Food Shows, Gordon Ramsay and Serendipity

After a few boring old runs last night (they were just normal old runs with nice people that knew what they were doing! Where’s the fun in that? Don’t these people know I’ve got a blog to write?) we tucked Alex into bed and retired to the living room to get some use out of that long neglected home furnishing…

The television.

We love that genre of show, the food competition. Top Chef, Chopped, and Hells Kitchen have been among our most favorite ones, while the Food Network Challenge and The Next Iron Chef come in on the second tier, and Iron Chef comes in last.

Not the original Japanese Iron Chef. I’ll watch that all day long. No, it’s the new one we don’t really care for.

The only reason we actually ever watch it is because I’m an Alton Brown fanboy, and because we both love Mario Batali, who is sadly underused.

We both dislike Bobby Flay. A lot. And he seems to show up in reruns quite often.

Masaharu Morimoto kicks ass, but also sees scarce face time.

Anyway.

If I were to put together a list of favorite Food show personalities to watch on TV, it’d be something like this;

  1. Tom Colicchio
  2. Alton Brown
  3. Gordon Ramsay
  4. Ted Allen

Anyway. Again. And moving on.

We rarely actually watch TV, except for some specific shows Cassie likes that we Tivo, but we do love to watch those cooking competitions.

Recently, to get a little more Gordon Ramsay in our diet, I’d requested Season 1 of the UK version of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on DVD from Netflix.

Disc 1 came a few days ago, and we watched the revisited versions of The Glass House and Bonapartes.

Fun shows, but only two episodes per disk? Even with a revisited version, come on, man!

Oh, right. Only four episodes were done for season 1. Okay, fine. Grrr.

Yesterday, Netflix dutifully delivered disc 2.

After Alex’s tender ears were safely abed, we settled in front of the zombie box, lowered the lighting, and prepared to watch Ramsay investigate horrendous kitchens and try to turn the businesses around in one short week.

We weren’t sure what exactly was about to happen… but I thought chances were pretty good that there would be swearing. The F-word would turn up a time or two. Dog’s breakfasts might be discussed. A refridgerator would likely be disgusting.

It turned out only one of those things actually happened.

We spin up the disc, and there appears on the screen Gordon Ramsay.

Walking down the hall, talking about the people sitting at home wanting to learn how to cook. How this is the show for them.

Wait, what?

He’s taking his clothes off.

He strips naked! (From the waist up.)

This, I have to admit, is a new approach to kitchen makeovers.

Cassie at least seems happy with this new direction for the show.

Then he puts on his kitchen smock, and heads into a beautiful if trippy restaurant, and on the screen the music jazzes up and the title “The F-word” appears.

What the f-word?

Netflix sent the right disc jacket… with a completely different disc inside. Some show called The F-Word.

But it’s still a Gordon Ramsay show, so… hmm.

Oh, what the hell. Let’s check it out.

It turns out that instead of disc 2 of season 1 of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, we got disc 2 of season 1 of The F-word, a different Ramsay show that’s more of a food magazine, multiple topic kinda thing filmed at one of his restaurants.

Ramsay, and hold onto your butt here, Ramsay spends a lot of time actually cooking, and showing you how to cook on this show. In a highly stylised fashion, of course. You couldn’t actually make something by watching him, but you do get a feel for how it works.

I’d never actually seen him DO anything before. I’m more used to him ripping other people a new one in a high energy, humorous way.

And this is supposed to be filmed at one of his restaurants, named “The F-word”, so this is how he designed the interior of one of his places? No shit?

Somehow, it fits with the name. Very ‘up in your face’ kind of place.

I thought it was a cool looking place, but who the hell cares what I think? I will say that it’s not where I’d take Cassie for a romantic dinner for two on Valentines’ Day, but I’d sure as heck hit the place for a foodie dinner with a party of 6 friends on a night on the town with cocktails.

Here’s the deal about the show.

We watched the first episode, and we’re both laughing so damn hard it hurt. It’s so wild and irreverent and out there on a limb not giving a shit, that it’s like wathcing a train wreck in the making that never quite crashes, because just at the last moment, when you’re sure it’s about to hit the bus stuck on the tracks, the bus gets out of the way and the train keeps on barreling along.

No brakes. But it never blows up or goes down.

Episode 4, the first episode on that disc, was good, with tons of crazy.

What won us over and really broght home how crazy this show was, was one of the other two correspondants, food critic and writer Giles Coren, who appears later in the episode to deliver an impassioned speech, out in the woods, about Squirrels.

Grey Squirrels.

The man goes off for 5 minutes on what rotten little bastards Grey Squirrels are, advocates their mass slaughter, with frequent cutaways to look at the cute little furry buggers in trees, finally culminating in visiting a restaurant that serves Squirrel on the menu, talks about they prepare them and how they taste, and then takes cooked squirrel out on the street to get people’s reaction to how it tastes.

I know. I know how bad that sounds.

In America, where the very suggestion that eating bacon or a hamburger can inspire people to go into a hate-crazed frenzy of taking offense at you all up in your face, this is over the top chaos at it’s finest.

I like eating beef, I love bacon, but I’d take a pass at the squirrel cutlets myself. Gamy chicken somehow doesn’t excite me. We weren’t cheering the idea of mass slaughter, we were charmed by his crazed delivery and frantic passion. Damn, he was convincing.

Oh, and I may not eat it myself, but if you want to eat squirrel, well, bloody well eat it. I hope you find it tasty. I’m certainly not going to get in your face screaming at you about it.

We now interrupt the lighthearted post to turn serious for just a moment.

To explain to all the honest vegetarians and vegans who may think I’m taking shots at them for no reason, or feel I’m even talking about them, I want to let you know this really isn’t about your views at all. I respect your views, and think there is a lot to admire about your positions and choices. I really do.

Why I am overly energetic about the pro-choice aspect of dining is that I’ll never forget the time, on this blog, that someone replied in a comment to one of my old posts about enjoying bacon that maybe I’d appreciate having my son killed and eaten, and added a Googlemaps link to my house.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, if you are someone that has made a choice on your diet for any reason, whether it be for fashion or based on moral grounds, I’ve got no problem with you whatsoever.

It’s the person that goes beyond living a lifestyle of their own choosing to take that next step of being a militant activist, telling other people how THEY should live and how THEY should behave… someone who believes meat is murder, and enjoys being confrontational with strangers over what they choose to do in their lives.

Let me be clear on this; one militant idiot has already stressed that they were fine with killing my son and showed they knew where I live. In public. It’s been done. Not a hypothetical. So future militants, guess what. You’ve got zero f’ing sympathy coming from me if you don’t like my tone. Tell someone else how you think they should live, and kiss my ass.

