An Open Letter to ID Software

Dear fellas,

My name is BT and I celebrate your entire catalogue. I’ve been a diehard Doom stan since my father brought home the first massive, beige Packard Bell monstrosity, circa Y2K. I’ve gotten through every incarnation of the game on Nightmare, from Classic to Brutal, Ultimate and Final, TNT and Plutonia, and I reveled in it. If I were a different, sadder type of man, I would probably have a Doom tattoo that I would have to avoid explaining to women.

Doom 2016 was a whole new world. The plot was getting sort of anime and increasingly indecipherable, but that’s fine. The plot I grew up with was a single barely legible page of red text once a campaign, written in second person, ending with “You grab your plasma gun and go forth into Hell to find further ass to kick!!!” And that was enough. We were thankful.

I beat that game on Ultra-Violence twice, then Nightmare over a dozen times. It was a religious experience, and not just because of Doomguy’s excessive, canon Catholicism.

I preordered Doom Eternal. The Authorities at Youtube were very upset about Doom Eternal. The marauder was the scourge of pissbaby game journalists the world over, because he has a shield. You couldn’t just shoot him a bunch. You needed to strafe around, keep the other demons at bay, strategically prioritize the marauder by keeping your distance and wiping out the distractions until you could isolate him for an old West style showdown. It was challenging, satisfying, excellent gameplay. The platforming added a fun new element, and increased Doomguy’s mobility. On some level, I think I preferred 2016, but I still loved Eternal. I cleared it once on Ultra Violence, then three more times on Nightmare.

By this point, I am a man grown. I have many jobs, and responsibilities. I have a world-renown travel blog, multivariate financial holdings, and a burgeoning gorilla-themed athleticwear empire. I have a demanding gym schedule, many fulfilling hobbies, and my very own dog whom I walk twice a day. There aren’t enough hours in the day for video games anymore. When my desktop PC broke, I didn’t bother fixing it. I replaced my computer desk with a fish tank because the industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.

My gamer friends, they say to me, “BT, fix your fucking computer! It’s like a 30 minute job!” to which I respond, “Never! I have thrown off the ergonomic, rainbow-glowing shackles of gamerdom. My fingers are clean of Cheetoh dust, my bloodstream finally clear of 20 years accumulated Mountain Dew Code Red. I am a free man.”

And even still, I bought the Ancient Gods DLC. I took some issue with it being called DLC, as I’m of the belief DLC should be free shit you add to a finished game. The implication of “content” is the game contains it, and if it is contained in the game, it is part of the base game. Ancient Gods extends the story line and adds new enemies, which makes it an expansion of Eternal, and thus, an “expansion pack”. But this isn’t the hill I’m here to die on. Let’s keep going.

I skipped Ultra-Violence this time and went right for Nightmare. This was hubris. The Ancient Gods expansion is harder than college.

This made sense to me. You start the game fully upgraded with everything you had in Doom Eternal (because it’s an expansion pack). The challenge would need to scale accordingly, and does.

The story continued to career around incomprehensibly, VEGA has always been God, Samuel Hayden has DBZ-melded with God’s best friend and closest confidant, there’s an actual Devil that Vega-née-God buried in a hole in Makyrville and Doomguy has decided that he’s going to kill God (though not Vega) and incarnate the Devil to kill the Devil so all the demons have to go home. Whatever, dude. I’m here to chew ass and collect heavy metal vinyls… and I left my record player on my Hot Topic-themed space ship.

ID software. Fellas. I’m not mad. Life’s too short to be mad about video games, rest in fucking piss Overwatch. I’m just disappointed. By forcing Doomguy to take out enemies in a specific order and immediately respawning the annoying “deprioritized” demons like Hell Knights, Pinkies, and those douchebags with the shields, you’ve disincentivized killing demons in the game about killing demons. It’s like, what are we even ripping and tearing for?

