Cancer has sadly claimed the life of another talented soul, in actress, and most importantly mother, Annie Wershing. Who has died at the age of just 45. Though most will recognise Annie as the hardened smuggler “Tess” from NaughtyDog’s “The Last Of Us”, it was her performance as Renee Walker in 24 that I will remember most prominently. During season 7, after the dissolution of C.T.U, that by this point had been infiltrated by more moles than a golf course, F.B.I agent Renee Walker is introduced as a potential understudy to serial interegator, Jack Bauer. Though a resolute investigator, Renee is initially reluctant to disobey the law to achieve her goals, but eventually resorts to the same methods employed by Jack to get the answers she needs. And Annie’s performance as Renee Walker elevated an otherwise mediocre season.
Her portrayal of Tess in “The Last Of Us” felt like an extension of her character in 24. Tenacious. Inured. As if Renee Walker had been pushed to the limit of her morality, that with the slightest nudge could tip her over the edge and into the abyss. We as an audience have been deprived of yet another great talent, but much sadder is her children being deprived of their mother. Condolences and prayer’s are a poor substitute. What a tragic loss.
“The Power Rangers” had a pivotal influence on my burgeoning curiosity into story telling. Contributing to one of my first ever attempts at writing a story at the tender age of just 6 years old. Of course my “plot” was reliant on derivatives portrayed in the show, with contrivances that even the show was too sophisticated to depict. Not to mention an excessive use of the classic sentence connector “and then” to propel my asinine dialogue. I have such cherished memories of counting down the days until Christmas, to hopefully receive the Power Rangers Megazord as a reward for my good behaviour. Not to mention the fact that the epic theme song still lives rent free in my head. To be so effusive in regards to a children’s show, that depicts such an exuberant invention of teenagers that perform balletic martial arts, while dressed as garish, leotard clad skittles, at the behest of a disembodied head to fight an evil moon witch. All for the blatant purpose of merchandising every conceivable accessory you can practically advertise to kids. But it just had such an intoxicating, frenetic energy you simply couldn’t dislike. It’s an admission that a 35 year old would attribute to nostalgia, but the death of Jason David Franks has only reiterated just how affectionate I am for it.
Jason David Franks death and suspected suicide is tough to take, especially if the assumed cause of death is confirmed. Though he portrayed many Rangers throughout the various incarnations of the Power Rangers Universe, it was his role as the “Green Ranger” and subsequent redemption as the “White Ranger” I remember so vividly. While other original cast members were seemingly abashed to be recognised as a Power Ranger, Jason was one of the first to truly embrace his popularity. Though I’ll confess to being an ardent proponent of the “Red Ranger”, they always harboured a burgeoning resentment to Tommy’s affluent rise to prominence as the leader of the team, usurping”Jason Lee Scott”. I did develop a grudging respect for his ascendance though. I mean come on we all had our favourites. It’s easy to judge these “story-lines” from a kids show that depicts such exuberant martial arts and gaudy, almost pantomime-like costumes and regalia. But as kids, these stories were dynamic and powerful. And it’s heartbreaking that someone so synonymous with both the show and our childhood has died. Even though you’ve never met them or even really know them, those early memories are so profound that you can’t help feeling as though you’ve lost someone special.
I remember being just as shocked to discover that the “Yellow Ranger” (Thuy Trang) had perished in a car crash at the age of 27. And this to me just feels like another betrayal of my childhood. Another Power Ranger defeated, but not forgotten.
On Monday the 29th of August 2022, my Grandfather passed away peacefully in his sleep. Having suffered from 84 year’s of acute stubbornness, coupled with early onset ignorance, my Grandfather eventually succumbed to his litany of mental impediments, due to complications from a concoction of underlying ailments, such as COVID, diabetes and pancreatic cancer. I’m not really someone that could be accused of being emotionally available, nor would I regard myself as stunted by repressed intimacy. But I must admit that I didn’t cry. Though I was never close to my Grandfather, I think my subdued demeanour can be attributed to my capacity to compartmentalise grief. I’ve always processed emotions in a very pragmatic way. Perhaps I’m just too matter of fact. Too logical. To me it’s a simple case that someone was there, then they’re not. Not much that can be done to change that fact, so why try to complicate what is a very simple fact of life.
You know what my instinct was when my mother phoned me? To start writing. Maybe as a cathartic means of grieving, that I just couldn’t express verbally? I’m not sure. All I know is that it is the only real creative outlet at my disposal to convey my thoughts on an incident that should provoke a more visceral reaction. To me it’s just odd being in that moment, knowing that I will look back on this with absolute clarity, as an event immortalised in my subconscious forever. More so because of the profound effect this has had on my Nan. A woman capable of such compassionate humility, that it is almost incongruous for her to be married to someone so antagonising and taciturn. Yet despite this marital dissonance, my Nan loved him regardless.
I have always been an empathetic crier. Voluntarily shedding tears on other people’s behalf. But trying to console my Nan, as she fails to process the shock of her loss and finding herself trapped in these verbal cul-de-sacs, is probably the most receptive to someone’s emotions I’ve ever felt. The hopeless submission of loss and guilt at not having the opportunity to say goodbye to her husband was palpable. A life that for the past 60 years was entwined by the bonds of matrimonial kinship. For as long as I could remember, my Nan has always looked the same. Whether as a kid or an adult, my perception of her remained steadfast. The way people you are familiar with retain this perpetual facade, until you see pictures of them from a decade ago. My Nan’s superficial frailty always belied her innate strength, which for the first time appears diminished.
