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It's here boys and girls! The Cayo Perico DLC has been released!
"Unlike previous Heists, there is no specific style when it comes to approaching Cayo Perico.
Once you’ve gathered the necessary gear, you can choose to complete as much (or as little) set-up and planning as you want – though be warned that these decisions will, in turn, affect the way the action unfolds. If you want to call in an airstrike or use a cutting torch to burn through steel beams, for example, you would be well advised to put the time in beforehand. Once all the groundwork is laid down, you can nail down your final details before approaching Cayo Perico. These choices include how you infiltrate and escape the island, your weapons loadouts, air support, and even the operation’s time of day. As a result, no two approaches are alike on subsequent playthroughs. And repeat visits will allow you to heist valuable artifacts and other valuables as they become available. There is also a load of extra opportunities you can use to play to your advantage, such as breaking into storage lockups to raid hidden stashes of cash and contraband to bolster your bottom-line and fatten up your take. These chances and the tools necessary to complete them will rarely be found in the same place twice – some are only accessible when playing with multiple players, so joining up with friends is very much encouraged." This Megathread will serve as the place to discuss all things related to the DLC. We will be updating this as more information is released, so keep checking back. The Heist works very similarly to the Casino Heist. You have to hack cameras and scope out locations. Important Links: (Added once they become available)
Official Trailer Newswire Article Patch Notes Availability/Size: Playstation - LIVE - 6.8GB Xbox - LIVE - 6.6GB PC - Live - 9.3GB Other Links: DLC release Crew Event info Weekly Update Thread Simple Question Thread Still Slippin' Radio Channel Guide Misc Info: Kosatka(sub) is $2.2 million to start, up to $9.8 million with everything, and IS DRIVEABLE! Two new vehicles available with the Kosatka: Sparrow (Small Helicopter) Can be equipped with machine guns or missiles. Kraken Avisa (Small Sub) Island is not available in Free Mode No New vehicles on SSA or LM at release. These vehicles will be dripfed to us over the coming weeks and months. 6 new vehicles available on release day, the Submarine and 5 more with trade prices unlocked by completing the Heist. Link to new vehicle pics and prices. Winky (Jeep) $825,000 - $1,100,000 Kurtz 31Patrol Boat(Gunboat) $2,216,250 - $2,955,000 RO-86 (Bomber) $3,262,500 - $4,250,000 Annihilator Stealth (Helicopter) $2,902,500 - $3,870,000 Toreador (CaSub) $3,660,000 Longfin (Boat) $2,125,000 New weapons: Perico Pistol Military Rifle - $397,500 Combat Shotgun - $295,000
The Free Vehicle from the Heist Challenge will be Available this Friday and will be the Dinka Veto Classic go-kart. You MUST claim the vehicle between the 18th and 20th of December or it will no longer be free.
Hey everyone. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with “underground” casinos, or gambling houses. How would I go about finding one? i am in a relatively big city in Tennessee, however I recently totaled my car and the nearest casino would be an 8 hour bus ride. I’m an aspiring poker pro (I guess you could say semi pro?), but with moving to a new area, and now not having a car, I haven’t been able to play nearly as much as i should be. If anyone has any info regarding this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
[Let's Build] Attractions in a demon pleasure palace that aren't sexual
My players are going to be visiting the palace of a demon lord of pleasure who's more CN than CE. I want to show that despite his title, he represents all forms of pleasure and good feelings, not just sex. Also space in his realm doesn't work the same way as it does in the mortal plane. He essentially has an infinite amount of space to work with and can customize it as he pleases, so there are no size constraints.
A casino to feel the thrill of gambling.
A dining hall with an endless buffet that visitors are allowed to eat as much as they wish.
An idyllic beach with perfectly white sand to relax or play on.
An arena where gladiators brawl it out against each other. The point of it isn't to kill each other as much as make the battles look stunning to the audience.
A hotel with the most comfortable beds possible. Here anyone with enough money can enjoy a good rest after all the excitement.
A beautiful and well tended garden filled with aromatic flowers and sweet fruits.
A vineyard where exquisitely-aged wine can be produced just by pressing the grapes. (u/_SovietMudkip_)
An opulent concert hall where the best musicians of the realms perform (u/_SovietMudkip_)
A small, cozy looking wooden library, with a cushioned bay window where rain gently scatters against the glass and a cup of some hot liquid gently rising with steam. (u/QuietOracle)
An owl-bear hugging zoo. Go to sleep in the embrace of their soft down. (u/QuietOracle)
The room of sensory experiences. The room itself is fairly plain, with the main feature being long tables running the length of the room. On closer inspection there are fist-sized carved holes, each one holding a small round crystal... (u/QuietOracle)
A room with dozens of sacks filled with beans, lentils and grains where visitors can put their hands in and let the contents run through their fingers. (u/_WhiteCubeCat_)
A hag (or any other long nailed creature) giving visitors a scalp massage. (u/_WhiteCubeCat_)
A museum of little-known or long-forgotten art pieces, sculptures, and history. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A festival full of colors, music, and drinks. Everyone seems to love you, and you can’t stop laughing. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A hallway of endless doors. In each room is someone you know, complimenting you endlessly, sharing every positive, even begrudgingly jealous thought they ever had about you. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A hot spring/spa, with fluffy towels, those showers that are like rain with perfect water pressure, mud baths, and refreshing food and drink. (u/lionesslindsey)
A room full of people that constantly give you validation and laugh at all your jokes. (u/CountryJeff)
Never-ending line of gold chalices, crystal vases, silver artwork, and other valuables. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
People who are “better” than you are marched in a stripped of their superior qualities. Beautiful people are disfigured and turned ugly. Wealthy powerful people are ruined and made to beg you for pennies. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
Mass groups of people enter the room and tell you how they admire you and how wonderful you are. They stroke your ego and inflate your pride. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
Servants do everything for you. Feed you, give you drinks, wash you, wipe your arse, etc. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
You are given a wickedly barbed leather whip. A slave creature is bound to a post and you can whip this creature to inflict your wrath upon them as much as you desire. If the poor soul dies, another is brought in to replace them. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
'Knight for a day'. The full experience; lance, shiny outfit, a squire, a trusty stead, a dragon and a princess/prince to rescue. (u/mr_earthman)
A magical version of a movie theatre, allowing you to watch all manner of stories, true and legendary. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
A moderately large pool where small battleships with tiny animated crewmen can be deployed in teams to shell and board each other for the audience's amusement. Honored guests can put their strategic abilities to a test against other players by directly giving orders to their ships, and in certain hours guests may even swim in the pool to live out the power fantasy of being a sea monster. (u/VIixIXine)
A colorizer-device that transforms any clothes/armoweapons/other gear to any desired hue you wish (as long as it doesn’t affect the workings of the gear) (u/PaigeOrion)
A grand screen, showing a nearly infinite number of (screen)plays from all space and time, including the show with the disgraced human paladin delivering a green baby gnome back to his home land through incredible odds. (u/PaigeOrion)
A tiara that allows you to experience the sensory experience of a black cat as long as you wear it and close your eyes. (u/PaigeOrion)
A plethora of small, multicolored blocks that will magically interlock with one another to render almost any architectural structure imaginable. (But don’t step on them barefoot!) (u/PaigeOrion)
A band of musicians who are the perfect musical backup for any performances. Alone, they are more low key, but no less skilled, playing haunting melodies of unknown origin. (u/PaigeOrion)
A massive walk-in closet where you can try in any clothes in any fashion you like. (u/Tezla44)
A "schadenfreude" theatre, with shows that rely on slapstick and cringe comedy. (u/Martinus_XIV)
A room designed to give you closure. When you enter this room, someone you loved and lost is there, sitting in a couch. The room feels vaguely familiar, but you can't place why. If Detect Magic is used, the room is full of magic (divination, transmutation, illusion) but the person seems like a normal person. You can chat with them for as long as you like. They behave just as you remember them, with the good and the bad. (u/ohsurenerd)
A theatre performing the most magnificent tragedies. When you watch the performance, you find yourself completely enraptured: you cheer when things go right, scream when something terrifying happens, and moan and weep at the inevitable horrible ending. When you leave, it feels like removing a backpack full of lead that you'd been carrying for so long you'd forgotten it was there. (u/ohsurenerd)