The arena design suffered a little compared to previous games, but the environmental design was awe-inspiring. A lot of people seem to be bitching about the Spirits, but that has the same vibe as the issue with the Marauders. I think they were well done, and they add a level of difficulty and shifted priority that would make for a very engaging and fulfilling experience if I wasn’t spending so much time running for my life from the perpetually respawning throngs of shit-tier demons that can still absolutely one-shot you on Nightmare.

The Turrets were a fun idea, if lazy in their design. The invisible Whiplashes that you can’t meathook were the truest manifestation of Hell I can imagine.

I don’t know whose nephew suggested the Blood Maykrs, but they certainly only came onto the team in the past six months, and you’ve got to get rid of them. I’m not a big fan of aiming in general which is why I’m playing Doom, but the invulnerability, the weird timing, the reuse of the chime sound from the Marauder, and the sad little squirt of ammo you get for killing it… there’s just no reason to bother with it. It’s difficult, and annoying, but not especially fun, especially when it winds up behind waves of trash enemies that respawn as soon as you kill them.

And then, after the first appearance, the Blood Maykrs are relegated to the role of ambient trash demons themselves, and if you put in the time and effort to pinata pop them in the skull, they’re right back on the playing field while you continue dealing with the arbitrarily defined “true threat” of whatever demon is tallest.

I didn’t care for all the special demons that could only be killed by special guns, and I especially disliked how many of them were the plasma gun. Don’t make me use the plasma gun. I shouldn’t be punished for not liking an inferior gun.

In Eternal, you were rewarded for switching through guns, but if you were good enough with your preferred guns, you didn’t have to. That’s no longer available to you. You’re required to use the microwave gun, and strafe around in stupid little crisscross patterns while you wait for the target to pop. Hopefully the Blood Maykr or Pinkie you killed five seconds ago hasn’t respawned nearby, or you won’t get the microwave off, and you’re dead again. You better have enjoyed the first six waves of this arena, because you’re going to be doing them again, and again, and again.

I don’t mean to bitch, in general, or about my favorite video game series specifically. It’s a recreational activity and if I didn’t like it, I could have just stopped. But by virtue of being not mad, just disappointed, the issue is further highlighted because Doom is a game about rage. Doomguy is a fury elemental, that’s his whole deal. We’re out here to rip and tear until it is done. So why am I spending so much of this game shooting wildly over my shoulder, fleeing from demons that I’ve either already killed or demons that I have to kite out to a special segment of the map so I can use the goddamn microwave gun on?

Doomguy shouldn’t be running in the opposite direction for the majority of these battles. There’s a difference between strategic withdrawal and shrieking, tears-running-down-your-cheeks retreat, and playing Eternal then playing Ancient Gods really underscores that in a way that I wish could be avoided.

But I bought it, and beat it, and sprung for the combo pack, so I’m going to be beating Part II when it comes out. No matter the cost. By any means necessary. Fighting the Devil who is Doomguy with red eyes for some reason. I’m sure they’re going to have a better final exposition that’s going to really just blow the lid off the whole big bastard. They’ll pull it together in the last innings. They have to. Doom is good. I love ID software. You can do it, fellas.

We’ve got something beautiful here. You gotta… you gotta do it.

Love,

BT

London: Empires and Ashes

September 26, 2019. London, England.
Soundtrack: Flogging Molly – Tobacco Island


It was unusual, how silly I was after three glasses of beer. I even looked up the elevation to see if that was the issue. It was 36′ above sea level. In retrospect, I recognize it as attributable to malnutrition; I was down to a meal a day and, tragically, today’s had been fish and chips. And I skipped the chips.

Off I went, into the gloomy and actively darkening city of London to see what there was to see.

There was this sick monument to the Great Fire of London. Nowhere in the plaque did they specify if they were for or against it.

I crossed the Thames and it turned out that I was outside of Parliament. See, Parliament meets in Westminister.

I didn’t take a picture of the palace itself because who wants to see another boring palace? I was still a little irritated by the — (get ready I’m about to use a real British word) — hullabaloo over the Crown Jewels back at the Tower of London. Yeah, real fancy, got it.

