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The Alchemist's Toolbox 72: Aisha!

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A big thanks to the person who gave my Gerald review a reddit medal!
Welcome to the 72nd Alchemist's Toolbox review!
Today we're heading to Slothstein to take a look at one of the top Light magic units. So without further ado, here's the next unit for review: Aisha!
Aisha is a casino dealeaccomplice to the criminal Chat Noir from Slothstein. Let's see what she can do as a unit, shall we?
Personal Investment:
I've got Aisha at 22 limit breaks (Curse you, Gumi's reluctance to release Hard Quests!) with all her jobs mastered (all JEs mastered, Magic Meister JE enhanced). She's one of my top Light units (as well as one of my favorite Light units).
Aisha is a Light unit, which means she's both strong against and weak to Dark. Compared to a basic element unit with the same stats and jobs, she would be better offensively and worse defensively.
  • MAtk-using Physical Missile Damage-Dealer (Magic MeisteMagic Meister [Symphony]): Comparing to other Magic Meisters, Aisha competes with Cheryl, Minerva, and Nina for this role. She beats Cheryl in damage and bulk (unless Cheryl runs her unique job's passive, in which case Aisha loses in bulk) but loses to her in speed and mobility (unless Aisha runs Stealth, in which case she beats Cheryl in Move but not Jump), beats Minerva in bulk but loses to her in speed and damage, and loses to Nina outright in terms of stats (though they do have different JEs) unless Aisha runs Stealth to beat her in mobility. Factoring in the 1st 3 Gates of Enlightenment, Aisha now beats Minerva outright (unless Minerva maxes her extremely lackluster Gate 3, in which case speed becomes a tie), and factoring in all 5 Gates of Enlightenment, her comparison to Cheryl remains the same while she now beats Nina in bulk.
  • Full Caster (Sage/Sage [Obelisk]): Comparing to Mages/other Sages, Aisha competes with Decel, Margaret, Mielikki, Neica, Peridot, and Soleil for this role, with Decel preferring a different role. Comparing to the rest, she can beat all her competitors in mobility by running Stealth, and she beats Margaret in speed and damage while losing to her in bulk (unless Aisha runs Physical Charge, in which case she wins), beats Mielikki in speed and damage while losing to her in bulk and cast speed, beats Neica in bulk but loses to her in speed and damage (and potentially cast speed depending on Neica's passive setup), beats Peridot outright (barring the case of Peridot running Move +1 or Jump +1 and Aisha not running Stealth, in which case Peridot wins in mobility), and beats Soleil outright. Factoring in the 1st 3 Gates of Enlightenment, Neica now loses to Aisha in damage if she chooses to beat Aisha in cast speed, and factoring in all 5 Gates of Enlightenment, her comparison to Mielikki remains the same.
  • DisruptoAssassin type Physical Damage-Dealer Hybrid (Shadow Assassin/Shadow Assassin [Darkness]): Comparing to Thieves/other Shadow Assassins, Aisha competes with Alma, Alphonse, Celliers, Decel, Eros, Peridot, and Spica for this role, with Alphonse, Decel, Eros, Peridot, and Spica preferring different roles. Comparing to the remaining competitors, Aisha beats Alma outright and beats Celliers in bulk and speed while losing to him in damage and mobility. Factoring in Enlightenment, Aisha's comparison to Alma remains the same (unless Alma maxes her Gate 5, in which case speed is now a tie).
Leader Skill:
+20% HP and +50% MAtk for Light units. This would be the best non-Enlightenment Leader Skill for Light magic teams if Cheryl didn't exist.
Aisha's 3 jobs are Magic Meister, Sage, and Shadow Assassin, with the Symphony JE for Magic Meister, the Obelisk JE for Sage, and the Darkness JE for Shadow Assassin.
Magic Meister is an MAtk-using physical Missile type damage-dealer job (even though Magic Meister's damage formula uses MAtk and Dex, all its skills deal physical category damage). It has a self-heal that also casts Quicken, a skill that places panels which deal damage to an enemy that steps on them, a self-based AoE damage skill that deals bonus damage to Machine type enemies and ignores a portion of the targets' PDef, an AoE damage skill that ignores a portion of the targets' PDef, a Light single-target 4-hit damage skill that ignores a portion of the target's PDef (and unlike the rest of the job's skills has a cast time), a skill that places panels which boost the PDef/MDef of allies who step on them, an MAtk/Dex self-buff, a single-target PAtk/Dex debuff, and a single-target damage skill that deals bonus damage to Airborne type enemies and ignores a portion of the target's PDef. Its reactive is a chance to reduce physical damage taken, and its passives boost HP/Dark Res and boost MAtk/Dex/agility every time the "user" defeats an enemy respectively. Magic Meister [Symphony] adds Auto-Heal to Assist Face, adds a new straight-line ranged damage skill that deals bonus damage to Airborne type enemies and ignores a portion of the target's PDef, adds an HP drain to Rei Flower, and changes the ally buff that Charity Cycle's panels give from PDef/MDef to Magic Res.
Sage is a basic full caster job. It has a self-based AoE damage skill, large AoE damage skills for Fire, Thunder, Water, and Wind, small AoE damage skills for Fire, Thunder, Water, and Wind, and an AoE Poison inflictor. Its reactive is a chance to perform a magic counter, and its passive boosts MAtk and hitrate. Sage [Obelisk] changes Elemental Burst to Fire element and boosts its damage, moves Mega Flame to the subskill to replace Cross Flare, and adds a new single-target Fire damage skill that deals bonus damage to Wind enemies.
Shadow Assassin is a disruptoassassin-type physical damage-dealer hybrid job. It has a straight-line ranged damage skill that inflicts Death Sentence, a melee Dark damage skill that ignores PDef when used from behind the target, a self-based AoE Dark damage skill that boosts the user's evasion, a very strong melee Dark damage skill that deals bonus damage to Human-type enemies, ignores PDef when used from behind the target, and boosts the user's agility, a straight-line ranged weak damage skill that inflicts Poison, a straight-line ranged weak damage skill that inflicts Blindness, a straight-line ranged weak damage skill that inflicts Paralysis, a straight-line ranged weak damage skill that inflicts Sleep, and a straight-line ranged weak damage skill that inflicts Charm. Its reactive is a chance to boost CT when attacked, and its passive boosts Move and Jump. Shadow Assassin [Darkness] adds a new single-target ranged damage skill that removes buffs from the target, and changes Assassin Blade - Paralyze into a teleport/self-based AoE weak damage skill that inflicts Paralysis.
Aisha's stats support a fast unit (somewhat slow on Sage JE) with average bulk (slightly squishy on Sage JE) and good damage. All stats are at the usual benchmark (level 75, all jobs mastered, main job enhanced). Table Key: PC = Physical Charge, MU2 = Magic Up +2
Stat Magic Meister [Symphony] Sage [Obelisk] Shadow Assassin [Darkness]
HP (NP) 2241 1745 2131
HP (PC) 2441 1901 2322
MAtk (NP) 478 621 245
MAtk (MU2) 529 686 270
PAtk 166 190 414
Agility 140 118 147
