Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A New Variation

One more project down! Only two to juggle now, huzzah!

Blue Waves by Cori 2011.

Edging detail.

Pattern: Diagonal Box Stitch Afghan by Sandra Petit
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Soft Navy (8 skeins)
Hook: N

I know I use this pattern a lot, but that is because I really truly do like it quite a lot. Also, it is fun to play with each variation. Do I do stripes? Just two colors or more? Do I just do a solid one-color blanket? And so on. I might see if I can find a fun variegated yarn the next time I make this. That could be interesting.

Also, and let's be honest here, it is an extremely easy pattern. With my daughter to keep an eye on, this is a nice pattern that doesn't require too much concentration, and I am less likely to mess it up when I am distracted while working. Which I will be. Frequently.

But it also makes a nice solid blanket that is perfect for cozying up underneath, and usually comes out looking very nice. All of that in a simple pattern that isn't boring and that I can play with from time to time? That is, in my opinion, the perfect pattern.

I'll stick to small things for the interesting stuff, I think. At least for now.

Next up, finish my dish towel! Then, possibly, make something that isn't blue.

Keep moving forward, right? Right!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Towel Day! (Observed)

Oh my goodness, I don't know how my mother does it. She somehow manages to usually have at least two or three knitting projects going at all times. I, on the other hand, can just barely tolerate having one weekend project and one for weekdays. This past week I had four different projects going and it was giving me something of a complex.

Imagine my relief yesterday, then, when I finally managed to finish at least one of my projects. Thank goodness!

Only a day late, I did get one of my two National Towel Day towels finished.  Check it out.

What is 6 x 7? by Cori 2011.

Pattern: Crochet Houndstooth
Yarn: Dishie by Knit Picks in Jay and Azure (1 skein each)
Hook: G

First, let me talk about the yarn really quick. Dishie is Knit Picks' new line of cotton yarn, and when I was treating myself during their sale on sock yarn, I saw it and, knowing that Towel Day was approaching, couldn't help but treat myself to a few skeins. It is so new that the dye lot on my skeins of Dishie, for both colors, was one. First lot, you guys. Normally I don't pay any attention whatsoever to dye lot beyond making sure to match it when buying yarn for projects. But when I saw that this was dye lot number one, I won't lie, I got a little bit excited. It was just a kind of nifty feeling. The yarn itself is a joy to work with. I will be curious to see how it holds up to washings, but I think this may be my go-to cotton yarn going forward.

Now, about the patten. This is actually a blanket pattern. Last summer when my family on my mom's side met up in Iowa for our family reunion (we do one every five years), there were several nearby antique shops. I myself purchased an old crochet pattern book from 1944. I have shared with you a few of the projects I have made from that. My mom also picked up a few pattern pamphlets, and this came from one of those. She brought it to give me on her recent visit down here to Texas.

The pattern was easy enough to adapt for a smaller size to make a towel rather than a blanket. I don't think the finished project looks especially like houndstooth, but I like how it looks nonetheless. I also was thinking of using this pattern for my next wedding blanket, so this was a good test-drive of it. I did indeed learn several things I will keep in mind the next time I use it. I might just see if I can find a good flecked yarn and make it in a solid color to prevent changing colors every row. I haven't decided yet.

As I was making this towel out of a blanket pattern, it occurred to me how interchangeable blanket and towel patterns really are. The basic shape is the same. It just requires an adjustment of yarn weight and type, and a little bit of math to scale the size up or down. Maybe a false start or two if those initial calculations are wrong. One of the recent wedding blankets I have made that has gotten the most rave reviews (seriously, every time my husband runs into the giftee he is told how much the blanket is loved--this makes me incredibly happy) was based off of a towel pattern that I found last summer and particularly liked.

I bet the diagonal box stitch blanket pattern would make for an awesome dish towel, come to think of it.

Anyhoo. So that's one project down out of four. This weekend I am going to try to finish up the blanket I am working on. After that my next deadline isn't until the end of July, so next up I'll finish towel number two (well, technically it was towel number one, but you get the idea). Like I said a few days ago, I was really happy with everything about my first towel attempt except for the rate of progress. Here's what I got so far on that one:

Still in progress. Also, wow, this photo is horribly lit.

When I take the picture of the finished object, I'll have to remember to use the flash so you can actually see the pattern, which is pretty neat.

After that, I think I might just go ahead and push on with the Doctor Who scarf. I feel bad for neglecting it whenever I run up against a deadline. I want to try to just go ahead and get it done before I start in on the next project. Juggling makes me too tired.

Have a fantastic (and safe) holiday weekend folks! I'll see you back here when  business resumes as usual.

Don't forget to check out Gronk while you're getting in your daily web surfing! The book is up for preorder now, huzzah!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unexpected Differences

I have mentioned before that one of the things about Dragon Age: Origins that has me hooked so deeply is the potential for replay built into the game. Depending on the race and class you choose for your character when starting the game, there are six different starting stories that you have the opportunity to play through. The way your story goes branches further based on the gender you pick for your character as well.

These things not only affect your starting point within the game but they also affect how you interact with every other character you come across while you are playing, be that character a companion or just a random NPC. Some people won't even talk to you unless you are a certain class. Some people grossly underestimate you if you are, say, a girl. Or an elf. Your companions warm to you at different rates depending on who you are to start out with as well as the choices you make as you play through the game.

So in my second time through, playing as a different class than I had played before, I was expecting these sorts of differences in my game experience. I was also expecting some differences due to my increase in personal experience. Having been through the whole thing once before, I would be able to see a little bit ahead in some instances and could better prepare myself for what was to come. I was also, quite frankly, just better at playing than I had been the first time around. So that was bound to make the second time through different than the first (in that, for the most part, I did not die nearly as often in certain battles and was better able to equip my party).

What I wasn't expecting was how drastically the actual story of the game would change with my new playing style and decisions. Don't get me wrong, the overall arc doesn't change, but many of the little details certainly do. Especially once you get down to the end of the game.

Spoiler alert! Some major plot points for the end of the game discussed after the images below. Read on at your own risk of spoilerage.

Some things don't change. The game still keeps trying
to get me naked...

...with Alistair, no less. Is it just me or does that underwear
just look really uncomfortable?

The first time I played through, as I have mentioned often, I romanced Alistair. During the game it is revealed that Alistair is actually the illegitimate son of the former King Maric, father of King Cailan, who dies at the beginning of the game. This means that Alistair is the last remaining member of the royal bloodline and there is a push from certain parties to put him on the throne in the wake of his half-brother's death. Alistair, however, really, really, really does not want to be king. He suggests supporting the claim of Cailan's widow Anora.

So I honored his request the first time. I mean, he and I were the only Grey Wardens and he didn't want to be king, it seemed silly to force him into it, especially since Anora had pretty much been running the country for Cailan anyway.

This time around though, out of curiosity, I decided to see what would happen if I made Alistair become the king. Dude. He was not happy with me. Somehow, even after breaking his heart (which broke my heart in real life a little bit to do), I did still manage to have him at 100% approval and he was my in-game best bud. He more or less forgave me for pushing him to take the position though, admitting it would probably be best for the kingdom after all. He even agreed to marry Anora to shut off any avenue of rebellion by her supporters, though he was quite reluctant at the prospect (understandably, she's kind of a conniving not-very-nice-word).


But. When it then came time to take Morrigan's proposal to keep the Grey Wardens from dying while killing the archdemon to Alistair. Well, that didn't go at all as I expected. See, here's the thing. The only way to kill an archdemon (the Big Boss of the game) and make it stick is if a Grey Warden delivers the final blow. The Wardens take on the darkspawn taint, you see, and when an archdemon is slain its essence goes into its killer. If the killer is a Warden and carries the taint, the archdemon's essence is destroyed. If the killer is someone else, the essence just wanders along until it finds a new dragon to possess (if I understand the lore correctly). Unfortunately, the destruction of the archdemon's essence will also kill the Grey Warden that killed it.