A room where there's a button, there's someone outside and it explains that if you enter there's a 50/50 chance of you dying or not, the room won't actually kill you and it's there just to make you feel the pleasure of near death experience. (u/SupremeGodDictator)
A massage parlor with the universes best staff pampering your every need as you receive the most relaxing massage of your life whether it be scalp, back, foot, full body, etc. Has the worlds fluffiest towels and robes to luxuriate in while you wait or if you simply want to sit in a comfy chair and enjoy your ache free muscles. (u/Blue_Mando)
An arena where you and your opponents heal near instantly, and you can fight endlessly (u/ellen-the-educator)
A reenactment of your greatest failures in life, but this time they turn into your greatest achievements. (u/CountryJeff)
A room with the world's finest works of art.... and a myriad of implements you can use to destroy them. (u/redrosebeetle)
A torture chamber with mages on hand to create illusions of the people you wish to torture. Or increasingly realistic versions of them, depending on the level of magic you wish to implement. (u/redrosebeetle)
A room full of gold and jewels you can roll around in, ala Scrooge McDuck. But woe betide anyone who tries to take a souvenir.... (u/redrosebeetle)
As you're walking through the gardens, a person comes up to you. They introduce themselves as an adventurer who's also here on a quest. They seem to be the same class as you, and they're incredibly attractive-- almost exactly your type. You immediately click and end up spending the day together, talking about everything and anything. You tell them things you've never told anyone else before. They understand everything you tell them, almost innately, but they're still impressed by your feats and your stories. The two of you find an empty bedroom and close the door behind you. It's perfect in its imperfections. In the morning they're gone. No matter where you look, you can't find them. (u/ohsurenerd)
A room lined with shelves and shelves of bottles and vials containing a crimson liquid flowing slowly (like a syrup), all with small labels on them. As you inspect the labels, you realize they've all got names on them: famous adventurers, kings and queens, great sages. If you drink one, you experience a selection of their memories as they experienced them: battles won, discoveries made, historical alliances and friendships being forged or broken... (u/ohsurenerd)
A room that turns anyone that enters it into a child. It is full of every toy imaginable (u/arual_x)
A tour of a chocolate factory. Kobolds work there, and the owner, who gives the tour, is a Metallic Dragon in Humanoid form. (u/arual_x)
A fortune teller who has a Deck of Many Things with only the good cards. If you in any way offend them, they will sleight of hand vs perception check slip you a bad card instead. (u/arual_x)
An island theme park of reanimated dinosaurs. The owner is a level 20 Necromancer called Hamm Johnand. (u/arual_x)
A Virtual Reality style game that allows you to battle horrible monsters over and over again without risk of injury physical. But still allows you to gain XP... (u/arual_x)
A perfect expanse of thick snowy ground. There is constantly a snowball fight going on. (u/arual_x)
A giant room full of mattresses where everyone immediately gets a wonderful massage. (u/Revanclaw-and-memes)
A room full of gold and exquisite things, from beautiful furniture to magic weapons (u/Revanclaw-and-memes)
A seemingly endless room where adventurers can drink a potion to grow wings and flit about to their hearts' delight (u/iriedashur)
An ordinary classroom containing the adventurer's childhood friends, enemies, and their most hated teacher. Upon entering the room, the adventurer discovers that they are invisible, and free to pull pranks as they wish (u/iriedashur)
A brightly colored room piled high with wrapped gifts, large and small, for the adventurers to open endlessly (u/iriedashur)
A purple and black dragon named Ace who cooks you garlic bread and cake. (u/sanorace)
A magic pair of goggles/glasses that simulate any “What if” question you pose to them. (u/lewiscann)
A magical weather room where you can ask for any weather for your pleasure (I love listening to rain) (u/lewiscann)
A room full of lounges with a floating slow burning piece of wood that warms the whole area, the piece of wood is so large you can see the flame spread through this piece of wood forever (u/lewiscann)
A room where you can bite your fingernails and they grow back instantly ( so you can bite them some more )(u/razenastie)
A room with incredibly weakened versions of powerful monsters. (u/Your_InsideMan)
A heist simulator where you always get away with the big diamond, chest, etc (thrill of theft) (u/reallyenjoyscarbs)
A sauna room with a central pillar. Inside the pillar is a chamber containing a magic stone which can detect the exact temperature preferences of those inside, and making each person feel said preference. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
An oval-shaped room with countless glass lotion bottles, with each smelling better than the last. If you look for a specific scent (no matter how rare), you'll certainly find it with the help of a goblin near the back of the room. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
A room that consists of A bunch of mortals so utterly jaded from years of plesure seeking that they need the hardest of drugs and the wildest of sensations to feel anything,with lesser demons feeding on their pursuit of euphoria. Think the emperors children from warhammer 40k. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
A buffet of the lids of yogurt/pudding cups to lick. (u/Hunter37594)
An olfactory room that reads your memories and replicates smells that remind you of your most joyous moments. (u/lecorbusianus)
A wildlife reserve for Druids to find new and exotic wild shapes. (u/lecorbusianus)
A room with musical instruments that you're able to master immediately. (u/lecorbusianus)
A room with a creature in a dark robe sitting at a table covered in maps and dice. He helps you play a strange game where you and your party make up characters that go on adventures while the robed creature acts as all of the other characters and determines new events. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
Artist:Joji Album:Nectar Label: 88Rising Release Date: September 25, 2020 Listen: Spotify Apple Music YouTube Music Deezer Soundcloud Background Not many artists have had a come-up as interesting and eccentric as George Kusunoki Miller, a former YouTube comedian/edgelord turned moody R&B singer. George first got his taste of internet fame as FilthyFrank, a character he described as everything a person should not be, he played the notorious persona on YouTube for over 6 years and eventually had to retire it due to him losing passion for it and suffering from stress induced seizures, which playing the character often caused. Throughout his time as FilthyFrank however he began experimenting with music, mostly of the satirical kind at the start, his first tracks were under the FilthyFrank persona, the first one being Who's The Sucker, a dumb track where he somehow manages to rhyme "nicer" with "vagina", go figure. A few years later, alongside the satirical rap, Joji began to make what he would consider as serious music, and this is where the timeline gets a bit messy, as he put out multiple tracks under multiple different aliases and the lines got blurred pretty fast, so I won't focus on aliases too much, but rather on the music he put out, around this era he released the therapeutical Medicine, the slow and melancholy We Fall Again, and Dumplings, which was Joji's best attempt at a trap banger. In 2015, he birthed the Joji alias, released two singles on Soundcloud under that name, and announced a project called Chloe Burbank Vol. 1, the project was later scrapped and is probably sitting on Joji's hard drive, unfinished, however, the two singles he put out, thom and you suck charlie, were the tracks that put him in the spotlight, not to mention that to this day, there are some of his fans that believe these 2 tracks are his best and will not be topped, but that's a discussion for another day. Following the overwhelmingly positive reception, Joji began to put out more tracks and singles, both under the aforementioned alias and Pink Guy, which was a character that blossomed into a satirical rap project, but I won't be covering that too much, and will focus on what he did as Joji instead, most tracks Joji put out were met with positive reception, some of the tracks, such as worldstar money, ended up on his debut EP as well. Sometime around early 2016, Joji ended up signing with 88rising, a label focused on building the bridge between east and west, he explained in an interview that he was initially a consultant for the duo behind the record label, however, once the duo noticed his music and how well it was received, they asked him to jump on board and he instantly took the chance, getting signed alongside the likes of Rich Brian and Higher Brothers. The label immediately undertook Joji and began distributing his catalog on their YouTube channel and helped him release more music, which was a couple of singles in the earlier half of 2017, and his debut EP in the latter half, the EP, known as "In Tongues", was met with mixed reception from fans and critics alike, with some describing it as his most concise body of work so far that is oozing potential, and others describing it as a bleak project that fails to set Joji apart from the sea of artists on the same wavelength as himself. Following the release of the EP, Joji began working on his debut album, known as BALLADS 1, the album's first single, YEAH RIGHT, was released on the 8th of May, the track was first believed to be a standalone loosie as it was released 5 months before the album itself, however it ended up being on the album and was confirmed as the one of the singles alongside SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK, CAN'T GET OVER YOU, which features a production credit from non other than Clams Casino, and TEST DRIVE. The album was well received, and was praised for containing a wider variety of sounds than its predecessor, it felt like a natural progression for Joji's sound and was a step forward towards a more mainstream approach whilst not sacrificing any of the rawness that Joji's older stuff had, which seemed to be what most fans were expecting from him. Moving forward Joji stayed mostly silent throughout 2019, appearing on the second 88Rising collaboration album, which was negatively received due to it's lack of creativity and sub-par performances from most label signees, he also appeared on Rich Brian's sophomore album, The Sailor, and released which is now known to be as the first single from Nectar, Sanctuary, a synth based poppy track that previewed a vocally improved and more confident version of Joji. What was assumed to be a loosie turned out to be the beginning of an album rollout, as half a year later Joji released Run, setting a new standard for himself both instrumentally and vocally, and a couple of months later he released Gimme Love, a double sided track with a fun, catchy beginning and a melancholy ballad driven ending, the last single, Daylight, was released on the 8th of August, the instrumental was produced by Diplo and the track itself sounded like Joji's attempt to break into the mainstream. Without warning, he also released two tracks that he classified as "NOT SONG", the first being Pretty Boy, which actually ended up on the album with a Lil Yachty feature, and the second being FTC, which sadly did not end up on the album, both tracks had videos and it seemed to me at first that the purpose of both tracks was to serve the lore that Joji has built around the album, which I will be touching up on in this write-up. A day before the album's release, he put out Gimme Cum, an enigmatic track with a mysterious message. Nectar itself was pushed back from it's original July release date due to the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, the album however was released on the 25th of September. Album Lore If there's one thing George is no stranger to, it would definitely be worldbuilding, as he has proven time and time again that he has a knack for it, especially with his FilthyFrank YouTube channel, where he managed to create characters, locations, and an entire universe out of a few satirical characters, his lore was adored by many and even though visually he never wrapped up the story he did release a book that served as closure for the FilthyFrank lore. This album's lore is not as straight forward however, and there are multiple theories doing the rounds on the internet, personally I will go by what sounded most convincing to me in terms of timeline and storyline, however do feel free to expand on what I've said or correct me, George has left multiple things left open to interpretation therefore I would not be surprised if there were multiple different meanings to the same thing. Our story begins in the music video for Gimme Love, where we see a young Joji who appears to be a small time engineer that is eager to climb through the ranks of the company he is working for, as he rises however he appears to become more stressed out and agitated at all times, lashing out at his coworkers and breaking down consistently, throughout the music video we can see that the more he progresses, the more roadblocks he runs into, which causes his behavior to become more psychotic and manic, as the shots move forward we see him accept awards, lead his very own research team, run failed experiments on his coworkers that causes them to bleed, and eventually receive military covert status, which did not come without sacrifices, as we see him smile less and less throughout the video. In the second half of the video, we see Joji steal the rocket he helped build by locking out his crew members, and launch himself into space, disappointing everyone he worked with and stabbing them in the back he appears to be quite happy however, eventually his mood flips as he is faced with two choices, engage or eject, the following shot does not allow us to see which one he picked as we are facing his back, all we see is Joji making the choice and gearing up for what's to come. The lines get blurred around this spot and many people have different theories as to which video is the right one chronologically, personally I believe Daylight comes next, and my theory is Joji is having some sort of fever dream featuring his previous coworkers, most notably the older people who went through layers of plastic surgery, who appear in the music video for FTC, where they are seen wearing badges that features the same organization Joji worked for, throughout the video they are seen rummaging through the wreckage caused by Joji, clearly looking for something specific, which ends up being the award Joji won. Back to Daylight, Joji appears to be some sort of intern working for the director and the actors, towards the end of the music video we can see Joji waking up from the aforementioned fever dream, clearly in a daze, as the shot widens we see that he is alone, in a barren wasteland, with nothing around him except for a tent and what appears to be a device used for communication, he plants a few seeds in the soil and sits by the device, hoping for a sign of life. Next comes Run, where we are once again met with Joji having a nightmare, the entire video symbolizes being trapped in a place you don't want to be in, as Joji appears to be in a never ending limousine with people he has no interest in whatsoever, towards the end of the nightmare we actually see Joji running across a massive wasteland, the same wasteland we saw him in at the end of the Daylight music video, throughout the video, we see Joji become consumed by the soil itself, which I would assume is a representation of his fears back then, seeing as he was alone and had little to no hope of being saved whatsoever. Joji wakes up from this nightmare and appears to be in some kind of spaceship, if the videos were released chronologically, we would be completely lost at this point, lucky for us, we already know what the spaceship is, as we see a picture of the Sanctuary crew in the final shots of the Run music video, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the crew is the ones that saved him from death and picked him up from the mess that he placed himself in, hence the name Sanctuary, which means refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger The crew itself is seen in action in the music video for Sanctuary, where Joji appears to be fighting and defeating some sort of one-eyed alien supervillain at the start, however, once he is defeated, both Joji and the crew themselves become aimless, as they are living monotonously without a goal, thankfully(???), one of the crew members sees this and decides to take matters into his own hands, by surgically removing his own eye, which portrays his transformation into the new supervillain, and following this up by killing a crewmember and escaping on his own, once again giving the spaceship it's own purpose. Unfortunately the music videos that were put out after the release of the album appear to be too subtle for me to think they are connected in any way, shape or form, there are many theories of course but I can't help but feel like that most of them are a reach. The most plausible explanation for this lore that I can think of is that the whole escaping from earth on his own, landing in a barren wasteland, trying to plant seeds in it, and eventually being picked up by a group(88Rising, wink wink) is a metaphor for his transition from FilthyFrank to Joji, the barren wasteland stands for how hopeless he felt at the time and the seeds symbolize the loosies he was slowly dropping before ditching his channel to become an R&B superstar, which if true, solidifies the idea that George was done with FilthyFrank long before he actually left the channel itself. Regardless, I thought the lore was very enjoyable and it was nice to see Joji back in one of his elements at least, most fans would have been disappointed in me if I had not touched up on it a bit seeing as it was a huge part of the albums release and they are intertwined in some sort of way. Review
When it's lovely I believe in anything What does love mean When the end is rolling in
It is important for me to preface this review with the fact that this Joji album is not like anything we've ever heard from him before, this is not the one man army, garageband using, sample meshing Joji that we knew in the past, this is Joji with an entire team behind his artistic vision, a whole group of people working with him to help him push his sound to the next level, and unfortunately, while the quality of the music has clearly went up, when so many people have their own input on something eventually the lines get blurred and the album loses its artistic direction and cohesion, which is one of my only complaints with this album, and I'm glad I got it out of the way first. Artistic direction and cohesion aside, this album contains some of Joji's highest highs to date, especially the singles, that's not to say that there aren't some deep cuts on here that shine as well, but once you listen to the album in it's entirety you quickly understand why the singles were chosen as singles, especially when you consider how sonically different they are from the non-singles. Sanctuary, the album's first single, is a sweet, poppy and synthy track that features a high pitched and melodic Joji, some of the track's lyrics are somewhat abstract but they are quite visually descriptive and that's always a plus in my book, the instrumental itself is quite spacey and has a nice retro vibe to it, already a huge step forward from what we've already heard from George, the track's climax reaches towards the end and gives us a beautiful bridge,with Joji crooning about wanting to be held by a significant other.