Although, Black Rod’s secret trapdoor should have given me a hint, but who can decode this daffy (that’s another one) political system? Lords and Commons? Get outta here.

The pig hid his face in shame as I took the picture, as pigs should. I turned the corner and encountered an Imperial shitton of scaffolding around a statue of King Richard the Lionheart.

If that’s what you’re into, go to town, I guess. Richie was a big crusader and conqueror, which tends not to reflect well in the totality of time, but crusading was in vogue back then. What, you’re gonna tell the Pope “no?”

There was also that prickly little matter of him declaring the Purge on all of London’s Jews, then saying “oops jk” after the murderous riots got a little too expensive, but that’s no reason to take down a statue! Those were the times! Jefferson was a slaveowner. Skeletons abound, I’m sure.

Yeah, I was doing some mental gymnastics trying to give the benefit of the doubt until I turned the corner and saw the statue celebrating Cromwell.

If you’re an American who went to public school, you don’t know who this dude was, unless you listened to Flogging Molly, or had a brassy Irish grandma.

Cromwell was the Puritan son-of-a-bitch who masterminded what amounted to an Irish ethnic cleansing in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Penal Laws passed after the Reformation turned Catholics into bags of expendable meat. They weren’t even criminals, since all the rights were revoked. You could do whatever you wanted to them. This led to a lot of instantaneous robbery and murder, though you couldn’t call it robbery since they weren’t people anymore.

Now you might have heard of a guy called Saint Patrick. In America, he has a day. You drink green beer and perpetuate fun racial stereotypes. Patrick catholicized Ireland about a millennium earlier, so the majority of the country was Catholic (read: disposable). As of 2016, the whole country is still 82% Catholic. Old habits die hard.

But not for Ollie’s lack of trying! Cromwell had quite a Roundhead for business, and decided to monetize this genocide. Like Colombus!

Thus came transportation, or “Barbadosing”. If you were found guilty of Catholicism, or Irishness, you were packed up and shipped to Barbados to work the tobacco and sugarcane plantations. Or maybe to Australia. Or maybe to some other English colony! Christ (the Puritan one) knows there was no shortage.

The final fun little twist was all the opportunities available for indentured servitude. If you committed a different, non-Catholic crime, you could also get shipped off for seven years. The Irish took this with good humor, and wrote a number of tasteful folk songs about how much it sucked.

Finally, you opt into seven years transportation in exchange for freedom and wages, paid on completion of indentured service, unless you had an accident the day before and, say, died in a mine shaft.

I goggled at the statue of this highly celebrated genocidal slaver for a few seconds. The Irish are still mad about this. They live like, next door.

There was cold comfort in the fact that all this imperial detritus seemed so desperate. Remembrance of times when England was great, by the standards of the time, dragged screaming into a future that absolutely does not recognize those standards.

Like Propagandhi said: Today’s empires, tomorrow’s ashes.

I’m not linking that one, though. There are already two punk songs in this post, and I never got into Propagandhi.

You ever read that poem, Ozymandias?

Love,

B.

Budapest: Saints and Heroes, Rain and Ruin

November 29, 2017. Budapest, Hungary.

It’s hard to look at the weirdly rounded mountains and omnipresent crumbling limestone deposits and not imagine that it’s all still underwater, especially at night. It’s hard to take a picture that neatly isolates what I’m talking about, but the overall impression is that Budapest was probably where the original Castlevania games were set.

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In one of the endlessly sprawling parks, I found this little summary of how Budapest happened. Buda is the mountainous side, Pest the one with all the buildings leaning backward for some reason. Around the corner was Philosophy Park, which didn’t feature any of my favorites but I was still honorbound to check out.

Can you name them? Probably not, because the artist took a hell of a lot of creative liberties. Let’s make it a matching game. Above we got Lao Tzu, Buddha, Jesus the Christ, St. Francis Assisi, and Bodhidharma. The dude skipping legs is Gandhi.

He was the easiest to guess. Also present was Abraham, groveling in the dirt, as is the typical requisite demand of his horrifying god.

