Replaying an Old Favorite

In the past, whenever I try to go back and play previous Assassin’s Creed games, I find myself disappointed. Usually, the improvements in newer games, both in mechanics and technology, make older games feel dated and clunky.

However, after my poor response to Valhalla, I decided to seize a small silver lining and replay the older titles that I’d enjoyed. My original thought was to replay Odyssey (2018). However, with how much I’d enjoyed Syndicate (2015), I decided to try going back to it. Be aware, there are likely spoilers in this post, but if you haven’t played it in 5 years, I don’t think you’ll mind spoilers.

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Another “Step Up” Pen

As I stated in my TWSBI post, the Kaweco Sport series is another contender for best “step up” pen. I know several people who absolutely adore the Sport series, and I’ve come across photos of truly impressive collections.

I really like the non-satin finish metal-bodied Sports for their weight and durability. The nibs for the entire series are decent and come in a wide range of sizes, but the TWSBI nibs are definitely better.

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Día de Muertos, But Make it Pen

Watching Coco gave me a greater appreciation for my Mexican heritage. Since then, I’ve been trying to fill in cultural gaps leftover from childhood; like the appreciation and understanding of Mexican art.

One of those glorious art styles is centered on Día de Muertos. The riotous use of colors alone is enough to capture my attention, but combined with macabre imagery and joyous celebration, it’s definitely in my top 5 favorite art styles/themes.

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I Learned to Drive Stick Shift

Some of you may know that I used to be terrified of driving. I didn’t get my license until a couple of months after my 29th birthday. And learning to drive really only diminished my fear, it didn’t eliminate it. In the intervening nearly 4 years, I’ve hardly driven at all. In fact, I didn’t drive on the road at all until December of last year.

That’s because we only have one car, and it has a manual transmission. Jim tried, right after I got my license, to teach me to drive stick. But, he’d driven stick for long long that it was all muscle memory for him. He had trouble explaining to me what to do. And he loves his car so much that it freaked him out when I keep stalling it out.

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My Thoughts on Soul

I finally got around to watching Soul a couple of weeks ago. I’d heard and read so many good things about it. Such universal praise made me eager to finally experience it for myself.

First of all, this isn’t a typical review. OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump in.

I certainly agree with some of what I’d read. It’s definitely a more mature story; Soul doesn’t feel at all like a children’s movie. The story itself, it’s arc, and bare bones is well-written. The animation and character design are impeccable. The color palettes both for the characters and for the different “realms” were well nuanced.

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Pen Opinions Change

Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote the third installment to my Fountain Pen 101 series: Where to Start (With Pens). In it, I recommended the Pilot Metropolitan and Platinum Preppy as the best starter pens. I also promoted the Lamy Safari as the best “step up” pen.

While I stand by my assertions about the Preppy and Metropolitan, I’ve changed my mind about the Safari. This is because 2 years ago, I tried a TWSBI Diamond 580AL. In my opinion, it is by far the better “step up” pen. I now own 11 of the 580 series pens (full sized and mini), and I love them! In fact, if some freak occurrence were to lose me my collection, I’d likely just buy a few 580s and call it quits.

A quick note before jumping into the meat of this post. There is a third contender for best “step up” pen: The Kaweco Sport series. I’d put it as the second best, due to price and nib selection, and should have a post about it in the next week or two.

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AC Valhalla: Post Updates

Before I start, if you have not read my previous posts on the game and the marketing, I highly suggest you do so, otherwise this post will likely make little sense.

I wasn’t planning to write anything else about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla after ripping the game and the marketing to shreds. However, I have information updates for both posts. Rather than update the posts themselves, where no one will ever see the information, I’m writing this post.

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My 2020 Top Pens

In working on blog posts for the new year, I wanted to revisit last year’s favorite pens, only to realize I hadn’t previously written such a list. So, to have something to revisit next year, I give you my top pens as of the close of 2020.