So, that means that of the three Wardens going into the final battle (we do find one reinforcement from a neighboring nation toward the end of the game), at least one of us is definitely gonna die if we manage to kill the Boss. But Morrigan has a solution for this. She can do an ancient magic ritual that will allow her to lay with a Warden and conceive a child the night before the battle. When the archdemon is slain, its essence would then go into the still forming child, which carries the taint, rather than the Warden that kills it. Because the child is still forming it would be able to survive the destruction of the archdemon's essence, taking on some of its aspects for its own (but apparently not the evil bits--still a little muddy on that part). Morrigan would then take the child and disappear to raise it on her own.

If you play as a guy, your choice here is pretty simple--she asks you to perform the ritual with her. But if you are a girl, it has to be Alistair. It can't be the other Warden because he has had the taint for too long and that apparently disqualifies him. So Morrigan asks you to ask Alistair to help her conceive this child, regardless of his status as king or not as well as his relationship status. Bear in mind that these two characters cannot stand each other.

So the first time around, I had to ask my boyfriend Alistair to hook up with Morrigan. He didn't really like the idea but in the end agreed to do it. This time? Nothing doing. I could not convince him to take part in the ritual. When I told Morrigan it hadn't panned out, she ended up getting all huffy and left. Just left. No Morrigan in the final battle. Granted, I barely used her during this play-through since I was a mage myself, but still. We had built up a friendship.

So, I went into the final battle one man down and quite curious to see how things would play out. The first time I had the protection of the ritual and my character was able to slay the archdemon and survive because of that fact. This time around it came down to me and Alistair to fight over who got the final blow and was therefore sacrificed (the other Warden of course having already perished). Alistair was pretty adamant and still really didn't want to be king...so he killed the archdemon and sacrificed himself. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty hard not to cry about that. Definitely not making him king ever again. Nope. Also gonna make sure he hooks up with Morrigan if I have to knock him over the head and drag him in there myself...

I've still got the expansion pack, Awakenings, and then Dragon Age II to replay through, and then it will probably be a while before I pick up Dragon Age again. But I will certainly come back to it. I can see this being a game I play through at least once a year. I already know that next time through I will play a rogue, and I will definitely be romancing Alistair. Yeah, I am missing out on all of the other relationship possibilities, I know, but I can't help it. He's totally my in-game soul mate. I will also most definitely not be making him king.

But I have got to hand it to Bioware. They really do know how to make a game that captures the mind and the imagination. It's not just the game play (which is pretty spectacular), and it's not just the overall story. It's the fact that every time you play it, your experience is unique, and not just in the ways you would expect.

I don't know that I am ever going to cease to be amazed by the wonder that is Dragon Age. If no more video games were ever made again, I don't know that I would really mind. It's that good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...At The Ballpark

Well, my husband and I took our daughter to the Rangers game last night. Or at least, we tried to. We made it through the top of the fourth inning before the game got delayed due to the crazy severe weather going on in the metroplex. 

It was actually really nice out. You know, until the downpour and hail showed up. During the third inning the stadium management evacuated everyone from the upper deck and moved them down to the lower seats due to high winds. As the game progressed, crazy amounts of debris started accumulating on the freaking field. That's just not cool. I got a little bit of video of it blowing all over the place. I couldn't capture it making the little cyclones it was doing at one point, but still, I think you get the point. 

When finally the rain showed up and they pulled out the tarp to cover the diamond, they had all kinds of difficulties getting it put in place. The wind was not being very nice.

It's alive! Run for your lives! Oh, wait, my bad, just the wind.

I got a little bit of video as well of them trying to get it into place, being cheered on by the enthusiastic crowd. We are apparently easily entertained and had nothing else to watch at the time, so...

For a little while it just sprinkled on us and we just hung out and waited for it to pass. Then it started raining a little bit more and we busted out our umbrellas (and Baby Girl resolutely refused to keep both of her legs underneath the protective device). Then it really started coming down and everyone ran for cover. By this point it was almost nine, and as Baby Girl's bed time is ten, and as we couldn't exactly do anything while we waited but stand around holding a squirming toddler, I convinced Hubby it would probably just be best to head home.

We hiked back to the car and hung out for a little bit, using the wonderful modern marvels that are smartphones to figure out if it was actually safe to go anywhere. Then we toodled on back to the homestead, making a stop at a drive-through Starbucks once we were back in Fort Worth. The rain had pretty much ceased where we were and we felt we owed ourselves a treat, since we missed out on cotton candy at the game. The drive home was a little stressful at times (there was some hail before we got in to Fort Worth), but we made it through safely and all was well.

It wasn't exactly the family outing we had planned on having, but it was an adventure in its own right and we all (mostly) enjoyed ourselves.

It seems we left the stadium just in time to avoid being evacuated into the tunnels underneath, so that was pretty good as well. Though apparently the game did eventually resume, after about a three hour delay. Sadly, the Rangers could never get their mojo in full gear, and ended up losing to the White Sox (8 to 6). Still, it was a pretty good game, what we got to see of it. I have an uncle who is likely very happy at the outcome, being a die-hard Sox fan and all.

Here are a few pictures of us having a good time before the weather rolled in.

Baby Girl hamming it up for the camera.

Baby Girl chilling with her daddy (and not understanding
how straws work).

Baby Girl, Hubby, and me. (I swear she isn't picking her nose!)

I am given to understand that there were all sorts of weather-related news interruptions during Glee last night, so I think I shall just delete it from my DVR and watch it online this afternoon.

I had intended today's blog to wish you a happy National Towel Day* (happy National Towel Day, by the way, you hoopy froods!) and to show off my super awesome completed towel. Alas, while my towel so far is super awesome, it is definitely not anywhere near completed. Usually a crocheted towel takes me about a day (maybe two) to whip out, so I grossly underestimated how long a knit towel would take to make. Upon realizing that after two days of work, I decided to shelve that project until a later date and make a quick crocheted towel to have done for today. But...that one isn't done yet either.

Look, I know exactly where both of my towels are. They just aren't done. But I will dedicate a big chunk of today towards working on them, and they will be with me. So that counts, right?

Anyhoo, I hope you are having a wonderful day and that, if you live in an area suffering from this crazy severe weather that seems to be cropping up everywhere, you are weathering the storms safely! A good day for towels, really, don't you think?

*If you are unaware of National Towel Day, it is a celebration of Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If you already knew that then in my book you are, indeed, a hoopy frood.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Looking For That Ray Of Hope

I don't want to write a rant for you today. But as I sit to write this, the only thing on my mind is the whole situation with the Tennessee bill against anti-discriminatory laws that was passed by their governor yesterday. Ostensibly the bill is about keeping hiring practices consistent throughout the state and preventing any one local area from having harsher (read: more fair and anti-discriminatory) practices than other parts of this state.

What the bill is really about is squashing a step forward for LGBT rights.

Even though I do not live in Tennessee, the passing of this bill has hit me very hard. It makes me angry and it makes me so very disappointed in humanity. It makes me want to weep. Then it makes me want to build a time machine, pack up my family, and skip the next few damn centuries.

Because this mess we've managed to make of the world? It isn't getting cleaned up any time soon. Events like what happened yesterday in Tennessee only guarantee a longer road towards making things right.

But like I said, I don't want to rant. I really, really don't. So instead I thought I would shine a spotlight on a few of the people who are working to make this world a better place in the here and now, rather than waiting on a mythical future that we may or may not live to see.

First there is the wonderful and amazing It Gets Better Project. This is the pledge they ask us to take:

Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."
Go to their site. Check out some of their videos. They are completely about giving hope to those who are without. I can't think of a better time for such a project to exist, can you?

Then there's George Takei. He's pretty much just become my personal hero. In response to yet another Tennessee bill directed against gay rights, he has made this wonderful video:

I love that he is using humor to draw attention and support to such a serious cause. Go here to check out the website for this initiative or to donate to the charities Takei is supporting for the cause.

There is also a group on Facebook supporting the "It's Okay To Be Takei" idea and trying to offer a place to go if you want to get involved in supporting gay rights. You can find that here.

Hope is a brilliant thing. A necessary thing. There are those out there willing to give it when the ignorant would take it away.

That, at least, I can be thankful for.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let's Talk About The Doctor

He's been on my mind quite a bit lately, you know.

