Monday, September 01, 2014

Dishonorable


No, I haven't done anything related to the title of this post. It actually refers to the video game I've been playing for the past month, Dishonored.

My character Corvo is wrongfully accused of killing the Empress of Dunwall and allowing her daughter Emily to be kidnapped. For much of the game, I maneuver him through parts of Dunwall either under heavy guard -- with men in steampunk-like metal suits on stilts called Tallboys, assassins who can vanish in a Blink, Walls of Light that can vaporize a person in an instant -- or filled with plague victims called Weepers and rats that will devour anything in sight. The above picture comes from an apartment overrun by the Weepers, showing their resignation to their sorry fate.

It's a very clever game, providing multiple options to complete the missions, by forging headlong into battle or stealthily climbing from balcony to balcony or Blinking from rooftop to rooftop without killing a soul. (I'm not all that good at the latter, unfortunately. Not for lack of trying.)

I didn't think that I would enjoy it as much; the gameplay is in the first person so that all the action plays directly through Corvo's eyes. For me, that's quite a challenge, but it definitely makes for an interesting game.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

iTunes Saturday - Just Too Funky

I'm not sure how many people actually remember this particular song. It was the final song George Michael wrote, performed, and released while under contract with Sony, and instead of including it on his first album post-Sony, he donated it to an AIDS charity album -- Red, Hot + Dance. I still love this song and hope you will enjoy it. Too Funky by George Michael:

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Bird


I spotted this during my lunchtime walk yesterday -- white feathers tapering front the head down along the chest, dark brown wings, a bluish grey beak, and such a sad ry. Luckily, I found a website that listed the birds in and around the Upper Newport Bay and discovered that this was an osprey. For some reason, I thougjt their habitat was the Pacific Northwest, but I guess they like theSouthern California sun, too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quickie Book Review: Snuff

by Chuck Palahniuk

What does a porn queen do to cap her career in adult films? Break the record for serial fornication and capture it on video, and that's exactly what Cassie Wright plans to do. So while she's upstairs in the studio filming the short-lived sequences of sex, downstairs close to 600 men await their turns at a little piece of history. In that pool of humanity, Snuff follows the stories of three men: Mr. 600 -- an aging porn star who used to have a thing with Cassie; Mr. 72 -- probably one of the youngest to show up for the cattle call, but he as ulterior motives at wanting to see Cassie stemming from his life with his adoptive parents; and Mr. 137 -- a former TV star who hopes that this brief brush with history can restart his stalled career. While those three commiserate with one another and plan their strategies for what to do when they eventually step into the studio with Cassie, one person knows the real story of what's going on: Sheila, Cassie's personal assistant who conceived the idea of the record-breaking video and who has surprises of her own for Cassie and the three men.

Chuck Palahniuk's glimpse into the seedier side of the adult film industry somehow makes you like -- and even sympathize (poor Mr. 72) -- with these seemingly decrepit characters as you follow their stories and learn that one small choice is all it takes to change the direction of your life. It's dirty, unglamorous, vain, and unflinching, and sometimes humorous, filled with unexpected twists in the tale. I loved reading every fact Sheila rattled off, following every sordid detail of the lives of 600, 72, and 137, and guiltily laughed as certain characters got their just desserts. Snuff is an imaginative and twisted tale that truly is worth reading.

Sunff
by Chuck Palahniuk
Doubleday
hard cover, 197 pgs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

But Is It Art?

I attended an office teambuilding event last night. Our manager wanted us to do something as a group, and we thought of many things -- like going to a baseball game or go-karting. But trying to coordinate a group of eight nixed those. Eventually, she stumbled across something called Painting & Vino. Everyone gathers at a restaurant, and for three hours, each of us recreates a specific painting with an art specialist guiding the way. And there's wine. Did I mention that?

The office loved the idea, so last night, we met after work at a South American restaurant in Laguna Beach and set to work on our "masterpieces".

An hour and a half into recreating a beach at sunset, the art specialist called for a break. Our paintings didn't yet look anything like a sunset or a beach, but we'd been restricted to yellow, orange, and red...and a little white. I thought mine resembled, well, nothing to be quite honest. Once the art specialist introduced blue, black, and purple, then the sunset began falling into place. Some stippling and layering, a dark line here and there, and by the end of the three hours, my sunset and pier looked fairly recognizable. I'm still not thrilled with the dark patch near the bottom, but it was in the original, so we had to incorporate it.


Not too bad, eh? Perhaps if I'd drunk some wine....

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Netflixin'

My latest scouring of Netflix yielded an hysterically funny animated series called Archer. I know that I'm late to the game with this one, but I watched an episode here and there on FX, not thinking much of it. But thanks to Netflix, I'm watching from the beginning, enjoying every non-pc moment to the fullest. I love the look of the animation, and the writing is hilarious--not to mention the excellent vocal talents of Aisha Tyler, H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell, Jessica Walter, Judy Greer, and so many others.

For anyone who hasn't seen the show, it centers on the International Secret Intelligence Service and its employees, including egotistical master spy Sterling Archer. (Oh, and his mother runs the agency.) In between dangerous missions, the employees set about sleeping around with one another, sabotaging co-workers, and generally wreaking havoc through miscommunications and innuendo. I've been binge watching the past few days and laughing my ass off. Archer is one of the funniest TV shows I've ever seen, and hopefully, by Tuesday evening, I'll have watched all 49 episodes.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

iTunes Saturday - Somebody Loves You

We celebrated eight years together on Thursday. Just sayin'. My selection for today is Betty Who's Somebody Loves You: