Archive for the “General” Category

This last weekend…. I took advantage of having a lot of level 90s. Maybe just a little.

Every year I’ve watched other people cycle through all these characters on holiday events, but hell no, I wasn’t gonna do that. Not me.

This time, I’m the one abusing the system. Why? Four words.

Mounts are account wide.

From the moment the new All Hallows Eve event went live on Saturday, I dove in neck deep.

Have you been doing the new Horseman? Are you trying to jack his ride, or steal his blade?

Maybe you’d like to wear a green glowing bucket on your head.

Me, I’d like the mount. Cassie won it years ago, and every year when this event rolls around, there she is, casually dropping it into conversation.

“You know, I have that mount.”
“Yes dear, I know.”
“It’s very pretty, isn’t it?”
“Yes, dear.”
“Don’t ‘yes dear’ me.”
“Yes, dear.”
[whack!]

I didn’t realize just how many level 90s I had at this point, and bless Blizzard for the iLevel 496 Timeless gear. With that and just a little playing, and some BoA iLevel 450 or 470 weapons from killing rares, finding treasures in Pandaria or Archeology, everyone is at least viable in an LFR low level group.

Fortunately I’ve so far been spared any bugs. I know Cassie has encountered the ‘I zoned into Scarlet Monastery and it was the normal run without the Horseman.’ Bug.

She has also had the ‘zoned in, killed boss, DC’ed on loot window’ bug, right after winning the roll. Thankfully she was still there and the item was in her bags when she relogged.

Me, I’ve just been logging into a character, queueing for Horseman, and spending the time until it pops cleaning up my bags.

So much crap in my bags, so many toys to D-E-L-E-T-E that are already in the toy box, so many reagents scattered to the winds that can be consolidated across characters and stacked in big piles.

So many Spirits and Motes of Harmony to track down.

Now, I have a confession to make.

I queued first and figured out ability bars later.

I did not realize how extensively some of my characters had changed. In most cases, the first time I looked at a character and what abilities they had was when the Headless Horseman was landing and I was expected to attack it. Somehow.

Did you know Feral Druids lost Mangle? WTF, right?

I’m sitting there running up as a big happy purple kitty and WTF where’s Mangle? Shit pop cooldowns to remove positioning requirement and Shred.

Hmmm…. it appears that Shred no longer HAS a positioning requirement. So, that’s my new Mangle then? Also, I had Swipe on my bar, next thing I know, no Swipe. Swiper, no Swiping Swipe please and thank you. Drag that sucker back on the bar.

Fury Warriors… just what in the world. I don’t even. It’s the same, but sorta not the same?

Some classes seem to have Talents that you can take that really change how some abilities function, making it a ‘choose your own class’ adventure. Bloodthirst I’m looking at you. Others appear to be exactly the same, but how procs and timers work have them feeling way different.

I have one of everything at this point, none of them tanks or healers, not a single one. Funny how that worked out.

Of everything I’ve run through Headless Horseman, I want to say the most fun has been, shockingly, the Shadow Priest. There is something to how the abilities were blending, the combination of long casts and procs that just popped and said “Hey, shit this is fun!” to me.

Second would have to be my Hunters, and third would be the Warlock. I’m starting to adapt to my Warlock, but it’s taken a lot of practice against the Iron Horde elites around the Red Portal. I’m using them because they’ve got a reasonable level of power so I can get some rotations off against them, there are usually a mixed threesome in a group, and their mechanics are solid to work against. A charging knockback, a caster with an erratic fire splash, some grenades. It’s pretty useful to practice AoE stuns, interrupts, moving out of the fire while attacking, and getting a feel for the Warlock survivability. Also, there is always the possibility I could get a Bronze Whelpling to drop.

Not that I have to get one. My friend Sarlas took pity on me and gave me one of his. He has apparently mastered the art of Warlock farming of the Iron Horse. He owns that town in the hills.

On the subject of relearning to Warlock, a personal note; to whoever took my Ember Tap and nerfed that ability into the ground, fuck you and the pale horse you rode in on. I hate you. Why did you want to hurt me so baaaaaad?

Oh, and thank you for buffing my single target DPS, I appreciate that, thanks very much. I’m feeling much better in raid now.