I've recently been working my way through my pile of DVDs to be watched and finally made it to the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures this weekend. Oh man, I miss Elisabeth Sladen already. I will be very curious to see how the series is wrapped up after her loss. It has already been announced that the series will not continue without her (which would be ridiculous in any case). But I do wonder if they will just leave her final filmed episode as the final episode period or if they will get the rest of the cast together to tell one last story explaining the loss of Sarah Jane. I almost don't know which I would prefer. One thing's for certain, with the crazy time delay between that series airing in the UK and being available over here across the pond on DVD, I won't find out for quite some time. I am not aware of any US stations that broadcast the series at all, but if you are, by all means let me know!

Speaking of the delay, as I mentioned, I watched season three over the weekend. Season three of The Sarah Jane Adventures is a little special because it features David Tennant in his final filmed scenes as the Doctor.

It was...bizarre.

A season and a half in to Matt Smith's reign as the Doctor and seeing David Tennant in the role just felt extremely strange to me. I mean, I absolutely adored Tennant as the Doctor. He was my first, you know, and I will never forget him for bringing this strange and amazing character into my life. But this has only gone on to confirm what I have previously speculated. Matt Smith is very much my Doctor.

I wonder what it will be like to go back and watch older episodes of Doctor Who now, to see the other actors once more in that place? I am sure I will still enjoy the show just as much as I always have. I certainly hope so. I suspect what made Tennant's appearance on The Sarah Jane Adventures so startling and odd to me is that this was new ground to me. The episodes originally aired in the UK before Matt Smith appeared on the scene, but seeing them now after he has had the role for so long...watching a man who is for all intents and purposes dead running around and having new adventures. It just felt, somehow, wrong.

But I can tell you one thing. Saturday night when I fired up my telly to watch the newest episode of the eleventh Doctor's adventures? That, my friends, felt entirely right.

Now if only we Yanks didn't have to wait two whole weeks until the next episode!

There have been a few other pretty spiffy Doctor Who-related items floating around the interwebs of late as well that I thought I would point you towards in case you, like me, are impatient for your next fix.

Reddit user AndorianBlues made this absolutely spectacular infograph detailing the timelines of the relationship between the Doctor and River Song. It is mostly speculation and definitely subject to some argument, but it is still pretty amazing to behold.

io9 also recently shared this lovely timeline from NathanTheNerd showing all of the adventures to date of the new series Doctor and which companions were with him for what. It, too, is pretty darn spiffy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Avoiding The Extremely Ridiculous

Lately I have been watching the first two seasons of the old 90's teen series California Dreams. It has made me quite thankful for the advent of Netflix, and my subsequent subscription to the service. Without Netflix, I probably would have bought this when it came out on DVD out of pure nostalgia and then ended up a month or two down the line selling the set and wishing I hadn't wasted my money.

Watching this show is a weird experience. It's not entirely bad, mind you, but I would be hard pressed to say that I am completely enjoying watching the show again. If you're not aware of this show, it was part of NBC's late Saturday morning lineup aimed at teens and preteens. It was probably the most successful of those series after Saved By The Bell, with which it had much in common. Instead of focusing on the group of kids' hijinks in school, however, California Dreams was centered around the band formed by the main cast and followed their attempts to get gigs and deal with the "typical" teenage problems all while balancing life with the band. I say "typical" with quotes like that, but actually I have to admit, even though the drama is heightened for television, the actual issues the show dealt with for the most part were things that, as a teenager, were often a big deal to me. It is just that the problems and their solutions are so ridiculously portrayed that I have a hard time taking it seriously now.

But when I was a kid, I adored this show. It was second in my affections only to Saved By The Bell, I have to admit. That's why I wanted to watch the show again, after all. But it doesn't really hold up well to the test of time, I suppose. I don't know how surprising that is, given that even after my complete rewatch of all of SBTB, I ended up giving away those DVDs.

It probably doesn't help that I married a professional musician, so the whole band aspect of the show now just makes me cringe. Also the music, while being mostly inoffensive, is so bland. The band didn't have its own sound, they just played whatever kind of sounded like what was popular at the time. Watching it now, having the experiences with actual musicians that I have, I just feel like these kids are posers. I know, I know, it's silly. It's just a television show. But my life has altered the way I look at that kind of stuff. Plus the producers apparently had no idea what live music was supposed to sound like. I mean, come on. Sigh.

So why I am I still watching? Well, there is the part of me that is enjoying the trip down memory lane. As I said, I did love this show once. It is nice getting to revisit with that Cori of a bygone day and remember her hopes and dreams (and subscription to Big Bopper). Like I said, it is not all bad. The show has its amusing moments. Besides, as I ride out the last of my pain meds from this week's dental escapades, it is the perfect level of mindless distraction.

It's been getting more and more awkward though. True sitcoms are few and far between these days, and of those that are still around, I don't watch very many of them. Those that I do enjoy are, I would like to think, a little bit off the beaten path and have evolved past the old-school format. California Dreams, though, is from a time when that old format was flourishing. As someone who is trying to be a storyteller, the formulaic approach to the show is, at best, tiring to sit through. It makes me very glad to have access to all of the smart, well-written, modern shows I have access to these days.

There is a fine line between funny and ridiculous, and this show wasn't even trying to stay behind it. I have found as I get older that some of the more obvious attempts at humor--the physical, the slapstick, the playing dumb--are much more rarely able to make me laugh than actual wit. What makes this whole experience awkward for me personally is that I have recently been thinking that I want to try my hand at writing something funny.

The people behind National Novel Writing Month recently announced that they want to do a NaNoWriMo Summer Camp this year. The idea is to allow people who really can't devote the kind of time required in November or the people who want to write more than one novel in a month during the year a chance to have the fun in a month other than November. My writing buddy (who is a teacher, and for whom November was very much less than ideal) and I of course want to participate in the summer camp.

I know, I know. But Cori, you haven't even actually started revising your novel from last November! Why would you want to write another one? Yes, yes, you're right. But...let's not talk about last year's book right now. It will get done if it gets done and right now is not that time.

But back to summer camp. So, my friend and I want to try our hands at another novel-in-a-month this summer. After giving it some thought, I told my husband I wanted to just write something fun and silly. Silly. Not ridiculous. Not unintelligent.

Quite some time ago I mentioned that I wish I could capture some of the fun and funny the way that the Harry Potter books do. Every night I read a few pages of those books to my daughter (we're on the last one now), and whenever there's a funny scene, it just makes me itch to create something in the same vein. So when I say I would like to write something fun and silly, I am thinking something like my favorite bits from Harry Potter. Something along the lines of greats like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. But watching California Dreams, I have started getting worried that perhaps that is the best I will be able to do. Hence the awkward.

Not gonna stop me from trying. Hopefully my fears are what will help me avoid that particular path. I mean, I don't even have an actual story in mind yet, it's early days. But oh my goodness do I hope it's more Neville causing a distraction by turning into a canary than Sly and the rest of the guys dressed up as girls getting hit on by the football team. Sigh.

Note to self: All of the writers I listed above to emulate are British. Perhaps it would be a good idea to watch lots of Coupling and drink lots of tea while getting prepared to write. Also, avoid setting it at the beach with surfers in a rock band.



Oh, and as it is Friday already (when the heck did that happen?), don't forget to swing on over and check out this week's Gronk! I am super excited because preorders for the first Gronk book start next week. Huzzah! Also, now I want to make a Gronk plushy....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Know What I Think It Looks Like, How About You

It seems clear to me from all of the internet chatter I have been mostly trying to avoid on the subject (in an effort to prevent spoilers), that HBO's Game of Thrones series has thus far been a huge success. That is awesome. I honestly can't wait until I am able to watch it. I am happy for George R. R. Martin, for fans of the series (book and television), and even for HBO. It sounds like Game of Thrones is setting the gold standard for adaptations of fantasy series to television in the same way that The Lord of the Rings films did for movies. Kudos to all involved.