I tend to sell or trade pens that don’t make me very happy to own. I’m hoping to eventually get to a point where all of my pens are favorites, but I was able to come up with a top 10 and top 20 this year. It was difficult to do, but these are basically the pens you’d have to pry out of my cold, dead hands.

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2020’s Silver Linings

Despite everything that has happened recently, and my last post, I still want to share this, because it holds true. Here’s hoping there are more, and larger silver linings to 2021.

So, 2020 is finally over, after an indeterminate number of years. There’s no denying that it was a terrible year for many. Or that it was a year unlike any ever seen. And, in some ways, it’s not over yet. We’re still dealing wtih most of the biggest issues of the past year.

However, among the plentiful negatives, for me at least, there were little nuggets of positive that keeps 2020 from being an unmentionable black mark in the past. I’d like to take a post to look back on the positive silver linings of 2020 as an uplifting start to 2021.

#1 & #2: It’s a Tie

My top two items tie for first: adopting our kittens and Bumbledore’s improvement.

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A Dark Day in American History

I had a different post scheduled for today, one about the small silver linings of 2020. But I couldn’t bring myself to let it post. I unscheduled it, and will put it up another day. I tend to shy away from politics, from divisive posts, but I just can’t bring myself to stay silent today. Yesterday’s actions must be universally condemned in the harshest manner possible.

I thought, at this point, with everything that has happened in the last four years, and especially last year, that I was somewhat inured to bad news. We’re already living in times that will go down in history as overwhelmingly bad. But then this.

The world watched with America as we gawked in horror at our phones, computers, and TV screens. We watched a sitting president attempt to stage a coup and overthrow a democratic election by using people who are too stupid, or too stubborn, to accept that they’re being used. We watched elected leaders attempt to help the president with his mission, although most of them hastily changed their mind as a result of the idiot-mob. We watched police that — less than a year ago — reacted with force to mostly peaceful protests, virtually stand aside and welcome rioters into the Capitol building.

It was disgusting. And even more disgusting and depressing is the likelihood that not one of the leaders who directly defied our constitution — with full awareness of what they were doing, I might add — will face more than social backlash.

Despite how my post likely sounds, I don’t hate the idiot-mob. I pity them. I pity people too blinded by hate, prejudice, fear, or stupidity to realize that they are being used, that they are fighting for something that doesn’t exist, and has never existed. Trump doesn’t care about them, he cares about power and money, and is throwing a tantrum now that his ill-gotten gains are being taken away. MAGA supporters can’t even agree when America was “great.” They’re small, scared little people who feel that America only deserves to be “great” for them.

As people are saying across the world, yesterday would have looked far different if that crowd had been anything other than white. The comparisons between yesterday and the Black Lives Matter protests prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If ever there is a time to use deadly force, it is when an insurrection is in progress, even more so when a nation’s leaders are put at risk. Make no mistake, yesterday was an insurrection. An unsuccessful one, perhaps, but one nonetheless.

What I Would Like to See Happen

At this point, what’s done is done. But Congress can still impeach and remove Trump, who is clearly unfit for office. They can bar him from ever holding any form of office again. Pence and the cabinet can remove him from office using the 25th Amendment. Either, or both, should happen. It’s clear that leaving Trump in office is dangerous to our nation, and our nation’s people.

I firmly believe that yesterday has cemented Trump’s reputation for the history books. He will be known as the worst president — I really hate writing that — the United States has ever known.

I fervently hope that someday the name Donald Trump will be viewed with more disdain than Benedict Arnold. He deserves to be forgotten to time. An unnamed blemish on American history studied only as a reminder of how bad things can go. An abberation of the democratic process that was appointed to office when he lost the popular vote by millions. But, since that’s virtually impossible at the very least, he ought to be remembered with the contempt he and his actions inspire.

NOTE: To anyone who is new here, ALL comments are held for review. That is not unique to this post. And I WILL NOT approve any hateful comments.