P.S. I really mean it about the Ember Tap thing, you asshole. /cry /weepsaltytears

I know I just got my Rogue all kitted up in some nice gear, I ran a single Throne of Thunder LFR and it was enough to get Friendly with Shado Pan Assault to unlock all those iLevel 522 items for gold. A little over 2000g later and I’m doing better on my Rogue than on other 90s that I’ve had since the beginning of Pandaria. I should be all amazeballs about the Rogue, right?

Yeah, even with that, and as much fun as stealthing around playing the Assassin has been, I’m looking at my Shadow Priest and wondering if maybe I shouldn’t give her a chance. What would happen if I replaced those 496s with some 522 gear? If it was that fun with lower gear, what would an LFR feel like in bolder threads? I like the feel, it was like the first time I played an enhancement Shaman, and I got a Windfury proc off a Wirt’s Leg and it procced another bonus Windfury. That feeling, mmmmm so good. Like, face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot.

Would playing a Shadow Priest bring that feeling back? Enquiring minds want to know.

Early days yet. Two days, two complete runs with everyone through Horseman. No mount.

BUT!

There have been rings here and there, a plate helm on my Warrior that could actually use it (I think I won it on my Warrior last year as well, now that I think about it, and built a green set I’m not wearing anymore), lots of broomsticks and a crazy amount of Sinister Squashlings. I’m about to flood our guild bank with the things.

It’s really funny. If it weren’t for account shared mounts, then I wouldn’t be trying to run everyone through Horseman. If it wasn’t for running everyone in a combat scenario, I wouldn’t have had a reason to look everyone up on Icy Veins to understand their changed abilities and Talents.

And if it weren’t for that…. I wouldn’t have found out I am missing out on Shadow Priest fun.

It’s a vicious cycle. Just when I think It’s safe to take a break, the game drags me right back in.

Damn you Warcraft, stop being so darn fun! Don’t you know I’ve got four season of Castle to watch, two episodes of Agents of SHIELD to catch up on, and the entire first season of Arrow sitting on my shelf on DvD?

Gaaaaack!

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I almost don’t know where to start, but bottom line it, I’m having a hell of a lot of fun scattered all over the damn place!

Patch 6.0.2 hit, or the pre-patch, or whatever the heck people are calling it, and I’ve been so busy doing stuff in it it’s crazy… but I can’t really pinpoint one specific thing that is the big ‘OMG new’ thing to do.

As soon as the patch hit, I checked twitter and hallelujah EvlUI is updated. I can play the game. Kind of the make or break addon for me.

SocialState, the addon I use with ChocolateBar to easily see who is on and what their guild note says (to tell me who their main is) was down, but I found a great replacement, Frenemy, and onwards to progress.

So, playtime? Hah! Wednesday night is supposed to be our raid night, so I used the updated Ask Mr Robot addon and manual updater to check my enchants and gems. I’d checked Icy Veins for gem recommendations already, and Ask Mr Robot confirmed what needed to change, so I regemmed both my Warlock and Hunter so they’d be ready to roll, changed up some talents, restructured my bars and abilities, and went practicing.

My Warlock… it’s going to be an adjustment, learning how not to rabbit hop everywhere. It’s built in, that’s why I loved my Warlock and my Hunter. I’m a hopper. I don’t stand in shit, it’s getting me to stand freaking still for five seconds that’s the problem.

it’s okay. Wednesday rolled around, Tom let me play my Hunter in raid while I continue practicing on my Warlock. I’m not taking Kil’jaeden’s Cunning, I’m going to use the double Dark Soul talent instead, but I will nail this. If I can damn well learn to stand still for Chaos Bolt, I can master it now.

This is part of the fun, for me. Learning new ways of doing things, trying the new methods out, exploring what we lost and what we gained. And make no mistake, we may have lost some things, but we’ve gained a few in the playing.

For example, old content.

There are some bugs, I’ve heard there are some bad bugs, but before I worry about them, holy screaming crap have you tried to solo old content since the patch?

I’m not yet sure how I feel about this. Except it’s cool, but social, damnit!

See, I’ve been used to running Firelands 10 heroic with friends every Monday night. Every Monday night except for those nights where I space out and play Terraria all night with my son, but let’s not go there right now.

