Shovelcast #3: Mass Effect: Andromeda

That’s right! It’s podcast time. Since almost 5 years have passed since the last one, it seemed like a new one was due. This time, a former Shovelcast guest is back to review Mass Effect: Andromeda with me, the inimitable Allie Gebhart. Join two of the biggest Mass Effect fans in the Milky Way as we spend almost TWO AND A HALF HOURS half-drunkenly talking all things Mass Effect, occasionally breaking away from our lovefest over the original trilogy to discuss the new game. Honestly, we could have probably kept on going for 6 or 7 hours. Our takeaway: it’s a flawed game, but definitely worth playing, and we’re more than happy to tell you why.

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The Problem with Spider-Man

I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming this weekend. This post will contain the mildest of mild spoilers for that film. Like, there are less spoilers for the movie in this post than there are in any given trailer for any movie. If you’re the kind of person who would be freaked out to learn that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a movie about the Marvel superhero Spider-Man, and pitch a fit about not being warned about it, this is the point where you turn away, as I am about to spoil the fact that both Peter Parker and Spider-Man are in the new Spider-Man movie. As I have now fulfilled my societal duty to tell people that a post about Spider-Man will reference a movie about Spider-Man wherein I mention that Spider-Man is in the film in question and a detail or two that have already been present since Captain America: Civil War, I can now move on to the part where I briefly discuss the movie, which isn’t even what this post is about.

Ooops, I forgot to warn people that Captain America: Civil War has Spider-Man in it before I just dropped it into regular conversation. It’s only been out a year, and I believe the current level of spoiler-warning necessity on social media is 75 years after the movie/TV show/book’s death. I apologize for my brazen lack of awareness and total lack of empathy.

Anyway.

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Baby Steps: Welcome to Embryonia

Here is a news update, and also the best song of all time.

whimsy and warpaint

So this is going to be a quick post to share something amazing, but it needs a back story:

In February, we were effectively kicked out of our IVF clinic with whom we had been working for nearly a year because SOMEONE had to go and have a recurrence. Then, in a staggering exercise of paternalism and bureaucracy, a heretofore unknown to us “risk-management team” and an “ethics board” decided that due to my recurrence, I had a greater likleihood of Disney momming this potential child, so they were going to prevent us from even retrieving eggs from our donor–even if we used a surrogate–until I got a life expectancy from my oncologist (who, btw, responded to that request with an, “umm no, I can’t even give you one of those until after treatment which we are postponing for the moment anyway. Also why the heck would they need that if you’re not…

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Spankin’ It at the Doctor’s Office

Fair warning: If the title wasn’t enough to clue you in, this is a post about jackin’ it while getting your insurance company to pay for it. If you have zero desire to find out what it’s really like to provide a sperm sample, it’s completely understandable. If, however, you’ve always wondered if it’s like how they portray it in the movies, or you’re curious to discover what materials are provided for the purpose, read on. I promise to try to make it more funny than gross. Also, the pics may feature adult themes. Not like my junk or anything, but, ya know, fair warning and all that. You might see part of a heavily photoshopped woman’s butt.

Also, a hearty welcome to the new followers I picked up this week! You deserve better, but hey, you didn’t know what you were getting into.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 11: Lunch with a Cop

This is the eleventh chapter of this story, which is at least five more than I expected there to be. If you want to read the others first, or if you’d like to read them in random order, here are the other chapter links. If, like everyone else, you have no desire to read this, by all means do whatever else it is you do on the internet.

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

Chapter 6: A Great Plan

Chapter 7: Taking a Few Shots

Chapter 8: Waiting For It All to Blow Over

Chapter 9: Ducking and Covering

Chapter 10: An Overdue Conversation

I tried to be as casual as possible leaving the bar through the back door. I’m sure I failed miserably. Something about being out in the open when I knew a group of heavily-armed ex-military types were looking specifically for me and had already marked the place I was leaving had my usual equanimity buried under a thick layer of well-earned paranoia. The noodle place Severa was sending me wasn’t far but it wasn’t close either. I would have felt less naked in a skinsuit on stage working for tips. I didn’t want to risk the transit service but walking all the way to the meet-up in the open had my nerves on fire. I didn’t make it a tenth of the way before I headed towards the skycar traffic. I decided I’d rather get shot at the depot and get it over with instead of spending an entire three-kilometer walk waiting for the bullet.

