Deutschland Diary: A Gamescom-unication

By Alec Meer on August 18th, 2011 at 9:33 pm.

Local, er, delicacy currywurst, aka what everyone here other than me is eating all the time

Greetings from Germany, frauleins. I’m out here at Gamescom, in theory in the historic city of Cologne but in practice spending my days intermittently staggering and sprinting across a labyrinthine convention centre the size of a small moon.

I’m here to see games: a lot of games. My laptop’s hard drive is littered with half-incomprehensible Word documents hamfistedly touch-typed as I gazed upon demos of exhaustingly noisy big-budget shooters, intriguingly odd Euro-strategy games, and an aerial combat/RPG/turn-based strategy/boardgame hybrid in which you can marry a lipstick-wearing skeleton.

It’s just coming to the end of my third day here, and I’m exhausted as a boy can be thanks to the unholy trinity of back-to-back appointments, stifling heat and the empty-bellied perils of apparently being the only vegetarian in Germany. (Actually, that’s not true – I met a nice fellow from Gearbox who’s having the same problem earlier. Pan-continental, slightly frail solidarity, brother!)

But while Gamescom might have left me in dire straits, the same cannot be said for PC gaming. What a grand show it’s been for the IBM-compatible. While the most pervasive sound and fury might, as always, be coming from the big console shooters, both the main show floor and the trade area I’ve been spending most of my time seems to hold far more PC games than it does all the other platforms’ games put together. Of course, many of these are free to play MMOs and Evony-esque browser-strategy thingums whose path I may never cross again, but pretty much all the biggest titles here are headed our way too. I’m not going to be short a thing or two to post over the coming weeks, I can assure you.

I can’t help but notice – but probably shouldn’t name names – that most of the publisher’s biggest games are demonstrated on high-end PCs hidden behind a podium but played with an Xbox pad. Do the console guys spot this as instantly as I do, or are they there thinking that Enormous Game X has achieved hitherto unknown levels of 360 anti-aliasing and texture filtering, and will surely be this console generation’s best-looker? Suckers.

This is on one hand pleasing – big games demonstrably looking their best on PC and thus promising definite ocular treats for us lot when they release – and on the other irritating. They’ve made their games look wonderful thanks to PC, but it’s almost like they’re too embarrassed to admit it. It’d be nice to see a little more public dev love for these machines they’re relying on so much for hype and bombast. But I guess the PC doesn’t have the direct equivalent of a Microsoft or Sony that needs constantly courting. The most high-profile exception to this subterfuge is Valve’s Dota 2 tournament, a mouse and keyboard-only game that’s drawing some of the convention’s biggest crowds. The combination of the pro-gamers’ impossible speed and the German-language commentary meant I barely understood what was going on in that game, alas. I look forward to it being shown in a context involving normal, mortal human beings, not these lighting-quick superhumans.

Ach, I’m rambling. It’s almost as if I’ve spent three days running everywhere but eating almost nothing. Gamescom is a state of mind, and one I’m glad only happens once a year. What else to tell you? Well, game of the show for me so far is Arkane’s immersive sim Dishonored. I’ll be explaining why at far greater length at some point very soon, but the crux is that it appears to offer some of the finest elements of Thief, Hitman, Bioshock, Deus Ex and Half-Life 2 all rolled into a tantalising package that’s very much its own distinct entity. Equally memorable but for very different reasons was an hour spent playing Saints Row: The Third and marvelling at its open madness (‘where do you guys draw the line?’ I asked. ‘We don’t’, they replied.)

Now to sleep, perchance to dream that sausagemeat miraculously becomes vegetarian. Tomorrow, I see Rage, Firefall and Airline Tycoon 2, amongst others, before relievedly dragging myself onto a crowded Easyjet. Bye!

Delightful currywurst photo via Wikimedia/Rainer Z.

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130 Comments »

  1. patricij says:

    Currywurst! I havent had one in ages…*sigh*

    • AndrewC says:

      I can only imagine eating currywurst will put you in far direr straits than missing a couple of meals.

    • Kaira- says:

      The things I’d do and give for a currywurst now…

    • Ridnarhtim says:

      It’s easy enough to make the sauce, so as long as you can find some decent sausages (admittedly difficult in England) you can have it anytime you like ^^ Waitrose do some decent Bratwürste.

