thessalian: (Rant)
Yes, I am still whittering about Mass Effect. Sorry. At least there's some actual social commentary involved.

So last night I manned up and did the one thing that anyone who's played Mass Effect knows to dread: I drove the Mako. For those of you who don't play, picture this: you have a six-wheeled ATV whose suspension has to survive getting dropped from a moving spaceship, at least according to the cutscene. (Why the hell didn't they just actually land?) Anyway, end result is a monstrosity that handles like a bumper car and has pogo sticks for suspension. Guess how much fun this generally is to drive.

As it turns out, I'm not horrible at it. It takes a delicate touch on the A and D keys and I'm still not entirely sanguine about going backwards, but aside from an unfortunate 'I ran over a space monkey' incident on Hercules (I think it was Hercules, anyway), I actually did pretty well, considering how terrified I was.

The rest of it? Noooooot so hot. I'm finding that playing an Adept is complicated beyond reason and I'm not entirely sure how to use any of the special bits and bobs you get for the techies or the biotics beyond Barrier. I'm pondering starting over again, this time with Soldier (plain old gun-bunny) or Infiltrator (gun-bunny with tech). The problem is that even on Casual, the fights happen too fast in areas that are too poorly-lit and I end up flailing. A lot. This decision was made during a particularly unpleasant set of firefights with renegade biotics on a cargo vessel and geth in an abandoned mine respectively. I'm better at shooting things. I should really stick with shooting things. I could be a sniper. That'd be fun.

(Also, [livejournal.com profile] madzilla has flagged up the Super Armour and Super Gun mods. Yeeeeeees, I'll be having those...)

On a related note, ME3 spoilers are going up and while I don't entirely understand them, I am getting ideas about them from stuff I've read while looking for ways to not die horribly every time I enter combat. There is one thing that I do understand, though, and this is not so much a spoiler as a thing that should have been fairly obvious from how EA/Bioware has been dealing with the whole 'FemShep marketing' thing to date: ME3 is apparently suffering from a near-terminal case of Dudebro Syndrome.

Dudebro Syndrome: Where a piece of entertainment media conforms so strongly to the sexist tropes on offer, up to and including, "We can't be sexist! Our girls kick ass! Fine, in ludicrous poses and unrealistic outfits so that they can conform to our fantasies, but we gave you girls who fight, what more do you want?" that it honestly feels unwelcoming for women. It's basically the "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on the treehouse that is modern entertainment media.

They haven't made any secret of it, either. In the bits and pieces I've seen, the blurbs about character redesign have emphasised an increase strength and experience for the men ... and an increase in sexiness for the women. And let's face it; it didn't start with Ashley; it started with FemShep. When they made the decision to market ME1 and ME2 exclusively with a male Shepard, they didn't bother anyone about what he looked like - he looked rugged and manly because some demographic said that's what they wanted. They based him on the default male Shepard you get in game. Then, after three games (I am counting DA2 in this because of the Bioware connection), they finally decided to say, "We're going to do some trailers and marketing with a female Shepard!" Which got us all celebrating ... except instead of just giving us the default female Shepard, they made a beauty contest on Facebook to let us decide what FemShep would look like.

Devs, please.

And of course, we still haven't seen so much as a single bit of promo material featuring the female Shepard whose looks were so important that it merited such goings-on on Facebook. They keep saying it's coming 'soon'. Um ... yeah, but ... so's the f'ing game! I know it feels like forever away for those who are waiting for preorders etc, but March is not that far away, guys! The demo's coming out in a couple of weeks and we still haven't seen a single shred of promotional material featuring a female Shepard at all! There is a fan-made trailer featuring a female Shepard and it is the most brilliant thing ever; I'll link to it when I'm not at an outdated work computer.

So ... everything to do with the male characters is "100% more rugged and gritty and strong and experienced!" Everything to do with women is "100% sexier!" I'm not sure why they're going to such great lengths to alienate the female fans by ... well, there's no other way to put it but 'pandering to the Stereotypical Straight White Male Gamer', but I have a theory: The response they got to Dragon Age 2, which was more inclusive than most games of its type in terms of sexuality and gender roles, was relatively underwhelming and, since that underwhelming response couldn't possibly be because they rushed out the game in a year and thus put out an unbalanced, handwavey rush job instead of the brilliant game we know they can make, they decided that it was because they were being too inclusive. ME3 is to Bioware/EA what a Ferarri is to a middle-aged man: OVERCOMPENSATION. Or it's to make up for giving those poor souls, male or female, who aren't all that good at gaming the 'story' and 'RPG' modes on top of the 'action' modes, lest people think they've somehow unmanned themselves by not making it universally impossible to complete unless you're a frag god or you cheat like hell.

Look, y'all know I love Bioware's ability to tell a decent story. I yell at the screen when I play these things that I don't do for very much else, and that's a good thing. However, this whole thing where Mass Effect is Bioware's "hardcore gamer" game (where "hardcore gamer" seems to universally mean "the Stereotypical Straight White Male") whereas Dragon Age is their 'fluffy fantasy property' that can afford to feel inclusive to people who aren't the Stereotypical Straight White Male. It's like someone out there thinks we're still in primary school and has made the typical gender divides of "Fearless Space Marines are for boys, castles and magic are also for boys but girls can have those too, I guess". And I'm tired of it.

Also, I swear the first person who explains to me in comments about how "I get where you're coming from, but they are protecting their demographic..." is not going to be on my happy list for awhile. I've heard that argument before and I hate it too. The idea that appealing to one demographic has to involve belittling and alienating another is repugnant. If you're honestly telling me that the 'core demographic' would refuse to buy the game if the females therein weren't shaped and dressed like the wet dream of a thirteen-year-old Star Trek fan with a low-key D/s fetish, then it is my feeling that the 'core demographic' is too shallow and narrow-minded to appreciate what they're being given in the first place. They have produced great games with great stories, have Bioware, and they should be let to stand on their own merits without having to so blatantly pander to a target demographic that's only the majority because of crap like this in the first place.

Okay, rant over. Sorry. Well, actually, no I'm not, but...
thessalian: (Rant)
So ... the trailer for the Hunger Games film came to my attention yesterday:



So now I have a few things to say to anyone who just dismisses this as 'Battle Royale with American kids'. Because before I actually knew anything about Hunger Games ... I admit I said it too, though mostly as a frame of reference. It's wrong. I'm not talking 'it's a matter of opinion' here; there is only the very vaguest basis of comparison between the two books, and that's 'kids fight to the death'. Beyond that ... to say that they're the same thing is to demean both.

1) In the Hunger Games, children are chosen at random. Two childen from each district, twelve districts. Of the twenty-three people that any given tribute is expected to kill, the tribute only stands a chance of knowing one of them to any degree at all as anything but an opponent, and that's a maybe, depending on district size. In Battle Royale, the tribute is going up against their entire graduating class. Your best friend, your worst enemy, your first kiss, your first love, that kid who loaned you your maths notes ... the horror in Battle Royale is showing how shallow some friendships really are, and how quickly they can be thrown aside if it's a matter of survival. The beauty of Battle Royale is the little moments where love and friendship actually prevail, if only for a little while, if only in death. The horror of Hunger Games is very, very different, and shit only starts getting real in terms of uprisings and the big shots taking notice is in Catching Fire - when they do exactly what Battle Royale does in every game: pit friends against friends.

2) The horror of the Hunger Games is in the deeper 'relationship' that the viewers in the Capitol form with the tributes. In Battle Royale, no one knows which class is going to be chosen for the game until they're dumped on the battle ground. Parents don't know until their kids don't come home; viewers don't know until the kids are statistics on a screen, horses to bet on. It's horrible, yes, because it shows a lack of empathy, but it's a deliberate prevention of empathy for the 'contestants' by the audience on the part of the government. The Hunger Games goes entirely the other way. They pick their tributes publicly, call them 'brave warriors', make it sound as though the tributes are somehow proud of what they're about to do. The tributes are brought into splendour, pampered, trotted around like trick ponies, interviewed to show the person behind the warrior, made likeable ... and then sent out to kill ... and to die. And somehow, despite how attached people tend to get to their celebrities, the Capitol laps it all up. They buy into the spectacle and, despite having all but met the people who are dying for their entertainment, forget all about it when it comes time to watch the carnage. 'How despicable we must seem to you', Cinna says ... and they really, really are. Battle Royale's Japan can only get away with saying, "This is what happens; live with it". Hunger Games' Panem asks you to like it, and smile pretty for the cameras.

The endings are also radically different, as are the takes on the theme of 'what a totalitarian government can get away with'. Hunger Games has an additional theme of how we treat our celebrities like property and yet claim intimate knowledge of them just from interviews, even as we scavenge their pain like vultures for our entertainment. I can't say too much more on that because I don't want to spoil endings and all, but ... I'll be brutally frank. Battle Royale is a personal horror of epic proportions. Hunger Games is a stark mirror of what we actually could quite happily become, so long as we were all on the Capitol side. Hunger Games has more depth and more honesty. And I do not say that lightly.

