2 FAST 2 GENEROUS

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Twice a year, video game speedrunners come together at Games Done Quick marathon events to raise money for charity; at Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) in January, supporting the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and at Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) to fundraise for Doctors Without Borders. 2019's SGDQ has been going all week, and as the gathered runners approach the final 24 hours of the event they've already raised over $1.1 million for Doctors Without Borders.

If you haven't tuned in for this year's summer marathon or are generally unfamiliar with speedrunning, here are five runs from earlier this week at SGDQ 2019 that showcase the deep knowledge, skills, glitching and player camaraderie that make speedrunning and Games Done Quick events so darn entertaining. You can find links to each speedrunner's Twitch channel by clicking their name in the section headers.

'Titanfall 2' by Bryonato

 

Even if you've never watched a speedrun or heard of Respawn Entertainment's "Titanfall" series, this run of "Titanfall 2" is downright mesmerizing. The player movement in "Titanfall 2" is fast and fluid to begin with, but the route Bryonato's carved through the game strings sprinting, double jumping, sliding, wallrunning and the occasional grenade-aided leap into astoundingly smooth sequences that make it look as though he's simply flying through the level. Bryonato, who currently holds the world records for "Titanfall 2" speedruns across several different categories, is also incredibly good at explaining the techniques and strategies he's employing as he plays. Watching a player blaze through the game's inventive levels and giant robot battles might not be the best introduction to the "Titanfall" series, but if this run doesn't make you want to buy the game yourself, "Apex Legends" (a battle royale game set in the same universe) is 100% free.

Highlight: At around 26 minutes into the run, Bryonato has a little fun pitting two enemy AI characters against one another while waiting for a moving platform he needs to catch in order to advance through the level. Even the downtime in this run presents opportunities to show off.

'Metroid Prime 2: Echoes' by Claris

 

I remember playing this game on summer break not long after it came out — I'm pretty sure I never finished it, because at any given point I was either horribly lost or incredibly frustrated by some tough boss fight. Here, Claris and her commentary companions on the couch have a ton of fun with the game, and the mood is infectious. This speedrun relies heavily on out of bounds glitches, where Claris pushes herself outside of the game's map and bypasses whole areas by navigating through the void surrounding it, hopping on invisible geometry with expert precision. There's something incredibly satisfying about seeing a game that flummoxed you years ago expertly dissected in this way: I needed a map screen and a strategy guide and still had trouble, but Claris is always surefooted and moving forwards on ground the game doesn't even render.

'Tony Hawk's Underground 2' by Plumato

 

The two "Tony Hawk's Underground" games are either the last good ones in the series or where the games seriously started to go astray. The original "Pro Skater" games artfully combined simple goals, savvy level design and a super responsive control scheme to produce run-based, arcade-y skating bliss, while the "Underground" campaigns instead grafted those core elements onto story-centric missions bookended by cutscenes with maybe a little bit too much Bam Margera. Here, Plumato plays through the classic mode added to "Underground 2," which not only returns the game to the 2-minute, get all the goals flow of "Pro Skater" but also sees the return of several classic "Pro Skater" levels. A donation incentive was set during the marathon to pick which character Plumato would play the run as, and Shrek (yup, the special character in this game is Shrek) won.

Highlight: Again, Plumato plays as Shrek the whole time. The whole damn run is a highlight.

'Outland' by Vulajin

 

Vulajin has done several Games Done Quick runs and used to be a staffer for the organization — his runs are reliably a good mix of entertaining and illuminating. This run of "Outland," a 2D Metroidvania-style game released in 2014 by Housemarque, is no exception. The game, which also takes inspiration from the "Ikaruga" series' polarity mechanic (red attacks hurt blue characters, blue attacks hurt red, and the player can swap their color back and forth) is as gorgeous as it is punishing. This run's route through the game doesn't make room for expanding his health, so Vulajin is basically right on the verge of death throughout the entire run as he's maneuvering around enemies and past trickily timed polarity obstacles. As a big fan of 2D Metroidvania games, I was sad to hear that "Outland" is currently not for sale on any platforms. I'm sure I'm not the only person whose interest was piqued by this great showing at SGDQ, so hopefully "Outland" will find its way back into online storefronts soon.1