Tom asked me about this upcoming Monday, in terms of wondering if I was going to still do it, and if so would I be done by 8 for the Flex Garrosh kill run.

When I asked him if he was going to join us, he said no, and asked if I had any idea how easy old things were to solo.

“Um, no?”

So last night I tested it for myself. I walked into Firelands 10 heroic, which is still called Heroic, and not Mythic. I walked in, and then I had to walk back out and make sure it was on heroic. I had to look, yep, yep that’s a fucking skull on the portal, yep, okay. Just checking.

I soloed Firelands 10 heroic last night.

I don’t mean I managed to solo it, or that I massaged the encounters, or did any shifty crap. I mean I fucking soloed it through sheer brute force, stand and shoot soloing. Or, for Alysrazor, scoot and shoot rooty-toot and loot.

All of them, yes, even Ragnaros. When all of the sons came out, I killed a few, but when some hit the hammer and blew up and I was fine, I ignored them after that and just burned him down.

So, I get Tom’s point. If you can easily solo Firelands 10 heroic, and you want mounts, why group up with lots of people?

Well, yeah achievements, but also friendship and social events.

But when shit doesn’t last long enough to be a blip on the radar of a single player, how much worse will it be for three or four? If you have any non-instant attacks, give it up, it won’t live that long.

So I’m happy for the ability to solo Firelands 10 heroic on three or four characters every week for mounts. But I’m sad that it’s no longer appropriate for big social shindigs.

Solution… find something new that IS appropriate! I’m still working on that. I haven’t tried soloing Icecrown Citadel yet, maybe 25 heroic there can keep three or four people busy long enough to hit a button. Or maybe when we hit 100 we’ll shift to grouping to farm celestial dragon mounts in Mogu’shan Vaults.

So soloing is now wide open, still some bugs and tweaks as we figure shit out but it’s clear we’ve got stuff to keep us busy.

Then there is leveling.

I know a lot of people are saying the item squish has made level 1 characters unplayable. Just, cannot play without miserable wipefests.

I don’t have anyone under 85, so while I hate that kind of situation, it’s not crimping my style this week. I had JUST gotten back into my Rogue, and since the patch XP gains for level 85 – 90 exploded. There is no other way to put it, I went from 87 to 90 in a day.

Last night I dinged 90, and I cannot believe how fast I leveled. Unreal. Just, freaking insane. No, seriously, I went through the last level in about 1 hour.

Once that happened… well, there was Timeless items to gather and equip, a pair of tankards from Brewfest to get my weapons to 470, some iLevel 489 gear to buy for gold off the old valor vendors for the slots I didn’t have timeless in, a Burden of Eternity on the Ordos floating isle to stealth to for a iLevel 535, and the Iron Horde starter quests to do for some 515 and 520 gear.

Boom, iLevel 502. Off to queue for Siege LFR!

And I get one boss, Protectors, kill them, get a fist weapon, and have to log off and go to bed, visions of leveling my Mage dancing through my head.

There are just so many little things everywhere, and I don’t want to do any one of them forever, but all together it’s enough to keep me busy.

Raiding for Heirlooms and fun testing the stat and ability changes. Running old raids solo for drops that I couldn’t do before. Leveling characters from 85 to 90 easier than ever, and gearing so they can actually DO something in the expansion. Practicing new ways of doing old things.

It’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course.

My Rogue has a problem with the new female human head clipping outside the back of my Darkmantle Cap, doesn’t look pretty.

I wanted to queue my Rogue for Ordos and the Celestials, but they broke the ‘easy list my name’ button from other raids, now you have to start a raid, or browse existing raids to sign up for them. The way it is now is miserable, since most people can’t even find the interface, and now instead of listing your name and someone inviting you in to their group, the pressure is on you to join one and hope enough other people see it to also join.

BUT… you can see why they did it, right? Once we hit level 100 and want to do runs on stuff, there won’t be Ordos or Celestial to do every week. And you’re going to want the power of choice on whose team to join to be in your hands. At least, I know I will want to have the power to browse the list and pick who I want to try and join, not just get a blind invite from a stranger to a group whose goals I haven’t seen yet. Blind was fine when there were two choices of one-off boss. Now, we have infinite variety of runs to put up, just like an in-game OpenRaid but without the long lead time on the calendar.