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There was also allegedly a statue of Ankhenaten, alias Amenhotep IV, an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who died around 1334 BC. He was the one who dragged ancient Egypt toward monotheism through worship of Aten, a kind of catch-all solar superdeity.

I say allegedly because I defy you to look at this sculpture and tell me this isn’t a fuckin annunaki.

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annunakum?

Philosophy Park’s little plaque alleges that it was sculpted to pay homage to the great minds who increased understanding and compassion throughout the world and helped shape culture, but I’m pretty sure it was just dude’s hamfisted attempt to Leo da Vinci some Ancient Aliens lip service.

After that I headed up to Castle Hill proper and peeped the palace, the decorative statuary, and the associated vistas.

Further down through the Castle District is the Matthias Cathedral and Fisherman’s Bastion.

The cathedral is done up in a Gothic Revivalist style, which makes it look sort of like a Batman coloring book. Fisherman’s Bastion got its name from the fact that it was always manned by fishermen, who were rarely effective fighters, but did well enough that Buda Castle never fell in the middle ages.

They were charging admission to walk the 20 foot ramp to the top of Fisherman’s Bastion, then walk back down it again. I passed.

Across the bridge was Budapest’s oldest castle, Vajdahunyad Vara. It shared a lake with Heroes’ Square, which was a sort of Parthenon for Hungarian culture heroes like King Matthias and St. Stephen.

Among them is a bust of Bela Lugosi.

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This wasn’t an approved statue. There was an empty alcove on the castle’s exterior, so a German artist named Hartmut Zech took a trip to Budapest and he and his friends hid it there in the middle of the night.

Zech has done this kind of thing before. He made a bust of Jim Morrison and used a baby stroller to push it into the cemetery where Morrison is buried. That was removed before the week was out. But the Budapest authorities came to the castle, saw the bust, shrugged, and just kind of left it. So there it remains.

 

 

 

 

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i activated this hedge and learned double jump

Across the river from my hostel, in Gellért Hill, there’s a church in a cave. It once belonged to yet another local saint, St. Ivan, who used thermal water to heal the sick. The same pools he used now flow into the Gellért Thermal Baths, which I’m going to go check out and get healed by when I get around to it.

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It sure was a church in a cave. They gave me a headset for an audio tour. It was not optional.

I can’t stand audio tours. Just give me a plaque or a reference booklet. It’s like opening an article, then learning that it’s only a youtube video, so you immediately close the article. I can read exponentially faster than your voice actor can talk, I don’t care if they’re auctioneering. Let me learn shit on my own and get on with my life.

Not only was I subjected to an absolutely draaaaaagging audio presentation about what turned out to be a panoply of Roman Catholic wood carvings, it veered off into explaining chunks of Catholic dogma like the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What’s unusual is, it wasn’t explaining it informatively. It was explaining it sort of like an affirmation, because it was clearly operating under the assumption that you wouldn’t be in this saint’s cave church unless you, yourself, were Catholic, and Jesus is our Lord, and the Sacred Heart represents our need not to just acknowledge Jesus’ actions but also his inner thoughts and motivations that led him to being such a fuckin’ bang-up messiah and all this other culty shit I learned in childhood and repressed.

For a reason!

There was a projector running upstairs. The movie showed slow-motion videos of happy children running while piano-led Hungarian covers of Imagine Dragons songs played in the background. Then it shifted to a cabal of priests, all decked out in clerical vestments, telling the appropriated Native American “two wolves live within us” story next to a waterfall.

Have you ever seen a clergyman in full finery hanging out on a hiking trail, let alone seven of them? It’s incredibly bizarre. There’s something viscerally wrong about seeing them all gussied up outside of a church, just prowlin’ around in the woods with God’s ballroom gown dragging behind them.

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For dinner, I opted to try the For Sale ruin pub. It’s covered in papers, and you can add to them if the spirit moves you.

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I got a menu from a waitress and sat at a table for five minutes, but no one came near me. This was just as well, since all the food was a minimum of 4000FT ($15), and the place was crawling with bugs. If you looked at a light, you could see dozens of little gnats and flies buzzing around like dust motes.

