missroserose: (Incongruity)
A note to gamers: if you decide to give BioShock a go for the first time, and prefer the full-on immersive experience? Nothing beats an honest-to-blog lightning storm right overhead with rain and wind furiously beating the house. Seriously, after about half an hour I'd started to lose track which sounds were atmospherics coming from the speakers and which were atmospherics coming from...well, the atmosphere.

Admittedly, it's been five years since I sat and watched Brian play through it. But I'm rather surprised at how much I'm enjoying it, even though I remember the rough outline of the plot. The graphics hold up well, and the sheer attention to detail in the design is enough to make the art geek in me squeal in joy, especially as I've now lived in a town with actual genuine Art Deco architecture. (The first door you go through actually bears a striking similarity to the doors of the Cochise County Courthouse here in Bisbee, which, given that they're featured on the Wikipedia page for Art Deco, may not be coincidental.) The atmosphere is appropriately creepy, with the occasional ballad of the era popping up for that bit of Clockwork Orange-style dissonance. And despite not necessarily being a huge fan of the FPS genre, I've found the gameplay entertaining. (Easy mode seems plenty easy enough for folks like me who mostly want to experience the story without having to throw their controller through the screen in frustration.) The way the various gameplay mechanics blend so well with the environment and story especially seems like something a lot of games could take notes on.

Yeah, yeah, I know, catching up with 2007. But still - if you, like me, tend to go through spurts of gaming, and you haven't played this one yet, it's well worth picking up on your next spurt. Amazing art design aside, there's just something viscerally satisfying about zapping a pool of water full of enemies (or, in the case of watching/hearing/feeling your character jam a gigantic syringe into his arm, just plain visceral).

And that's not even getting into the gut-wrenching story, which I'll leave for all five of you who haven't played this to discover for yourselves. All together, seriously a strong case for "games as art." A++ with cherries on top
missroserose: (Incongruity)
A note to gamers: if you decide to give BioShock a go for the first time, and prefer the full-on immersive experience? Nothing beats an honest-to-blog lightning storm right overhead with rain and wind furiously beating the house. Seriously, after about half an hour I'd started to lose track which sounds were atmospherics coming from the speakers and which were atmospherics coming from...well, the atmosphere.

Admittedly, it's been five years since I sat and watched Brian play through it. But I'm rather surprised at how much I'm enjoying it, even though I remember the rough outline of the plot. The graphics hold up well, and the sheer attention to detail in the design is enough to make the art geek in me squeal in joy, especially as I've now lived in a town with actual genuine Art Deco architecture. (The first door you go through actually bears a striking similarity to the doors of the Cochise County Courthouse here in Bisbee, which, given that they're featured on the Wikipedia page for Art Deco, may not be coincidental.) The atmosphere is appropriately creepy, with the occasional ballad of the era popping up for that bit of Clockwork Orange-style dissonance. And despite not necessarily being a huge fan of the FPS genre, I've found the gameplay entertaining. (Easy mode seems plenty easy enough for folks like me who mostly want to experience the story without having to throw their controller through the screen in frustration.) The way the various gameplay mechanics blend so well with the environment and story especially seems like something a lot of games could take notes on.

Yeah, yeah, I know, catching up with 2007. But still - if you, like me, tend to go through spurts of gaming, and you haven't played this one yet, it's well worth picking up on your next spurt. Amazing art design aside, there's just something viscerally satisfying about zapping a pool of water full of enemies (or, in the case of watching/hearing/feeling your character jam a gigantic syringe into his arm, just plain visceral).

And that's not even getting into the gut-wrenching story, which I'll leave for all five of you who haven't played this to discover for yourselves. All together, seriously a strong case for "games as art." A++ with cherries on top
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
I'm not generally a big one for Flash-based games, but the description of this one caught my eye - "An emotive platformer which explores the different stages in the relationship between a young couple." It's a little idealized, yes, but surprisingly well executed - it reminded me a bit of Braid in how the narrative and gameplay concepts intertwined. I particularly enjoyed the teamwork aspect; having to make the two of them cooperate was a nice touch in a genre where so often the girl is merely the passive object of desire.

Also? Naive or not, the last level made me smile.

It's short and sweet. Give it a go.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
I'm not generally a big one for Flash-based games, but the description of this one caught my eye - "An emotive platformer which explores the different stages in the relationship between a young couple." It's a little idealized, yes, but surprisingly well executed - it reminded me a bit of Braid in how the narrative and gameplay concepts intertwined. I particularly enjoyed the teamwork aspect; having to make the two of them cooperate was a nice touch in a genre where so often the girl is merely the passive object of desire.

Also? Naive or not, the last level made me smile.

It's short and sweet. Give it a go.
missroserose: (Default)
Me: Hurrah! I've finally spent enough money on the Celebrated Artist's Model to ask for her hand! Should I do it?