All the hate does now is encourage me to increase my bacon intake to piss you off more, so back off. The more you bring it, the more bacon I’ll eat. Threaten my son again and I buy an entire cow for our deep freezer. And I’ll name the cow, first.

That’s right. Back away or the cow gets it.

In fact, my next step may be to hold a “Sponsor the Bear Bacon Binge” event, and have people donate to a Paypal account to fund my bacon eating extravaganza.

Oh yeah, I’ll go there. Bet on it.

This post kinda took a turn back there, didn’t it?

Let’s get ‘er back on the rails.

We now return you to the lighthearted post on The F-Word, already in progress.

As far as the Squirrel bit, we just about died laughing.

This is not a show for people who are expecting a traditional, predictable anything. I never got the feeling they were going for a shock factor, as much as they were going for an ‘anything goes about food’ vibe. You never, ever know what the hell is going to happen next, but it’s fun and the people, for the most part, all come across as being themselves. They may like and crave the attention, but it’s kinda charming.

Also, it wasn’t THAT scripted. More than a few times, Ramsay crafted his recipes, served them, then went out and asked the diners what they thought. The criticism he got was oftentimes on the rough side, and frequently he was visibly upset at not having the food gushed over. And it all aired. I love that. Don’t just show how everyone fawns all over the famous chef, show what people really thought about the food. And boy, they do that. 🙂

No matter what, he did maintain his sense of humor, even if you could tell he was pissed. And one sign he’s pissed is when he starts calling guys “big boy”. It’s cute.

All in all, when we saw that we didn’t get the disc we expected, we were disappointed. But we said what the heck, and gave it a go.

Turns out, we enjoyed “The F-word” a lot more than I would have thought possible. Probably a lot more than we would have enjoyed Kitchen Nightmares.

God, I was just laughing my big butt off. How hilarious.

I guess a lot of the diners are celebrities that we’re supposed to recognise, but we had no idea who any of the people were at all. It didn’t matter at all.

I’m not suggesting you go see it. For all I know, you hate cooking shows in general, or Gordon Ramsay in particular.

Or maybe you like a bit more distance between your cooking shows and where the meat comes from. In episode 6 on the disc, he makes some celebrity kill a live lobster and cook it. Again, it was hilarious to us, because the celebrity was obviously shocked he’d be expected to touch a live fricken’ lobster, and kept waiting for the “just kidding” part of the gag. When he finally realises Ramsay is serious, and he’s expected, on camera, to kill a lobster, he offs the lobster, but with a lot of whining. But once it’s cooked, he’s all strutting around the kitchen like Davy bloody Crockett, king of the wild frontier.

It’s funny how what started as a simple disc mix up turned into one hell of an entertaining night.

Maybe I should call Netflix and thank them for mixing things up!

PS… Yes, I’m serious about the bit about the death threat. Very long time readers might even remember the incident, it was years ago on like my first bacon gushing post, but there are quite a few of you awesome folks that have been around a long time that might have seen those comments before we killed it. It was the first time I just felt like closing the blog. In the end, we tightened up comment approval processes so shit like that never gets out live again from a first time commenter. And we did some IP tracking, but that’s another story. 🙂

But yes, I always, and I mean always, do my best to tell the truth here. Yes that shit happens. Believe it.

Setting up comment Gravatars

I’ve been asked this a few times, so here you go.

I use a WordPress theme that ties in commenter email addresses to a Gravatar image they set up themselves.

If you do not have a Gravatar you setup yourself, then this site randomly assigns one to you from a various set of generics.

If you would like to set up your own Gravatar that this site will display next to your name in the comments, simply visit the Gravatar website and follow the instructions to be found there! That’s where they all come from.

They’re just there for fun, but I’ll be straight with you… I love seeing what people choose as their own Gravatar, their visual depiction of themselves.

It’s neat!

LFD: It’s making me a people watcher

Just a heads up. Total Bearwall incoming. Rambling, lengthy post. There is WoW stuff in there, though, I swear! But I’m proud to say that I manage to ramble on for over 4000 words… just for fun. Classic Bearwall action. I know it’s been a while!

People watchers.

I’ve never been that person before.

You know who I mean. People that tell you that they enjoy going to a high traffic area, getting comfortable, settling in, and spending time watching the diversity of folks go by.

The “local color”.

“OMG, did you see that woman with the purple snakeskin capri pants and pink flip flops with the plastic flowers? Wow, who leaves the house looking like that? There’s a trailer park in need of a tornado somewhere.”

Well, I’ve finally found my own version of this. And you are my enablers.

I think I’m starting to play WoW less for the fun of the game, and more for the people watching. 

Don’t mistake me, I still love the game.

But everytime I queue up in LFD, I feel it.

The fascination, the burning desire, the ever-present curiosity…

What incredible jaw-dropping shit is going to happen next? 

It’s people watching – but I swear, it’s even better, because normally you see people in a crowd, and they’ve got their “People are watching me” masks on. They put on some makeup, did their hair, brushed their mullet, and put on their very bestest spandex stretch pants before going to the mall food court.

In WoW LFD, you get the “John Gabriel” factor at play, where everyone is free to be themself. Totally anonymous, especially if they are in a PUG with 4 strangers, all of whom are from different servers than your own, and you’ve got no guildies with you.

Tell me that idea doesn’t make your skin tingle with the desire to plot out social experiments. 

People being themselves, without even the most minimal concern for internet consequences.

All hell can, and sometimes does, break loose.

Disclaimer, and the positive thought for the day;

The amazing thing ain’t that people act like asshats when cloaked in anonymity. The amazing thing is how few people you may run into, out of the vast playerbase, who actually DO act like asshats.

The majority of players you are likely to meet are kind, decent, or at the very least quiet, friendly players. They just want to play the game, have some fun, get some loot, and get on with their lives with the minimum drama and fuss.

Let’s all try and remember that. I may tell stories about amazing stuff that happens, but really, the whole reason it’s entertaining to read those stories is that those are the exceptions, not the normal state of affairs. 

The reason I mostly tell these stories isn’t to demonize people, as much as it is to follow in a grand sea service tradition that does extend to the Marines…

“This is a real no shitter.”

I love sharing these stories. It’s fun.

There is always something amazing waiting, just around the bend. Good, bad or just freaking weird, you never know what’s lying in wait right around the next corner.

Last night I ran two Normal Pit of Saron runs, back to back, in the hopes of getting the mail Spellpower helm off the first boss. I’d really like that hat. Mine is horribad.

