The Night is Dark, and Full of Terrors…

Tonight marks the second occurrence of something stupendous.

Game of Thrones night.

Myself and the other two members from the fabulous work trio have taken it upon ourselves to get together every fortnight for the partaking in what I like to call “The Tyrion Lannister Stories”.  So far it’s been a smash success, and means the other two hooligans are forced to descend upon my little abode, as I am the only one that pays for premium cable.  I also supplied the meal, and Shawn was so kind to bring his many bags of games.

We only got around to one of his many games, but it’s one I thoroughly recommend.  Quarriors! is a fairly fast paced dice battle game.  It reminds me of Magic in some respects, but is much simpler and revolves around a shared pool of “capturable” dice.  The rules took a little while to suss out, but once we were up and going it was roughly 30 minutes for a game.  2-4 players, so not a huge party game, but good for a small group of fast friends.

After a few rounds of Quarriors we caught up on last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, filled our bellies with roasted vegetables and turkey meatloaf, and had just enough time to watch an episode of the new Avatar series, Legend of Korra.  We may add this to future Game of Thrones nights, as the first episode was quite good.

Then, of course, came the latest episode.

I’ll just say there’s a reason we have Game of Thrones night.  The series is good.  Damn good.  The source material is excellent, and they have (so far) been quite faithful to it.  It begs the question as to what they’ll do when they catch up to the books, but they do, at least, have some time to get there.  I foresee the upcoming books being split into multiple seasons of the show, and you’ll likely see a lot of reshuffling of content so that there is a continuous timeline.

At any rate, I don’t worry too much about it.  I’ll enjoy what we have for what it is.  Fantastic entertainment.

And an excuse to get together with good friends.

Scrumptious media.

Anyone knows me will realize that I am a complete media whore. Whether it’s movies, books, music, games… you name it… I generally am interested in it. Lately I’ve been upset because I don’t spend the time reading like I used to… but I do still manage to catch a movie or two here and there, and I still am an avid gamer.

So I saw two things last week that really piqued my interest.

First, on the gaming side, Tecmo has announced Fatal Frame 4. For the Wii! This makes me happy.

Fatal Frame 4

Fatal Frame (or Project Zero, for those of you in non-US territories) is a fantastic series of games, and its good to see it come out for a platform that is a perfect fit for it control wise. I’ve yet to play through all the Playstation incarnations of this game, but fully intend to before the new one releases this summer. This has to be up there with Fallout 3 as my most looked forward to game this year.

The other little gem I’ve found is a movie by producer Guillermo del Toro and director Juan Antonio Bayona, named The Orphanage (imdb link, official site, quicktime trailer).

The Orphanage

One of del Toro’s previous movies, The Devil’s Backbone, is one of my favorite movies of all time, so when I saw that his name is attached to The Orphanage, I was immediately intrigued. Unlike Devil’s Backbone, however, del Toro is strictly a producer on this movie, but Bayona’s directorial work looks not only polished, but chilling. Just watching the trailer gave me shivers for this movie. And the reviews and critical comments have been resoundingly positive. Right now it’s in limited release in several large cities, but I’m hoping it eventually comes out a little closer to home, much like Pan’s Labyrinth eventually did.

It’s mii!

My MiiI just thought those of you that have actually met me might find this amusing. This is the result of way too much time tinkering with the avatar feature on the Wii. Scary how close it is, isn’t it?


It’s the Wiikend.

I had one goal for today.

Acquire a Nintendo Wii.

After several hours of hunting for the best place to get one, driving to Moses Lake, and checking things out, I discovered that I was too late to get one there… and came home back to Othello with my tail between my legs.

Only to realize I could likely get one here in Othello easily. I just had to wait until 6AM.

So at a mostly ungodly hour of the morning, I forced myself up, drove down a few blocks to the local store, and picked up my Wii, with little fanfare or fuss.

Shawn and I have spent the past three hours playing tennis, and having an absolute blast. The controls are amazingly intuitive, even more responsive than I had first thought they would be. And I have yet to even crack the outer plastic on the game I really wanted to get, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

So… I’ve been up nearly 24 hours now… could be labeled a complete and utter nerd… but I’m still happy.

*goes to play with his Wii*

An excuse to blow things up.

Ah, the 4th of July. Proof that vast majority of Americans really are psychotic pyros at heart.

I did my semi-annual visit to my brother’s house tonight. It’s almost tradition, considering I’ve gone for the past three years or so. And it generally ends up being rather fun.

I mean… family… plus explosives… plus lots of beer.

How can that possibly go wrong?

It was fun, however. The food was excellent, the company was good, and I generally have a blast seeing my brother. We’re not totally dissimilar, and have a few of the same interests. Plus there’s that whole mutual upbringing we have going on, where we can sit back, drink a few beers, and shoot the breeze about how messed up our family is.