Still sucks right now, though. But it will be nice at 100, no question from me.

The new UBRS teaser… I haven’t done it, and I have to say I’m not hearing any great screams of joy from anyone. But I am looking forward to trying it out. Also, I’ll admit I like that it’s not the greatest thing ever with must-have farmed special loot, like a Brewfest mount. That would put pressure on my OCD to play and acquire that I don’t feel right now.

I’m saving that squee for the Molten Core that is coming soon. :)

I don’t know, I see people bitching about so much, and there ARE bugs, absolutely, but at the same time there is just so much to fiddle about in that even the stuff that ain’t quite right doesn’t bother me because I have other things to suck me in instead.

I’m looking forward to Mythic raiding on my Warlock this Sunday (I hope I get invited!) and I’m also looking forward to the simple Flex/Normal run for a Garrosh heirloom on my Hunter later on Monday.

I’m also looking forward to running Firelands 25 heroic with Elynea and Aldyrr and hopefully Serendipity and Draculia and Riven and others that have oftentimes come on Monday, in the hopes that we can still have fun if we crank it to 25. I’m not holding my breath on how long shit lasts, though. I’ll be the one showing off my sporty Hunter transmog and heavy metal kitty.

Just… so much fun. So many little things. Funny how many of them involve doing shit with other people.

Oh, and I have run for months with green fire turned off. It started as a way to screw with a guy in our raid named Mibs, make him think I never did it. I left it off because I like red fire better… but I earned that green fire early on. It was tough, one of the toughest and most rewarding things I did on my Warlock in game.

I didn’t get awarded the achievement or title ‘of the Black Harvest’. Apparently, there is this bug where you got the achievement based on whether you had green fire turned on when the patch hit.

So, I’ve got a few bug reports in, hoping that gets straightened out. I wasn’t planning on using that title, I am happy with my “Savior of Azeroth” title, lol, or “Dragonslayer”, but it’s the principle of that one. Damnit, if there is a single title I have ever actually earned the hard way, it’s of the Black Harvest. I hope that one gets fixed.

For you, my friends, I hope that this last week has been more about the fun to be found than it has about the bugs to be blasted by. I hope you’ve had luck getting Normal or Heroic groups for heirlooms, or have had fun playing with the Toy Box, or maybe just sneaking around killing stuff as a Rogue or Feral Druid and enjoying the combo points being on YOU instead of on your target.

One last thing.

If you ARE a Rogue type, or have one, don’t miss out on going to the Iron Horde offensive area and using your pickpocketing.

If you haven’t heard yet, there is some new fun to be had when you pick the pockets of the Iron Horde NPCs, especially the named ones. Make sure you take the time to check it out! :)

EDIT: And sure as hell, I get home and look at the MMO Champion updates, and a hotfix went out that nerfed the shit out of us in old raid content. So, by the time you read this, there is probably no more Firelands 10 heroic easy soloing. Positive side, we’re back to social gatherings!

Wish it wasn’t done like that, though. With so many other things bugged in the game right now, what gets prioritized right now at level 90 with a month left absolutely tells you what they care about, and making that a priority is bullshit. Fix the bugs in the game experienced by brand new players that just dropped cash, REAL cash, to make a level 1 for the first time. Worry about fake gold when you get your actual cash-costing shit right.

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Before we yell ‘last call’ on Mists of Pandaria, I wanted to talk about one last thing that was a ton of fun that you still have time for, if you haven’t done it already.

Unfortunately for my friends on the Horde side, it’s not quite so much of a good time for you.

There is an achievement associated with the Brawler’s Guild on both Alliance and Horde side.

It’s called ‘Rabble Rabble Rabble’, or this for da Horde, and you get it by taking a surprise portal out of the Brawler’s Guild when the queue gets too full.

What happens is, if 20 or more people are all queued at the exact same time for the Brawler’s Guild fight, an NPC named Willard Wilcox or Zippi Gallox will open a portal off in the corner… and the portal lasts for 5 minutes so if you’re engaged in a fight when it pops, you can still finish your fight and run over to take it.

Where that portal takes you depends on your faction. Horde players find themselves outside of Stormwind, and Alliance players find themselves standing in front of the gates to Orgrimmar.

Here is where the fun comes in.