Brian: Sure. You can be Fallen London's most fashionable new couple. Until she remembers all the pain and heartbreak you put her through.

Me: Supposedly that's why I had to spend so much on her. To assure her of the sincerity of my intentions.

Brian: And then she leaves, taking all the jewels and gold with her. And leaving you with a box of Arizona Giant Centipedes instead.

Me: ...Sorrow-spiders aren't bad *enough*?!



(Note to self: Need a Fallen London icon.)
missroserose: (Default)
Me: Hurrah! I've finally spent enough money on the Celebrated Artist's Model to ask for her hand! Should I do it?

Brian: Sure. You can be Fallen London's most fashionable new couple. Until she remembers all the pain and heartbreak you put her through.

Me: Supposedly that's why I had to spend so much on her. To assure her of the sincerity of my intentions.

Brian: And then she leaves, taking all the jewels and gold with her. And leaving you with a box of Arizona Giant Centipedes instead.

Me: ...Sorrow-spiders aren't bad *enough*?!



(Note to self: Need a Fallen London icon.)
missroserose: (Masquerade)
Note:  Some minor spoilers ahead, although as it's a Fate-locked (read: paid) storyline, I'm keeping the details to myself.

One of the many stories you can play in Echo Bazaar involves an acquaintance known as the Repentant Forger, and a painting you buy (or steal).  Initially you plan to ditch the (all-black and "fatally modern") canvas and just sell the frame, but if you have the Fate and know the Repentant Forger, he'll tell you that there's actually a painting hidden beneath the black.  Thus begins a long and arduous (for him) process of stripping the paint off, layer by layer - each one revealing a more scandalous aspect of a portrait that had been painted out, each one increasing the value of the painting (at first in terms of blackmail from the family of the sitter, later in terms of secrets hidden in the various layers of the painting).  The Repentant Forger, meanwhile, has a harder and harder time of it, as the painting is giving him nightmares - towards the end, you have to literally bribe him with diamonds or rare wine, or threaten to rat him out to the Constables, in order to get him to continue.  This is hardly surprising, as the information contained within the painting (without going too heavily into EB's extensive backstory) is of the sort known to cause anything from nightmares to loss of sanity to actual spontaneous combustion.

I'm at the final option of the story, where the (extremely haggard) Forger, having done a beautiful job and uncovered a disturbing scene, swears to me that there are no more layers to the painting.  This is not quite the end of the storyline, however.  On the one hand, I can trust his statements, copy down the details of the painting, sell the canvas for (one assumes) a significant sum, and have done with the thing.  Alternatively, I can demand that the Forger continue his work.  It would ruin my relationship with him, and there's at least a decent chance there'd be nothing beneath the paint save blank canvas (thus rendering the entire thing worthless to anybody), but I would be absolutely certain there were no more secrets to be had from it.

As a clever reader might have gathered from my review, there's a distinct undercurrent of dark obsession running through Echo Bazaar's storylines.  Often in the game, this ruthlessness in the pursuit of one's desire is rewarded, albeit not without certain unflattering attributes attaching to your character.  And the discovery of secrets related to the heart of the game is one of its great joys.  So there's a distinct motivation there to push this to the end and see where it goes.

On the other hand, I must admire the clever way in which the game's writers have set this up.  If it were simply a matter of the currency invested in this storyline (diamonds and rare wine don't come cheap), there'd be no question - I have plenty of wealth, and the game does not give up its deepest secrets easily.  But the loss of the Repentant Forger's friendship may well have ramifications further down the road (there are plenty of other storylines like this one that require acquaintanceship with a particular individual to play), and while few choices in the game are entirely irreversible (often it will dangle the opportunity to change a past decision - for a small fee, of course), it's also just a plain awful way to treat a friend.  

Admittedly, the stakes here are fairly low; it's a game, fer chrissakes.  But this is what I mean when I talk about just how involving the story can be - I'm not certain I want my character to be the sort of person who's do this to a friend, but by the same token, I know she's the sort of person (because I am) whose need to know may well override her better judgment.  Additionally, I must doff my cap to the writers; often in stories like this, less skilled tellers telegraph which option is the "correct" one; all I have to do is imagine what I would do if I were the writer, and there's the answer.  Here, I could honestly see it going either way - I might offer a reward for the obsessive option (at a price, of course), or I might say "You'd seriously give up your friendship just to make absolutely sure he's not lying to you?  Here, have a useless canvas and an estranged friend."  And, of course, it wouldn't at all be hard to write the result of the "safe" option in order to leave a certain ambiguity about what would have happened had you gone the other way.

So, friends, I ask you:  Given the situation, which would you choose?
missroserose: (Masquerade)
Note:  Some minor spoilers ahead, although as it's a Fate-locked (read: paid) storyline, I'm keeping the details to myself.