Though I’m fairly certain that’s pretty typical for most families these days.

The casualties were fairly low this year, as well. No major aerial shells were shot directly into the audience. One of Pete’s car rebuilding buddies was lighting typical ground bloom flowers and throwing them into the air, however. And two of those came very close to hitting me, as I was helping light fireworks. One of those did fly directly into the audience.

But… you know… nothing major.

Pete also wanted to show off his new toy, an XBox360. I was fairly unimpressed. The graphics are nice, and there are some interesting games for it, but my issue is still that they all seem to be first person shooters. Most of which I can play on my PC anyway. For Pete, though, that’s a major selling point, as his computer is getting a bit long in the tooth.

The amusing thing was how Dawn and Kayla were completely glued to my Nintendo DS. Pete and I would be trying to head-shot each other with sniper rifles in Call of Duty 2, while Dawn was furiously trying to figure out how to get past the level she was working on in the New Super Mario Brothers game.

I found the whole thing thoroughly entertaining… especially with Dawn’s random cursing at no one in particular.

So yes. 4th of July. Patriotism? Rubbish. Just let me blow stuff up.

Secret admirer.

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I can’t contain these feelings anymore.

I’ve met the most amazing girl.

She’s everything I’ve ever hoped to find in someone… she’s cute, funny, smart… has an amazing laugh.

Plus she has pink ponytails and hurls fireballs like nobody’s business.

Gazz at the top of the Damage MeterWe have a bit of a competition going. I think she might be more than I can handle, though. She might have a bit of an issue with mana if there’s an extended fight, but when she gets the drop on someone, not all the backstabbing in the world will help me come out on top.

Gazz, I salute you.

Just don’t be surprised if I’m a little starry eyed at times as well.

Hopefully I can get some better pictures this weekend. Time cannot go by swiftly enough.


I have come to one, inescapable conclusion.

I am going to have to buy a Nintendo DS.

At first I was waffling on the whole idea. I hadn’t seen a lot of good games for it, besides my vague obsession with Nintendogs. And I had never been much of a handheld videogame player, save for my infatuation with all things Tetris.

But Nintendo is officially left me no choice. Not only are they coming out with a new side-scrolling Mario game, but they have just recently announced a new DS Zelda game as well.

It should be known that I am a Nintendo fanboy. I started off on the Atari 2600, thanks mostly to my older brother, who had a fascination with all things Atari. But after that, it was the NES. It was one of the joys of my childhold, and I will always fondly remember time spent in front of that boxy looking console. The NES was the reason I saved up money as a child, in the hopes that I would be able to get the latest and greatest games for it. Games like Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Star Tropics, Zelda, Mario, Metroid. After that it was the SNES, and then the N64. I’ve been disappointed in the Gamecube, mainly because of the severe lack of software for it. But that was a trend that started with the release of the N64, and caused, in a large part, by Nintendo’s desire to lock in developers and consumers into proprietary formats. I may be a fanboy, but I still know when my idols really suck something up.

It looks like they’ve done something right with the DS, though.

I am going to wait until the release of the DS Lite, however. So I have at least a couple months before I have the little dual screen in my hands. Which will wonderfully coincide with the summer.

The big temptation is to convince Shawn to get one too. I just think Pictochat with Shawn would be incredibly amusing.


It’s been a pleasant past couple of days.

The weekend was spent mostly wasting time on World of Warcraft. And quite happily, I might add. It’s incredibly fun to play through again from a fresh perspective, with new players and playing a different class. I’m having a blast leveling up my rogue at the moment, and from what I can tell, those I played with had a rather enjoyable time as well.

Somehow I have the feeling that World of Warcraft may take up a chunk of my weekend once and awhile. Not every weekend, I hope… as I know there are things I still want to do… but it’s good to just lose yourself in something simple and enjoyable once and awhile.

Especially when you can do it with friends.

Work bits were mostly back to normal today. I’ve been able to tinker more with Cisco equipment, and was able to setup a video conferencing unit as well. Which can be a little tricky to do considering the levels of security and firewall protection that are in place. I also broke down and ordered a couple of new CD’s today. I had been poking around on iTunes and was having a bit of fun putting in known artists I enjoy and seeing what else people had purchased that was similar. I still have a hard time buying songs directly from iTunes, though. I’m a bit of an audiophile, and the 128Kbps just doesn’t cut it for me quality wise. Plus I’m a little old fashioned in that I like to have that physical disc with the liner notes and inserts.