So ... looking forward to this movie. Very much. And anyone who says that this is just 'watered-down Battle Royale' can frankly bite me. As a very vague reference point? Okay. But I would advise anyone who's being derisive about it and deciding not to ever touch it on the basis of their belief that it's a cheap BR rip-off (instead of wondering about the differences and waiting for the hype to die down a bit before picking it up, like I did) to actually read the books with more than just a surface eye for once and know your source material.

Also, for even suggesting that they were the same before I read the books? I apologise. Even if I did listen for the differences and didn't make an arse of myself publicly before reading the books.
thessalian: (Yay)
I haven't been doing the NaNo thing this year; haven't really had the energy. No guilt. I'll write what I can when I can. For now, I think I'm owed some chill-time after having been so sick last month.

So I played through Dragon Age 2 as a Rogue instead of a Mage for once, as I think I mentioned. Finished the playthrough now, and did Legacy; just have Mark of the Assassin to go. The first few levels kind of bite for a dual-wield rogue, but it's so worth it by the time you get to, like, level 5. And then come the specialities. I ended up as Assassin/Shadow dual wield and man do battles go faster that way. Awesome tip for any DW Rogues out there: Stealth, sneak up to the nearest mage, Assassinate, Backstab or Twin Fangs if required. Take the mages out quick and clean and right at the start so you don't have to chase the fucker around the place when s/he does that mini-teleport bullshit or wait out the force field. (Especially when dealing with saarebas; some of their spells are nasty.) Also, the cutscenes for killing things like the high dragon, or Corypheus ... soooooooo much more awesome as Rogue. So ... yeah, that was fun. Will have to do that again. Trying to ponder my best party for Mark of the Assassin too; Fenris is my go-to warrior but I have to decide whether I want an archer (Varric) or a mage (probably Bethany).

Still not doing the sneak bullshit in Castle Hate. Noooooo.

Also have a plotbunny hopping around in my head for DA2 fic as a result of this newest discovery of "Rogue = awesome". Probably best not to ask ... at least 'til I inflict it on you.

I've still been on Warcrack, but really only in fits and spurts. Still working on my Belf Pally, who's now got to the point where she can have dual-spec proper. So now she's a Prot/Ret Pally and kicking arse in Grizzly Hills, because I can't be bothered with doing heavier, more level-appropriate shit. Still pondering soloing the lower-level dungeons just to say I did 'em. But for the time being it's mostly Grizzly Hills and various dailies. It's a slow way to level but it works.

Soooooooo glad it's the weekend. I can just relax and veg and play video games and unwind from hell-week. Hooray, unwinding!
thessalian: (facepalm)
Right; about time I started posting again. Partly because the Dragon Age friending meme has turned up on one of the fan communities again and there's whole bunches of new people. Hi, folks! I may actually subject you to fanfic at some point; sorry. *g*

Okay, someone please explain Tumblr to me? Because I keep hearing about this thing and I really don't get it. I have my Twitter feed and I'm a recovering Facebook game addict, but Tumblr, while I keep hearing it around, is Greek to me. From what little I can gather, it's like a combination of Twitter and Blogger or something. But I honestly do not know.

This weekend has been largely devoted to being curled up in bed watching Criminal Minds. Currently on S2 again. I had to look up the name James Van der Beek and when I did, I flashed back to A-level era summertime weekday afternoon TV and realised that the guy who played Dawson actually has acting chops if he can play serial killer with dissociative identity disorder that well. Also, between that two-parter and S3 of True Blood, it seems that acting chops run in the Swayze family, as does that very distinctive eye shape and jawline. And the makeup job on Jane Lynch is phenomenal, given the promo shots I've seen of her in Glee. This is a game I play; the 'I've Seen That Face/Heard That Voice Before' IMDB game. It's how I know that I've actually seen Gideon Emery (Primeval) and thus will recognise him at the MCM Expo next weekend. I make my own fun. *g*

The rest of the weekend ... Dragon Age, mostly. I finally got through Mark of the Assassin ... though not in the way that earns one a particular sneaky-play-related achievement. Cut for spoilers goes here and... )

Anyway, after that, I went back to Origins to work on some favoured playthrough stuff. Sometimes the savegen that the fans came up with just doesn't work as well as I'd like. So I'm working the Dalish Elf origin right now, because the standard one they give you is actually reeeeeeeally close to my headcanon but not quite close enough. I've just got out of Lothering so I've got a ways to go yet but I've also got an Elven Mage playthrough I want to work on. There just aren't enough hours in a day.

*sigh* Sunday evening. There needs to be more weekend, damnit.
thessalian: (writing)
So Livejournal is 'experiencing high traffic volume' again. I wonder if it's people posting on Steve Jobs' death or another Russian government attempt to screw them over. Either way, it's irritating. I like having Livejournal on in the background while I'm at work. It gives me something to read while I'm stuffing envelopes or having coffee or whatever.

Interesting conversation with my co-admin today, which is kind of rare. Actually, having any conversation with my co-admin at all is rare. What's even more interesting is that it ended up being about horror movies. I asked him if there was anything interesting on at the cinema, as I am contemplating movie-going sometime this weekend and am woefully out of touch. He asked what I liked. I told him, and he actually sounded impressed before suggesting the remake of 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark'. The conversation meandered from there and I'm amazed and a little impressed. For instance, he's seen Battle Royale! I've met so few people who've actually seen that movie. He also did not find it scary. Ooooooooookay... Anyway, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given the conversation we had about zombies at one point or another. Still, given that he seems to be all about the true crime novels, it does come as a little bit of a shock. Still kind of fun.

At least there's some fun out of work, I guess. Given the headache and the flu and the backlog and the phones and the stupid, it's mostly been a suckfest of the highest magnitude. Still, it's mostly settled and sorted. I still want to hit one of the consultants (he's one of the ones whose letters generally go, "Thanks for referring this patient; let me 'briefly' reiterate everything you've already told me in your various letters - and by 'briefly', I mean I'll take three pages to tell you everything you already know because you're the one who told me in the first place", which is time-wasting bollocks, but never mind) ... actually, I want to hit most of them. The one with the letters full of unnecessary backstory. The one who refuses to send me replies to my 'these are typed up and ready to be checked' emails ... at least not ones that include the neat and tidy lists I give him, as he somehow expects me to remember every single letter I've asked him to sign off (thank the gods for Sent folders). The one who not only refuses to sign off the letters in a timely manner but also waits weeks to even dictate clinic letters (seriously, last week she started dictating clinics she ran in early September, meaning it was three weeks before seeing the patients and dictating their letters). But I can't so I'm just going to have to type and bear it.

Tomorrow's Friday. I'd approve of that a lot more if Friday was a better day at the office. But my co-admin isn't in on Fridays so I get the phones. So I suppose I'd better clear as much typing as I can because I'm going to have no time to do it tomorrow, if the phone keeps on being as it is. But hey, lunch in an hour. I just want to go home and sleep for a week. Is that too much to ask?

(Oh, I gave my goblin Shammy some love yesterday. I earned myself a very painful death by Naga after being leapfrogged around a minefield. Iiiiiiiiii sometimes don't get this game at all. Well, I'll just have to find a different approach to the being I've got to kill; one that's not through a minefield and guarded by way, waaaaaaaay too many Naga. Or maybe I should just do the quest where I blast the hell out of them with mortars first? I don't remember this quest chain being anywhere for my Belf Pally. Maybe it's goblin-specific? Or maybe I just somehow missed it when I my Belf Pally was teeny-tiny, opting to head for the crossroads instead. Well, I suppose this is a good thing; the whole point of alts is taking these things in new directions, right? Really should give a bit more love to my Alliance alts, too. I mean, my Gnomelock got a void walker summon awhile back, and that's been more or less awesome; I barely have to throw spells at all when I've got that little bugger spawned! Plus Dwarf Pally is going to be fun, one imagines. Anyway, if I want to see how things like Outland and Northrend work for the other side, I'd best actually level my Alliance folk. If I don't, by the time I hit Outland, I'll just be doing more or less the same quests as I did with the Belf Pally. Well ... possibly not, I guess. After Hellfire Peninsula, there's a lot more scope for different ways of going about things. Particularly once you hit Shattrath.

...Okay, I might be procrastinating juuuuuuust a little bit. Back to work, right...)
thessalian: (Yay)
I seem to have gone more to a video game place these days.

Sims 3: I decided to try actually playing this over the weekend, as [personal profile] courtcat was telling me about how your Sims-kid can have imaginary friends. I somehow ended up with a family of eight - three sets of twins. I will eventually go back to that family to actually complete the mother's lifetime goal of 'raise five kids to teenager' but right now it just scares me. Looking very forward to Sims 3 Pets, the new expansion coming out in mid-October. (UNIVERSAL RELEASE DATES, FUCKERS!) Cats in particular. I am a cat person; it happens. Plus their animations are adorable.