These two runs damn near blew my mind. I queued up for a third just on the off chance I could score the hat trick, because this stuff is pure popcorn entertainment. Or as Kiri said in guild chat last night, “I don’t even know what to say to that”.

The first run as a Shaman Healer I’ve got a Death Knight tank, Cassie is with me on her Retribution Paladin, there is a second Ret Paladin on the run, and we’ve got a Mage.

This is Normal Pit of Saron. My expectations are fairly reasonable. A group of people trying, gearing, and learning. Maybe altastic runs, maybe brand new fresh dings.

What I find is, I’ve got an entire crew that’s good… except the tank.

The Death Knight pays absolutely no attention to anyone else in the group, where they are, what they’re doing or, and this is really the point… what mobs may be on them.

He just doesn’t look behind or pay any attention to anyone else but himself and what’s directly in front of him.

He never pops Death and Decay until about the last three seconds of whatever fight he’s on, treating it kind of as an additional DPS technique rather than an AoE threat generating tool.

He was in Frost Presence. I checked. Early on. Trust me, I had to know.

Right from the very start, on the first pull, it began.

The Death Knight avoided the large stationary group at the base leading to the right, jumping down near the water and running up to the single giant Skeleton to engage.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are even remotely familiar with Pit of Saron, what can you expect?

That the second large group of Summoner and Skeletons, that pats right along there, will roll on up behind you and engage from the rear if you take too long on the Giant Skeleton, or if people hang back too far if the tank grabs the Giant Skeleton and pulls him down and away from the pat area, etc.

So the tank engages the Giant Skeleton right where he is, doesn’t go further. I run forward so I’m at least past the tank and his mob, so I can look back and watch for the pat as I heal. I don’t like being taken from the rear. Read into that whatever you’d like.

The Mage moves a little forward, but not as far as me.

I see the large pat rolling on up. I announce in party chat, “Large pat incoming from the rear”.

The Giant Skeleton drops, the pat takes the Mage from behind, we’re all getting engaged on the group… and the tank takes no notice and runs on ahead, hopping down and grabbing the next two Giant Skeletons. 

This, my friends, is when you perk up, pay attention, and find out if you really have practised your “Oh shit” buttons.

Cassie and the other Ret Pally basically tank the group while the Mage AoEs and I spam heal everyone through it. No real problem after all, group dies, we move forward, and finish off the mobs the Death Knight was on.

Now, you might think that the Death Knight, getting no heals from me while he’s beating on something, might say something. Acknowledge a bit of a scurry there. Whine about health. “Whoops”. Anything.

Nope. Oblivious.

That typified the rest of the run. Death Knight tank that paid absolutely no attention to what anyone else might be doing. And the group tried to adapt.

I wasn’t angry, worked up, or sputtering as the run unfolded. It was Normal Pit of Saron, and I never really felt overtaxed on Healing the rest of the group. It was just, well, amazing. And fascinating. Just how oblivious might this person really be? Is this for real?

See, the thing is, the tank is acting like every other tank you see these days. Full steam ahead, chain pull, fast clear, go go go. The difference is that other tanks that do this at least bother tagging the mobs to establish aggro, and grab the ones that slip on by from over eager DPS. They Taunt. They are aware that there is something that NEEDS to be Taunted.

They at least, bottom of the barrel, wonder why the Healer’s health is dropping… dropping… dropping….

Heheh, on every non-single mob pull, I waited until the tank pulled and whacked for a while, and then when I finally did drop a heal, I still got a faceful of mobs that never got a single tag. 

Ya know, Death and Decay, Blood Boil and all those plague and chill thingies… boy, I thought those spread stuff around. Silly me.

I spent a lot of time with mobs in my face… and on my butt, since the tank never paused once the ones he was fighting were dead, so he’d take off while there were still one or two on me, dazing me, and Cassie and the other Paladin would kinda brush them off me and step on ’em. Then we’d catch back up to wherever the tank had gotten to. Tank? No clue we’re still fighting back there. No clue I’m getting eaten.

My first actual “cluestick” smackdown rebuttal happened after Krick and Ick died.

The tank lined up on the ramp with the Flame AoE dudes, and I just knew… KNEW what was coming.

And so did everyone else. You could see them kinda… huddle up. I had my own defensive linemen, I swear.

The tank charges in. So does everyone else. I dart forward with them and drop Totem. I wait. AoE kicks in and people start dropping. I cast my first Chain Heal, and here most of them come. Right in my face. The big lady in the middle that does those tasty (I mean ouchie) Shadowbolts?

Yep, all of them cast on me. Boom boom boom.

Yep, I’ve got aggro. From most of ’em.

Everyone else is working at killing the mobs in that first group, the ones that stay there. One of the teleporting flame AoE dudes is on me like stink on a skunk, teleported right on top of me and going whoomp, whoomp, whoomp.

As I’m chain healing, casting like a fiend, flipping the mobs the bird ’cause we got this and everyone else is coming down to finish them off… I see the tank, all alone, run up to grab the next group.

Yep, no pause, no break, no indication there was a thought in his mind that we might be trying to finish this last guy down here pounding the healer to hell before going up top to grab the next group.

Love that AoE flame, thanks!

He just runs on ahead, far out of range of my heals BTW, and grabs the next group.

We stay where we are, finish off our flame dude, and run on up the hill.

His health is going down, he’s at half before I get there.

I’ve got plenty of time to respond.

I let his ass die. Cold and hard.

I watch as his health continues to drop and then poof! Dead.

I didn’t lift a finger to help him.

Cassie, the other Ret Paladin and the Mage meanwhile are engaging the group.

I heal them through it, without a single problem.

We kill that second group, from start to finish, with two Ret Paladins, a Mage and me, no actual tank at all. And it was EZ mode.

I’ve made the tank see, lying there dead in the dirt, that if he really wants to play games, well, we can move on. It’s okay. We don’t actually have to follow him to certain death. He does not automatically get to pull us all down into death with him.

After the group is dead, I rez him. Nobody says a word. At least, not until the tank says, “Wow, sorry guys.”

Do I think he might have learned to pay a little bit more attention?

Did I at least enjoy seeing him eat a repair bill?

Yes, I did. And I was curious to see if he’d realise what had happened, and if so, if he’d get pissy and leave the run.

Nope, no clue.

But it should get better now, right?

HAH!

The tunnel. The ice. The mobs.

What are the rules?

You know the rules of Tunnel Club.

  1. Nobody attacks but the tank.
  2. Nobody heals anybody unless the tank absolutely no shit needs it. If someone dies, we come back later when the tunnel shuts down and rez them. 
  3. Nobody talks about Tunnel Club. Oh, wait.

