Matty Unmasked

Brown Demon Hunter, sneaking around Azeroth…

Not really. Well kind of. Not really though, right? Yes? No? Maybe? I don’t know.

Today is going to be a long day, but not bad. Just–one of those days where I’m not totally prepared, again, but arranged to have the right transportation, the right shoes, and an alarm set. I still need to go to the grocery and drug stores, and clean the kitchen; all in due time. I’ll be in a waiting room for hours, so I’ll take my notebook–not a laptop–because when I take the drooling, anesthetized mess of a young man back home, I’ll need both arms to steady him to the car.

Look how much information I just gave you, my dear readers. You can make all kinds of inferences! Am I going to the zoo? No, not likely. Am I getting my hair cut and colored? Probably not. Preparing to meet Cthululu for coffee and strudel? I am, but not this morning. I could spell it out, and I might, but prefer folks drawing their own conclusions.

Godmother has a wonderful theme in her writing: anonymity and kindness, or lack thereof, in game worlds. There is no way I cannot agree with her when it comes to the point-of-fact people should follow the golden rule at all times, in real and virtual worlds, because those worlds are not so disconnected after all.



But….but what if in the virtual world I want to /pinch a troll hunter who’s dancing around me while I’m looking for Arcturis? What if that node my druid and a human raced to was truly a tie, should I acquiesce? What if I do the asshat thing, like answer the door during an LFR and hit the tranquility button so no one dies? But more importantly — what if I still want to create flawed, heroic, idiotic, misstepping nincompoops in Azeroth, and not give a damn? I DON’T WANT TO BE GOOD ALL THE TIME.

There. I said it.

The issue I’m tangling with right now, right here, is if folks know me in my real world and make judgements about my play time, or vice versa. Those who know me in game, and then find out who I really am will naturally judge – all of us do. We can’t help ourselves. We have to form opinions and taxonomy for the people in our worlds otherwise we’d never get anything done. From our infatuations, deep loves, frenemies, enemies, abiding friends and colleagues: they all think they know us, and we them, and then add a layer of fantasy on top of that cake-which-is-a-lie? Sweet baby murlocs, what is that therapist’s number?

Look: here is the reality — we all need imagination, fantasy, and creativity to survive equally as much as food, water, and a fabulous tree house. When we know each other’s real identities, we have power over that person, more power, and potential for trust and friendships, than we can ever have solely in Azeroth. We learn from each other, change each other. Does Lois Lane learn more about her relationship the Caped One is Clark Kent or Superman? Is Cat Woman’s anagnorisis more poignant during the dance, or when she loses a claw? When the witch demands Chihiro’s name, she enslaves the girl. Having one’s real identity is a sacred trust between gamers, and this trust is where the heart of the community and do unto breathes. There are hundreds of people with my “real” name (which has also changed over time and circumstances), but only five Mataokas.

Something to think about.

Theme movie: Cue apocalypse, please:

Series: Follow the Path: The Scarlet Crusade

The Scarlet Crusade is what happens when mad zealots take over a good cause. “*

I saw this quadrant/rubric/metric for the first time several weeks ago in terms of Game of Thrones:

I’m not sure I agree with the characterizations, however it’s not my thesis paper, so I’m not going to worry about it. In a discussion about the Scarlet Crusade it’s important to clarify a comment, or provide some background knowledge, about ‘lawful evil’. For more information on Alignment, click here.

Lawful Evil

  • A being who gains power through methodically destroying others is lawful evil. Power comes through order, but one can be orderly about slaughtering innocents. Tradition is important, but goodness is not. The Scarlet Crusade and Cult of the Damned is of this alignment.

I won’t re-post the entire WoW-Wiki article: it does an excellent job of explaining the history of the Scarlet Crusade, from origins, tactics, and philosophies. However, I cannot help but compare this lore to my own nation, and the parallels many made during some difficult times and egregious acts, and how my own political/patriotic worlds were turned inside out by seeing the leaders of my country respond and promote fear-mongering and censorship. 