Dragon Age: I'll end up picking up Mark of the Assassin when it comes out on these shores, but I have to admit that I'm not really all that thrilled by the sound of it. Mostly I'm just getting it to see what it's about and so they don't take away my Dragon Age Fangeek membership card. I also went back to Origins recently, and had a bit of a play with the graphics settings, since this was the first time I had really played it on Morrigan. (I feel a little remiss about this, but I did mainly spec Morrigan for DA2, so I suppose it's not terribly surprising.) I ... frankly had no idea the graphics could be that clear. See, Morrigan's graphics card and processor can handle 'very high' detail rather than the 'medium' I'd been running on, and I remembered to tweak my screen resolution. Damn, that game looks good. Anyway, I'm looking forward to having Origins endgames to import to DA2 that I didn't make with someone else's mod-hack-thing and aren't kind of buggy as a result. Y'know, the ones where my Warden dies.

Warcrack: Not been on as much as I could be, but noodle around with it now and again, mostly to find a quest that is simply 'Kill X Number of Specific Mob/Mob Type' to vent some aggravation. I did do a quest clear-out recently, though ... and, of course, got more quests. Bloody quest chains. Anyway, point is that I hit level 74 on my Belf Pally. I've got a few other characters to occasionally level (Gnomelock, Dwarf Pally, Goblin Shaman who's now discovered the not-so-gentle art of alchemy, a couple of others that are probably destined for the bin and I'm only counting characters I've played to level 10 and up) but it's vaguely important that I keep the Belf Pally active because she's the one in a guild. Of course, my guild is notoriously inactive and I think someone whose first language is definitively not English is trying to take it over and turn it into a PvP guild, so I may have to bail out, but for now, I enjoy the minor benefits of being with a guild - namely, the fact that my hearthstone recharges in half the time. *shrug* It's a thing.

Plants vs Zombies: I am remarkably unsure as to how the hell I got into this game. It ... seemed like a good idea at the time? It's a fun game, if unutterably nuts. Maybe I ought to check and see if Worms World Party and Lemmings work on my computer. If I can ever remember how to work the controls on the former, at least.

Actually, being able to actually work the games via the keyboard is an issue with a few of my games, not least of which being the Mass Effect games and the American McGee's Alice in Wonderland games. Then again, I've been practicing with the WASD keyboard configuration ... sort of. It's one of those situation where I basically keep holding down the W key while I angle the camera, and thus the character, in the direction I want to take. It works for the DA games and Warcrack; should hopefully work in Mass Effect too. And if it does, maybe it'll work for others as well. And in that case ... well, the world is my mollusc! At least as far as video games are concerned.

I'm not really sure why I got into this stuff so late. I honestly didn't care that much past age thirteen, and now all of a sudden, it's twenty-one years later and I'm hooked. The response I got to the question of why I suddenly have more video games now than I did when I was a teenager was 'money', but ... what happened to blowing it on sourcebooks? Or books in general? ...I mean, besides the fact that a RPG sourcebook costs nearly as much as the average computer game these days and I haven't actually got that much space to put books and I'm really not up for getting a Kindle and... Yeah. Well. I suppose it's at least keeping my brain busier than watching TV or whatever.

...Speaking of, I haven't watched the last two episodes of Who yet. I've seen comments though, and now I'm a little afraid to watch. I probably will, but ... maybe on Friday. See, Friday is going to be treat day and I will probably need gummies to ease the pain. Or possibly liquor, but ... gummies are good.

There may be more ranting about the workplace when I'm not actually in it, but right now I'm going to polish off one last letter and then go home, because I still feel miserable (yay flu) and I can't take much more of today. And then I will probably go home and beat on things for awhile. That'll be fun.
thessalian: (Yay)
I've been quiet out here in journal-land, I know. Mostly I've been cat-sitting and having a much-needed holiday. The biggest bonus to staying at [livejournal.com profile] mitchy's place to look after Rob T Furball is that I have had no stress at all over "I should be at work". I suppose it helps that I'm in an entirely different city ... and never mind the fact that the fast train into King's Cross from here is actually faster than the train I get to St Pancras every morning, and they're basically the same station. I'm farther away and thus there is no guilt over "I should be working!" Somehow I have managed to avoid thinking about how much work will have piled up in my absence. Gods, I hope they got a float secretary in...

Anyway, maybe the other part of the non-stress over work absence has been the needy furball. It's not 24/7, the neediness, but he'll alternate between curling up in his cat bed / on the armchair dead to the world, and then all of a sudden he'll decide that if he isn't fussed and petted and scritched RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND he will die of heartbreak. Cue the yowling and the feeling that someone has replaced his fur with velcro. This is not a bad thing, but it can be tricky when one is trying to chat to someone over IM and just stopping the petting gets the big-sad-eyes look and a plaintive yowl. I'm such a sucker. Anyway, the point is that I might feel guilty about taking time off if it was just me at home on my own not doing much of anything, but since I am elsewhere, maybe not seeming to do much of anything but really ensuring that a lovely furball is fed and watered and petted and fussed, at least I am being useful to somebody. Apparently this assuages my work-guilt somewhat. So ... yay!

I'll be glad to be home, though. There are definitely things that my place lacks (bathtub, gas stove, decent-sized fridge with freezer that doesn't frost over every three days, space) but it's mine and I miss it. I miss my bed and my computer 'desk' ... hell, I miss my computer, full stop. Not to mention Warcrack - I decided that it was too much addict behaviour to travel all the way home just to check on my little Azeroth denizens mid-week, so I didn't. I'm not overly jonesing, thankfully, but then again, I had DA2 as a placebo. Not to mention a particularly stellar DVD collection - my tastes and [livejournal.com profile] mitchy's don't always coincide, but I have to admit that she's introduced me to more TV shows than any other single person I know. Most people, it's a show here or there; it's been at least a half-dozen with [livejournal.com profile] mitchy - more than anyone else, fewer than it could be (I just can't get into NCIS: LA, but I love the original and Criminal Minds is growing on me).

On the subject of video games and various bits of entertainment ... Sebastian Vael. I swear, the only reason I'm not sorry I got the DLC is that the extra quests give XP. You get him way too late in the game to build him up properly, and you end up with this relatively useless rogue who can't pick half the locks or disarm about a third of the traps and, despite his mail-and-plate armour, goes down like a twenty-quid hooker the minute anyone carrying a sword looks at him cross-eyed. Mostly I just leave him tucked away in the Chantry and don't deal with him until he demands that we go do quest types of things. I haven't got through a full playthrough with him yet so maybe his hissy-fit over the events in Act 3 will make having him as a full-on party member a little more worth it. As it stands, Varric is still my all-time archer in-game BFF, kthnx.

(Also, Sebastian, character-wise, is a cross between Leliana and Hamlet.)

Warcrack-wise ... still hacking my way through Northrend. I do not like Coldarra. It's creepy-death. Or ... well, it would be creepy-death if I weren't playing a Paladin. I would say I don't think Paladins can die but I have seen proof otherwise. (I still want to know how a massive 75-Elite patrolbot managed to sneak up on me in Hellfire Peninsula when I was doing my purgatory time in Outland.) Anyway, a lot of that is Nexus dungeon and since I don't really have the sort of party backing required to hack my way through one, I feel justified in abandoning the zone entirely beyond a couple of little quests and a flyover or the 'Explored Borean Tundra' achievement. I could probably move on to Dragonblight now, but I think I'll move to Howling Fjord and grind a couple of levels there first. I like level-grinding in lowish-level areas. Particularly when I've been logged out in an inn for a week and a half. The 'Well-Rested' XP bonus is going to last forever...

I haven't been on as my belf pally as much as I could be because I don't really like Northrend all that much, though I do hack through a level or two, time to time. I have, however, been working a little on my other characters - I've made a few as alts that I might actually stick with for awhile. Dwarf Pally, Gnome Warlock and Goblin Shaman, mainly - that last a holdover from my first spate of character creation early on. At least there's kind of variety, and a good Alliance/Horde spread. Though given that the Dwarf and Gnome starting levels are more or less the same after level ... oh, six or so? I kind of have to alternate with the other two so I don't get bored out of my skull.

There have been other things - potential writing projects, finally having solidified what I want to do for this WoD site that I still need to talk to [personal profile] lithiumdoll about as re: Jove when she's less busy and had some relaxy time, stuff like that there - but a lot of it's too vague to yammer about here and I'm thinking moar coffee. Then haul my lazy arse (and a mid-sized wheely suitcase full of books OMG heavy) back home, likely via somewhere I can get some lunch. Then probably right back out again to pick up something for dinner because I made sure that my fridge was empty before I came out here. I didn't want to find something gaining independent life in my fridge when I got home.
thessalian: (facepalm)
Yet more commentary about the television - namely, True Blood finale.

It's pronounced SOW-ain, okay?!? If you have hundred-year-old spellbooks (which admittedly wouldn't be Wicca because it's a relatively new phenomenon and at least that was quasi-acknowledged; they never said that Antonia was a believer in Wicca even once, thank the gods...), if you view Wicca as a faith, if you bitch about how Halloween has perverted your sacred Sabbat ... you are going to pronounce the word right. If you know enough to know even a little bit about what Samhain is all about, even just as far as Wikipedia goes, you will have seen a pronunciation guide! But it's pronounced 'Sah-ma-hain' all the way through the damn show and it annoys me.