At any rate, the CD’s I ended up buying were Ladytron’s Witching Hour, Imogen Heap’s Speak For Yourself, and Depeche Mode’s Exciter. The first two are newly discovered artists, which I hope to post reviews of at some point. The Depeche Mode, though, is to fill in one more album gap in my collection. I don’t aspire to track down everything they’ve ever done, because I think that would be a lesson in futility in ways… but I certainly don’t mind picking up an album here or there.

Otherwise, things are fairly quiet. Shawn’s girlfriend is on spring break, so I expect to see her a little more often this week, which is good. Shawn has officially declared that he’s going to take a bit of a break from work this week, for somewhat obvious reasons. We watched My Neighbor Totoro tonight, which Danie hadn’t seen. It’s definitely a kid’s movie, but it’s still amusing nonetheless.

And, one of the happiest bit of news, I finally got part of the long overdue overseas package off today. There was just way too much procrastination on my part, and it was starting to make me a little upset at myself. I feel better knowing that a large chunk of the stuff I’ve been wanting to send is finally on its way… and hope to still be able to put together a few care packages here and there in the months to come. Hopefully with more maple and cinnamon goodness.

And Cthulhu? He’s just happy to be on his way.


I have the social skills of a rabid badger.

With schizophrenia.

I’ve also finished Wayfarer Redemption, and put in an order for four new books: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, Charles de Lint’s Wolf Moon, Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s The Ill-made Mute, and the second book in the Wayfarer Redemption series, Sara Douglas’s Enchanter.

I actually thoroughly enjoyed the first Sara Douglass book, and am looking forward to the next one. The world she creates is quite richly detailed, with a history and depth that is refreshing, but not overly complicated.

The description of the Star Gate was breath-taking. And I found myself even a little emotional as I got caught up in the story of the characters.

Which is always a good sign.

I’ve been wondering if I should buy a Nintendo DS today, too. Not for any practical reason, really. I’m a geek. I like gadgets.

And I want to play Nintendogs. I mean… check out that video in the bottom left. Puppy dogs… wearing pirate hats?

How kick ass is that?


A week since my last post…

Needless to say, I haven’t done as good as I had hoped I would.

This week has been a rough one, to be honest. Things at work have actually picked up a bit. I was hoping it would be fairly quiet until the end of the year, as it has a tendency of being this time of year, but a few major software updates made things a little shaky for a while. Plus I found out earlier in the week that a couple high school students wanted to job shadow me, of all people, for their senior projects.

I find it amusing that there are kids in high school eager to join the IT market that don’t have the faintest idea of how the guts of a computer or a network work. I can’t blame them completely. There’s not really a curriculum here that covers something like that. The vast majority of computer oriented classes at the school I work at consist of how to touch type and use Word and Excel. Which are excellent skills to have, to be sure. It’s just pretty far from things like actually building your own computer, for example. Or putting together a simple network.

I guess that’s why they have job shadows.

Although the blank stares I got while describing what I was doing as I added a VLAN to the network for use with our DMZ was entertaining.

All this has meant, though, that I have been having a hard time finding moments to dedicate to my goals.

And I’m upset at myself because of that.

Thankfully I was able to get a little bit on track last night, though it meant that I didn’t have the time really to post things here. So this a little later than I wanted it to be, but the good news is that I’ve actually made some progress… and spent some time away from work.

Shawn, Danie and I spent most of the day yesterday in Moses Lake. Just having fun for the most part. We were able to have a nice dinner at a favorite mexican restaurant in town, and fit in a little bit of shopping as well.

And me, being the impulse purchaser I am, managed to snag up a movie I’ve been looking forward to tremendously.

So, needless to say, we watched a movie when we got home.

Howl’s Moving Castle is another gorgeous work of art from Hayao Miyazaki. I am slowly beginning to collect all his pieces, including Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke. Howl’s Moving Castle is actually more straightforward than most of his others works, with a storyline that is fairly simple, and familiar in some ways, echoing a lot of fantasy tales. It is, however, still stunningly animated and an absolute joy to watch. I’ve found out the story is actually based on a book, which I may have to track down and read. If I ever get around to doing so, I’ll have to compare and contrast the two here. This is something I would actually like to do more often when watching movies, as most of them actually are based on some literary piece of some sort. I know that when I watched the first Narnia movie, the desire was quite strong to go reread the books… and see if somehow my childhood memories of them where somehow rose tinted compared to my mixed reactions of the movie.

At any rate, so far its been a rather pleasant weekend. I’ve even managed to get a couple more chapters into The Wayfarer Redemption, and it is still my solemn goal to get the rest of the way through it before the end of the month. Which I think is still entirely possible at this point.