Last week one of the guild members in the Wanda raid team wanted to get this achievement before the Brawler’s Guild closes up shop for the season. It came up at the end of the night’s raid, and a great many of us went down to the Brawler’s Guild in the Deeprun Tram to try and force the portal.

A bunch of us all formed up, and gathering more friends and guildies as we went, queued up, mostly to fight Bruce and see how long we could kite him to extend queue durations while more joined.

Fruit was tossed, spectators punched, and catcalls resounded.

In a surprisingly short time, we had more than 20 people in the queue for a Brawler’s Guild fight, most of them from the heroic Wanda raid team.

The portal formed, and we all hustled over to take it and get the achievement.

We ended up as a group appearing out of nowhere to stand directly in front of the main gates of Orgrimmar, much to the shock of some Horde players who made the incredible mistake of flagging.

We hopped around for a few minutes waiting for stragglers to take the portal, joking and killing the poor flagged Horde that kept respawning there in front of the gates.

it was about then when someone suggested that, since we WERE standing in front of Orgrimmar, why not walk on in, say hi to Garrosh, trade lemon bar recipes and, oh, I dunno, maybe kill him?

Well, why the hell not.

One may not just walk into Mordor, but I can assure you we did indeed just stroll casually through the gates of Orgrimmar, and as the populace watched in disbelief, sauntered on into the main hall of Garrosh and beat the unholy piss out of him.

At one point, some Horde finally decided to do something about this, but Monstre was holding the front doors and, well, yeah. Good luck getting through.

In other news, I have to admit to my fellow Horde that the design of your throne room in Orgrimmar is particularly well suited to defense. Might I suggest next time you actually get in there first and be the ones defending?

We started as a normal raid night and ended up punching Garrosh in the face.

He didn’t drop loot, but damn that was satisfying. A whole year of frustration, released in one big punch to the jaw. And maybe putting the boot in, but who could blame us?

Tonight is your last chance, whether you are Horde or Alliance, to get the Rabble Rabble Rabble achievement before the Brawlers Guild re-opens for business next expansion.

Why not see if you can get your guild together and go get it done?

As extra incentive, you can use this as an excuse to stomp Garrosh, and let’s be honest, Varian deservices any kicking the Horde would care to give him, too, for that damn Test of Patience scenario misery if for nothing else.

It is the final day before the pre-patch. A LOT of people will be online tonight to fill their stocking stuffer wish lists at the last minute. Why not cap the expansion with a good old-fashioned faceroll on your most hated faction leader?

I hope you get it done, and good luck!

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Just found out two minutes ago, our tank has bailed on the Challenge Modes. Lots of stuff on his schedule, wasn’t able to make it.

Um, is there anyone out there that is a tank and would want to do 7 Challenge Mode heroics with us on Alliance-US?

I just checked all of the emails and tweets I’d had, and I have plenty of healers and DPS but nary a single tank.

I think I left it for far too long, to be honest.

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I went to the midnight showing of A Walk Among The Tombstones last night (henceforth #AWATT), the new movie starring Liam Neeson based on the book by Lawrence Block.

Total disclosure, this movie is based on one of my favorite books, in one of my favorite series.

I’m not going to be unbiased here. There are a handful of series that are close to my heart, series that I frequently re-read. The Matthew Scudder series of books by Lawrence Block is one of them, and #AWATT is, in my opinion, one of the best books in the series, closely followed by A Dance at the Slaughterhouse.

I’m saying that I probably read the book this movie is based on over thirty times before they announced a movie was in production. That makes this a weird movie for me to see on the screen.

So, how was it?

Short answer, I loved it, but I think this is going to tank on the big screen in this short-attention-span Expendables action flick era.

I hope I’m wrong. Maybe I’m selling audiences short, maybe there are a lot more people out there that will enjoy this movie than I think.

Everyone I’ve talked to at work today has taken everything I’ve said and wanted to watch it even more, so either I’m too damn cynical, or I should have more faith in people.

So, why should you see it? What does this movie bring that you haven’t already had before?

This is a damn good thriller, a powerful character study, an immersive period piece and a detective saga grounded in real people with real attitudes and motivations.

Why do I think it’s not going to do well in theaters?

One word; expectations.