I left the menu and approached the bar, whereupon the bartender disappeared into the back room and never returned. I gave her a few minutes, then decided an overpriced lager full of spiders didn’t sound ideal and left.

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fuckin viennese

I eventually scavenged a porter and some Hungarian ratatouille at an underground hipster bar. I know it was a hipster bar because of the Transformers decals on the wall, and the waiter’s preposterous waxed mustache.

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The vegetables were a godsend. I’m a carnivorous dude, but I’m also fairly in tune with my flesh prison, and three days of nothing but sausage fat and fried potatoes leaves you feeling lethargic, ponderous, and sort of undead.

I’d been staving off scurvy with supermarket fruit juice, but even that proves to be a challenge when you’re functionally illiterate. I’ve been flagging down locals and saying, “Excuse me, this giant word next to 100%, is it ‘juice’?”

They think it’s funny, but it’s not. It’s very serious.

hohes

All right, I’ve written so much that WordPress’s shitty word processor is starting to arbitrarily reformat and delete what I’ve already put down, so that’s my cue. See you soon.

Love,

The Bastard

Florence: A Shoe Full of Beer

November 6, 2017. Florence, Italy.

I bailed out of my hostel and caught a bus to Florence, arriving at 3 PM. I’d overbooked myself. My plane leaves on the morning of the 8th, which gives me about a day to see all of Florence. This is the opposite of Sage Herbie’s advice, but it’s too late. I’ve buttered my bread. My stale, beef-jerky-chewy, terrible Italian bread.

I crash land in Florence and sprint of Florence Plus, which turned out to be less of a hostel and more of a low-budget indoor resort. I booked it because of the laundry facilities, but there’s a bar and a dance floor in the basement, there’s a terrace that I never got to see because of all the rain, there’s a Turkish bath and a “gym” which consisted of 2 ellipticals, but still. In the laundry room, I met a chef from New York on a similar trajectory as myself, and we grabbed a quick lunch of Florence’s world famous Thai food. We spent the meal bitching about how college is a hustle, but a far more successful hustle than all the unsuccessful hustlers we’d deflected in Europe.

We parted ways and I did a lap of Firenza. It’s a very small city, and all the sights to see are within a mile of each other. First stop was the Santa Maria del Fiori cathedral, which offered a whole host of Catholic-thematic sights for a mere $20 admission, such as “the tomb of some popes” and “weird old paintings that didn’t make it into any museums”. The duomo itself is, unsurprisingly, the crown jewel of the church everybody refers to as “the duomo”, but you needed to reserve a place at least a day in advance because this economy ain’t gonna support itself. I opted to ooh and aah at the cathedral interior, then book it to my next highlight. I would have mooned over the exterior too, but most of Europe seems to be undergoing maintenance.

From there I rolled out to Ponte Vecchio, which is the imaginatively named oldest bridge in Florence.

I saw a couple of market squares and haggled a t-shirt down to half price, then ate a steak and made my way back to the hostel. I sequestered in the quietest room I could find, which was, sadly, the dance floor, and wrote my account of Rome and the Vatican until I ran into my chef buddy from earlier.

“I’ve been drinking pretty much since lunch,” he said. “I wound up with a bunch of Americans and Canadians and South Koreans out on the terrace, and we killed 15 bottles of wine. 15.”

“Jesus.”

“Want me to introduce you to like 30 people?”

Sure. It was happy hour, why not. I met a ton of ’em and forgot every name except the French-Canadian girl who was real insecure about being in her mid-thirties, and I only remember hers because it sounded, to my unsophisticated ear, like “Julie” with a really over-the-top French accent. A tiny Colombian girl taught us all the rudiments of salsa dancing. It turned out, it was someone’s birthday, and he had hobbled up to the bar on the brink of blackout when the Australian girl announced, “WE’RE DOIN’ A SHOEY!”

