Monday, April 27, 2020

The Leadership of Donald Trump

I made this graphic because I thought the Leadership that President Trump has provided, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, is perfectly exemplified in his own words:

"No, I don't take responsibility at all." 
- Donald J. Trump, March 13, 2020

Friday, April 24, 2020

Darth Crawl

Since I'm posting nature photos, here's an insect I saw outside that looked like it had the Sith markings on Star Wars character Darth Maul.

So, I decided to call him "Darth Crawl".

*Bonus photo - This multi-legged creature crawled out of my sink drain... so, after going "WTF!," I caught it to throw outside after taking a pic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Ridiculously Tall Amaryllis Flower

My wife & I have an amaryllis bulb that has bloomed for the 2nd year.

I added it to my album of nature photos:

It is a large, beautiful red flower & sits by our back door in our kitchen. Because it's propped up against the glass door, it grew to this ridiculously tall height, over 5ft.

I love the Spring time as life begins to re-emerge and the outdoors become green & colorful... Nature doesn't care about humanity & all our issues, and the cycles of time continue no matter what.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Trump is Risen Through Christ

Like President Trump, I too look for the spiritual embrace of 7ft tall smokey Jesus.

On this Blessed Day, let us remember what is truly important... that Jesus himself hand-picked Donald J. Trump to lead us through one of the worst crises in U.S. History.   πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ™
We are lucky to have a President with the deep wisdom, humility, compassion, & moral purity needed for this difficult time. I am especially grateful for all my fellow Americans with the good judgement to support President Trump and his superior, Christ-like leadership. God Bless the USA!

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Game Review: Assassin's Creed Origins

 Since I received a PS4 from my wife last Christmas, I have been primarily playing 2 games - Star Wars Battlefront II and Assassin's Creed Origins. Assassin's Creed has occupied most of my limited gaming time for the past 4 months, due to the sheer expansiveness of the game.

I previously posted about the use of The Flower of Life motif in the game, but since I just finished the main storyline I can write a full review.

Let me start by saying that this game is absolutely awe-inspiring. This is coming from someone who has played video games all my life... and I can say that this is as close to the perfect game as I have ever had the privilege to experience!

Because of the camera feature, I was able to screenshot images of some of the amazing visuals that can be seen throughout the game. All the images in this post are from my gallery below. There is so much to see & experience in Origins that it is impossible to document it all.

Click the link below to see my gallery:

Google Photo Album:

The main story is very engaging, and I never got tired or bored of the missions or even the side quests. It follows Bayek of Siwa, who is a Medjay (Magi) or protector of Egypt. He and his wife Aya seek justice for the murder of their son by the Order of the Ancients. The Order searches for relics from a lost "First Civilization" that they use to control mankind. Bayek & Aya eventually form the Brotherhood of Assassins (the "Origin" of the Assassins in the other games of this series) to destroy this Order of the Ancients.

I love history, especially ancient history, and have always been fascinated with ancient Egypt. AC: Origins is set in Ptolemaic Egypt- which was a couple thousand years ago, but the Giza pyramids were already thousands of years old, even back then. These pyramids, as well as other landmarks such as The Great Sphinx, Djoser's pyramid, and countless temples are all present and can be fully explored and climbed upon like everything else in the game.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, 
with it's limestone casing & gold capstone in place

Yes, you can climb to the top of the Great Pyramid!
(It takes awhile to climb, but you can slide down the side to get down)

 The Great Sphinx, with the paint still intact.
(although the head was probably originally a jackal, guardian of the underworld)

The Egyptian temples were absolutely stunning.
There are many more photos in my gallery linked above

Not only is Egyptian architecture and culture showcased, but ancient Greek influence in Egypt at the time is also heavily represented. Alexander the Great and the Ptolemaic pharaohs from Greece had a lasting impact on Egyptian society, through the establishment of Alexandria and the infusion of the Greek pantheon of gods & their temples.  

 The legendary tomb of Alexander the Great.

At the top of The Pharos, or lighthouse of Alexandria.

One of the many temples influenced by Greek architecture.

In addition to the historic landmarks, Assassins Creed titles always put the player in the presence of famous historical figures and situations. In this one, you are involved with pivotal events involving Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Ptolemy XIII, and Pompey the Great.

Talking with Cleopatra along the Nile River.

Cleopatra becoming acquainted with Julius Caesar.

This is how you encounter Pompey the Great-
decapitated & impaled on a spike by Caesar's army.

As with all the Assassin's Creed games, the historic events are masterfully woven into the main storyline. The great thing about these games, however, is that you are not forced into a linear playthrough. You can go off onto side quests, or just explore at your leisure. It is a true sandbox style experience, where you can go anywhere or just do nothing but look around at all the captivating scenery, if you want. 

Even though there are important figures from history in the story, my favorite aspects were just the ordinary slices of life that are captured everywhere. The level of detail is so astounding, that I was often in total disbelief that something like this could even be created! It truly is an epic work of art that gives a better sense of human history at all levels than any textbook or class could ever approach.

A random merchant's stall, with a dozen detailed items to inspect.

A closer look at the merchant's goods. 
The level of detail, even in this little section, is crazy.

Just some dudes hanging out at the baths.

Street musicians entertaining passersby.

On the other end of the spectrum, another aspect of Assassin's Creed games that make them great are the mythical elements, revolving around the mysterious "First Civilization". This is a race of technologically-advanced beings who created humanity, but were destroyed by a cosmic cataclysm in the distant past. They have left seemingly magical artifacts and "Vaults" containing knowledge incomprehensible to the human race. Although there wasn't as much about Those Who Came Before in this installment, the aspects that were included were pretty cool.

One of The Vaults from the First Civilization
 was hidden below the Great Pyramid

Bayek and Aya discover another Vault,
with a holographic map of the Earth.
They obviously think this is some sort of magic.

The settings in the game, both natural and man-made, are very immersive. There is abundant wildlife, common people doing their daily routines, and beautiful architecture throughout the ridiculously vast map. I still haven't explored and unlocked anywhere near all the areas, despite finishing the story.

The various landscapes and vistas in the cities, towns, and surrounding wilderness are enough to make you often just stop and observe. Then you may be jolted into action by an attacking alligator or cobra out of nowhere!

Crazy random shit happens, like wild animals attacking each other...

...or wild animals attacking you!

One really cool feature is the ability to use of your hawk Senu as a scout, to get a literal birds-eye view of the locations, including the enemies and treasures there. You can also use the camera while in Senu mode to get awesome aerial shots.

There's just so damn much to rave about with this game... I put off writing the review because I knew it would take me at least a couple hours. If you've read this far, and haven't been convinced to play this 1st class title, then there's nothing more I can say to persuade you. It's an absolute masterpiece.

I will leave you with a final picture of, not a Monkey Buddha, but of Babi the baboon god... I guess it's close enough!

• Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 10+ out of 10!