One of the many stories you can play in Echo Bazaar involves an acquaintance known as the Repentant Forger, and a painting you buy (or steal).  Initially you plan to ditch the (all-black and "fatally modern") canvas and just sell the frame, but if you have the Fate and know the Repentant Forger, he'll tell you that there's actually a painting hidden beneath the black.  Thus begins a long and arduous (for him) process of stripping the paint off, layer by layer - each one revealing a more scandalous aspect of a portrait that had been painted out, each one increasing the value of the painting (at first in terms of blackmail from the family of the sitter, later in terms of secrets hidden in the various layers of the painting).  The Repentant Forger, meanwhile, has a harder and harder time of it, as the painting is giving him nightmares - towards the end, you have to literally bribe him with diamonds or rare wine, or threaten to rat him out to the Constables, in order to get him to continue.  This is hardly surprising, as the information contained within the painting (without going too heavily into EB's extensive backstory) is of the sort known to cause anything from nightmares to loss of sanity to actual spontaneous combustion.

I'm at the final option of the story, where the (extremely haggard) Forger, having done a beautiful job and uncovered a disturbing scene, swears to me that there are no more layers to the painting.  This is not quite the end of the storyline, however.  On the one hand, I can trust his statements, copy down the details of the painting, sell the canvas for (one assumes) a significant sum, and have done with the thing.  Alternatively, I can demand that the Forger continue his work.  It would ruin my relationship with him, and there's at least a decent chance there'd be nothing beneath the paint save blank canvas (thus rendering the entire thing worthless to anybody), but I would be absolutely certain there were no more secrets to be had from it.

As a clever reader might have gathered from my review, there's a distinct undercurrent of dark obsession running through Echo Bazaar's storylines.  Often in the game, this ruthlessness in the pursuit of one's desire is rewarded, albeit not without certain unflattering attributes attaching to your character.  And the discovery of secrets related to the heart of the game is one of its great joys.  So there's a distinct motivation there to push this to the end and see where it goes.

On the other hand, I must admire the clever way in which the game's writers have set this up.  If it were simply a matter of the currency invested in this storyline (diamonds and rare wine don't come cheap), there'd be no question - I have plenty of wealth, and the game does not give up its deepest secrets easily.  But the loss of the Repentant Forger's friendship may well have ramifications further down the road (there are plenty of other storylines like this one that require acquaintanceship with a particular individual to play), and while few choices in the game are entirely irreversible (often it will dangle the opportunity to change a past decision - for a small fee, of course), it's also just a plain awful way to treat a friend.  

Admittedly, the stakes here are fairly low; it's a game, fer chrissakes.  But this is what I mean when I talk about just how involving the story can be - I'm not certain I want my character to be the sort of person who's do this to a friend, but by the same token, I know she's the sort of person (because I am) whose need to know may well override her better judgment.  Additionally, I must doff my cap to the writers; often in stories like this, less skilled tellers telegraph which option is the "correct" one; all I have to do is imagine what I would do if I were the writer, and there's the answer.  Here, I could honestly see it going either way - I might offer a reward for the obsessive option (at a price, of course), or I might say "You'd seriously give up your friendship just to make absolutely sure he's not lying to you?  Here, have a useless canvas and an estranged friend."  And, of course, it wouldn't at all be hard to write the result of the "safe" option in order to leave a certain ambiguity about what would have happened had you gone the other way.

So, friends, I ask you:  Given the situation, which would you choose?
missroserose: (Default)
I don't play online games much. Mostly they strike me as offering little more reward than passed time; and while there's nothing wrong with filling a coffee break or a long lecture with a game of Sudoku or Bejeweled, I generally have other goals to pursue. Role-playing games can offer more depth, true, and for a while I played Kingdom of Loathing (enjoying very much the snarky humor and low-fi aesthetic), but like most games in its category, once the majority of the clever allusions and jokes were discovered and duly apprecated, all that was left was the gameplay itself. Which, in the grand tradition of online role-playing, was entirely grind-tastic in nature. Needless to say, it didn't hold my attention much past that point.

This isn't Kingdom of Loathing's (or, indeed, any online RPG's) fault. Really, the entire format of the role-playing game could effectively be reduced to a Skinner box - small rewards for repetitive actions that eventually accumulate into larger rewards. This is probably the biggest reason behind their popularity, and indeed, many of these games are utterly blatant about how they manipulate you in the hopes of getting you to keep clicking. But the most effective RPGs, the ones that stick with us - and I stick with - the longest, are those that offer something more than a slightly higher number or a different color of armor for your time and effort.

Echo Bazaar doesn't come in a particularly assuming package. A number of people have commented on the character creation screen as an indicator that you're not playing a typical RPG; and to be fair, it is clever:



But "clever" is something any number of other RPGs have done.  And while the setting - Fallen London, a modern turn-of-the-century city stolen by bats and relocated far underground - is certainly fantastical, it's hardly what you'd call original.  Alternate-Victorian-London scenarios are common as paint chips these days, and fast becoming cliché (and this is coming from a confirmed Anglophile).  So while the character creation process amused me enough to pass my initial selectivity test, I still wasn't expecting anything much from the game.  Some cute wordplay, perhaps, and an imaginative setting, but ultimately just the same repetitive clicking.

