There's not much else going on around here. I'm finishing up my third hat. (Same pattern as the blood red one.) This time I didn't have to restart. I just jumped in and did it. I'm very proud of that. It's turning out ver pretty. I like the grey yarn I bought. (I hated the hello kitty blood pink yarn. It split like mad.) There are only a couple very minor flaws in this hat. Zero dropped stitches. I'm going to move to the brown yarn/cable knit pattern next. I think I'm ready. I think. Maybe. I suspect I'm getting the hang of this knitting thing. I wish it didn't make my shoulder hurt so much. I keep waiting for the pain to let up, but it hasn't yet. I know it's because I tense up to much. Eventually, I'll find a good position and/or relax. I hope it happens soon because... damn. I wonder if other people have this experience?
The writing is moving along. Outlining is working for this project. I didn't outline the start, but the last half needs it. A lot. It's best to adjust. Every novel is different and this one is more so than the others for whatever reason. I'm good with that. If every novel were the same, it'd be boring. You know? Again, I want to learn as much as I can about writing. It's all very subtle, and I can't explain it to anyone who isn't experienced with writing. Most people just thing it's a matter of saying what you mean, but that's the deal. Communicating is a complex process. If it were as easy as that, we wouldn't have wars or strife. There would be no need for lawyers or even contracts. Everyone would understand exactly what other people mean. The only problem is feeling out each project and understanding what it needs. I think it will be nice to be able to work with outlines. I suspect it's a faster way to work.
Watched the Joss Whedon directed Much Ado About Nothing and well... that happened. As stated before, I'm a huge Whedon fan. But this didn't work for me. I think playing the "which actor is which in the Whedonverse" may have been too distracting. It felt too flat. Shakespeare is the watermark for actors for a reason. Wringing meaning out of the archaic language and conveying it to a modern audience is a huge challenge. Huge. And while I like all the actors involved... not everyone was up to it. Fran Kranz actually threw me for a loop, though. He was fantastic. The others tended to be too wooden or too much themselves, and the production wasn't creative enough for me to feel like it snapped. It doesn't help that Much Ado... isn't my favorite Shakespearean play. (Not that I feel I know enough to have one at this stage.) It was all right. One of these days, I need to take a class on Shakespeare. I just do. It's a giant hole in my literary education. I don't feel I can call myself a professional writer and have so little Shakespeare in my lexicon. Seriously.
Oh! I started listening to Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I'm not that far into it, and already it seems much better than Pride and Prejudice. Good call, y'all. Good call. I guess I'm redeemable after all. :) I'm using my Audible credit this month to buy a copy of Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey. Am looking forward to it. I hadn't read it yet because I didn't want to go there without having a foundation in Austen. It only makes sense to do so when reading a fantasy series based upon Austen's work. I wanted to appreciate the effort Mary put into it. (And I know very well the tremendous work involved in such a thing.) Anyway, I can't wait. :)
Well, the part that involves Xmas anyway.
Today I'm going to talk a bit about another Double Fine Game, Psychonauts.
Sadly, Dane was right. It's too difficult to play to enjoy--even for him. I truly wish it weren't. Thus, I spend most of the time watching him go through the levels which is entertaining but not entertaining enough in the long run. Everything else about the game (except playing it) is a hoot. Of course, the game is seven years old and the graphics aren't as nice as can be created now. Still, it's visually interesting, given its age. We've only gotten through the introduction material and mostly through the first section which isn't very far. I'm not sure how long we'll play it. Neither of us are twitch-gamers. Again, that's too bad. Just look at that trailer! I've been wanting to play this game for years. [sigh] I love the idea of a camp that trains characters to be psychonauts. The visual puns are fun. (Ah, the emotional baggage. Ha!) Sadly, we have the standard 'help the straight white male win the <3 of the straight white girl' plot. It's too bad you can't play as other characters. (I'll forgive it for that due to the game's age.) The music is fun and Danny Elfman-esqe. I like it quite a bit. It looks like the same person scored Grim Fandango which is another game that caught my eye back in the day. it makes sense. It really is too bad that the game play is too difficult and unfun. I see why it didn't sell as much as it should've.
