So for some strange reason, I only recently learned about "Let's Play" videos: fan-made video-game walkthroughs. (Well, maybe not all that strange, since they originated at Something Awful, which I'm not a member of and I seldom visit.)
This is something so relevant to my interests that I damn well should have been able to sense it psychically. Ah, well, now that I know, I think I'll take advantage of the handy visuals and notes to check out some games I've been thinking about playing but haven't gotten to yet, like Neverwinter Nights 2 and F.E.A.R.
As always, TV Tropes provides much entertainment in its exploration of character alignment. An amusing percentage of the discussion has been dedicated to pointing out that alignment is an ambiguous, sometimes poorly defined categorization.
While reading the alignment articles, I decided that I was Chaotic Good. However, since I'm now disappointed in myself, I may just aim more for Chaotic Neutral in the future. Or at least in the future in video games. I have standards to hold myself to, after all. (Is it possible for one to read about these sorts of things and not try to categorize oneself to bypass this whole problem?)
The ambiguous definition of alignment allows for situation-appropriate adjustments, especially for long-running characters who would become stale if they always stuck firmly to one alignment.
This image explores some of Batman's variations in alignment over the years.
How did I slog through a decade of higher education and never learn these words?
deuteragonist: second-most-important character
tritagonist: third-most-important character
Compare these with the common protagonist.
I was never one for reading the dictionary directly, but things like this tempt me. Wait, what am I saying?! I learned these through Wikipedia, the only source of info I'll ever need. Mostly.
I love the 1985 film "Real Genius". While I was never as geeky as the science/tech nerds in that film, I still felt a strong kinship with them. Following a (geeky) reference from a (geeky) site, I ended up at a geeky treasure trove of trivia about the movie. I had no idea!
Check it out. Here's some tidbits:
"Smart People on Ice" is similar to a Page House practice, discontinued around 1974, called "alley surfing", where one of the corridors (cement-floored) in the house basement would be flooded with a thin layer of soapy water and residents would practice skidding down the hallway.
At one point when Chris is accused of being a "slack", he mutters "moles and trolls". In Techer slang, a "Mole" is a resident of Blacker House, and "trolling" referred to intensive studying (since someone who trolls too much never gets the chance to see the light of day, like a real "troll"; an alternate origin is suggested by the fact that hardworking physics students would have to spend a great deal of time in the basement of the Bridge physics building, and would thus be living "under the bridge" like "trolls" do).
The exam books in the exam scene look very much like the blue books used for many Caltech exams, particularly the cobra which seems to be on the back cover.
And now I'll forever been laughing inside whenever I see a reference to DEI:
The letters DEI and their lowercase Greek equivalents have long been associated with Dabney House at Caltech. The origin of this trigraph dates so far back that there is no hard evidence, only legends.
It is commonly reported that Caltech foodservice once had a dish which was eaten only by residents of Dabney House, and that the phrase ``Dabney Eats It'' was coined by foodservice workers. The same story reports that the letters FEIF may have been coined in response when some kind of inter-house contest was held where ``Fleming Eats It Faster''.
Ultimania guides are complex tomes stuff with information about a game's characters, story, art, game play, maps, statistics, and creator commentary. They're also exclusively in Japanese. I've got a few of my own for the pretty pictures and maps, but that's only a quarter of the vast amount of data available.
In honor of Final Fantasy VII's 10th Anniversary, Square-Enix published the "Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania" in September of 2007. This 207 page book was given a limited release, with only 77,777 copies printed which were included in the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Potion bundle. This guidebook acted as a reference and compendium of plot information from the entire Compilation of FFVII, for fans who wanted a collection of all the information of FFVII in one source.
It's a shiny new toy for both my inner gaming geek and my inner word geek. Oh, and did I mention that I freakin' adore limited-edition game releases? If I'd known about this when it was released, I would so own this right now.
So I was watching Ghost Hunt, which features paranormal researchers. During one case, they deal with people who claim they can bend spoons and keys with their mind. I looked up info on spoon bending because I couldn't remember exactly how the trick is performed.
As always, Wikipedia offers up nifty additional info: the reason why our eyes see a straight object, like a spoon or pencil, "bending" when it's moved rapidly back and forth.