Wow. Hard.

So, first time up the tunnel, tank makes a mad dash for the center metal circle.

Yeah, the first time. That’s an artistic writing technique called foreshadowing. See what I did there?

He’s below half health by the time we get there, but I’ve held off, and nobody else did DPS. At the metal circle, the DPS begins to burn them down, and I cast some heals.

The last mobs aren’t even dead yet, the Mage has aggro on a couple the DK hasn’t grabbed, more adds are streaming down the tunnel towards us aggroed on ME ignoring the tank… and the Death Knight takes off for the second half of the run, hell bent for leather.

He doesn’t grab anything as he runs past.

Edit addition: I realise, on re-reading this massive bearwall, that I was unclear here about what was going on during this first run in the tunnel. The DK took off from the metal circle while there were still mobs, many of them on me… and like in all normal groups, even though I had aggro from stuff hitting me, we all as a group took off after him and tried to keep up. The DK enver paused or slowed down to see how the rest of us were doing. Not once. He just ran straight to the end and waited, and the rest of us tried like hell to keep up.

Meanwhile, I’m getting hit. I’m having to cast heals on myself to stay alive. This is adding to healer aggro, making me even more tasty to every new mob the tank is running past, who are all ignoring him to come get me. And the Mage is trying like hell to get them off of me, so he’s getting pounded right beside me as we run, we’re both dazed and falling behind, and next thing you know I’m chain healing the Mage and myself, we get overwhelmed, and die, just as we reach the end of the tunnel. 

The rest of the group, without heals, and swarmed by all the mobs that had been on me, go down shortly thereafter.

Ever notice you don’t have time to slow down and do it right, but there’s always time to run back in and do it over?

Now, there are no recriminations. No harsh words. But also no encouragement. Just a grim determination to keep going.

But not from everyone.

We lose the Mage. He drops group, and we get a new Mage.

We square off at the tunnel, and I say to Cassie on vent, “Let’s just do our thing, and I’ll keep us alive”.

We take off exactly the same as before.

Everything happens exactly the same as it did last time.

With one major difference.

As the Death Knight takes off for the second half of the tunnel run, I stand my ground on the metal circle. I’ve got my totems out, the mobs that the DK ignored are still on me, the ones running down the tunnel towards us past the DK come on down to us, and Cassie stands her ground beside me.

And so does the other Paladin, and even the new Mage.

Death Knight? Runs on up and out of range. Bye? Bye!

We stand our ground, and I heal the group as everyone else kills the adds.

And kills the adds.

Eventually, we run out of adds to kill. They just stop coming.

Eventually, the DK comes down and rejoins us. Bringing the two adds from the tunnel mouth. And a few spawned mini-skellies.

The last two mobs of the tunnel and a few scrubs. Those were the only things he kept aggro on himself.

We killed the few mobs he brought down with him to the metal circle… and the avalanche and spawned adds instantly stopped.

We actually completed the tunnel run, and cleared it, and shut down the snowstorm blue circle of knockback add generation idiocy AT THE METAL CIRCLE.

I didn’t even know you could do that.

We calmly walked up the rest of the way, and as you can imagine, healing the group through the last boss wasn’t even an issue.

That… that kind of run is so amazing to be a part of, it’s hard to describe. You know in your hearth that, if it were on Heroic, it would be a run of frustration, of anger, of pain, of guilt when people died, of abandoned group and just a terrible experience.

But, on Normal… it was kinda fun. Horrifying in it’s implications for any poor group that gets him for a tank in the future, but fun at that time, in that place.

And I’ll be honest. Letting him die, all alone, and THEN stepping in and killing that group on the ramp? That felt epic even as we were doing it.

Homeric, even. 🙂

You’d think that would be enough for a post, wouldn’t you? Isn’t that enough of an evening to retell?

Oh, hell no. There’s more.

But I’ll be quick about it. I swear. 

The second run was smooth sailing. A rare pleasure to heal. Excitement at times, fun challenges, but a solid team working with you.

A Paladin tank, a feral kitty Druid, a DPS Death Knight dual wielding one-handers and a Combat Rogue.

Everyone else on the run, aside from the Death Knight, was in pretty new gear. Tank, Rogue, Druid, mostly blues.

That sets it as a challenging run.

The difference? Skill. They did a good job.

I’d like to be clear about this; I have rarely, if ever, seen a better job of tanking in Pit of Saron. That Paladin tank locked down every single mob, positioned himself perfectly for each pull, manuevered where appropriate, stood still where not for the melee DPS.

So, what’s the problem? What made this run unusual?

Well, here’s the deal.

So Forgemaster Garfrost drops Garfrost’s Two-Ton Hammer. I am at work on my lunch and can’t link to WoWhead, I’ll do it when I get home, but the hammer is a two handed mace with tons of Strength, Stamina, Crit, and a red socket.

Both the Death Knight and the feral Druid roll Need.

The Death Knight gets a 9, the Druid gets a 92 and wins.

The DK immediately throws an epic level hissycow.

First, he’s rude and pissed the Druid rolled at all. When the Druid replies, polite as all heck, saying that’s it’s a big upgrade for him, the DK starts telling the Druid that Druids don’t want Str, it’s useless to a Druid, Druids should only ever roll on Agi items.

I inspected the Druid. He had a blue quality mace, not bad, but a long, long, LONG way away from Garfrost’s Two-Ton Hammer in terms of kitty DPS. Not to mention, dump a +20 red Agi gem in it, it’s not bad for Bear tanking. Not optimal of course, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. It’s got lots of Stamina on it, and a socket for added Stam or avoidance. What more do you really want when you’re alternative is a blue mace with no sockets, huh?

The DK won’t let it go. He bitches, pisses, moans, whines, tells everyone and anyone in the run how the Druid should never have taken it, it’s no good for him at all, Druids should never take Str, it’s worthless, and on and on and on.

I pipe up, just to say “I’m sorry, but that’s not correct. Feral Druids get Attack Power in both Bear and Cat from Strength. It’s far from useless.”

The DK wheels on me. He apparently feels the need to spank this upstart down and put him in his place so he can keep working on the Druid.

“My main is a Druid” he informs us.

I answer that my main is a Druid too.

He tells us “My main is a tank. You can check with Elitist Jerks that I’m right.”

Then he adds, in a second line, “If you’re a Druid, I bet you’re resto.”

Yes. Yes, he did.

Oh, hell yes he did.