While we were looking for games to download we came across The Wolf Among Us. It looked and sounded promising.
The artwork is wonderful and the animation is too. It's a film noir setting with various mythological/fairytale creatures--think Fables. The Big Bad Wolf is the sherif. We did the initial play through but unfortunately the combat system sucks something awful. It's inconsistant and unnecessarily difficult. Also? They didn't stray all that far from the noir standards when it comes to the characters. They just made them storybook from the storybook options. [shrug] That would've been innovative about the time Fables came out. Now? Not so much. We're not going to buy it. Although, I kind of like the idea of a game being released in a rapid series of smaller issues like a comic book. I suspect that's a good model for some story heavy platform games. I'd like to see more of that.
 I don't see anything wrong with looking at/playing older games. I think there's a lot to learn from them. Plus, I lack the gamer lexicon most players have. So, I find it helpful.
 Which wouldn't be bothersome if it weren't practically the only plot in gaming circles. At least it isn't the main storyline.
 There's that trend with the police being overly brutal, and how all of us should be okay with that. [cough]
More later. I'm going to take a nap and write and maybe knit.
Call Mom and sister at least six times to sort out said logistics
Plans change. Again.
Body check asshole who stands entirely too close in check out line while husband punches in his pin number
Wear Clash t-shirt and head-to-toe black with Grandma's floofy floral 1940s era apron while baking
Listen to inappropriate Goth Music while baking and wearing floofy floral 1940s era apron
Make pie crust from scratch, wish I had one of those fancy Kitchen Aide mixers
Bake more pie than legally required because post T-Day week of pie for breakfast
Bake pecan pie for Father-In-Law because he loves it, worry about giving him diabetes
Play "Hide the Suitcase" from Cat (not always played every year)
My sisters call Grandma, ask her how to make "Pink Stuff" with cherry jello, nuts, marshmallows, whipped cream and fruit cocktail.
Call out of state family
Dane tells me I must hurry up or we'll be late, feels guilty because I've been baking all night
Sit in car half asleep, worry about pies ending up in the floor as Dane deals with traffic
Family makes yummy noises over the pretty pretty pies
Make very real and threatening threats of bodily harm if glass pie pans are not returned
Enjoy amazing food
Fall asleep in car while Dane drives
Enjoy amazing food
Laugh some more
Consider going to theater to avoid Family Drama
Watch television instead while avoiding Family Drama
Family Drama (round 2)
Remember why I only see all family twice a year
Forget why I only see all family twice a year
Cat hates me for locking him inside house all day
Glass pie pans not returned
Unsuccessfully hunt down missing glass pie pans before Christmas, end up buying more
As you can see, I'm well into my list of things to do. This is as it should be. Tomorrow is the big day, after all. To my American readers... may you too be deep into your Thanksgiving list. And may you have a Happy, Safe, Thanksgiving. As for the rest of you, have a very good day. And to everyone, remember to laugh. It helps.
 I go through this every time I go to the grocery store. Why do people insist on shoving you out of the line before you actually pay for the groceries being bagged? Are you paying? No? Then get the hell out of the damned way.
 Yes, I get the irony of being excited about a corporate retail store sponsored parade while bitching about conspicuous consumerism. I've been watching that stupid parade since I was little. I didn't really like it then. For some reason I can't explain, I have to watch it now. It's a thing. If I don't see Santa at the end, it isn't the Yule Season. Go figure. I blame Miracle on 34th Street.
 Don't ask me how that got started. My grandmother never made that stuff. Ever. She just hollers at them that this is the case while they try not to giggle directly into the phone.