I fell for your magic, I tasted your skin And though this is tragic, at least I found the end I witnessed your madness, you shed light on my sins And if we share in this sadness, then where have you been?
Run is one of the more cinematic cuts on this album, the track is truly a double edged sword because although it's one of Joji's best, it has set an extremely high standard for both Joji and the album, leaving fans such as myself worried about whether or not he will ever reach a similar high, the production is clean, Joji's vocal lines are as dynamic as ever, the guitar melody is infectious, the lyrics are better than anything Joji has ever written and he is putting his heart and soul into every word, the electric guitar solo at the end is also something worth mentioning, which sits perfectly right in front of Joji's distant and wide vocals, ending the track on a strong note.
Look into your heart and let me know Do things turn black and gray as they go? When I'm far too gone, can you show me love? Give me love
The lyrics above come from the album's third single, a 2 sided track that starts as a bouncy, percussive, fast paced, and catchy song, with Joji chanting and pleading to be given love, softly singing about being surrounded by apathetic people, after the second chorus the entire song comes to a halt in order to make room for a mellow guitar and Joji's harmonies, which are absolutely stunning if I may add, the track, much like many other tracks on here, ends on a cinematic strong note with a string section and a grandiose piano. The final single, Daylight, is no doubt unexplored territory for Joji, the instrumental, which was produced by Diplo, starts off slow and minimalistic, with a simple yet groovy bassline, and reaches its apex on the chorus, when it suddenly becomes extremely lush, heavy, and thick, the track is most definitely a solid attempt at modern day and mainstream pop music, clearly made with the intention of receiving radio play. All of the singles show up in the first leg of the album, which is absolutely phenomenal, the opener track, Ew, starts off light and easy, with a somber and distant arpeggiated piano backed with Joji's soft vocals, who's singing about heartbreak and the loss of many relationships, sounding as bitter as ever lyrically, the chorus includes a grand string section and a chord progression that is fully panned to the right and sitting all the way behind the mix, and surprise surprise, the track itself ends on a cinematic strong note, much like many of the other tracks on here.
I've got no aim, a million rounds, is nothing real? A hundred pounds of heavy steel, it feels so loud Tied to my chest, it feels so loud I'll take a peek to across the peaks This grass is neat and I'm quite unique But I'd like to be, but I'd like to be
Up next comes MODUS, a moody track that has an intro similar to the opener track but later on has Joji melodic rapping to a murky trap instrumental, with Joji of course sounding better than ever, lyrically speaking, many of the themes on this album are similar, Joji is mostly singing about relationships, heartbreak, and the need for a significant other, the lyrics themselves give the album a nocturnal, bitter, hopeless vibe, which is what we've come to expect from Joji's music nowadays. The third track, Tick Tock, is a plucky banger of an instrumental that has Joji rapping over it with pitched up vocals on the chorus which is something that's a little bit reminiscent of his older, more amateur work, the vocal layering on the verse is also something worth mentioning, really showcases Joji's dynamic range and how much he improved as a whole, the track is nothing groundbreaking in terms of what we've heard so far and remains lowkey for the most part but is without a doubt one of my favorites on this project.
On Nectar, one of the yet-to-be-announced tracks was produced when the artist was only sixteen years old. “I’m excited to see if it sticks out or not to the listeners.” he reveals.
Joji Interview with Schön! Magazine.
While not officially announced by Joji himself, it is safe to say that Upgrade is the aforementioned track, a small interlude that seats itself in the earlier part of the album, the track starts with a grandiose piano, which is quite unnecessary if you ask me, because once we have it out of the way all we get is a very obviously barebones instrumental made from a different time, the telltale sign being non other than the ukulele that we have seen in George's earlier work. It upsets me that Joji has not made this fact much more known because this track has been consistently the subject of criticism by critics and fans alike, but at the same time I understand, because at the end of the day George left that track in there for the die hard fans, not the critics. Up until this point there is no doubt that Joji has played it safe, sure the album is much more grand and cinematic than its predecessor, but there's no denying that the signature sound is still there, we still get the hazy and moody slow bangers, if Nectar was only the first half then Joji might have had a strong album in his catalog, maybe even a classic, but I understand him wanting to expand and experiment with other sounds in order to grow as an artist. The midsection gets a little bit tricky, as Joji begins to get out of his comfort zone and the album features start appearing, to me it sounds like Joji did not know how he could keep the listener interested in the second half of this album and decided to opt in for a bunch of features as a quick fix, some work out fine, some better than others.
Handsome young man, never pull up on time Lookin' in the mirror, lookin' good should be a crime, crime All this pain I'll never let show (No) My real thoughts, you'll never know (No)
Lil Yachty on Pretty Boy
I never really listened to Lil Yachty that much aside from the obvious hits he had over the course of his career, but he clearly shined on this track as the feature, for starters, the track is very light-hearted, definitely one of the more lofi tracks on this album, the highlight for me without a doubt is the bridge, which sounds like something straight out of Pink Season, George was clearly having genuine fun with it, some even speculate that most of the bridge was made using samples from his earlier work as Pink Guy. High Hopes, which features Omar Apollo, is one of the more lowkey cuts in here as well, the percussion on the instrumental and the detuned guitar on here remind me of some of Joji's stuff from BALLADS 1, unfortunately however the track doesn't stand out much, at least not as much as Afterthought with BENEE, another track where Joji's melodies and vocals shine through once again, and BENEE's feature definitely adds some character to the track, at least enough to the point where the feature made some sense On Normal People, Joji recruits childhood friend rei brown, in an attempt to capture lightning again after their first collaboration, Once In A While. Unfortunately lightning didn't strike twice here for me and the track felt quite lackluster and uninteresting, especially for such an anticipated track and when compared to their first song, many of the tracks and collaborations on the second part of the album really felt like Joji just trying to recapture the magic of his earlier work, and while some of those attempts did work at the end of the day it does feel like a cheap cop out.
