Dreams From The Stars: Cult of Personality

In this edition, Ahmad Dixon witnesses the origins of a cult revolving around his friend. This isn’t a dream. It’s an absolute nightmare!

My friend Sam is a peculiar person. We became friends about a year ago, right before college, and since then we’ve become relatively close. However, things between us have become pretty strained because of an incident that happened recently. We were walking around Kensington when I noticed a team of bald men in robes trailing behind us. At first I tried to ignore them, initially writing them off as local town color, but then I noticed that they had Sam’s dumb face embroidered on their chest. “Hey Sam, what’s up with those guys?” I asked before we turned a corner.

“Oh them?” he said unenthusiastically, “They’re just my cult.”

Out of all my friends I would have thought Sam would be the least likely to form a cult of personality. Once while working at coffee bean he was almost kidnapped and sold into slavery by pirates because he messed up an order. Although in hindsight it was kind of obvious. We visited a fortune teller once and she said that Sam was the reincarnation of Charlemagne, Ramses II, and a Manager of a Fort Lauderdale Best Buy. She told me that I was going to get crushed by an elephant. I usually don’t put much stock in fortune telling, past lives, and the like, but I was indeed crushed by an elephant a week later, which lead me to believe that that particular fortune teller was on the up and up.

Footage of Me Being Crushed

Since that day in Kensington, I never saw Sam unless his cult was somewhere near by. It began with three, middle aged, bald men, but then it grew and they added four, young, bald women. Then it was 15 bald men, women, and children. And finally it escalated to a crowd of around 35 people following around my friend during his day to day activities. They’d throw flower petals in the space directly in front of his feet, they’d venerate his trash as sacred artifacts (ever see an apple core in a gold plated box?), and I think one of them learned how to play lute in order to write songs in his honor. The songs were mostly just popular tunes with the word “baby” taken out and replaced with the name Sam.

Sam seemed utterly disinterested in this development in his life. I asked him how he felt about being a living god and he just shrugged and said, “them’s the brakes.” After he said that the cult would sometimes chant “them’s the brakes” for hours on end in a hypnotic meditation.

I tried not to talk to members of the cult due to the fact they all gave me the heeby jeebies but curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of them what they saw in Sam as a spiritual leader. They said, “The Sam is the bringer of happiness and salvation, without The Sam there would be no sunrise, no morning dew on the flowers, no order to the universe. The Sam is a being of infinite compassion and infinite wisdom.” I looked over to Sam to see that he was on the verge of tears due to being unable to open a jar of peanut butter. He pulled out his pocket knife and somehow cut himself flipping it open. Cult members almost trampled each other trying to catch his blood as it dripped from his finger. I heard later that this event is one of the more important parables in the Book of Sam.

I went over to Sam’s house in City Heights to return some books and things had obviously changed since the last time I was there. Outside the walls were covered in murals depicting Sam slaying dragons and the cosmos being born out of his mind. I like to believe reality existed before Sam was born but I have no proof to the contrary so I felt it was not my place to argue. Inside there were masses of people, of various nationalities, on their knees chanting and praying. Some were in tears because of their proximity to the so called creator of the universe. Sam was in his pajamas playing his Nintendo Switch.

I went up to my friend and asked how long he thought this could possibly continue. He said when he got tired of all the positive attention he was getting and when they stopped giving him fruit offerings on command. I said “you know you’re not actually a god right.” I regretted this outburst almost immediately because everyone in the house stopped chanting and looked at me. A hundred hands reached out to grab me and before I could realize what was happening I was in a cage. Sam continued to play Zelda as this was happening. I yelled at Sam to let me out but he again said, “them’s the brakes” and went about his day.

I’m not the type of person who likes to be confined for extended periods of time. Especially when I’m in spaces that aren’t big enough for me to sit down in. I survived on nothing but the stale bread and dirty water I was given twice a day. What felt like months passed and I began to have strange visions. Dancing colors of light, geometric shapes, vibrating amorphous blobs. My beard grew down to my chest. I was losing my mind.