It's been very cold and wet around here lately. We had our first hard freeze last night. The annual Thanksgiving Day trek around Texas on Thursday may prove interesting. Although, it looks to warm up to 46F today. We'll see. Nonetheless, it's time to BAKE. Mmmm. PIE. Lots and lots of pie. It's been nice snuggling up on the couch with a blanket and the knitting. Knitting is good for that. Of course, if I were a proper blue haired old lady I'd be knitting while sitting on the rocker. But we all know I'm not a proper blue haired lady. ;)
The writing is going well, still. I'm tempted to share, but I don't want to make the mistake of previewing all the good bits, you know? Suffice it to say, Viktor is still being snarky. Nels is still being a pain in the ass, and Blackthorne is out-brooding Nels. Meanwhile, Suvi is kicking ass, and Ilta... Ilta is well, being Ilta. I'm really liking how Suvi is shaping up, by the way. Westola is a hoot. (I imagine she looks like Frances Sternhagen.) Every novel is a little different. This one requires outlining. Long ago, when I first started it I patterned it after A Game of Thrones--in that there's a large cast of characters and multiple, interwoven plot lines. It's definitely and Epic Fantasy in that sense. I've never been much for outlining, but this one has so many layers it's too hard to keep track of what's going on otherwise. So... I'm using the notecards option in Scrivner for the first time. It's been a big help. I learn something new about myself as a writer with every project. This time, I've come to realize that I love writing dialog. Love it. Particularly the snappy stuff. However, I know well and good that action is necessary, and thus, I've a confession to make: fight scenes aren't a whole lot of fun. I prefer other means of being awful to my characters, you know? Still, I feel I need to get past this reluctancy and hunt for the fun in it. Describing specific fight moves is dull, dull, dull. In my experience, a real fight is split-second FAST. You don't catch every detail. Oh, sure adrenaline slows down the action some, and that helps, but there's only so much you can see and sense. Your brain works overtime to keep to the most important information. (Even more so, I imagine, if your life depends upon it.) So, I've always felt that minimalizing the details conveyed to the reader is important. It keeps the scene tight and intense. If the reader has to fill in a tiny bit for themselves, the better. (Keep it interactive, you see.) Understand, fight scenes last a million times longer as the writer than they do for the reader. That's one of the interesting things about writing that I didn't know before I started writing. The act of writing slows down the running daydream in my head. That's how it works for me, anyway. I suspect a lot of it is because I don't type as fast as most folks--just like I don't read as fast due to the dyslexia. I have to focus on my spelling. I tend to drop letters out and rearrange them. And then there are the words that sound the same and are spelled differently. (Those kill me.) Anyone does this when they type, of course. I'm just far more paranoid about it than most. [shrug] It's always something. That said, all these things tend to bog down the fight scene and make it nowhere near as fun as an actual fight on the fencing line or a kung fu bout would be. And because I know this... I'm hugely impatient with it. Hopefully, that makes sense. Oddly enough, using game pieces to map out battles and ship movements is a hell of a lot more fun. That's my gaming background cropping up, I suspect. All in all, I see this as a weakness I need to work on.
 When I think about it, I tend to skim fight scenes when I read. Interesting.
From Jezebel.com: One Woman's Dangerous War Against the Most Hated Man on the Internet. Just... holy crap. That's one of the scariest stories I've read about the internet in a very long time. I'm glad we have stalker laws. I wish they'd take them more seriously, but I'm glad they exist. Also? I don't understand why this individual has followers. Ewww. Come on, humanity. Seriously. Next, Lessons in Fear: Finding Balance as a Trans Woman from MakeMeASammich.com. I found that article particularly fitting since I had a similar discussion with a friend not too long ago. And here are The First Four Women to Pass Marine Infantry Training. I love that this happened. I really do. I've always hated the "but women aren't strong enough to haul around 80 pounds of crap on their backs and therefore, can't be soldiers." Hello? Neither can most men. That doesn't mean men don't get to try. Anyway, the military's issues with sexual assault aside... I'm very pleased about this. I wish them all the luck in the world. And here's an article about the rebranding of Feminism. The Supreme Court Decides not to Block Texas' Anit-Abortion Restrictions. (And here's a graphic that shows why this is so awful.) Oprah and Gloria Steinem awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
I've returned to quite a few classics lately as a way of wrapping my head around an earlier time. It helps since I'm writing about an era before hand held electronic devices, the internet, upward mobility, education, easy travel, modern medical care, and well... human rights for anyone who wasn't a wealthy white male... were common. Films are helpful because I'm a visual person. However, films drop certain details because they're created by modern people for modern people. It's best to read--nonfiction and fiction both--written in the era. They're far more revealing. The past is a foreign place, and I think it's important to remember that as a Fantasy writer. (I think this will help me with Science Fiction too--for the record. See the previous Worldbuilding post.) I'm afraid a lot of Epic Fantasy tends to forget these details. As I've said before, diversity of experience is important in literature. Not everyone reads for the same reasons. I don't even always read for the same reasons. This is a very good thing. Anyway, in this round of immersion/research I've learned something about myself.
