Thursday, March 27, 2008


Yes, I am the typical nerd who plays computer games (still!) and in the little world of PC video gaming, there is an ongoing religious debate about scripts. No, I'm not talking about the latest 150 pager that every waiter and busboy in LA tries to slide underneath the toilet stall of Spielberg. These are little text files that reconfigure your controls, or do some things for you. Not a lot mind you, but just enough to make those one one side of the fence yell "OMG YOU HVAE TEH COMPUTAR DOING j00r Werkz FOR j00!!" and the other side saying "IT's jes PERSONAL PREFERNZ!!!".

Like all religious debates, this one is both tedious to outsiders, and one which is completely unprofitable to enter.

Forthwith I give my personal reasons for not using gaming scripts. I hope you enjoy it. Even if you aren't a gaming nerd.

The only reason I don't use scripts (besides the fact I"m notoriously lazy), is that I have, in my mind, an eternal fear.

I'm going to some swanky dinner at, say, the Marriot. There is a crooner reminiscent of Dean Martin on stage, the candles are set low. Suddenly a dull roar comes from Conference Room D (The Evergreen Room). Everyone in Ball Room C (Sierra Madre) try to concentrate harder on their overpriced food, and attempt to enjoy this one scant evening away from the kids, their mortgage, and crush of rush hour traffic.

Another roar, this time, not so dull. The tinny overture from some retro 8-bit Famicom game starts up. It cuts through the crooner's rendition of 'That Lady's a Tramp', the pianist misses the chord change, badly.

"SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!" screams a lady in borrowed furs and faux pearls. The tension has become too much for them, a murmur arises.

The crooner stops. He addresses the audience with a commiserating snarl, "It's probably, GAMERS." Someone else in the ballroom lets out a high sigh and faints. To everyone's consternation, it's a portly gentlemen with a profusion of neck sweat.

Someone in a well-worn out suit and a strained look of appeasement shuffles up to the stage.

"I'm so sorry for the noise. But, as you have all guessed, it's a, " he uses air quotes, "LAN Party. They say that everyone else in this hotel can shove it unless someone can best their champion at Cyber Mage."

"I raise my hand tentatively. I... I think I can."

I'm ushered into a room. It's dark. It smells of sweat, pizza, and stale Red Bull. The glow of 134 LCD screens is all the illumination there is. From here and there I can see sick rigs and ironic shirts. I'm seated at a PC that has been modded to look like Helm's Deep.

"Are you ready?" whispers someone over an unseen loud speaker.

"Wait! WAIT!! I... I play much better with my scripts... it's, it's what I'm used to."

There is a hush.

"You can use whatever scripts are already on the box."

There is an endless, anguished scream. Only after I've been admitted to the psych ward do I realize it's coming FROM MY OWN MOUTH.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alarming Whimsy

The great thing about the web is you can find just about anything. The worst thing about the web is you can find just about anything. The absolute worst thing about the web is you can find almost what you want to find ,but not quite. And the absolutely best thing about the web is finding something you didn't know you were looking for.

Exhibit A, and exhibit B. For exhibit A, just keep clicking the little image that says "Defeated by", and you'll get the gist of it. For exhibit B, keep clicking until you get to the pink whales that fly through the air and are piloted by large, terribly cute spiders.

There is something to be said for whimsy.

I'm all for it. More whimsy means less time for dogma, 24 hour news coverage about the latest white girl to go missing, and people dropping bombs on one another. Whimsy is a great way to disengage the brain from the boring gears of first, second, third,, and reverse, and throwing that gear into "Float carelessly on a rainbow powered breeze coming from somewhere under the polar bear's chin".

I think we're all drawn to it, instinctively. Children's stories, fair tales, nursery rhymes, they are RIFE with it. Whimsy coming out of the gills, as it were. But at some point, we let it go. We start reading very serious books about this depressing life or that soul-crushing relationship. This, we feel, makes us Adults. I'm of the opinion it makes us Boring, but that's just me.

We seem to be of conflicting opinions about whimsy. I mean, 9 top 10 highest grossing
films of all time
I'd specify as fantasy/sci-fi, and really, any girl thinking they can get hot and heavy with Leonardo di Caprio has got to be living in a fantasy world, so let's just call it 10 out of 10.

And yet, we dismiss it. The genre of fantasy/sci-fi ,(a combined genre that is only combined because, believe it or not, one of the major publishers of sci-fi pulp mag in the States went to ... the UK? Something like that, to bring over major pieces of fantasy work. Well, that, and they are both big draws to adolescent boys. And grown men who think growing up is an option best left untaken.) is a pariah. Whimsy -- which I'd say is a subset of, or at least, included in that whole rigamorole -- is even more poo-pooed.

So I have no idea where I'm going with it. Except to suggest that we all embrace a little more whimsy. It's the brave choice. It's a choice that's good for your sanity.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hell is Other People

If you were to take a random sampling of people, and choose one to go out on the town with; you know, someone who likes to go to shindigs and socialize with whoever might be near (to discuss that fantastic documentary on Tibetan throat singing or the ineffable joy of driving a hybrid), I am certainly near the bottom. Well, not near. At. At the very very bottom of that list.

As a general rule, I'm of the opinion that hermits are on to something, and if it weren't for Mrs. Owl, the Owlet, and the sundry things that being in a family pushes me to do, I'd while away the day reading the new and exciting things happening on the internet, or playing video games. Possibly reading (if only the installation instruction for a new game).

As a corollary, I'm also the last person you'd ever invite or expect at any committee meetings whatsoever. I find most meetings to be hemming and hawing and unclear communication layered on top of misread nonverbal cues sprinkled with an unsightly flecking of political manuevering. Distasteful.

Given all these facts, I am, therefore the LEAST likely to ever be found at a Strata Annual General Meeting. For those of you who have no idea what a strata is, it's the group of people who own a multi-resident dwelling (condos/townhouses) who are forced to meet and discuss things because someone has to explain why $3,000 of the collected monthly maintenance fees is going towards 'Bougainia Dyeing'. If you don't know what "Annual General Meeting" is, or cannot infer it from the name, then where do you live and can I move in with you?

So there I am, suffering the everlasting pain that is the AGM. I was thinking, "oh, an hour of people chattering about budgets and building envelope construction, it won't be that bad." Apparently the average AGM runs abotu 3 hours. And I felt every one of those hours pass as an unfortunate gentleman might pass kidney stones : with plenty of grunting, a few supplications to god's I have heretofore denounced, and a general judgment that there can be no god who would allow such suffering to happen in the world.

I mean, in general, most people are reasonable, aren't they? They are not going to lunge out of the darkness and stab you int he back with a rusty screwdriver without provocation or a serious imbalance in brain chemistry. Pedestrians walk along the road on sidewalks because they have trust that the oncoming semi isn't going to swerve just for fun and knock them under all 18 of its wheels.

But in large group meetings, there is a small minority. I'm not sure if they are intentionally being, well, dull, or what. But there is a minority that have hackles which get raised at the merest suggestion of impropriety. Where every ounce of indignation is mixed with a complete incompetence to understand what's going on, all bound together by an apparent need to head this or that crusade.

It's as if, at any moment, Watergate is about to pass under their noses.

These are the people that make an otherwise slightly tedious meeting a living hell. An event that 'builds character', or alternatively, 'makes one lose faith in mankind'.

I highly recommend avoiding these, if are ever pressed to attend.