Initially, there wasn't much to raise my expectations, either.  Like many such games, you start out in prison for an unknown offense, must plan your escape, and then are dumped unceremoniously on the street with little in the way of direction.  The game gives you a helpful nudge now and then (some lodgings would help keep the rain off, and oh, is that a tavern?  Perhaps you can entertain the guests with a bawdy joke), but what you can do is limited by your (lack of) wealth and your four attributes, both of which you increase through spending actions on storylets and Opportunity cards. 

As you progress, however, the game will make references to its (impressively large and consistent) internal backstory, and like the newcomer to Fallen London that you are, you'll start to have questions - what's a Rubbery Man?  Who is this Mr Veils?  What is this "Correspondence" thing with so many rumors surrounding it?  Why is this Duchess so concerned about the city's cats?  And on and on.  Not only do you learn some of the answers to your questions as you go, but you begin to get a better idea of which questions to ask
 
Echo Bazaar doesn't succeed because of its gameplay, but rather because it knows it needs to be more than its gameplay.  True, there are spots where you end up simply looking for the most efficient way to increase a statistic and then clicking the same spot over and over, but the creators understand that "making the number higher" isn't a reward that will motivate most folk.  So, of course, that begs the question:  what does the Bazaar offer in return for all this thankless stat-grinding?

...Ah, delicious friend.  I'm so glad you asked.  The reward, you will find, is the story.  Oh, you may be told that you're free to roam about, to make your fortune in Fallen London however you see fit, but I know you.  I see that hunger in your eyes.  I feel that burning curiousity, that need to find out what this glyph means, what secrets that cat might know, what notables hold confidences worth charming your way in to.  You may well potter about, singing a song for a crowd here, pick-pocketing a society gent there, possibly even forming connections with the local urchins or bohemian types, but sooner or later that won't be enough to hold your interest.  And why should it, with so many toothsome secrets waiting to be discovered?  Such myriad and pressing questions to be answered?  What do sorrow-spiders do with those eyes?  What on earth is the Topsy King saying?  Who is the cheery gentleman you only see whilst suffering from Nightmares?  And if London is the Fifth City, what other cities have Fallen before?

Pay very, very close attention, dear delectable newcomer.  These secrets and more - indeed, the very world of the Bazaar - are here for your discovery, but they are not to be had merely for the asking.  Take note of the results of your actions.  Study the snippets given to you in the sidebar (but 'ware of misinformation and gossip).  Increase your skills and follow your path, whether it takes you to the silent chambers of the Shuttered Palace, the hallowed halls of the University, the rickety rope-bridges of The Flit, or the peeling-gilt stage of Mahogany Hall.  The Bazaar's magnetism is not obvious, nor immediate; but as you gather your cryptic clues, as characters make reference to this or that occurrence, the story will begin to emerge, ensnaring you as it has hundreds before you.  And somewhere along the way, you may find yourself surprised at how enthralling the small dramas you enact have become, how attached you might have grown to some aspect of your character's identity, how gut-wrenching you might find a particular choice.  You may be asked to solve a murder, or become embroiled in the plotting and counter-plotting of spies and assassins, or learn a startling fact or two about the Bazaar itself.

Make your choices carefully.  You may regret them, you may not - and your mind may change halfway through.  But one thing the Bazaar can promise - your story will never be dull for long.

-----
Ambrosia Rose is a professional drinker, blogger, storyteller, and critic, with a healthy dollop of sarcastic wit on the side.  Two of her great loves are a tasty cocktail and a good story.

All screenshots copyright Failbetter Games.  Used without permission for promotional purposes only.  All rights reserved.
missroserose: (Default)
I don't play online games much. Mostly they strike me as offering little more reward than passed time; and while there's nothing wrong with filling a coffee break or a long lecture with a game of Sudoku or Bejeweled, I generally have other goals to pursue. Role-playing games can offer more depth, true, and for a while I played Kingdom of Loathing (enjoying very much the snarky humor and low-fi aesthetic), but like most games in its category, once the majority of the clever allusions and jokes were discovered and duly apprecated, all that was left was the gameplay itself. Which, in the grand tradition of online role-playing, was entirely grind-tastic in nature. Needless to say, it didn't hold my attention much past that point.

This isn't Kingdom of Loathing's (or, indeed, any online RPG's) fault. Really, the entire format of the role-playing game could effectively be reduced to a Skinner box - small rewards for repetitive actions that eventually accumulate into larger rewards. This is probably the biggest reason behind their popularity, and indeed, many of these games are utterly blatant about how they manipulate you in the hopes of getting you to keep clicking. But the most effective RPGs, the ones that stick with us - and I stick with - the longest, are those that offer something more than a slightly higher number or a different color of armor for your time and effort.