I noticed it first when I came to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I enjoy the film(s) quite a bit. Lizzy is a fun character. She's quick-witted and perceptive. She acutely feels the wrongs done to her sister, Jane, and sticks up for her. I even like her father for the most part, although I don't like the way he treats his wife, Lizzy's mother. Lizzy's mother, on the other hand, makes me completely crazy, and Lizzy's sister, Lydia, is even worse. On the movie screen, the whole silly train-wreck is fun to watch. In the novel? I always come away wanting to punch feudalism in the balls. Because, damn, people. The whole thing is wall-to-wall first world problems. I don't have the same reaction when I read Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. Sure, it's the same nattering over who marries who for blah amount of money and property. It's the same business about people gambling away their life's wages, falling on hard times, and scrupulously and selfishly resolving the result no matter who is harmed. Yet, Heathcliff, Cathy, Jane, and Rochester as flawed as they all are, are a million times more real to me. I don't see their problems as flighty. They're life-threatening and serious. Whereas Austen's Lizzy and the rest would fit just fine in an upper class suburban high school sit-com setting and no one would blink. I don't worry for Lizzy or Jane. I get the impression that someone else perfectly suitable will wander on stage in another month or so. They aren't in any danger. Why is this? And why is it I'm perfectly happy with the 'nattering' on the screen but in novel form, I have the opposite reaction--violently so? It's downright weird. I suspect a lot of it is tone. Pride and Prejudice is, I think, intended to be light-hearted, intelligent romance. Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and even Vanity Fair are all much more serious in tone. Also, more importantly, Pride and Prejudice doesn't once address the class system in which it's set. The other three novels do. In fact, it's the point of all three. Interestingly enough, those three were all published in 1847-48. After Charles Dickens. Remember Dickens made his career out of criticizing the class system and the resulting large scale poverty. Pride and Prejudice, on the other hand, was published in 1813. I won't know until I've read more extensively... but people weren't looking askance at the class system quite as much in that time. (I wonder what the economy was like?) Nonetheless, these things do tend to wax and wane. It's important to remember that Mary Wollstonecraft was a feminist in the 1780s. (Yes, Virginia, feminism existed before 1970. [gasp]) For example: we've recently gone through a period when concern for social injustice is considered 'weak.' The opposite was believed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Dane thinks that another factor is time. I know that a film is only 90 minutes. A novel generally takes me a week or two--sometimes even longer--because I'm a slow reader. I have less patience with something that I'm going to spend that much time with. I suspect he's right.
 Next up on the audiobook list: Frankenstein, Moll Flanders, Candid, and The Castle of Otranto. I do plan on reading more Jane Austen, by the way. One shouldn't base one's opinion of someone's work on a single book. And maybe I won't have the same strong reaction to her other novels. Well see.
 Which again makes me wonder if the popularity of Pride and Prejudice as well as the glorification of empire through Steampunk are connected to the popularity of Ayn Rand? Not that I think either of those are as bad as Rand, mind you. And they're probably only related via a third factor--economic downturn. Nothing happens in a vacuum. For instance, I love Bringing Up Baby. Dane hates screwball comedies because no one listens. They just talk--they even talk over one another. The screwball comedy was at its height during the American Depression. Screwball comedies don't examine societal structure either. Also? I wonder if Bringing Up Baby were in novel form I'd have the same love for it? I doubt it. Much as I adore Katharine Hepburn, her character in that film, Susan Vance, is a spoiled, selfish child. She goes after what she wants (Cary Grant) and because she's an entitled wealthy heiress ignores all the rules of society and gets away with it. It's problematic in so many ways, I admit.