The saddest part of all is that my Nan wasn’t there to say goodbye to him, as a result of my grandfather being isolated in the COVID ward. Even when she was granted access to see him after his death, she was prohibited from kissing him goodbye because of the risk of infection. Mourning the end of a 60 year marriage, without the capacity to express your love for someone before they die.
The “Git Gud” mentality, a slang term that refers to an individuals latent skill of a particular task, is something of an abstract – as well as condescending contradiction. It’s a prevalent concept in the industry, attributed to series such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Popularised exponents of the genre, with notorious difficulty curves that actively discrimantes against the players infancy, thereby encouraging them to learn from their considerable failures. Of which there will be many! These kind of inherently laborious endeavours demand a very cautious yet calculated fortitude, tempered by a very resolute patience. I don’t think it would be hyperbole to declare that I take to these kind of challenges like a duck to water….If the duck in question has been plucked, gutted and boiled in said water.
It’s fair to say that as much as I love gaming – evident from years of committed dedication to its indulgence, I’m not actually very good at them. Considering my years of continued service and established seniority within the medium, you’d think I’d be better acclimated to the challenges of any game. Equppied with some measure of intuitive acuity, developed through extensive participation with a variety of differing generations and genres. In reality there are few experiences that can prepare you for the relentless hostility tailored to Demons Souls players.
It really is relish or perish. The precarious nature of Souls necessitates composure, as well as a willingness to learn through the repetition of incessant death. Being someone that has always resisted the supervision of game tutorials, with the remedial hand-holding something of an inherent resentment, despite my reliance on the information specified. Adopting such a flippant attitude is not conducive to a progressive, demon soul sucking aspirations.
When I first attempted to play Demon’s Souls back in November, it simply wasn’t clicking. What was evident is that my innate vigilance, was simply too vigilant. Preserving healing items when I should have been using them. Parrying when I should have been blocking. Blocking when I should have been attacking. Failing in my attempts to land a critical, well timed thrust to an opponents back with deftly timed precision, rather than just striking when the opportunity presented itself all cost me. One of my first death’s occurred because I fell down a huge gaping chasm, trying to position an advancing enemy into a more enticing area. So I immediately quit. With an impudent censure and critical disdain for the asinine prevalence of such a pontificating derivative of gaming. Until now.
Spurred by some pathological need for redemption, I returned. Renewed by a desire to embrace a form of gaming that on the surface seemed counter-intuitive. Success shouldn’t be measured by my failings?! How absurd! But on my first try, with only vague recollections of the controls, I conquered the first level. Reducing the gelatinous shield attired gunk, into a smudge on the floor. And though I’ve succumbed to death enough time’s for a more timid game to insist I turn the difficulty down, I don’t feel deflated. Inept, certainly. But not hopeless. I finally get it. Even though, at least for the moment, I haven’t quite found my rhythm.
Keith Flint, lead singer of The Prodigy and Godfather of rave sadly died on Monday at the nothing age of 49. Now I don’t usually talk about music, despite how influential it is to me. I’ve found it much more congenial to not discuss the specifics of my musical preferences. I have a natural proclivity for what some might consider “aggressive” forms of musical expression: loud, high tempo, amplified beats, distorted rhythms and guttural vocals. Because of the negative connotations associated with these particularly styles of music, most people falsely believe that I either indulge in the occult, frequenting graveyards with other monochromatic attired Satanists. Or they simply have no idea what “metal” is, instead believing it to be a peculiar reference to a metallic element. Revealing that your two biggest influences are “Metal” and “Video Games” is the conversational equivalent of saying you like watching hardcore porn while listening to Donald Trumps views on women. It’s the perfect combination to end any conversation.
Growing up I didn’t particularly enjoy the conventional music I heard on the radio. It just didn’t resonate with me in any meaningful way. For much of my adolescence I firmly believed that I just didn’t like music, that it was some oddity of modern culture that completely alluded me. That is until I heard The Prodigy. Having listened to “Breathe” on the radio for the first time, during a nonchalant Sunday evening dinner with my family was the catalyst for my initiation into the brutal world of metal! I was completely aghast by such an intense sound, instantly enamoured by the infectious energy filtering through the speakers.
Their energetic combination of dance and rock bridged a substantial gap between the two conflicting genres, unifying fans from both sides. His contributions to The Prodigy’s success can not be understated. Sure he may not have been the primary writer in the band, but when you think of the Prodigy its Keith’s iconic punk hair and abrasive demeanour that exemplified the Prodigy’s heavy, angst ridden tunes that you immediately think of. Keith Flints passing at the age of only 49 is made more untimely when you consider that he committed suicide. This cuts far deeper, feeling like another regrettable action that is becoming an all too familiar option, that could so easily have been prevented. Instead Keith Flint leaves behind mournful friends and family that no doubt loved him. Not to mention a jilted generation of fans who embraced the Prodigy’s eccentric musical style and for me at least made me appreciate music in a way I hadn’t before them.
To Keith Flint: always outnumbered, but never outgunned.