Echo Bazaar doesn't come in a particularly assuming package. A number of people have commented on the character creation screen as an indicator that you're not playing a typical RPG; and to be fair, it is clever:



But "clever" is something any number of other RPGs have done.  And while the setting - Fallen London, a modern turn-of-the-century city stolen by bats and relocated far underground - is certainly fantastical, it's hardly what you'd call original.  Alternate-Victorian-London scenarios are common as paint chips these days, and fast becoming cliché (and this is coming from a confirmed Anglophile).  So while the character creation process amused me enough to pass my initial selectivity test, I still wasn't expecting anything much from the game.  Some cute wordplay, perhaps, and an imaginative setting, but ultimately just the same repetitive clicking.

Initially, there wasn't much to raise my expectations, either.  Like many such games, you start out in prison for an unknown offense, must plan your escape, and then are dumped unceremoniously on the street with little in the way of direction.  The game gives you a helpful nudge now and then (some lodgings would help keep the rain off, and oh, is that a tavern?  Perhaps you can entertain the guests with a bawdy joke), but what you can do is limited by your (lack of) wealth and your four attributes, both of which you increase through spending actions on storylets and Opportunity cards. 

As you progress, however, the game will make references to its (impressively large and consistent) internal backstory, and like the newcomer to Fallen London that you are, you'll start to have questions - what's a Rubbery Man?  Who is this Mr Veils?  What is this "Correspondence" thing with so many rumors surrounding it?  Why is this Duchess so concerned about the city's cats?  And on and on.  Not only do you learn some of the answers to your questions as you go, but you begin to get a better idea of which questions to ask
 
Echo Bazaar doesn't succeed because of its gameplay, but rather because it knows it needs to be more than its gameplay.  True, there are spots where you end up simply looking for the most efficient way to increase a statistic and then clicking the same spot over and over, but the creators understand that "making the number higher" isn't a reward that will motivate most folk.  So, of course, that begs the question:  what does the Bazaar offer in return for all this thankless stat-grinding?

...Ah, delicious friend.  I'm so glad you asked.  The reward, you will find, is the story.  Oh, you may be told that you're free to roam about, to make your fortune in Fallen London however you see fit, but I know you.  I see that hunger in your eyes.  I feel that burning curiousity, that need to find out what this glyph means, what secrets that cat might know, what notables hold confidences worth charming your way in to.  You may well potter about, singing a song for a crowd here, pick-pocketing a society gent there, possibly even forming connections with the local urchins or bohemian types, but sooner or later that won't be enough to hold your interest.  And why should it, with so many toothsome secrets waiting to be discovered?  Such myriad and pressing questions to be answered?  What do sorrow-spiders do with those eyes?  What on earth is the Topsy King saying?  Who is the cheery gentleman you only see whilst suffering from Nightmares?  And if London is the Fifth City, what other cities have Fallen before?

Pay very, very close attention, dear delectable newcomer.  These secrets and more - indeed, the very world of the Bazaar - are here for your discovery, but they are not to be had merely for the asking.  Take note of the results of your actions.  Study the snippets given to you in the sidebar (but 'ware of misinformation and gossip).  Increase your skills and follow your path, whether it takes you to the silent chambers of the Shuttered Palace, the hallowed halls of the University, the rickety rope-bridges of The Flit, or the peeling-gilt stage of Mahogany Hall.  The Bazaar's magnetism is not obvious, nor immediate; but as you gather your cryptic clues, as characters make reference to this or that occurrence, the story will begin to emerge, ensnaring you as it has hundreds before you.  And somewhere along the way, you may find yourself surprised at how enthralling the small dramas you enact have become, how attached you might have grown to some aspect of your character's identity, how gut-wrenching you might find a particular choice.  You may be asked to solve a murder, or become embroiled in the plotting and counter-plotting of spies and assassins, or learn a startling fact or two about the Bazaar itself.

Make your choices carefully.  You may regret them, you may not - and your mind may change halfway through.  But one thing the Bazaar can promise - your story will never be dull for long.

-----
Ambrosia Rose is a professional drinker, blogger, storyteller, and critic, with a healthy dollop of sarcastic wit on the side.  Two of her great loves are a tasty cocktail and a good story.