    • Koozer says:

      Currywurst is the evils. Give me a schnitzel any day of the week. Failing that, some kind of semmelbrot.

    • shoptroll says:

      Is that just bratwurst with a bit of curry thrown into the mix?

    • Xercies says:

      Sometimes, sometimes they have actually infused the curry into the Sausage. i really miss germany sometimes because of the Bratwursts. Hmmmmm

    • JFS says:

      It’s so much more. More like Bratwurst with a tiny bit of religious cult thrown in.

    • Novotny says:

      I’ve never had one. But I see it. I want it.

    • Quine says:

      What in God’s name did they *do* to that sausage?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Currywurst is unfortunately the shame of Berlin. Döner is our real local specialty.

    • killmachine says:

      im german and currywurst or a regular bratwurst is very delicious. you cant be too sure whats in it though, you just have to trust the butcher who makes it. lots of it is fat anyways.

      i actually became sort of a vegetarian myself couple of months ago. i dont call myself vegetarian though. collegues even make fun of me when i eat a banana instead of smoking during my breakes (i actually quit smoking, too). so i just tell them i dont eat meat any more. i dont use the “V” word.

      if you want to eat delicious veggy stuff in germany, go eat a pizza somewhere, we have plenty of italian restaurants. or go visit the local turkey for some delicious vegetarian “döner” (doner kebab). tastes just as good without meat. has lots of fresh salat and vegetables in it. tomato, onions and stuff.

      rest of german cuisine is pretty much pommes, currywurst and schnitzel. delicious, yet meat. :) except the pommes of course.

    • KGB says:

      There seem to be quite a bunch of purely vegetarian restaurants in Cologne though: http://www.google.com/search?q=köln+vegetarisch&tbm=plcs That’s what I and my girlfriend (vegetarian, myself just a part-time vegetarian) usually do before visiting unknown cities – google their vegetarian restaurants/takeaways/etc. Especially in the bigger German cities there’s at least one or two in the inner city. Good options that often offer vegetarian dishes (which actually can be called a dish, not just some random greens in a salad) are Indian (as a Brit you probably know that?) and to some extent Italian restaurants.
      Best vegetarian food I had though: Edinburgh (David Bann, Hendersons) ;)

    • Jac says:

      Currywurst gives me the schnitzels

    • mbourgon says:

      Askeladd: That’s funny – we American’s can’t see the video. “This video contains content from EMI, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds. Sorry about that.”

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      That Osho’s place looks pretty good, though I’d never give up cooked flesh.

      http://www.oshos-place.de/

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    • sbs says:

      Till: Agreed about currywurst being an overrated piece of shit. Döner Kebap doesnt originate in Berlin, the sandwich version still does though.
      I wanna add Ketwurst as something you have to have eaten when visiting Berlin, if i may: http://www.thorstena.de/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ketwurst.jpg

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I used to sell German sausage at Manchester Christmas market, what a job.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      We used to have a proper German market in Southampton, but they cheaped out last year and the council made their own one up. Shame, the sausages were the best!

    • Dreamhacker says:

      I’ve tried “currywoohst” several times, but only ended up with normal wursts sprinkled with curry powder.

      For sausage connoseurs, I recommend Polish and Greek spicy sausages. Great stuff.

    • ulix says:

      The only “true” Currywurst isn’t made of Bratwurst, but of Rindswurst.

      Sadly, you can only get Rindswurst, a sasuage made purely of veal, in the area arround Frankfurt (Rhine-Main Area), it was invented about 100 years ago by a Frankfurt butcher to draw in Jewish customers.

      It is, in my humble opinion, a thousand times more delicious than any Bratwurst, but as I said you can only get a “Rindscurry” in and arround Frankfurt.

  2. ArcaneSaint says:

    Now I’m hungry. And I just had dinner!

  3. Paul says:

    Dishonored. From the first day of reveal, I knew this was going to be The Most Anticipated Game.

    Cannot wait to read more.

  4. JFS says:

    CURRYWURST!

    First & best reason for staying in Germany.

  5. magnus says:

    That image will stay with me forever, even though like Count Arthur Strong says, I won’t eat anything unless it’s got a smile on it’s face.

