Friday, July 29, 2011

Star Wars MMO excitement threshold

I have an obsessive personality.  Is that a real term?  No clue, other than possibly being something under the OCD umbrella of issues  (I have those moments, too).  But if I encounter something I like, something that speaks to me, my brain is like a kitten on its back holding a ball of yarn in all four paws on an endless supply of catnip.  I love to take ideas and play with them, and basically over-analyze things.

So, when I tell you that I’m a Bioware Fangirl, I don’t mean “oh yeah, I like those games that Bioware makes.”  I mean “I’ve replayed Mass Effect 2 more times than any other game I own, including board games.”  Or “I’ve replayed Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 and made the exact same role-playing choices, just to experience the game again.”   Or “I can’t wait for Mass Effect 3 to come out.”  Or ... well, I’ll have a lot more to say about Mass Effect in a later post.  :)

But right now, I’m a frenzy of anticipation about Star Wars: The Old Republic, a Bioware-created MMO in the Star Wars universe.  I’ve played both Knights of the Old Republic games, and they were fantastic. 

Bioware keeps teasing the world by revealing bits and pieces of their work, and all of it is great quality.  But now it’s gotten to a point where I have hit my threshold of excitement.  I literally could not be more excited about this game.  I’m done.  Every Friday when new info is released, all I think is “yeah, that’s great.  When do we actually get to play?”   I’ve pre-ordered the game.  I’ve figured out what I want to play (at least at first).  I am part of a guild.  I've watched the videos from E3.  I've watched the videos from Comic-Con.  

Bioware, seriously, when do we actually get to play?  "Holiday 2011" is just too vague for my hyped up brain to handle.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What I'm Reading...A List

My undergraduate degree is in English/Literature.  I love stories.  I love to read.  I read fairly quickly.  I read a lot.

In most areas of my life, I find multitasking difficult.  Not because I can't do it (I can - learned out of necessity at work).  But because my brain is not built that way.  I am a focus-on-the-task-at-hand-and-do-it kind of person by nature.  That is not to say I can't be distracted.  If I do not want to complete the task at hand, I am especially good at finding other things to do...ooooh, shiny!

However, one area of my life that seems to have changed as I've gotten older is my capacity for stories.  It's grown, amazingly.  I used to be an I'm-going-to-read-all-of-the-books-in-the-series-in-order-one-at-a-time-and-nothing-else-until-they-are-done girl.  And I still can be at times.  Oh yes, I have my fair share of obsessions.  But now, there are so many stories I want to read, I can't seem to choose.  And so I am in the middle of a handful of books/series at any given time.

So last night I finished reading A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King.  This is the second book in a series.  It is a continuation of Sherlock Holmes, centering around an interesting young woman named Mary Russell.  I love this series and have read all but the most recent book (which is at home, waiting patiently for me to open it).  It is very well written and also very engaging.  I am not typically in favor of continuations of famous stories, but this one has enough originality that I don't seem to mind.  (Random fact - Laurie R King also writes contemporary mysteries, most of which involve a lesbian police detective in San Francisco - Kate Martinelli.  Also good.)

After finishing that book, did I pick up the third book in the Mary Russell series?  No, of course not!  Way too easy.  I started reading a book I've had for 20 years.  It is the first adult (as opposed to children's, not X-rated) fantasy novel I ever loved.  It is called By the Sword, and it is by Mercedes Lackey.  I spent the latter half of my childhood in Tulsa, OK, and Mercedes Lackey lives in that area.  The popular independent bookstore did a good job promoting local authors, and I picked this book up on a whim.  And promptly fell in love with fantasy.  Is it the best book ever?  No. it's just a solidly written novel that I enjoy immensely.  I've read it so many times, it's like re-connecting with really good friends when I revisit the story.  This book's strong, independent female protagonist profoundly shaped my world view.  It certainly formed my dislike of wimpy female characters - especially damsels in distress (they have their place, but blech who wants to be one?).  Mercedes Lackey has a boatload of published fantasy under her belt, most set in her world of Velgarth and its land of Valdemar.  This standalone novel is a good place to start.  (Random note - in another of her series, there is a novel called Jinx High that is set at the high school I went to.)

What else am I in the middle of?  Well, a friend of mine loaned me the complete set of Neil Gaiman's wonderful Sandman series.  I read the first volume a few years ago (thank you KW), but had not finished the series.  I did read the separate graphic novels that feature Death as the main character, since my library has them.  I will probably not finish those until after Gencon, because I do not want to rush the fine Mr. Gaiman.

Speaking of fabulous fantasy, I'm also about to re-pick up The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  I read this when it first came out, and I have the second novel in the series.  I really would like to read it, but I want to refresh my memory before diving in.  This is the best fantasy novel that I have read in the last 10 years.  It is extremely well written and creative without pounding you over the head with its cleverness.  Kvothe is probably the most interestingly flawed but awesomely gifted protagonist I've ever encountered.  Patrick Rothfuss definitely did this right.

But wait!  There is more.  I'm reading a travel guide about San Francisco, since my aunt just moved there and I'm going to visit her in the next few months.  And I just bought A Song of Fire and Ice (aka the Game of Thrones series).  Those will be read in the next few months.  Not to mention RPG rule books and other related items.