All screenshots copyright Failbetter Games.  Used without permission for promotional purposes only.  All rights reserved.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
In rough order of time-suckitude:

• Playing Clockwords. One of those rare Flash games that's sucked me in and managed to keep my attention for more than a day or two, this game is absolute crack to the sort of people who enjoy Scrabble and other games where a big vocabulary is a plus (e.g. me). The vaguely-steampunk aesthetic is well-done, too - give it a go! Or don't, if you think you might be in the vulnerable demographic and would prefer to have the next few days of your life belong to you. :)

• Thrift store hunting. Spent a few hours sorting through the junk at the Salvation Army yesterday (have to admit, I've sort of missed having the time to do that), and came up with a decent haul for under $10. Highlights include some nice metal pet food bowls (we've been short ever since I broke one of our ceramic ones on the tile flooring), an adorable black crushed velvet minidress with a swingy little skirt that'll make a great starter for a goth or punk outfit, a paperback copy of Lolita for a quarter, and a very pretty top to go with a brown skirt and pair of shoes that I bought a while back. The crown jewel of this trip, however, was a lovely wrought-iron wine rack. Brian and I had admired several different styles of them in the past, but they were always a touch on the pricey side and we could never quite justify buying one. This one was $2.55 on sale, and looks beautiful:

Pictures ahoy! )


• Reading Dracula The Un-Dead, a sequel written by Dacre Stoker (great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker). About a hundred pages in, I believe I can honestly say the younger Stoker upholds the writerly tradition of his forebear. Which is to say, it's supremely unimpressive. Keep in mind this may be a premature judgment, but frankly, thus far I've found the plot to be contrived, the characters wooden, the action melodramatic, and the author in dire, desperate need of learning how to "show, don't tell". In its defense, the original Dracula wasn't exactly a shining example of literary genius, and at least this sequel has (so far) managed to avoid being riddled with the same inconsistencies of fact and character (the latter being perhaps because of the lack of development on that front, but oh well), so perhaps my expectations were a bit high. So far it hasn't been unreadably bad, and the story's been at least moderately engaging, but the stylistic issues make reading it far less enjoyable than it should be.

• Learning to drive stick. I've finally done it enough to where all the disparate parts have clicked together, and now I can do so pretty comfortably. Admittedly, the BMW's transmission is well-made enough that (as Brian put it) this was a bit like learning on Easy Mode, but I figure as long as I've got the basics in muscle-memory I can figure out the finer points of any given car's transmission with a little bit of experimentation.

• Interviewing for a job at one of the (apparently several) local wineries. Sadly, the demand for nubile young women to hike up their skirts and jump barefoot into vats of ripe grapes has dried up with the invention of the mechanical winepress, but they still need someone to host tastings and sell gewgaws to tourists, as well as helping with the various other aspects of the business (putting labels on bottles, picking grapes during harvest, etc.) I'd give it even odds whether I got the job or not, but at least I learned that there were wineries around here, and got a free tasting out of the deal. (Fair warning: the peach champagne from Sonoita Vineyards is dangerously delicious.)

• Wishing that some of my friends would come visit. The weather's lovely and warm, our roses are bursting into bloom, the herb/vegetable garden we planted is taking off, and I've spring-cleaned most of the house. Our guest room's awaiting your reservation - any takers?
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
In rough order of time-suckitude:

• Playing Clockwords. One of those rare Flash games that's sucked me in and managed to keep my attention for more than a day or two, this game is absolute crack to the sort of people who enjoy Scrabble and other games where a big vocabulary is a plus (e.g. me). The vaguely-steampunk aesthetic is well-done, too - give it a go! Or don't, if you think you might be in the vulnerable demographic and would prefer to have the next few days of your life belong to you. :)

• Thrift store hunting. Spent a few hours sorting through the junk at the Salvation Army yesterday (have to admit, I've sort of missed having the time to do that), and came up with a decent haul for under $10. Highlights include some nice metal pet food bowls (we've been short ever since I broke one of our ceramic ones on the tile flooring), an adorable black crushed velvet minidress with a swingy little skirt that'll make a great starter for a goth or punk outfit, a paperback copy of Lolita for a quarter, and a very pretty top to go with a brown skirt and pair of shoes that I bought a while back. The crown jewel of this trip, however, was a lovely wrought-iron wine rack. Brian and I had admired several different styles of them in the past, but they were always a touch on the pricey side and we could never quite justify buying one. This one was $2.55 on sale, and looks beautiful:

Pictures ahoy! )


• Reading Dracula The Un-Dead, a sequel written by Dacre Stoker (great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker). About a hundred pages in, I believe I can honestly say the younger Stoker upholds the writerly tradition of his forebear. Which is to say, it's supremely unimpressive. Keep in mind this may be a premature judgment, but frankly, thus far I've found the plot to be contrived, the characters wooden, the action melodramatic, and the author in dire, desperate need of learning how to "show, don't tell". In its defense, the original Dracula wasn't exactly a shining example of literary genius, and at least this sequel has (so far) managed to avoid being riddled with the same inconsistencies of fact and character (the latter being perhaps because of the lack of development on that front, but oh well), so perhaps my expectations were a bit high. So far it hasn't been unreadably bad, and the story's been at least moderately engaging, but the stylistic issues make reading it far less enjoyable than it should be.