'Punch-Out!!' (Wii) by zallard1, blindfolded

 

The Wii version of "Punch-Out!!" doesn't deviate much from the formula of the classic games, but as zallard1 warns at the start of his run, in certain situations a single wrong move can make a fight impossible to win while blindfolded. This isn't zallard1's first blindfolded run of a "Punch-Out!!" title at a Games Done Quick event, and there have been several blindfolded runs of other classic games at marathon events in the past, but it's a little hard to talk about what sets this run apart from its peers without spoiling it. All I'll say is, even having seen the whole run already, as I'm typing this up I'm having a hard time taking my eyes off of it. The "Punch-Out!!" games may be going for a "Rocky" vibe, but I think zallard1's performance here is closer to Neo's.

Highlight: Once the regular speedrun's over, zallard1 takes on the game's secret fighter: Donkey Kong. Does he take the blindfold off? Of course not.


If you're reading this on Friday or early Saturday, then there's still plenty of fantastic runs coming up that you can watch live. I'm particularly looking forward to Saturday's "Link to the Past" + "Super Metroid" Combo Randomizer, where players Andy and Ivan will cooperatively tackle a hacked together version of the classic Super Nintendo "Zelda" and "Metroid" titles that can flip back and forth between both games while also randomly distributing vital game items within and across both game worlds (for a more in-depth explanation, Kotaku has you covered).

Once the marathon's over, you can always look for your favorite game in the archives for past Games Done Quick events, watch the runs from last month's inaugural Frame Fatales all-women speedrunning event, or dig through "GDQ VODs" for specific types of marathon speedruns, like competitive races and live world records.​ Watch, donate, enjoy.

1

Not to be that person, but it seems like it'd be great on Switch.


Do I Have A Right To Be Upset That My Husband Set Up A Taco Bell Booth In His Home Office, And Other Advice Column Questions
GOOD QUESTION

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There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.

Do I Have A Right To Be Upset That My Husband Set Up A Taco Bell Booth In His Home Office?

Married for a year. Husband has always had a soft spot for Taco Bell I don't understand. I think it's pretty garbage even for a fast food chain.

Long story short, one day I come home and there's a bunch of 90s Taco Bell memorabilia in the garage. Apparently one of the local restaurants was getting a remodel and I guess he bribed the manager to let him grab a booth and some other things.

Now we have separate bank accounts so he did this all with his own money. He set it up in his office which he didn't think was a big deal because it's "his" space and I hardly go in there. He set it all up and asked me how I felt about it.

I told him my honest feelings. I thought it was ugly and tacky and glorified a less than mediocre fast food chain. Not to mention it goes against the entire motif of the rest of our living spaces. I'm still just absolutely stunned and shocked that anyone, much less my husband, would think it's a good idea to set up a Taco Bell booth IN OUR HOUSE.

Suffice it to say he's upset. I feel like I have a point because it's our house and I live here too, but he claims it's his money and he can do what he wants with it. Am I crazy or do I have a right to be upset at our house turning into a fast-food franchise?

[Reddit via Twitter]

The commenters on the r/relationship_advice subreddit generally agree that the husband should be allowed to decorate his office in a way that makes him happy. "You say that his office goes against the 'motif' of the rest of the house," one of them writes. "Would this motif be something that mainly you selected? W[h]ether it is or it isn't, is it possible that you are being a little too controlling here?" Read the rest of their answers.

Is It Unreasonable To Expect My Brother's Girlfriend To Replace The Cake She Stole From My Birthday Party?

I had a small, socially distant party for my birthday. It was supposed to just be my brother, roommate, boyfriend, and me. But my brother brought his new girlfriend, "Emily," and her small son without asking… We had to keep an eye on the kid so he wouldn't run off the patio. Emily was more interested in our beer than anything else.