Oh, understand, girl, I'm out of sight To the other side, I don't want no stripes Got my insides loud like motorcycles Girl, don't notice it, I don't notice it
Another example of Joji attempting to recapture magic is NITROUS, which marks Joji's second time collaborating with Clams Casino, the track is very reminiscent of their first track together, both Joji and Clams Casino however killed it, the track's instrumental is very murky and nocturnal, much alike most of the album, but that doesn't stop Joji's delivery, which is very fun-loving and upbeat.
By the way you move, I know you want me to Tell you all the rules, I know I'm searching too Give me all your clues and things to guide me through The end of the world, the end of the world
Produced by the one and only Kenneth Instrumentals, Mr. Hollywood is one of the more heartfelt and personal tracks on this album, Joji is singing about his evergrowing popularity and how it will never affect what is important for him, which in this case is the girl he's singing about, like many other tracks on this album, you will often hear something that will remind you of Joji's older work, in this case it is the ad-libs on the chorus, which are very reminiscent of his ad-libs on BESIDJU, regardless the song has at least a bit of substance which makes it one of the more commendable tracks. The final run of this album is where Joji flips the script here, there are a few tracks that have questionable artistic decisions, such as Reanimator, with non other than Yves Tumor, the track serves as an instrumental interlude before the final two tracks, however with a feature such as Yves Tumor I honestly expected much more than what we got, and what we got is basically a 3 minute track, with the first minute and a half being nothing than a drone-y, synthy instrumental, and the second half being quite a lackluster performance by Joji and his guest, much like some of the other tracks on the album, it seems like it received a similar treatment, where the track was initially unfinished and still half-baked, and rather than attempting to finish the track they opted for an easy way out, which in this case was making more than half of the track an instrumental and then calling it an interlude just to be safe.
"that weeknd synthpop track sure is doing huge numbers, maybe i should also make a synthpop track as well"
I would be down to argue that if Blinding Lights by The Weeknd had not existed, 777 wouldn't have existed either, Joji's constant attempts at breaking into the mainstream and commercializing his sound have always left a bad taste in my mouth as it felt like it came from a place where authenticity is lacking, nevertheless I find it bizarre to make a track that is very similar to one of the most successful tracks of the year and not attempt to push it at all, that's not to say that 777 on it's own is not a good track, however there's no denying that the sound selection on the instrumental, some of the flows, and the chorus itself hold blaring similarities to The Weeknd's track, I understand why he would make such a track however and find it admirable at the very least. Thankfully, the album ends on a strong note, the final two tracks are both beautiful even though they're worlds apart, Like You Do, is a quintessential love ballad from Joji, a stripped down instrumental with beautiful piano chords and a laid back vibe, Joji is singing about his current partner and how what they have might not work out, even though he feels like they're perfect for one another, the closing track, Your Man is a massive change in tempo, with an upbeat, electronic, deep house-esque instrumental, we hear a Joji that is optimistic, which is a nice change of pace, especially considering how bitter most of his albums and projects have been up to date.
Since I met you All the gloomy days just seem to shine a little more brightly Consider what we've got 'Cause I can never take you for granted
Like You Do
Conclusion There's no denying that some tracks on here sound like a bastardized version of Joji's signature sound. Joji is trying his best to commercialize his sound without sacrificing the rawer elements of it, which unfortunately results in a jumble of sounds. This album is not free of criticisms as there are many issues in here that need to be worked on, it's much less cohesive than its predecessor and at times sounds like a bunch of rough ideas put together in order to create the world's most average musical equivalent of a photo collage, but if we were to just set all of that aside and just look at this album for what it is, then there's definitely something in here for everyone. George might have not made a classic, and he certainly hasn't found his sound yet, but this album is an indicator that he's on to something, and once again I am already anxious to hear what he has in store next. Talking Points
What did you think of this album? Is it a good follow-up to BALLADS 1?
Do you think Joji works better alone or when he has a team behind him?
Do you think Joji will yet again set another high standard for himself next project?
What are your predictions for Joji's sound in the future?
Now that he's more keen on having features, who do you think would compliment Joji's sound the most?
Before you spend money on this game, consider this.
I've been seeing a lot of posts where people are upset or complaining that they didn't get anything after spending "x" amount of money. I just want to put my two cents in there since this is how I look at the game. Before spending any money on primogems, consider these things:
"If I get this character with $x, is it even worth $x?"
You're essentially paying to play with a character. Except in this case, paying for a chance to play with that character. What about the people who have spent thousands on this game? After getting Diluc or Mona for $3,000, was it worth it? Think of all the things you could buy with that money. A Nintendo Switch costs $300. A game costs up to $60, and you know what you're getting. Rent money is $1,000-$3,000. The list goes on.
You're never guaranteed anything.
The ONLY exception to this is pity rolls. The maximum you'd need to spend is 28,800 primogems (around $400+) to guarantee getting the featured character on the banner. This is assuming that you didn't get any 5-stars before hitting the pity the first time, your first pity wasn't the featured character, and you hit the pity a second time to guarantee them. Is any single character worth $400? Other than the featured character, it can be REALLY difficult to pull any other character. You want Diluc? If you roll on the featured banner, its 50% chance you'll get the featured character. That means 50% chance you'll get a different 5-star. Since there are five 5-stars at this moment (not counting the featured), you have a 1/10 chance of pulling Diluc when you get a 5-star from this banner. On top of that, it's a 0.6% chance that you'll even pull a 5-star to begin with. As for the standard banner? The chance is even smaller with all the weapons thrown in. To those complaining that they spent $100, $500, $1000 and didn't get what they wanted, you were never guaranteed it to begin with. It's all RNG, you aren't owed anything because you spent money on the game.
There will always be a new character that you'll want.
So you spent $400 on getting Venti. You needed him, he's your favorite character right? Of course you had to spend for him, he's the best character you've ever seen and you couldn't enjoy this game without him. A few months later, a new character is released and you're in awe. Their skills...their looks....their element...you NEED them. Well, that's another $400 you'd have to shill out to guarantee them. What's that? You only want to use them if you have their first constellation? Well better get that credit card out again, looks like you'll need to pull some dupes. This is a never-ending cycle. I've run into this feeling countless times in video games. The new shiny thing will always be tempting you. Not to mention power creep. New characters are often made to be better than older ones. As the game progresses, people who don't have newer characters are often at a disadvantage (mainly with DPS). In a gacha game like Genshin, it would be very expensive to keep up with this if power creep occurs within this game in the future. It's best to make the most of what you have.
Gacha = Gambling
When you go to a casino, do you walk in expecting to win millions? The odds are never in your favor when gambling. Rates are low for a reason. If everyone could spend $50 and get the exact characters they wanted every time, Miyoho wouldn't be making as much money as they are. Gacha games have always been about gambling for characters. As stated previously, you're neverarely guaranteed anything, and by the time you've gotten what you wanted (unless extremely lucky), the company has already gotten what they wanted.