“Membership in the Scarlet Crusade is high, relative to the human population of the region. The strong sense of abandonment, futility and fear runs high in all humans on Lordaeron, and the Scarlet Crusade feeds that fear with reassurance that the evil will fall while the good remain untainted.”

I am not talking about the military, the first-responders, the families–no – they are my heroes, my true heroes. Unfortunately, this is not unique to any one political party, nation, or times: it is pervasive and repeated. We never learn, do we?
The Scarlet Crusade responds to acts of violence and aggression with more acts of violence and aggression, a fight fire with fire, purge all the Forsaken, and if you are standing close to one, or are in any way suspect, you shall be purged, too. It is not surprising though that there have been a few RP guilds focused on the lore of the Scarlet Crusade: its narrative is deeply interwoven with Azeroth at every level, and continues to subtly influence its future, albeit not as intimately as it once did. For every new Death Knight that is spawned, however, he or she had best know their past, so they can follow their own true path.
Perhaps fitting, of all my characters who managed to pillage the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade when the Scarlet Halls in their original forms, the paladin and the druid have it in their banks. Luperci looks at it with suspicion, knowing as a paladin there is a place for her in the ranks, but is wary of becoming a zealot without heart or empathy: the druid, Momokawa, hates it for its stiff linen and bloodstains – no healing comes from this cloth, and she tucked it away like a shroud.
Tyranny with the face of faith is a dangerous force. Make no mistake. If the Scarlet Crusade teaches us anything, it is to, in the words of a Draenei, “Remain vigilant.” But don’t become a vigilante.

RTMT: A few of my favorite things, and no Von Trapps were harmed in the making of this post

Dornaa was told not to jump on the couch…

I was asleep, in fact, I was in what a Texas girlfriend called ‘the biscuit.’ The kind of sleep where even if you have to get up and pee, you could fall right back into, the kind of sleep where the temperature is perfect, the sheets are clean, and whatever else is on the agenda for the day is doable.

And then…

CD Rogue caught a cold over the weekend (he says sinus infection; I say the sniffles), and started blowing his nose, and if anything can shake one out of the biscuit zone, it’s a snotty rogue. Now, there is a shabby, broken-down couch in the family room where I could repose, and I still may. I’m too sleepy to get any real serious writing done, so a collection of ‘squees’ before I consider jumping on the couch:

1. Boredom

No,  boredom is not one of my favorite things, but getting out of it is.

Perusing through Facebook, a teenager posted how bored he was:

Man, life is so boring. Everyday that I stay home, I do the same things everyday, and everyday im at school, I do the same things everyday. I need some adventure, I don’t want to just go hangout at someones house or go out to eat, I want to go out on an adventure! F*ck this boring repetitive sh*t.

The grown-up response would be “then clean the bathroom” or something like that, but boredom affects everyone from time to time, and it doesn’t seem to matter how much we have to do; if it’s a grinding routine, it’s boring. Sometimes though, I think you just have to give Boredom a big ol’ squeeze, embrace it, and say, yup, you’re Boring. Life by contrast, I suppose. Then when we’re ready, we give Boredom its hat and send it on its way:

Inspired by  – make a list of obscure things to do when WoW is back on-line. – I love this front-page of Azeroth news. It had a lot of quick links to 5.4 news, which I’ve been actively avoiding.

2. Is it Garrosh and me, or Garrosh and I? 

Neri Approves had this post the other day: and though I am not, IRL, exactly like Garrosh, I couldn’t believe how much me and the tusked-one had in common. His blog is also one of my favorites:

3. New Title: Romantic Geek
Yes, Navi. I am. What can I say? Everyone loves a good love story, with happy beginnings, endings, sad beginnings, and sad endings. All that awesomeness in between is good stuff.