My roommate got me an expensive cake. She was handing out slices when Emily pushed her over and tried to take a huge slice for her son. I stopped Emily and told her to take a smaller slice, since the cake was very rich. Then I put the rest of the cake back in the fridge. I told my brother he needed to get a handle on the situation, but he just told me to chill. When they left, only my brother said goodbye to us. Then my boyfriend looked in the fridge and noticed that my cake was gone. I was pissed off and ran after my brother. They were still in the parking lot, trying to buckle up the kid. I went up to Emily and demanded she give me back my cake. First she said she didn't know what I was talking about. Then I saw the cake box on the back seat and told my brother to give it back. Emily swore I had given it to her because "cake is for kids." I called her a liar. My boyfriend and roommate followed me out, and my roommate went around the car and opened the door to grab the cake. Emily tried to stop her. The cake ended up on the ground. The kid started crying, Emily started swearing, and everyone went home mad. Emily claims it was an "accident," but I believe my roommate, and she says Emily knocked it out of her hands. I want nothing to do with Emily ever again, and I am angry at my brother for bringing this witch and trying to defend her. Everyone in our family is appalled by what happened. I told him when Emily apologizes and replaces my cake from the same bakery then I will forgive her. He got angry at me because it was a $50 cake from the city. He told me I was being petty and unreasonable and that it was just cake. I don't care. My birthday was ruined. This was the first time Emily met anyone in our family, and she got drunk and stole from me. This is a red flag if there ever was one. I don't think I am out of line here.

[Slate]

Danny M. Lavery opines that the letter writer should have let the cake go instead of following Emily to her car. "Someone has to deescalate this, so unless you want to spend the next year going back and forth with your brother over whether he owes you another cake, let that person be you," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Should I Tell My Daughter's Friend's Parents They're Being Rude By Limiting Who Their Daughter Spends Time With During The Pandemic?

I heard my teenage daughter this evening tell her friend she thinks another friend's parents just do not like her. It broke my heart.

She thinks it is because the parents are very strict. Both parents I believe work at highly stressful federal jobs. They would allow their daughter to hang out with only one other mutual friend, which originally hurt my daughter's feelings. I heard things such as, "The parents are letting only one other friend to go running with her, not me," and she was so sad. Now she feels as if they just do not like her.

During this pandemic emotions are running high. I am particularly fed up with these parents.

How should I approach this? It does seem like parents are overly cautious and immature. Just rude. My husband says ignore, you are only hearing this from the side of a 15-year-old. I, on the other hand, would like to send a note to the parents explaining how hurtful they are. I have never been one to keep my feelings inside. What do you think?

[The Washington Post]

Carolyn Hax urges the letter writer to offer the daughter sympathy and not to take the friend's parents' choices personally. "Her friend's parents are probably like the rest of us, trying their best under extremely difficult conditions — trying to give their daughter some social relief when they've been told even this one accommodation isn't safe," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

How Can I Get My Older Male Coworker To Stop Commenting On My Weight Gain And Asking If I'm Pregnant?

I am a 30something newlywed woman and have been at my current job for just over a year and a half. Prior to accepting my job, my health took a devastating blow and I learned that I had a very rare genetic disorder and had two baseball size tumors in my digestive tract. I underwent two massive surgeries to remove those tumors (both having pre-cancerous cells present) and ended up losing a foot of my colon and my entire stomach. As a result of the gastrectomy, I lost a significant amount of weight over the course of my first few months at the new job.

Despite my being very transparent and open about my genetic disorder and chronic illnesses and their effects on my body, one of my much older male coworkers, "Gary," began to obsess over my weight loss in terms of my upcoming wedding and encouraged me to try harder to lose even more weight…

My wedding day came and went, and upon my return from my honeymoon, Gary immediately began demanding to know when my husband and I would start trying for a family since I'm "older and don't have time to waste." Thinking I could cut off this behavior, I was very transparent that we were unsure if having a biological child is an option for us and that I would appreciate it if he did not inquire about that after the conversation.

Fast forward to the holidays and now quarantine, and I've slowly been able to gain a bit of weight and get back into a zone that my doctors are pleased with. Gary has been coming in a few days here and there to help with some special one-off projects. When he bumps into me (at least twice a month), he repeatedly comments on my weight gain and asks if I'm sure I'm not pregnant... He said he was only asking because he was "certain" that my husband and I "had a quarantine whoopsie." I said I did not feel comfortable continuing the conversation.

