Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting In Gear  

Now that my son has been dropped off back at his other house, it's time for us to get back to our non-child-having routines… I don't mean to sound so glib about it, but if I started blogging about the emotional dynamics of how this process actually occurs, this would turn into one long diatribe about the unfairness of the family court system,the soul-rending trauma of missing family members, how there just ain’t no justice in the world, etc. etc.

I may go there someday, but I'll spare you the gory details for the moment.

For now, just a few random bits to clear off my table:

Writing: Today will be the first day that I get back to the grindstone. I'm considering doing a rewrite for the ending to SIFT, but that’s sort of a big deal and I'm just kicking around the idea for now.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for some feedback on my most recent short story Love Means Leaving Together, and I plan on shopping this one around pretty seriously once it's in shape.

Tasty party dip or evil overlord from another dimension?

Finally, I’ve got the beginnings of a brand-new short story swirling around that's pretty dark and serious in tone, but I've also been wanting to write one that's a little on the lighter, goofier side… I haven't decided which way I want to go yet, but the words “Cthulhu” and “Guacamole” together in the same sentence may sway me.

Games: Downloaded Elefunk from the PS Store yesterday. It's a small-scale physics-based game that has an elephant on one side of the screen and a goal on the other. The player must take materials like platforms, girders, and ropes and create bridges or walkways for the pachyderm to cross over.

We've got some seriously bullshit physics going on here.

It's fairly comical and I like the idea a lot, though I take a minor issue with the fact that the developers give insufficient tutorials on bridge building and leave a lot of the game up to player trial and error in order to figure out how things work. It's not super-complicated so it wasn't an unforgivable sin, but a little more help at the beginning would have been appreciated.

Progress was steady and the physics of the game made sense most of the time, until I got absolutely stuck just a few levels from the end. I have to confess I’m quite confused at how some structures seem to fall apart after being heavily reinforced, while some bridges made out of just a few pieces appear unbreakable. There’s some questionable stuff going on here, the rope “support” physics being especially suspect.

I'm not planning on reviewing the game at the moment, but if I did I'd be leaning towards a six on the GameCritics scale (with five being perfectly average and NOT BAD). It's really more like a five, but since the game is only $5, that's worth an extra point simply for the fact that the developers were wise enough not to overcharge.

BTW, my 360 is still dead and I've become more convinced than ever that Microsoft customer service doesn't have the faintest idea what it's doing.

Since my unit keeled over a little while ago, I sent it in for repairs to the same Texas service center where it was resuscitated from the Red Ring of Death that struck during Christmas. Before I sent it in, I asked the rep whether the $99 service charge would be deducted from my account immediately, or when the unit was actually repaired. He stated over and over again that the money would not be taken out of my account until the console was shipped back to me. About 45 minutes after I hung up the phone, the money was taken.

After sending in the unit, I kept checking to find out where my console was in the repair process, and every time I checked, it was listed as “unit not received”. Since UPS confirmed delivery, I called in to find out WTF was going on and was shuttled back and forth between three different reps. The first said that is only updated once a week, which explained why the status listed was incorrect. The second told me to call back in two days for a return tracking number since the unit “has probably already been fixed and is on its way back to you”, and the third asked me what I thought of the Gears of War 2 demo to which I replied:

Why don't you tell me, since my console is broken? Why do you think I'm calling you?


Nervous chuckle.

...And somewhere in the middle lies Microsoft Customer Service.

Books: I finished reading Bram Stoker’s Lair of the White Worm a few days ago, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that it was the first Stoker novel I've ever read.

It was a fascinating experience since the book was written somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 years ago, and so much of the language and thought process in the writing is radically different than the books that are being produced today. For someone who’s interested in words and writing like I am, this was intriguing stuff. However, that's not to say that intriguing necessarily equals good.

Amanda Donohoe's spiked strap-on from the film is nowhere in here. Gyp!!

It may be heresy of a sort, but quite honestly the book was terrible. The events of the story happen in Victorian/Edwardian England, and much of the tone and logic make absolutely no sense. I can only assume that things might have seemed more appropriate to a person who actually lived during that time period, but I scoffed and scratched my head through most of it -- things like narrowly avoiding being killed by a woman, yet being socially refined enough to finish afternoon tea with her before making an escape, or the main villain selling the evil lair that's been her home for thousands of years to the hero because she’s going to get married to someone with a bigger estate.

I don't mean to sound egotistical, but I would have loved to edit the hell out of it. There were so many plot threads that went nowhere and so much extraneous junk that could've been cut out, not to mention that the climax of the book was completely laughable; a resolution Rube Goldberg would have been proud of.

I'm assuming Dracula is better than this.

Moving on to something more recent, I started Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry. I'm just a few chapters into it, but this story of a high-fashion zombie (yes, she eats flesh) and how she hypersnarks through her day is quite amusing so far. More to come on this later.

That's it for now, I need to poop the dog.

Thanks for reading.

What next?

You can also bookmark this post using your favorite bookmarking service:

Related Posts by Categories

0 comments: to “ Getting In Gear