4. The Graveyard Book
Erinys: our shared collective creative consciousness is cool. Thanks.  So many fun projects, including the spirituality posts, and examining death in Azeroth. I am so weird.

5. Ravens and Crows
I love noticing the small moments of light and magic in Azeroth – they come in the real world, too. You just have to look.

Deep roots.

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

For most of the summer, for a variety of reasons, I’ve been going back to the image of a Jewish gravestone with pebbles on it. I am not Jewish; I think I saw it once in a movie and it always struck me as poignant, like leaving a little prayer or touchstone for the deceased, more permanent than flowers or teddy bears. Sometimes I feel that I am that gravestone; many friends over the years, and strangers, share their burdens with me, their worries, and for the most part, I find the right words to say at the right time, or a helpful amount of listening. We all want to be ‘seen.’ but not necessarily for who we are, in our weakest state, our moments of greatest self-doubt and fatigue. Sometimes my help goes askew, or misses its mark. If I was a doctor with a Hippocratic oath, I would have broken the “first do no harm.”But I am only human, after all.

Sometimes we do feel alone in the noise, the noisiest place of all our own heads. I feel silly running around pretending to be a little pixelized hooven girl when people I know are sick, suffering, and disheartened. I had breakfast with one of my best friends yesterday morning, and a comment has stuck with me, that she believed I had crossed the line between fantasy and reality. She is not one to pull any punches, but always does so with kid gloves. What has been my strength, a source of creativity, has been reading about and spending time in Azeroth.

Anyway, I owe Navi a penny for my thoughts today, but first I must go see the tax man about a few more pennies. Tome, I have written those stories in my head a few hundred times, too. Señor, keep the faith. Thanks you for your patience my friends.

Momokawa thought one more try, before heading back to the Shrine; the hawkstrider failed to materialize, but the Orb of the Sin’Dorei did…yes, this is one bewildered-looking Night Elf in her Bloodelf disguise:

Dornaa saves the day, again

Dornaa and her baby chick Momo find time to read fairy tales to her ‘past/present/future self’ Dornaa…trippy. Phew! Some troll baby needs his diaper changed…

That poor little baby shammy! Man did she get saddled with a lot lately: saving tadpole murlocs, saving my love of shamans, reading bedtime stories to orphans, and now she’s in charge of getting the Netherwing mounts:

Do these tusks make my butt look big?

Yes, that’s our lovely Dornaa, disguised as an orc, taking orders from Overlord Mor’ghor. Young leet druid looked over my shoulder and suggested I should be doing this on one of my level 90s, that it would take a long time to get exalted. As far as time efficiency is concerned, he’s right; however, as far as having a new challenge goes, no. I researched these drakes and knew first I would have to get Dornaa to not only level 70 to get the first quest from Mordenai (who kind of breaks my heart a little bit – not sure why) and since I am really enjoying seeing the world through Dornaa’s eyes, it seemed natural that she should do this very old content like it was new. To me, it is.

I do appreciate ‘sure things;’ the reputation grinds that will lead to something worthwhile–the Winterspring cubs, the factions with their stables of mounts, even the Twilight drake drops like a blue gumball in an all-blue gumball dispenser. I tried to borrow some of the luck Tome was having the other day and see if I could get the Swift White Hawkstrider and took six of the girls to Quel’Danas for picnics with Husks and fried chicken, but alas, no White Strider for me. But an interesting thing happened on the way to Kael’thas’ chicken coop: only Momokawa could get all the mana wyrms in a near-perfect circle — all the others made a big mess of mana guts all over the place. Must be a druid thing:

So off I go, hunting for dragon eggs and talking to orcs and goblins. Ah, the things I do for love.

Oh, is this considered killing time?

Theme song: Miguel/Sure Thing

These lyrics are silly – but I love the comment from the young lady, “like even though it’s from 2009′ – yeah, we can’t like songs older than five minutes!

Well there’s your problem…

Oh, silly mortal personalities. We focus on the things that are important to us. Well, duh! Let me share how my dog Snickers has me trained: every morning, when I let him out, he goes, but quickly returns, yipping, to the back door. It wasn’t always this way. He used to go out, return, and that was that, but then I started giving him some treats for his bad breath, and now he goes out, comes quickly back, has fooled me into thinking he’s ready to be inside, and gets a treat, and then two minutes later, yips to go outside again, for real this time. He does this routine, (sans the treat, because that’s only in the morning), anytime I am downstairs. And I am always downstairs. His behavior is so obvious, so deeply grooved in our routine, I know that to break this cycle would take monumental effort on my part. I hate his little yips, and moreover, the break in my concentration. Do I hate my dog? Of course not! He’s super sweet, comes when I call him, and looks like a little Ewok. In his world, I am the alpha, and his unconditional love never ceases.

Oh no. OH no oh noooo! I did NOT just share an anecdote about my dog and then segue to one about CD Rogue! Oh that would make him crazy! CD, not the dog. He is not a fan of the dog. He is not a fan of any ill-trained domesticated animals. Cats? Fuggedaboutit. Because he loves me he tolerates my love of animals, but trust me, there is no sharing of “Can you believe what Snickers did?” without a lot of eye rolling and “It’s your own fault.” Fine. If I want a dog whisperer I’ll call Cesar Millan in here. Or I’ll just send Snickers to go live with him and the pit bulls. 
So I don’t have a “must love dogs” situation. But I have traded off that I can at least have someone who can fix my computer, right? He’s been a computer guru since tin cans and string upgraded to aluminum. But that is not how things work necessarily at the Matty-shack. I have a problem, I am expected to fix it myself. I shared my computer problems with my friend Turk, and reported his diagnosis to CD Rogue. Fast forward: no one likes another computer geek in the hen house, I suppose, because CD did take a look at my computer, saw I was operating with only 2GB of RAM, watched a video on how to change it  (something he used to do on his own computers ALL THE TIME), and voila! Ordered new RAM and it should be fixed this week. (Still doesn’t address the Comcast issues, but it should help tremendously.) Hell, WoW alone probably eats up 2GB, let alone all those screenshots and short stories I have going on. 
Do you see what I’m dealing with here people? But it makes sense. We only can make so many priorities: and though I know if it was his computer it would have been long repaired by now, I guess I just have to think at least it’s getting done now. Or soon anyway. In the meantime, I can still limp along, looking for mounts, pets, and LFR. And tripping over the invisible threshold on the floors, by the doors, of the Shrine. Someone should really nail that down; there could be a lawsuit.

Know Your Archetype: Lovable Sidekick (And the Celestial Blessings)

This may strike as an odd pairing of my continuing archetype series and the Celestial Blessings quest line, but they are the ultimate embodiment of immortals, and we as the character, have gone all-in with Wrathion, for better or worse. We are partners in this journey now, and tied together to see it through its ultimate resolution. But Wrathion is purely a character, whereas we mortals have our guilds, friends, and others to see us along the way. Or not, depending on how we behave and treat one another. 

The most famous of all hero/sidekick relationships is that of Frodo and Samwise Gamgee. It is not a linear relationship: Frodo is not all good, all powerful, nor is Samwise solely loyal or trailing in the dust. Far from it. The triptych Gollum, Frodo, and Samwise create intertwine the destiny for all three. Such as it is in Azeroth: we play our own hero, our friends our partners, and the nefarious motivations of the third party.

There are spoilers in this for the Wrathion chain, which most of you are long done with; if you are I’d be interested to know what you thought of these big questions.

Riptide and Empathy: I am sorry your father is trying to kill you, Wrathion.

My friend: I miss you, and I’m not sure what’s more painful of a loss — those friends who are still playing but silent, in their own inner worlds and thoughts, or those who are gone from Azeroth entirely? All I know is the lesson “be careful what I wish for” is causing me chest pains. I wished for more solo content, I wished for an experience on my own time, of my own control, and yet, at the climax of the story, when I need my loyal friend the most, no one can answer my call. I must do it alone.

Nothing ever gets you down, does it Sam?
Um…how ’bout you throw that damn ring now, Frodo? 

Every day in the various social media venues, I read juxtaposed stories of all of humanity: anger, betrayal, love, marriages, celebrations, births, baby’s first steps, a good meal or vacation photo. This past week came to a critical mass for me, and I realized I can’t sort out the messy mental space that is my broken cognitive workings on my own. Nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, I have always been of the philosophy that it takes strength to know when to ask for help. This morning one of my dearest friends had to reschedule our lunch date again because she was up all night with arthritic pain–she is young, too. Of course I don’t mind rescheduling lunch, and I offered my cubs’ help for a move she needs to help with, too. Haven’t heard from her yet. She’s a stubborn Taurus, and proud Montanan, so I don’t know if she’ll take me up on my offer.

However, I am learning the hard way that Azeroth is a tricky place, this other world, the keyhole vision of another’s soul, character, or life. We never really know one another, even when our molecules collide. But this is why, when we are in Azeroth, we must especially remember to treat our friends with respect, care, and space.

Time to take a long, hard look in the mirror, Matty…

Yesterday Lei Shin was kind enough to give me his heart, (well, I had to rip it out of him, but still…) and after talking it over with Wrathion (and he made tacos out of it, with cilantro of course), I was set on my Celestial Blessings quest line. My friend Turk did it yesterday, and zip-zap was done in ten minutes. That was not my experience. For Mataoka’s story, it was important to me that she do the melee/Xuen one for the final challenge. After umpteen attempts, she gave up and tried the healing one. She fared better, but still has not completed it. I don’t know what’s wrong. The dying thing, yeah, that’s it. Oh and dragon’s blood. That shit will take you down. (If you want to read some real tips, click here.)

What I loved before all the dying part though was the Celestials’ dialogue with the young Black Prince. I felt like the overachiever kid in the front row, the teacher’s pet,  flailing my hand in the air, “Ask ME Niuzo! I know! I know! Choose me!” but alas Wrathion was chosen every time. But these are big questions:

What is the nature of hope?

Xuen asks about the nature of strength:

Use strength to crush enemies? Come on Wrathion! Xuen is grading on a bell curve, and you’re messing up my GPA! Even Nacho Libre finally got this one – service to others is true strength:
I need to summon my eagle powers…
Perhaps the insightful one, or poignant to me, was Yu’lon’s – I need to learn this lesson of knowing when it’s wiser to let go, be quiet, be still, and let things run their course:

Doing nothing is counter-intuitive to overachievers such as myself. I am not sure I know how to do nothing. My identity is so tied up with ‘saving the day’ that I barely recognize when someone wants me to do nothing, help by not helping so to speak.

This morning, I was reminded of a player friend who stopped speaking to me months ago. I know it was nothing I did, or any misuse of friendship or time, but it still stings. He’s a good guy, and taught me much about the game. But one thing I haven’t learned is to not make noise in the silence.

So my fellowship: I will report on when I defeat or heal Wrathion, to the best of my abilities, and obtain my legendary cloak. I shall wear it proudly, but know it keeps me warm, and I did not do it alone.

Stitch in time…

This is brilliant little cosplay video from the recent ComicCon in San Diego:

Damn! I don’t think there are strong enough push-up bras in the world for the super-heroics that would need to happen if I wanted to look like the opening shot–okay, okay –don’t panic Matty…Blizzcon’s a few months away…(believe me little girls: if I wore a push-up bra you’d rethink your time spent in puberty and go cryin’ home to your mommas…this is big girl stuff).