An interesting (and not really unexpected) result of this success has been renewed chatter about getting a favorite series of mine adapted to television. Fans of The Wheel of Time have long wanted to see Jordan's creations brought to life on screen. Mostly the general consensus has been that it has to be done via a television series rather than a movie or set of movies, because that would be the only way to do it justice. WoT supporters have been keeping a watchful eye on HBO's venture with the adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, hoping that if done right, and successful, it would be the evidence needed to bring forth the long-desired WoT series. With only one book left to go, it is an easy thought to get excited about, I'll grant you.

I'll admit, my husband and I love to play the WoT casting game with each other. One of us is frequently pointing an actor or actress out to each other and saying, "Wouldn't (s)he make a perfect _______ (insert character's name here)?!?" Between the two of us, we have a fair chunk of the series' cast picked out, hypothetically of course. The fun part about this game is you can pick anyone, which includes people who are no longer with us or a certain person twenty years ago. But we've never been able to settle on a Rand, or an Egwene or Nynaeve. That's...telling, I think.

The more people start to talk about how awesome it will be to see WoT brought to the screen, the more I begin to think that it would be better if it didn't happen. At least...well. Let me explain.

I don't think the world needs a live-action WoT series. I think that if we were to get a television adaptation, we would be best served for it to be an animated one. Yes, that's right, I would prefer a cartoon.

Okay, wait, wait, hear me out here, okay?

Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson filling in his shoes) has always been extremely descriptive of people, places, clothing, buildings, everything in this world. WoT fans are notoriously prickly about attention to detail. These two facts, coupled together, mean that anyone trying to make a live version of this series is going to be going up against a huge challenge to get everything right. I'm talking about casting--from hair color and eye color and height and age--to costuming to the sets to the props themselves. Not to mention some serious makeup challenges. With casting alone, any network is going to apply pressure to get a few big names in there, and even with everyone's dream casting games, just shoe-horning a celebrity into a role has the chance of ruffling a lot of feathers and could easily ruin the whole project for a lot of people.

The effects budget on a live-action series would be insane. Think about all of the magic that happens in this series, and think about how Jordan describes it. Even if the VFX crew managed to capture the feel of that action just right, they would have to replicate it how many times in each episode? Also, think of all of the creatures in this series. Trollocs. Myrddraal. Grolm. Draghkar. Gholams. Maybe, maybe, they could pull off the Trollocs with some guys in heavy prosthetics, but...there's a lot more going on there than Trollocs. Then there's the Aes Sedai appearance of agelessness. I don't think that will be achievable through makeup alone. That's gonna take some CGI to get right.

Forget getting the sets exactly right, for a moment. The sheer volume of different sets and locations, indoor, outdoor, cities, country, desert, blight, that also would be a huge challenge budget-wise.

When it comes down to it, despite fans' continued dream casting, casting this series will be a bitch. It is going to be almost impossible to find the perfect people to play the primary characters. Not to mention the number of people who are in it, who play important roles but only pop up once every two or three books? Someone is going to be hard-pressed to resist the urge to cut characters, combine others, and change around plot lines to reduce the number of recurring roles. That ticked me off enough in the Harry Potter movies, and that was only seven books, and nobody they glossed over was my favorite random character or anything. Actually, I take that back. I am still pretty miffed that there was no Charlie in the movies dangit. They try doing that with WoT and I promise you there will be an uproar.

Also, I don't think there is a horse in existence capable of portraying the sheer awesomeness of Bela. Just ain't gonna happen.

I suppose that it could be done completely green-screen a la Sanctuary. But look, as much as I love Sanctuary, and I really do, there is a level of cheesiness to that show due in large parts to the CGI. It works for what it is, but for WoT, that would not go over well at all. It just wouldn't.

So, yeah, I would like to see an animated version if we get WoT on our televisions at all. I'm not talking the kind of animation of regular cartoons. I am thinking more the modern video game style of animation. Have you seen the cut scenes of some of today's video games? They are beautiful, and gritty, and real, and fantastic, and perfect for Jordan's imagined universe.

With an animated series, there would be no need to try to find people or places to fit Jordan's descriptions. The artists could just render them faithfully from the books themselves. Sure, everyone sees the characters a little bit differently in their heads, but I guarantee you this way would be much much more satisfying across the board than trying to find real people to fit the fantasy. Also, voice casting with the required big-names will ruffle a lot less feathers as well.

You know what I would love to see? I would love to see an animation pioneering powerhouse like Pixar and a gaming animation master like Bioware sit down and animate up the prologue. I bet that would be enough to convince the masses.

I'll be honest, I have no idea how cost effective an animated series would be, but something tells me that in the long term, and when it comes to satisfying fans and getting The Wheel of Time world right, it would be more than worth it overall. Think about how absolutely groundbreaking such a series could be for the world of animation as well! There isn't anything animated out there like what a WoT series has the potential to be.

Maybe I am wrong, maybe there's someone out there who can bring us a live version of this series that will be as satisfying as Game of Thrones. If it happens I'll be the first person to apologize for saying it couldn't be done. But until then, I'm gonna stick with hoping that it's an animated series if anything. I'm also going to wish really hard that people will direct their ideas about the next big fantasy series to make the jump to television elsewhere. Nothing will kill the idea of a WoT series faster than a badly done WoT series.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chuck, I Am Giving You A Reprieve

Remember a while back when I said that I wouldn't be too disappointed if Chuck ended up not getting renewed for another season? Yeah, wow, I am so glad that didn't happen.

This season has definitely been a roller-coaster of quality, and I have been fighting the urge to just stop watching completely. Honestly the only reason I didn't is because it doesn't really conflict with anything else I watch. No, the Monday night glut of television shows comes in the 9 p.m. CST slot--why the heck does everything come on at 9 p.m. on Mondays? Upon hearing that the next season will be both shortened and the final season of the show, however, I figured I could probably just stick it out. 

After this week's season finale, I am really glad that I did. I am actually looking forward to the next/last season! 

I don't want to get into spoilers, but I will say that the season ended with a bang, and in a way that I really wasn't expecting. It made me care about Chuck and Sarah as a couple again, it reminded me why I love a lot of the ancillary characters, it made me laugh. I remember when this show used to make me laugh a lot. I loved it for the  smart goofiness it started off with. When the smart turned to clich├ęd and the goofy turned to schmaltzy slapstick (yes, it may be a fine line, but there is a difference), it started to lose its appeal to me. But the season finale managed to restore my faith in the series.

Even if a few of the big shakeups that occurred at the very end of the episode (and if you've seen it, you know in particular which one I am referring to, I am sure) get reversed right off the bat, I expect we can get at least one highly entertaining episode out of the new premise. The other changes that occurred set the stage for a change in the formula that seems natural, a believable outcome of the story and events so far. I look forward to finding out where things go from here.

Add to this the fact that it is a shorter season--something which I have been starting to feel is a key element to keeping a story-driven series well-executed--and the fact that everyone goes into this knowing it is the final season. Well. I think that means we are going to have a chance to see a real conclusion, one that is well done, that grows organically out of everything that has come before, and one that feels right. I also think it will give them a chance to take some risks, be they emotional or action oriented, that we would not otherwise  have a chance to explore. I think we're gonna see some magic here, folks, I won't lie.

Plus, NBC has been kind enough to move Chuck to Fridays for the fall. Maybe come September my Monday nights (and subsequent Tuesday DVR catchups) won't be so crazy! Of course, I still have to get through the summer, where a certain programmer has decided to move all of their shows I have any interest in to Monday nights, opposite my long-standing summer Monday night television date. Grr. 

But, Chuck, woohoo! Here's hoping that it gets the swan song it deserves, eh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sometimes It Really Does Suck To Be A Grownup

I am probably the last person who would actually call myself a grownup, but every once in a while the harsh reality comes crashing home. I mean, I am a mom after all.

That is to say, for the most part I consider myself a responsible individual. I take care of my daughter, I keep our house (relatively) clean, I do the grocery shopping, cook the meals, pay bills on time. All of that adult-type stuff. But in my mind I am still not really grown up, not yet. I don't know that I'll truly consider myself grown up when I'm pushing retirement age.

But still, I am a grown woman, and that means that in addition to taking care of other people, I need to remember to take care of myself. When you're a kid, the adults around you generally make sure you do the things you need to do. Things like taking you to the doctor or the dentist.