In the barbarous outback, Australians will arbitrarily drink beer out of shoes, sometimes, for some reason. I looked into it, and it apparently stems from a 20th century custom of drinking champagne out of a lady’s slipper to signify decadence. I don’t know how Australia went from that point A to this point B, but the idea was introduced and the fervor was growing.

A disgusting side note: Everyone here is backpacking. You don’t bring multiple pairs of shoes backpacking because you don’t have the space to spare, so everyone is wearing the one pair of shoes they brought every moment of every day, walking an average of 10 miles a day through these exotic new locales. A hefty South Korean man donated his sneaker to the cause, and, to my unabashed horror, a shoey occurred.

“This is incredible,” the chef told me. “This is the highlight of my night.”

“What the hell’s he gonna do without a shoe?” I asked. The answer, it turned out, would be to spill half a bottle of white wine on the dance floor and grind his socks into it.

I hung in until 1 AM, but I had the Uffizi tomorrow, then a bus back to Rome. I bade all my new friends farewell, thanked them for the glass of wine (a drop in the bucket, really) and retired to my chambers.

I woke up the next morning and paid the $8 for the breakfast buffet. Back at home, I would eat a minimum of 4 eggs a day. Now, it had been two weeks since I had a scrambled egg, and I was suffering. I packed away three cups of coffee, a rasher of bacon, an alarming quantity of mushrooms, two rolls, a couple croissants, and a charcuterie board. The girl by the window kept glancing at me, presumably because of the acre of farmland I was eating, so I struck up a conversation with her that she did not understand at all.

“Very small English,” she said, gesturing.

“What’s your language?” I asked.

“Russian.”

“Oh, nope,” I said, shaking my head. “Not a chance, then.”

Despite the fact that she knew maybe 40 words of English, we spent around a half hour gesturing and making faces at each other to convey where we had been and where we were going. She told me she heard Athens was very nice, but she hadn’t gotten to go when she was in Greece. She had been in Crete, and the beaches were beautiful, but that was in the summer so odds are I wouldn’t get the chance to swim. She had only been doing a day or two in each place, and tomorrow she was bound for Rome; I warned her that there’s way too much to do in Rome, and she’d need to stay for at least a few days.

We said bon voyage and I gathered my stuff, checked out, and went to the Uffizi, where I waited in line for a precious hour. There was too much stuff there for me to do a play-by-play with pictures, but here’s the view from the rooftop cafe.

I got out and ate a tripe sandwich, which I would not recommend. It’s the greasiest thing I’ve ever eaten, and although the… tissue… holds spice flavors incredibly well, it still tasted kind of like cows smell. I spent my time waiting for the bus wondering how a stomach can digest another stomach.

Four hours later, I was in Rome, where I crashed at Melting Pot for six hours before returning to the bus station to catch the worst bus in Europe.

Friends, if you take nothing else from my blog, take this: Never, ever use Terravision. They’re not a bus company, they’re war criminals. It was psychological torture. At 4:40 AM, I showed the ticket they forced me to print out at the hostel (that was a whole different debacle; Terravision doesn’t accept tickets on phone or tablet) to catch the bus that was supposed to depart at 4:50 AM. He looked at it and said, “Next bus.”

The next bus, which was supposed to leave at 4:50, arrived at 5 AM. The early morning troglodytes clustered around the door as though, if they lowered their guard, their reserved seats would be given away. I got on the bus and shortly thereafter, a mother with an infant sat in the seat across from me. As is tradition. It was 5 AM, and something like 40 degrees on the bus. It was a matter of time before that child freaked out. The doom in the air was palpable.

The bus eventually went to the airport, but based on his spastic working of the pedals, I don’t think the driver had ever driven anything before. Maybe he was blind, or epileptic, or both. The bus was rattling apart around me. Unbelievably, they turned on the air conditioning.

I fled into the cold, tiny airport, which is where I’m writing this. My flight to Athens is about to start boarding. I’ll be in touch.

Love,

The Bastard

Rome: Most of Tourism Is Taking Selfies with Rocks

November 6, 2017. Florence, Italy.

