Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sherlock and Netflix

I have to take a moment and gush about Sherlock, the British mini-series. Netflix just got the second season episodes so I took a moment and got caught up.

The first episode was an easy favorite, but all the whole two seasons are impressive. S2E1 though had action, romance and twists galore. Had me hanging all the way to the last moment of the last scene. It gets the focus right, just like how Mass Effect forgets – sure it’s cool to unravel a mystery, but it’s the people, the motivations that make us care and in the end that’s the real story. The setting can be delicious fluff, but in the end we want to know and taste a bit more of Sherlock’s head, not the minutiae of the crimes.

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Food: Foe.

Sometimes, I too get caught up in the illusion of “wholesome, natural food”.  I’m not particularly for or against genetic engineering in plants – I consider most plants as being engineered into their current state by long, arduous human selection.  Going in and directly tinkering with the genome is definitely a big step further along,  so I consider it mostly a “great power, great responsibility” situation,  and the power can definitely be abused. Recently I’ve further developed this stance though, looking at the plants themselves and realising that no living creature wants to be eaten – not just animals, but fruits and vegetables and nuts as well.  Sure,  they may have adapted to exploit the fact that they get eaten by other creatures, but by and large most organisms would rather not be eaten (well, there are pollinators…). Food has to tolerate it – not having a choice if they are further down the food chain – and maybe they try to “make the best of a bad situation”. The only reason that most of the food is edible and nutritious is not because they want to be nutritious – we’ve evolved to be able to eat them, and through domestication we’ve manipulated the food to better suit us. Really, the domestication of plants and animals is really the story of systematic oppression of these life forms, where we’ve culled (mass execution) the dissenters, leaving only the “defectors”.

Kinda reminds me a bit of the Reapers from Mass Effect,  although the “advanced races” are more like pretty butterflies for the collection rather than food…Not so much domesticating either.  Not quite the same thing at all…although it made me realise the agriculture theme of Mass Effect, what with Reaping on one side and Shepherding on the other.

End of the Shepard

Well, made it to the end if the saga of commander Shepard. It was a pretty great run, although I’m not sure whether having braced myself for an unsatisfying ending helped dampen the final blow. Always tough to say goodbye to a character. In the end, I was okay with the ending.

As always, I felt like there could have been more content – a lot of the side characters only got cameos this time around. Actually, when I start thinking about it, it seems like all the Mass Effect 2 characters got a bit of the short end of the stick.  It’s a bit contrived which characters end up being potential party members vs. which end up only having a couple token appearances – I do agree that the cast is big, so I guess in the end it was too much work to make everyone playable. Still,  the plot goes to ridiculous ends to make all the ME1 characters end up on your ship, and some pretty lame excuses why the ME2 characters can’t make it.  Smells more like ME2 was done by a different group than the ME1 folks, and it’s the ME1 folks who got to make this ME3 installment.

Depending on who you were most attached to (the ME1 characters or the ME2 characters), ME3 might be fine, or might seem like it’s giving your favorites the shaft. Makes recommending how to approach the series as a whole a bit tricky – story-wise,  Mass Effect 1 and 3 could almost stand alone,  whereas 2 is almost “side stories of Commander Shepard”. But the gameplay was a good deal stronger in Mass Effect 2, whereas 1 might be getting a bit long in the tooth as it were.  Still, you can’t import a file from ME1 into ME3, and playing Mass Effect 3 without the first two would lose a lot of flavour, since all these “old friends” that keep turning up wouldn’t be familiar.

Anyways,  looks like it’s likely goodbye to this universe, or at least till ME4 🙂

Busy saving the galaxy…

Usually I manage to resist, but there was a sale for Mass Effect 3 on greenmangaming.com that put it under $10. I also managed to work up the 15 minute effort to salvage the old save game from the HD of the last computer – turns out there’s no free slot in this computer for it though, so I ended up pulling the DVD drive. And now Shepard is back. And the galaxy needs a lot more saving.
Actually, while it was installing, I played a bit of  Star Wars: the old republic. Also epic galaxy saving tale, but the key difference is that it’s got the quiet farm boy/untrained youth thing going on. I played a good couple hours and other than the intro movie and the off reference, the great galactic war is somewhere out in the hypothetical. Mass effect, on the other, goes into exploding action movie mode pretty much in the first five minutes. It’s now in the slower ‘ do a million quests’ interlude filler, but they do spice it up with world changing plot points. I hear your choices might actually change things, but we shall see…

Categories of the Dance

Ran into a discussion on the Facebooks about how to describe types of dance. My initial reaction split the dances into solo dance, partner dance and group dances. Interestingly though, someone else described dance in terms of who the “primary target”(my paraphrase) is – audience or partner. For me, this is closer to divisions based on the structure of the dance – choreographed or improvised (and perhaps also called). Then again, perhaps this is more specifying professional versus social.
The problem with all these different classes, like any classification system, most real things are messy overlapping combinations of these categories. I consider most of my dancing to be social, improvised partner dance. Then again, solo jazz dancing has shades of performance aspects. And partner lindy hop also stops being purely about your partner when you consider jams.

Remembering

Because those who fought for us deserve for us to remember. To never forget the darkest aspects if our selves. That we are capable of the most atrocious things in the name of war. That we honor all those who fight and have their lives in hopes of never needing to fight again. The regret of needing, forcing our own down the path of darkness that we may have light.