Any 7-year-old can fool her younger brother by holding the neck of a spoon and rapidly tilting it back and forth, like a mini teeter-totter gone haywire. The spoon appears curved, because of cells in the visual cortex called end-stopped neurons, which perceive both motion and the boundaries of objects, the authors write. The end-stopped neurons respond differently from other motion-sensing cells, and this slight differential warps the estimation of where the edges of the spoon are.
I love it that modern science can examine neurons themselves to determine the actual cause behind some "magic". And, in an entertainment sense, I love it that humans have come up with a gajillion and one ways to explain why stuff happens. Shows off the human imagination, if not logical thinking.
Not being the parenting sort, or even the being-in-the-same-room-as-children sort, I tend not to be up to date on the latest parenting research. But the volatile Slate headline "Like a Rat: Animal research and your child's behavior" attracted my attention. The article has an interesting take on how human behavior often mirrors the observed, predictable behavior of non-human animals. (Predictably, the reader responses include several who are immediately irate at the thought of human children behaving as predictably as "lesser" animals.)
This article links to one about "time-outs", the technique where an adult puts a child elsewhere for a few minutes when the child misbehaves. I was fascinated to read that my understanding of time-outs is completely wrong, and I just had to share.
Check it out:
- What I thought a time-out is: an annoyed parent has had enough and gets the child out of everyone's hair for a while, usually taking the opportunity to tell the child where it erred
- What's recommended: a calm parent separates the child from a situation where the child is receiving reinforcement for unwanted behavior
Here's a description that's a little too short but tries to explain the idea:
Timeout has nothing to do with justice, repentance, or authority. Rather, it follows a simple logic: Attention feeds a behavior, and a timeout is nothing more than a brief break from attention in any form—demands, threats, explanations, rewards, hugs ... everything.
This line made me crack a smile:
If you have to touch, drag, or restrain the child to make the timeout happen, you're doing it wrong, and the timeout won't work.
Really? I would never have believed it. Call me jaded. Even if I'm jaded, though, I sure do love learning new stuff.
I Can Read Movies proposes old-school pulp paperbacks based on contemporary movies. Delightful whimsy in art style, typography, and graphical representations of memes.
The Beethoven's Last Night rock musical from Trans-Siberian Orchestra is freakin' amazing. In addition to comtemporary adaptations of some of Beethoven's most beautiful works, the songs are multilayered and full of word play.
TSO has many other popular works, although the others are religious and not my thing, but you may enjoy them.
Here's a sample from "What Good This Deafness?", which is the first song I heard from this work and which is what intrigued me:
Could it be that brooding is part of your art?
Is it an extension of artistic license?
A moody defiance
Of all of life's tyrants
While you've been searching your heart
Alone with us in the dark?
Marginally related: I learned that the theme song to the Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles animated series was based on Beethoven's Piano Sonata #8 (Pathetique), Opus 13.
It looks amazing!
As in any Ritchie flick, there's fights (shirtless & hella buff RDJ!) and explosions, but the most promising thing is, of course, RDJ himself. Even from the preview, it's obvious he has fully flung himself into the role and is living the dream.
I never really notice "chemistry" between actors, but RDJ & Law are practically shining in their scenes. The dynamic is refreshingly egalitarian, unlike the stiff formality in the old Basil Rathbone versions. And for some reason it reminds me of the Star Trek: The Next Generation explorations of a self-aware holodeck Moriarty. Best TV role that Daniel Davis ever had.
Maybe I'll listen to some public-domain Holmes tales before the film's distant December 25 release date.
Also recommended: Tropic Thunder, the only Ben Stiller film besides Dodgeball I've ever watched where I didn't get so disgusted or annoyed that I skipped to the end. Definitely watch it with the commentary too: RDJ does his commentary in character.
But of course not coming to Seattle. It's so unfair.
Gym Class Heroes will be performing.
If you can get to one of these shows, please report. Oh, and roast in my envious glare.
There's a punctuation mark called an interrobang that combines a question mark with an exclamation (sometimes called a bang).
It's totally non-standard, but I may just have to see if I can easily implement it with some of my more frequently used fonts.
Fun with symbols!
And, only marginally related, the word interrobang can be inserted neatly into the South Park Fingerbang song.
Other Chambers fun:
Neil Gaiman's short story I Cthulhu
The King in Yellow: An Introduction by Christophe Thill
Robert W. Chambers and The King in Yellow by Henrik Johnsson
The King in Yellow at Project Gutenberg
The Yellow Site wiki