Dex 388 178 380
Aisha has the current maximum of 5 Gates of Enlightenment.
  • Her Gate 1 boosts HP, PAtk, MAtk, and agility while leveling, and boosts HP, MAtk, and Dex when maxed.
  • Her Gate 2 boosts PDef, MDef, Crit, and hitrate while leveling, and upgrades Magic Up +2 to +30% MAtk, +5% hitrate, and +10% HP (previous effect of +12% MAtk and +5% hitrate) when maxed.
  • Her Gate 3 boosts HP, Dex, agility, and evasion while leveling, and changes her Leader Skill to +20% HP, +20% MAtk, and +30% All damage for Light units.
  • Her Gate 4 boosts HP, PDef, MDef, and hitrate while leveling, and boosts HP, MAtk, Dex, damage vs. Greed type enemies, and damage vs. Sloth type enemies when maxed.
  • Her Gate 5 boosts HP, PDef, MDef, agility, and Crit while leveling, and boosts the damage and number of uses of Seti Bullet, boosts the damage, number of uses, and bonus damage against Wind enemies of Megiddo Flame, and boosts the range of Assassin Blade - Null while also causing it to temporarily lower the user's jewel costs.
Recommended Enlightenment: Due to the absolutely fantastic benefits of her Gates 2 and 3 and the good benefits of her Gate 5, Aisha's best Enlightenment setup is 5/5/5/5/5, with 5/5/5/4/5 being an alternative option if you want to save resources. EDIT: u/Xisceoiz pointed out that Cheryl and Mielikki also have quite good Gate 3 Leader Skills, which you may want to run over Aisha’s. So while IMO her absolute best setup is still 5/5/5/5/5, leaving her Gate 3 at level 3 is certainly a fine option.
Enlightenment Stats:
Aisha's Enlightenment helps patch up her bulk and speed on her Sage JE while boosting everything she was at least decent at into great-or-better levels. All stats assume level 95 with the recommended Enlightenment setup of 5/5/5/5/5. All other assumptions are the same as the regular stats section. Table Key Changes: MU2 -> MD = Mystical Dice
Stat Magic Meister [Symphony] Sage [Obelisk] Shadow Assassin [Darkness]
HP (NP) 4018 3480 3880
HP (PC) 4377 3791 4227
HP (MD) 4257 3688 4111
HP (MD + PC) 4616 3998 4458
MAtk (NP) 588 735 349
MAtk (MD) 743 928 442
PAtk 199 221 454
Agility 155 134 163
Dex 526 310 515
Example Builds:
Dealer of Doom
  • Main Job: Magic Meister [Symphony]
  • Sub Job: Magic Meister [Symphony] (Double Dip)/Sage [Obelisk] (magic damage)
  • Reactive: Pain Control
  • Passive 1: Magic Up +2 {Mystical Dice}
  • Passive 2: Physical Charge (survivability)/Clever Charge (snowball passive)/Stealth (mobility)
Aisha's Magic Meister build and her claim to fame. Sub can be Magic Meister for an equivalent to Charge Up/Sharpening Focus or Sage for some magic category damage, Pain Control is so good that her other reactives are basically useless by comparison, and Magic Up +2/Mystical Dice is basically mandatory for the damage. The last passive is a choice between Physical Charge for extra bulk, Clever Charge for the snowball effect, and Stealth for the extra mobility. Basic strategy is to hit enemies hard and use Double Dip for nuking Sage sub for magic damage depending on which you have. Don't forget to make use of Grace Face for the Quicken!
Magical Dealer
  • Main Job: Sage [Obelisk]
  • Sub Job: Magic Meister [Symphony] (Double Dip)/Sage [Obelisk] (more magic)
  • Reactive: Pain Control
  • Passive 1: Magic Up +2 {Mystical Dice}
  • Passive 2: Physical Charge (survivability)/Clever Charge (snowball passive)/Stealth (mobility)
Aisha's Sage build. Sub can be Magic Meister for Double Dip or Sage for some more magic AoEs, Pain Control is again an absolutely busted reactive, and passive selection is the same as the previous build for the same reasons. Basic strategy is to hit enemies hard with magic, making use of Double Dip to nuke if you have it.
Partner in Crime
  • Main Job: Shadow Assassin [Darkness]
  • Sub Job: Shadow Assassin [Darkness]
  • Reactive: Pain Control
  • Passive 1: Physical Charge (survivability)/Clever Charge (Dex + agility snowball)
  • Passive 2: Stealth
Aisha's Shadow Assassin build. Basically straight Shadow Assassin with the exception of Pain Control as the reactive (again, because her other reactives are basically useless by comparison) and either Physical Charge or Clever Charge in the empty passive slot (with Physical Charge being the better option). Basic strategy is to zip across the map and either disable or destroy a priority target.
My Preferred Build:
Dealer of Doom is easily Aisha's best build for a combination of damage, bulk, and speed. Her Sage build is also solid if you need a lot of magic, while her Shadow Assassin build is very niche.
Gear Recommendations:
Armor and Accessories: any HP or agility boosting gear, Magnus' Coat (very good HP gear for female Slothstein units, Initial Jewels) EDIT: u/Tousansanto pointed out that Magnus’ Coat can be equipped by all Slothstein units, not just female Slothstein units. I must’ve mixed it up with the WA requirements. Thanks for pointing it out!
Magic Meister [Symphony]: Melodius Tact (agility), Revolutionary Tact (solid Weapon Ability, good stats), Performance Baton (best overall stats, Aisha's VCR, good WA)
Sage [Obelisk]: Crimson Crystal Cane (agility, farmable during Crystal of Reunion collab), Green Rod of Wisdom (solid stats, healing WA), Harmony Rod (easily farmable), Helkovara Family Staff (agility, free VCR), Illusion Rod (farmable, agility), Nina's Pointing Stick (best overall stats, agility), Sanctuary Rod (solid stats, HP, decent WA), Sovereign Scepter (agility, farmable during Etrian Odyssey collab), Takemikazuchi (given via milestones)
Shadow Assassin [Darkness]: Tiger Kris (best overall stats, agility), Dirk of Projection (HP, agility)
Memento Recommendations:
Aisha's best Memento is her own, Enchanting Performance. It boosts her MAtk, Dex, PDef, HP, and Magic Res, with MDef and agility boosts at MLB.
Because she's a Slothstein unit, some other good options for Aisha are A Hopeful Future (HP), The Smoky Blues (PDef + HP, bigger HP boost than AHP), Enter, a Shining New Star! (agility + PAtk, a fairly poor choice for her Magic Meister and Sage jobs), and Clutching the Fading Silhouette (agility + Dex, a mediocre choice for her Sage job).
If you don't have any of those, go for the best HP, PAtk (Shadow Assassin only), MAtk (Magic Meister and Sage only), Dex (Magic Meister and Shadow Assassin only), or agility boost that you can get, prioritizing Slothstein Group Skills.
The only update Aisha has in JP that she doesn't have here is her Master Ability, which gives her +150 MAtk and +30% healing potency and boosts the number of uses she has for Prism Flower.
Which is a pretty good update.
Overall Asessment:
Aisha is a great unit. If you're looking for a strong Light magic user, she'll be an excellent addition to your toolbox.
And that's the review! As always, feedback is greatly appreciated!
Make sure to let me know which of the following units you want me to review next:
Alma (will likely remove Light temporarily if she's picked), Deneb (will likely remove Thunder temporarily if she's picked), Don Taras (will likely remove Fire temporarily if he's picked), Mikasa (will likely remove Water temporarily if she's picked), Uzuma
Or choose one of the revisit options below!
Flamel, Mei Fang, Spica
submitted by Cobalt_721 to AlchemistCodeGL [link] [comments]

