HORRORS

There have been 27 Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons since season 2 wayyy back in 1990 (older than me!). Many of these have become massive cultural points like The Shinning, but in this list I’ll be naming the 3 that scared me most growing up.



HOMER’S NIGHTMARE: TOH II

When Homer is fired for being lazy, he becomes a grave digger. While on the hunt for fresh brains for his robot, Mr. Burns mistakes (at first) sleeping Homer for a dead body and drags him away to then remove his brain with an ice-cream scoop. When the robot is still as lazy, Mr. Burns returns Homer’s brain and kicks the robot, crushing his own body. Homer wakes up in his bed and looks in the mirror to find Mr. Burn’s head on his shoulder. Everything about this scared me – the brain removal with the ice-cream scoop, just the look of the robot, but what got me most was the ending with Mr. Burns on Homer while he mutters it’s just a dream over and over.



NIGHTMARE CAFETERIA: TOH V

When detention starts to fill out and the cafeteria food takes a dive, Principal Skinner and the teachers agree that the solution to both problems is to butcher and eat the kids. When Bart and Lisa realise what’s happening after days of “Sloppy Jimbos” and “Üterbraten”, Marge refuses to help them. They, along with Milhouse, are the last students trapped over a blender by Skinner. There was a few things about this episode that freaked me out, like the flesh reversing fog, but the biggest thing I remember is the way Principal Skinner spoke, and I have no idea why.



THE HΩMEGA MAN: TOH VIII

In this episode, Mayor Quimby offends the French and refuses to apologise, and the French answer by bombing Springfield. When Homer comes out of the bomb shelter he luckily was in, everyone in Springfield is dead except for a small group of cannibal mutants. What scared me about this was the emptiness of Springfield, there was just something about the desolate wasteland that creeped little me out (and sparked my love for Fallout/S.T.A.L.K.E.R etc.).