Cherish that mental image with me for a few moments. I’m sitting there, with a lot of folks that happen to play Feral Druids that come visit me regularly on a website, and yeah, I don’t raid, but I have been known to occasionally research a few things here or there. Granted I haven’t visited the EJ website in months, but that’s okay. I do my own research, and when I’m wrong, you guys catch me. I’ve just been told that if I do play a Druid, it must be as Resto. The implication, of course, being that I’m completely ignorant about Bear tanking or feral Druiding. I know things can change, but last I heard Str still coughs up some AP in bear and cat both. Cataclysm ain’t live yet, is it?

As Emilio Estevez said in Young Guns, “Hey! I’ll make you famous!”

And for much the same reason.

But no, this is a fun post, not a name and shame post.

Still, how delicious!

Now, having put me in my place, he continues haranging the Druid.

The Druid finally says, “Ug, here.”

I stop dead. Remember, we’re still playing. This entire conversation is happening while we are playing, killing the mobs after Garfrost. We’re at this point killing the last couple parts is parts draggy mobs before killing Krick and Ick.

I say, “Please tell me you did NOT just give the DK the staff.”

The DK says, “It’s not a staff, it’s a mace, bro.”

To which, all I can possibly reply is, “What possible different does that make, “bro”.”

He did. The Druid actually gave in to pressure, and traded the damn mace to the whining DK.

The Druid asked him to equip it. The DK answers, “I happen to be dual wield specced at the moment.”

/facepalm

The Druid turned over a massive, huge honking upgrade he could have used immediately to someone who isn’t even ready to use it until he juggles a bunch of other stuff. And to someone who lost the damn roll fair and square!

I was appalled. What a complete asshat. Making someone else feel like shit for daring to want an upgrade that was actually perfectly viable for him and try to guilt him into trading it back.

Nevermind that he succeeded, just to do that to another player in the first place.

As I said, the run itself went smooth as can be. Great tanking, good DPS, easy healing. No worries. Just fun challenges.

In Ick and Krick, the Druid and the Rogue each were Pursued; each were one shot. New players to the fight maybe, nobody thought to mention mechanics. They’d done so well up until then.

Both of them went down very early on, when the boss was still at about 75% health. Between the tank, the Death Knight and myself, we had zero problems completing the boss smooth as silk. It wasn’t a panic… it was a fun challenge. Everyone ended at full health, no issues, and I still had good mana from potions and Totem juggling and Mana Tide and stuff.

But at the end, I made a point of saying that I really enjoyed the run, had a great time with everyone, and would love to run with them again, great tanking, solid playing… except the DK. I told him he was now on my ignore list, and I hoped to never see him again.

He can take that and think what he wants about it. His behavior just blew my mind.

I did whisper the Druid and mention a link to my website, if he’s ever interested in some starter info on getting ready for Bear tanking. He’d mentioned in chat that he wanted to get geared up to do some, and what the heck, some of the stuff I have on the sidebar might be helpful. You never know.

Hopefully, he’ll not only look forward to Bear tanking, but also learn more about the mechanics of the Druid, to feel a little more confident in asserting his right to roll on gear that is perfectly appropriate to his chosen specs and stated goals.

Maybe next time, he’ll be prepared to tell a player unhappy with a roll that he’s sorry the player isn’t happy, but yes, it is a very viable weapon, and he’s grateful to have won the roll, and fully intends to use it.

Seriously. These runs, seeing this side of people, the often good, the rarely bad, and the frequently damn strange… it’s addictive. It really is. You never know what’s going to happen next.

Keeps me on my toes. 🙂

I’ve got a weird mind…

So I’m reading Kattrinsaa’s latest post over at Boomtank, and I just can’t help myself.

See, she starts with this cowboy talk, and says ‘draw’, and the post is titled “Get a rope”…

And I see this sentence early on, and I quote ‘er now; “That is an easy fist full of badges.”

I can’t help myself. It’s the way my mind works. Let ‘er roll!

“A Fistful of Emblems”
“For a Few Emblems More”
“The Good, the Bad, and the Asshat”
“The Tank with No Name”
“The loot ninja drixxtdrowelf”
“Raid ’em Hard (mode)”
“Where Raiders Dare”
“Two Healers for weekly raid PST”
“Dirty Bear Tank”
“Bear Force”

And of course….

“Heartbreak PUG”

Okay, okay, I’ll stop, I’ll stop…

But I’ve got more. 🙂

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I wish everyone a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day today, wherever you may be,  and wherever you may be from.

Here in the United States, it’s an interesting occasion, as a lot of folks consider it an excuse to get drunk and act the fool, without any appreciat for or understanding of what the heck it’s supposedly all about.

I ain’t gonna get into any of that “What it’s all about” stuff meself, since you either know already, or you most likely dinnae care.

I heard one statistic this morning on the way in to work that the population of Ireland, where, like, actual Irish people live, is around 4.5 million, while the number of Americans that consider themselves Irish-American, or of Irish descent and are proud enough of it to mark such on their census/statistics forms numbers over 35 million.

So… are we Ireland in exile? Or just a whole bunch of people that wished we were more exotic than we actually are?

“Oh, I’m not JUST an American… I’m an IRISH American! I’m different! I’m a special little snowflake!”

Yep, just like the other 34 million, 999 thousand, 999 people.

And I’m one of ’em!

Today, in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, I shall spend the day not in wild drunken debauchery, but instead involved in a more subdued, yet still honest series of micro-actions. Kinda like my own subversive, anti-establishment version of observance.

First, I am not “wearing green”, as the tradition over here goes. Instead, under my uniform shirt, I am wearing my “Irish Brigade” t-shirt that I bought while visiting Gettysburg a couple of years ago. It’s quite tasteful, and I love it dearly.

Second, I shall take home with me a very small quantity of the Guinness, and tonight, after Alex is in bed and sleeping the sleep of the innocent, I shall drink it while enjoying that awesome classic film, “The Quiet Man” on DvD.

Ah, I do love that movie, and it’s entirely different pace. The fact it includes the most awesomest battle sequence on the planet is just a bonus.

Yes, “most awesomest” is a real phrase. Well, at least it should be.

I’d like to attribute my more relaxed enjoyment of the day as being a reflection on how I’m getting more mature as I get older… but I think I’m just boring. 🙂

It’s been a long, long time since I spent Saint Patrick’s Day on River Street in Savannah, Georgia, getting completely obliterated and having an insane time. A long time, and lot of water under the bridge.

To any Marines that stagger down to River Street this week for the festivities, or for anyone anywhere that takes a few moments to enjoy the day in some special way, Sláinte!

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.

