Look, we’re in a pretty rough situation right now. There’s a mysterious and lethal virus hitting the entire world, and by all accounts, weren’t prepared for it. A lot of you are probably like me, trapped at home with very little to do and a quickly dwindling supply of money and basic necessities. But just because it looks like this very well could be the end of the world, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out bored. Far from it. So, if you will, allow me to share a couple ideas that might just keep you busy and your mind occupied during these darkest of days.
GET LOST IN A GIANT VIDEOGAME
Geralt of Rivia helped pull me out of the first major heartbreak in my life. Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy got me out of the second. In my experience, massive open world videogames are one of the best cures for a case of the blues that not even the most virulent case of deranged Manic Pixie Dream Girl can ruin. When the world around you quickly begins looking like a dystopian nightmare, losing yourself in a virtual world is a welcomed form of escapism. Here’s everything you need to know about my two favorites.
“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” is less a game and more of a job. But a really fun job. If you’ve watched the popular Netflix show, you know what this game is about. You are Geralt of Rivia, gruff, mutated monster hunter and walking hive of STD’s. Your mission, rescue someone close to you, but get caught up in literally hundreds of other sidequests and misadventures along the way. The world of the game is deep. Like, all caps, DEEP. I’ve played through the base game twice (there are two sets of DLC that are packed with so much content that they’re basically separate games). The first time was my senior year of highschool when I was out from January to March for snow. The second time was a summer a few years back where I just couldn’t find work. To play this game the way it was intended, you’re gonna need a whole lot of days cleared. Seeing as how many of us currently barricaded indoors in hiding from the Coronavirus, what better time to live vicariously through the horniest monster hunter in all of fiction? In all seriousness, Witcher 3 is an immersive masterpiece loaded to the brim with awesome gameplay, haunting environments, and memorable characters. Now go barter with a crotchety old man over how much he should pay you for putting down some unholy abomination pulled straight out of Slavic folklore.
The “Mass Effect” trilogy is my favorite story in all of video games. It’s a big, epic Space Opera in the grand tradition of “Star Wars” or “Star Trek”. Players assume the role of Commander Shepherd, an entirely customizable Captain Kirk type who finds himself or herself caught up in an epic battle against a mysterious race of Lovecraftian robot monsters called the Reapers. Do you wanna play Shepherd as a noble hero? Or would you rather be a maniacal lunatic? The choice is yours, and however you play the game, expect to find yourself enamored in a deep world of labyrinthine interconnected actions and reactions. Mass Effect is a choose your own adventure book on steroids, as decisions you make will vastly change the story across all three games. Members of your crew or entire races can be wiped away in a matter of seconds because of the choices you make. And believe me, some of the choices are agonizing, as the characters in Mass Effect are some of the most lovable and complex in the entire medium. Now go shoot some space terrorists and spend a couple hours wandering around your ship and talking to the crew.
FIND OUT WHAT CAN OR CAN’T BE MADE INTO JERKY
You know what’s great? Beef jerky. You know what’s also great? Deer jerky. Hell, I’ve been known to partake in the occasional Turkey jerky. Look regardless of what your preferences are, I think we can all agree that a tough slab of dried and heavily salted meat can really hit the spot. And you know what? It can last a really long time. So we should all probably stock up on some of that chewy goodness. But why stop there? Why not learn how to make the stuff yourself? And why limit yourself to things that are traditionally made into jerky? As a lifelong farmboy, I have slaughtered a countless number of coyote and possum in my 23 years on the planet. And I’ve yet to eat a single one of them. And I regret that. Now is as a good a time to start doing that as any. It would be wasteful not to. But why stop there? Why not get a little exotic. There’s a MASSIVE groundhog that’s been living in my barn for a couple years, that sucker would feed my younger brothers for weeks. And while there might not be much meat on a bat, if you got enough of them I’m sure their collective meat could from some sort of Bat nugget. Just food for thought. Teehee.