All the same, I like how they handled magic in this one. The faith did come into it, but it was stated outright that magic is about focus and intent. Some have it more powerfully than others, but anyone could actually get involved in a ritual if they believed in what they were doing. They also stated outright that there's no such thing as 'black magic'; just the intention of the practitioner. An interesting look at the afterlife, too; nothing specific, but a very general, "Why do you think this mortal-coil bullshit is going to matter after?" sort of thing.

Other things I liked:

Cut for serious spoilers )

So on the whole, I liked more about the finale than I disliked. NINE MONTHS until the next season. Shiiiiiiiiiiit.
thessalian: (Default)
So ... the last Doctor Who ep. Um. Yeah. I'm not really sure where they were going with this. Like, at all.

Cut for spoilers )

In short, great acting jobs, but I'm reeeeeeeally not sure about where they were going with this.

Diversions

Aug. 19th, 2011 05:44 pm
thessalian: (DAO)
It is amazing how much better one can feel after a few hours of beating on oogly creatures via video games and the prospect of a lovely steak dinner later. Seriously, not to be sneezed at as a way to spend a mental health day.

A lot of it was Dragon Age 2. I finally caved last month and bought the Exiled Prince DLC (so I didn't preorder, okay? So sue me) and have been having my first playthrough in which we actually have a Sebastien. I ... don't entirely understand the fanlove and wishing-he-was-properly-romanceable thing for Sebastien. I mean, obviously it's a matter of personal taste and I don't judge; I'm just saying I don't get it. What's more, I don't-get it in an entirely different way that I don't-get the wishing-Varric-was-romanceable-at-all brigade. With Varric, I guess I could see how someone might find that attractive and he's definitely got a way with words, but ... for me, he's so much platonic BFF bro-guy that I just couldn't even imagine wanting horizontal fun there. It'd ruin things for me. (Besides, I'm very much Varric/Merrill OTP; shut up.) Sebastien ... well, I guess I could potentially see him as the less angsty option. If I close one eye and tilt my head to the right. Thing is, he's so fired up about "Starkhaven! Or ... maybe the Chantry! Yes! Devote my life to the Chantry! Unless I decide to take my rightful place as Starkhaven's ruler. But the Chantry!" that there really doesn't seem time for anything else. At least Anders seems vaguely interested in something other than the whole mage-freedom thing in the first couple of acts. Besides, plate-and-chain on a rogue weirds me out. Also, I find his accent ... not offputting, but certainly not sexy. He sounds like a bad Sean Connery impersonator to me.

That said, I actually like the DLC. Interesting bit of backstory, and puts an interesting spin on endgame. (You should have listened, Elthina; you should have listened. Wonder if Anders would have pulled his little stunt if she had, though...) I got through maybe three quarters of an act total - little under half of Act 2 overlapping to a little more than a quarter of Act 3, and then moved on for a bit.

Specifically, Warcrack. Yeah, I'm still hacking it through Outland with my poor belf pally, with one major difference - I'm finally out of frikkin' Hellfire Peninsula! I finally polished off most of the quests for that area (I think there are a few left over, but I can go back to those and a couple of them probably require higher level than I'm currently at; they do recommend two players...) and soared off to Zangarmarsh, which is a lot less barren and there are no jets of fire and no ground tilted at stupid angles, so I like it way better.

And yes, I said 'soared'. As in, on my spiffy flying mount. See, a thing I came to realise after a bit of a wade through Google is that you only need your Flight Master's Licence for flights in Kalimdor, Northrend and the Eastern Kingdoms. You don't need it for Outland. So I bought my spiffy blue windrider and while I can afford my Flight Master's Licence, I will continue to save up my gold so that I'll have a nice buffer by the time I hit level 70 and get out of Outland for good, therefore really needing my FML. (Oh, that's a fun TLA. Kind of like how they didn't really think before calling new WoD Werewolf 'The Forsaken', y'know? WTF is probably not what you want people calling your game.) Of course, by then I'll also have to be thinking about saving for cold weather flying, because apparently it's very much required in Northrend. Woo to the hoo. Yeesh.

Anyway, my last trek through Hellfire Peninsula earned me a not overly pleasant surprise. Look, there's this bunch of 'let's untaint the world' types called the Cenarion Circle and they tend to send people out to cure taints and kill blighted things. I got sent after five colossi. (Don't look at me like that; that's what the ditzy nelf NPC called them as plural!) I walked up to a colossus, made like Captain America (my shield? Meet its head) and ... oh. That's a gold dragon wound around the headshot of the mob I have engaged. That's an elite mob, that is. And it's at my level. Didn't I get my arse kicked by an elite mob four levels below me as moocow shammy? ...Yeah, well, that was moocow shammy. Belf pally is a little more resilient. I should really have realised this earlier this week when I got mugged by two NPC guards that had six levels on me, killed them both and survived. Suffice to say that it was somewhat rougher going than I'm used to (as in, I could only kill three of them before my health bar dropped to 50%) but I managed. The rest of that quest chain looks soloable no matter how much they say they suggest two players, so ... eh. Maybe I'll actually hit level 64 tonight. I haven't been levelling all that much out of sheer hatred for the zone I was in; maybe things will improve now that I'm somewhere a little less ... um ... horrible.

So yeah. That's been my day and I feel somewhat better now. I have doughnuts, and steak dinner planned, and a weekend impending. All is reasonably right with the world.
thessalian: (Rant)
I am a Dresden Files fan of long standing. Not as long as some, as I believe the only reason I got into the series at all was because I bought Storm Front for [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo as a ... I want to say Christmas gift, but gift anyway ... a few years ago and borrowed it when he was done. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did; it didn't always work that way when I got him gifts. I wasn't hugely into The Prisoner or The Twilight Zone or that series that was sort of Ghost in the Shell meets Warcrack, but The Dresden Files I fell in love with.

My problem with Jim Butcher has nothing to do with The Dresden Files. I don't see half the misogyny and sexism and racism and all the other -isms that people have oddly only now started bitching about, which strikes me odd that it's started so recently given that this series has been a going concern for eleven years, but whatever. The half I do see doesn't offend me as much as it does some, either. I don't presume to know how much of Butcher's own worldview he puts into Harry's character, and I couldn't give a shit if he gets the layout of Chicago wrong. Dude, I used to RP in Chicago and we used to take liberties with the layout of the city all the time - it's called 'artistic licence'. (This same rationale is why I tend to giggle when [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo froths at the mouth about the entirely geographically unfeasible travel montage in 28 Days Later, though I can understand it more because it was filmed in London, by people who know London, whereas I don't think Butcher's spent a lot of time in Chicago.) Anyway, the books don't offend me and, for the most part, neither does the man.

I do, however, wish he'd knock off the fucking public guilt trip about the Codex Alera already.

It's pretty well-documented by now. His first love was swords-and-sorcery fantasy novels. So as well as The Dresden Files, he writes the Codex Alera series, which ... well, according to the reviews, is your bog-standard swords-and-sorcery tale along the same lines as, say, David Eddings (apparently mixed in with a bit of The Last Airbender, if you believe the back blurbs). I don't have a lot of interest in it because ... well, I've read reviews, I've read back blurbs and I flipped through the first book in Blackwells once and it didn't grab me at all. My 'high fantasy' quota is met with Eddings, Kerr and Martin (with liberal helpings of David Gaider and the rest of the Dragon Age writing team), and this didn't offer me anything new to sink my teeth into the way A Song of Ice and Fire and Dragon Age did, for example. I like The Dresden Files. It's new. Or at least, new to me. It's an interesting melange of detective noir and urban horror and it beats the snot out of the Codex, in my opinion. And given the reviews, I don't seem to be the only one.

But it's not Jim Butcher's first love, The Dresden Files. The Codex Alera is. And he will not let anyone forget it. This is the second Dresden Files novel includes not only adverts for "Other Series By This Author" the way normal books do but a two-page fucking guilt trip about "Love the Codex Alera series! It's my pet writing project, the one I'm most in love with so read it and love it as much as I do!"

Dude. It was only originally signed as a three-book thing and it got the full six books you wanted it to have, which given that some people's books didn't get so lucky should really fucking impress you. The last three each made the Times' Best Seller list, higher each time. Not to mention that you wrapped the series two fucking years ago. LET IT GO. If the people reading The Dresden Files haven't thought to pick up Codex Alera themselves on the strength of your name, they have a reason. We don't deserve being guilted with the literary equivalent of puppy-eyes just because we don't love your Big Favourite Writing Project as much as you do, or that we prefer something else - something else you wrote, FFS. If it were me, I'd be thrilled to bits that something else I wrote was capturing so many imaginations.

So seriously, why the butt-hurt? Sure, the final book in Codex Alera 'only' got to number seven on the NYT list, whereas Small Favour went straight to number two on said list. Sure, The Dresden Files has more of a following than Codex Alera ever did, to the point of the ill-fated TV show, the RPG and the comics, not to mention a 'translated into other languages' list that's getting up to Harry Potter length. (What is it with wizards named Harry? Houdini, you have a lot to answer for. Anyway.) You have written a series and people love it, Mr Butcher. Please stop browbeating us into trying to love the thing you love more than we love the thing that we fell in love with all on our own. Particularly when you fucking wrote them both.