He has also recently commented on my lunches more than one time saying that my portion sizes are slipping and that I should "watch it."

I am planning to talk to my manager about the situation, especially as my husband and I have elected for me to have a hysterectomy to help alleviate other chronic symptoms I've been having…

I am frankly concerned that my manager will write off my complaint (as he has with previous feedback from my peers about this employee) and chalk it up to a "cultural difference" because he's so many times my senior and he simply doesn't know what's appropriate for the modern workplace. Additionally, my manager has countered previous complaints against my coworker with the fact he's is a good Christian Southern man, and that's where he's coming from and we should be more forgiving/lenient.

[Ask A Manager]

Alison Green advises the letter writer to stop giving Gary any information about her health or fertility and to tell him point blank to stop asking questions about them. If he persists, Green suggests saying, "It's really weird that you keep talking about my body after I've told you to stop. If this happens again, I won't have any choice but to make a complaint with HR. I hope you won't make that necessary." Read the rest of her answer.

How Can I Get My Friends To Stop Judging Me For Dating A Married Man?

I've been seeing a married man lately, and I can just tell from the looks on my friends' faces that they don't approve. The way I see it, his marital problems have nothing to do with me. His and I have a relationship that is totally separate from that, in many ways. How can I get my friends to stop judging me? 

[Creators]

Annie Lane posits that the judgment is actually coming from within. "You must be harboring at least a little guilt over this affair, or you wouldn't be seeing judgment on friends' faces," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

How In The World Did I Get So Lucky As To Have Four Children Who Text Me Every Day And Thank Me For Giving Birth To Them?

I have read so many letters in your column about families who have all sorts of problems with their children, husband or wife, in-laws, parents and other family members. They make me wonder how in the world I got so lucky.

My husband and I raised four children — two girls, two boys — and they could not be more of a blessing. We text each other every morning, and I text a daughter in Hawaii at night to let her know I'm OK. They call, they send cards, they send flowers. One son sent them to me for several years on his birthday, with a card saying, "Thank you for having me."

My heart aches for parents who don't have what I have. I can only hope they will find some peace later. And to my four children: Thank you for the happiness you have brought me over the years.

[UExpress]

Abigail Van Buren congratulates the letter writer on her parenting successes. "However, there is an element of luck in parenting, and I have heard from parents who devoted themselves to giving all they could to their children, and their children did not turn out to be as loving, generous and appreciative as yours," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

LV Anderson is the news editor at Grist and an advice column aficionado.

The Loneliest Road Trip In America, And More Best Photography Of The Week
PICTURE THIS

· Updated:

​​Every week, we curate the best new photography and photojournalism on the web, so you can spend your weekend kicking back and enjoying some beautiful pictures. Here are this week's picks:

The Loneliest Road Trip: Traveling Through An Empty America

Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 
Arnaud Montagard 

'There is a feeling of loneliness through all the photos in this book. It's either a man walking alone in the middle of a deserted street or scenes where there is an absence of human beings.'

[Read more at The Guardian]

A Bird's-Eye View Of Fantastical Urban Landscapes

Cássio Vasconcellos
Cássio Vasconcellos
Cássio Vasconcellos
Cássio Vasconcellos
Cássio Vasconcellos

In Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos' series entitled Collectives, the artist "instigates a visual debate on the urban chaos of modern civilization by exploring jam-packed situations typical of our society," writes Art Historian and Critic Cynthia Garcia. Some of those scenarios include crowded beaches, cluttered parking lots, congested highways, and even "aircraft boneyards."

[Read more at Archinect]

The Curious World Of Brighton's 'Eccentric' Folk

Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov
Oleg Pulemjotov

Brighton's residents have something of a reputation for being a tad eccentric; something Oleg Pulemjotov discovered when he arrived in England over a decade ago and made the seaside resort his new home.

[Read more at Creative Boom]

Pang-Chieh Ho is an editor at Digg.

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'FREEDOM TORCHES'

We don't really need a reminder of just how bad smoking is for us. Bad for our physical health, the environment, and cringe-worthy on so many social justice levels. Why is it then, that women always looked so damn cool smoking their cigarettes in vintage photographs?

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