  6. WingNutZA says:

    Vegetarian eh? Always knew there was something… off… about ye… :-P

    • magnus says:

      True and why is a Vegetarian trying to frighten us Carnivores with photos of meat by-products, are there vegetables that would cause THEM sleepless nights?

    • Kaira- says:

      Well, when my fiancee was still a vegetarian when she once ordered falafel. Or as it later became known, analfel (includes a story about a friends hangover-feces and stuff like that, you don’t want to know).

    • imirk says:

      My wife is a recovering vegetarian. It has been a long and hard road but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are working together to beat this!

    • Josh W says:

      I actually know someone who is trying not to be vegitarian; they shifted from eating no meat to only eating humanely farmed meat, except they were so used to not eating meat that they couldn’t get used to the taste or texture.

      So no problem right? Just carry on eating no meat, and save money too. Except that they’d decided to start eating meat to support the alternatives to normal livestock farming, so they’d decided it was their duty. I think they can actually eat meat now, but they don’t enjoy it that much!

  7. Bluerps says:

    Currywurst is awesome. :D

    But of course it’s made of dead animals (and lots of ketchup and curry powder), so I can see the problem a vegetarian has with these.

    Couldn’t you eat French Fries? Currywurst can almost always be ordered with fries.
    Of course, eating those is not much healthier than eating nothing for three days. On the other hand: It’s a trade fair. You don’t go there to eat healthy.

    (Also, it seems like Dishonored could be far more interesting than I thought – looking forward to details about that)

  8. Eynonz says:

    That food!? …… it looks like it was made by the gods!

  9. Sagan says:

    It’s interesting that Evony has become the example game for that genre now. You don’t have to be the first or the best, you just have to be the loudest or most controversial to be remembered. Luckily I don’t think that it did them any good.

    • Jackablade says:

      They’re well known amongst gamers and are apparently synonymous with an entire genre of games despite having a wholly unremarkable product. I dare say their dodgy bait and switch advertising did them a lot of good.

  10. Blain says:

    It’s been a while (2005), but I found that Turkish places were my best bet for vegetarian food in Germany. Other than that I mostly stuck to delis, bakeries, and markets. A nice woman at the deli taught me how to say “Kein fleisch, bitte.”

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      Indian or Thai is good too. Also, Alec is my new favorite RPSer.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      I ate chips. That was pretty much all I could do to survive. I starved for four days in Germany, then I pretty much starved for three days in Poland, and a further few days in Prague, although Prague was a little bit better.

      In Germany, EVERYTHING is a sausage!

  11. KingCathcart says:

    Was! In den vergangenen drei Jahren habe ich die Worte eines vegetarischen genossen!

  12. rayne117 says:

    It sure is the wurst amirite

    • westyfield says:

      Punning like that won’t help you curry favour.

    • Starky says:

      Sorry guys, but you’ve got a lot of ketch up to do before you’re at RPS levels of punage.

    • Inigo says:

      You’re all embarrassments to humanity itself and it is my dearest wish that you are dragged out of your beds on to the streets and shot in the back of the head like the godless animals you are. Your families would need to be purged too.
      The women shall be burned.
      The menfolk will be hung – but not before being gelded, so that their death throes will have no loins to stir and stain our holy lands with their foul tainted seed.
      The children, vile spawn of your unholy unions that they are, shall receive the harshest punishment. First they shall be flayed. Then, with their bare flesh exposed to the unforgiving eye of God, they shall be presented to the humble, god-fearing peasantry as an example of the justice of Man and God, united in the holy cause of heathen extermination. Then their extremities shall be removed. Other, lesser heretics would have their limbs torn from them by wild horses; but such a torment would only be fleeting before Death administered His panacea to their agonies. No – the degenerate spawn of your loins shall experience a much harsher fate. With rusted saws and blunted knives, with splinted hammers and shattered chisels shall their grasping, savage, bestial limbs be severed from their bodies.
      Though the unforgiving desert they shall crawl upon their cauterised stumps – their tender, exposed muscles savaged by the sand, the brutal scourge of God himself. Then, exhausted, pained, hoping for death, they shall be tied to stout logs and their entrails exposed and removed by hooks of iron – their blessed screams of agony united in a prayer of forgiveness towards our one and only true God.
      And while the last vestiges of their undeserved, hideous lives begin to slip away into the depths of Stygian abyss, their carcasses shall be paraded amongst the holy – the chosen few of God (though the horrendous presence of the children offend their very sensibilities) shall pray to our God and beseech Him to bestow forgiveness upon your wretched spawn, so that they may spend less time in the blessed agonies of Purgatory to atone for their most obscene crimes.
      Then, once the wasted, truly unworthy gift of life has fled their twisted forms, the bodies shall be cast into the Pit of Sin – an unsanctified, unholy pit of damnation where the corpses of those guilty of the very blackest of betrayals are deposited. There Satan, The Great Deceiver, He Of Many Tongues Yet No Soul, Father Of The Damned, Nursemaid Of Unholiness, shall claim the lives unworthy to sit in the pure eye of God Himself.
      In short, your loved ones’ fates (In order of gender and/or age) are thus:
      Woman: Bad
      Man: Worse
      Brat: Worst.