I do have to admit another addiction that has been stealing away some of my time once more as well, though. World of Warcraft. I’ve tried to hide this addiction for the longest time… because there was a time when it was actually a serious problem for me. Though not lately, thankfully. When I was inbetween jobs and wasn’t sure if I was going to have full time work at Royal, you could almost gaurentee that I was playing that evil game. That was a dark time for me… where I didn’t know where my life was going or how I was going to make ends meet. That game was an escape… and much worse, in ways, than drinking. I’m not saying it’s evil incarnate, because honestly, I had an absolute blast playing for the most part. Blizzard has done something amazing in building a game in the massively multiplayer genre that is genuinely fun to play. They make it easy to get started, make questing easy to do, and weave in a storyline that is actually quite intriguing. There are still some balance issues between classes, but considering the choices you have and their very differing skillset, I think there are some things that can be forgiven. That being said, I reached a point playing where I lost a lot of interest in the game. And, thank god, I was able to start working full time in Royal, which simply made it so I couldn’t put in the amount of time required for one of the most frustrating aspects of the game.

The end game content.

Unless you have absolutely no life and all the free time in the world, World of Warcraft becomes virtually unplayabe at level 60. At that point it stops becoming a matter of questing or simple runs through dungeons with a small group of friends. At level 60 you have to start running instances that require raids of 40 people… with the hope that something for you drops that you can use… and that you don’t get out-rolled or out-bid on the item by one of the others in your class that is going to invariably be there. These raids generally will take multiple days to complete… and will require being in a guild that takes such things seriously. And will likely kick you if you don’t have the time to seriously take part.

This is where it all falls apart, and, in my opinion, the game stops being fun.

I hold out hope that the expansion pack will solve some of these problems, but honestly I doubt it will. At least until you hit the level cap at 70 once again. But I have found myself playing the game once again despite these drawbacks. Because, honestly, though reaching level 60 might be rather anticlimatic, getting there is still an absolute blast. I’ve been leveling up a character with my little brother once more, and having a fun time doing it. Partly because I’m playing an Alliance character for the first time, but also because we are playing on a PvP server, which is a different experience entirely. It adds a level of apprehension to the game that constantly keeps you on your toes while you’re playing. And, of course, there is something satisfying about randomly battling the other faction and, hopefully, coming out victorious.

Add to that the fact that two other good friends have started a character on another server, and I find myself once more happily trying to level and quest to catch up to them.

The game may have its faults… but its still well worth a play through in my opinion. And maybe some day they’ll fix those end game issues.

Until then, I’m not too worried about it sucking my life away again, at least.

There are too many books that need to be read instead.

Assorted Bits

It’s been a long day. Longer than it actually was, as strange as that may sound. Having a four day weekend was good in ways… but also very, very bad. I have managed to shift my sleeping schedule by several hours, and I think I paid for it today.

In short, my biological clock is screwed.

Hopefully getting to sleep before 1am tonight will be the first step in the right direction in that regard. Honestly, I’m tempted to stay up and play with things here… do some work on a theme for my blog and work on some other finishing touches…

But that whole being responsible thing always kicks me in the ass. Work comes first.

I have, at least, managed to do a couple things tonight. On the blog front, I’ve added a little sidebar snippet that will show what books I’m currently reading. It still needs some formatting help, but I’m just glad to have a little something there for now. At the moment, I’ve started The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglas. I’m not that far into it yet… I’m hoping this weekend will give me some extended time with it and put me well into my first book completed for my 1001 Day Project. There are already some fond memories associated with this book, so I’m actually quite excited about digging into it. There’s another book as well that I’d like a chance to start over and read all the way through, that being Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. Soon I’ll go through and do a proper list of books and authors I want to read in the coming months.

I expect it to be a long list.

Also tonight, Shawn and I held in impromptu game night, and played our first couple of rounds of the Pirates Constructible Strategy Game. We had an absolute blast. I’m a sucker for these types of games. I was an avid fan of Magic: The Gathering before the rule changes with every minor edition drove me nuts. There was a small club of us in School that would gather together when we had the chance to compare cards and play eachother. I loved it because my parents thought the game was purely the work of satan. I had to hide my cards or they would confiscate them. After High School, I had somewhat lost interest in the game and gave all my cards to my little brother. He’s at least doubled my collection, if not tripled. And I’ve discovered some of those original cards I gave him are worth quite a bit of money. I didn’t have very many first edition cards, but I did have a few.

Anyway, Pirates strikes that same compulsion in me… that desire to assemble every ship possible. And I mean… how cool is that? You actually construct pirate ships. It’s like a dream from when I was a kid. Add to that the fact that the game actually has some very deep strategy to it, with the ability to ram opposing ships, and even tow derelict ships.

I think I’m hooked. Now I just need to show some restraint and avoid buying boxes of booster packs.

I’m not compulsive. Really.