While I have for the most part been pretty good about my checkups and other health concerns, I have totally slacked in the going to the dentist part of responsibility, and I am really wishing there had been someone to make me take care of that because now I am paying the price.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying that I have put off going to the dentist for much longer than I care to admit. I am not scared of going to the dentist. I know that is a factor for a lot of people. It's the price tag of all of the work I have known I would need to be getting done after putting it off for so long that has deterred me. Yeah, I know, the longer I waited, the worse it got. Should have just gotten it over with. But it was so much easier not to go, and so, I didn't.

Which means that after suffering from massive toothaches all weekend long, yesterday I found myself spending much of the day in the dentist's chair getting all kinds of crazy (and painful) work done on my teeth. Yay (said in my best Brody/Volker impression). The rest of the day was spent waiting to regain feeling in the left half of my mouth and trying not to pass out in the living room while my absolutely wonderful, kind, caring, awesome husband worked from home and wrangled our daughter and picked up my prescriptions (hello, hydrocodone) and brought me mashed potatoes.

I love him very, very, VERY much.

So for the next few days I will be on a steady diet of mashed potatoes and jello while my mouth heals back up. Then I get to go back in a few weeks and get the other half of my mouth finished up. And you can bet your ass after that I will be making regular checkups with the dentist a priority.

It always seems lessons learned as an adult are much harsher than those I learned as a child. The worst part though is that in most cases, and this is certainly no exception, I have no one to blame for the situation but myself.

Monday, May 16, 2011

You Know What Would Be Really Cool?

Heads up, this post is gonna contain all kinds of spoilers for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, as well as speculation about a minor spoiler for Mass Effect 3. So...read on if you're not that fussed about spoilers, but if you are, well, you might want to think twice before continuing.

Last week Kotaku posted this EXTREMELY spoilery article (seriously, lots of spoilers, only click if you really don't want to be surprised) about some of the things we can look forward to in Mass Effect 3. The game was supposed to hit shelves New Year's Eve of this year but has been postponed until the end of next March, so I have been eagerly drinking in all of the information on it I can find.

The first thing that really struck me was the mention that there will be fewer available party members. Now in the first two games, you could only have two companion characters with you at any given time, but there were a lot of crew members you could choose from. I like the idea of paring it down. A big part of Bioware games is the relationships your character develops with the companion characters throughout the game, be they romantic, platonic, or contentious. With fewer NPCs to choose from to accompany you on missions, you have a better chance of building not only stronger relationships with these characters but also of leveling them up in better ways. You're going to have to put a lot more thought into how you balance each team member's attributes and talents if don't have so many you can just build each one up for a specific purpose. With so many team members available in the previous games, it was very easy to fall into just one or two party configurations, and I know I was guilty of totally ignoring certain party members once I had advanced their plot line as far as possible. With too many to choose from , it was easier to just stick with the ones I liked most. I suspect it will be more difficult to play favorites in the new game.

Ostensibly, you will actually already know most of your party members, since this will be your third tour around the galaxy with them. I will be curious to see how the game developers factor in all of the events of the previous two games to influence how everyone gets along at this point. It has been hinted before now that the choices you made in game one and in game two were gonna have some huge impacts on how game three plays out.

This brings me to my next point. The article on Kotaku mentions that all of the main characters from both games will be back, even if most of them won't be available for your party. But it also implies that either Ashley or Kaidan--your first two friends in the first game, both pretty much absent from the second--will be back as a party member in game three. Now, it is only gonna be one of them, of course, because if you played game one you know that (HUGE spoiler here, highlight the text to read) one of them died toward the end of the first game, so clearly the dead one is staying dead. Presumably the one who comes back will happen to be the one you romanced in the first game. It's possible this isn't the case, but I know I replayed an hour of the first game to make that be the outcome instead of the other way around. Somehow I doubt I am the only one.

During the second game, of course, you were given the opportunity to have a new romance since your former flame was AWOL. There is minimal sense of being unfaithful to your game one paramour however since you do actually run into Kaidan or Ashley in game two, but they refuse to join up with your mission and are kind of freaked out to see you alive at all. This is understandable since game two starts off by killing your character. You get resurrected by the shadowy corporation Cerberus, of course, but Kaidan/Ashley wants nothing to do with Cerberus and kind of throws a fit to find out you're working for them, thus closing the door on the relationship where you might have been hopeful for a more pleasant reunion. I, for one, was pretty pissed at Kaidan's reaction to the whole situation, so my Shepard turned into the awkward, yet willing, embrace of Garrus.

And here's where things get interesting. Because I can't imagine Garrus of all people not being part of my playable party. But if he's there and if Kaidan's back...well, I expect some fireworks people. Especially considering that Garrus and Kaidan were pretty much my go-to team all through game one. I am really looking forward to seeing that play out. But I am going to be extremely annoyed with Bioware if it is just one little scene and I have to choose and then everyone acts like it never happened. That will suck. I want this to be a big deal and I want there to be tensions that I have to work toward solving. I want the option to say "forget you both, I'm choosing guy C" (not that I would, but it should be there). I want the tension to affect the rest of the crew as well.

Heck, I almost want to play through as a guy and romance Ashley, who I never really liked that much, just so I could romance Jack in the next game and then get a huge smackdown between the two of them. Can you imagine? I mean, Jack would probably win, of course, she's scary. But still. This is entertainment, folks.

Anyway, so that's what I am saying I would like to see in the next game. I don't just want the stakes of the missions to be higher, I want the emotional stakes to be higher as well. I want Shepard's personal choices, questionable or justified, to have an effect on how everything goes. Is that too much to ask?

So while I am definitely going to be cutting back on the video games soon (gonna finish my Dragon Age playthrough, then do Portal 2 real quick), I will be making time early next year for replays of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 so that I can gear up for Mass Effect 3. Because, quite frankly? I am already pretty excited about it.

Another Goodbye

[Note: I am pretty sure this posted last week, but I guess with Blogger's issues it got reverted back to a draft, so reposting now.]

Wow, this is not a good week for television I like, apparently.

News broke yesterday that Fox has not renewed Human Target for a third season. Well, what the reports are actually saying is that it has been canceled, but I beg to differ here. I think that's some sites just trying to stir people up. There is a difference between cancellation and not renewing, and while it may be negligible, it is still there, so let's call it what it is, okay?


I wish I could say I am surprised by this news, I really do. But I'm not. Who is? Even those of us who loved this show (me!me!me!) could see that Fox was struggling to find a place for it on the network. The ratings were not great, and the constantly changing time slots didn't really help either. But that's just the way Fox does things, and I do think they gave it a fair chance. Much like with Dollhouse, I was amazed and grateful it got a second season at all. So I can't complain too much that after that second season

That doesn't mean I am happy about the news by any stretch of the imagination. It was far and away my favorite show currently airing on television, and I will be very sad to see it go. It certainly won't leave the void that Stargate Universe has left. Still, there will be the sense that something is missing, and I wish we could have gotten a season three.

I know it is based on a series of comic books. I also know that the show heavily tuned down the actual supernatural/science fictional aspect of the comic books. I think they might be worth checking out though.

I will also eagerly look forward to whatever Mark Valley decides to do next. I have to admit, his presence in the starring role of the series was one of the reasons I was disinclined to give Human Target a chance when I first heard about it (and wow I am so very glad I changed my mind). Even his part in the early days of Fringe wasn't enough to erase from my memory his turn as a smug, self-satisfied, creep of a guy on Boston Legal.* But as Christopher Chance he completely managed to blow me away. Dude's got some range, ya'll. Acting!

Sigh. My poor DVD shelves are littered with one- and two-season television series that I so deeply loved but that just couldn't cut it in the network world. One day the system will be ready to nurture and sustain this kind of brilliance as a matter of course, as opposed to the few shows that miraculously slip through the cracks and make it. But that day is not today I fear.

Goodbye Human Target. Thanks for being so spectacularly awesome. I'll see you again when you make your way to my DVD collection, I am sure.

*Sidebar: I have absolutely no idea how I was able to stand watching Boston Legal at all, truth be told. There were no good people on that show, I swear. They were all horrible excuses for human beings. Yet somehow, I stumbled across it a few seasons from the end and could not look away. Go figure. But dude, Mark Valley's character was one of the worst, I swear.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Making It Up As I Go

Oh, hey look, I finished another project!

