This weekend was one of the best I have had in quite a while. Just all around goodness.
We'll start on Thursday, in which I managed to thread the needle of skyscape's "Don't get me anything for my birthday," almost without a hitch. As a tip to new husbands out there, you need to get her just enough to let her know you thought of her, but not so much that she feels guilty for what you spent (whether that is time or money). As a corollary to that tip, the perfect balance point not only differs from woman to woman, but from time to time for the same woman. Consider yourself educated.
Friday was a nummy dinner out at Outback, which we haven't done in a while. Not much else to say there, really.
Saturday morning, my dad came up to help us repair some damage to the siding from the recent windstorms. He drove an hour and a half for a fifteen minute fix. (I needed his extension ladder to get to the repair.) So, to make his trip "worthwhile," we also decided to repair the gate to our fence. His help cut the time of the job in half, and I think made the final product better. Super productive weekend, by noon on Saturday!
Saturday night, we went to see a live theater production of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog. It was pretty darn awesome. If you happen to live in the DC area, or are willing to travel to it, I highly recommend it. It is playing through the end of March, and you can get details and tickets here. The actors were surprisingly great fits for the parts, the production was really well done, and the space was a lot of fun. If I were to pick nits, the staging fell a little short in the action scenes (Penny getting run down by the van, and the gun blowing up in Hammer's hands). I'm not sure how you would make it do any better, but there you are. Also, the actress playing Penny nailed the spoken bits, but her voice just did not carry during the songs.
Sunday morning, as a belated birthday dinner, we went to Texas de Brazil churrascaria. This is what certain people refer to as a "meat faucet" restaurant. You have a little card on your table. When you turn it up to green, waiters bring you endless cuts of amazing meat. When you turn it to red, they (mostly) pass by your table. It is freaking fantastic. If you are not a vegetarian, I highly recommend checking out a churrascaria near you.
Sunday night, we went to see The Adjustment Bureau. All in all, it was a good film. Not great, but good. Well written, well directed, and well acted. It left me a bit thinky, but didn't break much new ground. Compared to other Philip K Dick movies, it was much better made than Minority Report (since the effects were entirely secondary here), but not nearly as good as Blade Runner. (We don't think of Next as a Dick movie, and we didn't go see Paycheck.) Incidentally, any reviewer who compares this to Matrix is just being lazy. There is really nothing in common between the two movies at all, unless you count "hidden reality" as a plot device.
So, November has ended, and with it my grand blogging experiment. I certainly did better this year than last. I had to post a few late entries this morning, as I've been sick the last couple of days. I didn't quite make 30 posts in 30 days, mostly because I couldn't keep up on the weekends. I was doing most of my writing on my iPad during my commute, and obviously didn't have that time set aside on non-work days.
Will I keep up this pace? Definitely not. I'm really running dry on topics. I'm missing being able to read and watch my shows on my commute. I also feel like the deliberately scattershot nature of topics covered would pretty well prevent me from drawing any kind of audience. On the other hand, I was really starting to enjoy the writing.
Going forward, I think I'm going to move "serious" topics back over to my other blog. I want to try to commit to one gaming blog a week, and one piece of fiction a week. I'll post links here, on Twitter, and on Facebook when I do. Given that most of my fiction is likely to be gaming-related, or at least in the same genres, that will hopefully be concentrated enough to warrant an audience that isn't just made up of my friends. I will continue to post here, but it will mostly be personal stuff, and my thoughts on various things like politics and religion. I might try to stick to the goal of one "real" post here every week, too. (Though, that's starting to tread dangerously close to a post every day again.)
I did enjoy this a lot more than last year, too. It didn't feel quite so much like a chore. I think I put up some much more interesting stuff, too. Especially the fiction. There are still three or four stories in the pipeline that I didn't get finished, to start off the "one a week" pattern next week.
( For your reference, the posts that I have made:Collapse )
Hold the phone!!!
In linking to all my entries under the cut there, I just discovered that, counting the three tardy posts from this morning, I hit 30 posts!! I did it!!1!!eleventy-one!!
As a related note, I would also like to mention that I tallied it up, and I came just shy of 35,000 words across all of those posts (including a few of the longer comments, too). So, I wouldn't have made NaNoWriMo, but I think that's still pretty impressive.
We rose before dawn, and marched to beard a group of goblins in their den. Why precisely we were doing this was beyond me. But, our little group seemed to feel that it was proper repayment for our night's hospitality. Who was I to argue, as I had no coin to offer otherwise?
( I can tell that I was no soldier...Collapse )
I must simply notate this first entry that way, as I have no way to know the current date. In fact, I know very little of anything. I am hoping that this journal will bring back some of my memories.
( This is the journal of Zintiel bar-Eskelda of Silverymoon...Collapse )
The one other I remember is that I have a secret. A secret that I dare not trust to my companions, and dare not even trust to these pages.
I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago, in which I participated in a FantasyCraft one-shot at a local mini-con. It was a lot of fun, and I want to keep an eye out for similar events coming in the future.
One of the things I found interesting, though, was my experience with the rules. Lately, as most of you know, I have been tinkering with the Gamma World and Dresden Files RPGs. The total shift in mind-set from these games to FantasyCraft, most particularly when it comes to character creation, has been idling in the back of my head.
( How much detail is too much?Collapse )
So, a little while back I was listening to the This American Life podcast. Apparently they were doing a repeat; the episode I heard, 178: Superpowers, says that it had an original air date of 2/23/2001. I actually recommend giving the whole episode a listen, as it's really good. In particular, I am fascinated by Zora, a self-made superheroine.