Why, yes, I am a little bit pissed off at stumbling over his second 'PLEASE LOVE CODEX ALERA IT IS MY BAAAAAABY!!!' note after finishing Ghost Story, which was a completely epic roller coaster, made me laugh an awful lot even as I nearly cried a couple of times and actually ended on what might arguably be more of a cliffhanger than Changes had. It kind of threw me out of the moment, and I don't think it's advisable to do that to one's readers. I sure as hell don't like having it done to me. I like what I like. I like The Dresden Files. If he wrote something that so many people think is awesome without even trying ... well, you know what? I've been where he is. I wrote swords-and-sorcery fantasy when I started writing. It ... turned out badly. I could not avoid the cliches. I found my own voice in urban fantasy/horror. I never looked back, and I wish he could actually let go of it and be happy that what he did in the S&S vein did as well as it did, when it's not every S&S series that makes the best-seller lists at all. I wish he could just see the objective merits of what he's done instead of ramming something in which I have no interest down my throat just because it's his favourite.
thessalian: (facepalm)
I'm beginning to get a handle on just how messed up this place actually is. Frankly, no wonder the NHS is teetering the way it is if this herding-stoned-cats way of dealing with things is the norm. And I swear, it is driving me in the general direction of a stress-related grave.

See, I work in this hospital, and this hospital specialises in neurology and neurosurgery stuff. On the premises, there are technically two establishments in a variety of buildings; the hospital and the Institute. These two things are not the same. They do not have the same staff, payroll, infrastructure, anything. Well. I say 'anything'. They do share some things. Administration buildings, for instance. And a need to get onto the hospital computerised document record system and the electronic patient record. But, because they are not hospital staff, they do not have access to the hospital's computerised document record system or the electronic patient record. This ... presents a problem. They can't get onto the system to look up who they want to invite to join in clinical studies (which is more or less the remit of the Institute), they can't book the patient notes they 'borrow' back to medical records, they can't do much of anything. So what do they do? They get hospital staff to do it. Despite the fact that technically the hospital staff is not being paid to do so. Which is why I've got a psychologist cluttering up my office looking up patient letters (and watching shit on YouTube) with my login codes, and an admin in the next bit of office who's asked me to book several dozen sets of notes back to medical records because she's "sick of looking at them" (and who has also stolen my hole punch without so much as asking, even though she had to lean directly over my left shoulder to do it). In other news, I am apparently the only person who ever takes any post to the post room, medical records hasn't picked up any of the notes we've booked back to them in the last month, a total stranger called me 'Princess' in the most condescending way possible this morning, the nurse specialists cannot get "patient requires transport" through their thick skulls and I hate the security managers with the passion of a thousand burning suns.

To summarise the summary: I. Want. To. Set. This. Place. On. Fire.

So I bought the shiny new Dragon Age 2 DLC. And it is shiny ... for varying definitions. The story is a little ... erm ... well, look at it this way: I started the whole thing by rolling my eyes and grumbling, "Yeah, we get it, Hawke is speshul, whatever" ... and then there was just a lot of "........oh shit". Some of it was the laughing, "I do not believe they just said that" kind of 'oh-shit' (the dialogue. It was awesome. Varric can, at one point during the final battle, be heard to say, "If this guy pulls a dragon out of his ass, I'm leaving!"); yet more of it was the "this is going to come back to bite me in the arse, isn't it?" kind of 'oh-shit'. (Relevant icon is relevant.) Some of the decision pivot points are ... a little weird, mostly because they're trying to be so climactic and revelatory when frankly, if Hawke had the brains the Maker gave an amoeba s/he'd have figured out that particular 'plot twist' in the first half-hour of gameplay, but on the whole it's a pretty good game. Though it's kind of sad when you realise that it looks for all the world like they paid more attention to backdrop and level design for this one piece of DLC than they did for DA2 itself. Apparently someone listened when the fans complained about the same four or five layouts repeated over and over and over again.

Know what I didn't like? The 'new breeds of darkspawn'. Actually, I have issues with them advertising them as 'new breeds of darkspawn'. For one thing? Genlocks are not new. Genlock alphas are not new. Hurlock alphas are not new. Most of us played Origins. We know from freakin' genlocks, okay? Second of all ... hey Bioware? Sorry to break it to you, but ... genlocks: UR DOIN IT RONG. It would be nice if the breed of darkspawn you get at least vaguely resembles the species of female that was Broodmothered to spawn them. Xref your own canon, guys - you taint a female dwarf, you get a Broodmother that breeds genlocks. You taint a female human, the resultant Broodmother breeds hurlocks. Elves? Shrieks. Qunari? Ogres. Okay, you kind of bit your own canon in the arse when you gave us magic-capable genlocks when dwarves aren't supposed to be able to use magic, but you've also said that dwarves are resistant to magic, which they're so very not, and that they cannot enter the Fade, which ... well, that's clearly about nine different kinds of bullshit. And then there's Sandal. Still, having the DA2 genlocks look like the product of a mating between a bronto and an orangutan? Nnnnnnnot working for me.

In addition, combat was a bitch and I was playing on Easy. And this was after endgame. I pity the poor morons who play on Nightmare. Still, for all that, it was fun enough, I'd play it again and it wasn't expensive so I'm not exactly thinking that it was a total waste of money. Which is about all I could really ask of a bit of DLC after some of the crap they gave us for Origins. I know that's as damning-with-faint-praise as 'it's better than anything else on TV right now', but it's what we've got.

*sigh* Right, back to the salt mines. Some total moo in patient records apparently feels that digging through piles of notes is beneath her so I have to go fish notes out of piles. Thankfully I know where at least some of them are off the top of my head. There's one, though ... well. I'll manage. I hope.
thessalian: (facepalm)
Dear consultants, SHOs, SpRs, clinical assistants and nurse specialists:

I am not entirely fond of my job. Who the hell would be? However, I am not entirely unfond of my job either, and it would be nice if we could tip the scales away back towards actual fondness. There are things that you can do to help:

1) I CAN HAZ HOSPITAL NUMBERS? Seriously. Eight digits. Read them out to me. Sometimes I do not get the notes, or medical records steals them before I can get around to the clinic tape or something else happens and I have not got the hospital number for ease of reference. Yes, having the date of birth helps (I'm looking at you, French Consultant; at least give me something instead of subjecting me to the mangled pronunciation of a fairly simple English name. How the hell hard is 'Smith'?) but really, I would prefer the hospital number. And if you are reading off the date of birth, you are likely looking at documentation that contains the hospital number. This would make my job go faster, having hospital numbers.

2) Think about what you want to say before you say it! What I mean is, do not go back three letters mid-tape because you couldn't be arsed to look at the bit of patient note you just wrote down about a patient's meds. Once in awhile, I could understand. Multiple times per tape? Please actually sit down and consider what is coming out of your mouth.

3) On the subject of what is coming out of your mouth, or what is going into it, please do not do any of the following with your mouth mere millimetres from the microphone:
- yawn
- sneeze
- cough
- exhale heavily
- chew

Seriously. Tape distortion and most breath sounds are NOT MY FRIENDS.

4) Places you should not be dictating clinic letters:
- In your car, apparently during rush hour
- Any restaurant or bar
- Public transport of any description
- Your living room when your kids are having a tantrum
- Standing directly behind me in the office while I am trying to type something else
- Any office, building or residence where the fire alarm is going off

5) If English is not your first language, please let the final judgement of what constitutes good English go to the person who actually speaks it fluently. Do not 'correct' letters so that they say things like 'He continue well despite no to have symptoms of--' (No, I am not making this up) and if you're going to add things to letters after you've dictated them and I've typed them, let me know that you've made amendments so that I can correct your fractured English and not send appalling letters out to GPs all over the damn country.

6) There is a queue. Respect the queue. And for the love of every god, stop dictating things three to four weeks after the clinic in question! It throws off my system and it makes me look bad to management when I don't type something from a 22 June clinic until 22 July. (Also, if you could actually check and amend the letters that I have typed as I type them instead of letting them sit for a month and giving them to me in a wodge that will take an entire day to clear? I'd be obliged.)

If you follow these very simple instructions, you might actually succeed in not pissing me off or driving me to the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Regards,
Your long-suffering secretary.

Seriously, I don't know what's going on with Schrodinger's Admin anymore. Apparently she has been signed off for another four weeks for stress, even as Office Manager has said that she does not want Schrodinger's Admin back ever again. I don't know if Schrodinger's Admin has got that memo or if HR are even taking it seriously, but I do know that this is now six weeks that Schrodinger's Admin has been signed off for 'stress'. Though apparently she's doing university courses! ...In Psychology. This woman with the attention span of a gnat and the volatility of decade-old TNT is taking Psychology. And she says she's doing well. I ... my mind is comprehensively blown by the notion. Plus she does not strike me as all that bright or indeed well-versed in how people think. Ah well. Suppose it's not my business. I just hope she never comes back again ever. Particularly not next week for any reason. Next week, everyone who is regularly in this office - OtherAdmin, LovelyFrenchAdminLady, NurseGuy - are out of the office and that just leaves me, all by myself. Schrodinger's Admin would kill and eat me.