A post mortem of Britney Jean, 5 years later

“I can't believe this is my eighth studio album and I know I keep telling you that it is my most personal record yet, but its true and I'm really proud of that”
This quote from The Legendary Miss Britney Spears would most likely haunt her for the rest of the career, especially because it came in the eve of the release of her infamous 2013 album Britney Jean, whose title anticipated a rare introspective look into a star with over a decade on the spotlight (most of the times for the wrong reasons)… also, it came right after her previous album, 2011’s Femme Fatale, became her first full-length effort without any songwriting input from the Princess of Pop, although a Japanese bonus track features a co-writing credit from her.
Of course Britney Jean deserves most of the criticism it receives and yet, it also deserves way more than just being outright ignored even by most of Britney’s diehard fans: Britney Jean is more than just Work Bitch and 13 b-sides, is more than Brit’s most dated-on-arrival release… Britney Jean is a case study of what was pop in its time, what changed and why it stopped being as popular as it once was….


Early 00s pop music was being left aside by the general public during the heydays of gangsta rap, Timbaland/Pharrell-infused R&B and rock/nu-metal… at least until around the period between 2007 and 2009, the start of the Golden Era for popheads: The anthemic choruses, the prominent synths, the light and care-free nature of the lyrics, everything was there to pump you up and make you dance… however everything would change in 2013, when streaming was finally introduced to the Billboard formula. After the satirical K-pop track Gangnam Style by Psy took the world by storm, it was noticed how in the United States the song was blocked from the top spot by the inconsequential One More Night by Maroon 5, even if Style had the lead in sales for most of the 12 weeks it stayed at the Top 10 (as you might have guessed, radio had something to do with that), pushing Billboard to update their methodology and add streaming to the mix.
The first song that benefited from the change in the tracking methodology would prophetize what would come next for the charts in general: Harlem Shake, a nearly-instrumental meme song debuted at the top spot and stayed there for 6 weeks total. Another novelty song, Ylvis’ The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) would visit the Top 10 later in the year based on virality alone.
Although rap, indie music and more traditional pop music found their way during this year, the presence of outliers like Lorde’s Royals, genre-defying tracks like Avicii’s Wake Me Up! (a country/folk tinted EDM anthem) and Florida Georgia Lane’s Cruise (considered the grandfather of the bro-country genre, made popular on pop radio thanks to a tackled-on rap feature by Nelly), and the aforementioned viral hits not only showed that general audiences were craving something new, but their success would pave the way for a big change in pop music.


"Sometimes you don't need to use words to go through what you need to go through, sometimes it's an emotion you need to feel when you dance, that you need to touch. And the only thing that can touch it is when you move a certain way."
Britney Spears on the For The Record documentary, one of the rare glimpses she gave us on her life before Britney Jean
Britney, of course, was partially a pioneer and a tail-rider of the maximalistic electro sound of the era, as proven by the influence and cult following of what most people consider her magnum opus, or at least her more direct and honest album, 2007’s Blackout, which is ironic considering that Britney only has two writing credits in the whole project and how even The Unstoppable Danja called it ‘impersonal’.
After Blackout, Britney would continue to ride the same sonic palette with her follow-up, 2008’s Circus and then move onto Femme Fatale, which, in spite of its “forward-thinking” nature (as described by the label-appointed producer and current persona non grata Dr. Luke) and slick production, it was heavily criticized for its anonymity and lack of input of the singer in the record, which led to Britney to defend herself stating, rightfully, that she had nothing to prove.


The mastermind behind Britney Jean was none other than hitmaker, whose involvement on the record came as a surprise to no one given how they have collaborated twice at that point and get along really well (you can read more about it in this post I made a couple of months ago), however, the Black Eyed Peas frontman doesn’t deserves all of the credit for the record as Britney herself decided that she would be more involved and had a pivotal role into the making of this record.
Although the early stages of the album pointed towards a more hip-hop release,’s involvement and her chemistry with Britney put her forward into the recording and making of the album.
Realizing that she wanted a more straightforward release that wasn’t as bouncy and genre-hopping as her predecessors, Britney searched with a series of collaborators that could help her bring her ideas to life, as she didn’t wanted to sing impersonal songs that her team just happened to receive; this, unfortunately, ruled out the involvement of the Saint Patron of pop production Max Martin, although it relegated Dr. Luke to a sole bonus track so that’s a win in my book. Britney Jean is her only release in which she’s credited as a co-writer in each track, including bonus tracks… her closest before that was In The Zone in which 9 of the 14 (including bonus) tracks sported a Britney co-write.


I have been through a lot in the past few years and it has really inspired me to dig deeper and write songs that I think everyone can relate to […] I want to show you the different sides of Britney Spears.
I am a performer.
I am a Mom.
I am funny.
I am your friend!
I am Britney Jean.
Britney Jean Spears
Britney has never been the kind of performer that would pour her soul into her lyrics, and even have occasionally distanced her private life from her lyrics (she famously rejected the Timberlake-bashing Sweet Dreams My LA Ex, later given to ex-S Club 7 member Rachel Stevens as her debut single), although in the few glimpses we have gotten from her real persona (the stunning Everytime and the dubious My Baby for example) have always leaved her fans with the idea of her getting more involved with the subject matter of the tracks… I mean, the exploration of fame in tracks like Circus and Piece of Me are great, but what about explorations of who is Britney?
Britney Jean is her first album released in her 30s, and after finally deciding to get this involved in the songwriting department 15 years into her singing career was no fluke: chalk it up to coincidence, to the fact that it was long due given her background (Britney had lived A LOT of unwanted stuff during her career, married twice, had two kids, survived the most public mental breakdown unimaginable and more while being one of the most successful female performers currently working… also, that year she had ended her engagement with her manager Jason Trawick) or to misogyny (if you wanna go there) but female singers seems to go personal and/or mature in their 30s, with some popular examples including Madonna’s Like A Prayer (described by her as being "about my mother, my father, and bonds with my family"), Mariah Carey’s post-divorce genre-bender Butterfly (if her birth year is believed to be 1969), Beyoncé’s whole post-Matthew Knowles era (4 was released three months before she turned 30), Nicki Minaj’s back-to-my-roots release The Pinkprint and Katy Perry’s purposeful woke pop release Witness (Katy, I love you but 💀) among others.
Another thing to consider is that doing “personal” songs have always being interpreted as tracks with stripped-away or piano-driven arrangement, something that Britney, who had sung about being on the club or having sex (or even both on the same track) so many times it kinda become her trademark, is not something she’s might get allowed to do, especially when the current-at-the-time pop scene and Britney’s then-current sound were a far cry from the kind of sound these “confessional” tell-all songs normally have.


(this was a real hashtag that was worldwide trending topic on Twitter in September 2013)
With the anticipation of what a Britney-fied personal record would sound like, anticipation was in an all-time high among fans… so it was natural that her most introspective record would be anchored with an EDM song called Work Bitch. In Britney’s defense, pointed out almost immediately how the braggadocio track didn’t represented the album but it was rather about Britney Spears herself.
Promoted with what was heavily rumored to be a 6.5-million-dollars budgeted video which was supposedly heavily sanitized from its originally sexed-up original version (more on that later), the video itself represented most of the promotion the whole album received, as the album’s second and final single (Perfume) was left to rot in negligence after the album’s release.
Outside of a couple of TV appearances (not performances, just interviews), including one to promote her then-upcoming “2-year” Las Vegas residency Britney Spears: Piece of Me, and an E! documentary about the making-of the album and said residency, no actual promotion took place for Britney Jean, which led to the inevitable.


Britney Jean was unleashed to the world on December 3rd of 2013, one day after the Princess’ birthday, and was a big commercial disappointment, debuting at number 4 on Billboard with sales of 107,000 copies (a little bit more than a third of the sales of Femme Fatale), even lower than those of her debut album …Baby One More Time; 3 years after its release, BJ had sold less in the United States than FF in its opening week, although it was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA… this February. Internationally, the release didn’t fare any better and debuted at record-low positions for her releases in most international markets, including missing the Top 30 in the UK.
As most of you already know, reviews we’re nasty all around, the worst of Britney’s career. Because of the somewhat mean content of some of those reviews, I would instead resume what are the biggest perks critics had with the release:


After one of the songs leaked ahead of the album’s release, there were accusations that backing vocalist Myah Marie (who had appeared on Brit’s previous two albums) was the lead singer not only on said leaked track but also in a large portion of the album (this is what she sounds like), accusations that Marie herself denied as well as Britney’s reps.
Her representatives claimed that Marie wasn’t involved in neither Perfume nor Passenger, the tracks that were the source of most of the controversy, and ultimately she wasn’t credited in none of those songs, although she’s credited as a (not background) vocalist in several of the other tracks of the album (mostly the Preston-produced songs as Work Bitch, Tik Tik Boom, Til It's Gone, Chillin' With You and Now That I Found You), including Alien (in which she’s not credited), who had a vocal steam leak in 2014 which showcases how uncanny is Myah’s impression of Britney is. A credited background singer is Sia in her co-composed single Perfume, which was the source of a weird misstep when Britney was caught lip-syncing to a version of the song with Sia’s vocals forefront in the mix.
A lot has been said about how Britney’s signature singing ‘baby’ voice is not her real one, how do they compare and how much damage has done to Brit’s current vocal chops, and even though she can still sing wherever she wants to, it’s quite obvious that she’s not that comfortable with it and, as such, she prefers to enhance her voice with the use of technology and some studio trickery… also, she might have gotten used to it considering how effortless and vivid were her earlier performances… here’s I’m A Slave 4 U at the 2001 VMAs just because how iconic it is.