Long story short (too late) I like to read.  :)  I'm sure I'll bore you with tell you about other books in the future.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My River Song Obsession

I am obsessed with River Song.

You have no idea who that is, do you?  Sigh.

River Song is a character in Doctor Who.  She is marvelously portrayed by Alex Kingston, who has lovely mad curly hair.  She is fantastic in the role.

When we first meet her, she is on a planet called The Library.  (It's a planet-sized library, go figure.)  She has somehow managed to get a message to the 10th Doctor (the fine actor David Tennant) requesting his presence, even though he has no clue who she is. 

As it turns out, she is someone from the Doctor's future.

Hmm.  Perhaps I should back up.  The Doctor is the last remaining member of his species (with the occasional exception).  He is a Time Lord.  He appears human (or, as he would say, humans appear Time Lord, since they came first).  He is a time traveler genius who tries to protect the innocent and do the right thing.  His time machine/spaceship is called the Tardis, and it looks like a blue British police box, but it's bigger on the inside.  And he typically has a human companion with him, someone he likes who he wants to show around all of space and time.

Back to River Song.  Ah yes, she is from the Doctor's future.  So she knows him, but he does not know her.  And this is obviously very painful for her, though we don't entirely know why.  Obviously, the Doctor is personally important to her - the implication is that she loves him, though it's not yet clear whether this is romantic or familial or some other kind of love.

Let's stop right there.  Can you imagine someone very important to you - perhaps the most important person in your life - and bumping into them, but then they have no clue who you are?  And not like an Alzheimer's patient, where they might have a better day and recognize you, but meeting someone and knowing everything about how much they mean to you and realizing that none of that has happened yet for this person?  And how painful it must be to not be able to change things that you know will hurt them in the future, because for you it has already happened?

That notion is why I'm obsessed with River Song.  Full Stop.

There are other cool things too though.  She is not a pacifist.  In fact, she's sort of a badass, a cross between Lara Croft and Indiana Jones.  Smart enough to keep up with the Doctor, but not the kind of person who shys away from danger or adventure.  And the Doctor doesn't seem to mind her occasional violence, which is slightly unusual for him.

Also, being from the Doctor's future, she knows a lot about what is to come.  Not necessarily in the current situation, but adventures that she has already experienced and the Doctor has not.  She keeps a diary of their time together, so she can establish "when" he is, and what she is able to discuss with him freely.  (Avoiding "spoilers.")  Likewise, as things progress, the Doctor knows about his past/her future.  It is a great big fascinating tangle.  

I don't want to give away plot points.  There is a lot of mystery around River Song's origins and how well she knows the Doctor.  The answers have not all been provided as yet.  But I'm very much looking forward to how things resolve.

If this sounds cool to you, go watch "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead," which are the two episodes set in the Library where you first meet River Song.  They are a great place to start watching Doctor Who, and what hooked me on the series.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: A Primer

The best thing on network television is a late night talk show called (shockingly) The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  It is smart and funny on a budget – something I can only aspire to be one day.  It is also the only network show I’ve ever heard mention Cthulhu – so it has geek cred.

Here are a few things I love about the show, and clips of each.  Maybe you too can become addicted to this Scottish-born American.

  • If I were forced to make a choice, Sid is my favorite thing on the show.  Yes, Sid always makes me smile.  But also, my cat Hermione is fascinated by Sid.  So I wouldn’t want to deprive her of the one thing on TV she watches.   Sid show opening example 
  • Geoff Peterson is Craig Ferguson’s robot skeleton sidekick.  He was created by Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame (“thank the maker!”).  Geoff Peterson is purported to be gay, but has also been described as having no robot genatalia and also being unable to function more than 12 feet from an electrical outlet.
For the first year of his life, he had a series of pre-recorded phrases that would be interjected for comic affect, mostly during the monologue and the tweets/emails section.  Typically this would involve the phrases “Balls!”  or “In Your Pants!”  or sometimes “Balls…In Your Pants!” 

Now, however, Mr. Peterson’s voice is provided live for most shows, which allows him to interact with Mr. Ferguson.  This usually leads to Mr. Ferguson cracking up, which makes me laugh.   Geoff Peterson hijinks
  • Craig Ferguson loves Doctor Who.  So do I (oh, we’ll cover that later – don’t you worry!).  He has a tardis on his desk.  And occasionally, if we’re lucky, he has Doctor Who-related guests on the show.
Alex Kingston aka River Song  (makes me laugh every time)
  • When the Disney movie Secretariat was in publicity mode, the show started using two people (presumably underpaid interns) in a horse costume on the show.  When Craig rang the doorbell and said “Who’s that at the door?” it usually was Secretariat – but not always, since the doorbell was in play before that time to bring surprise guests on stage.  Secretariat’s appearance brings music and the secretariat dance, which essentially is waving your arms maniacally over your head.  A good maniacally, though.  Secretariat dance montage
  • Kristen Bell is the best guest I’ve ever seen on the show.  She is also jealous of Geoff Peterson, because she would like to be Craig’s cohost. Kristen Bell on the show
  • This was one of the best moments on network television that I’ve ever witnessed.  Just watch it already.  Epic Win with Neil Gaiman

Here's hoping that you'll enjoy Craig Ferguson as much as I do!