Payday woo! I have Lush products and little plastic bottles with dropper-caps, and tomorrow it's to the Brixton hoodoo shop for fragrance oils. I'm also pondering a trip to see Deathly Hallows 2 but I haven't seen the first one yet. But then, I'm subscribed to LoveFilm so I suppose I can watch it from there if I want to. Still, I'm not all that invested in it. I've heard mixed reviews. And anyone who says anything to me about 3D should know better; I'm not even entirely over this week's migraine attack and I have no desire to risk it further with that 3D shit. Frankly, most films shot with 3D in mind are obsessed with shots aimed directly at the camera, and I think that even if I did escape the migraine, the vertigo'd get me. I remember this from when Hollywood fell in love with that swooping helicopter circular pan shot that they overused so completely in the LotR movies.

...Or maybe I'll just stay home and buy the 'all the Harry Potter DVDs in one box set' pack when it comes out. And then throw CoS in the nearest bin.

Warcrack. Level 37 and wandering around Stranglethorn Bay or something like that. I'd probably be further along if I actually moved on to level 35-40 areas, but I'm not in the mood. I just want to level slowly and mine things. Particularly after that hideous 'poison the farm for the Forsaken' quest, when I got mobbed by many, many Alliance farmhands (though I managed to survive, which surprises me). And now I have to go back to kill nine of them, but I'm waiting for awhile because ... again, finishing up those stupid quests in Stranglethorn and mining things. There's a lot of iron deposits and a bit of gold around Hardwrench's Hideaway. Speaking of mining, iron really is used in Jewelcrafting. A lot. Who knew? Wish I hadn't smelted all my tin, though. It's awesome for prospecting. Still, I suppose now I can prospect any tin I get hold of and make a lot of bronze with the tin I smelted. Which is useful because I seem to need a lot of bronze settings. Damnit, [livejournal.com profile] wingedkami!

Right. Guess I've killed enough time. Fridaaaay!
thessalian: (facepalm)
There are too many things I want and not enough damned money.

So okay. A Dance With Dragons is coming out. I'm ... not entirely sure how much I want this but given that I am all over fan communities, there feels like there's a kind of obligation and it sounds from the spoilers like things have drastically improved. Some of the threads seem to be coming together and I admit I want to be there to see it. Though ... hardcover prices for this guy? I dunno. But I must not blame the books for Martin's ... attitude problem.

And then there's Ghost Story. This one? This one is a must-have. This one is going to have me dashing up to the nearest bookstore, tearing it apart until I find what I want, hugging the book all the way to the cash register and giving over my money in the most cheerful manner possible. I have been waiting too damn long for what happens to poor Harry Dresden.

I want to give Seanan McGuire's stuff a try too. Not the Newsflesh stuff she writes as Mira Grant; I'm on that already. I mean her fantasy stuff. I'll start with the October Daye books, as I was okay on Holly Black beyond not quite being engaged with her writing style and this sounds like a similar sort of thing. I do know that McGuire is one of those authors who engages you very firmly in the world of the story, instead of focusing on the lead character and the imagery, and that's the sort of thing I look for. Pretty language is all very well, but ... I guess the best way I could put it is that I want my book to be an amusement park, not an art gallery. Anyway, I also want some of her filk but I wish we could buy the downloads rather than order CDs that then need to be shipped and possibly broken and ... egh. Plus Pretty Little Dead Girl is going out of print and that's the one I want the most. So we'll see at the end of the month, but ... waaaaaaant.

Oh, and then there's a bit of DLC coming out for Dragon Age 2. Now, I know what-all I said about the Origins DLC and I never bothered with the Exiled Prince in DA2 because he seems boring and I'm not paying for him now that I missed the pre-order. However, I have seen trailers for this and it actually looks phenomenal. Finally, DLC I don't mind paying money for! This is new!

On the subject of video games ... well, some of you may be aware that I'm a total sucker for OSTs, specifically the instrumental scores. My collection is growing by leaps and bounds these days: Carnivale, Firefly (and Serenity), Dragon Age, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Game of Thrones, Mass Effect 2 (and I haven't even played the game...), Pan's Labyrinth, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Saw, Silent Hill, the Watchmen movie, Advent Children ... and now some of the Warcraft scores. I am, unfortunately, missing a couple. I have Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, but am missing out on the base game OST and Burning Crusade, and it's that last I really want. Well, I can get it on iTunes, but ... y'know. Not right away.

But I'm being fiscally responsible, damnit.

Anyway, on the subject of Warcrack, Dar'Khan kicked my arse yesterday. I therefore decided to go level up a bit more before taking this guy on. I'm figuring more stuff out at this point, and it's a lot easier to get around than it used to be, what with warhorse and figuring out the flight routes and all. And I even figured out the zeppelin when I desperately needed a break from the undead, so now I'm in Orgrimmar, after figuring out the bank (I can store shit! WOO!) and having made a few purchases from the auction house so that I could level up my cooking a bit more. Wonder how the auctions I put up recently went. I put up some copper and some bronze, and a few more gems. This should, if I get bids, make me some gold. That'd be nice. Though to be fair, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with more gold. Beyond put it into levelling up various crafting bits and bobs, y'know? Then it's back to the Forsaken Front to do more quests for the rotting corpses. *g*

Ah, lazy Sundays, how I love thee.
thessalian: (Default)
So I'm watching the remake of the series V and ... yeah, I can see why they cancelled it. I hate that they did it on such a cliffhanger, but while I like the mood of the series better than I did the original in the 80s, there are problems with this show. The number of plot threads they just sort of dropped, or put back together really haphazardly with seemingly no connection to the previous episode, are kind of monumental. Some secondary characters just ... kind of ... vanished. It's not the first show where the writing team didn't seem to be talking to each other at all (I hear rumours about Lost...) but I wish they'd tied it together a little better. Maybe it would have lasted. Then again, possibly not, seeing as it actually seemed to be ... not so much glorifying terrorism but giving a look at the terrorist point of view, which I don't imagine a lot of Americans want to see. Because gods forbid there's any shade of grey in there.

Upshot of the whole News of the World scandal thing is apparently that the NotW is shutting down for good. Under British law, this means that the parent company, run by Mr Rupert Murdoch, is allowed to destroy any and all records pertaining to the News of the World. Convenient, no, when the government is calling for inquiries and all paperwork? I don't know where this is going to go, but Rebekah whatshername is apparently talking about how betrayed she feels. She feels? Aaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha.

Meanwhile, there's been more Warcrack. I have been flitting around Deatholme. Deatholme is scary. Deatholme involves getting mobbed by waves of beasties if one isn't careful. Not that I haven't been surviving (as belf paladin, I've died maybe three times, and that was only because my connection dropped during combat); just that it's tiring and there are three quests I have to do in there. I'm two-thirds of the way through one - and the one that doesn't involve specifically killing anything, at that - but I had to give it up because after so many waves of three or four mobs at a time ... I believe the only comment is "Well, shit". I still need to find one more captive Hordey, then kill off four lieutenants of Big Bad, and then I have to kill off Big Bad himself and pike his head back to some fraidy-yutz hiding in a mountain enclave. This is all apparently to get belfs allegiance to the Horde. Which ... I thought we were ... well, never mind. No one ever claimed this game had to make any sense.

I've checked out Undercity. Undercity is fucking confusing, thank you. And freaky. And kind of annoying. It's the multi-level thing and the map does not actually tell you which level you're on and then it's all walkways over glowing green goo. And these narrow walkways are invariably clogged by some high-level arsehole who will not get off their fucking epic mount for five minutes and get out of the way so that people can go from point A to point B without going around or through them. Got some reasonable mining in Tirisfal Glades, though. That's a bonus.

It's the weekend coming up, so I'm probably going to end up staying up late and trying to finish some of those Deatholme quests. I'm still convinced that I'm going to die horribly, but fuck it. Everyone says Dar'Khan is nerfed. May as well take advantage of that. And saving those stupid captives and killing the lieutenants might get me another level before I take on Big Bad, so ... hey. (Though can I just say that Exorcism? Fucking rocks.)

Meme-ish

Jul. 3rd, 2011 11:54 pm
thessalian: (writing)
Magically meme-licious for just before bed:

Give me three fictional characters, and I'll respond with shag/marry/push off a cliff.