Chocopup by Cori 2011.

Side view.

Ear and bandana details.

Okay, yes, his eyes are a little wonky. But...it adds to the charm right? Right?

Pattern: Amigurumi Puppy (by me)
Yarn: Vanna's Choice Baby in Chocolate Cake and Lamb (1 1/2 skeins and 1 skein respectively). Red Heart Super Saver in Black (1 skein). Lion Wool in Goldenrod (1 skein).
Hook: G

Here's the full pattern if you are interested:

Round 1: With black, 6 sc in adjustable ring. (6 sc)
Round 2: 2 sc in each sc, join with sl st to first sc, fasten off. (12 sc)
Round 3: Join main color, [2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in next sc] around. (18 sc)
Round 4: [2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc] around. (24 sc)
Round 5: Working in back loops only, sc around. (24 sc)
Rounds 6-8: Sc around. (24 sc)
Round 9: Working in front loops only, 2 sc in each sc around. (48 sc)
Round 10: Sc around. (48 sc)
Round 11: [2 sc in next sc, sc in next 7 sc] around. (54 sc)
Round 12: Sc around. (54 sc)
Round 13: [2 sc in next sc, sc in next 8 sc] around. (60 sc)
Rounds 14-17: Sc around. (60 sc)
Round 18: [Sc2tog, sc in next 8 sc] around. (54 sc)
Round 19: [Sc2tog, sc in next 7 sc] around. (48 sc)
Round 20: [Sc2tog, sc in next 6 sc] around. (42 sc)
Round 21: [Sc2tog, sc in next 5 sc] around. (36 sc)
Round 22: [Sc2tog, sc in next 4 sc] around. (30 sc)
Rounds 23-25: Sc around. (30 sc)
Round 26: [2 sc in next sc, sc in next 5 sc] around. (36 sc)
Rounds 27-40: Sc around. (36 sc)
Round 41: [Sc2tog, sc in next 4 sc] around. (30 sc)
Round 42: [Sc2tog, sc in next 3 sc] around. (24 sc)
Stuff body firmly.
Round 43: [Sc2tog, sc in next 2 sc] around. (18 sc)
Round 44: [Sc2tog, sc] around. (12 sc)
Round 45: Sc2tog around. (6 sc)
Rounds 46-49: Sc around. (6 sc)
Round 50: Sc2tog around. (3 sc)
Join with slip stitch. Cut yarn and fasten off, leaving tail. Weave tail through final row and pull shut. Weave in ends.

Ears (make 2)
With main color, ch 6.
Round 1: Starting with 2nd ch from hook, sc across. (5 sc)
Rounds 2-7: Ch 1, turn, sc across. (5 sc)
Round 8: Ch 1, turn, 2 sc in first sc, 3 sc, 2 sc in last sc. (7 sc)
Round 9: Ch 1, turn, sc across. (7 sc)
Round 10: Ch 1, turn, 2 sc in first sc, 5 sc, 2 sc in last sc. (9 sc)
Round 11: Ch 1, turn, sc across. (9 sc)
Round 12: Ch 1, turn, 2 sc in first sc, 7 sc, 2 sc in last sc. (11 sc)
Rounds 13-16: Ch 1, turn, sc across. (11 sc)
Round 17: Ch 1, turn, sc2tog, 7 sc, sc2tog. (9 sc)
Round 18: Ch 1, turn, sc2tog, 5 sc, sc2tog. (7 sc)
Round 19: Ch 1, turn, sc2tog, 3 sc, sc2tog. (5 sc)
Round 20: Ch 1, turn, sc2tog, sc, sc2tog. (3 sc)
Fasten off.
Repeat rounds 1-20 in contrasting color.
Put the two pieces together and sc around edges with main color.
Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.
With contrasting color facing inside, sew on to body in desired position.

Feet (make 4)
Round 1: With contrasting color, 6 sc in adjustable ring. (6 sc)
Round 2: 2 sc in each sc around. (12 sc)
Round 3: [2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc] around. Join with slip stitch, fasten off. (18 sc)
Round 4: Join main color, [2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc] around. (24 sc)
Round 5: Working in back loop only, sc around. (24 sc)
Rounds 6-7: Sc around. (24 sc)
Round 8: [Sc2tog, sc in next 2 sc] around. (18 sc)
Round 9: Sc around. (18 sc)
Round 10: [Sc2tog, sc in next sc] around. (12 sc)
Round 11: Sc around. (12 sc)
Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.
Stuff each foot firmly then sew to body in desired position.

Eyes (make 2)
Round 1: With black, 4 sc in adjustable ring. (4 sc)
Round 2: 2 sc in each sc around. Join with slip stitch, fasten off. (8 sc)
Round 3: Join with white (or contrasting color), [2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc] around. (12 sc)
Round 4: [2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc] around. Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing. (16 sc)
Sew onto head above and to either side of the snout.

With main bandana color, ch 3.
Round 1: Starting in second chain from hook, sc in each ch. (2 sc)
Round 2: Ch 1, turn, 2 sc in each sc. (4 sc)
Rounds 3-12: Ch 1, turn, 2 sc in first sc, sc in each sc across, 2 sc in last sc. (26 sc at end of round 12)
With border color, ch 15.
Round 4: Join to side of bandana and sc evenly around sides, with 3 sc in the point. Ch 16 at other edge.
Round 5: Starting in second ch from hook, sc across the chain, the top of the bandana, and the starting ch 15.
Round 6: Ch 1, turn, sc back across, continue sc along bottom of chain and sides of bandana, back around to bottom of the other chain and then around the top of the bandana/chains again.
Join with sl st to first sc of round 6. Fasten off. Weave in ends.
Tie bandana around puppy's neck. Can be tacked on to prevent removal if you prefer.

Feel free to use it if you'd like, just please credit me for the pattern! Also, if you do make your own puppy, please send me links to pictures!

His bandana is black and gold since his intended owner is a Saints fan. Hopefully he will be well loved. My daughter certainly enjoyed cuddling up with him...it was difficult getting the body away from her to attach his feet!

Next up is a wedding blanket for my cousin. Got the yarn this week and started on it yesterday. I am just doing a simple pattern in one color with a big hook, so hopefully it will go quickly. So many blankets, so little time...

Also, as it is Friday, don't forget to check out the new installment of Gronk. Apparently she really wants an iPad, and isn't afraid to use bad drawings to get one!  Peace out, enjoy the weekend folks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Goodbye

Wow, this is not a good week for television I like, apparently.

News broke yesterday that Fox has not renewed Human Target for a third season. Well, what the reports are actually saying is that it has been canceled, but I beg to differ here. I think that's some sites just trying to stir people up. There is a difference between cancellation and not renewing, and while it may be negligible, it is still there, so let's call it what it is, okay?


I wish I could say I am surprised by this news, I really do. But I'm not. Who is? Even those of us who loved this show (me!me!me!) could see that Fox was struggling to find a place for it on the network. The ratings were not great, and the constantly changing time slots didn't really help either. But that's just the way Fox does things, and I do think they gave it a fair chance. Much like with Dollhouse, I was amazed and grateful it got a second season at all. So I can't complain too much that after that second season won't be getting any more.

That doesn't mean I am happy about the news by any stretch of the imagination. It was far and away my favorite show currently airing on television, and I will be very sad to see it go. It certainly won't leave the void that Stargate Universe has left. Still, there will be the sense that something is missing, and I wish we could have gotten a season three.

I know it is based on a series of comic books. I also know that the show heavily tuned down the actual supernatural/science fictional aspect of the comic books. I think they might be worth checking out though.

I will also eagerly look forward to whatever Mark Valley decides to do next. I have to admit, his presence in the starring role of the series was one of the reasons I was disinclined to give Human Target a chance when I first heard about it (and wow I am so very glad I changed my mind). Even his part in the early days of Fringe wasn't enough to erase from my memory his turn as a smug, self-satisfied, creep of a guy on Boston Legal.* But as Christopher Chance he completely managed to blow me away. Dude's got some range, ya'll. Acting!**

Sigh. My poor DVD shelves are littered with one- and two-season television series that I so deeply loved but that just couldn't cut it in the network world. One day the system will be ready to nurture and sustain this kind of brilliance as a matter of course, as opposed to the few shows that miraculously slip through the cracks and make it. But that day is not today I fear.