But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Healing Priorities

A weekend of Shaman Healing (and occasional Bear tanking) has led me to believe that a lot of people I meet in random groups don’t understand there is a clear priority list to healing.

As a healer, I do not frantically click all the little green bars willy-nilly hoping that somehow, we will all pull through.

I prioritize.

I make sure each and every heal is cast with precision, in order of importance, with an eye to my overall goal of  successfully completing each run.

Many people just don’t seem to understand how the priorities work. It’s very clear to me.

So, I’m going to help explain. This is my Sunday Service to you.

In a random group in LFD or in raids, healing priority goes in the following order;

1) Me.

2) The tank, so long as he is keeping things off of me. If he’s letting me take aggro from spawned mobs, I’m going to reduce heals accordingly until he gets his head out of his ass, or eats some repair bills, whichever come first.

3) My spouse, because if I let her die, I’m never going to hear the end of it.

4) Any other guildies in the run, because I already know I like them.

5) Anyone that’s been nice and friendly in the group. Examples include, but are not limited to; Saying hello at the start, being helpful or polite, typing with proper grammar and/or spelling, sharing any amusing and light-hearted anecdotes, or perhaps even, wonder of wonders, buffing properly or dropping a Mage table. Dropping a Mage table can even bump you to above “4”, if the guildy is being a lazy bastard.

6) Anyone that is a stranger and hasn’t said a word the entire run. I’ll heal you, but I won’t really give a shit if you live or die.

7) Any stranger that has been a jerk or mouthy, or can’t spell, or acts like an idiot… oh, who am I kidding, these people don’t get heals. They never get an intentional heal. They may get the unintended benefit of my Chain Heal, and then only if I really have to cast it to help numbers 1 through 6 above. If I can get away with it, I’ll cast Lesser Healing Wave and Riptide all around you, isolating you from the glorious warmth and love of my heals, leaving you cast out in the cold to suffer. Leave the group, you asshat, and take your spammed Recount with you.

8) Any Warlock that repeatedly Lifetaps below 25% health after each pull. These people seem to think my Mana pool is actually for their sole use, leaving me to blow my Mana on the run to the next group just to heal him back up. Unless he falls into category 4 or 5, he gets between jack and shit, because if he thinks he’s all that evil in using me… then he must admire real evil, like my letting him die from the consequences of his own Lifetap on the next AoE damage pull, right? If he doesn’t appreciate the joke… well, guess he either needs to get a sense of humor, or buy some damn Mana juice with his own gold and leave mine alone. I understand Kungaloosh has a nice kick.

Life will move a whole lot smoother in LFD once you people understand the priorities!

Planetary: A Love Story

Once upon a time, in what often feels like another life, a young Bear was a fan of comic books.

Boxes and boxes of carefully sorted, collected, plastic wrapped and backboarded issues resided safely in his home.

Along came a day when it was time to get on a bus, and leave his old world behind, to take that first step towards Parris Island. He didn’t know a whole hell of a lot about what was ahead, but e had a fairly good idea of one thing; it would probably pay to travel light.

Towards that end, he decided to put away childish things, and gave everything away to his high school friends. Books, comics, role playing gear, everything. 

It was a symbolic act of turning his thoughts away from the detritus of the past, and instead looking only towards the future, and what he could make of it.

Yeah, that kind of thinking doesn’t last very long in the real world.

The truth is, we are the sum total of all of our experiences and knowledge, and for good or bad, everything we do is part of who we are.

I may not have had any comic books, but the part of me that liked good stories wrapped up in fancy art hadn’t gone anywhere.

What did happen was that my tastes in comic books, in media of all types, broadened quite a bit. I’d like to think I’ve grown more appreciative of rich stories, of well woven plots, of intricate tales and blunt emotion and many other things besides.

Of course, while I’d like to think that, I’m probably fooling myself. 🙂

These days, I rarely purchase comic books of any type, but through the magic of the public library system, I can request and read all the very latest comic book graphic novels, whenever I wish.

Yes, even rather graphic graphic novels, like The Ultimates, Powers, and Wanted. Right there on the racks. Kinda scary, isn’t it?

I still manage to read a lot of funny books, is what I’m saying.

In all the years I have read comics, through Watchmen, Chris Claremonts run on X-Men, The Dark Knight and Sin City, Groo the Wanderer and Cerebus the Aardvark, Badger and Nexus, Batman and What If and Beyonders and The Ultimates and all sorts of things, of WildCATS and Supremes, even through Mage: The Hero Discovered and the aforementioned Powers, nothing I had ever read could prepare me for how I felt when I first opened that issue and read that first story.

Planetary.

A simple enough comic, by a writer I was vaguely aware of as some crazy Brit named Warren Ellis.

I was predisposed to expect genius from crazy Brits, since Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is like, freaking genius of the first water and once upon a time influenced me in spending hundreds of dollars on overpriced graphic novels to possess the entire run of his work. Damn it.

Still, not even Gaiman could prepare me for Planetary.

So simple. So unassuming. No pretensions towards artsy fartsyness like the faux shadowboxes of the Sandman covers. No oversized issues, or foil imprints, or sales hype wackiness.

Just a comic.

But what a comic.

The artwork… I fell in love with John Cassaday’s style early on.

And the book!

The tagline: “Archeaologists of the Unknown”. The recurring theme: “The world is strange; let’s keep it that way.”

The idea that these aren’t action heroes in the beat ’em up sense, in the “Let’s see what happens if Hulk fought Wolverine” style of comic plotting.

Seriously. That was often the plot in the old days, and people blame Watchmen and Dark Knight for many things, but give credit where it’s due, we haven’t had to deal with bullshit epeen contests superheroes fulfilling adolescent power fantasies in a long, long time.

“Let’s see what would happen if Captain America fought Spiderman. Why would they fight? Who cares, let’s give the fans a fight so we can see who would beat who. And Spiderman is up in the ratings, so we can’t let him lose.”

Here, the plot was not an afterthought thrown together to give the characters something to do while we admired their powers. The plot… the plot was incredible.

The stories are so rich. Each issue explored major themes, powerful ideas, and opens eyes on a wild and strange and fascinating secret history of a world that so easily could be ours… and which, in some way, we truly wish was.

The characters are really in love with the world. With it’s strange cultures, and it’s diverse paths and ideas and all the hidden mysteries that are in the cracks, where the daily struggle for life and health and family push the extra weirdness aside, to be left forgotten along the way.

I came to the story late. Most of the comics were already out, and I had to go back and meticulously hunt down each one, sometimes in collected graphic novels, and other times as individual issues, to finally forge a full set.

