September 2007 Archives

Heroes of a Thousand Cliches

Even without catching up with Nikki, D.L, Micah, Candice, or why-did-we-bother-creating-this-character-at-all-I-Can-Hear-The-Internet-Girl, there were too many balls in the air in the season premiere of Heroes. And most of them were worn and pock-marked from overuse. Accidentally meddling with history and being forced to make things right is the oldest time travel trope there is-- combining it with the "your hero isn't the hero you thought he was" chestnut doesn't make it any fresher. And... amensia? Really, that's the best you can do? <shakes head ruefully>.

So let's review the big picture plot threads: We've got a Very Bad Man Molly's having nightmares about. The Linderman conspiracy members are being stalked and killed by one of their own. A virus exists that depowers and kills Heroes. Meanwhile, Peter's got to regain his identity, Mohinder's infiltrating The Company, and Hiro's playing Sancho Panza.

The most intriguing moment was when Nathan saw a scarred reflection of himself. My first thought was that Peter had picked up Candice's ability, Nathan died in the explosion, and that was really Peter. Future Hiro, after all, said that Peter looked much different without his scar. Peter's appearance in the shipping container throws a wrench in that theory, but the flying kid hitting on Claire gives me a different take on that theory. Nathan? Still dead. But the explosion somehow split Peter into multiple people: the flying kid, amnesiac Peter, and guilt-ridden-Peter-as-Nathan. The kid was a little too interested in Claire right out of the gate (although, really, who can blame him-- Hayden Panettiere is a beauty), and his whole robot/alien thing sounded very Peteresque to me. While there's no reason two heroes can't have the same ability, we haven't seen any duplication yet-- so the fact that the kid can fly and has a special interest in Claire makes me wonder if he's a fragment of Peter.

Comments (10) | last by Danielle, Oct 19, 2:51 PM

Tasteless Yet Poetic Justice?

Legendary mime Marcel Marceau has died. Now he really will be trapped in a box.

Comments (2) | last by Dave, Sep 24, 6:24 PM

That Ain't Working

I haven't had the chance to mention that I changed jobs about a month ago, and I'm a lot happier. For the past seven years I've been working on software for developers. The last five have been focused on text editing. It was a perfectly fine job, but nothing to get my blood boiling. I was getting burned out, and I really needed a change.

Change found me. A friend in the Games division was starting a new team and asked me to join. Ok, if you twist my arm. If it's never happened to you before, let me tell you that it feels very good to be specifically sought/recruited by someone. This wasn't a case of someone doing a friend a favor, although it certainly was that. This was someone saying to me that they were creating a new team, they had an open position, and that I was the person they wanted for it. That's flattering. And daunting, because now I have to live up to that trust. Stephen, thanks for your faith in me. Whack me upside the head if I start to blow it.

So what am I doing? The team is in a division called All Access Gaming. Don't ask me what that means, because I'm really not sure. We're not making games targeted at the blind or amputees. In fact, I'm not really making games per se. My team is a prototyping team tasked with conceiving and developing new gameplay experiences. The team is to be cross-disciplinary, meaning I'll be a programmer, tester, game designer, brainstormer... pretty much anything but an artist, because we've got three of those on our little team of eight. We'll likely have multiple projects going on at a time, with fairly short timeframes (after 5 years on the same project, that sounds terrific). We're not focused on any particular platform, so we may be working on the 360, Windows, mobile devices, Surface, the web, or something completely new. The hardest part will be that once we've proven a concept, we'll hand it off to another team to actually create it and bring it to market. It will be interesting to see how I feel about that when it happens.

So I'm now working in the same building where I've been playing board games once a week for the past few years. I've got a 360 dev kit on my desk, and I'm learning to write 360 games using XNA. I'm working on a project with the potential for high visibility and coolness. I'm in brainstorming meetings where people toss balls around and festoon walls with concept art. I attend all-hands meetings where the subject matter is actually interesting to me, both professionally and personally. Conversation in the hall centers around gameplay, fun, and what happened at PAX. I'm still a programmer, but the context is completely different. And context is everything.

The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.

Comments (2) | last by Eddie, Nov 1, 11:53 AM

You want details? I've got details.

One of our first dates was a day at the Puyallup Fair. It was kinda risky, coming as it did only a couple of weeks into our relationship. A full day together at that stage is fraught with peril, and the fair only added to the possible hazards.

Things You Don't Want To Hear On an Early Date at the Fair

"I don't eat those high-falutin' curly fries-- they're too fancy for me."
"Let's go see the alpacas-- I've been shopping for a new breeder pair."
"A dozen scones, please. What are YOU having?"
"I promised myself that I'd keep riding the Ejection Seat until I can do it without throwing up."
"Ooooh, that giant plush bell pepper is darling! Won't you win it for me?"
"Let's get tickets for the Countrypalooza concert!"
"When I was in it, the 4Hs were Heroin, Harleys, Heineken, and Herpes."
"Hold on, let me stop in here and ask about the saunas. It'll only take a minute."