Don't be blinded by sunk-cost.
Sunk-cost is the idea that you've already put so much into something, and it'll go to waste unless you continue putting resources into it to get it. Do not be blinded by this when doing gachas. Say you spent $100 and didn't get Qiqi. You've already put so much into the game, and not getting her would mean your money went to waste right? What if it would take another $1,000 to get her. Would that be worth it? It's best to cut your losses and walk away. Thinking about the sunk cost of something is what gives many people difficulty walking away, and causes them to over-spend.
Your party has limited space.
Yes, I know abyss is the exception. But overall the majority of the game only allows 4 characters at a time. You can't play with them all. It feels real bad to put a character you spent a lot of money on aside because they don't fit your current comp anymore. ------- This comes from someone who is largely free-to-play in games like this. The only gacha game I've ever spent money on was Love Live a few years ago. I spent $125 and never got a single ultra-rare with my pulls. From that I realized what I was doing. Even if I could afford putting $30 per 10-pull, was the card I was going to get really worth that? No. I learned from that experience and see gacha games for what they are.
PS: If you are aware of all this and still want to spend $$/disposable income on primogems, by all means go ahead. But for many people it's easy to lose sight of what they're really paying for. I hope this is helpful in some way. Feel free to disagree with any of this, but this is my perspective on the game and I get really sad seeing so many posts on the subreddit about how depressed people are after spending and not getting anything, and feeling entitled to it. TL;DR: It's easy to sink lots of money into this game if you don't recognize you're gambling and never guaranteed anything. This is a warning post, not a criticism of anyone. EDIT: As reddit user u/zapzya summarized: "...not everyone actually has the financial stability to invest in such a product, yet will do so anyway because they are not particularly knowledgeable in gambling mechanics or because shady tactics like the currency change ($$ genesis crystals primogems fates) actually work."
She started out with a sore throat on Christmas Eve and on Christmas evening, her blood sugar dropped so low she was disoriented and unresponsive. Paramedics gave her sugars and she snapped out of whatever delirium she was in. They didn’t want to take her to the hospital because although she was presumptive for COVID-19, they didn’t want to risk exposing her if she wasn’t positive. In the early hours of the 26th, my birthday, she was hospitalized. She was stable and her vitals were fine, apart from her cough. I called her this morning at around 9 am. I haven’t been able to sleep or eat without speaking to her. She told me she was feeling much better this morning, but her cough was awful. After hearing her voice and hearing her say she was okay, I fell back to sleep, a normal routine I have fallen into the past few days. I woke up to a phone call an hour later that she had a cardiac arrest and was revived and intubated, on a ventilator. The doctor let me know that given her age, previous conditions, and weak heart, she is expecting another cardiac arrest and doesn’t believe she will pull through. Now I’m only waiting on more bad news and there’s nothing I can do but wait. Wait for them to tell me that she is no longer in pain, though I’m praying and hoping that the phone call I get will tell me she miraculously pulls through. Because although I’ve read all the real horror stories, I’ve read the miracle stories too. My grandmother stayed home since March. She lives with relatives who work low-paying jobs to make ends meet. She was exposed accidentally through them. They didn’t party, they didn’t travel, they needed to pay bills. My grandmother is not another statistic, no matter what unempathetic hoaxers or anti-vaxxers want to believe. She is not worth less as a human because of her age, race, or socioeconomic status. She wasn’t irresponsible. She made face masks in her free time to give to friends and family. She got her flu shot. My grandmother is a person with family who loves her, family that is in agony because we can’t be there with her. Family that is in agony because we can’t hug each other for comfort. My grandmother’s name is Obdulia. An immigrant from Mexico who worked as a seamstress for Speedos to support her family. She loves her parrots and cats and telenovelas and embroidery. She loves to go to the casino and play on slot machines, she has amazing luck on those things. She was waiting for the pandemic to be over to make a trip to Las Vegas with her adult children and grandchildren. My grandmother is not a statistic, whether she pulls through or doesn’t. Her death or recovery will be a numerical point added onto a database for headlines to use and skeptics to refute and politicians to weaponize. My grandmother’s illness is not the fault of my relatives who were expected to care for her and survive on a $1,200 stimulus check for 9 months. My grandmother’s illness, and death, is the fault of a flawed country, a flawed government system, and those that lack empathy for others. My grandmother didn’t party or travel or scream at retail workers about her rights to not wear masks. She did what she could and it wasn’t enough. I want you all to know her name. And I want you to know that I’m suffering, we are all suffering. And I want you to know that when I read your stories, I don’t see another case. I imagine their colorful lives, love, and the plans and daydreams they held once this nightmare ends. I see you and I hope you all see me too.
I live in a small mining town in the mountains of Colorado. Someone is building a massive casino nearby, Pictures Included
I grew up in a small mountain town named Eureka. It was founded in the late 1800s during the gold rush, but after the mines dried up the town began its slow descent into decay. Half the houses are empty or abandoned now. You can see a picture of the kind of houses here in Eureka: First house Second house When a massive construction project began nearby, it was the talk of the town for weeks. Why would they build something in a sleepy dying town like Eureka? It wasn’t until my sister Selene talked to a few construction workers that we discovered they were building a casino. A casino up in the mountains, over two hours away from Denver. None of us could understand why they’d chosen here of all places. After a few months of work, the casino was done. I took a picture of the town with the completed casino in the background to the right. The ten-story-structure sticks out like a sore thumb off in the distance. Town+Casino After the casino opened, they hired a few dozen members of the town, offering high paying jobs to work as dealers or cleaning staff. I was already employed as a firefighter, but my sister Selene got a job as a blackjack dealer. She’s a widow with two young kids, so the paycheck was a real lifesaver. Still, something about the situation seemed too good to be true. The jobs over there paid far too well, and the management was far too accommodating. The fire station where I work is located high on a hill overlooking the town, so I began watching the casino from a distance each day. I had initially thought that the casino was located in a terrible location, but I was apparently wrong. True, Eureka was hours from any major city, but despite that, a bus full of people arrived every morning and left every evening. One night I was over at my parent’s house and had dinner with Selene and her kids. I asked her about her experience as a dealer. “It’s Ok,” she said. “Just a little boring I guess.” “Boring?” I asked. “I’m surprised you don’t have your hands full.” “Why’s that?” she asked. “It’s like you said, Eureka’s too small. I never have people playing cards. The casino is almost always completely empty.