The story… it is so like the work of J.Michael Strazynski on Babylon 5 (and Rising Stars), in that it is clear that, while each issue has one brilliant concept that is heavily explored, the entire series is also telling one consistent, powerful story with a discrete beginning, middle, and most particularly, an ending.

Even more amazing, as each issue is read and re-read, it becomes clear that every issue, often with seemingly contradictory themes or science or views of the world from different points of view, actually do go together to further every bit of the story with critical knowledge. There are no throwaways. If you thought one was a throwaway, then I bet it pays to go back later and read it again. You might have missed something in the theme.

And finally, the most amazing thing about the entire series; it’s full of exciting action, smart damn action, and it’s cool. It’s very, very cool.

The secret history of the world.

A world filled with Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula, and Doc Savage. Or the island of monsters from King Kong. Or aboriginal concepts of the dreamtime. Or the multiverse. Parallel worlds. Nick Fury and Frankenstein Monster. And every possible thing in between. All cohesive and exciting and relevant.

A world truly filled with infinite possibility.

A world filled with endless hope.

Art the likes of which I’ve never seen anywhere else, etherial when it needs to be, stunning and beautiful, and then clean and cold, or warm and loving, and at all times, alive and full. John Cassaday is a marvel.

Okay. So, I love Planetary. Fine.

Why in all the nine hells am I boring you to death with my drivel?

Give me a second, I’ll get to it.

This series has had a very strange, very staggered run.

Perhaps it’s true that you can’t rush genius. Or maybe Warren Ellis just needs to ease up on the projects that grow like bunnies and finish one. Whatever.

I’ll just say that Planetary spans 27 issues. The first one went on sale sometime in 1998… and the last published issue, issue #27, went out on October of 2009.

That’s right. A run of 27 issues over 11 years. /cry

But there was worse. Once you got into it, and went to collect old back issues, you found out one horrible fact; the collected graphic novels ended at issue #18.

And issue #19 went on eBay for over $70, assuming you were lucky enough to find one.

So you could get the entire series on graphic novel form easy enough up to 18, and then had to make some hard choices. And even then, for years there was no final issue #26 or 27. Years.

Again, why am I going over all of this?

I’ll tell you why.

At long last, you can get the entire thing in graphic novel form.

Volume 4 of the collected editions of Planetary, including rare issue #19, went on sale on March 4th of this year.

I’m holding it in my hands. It’s real. I could hug it. 

It’s beautiful.

It’s kind of like holding warm, summery sunshine. Or the freshness of your newborn child, without the impending diaper load or months of sleepless nights lurking ahead.

It holds issue 19, all the way through 27, and fully and completely concludes what I strongly consider to be one of the greatest science fiction stories ever told, anywhere, in any possible form, and certainly in my opinion THE greatest comic book achievement of all time.

If you happen to enjoy science fiction and have a fairly well read and wild appreciation for the richness and diversity of pulp myths and classic storylines and new concepts, and above all else enjoy good comic books, and if it lies at all within your power to read these four volumes, whether from your library system or by purchasing them, I beg of you, do it.

You might not agree with this gushing fanboy about how good they are… but I can’t believe that you would be dissappointed.

For your convenience, I shall now link to all four volumes on Amazon.com, so you can find them by ISBN if you want to check with your library. Or if you want to purchase them.

And the obligatory disclaimer… I don’t get a dime whether you buy one or not. I get no deal with Amazon when I link to them, I do it because I find it convenient to buy from them. No hidden motives.

One last thing… there is so much about this that is amazing and I cannot in good conscience ruin things for you by talking too much about it. But if you ever enjoyed ANY pulp stories, like Doc Savage or The Shadow, or Tarzan, or John Carter of Mars, that era of fiction has its treasured place in the huge all encompassing world of this series. You don’t have to know about any of it to appreciate it; but it certainly does broaden the entire experience.

As a long confirmed fan of Doc Savage, and an occasional reader of all the others, I was quite pleased.

Planetary 1: All Over the World and Other Stories (collects preview & 1-6) 
Planetary 2: The Fourth Man (collects 7-12) 
Planetary 3: Leaving the 20th Century (collects 13-18) 
Planetary 4: Spacetime Archaeology (collects 19-27)

That’s really it.

There are two other ways to collect it all coming soon, called Absolute versions.

Absolute Planetary 1 is already out, holding the preview, 1 through 12 and extra stuff.

Absolute Planetary 2 is due out in July of this year, and holds 13 through 27. I mention this, because pre-orders say that the Absolute Planetary 2 might have some extra pages of a mini-story included not seen elsewhere. On the other hand, that hasn’t been confirmed anywhere I have seen… and it’s damn expensive, and it ain’t out yet. Hmm, go figure.

Shabby PUGs I can stand, but exploits really makes my ass drag!

Name where I got that (slightly changed) quote from that I used as a title, and get a Big Bear shout out… because if you recognise where it came from after I tweaked it a little, you’re definitely my kind of movie fan.

Yes, that’s a hint. The original line is from a movie. Here’s a second hint; it’s one of my favorite films of all time.

Now, on to the show!

A few nights ago I finally achieved my mini-goal of hitting 375 Enchanting on my Shaman, and so I no longer had any excuse not to play her.

I queued up once again as a Healer Shaman, and away I went into LFD.

All I wanted was a quick romp in the Heroic sack with some random PUG I picked up in a bar, but, as Ford Fairlane might have said, “I got the bonus plan.”

I got Drak’theron Keep, and in looking at the group composition (as I always do for Totem adjustment) I saw that three of the others in the group were all from the same guild. A Paladin, a Shaman, and a Shadow Priest.

Now, the first thing I did was laugh, and I mean really laugh at the name of this guild.

Get this; Prophet of Cthulhu.

Why did that get me chuckling? For the answer to that, may I refer you to this ancient post of mine, from May of 2008, wherin I plug John Ringo books, throw down the hate on Transformers, laugh about things that lots of people probably take very seriously, get insanely cranky… and way down at the bottom relate a true story concerning myself, some very serious true believers, and the great old ones of Lovecraftian lore.

Okay, so I’m laughing with the guild name of these three, and off we go.

First thing I do, as I said, is see that one of the three, Lardzilla, is a Enhancement Shaman, and I’m examining what Totems he’s dropping in the first coupe fights so I can set mine not to overlap. I also check to see what the Paladin did for buffs, all the things a Shaman has to do to make sure you drop the right Totems. And of course, I get my Tremor Totem set for later, when the fear, she be a flowing.

This causes me to lag a little behind, but I do my best to keep the heals flowing.

