The Decline (and Fall?) of Peggy Olson

•April 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

When season 6 of  Mad Men wrapped up, Peggy was in a place of both jubilation and heartbreak.  She seemed to take enormous  pleasure in Don’s shaming and exile.  She immediately invaded his office and eventually reclined in his chair to survey her former mentor/tormentor’s domain.  Amidst the triumph and quiet celebration of Don’s downfall, Peggy was laid low by Ted Chaough’s latest move in his game of “Come Here – Get Away.”  After telling Peggy that he was leaving his wife, Ted reconsidered and decided to flee with his family to the fledgling SC&P office in California.  As the season concluded with Peggy straddling an enormous emotional gap, it was obvious that the viewers were being set up for some kind of huge developments for her character.  Would she rise to the occasion in Don’s absence, or would her heartbreak at the hands of Teddy bring her tumbling down?

For the first time in her career, Peggy is truly on her own.  Don, who elevated her from secretary to copy writer, has been banished to the wilderness.  Teddy, who nurtured her at CG&C and gave her the approval and pats on the head she stopped receiving from Don, is 3,000 miles away.  She is also flying solo in her personal life after her messy/stabby breakup with Abe and Ted’s flight west.  The time has finally arrived for Peggy to fully develop in the absence of benefactors.  She has always had the brains and the talent to excel, but she has never really had the confidence to succeed on her own merits without some propping up.  Unfortunately for her, she has done nothing but fumble with the opportunity.

peggy

New Creative Director Lou Avery has no history with or investment in Peggy, and it shows.  He dismisses her creative solutions for the Accutron campaign and chooses the blandest option presented to him; “Accutron is Accurate.”  When Peggy tries to lobby for her slogan (or was it Fred’s?  or Don’s?) Lou tells her in no certain terms that he does not need her further input, nor does he feel the need to like or approve of her.  Her dismay at being shut down is palpable.  Even at the most contentious point of their working relationship, Don had always given her the room to state her case.  Ted was too busy making puppy dog eyes at her to ever contest or disagree with her ideas.  Now she is in completely uncharted waters working for a man who does not value her input or even show the slightest signs of respecting her.

Peggy also seems to be at the breaking point emotionally.  The battle over Shirley’s flowers was comical, but it was also sad to the core.  Peggy was sure Teddy would come crawling back and was getting way too much enjoyment out of being dismissive.  While feigning disgust with Ted, the notion of being irresistible  helped her pump up her severely deflated ego.  Once she discovered that not only were the flowers not from Ted, they weren’t for her at all, we got to see all of the air rush out of the Peggy balloon once again.  We’re seeing her coming unglued, whether she’s on her knees crying in her apartment or cowering sheepishly behind her office door after asking Shirley to throw out the roses and discovering that nobody thought of her on Valentine’s day.  Peggy is truly alone and she is desperately floundering.  I am very interested to see whether she pulls it together or someone has to swoop in and save her.  If she does end up being rescued, it would only further underline her inability to thrive on her own and command the respect that she believes she deserves.

World of Tanks Patch 9.0: If it ain’t broke, we broke it!

•April 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday saw the release of a major update for World of Tanks.  Patch 9.0 or “New Frontiers” (they’re naming patches now?) introduced new HD graphics, reworked maps, some changes to the in-game sound and a new game mode, Historical Battles.  After spending 40 minutes or so downloading the 2.6 gigabyte patch, I was eager to fire the game up and check out the changes.

The first thing I noticed was the dramatic change to the garage.  The cramped old garage has been replaced with a massive warehouse structure.  The garage sound effects have been changed as well, and not for the better.  Things are definitely noisier in the new digs and someone saw fit to introduce the sound of some unseen grease monkey dropping a large piece of metal, which makes an incredibly loud and startling clanging noise.  Who thought that was a good idea?  The tank models also look odd.  The M103 (pictured below) is one of the new HD models, but the tanks that haven’t gotten the new HD treatment look oddly plastic and shiny.

shot_141

Once I launched into a battle, I definitely noticed a change in the graphics.  I don’t know if it looks better, but it definitely looks different.  An unwelcome change is a big drop in frame rates.  On a mix of medium and high settings, I used to get around 45 frames a second.  With the same settings in 9.0, I am often struggling to get 30 fps.  Wargaming had said in the pre-patch hype that frame rates would improve but that’s not my experience.

The new sounds aren’t exactly a step up, either.  The sound of a tank exploding has been replaced by what sounds like someone hitting a large pillow with a wiffle ball bat.  It’s not BOOM so much as PAFF.  The sound of the tank’s engine idling also seems to cut out here and there, making me wonder at times if my tank has run out of fuel.