…I mean, I could always buy these monstrosities:

…and I have a wonderful friend who is an amazing costume designer/seamstress and I’m sure she’d be able to whip me up some horns and a tail? I mean, how silly and much of a stunt-woman do I want to be? Do I use some pyrotechnics and set my shoulders on fire for a Firelands’ look? Do I go all Luperci the Paladin on their butts, swinging shields and hammers? Oh, gee, those would never get past airport security!

Oh who am I kidding? I may be a Draenei on the inside, but my outer shell is much closer aligned with Kellda. I could get my friend to sew me a few following minions in the style of Steampunk plushies:

…and put them on ‘invisible dog’ trick wires so it looks like they’re following me:

Now, what else would complete the look?

Maybe two years of Pilates and organic fel-colon cleansing juice. How do you think those warlocks stay so slim? Might want to see a doctor about those two things growing out of my head, though. Hornectomy? Now to find a surgeon who’ll do my bidding…

Adrenaline Junkie and the Magical Cricket Angel

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, although, when my circadian rhythm betrayed me once again this morning, there was this — voice– some crazy-brain Jiminy Cricket voice of my subconscious who spoke to me clear as day (Guardian angel? Spirit guide? Indigestion?) that said, and I quote, “It will never be the same. Accept it. Move on.”

Whoa, Spirit Dude…what won’t be the same? What should I let go? Oh, yeah, everything. Did Spirit Cricket Voice snake its way downstairs and make me coffee? Did it save me the last Krispy Kreme doughnut? Did it wash the dinner dishes? No. Its advice, while useful and timely, is all it had to offer. I do know that things are in a flux right now, many, not all, my playmates in Azeroth are dealing with forces I am not privy to, nor can I assist them.

It’s no secret I lean toward the emotional side of personalities. (Understate much?) And while the upside to having a passionate, loyal, deeply engaged, and loving personality holds sparkling, glimmering perks for my family, friends, and colleagues (You need to talk, need a hug, share a secret, have someone come out swinging for you? I’m your girl) it also has its downsides: I need a little bit back, too. And when I don’t feel that the scales are balanced, I usually speak up. And when I speak up, I inevitably get myself in hot water, and wonder where everyone went, or why are they upset now?

Where did everyone go? Is it something I said?

I wish — oh how I have long wished — for a Shamanistic Rage button I can push to show others when I am about to blow. And, if this spell worked in real life, the only alteration I would make is that everyone around me had reduced damage, too:

Jiminy Cricket Spirit Guide Angel Voice tried to reach me before my little hooves, er, toes hit the floor this morning. It tried, it really did. It tried to tell me there is nothing I can do for or about people I love, things they go through, that they can handle those burdens on their own, it’s their journey, blah blah blah. The thing is for a big-mouth girl like me is sometimes the best thing I can do is to shut the hell up. Not sure I have that button. And then Tome posted her simple request to Blizzard, and their, in my opinion, hypocritical response. To war! Oh wait, you got it covered Tome? Under control? Okay, let me put this shammy rage back in my pocket.

Just for my own silliness, I donned the HOT-Fab and did all the LFRs that give the Rune Totem thingies that Wrathion wanted me to pick up for him. Guess what? I needed five more and…I got five more. My friend Señor was unaware I was wearing the helm (we did one LFR before he had to skedaddle), but I am sure he knows I am a dork, and perhaps if the HOTFB would work for him, too, that would be fine. Now Wrathion wants me to go get a cold, black heart out of Lei Shin. Okay, okay! Sheesh! Keep your turban on buddy! Even Dorothy only had to get one damn broomstick!

I have a tiny little sign I keep at work that says this:

So, Angel Cricket: I will endeavor to do better. To my friends, may you not feel my wrath, or have me cause you any pain or discomfort. To myself, ditto. No, things are never the same. We go in and out of lives for reasons, “they” say, and learn from each other. To those I am learning from, you are my Angel Crickets. Thanks.

Now I’m off to go find cold, black hearts. Hear they are the secret to Starbucks’ coffee.

Theme song: Give A Little Whistle