BINGE WATCH SOME TV SHOWS
Yes, you’ve probably heard this one a lot. But, that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a good idea, whether you’re taking in something new or doing a good old fashioned rewatch. I’ve personally went through a good deal of Danny McBride’s library on HBO. “Eastbound and Down” is still just as nasty and hilarious as it was when it premiered 11 years ago. “The Righteous Gemstones” is still one of the best seasons of television to come out in the last year. And “Vice Principals” is still one of the most underrated comedies of the last decade. If it’s got Danny McBride or Walton Goggins attached to it, you probably can’t go wrong. Speaking of Goggins, “Justified” is always there waiting for you like a loyal old friend. No, I don’t think it’s a very accurate depiction of our beautiful Commonwealth, but there’s a disheartening lack of Elmore Leonard Neo-Westerns on the market. So I’ll be happy with what we’ve got. There’s no better time to be a couch potato, so you might was well make some horrible circumstances a little bit cozier.
THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE OCCASIONAL IMPROVISED WEAPON OR TRAP
Living out in the sticks like I do, you can develop some overprotective, dare I say it, paranoid tendencies. But if kept in check, small amounts of paranoia can be healthy. There’s nothing wrong with installing a home defense system or having a contingency plan in place in case it falls through. If scattering a series of Vietcong style punji traps around my yard seems a little paranoid, then fine, call me paranoid. But the odds are, we’re gonna be dealing with this pandemic for a while, so why not take some extra steps in the name of safety? When they announced that EKU was closed for the remainder of the semester I immediately spent my remaining grant money on loads of Tannerite mixture that I have since hidden around my house in case I need a sudden explosive escape from any kind of marauders. Just like God and Joe Exotic intended.
But why stop at things like store bought explosives or fecal covered spiked pits in the ground? There’s no limit to your imagination. A toaster is only a toaster until it’s been paired up with an inflatable swimming pool assembled in a crude Rube Goldbergesque device that electrocutes any intruders. The possibilities are endless!
READ A BOOK
One of the only good things to have come out of life in a pandemic is that I have time to read again. A simple pleasure, but nonetheless, one of the very best. It’s comfort food for the mind. Like with TV, whether you’re taking in something new or sitting back down with a weather-beaten old friend, there’s no wrong choice to be made.
If we end up riding this thing out for a couple of months, odds are I’ll be revisiting “The Hobbit” for the umpteenth time since I was a small child. Escapism is a beautiful thing, and not much puts my mind at ease quite like the famous first chapter of that very famous book. “American Gods” is another favorite of mine that helped get me through a rough period of time after my grandfather died. It’s a quiet book that veers between road trip and slice of life. The gods of antiquity and other creatures in mythology like Odin or leprechauns live in modern day America and are preparing for a final battle. A recently released convict gets drawn into the conflict. I love every single page of it. But if fantasy isn’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with a little Michael Chabon. “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” is one of the best books I’ve ever read, telling the story of cousins and comic book creators Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay from World War II to the 60’s. It’s an equally charming and heartbreaking read, but one you’ll never forget. Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” is another that might inject a little bit of saccharine into these lonely days in its chronicling of the life and times of Rob Fleming. Rob is a self-centered record store owner who finds himself on a journey of self-discovery after his girlfriend leaves him. It’s a funny and often profound book that I can’t recommend enough.
BEGIN WORKING ON WAYS TO MAKE YOUR APPEARANCE MORE FRIGHTENING
As skirmishes with sadistic Mad Maxesque raiders will begin to become fairly common in the coming months, there’s no better time to perfect your new look for the dystopia. You could go with the classic, an all leather getup with patchwork armor and a holster for your sawed off double barrel. A look used by both the Mel Gibson and Tom Hardy versions of Max Rockatansky. But this is a different kind of dystopia we’re about to be living in. Different considerations need to be made. Is there room for a gas mask on your snazzy leather outfit? Is there a proper compartment for a filter straw? Most importantly, will your new look scare off any marauders? Saving you lots of time and ammunition. These are the tough questions we need to be asking ourselves as we gear up for the next few months.
Personally speaking I’ve grown my beard out to massive proportions. It’s got long enough that I’ve began weaving depleted shotgun shells through it for added menace. They clack when the wind blows. You can barely see my face anymore. But what parts you can see are slicked with grease paint. Pro-tip, if you’re like me, and you have the cold and lifeless eyes of a doll, a layer of grease paint makes that glare even better. I’ve also began the process of filing my teeth down to sharp points. I’ve got about half of them done now, and boy let me tell you, there’s gonna be a nightmare of a maw under this giant red beard when all is said and done. So if you follow these steps, and possibly pair your outfit up with some sort of roar or call to establish dominance, you might just make it out of this pandemic in one piece.