When talking to friends that were looking forward to it, people who haven’t read the books, most of them seemed to assume this would be a Taken clone.

Okay, so what does that mean? Taken was a great film, I loved it, most people loved it, so why does that expectation hurt this film? Am I saying this isn’t as good as Taken?

No, I’m saying this is a completely different film from Taken and it’s not coming from the same place.

What was Taken? It was a film starring a flawed father superhero badass killing his way through a thousand cardboard villains on his way to an ultimate revenge-fantasy and princess-saving fulfillment.

Was it satisfying? Yes it was, and for me a large part of that was the character portrayal by Liam Neeson. I loved Taken. It’s a great film. Solid action, great suspense.

So, what is #AWATT that makes it so different?

Two things.

First, the characters are not cardboard cutouts, not a single one. All of them are based on Lawrence Block’s novel, and all of his characters are seemingly real people, with a lifetime of history, complex motivations and unfathomable backstory. There may be and probably is a lot to see on the surface, just like your initial impressions when meeting anyone.

Look a little closer, see how people act to others, what people do, the decisions they make and you’ll find a lot more is going on here. A lot of subtlety in the characters.

One of the strengths of this movie is that it isn’t about a superhero, flawed or not. Matthew Scudder is not a hero, he’s not an anti-hero, he’s not an unstoppable badass, and he’s not possessed of some indomitable will that is more than human. He is exactly human, and he’s fucked up a lot in his life and he knows it. He’s trying to be a man, and be himself, and not fuck up, and get through each day one day at a time because that’s how life throws them at you.

So a large portion of this movie is a subtle character study with a powerfully nuanced performance by Liam Neeson. I don’t know that modern audiences can handle a movie where more than 5 minutes goes by between gunfights in crowded alleys. Just saying.

The second thing is, this is a period piece. When they see this, the audiences are going to lose their shit.

This is a thriller and has a ton of action, but it doesn’t follow the modern formula of filming in foreign countries for the cheaper costs and tax breaks (I’m looking at you, A Good Day To Die Hard).

A Walk Among the Tombstones is a period piece set in New York City in 1999, and if you think a movie set only 15 years ago can’t be a period piece, you’ve got a rude awakening coming.

A lot has changed in the last fifteen years, and I know I haven’t noticed quite so much because I’ve been living with the changes taking them as they come.

This movie, this is a movie in love with New York, but the love isn’t blind. It’s all encompassing. It shows you New York City of 1999 exactly as it was, and watching it, the cinematography, the music, the images and graffiti and talk and hair and just… just everything sucks you in and you are in 1999 New York City.

I can’t even really grasp the effort this film must have taken to achieve this. These are not generic locations, every place is distinctive, every setting possesses a rich character that makes it truly unique. But it’s not glossy, it’s not slick. It is brutally honest with how crappy life can be in the city at the bottom level, making your living day to day, side by side with those in glamorous homes.

It also, if you’re paying attention, draws subtle attention to how a shithole in New York can be more expensive than living anywhere else. You see one apartment Scudder visits, and it looks like a shithole a college student would put up with at a flyover state school, and then you take a closer look at the furniture and decorations, and realize this is a shithole that is probably a million bucks a year and the guy is decorating it accordingly.

The setting nails the mood.

I think about the action and the story and how powerful but subtle everything is, and then I think of a modern audience watching a character study period piece with bursts of action, and I have to wonder how many are going to get it?

I don’t know. I haven’t looked at a single review, been too busy working, and writing this out to get my thoughts in order.

I really liked it. I have always thought the strengths of the Matthew Scudder books was that they feel like slices of real life, windows into a world of real people thrust into bad shit, and that the books linger lovingly over a New York City that lives in brilliant color in Lawrence Block’s mind, and he lets me come to visit once in a while.

Will you like it? I have no idea. I hope you will. If you’ve been reading my blog a while and like some of the same things I do, share some of the same attitudes I’ve shared over the years, then I think you will.

I hope you give it a chance.

For me, all of the heart and soul of the book was there. It was well worth a midnight showing on a work night.

For fans of the books, you should be excited to know that while Elaine wasn’t in this movie, they fully developed a different character relationship so they left it perfectly poised to introduce Elaine and her full story from A Ticket To The Boneyard if they do a sequel.

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