The graphical and sound oddities are actually the least annoying things introduced by “New Frontiers.”  The winner for Most Frustrating New Feature are the crashes to desktop.  The new Historical Battles game mode is apparently very crashy, but I haven’t tried it out yet.  I did encounter several crashes during Random Battles, however.  Normally, if the game crashes on you, you can start WoT back up and you will be loaded back into the game.  After a crash in 9.0, WoT attempts to load you back in but crashes again.  You are effectively forced to sit the battle out and can only successfully restart the game after the current match has ended.  I was in a battle with my Nashorn and crashed out.  With me unable to get back in, my immobilized tank was eventually the last member of my team left standing.  Apparently, the last tank on the enemy team was also a crash victim and the game ended in a draw with two driver-less tanks staring out into space.

I don’t know how long it will take Wargaming to fix the issue, but it brings up serious questions about what happens when people start crashing out of Clan Wars or tournament battles.  With gold prizes or land on the global Clan Wars map at stake, will Wargaming suspend competition until a fix is released, or will we play on and risk losing meaningful matches when players CTD and can’t load back in?  So far, that remains to be seen.

Wargaming has a bit of a checkered history when it comes to botching releases, introducing bugs and generally breaking things while introducing features nobody asked for or wanted.  This patch, however, takes the cake.  The game looks weird, the sounds are lame, the new game mode is widely reviled by my clanmates and there are crashes galore.  If I had a rating system for WoT patches, “New Frontiers” would earn 5 Steaming Piles of Shit.

Programming note: April 17, 2014

•April 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The 7 1/2 people who check my blog have probably noticed that posting has been sporadic for the last several weeks.  I thought that making myself do at least one daily post would keep me in the habit of updating this space regularly.  After a while, the Song of the Day went from being fun to generating pressure.  That pressure made me averse to posting at all on certain days and it started stifling my creativity.  I’m going to go away from forcing a daily post.  There will still be Songs of the Day, but rather than being daily, they will be when the mood strikes.  I will also be including posts of a more personal nature and experiment with exploring my constant internal monologue.  After all, the title of this blog is A Serious Thinking Problem, so I am going to make a point of sharing more of my internal struggles and triumphs.

Band of Horses on Rockpalast, April 14, 2010

•April 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Holy shit, it’s back!

On April 14*, 2010, Band of Horses appeared on a German show called Rockpalast.  They played a 70 minute set in a beautiful stone church in Köln (Cologne).  When I originally stumbled upon the footage on YouTube, I was ecstatic.  The sound quality is fantastic and there’s only one of my favorite songs missing from the set.  I watched that video over and over and over again until the day it disappeared from YouTube.  I had a significant emotional event when I discovered it was gone.  I even made a blog post about it.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but someone uploaded it again.  Happy Day!  If you have 70 minutes to dedicate to hearing some quality live music, I cannot encourage you enough to watch this.

 

*My birthday!  How appropriate that my favorite bit of live music happened on April 14.

SoTD: Band of Horses “Older”

•April 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything because I’ve been too busy with celebratory shenanigans to sit down and think about blogging.  Today is my birthday and I’ve taken the day off to lounge around the house and play a bunch of World of Tanks.  Oh yes, and I had cookies for breakfast because BIRTHDAY.

I keep saying I’ll get back to writing more and I keep failing to live up to that promise.  I’m too disgruntled with the Red Sox flaccid start to the season to waste any time on them.  My daily search for funny or interesting news to discuss has been uninspiring as well.  However, I did receive a bunch of  tasty beer as presents so there should be several new beer reviews to post over the next several days.  This space has been more than a little neglected over the past few weeks, and I do feel bad about that.  Hopefully I’ll be out of my creative slump soon.

Also, BIRTHDAY!

SoTD: The Decemberists “Crane Wife 3”

•April 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been fiddling with my acoustic guitar again after not having touched it in quite a long time.  I never really got anywhere with it other than working on chord progressions that never really worked their way into my muscle memory.  After playing daily for a couple of years and not progressing past playing A-D-A-E with a 30 second pause in between each chord, I got discouraged and quit.  The inspiration to play again has hit me out of nowhere, and I’ve decided to give myself a goal; I want to learn to play Crane Wife 3 passably.  It’s not terribly complicated, the whole song is D-A-G D-A-G over and over again.  I think I can handle that.  I’ve already spent enough time on it today that the fingers of my fret hand are burning and it’s hard to type.  We’ll see if I get anywhere or if I just get frustrated again and set it aside.