Fortunately, only one of those actually happened and it was a pretty good date. It was only after we got back to my place that things went somewhat pear-shaped. We played some pinball, each of us on one flipper, and apparently the gulf between us made Donald Trump's ego look small. To hear The F tell it, I avoided touching her as if she had cooties-- and not the cute multicolored Schaper kind. On my doorstep that evening when she left, I leaned in for our first kiss but misread her body language. I thought she was blowing me back like a batter too close to the plate, so I turned it into a big, awkward hug.

Obviously, things got better later.

Much later. The F had the patience of a saint.

On Sunday, we went to the Puyallup Fair again, for the third year. It was rainy, but I'll take that over scorching heat any day. The poor kids doing the Mutton Bustin' might not agree, though. As the announcer reminds us, riding a sheep is like riding a 40 pound sponge-- that's been rolled around in sawdust and manure a few times.

Incidentally, we've come to the conclusion that with the exception of the scones and the Wilcox Farms soft-serve ice cream, there's absolutely no good food at the Fair. Everything else we've had-- which, granted, have mostly been onion burgers and curly fries-- ranged somewhere from meh to blech. If anyone can direct me to a good meal at the fair (and by good I mean tasty-- the fairgrounds have a long-standing restraining order on healthy), I'd appreciate it.

Later that night we came home and I paused at the top of our front steps. I reminded her about that first date at the fair and how awkward I was when we got back, and I said that I wanted a chance to get it right. Then I opened the door. The tableau that greeted her was a living room filled with 100 lit tea lights and 10 dozen multicolored roses. It was really quite beautiful. The flowers were placed throughout the room-- on the coffee table, the mantel, snack tables, etc. Likewise with the candles. Rose petals were also strewn among the candles. She walked into the room agape, just staring at everything. She tells me that she really didn't hear anything after that, because all she could think was "Oh my God, this is it! He's going to propose!" Which is pretty much what I expected. After all, what other explanation could there be? "Happy Girlfriend Appreciation Day!"

I recovered the ring box from a hiding place in our mail slot, fumbled the box open, and suddenly realized that I'd planned everything except what to say at that moment. My mind was just a complete blank. In desperation I decided you can't go wrong with the classics. I dropped to one knee, said that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, and asked her to marry me. She immediately said yes.

Cue happy music and iris out on our embrace.

Comments (9) | last by Eddie, Nov 1, 12:09 PM

Through a combination of leaving late, going onto autopilot and missing the turn onto 405, unusually high parking lot occupancy levels, a long shuttle delay, and of course the security line, I missed my afternoon flight. I was supposed to arrive in St. Louis at 11:45 PM, but now I'm killing five hours in the Seattle airport and at midnight I'll have another seven to kill in Denver, before finally reaching St. Louis at 10:25 AM. So, a good chance to catch up on blogging.

This is only the second time I've ever missed a flight, and it wasn't nip and tuck-- I don't think even Vista slipped this badly. I'm glad I'm traveling alone. I have a higher tolerance for discomfort than The F has, so finding a place to hunker down for a spell isn't such a big deal to me. I've got my laptop, books, iPod, GameBoy, puzzles... throw in a generator and some MREs and I'd be set.

I will note, however, that Sea-Tac's recent redesign of its main concourse created a bright, sunny atrium with lots of tables and vendors, a wide view of the tarmac, and a nifty hanging sculpture of a bird and its reflection, but no power outlets. And a big middle finger of disgust to Valve Software for requiring a network connection to play Half Life 2 Episode One. I didn't pirate your freakin' game, jerkwads-- how about letting me play the damn thing wherever and however I damn well want? Like when I have a whole bunch of hours to kill and I'd like to forget that I'm in an airport?!

See, I'm taking the whole situation quite well.

gf --> f


Comments (26) | last by Brian, Sep 27, 4:40 PM

Worst. Play. Ever.

After a long period of inactivity here-- and ample things to blog about-- what drove me to post was tonight's collossal strategic error on Big Brother.

After Dick nominated Jameka and Eric, I had a flash of excitement when I realized the coolest possibility. If Zach won the power of veto, he could rescue one of the nominees-- leaving Dick with no choice but to nominate Daniele. Zach and the rescued nominee could then vote her out! It would be a thing of beauty.

So when Zach actually won the power of veto, I was elated! I just hoped that he'd be smart enough to figure that out, or that Eric would think of it and convince him to do it. And watching Zach's expression, it looked like he'd worked it out on his own. When he stood to announce his decision, I thought he'd make the obvious play and split up the strongest alliance in the house.

Imagine my shock when he opted not to use the veto. What a lummox! The playing field would have been completely level with Eric, Jameka, Dick, and Zach remaining. Instead, Jameka and Zach are up against an unbreakable alliance, and Daniele is a fierce competitor who's won more competitions than anyone else in the house. What the hell was he thinking?

With Eric gone, Dick and Daniele are the clear favorites to win and the most deserving from a gameplay perspective. I have no patience for people who abdicate all personal responsibility to God, and as for Zach... how is he even still in the game? I can't imagine anyone actually voting for him to win-- making him a great person to bring to the finals. Sigh...

Comments (5) | last by Different Jeff, Sep 14, 7:17 AM

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