In other news, actually been having fun with another Horde alt, this time Troll. *shrug* I guess I see why so many people prefer playing Horde. The start-up stories seem to be way better. I have no idea why. Though I found that my fondness for the Trolls means that starting up an Orc is a little difficult. Trolls? Not so hot on Hellscream. Orcs? Really cool on Hellscream. Fuck, I have no the hell idea. I honestly don't remember how the other races feel about their Warchief but I do vaguely recall that the Goblins mainly like the Orcs because ... well, hell, the Humans on the Alliance side blew them out of the water and the Orcs were kind of nice to them. Tauren are having their own shit going on, as are the Forsaken and the Belfs. I didn't pay much attention to Alliance politics; there wasn't a whole lot of connection between the races, really. Meh. I should probably start again, actually paying attention to the starting points this time. And maybe get some variation in my classes, 'cos right now it's Shaman, Shaman, Shaman, Hunter, Shaman... I tried Priest but that got old. Fast.

In other news, I gave up and watched A Game of Thrones. I liked some bits. The opening sequence is cool. The soundtrack is awesome. I love playing "I've Seen This Face Before". I do, however, have some problems with it. I like it a lot better when I can divorce it from the book. (And I still don't see the Theon/Jon/Robb OT3, guys; sorry.) I'd rant, but it's too late in the evening and it's work tomorrow. Woo.
thessalian: (writing)
So ... wow. Future planning. Awesome.

Nothing of magnitude going on in July or August, but the autumn's looking pretty busy for me. Starts in September, when I have a ticket to see Doctor Faustus at the Globe. It is an awesome seat - front row, middle gallery so I don't have to strain to look over the people standing/sitting on the floor in the yard section, on an aisle so I don't have to sit next to more than one stranger, and right in front of the stage. Costly, but hell yeah, worth it. Plus it's got Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) playing Mephistopheles. This I have to see.

This sort of thing tends to bring me to the luck I've had with seeing screen stars on stage. I'd say it's a side effect of living in London, but really I think it's just luck. I mean, having to miss David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing was a serious blow (someone on my Twitter feed retweeted a friend of theirs selling a ticket for that night for £25 and while I could afford it, I was more or less still floored by headache and just couldn't go) and missing Ewan McGregor and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Othello kind of sucked, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose. So too does the cookie crumble when things happen like Richard Griffiths getting ill the night I went to see Equus and the understudy more or less phoning in his lines, but Daniel Radcliffe is pretty awesome outside of the Harry Potter role. (Then again, I've seen him singing and dancing in musical theatre in a YouTube clip; he's one versatile little cuss, is Radcliffe.) And then of course there was the utter glory of seeing one of my favourite plays done by truly fantastic actors who just happen to be some of my favourites as well. Yes, that would be Waiting for Godot, which I'd loved since I was maybe fifteen, starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup. Best. Stage production. EVAR.

Anyway, then there's end of October, when the comics con is going on at the Excel. Now, I might not have ordinarily gone but it seems like there might be a bunch of quasi-local Dragon Age fans going and it's nice to meet the people I'm squeeing with online. I just wish I could sew worth shite; I'd love to cosplay but kind of hard without any kind of costume, y'know? Ah well. Maybe one day. I can dream.

So, yeah. Lots of meatspace interaction on the horizon. Awesome. And I've been poking around at the writing again, trying to figure out where I left off on the last HIPPIE book. I've left it way too long and I need to pick it back up again. Thankfully I have comprehensive notes. I guess they really do come in handy, notes and outlines. Anyway, maybe I won't ever get anywhere with this, but I do have fun writing it and at least some people enjoy reading it so why not actually finish it? Not that I'm not glad I've had a break, mind; just ... y'know. All breaks have to end eventually, and I'd hate to lose too much more impetus. Then again, this whole idea has survived seven years and a really crappy first attempt. I think it can survive a long hiatus.

For now, though, the usual journal-faff, answering the door to grocery delivery (the extra I pay to have it delivered is well worth the not having to wait a half-hour for a bus there and back, or trying to find everything I need for the week in an understocked Co-Op) and then I dunno. Another weekend enters its twilight and all I can think is that it's been way too short. Again.
thessalian: (Rant)
So I pulled out Buffy again, as I really couldn't focus on anything more ... erm ... thought-requiring. And yet again, the question hits me.

Season 5, Episode 12: Checkpoint. Towards the end, Buffy makes it clear that she understands in a way that the Council hoped she never would that the Council needs her way more than she needs them. She stands up to them and gets Giles reinstated as her official Watcher. On full salary. Retroactive a couple of years. And at the end of this, there's the question that always comes to me every. Single. Time.

...Why didn't she ask for a salary of her own?

Look, slaying is expensive. There's the weaponry. Wear and tear on clothing and, more often than not, household furnishings (how many times did the Summers house get wrecked by the time that series ended?). And she's expected to pay all that out of her own pocket. Or, y'know, her college fund or whatever. That in and of itself strikes me as decidedly unfair.

Then take into consideration the fact that they expect the slaying to be her primary priority, all the time. Plus they expect her to keep her identity secret at all cost. Yet they expect her to go to school? Have a job? Day job plus nights slaying equals a very tired Slayer, not to mention a rather bruised Slayer, and someone's going to start noticing shit after awhile. Juvenile delinquent only flies so far, and one day (if things hadn't changed drastically at S7, I guess), someone was going to put things together and come up with, not juvenile delinquent, but 'abusive family/partner' or worse. This is not the way to remove suspicion from your Slayer. If you just paid your Slayer, and maybe forged a letter inviting her to attend some elite academy as a boarding pupil and let the studying happen as and when possible given Slayer hours, no more worries about what the people who see her more than in a 'flying rescue' scenario will think about the whole thing.

I'm not entirely sure what this says. It seems like the one taking all the risks gets none of the benefits, and that's supposed to be okay for some reason. I know it's supposed to make for good television, really. I just ... would like to see more logic to it. At least in the form of a bloody paycheque for the freakin' Slayer. But maybe that's just me.

On the subject of things containing undead and werewolves? I tried Worgen again. Finally got to the point where one actually becomes Worgen, and I think from the point of view of starter stories, it's the best of the lot. Certainly the one it's easiest to get invested in, seeing as how you start as human and turn. Kind of neat, actually. Sort of enjoying Rogue. Also ended up in a social guild, though I'm not really sure about it right now. I also tried Dranei Shaman, which is fun. Still a few races and classes to try, but I think I'm getting to grips with what sort of things I like to play. It's a start.

And I've still got this rampaging migraine headache that's had me mostly in bed for the last couple of days. Argh.
thessalian: (Rant)
So work meeting happened. Really, it wasn't much of a muchness. I got praised to the skies. And ... remember how I talked about MsMoo? The one who's rude to the patients on the phone when she answers it at all, seems to do the bare minimum and is entirely dismissive of the concept of personal space? (Seriously; she hugged me once. I barely refrained from smacking her in the mouth and told her, in that 'do-not-fuck-with-me-you-have-just-crossed-a-LINE' voice that some of you know, to never ever do that again because I do not like being touched by people I do not know well. But ... seriously, who randomly hugs people who they've only known in person about a week and to whom they've barely spoken?) Well ... I had to ask a sort of double-barrelled question about MsMoo at this meeting: "What does her job description entail, and what does she actually do?" As it turns out, what she does is exhibit rudeness to patients and colleagues alike, misfile documents (this is medical documentation we're talking about, being filed in the wrong patient's notes - this could be fucking fatal), send letters out to the wrong addresses (again, medical documentation) and generally fuck around. Sooooooo ... yeah, she's getting sacked. Which entails a certain amount of reorganising of the duties between me and the Other Admin (who does his job now, so far as we can tell) but it also means I get a desk. It's a desk I hate, but ... my own desk!

Now, I'm pretty sure that this is another one where I was late to the party, but lit-rant continues with VS Naipaul putting his foot in it last week, saying that no woman author is his equal, writing-wise. He goes on to talk about the 'sentimental, narrow view of the world' and something about "and inevitably for a woman, she is not the complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too". I think he was referring to Jane Austen here, who he particularly lambasts.

This ... I kind of wish he'd picked some more modern writers. As it goes, I have never read anything by Jane Austen, and I haven't read any of his books either, but I think that his opinion is entirely subjective and based far too much on his own views about the worth of a woman (which, given the treatment of his wife and mistress, is pretty obviously unutterably low). I mean, I dunno about any of the female writers I know who make a living at it, but I know damn well that I am the complete master of my household, because there's no one else to be so. And anyway, most people these days consider it a partnership anyhow, not master/servant bollocks. Did this guy miss the Suffrage movement? I think he must have done.

I admit I haven't read many of the classics that comments on that article are pointing out. I have not read Doris Lessing. I have not read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. There's a lot I haven't read. There are, however, classics I have read. I wouldn't call 'Gone With the Wind' a particularly sentimental view of the Civil War even if it does give a softer face of slavery than one normally sees. The movie might lead one to believe it, but ... seriously, the book's about way more than "Oh, Ashley! Oh, Rhett!" Then let's look at the last seventy-five years or so. Sylvia Plath. Dorothy Parker. Alice Walker. Margaret Atwood. Donna Tartt. Elizabeth Wurtzel, keeping a wide view despite her nearly entirely autobiographical subject matter. This is the stuff off the top of my head, mind you. There's more, and I know it.