"People can take everything away from you, but they can never take away your truth.
The question is: Can you handle mine?"
Britney Spears in a song that’s not from this album and not originally from her
Described by critics as “a concept album about the loneliness of pop life”, Britney Jean actually open with quite a promise with Alien, a mid-tempo, melancholic, airy, ethereal dance pop opener that works as a more teenage-sounding version of Ray of Light, which is not surprising considering the involvement of said album’s mastermind (the aforementioned William Orbit) and that sonically picks-up where FF closer Criminal left off, but lyrically is quite different, as it portrays Britney having an intimate and personal realization that she, after years of tumultuous and erratic events, has lost grip of who she was and how she felt like an extraterrestrial in her own world; however she realizes that she’s not longer alone as she looks at the glow in the stars as a light to guide her home away from her insecurities of the past, and to feel safe and finally finding comfort in her true skin, as the chorus repeats the catchphrase ‘not alone’ “until it is pitchshifted up like a departing space ship
Originally intended to include Gaga in the song (and also supposed to be released as a single, which unfortunately didn’t happened), Alien was considered the conceptual and musical highlight of the project by critics, and is easily the most personal, vulnerable and my personal highlight of the project… which made everything that came afterward a hard pill to swallow. Before that, I can’t help to mention THE GLITCH (2:14 in the song), which was apparently, as everything wrong with music of the period,’s fault.

Work Bitch (alternatively known in censored form as Work Work, or in the explicit version as Bitch Bitch) is a hard hitting EDM smasher and heavy mood-whiplash, which was definitely not co-written by Sebastian Ingrosso, in which Britney gently asks us (over a basic club beat which grows more overloaded as the song moves forward) is we want a hot body, an European luxury car (either a Bugatti, a Maserati or a Lambo skirrt skirrt skirrt) or to sip martinis while partying in a big mansion in France, only to disappoint us by calling us bitches and telling us to better work as if we were supermodels and she was RuPaul.
WB is, if you wanna practice some mental gymnastics, more ‘personal’ than its given credit for, as Britney details how much benefits she gets from hustling all these years, and inviting us to dance with that smashing wall-of-sound-laden beat that drowns most of the track. Way more forward-thinking and exciting that everything that comes after it, WB has become somewhat of a new classic for the Princess of Pop, and is pretty much deserved of said designation.
Perfume, co-written by Sia, is another album highlight (actually Britney’s favorite from the album) and one of the finest ballads of Brit’s late-catalogue. Written about her ex-fiancé Jason Trawick, the song deals with Britney’s insecurity about a current relationship, with Britney singing with some of her strongest vocals in years about how she believes that her partner is cheating on her and how she puts on her perfume in order to mark her territory. Released with a tie-in with her perfume Fantasy, the song kinda flopped worldwide and halted all of the promotion of the album, however it still remains (alongside the rawer Dreaming Mix, included as a bonus track) as one of the most interesting songs in 2010s Britney catalogue.
The music video, directed by known troll and middling talented videomaker Joseph Khan, has an unreleased director’s cut in which the straightforward concept of a cheating partner is changed to that of Britney playing the Angelina Jolie role in a gone-wrong version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith sans the boyfriend who is also an assassin.
It Should Be Easy finds Britney’s voice drown in both the auto-tune setting used by Kanye for the Runaway coda and the vocals of guest-star in the chorus, all while produceco-writer David Guetta rehashes Swedish House Mafia (which originally broke up the same year in which BJ was released). The song, about Britney imagining a bright-normal-future with a man who had stolen her heart, stating that love “shouldn't be complicated”. Although I like this song, and her team obviously likes it to as it commissioned remixes to be serviced to clubs, it signals when things start to go somewhat downhill.
Tik Tik Boom, the T.I.-assisted fifth track, was always dubbed as a potential third single (remixes were commissioned but nothing official ever came up), and it’s not hard to see why: as one of her rare collaborations with a rapper, the static-y, dance-floor ready production presents Britney teasing a male partner with a night of… well… tik tik boom… that means sex, doing so while serving some circa-2001 sexy vocals as T.I. raps about treating her like an animal up to the point that PETA (which hates Britney) should be called in response. It’s fast, it’s straightforward and yet, it’s kinda forgettable and also very disappointing coming from or Princess Urbanney.
Guetta comes back with Body Ache, another outdated EDM bop in which Brit (accompanied by vocoder and several dozens of vocal distortion treatments) sings about the kind of ‘I wanna dance so hard it gonna turn you on’ anthem which Miss Spears can do on her sleep, with a backtrack that sounds straight out of the EDM was doing with the Peas during the Beginning/E.N.D. era. Also it ends in a somewhat anticlimactic way.
Personal Britney makes a return with this track that wouldn’t be too out of place in FF: The Guetta co-written Til It’s Gone, in which Brit realizes that, after losing the love of her life (Trawick), her life would never be the same, or how “you never know what you got 'til it's gone”. Coming some two years to late sonically, in terms of lyrics the track it’s another story, as some interesting imagery pops here and there and it’s nice to leave the dance floor behind, especially when talking about a woman who (at least in the previous albums) rarely shut up about them.
Katy Perry arrives on the record but not as a feature, but as a writer, in the Diplo-produced, Sia-co-written and Prism outtake Passenger, in which some interesting EDM beats moves out of the way after the opening (they come back, don’t worry) to reveal a refreshing and very welcome electropop rock song with some great Britney vocals about letting someone to guide her after she’s willing to let herself be his ‘passenger’. Great lyrics, daring production, good vocal performance… it’s not hard to see why critics loved this track so much, and it’s a shame it gets buried among so much underwhelming stuff.

Chillin’ with You, the album’s most infamous moment, finds Britney dueting with her sister, ex-Nickelodeon star and attempted country singer Zoey Meredith Brooks, about hanging out together and drinking wine (Brit likes red, Chase Matthews' ex likes white wine) while, as the southern white suburban moms they are, they feel they have nothing else to worry about. Although the lyrics are… well… cute, and the subject matter is decidedly novel by Britney’s standards, the mixture of country and EDM doesn’t mash as well as the producers might had expected… also, the fact that their vocals were so obviously recorded in different sessions (as showed by the kind of chemistry you only see in cheesy 70s movies starring John Travolta and Lily Tomlin) makes the whole ordeal so surreal.
The album closer in the standard edition is Don’t Cry, a FUCK YOU MR. TRAWICK song in which Britney reassures his man that it’s not worthy to cry as their relationship was always directed to end no matter what they do, and how she’s gonna go to not see him all tear eyed. The bouncy but subdued dubstep back track by pop goblin and producer enhances what is arguably Britney’s best vocals in the whole album and some really nice lyrics which still doesn’t work as an album closer.
Sia comes back in the first bonus track of the deluxe edition, Brightest Morning Star, and she brings with her current pop Pariah (that would be Dr. Luke, but he’s only in this track) to the mix, on a track about God (or maybe about her kids, according to Dr. Puke), or at least one that implies to be one; in Sia’s words: ‘Britney was extremely sweet. She came in with the title ‘Brightest Morning Star’ and told me that’s how Jesus found his way. She wanted to write a kind of gospel song that wasn’t ramming it down your throat’. Despite the good intentions, BGS is no Jesus Walks and it gets short in the musical department, with a surprisingly weak instrumental which doesn’t do any good service to the song.
Britney continues her religious quest with Hold on Tight, a mid-tempo ballad that in which Miss Spears details how God comes into her dreams (or it might be an Incubus?) showing her the path to righteousness, even when the road is not as friendly with her, and… to be honest, this is my least favorite song on the album, it’s just so forgettable even if it’s quite refreshing in the context of BJ.
To end the evening, Britney continues her unintentional audition to become a gospel singer with Now That I Found You, a shameless EDM track (with early-10s euphoric drop and everything) about how incomplete she was until she found Him (to be honest, this could also be another love song, but after two bonus tracks about God it’s easy to see where she was pointing towards with the vague lyrics) and how everything is better now. Unlike the forgettable predecessors, NTIFY is fun (dated? Sure… but also fun), it’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s happy, and one of my favorite songs on the record… even if co-writer Guetta basically ripped off his own hit Without You from 3 years before.