Today, I'm going to talk some more about The Cave.
Dane and I finished the game with our first three characters. Therefore, I've a better picture of what's going on. First, when I say Dane and I finished together this means we swapped the controller back and forth. I see that the game is listed as a "cooperative play" game. However, to me it isn't a cooperative play game in the sense that we weren't playing at the same exact time with different characters. Maybe we weren't paying attention, but I didn't see that option. (We played it on the XBox.) Instead, you run three characters all at once--that is, rotate through them--with one controller. I'm not sure that's as intended. Maybe their definition is that the characters aren't out to kill one another? Frankly, it was fun figuring out which part of the Cave was designed for which character and going lead with that for a while. (I saw it as part of the puzzle.) Again, I'd like to point out that the genders of the POV characters are an even split. Well done! The female characters aren't naked stick figure Barbies, either. Again, well done! They're even a bit more racially diverse than I'm used to seeing in a computer game. [gasp] So, big points on the character design. As I said last time, the writing is really, really good. I like games with a touch of humor to them--particularly dark humor, and the Roald Dahl/Tim Burton/Charles Addams-esque voice over just works for me in a big way. (Play the trailer and see what I mean.) The art style is fun and unique too. I like the combination of 3d/2d. All in all, it works. The puzzles are just the right level of difficult for me too. (Or maybe it's because I've Dane next to me?) A goodly part of the time I'm the one that comes up with the answer. (Including the tougher bits with the Twins and the fireplace. I didn't expect that at all.) Therefore, it doesn't require 30 years of game culture in order to know what you should be doing. Simple logic works. Want to blow something up? Find the dynamite. Walk it near the fire source (but not into.) It ignites. Run. Drop it. Run again and BOOM! No more rocks blocking your path. It's a jumpy game but it's not annoyingly so. (And this from someone who hates jumpy puzzle games.) We only had to stop and consult the forums twice in the entire time we played. (I can't say that for Bioshock, much as I liked it.) It's forgiving, in that there's no limit to the number of times you can die, and you aren't punished for it. The music is great too. It adds atmosphere but isn't intrusive and annoyingly repetitive. We never had to turn it off. (Again, I have had to do that with other, even blockbuster, titles.)
This game does so many things right that I'm not sure I can name them all. I had a great time with it. This is the third game I've actually played all the way through and only the second one I've not gotten frustrated with. It's also the third game I'll probably replay on my own. The game has two endings for each character as well. Two. (Because you are allowed to make ethical choices at the end. And that's as close to a spoiler as I'll go.) It's definitely a "good for the whole family" type of game much like Costume Quest is. (The violence is cartoon violence.) I like that each character has their own story and that story is slowly revealed as you play. It also ends differently depending upon which character you're on and the last chioces you make. It's well worth the $9 it cost to buy. Definitely give Double Fine your money. I know I will be doing so more often in the future. I'm very impressed with them.
Dane downloaded Psychonauts for us to play next. I can't wait.
Those words ("apes" "insects" and such) have been used over and over again against scores of groups over history. We need to be more careful with language. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. Hey, I get frustrated with unreasonable opinions as much as the next person, but I'm not interested in encouraging inhumanity. It's good to remember.
 Read Paddy's Lament by Thomas Gallagher, and you'll see quite a few familiar expressions currently in use against persons of color. I bring up the Irish here because if you study *any* minority group you will find similar actions and words used to keep them 'in line.' So, I'm not suggesting that one stops at "look at this group of white people being oppressed!" Quite the opposite.
In other news, I've another doctor's appointment today. Ye old immune system isn't 100%--but not down enough to be alarming. I've been feeling like crap anyway, and I need a flu shot. Ultimately? No big deal. Just standard stuff. This morning is blustery and cold, and I'm loving the weather. Perfect "hot tea while writing" weather. (My favorite.) Am still plugging along with the current novel project. Thus, I've nothing exciting to report. (Publishing moves slow. That's just how it is.) Hope you have a great weekend!