Most of all, for wide views, I can't think of anyone better to flag up than the new writers I've encountered over the last ten years or so. Seanan McGuire, for example - the Newsflesh series is one of the more impressive new takes on the zombie apocalypse trope that I've ever seen, and its look at how blogging stands to change the face of media, entertainment and news alike, is breathtaking on a number of levels. Mur Lafferty, who has taken the concepts of afterlife (the Heaven series) and superheroes (Playing for Keeps) and turned them into something new and fascinating. Then there's Suzanne Collins; while I'm not sure that I personally enjoyed The Hunger Games (and I've only read the first book, so go easy, hmm?), I can't deny that its look at society and culture is very broad and interesting. I haven't read Cat Valente yet, though it's on The List. Hell, the list is a mile long and growing. Fact remains that there's still as many women on it as men. And if it's all 'genre' or YA or whatever ... so? I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd say that 'genre fiction' is somehow less valid than 'literary fiction', but I honestly don't believe there's a difference. 'The Secret History' is considered 'literary' despite the hints that something supernatural happened in the course of the tale. 'The Lovely Bones'? Likewise, despite the fact that it's told from the point of view of a freakin' ghost. I invite genre divides to cram it, sideways, far as it'll go as readily as I do gender divides.

I do that because, at the end of the day, a story is a story. King put it best with the motto carved over the fireplace at the 'club' of storytellers at 449B East Thirty-Fifth: "It is the tale, not he who tells it". A tale can be told well, and a tale can be told poorly, and a man is as likely to tell his tale well - or poorly - as a woman is to tell hers. And even then, prose style counts and preferences therein counts for a lot. So ... y'know, VS Naipaul is talking a load of bollocks. This is apparently not unusual.

Put succinctly? I know what I like. I know what I will recommend to others. And to me? It is the tale, not he - or she - who tells it.
thessalian: (writing)
I kind of want to scream 'false advertising' at people until they wise up. Or something, I dunno.

Look, when my job stopped being float and started being for one department, I was promised a desk. A stable, settled desk. Thus far, this has failed to materialise. Nobody knows where to put me day by day and every time I turn around, I end up in a different area that makes less and less sense each time. Though at least today (grey, rainy and miserable, by the way) I am in the same building, though four floors up from where I ought to be. Instead of ... y'know, across the square in a totally different building that houses a totally different department. However, this isn't entirely fantastic, either, as I've worked in this department and the problem with it is that it is loud. This is mostly to do with the people - I don't mind conversations in the office but when people are actively trying to work - hear stuff on headphones, talk on the phone, whatever - it's kind of rude to speak in one's outside voice. It doesn't help that one of the girls in this department is truly the most negative, unpleasant and rude person I have ever met in my life. She's jaunty about it, which somehow makes it worse ... and the moment things in the office get remotely difficult or stressful, she throws a hissy and/or bursts into tears. And I mean about simple stuff, like patients expecting her to do her job. This girl does not have the temperament to work NHS; I know the job is stressful, but you cope, y'know? All being nasty to patients does is maintain the worst parts of the Service's reputation. In addition to the noise and the bitching, there is no ergonomically viable way of typing at this particular desk, since this part of the department still outsources its typing (though apparently they're discarding that whole policy, which relieves me until I hear rumours about the Suit In Charge talking about how glorious voice recognition software is. This would be true if it weren't for the fact that most of our consultants dictate in ways that not even a human who can ask fellows for help and Google for possibilities can entirely translate into suitable English. It'll take more time than just getting someone to type it, honestly). Hate hate hate.

So all in all, it's a glorious first day back after my lovely week off. It was pissing it down with rain (though on the plus side, at least I found my umbrella), my train was drastically late and I spent a half-hour trying to find a desk. Plus I have a staff meeting at half-twelve. Break out the confetti and noisemakers, people; it's a party!

Saturday night was an interesting bout of rage-flail. Some of you may have seen the thing where the Wall Street Journal published an article about how YA fiction is horrible and too grim and too dark and needlessly graphic and how girls should be reading X and boys should be reading Y (the sidebar is awesome for sexism on both sides, seriously) and THINK OF THE CHILDREN and why can't they be more like Judy Blume, these authors who write stories about abuse and rape and self-harm for our children and think of how they dare cry censorship when we just want to protect our little ones from needless depravity and violence and it just goes on. I may have made a few points somewhere along the line, despite the fact that a) it was 3am at the time and b) I was going primarily on coffee and rage. Here they are, a little more coherently.

Bad things happen. Really, it's that simple. Bad things happen and it does no good at all to pretend they don't. In fact, it does more damage to pretend that everything is sunshine and rainbows and puppies than it does to more or less announce that this kind of thing is out there. People who do atrocious things - who rape, who beat on people, who murder, who commit hate crimes - they thrive in a culture of silence. They know, somewhere in the back of their brains, that no, of course they won't get caught out for being despicable human beings, because everyone will pretend not to notice and ignore the victims because, hey! No one talks about these things! Perfect cover; when society cloaks your sins through an 'ignorance is bliss', 'ignore it and it will go away', ostrich mentality. Ironically, Stephen King (who's generally top of the list for 'needless unseemly things portrayed in fiction') covered this quite nicely in 'Salem's Lot. A culture of silence hides many things in the course of that book, and who's to say what's more horrible? The vampires ... or the incestuous real estate 'mogul', the abusive mother, the cuckolded husband who decides that blackmail and violence is the best way to deal with his cheating spouse? Either way, no one does anything until it's far, far too late, and the town just trades one type of monster for another. Personally, I find that monsters don't thrive well in the light. So let's spotlight them in fiction, make them spoken of again. Because the freer we are to speak about rape and violence and abuse, the more we will stand up and say something when we see it happening around us, because it won't be a taboo subject anymore. Thus we pull the monsters into light, and they wither under it.

Same holds true from the point of view of the victims of said bad things, incidentally. I don't have a lot of experience with it personally, but from what I understand, a lot of victims of rape, battery, and more subtle (but often more long-term damaging) forms of discrimination feel uniquely helpless and alone ... again, because no one talks about these things. At least if books like that are out there, those who have been through such trauma can read them and know that they are not alone; that if the authors themselves didn't go through it, they must have done research and that means there's someone else out there who did. Often those who write about these things add an end note giving contact numbers for helpful organisations. Even if not, the very fact that someone else went through it might give the reader the courage to go hit Google for some helpful contact points ... or even talk to their parents, school counsellor, pastor, friend ... anyone who might help. The example was raised about a book that touched on the subject of self-harm; how the cover featuring the arm of someone who had cut themselves up very badly (the author herself, in point of fact) was 'horrible' and unnecessary, how it could prompt some poor sufferer into a relapse even if they had received help. Well, you know what? If just reading about it got some poor teen to start up the cutting again rather than turning to whatever coping mechanism they have learned through therapy ... they were not really better. I'd rather there be a visible and obvious vector for the trigger point, personally; it indicates that any parent who's paying attention might actually notice sooner.

Which, of course, is the problem. The people who complain about the graphic nature of YA literature are the same ones who complain about sex and violence on TV, at the cinema and in video games ... and they do it for more or less the same reason. They view entertainment media geared at anyone under the age of eighteen as a babysitter, a substitute parent ... a way to shut their kids up for awhile so that they won't have to do any of the hard work of parenting. The parents who actually do their jobs as parents are the ones who watch and read things with their children from a young age, read the things their children do so that they know what's going on, and most of all, talk about it with their kids. They make it clear that they are available to discuss these things with their children, and their relationship with their children is stronger for it, if for no other reason than that they always have something to talk about. I don't have kids and probably never will, but you can bet there'd be all kinds of discussions with my kids about books and the like if I did have kids, so that they're not just getting their ideas from their peers, who might not be having the best example. In the end, parenting is the parents' responsibility; not the school's, not the entertainment industry, no one's but the parents'. Part of that job is helping a child develop a clear moral and ideological framework that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. If a parent lets them take their morality from any fictional character without providing any context for the behaviour of said character? That's on the parents, not the author. Anyway, it's fun to talk books with people ... especially, one imagines, the people you love.

Then again, that whole article was written by a woman who was actually given the title of World's Worst Mother in 2004; was known for it and prided herself on it. Who wrote an article for the National Statesman about how she had found the secret to making children sleep through the night: "break the poppet's spirit", by which she means lock the infant in a pantry and let they cry themselves out, learning early that if they cry, Mummy and Daddy aren't coming. Mummy and Daddy don't care. She doesn't phrase it that way, but that's the gist. Mummy and Daddy don't give a shit. Mummy certainly doesn't, as she describes the 'great relief' with which she turns away from her children, who have made a mess and need help cleaning it up, to her computer screen and internet. This woman has no respect for anyone under eighteen, and it shows ... and it includes her own kids. Seriously, are you going to trust someone who locks an infant in a pantry so they won't be heard crying in the night to judge what's morally right for kids in anything, up to and including literature? Because I wouldn't.

Go look at the Twitter tag results for #YAsaves. Seriously. It's more than worth it, and immensely inspiring.

And that's killed some time, at least. Soon, stupid staff meeting. Wonder if I have time for a quick trip outside before I have to go there?

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thessalian

July 2012

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