Britney Jean is not an autobiography, it’s not a tell-all gossip-venting machine, it’s a clean, overproduced product of misdirection and lack of focus… and yet it’s actually fascinating in several ways: it’s arguably the greatest resume you would find of how pop music sounded in between 2008 and 2013, it’s a great bridge between the impersonal heavily-polished Femme Fatale and the serviceable and engaging Glory, which saw Britney leading the way on how everything would sound from the start.
It’s quite ironic how the album’s naming (taking a cue from Janet Jackson’s Damita Jo, her actual middle name) plays against it, as self-titled releases (unless they are debut albums) are associated with being in control of your output or reinventions (pop examples includes Paramore as their first release as a trio, Beyoncé to fit the minimalistic sounds and Janet Jackson’s janet. to showcase independence from the Jackson family) and unless you’re Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel or Weezer, the idea of having a second eponymous release usually means that audiences should expect to experience the performer in a never-seen before way. 2001’s Britney was the album that give a meaning to the phrase “I’m not that innocent” spurred in her previous effort, with lyrics talking about womanhood and sexuality being complemented with R&B vibes and rock/hip-hop elements. Britney Jean, when compared to Femme Fatale, is way behind the difference between Britney and Oops!... I Did It Again, which in retrospective is even worse as the relative freshness and reinvention of Glory leaves the ‘openness’ and ‘variety’ of BJ in shambles.
One of the album’s biggest mistakes is in its sequencing: the first three tracks are the obvious highlights, the next three are basically DOA EDM songs, the next four are the most “adventurous” musically speaking and the bonus tracks are all about God. Taking out some of the ‘pure club’ anthems could theoretically create an album more deserving of its ‘personal’ label, going full Spinal Tap and amp up the production values to do something crazier might have given us something that was at least digestible in a single listening.
The album, as it is, is not perfect, but it’s far from the dumpster fire more people called it, including some of the most interesting Britney songwriting in years (or even her career) and some tracks that are already started to show signs of cult classic. The only positive thing most people seems to agree with is how short it is: with the alternative mix of Perfume included, BJ is ‘only’ 50 minutes long (the standard edition is just 36 minutes long), which is something most performers (even today) seems to struggle with.
Also, she didn’t came to play games with the art cover and aesthetics this era, the album cover and the booklet is her most gorgeous to date, with the former having her most flattering front picture of any of her albums and the neon typography creating a very pleasing contrast with her elegant black-and-white imagery (in the deluxe edition) or the elegantly, milky pastel coloring of the standard edition.


Britney and her team gave up quite easily on Britney Jean and, honestly, they shouldn’t be blamed: the offer to have a Vegas Residency with a salary of $15 million dollars per year seems like the kind of offer a pop star and mother of two with enough money already for several timelines would accept, with the album itself being more of an afterthought.
Britney was originally slated to remain on the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino for two years but ultimately extended her run for another two years, before finally touring overseas (without an album attached to the performances) during 2017 and 2018.
Because of the lack of promotion, Britney Jean underperformed when compared to Miss Spears’ previous releases, with estimated worldwide sales (as of April 2018) being close to 1.3 million copies, less than a third of Femme Fatale’s sales.
Truth be told, BJ flopped hard… HOWEVER, not everything would have turned out that terrible (not even in a million years it would have sold as much a FF but at least the downfall could have been smaller) with some actual promotion and interest from Brit herself.


BJ is, in my opinion, a compilation of the era, the resume of “in the previous episode of” that you get on serialized TV shows, a farewell to the bombastic era of synth-heavy EDM club anthems with gratuitous drops and interchangeable lyrics. During the genre’s opus, some performers tried to bend this sound (and their equivalents) to their benefit, either mixing it with their style or playing with the boundaries of the sound: it could be a Taylor Swift doing a We Are Never Getting Back Together to get a broad crossover hit, a Lady Gaga mixing multiple genres to create a sonically complex pastiche called Born This Way, or even straight-up jumping almost seamlessly from rap/R&B to club bangers like Nicki Minaj did in Roman Reloaded. Britney in Britney Jean did almost the opposite of that.
Britney Jean is, in some ways, a time capsule of the era in its rawest and purest form (some might differ and replace those buzzwords with generic and bland), with the average user being able to trace mostly any track to a style, influence, sub-genre or even performer. Listening to BJ is like watching a 70s movie in VHS in an old, square TV, basically an unintentional period piece that reflects the volatile, bombastic and extravagant style of those golden years of 2008-2013, which, within the mindset of Britney Jean sounds kinda tired and bland, surprising no one when that branch of pop went back into obscurity and irrelevance almost as fast as grunge music did when Kurt Cobain died.
Britney Jean came up in a time of transition of popular music, with streaming showing the kind of power it had on the charts and more subdued, minimalistic music taking the world by storm. Popular music, as you might already noticed, evolved into a slower, more melodic, calculated, numb, almost anticlimatic entity which was more fitting with our current social and political climate. To paraphrase Todd in the Shadows: 2013 had a hit literally called Happy and 2018 had both a hit called SAD! and another called Happier with a video about a dog that dies.
In terms of Britneyology (both the study of Britney Spears and the religion dedicated to her persona), BJ is also a glimpse into Britney the full-fledged artist. Britney has never been the kind of performer that gets heavily involved into her music, with Britney’s role being generally limited to the choice of songs, sequencing, development of sounds and themes with her assigned team of writers and producers, and performing of course; sometimes Britney gets involved into the heavier portions of her music (the classic Everytime is a great example of it) but most of the time she remains quite anonymous, with her voice and choice being overwritten by the men on charge, something that became quite apparent during and after the Dark Ages (2004-2008) with the cancelling of the legendary Original Doll, her lack of songwriting credits in both Blackout and Circus, and her much-criticized anonymity in Femme Fatale.
BJ was Britney deciding who does want to work with, what does she wants to sing and even how to equilibrate her musical and visual persona. Britney has always being in control of how is she portrayed on official media, most famously rejecting an animated concept for the video of …Baby One More Time in favor of a Lolita-inspired take on catholic school girls, and then the slow process from jailbait to grownup woman. During the post-production of the Work Bitch video, she clashed with director Ben Mor over the kind of content the video should show, as she was a mother in her 30s now instead of an unreachable male gaze fantasy.
With BJ, the Legendary Miss Britney Spears showed us how much she has changed since that controversial 2003/2004 period (the last time she was that involved with an album) in which she received the Kiss of Death from Madonna, suffered her infamous accident and, of course, married twice in a calendar year. This new Britney was a much-different person, and her voice deserved to be heard, and even if the results weren’t the greatest, it was a step into the right director for Britney to get what she always wanted: being a full-fledged artist capable of taking her own decisions and learning from her mistakes.