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Cancer Feelings: Round 2

A word from my wife.

whimsy and warpaint

When my doctor told me, my eyes watered but I didn’t cry. I asked questions. I held it together and breathed slowly until I got to the car. I always insisted on going to these appointments alone, insisted I could handle it so I needed to do that now. I breathed more and I didn’t cry. I thought about how to tell my husband. I thought the words a few times, and then I called him. I thought the words over and over, but when they finally came out of my mouth, the sound of them was too intensely real to hold back the tears: I told him they found something in my lungs. He said he was coming home. We talked about how to tell my parents. I told him I had some errands to run and then I’d be home, too.

I called my mom. I sounded upbeat…

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Welcome to 2017

You don’t need me to tell you that 2016 was a very fucked up year. Many beloved famous people died, including people who helped define some of the most widespread cultural touchstones we have, from a princess to a professor to a candymaker to a spider from Mars, along with ground-breaking musicians, one regressive judge, comedians, athletes who defined entire sports and eras, giants on the world political stage, and more besides. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, pets – maybe you lost someone personally in 2016. It was the year that never seemed to quit taking. Seriously, go look a list of the famous people who died last year. I guarantee there are people on there you forgot about, and couldn’t believe you didn’t remember.

Also, there was an election, wherein a thin-skinned pissboy with less substance than an expired McDonald’s coupon became president of a nation whose espoused ideals stand in stark contrast to everything the tragic joke of a man set to lead it embodies.

OK, this whole blog post is coming out way more depressing than I intended. Sorry about that.

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The Republican and Democratic Parties Are Destroying Our Republic and Democracy

I said before here that I detest the fact that we’ve allowed a two-party system to arise and get a chokehold on power in United States government. Of course, I leave the possibility open that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I am, after all, not an expert in political systems, or the intricacies of government, or history, or really any subject at all. I may be an expert in churning out stream-of-consciousness rambling word vomit, but even that’s debatable. I know enough about a lot of things to know I don’t know enough. But I do know enough to have opinions on them, and I am an expert on knowing my blog’s username and password, so I’ll continue putting out these things here.

To be honest, I’m writing this because it’s been a very emotional and shitty couple of weeks. And writing about the potential dissolution of our Republic is actually a way for me to escape my troubles. A few friends of mine encouraged me to write, so I am. My original plan was going to be a Fears and Hope in Donald America post, where I could talk about what I’m afraid of and hopeful for in the next few years. I may do that at some point. Instead, I’m going with a lashing-out of anger because I feel helpless and scared and sometimes yelling at clouds is the only thing I can do because the things I’m actually angry and scared of can’t be targeted or confronted. They just Are.

Anyway, whatever, here we go.

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The 2016 Sometimes-Annual Aravan Awards!

It’s been a couple years since I did this, but I thought that if there was ever a year that deserved to be celebrated by a two-bit writer on a pointless blog, it’s 2016.

OK, wait a second. First aside (and it might be a record coming in on the second sentence – although the chances that I’ve done it before in the first sentence is becoming likelier the more I think about it): it’s been a long-time habit of mine to be self-deprecating and insulting to my abilities and this blog. It’s a tradition, of sorts, mostly because I try to be humble and also that I recognize that, in the world of writing, I’m barely the speck of dirt that will one day invade a pore and give rise to a pimple on the ass of the world’s literary giants. I might not even be that important. Anyway, I recognize that my talents are limited and this blog is rarely updated and barely worth the cost of reading it (opportunity costs, folks. You could be learning about dimorphism or the Egglet-Burke Theory or how to properly season a cast-iron skillet instead of wasting your time here). So I know these things. But I’m going to take a conceit from my favorite gaming-related blog (The Angry GM) and, instead of being self-deprecating (read: honest) about my abilities and this site, I’m going to go the opposite route. For the remainder of this post, I will assert that I am an amazing writer, the GREATEST WRITER, and this site is the most prestigious and exclusive gathering of the greatest distilled thought that millennia of evolution have worked towards in building to that apex of human development, me.

So I’ll basically pretend like I’m almost every other blogger ever.

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Actually, This Is Me With a Mustache

In my last post, I posted a picture of Ron Swanson with the caption, “this is me with a mustache”. In actuality, this is me with a mustache:

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