Then we get to some lizards, and I’ve got max skinning and seem to be the only skinner, so again, I’m lagging behind a little trying to get some skinning in.

All in all, I’m doing my best, but I’m certainly not feeling like I’m giving off the impression to the others of being bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and poised to let the heals flow.

We blow through the instance, everything is pretty nice, a few times the Paladin scoops up groups that are a bit larger than I’d certainly like, but some frantic healing and Nature’s Swiftness keep everything just fine.

We hit the end boss, finish him off, and I win the epic Mail healing bracers. Score!

I also ding the 25 Emblem achievement. 🙂

I thank the group for the run, and make the comment in passing that it does get hard gearing up a new alt all over again.

The Paladin, of all people, comments that he knows the feeling from his Druid.

I mention that at least I’ve got an idea about healing and some good toolslike Vuh’do thanks to my other healer, a Tree Druid, and the Paladin says he hates Vuh’do on his Tree Druid, he prefers Lifebloomer instead, an addon I’m not even sure I’ve heard of before.

Next thing I know, the Paladin says, “Hey, when did you ding?”

I tell him I just turned 80 on Saturday, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Next thing I see, he’s queued the four of us up for heroic Forge of Souls, and says, “Here, let’s get you some gear.”

Well… okay, this is an unprecedented level of niceness from three folks that I haven’t seen before. My healing sure as heck didn’t warrant this behavior.

What does that leave?

It couldn’t possibly be… nice people?

Hmmm.

The Paladin queues us up, and it won’t let him. Why? Because despite my efforts, I still don’t have the gear necessary to let me in.

So the Paladin laughs and queues us up for regular Forge of Souls, and away we go!

We did Forge of Souls, and Pit of Saron, back to back, and they were willing and ready to go do Halls of Reflection, if I hadn’t had to go get Alex ready for bed.

And a nicer bunch of people I haven’t seen in a PUG in a long, long time.

Knowing the fights, the enemy tactics, and the boss encounters from both a Paladin tank and Healer point of view helped immensely in making sure I was proactive in my healing rather than reacting in a panic.

And being familiar with Vuh’do and having studied my spells also helped a ton.

But mostly, I had a very well geared tank and a very powerful group of DPS that killed things before they had a chance to hurt anyone too much. 🙂

Earlier I mentioned an exploit. Mostly, I brought it up just to be able to use that movie quote in the title. 🙂

We did use an exploit I had never heard of before, in Pit of Saron, but it didn’t actually make my ass drag. OR make my butt slump.

What happened was, as soon as Ick and Krick were dead, the Paladin said, “Everyone mount up, we’re going to do the exploit.”

I had no idea what he meant, but I know what a mount is. I’m kinda crafty that way. I can haz hoofs!

Loot was taken, but even before the dialogue was over and Krick was dead, we were mounted up… and heading up the ramp.

We reached the top of the ramp just as the two shadowcasters appeared to head down, and they ignored us as we kept on going to the other side and stopped on that first landing halfway towards the tunnel, where it takes a dogleg 90° to the right. The two groups on the ramp spawned after those two reached their positions… and ignored us, safe at the top landing.

We only had the two groups of icicle guys and their minions to deal with before the tunnel.

I don’t mind the ramp, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t crying a river of alligator tears about avoiding that particular fight when I don’t know everyone I was with, and my healing power is a might on the low side just yet.

Anyway, we blasted through the whole thing, I was very careful of my healing during Overlord Brands, and I got the nice Mail healing chest piece, and of course emblems and stuff.

More than that, we chatted a bit during the run, and I really was amazed at how you can sometimes just bump into the nicest people.

Things like this really serve to highlight one lack which I wish Blizzard could remedy.

We already have an ignore list that works cross-server, and if you put somebody from another server on it, it prevents you from being queued with that person in a random again in the future.

That’s all well and good.

What I wish is that there was a cross-server friends list, where if you find yourself grouped with some really nice folks, you could exchange friends lists.

You put them on your list, they put you on theirs, and if the random generator sees two people who BOTH are on each other’s friends list, it matches them up together by preference, if possible.

Just a thought. It’s nice that we can prevent future occurances of playing with the same asshats, but I’d love it if we could increase the chance that we would play with great folks we’ve had fun with again.

So, to Khaotix, Karalov, and Lardzilla of Prophet of Cthulhu, thank you very much for being really nice people, and great players, and for being kind to a complete stranger in a pug.

Bravo. You all rock.

Wowhead does Cataclysm up right

Cassie was looking for some leveling information, and came across a very nice compilation of Cataclysm information, arranged by zone, at Wowhead.com.

She was very impressed with the information, how it was arranged and how they attributed what source their information came from, and thought it would be a good place to bookmark while we wait for the final expansion release.

I know there are other places out there to find this as well, Cassie was just struck by how nice this was presented and how complete.

I’ve always been a personal fan of Wowhead, from the very first time they popped into the field. I think the professional layout, speed, attractive arrangement, the tools they’ve developed like the talent calculators and their willingness to provide silly tools like Tooltip addons for Bloggers (which I use gratefully), everything they do is of the utmost quality and usefulness.

Even if they never DID add my link to their “Bloggers who use Wowhead” page.

I’m sure everyone here is very familiar with Wowhead, but I think it’s hard to remember the old days when Thottbot or Allakhazam were our only sources for where an item could be found, or even what might be available to be crafted.

They were great tools, of course, wonderful databases carefully researched and documented… but they never seemed… professional. They were, much like my blog, projects that could be seen as coming from a fan rather than a skilled website design professional.

If you did play back then, in the time before Ten Ton Hammer, MMO Champion, Wowhead, okay I’ll say it, WoW.com… take a moment to contrast how it felt to play back then, with how these professional websites enhance the experience now.

I really do feel that these websites, and the skilled, artistic and mature touch they bring, helps to encourage the feeling that we are taking part in a hobby that can be respected as being the pastime of skilled, thoughtful, mature people.

A video game, no matter how popular or awesome, is usually only really known by the people who play it. Outsiders have no idea what we’re talking about.

With these websites, we have something we can point to and say, “This is representative of the game community, and it’s certainly not something knocked together by 6 year old script kiddies. Mock us for playing a game if that’s what tickles your fancy, but don’t pretend any idiot can master this or that it’s beneath you. Chances are good you’re not intelligent enough, flexible enough or dedicated enough in your life to handle ICC hard mode raiding, and you’d get owned in battlegrounds PvP, so shut it.”

And of course, it helps people who might be interested have a palce to go where they can find out more… and, okay, get scared by how damn complicated it all is.

Thus ends my little love letter to Wowhead. 🙂