Coincidentally in 2014 most of the ambassadors of the dominant pop sound of the early 10s were either taking a musical break, flopping or changing lanes, so that year paved the way for the transition of what do we define as popular music, with the winners of the evolution race being trap (Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen), meme music from awful people (Bobby Shmurda’s Hot Nathans) or untalented losers (T-Wayne’s Nasty Freestyle, Silentó’s Watch Me), trop pop (OMI’s Cheerleader, Justin Bieber’s entire Purpose era) or whatever outlier track dared to pass through those filters.
What happened afterwards is a horror story most of popheads tells in fire camps a la Are You Afraid of the Dark?


Glory , the follow-up Britney Jean, received very positives reviews and was considered a strong return-to-form for Britney, and even if it wasn’t as successful as her label might have wanted, the truth is that, at the end of the day, whatever Britney decides to do next (and considering the direction she seems to be taking) it can be as underwhelming as Britney Jean.
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The Pirate Skiff Comes Ashore (Jonah Goldberg's G-File)

Dear Reader (especially those of you who stayed with me in the wilderness lo, these last five months),
This is the last G-File [pause for dramatic effect]…of this era of professional limbo I’ve been in. By this time next week, this “news”letter will be a product of [Name Redacted]. Before I continue, let me just say thank you to the tens of thousands of you who signed up for this thing when I left National Review to start this endeavor with Steve Hayes and Toby Stock (Toby’s the suit, so it’s okay if you haven’t heard of him).
They’re both super guys, but they’re Midwesterners, and I find some of that stuff rubbing off on me. For example, prior to spending so much time with Hayes, I don’t think I used “super” as an adjective—outside of conversations about comic books or physics or quoting Fargo (“you’re a super lady”)—more than a couple times a year since I was a kid. Now I find myself using it to describe good meals, smart people, nice days, etc. There are other signs as well. I feel more shame about cursing, and I feel a strange, salmon-like urge to find a good Kroger when shopping for food. They’re super, don’t you know? And so is ranch dressing, which I’ve discovered is good on everything.
The Audacity of Ope
Speaking of Midwestern stuff, I’ve always had a soft spot for Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson. A Tea Party guy back before the grifters and scammers got into it like so many ants in the Jell-O salad at a Wauwatosa fish fry, he came to Washington to bring the commonsense Midwestern values of a churchgoing businessman to Washington. He sincerely believed we need to live within our means, defend the Constitution and—apparently—hector and cajole the Chinese Communist Party to target the president’s domestic political opponents.
That was an ope moment for me.
Some Turds Will Never Sparkle
So let’s just say it: What Trump did yesterday was, simply, indefensible. It is indefensible from any angle and any distance. As Steve Hayes might say at a Racine’s Best Kringle Contest, “Where to begin?”
China doesn’t have due process, the rule of law, or human rights as we understand them. People are executed, put in prison, put in camps, and put in prison camps for political infractions or simply practicing the wrong faith. It would be outrageous if Trump publicly called for the United Kingdom or Holland to investigate one of his political opponents without going through proper channels, but at least those countries have legal systems where we can have some faith in the justice of the outcome. But China? China!?
Moreover, the United States and China are in the middle of intense trade negotiations, and the president cavalierly throws out the fact that there’s something else he wants from the Chinese. He doesn’t have to say quid pro quo. The whole context is shot through with quid-pro-quo-y-ness (quid-pro-quosity?).
It is particularly gobsmacking in the context of the relentless push from the MAGA nationalists who’ve been determined to make China our new existential foe for the 21st century. This conflicts with their core mission of perpetual turd-polishing. So, the new nationalists cry: “The Chinese are evil!” “The Chinese are our enemy!” “The Chinese are a corrupt technocratic kakocracy!” But also: “Thank you president Trump for asking the Chinese to get the truth about Joe Biden!”
This is not nationalism. This is Trumpism, where the needs of the nation and the state are subsumed into the president’s personal desires. Nationalists don’t wear T-shirts that read “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat” and they don’t exhort foreign tyrants to do their dirty work against domestic political opponents.
I wonder if when you get your America First membership card, buried deep in the user agreement is the language that specifies Except when the President’s political foes can best be taken out by the ChiComs.
It’s also politically indefensible. First of all, all of the people who tried valiantly—and unpersuasively—to defend Trump’s “Russia, if you’re listening” line as merely a joke are left standing three feet off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote before he starts to plummet. He certainly wasn’t joking yesterday. He wasn’t joking when he told George Stephanopoulos that he saw no problem taking foreign opposition research. He wasn’t joking when he asked for that “favor” from Zelensky.
But let’s say you just don’t care about any of the high-minded stuff or the hypocrisy. You just want Trump to keep “winning.” But will his agenda—whatever that is—be advanced? Infrastructure week, long the “Free Beer Tomorrow” of American politics, is now the political equivalent pie in the sky. Does this expand Trump’s coalition? Does it make it more or less likely he’s impeached?
“Aha! Right!” you might respond. That’s his genius. He’s making the Democrats impeach him and the constant whining and moral outrage against impeachment is a ruse. After all, if you’ve been watching, reading, or listening to the usual suspects, impeachment will be good for Trump and the GOP and a “disaster” for the Democrats.
“Trolling” has evolved—or, rather, devolved—as an internet term over the last few years. But not long ago, there was a common phrase called “concern-trolling.” It means to pretend to be very worried about the well-being of your political opponents. It was once a staple of the Washington Post op-ed page. “I want two vibrant and healthy parties,” some liberal columnist might write, “and that’s why I am worried that the GOP’s pro-life position will cripple it in the long run.”
These days, it is amazing how many of my friends on the right are suddenly very, very, concerned about what the Democrats are doing to themselves. It’s almost like they’re reassuring the audience that this storyline will end well.
That doesn’t mean they’re wrong. This could blow up in the Democrats’ faces. But most of right-wing media these days seems really eager to talk about pretty much anything other than what Trump has said or done.
The Whistleblower Doesn’t Matter Anymore
And there’s perhaps no one they want to talk about more than the Whistleblower, except for Adam Schiff, who, let the record show, is a dishonest and partisan hack whose only impressive quality is his ability to mask his hackery in the dulcet and somber tones of concern-trollery.
I keep seeing clips of right-wingers from shows I don’t watch ranting about the Whistleblower as if the case against Trump still hinges on that person’s motivations and credibility.
The really unhinged folks call him or her a deep state operative, spy, saboteur, etc. The calmer folks say the Whistleblower is a “leaker.” All of these terms are wrong, if the facts as reported are true (admittedly a potentially big if). Even if she/he approached Schiff’s staff to ask for guidance, that doesn’t make him/her a liar—it does make Schiff a liar, but we knew that.
At some point, we need to hear directly from the whistleblower. But the inconvenient fact is that most of the allegations in the report have already been corroborated. Trump says, "This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers.” His insistence on this point would make me suspect it’s not an exact transcript—even if it didn’t say in the document that this “is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.”
But if you take Trump at his word, that it is a verbatim transcript, then the need to confront the whistleblower—never mind roll out the electric chair for the traitor—unravels considerably.
The transcript supports three out of four of the whistleblowers allegations: Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden, Trump asked for Zelensky’s help to investigate the fantastical—and Putin helpful—tale of the missing server in Ukraine, and Trump wanted Zelensky to work with Giuliani, as the whistleblower alleged. And this leaves out all of the things Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump have confessed to by now.
The reason they want the whistleblower exposed is pretty obvious: Trump and his defenders are weakest when they have to defend Trump’s behavior or some principle (see my column today). They are most effective when they can destroy someone else. That’s what Trump enjoys and that’s what more and more of his fans enjoy too. The cruelty is the sauce.
The New Reformers!
Oh, and spare me the “We need to know what happened in 2016” stuff. I have no problem with the Durham investigation. And before I jump on the anti-Bill Barr bandwagon, I want to know more about what he actually did, rather than the spin that’s being put on it. But this is not the way you launch a proper investigation. This is not the way you talk about a proper investigation. This is the way you float a trial balloon to a fairly hostile foreign government that sees everything through a transactional prism: “Please ratf*ck my opponent, I’ll make it worth your while.”
Seriously, all I ask is that people stop working from the assumption that we’re all idiots. You’ve got clowns going on cable news nightly pretending that Trump was constitutionally and legally obligated to raise the Biden case with the Ukrainian president. Seriously, I heard one guy suggest that if he hadn’t importuned Zelensky to investigate Biden, that would be impeachable. For God’s sake, just shhh.
In the past, when I would point out that Donald J. Trump (First of His Name, Chancellor of Trump University, Regent of the Taj Mahal Casino, Ponzi Czar of the Trump Network, Admitted Lord of the Swamp, Heroic Victor of the Eminent Domain Wars, Overseer of the Trump Foundation [discontinued], Master of the Strategic Bankruptcy and Defender of the Money-Laundering Oligarchs, Servant of the Saudis and Exposer of JFK’s True Murderer) was a shady guy, his defenders would say that’s what they liked about him; he knew how the swamp worked and he would use that knowledge to Make America Great Again. And now the same people are appalled at the suggestion that he isn’t a passionate enemy of corruption everywhere?
*About The Other Side *
My friend Tim Alberta tweeted:
Barack Obama stands in front of the White House. With the entire world watching, he declares, “China should start an investigation into the Romneys.” Republicans wouldn’t just call for impeachment. They would call for charges of treason.”
To which a fellow who goes by the name “Orange Muppet Energy” replied:
And the blue checkmark flying journo squad would be explaining how it's actually entirely reasonable while two months later insisting that the tan suit was his only scandal. Just as they did with every other scandal. Everyone involved is sh*t.
I largely agree with both tweets, even if I think the second is too exonerating of Trump. The scenario with Obama is a hypothetical, while Trump’s behavior actually happened. The probably accurate suspicion that the media and the Democrats would behave as badly—or just almost as badly—as many Republicans and media conservatives are behaving now isn’t an excuse. But it is part of an explanation. It took a long time to get us here, and pretty much everyone deserves some portion of blame (including me).
I’ll write more about that another time, but suffice it to say, I’m dedicating a big chunk of the rest of my life to trying to do something about it.
Stay tuned.
Various & Sundry
Canine Update: The girls are doing great. They were very happy to see us when we got home last Sunday, but truth be told they were happier to see the Fair Jessica. This confuses some people because they see so many of my videos walking the beasts, scritching the beasts, giving the beasts treats, etc. But this is a nice case study in how media can distort things by giving less than the whole picture. My wife works mostly from home, and so she spends a lot more time with the doggers. She takes them on the truly epic adventures on the weekends. She also feeds them most of their meals—though I do my share. The problem is that she doesn’t record them. I’m open to the idea this is a failing on her part, but one of the reasons the dog videos are so much fun is that dogs don’t care about celebrity. They do care about lost balls, though. Stick-ups are a concern as well.
Anyway, Zoë and Pippa seem to be enjoy each other’s company more than ever. There was a time when this schnozzle-tush smash-up could have resulted in a fight. Zoë continues to let Pip chase her in ways she never did before. Some people were concerned that Zoë started to play too rough in this video, and it’s true, she did. Zoë’s a bit like the Hulk. In Bruce Banner mode, she can have lots of fun. But if she gets too excited, she starts to turn metaphorically green and goes into “smash”—or, in this case, “chomp”—mode. Pippa seems to understand that the best way to respond to this is to basically play dead on her back.
Oh, one last thing. Someone insulted Pippa on Twitter and I responded with a fairly juvenile retort. That’s not important. What I really liked was the way folks rallied to her defense. Some of the replies are awesome.
submitted by Sir-Matilda to tuesday [link] [comments]