      …Sorry.

    • LostViking says:

      Hahaha :)
      You are the punmaster ;)
      Were you the guy that wrote the old testament by any chance?

    • Inigo says:

      No, I just proofread it.

    • westyfield says:

      Inigo whyyyyyyyyyyy?

  13. Inigo says:

    Now to sleep, perchance to dream that sausagemeat miraculously becomes vegetarian.

    So saying, Alec hitched up his pink frilly ball gown and ran away on dainty little tippy-toes to his gaily painted wendy house, where Monsieur Snuffykins and Madame Flufflepuss awaited their daily tea party of soy milk-heavy tea and fairy cakes, and a pleasant afternoon’s discourse on what truly delightful flower hats and summer dresses Alec planned to adorn his gargantuan collection of dollies with. Alas, the tragic iron deficiency in his diet caused him to collapse upon the croquet lawn and he died of… something and I have completely forgotten where I was going with this.

    Oh. Yes. Does Dishonoured look better in motion than it does in the screenshots?

    I hope you’re eating enough leafy vegetables and lentils.

    • magnus says:

      You’ve forgotton? Aw, I was enjoying that!

    • Grygus says:

      …died of embarrassment, absolutely died when he awoke to find that he had drooled on Flufflepuss’s mint green frock, eliciting stares of fear and disbelief. Then he ate a carrot and felt better, but things have never been quite the same at Alec’s idyllic manor in Pony-on-the-Green; some say that even the rainbows have dimmed.

  14. HisMastersVoice says:

    I’m guessing whatever you saw of Dishonored wasn’t available for general viewing and/or playing?

  15. Askeladd says:

    Try the beer when you get a chance, should be worth it ;)

  16. Buttless Boy says:

    Glad the Meer is digging those two games, ’cause I’m dearly hoping they’ll be as great as they look.

  17. Dionysus says:

    That currywurst looks like a fine way to obstruct your bowels.

  18. Obc says:

    even though you are in germany right now, try to avoid currywurst but rather go for a döner. if you dont know how to eat one go for a dörüm döner its much easier to eat for döner noobs.
    but if you are a vegetarian go for a falafel döner. but unlike döner, which mostly are about the same quality, falafel may vary in taste. Falafel are what a lot of vegetarian i know eat as a snack in the city. (and what i also eat when i was still a vegetarian)

    BUT above all: drink german beer. the BEST in the world (well from my experience). if you can find em go for a “pott’s”. if not, doesnt matter, even the cheap beer in plastic bottles are mostly better than what i have drank in other countries ;)

    • Askeladd says:

      Do you see how nobody cares about the gamescom anymore? THEY WANT BEER/FOOD

      Drink beer.

      Eat food.

      Drink german beer.

      Eat german food.

    • Obc says:

      Meer can enjoy man-shooting and guns & conversation presentation anytime of the year but will only be able to enjoy german food and beer for a few days ;)

    • Batolemaeus says:

      You can just order a vegetarian Döner, which is, basically, just a portable (and difficult to eat) very tasty salad.

    • JFS says:

      What is this döner heresy? Of course you should stay with a healthy diet of currywurst. I mean, really. And round it out with a few beers. Pott’s, however, I had to google that.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I trust no beer that is not legal in Germany.