• Learning to drive stick. I've finally done it enough to where all the disparate parts have clicked together, and now I can do so pretty comfortably. Admittedly, the BMW's transmission is well-made enough that (as Brian put it) this was a bit like learning on Easy Mode, but I figure as long as I've got the basics in muscle-memory I can figure out the finer points of any given car's transmission with a little bit of experimentation.

• Interviewing for a job at one of the (apparently several) local wineries. Sadly, the demand for nubile young women to hike up their skirts and jump barefoot into vats of ripe grapes has dried up with the invention of the mechanical winepress, but they still need someone to host tastings and sell gewgaws to tourists, as well as helping with the various other aspects of the business (putting labels on bottles, picking grapes during harvest, etc.) I'd give it even odds whether I got the job or not, but at least I learned that there were wineries around here, and got a free tasting out of the deal. (Fair warning: the peach champagne from Sonoita Vineyards is dangerously delicious.)

• Wishing that some of my friends would come visit. The weather's lovely and warm, our roses are bursting into bloom, the herb/vegetable garden we planted is taking off, and I've spring-cleaned most of the house. Our guest room's awaiting your reservation - any takers?
missroserose: (Psychosomatic)
Not at PAX.

This is kind of like "Still not King", except with even more self-pity.

But it's okay. I mean, I didn't want that convention anyway. The lack of funding to attend this year had nothing at all to do with my decision not to go, so everyone's tweets and posts and to-the-minute updates will have no effect whatsoever. None at all.

*sniffles*
missroserose: (Psychosomatic)
Not at PAX.

This is kind of like "Still not King", except with even more self-pity.

But it's okay. I mean, I didn't want that convention anyway. The lack of funding to attend this year had nothing at all to do with my decision not to go, so everyone's tweets and posts and to-the-minute updates will have no effect whatsoever. None at all.

*sniffles*
missroserose: (Shake it!)
This has to be one of the silliest things I've come across lately: Fall Out Boy Trail. Yes, it's a knock-off of Oregon Trail (with some 8-bit Guitar Hero tossed in for good measure) written to promote Fall Out Boy's new tour. For all that, it's surprisingly well-made and amusingly tongue-in-cheek. I don't think I've had this much fun playing a browser-based game since I got tired of Kingdom of Loathing. If you ever spent hours playing the old Oregon Trail game on the Apple II, you should seriously check this one out.
missroserose: (Shake it!)
This has to be one of the silliest things I've come across lately: Fall Out Boy Trail. Yes, it's a knock-off of Oregon Trail (with some 8-bit Guitar Hero tossed in for good measure) written to promote Fall Out Boy's new tour. For all that, it's surprisingly well-made and amusingly tongue-in-cheek. I don't think I've had this much fun playing a browser-based game since I got tired of Kingdom of Loathing. If you ever spent hours playing the old Oregon Trail game on the Apple II, you should seriously check this one out.

Halloween!

Nov. 1st, 2008 02:27 am
missroserose: (Shake it!)
Halloween has a reputation for being the ultimate party night in Juneau, so, being finally in possession of some bar-hopping experience, and since Monica wanted to go, I thought I'd check it out.

It was...pretty damn crazy. Awesome, too, in large part thanks to a very on-the-ball staff at the (two) bars we went to. I didn't drink anything but water, but still had a great time just dancing and people-watching. And I did manage to squeeze into the karaoke queue at the Viking - "Baby Got Back" is way too much fun to sing when you've got an active crowd doing the responses. I just wish I'd known the words better so I could've made more eye contact with the audience.

Monica had asked if she could borrow my leather corset and platform boots, and when she was trying them on with a black peasant skirt of hers I had a brain wave. I proceeded to make her a hood and capelet out of some red velvet I'd had lying around for a while; all told, she made an excellent Goth Red Riding Hood (pictures coming as soon as Brian gets them processed). I just wore my 80s rocker outfit again, but it was awesome enough already. (Come to think of it, maybe I should've done "The Final Countdown"...)

Some other highlights of the evening:

--A dude who could really rock the crotch-on-barbed-wire vocals doing "Back in Black", while a micro-kilted and wigged Angus Young looked on

--A girl who was absolutely convinced, in her world, that she was singing a beautiful rendition of Faith Hill's "Breathe", despite the fact that to the rest of us it sounded like she was alternately groaning and gargling into the microphone

--A chick in a wedding gown covered in Alaska Airlines baggage stickers with a sash made of Priority Mail tape

--Three different Sarah Palin lookalikes, two mediocre and one uncannily good

--A dude in a full-body suit of empty Budweiser boxes (the "Bud-Bot")

--A woman in a near-movie-quality Queen Elizabeth I outfit

--A guy pulling a Karate Kid, complete with towel around the neck, scrub brush and rubber duck

--A guy in a baseball jersey with a Wheaties box built around it

--A chick in a super-short fluffy-skirted Strawberry Shortcake costume - with the legs to pull it off

--Several excellent riffs on various traditional themes - pirates, princesses, cartoon characters, bunnies, devils

Earlier in the night we'd had Chris & Jeanne over to play Dead Space (an appropriately ghoulish game, I think), and one of the guys Brian's been working with lately stopped by with his son and played with them. So even though I was out late and C&J had to go home early, I wasn't leaving Brian alone, which was nice. I always feel a bit guilty about that, even though he insists he doesn't mind.