 

SoTD: Wolf Parade “Grounds for Divorce”

•April 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today is my beloved Merrill’s birthday.  I had a wonderful time this morning making her a silly birthday card festooned with horribly drawn balloons and confetti.  Tonight I’ll be preparing an experimental soy-ginger chicken dish and crossing my fingers that it doesn’t ruin her day.  I get extreme pleasure out of doing things for her like making dinner or fixing her lunch for work.  It makes me wonder if I’m either truly in love or maybe was just born to be a servant.  I’m sure she’s happy with a little of column A and a little of column B.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, perhaps the soy-ginger chicken didn’t go over well.

SoTD: Widespread Panic “Diner”

•April 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

mikeyI’ll never stop missing Mikey Houser.  The rest of Widespread Panic is alive and well and continuing to tour and make music. For me, the band died on the same day Mikey succumbed to pancreatic cancer.  August 10, 2002 was the day I stopped following Panic.  I still listen to every studio and live recording produced up to that point, but I didn’t feel like Mikey could ever be replaced and I didn’t want to hear any attempts to do so.  Panic as I know it is John Bell’s freaky vocals and Mikey’s serpentine, wailing guitar.  I don’t want to know the band any other way.  Any dude who replaced him would either have his own style or just be some guy trying to be Mikey.  Neither option appealed to me.  I can’t even tell you if Panic have released any albums in the last 12 years or when was the last time they passed through the area.  In my world, they simply ceased to be on that horrible day.

 

A Public Service Announcement

•April 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

crash

On April 7, 2011 at about 8:35 in the morning, I was involved in a horrific accident as I headed to work.  I was eastbound on Three Rivers Road in Palmer headed toward Boston Road in Wilbraham.  Three Rivers Road traverses several hills, and sections of it are very steep and winding.  I was ascending a sharp uphill curve when a white sedan suddenly merged with my engine compartment.  The occupant of the other vehicle was texting and didn’t notice that she needed to make a sharp right turn.  She crossed the double yellow line and impacted my car at an estimated 50 miles per hour.  The posted limit is 30.  She was also not wearing a seat belt and her face bounced off of her windshield, causing her to shed most of her teeth.

As for me, when the realization hit that there had been a collision, I immediately started doing body inventory.  Everything worked and nothing hurt too bad yet.  There were some cuts on my wrist and I had to pull one of my house keys out of the flesh of my thigh, but otherwise nothing major seemed to be wrong.  The driver door was folded in half and wasn’t going to move.  I managed to slide out of the dash console that had wrapped around me and crawled out the rear passenger side door.  A Palmer cop tired to get a statement out of me, but I could not get the words out of my mouth.  Despite the gashes and a probably concussion, I refused transport to the hospital.  It probably wasn’t the wisest of moves, but I just wanted to go home.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I saw the remains of my car at the tow lot.  In the aftermath of the accident, my head was swimming and I either didn’t take the time to look at my car or the image failed to imprint on my brain.  What I saw (and photographed) was mind-blowing.  If I had seen that kind of carnage in another accident, I would have assumed the occupant was dead or in intensive care.  I don’t believe in God, so there was no sense that something had saved me that day.  I was faced with the fact that I was extremely lucky.  If a few variables had been slightly different, I might be in a box underground or severely injured and facing a long road to recovery.  I’d been in accidents before, but never was left with the feeling that death had been looked in the face and turned away.

The longer I stood looking at the remains of my car, the more disturbed I got.  All of this had happened because the other driver didn’t take her responsibilities behind the wheel seriously.  She was speeding down a dangerous road while staring at her phone.  Initially I was very angry, but after a while I started to feel bad for her.  She seemed young and probably had a lot of surgery ahead of her to reconstruct her jaws and teeth.  It’s unfortunate she had to experience extreme trauma to learn that texting and driving are something you should never do.  Nothing you can say in a text is important enough to put your life and the lives of others in danger.  To risk serious injury or death for a “LOL” or “b rite there” is utterly asinine.  If you are someone who repeatedly and willingly engages in distracted driving, I implore you to reconsider your flippant disregard for those sharing the road with you.  It’s simply not worth the risk to fiddle with your phone while driving.

Update on the Silence

•April 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I had been in a very good groove of posting a little something every day even if it was just a paragraph.  Staying in the practice of posting daily helped keep the idea of posting fresh in my mind so that this space didn’t become an afterthought that would go dormant again.  I’ve been in a very troubled, negative pattern of thinking for the past couple of weeks, and posting has kind of become sporadic while I attempt to get on top of things.  I’m hoping to resume posting content soon, I don’t intend to let this blog go completely dormant for a third time.

 
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