      I lived in Germany when I was a young whippersnapper; what I remember was the wonderful bread. I hope it is still just as tasty.

  19. shoptroll says:

    I never understood the recent trend of XBox 360 controller usage for demoing PC games, let alone being the sole controller option for some PC games. Last I checked MS hasn’t axed DirectInput but they seem to be emphasizing XInput (the 360 controller API) since Vista. Maybe that’s just easier for developers to program for and 360 controllers are near ubiquitous at this point? Probably easier for the general press to get their heads wrapped around than a standard PC controller where all the buttons are black with white numbers on them.

    I like what Logitech is doing by making a controller that supports both DirectInput and XInput. Cheaper than a 360 controller but has the same layout. Devs should use those instead :p

    • The Tupper says:

      I’ve been fucked over by Microsoft so many times when my peripherals were rendered suddenly obsolete (including their own Sidewinder collection when XP decided not to recognise gameports – that jape alone cost me 200 quid) that I eventually gave in and bought one of their bloody xbox controllers.

      It’s a damn fine gamepad, mind.

    • cmclaughlan says:

      It’s easier to make the 360 controller work. And you only need to decide on the controls once. Most devs will do level design on the PC and run it on the 360 just to make sure, it runs. So Xbox controller becomes a god-send.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      It’s because you can stand up, while mouse and keyboard forces you to be seated which doesn’t work when doing a stage presentation

    • Rii says:

      Wait, Logitech are doing an X360-style gamepad? For PS3 also perchance?

    • skurmedel says:

      I’ve got a Saitek something. It looks like a Six-Axis but is fully XInput-compatible in Windows. Some people don’t like the PS3 pads though (quite a lot it seems.) Logitech has a similar model too which seemed decent.

      It’s almost mandatory for driving in Just Cause 2. You can just switch to keyboard as soon as you are on foot.

    • Josh W says:

      I always thought the main reason they didn’t use mouse/keyboard was because someone could press Cntrl-alt-delete and start browsing the internet, or at least mess up the seamless game-flow.

    • snv says:

      Thats my main problem with mutliplatform/console games – they get desgined for gamepads and thus suck.
      This whole spray&pray style having become common in shooters boils down that you cannot aim fast AND precisely with a pad.
      Then there are UIs with with lots of stacked submenues; a “deep” instead of a “broad layout”
      Also frequend load times, safespots instead free saving and so on

      For me bad gameplay and interface are much worse than say low-fi textures, resolutions and such

  20. Moni says:

    A bit too much ketchup on those sausages for my liking.

    • snv says:

      Good Currywust doesn’t just use Ketchup with some curry sprinkled over. Thats just ripoff. It has to have a (a bit ketchuplike) currysouce

  21. squareking says:

    Eine fantastische Artikel mit dem besten schreiben. Danke, Meer. Dankeer.

    I hope that makes some kind of sense.

    • SeLfKiLlEr says:

      nope it doesn’t :D

    • Teddy Leach says:

      My German is unbelievably rusty. Shame, I could actually hold a conversation equivalent to a native German 10-year-old.

    • Createx says:

      I laughed. German isn´t that hard guys :P
      If I can learn English, you can learn German :D
      Which makes me able to go to the Gamescom tomorrow and understand everything that is being said :D

    • Kaira- says:

      I never got good at German, and I studied it for… wait… umm, five or six years? Now French on the other hand is much simpler, if you ask me.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Ugh, French, all those little one-syllable words and silent letters…

      I quite like Italian. Pronunciation is easy and grammar is fairly simple. English gets one thing right, though: no noun genders. Goddamn you, Latin.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      I never got good at German, and I’m a native.
      French might be a bit harder to learn, but only because it’s hard to find people willing to help you. With German, you might need professional help though.

      Personally, I quite like English. It’s easy to learn at first and easy to get to a adequate level. Beyond that base level it becomes harder, but by that point anyone who likes languages will have tons of pun playing with words and idioms.

      Learning German, on the other hand, is the linguistic counterpart of punching yourself in the guts.

    • skurmedel says:

      German and English are at least part of the same language group. I tried French but I can only insult people.