I'll also have to put up pictures of Brian's annual pumpkin extravaganza. He got a 120 pound giant for a particularly special idea...

Unfortunately, all fun things must eventually end, so I guess it's time for me to go clean off all this makeup. Still, it's been a great time. If holidays (and everything else) are what you make of them, I must be doing a better job making them fun this year.

Halloween!

Nov. 1st, 2008 02:27 am
missroserose: (Shake it!)
Halloween has a reputation for being the ultimate party night in Juneau, so, being finally in possession of some bar-hopping experience, and since Monica wanted to go, I thought I'd check it out.

It was...pretty damn crazy. Awesome, too, in large part thanks to a very on-the-ball staff at the (two) bars we went to. I didn't drink anything but water, but still had a great time just dancing and people-watching. And I did manage to squeeze into the karaoke queue at the Viking - "Baby Got Back" is way too much fun to sing when you've got an active crowd doing the responses. I just wish I'd known the words better so I could've made more eye contact with the audience.

Monica had asked if she could borrow my leather corset and platform boots, and when she was trying them on with a black peasant skirt of hers I had a brain wave. I proceeded to make her a hood and capelet out of some red velvet I'd had lying around for a while; all told, she made an excellent Goth Red Riding Hood (pictures coming as soon as Brian gets them processed). I just wore my 80s rocker outfit again, but it was awesome enough already. (Come to think of it, maybe I should've done "The Final Countdown"...)

Some other highlights of the evening:

--A dude who could really rock the crotch-on-barbed-wire vocals doing "Back in Black", while a micro-kilted and wigged Angus Young looked on

--A girl who was absolutely convinced, in her world, that she was singing a beautiful rendition of Faith Hill's "Breathe", despite the fact that to the rest of us it sounded like she was alternately groaning and gargling into the microphone

--A chick in a wedding gown covered in Alaska Airlines baggage stickers with a sash made of Priority Mail tape

--Three different Sarah Palin lookalikes, two mediocre and one uncannily good

--A dude in a full-body suit of empty Budweiser boxes (the "Bud-Bot")

--A woman in a near-movie-quality Queen Elizabeth I outfit

--A guy pulling a Karate Kid, complete with towel around the neck, scrub brush and rubber duck

--A guy in a baseball jersey with a Wheaties box built around it

--A chick in a super-short fluffy-skirted Strawberry Shortcake costume - with the legs to pull it off

--Several excellent riffs on various traditional themes - pirates, princesses, cartoon characters, bunnies, devils

Earlier in the night we'd had Chris & Jeanne over to play Dead Space (an appropriately ghoulish game, I think), and one of the guys Brian's been working with lately stopped by with his son and played with them. So even though I was out late and C&J had to go home early, I wasn't leaving Brian alone, which was nice. I always feel a bit guilty about that, even though he insists he doesn't mind.

I'll also have to put up pictures of Brian's annual pumpkin extravaganza. He got a 120 pound giant for a particularly special idea...

Unfortunately, all fun things must eventually end, so I guess it's time for me to go clean off all this makeup. Still, it's been a great time. If holidays (and everything else) are what you make of them, I must be doing a better job making them fun this year.
missroserose: (Default)
As an anniversary present, I got Brian a copy of Dead Space. Rather than extol the virtues of the game (of which there are many, although I have yet to make a final determination as to its value), I figure I'll just relate the following moment, and let you judge for yourselves:

The other night, while Brian was playing (notably, with all the lights on), I was keeping him company while playing on my computer. It was getting late, though, so I got up with the intention of moving to the bedroom. However, about halfway there, Brian looks up from the game and says in the most plaintive, pathetic, 6-year-old-about-to-be-left-in-the-dark voice you can imagine - "Please don't leave me alone!"
missroserose: (Default)
As an anniversary present, I got Brian a copy of Dead Space. Rather than extol the virtues of the game (of which there are many, although I have yet to make a final determination as to its value), I figure I'll just relate the following moment, and let you judge for yourselves:

The other night, while Brian was playing (notably, with all the lights on), I was keeping him company while playing on my computer. It was getting late, though, so I got up with the intention of moving to the bedroom. However, about halfway there, Brian looks up from the game and says in the most plaintive, pathetic, 6-year-old-about-to-be-left-in-the-dark voice you can imagine - "Please don't leave me alone!"

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