Is a shooter without a ridiculous number of enemies even possible? (Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite, Uncharted)

These movies are hailed (and often parodied) as over-the-top action movies. Yet every shooter game blows these numbers out of the water. Uncharted (which pays homage to Indiana Jones) asks you to kill hundreds of enemies in each game, as does every other FPS, because that's how shooter games have always worked since the days of DOOM.
Recently there have been some articles about the conflicted narratives created by first-person shooters like Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite that supposedly explore deep themes but tell them in the standard FPS form.
This article has a link to many other discussions.
I saw a comment in a review of Bioshock Infinite that defended the game's violence because its purpose is to show the player that "Booker is not a good person; he's a violent man with a violent past."
That seems like a silly rationalization. Infinite's gameplay, with its mid-triple-digit body count, is not an independent artistic choice. It's an acquiescence in the first person shooter's standard format. Booker even gets Master Chief's regenerating shield.
Everything about the game's characters and plot is designed to set up the firefights. That Booker is violent could be called his only necessary character trait. Your AI sidekick - a teenage girl - briefly voices a token objection to your killing spree before doing a 180 and falling in line (for the rest of the game, she tosses you ammo). All of the nameless NPCs either flee or try to murder you; the prism of violence dominates all interaction between the player and the game.
The clearest example of this is during the ghost mom section. Elizabeth gets to have a moment of tearful reconciliation; the player gets a boss fight. The game clearly doesn't know what else to do with the player.
One slightly amazing thing about Infinite is that it goes out of its way to keep you from doing anything that isn't FPS. There are puzzles in this game (the meaning of CAGE, the typewriter Vox puzzle) but the dialogue solves them for you, as if the game has no confidence you can handle anything but headshots. There are a handful of encounters where the game drops heavy-handed hints that you're intended to stealth through them. For the other 95% of the game, the doors are actually locked to make sure you kill all the enemies before being allowed to progress.
This makes a nonsense of the story. As one review puts it: After exploding enough heads, Booker is taken to an alternate reality where the underclass of Columbia has risen up in rebellion. "These revolutionaries are as bad as their racist oppressors," says the deadliest serial killer in the history of human civilization, "because they are violent."
submitted by Deggit to truegaming [link] [comments]

Today of the Dead: 3/26

Academy of Music on 1972-03-26

Greatest Story Ever Told, Cold Rain & Snow, Chinatown Shuffle, Black Throated Wind, You Win Again, Mr. Charlie, Jack Straw, Loser, Looks Like Rain, Big Railroad Blues, Big Boss Man, Playin' In The Band Truckin'-> Drums-> The Other One-> Me & My Uncle-> The Other One-> Wharf Rat, Not Fade Away-> Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad-> Not Fade Away
SBD -> Master Reel -> Apogee AD500 -> Dat (48k) / Transferred by Charlie Miller
Mr. Miller and everyone else responsible for getting this out is a godsend. What a fantastic show. Check out the Looks Like Rain (not one of my favorite songs). Great tempo and groove, a bit slower than usual. Phil instead of Donna on harmonies work really well here. The coolest thing is that Jerry sounds like he is playing the pedal steel, and it is perfectly magical for this song. I wish he would have played it more. My favorite version of LLR by far. One of the best Cold Rain and Snow versions as well. The entire show is strong. Phil introduces Keith as the new piano player. The sound quality is absolutely fantastic. I can tell that a lot of love and effort went in to making this possible. I love the energy here. The show is as good as any night in Europe later in the year. Maybe even worth mentioning in the same sentence as the Creamery gig.