I took a bus out of Rome earlier today, bidding a fond farewell to everyone from the Melting Pot hostel, which is easily the best hostel I’ve stayed in so far. I owe the proprietor a review, although I’m not sure in what format yet.

My present hostel is an enormous multi-story affair in the middle of Florence, and for context, this is my present work space, chosen because it’s the only place no one’s screaming:

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It would be ironic, if I still believed in irony.

I finally made my way to the Coliseum after learning that the most effective way to repel grifters is with sudden, public psychological abuse. This convenient method will also work in a battery of other social situations, pretty much whenever.

A lanky dude was trying to appeal to my nonexistent better judgment, but his fatal misstep was implying I’m not a pretentious douchebag.

“You can wait in the line and go in yourself,” he offered, a generous god, “But you’ll just be walkin’ around the coliseum lookin’ at white rocks. You come with me, 10 euros, I’ll get you a trained English guide, he’ll tell you about the gladiators, Romulus and Remus, the executions… everything.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “You get a lot of people at the coliseum, don’t know what gladiators were?”

While he was pondering that one, I told him, “I think I’ll be good. Ciao.

They kept slithering up and insisting the line was 3 and a half hour wait. I announced, “Sounds sort of like bullshit to me. It’s half done and I’ve been here 10 minutes. This look like 3 and a half hours to anybody else?” They haggled it down to 3 hours, insistent it would take 3 hours because one of the metal detectors was broken.

“You’d think they could afford to get them fixed, considering how much your group tickets cost.”

Off he went. My segment of the line was left in relative peace until a dude who looked remarkably like Dogg the Bounty Hunter greased his way up to me and touched my shoulder, imploring me to “Just buy the ticket and skip the line.”

“I’m committed now,” I told him, and everyone in a 30 foot radius. “I’m in it to win it. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even want to see the Coliseum. I just like standing in lines. It lets me feel like I’m part of something.”

Once the parasites were gone, I whiled away the remainder of the time in line (about 20 more minutes) chatting with an Asian couple about their previous jaunts around Europe.

As promised, the rocks were predominantly white. It was filthy with humans, all of them photographing themselves at the ruins where 500,000 people were killed — oh look, a fact I knew without a certified English tour guide. I took one myself on the way out, but only to fit in. Being accepted is important to me.

I contemplated the Roman forum, but a trio of British girls assured me that the line that wrapped all the way around the block was the line for people who already had their tickets. Nah. I got the idea.

My tour of Rome would need to be expedited, since I was due for Florence tomorrow and then Athens on the 8th. I booked ass from there to the Pantheon, which, it turns out, is different from the Parthenon, and is filled with obscure Catholic statues, rather than things I care about.

Still, it was very big.

I swung up the Campidoglio, a gorgeous hilltop plaza designed by my boy Leo da Vinci, and wound up in the Capitoline Museums. One was dedicated to how great it was to be a Roman treasurer or whatever, but the other was packed to brimming with stolen Greek statuary! Now we’re talking. I spent some time with the severed heads of a few of my idols:

 

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ugly ass socrates

Little known fact: Though Socrates wrote no philosophical written records, he was the author of the Operation Ivy classic “Knowledge”.

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my boy Plato. talk about the Perfect Forms, huh? ladies???

 

“Good people need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the law.” – Plato

Like the law of no pictures in the museum?

 

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Seneca, seen here suffering. Dude loved suffering.

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” -Seneca

Christ, and he posed for this. Imagine how often he must’ve imagined suffering.

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your favorite and mine, epictetus

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”  -Epictetus

Only slightly more less stoic now that he’s rendered in stone.

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that dick pythagoras

He doesn’t get a quote. He doesn’t deserve one. I’m too mad that his beard is a goddamn triangle.

From there, I ate a pizza with a letter off (pieza? pienza? pinza?), lauded as “The most ancient food in Rome”. It was, in fact, normal pizza, only oval. I wolfed it down and scurried up to the Vatican. I had a score to settle with God.

To be continued.

Love,

The Bastard