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. If the place was always empty, what happened to the people who I’d seen arriving on buses? “I’ve been keeping an eye on the building,” I said. “A bus full of people typically arrives around 9 AM every day.” “Really?” she asked, looking confused. “If that’s true, I’ve never seen them. “I can see it from the fire station,” I said. “If you head out for a smoke break at 9 AM, you’ll probably see them arriving.” “Interesting,” she said. “I’ll do that. If they’re being processed for their organs or something, I’ll let you know.” She laughed. “Har har,” I said sarcastically. The next night she sent me a text calling me over. When I arrived, she was nearly breathless with excitement. “Orin, You were right,” she said. “A big group of people did arrive, but they didn’t walk into my part of the casino. Instead, they all walked into an elevator at the back of the building. I’m not sure where that goes.” She looked thoughtful. “It was weird. They looked… How can I say it? Desperate? Something about the whole situation was very off. I’m gonna check out the elevator tomorrow.” I told her to be careful, though, to be honest, I was excited to hear about what she discovered. When I visited my parent’s house the next night, I found her two kids there alone. They told me that Selene had never returned from work. I called all her friends, then all our neighbors, but no one had seen her since she left for work that morning. Our conversations regarding the casino flooded my mind, then a plan began to form. Early the next morning I walked across town in my nicest pair of jeans and a button-up shirt. I pushed through the door to the casino and saw that Selene wasn’t lying. The place was all but deserted. Three dozen slot machines crowded the walls surrounding a few tables interspersed throughout the floor of the casino. The only players in the whole building were Bob and Donald, two locals. I walked up to a nearby table where Bridget, a girl I’d gone to high school with, was shuffling cards. She broke into a grin when she saw me. “Hey Orin, you here for a few rounds of blackjack?” “I wish,” I said. “No, I’m here to ask about Selene. She never made it home last night.” Bridget’s expression darkened. “Really? Have you asked around?” “I already called around. Have you seen her?” She shook her head. “No, our schedules rarely line up. I’ll be sure to let you know if I--” Her eyes focused on something behind me, and she cut herself off. I turned around to see the casino’s pit boss watching us both. He was a tall thin man in an impeccably clean black suit. When I turned back towards Bridget, she was looking down at the table and shuffling cards absent-mindedly. “Well, if you hear anything, let me know,” I said. She nodded, so I turned around and headed for the pit boss. I stuck out my hand. The temperature of his hand was so hot that I had to pull my hand away after a few seconds. “Have… have you seen my sister Selene?” I asked. “She hasn’t been seen since her shift here yesterday.” He smiled. “Sir, this floor is for players. You’re more than welcome to head to the tellers for chips, but barring that I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.” I stared at him for a long second before stalking towards the door. When I looked back, he was talking with Bridget. I checked my watch. 8:55 AM, just as I’d planned. I walked around the back of the building and waited as the morning bus pulled around the building. I waited for the telltale hiss of the opening doors and the sound of people descending before I rounded the corner and joined the crowd. None of them paid any particular attention to me as I walked with them into the casino. The crowd walked through a side door down a hallway to an elevator. Small groups of people entered the elevator as the rest of us waited for our turn. I shot a glance at the casino patrons, surprised at their diversity. There seemed to be people from all different countries and ethnicities. I heard one speaking Japanese and another speaking what sounded like an African language. My turn came along with a few other patrons in the elevator. A sickly woman hobbled into the elevator beside me carrying an IV that was still connected to one of her veins. We piled in and rode up to the top. The elevator rose for a few long seconds. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I steeled myself for something horrible. The elevator’s speaker let out a TING, then the doors opened. We all walked out onto what looked like a standard casino. Another few dozen slot machines ringed the walls, but on this floor, they were almost all occupied by customers. I took in the scene, confused at why they’d have a ground floor that was almost completely empty when this place was almost-- Selene was dealing cards at a nearby table. I jogged over and sat down at an open seat. None of the players around me paid me much attention. “Selene!” I said. “Are you OK? Did you spend the night here last night?” Her eyes were glassy and confused. She looked up at me with a dumb expression and didn’t respond to my question. “Selene?” I asked. “What’s your bet?” she asked me. “This table is for blackjack players only.” “I…” I trailed off, looking at the players around me. None of them were betting with chips of any kind. “What’s the minimum bet?” I asked. “Three years,” she responded. “Three years then,” I said, not knowing what that referred to. Selene nodded, then began dealing cards. I shot a look down at my hand. King and a 9. Selene dealt out cards for herself, showing a 9. I stood, then leaned forward again. “Should I call the police? Are you--” “Congratulations,” she said tonelessly. An almost impossibly warm hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun to see the pit boss I’d spoken to earlier. He gave an impressed smile. “Orin, was it? I’m impressed, truly. Would you mind if I had a word with you?” I shot a look back at Selene who was dealing the next round of cards. Then I got to my feet, balling my hands into fists. “What did you do to her?” The pit boss clasped his hands behind his back. “Nothing more, and nothing less than what I’m going to do to you. That is, offer you the chance to play.” “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” The pit boss nodded his head towards a nearby slot machine. A woman in a wheelchair pulled a lever and watched the flashing numbers spin. They exploded in a cacophony of sirens and flashing lights. “WINNER WINNER WINNER!” The machine screeched. The woman in the wheelchair put her feet on the ground and stood up on a pair of wobbly legs that had clearly never been used before. “As in any other casino,” the pit boss said, “you must wager for the chance to win.” “She... won the use of her legs?” I asked, feeling light-headed. “Wait,” I said. “I played blackjack just now. ‘Three years,’ Selene told me. What does ‘three years’ mean?” I asked. “Three years of life, of course. Did you win?” My mouth felt dry. “I-- Yes, I won.” He smiled warmly. “Congratulations. I hope you enjoy them. I can tell you from personal experience that watching the decades pass is a bore. Give it some time and you’ll be back to spend them.” I watched the pit boss’s face. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me, and I was in my early thirties. I looked around at the casino. No one was playing with chips of any kind. “So what?” I asked. “I won years of life. That woman won the use of her legs. What else can a person win here?” “Oh, almost anything. They can win almost anything you can imagine.” A cold feeling settled in my stomach. “And what do they wager?” His eyes flashed with greed. “Almost anything. They can wager almost anything you can possibly imagine. Anything equal in value to the item they want in return.” He nodded towards a nearby roulette table. A man stood by the table, cradling his hands. “Another finger,” he called out. He only had three fingers remaining on his left hand. As I watched, the ball came to a stop, and another finger disappeared from his left hand. The pit boss extended his hands. “Feel free to try any of our games. Bet and win whatever you’d like.” He reached out and snatched my hand. A feeling of intense warmth passed up my arm to my chest. “There,” he said. “I’ve even given you some house money to get you started. An extra decade of life, on me.” I ripped my hand away, staring at him in horror. Then I looked back at Selene. Something clicked in my mind. “You offered her the chance to play. What did she want?” I asked. “Her husband,” the pit boss said. “Quite the sad story. He died two years ago. She wanted him brought back to her.” “What did she wager?” I asked. “She wanted the chance to win a soul, the most valuable object in existence. I’m sure you can imagine what she needed to wager for the chance to win it. What she wagered is unimportant. The important question is: What do you want, Orin?” I stared at Selene with a flat expression. “I’m sure you can imagine.” His eyes flashed with greed again. “How wonderful. The casino could always make use of another dealer. Feel free to make your wager at any one of our games; I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of your night. Oh, and do take advantage of our waitresses. We always supply food and drink for ‘high rollers’.” He walked away. I spent the next few hours trying to decide which game to play. I was going to be wagering my soul, so I wanted the highest chance possible. Slots and roulette were out. I’d done some reading online about counting cards, so I figured that blackjack gave me the best odds. I walked up to Selene’s table and sat down. “Bet?” she asked with that same toneless voice. “Three years,” I said. I spent the next hour or so doing my best to remember how to count cards. I knew that low cards added one to my count and high cards decreased it by one, but the casino used three decks. I had read something about how that was supposed to change my calculation, but I couldn’t quite remember how. Every time I won a hand, I cursed myself for not putting everything on the line. Every time I lost, I breathed a prayer of thanks that I’d waited. And all the while, I kept track of the count. I had lost fifteen years of life when the count finally reached +5. “Bet?” Selene asked. “I wager my soul so you can be free,” I said. The table around me fell silent. Selene’s eyes flickered, but she showed no other emotion as she dealt the cards. I watched my first card, punching the air in excitement when I saw a Jack. My excitement turned to ash when my second card was a four. Fourteen. I looked at her hand. One card was facedown, but the faceup card was a King. I swore loudly, staring down at my hands. “Hit?” she asked. The entire table was silently watching me. “Hit,” I said, not looking down. The table erupted in cheers. I looked down to see a 7 atop my two other cards. 