      I remember “Faire pipi dans la tapis” from my textbook which means “peeing on the carpets”.

  22. Teddy Leach says:

    OK, that looks really nice.

  23. D3xter says:

    I really wanna see some write-up regarding Risen 2 xD
    It has been willfully ignored so far, not even the amazing new GamesCom Teaser/Trailer got a mention :P

  24. aircool says:

    Bratty & Chips + Curry Sauce. The food of gods and so much better than a kebab.

  25. Ganj says:

    Stop being a tit and have a nice bacon sarnie.

  26. westyfield says:

    Hello Alec I like games and also eating dead animals can I go to Gamescom next year instead please thank you bye.

  27. deadpan says:

    I’m beginning to think that developers threw together last-minute trailers and teasers for whatever they were working on just so they could go to Germany on the company dime for a week of beer and sausage.

  28. Ande says:

    Sauerkraut, anyone?

  29. Nallen says:

    Rock Paper Shotgun: The Worlds number one PC gaming website and THE place to talk about German sausage.

  30. Inigo says:

    If the Germans had any brains, they’d arrange for Gamescom to take place during Oktoberfest.

    Oh sweet Oktoberfest. How I wish I could drain your beers and gorge upon your meat products and what I am led to believe is some kind of cheese noodle dish according to Wikipedia. Alas, the closest I have ever got to it is a pallid, hollow imitation that took place in Helen, Georgia. Which I never actually went to anyway because I think there was a Spongebob Squarepants marathon on TV or something.

    • Starky says:

      Oh god no… the streets would be littered with the corpses of nerds. It’d be like the walking dead just with all the undead wearing band/game/film t-shirts and holding smart phones. The smell would remain the same.

    • Inigo says:

      Oh god no… the streets would be littered with the corpses of nerds

      And your point is…?

    • Axez D. Nyde says:

      Since Cologne and Munich are not in the same state, Nerds would have to decide where to get high. High on new epic 3D pieces and Currywurst or on Beer & Bratwurst and women in Dirndles.
      No good idea. Back to the Apalachian mountains with you, you Schmog!

  31. Soon says:

    Don’t drink the bottled water. It tastes like perfume.

  32. Inigo says:

    hamfistedly touch-typed

    I think you mean “tofu-fistedly”. Or “Quorn-fistedly”.
    HAHAHA OH MY RAZOR-SHARP WIT KNOWS NO BOUNDS

    I don’t like being alive.

  33. cvcvcvvv says:

    Well, they got Koelsch,
    http://bit.ly/n6SVQy

  34. The Dark One says:

    My sister had the same problem when my family went to Germany for a wedding in Wolfsburg. She’s not a vegetarian, but she ended up feeling overwhelmed when every single meal available in the country seemed to contain beef or pork (and usually in sausage form). In the end, we found a restaurant that sold falafel.

  35. Jake says:

    Airline Tycoon. Airline Tycoon… airlines are all well and good but they are hardly rollercoasters now are they?

  36. sbs says:

    Alec, try Lübzer Pils, it’s delicious and hangover-free. Seriously, it’s quite magical.

  37. mbklin says:

    Wonderful.
    Share a website with you ,
    ( http:voguecatch.com )
    Believe you will love it.
    credit card and f ree s hipping.
    I bought two pairs. Cheap, good quality, you can go and ship with there

  38. Kefren says:

    Alec – you should have taken some http://www.veggiestuff.com/acatalog/viana_tofu_king.html or http://www.veggiestuff.com/acatalog/viana_veggie_fresh_bratwurst.html (maybe 20 packets). That plus chips and bags of salad would keep you alive for the conference.

  39. TheGrunt says:

    Your Germany experience isn’t complete unless you try pommes rot-weiss; french fries with tomatoe ketchup and mayonnaise. Delightful. And vegetarian, too…

  40. GallonOfAlan says:

    It’s long been my ambition to emulate David Beckham and marry a lipstick-wearing skeleton.

  41. Kollega says:

    Okay. Up untill five minutes ago, a link to this article has redirected me to a blank white page saying “Go and have a long, hard think about what you’ve done”. I’m sorry, but… WHAT?! I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary today, and certainly not in the last few hours! What does this even mean?

  42. magnus says:

    Klaatu Berada Nikto.

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