I believe that war is a monstrous, terrible thing. I also believe that it may be necessary, ingrained in our souls. It is because the story of Cain and Abel is so horrific, yet so possible. There lurk monsters, if not in our minds, ingrained in our DNA. We are wired to fight, to hurt one another, to strike when others are weak, to take advantage. Part of us will always want to live, and at the most basic level, to live is to take from the world.

And yet I also believe that even though there is a price to happiness, that the balance of our mind is knowledge, is the ability to choose. Some say it separates us from animals, or from lesser people – but even if you are the only person in the world capable of free will, your responsibility to that power is to use it for good.

Let us never forget those who were made to use their power in the most terrible way, in the darkest of times. That we honor their legacy by never making the choices that bring us to that brink. The uncountable lost – how can you imagine a million names, let alone entire lives, stories lost. That we are here means that the price they paid was not in vain. May we honor their legacy as custodians of the future.

Smooth Lindy Hop

Thinking of the Lindy as a smooth dance is pretty recent for me – the bouncing pulse doesn’t immediately translate to flowing lines in my head. Recently though, thoughts of natural movement, flowing from one action to the next, has been popularized – James Bond by Daniel Craig is the man in constant motion, Batman in the games by Rocksteady. So I’ve started to view Lindy Hop as a dance where you sun to redirect momentum rather than stopping and starting – a flawless freeflow combo.
Maybe that’s why I’m suddenly confounded by East Coast Swing. Rather than straight lines and arcs, there are far more perpendicular changes of direction that now take me by surprise. It does the dance disservice to simply say East Coast Swing is just the 6 count subset if lindy. It’s origins may be so, but in its evolution in parallel with rock, country, jive and neo-swing, it is now its own beast.
Not that the lessons of lindy aren’t applicable – after all, when you have a hammer what isn’t a nail? Still, even agreed-upon conventions could be made twice as awesome if there was a way to gently lead it…

Chasing Momentum and Alternate Dimensions

Just go with the flow. A bit of a zen kind of outlook – don’t fight the world but instead read the intentions and use this to propel yourself. It seems to make so much sense, although, of course putting it into practice is far trickier. After all, you don’t want to simply be a plaything of the universe, and sometimes you will need to tack into the wind. And, of course, it’s hard to tell hours often this comes about due to brilliant planning, and when it is really just dumb luck. But it does feel awfully brilliant when the cards fall your way, and it gels like all is falling into place in your master plan.

Sometimes I like to imagine that we are 4-dimensional creatures, able to hop between dimensions – but we are taught to live so solidly in this single line of time that this is the only thing we see. But sometimes, perhaps due to some reflexive fear of a particularly dark future, we flex our d-hopping muscles. Maybe we instinctively navigate the dimensions, using autonomic reflexes to shift ourselves slightly towards the outcomes we want. “Lucky” people are simply those with a better innate mastery of this art – our just better than you. And if anyone were to be able to master this…they would appear to be a completely different beast altogether. And this puts failure in context – that this was the better outcome. Then again, maybe the muscle was tired, overworked, sore. Maybe it was a mistake. These aren’t quite satisfactory though since what does it mean when time is taken out of the picture. Rather, perhaps something else – someone else’s will perturbed yours. This makes the clash of desires direct.

Maybe it is even more subtle than that – maybe each alternate timeline, your will exerts influence – your worst nemesis might really be alternate you – your own will in all the other dimensions. Maybe sometimes you will amplify out complement yourself, but sometimes you will interfere or even hinder yourself. Everyone and their alternate selves all moving and shifting the fabric of reality – that would be probably too much to really understand. We have enough trouble with 3.5 D – actually, we’re really only good with 2.5. 4 is probably far beyond what anyone can usually manage to visualize.

Rose-Tinted Glasses, White Lies, Conspiracy Theories

Sometimes I wonder if maybe what we see and what we hear, especially about a past that is otherwise lost and unrecorded, can be affected by the rose-tinted glasses, hazy memories, wishful thinking…After all,  when people come to you for the definitive history, when your word will be that which leads, guides and inspires the future, might you not think about tweaking the truth.  As a storyteller, is it your duty to protect those who have already passed, and tell the story as it should be told? Truth is. after all, a thorny, spiky ball that never fails to prick surprisingly.

Sometimes I wonder what if the lindy hop we are doing nowadays is double-time – after all,  we are taught to clap on the even beats.  What if that’s when you normally stepped,  once for every pulse. Maybe they sometimes did go double-time – and maybe always for performances, or particularly fast music, where they want as much speed to come through as possible. When you come back to music not danced to for decades, who is left to argue? It might not have even been intentional – after all, we seek the best dancers and to dupliate, and maybe they were easily all comfortable with double time.  Would beginners half time things? Would people quadruple time things? Is it possible that the lindy hop we have today is really an agglomeration of the aspects the old-timers wanted to keep?  That they cut out the parts they didn’t like, hid or forgot the most dangerous or stupid moves? They wouldn’t teach all the groping, the inappropriate stylings, the politically incorrect movements that teenagers would make up. Those wouldn’t be appropriate for film either…

The truth, from the Onion News Network. 

Brain Dumping

Maybe I’m getting old and starting to be afraid that all these ephemeral thoughts of the person I am today will be lost to the sands of time,  or maybe it’s just that time of year where I seem to feel the need to empty the head a bit.  Or maybe having the android app for WordPress really makes it quite convenient to write down the random thoughts I get while taking the bus or while walking – although as it gets colder I’ll be less inclined to take my gloves off to type/swype, so maybe this’ll all get curtailed as the temperature drops.