21. Blackjack. I looked at Selene who flipped over her facedown card to reveal a 9. 19. I won. The glassy look left her eyes immediately. She looked around in surprise, then her eyes locked on mine. “Orin?” she asked, then almost immediately began to cry. The entire casino broke out in cheers. I grabbed her hand and headed for the elevator. The doors had begun to close when the pit boss reached out with a hand to stop them. “Congratulations,” he said, beaming. He seemed to be honestly excited. “Shouldn’t you be upset?” I asked. “Not at all. Casinos love it when we have big winners. It inspires the other players to make larger bets. I imagine I’ll gain two or three dealers before the night is through from your performance.” “Great,” I said flatly. “Now let us go.” “Not yet,” he said. “You didn’t just win, Orin. You got a blackjack. And blackjack pays out 1.5 times your bet. You won your sister’s soul and more.” I stared, not sure what to say. “What are you saying? I won half a soul extra?” The pit boss grinned wildly. “Just remember what I said. You’ll find living for decades and decades to be a boring experience. After a few centuries, you’ll be back to gamble that half a soul away. Congratulations!” He removed his hand, and the elevator doors slammed shut. I helped Selene back to her house. Her children were relieved. I watched them cry, then moved into the kitchen to start making dinner. It’s been a few days since that experience. The casino is still out there, and buses full of people still arrive. I… I cut my hand pretty bad a few days later. When I checked it an hour later, it had already healed, no scar or anything. I’m not sure exactly what I won at that casino, but there’s no way I’m ever going back. X
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
I wanted to share with the group some due diligence and speculation I have done around Gamehost (TSX: GH). I want to start by saying that this is not a situation where you urgently need to buy this right now and ride up a wave, there will be no rocket ships on this post and I strongly encourage you to perform your own due diligence and see if you want to buy this stock. This is an extremely low volume stock and if you rush to buy it, the price will go up far past the supply of sellers. I do not intend to pump this but only to get critique. Gamehost is an owner and operator of 3 casinos located in Alberta, 2 hotels in Grande Prairie and a retail store rented to a liquor store near one of the casinos. The 3 casinos are: Boomtown Casino in Fort McMurray, The Great Northern Casino in Grande Prairie and the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary which they own 91% of currently. As you probably guessed by these locations, the casinos are cyclical and make a lot of money when oil prices are up and go through downturns when prices are low and projects stop. All 3 casinos are not destination type casinos like you would find in Las Vegas where people come from all around to visit, but are very reliant on their local communities. The Boomtown Casino is the only casino in Fort McMurray and the Great Northern Casino is the only proper casino in Grande Prairie with a much smaller limited one in town. The Deerfoot Inn and Casino is 1 of 7 (yes, 7!) casinos in the Calgary area. It primarily focuses on the Southeastern portion of the city and the surrounding suburbs and still serves a market of about 200,000 people in just that area. All 3 casinos are also very focused on live events and have become gathering points for live events and nights out for their communities. Although all 3 casinos have been affected by oil downturns all 3 communities they serve have much higher median income than the country as a whole. The casinos have remained profitable throughout the entirety of the oil downturn and despite a dividend cut in 2016 they have still paid a consistently strong dividend until the COVID-19 pandemic (more on this later). Grande Prairie’s economy is more focused on natural gas extraction which has been consistently profitable. Calgary as a major city does have a diversified economy as well which leaves just Fort McMurray to be the lone straggler in dealing with oil prices. No new casinos have been built in Alberta since 2006, which has left people still coming to the doors of the casinos regardless of the economy. All three cities have seen consistent population growth greater than 10% from 2016 according to Statistics Canada’s estimates which is far greater than the national average. People are still coming to these cities and are still making a fairly high wage compared to the average Canadian. The second thing that has likely come to your mind is why casinos when they have been shut down during the pandemic? As the vaccine is currently being implemented the orders will not last forever. When the casinos have been opened even with reduced services, they have remained profitable and the management has responded by using the pandemic as an opportunity. They have been consistently buying back thousands of shares every day and cancelling them. If you look at their SEDAR profile you can see that they have not missed a single day to cancel at least 2,000 shares per day. Since the company had 24.5 million shares issued, they have bought back about 1-2% of the float so far which has made the stock even harder to buy on the open markets due to the lack of volume. They have also been approved to expand the operations of the Deerfoot Inn and Casino which should be completed by the summer. The insiders have followed by accumulating many shares in their personal accounts over this period of weakness. In the third quarter of 2020 the company posted EPS of 12 cents per share down from 16 cents a year ago. Revenue was down to $4.9 million from $6.7 million. This is with severe restrictions and limitations on the amount of people that can come in the casino and what they can do. All live events were cancelled, table games were restricted and yet the company was still making enough money to buy back significant shares and improve their existing assets. The management has essentially channelled the dividend into making the number of shares decrease in a time of strong price weakness. There is interest in this space since the largest casino operator in the country Great Canadian Gaming was acquired recently for almost double what they were trading for in the spring. Private equity firms have been looking into casinos as a post-recovery play. Unlike companies in airlines or movie theatres, these do not have significant issues staying profitable during intense downturns, they only become less profitable with a sudden surge afterwards. I am speculatively buying this stock on the idea that as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted there will be an awkward window where people will be back almost to normal within Canada and will have a strong urge to go out and do activities that they have been restricted from doing for months. At the same time they will be unable to travel internationally due to different countries having different vaccination schedules, planes still operating at reduced capacity with many airlines being in trouble and governments being reluctant to remove limitations abroad. This will significantly bring business to casinos and other live event focused businesses within Canada. I anticipate that in the 12 months past restrictions being lifted that the business will see a significant bump in EPS. They will reinstate the dividend and the share price will grow significantly. My personal price target is $12 per share but I could see it being anywhere from $10-$15 per share. This is without oil prices budging at all. In the long-term the price will be cyclical based on oil prices unless they start diversifying geographically. It is extremely difficult to get a licence to open a casino, which leaves the company with the only option of acquiring other casinos. This is a possibility down the road but something I will look more into once I see a significant bump in EPS due to increased demand. I do believe that in the current market with the price having barely recovered from the March lows, that the stock is a very good contrarian play in the 12-24 month range. Holding after that could potentially be risky depending on your own views on how the oil industry will play out and if the management has what it takes to diversify. Online gambling is an even longer term threat but since these casinos are focused on live events and have become a staple of the communities that they are in, this is not likely to be a threat for some significant time. Please let me know what you think, feel free to criticize. If you guys like my analysis I could do more on other small or mid cap companies. There have been a few I have kicked myself over missing.
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