Baltimore Civic Center on 1973-03-26

Promised Land, Mississippi Half Step, The Race is On, Wave That Flag, Jack Straw, Sugaree, Mexicali Blues, Box Of Rain, Row Jimmy, Beat It On Down The Line, Brown Eyed Women, El Paso, China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider, Looks Like Rain, Don't Ease Me In, Playin' In The Band Ramble On Rose, Big River, Here Comes Sunshine, Greatest Story Ever Told, Candyman, Me & My Uncle, He's Gone-> Truckin'-> Weather Report Suite Prelude-> Wharf Rat, Me And Bobby McGee-> Eyes Of The World-> Morning Dew, One More Saturday Night
SBD -> Master Reel -> Dat (44.1k) D / Transferred by Charlie Miller
Wow! Forgive me father for I have sinned. I am guilty, as many of you, for listening to more fall shows than spring shows from 1973. Well that just changed. This is a monster show with almost everything you could ask for in the first set.The Playing is incredible. Then you get a taste of some '73 commercialness with an unlikely appearence of Wolfman Jack, if you have to ask continue reading on. The second set is one masterpiece.Ramble On works quite well as the opener followed by a driving Big River that rips.Next is an early rendition of HC Sunshine, a taste of the fall to come, the band is excited to play the "new" material and explores it well. This show does have a relaxed pace but all songs are played with focus and passion but with many surprises. A smokin version of Greatest Story that is off the hook is a perfect example. A rarely played Candyman is also very sweet too. A quick cowboy song and then it is onto a 79 minute masterpiece of music that begins with He's Gone. I will fast forward to Wharf Rat which is stellar, fragile and brimming with conviction. This flows effortlessly into a beautiful Bobby McGee, which I love, then into a slower paced Eyes that is exciting and dynamic with Phil really adding much to it.Keith is on big time too. It all ends at where it should, with an amazing reading of Morning Dew.I like the tranistion into it,it is unique too. Jerry is passionate, subtle and full of conviction. His solo at the bridge is like being on an warm summer night breeze. Phil closes it out with a powerful ending note too.

Ace's Studio on 1975-03-26

sbd> ?> PCM> SEK'D Prodif96Pro> wav> SHN
Diamond in the rough... Sure, I could do without the ten minutes of mostly inaudible banter at the beginning of track one, but once they get into that first they're smokin'!

Aladdin Theater on 1983-03-26

Jack Straw, Friend Of The Devil, Little Red Rooster, Brown Eyed Women, Mama Tried-> Mexicali Blues, Althea, My Brother Esau, Deal-> Promised Land Scarlet Begonias-> Fire On The Mountain, Estimated Prophet-> Eyes Of The World-> The Other One-> Drums-> The Other One-> Stella Blue-> Around & Around-> One More Saturday Night, E: Touch Of Gray
Trippin' on the strip Ok, a little story from the attics of my life. Was supposed to make Tempe the night before, but flight problems from Mich., blah blah. I got into Vegas the night before, and stumbled onto the Strip with nothing but a back plan at all. Ran into a fellow Head who turned me onto his Uncle 'Cid. He also had some of those prism glasses with him.....I walked the Strip with a 6 pack of Heineken on acid looking through these glasses. Mind blowin' fun. We eventually met this girl working in a Dennys that was a Dead Head and she let us stay at her apartment. Can you imagine such great fortune meeting this kindred spirit? The next day I met my friends and we prepared for the show at hand. Someone has me on video brushing my teeth with a Heineken (didn't have any water) and got kicked out of the Aladdin casino for not having any shoes on. People were paging Jerry over the casino intercom. It was a sight...Dead Heads in a sea of tie dye amongst the pristine lawns of the Aladdin. This was my sixth Dead show and it was a total blast. Every song was well played and the selection very nice. Man the doses in those days sure were good. We were treated to some of the now legendary 4 way black stars from Texas........those were the daze my friends! Thanks to every one who made this a memorable evening.

Hartford Civic Center on 1987-03-26

Midnight Hour, Cold Rain & Snow, CC Rider, Row Jimmy, My Brother Esau, When Push Comes To Shove, Desolation Row-> Bird Song, Promised Land China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider, Looks Like Rain, He's Gone-> Jam-> Drums-> Space-> I Need A Miracle-> Black Peter-> Around & Around-> Good Lovin', E: The Mighty Quinn
Ultra Matrix SBD > Cassette Master (TDK MA-R90) / Transferred by Charlie Miller
Mr. Charlie Told Me So! Wow, only 1 review of this beauty?!? Excellent capture of a great show! Can't believe 31 years ago today; sat 2nd row in front of JG. Spectacular first set, one of my fav Desolations right into a stunning Birdsong. Row Jimmy pretty noteworthy too! That old Hartford magic at some of its finest! Great work with this one. Next night pretty killer too!

Coliseum on 1988-03-26

Hell In A Bucket-> Sugaree, Stir It Up, Minglewood Blues, Peggy-O, Mexicali Blues-> Big River, Row Jimmy, Memphis Blues, Might As Well China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider, Playin' In The Band-> Uncle John's Band-> Drums-> Jam-> Gimme Some Lovin'-> The Wheel-> All Along The Watchtower-> Black Peter-> One More Saturday Night, E: Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Matrix mix (SBD/AUD) / Transferred by Kevin Tobin
Spring '88 was a great run... ...and if you happen to be skimming though the list and come across this show, I say download it for this reason: It is as good as any representitive example of any of the Spring '88 run that I saw myself or have heard since. Yes, I was there, and I saw better shows than this one. But this is still a show I put on to listen to (and to broadcast to the entire village when I place my speakers in my parlor windows facing out) because it puts me in that groove, that good old Grateful Dead groove. And if the people in the village don't like it, well, then that's just tough shit. I like it, and so do my friends. And likely so wil you.

Knickerbocker Arena on 1990-03-26

Hell In A Bucket, Dupree's Diamond Blues, A Little Light, Black Throated Wind, Big Railroad Blues, Picasso Moon, Row Jimmy, Blow Away Built To Last, Victim Or The Crime, China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider-> Women Are Smarter-> Drums-> Jam-> I Need A Miracle, Dear Mr. Fantasy-> Gimme Some Lovin'-> Morning Dew, E: Brokedown Palace
SBD -> Dat -> Cassette Master (TDK MA-R90) D / Transferred by Charlie Miller
One of the Best of best (underrated) shows of 1990 Night 1 of the Kickerbocker run gets all the clout. 3/4 of the Dozin' At The Knick release. Then Night 2 has all of those songs that they released on Without a Net. The last nigth seems to be overlooked. I do declare it has one of the best setlists of 1990, some stellar energy, and at its finest, BRENT MAGIC!! Just look at that goddamn setlist and tell me why it didn't get as much hype, as far as the releases go. It's kind of whack since they released the Dozin' Disks, you can't get this show on the archive, it's lost in limbo! You only get the first three tracks from this show on any release. BUMMER! Thanks for this incredible recording and re-master Charlie! It sounds as good if not better than the relese. I Love you!

The Omni on 1995-03-26

Cold Rain & Snow, Little Red Rooster, Ramble On Rose, Me & My Uncle-> Big River, Lazy River Road, Eternity, Don't Ease Me In Samson & Delilah, It's All Too Much, Crazy Fingers-> Estimated Prophet-> Terrapin Station-> Drums-> Space-> The Other One-> Morning Dew, E: Johnny B. Goode
SBD > MC > DAT > CDR / Transferred by c. ladner
Brings a smile to my face! From the first notes of Cold Rain and Snow, I was hooked. This was a great show. I remember calling the CR&S opener only to be laughed at by me friends. "But it's sunny and beautiful, dude!" Possibly, but there's your weird Dead logic for you. Down and dirty Rooster, and a well-played Ramble. I really the dug the "It's All too Much," much to my own surprise. Whatever, it's all in good fun. Another strong Space - always a pleasure - and then the solid Other One > Dew. The Terrapin is not the best I've ever witnessed, but let's be honest, it was always great just to bear witness to these guys at all, especially in these years. Just when you thought the gas was running out, boom! "I guess it doesn't matter anyway!!!!"
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Contests Ending This Week | Week of February 28, 2016

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