Goodbye Human Target. Thanks for being so spectacularly awesome. I'll see you again when you make your way to my DVD collection, I am sure.

*Sidebar: I have absolutely no idea how I was able to stand watching Boston Legal at all, truth be told. There were no good people on that show, I swear. They were all horrible excuses for human beings. Yet somehow, I stumbled across it a few seasons from the end and could not look away. Go figure. But dude, Mark Valley's character was one of the worst, I swear.

**Said in my best John Lovitz voice.

Clearly, That Was Not the Correct Decision

Man, I am doing my replay of Dragon Age: Origins and it is going pretty well so far except for in one area: the relationships.

I was bound and determined not to romance Alistair this time around. Not because I didn't enjoy the romance in the first play but because there are a few options there and I wanted to try something different. So I went for Leliana instead. Then Zevran showed up and I had forgotten how flirty and fun he is. Sigh. So, my mage has been building a true romance with Leliana, flirting with Zevran for fun, and trying to be buddies with Alistair. Okay.

Except, the game doesn't really have any shades of grey in this particular aspect. Even without hitting on Alistair, if you are just nice to the poor guy, he ends up a little besotted. Then Leliana gets jealous. Then you try to smooth things over with Leliana and Alistair gets pouty. Jeez. Funnily enough, no one seems to care what you are doing with Zevran, even though he seems to think things might be going somewhere sweaty. Hmm.

So the other day my character had to have "the talk" with Alistair. You know the one. The "let's just be friends" talk. Sigh. Damn near broke my heart. I wanted to hug him. But the game doesn't let you do that, also, he's not real. So now I am stuck with Leliana, and as nice as she is, I can't help feeling that maybe I've made the wrong choice. That's what I get for trying something different, I guess. I think it's safe to say that all of my future playthroughs (as a girl character anyway) will involve romancing Alistair. As I told my husband, it would be nice if my character could play matchmaker for the other characters that she doesn't hook up with. Then I could help Leliana and Zevran get together. I don't see why my character should be the only one getting any loving. I guess I'll have to settle for helping Oghren reunite with his ex-girlfriend now that his wife is dead.

Of course, when I hit Dragon Age II up again I will certainly be going down a different path. Anders isn't getting a second chance from this gamer. Not gonna happen. Of course, the only character I actually want to romance in that game isn't available to be romanced, so I still don't know how that's gonna go. I mean, I guess I could play it without that element, but where's the fun in that, eh?

Other than that, however, the game is going really well. I've gotten all of the main treaty quests completed and cleared all of the walking dead out of Redcliffe. Yay! I actually waited to do that bit this time around because the first time through I did that right after Lothering and got my behind handed to me. That was when I had to go ahead and put the game on easy. This time around though, it was much, much better. Part of that is having a more experienced character, part of it is remembering what kind of baddies are where, and yet another part of it is that I am actually a better gamer than I was the first time around. Nevertheless, I have yet to have needed to put the game on easy this far, and my character didn't die once during the whole Redcliffe broohaha. Excellent.

I also managed to complete Morrigan's companion quest without killing her mother. That was kind of an accident, but so far it hasn't had any sort of negative impact on things. I wonder if it will come back to bite me in the butt though, as well as how it will affect a certain storyline in Dragon Age II. Though the XP from fighting the dragon would have been nice, I have to say any scenario where I can not kill the dragon is kind of appreciated.

I am already thinking about my next playthrough though, beyond just the romance aspect. I am looking forward to trying it out as a rogue this time I think. I may or may not do so as an elf. Haven't decided that bit.

Um, I think it might be fair to say I may never actually need to buy another video game (until the third game in the franchise comes out anyway). Seriously, I love playing this game, even when I hate it.

In Stargate news, looks like I am not the only one with a rewatch on the brain. Gateworld announced that they are going to be starting/sponsoring a rewatch of the entire franchise beginning in August. I don't think I am going to alter my plans any, but if you wanted to start your rewatch with SG-1 rather than Atlantis the details are here.

Well, that's all I've got for you today folks. Now, if you don't mind, I am off to kill some darkspawn.

(Insert epic battle soundtrack here.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stargate Tuesday: Gauntlet

Farewell Stargate. I will miss you more than I can even begin to say. But I will not lose hope. Perhaps you will be back on my television one day. Until then I've got DVDs and books and even fan fiction to fill the void you have left...

Spoilers ahead folks. Consider any and all filmed Stargate anything fair game, but specifically last night's episode of Stargate Universe, of course.

Greg Dean of Real Life Comics summed it up pretty well with yesterday's strip.

I dunno, I kind of feel like Joe Mallozzi lied to us when he said the season ended on a huge cliff-hanger along the lines of the season nine SG-1 finale. I mean, don't get me wrong, the end of the episode left a lot of questions open and would have made for a tense wait for season three had we been lucky enough to receive one. But as it stands, as the series (and franchise) finale, well, I have to say, it felt like a solid goodbye. This particular series as a whole has been about facing the unknown, and with that in mind, it was a fitting ending I think.

We start off the episode in the infirmary and learn, sadly, that Park's vision hasn't even begun to restore itself. T.J. is worried that the blindness may be permanent. She and Chloe have a discussion about the topic and it comes out that the whole thing just reminds T.J. that she has no way to save herself from her ALS. The disease is just lurking there in the shadows, preying on her mind whenever it isn't otherwise occupied. But she is trying, she tells Chloe, to just play the hand she's been dealt.

Team Science has managed to figure out a way to detect the drone command ships so they can avoid dropping out at gated planets where the enemy is waiting for them. That's the theory anyway. The problem is that the drones are waiting at every planet with a gate between Destiny's current position and the edge of the galaxy. They can't go off the plotted course and search out planets without gates because that will only be spending their very limited resources on a huge gamble (that they can locate planets with the supplies they need), one that is unlikely to pay off.

They have about a month of supplies on board, but don't want to delay the inevitable. Rush puts forward that they are just going to have to fight the ships. I know, right. Rush! Team Science explains to Young that the ship's shields normally run a constant pattern of changing frequencies. Each frequency is best suited to blocking out specific types of weapons, and while the cycling pattern allows for the ship to take many different kinds of hits during a battle, it means that at least part of any attack is going to get through when the cycle is not on the frequency that specifically keeps it out. But they know the exact frequency of the drones' weapons. So they fine-tune the shields so that it will stay on the frequency that repels the drones and drop out of FTL right on top of one of the command ships (literally). With the element of surprise and their enhanced shields, they are able to take out the ship and send shuttles down to the planet to resupply.

Unfortunately this gambit cost quite a bit of power and they still took on a fair amount of damage from drones that just plowed straight into Destiny. Apparently the shields weren't fine-tuned enough to deal with that. They quickly realize that the ship cannot afford to keep doing this all the way to through the galaxy, especially since they are only about a third of the way through.

So Eli decides they should just skip it.

He comes up with a plan that will allow them to jump Destiny out of the galaxy sideways and then across the void between it and the next galaxy, which everyone hopes will be a bit more hospitable. Only catch is that it will take them about three years. Young points out the obvious fact that they don't have the kind of supplies for that. Eli then reveals the part of his plan where the crew uses the ship's stasis pods while they make the jump to the next galaxy. With everyone in stasis, there is no need for supplies and they can put everything in energy-saver mode, leaving them just about enough power to get where they are going and wake up somewhere (hopefully) drone-free.

Rush futzes and objects to this plan. Young asks Eli how long it will take to get the pods ready and Eli tells him about twenty-four hours. Young tells Rush that he has that long to come up with a better idea. Chloe goes to talk to him (she is apparently turning into the crew's shrink as well as math-girl) and we learn that he objects to the plan because he doesn't want to miss anything they might discover about the ship's mission to find the source of the pre-Big Bang signal. He says he just doesn't want everything they have been through to be for nothing. Chloe points out that if they stay on their current course they are going to get killed by the drones, and Destiny will be destroyed right along with them. Then it all definitely would be for nothing. With Eli's plan, even if they never wake up, the ship itself will still go on. It will still be out there searching. So Rush acquiesces and gets on board with Eli's plan.