One day Sam came to the front of the cage, drinking a cup of coffee. I didn’t respond because I thought it was another hallucination. He said I could come out, and I just looked straight ahead. He then opened the cage and I collapsed. “You know the door wasn’t locked right?” I would have been enraged if I wasn’t exhausted. “I don’t know why you decided to stand in there for three hours, you look awful.” He said between sips of coffee. I didn’t speak. “Oh and you don’t have to worry about that cult anymore, we were out on a hike and they saw an interesting rock. They decided to worship that instead.”

My relationship with Sam became pretty strained after I broke a chair over his head.          

what you should know about The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is finally here and available worldwide! Announced just a few months ago (in October), the Switch is the newest gaming system from Nintendo. It includes detachable, wireless controllers that hook onto the actual gamepad itself, which allows for on-the-go accessibility that has only been provided once before (with the DS series). The Switch is essentially the hybrid of at-home gaming and carry-on gaming, and is dominating other competitors such as the Playstation 4 and Xbox consoles.

The device itself carries 32GB of storage, and supports additional storage, via SD cards, up to 2TB. It also has its own speakers, charging dock, headphone jack – the works. The screen is brighter than its last carry on predecessor, The 3DS, by nearly nine times the pixels. Comparatively, the 3DS’ screen is 400 x 240, and the Switch’s screen is 1,280 x 720.  This is coupled with the most advanced touchscreen capability to date for Nintendo, equipped with a 720p touchscreen capacity. The battery life for the system itself lasts for about 3 to 6 hours, which isn’t exactly impressive compared to other handheld gaming devices. However, since the Switch is charged via USB cable, this is easily fixed with an external battery pack. The Joy-Con controllers, however, must charge while the Switch is being charged, but are rated to last up to 20 hours.

The Joy-Con controllers themselves are bright red and blue, and act similarly to the Wii controllers from previous consoles. However, the difference between the two, besides the obvious paint job, is the shape of the controllers themselves. Instead of the original white, sleek, rectangular controllers, the Joy-Con controllers are curved to fit the Switch, providing a more compact shape for on-the-go gaming. The safety straps, however, did carry over, for obvious reasons.

Now, for the games. Nintendo has created several multiplayer games for the Switch, including newcomers such as “Arms,” “1, 2, Switch” and “Snipper Clippers,” but has also brought back favorites, including “Mario Kart Deluxe 8,”  “Just Dance 2017,” “Splatoon 2,” “Fifa,” “Skyrim,” “NBA2K18” and even “Minecraft.”

Click image to view source. Copyright @ PCMag.

However, the game dominating the charts is their showrunner, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild.” Rated by IGN and multiple platforms across the web as 10/10, the game lives up to the legacy of the “Zelda” series. From impressive graphics showing off the world of Hyrule, to little secrets and puzzles along the way, the game provides hours of endless content. Reviews are raving about the freedom of the game too, as side paths allow gamers to veer off into the virtual world at their own pace for as long as they desire.

To wrap things up about Nintendo’s new breadwinner, though, I’ll address the elephant in the room. Or rather, the cartridge in the system.

Ever since the Switch was released, many online personalities have tested the theory that the Switch cartridges are considerably disgusting to consume. Obviously, you should not consume anything inedible, like a game cartridge.

But, the weird trend rose from a statement given to IGN by Nintendo about the Switch’s packaging. Nintendo stated, To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children. A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.” 

Denatonium Benzoate, for all you non-chemical savvy readers out there (me included – I had to do my research), is the chemical considered to be the most bitterest substance known to science. The chemical was accidentally created back in 1958 when scientists were experimenting and trying to create new anesthetics for dentists. So, be glad you don’t have to worry about having that stuck in your teeth the next time you’re at the dentist. Now, the substance can be found in rubbing alcohol, anti-freeze, liquid soaps and shampoos. If your curiosity gets the better of you, just know that the chemical itself is not a toxic substance. It just tastes really, really bad (so don’t do it, please).