But, the topic I want to cover today is a question posed by John Hodgman (of "I'm a PC" fame). Through some bizarre agency, you have been given an opportunity to gain superpowers. However, your choices are flight or invisibility. That's it. Which would you choose?
( Hawkman or Invisible Girl?Collapse )
Things that I am thankful for:
My health. All of the health problems that I currently suffer from are obviously the result of my weight. Given what I have seen others struggle with, I am very grateful that my health is not worse. And that what I do have is within my control to fix.
My family. We're not really close any more. And that is certainly my fault as much as anyone's. But, the serious majority of my friends come from families that are at least hostile environments, if not outright damaging or abusive. So, I am constantly thankful that I was raised by people who loved me, and each other, very much.
My career. I am lucky enough to be in a career that is interesting, challenging, and financially rewarding. While I haven't yet found a way to tell people what I do that doesn't result in their eyes glazing over, no one is ever dismissive of my skills.
My mind. I don't know if this is a chicken or egg thing, but I am constantly looking for answers. I am fortunate that I have a mind that is usually able to find, understand, and remember those answers. I really can't imagine what it must be like to read an article, and not be able to comprehend what it is saying. It would be endlessly frustrating for me.
My friends. While too many of them only exist to me on the other side of this monitor screen, I still treasure them. I have been blessed to know some truly remarkable and wonderful individuals.
My music. Hits me, so hard. Makes me say, "Oh, my Lord. Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet."
The time and place in which I live. I try very hard to remember that I live in one of the most prosperous places that has ever existed on this planet. I take for granted a standard of living that people only 150 years ago would consider miraculous. I happen to believe that that propserity is no accident, but a result of the Founding Fathers of this country setting down some critical freedoms that have encouraged growth, relative honesty among our politicians, and a remarkable diversity in our population.
Further, I was born at a time where I got to see an explosion of technology first-hand, and got to ride the wave of the cultural changes that come with it. Geeks of my age were lucky enough to have some truly remarkable cartoons when we were kids, a great renaissance of science fiction and fantasy properties when we were in college, and an amazing array of geek-friendly shows, movies, etc. now. I can't imagine a time that, for my interests and tastes, would have been better to grow up.
I am very thankful to have the internet. I can't even imagine life without it any more.
And finally, of course, I am forever grateful to have my wife. She has been the best partner in this life that I could have asked for. We share a sense of humor, a taste in movies and TV shows, a desire to travel, and even, for the most part, political and religious views. We have reached that perfect balance, where we have just enough differences to keep conversation going, but not so many differences to turn conversations into arguments. Agreeing to be my wife is the greatest gift she ever could have given me.
So, this topic has been in the news a lot lately. Bullying. Here's a few links for you to peruse:
A boy dresses as Daphne for Halloween, and is ostracized by the other parents.
Pixar employees send the message "It Gets Better."
One family tries to battle cyber-bullying.
And, finally, we'll cap off your reading with this excellent blog post, in which one of the gamers I follow on Twitter talks about how he got bullied, what the long-term effects were, and how he's trying to keep his kid from either bullying, or being bullied.
( Some of my own experiences, and some of my own thoughts.Collapse )
Like a truly staggering number of people this weekend, I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to do it this weekend. I mean, it was going to be packed. But, I loves me some HP, so I did it. I even managed to do it on IMAX (this is a movie where the IMAX experience is totally worth it).
This movie is dark. It is intense. It is gut-wrenching. One of the very first scenes is Hermione casting a spell to remove herself from her parents' memories, so that they would be safe. I almost broke down right there.
The cast has all matured into these roles brilliantly. Obviously, many of the adults were already experienced and recognized talents long before being cast for this movie. But all of the kids have really come a long way from the first movie. The core trio have some really excellent chops individually, and some fantastic chemistry as a group. But even the relatively small bits from characters such as Neville and Luna show that they have a lot of talent.
I also have to really hand it to the director. The first half of this book dragged. While the movie had its slow parts as well, most of it was paced really well. I was totally sucked in from the first moment. There were only a few moments where the movie loosened its grip. And yet, the movie still hit every plot point it needed to, gave every important character the moment in the spotlight that was needed, and stayed wonderfully emotionally true to the story.
As always, the visuals in this movie were absolutely fantastic. I'll come back to that in the spoiler-y bit below with specific examples. But, the producers and visual arts teams continue to outdo themselves. Everything, from the sets to the costumes to the special effects to the, um, special bit (again, see below) was just perfect.
I can't do a movie review without finding something negative to say. Um.... Oh yeah! Bill Nighy plays Rufus Scrimgeour. But, his voice was just too close to Davy Jones. I kept expecting him to say, "Tell me Harry, do you fear death?" *grin*
Probably the most important note is that the screenwriters and director have finally gotten the knack of adapting the novels. The movies have always felt rushed and awkward, as Rowling's sprawling method of dribbling out clues gets condensed. Not so with this movie. Maybe it just benefits from being split into two. I don't know. But, it works.
( Spoiler-y content behind the cut.Collapse )
I have to say, without reservation, that this is the best movie in the Harry Potter franchise. Well, to date anyways. I don't know just how good the conclusion will be. But I can't wait to find out.
For how much money would you be willing to spend a whole week away from the Internet, TV, and mobile phones? Would you suffer withdrawal pains?
Heh. I did this just a couple months ago, on a cruise. Well, I wasn't totally cut off. My wife still checked her email daily. We did watch TV, but it was movies being run on the ship, not any kind of news or regular programming. But, I was pretty much off-line for two weeks. Personally, I really enjoyed it. I wouldn't want to go back to not having the internet at all. But, it was really nice to take a break.