The crew takes the opportunity to each take a brief visit home via the communication stones and say goodbye to loved ones. Eli's visit with his mother was particularly touching. As was Park's visit--in her borrowed body she can once more see and she drinks in the sights for all she's worth.

The air on the ship is amazingly one of general cooperation and acceptance. So of course something goes wrong. Turns out the last bank of stasis pods have been damaged, probably since before the crew even boarded the ship. They can be fixed but it will require using the gates to get to a planet with the necessary materials. Otherwise they are gonna be eight pods short, and there will be no way for those eight crew members not in stasis to survive for three years if the ship is to make it to the next galaxy.

Then Park has an absolutely brilliant idea (while having a very sweet and slightly heartbreaking conversation with Greer--seriously, I love these two together). They drop off one of their shuttles a short FTL hop away from the planet they need to get to, and it sends out a sub-space signal emulating an opening stargate. This will cause the command ship at the planet to go check it out, and while it is gone they can gate to the planet and get what they need then bug out. To keep the command ship distracted they use an autopilot program and reconfigure the shields to withstand the drones' attacks, the more time to buy before the command ship can go back to the planet. Eli even figures out how they can wire the shuttle to go critical, taking out the command ship with it when it blows. That was pretty groovy. Too bad they didn't just have a whole fleet of shuttles, eh?

So the pods get fixed and everyone starts to go into stasis. We get some sweet goodbyes from the various couples--T.J. and Varro, Scott and Chloe, Greer and Park (with a really interesting shot from Park's perspective of her saying goodbye to Greer with Volker in the background looking on as he goes into the pod across from her). Finally it is down to Eli, Rush, and Young to make the final preparations. Then the other shoe drops.

The very last stasis pod was more damaged than they realized until it was fully initialized. Uh oh. The calculations show they have about two weeks worth of minimal life support, enough for one person, before cutting into the reserves needed to ensure that Destiny can power itself to the next galaxy. (If it runs out of power, it will drift and they won't wake up for a thousand years, as opposed to three.) Rush volunteers to be the odd man out. He will try to fix the pod within the two weeks so he too can go into stasis. Young still doesn't trust him though. He can't quite make himself believe that if Rush can't fix the pod within the two weeks that he will sacrifice himself so that the rest of the crew can make it. So Young decides to be the one to stay out. Eli realizes, however, that this means that Young will definitely die, because he can't fix the pod. So Eli volunteers to stay out instead. He has a better chance of fixing the pod, and should he fail, he is willing to sacrifice himself for the lives of everyone else.

So there we end, with Young and Rush in stasis and Eli the lone caretaker of the crew. The final shot is of Eli alone on the observation deck, looking out at the universe, smiling a small smile to himself. And then...the end.

The obvious "cliff-hanger" here is the question of whether or not Eli was able to fix the pod in time, and if the ship did indeed have enough power to make it across the void to the next harbor. But as I said, this whole series has been about facing the unknown, and I feel like the way we leave the crew of Destiny is fitting. Granted, I would be absolutely the last person to complain if we do ever get to find out what happens next. I am really truly hoping that Fandemonium does a set of novels for SGU similar to what they are now doing for Atlantis. But if they don't, that's okay. My imagination is sailing through that void with Eli, hoping he makes it and picturing what might be next.

Sure there were quite a few unresolved plot lines, but that just makes this series feel all the more real to me. They were the kind of questions we all have to face in life--unresolved romance, health concerns, basic questions of survival. The "great mystery" of the show, that of the signal for which Destiny searched, never really called to me. That was Rush's white whale, not mine. I was with the rest of the crew, hoping they could survive until they found a way back home, or barring that, could make a life for themselves on the ship they were forced to call home.

I do have to say that as much as this was an ensemble cast, and as much as this show was about all of its characters...well, it really was Eli's story, wasn't it? We start with him and we end with him, and all is perhaps as it should be. David Blue did an absolutely amazing job of playing the everyman in Eli Wallace, and it was a real pleasure to watch him spread his acting wings as Eli's character grew over the two all too short seasons.

So there you have it folks. The end of Stargate. The end of an era. I wish I had discovered it earlier, but if that is my only regret then it is a pale one indeed.

I believe that starting in June, I am going to do a rewatch of Stargate Atlantis here on this blog for you. One or two episodes a week. I'll throw out more details as I decide on them, but I do believe that is the course I am going to take. Gotta keep the love alive, and that is how I plan to do so. I hope you'll join me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Well That's One Thing Off The List

I made the executive decision not to work on my Doctor Who scarf over the weekend. I was very close to finishing Baby Blanket Gamma, so I decided to just plow on through and get that sucker done. And I did. See:

I put the blanket down, turned around to grab the camera,
turned back around and found this...I guess this means she

Basket Blanket by Cori 2011.

Pattern: None to speak of, really.
Yarn: Bernat Baby Sport Solid in White (1 skein), Bernat Softee Baby in Lemon and Mint (2 skeins each).
Hook: G

So I had initially envisioned this as being a big granny square in mostly white with a few stripes like that first one: with the sides in one color and the corners in another (made of smaller squares). After doing that first stripe however, I gave up on that idea. So it alternates between the granny square stitch and just solid double crochet. What can I say, I get bored when there isn't a specific pattern.

Still, I am pretty happy with this. I hope that it is enjoyed by its recipient. Baby Girl certainly loved cuddling up with it while I was making it (and after I finished as you can see in the above photo). I will note, however, that I will never ever use Bernat Softee Baby yarn again if I have a say in the matter. It feels very nice, sure. But it constantly catches on itself and it is too easy to stick the hook through the strands of the yarn, which makes working with it frankly just a pain. Not to mention that its tendency to catch added to what must be some truly inferior winding equipment meant that the center-pull skeins were a joke. Yarn snags all over the place. Even after I had used my ball-winder to rewind the skeins myself it still kept getting tangled. I think I'll stick with Vanna's Choice Baby for my preferred acrylic baby yarn going forward, thanks.

Next up is a pair of amigurumi. I was just going to make two of the same pattern (a puppy) to make things easier on myself. But after looking at the knitting pattern I had chosen last night, I think it is a little bit too advanced for me right now when I need to get them done pretty quickly. I will save the pattern to try again at another time when my knitting skills have progressed a bit. Meanwhile, I am in need of a new pattern. None of the crochet puppy patterns I have found really appeal to me, and at least one of them does need to be a puppy. So I think I am just gonna have to try to make up my own. Should be interesting. Wish me luck.

I got home from seeing Thor on Friday to find a package from Knit Picks waiting for me on the porch, huzzah! Behold the awesome yarny goodness!

3 skeins of cotton yarn, 8 skeins of sock yarn, and a book!

I don't know when I'll be able to make use of all of that gorgeous sock yarn (or the nifty patterns within the book), but I am looking forward to doing so quite a bit! After my daughter had fun playing with and organizing the yarn as I unpacked it from the box, I did promise her at least one pair of socks from the group. Good thing that book has a pattern for tiny feet too!

Speaking of Thor, I absolutely loved it. Definitely will be getting that one on DVD. In my humble opinion, it is exactly what a comic book movie should be. It was fun, and funny just to, but not over, the line of silly. The action scenes were beautiful, everyone involved was clearly having a good time and no one was just phoning it in. A beautiful man kept running around without his shirt on. The story was easy to follow but not ridiculously predictable, and it made me very excited for more. That's about all I can ask for, really.

On a much sadder note, tonight sees the series finale of Stargate Universe and thus the closing of the book on this version of the Stargate franchise. I am sad to see it go, as you are no doubt aware. Still, I have very much enjoyed it while I could, and I look forward to adding this season of phenomenal television to my DVD collection.

Stop by tomorrow for my thoughts on the episode, and then we'll start figuring out where this blog goes from there in regards to Stargate. Rest assured, my Stargate blogging will not end with Stargate Universe. No how, no way.